A car driven by a suspected Hamas member crashed into a crowd at a light-rail station in Jerusalem Wednesday, killing a three month-old girl and injuring eight others.
Israeli officials confirmed that the suspect, Abdelrahman al-Shaludi, is a former Palestinian prisoner from Silwan who may be a Hamas member. Security camera footage apparently recorded the car as it drove onto the platform of the rail station and struck innocent Israeli civilians.
Click here to watch the video on YouTube.
Al-Shaludi was shot and wounded by police as he tried to run away.
Hours later, dozens of masked Palestinians clashed with police forces in Silwan and Issawiya, setting tires ablaze and reportedly injuring a police officer following a fire bomb attack.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas of inciting violence that encouraged the suspected terrorist attack, the Jerusalem Post reports.
"This is how Abbas' partners in government [Hamas] act. This is the same Abbas who, only a few days ago, incited toward a terrorist attack in Jerusalem," he said.
This comes amid increased Palestinian attacks in Jerusalem, including rock throwing and Molotov cocktails.
A Hamas spokesperson said that if the incident at the rail station was a terrorist attack, it was justified.
A global terrorist group operating out of Sinai is being blamed for injuring two Israeli soldiers patrolling near the Egyptian border Wednesday.
The soldiers' jeep came under small arms and an anti-tank missile fire, initial reports indicate. Officials were trying to determine if the attack came from the Egyptian side of the border or whether the terrorists infiltrated Israeli territory. The injuries are not considered life threatening.
Egyptian authorities say the attack came from Ansar Bait al-Maqdis, which arose from Egypt's 2011 revolution and seeks to topple President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's government. According to the Jerusalem Post's Yaakov Lappin, the group has links to the Islamic State terrorist group, and "has beheaded a number of Egyptians in recent months, accusing them of being spies for Israel's Mossad."
It also has fired rockets at Israel's southern city of Eilat. Wednesday's attack took place in the Negev Desert near Mount Harif, a remote area about 70 miles from Eilat.
Bait al-Maqdis frequently targets Egyptian forces, who discovered five tons of explosives and rocket parts during a raid on the terrorist group last week. An Egyptian court sentenced seven Bait al-Maqdis members to death Wednesday in connection with attacks last March that killed nine Egyptian soldiers.
Israeli government officials are fuming over remarks made by Secretary of State John Kerry Thursday which connected the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict to waves of international recruits flocking to the terrorist group ISIS.
"As I went around and met with people in the course of our discussions about the ISIL coalition," Kerry said, "the truth is we – there wasn't a leader I met with in the region who didn't raise with me spontaneously the need to try to get peace between Israel and the Palestinians, because it was a cause of recruitment and of street anger and agitation that they felt – and I see a lot of heads nodding – they had to respond to."
In a Facebook post written in Hebrew, Israeli Communications Minister Gilad Erdan wrote, "I actually respect Kerry and his efforts, but every time he breaks new records of showing a lack of understanding of our region and the essence of the conflict in the Middle East I have trouble respecting what he says."
Naftali Bennett, the Israeli economy minister, blasted Kerry for linking ISIS, which seeks an Islamic caliphate in Syria, Iraq and beyond, to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying it "gives a boost to global terrorism."
"It turns out that even when a British Muslim beheads a British Christian, there will always be those who blame the Jews," Bennett said, alluding to the beheading earlier this month of British aid worker Alan Henning. The killer, believed to be the same man who beheaded American journalists James Foley and Steven Satloff, speaks with a British accent.
Kerry's statement, made at a State Department reception celebrating the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday, is a bit of a contradiction to President Obama's statement during a speech to the United Nations last month. While also calling for peace talks to resume, Obama acknowledged that "the situation in Iraq and Syria and Libya should cure anybody of the illusion that the Arab-Israeli conflict is the main source of problems in the region."
And there's another obvious point Kerry doesn't seem to understand. The radical Islamists in ISIS, like radical Islamists in Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hizballah and others, absolutely reject any peaceful settlement between Israel and the Palestinians. It is codified in their founding charters and repeated statements. Their only acceptable outcome is Israel's destruction. Given that, it's difficult to understand how a peaceful resolution guaranteeing and Jewish homeland in Israel and a Palestinian state, would do anything but ignite new fury and spike the number of recruits seeking to join the jihad.
Russia's significant and ongoing support for Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad was exposed by rebels who recently overtook a signals intelligence base jointly run by Syria and Russia, a report this week claims.
