Israel says it foiled Iranian plot to target, spy on senior Israeli politicians

Israel says it foiled Iranian plot to target, spy on senior Israeli politicians
Israel’s internal security agency said on Sept. 27, 2023, that it had arrested five Palestinians in a plot allegedly hatched in Iran to target and spy on senior Israeli politicians, including the country’s far-right national security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir. (AP/File)
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Updated 27 September 2023
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Israel says it foiled Iranian plot to target, spy on senior Israeli politicians

Israel says it foiled Iranian plot to target, spy on senior Israeli politicians
  • The Shin Bet security service alleged that an Iranian security official living in neighboring Jordan had recruited three Palestinian men in the Israeli-occupied West Bank
  • The targets included National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and Yehuda Glick, an American-born far-right Israeli activist

JERUSALEM: Israel arrested five Palestinians in a plot allegedly hatched in Iran to target and spy on senior Israeli politicians, including Israel’s far-right national security minister, the country’s internal security agency said Wednesday.
The Shin Bet security service alleged that an Iranian security official living in neighboring Jordan had recruited three Palestinian men in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and another two Palestinian citizens of Israel to gather intelligence about several high-profile Israeli politicians.
The targets included National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir — a firebrand Israeli settler leader who oversees the country’s police force in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ultranationalist government — as well as Yehuda Glick, an American-born far-right Israeli activist and former member of parliament.
The plan was foiled by Israeli intelligence officials, the Shin Bet said, without offering evidence.
Iran’s mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the allegations.
Ben-Gvir, who draws inspiration from a racist rabbi, has provoked outrage across the wider Middle East for his particularly hard-line policies against the Palestinians, anti-Arab rhetoric and stunts and frequent public visits to the holiest and most contested site in the Holy Land. The hilltop compound in Jerusalem, revered by Jews as the Temple Mount and by Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, is at the emotional center of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Glick is a leader in a campaign that pushes for increased Jewish access and prayer rights at the sacred Jerusalem compound, the holiest site in Judaism home to ancient biblical Temples. Today, the compound houses the Al Aqsa Mosque, the third-holiest site in Islam. Since Israel captured the site in 1967, Jews have been allowed to visit but not pray there. Glick survived a 2014 Palestinian assassination attempt.
The Shin Bet did not elaborate on the identity of the Iranian official in Jordan who allegedly orchestrated the plot. He is not in custody and apparently remains at large.
But the Shin Bet accused three Palestinian men in the West Bank — identified as 47-year old Murad Kamamaja, 34-year-old Hassan Mujarimah and 45-year-old Ziad Shanti — of gathering intelligence and smuggling weapons into Israel. The security service also said that it charged two Palestinian citizens of Israel over their involvement in the plot. It did not specify how the men planned to target Ben-Gvir and the other politicians.
Ben-Gvir claimed that the Palestinian suspects had conspired to “assassinate a minister in Israel,” without clarifying whether he meant himself or another minister. He thanked Israeli security forces for uncovering and capturing what he called the “terrorist squad.”
Ben-Gvir, who has pushed for harsher treatment for Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails, also vowed to double down on his hard-line policies in response to the revelations. “I will continue to act fearlessly and even more vigorously for a fundamental change in the conditions of the terrorists’ imprisonment,” he wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Israel has considered Iran to be its greatest enemy since it became a Shiite theocracy during the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Iran is a main patron of Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group, which Israel considers the most potent military threat on its borders, and also backs Palestinian Islamist militant groups in the Gaza Strip.


Israeli security chief in recording vows to hunt down Hamas abroad -Kan TV

Israeli security chief in recording vows to hunt down Hamas abroad -Kan TV
Updated 04 December 2023
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Israeli security chief in recording vows to hunt down Hamas abroad -Kan TV

Israeli security chief in recording vows to hunt down Hamas abroad -Kan TV
  • More than 15,500 people have been killed so far during Israel’s offensive in Gaza since, according to Gaza’s health ministry

JERUSALEM: Israel will hunt down Hamas in Lebanon, Turkiye and Qatar even if it takes years, the head of Israel’s domestic security agency Shin Bet said in a recording aired by Israel’s public broadcaster Kan on Sunday.
It was unclear when Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar made the remarks or to whom.
The agency itself declined to comment on the report.
“The cabinet has set us a goal, in street talk, to eliminate Hamas. This is our Munich. We will do this everywhere, in Gaza, in the West Bank, in Lebanon, in Turkiye, in Qatar. It will take a few years but we will be there to do it.”
By Munich, Bar was referring to Israel’s response to the 1972 killing of 11 Israeli Olympic team members when gunmen from the Palestinian Black September group launched an attack on the Munich games.
Israel responded by carrying out a targeted assassination campaign against Black September operatives and organizers over several years and in several countries.
Israel has vowed to annihilate Hamas after its gunmen on Oct. 7 burst through the border with Gaza, killing 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking around 240 hostage.
More than 15,500 people have been killed so far during Israel’s offensive in Gaza since, according to Gaza’s health ministry.
Other than in Gaza, Hamas leaders reside in or frequently visit Lebanon, Turkiye and Qatar. Qatar helped to mediate a week-long truce that broke down on Friday.
Over the years, various countries have offered some protection for Hamas, designated a terrorist group by Australia, Canada, the European Union, Israel, Japan and the United States.
In 1997, Israeli Mossad agents botched the poisoning of then-Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal in Jordan. Israel had to give Jordan an antidote to save Meshaal’s life. Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu was prime minister at the time.

