No injuries as Israeli bus comes under fire in West Bank
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No injuries as Israeli bus comes under fire in West Bank

Army searching for gunmen near Ofra settlement after bulletproof vehicle targeted in apparent terror attack

Marissa Newman is The Times of Israel political correspondent.

The shattered window of a bus that came under fire in the West Bank on December 10, 2017 (courtesy)
The shattered window of a bus that came under fire in the West Bank on December 10, 2017 (courtesy)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Sunday’s developments as they unfolded.

Defense minister says tunnel threat could be gone in ‘months’

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman says he “hopes in the coming months, the tunnel threat to the citizens of the Gaza periphery will become a thing of the past.”

He speaks after the army announces it destroyed over the weekend another attack tunnel coming from the southern Gaza Strip that entered Israeli territory.

The defense minister hails Israel’s new technologies to detect the cross-border passages dug by Hamas.

The tunnels “are a threat we will not abide and we will invest all resources to thwart it,” he says.

Lebanon breaks up anti-Trump protest outside US embassy

Lebanese security forces break up a protest outside the heavily guarded US Embassy after demonstrators pelt them with stones.

The protesters gathered early Sunday hundreds of meters outside the embassy to reject the US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. After a rowdy start, the protest drew several hundred people and became more peaceful, with demonstrators chanting and singing.

The clashes resumed in the afternoon, with security forces chasing protesters, arresting a handful of them and lobbing tear gas canisters.

Lebanon is home to 450,000 Palestinian refugees, nearly 10 percent of the population.


Intelligence minister: ‘Tunnel threat era’ nearing its end

Echoing Defense Minister Liberman, Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz also says the “era of the tunnel threat” will soon be over.

“I welcome the successful operation of the IDF that neutralized the tunnel that penetrated the territory of the State of Israel,” says Katz in a statement. “This action conveys a clear message that the era of the tunnel threat is nearing an end.”

The intelligence minister says the discovery of the cross-border tunnel proves the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation deal will not come to fruition.

“The discovery and detonation of the tunnel proves once again the justice of Israel’s decision not to recognize the imaginary reconciliation government between Abu Mazen [PA President Mahmoud Abbas] and Hamas that is being formed these days. While Abu Mazen talks about peace and political agreements, Hamas is digging tunnels and preparing for war.”

Transportation and Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz attends a press conference at the Transportation Ministry in Jerusalem on March 14, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Bennett says tunnels will be destroyed ‘within a year or two’

Education Minister Naftali Bennett says Israel will destroy Hamas’s terror tunnels network “within a year or two.”

His estimate appears to conflict with that by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, who said the threat could be removed within “months.”

“Within a year or two we will topple Hamas’s leading project, the terror tunnels, so now is a time to be extra alert. We must also prepare for new aerial or naval threats, since Hamas is always looking to innovate,” Bennett says, after the IDF announces it demolished another cross-border tunnel.

“Today, those digging tunnels are digging their death trap,” says Bennett.

“The destruction of the tunnel is the result of a clear policy against terror. Security forces have developed a systematic system for the location and destruction of the tunnels. It will take time, but Hamas’s tunnels will crumble.”

Erdogan: Israel a ‘terrorist state’ that ‘kills children’

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan describes Israel as a “terrorist state” Sunday and vows to use “all means to fight” against the US recognition of Jerusalem as the country’s capital.

“Palestine is an innocent victim… As for Israel, it is a terrorist state, yes, terrorist!” Erdogan says in a speech in the central city of Sivas. “We will not abandon Jerusalem to the mercy of a state that kills children.”


Security guard stabbed outside Jerusalem bus station

A security guard is stabbed in the chest and seriously wounded at the entrance to the Jerusalem Central Bus Station, emergency officials say.

Police are searching for the assailant.

Medics from the Magen David Adom ambulance service are treating the injured guard, who is approximately 25 years old

It is not immediately clear if the stabbing is a terror attack.

Judah Ari Gross

Jerusalem stabber ‘neutralized,’ police say

Police say the Jerusalem bus station stabber has been “neutralized.”

His condition is not immediately known.

Hospital: Stabbing victim’s injuries ‘very serious’

The Shaare Zedek Medical Center admits the injured security guard for treatment.

The hospital describes his condition as “very serious.”

The guard is “sedated and on a respirator,” the hospital says in a statement.

