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Hamas claims Jerusalem shooting attack that kills 3 as Gaza truce is narrowly extended

(JTA) — Hamas has claimed responsibility for a shooting attack in the Ramot neighborhood of east Jerusalem that killed three and wounded six on Thursday morning, in what the Palestinian terror group said was retaliation for Israel’s war against it in Gaza and an Israeli military raid in the West Bank city of Jenin.

The attack was carried out by two brothers from east Jerusalem who had each served sentences in Israeli prisons for terror-related crimes, according to the Shin Bet, Israel’s security service. Ibrahim Namr, 30, and Murad Namr, 38, exited their vehicle and began firing on a group of civilians waiting at a bus stop located by the city’s entrance at around 7:40 a.m. Thursday.

The brothers were quickly shot and killed by two soldiers, one of whom was returning home from active duty in Gaza. That soldier, Roee Eizenbach, had left Gaza just hours earlier and was lightly injured in the incident.

The dead include Elimelech Wasserman, 73, who was reportedly on his way to Ashdod where he worked as a rabbinical judge; Libiah Dickman, 24, who was reportedly pregnant with her first child; and Chana Ifergen, 60, who died at an area hospital. Two of the other shooting victims are hospitalized in serious condition.

The two Namr brothers were both affiliated with Hamas when they were imprisoned in Israel, Murad from 2010 to 2020 and Ibrahim in 2014. The terror group said on Thursday that it was calling for “an escalation” of violence in response to Israel’s war against it in Gaza, declared after Hamas attacked Israel Oct. 7, killing 1,200 and taking hundreds of hostages, and in retaliation after two children were among four people killed during an Israeli army raid in the West Bank city of Jenin on Wednesday. The Israeli army said two senior terror operatives who were killed were the targets of the raid.

The attack occurred shortly after Israel’s 7 a.m. ceasefire deadline with Hamas was narrowly extended for another day. Instead of releasing 10 hostages, as it has been required to do each day since the truce went into effect last Friday, Hamas is releasing six women and two children, as well as the bodies of three hostages who died in Gaza, according to Israeli media reports. Two Russian-Israeli women released Wednesday as a “gesture” to Russian President Vladimir Putin are being counted in the daily tally.

It was not immediately clear which hostages were dead or which children would be released. There are only four children known to be held hostage in Gaza: teen siblings Aisha and Bilal Ziadna and Kfir and Ariel Bibas, toddlers who with their mother have become a symbol of the crisis. Hamas claimed on Wednesday that the Bibas brothers had been killed along with their mother; Israel has not confirmed or refuted the claim.

The shooting attack took place as U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken was in Jerusalem to weigh in as Israeli officials plan the next phase of their war on Hamas. Herzog described the attack to Blinken as “another example of the condition we find ourselves in, a never-ending war against terror organizations and in particular Hamas.” Blinken also met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who reiterated after their meeting that Israel has committed to destroying Hamas. Blinken reportedly told him that the United States expects Israel to protect civilians in further fighting. According to the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza, 14,000 Palestinians have been killed in the war, a figure that does not distinguish between combatants and civilians or denote casualties from misfired Palestinian rockets.

The shooting at the Ramot bus stop comes just over a year after a bomb attack occurred at the same place, killing two. In both cases, far-right Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir appeared shortly at the scene of the attack calling for harsher measures in response to terror and for civilians to arm themselves. Ben-Gvir has said his party would resign from the government if the war is not resumed in short order.

The background of the shooters is certain to add fuel to the debate in Israel over the dangers of releasing prisoners in order to redeem hostages. Israel has released three prisoners held on security offenses for each hostage released from Gaza, but is expected to face pressure to release more prisoners if it wants to see male adults and soldiers released.

The post Hamas claims Jerusalem shooting attack that kills 3 as Gaza truce is narrowly extended appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Top IDF Brass Blindsided by UNRWA Fallout

View of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) building in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. Photo: Abed Rahim Khatib / Flash90.

i24 NewsSenior Israel Defense Forces (IDF) command was caught off guard by the speed with which the allegations implicating UNRWA staffers in the October 7 atrocities became public knowledge, according to a New York Times report published Saturday.

When, on January 18, UNRWA head Philippe Lazzarini sat down with senior Israeli diplomat Amir Weissbrod in Tel Aviv for a routine meeting, the UN official was supplied with intelligence about the agency employees’ involvement in the massacre.

While the intelligence was provided by the IDF, the military establishment didn’t expect the explosive information to leak into the public domain. It emerged that Lazzarini relayed the allegations to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and began firing employees, eventually reporting the developments to U.S. officials.

Unnamed IDF officials cited in the NYT report were concerned that the allegations had been disseminated without Israel having devised a proper strategy for the fallout.

European countries, from the UK to Germany, as well as the United States, Canada and Australia all froze funding to UNRWA amid reviews in the aid agency and its employees.