 


US strike in Iraq kills 5 militants preparing attack

US strike in Iraq kills 5 militants preparing attack
Updated 04 December 2023
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US strike in Iraq kills 5 militants preparing attack

US strike in Iraq kills 5 militants preparing attack
  • Iraqi armed groups have claimed more than 70 such attacks against US forces since Oct. 17 over Washington’s backing of Israel in its bombardment of Gaza
  • The United States has 900 troops in Syria and 2,500 in Iraq on a mission it says aims to advise and assist local forces trying to prevent a resurgence of Daesh, which in 2014 seized large swaths of both countries before being defeated

BAGHDAD: A US air strike killed five Iraqi militants near the northern city of Kirkuk as they prepared to launch explosive projectiles at US forces in the country, three Iraqi security sources said, identifying them as members of an Iran-backed militia.
A US military official confirmed a “self-defense strike on an imminent threat” that targeted a drone staging site near Kirkuk on Sunday afternoon.
A statement by the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, an umbrella group representing several Iraqi armed factions with close ties to Tehran, said five of its members had been killed, and vowed retaliation against US forces.
The group had claimed several attacks against US forces throughout Sunday.
Earlier Sunday, the US military official said US and international forces were attacked with multiple rockets at the Rumalyn Landing Zone in northeastern Syria, but there were no casualties or damage to infrastructure.
Iraqi armed groups have claimed more than 70 such attacks against US forces since Oct. 17 over Washington’s backing of Israel in its bombardment of Gaza.
The attacks paused during the recent Israel-Hamas cease-fire but have since resumed.
The US in November launched two series of strikes in Iraq against what it said were Iran-aligned armed groups who had engaged in attacks against their forces.
Those strikes killed at least 10 militants who were identified both as members of shadowy militia Kataeb Hezbollah and of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces, an official security institution composed mainly of Shiite Muslim armed groups.
Iraq’s government condemned those strikes as escalatory and a violation of Iraqi sovereignty.
The United States has 900 troops in Syria and 2,500 in Iraq on a mission it says aims to advise and assist local forces trying to prevent a resurgence of Daesh, which in 2014 seized large swaths of both countries before being defeated.

 

 


Pope calls for new Gaza ceasefire as Israel intensifies raids

Pope calls for new Gaza ceasefire as Israel intensifies raids
Updated 04 December 2023
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Pope calls for new Gaza ceasefire as Israel intensifies raids

Pope calls for new Gaza ceasefire as Israel intensifies raids
  • Six-story building in Jabalia refugee camp hit
  • UN rights chief: Civilian suffering ‘too much to bear’

JEDDAH: Pope Francis said Sunday that he was saddened the truce in the Gaza Strip had been broken and urged those involved in the conflict to reach a new ceasefire deal as soon as possible.

The pope’s appeal came as international concern deepened over the mounting civilian death toll in Gaza after a truce ended.
Israeli forces bombed wide areas of the Gaza Strip on Sunday, killing and wounding dozens of Palestinians, as civilians in the besieged territory sought shelter in an ever-shrinking area of the south.
“There is so much suffering in Gaza,” the pontiff said in comments from his private residence, which were read by an aide and broadcast on giant screens in Saint Peter’s Square.

Pope Francis said the end of the ceasefire meant “death, destruction, misery,” stressing that the besieged Palestinian territory lacked even essential supplies.
He said the situation in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories was “serious.”
“Many hostages have been freed but so many others are still in Gaza,” he said.
More than 15,500 people have been killed in the besieged Palestinian territory in more than eight weeks of combat and heavy bombardment, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

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Israeli air and artillery strikes hit Gaza’s northern frontier with Israel, throwing thick clouds of smoke and dust into the sky.
The Israeli army reported 17 rocket salvos from Gaza into Israel on Sunday, adding that most were intercepted.
The UN humanitarian agency OCHA said at least 160 Palestinian deaths were reported in two incidents in northern Gaza Saturday: the bombing of a six-story building in Jabalia refugee camp, and of an entire block in Gaza City.
OCHA said around 1.8 million people in Gaza, roughly 75 percent of the population, had been displaced, many to overcrowded and unsanitary shelters.
Juliette Toma, director of communications at the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, said nearly 958,000 displaced people were in 99 UN facilities in the southern Gaza Strip.