Police: Jerusalem terrorist a 24-year-old Palestinian

Police say the Jerusalem bus station stabber is a 24-year-old Palestinian man.

He was apprehended after a police officer and a civilian chased him down after he carried out the suspected terror attack, police say.

Pope urges ‘wisdom and prudence’ on Jerusalem

Pope Francis on Sunday renews a call for “wisdom and prudence” over the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

“The Holy Father renews his appeal for the wisdom and prudence of everyone, and raises fervent prayers so that the leaders of nations, at this serious moment, commit themselves to avert a new spiral of violence,” a statement from the Vatican says.


Netanyahu meets Macron in Paris

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives at the Elysee Palace in Paris, where he is greeted by French President Emmanuel Macron.

Over lunch, the two are expected to discuss the status of Jerusalem, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, the Iran nuclear deal and the future of Syria.

Late today, they will hold a joint press conference, before Netanyahu heads to Brussels for a series of meetings with top European Union officials.

Raphael Ahren

Shin Bet: Jerusalem terrorist entered Israel illegally

The Shin Bet security service says the terrorist who stabbed and seriously injured a security guard in Jerusalem entered Israel illegally.

The 24-year-old Palestinian had a permit allowing him to work in the so-called “seam region,” surrounding the West Bank, but not inside Israel proper, the service says.

The terrorist is from the Nablus area and had no previously known terrorist ties, the Shin Bet says.

Judah Ari Gross

Tens of thousands rally against Jerusalem recognition in Morocco

Tens of thousands of protesters rally in Morocco’s capital Rabat on Sunday as demonstrations against US President Donald Trump’s declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital continued to spread.

Waving Palestinian flags, a sea of demonstrators march from Rabat’s Bab el-Had square to Morocco’s parliament building, down Mohammed VI Avenue, the city’s main thoroughfare.

“Jerusalem, capital of Palestine!” reads a banner carried by the protesters, who included families, Islamist sympathizers, trade unionists and local activists.

“The Palestinian people have suffered so much and continue to suffer because of Israel’s barbaric colonization,” says one of the protesters, 43-year-old Mustapha.

“We must, more than ever, make our voices heard against this decision by Trump that will deprive the Palestinians of their land,” says the lawyer from Casablanca, accompanied by his six-year-old daughter.

Morocco’s King Mohammed VI earlier expressed his “deep concern” over Trump’s move, acting as head of the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation’s Al-Quds Committee, which lobbies on issues related to Jerusalem.


Lapid slams Erdogan after Turkey brands Israel a ‘terrorist state’

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid slams Turkey’s president, who earlier in the day called Israel a “terrorist state” that “kills children.”

“Those who deny the murder of children in the Armenian genocide should not preach morality at us,” says Lapid in a Twitter post.

Over fears of angering Turkey, Israel — along with other countries, including the United States and Germany — has refrained from formally recognizing the Armenian genocide.

Swedish police arrest 3 over attempted synagogue arson

Police in Sweden on Sunday arrest three people over a failed arson attempt at a synagogue in the country’s second largest city, Gothenburg.

The three were detained on suspicion of attempted arson, police say in a statement, after a burning object was thrown at the building but did not catch fire late on Saturday night.

Jewish community members tells local media the synagogue was attacked by a group of masked men who threw multiple burning objects.

Some 20 youngsters briefly took shelter in a cellar during the attack, they added, but no one was injured.

“Events over the last few days between Trump and Israel and the unrest between Israel and Palestine, those things always lead to heightened threats,” Jewish community leader Allan Stutzinsky tells the daily GT newspaper.


Jerusalem guard stable, but knife ‘hit his heart’

Doctors at Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center have stabilized a security guard who was stabbed in the chest outside the city’s bus station in a terror attack, says Dr. Ofer Merrin, the head of the hospital’s trauma center.

The approximately 40-year-old victim is still in serious condition, unconscious and connected to a respirator. According to Merrin, he is still at risk of dying from the wounds, despite doctors’ efforts.

“The knife, unfortunately, hit his heart. His condition has stabilized, but I cannot say that there’s no threat to his life because, like I said, he’s in serious condition,” the doctor says.

Judah Ari Gross

Minister says terror attack a ‘direct result’ of PA incitement

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan blames “incitement” by the Palestinian Authority for the stabbing terror attack in Jerusalem.