Free Syrian Army fighters discovered that the base was used to spy not only on anti-Assad rebels, but also on Israel, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. A recent upgrade in the base's equipment was driven by Iran, which was worried spying on Israel was being forsaken to focus on Syria's civil war, the report on a website called the Oryx Blog said.
A map showing Israeli military positions in the northern part of the country was found on a wall inside the spy center.
The base is in a town called Tel Al-Hara, which is close to a border crossing with Israel. It was run by the Russians, a follow-up report in Haaretz said.
Israeli and U.S. officials have been mum about the findings inside the Syrian base, or about Russia's significant contribution to the spy operation on behalf of Assad, Hizballah and Iran.
Britain's Charity Commission announced Thursday that it froze bank accounts for Viva Palestina, an aid group which has delivered cash and supplies to Hamas officials in Gaza. In addition, the Commission, responsible for regulating charities in England and Wales, also replaced the group's trustees with an interim manager.
Viva Palestina was founded by British Member of Parliament George Galloway in January 2009 and has led several humanitarian convoys into Gaza in support of the Hamas-led government. But it has never filed required financial disclosures, the Charity Commission statement said.
It is the second time the commission investigated Viva Palestina, with a 2010 inquiry finding the group was poorly managed and publicly exaggerated it's the amount of money it raised.
The government intervention also is rooted in compliance with standard accounting regulations. But Viva Palestina's overt embrace of Hamas remains a concern. During the convoys, Hamas officials greeted Viva Palestina at stops in Turkey, Syria, Jordan and Gaza.
In March 2009, Galloway made a point of defiantly holding up a bag of cash before handing it to a Hamas minister despite the UK's designation of Hamas as a terrorist group. Prominent Viva Palestina leaders have openly advocated for the destruction of Israel.
Viva Palestina has several international affiliates, including in the U.S., Canada, Indonesia, Turkey, Italy, Arabia, and the Gulf. The U.S. affiliate has been inactive since late 2010. When it was active, American activists for the group repeatedly acknowledged their work was "not about charity ... but in every way that we cut it, it is political."
The U.S. branch of Viva Palestina never incorporated or registered as a charity. When it was active, it used a non-profit charity called "Interreligious Foundation for Community Organizations (IFCO)/Pastors for Peace" as a pass-through, an IPT investigation found. An Internal Revenue Service audit last year recommended stripping the group of its tax exempt status, but it remains listed as a public charity.
Supporters of Rasmieh Odeh, a Palestinian woman convicted in a deadly 1969 Jerusalem grocery store bombing, are angry that federal prosecutors want to curb their orchestrated campaign to influence jurors in her upcoming naturalization fraud trial.
Last week, prosecutors filed a motion asking the court to keep juror identities anonymous during Odeh's trial, which is scheduled to begin Nov. 4 in Detroit. Hatem Abudayyeh, director of the Chicago-based Arab American Action Network (AAAN), has led a campaign to pressure the U.S. Attorney to drop the case against Odeh, and to persuade the judge to grant defense motions.
Part of that campaign involves mass telephone call and letter-writing campaigns. And part involves packing the courtroom with supporters of Odeh, who is the AAAN's associate director.
"Influencing the opinions of jurors and potential jurors through extra-judicial means is obviously improper," prosecutors argue in their motion, "and ... almost certainly criminal." Abudayyeh, the motion claims, told U.S. Marshals "that he intends to be contentious with their efforts to maintain order and proper decorum" during the trial.
Odeh supporters reacted angrily, calling the motion "a bizarre and desperate move" and "a clumsy attempt at intimidation" which threatens civil liberties.
"In any event, at no time have we ever tried to improperly influence a jury. Not once," a statement from the "Rasmea Defense Committee" said.
But prosecutors point to an interview Abudayyeh gave last month in which he said packing the court with Odeh supporters and organizing daily rallies outside the courthouse "could potentially ... sway the opinions of the jurors."
That echoes what Abudayyeh said during a July 31 rally, after a more than a dozen people boarded a bus from Chicago to Detroit to pack the gallery during a pre-trial hearing.
"That jury needs to also see that courtroom filled every single day of that trial."
Defense attorney Michael Deutsch told supporters that the tactic works. "You are bearing witness, and this is the critical factor in all trials of this kind. So your coming here and getting on a bus and driving all these hours makes a difference," he said. "And we appreciate that so much because that's so important to our case."
A jury, the prosecution argues, is supposed "to make its decision based only on evidence presented at trial and nothing else." They also want jurors to meet each day at a remote location and be driven to court together to avoid undue influence from the protests.
