Over 20 Israelis arrested for blocking roads to Palestinian traffic in West Bank
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Thousands call on PM to resign in protest outside his home against terror spate

Speakers at settler demonstration unimpressed by measures Netanyahu said he’d be taking in response to violence, arguing they’re identical to what he’d promised 3 years prior

Jacob Magid is the settlements correspondent for The Times of Israel.

Right-wing Israelis at a protest outside the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem on December 13, 2018, hold signs depicting Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the crosshairs of a rifle scope. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Right-wing Israelis at a protest outside the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem on December 13, 2018, hold signs depicting Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the crosshairs of a rifle scope. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Thursday’s events as they unfolded.

Settler leaders demand Palestinian travel ban on West Bank road after attack

Settler leaders call on the government to close down West Bank highways to Palestinian traffic in response to today’s attack at the Assaf Junction, the second such shooting in less than a week in the central West Bank.

“I demand that the prime minister deal with terrorism as is necessary,” says Yisrael Ganz, the chairman of the Binyamin Regional Council where the attack took place.

“The first step must be a total and immediate ban on the Arab population’s travel on Route 60,” he adds, referring to the West Bank’s main north-south artery.

“I call on the political echelon to rethink the open-road policy [in the West Bank],” said Beit El Local Council chairman Shai Alon.

“It is inconceivable that week after week we will endure shooting attacks with fatalities on the roads. The roads must be closed to the Palestinians immediately,” he says.

Hananel Dorani, the chairman of the Yesha settlement umbrella council, calls for the sealing of all entrances to the Palestinian city of Ramallah, and Samaria Regional Council chairman Yossi Dagan calls for the re-institution of dozens of IDF checkpoints throughout the West Bank that the army has gradually removed over the years.

IDF: We can’t rule out possibility that today’s attack was connected to Ofra Junction shooting

IDF Spokesman Ronen Manelis says that the army “has not ruled out” the possibility that the cell behind today’s attack at the Assaf Junction in the central West Bank is related to the shooting at the nearby Ofra Junction four days ago.

Settler leaders announce strike in response to shooting attack

Settler leaders announce a municipal strike in response to the deadly shooting attack outside the Givat Assaf outpost.

Samaria Council chairman Yossi Dagan tells reporters at the scene at the Assaf Junction that his municipality in addition to the Binyamin Regional Council and the Beit El Local Council will be ceasing their activities and closing down schools on Sunday in order to protest outside the cabinet meeting in Jerusalem.

Dagan says he will also be leading a demonstration outside the Prime Minister’s Residence this evening at 7 p.m.

“We call on council leaders and all citizens of Israel who care that Jews are being murdered day after day to join us because we are saying ‘enough,’ we will not be silent anymore,” Dagan says, seething.

Foreign Ministry blames shooting attack on PA

Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon blames today’s deadly shooting attack outside the Givat Assaf outpost on the Palestinian Authority.

“Today we have witnessed another lethal attack by Palestinian terrorists. This murderous violence is nourished by the vicious incitement and financial support given by the Palestinian Authority to terrorists and their families,” the spokesman said.

Hamas has praised today’s attack while PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s office has released a statement condemning the recent violence.

Mahmoud Abbas condemns recent violence ‘for which both sides are paying a price’

The office of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas releases a statement condemning the recent violence in the West Bank, which spiked this morning with a shooting attack outside the Givat Assaf outpost that left two dead.

“In response to the ongoing events in the West Bank, the presidency said that the climate created by the policy of repeated raids into cities, incitement against the president and the absence of horizons for peace is what led to this unacceptable spate of violence, which we condemn and reject, and for which the two sides are paying a price.”

The statement referred to the recent raids by Israeli security forces in Ramallah in pursuit of the terror cell behind the drive-by shooting attack outside the Ofra settlement at the beginning of the week as well as to the subsequent poster campaign started by a far-right Israeli group which calls for Abbas’s assassination.

— with Adam Rasgon

Hawkish faction within Jewish Home threatens to quit government after attack

A far-right faction threatens to quit Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition and has called a meeting to decide on its demands for steps against Palestinians following a wave of deadly terror attacks in the West Bank.

“Following the severe terror attacks, we decided to … reexamine our continued membership in the government and coalition,” Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel, who leads the hardline National Union faction within the religious right-wing Jewish Home coalition party, writes on Twitter.