“This afternoon’s terror attack in Jerusalem is a direct result of the ongoing incitement to terror by the PA and Fatah, which is working with Hamas to instigate violence,” says Erdan in a statement. “Abu Mazen [PA President Abbas] continues to demonstrate that he is not a true partner for peace, and now that he has established a unity government with Hamas, he is responsible for Hamas’ murderous incitement as well.”

“I am praying for the quick recovery of the security guard who was wounded in the attack,” he adds.

Both Fatah and Hamas have urged Palestinians to protest the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Hebron settlers set out conditions to cease squatting

A group of settlers squatting in a disputed Hebron building submit to the High Court of Justice on Sunday conditions under which they would agree to evacuate the complex they have illegally inhabited for over four months.

Some 100 settlers have been living in the Machpela House adjacent to the Tomb of the Patriarchs in the flashpoint West Bank city since July 25. After a High Court of Justice petition against the squatters was filed by a group of Palestinian residents of Hebron, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit issued a response on behalf of the state, giving the settlers a week to peacefully vacate the Machpela House before the IDF would be ordered to remove them by force.

However, the squatters submitted a series of petitions delaying the evacuation for the past three months since Mandelblit’s original order. In Sunday’s offer, the settlers take issue with an awning they claim was recently built by Palestinian residents who live on the bottom floor of the complex. The squatters condition their peaceful evacuation on the prior demolition of that awning. In addition, they demand that the High Court permit them to post two or three guards at the Machpela House “to supervise the structure.”

The Peace Now settlement watchdog calls the move “another dubious exercise.” The group’s statement argues that the “guards” being requested to be stationed at the house are settlers themselves and that the squatters have no intention of leaving willfully.

For their part, the settlers argue they have legally purchased the property and that the registration document the state says they were missing isn’t necessary for them to maintain occupancy in the apartment building.

Jacob Magid

Jerusalem terrorist hinted at attack on Facebook

The terrorist who stabbed a security guard in Jerusalem is identified by Palestinian media as 24-year-old Yasin Abu al-Qar’a, from Nablus.

He had apparently been planning to carry out the attack for at least a day, writing what appears to be a suicide note on his Facebook page.

“Our blood is cheap [for the sake] of our homeland, our Jerusalem and our Al-Aqsa,” al-Qar’a wrote.

Judah Ari Gross

Fatah: Gaza handover of power facing ‘obstacles’

A planned handover of power in Gaza from Hamas to the Palestinian Authority under a landmark reconciliation accord hit “obstacles” on Sunday’s deadline to do so, a top official says

Hamas was originally due to transfer power in the enclave on December 1 under the reconciliation agreement with rival faction Fatah, but that deadline was initially put back by 10 days.

Hamas said at the weekend that it was handing over all government ministries to the Palestinian Authority, but Fatah’s top negotiator says that is not yet the case.

“There have been obstacles today,” Azzam al-Ahmad says in a statement on Sunday published on official news agency WAFA. “I hope they will be resolved before this evening so our people will feel that their national factions are honest with what they agreed on and pledged.”

Ahmad says that after the handover takes place, a meeting would be held in Cairo — Egypt mediated the reconciliation deal — to discuss next steps.


IDF official warns Hamas: Tunnels will be your ‘death trap’

The head of the IDF’s Southern Command warns Hamas terrorist operatives that attack tunnels are “a death trap for you,” in a video released after the military destroyed such a tunnel.

“Any tunnel that is discovered will be destroyed. We won’t hesitate to act in order to defend Israeli civilians,” Maj. Gen. Eyal Zamir says.

The general notes that Israeli soldiers operated deep inside the tunnel before destroying it.

“It no longer presents a threat,” he says.

Zamir accuses the terrorist group of “serially violating Israeli sovereignty,” and warns that continuing to do so risks “escalation” and threatens the Gaza Strip’s civilian population.

“I’ve warned the enemy and I’ll warn them again: Anyone who goes into a tunnel, endangers himself. These terror tunnels are a death trap for you,” he says.

Zamir adds that the army has a number of technological and intelligence capabilities with which it believes it can effectively neutralize the threat of border-crossing attack tunnels.

Judah Ari Gross

Macron to Netanyahu: Trump recognition a ‘danger to peace’

At a joint press conference with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Paris, French President Emmanuel Macron expresses disapproval of the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The French president says he informed the Israeli prime minister of his opposition to the move.

“These statements do not serve security, especially security of Palestinians and Israelis,” says Macron.

