image Photo: Flash90, IDF

IDF counter-terror ops going strong

This, as yet another Israeli civilian came under terrorist attack today.

By Jonathan Hessen and Erin Viner

An Israeli woman in her twenties was critically injured after being deliberately run over by a Palestinian driver at the Migron-Kochav Ya’akov intersection in the West Bank this morning.

Surveillance camera footage shows the assailant circling back to ram his SUV into the female pedestrian on a sidewalk before speeding away with patrolmen who witnessed the attack in pursuit. He was shot dead by police after exiting his vehicle upon reaching a roadblock.

Local media identified the terrorist as Rani Mamoun Fayz Abu Ali, 45, a father of five and resident of the Palestinian city of Beitunia west of Ramallah. According to reports, he held a valid permit to work in Jewish communities in the West Bank and was employed at the branch of a large Israeli supermarket chain in the Sha’ar Binyamin industrial zone.

After receiving urgent medical care for a serious head injury as well as other injuries to her limbs, the victim was taken by ambulance to Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center for treatment. She is said to be in severe yet stable condition.

Head of the Binyamin Region for United Hatzalah in Israel emergency medical services, Menachem Leff, said that additionally, “Due to the nature of the incident the Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit was dispatched to the scene and treated a number of other young women who witnessed the incident.”

In related developments, three Palestinians were reportedly killed in clashes with Israeli forces in two separate incidents yesterday elsewhere in the West Bank.

According to the IDF, troops came under attack overnight when two military vehicles stalled just outside the Palestinian town of Beit Ummar near Hebron. While trying to extricate the vehicles, Palestinian gunmen shot and hurled firebombs at soldiers, who responded with live fire.

Palestinian sources said a 44-year-old man died in Beit Ummar, while two brothers, aged 21 and 22, were killed in clashes in the Kafr Ein village located in the Ramallah and al-Bireh Governorate.

There have been near-nightly raids by IDF,  ISA and Border Police Special Operations Units as part of Operation Waves Breaker, launched eight months ago today to root out terror in the West Bank after the beginning of a deadly surge of attacks against Israelis that has now killed 29 people since since the start of the year.

The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit reported  that approximately 500 terror attacks have successfully been thwarted during Operation Waves Breaker, while more than 3,000 suspected terrorists have been arrested – including 550 so-called “hot targets.”

IDF Chief of General Staff Lieutenant General Aviv Kochavi expressed deep appreciation from “the top brass of the military” while speaking to a reserve battalion taking part in the counter-terror ops, saying that he is continually impressed” by the soldiers’ efforts, which are “truly not taken for granted.”

While Israel enters its ninth month in combating terror throughout the West Bank districts of Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) held a session on the Middle East.

“After decades of persistent violence, illegal settlement expansion, dormant negotiation and deepening occupation, the conflict is again reaching a boiling point. A high level of violence in the occupied West Bank and Israel in recent months, including attacks against the Israeli and Palestinian civilians, increased use of arms and settler related violence have caused grave human suffering,” UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland told the council, adding that while “the targeting of civilians can never be justified and the violence must stop; this surge of violence in the occupied Palestinian territories is taking place in the context of stalled peace process and entrenched occupation and meets mounting economic and institutional challenges faced by the Palestinian Authority. Global trends and declining donor support have compounded these challenges, alongside an absence of democratic renewal for the Palestinian people.”

The UN Envoy’s briefing was heavily based on UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which unequivocally concludes that despite the absence of a negotiated solution, Judea, Samaria, the Jordan Valley and east Jerusalem are de-facto “Palestinian territories;” while the Israeli construction of civilian infrastructure is a “flagrant violation” of international law lacking any legal validity.

“Clearly circumstances have changed in the three decades since Israel and Palestinians first embarked on the peace process. Neither can turn away from the realities of geography and demography that are reshaping the landscape, which, when combined with a fast-expanding settlement east of the ‘67 line, reflects an increased friction points and a deepening conflict, ”the UN envoy continued, adding that, “the optimism, hope and vocal support for a negotiated political solution that was so palpable when the peace process began have now dimmed, especially given the lack of political progress since the unsuccessful rounds of talks in 2007 and 2014. The principles that underpin the Oslo Accords are slipping away. Political leadership is required to reset the trajectory towards a Two-State solution.”

US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield responded to the briefing by saying, “Unfortunately, most UN actions related to Israelis and Palestinians are not designed to advance direct negotiations, let alone achieve peace. They’re only intended to denigrate Israel.”

Emphasizing that, “indeed, the UN system is replete with anti-Israel actions and bodies, including biased and disproportionate resolutions against Israel across the UN system,” Amb. Thomas-Greenfield lambasted the world body’s obsession with Israel – including its open-ended Commission of Inquiry into alleged Israeli breaches of international law and the recent request for an advisory opinion at the International Court of Justice – as “lopsided” and failing to bring the Israelis and Palestinians any “closer to peace.”

United Kingdom Ambassador to the UN Barbara Woodward said that her country is “gravely concerned by the increasing instability in the West Bank and Jerusalem.” She insisted that “there’s no justification for this violence,” after pointing to the deaths of four Israelis, including a 16-year-old, in terror attacks and those of two Palestinian minors in the West Bank since 14 November. Recounting the deaths since the start of the year of 30 Israelis and 142 Palestinians in clashes with Israeli security forces, the latter of which she said is the highest “in a single year since UN records began in 2005,” Amb. Woodward underscored that “each life lost is a tragedy for all communities.”

Russia’s Deputy Ambassador to the UN Dmitry Polyanskiy seized the opportunity to convey the Kremlin’s anger at alleged IDF strikes on Iranian targets in Syria, where his country has actively intervened in the civil war on behalf of President Bashar al-Assad; as well as in Lebanon.

“Steps are continuing to create irreversible effects on the ground. The building of settlements, expropriating Palestinian property, the demolition of homes, arbitrary arrests, violating status quo of the holy sites of Jerusalem,” he said, adding that, “At the same time the arbitrary legal actions of Israel have spilled out beyond the borders of Gaza and the West Bank and have affected Arab countries due to multiple episodes of violating their sovereignty, including by conducting strikes on the territory of Syria and Lebanon. We were against this method of defending national security by creating threats for other states or by transforming the Middle East into an arena for a long-distance confrontation with Iran.”