Today’s Top Stories
1. A Palestinian stabbed several Israelis on a Tel Aviv bus this morning. At least 12 people were injured. The attacker, a 23-year-old from the Tulkarem refugee camp, was shot after fleeing the bus and is now hospitalized. Don’t sweep Palestinian incitement under the rug after reading what Matrouk told the police:
He further told his Shin Bet interrogators that his attack was motivated by Operation Protective Edge, the religious tension at the Temple Mount and extremist Islamist television programs. Matrouk hoped to make it to heaven by carrying out the terror attack.
2. CNN reports that Benyamin Netanyahu accepted an invitation to talk about Iran in a joint session of Congress on February 11, the anniversary of the fall of the Shah of Iran. More at the Weekly Standard.
It’s going to be really, messy affair, because A) Obama and Congress are at odds over Iranian sanctions, B) Bibi and Obama already have a testy relationship, and C) the speech comes five weeks before Israel’s elections.
3. Hamas is forming “Liberation Army” in Gaza, recruiting teens as young as 15. Parents have happily brought hundreds of kids to be the next generation of cannon fodder, reports Khaled Abu Toameh:
The preparations for the establishment of the “Liberation Army” are taking place at a time when Hamas is complaining about the lack of support for reconstructing the Gaza Strip in the aftermath of the last military confrontation with Israel.
Israel and the Palestinians
• Israeli source to Reuters: We didn’t know an Iranian general was in the convoy hit by an airstrike earlier this week.
The remarks by the Israeli source, who declined to be identified because Israel has not officially confirmed it carried out the strike, appeared aimed at containing any escalation with Iran or the Lebanese Hezbollah guerrilla group.
• As usual, Palestinian media celebrated today’s stabbing attack. The Times of Israel rounds up today’s incitement. This cartoon, by cartoonist Bahaa Yaseen and tweeted by the Safa News Agency, is titled, “Good morning, Palestine.”
• Although it’s quite likely today’s Tel Aviv stabbing was a lone wolf attack, this Times of London headline jumps the gun with the label.
• There was a bad disconnect between this Los Angeles Times headline and the facts in Batsheva Sobelman’s dispatch. Nobody else — not even Sobelman herself — reported that the stabber died. Simon Plosker contacted Sobelman, who in turn contacted her higher ups, and in just a few minutes, the headline was corrected.
His condition was not immediately clear although Israeli television showed the suspect face-down on the ground, handcuffed and moving. He was taken for medical treatment and questioning at a nearby hospital.
• It’s official: An Israeli prosecutor ruled that Haaretz columnist Amira Hass did not incite violence in a 2013 column about stone-throwing. As we critiqued at the time, her piece, The inner syntax of stone-throwing, condoned violence.
• AFP: The EU floated the idea of expanding the Quartet to rejuvenate Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. The Quartet is made up of the UN, US, EU, and Russia, and its envoy is Tony Blair. And who did EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini hint might join?
Enlarging the Quartet “could be helpful” as it would it enable talks on not just the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but also the broader Arab-Israeli conflict.
There could be “an opportunity to work on a common security basis in the region between Israel and some of the Arab countries,” she said, highlighting the role played by Egypt in ending the Gaza war last year.
Arab countries were also playing a “positive role” in fighting militants from the Islamic State group, so that could bring an “added value to enlarge the scope of the” peace process, Mogherini said.
Will this be a classic case of too many cooks? Or is there an opportunity here?
• Argentine police still believe the death of prosecutor Alberto Nisman was suicide by a self-inflicted gunshot to the head. But the public isn’t buying it, and the suicide theory took a big hit when the prosecutor investigating Nisman’s death said no traces of gunpowder were found on Nisman’s hands. More at the JTA.
• Veteran Arab journalist Abdulrahman Al-Rashed points out that a lot of Arabs are quite happy to see Hezbollah and Iran knocked down a peg, even if it’s by Israel. It’s significant that Al-Rashed openly says what this means:
The hatred held by many Arabs towards Iran and Hezbollah does not necessarily mean they have suddenly developed affection for Israel—that’s another story. Perhaps this would happen in the event of the brokering of a Palestinian–Israeli peace accord that garners more popular acceptance than before.
In case a regional struggle happens, like an Arab struggle with Iran, and Israel is an apparent party in the Arab camp, people will, I believe, turn a blind eye to a temporary alliance under the principle of “my enemy’s enemy is my friend.”
• Elliot Abrams slams Human Rights Watch and the Destruction of Rafah
• The security of British Jewry is becoming a growing conversation in the UK media. See commentary by Daniel Finkelstein (Here’s why we all have reason to be fearful), and Matthew Norman (There will always be anti-Semitism, but let’s also remember how protected and valued we Jews in the UK are).
• For more commentary/analysis, see a New York Daily News staff-ed (Turnabout is fair play as PLO faces justice), Yaron Friedman (Nasrallah’s revenge will come when he’s ready), David Horovitz (Alberto Nisman committed suicide?), Ronen Bergman (Nisman a martyr in the fight for justice), and a New York Times staff-ed (Suspicious death in Argentina).