The French president also condemns terror attacks against Israel.

“Israel is a friend,” says Macron. “We’re close friends and we won’t accept any terror attacks.”

— Raphael Ahren

Macron says he’ll visit Israel in 2018

The French president announces during the press conference that he will visit Israel in 2018.

Raphael Ahren

Netanyahu tells Macron to ‘give peace a chance’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commends the French leader for his stance on Lebanon and Iran.

On peace with the Palestinians, Netanyahu says the leaders don’t yet agree.

“Does this mean that Emmanuel Macron and I agree on everything? Not yet. We’re working on it. It’s a matter of time,” says Netanyahu.

Netanyahu pushes back on the French rejection of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

“Where else is the capital of Israel but Jerusalem?” says Netanyahu, noting its government and courts are located there. “Jerusalem has not been the capital of any other people.”

“The sooner the Palestinians come to the realization the sooner we will have peace,” says Netanyahu.

Noting that a “serious” US effort was underway to resume the peace process, Netanyahu adds: “All I can say is, pardon the expression, give peace a chance.”

Raphael Ahren

PM: Erdogan ‘helps terrorists, including in Gaza, kill innocent people’

Netanyahu strongly lashes out at Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who accused Israel of being a “terrorist state” who “kills children.”

“I’m not used to receiving lectures about morality from a leader who bombs Kurdish villages in his native Turkey, who jails journalists” and helps Iran bypass sanctions, says Netanyahu. The Turkish leader “helps terrorists, including in Gaza, kill innocent people.”

“That is not the man who will lecture us,” he adds.

Raphael Ahren

Netanyahu invites Abbas to talk peace

In Paris, Netanyahu says the “most important thing about peace is to recognize the other side has a right to exist.”

“This is what is holding back Israeli-Palestinian peace,” adds Netanyahu.

“Here is my offer: to sit down to negotiate peace. I repeatedly invited President Abbas, and I do it here again, in the Elysee. That’s a gesture of peace. Nothing could be simpler,” says the prime minister.

Netanyahu refers to an “outside-in” regional peace plan, which would see normalization with Arab countries pave the way for peace with the Palestinians.

“I seek to use this growing normalization with countries in the region to do two things: Isolate the extremists. And second, to create a realism toward peace with the Palestinians, This is called the outside-in strategy,” says Netanyahu.

In his remarks, Macron says he will not start another peace initiative, like his predecessor Francois Hollande. Preventing violence is the focus now, says the French president.

Raphael Ahren

Jordan parliament to review peace deal with Israel

The Jordanian parliament votes unanimously to review the 1994 peace deal with Israel.

The measure comes in response to the decision by United States President Donald Trump to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the leading Jordanian daily al-Ghad reports.

Dov Lieber

The Jordanian Parliament (Jordan Parliament official)

3rd police interrogation of coalition whip ends

The third police interrogation of coalition chairman David Bitan (Likud) ends.

The Likud MK is questioned over suspicions of receiving bribes, fraud, money laundering and breach of trust.

Coalition chairman Likud party MK David Bitan speaks to media in the Knesset, December 5, 2017. Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Abbas in Cairo to discuss Trump’s Jerusalem recognition

PA President Mahmoud Abbas makes a surprise visit to Cairo for consultations with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi on the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the Ma’an news agency reports.

He was contacted by Sissi earlier in the day, according to the report.

Haley: Jerusalem recognition will move peace efforts forward

US President Donald Trump’s administration insists on Sunday that its recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital will help the cause of peace, with UN Ambassador Nikki Haley saying it will “move the ball forward.”

The new US stance, fiercely criticized by Palestinians, Arab leaders and others as gravely damaging any prospects for Middle East peace, has given rise to swelling protests across the region in recent days.

But Haley suggests that the fears are overblown.

She tells CNN that Trump was the first US president to have the “courage” to make a move that she said many Americans and others around the world supported.

“When it comes to those people (who are) upset, we knew that was going to happen. But courage causes that… I strongly believe this is going to move the ball forward for the peace process.”

When a CNN interviewer asks repeatedly how the change would help the cause of peace, Haley suggests that it would simplify negotiations.

“Now they get to come together to decide what the borders look like, they get to decide the boundaries and they get to talk about how they want to see Jerusalem, going forward.

“All we did was say, ‘this is not something we’re going to allow to happen in the middle of your negotiations.'”