Odeh came to the United States 20 years ago. In filling out visa and naturalization forms, she failed to disclose her conviction for helping plant bombs in the Jerusalem grocery store, an attack which killed two Hebrew University students. That is the basis for the charges against her.
Hamas leader Mahmoud Al-Zahar stated that the terrorist organization intends on establishing an Islamic state in all of Palestine, insinuating the destruction of Israel, according to a Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) translation of Al-Ayyam last week.
"[Some] have said Hamas wants to create an Islamic emirate in Gaza. We won't do that, but we will build an Islamic state in Palestine, all of Palestine," stated Al-Zahar, a senior Hamas political bureau member.
Moreover, Al-Zahar believes that if Hamas established a military position in the West Bank it would be capable of destroying the Jewish state.
According to the PMW report, "Al-Zahar said that if his movement [Hamas] were to 'transfer what it has or just a small part of it to the West Bank, we would be able to settle the battle of the final promise with a speed that no one can imagine.'"
Al-Zahar referenced a segment of the Quran concerning "the final promise" to justify a future war to eliminate Israel:
"Then when the final promise came, [We sent your enemies]... to enter the temple in Jerusalem, as they entered it the first time, and to destroy what they had taken over with [total] destruction.'" [Surah 17:7]
In August, a Hamas spokesman admitted that Hamas' main objective is the "liberation of our Palestinian land" and not simply the lifting of Israel's internationally legal blockade of Gaza.
"The time has come for us to say that our true war is not aimed at opening the border crossings. Out true war is aimed at the liberation of Jerusalem, Allah willing," said Sami Abu Zuhri to a cheering Palestinian crowd.
During the latest war, Israel foiled an extensive Hamas plot to initiate a Third Intifada against Israel and facilitate the overthrow of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank, akin to the terrorist organization's 2007 coup against Fatah in Gaza.
A recent Palestinian poll confirms that Hamas' popularity remains higher than the Palestinian Authority (PA) in both Gaza and the West Bank. According to the Palestinian Center for Policy Research, if elections took place in the West Bank between Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh and PA President Mahmoud Abbas, Haniyeh would emerge victorious with 55 percent support over Abbas' 38 percent.
Despite the signing of a Hamas-Israel ceasefire following the 50-day war this past summer, the terrorist organization continues to produce rocketsand remains committed to waging a future war against Israel.
The Israeli Navy has foiled multiple attempts to smuggle weapons manufacturing items to Hamas off the coast of Gaza since the end of the war, according to a senior navy commander speaking with the Jerusalem Post on Thursday.
A new Islamic State video released titled "Message of the Mujahid" Friday calls on Western jihadists unable to travel to territory controlled by the terrorist group to conduct attacks at home. The message also offers a pointed rebuke of British Prime Minister David Cameron and the U.S.-led bombing campaign.
"A message to all of the brothers who cannot do Hijrah, I advise you to respond to the call of the sheik, the mujahid (Holy Warrior) Mohammed al-Adnani, to cause terror in the hearts of the kuffar (unbelievers)," the unidentified Islamic State spokesman said. "You are living in the West, you can cause terror in the hearts of the kuffar, right in the center of the kuffar in the center of all that shirk (polytheism), you can cause terror right from within.
"So unlike us, you can cause real damage right within the heart of Dar al-Kuffar (Land of Unbelief), so rise up my brothers. Rise up!"
He starts out the video mocking Cameron and the Western leaders for thinking they can defeat the Islamic State with bombs dropped from the air, chiding them that if they were "real men" they would send ground troops to fight them.
"You know that in the hearts of your men, they're cowards," the spokesman says. "So America, you think you are a superpower, when in fact if you were a superpower, you wouldn't need these 40 nations to come and fight us.
"Know that all power belongs to Allah, and Allah is with [the pious Muslims], so you could send your planes above us, but know that Allah is above your planes," he continued. "You are fighting people who love death more than you love life."
The message warns that the West and their Muslim allies can send all of their men, reserves an backups, and the Islamic State will send them back one-by-one in coffins.
In a special message to British Muslims, saying that the caliphate has been re-established and calls on them to leave the land of the unbelievers and come to the Islamic State.
"If now is not the time to do Hijrah then when is the time," the spokesman asks. "Why are you still in Dar al-Kuffar? What does Dar al-Kuffar have to offer you? We have the Islamic State here, and we are fighting jihad."
He tells them that the "despicable" West has nothing to offer them.
