Five Dead in Bnei Brak Shootings
PALESTINIAN TERRORIST KILLS FIVE IN BNEI BRAK SHOOTING SPREE: Five people were killed by a Palestinian terrorist who opened fire on passersby in Bnei Brak on Tuesday night, March 29, marking the third deadly terror attack in Israel in eight days.
The gunman was killed by two police officers following a rampage just before 8 p.m. that saw him open fire on people out walking, riding bikes, or driving in their cars in the city east of Tel Aviv. One of the two officers sustained injuries in the incident and later died of his wounds in the hospital. The attack, the third deadly terror incident in a week, underlined concerns about an escalating wave of violence ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. “Israel is facing a wave of murderous Arab terrorism,” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said late Tuesday. “The security forces are at work. We will fight terrorism with persistence, diligence, and an iron fist.” Four of the victims were declared dead at the scene, with the fifth — police officer Amir Khoury, 32, a Christian Arab — added to the fatalities after being rushed to the Beilinson Medical Center, officials said. Bnei Brak resident Yaakov Shalem, a father of five according to reports, was also named as a victim, as was fellow Bnei Brak resident Rabbi Avishai Yehezkel, 29. (TOI / VFI News)
GANTZ ORDERS DEPLOYMENT OF 1,000 SOLDIERS TO REINFORCE POLICE AFTER TERROR ATTACKS: Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Wednesday, March 30, ordered the bolstering of police forces with 1,000 Israel Defense Force soldiers following a string of deadly terror attacks. The combat soldiers — who are still in training — will be deployed to the borders of the West Bank, as well as within Israeli cities, according to police needs, Gantz’s office said.
Gantz said that since four people were killed in a stabbing and ramming attack in Beersheba last week, the West Bank had been bolstered with 12 extra battalions and the border with the Gaza Strip with another two. There have been another two terror attacks this week, the more recent of which, on Tuesday night in Bnei Brak, killed five people, one of them a police officer. Two Border Police officers were killed in the previous attack in Hadera on Sunday night. Gantz said the defense establishment would focus on locating potential attackers on social media, foiling attempts of Palestinians to enter Israel illegally, and disrupting weapon deals. The military will also offer logistical assistance to the police if required. The moves came following a meeting of top defense and military officials. “The IDF is prepared for a variety of scenarios, is acting and will act as necessary to maintain the daily routine of Israeli residents,” IDF chief Aviv Kohavi said at the meeting, according to a statement. (TOI / VFI News)
BENNETT: ‘ISRAEL IS DEALING WITH A NEW WAVE OF TERRORISM’: The Israeli military has raised its level of alert and is preparing for a variety of violent scenarios and escalations following a spate of deadly attacks that claimed the lives of 11 Israeli in one week.
“The IDF is prepared for a variety of scenarios and will act to the extent necessary to maintain the routine of the lives of the residents of Israel,” said IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi. “IDF forces are deployed with the utmost vigilance in various sectors in order to strengthen defenses and the sense of security of the residents of Israel.” Kohavi ordered the “immediate implementation” of a number of measures aimed at counter-terrorism efforts, intelligence gathering with a focus on social networks, strengthening IDF readiness in the Palestinian arena, and more. The IDF has reinforced various divisions with 14 combat battalions (12 additional battalions in the West Bank and two in the Gaza Division), sniper forces, special forces, and increased intelligence and collection capabilities of forces in the field. Following a situational assessment with the Defense Ministry and senior IDF officials, the Israeli military will provide the Israel Police with “extensive assistance,” including 15 companies of special forces troops (a total of 1,000 troops) in training some of whom will assist in protecting the seam line while others will be deployed to major cities in accordance to the needs of the police. The IDF will also provide logistical assistance as needed in order to provide security to the homefront and all soldiers who have proper training will be able to bring their weapons home from base a statement released by the military said. (JPost / VFI News)
ISRAEL TURNS TO JORDAN TO PREVENT VIOLENCE WITH HERZOG, GANTZ VISITS: Israel has pushed closer to Jordan in a massive effort to prevent an outbreak of Israeli-Palestinian violence next month that could destabilize both countries.
President Isaac Herzog is set to make the first-ever “public and official” visit to Jordan, either by himself or by any of his predecessors since the country’s founding in 1948, according to a presidency spokesperson. Herzog and King Abdullah will discuss “deepening Israeli-Jordanian relations, maintaining regional stability with an emphasis on the upcoming holiday period, strengthening peace and normalization, and the many latent opportunities in relations between Israel, Jordan, and the wider region,” the President’s Office said. Past presidents and Herzog have gone to Jordan, but always in secret meetings publicized only after the fact. Herzog will meet with Abdullah in his palace, just one day after Defense Minister Benny Gantz visited and a week after Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev was in Jordan to meet with the country’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi. Abdullah on Monday, March 28, made a rare visit to Ramallah, his first in five years, to discuss with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas the threat from the religious fervor that could be caused by the overlap next month of the Passover, Easter, and Ramadan. The conjunction of the three festivals last year helped spark tensions in Jerusalem, ethnic Israeli-Arab violence, and an 11-day war with Gaza. (JPost / VFI News)
GIANT MISSILE-DETECTING BALLOON BEGINS OPERATIONAL USE OVER NORTHERN ISRAEL: The military on Tuesday, March 22, officially received a massive new balloon equipped with an advanced missile and aircraft detection system from the Defense Ministry.