Abbas aide: PA not severing ties with US over Jerusalem

A senior adviser to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas says contacts with the United States on the peace process are “interrupted,” though the channels remain open on other matters.

“We are not cutting our relationship with America. We are protesting the move of Mr. Trump,”  Abbas’s Foreign Affairs Adviser Nabil Sha’ath tells The Times of Israel in a phone interview, referring to the US president’s recent recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

“We think Mr. Trump has acted in a way that makes it impossible for the United States to act as an honest broker. We are just expressing that,” he adds. 
“We still have a delegation in Washington. There are matters with which communication is still continuing. Communication about the peace process is interrupted.”

Dov Lieber

World leaders congratulate Iraq on defeating IS

World leaders congratulate Iraq Sunday following the prime minister’s declaration of victory over the Islamic State group. Saudi Arabia says the achievement is a big victory against terrorism in the region while the United Kingdom applauds Iraq’s security forces “for their courage and sacrifice.”

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory in the more than three-year fight against IS in a national address aired on Iraqi state television Saturday evening.

Sunday was an official holiday in Iraq. A military parade attended by al-Abadi is held inside Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone — a district that houses most of Iraq’s government buildings and foreign embassies. In the evening, the capital’s skies fill with fireworks.

“Daesh no longer holds significant territory in Iraq or Syria,” United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May says according to an official statement released by her office. “This signals a new chapter towards a more peaceful, prosperous country.”

In Saudi Arabia’s statement Sunday, the kingdom reiterates Saudi support for Iraq.

Iraqis gather in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square on December 10, 2017, to celebrate the end of the three-year war against the Islamic State (IS) group. (AFP/Ahmad Al-Rubaye)

Several thousand Saudis are believed to have joined the ranks of Sunni extremist groups to fight in Iraq and Syria. However, the kingdom has also been a target of multiple attacks claimed by IS and carried out by local affiliates.

The top US-led coalition commander US Lt. Gen. Paul E. Funk II pledges that coalition forces will continue to support Iraq after the conventional military fight against IS is concluded.

“Much work remains, and we will continue to work by, with and through our Iraqi partners to ensure the enduring defeat of Daesh and prevent its ability to threaten civilization, regionally and globally,” Funk says in a statement released by the coalition Sunday. Daesh is an Arabic acronym for IS.


US committed to Israeli-Palestinian peace, says official

A senior US official is appealing to Middle East leaders to calm tensions in the region following the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

In a briefing with Arab journalists, Acting Assistant Secretary of State David Satterfield says Sunday that President Donald Trump’s pronouncement last week was a “recognition of simple reality” and not meant to prejudge final status negotiations about the city’s final borders.

He says he hopes Arab and world leaders understand the US remains committed to moving forward with a peace plan he expects to be unveiled in the new year.

“This is a question of choice: Do leaders choose to speak to their peoples, to their regions in terms that reflect reality or in terms that incite or inflame?” He says. “We hope it’s the former.”

— with AP

Netanyahu defends ‘excellent’ coalition whip amid investigation

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu backs his embattled coalition chair David Bitan, in the first public statement on the criminal investigation into the top Likud MK.

Netanyahu also argues the coalition is stable and will continue to hold.

“David Bitan enjoys the presumption of innocence,” Netanyahu says of the coalition chairman, who is suspected of receiving bribes, fraud, money laundering and breach of trust.

“I respect him, and I really like him,” Netanyahu says. “He’s doing excellent work as coalition whip.”

Speaking to Israeli reporters at the Israeli embassy in Paris minutes after his meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, Netanyahu rejects reports that the governing coalition is in danger.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and David Bitan sharing a toast at a Likud faction meeting on February 27, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“They’ve been saying for 10 years that the coalition will collapse tomorrow,” he says. “I don’t see the coalition falling apart.”

The prime minister refuses to discuss in detail the various legislative proposals that are currently being debated in the Knesset, saying only that the crisis around the controversial mini-market law “will be solved.”

The ultra-Orthodox coalition parties are pushing for the bill — which would shutter mini-markets on Saturdays — to be voted into law, but the Yisrael Beytenu party opposes it.

Raphael Ahren

Netanyahu hails Macron’s position on Iran

France is supportive of Israel’s policies to counter Iran’s aggressive behavior in the region, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Sunday.

Iran is attempting to entrench itself militarily in Syria and build missile factories there, Netanyahu tells reporters at the Israeli embassy in Paris, moments after concluding a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace.

