Hamas Downplays Likelihood of War with Israel

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6 mar 2019 (Gehele dag)
Hamas Downplays Likelihood of War with Israel
Tensions have soared in recent days between Israel and the Islamist terror militia Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, but a senior official in the Strip told Maariv on Tuesday that "The Egyptian delegation is doing everything it can to lower tension and prevent war in the Gaza Strip. I think the Israeli side is also not interested in war on the eve of elections." Egyptian-mediated negotiations are ongoing between Israel and Hamas, however, rioting by Palestinian residents of the Strip at several points along the border fence have increased in recent days.

On Tuesday, a number of explosive and incendiary devices were sent over the border into Israel attached to kites and balloons, setting fires and causing economic damage. The Israeli Air Force has struck several Hamas sites in the Strip in response. In related news, aarly Wednesday afternoon, the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that it was designating Hamas’ official Al-Aqsa TV station as a terrorist organization unto itself.

Israel Gets Strong Signals of Support from US
There were some dramatic signals of support for Israel from the US military in recent days, including the deployment to Israel on Monday of a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery for training and testing. The move was hailed by Prime Minister Netanyahu in a video posted to social media as a sign that Israel is “even stronger in order to deal with near and distant threats from throughout the Middle East.” The deployment of the battery is scheduled to last one week. Meanwhile, a team of IDF air transport personnel returned to Israel on Tuesday after two weeks of training with counterpart USAF units.

The team from the 103rd Elephants Squadron, equipped with their Samson Hercules C-130J transport aircraft and related equipment, trained with crews from several US Air Force units at the Advanced Airlift Tactics Training Center (AATTC) in the US State of Missouri for a week before moving on to Libby Army Airfield in Ft. Huachuca, Arizona for another series of maneuvers.

Metzger Released Early from Prison
Former Chief Ashkenazi rabbi of Israel Yona Metzger was paroled from prison on Wednesday after serving 22 months of a three and a half years sentence he received after pleading guilty to several charges of bribery and fraud related to his position as chief rabbi, which he held from 2003 to 2013. In addition to jail time, Metzger was also given fines and penalties by the court amounting to NIS 5 million.

Western Wall Set to Be Renewed Flashpoint
The Women of the Wall organization, which demands that the State make provision for female Jews to pray at the Western Wall in ceremonial clothing and religious instruments such as Torah Scrolls traditionally used only by males, is set to hold its 30th anniversary service in the Old City this coming Friday, coinciding this year with International Women’s Day. Police are warning of the likelihood that the service could spark counter-demonstrations at the site, urging all sides to refrain from violence.

Tourism Industry Enjoys Another Milestone
Israel’s booming tourism industry took another large step forward on Monday when the first international flights landed at the recently opened Ramon Airport just north of the Red Sea resort city of Eilat. The flights, operated by Irish budget-airline RyanAir arrived with full loads of visitors from European countries.

Today's video shows an expert panel discussion on recent developments in the Middle East