On Dec 19th, 2018, Wednesday, Donald Trump announced that he’ll be pulling US troops from Syria and declared victory over ISIS. According to various reports, Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw American troops from Syria was made hastily without consulting his security advisers nor any US allies. The US president reportedly made this decision following a phone call with Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan on Dec 14th.
On Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018, seven Israeli settlers were wounded near the settlement of Ofra NE Ramallah in a drive-by shooting. A footage of the shooting showed a moving vehicle slowing down and targeting settlers on the junction near the entrance of the settlement. After shots were fired from the vehicle, Israeli soldiers fired back at the car, which then fled and continued north on Route 60. This incident triggered a massive manhunt in search of the gunmen in nearby villages and even in Ramallah.
Earlier this week on Tuesday, ISF announced that a cross-border Hezbollah tunnel has been destroyed as part of the Operation Northern Shield. This was the first tunnel ISF has discovered to destroy tunnels crossing the “Blue Line,” the border demarcation between Lebanon and Israel published by the United Nations in June 2000 to verify that Israel had fully withdrawn from Lebanon.
On September 17, 2018, Russian and Turkish presidents agreed to create a demilitarized zone in Syria’s Idlib along the line of contact between the Syrian government forces and the armed opposition. The agreement fell apart following a chemical attack targeting Aleppo and reigniting clashes between Turkish-backed rebel forces in Idlib and the Syrian Army supported by Russian forces.
Idlib Chemical attack. (Nov. 24, 2018)
On November 21, 2018, Israel's High Court of Justice rejected a petition filed by residents of Silwan neighborhood on Wednesday, authorizing the right-wing Ateret Cohanim organization to continue evacuating 700 Palestinians from East Jerusalem's Silwan. Palestinian house deeds were transferred to the Benvenisti Trust by Israel’s Justice Ministry in 2002 claiming it purchased the land in the late 1800s to settle Jews arriving in Palestine from Yemen.
Last Sunday, Nov 11, 2018, an undercover Israeli unit involved in a covert operation was intercepted by Hamas members in Gaza. This incident triggered deadly clashes that left seven Palestinians and one ISF agent dead. This later evolved into a firefight in which Hamas fired more than 400 rockets and mortars towards Israel in 48 hours and the Israeli military fired around 160 airstrikes targeting several areas within the Gaza Strip.
Due to severe weather conditions in Jordan, heavy rainfall has caused flash floods in several areas earlier this week on Friday, which led to a total of twelve casualties. As such, accusations were made against the government for the poor conditions of infrastructure in the country and for the lack of preparation of the emergency services.
US sanctions on Iran officially resumed on Monday, November 5, 2018, three years after being lifted by the Obama administration as part of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. The sanctions came back into full effect Monday morning, bringing crippling economic burdens on Iran’s oil, banking, shipping, and other sectors. U.S. sanctions which are aimed at more than 700 Iranian entities and individuals are expected to have dire consequences on the country’s economy.
On Friday, Nov 2, 2018, Islamist gunmen killed at least seven Coptic Christian pilgrims and wounded at least sixteen in Egypt. Bringing an almost one year of calm to an end, the attack occurred as two buses carrying pilgrims left the Monastery of Saint Samuel the Confessor, 85 miles south of Cairo, in Egypt’s Western Desert.