The meeting will take place this evening and could see Ariel and MK Bezalel Smotrich leave the coalition, which currently has a scant 61-59 majority in the Knesset — a move that would topple the government.

The two MKs intend to issue an ultimatum to Netanyahu, conditioning their coalition membership on the premier closing Route 60 — the main north-south West Bank artery — to Palestinian vehicles.

“I have asked the prime minister to order immediate action including reinstating checkpoints all over Judea and Samaria, the immediate demolition of houses and deportation of terrorists within Judea and Samaria,” Ariel writes, using the biblical name for the West Bank.

He also demands that the security cabinet convene by Sunday.

Smotrich says the government had “no right to exist” if routes in the West Bank aren’t closed to Palestinians, and if steps aren’t taken to legalize settlements.

He also calls on settlers to block Route 60 to Palestinians at 5 p.m. on Thursday. “If there are terror attacks — there won’t be Arabs on the roads. Our lives come before their welfare.”

— with Michael Bachner

Condition of a seriously injured victim from Givat Assaf attack stabilizes

Doctors at the Shaare Zedek Medical Center say the condition of one of the seriously injured Israelis from the terror attack outside the Givat Assaf outpost has stabilized.

The woman arrived at the hospital in serious condition, but has since received blood transfusions.

Dozens of students block road leading to Gaza goods crossing in response to West Bank attack

Dozens of high school students from the Naveh yeshiva demonstrate next to Kerem Shalom, the Gaza Strip’s main border crossing for goods, in response to the terror attack near the Givat Assaf outpost.

The teens are blocking a road leading up to the crossing, burning tires and calling on the government to respond punitively to the attacks.

Dozens of high school students from the Naveh yeshiva demonstrate next to Kerem Shalom Gaza goods crossing in response to the terror attack near the Givat Assaf outpost on December 13, 2018. (Courtesy)

US ambassador: PA can either be a political body or terror sponsor, not both

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman condemns the Palestinian Authority’s policy of payments to security prisoners following today’s terror attack outside the Givat Assaf outpost.

“In the past week Palestinian terrorists have killed or wounded 14 Israelis in multiple attacks. The Pal Authority maintains laws that will compensate these terrorists and their families for their heinous acts. The PA can be a political body OR a sponsor of terror, not both,” he tweets.

 

Over 20 Israelis arrested for blocking roads to Palestinian traffic in West Bank

Over 20 far-right Israeli activists have been arrested for blocking Route 60 to Palestinian traffic, the Honenu legal aid group says.

The suspects have been taken to the Binyamin Police Station in the central West Bank. It is not immediately clear whether they will be released or if police will be filing charges against them.

IDF confirms that 2 dead and 1 wounded in West Bank terror attack were soldiers

The Israel Defense Forces confirms that the two people killed and one of those injured in a terrorist shooting attack today were soldiers.

The fourth victim was a civilian woman, who was standing near the soldiers at a bus stop in the central West Bank when a terrorist opened fire at them.

The army has yet to release the names of the soldiers.

The military censor had prevented publication of the fact that they were soldiers until their families could be informed.

— Judah Ari Gross

Far-right activists filmed hurling stones at Palestinian vehicles after terror attack

Several Palestinian commuters filmed Israeli settlers hurling stones at their vehicles outside of Ramallah in the central West Bank.

Dozens of far-right Israeli activists were holding demonstrations throughout the West Bank, blocking roads to Palestinian traffic and demanding that the government carry out punitive measures against Palestinians in response to recent terror attacks targeting Israelis.

Mother who lost her infant in terror attack vows to have ‘many more babies’

Shira Ish-Ran, the pregnant mother who was severely wounded and lost her baby boy in a West Bank shooting attack earlier this week, vows to have “many more babies” in response to the terror attack.

Ish-Ran, who was 30 weeks pregnant at the time of the terror attack outside the Ofra settlement, was seriously wounded in the shooting, and doctors delivered the infant in an emergency C-section hours later. While the mother’s condition has since steadily improved, the baby’s condition deteriorated and he died Wednesday evening.

After her condition improved further and a day after her four-day-old son was laid to rest, Ish-Ran was quoted by Hebrew-language media as saying, in her first remarks since the attack: “I will prove to them, I will show them. I will bring many more babies into this world. Am Yisrael chai.”

IDF responding to reports of attempted car-ramming outside Ramallah

The army says it has received reports of an attempted car-ramming in the central West Bank.