This reaffirms the Islamic State's desperate desire to inspire attacks against Western targets and hopes to turn Muslims against their home countries.
A Somali-American man will serve 30 years in prison for plotting to detonate a massive car bomb at a crowded 2010 Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland, Ore.
Mohamed Mohamud, 23, was arrested in November 2010 after repeatedly trying to detonate the bomb, which was parked amid thousands of people, including children.
Prosecutors asked that Mohamud be sentenced to 40 years, describing in detail his plot and his motivations. FBI agent in undercover operatives to monitor him after his father contacted law enforcement to express concern about Mohamud's radicalization, a prosecution sentencing memo said.
In writings and recordings, "Mohamud had made it clear he thought terrorism targeting Americans was 'a justified response to what he perceived as the killing of innocent Muslims in Afghanistan by the United States and its allies.'"
Defense attorneys suggested a 10-year sentence, arguing that Mohamud has taken responsibility for his actions, expressed remorse and tried to change his life.
Prosecutors challenged the sincerity of those actions, saying he continues to argue entrapment – a defense rejected by jurors who convicted him in January 2013. Mohamud, the sentencing memo says, "attempted to kill thousands of people in the name of his distorted and radical view of Islam."
Defense attorneys agreed, to some extent.
"There was no question that Mohamed was involved in Islamic extremism before any government contact," they wrote. But he didn't start planning the attack before undercover agents reached out to him and he would not have been able to build a bomb without their assistance.
But blowing up the lighting ceremony of a 70-foot Christmas tree was Mohamud's idea, and the undercover handlers repeatedly pressed him about the carnage that would result, including the deaths of so many children.
"I want whoever is attending that event to be, to leave either dead or injured," Mohamud said in a recorded conversation.
Despite such statements, and the defense acknowledgment of Mohamud's intent, some American Islamist groups, led by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), minimize the case, arguing the FBI concocted the case to create "a sensational story."
FBI agents were drawn to Mohamud after he wrote four articles for Jihad Recollections, an online magazine later tied to al-Qaida, and posted on other jihadi web sites. In addition, before he tried repeatedly to go to Yemen for jihad training.
At the tree lighting, Mohamud tried repeatedly to detonate an 1,800-pound bomb packed into a van. FBI agents rendered it inert, and arrested Mohamud after the failed attempts.
Prosecutors downplayed any statements of remorse and argued that should not lead to a shorter prison sentence: "There is simply no 'reliable' evidence in this case that defendant will pose less of a danger following a lengthy term of incarceration than other aspiring jihadists who have been intercepted, convicted, and sentenced..."
The Obama administration has acknowledged that its strict policy of preventing civilian deaths does not apply to American airstrikes in Syria and Iraq.
The statement confirming the loosening of high standards pertaining to minimizing collateral damage comes amid reports that as many as a dozen civilians, including women and children, were killed by a U.S. strike of a Syrian village.
U.S. officials believed that members of the Khorasan group, an al-Qaida splinter organization, were based in the village that was struck by the U.S. Air Force, resulting in civilian deaths.
Last year, President Obama issued a policy prohibiting U.S. drone strikes unless there was a "near certainty" that collateral damage will not result. The "near certainty" standard only applies "when we take direct action 'outside areas of active hostilities'…," National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden told the Jerusalem Post.
This standard, she said, "simply does not fit what we are seeing on the ground in Iraq and Syria right now."
This relaxation is fuelling allegations of double standards against the Obama administration. Throughout the summer conflict between Israel and Hamas, the White House criticized Israel's counterterrorism operations as disproportionate and harshly condemning Israel's rules of engagement.
"The suspicion that militants are operating nearby does not justify strikes that put at risk the lives of so many innocent civilians," the Statement Department said after Israel shelled a United Nations school that was used as a Hamas terrorist base. Secretary of State John Kerry was also highly critical of the civilian death toll in Gaza.
"It's a hell of a pinpoint operation," Kerry sarcastically said to an aide, caught by an open microphone while preparing to do an interview in July.
Syrian rebel commanders briefing the House Foreign Affairs Committee last week presented evidence of innocent Syrian civilians killed by U.S. airstrikes. Pictures of injured children were also posted on YouTube, resulting in anti-American protests in some Syrian villages.
Islamist terrorists operating in Syria and Iraq are increasingly blending into the civilian population, a tactic explicitly adopted by Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip.
The United States openly criticized Israel for its counterterrorism operations; however the U.S.-led campaign in the region is also producing collateral damage against al-Qaeda groups and the Islamic State.