While some have pushed for a complete shutdown of the agency, including U.S. lawmakers and Israeli ministers, others — including unnamed senior IDF officials — have said that it was inadvisable to do so during the war when UNRWA was providing needed humanitarian aid.

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Hamas Turns Down Hostage Deal, Demands Israel Release More Terrorists

Families of hostages and supporters protest to call for the release of hostages kidnapped on the deadly October 7 attack by Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Tel Aviv, Israel, January 6, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini

i24 NewsHamas on Sunday said it rejected the proposed hostage deal formulated in Paris, demanding that Israel release more Palestinian terrorists locked up in Israeli jails, according to a Saudi outlet.

There are 136 hostages held in Gaza by Hamas and other Palestinian jihadists, abducted during the October 7 incursion and massacre.

The statement comes hours after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reiterated Israel had “red lines” which could not be crossed.

Thus, the leader said, Israel will not end the war until all its goals are met, namely “the eradication of Hamas, the rescue of all our hostages, and ensuring that Gaza will never again pose a threat to Israel.”

“We will not agree to every deal, and not at any price,” he said, adding reports in the local media whereby Israel agreed to freeing large numbers of terrorists were not true.

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Dennis Ross Is Blaming Israel Again

Former Clinton adviser and US Mideast envoy Dennis Ross. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

JNS.orgFormer U.S. Middle East envoy Dennis Ross just can’t stop blaming Israel.

Speaking via Zoom for the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism & Policy on Jan. 31, Ross offered some expected, perfunctory criticism of Hamas, Iran and Hezbollah. But again and again, he managed to bring in one-sided and unfair criticism of Israel.

Referring to Israel’s counter-terrorism actions in Judea and Samaria, Ross said: “West Bank violence [by Arabs] is not disconnected from Israel’s policies in the West Bank.”

That’s just absurd. The terrorists are not responding to Israeli policies. They were murdering Jews long before there were any settlements or so-called occupied territories. They oppose Israel’s existence, not its borders. It’s these terrorists who are the aggressors, and Israelis must respond to them.

Regarding Gaza, Ross said: “The Israelis haven’t done everything they could to spare civilians in Gaza.” Is he kidding? The Israelis have refrained from striking terrorist targets where there are civilians. They have personally warned civilians to evacuate, again and again, through leaflets and phone calls and public announcements. They have risked the lives of their own soldiers by going house to house, instead of just bombing from the air. What else can they possibly do?

Ross also commented on the recent ruling by the International Court of Justice—the ruling that failed to condemn Hamas and demanded that Israel give more aid to Palestinians in Gaza. He said the ruling was “not irresponsible” and that it was provoked by “extreme statements by Israeli politicians.” That’s simply nonsense. The statement that the court cited most prominently was made by Israel’s left-leaning president, Isaac Herzog, who said that many ordinary Gazans supported the Hamas massacre, which was a perfectly reasonable statement of fact.

The practice of saying a few perfunctory crucial words about terrorists and then “balancing” it with criticism of Israel is typical of the grotesque “even-handedness” that Ross and his colleagues pushed during his many years at the U.S. State Department.

That approach was wrong then, and it’s wrong now. There can be no “balance” between good and evil. Israel and the Palestinian Authority are not on the same moral level. Israel is America’s loyal, reliable, democratic ally. The P.A. is a terror-sponsoring, hate-mongering dictatorship.

In recent months, Ross has been saying that Israel should allow the Hamas leadership to leave Gaza in exchange for the release of the remaining hostages. He points to Israel’s decision in 1982, under U.S. pressure, to allow PLO chief Yasser Arafat and thousands of PLO terrorists to leave besieged Beirut.

But Ross never mentions what happened after Arafat left. He didn’t retire. He set up PLO terrorist headquarters in Tunisia, and then 20 additional years of terrorism followed—suicide bombings, intifadas, mass shootings, stabbings. Ross’s new plan would have the same result.

This is the same Dennis Ross who has acknowledged—on the op-ed page of The Washington Post in 2014—that he pressured Israel to allow Hamas to import concrete. Ross wrote that the Israelis opposed his demand because they feared that Hamas would use the cement to build terror tunnels. Ross insisted the concrete would be used to build houses, and because of his pressure, the Israelis gave in. We all know the result.

In his Zoom talk this week, Ross had the chutzpah to mention that Hamas used imported cement to build tunnels instead of homes, though never mentioned that he was the one who helped them to get that cement into Gaza in the first place.

Ross is frequently quoted in The New York Times and invited to appear on television shows and webinars. He’s treated as if his past involvement in Mideast diplomacy makes him an expert on how to make peace today. Yet every one of those diplomatic efforts failed. He has never facilitated real peace because he continues to pretend that both sides are to blame for the absence of peace.

The Jewish world is full of talented speakers, thinkers and writers. Surely, our institutions should be able to find more thoughtful lecturers than those same tired, old critics of Israel with their familiar and disastrous proposals.

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