It is not immediately clear if there any injuries.

The army says the incident occurred near el-Bireh, outside Ramallah.

Israeli troops have been operating extensively throughout that area to find the terrorists who committed a shooting attack earlier in the day.

— Judah Ari Gross

Driver said shot dead; one lightly injured in car ramming outside Ramallah

Hebrew media reports that soldiers have shot dead the driver who carried out a car-ramming that lightly injured one person out near el-Bireh, outside Ramallah.

Israeli troops have been operating extensively throughout that area to find the terrorists who committed a shooting attack earlier in the day.

Peace Now calls on government to avoid giving in to settler demands following attack

The Peace Now settlement watchdog condemned the “shocking” terror attack outside the Givat Assaf outpost in the central West Bank, but called on the government to avoid giving in to the demands of settler leaders who have called for various punitive measures to be taken against Palestinians.

“The calls for revenge and for deepening the Israeli control over the West Bank are a cynical use of the murder and promote a messianic policy that endangers us all,” the left-wing NGO says.

Outpost near where terror attack took place calls on government to legalize it

The illegal Givat Assaf outpost near where this morning’s deadly shooting took place in the central West Bank is calling on the government to legalize ITS community in response to the terror attack.

A statement from the hilltop community’s secretariat says its leadership is demanding a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “in order to allow life to be added to the place where it has been cut off.”

Residents of the Givat Assaf outpost demonstrate outside their community following a shooting attack that left two soldiers dead on December 13, 2018. (Courtesy)

PM vows to catch terrorists responsible for shooting outside Givat Assaf outpost

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu comments on the recent wave of violence while speaking at a ceremony of the induction of the new deputy IDF chief of staff Eyal Zamir.

“Last night we settle the score with the murderers who carried out the terror attacks in Barkan and (near) Ofra, and today we have endured a serious attack (that ended) with two dead soldiers,” Netanyahu says.

“The principle that guides us is that whoever harms us and whoever tries to harm us – his life is forfeit. Our enemies know this and we will reach them.”

German court suspends trial of ex-SS death camp guard

A German judge has suspended the trial of a former Nazi concentration camp guard after the 95-year-old defendant was hospitalized for serious heart and kidney problems.

Johann Rehbogen is accused of complicity in mass murder at the Stutthof camp near what was then Danzig, now Gdansk in Poland.

His trial opened on November 6, but after several hearings was adjourned as Rehbogen’s health deteriorated.

Fourteen hearing days had been set for Rehbogen’s trial but a medical expert has found it unlikely the defendant would recover from his current health problems, a court spokesman says.

A doctor is due to re-examine Rehbogen in January, and will advise the court on whether he is fit for trial.

Rehbogen was aged 18 to 20 when he served as a guard from June 1942 to September 1944 at the Stutthof camp.

— AFP

IDF sends reinforcements to West Bank amid spike in violence

The IDF has announced that it is sending reinforcements to the West Bank following a spike in violence that included a deadly shooting attack near the Givat Assaf outpost and a car-ramming outside Ramallah.

Several reconnaissance units will join the 14 infantry brigades already stationed beyond the Green Line.

West Bank car-ramming reported in what would be day’s 4th attack

The army says it has received reports of another attempted car-ramming in the central West Bank, near the Kochav Yaakov Junction.

It is not immediately clear if there any injuries.

The army says the incident occurred along the highway near the Kochav Yaakov settlement near Ramallah, the same area where a Palestinian man earlier tried to ram his car into a group of soldiers before he was shot dead.

Israeli troops have been operating extensively throughout that area to find the terrorists who committed a deadly shooting attack earlier in the day.

Defense establishment said to conclude that Hamas cell carried out Givat Assaf attack

Officials in the defense establishment have concluded that a Hamas cell was responsible for the terror attack outside the illegal Givat Assaf outpost that left two soldiers dead and a soldier and a civilian seriously injured this morning, Hebrew media reports.

German, Italian, French and Lithuanian ambassadors condemn spate of Palestinian violence

Several ambassadors stationed in Israel condemn the recent spate of Palestinian terrorism in the West Bank.

“We condemn the violent attacks today in #Jerusalem and the #WestBank that have killed at least 2 people and injured several more, including civilians, Israeli police officers and IDF soldiers,” Canada’s Deborah Lyons tweets. “We call on Palestinian leaders to restore calm & speak out against these violent acts.”

