Israel’s general election is coming up on April 9th and it could possibly facilitate a new era of politics in the region. Despite the fact that popular opinion still generally favors Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his ruling center-right coalition, an opportunity for center-left challenger Benny Gantz rises in the midst of growing discontent. Whoever wins, however, will need to deal with brewing threats from Iran, Hezbollah and Palestine that could escalate to a major conflict as well as increasing criticism from U.S. Politicians regarding Israel’s ties with China.
On January 26th, Jordanian liaison officers delayed hundreds of Israeli tourists from entering the Baqoura/Naharayim site, while other sources reported that tourists were completely banned from entering the town. The incident followed Jordan’s announcement that was reported in October of 2018; of not renewing the lease in which grants Israeli farmers and military officers free access to Al-Baqoura which is a site adjacent to the Israeli-Jordanian Northern border.
In 2018 RedCrow’s system recorded more than 500 incidents of settler-related “nationalist crimes” against Palestinians in the West Bank. Such incidents include vandalism, violence, and destruction of olive trees. Until mid-Dec 2018, there were 482 incidents of politically motivated crimes committed by Israeli settlers in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) compared to 140 in 2017. It’s the highest number of incidents in four years.
On Friday, Jan 11th, 2019, Israeli warplanes launched multiple missiles towards Damascus. According to a Syrian military source, the attack took place at 11:15 PM (2115 GMT) when Israeli warplanes coming from the direction of the Galilee fired several missiles towards the vicinity of Damascus. The source claimed most of the missiles were intercepted by the Syrian air defense system and that the airstrike caused damage but no casualties. said a “ministry of transport warehouse at Damascus International Airport” was hit.
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 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.
In a dramatic move, the Trump administration has reportedly decided to end all funding to UNRWA. The UN agency responsible for Palestinian humanitarian assistance. According to reports, the decision to cut all aid to UN’s Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees was made at a meeting earlier this month between Trump’s adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.