Sunday, October 15, 2017

Sinai Province of the Islamic State (SPIS) fighters fire 2 rockets from the north Sinai Peninsula into Israel, where they land in open areas, causing no damage or injuries. Sources on the ground in Sinai report seeing Israeli fighter jets launch air strikes on a number of targets in response to the rockets. The attacks come after a day of heavy violence in Sinai and weeks of tension between Hamas and local Islamist groups in Gaza. Hours before the attack, SPIS fighters assaulted Egyptian soldiers at a vacant church in al-Arish with rocket-propelled grenades and car bombs, and also rob a bank nearby, sparking a firefight with Egyptian security personnel (at least 3 civilians and 4 soldiers are killed and at least 20 people are injured). The Egyptian army then launches a counterassault on insurgent hideouts near Rafah, al-Arish, and Shaykh Zuwayd, killing at least 24 fighters affiliated with SPIS and other armed groups. Meanwhile, the Egyptian authorities announce that they will not be opening the Rafah border crossing with Gaza for 4 days as planned. (AA, AP, HA, JP, REU, TOI, WAFA 10/16; TOI 10/17)

In the West Bank, Israeli settlers assault 2 Palestinian children on their way to school in Hebron. They also throw stones and bottles at a mosque in al-Tuwani village near Hebron, causing minor damage and sparking clashes between their IDF escort and residents of the area (there are no serious injuries). Settlers steal olives harvested from more than 65 trees in orchards near Nablus and Ramallah (IDF troops arrest a number of them later in the day). Other settlers attempt to assault Palestinians picking olives outside the Eli settlement near Hebron, but the Palestinians drive them off. IDF troops conduct a raid in Dahaysha refugee camp near Bethlehem, arresting 1 Palestinian and sparking clashes with stone-throwing residents; 1 Palestinian is injured. They arrest 13 Palestinians during latenight raids near Jenin and Ramallah, and in Bethlehem and Qalqilya, and patrol near Jenin. In East Jerusalem, Israeli forces violently disperse a Palestinian family gathering in Issawiyya to welcome a relative home from prison, moderately injuring 3 of them. Off Gaza’s coast, Israeli naval forces open fire on Palestinian fishing boats near Gaza City and Bayt Lahiya, causing no damage or injuries. They arrest 4 fishermen and confiscate 2 boats. Along Gaza’s border, IDF troops open fire on Palestinian farmland near al-Maghazi refugee camp, causing no damage or injuries. (WAFA 10/15; MNA, WAFA 10/16; PCHR 10/19)

At the weekly Israeli cabinet meeting, PM Netanyahu says U.S. pres. Trump’s 10/13 decision not to certify the 7/14/2015 Iran nuclear deal presents an opportunity to “fix” the deal. “I believe that any responsible government, and whoever seeks to promote peace and security in the world, needs to take advantage of the opportunity that Pres. Trump’s decision has created to improve the agreement or abrogate it and, of course, stop Iran’s aggression,” he says. (TOI 10/15; JTA 10/16)