UN human rights chief Volker Turk urged an end to the war, saying civilian suffering was “too much to bear.”
Hopes for another temporary truce in Gaza were fading as the US intensified calls for the protection of civilians.
“Too many innocent Palestinians have been killed,” Vice President Kamala Harris said at UN climate talks in Dubai.
She and Jordan’s King Abdullah discussed the Gaza crisis on the sidelines of COP28. The king stressed the need for the US to play a leading role in pushing for a political horizon for the Palestinian issue to reach peace on the basis of the two-state solution.
Israel ordered more evacuations in and around Khan Younis as the military’s offensive shifted to the southern half of the territory.
Palestinians in the Gaza Strip said they were running out of places to go in the sealed-off territory.

Gaza residents said they feared an Israeli ground offensive on the southern areas was imminent.
 Tanks had cut off the road between Khan Younis and Deir Al-Balah in central Gaza, effectively dividing the Gaza Strip into three areas, they said.
Fighting also flared on Israel’s northern border with Lebanon.
The Israeli army said it had launched artillery strikes in response to cross-border fire.


Wounded and dead overwhelm southern Gaza hospital as Israelis step up attacks

Wounded and dead overwhelm southern Gaza hospital as Israelis step up attacks
Updated 03 December 2023
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Wounded and dead overwhelm southern Gaza hospital as Israelis step up attacks

Wounded and dead overwhelm southern Gaza hospital as Israelis step up attacks
  • Palestinian Health Ministry says 316 have been killed since Friday in Gaza since the truce expired

GAZA: In southern Gaza’s Nasser Hospital, a young man cradled the lifeless body of his brother and then reached out to try to grab a medic running past him in the corridor.

“My brother!” the man yelled out, crying and slapping the floor as others crowded around him, seeking treatment for their wounded and mourning their loved ones on Sunday, the third day of renewed warfare and Israeli bombardment.

The hospital is one of only a handful operating in Khan Younis, a southern city that residents say is one of the focuses of the Israeli offensive that resumed on Friday after the collapse of a truce with Hamas.

Nearby, doctors stepped over bodies and pools of blood as they rushed to their next case, and relatives brought more dazed and sometimes unconscious children through the main doors.

Footage taken by Reuters showed about a dozen young people needing treatment, several of them with what looked like serious injuries.

The UN and aid groups say dozens of medics have been killed since the war began and basic supplies, including fuel to run generators, are running short in hospitals and clinics.

More than 15,500 people have been confirmed killed in Gaza since the start of the conflict, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said on Sunday that 316 had been killed since Friday in Gaza since the truce expired following the breakdown in talks over an exchange of prisoners and hostages.

There was no immediate comment from Israel on the reports of Sunday’s strikes. 

The Israeli military earlier ordered Palestinians to evacuate several areas in and around Khan Younis and posted a map highlighting shelters they should go to.

But residents said that areas they had been told to go to were themselves coming under attack.

One man at Nasser Hospital told Reuters that an air strike had hit a house in the city, and he had carried a young boy who was injured to the hospital, but the boy had died in his arms on the way.

Elsewhere in Khan Younis, families gathered at funerals.

One man, Akram El-Rakab, said he was burying his son as well as a sister and a nephew. 


Palestinian man killed in West Bank in settler raid

Palestinian man killed in West Bank in settler raid
Updated 03 December 2023
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Palestinian man killed in West Bank in settler raid

Palestinian man killed in West Bank in settler raid

RAMALLAH: Israeli settlers attacked two Palestinian villages in the occupied West Bank, killing one man and torching a car, Palestinian authorities said.

The Palestinian ambulance service said a 38-year-old man in the town of Qarawat Bani Hassan, in the northern West Bank, was shot in the chest and died as residents confronted settlers and Israeli soldiers.

The Israeli military said soldiers arrived at the scene and used riot dispersal means and live fire to break up the confrontation between residents and settlers. 

It said Palestinians shot fireworks in response, and an Israeli and four Palestinians were injured. 

It said the incident was being examined and handed over to police.

In another incident, Wajih Al-Qat, head of the local council of the village of Madama near the northern West Bank city of Nablus, said a group of about 15 settlers burned the car and broke the windows of a house with stones.

The attacks are the latest in a series of similar incidents involving settlers that have drawn condemnation from world leaders, including US President Joe Biden, whose administration is set to impose visa bans on extremist settlers.

The West Bank, which the Palestinians want as part of a future independent state, has seen a surge of violence in recent months as Jewish settlements have continued to expand and US-backed peacemaking efforts have stalled for nearly a decade.

The violence, at a more-than-15-year high this year, surged further after Israel launched an invasion of the separate enclave of Gaza in response to an attack by Hamas in southern Israel on Oct. 7.

Yesh Din, a human rights group that monitors settler violence, said there had been at least 225 incidents of settler violence in 93 Palestinian communities since the war started.

Before Saturday’s incident, it said at least nine Palestinians had been killed in such attacks.

In a separate incident near Nablus, Palestinian authorities said a 14-year-old boy died of his wounds after he was shot during an incident in which the Israeli military said he brandished a knife at soldiers on a checkpoint.