German Ambassador to Israel Susanne Wasum-Rainer says she was “shocked by the brutal attack” Thursday. “My thoughts are with the victims and families.”

The Italian Embassy in Tel Aviv tweets that it is “deeply saddened by the passing of the baby of the woman wounded near Ofra and appalled by today’s new deadly attack. Other innocent victims of unacceptable acts of #terror. Our condolences to the families of the victims, our thoughts to the wounded. Violence must end!”

French Ambassador Hélène Le Gal, tweeting in French, says she “totally condemns” the recent attacks in the West Bank and Jerusalem, sending condolences to the two Israeli soldiers killed today.

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius writes: “I strongly condemn the recent outbreak of violence against the Israeli citizens by #Hamas in West Bank, Samaria and north of Jerusalem. Our thoughts and prayers with the families of the victims, injured and everyone affected. #Israel has every right to self-defense.”

— Raphael Ahren

IDF says reported car-ramming near Kochav Yaakov was a car accident

The IDF says that the incident near the Kochav Yaakov settlement was actually a car accident and not a car-ramming as was initially reported.

Defense officials said to assess that incident outside Ramallah also wasn’t a car-ramming

Defense officials assess that the incident in al-Bireh outside of Ramallah was also not a car-ramming, Channel 10 reports.

The age of the Palestinian driver, 60, who was shot dead by Israeli forces is leading defense officials to conclude that he was not trying to carry out a terror attack.

First soldier killed in shooting outside Givat Assaf identified as Yuval Mor Yosef

The IDF has identified one of the two soldiers killed in the terror attack outside the Givat Assaf outpost as 20-year-old Yoval Mor Yosef.

His funeral will be held tomorrow morning at the military cemetery in the southern city of Ashkelon where Mor Yosef was from.

In response to terror attacks PM announces steps to expand settlement

Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announces a series of punitive steps he has ordered in response to the recent spate of Palestinian terror attacks.

The first of which is a directive to accelerate the demolition of terrorists homes to be carried out within 48 hours of an attack. It is not immediately clear how such a policy would be legal given the court’s requirements to allow the affected families to appeal the decision.

Netanyahu ordered the army to seal off the town of al-Bireh near Ramallah, revoke the permits of relatives of Palestinian attackers, and increase administrative detentions of Hamas operatives in the West Bank.

The prime minister also announced that he would be legalizing thousands of illegally built Israeli homes beyond the Green Line that were said to have been built “in good faith.” The statement did not elaborate on what legal ground Netanyahu is able to make such a decision.

In addition, the statement from the PMO said Netanyahu had directed Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit to take steps to enable the construction of 82 new homes in the Ofra settlement near where Sunday’s terror attack took place.

Netanyahu will also promote the establishment of industrial zones in the Beitar Illit and Avnei Hefetz settlements.

“They are thinking of uprooting us from our land, but they will not succeed,” says Netanyahu at the conclusion of the statement.

Settler youth riot at scene of morning’s terror attack, hurling stones at Palestinian vehicles

Dozens of settler youth are rioting at the scene of this morning’s terror attack outside the illegal Givat Assaf outpost.

The far-activists are hurling stones at passing by Palestinian vehicles on Route 60 and clashing with troops at the scene.

IDF identifies second soldier killed in terror attack outside Givat Assaf as Yosef Cohen

The IDF has identified the second soldier killed in the terror attack outside the Givat Assaf outpost as 19-year-old Yosef Cohen.

The Beit Shemesh native will be posthumously promoted to sergeant.

After IDF seals off Ramallah, Palestinian governor’s office offers to provide shelter to those stranded

The Palestinian Authority Ramallah governor’s office will provide shelter to anyone who was unable to return to his or her home outside of the city and has nowhere to spend the night, PA Ramallah Governor Leila Ghanam announces.

Israeli security forces closed all the entrances and exits to Ramallah on Thursday, according to the IDF, after two soldiers were killed in a terror attack. The perpetrators of the attack were at-large, the army said, and troops were searching for them.

Ghanam calls on Palestinians seeking shelter to come to the PA Ramallah governor’s office, where she says government employees will arrange for them a place to spend the night.

— Adam Rasgon

Additional details cast doubt on IDF assessment that incident near Ramallah was a car-ramming

The Palestinian Authority Health Ministry spokesman Osama Najjar identifies the man shot dead by Israeli security forces in al-Bireh, a town adjacent to Ramallah, earlier today as 58-year-old Hamdan al-Arda.

