Violence surges following US peace plan announcement: Israel Update

February 7, 2020

Palestinian attacks continued this week, heightening tensions across the region. Early Thursday morning, twelve Israeli soldiers were wounded in a vehicular attack on a sidewalk in central Jerusalem. A 20-year-old soldier was evacuated in critical condition, though he was later stabilized in the hospital. The suspect driving the vehicle was apprehended by Israeli security forces and remains in custody. The JCRC—together with the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati—has released a statement condemning this attack. Just before noon on Thursday, a man walked up to police officers on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and opened fire, lightly wounding one of the officers. He fled on foot, but was soon shot and killed by pursuing officers. Later that afternoon, another attack targeted Israeli security forces, this time a drive-by shooting on a highway near the central West Bank settlement of Dolev. Tensions also boiled over after riots broke out in the West Bank town of Jenin on Wednesday, resulting in two Palestinians being killed by the IDF. In southern Israel, several incendiary balloons were reported to have landed, and violent protests erupted near Ramallah, in the West Bank. In response to this unrest, Israel reduced the Gaza fishing zone by a third. 


In the wake of these and other attacks, Israel will be sending additional combat troops into the West Bank. This is the third round of reinforcements to be sent to the area since US President Donald Trump’s peace plan for the Israelis and Palestinians was released. In remarks this week, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khameini called on the Palestinians to take up bold resistance and wage war on Israel. The comments came amid reports that Israeli and United Arab Emirates officials were meeting in secret to discuss countering Iran's regional influence. Israel and the UAE also discussed advancing a non-aggression pact, which could mark a possible first step toward normalizing relations between the two countries.


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Sudanese leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan held a meeting in Uganda, where they formally announced the normalization of ties between the two countries. Immediately after the meeting, the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement: "It has been agreed to start a cooperation that will lead to normalizing the ties between the countries.” A senior Sudanese military official said the meeting was primarily aimed at helping remove Sudan from the US list of terror-supporting nations. An Israeli source said that the development was immediately expected to affect flight routes from Israel, enabling its planes to fly over the African country. 


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday suggested that he would advance applying Israeli sovereignty to parts of the West Bank only after the March 2 elections. At a campaign event in Beit Shemesh, Netanyahu urged attendees to help him get elected in the upcoming national vote, saying that a victory would allow his Likud party to gain approval for the Trump administration peace plan.


Israelis chose its first ever Ethiopian contestant to represent the nation at this year’s 2020 Eurovision Song Contest. Eden Alene, 19, won “The Star is Born” reality show, broadcast on Channel 12, claiming a ticket to the Netherlands in May - where the prestigious singing competition is set to take place. "There was a time I did not like the fact that I was Ethiopian, I wanted to be white,” said Alene following her win. “Today I am Israel's first Ethiopian representative in the Eurovision. I’m very proud,” she added.  


Shabbat Shalom,


Jackie Congedo, Director, JCRC


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