“We’re determined to prevent this, and we found an open ear and a supportive attitude,” Netanyahu says.

The prime minister hails Macron as one of few Western leaders who vocally speaks out against Iranian acts of aggression in Syria and Lebanon. Netanyahu says he and the French president “agreed on many strategic issues.”

Netanyahu says Israel acts to protect its interests in the region, hinting at reported airstrikes in Syria and Lebanon to prevent Iranian efforts to establish itself militarily there. “I did not meet real opposition to this position,” he says of his meeting with Macron.

“Previous presidents of France recognized the danger, but they didn’t act on it with the same courage and boldness as Macron does, and that is very important,” Netanyahu says.

Israel and France agreed to increase already strong security cooperation, he says.

Raphael Ahren

PM: ‘Absurd’ to suggest Israel will have to repay favor of Jerusalem recognition

Netanyahu once again hails US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, saying it fixed “a historic anomaly.”

He dismisses the notion that Israel will have to make any concessions to the Palestinians “in return for the favor.”

“It was a historic anomaly, and it was about time that it was changed,” he says. “The idea that we have to give anything in return is absurd.”

Trump didn’t make his promise last week to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem “as a give and take,” Netanyahu adds. “He repaired a historic wrong, and over time it will be seen as such.”

The prime minister says he is not yet fully aware of Trump’s peace proposal, but notes that Jerusalem is one of the “core issues” that will be on the table.

“We never ruled out that Jerusalem be discussed. The Palestinians have their positions on it, and they are free to bring them up,” he says.

“We never rule out discussions — we rule out results,” he says, adding that his government’s opposition to a partition of Jerusalem is well-known.

During the briefing in Paris, Netanyahu also praises Israel’s security establishment for having detected and destroyed a Hamas terror tunnel from Gaza into Israel over the weekend.

However, he adds that it was a “cat and mouse game,” in that Israel’s enemies will work to find ways to bypass the Israeli technologies that detected the tunnel.

“It will take time [until we completely eliminate the problem of terror tunnels], but there is no doubt progress,” he says.

Raphael Ahren

Attempted rocket fire from Gaza falls short, lands in Strip — report

Israeli security officials say attempts were made in the last few hours to fire rockets from Gaza into Israel, but they fell short, according to Hadashot news.

There is no immediate confirmation from the army.

No injuries as armored Israeli bus comes under fire in West Bank

An armored Israeli bus comes under fire near the West Bank settlements of Ofra and Beit El.

There are no injuries in the attempted terror attack. The bus was carrying students.

Israeli security forces are searching the area for the attackers.

“Damage was done to the bus but no passengers were injured,” the IDF says. “Israeli forces are currently searching the area to check if the source of the damage was indeed gunshots.”

US: Palestinian decision to snub Pence ‘unfortunate’

A spokesperson for US Vice President Mike Pence says the Palestinians’ decision to snub the vice president during his Israel visit next week is “unfortunate.”

“It’s unfortunate that the Palestinian Authority is walking away again from an opportunity to discuss the future of the region, but the administration remains undeterred in its efforts to help achieve peace between Israelis and Palestinians and our peace team remains hard at work putting together a plan,” says Jarrod Agen, according to Reuters.

Turkey hits back at Netanyahu, condemns Israeli ‘massacres’

PARIS — Ankara on Sunday evening shoots back at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who earlier in the day accused Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of bombing Kurdish civilians and helping terrorists kill innocent people.

The Israeli prime minister had been responding to earlier comments by Erdogan, who called Israel a “terrorist state” that “kills children.”

“It is not possible to take seriously the allegations and accusations made by a mentality, which massacred thousands of Palestinians, turned the lands of the Palestinians into an open-air prison, in order to suppress its guilt,” Erdogan’s spokesperson says.

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms Israeli PM Netanyahu’s remarks targeting the Republic of Turkey and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan,” he says in a written message.

Israel, which disregards international law, “occupies Palestinian people’s hundreds-of-years-old homeland and systematically violates United Nations resolutions, must first account for its own actions,” the statement says.

Earlier on Sunday, during a press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron, Netanyahu had said: “Erdogan should not preach to us; he bombs Kurdish villages in Turkey, imprisons journalists, helps Iran evade international sanctions and helps terrorists attack innocents in Gaza and other places.”

Raphael Ahren

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