The IDF said on Thursday a man had attempted to run over Israeli soldiers in al-Bireh, but defense officials, according to Channel 10, later assessed the incident was not a car-ramming.

Najjar told the Times of Israel Arda, who was a resident of Araba, a village in the northern West Bank, was the owner of an aluminum company in al-Bireh and was shot dead by Israeli forces meters away from his business’s headquarters.

— Adam Rasgon

Hundreds protest against latest spate of violence outside PM’s Jerusalem residence

Hundreds of right-wing Israelis are protesting outside the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem, calling on Benjamin Netanyahu to take punitive measures against Palestinians in response to the latest spate of violence against Israelis.

Settlers hurl stones at Palestinian cars throughout West Bank

Settlers hurled rocks at cars driven by Palestinians in the Gush Etzion area, a security source tells the official Palestinian Authority news site Wafa.

A number of the vehicles were damaged, the security source says.

Settlers also hurled rocks at cars driven by Palestinians near the entrance to Jit, a village in the northern West Bank, Zakaria Sede, a Rabbis for Human Rights field coordinator, says in a phone call.

A number of the vehicles were damaged, he says.

— Adam Rasgon

PM said to send message to Hamas that Israel won’t accept West Bank violence

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu conveys a message to Hamas through Egyptian intermediaries that Israel will not be willing to accept a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip if Hamas is simultaneously orchestrating terror attacks in the West Bank, as has been the case over recent months.

Netanyahu also sent a message to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas demanding that the PA security forces take steps to prevent escalation over the Green Line, a senior official says.

Right-wing protesters call for PM to resign at protest outside Jerusalem residence

Over a thousand right-wing protesters protest outside the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem are chanting for Benjamin Netanyahu to resign.

The speakers addressing the demonstrators are not satisfied with the list of steps that Netanyahu ordered earlier this evening in response to the recent spate of Palestinian violence, saying that many of the measures he vowed would be taken in 2015.

Trudeau mourns death of baby boy whose father, injured in terror attack, is a Canadian citizen

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemns the Sunday terror attack at the Ofra Junction in which Shira Ish-Ran was seriously injured and forced to prematurely deliver her baby boy.

The infant passed away three days later.

Ish-Ran’s husband is a Canadian citizen.

“This heinous terrorist violence targeting civilians is completely inexcusable. May the boy’s memory be a blessing, and may the injured recover,” Trudeau tweets.

Prominent French MP inspects, condemns Hezbollah attack tunnel

A prominent French MP inspects one of the Hezbollah attack tunnels recently discovered on the Lebanese border.

“The tunnels definitely increase the risk of war and are an attack by Hezbollah on Israel. The UN must take responsibility and UNIFIL needs to maintain peace,” Claude Goasguen says after entering the tunnel.

Goasguen, a member of the center-right Republicans, is member of the French National Assembly’s Foreign Affairs Committee, where he is responsible for reporting on the situation in the Middle East and recommending French policy in the region.

“We are on the eve of war, which no one wants,” he says. “Hezbollah must be held accountable, and it’s the responsibility of the Lebanese government to ensure calm for the sake of peace.”

— Raphael Ahren

Key Ministerial Committee to vote on bill expelling terrorists’ families to Gaza

Education Minister Naftali Bennett announces that his bill to expel the families of terrorists to Gaza will be put to a vote Sunday at the Ministerial Committee for Legislation.

“Thus far, under the pressure from legal officials, Prime Minister has asked us to postpone the vote. I have now decided to bring the matter to a vote. I expect the full backing of the prime minister and the other ministers for this law,” tweets Bennett.

It is unclear whether there are legal grounds to pass such a law.

EU Ambassador expresses concern over recent attacks in West Bank, East Jerusalem

The European Union’s ambassador to Israel Emanuele Giaufret expresses concern over the recent spate of violence.

“Very concerned by increasing violence and condemn the latest attacks in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Terrorism and violence are never a solution,” he tweets.

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Over 20 Israelis arrested for blocking roads to Palestinian traffic in West Bank

Over 20 far-right Israeli activists have been arrested for blocking Route 60 to Palestinian traffic, the Honenu legal aid group says.

The suspects have been taken to the Binyamin Police Station in the central West Bank. It is not immediately clear whether they will be released or if police will be filing charges against them.