The radar-based system, deployed in the north at an unspecified date, is part of a general effort by the Israeli Air Force to improve the country’s air defenses, particularly in the north, due to the proliferation of Iranian drones and cruise missiles in the region. The detection system, dubbed “Elevated Sensor,” or “Sky Dew” in Israel, is deployed at high altitudes in order to detect incoming long-range missiles, cruise missiles, and drones, officials said. Israel already maintains an array of radar systems to detect incoming threats, but the new aerostat is meant to complement and improve existing capabilities by placing the sensors at high altitudes. During a Tuesday ceremony, the system was formally handed over to the military and began its operational use under a new air force unit, with the same name as the system. Israeli Air Force chief Amikam Norkin hailed the new system, saying the unit would “enable [air traffic control] to build a more accurate and broader air surveillance picture.” He added that the system would “make the air force more prepared, and assist it in continuing its mission — maintaining security in the skies of Israel.” (TOI / VFI News)
POLL: MAHMOUD ABBAS’ POPULARITY SLIPPING AMONG PALESTINIANS: Nearly three-quarters of Palestinians (73 percent) want Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to step down, a new poll has shown.
The poll, conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PCPSR), also showed that if presidential elections were held today, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh would defeat Abbas. If only the two were running, Haniyeh would receive 54 percent of the votes, and Abbas 38 percent. However, neither Hamas nor the ruling Fatah faction under Abbas deserves to represent and lead the Palestinian people. 33 percent of those polled said that neither side deserves such a role, and 31 percent believe that Hamas fared slightly better (31 percent) than Fatah (29 percent). Instead, Marwan Barghouti, a convicted terrorist serving five life sentences for orchestrating attacks during the Second Intifada, would be the clear winner, receiving 59 percent of the vote while Haniyeh would come in second at 37 percent. A total of 84 percent consider Palestinian Authority institutions to be corrupt, while 69 percent said the same of Hamas institutions in the Gaza Strip. Some 68 percent believe that the likelihood of a Palestinian state alongside Israel in the next five years is slim to non-existent while 30 percent said the chances are medium to high. Asked to choose the most effective means of “ending the Israeli occupation and building an independent state,” the public split into three groups: 44 percent chose “armed struggle,” 25 percent negotiations, and 24 percent “popular resistance.” Additionally, 70 percent oppose resuming Palestinian-Israeli negotiations unconditionally, and 64 percent oppose dialogue with the U.S. under President Joe Biden. The poll, conducted from March 16-20, surveyed 1,200 Palestinians and has a three percent margin of error. (BB / VFI News)
IRAQ BUILDS WALL ALONG SYRIAN BORDER TO BLOCK ISLAMIC STATE JIHADIS: The Iraqi government has completed a wall “a dozen kilometers long and 3.5 meters high” along the Syrian border in Nineveh province to keep Islamic State jihadis at bay. Iraq plans to expand the wall to cover more of its 600-kilometer border with Syria.
An Iraqi military source told AFP on Sunday, March 27, the Nineveh barrier was just the “first stage” of wall construction, but did not specify how large the wall would eventually become. According to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the first stage of the wall was constructed opposite the town of al-Shaddadi in Syria’s Hasakeh province. ISIS fighters attacked the al-Sina prison in the Hasakeh region in late January, launching a bloody nine-day battle that included suicide bombs, a prison riot, hostage-taking, and summary executions. Somewhere between 30 and 100 ISIS members escaped from the prison, including several “important leaders.” The escapees headed for the Syria-Iraq border, which hosts several active ISIS cells. Kurdish officials are nervous that ISIS might attempt a similar full-scale prison break at the massive al-Hol camp in northeastern Syria. Smaller skirmishes have broken out around the camp as recently as late February. The first phase of the Iraqi border wall went up very quickly. The Iraqi military announced its construction less than four weeks ago, stating the concrete barrier would be erected between “existing fortifications,” with the Iraqi army stepping in to help the notoriously undermanned and under-equipped border guards. (BB / VFI News)
IRAN BARS WOMEN FROM ATTENDING SOCCER MATCH IN MASHHAD: Iran has once again denied women entry to a soccer stadium to watch an international match, leaving hundreds of ticketed fans locked out, Iranian media says. The World Cup qualifier against Lebanon last night, won 2-0 by Iran, was played at the Imam Reza stadium in the northeastern city of Mashhad.
“About 2,000 Iranian women, who had bought tickets for the Iran-Lebanon match, were present in the perimeter of Imam Reza stadium, but could not enter the stadium,” ISNA news agency says. “For this match, 12,500 tickets were sold, of which 2,000 were for women,” it adds. Mohsen Davari, governor of Mashhad, tells IRIB state television: “I apologize that many people couldn’t enter the stadium… Unfortunately, a large number of people outside the stadium were deprived of watching the game.” In the face of the controversy, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi today orders the interior ministry to look into the incident. In January, women were allowed to attend an international for the first time in almost three years, for a World Cup qualifier against Iraq. The Islamic Republic has generally barred female spectators from soccer and other sports stadiums since it was established in 1979. (TOI / VFI News)
The suggestions, opinions and scripture references made by VFI writers and editors are based on the best information received.
Blessings from Jerusalem,
Barry Segal with the Editorial Staff