Israel carried out an air-strike on the Gaza Strip Oct. 5 in response to a rocket attack from the territory—said to have been claimed by the "Sheikh Omar Hadid Brigade," a Salafist organization apparently affiliated with ISIS. Two rockets fired at Israel the previous night; one exploded in an open area in Eshkol, causing no injuries or damage, while the second failed to reach Israeli territory. The Omar Brigade—named after a figure who helped Abu Musab al-Zarqawi set up al-Qaeda in Iraq a decade ago—has also claimed responsibility for rocket fire on the Israeli cities of Sderot and Beersheba last month. More air-strikes on Gaza were launched following a rocket launched Oct. 10, which was intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome defense system. The new air-strikes reportedly hit Hamas targets. (Haaretz, Oct. 11; Ma'an, Oct. 10; JP, AFP, Oct. 5) The ISIS franchise in Gaza had been previously named as the "Supporters of the Islamic State in Jerusalem."
Hundreds of Israeli settlers rioted across the occupied West Bank late Oct. 1, with multiple attacks reported on Palestinian homes and vehicles in the aftermath of an earlier shooting that killed two settlers near Nablus. In the Palestinian village of Beitillu, assailants torched a car and spray-painted "Revenge Henkin" on a nearby wall, the army said, noting that nobody was hurt. Eitam and Naama Henkin, both in their 30s, were gunned down while driving on that night between the illegal settlements of Itamar and Elon More, in the north of the Palestinian territory. Their four children, aged between four months and nine years, were found unharmed in the back of the car. Shortly after the shooting, locals said over 200 settlers attempted to raid the town of Huwwara south of Nablus under the protection of Israeli soldiers, while Palestinians used speakers from a mosque to mobilize villagers to resist the incursion. A large number of Israeli forces raided Beit Furik village and searched the surrounding countryside, while settlers raided Burin and smashed Palestinian vehicles near the Huwwara checkpoint and on a nearby main road.
Israeli forces entered the al-Aqsa Mosque compound's southern mosque on Sept. 15 during the third straight day of violent clashes at the third holiest site in Islam. Israeli forces were reported to have fired stun grenades, tear-gas canisters, and rubber-coated steel bullets at Palestinian worshipers inside the mosque. Officials from the Palestinian Authority's Ministry of Endowment office in Jerusalem told Ma'an News Agency that Israeli forces entered the compound at 6:30 AM, deploying across the compound before advancing on the southern mosque. They began to close the mosque's doors with chains and steels, but during the ensuing clashes with Palestinian worshipers they entered the site, witnesses said.
Palestinian Christians clashed with Israeli forces following Sunday mass on Aug. 30 when demonstrators, including priests, marched to protest renewed work on Israel's controversial separation wall in the Christian-majority town of Beit Jala in the occupied West Bank. The march, the latest in a string of protests, moved through neighborhoods in the Bethlehem-district town where Israeli forces are extending the separation wall, which is considered illegal under international law. Israeli forces shot tear-gas at protesters and physical altercations broke out when troops attempted to suppress the protest. Two protesters were arrested for allegedly throwing stones at soldiers guarding the construction zone, police said.
Violence was reported across the West Bank and Jerusalem July 31, as Palestinians protested the "price tag" killing of an 18-month-old infant in Duma, near Nablus. The 18-month-old was killed an arson attack when suspected Israeli settlers smashed the windows of two homes in Duma, throwing flammable liquids and Molotov cocktails inside and catching the homes ablaze. The infant, Ali Saad Dawabsha, was trapped inside the family's home as the fire spread. The child was burned alive. His parents and four-year-old brother were left with severe burns. Graffiti near the scene of the attack said "Price tag," "Revenge" and "Long live Messiah the king" in Hebrew. Israeli authorities, including Prime Minister Netanyahu, condemned the attack as "terrorism."
The US Supreme Court ruled (PDF) June 8 in Zivotofsky v. Kerry that the Constitution gives the president the exclusive power to recognize foreign sovereigns. Seeking to have his place of birth listed as "Israel" on his passport, Jerusalem-born Menachem Zivotofsky and his family appealed lower court decisions that refused to grant his request on the grounds that, since 1948, the US has not recognized any country as having sovereignty over the holy city. In a 6-3 decision authored by Justice Anthony Kennedy, the court upheld the lower court's finding that § 214(d) of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act (PDF) was unconstitutional for violating the president's sovereignty in foreign relations. The law, through which Congress ordered the State Department to list Israel as the place of birth for US citizens born in Jerusalem if requested, was previously invalidated (PDF) by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in 2013. In dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito as well, urged that the law was not repugnant to the Constitution, as the document divides foreign relations power between the president and Congress.
We don't use the word "fascism" lightly, but the growing consensus in Israel for a Jewish-supremacist state and genocidal solution to the Palestinian question has been further consolidated in the frightening election results. The coalition deal just announced forms the most right-wing government in Israel's history. Likud has signed a pact with the Jewish Home party, giving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the 61 Knesset seats needed to form the next government. The openly chauvinist Jewish Home, led by Naftali Bennett (who calls for annexing the West Bank settlements), won eight seats in the March elections. Under the pact, Bennett will hold two cabinet seats—education and diaspora affairs. The justice portfolio will go to the far-right party's Knesset member, Ayelet Shaked, while agriculture will go to Uri Ariel, another of its sitting Knesset members. The party is to get a further two cabinet posts, including that of deputy defense minister. Netanyahu has already formed coalition pacts with the centrist Kulanu Party (10 seats), the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism Party (seven seats), and the Shas Party (six seats). (Middle East Monitor, May 7)
A Hamas leader on Dec. 27 said that the draft resolution for Palestinian statehood presented to the UN Security Council is "disastrous," and that it has "no future in the land of Palestine." The statement comes amid growing criticism at home of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' push for the UN to recognize Palestine as a state, with some calling the move a symbolic gesture that distracts from the larger struggle to end the Israeli occupation. Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahhar, however, took a harder line, saying in a statement that Hamas would not accept the resolution because of its focus on the 1967 borders, and not on the entirety of historic Palestine. He said that the movement will only accept the complete 1948 borders, and will refuse to consider allowing Jerusalem to be a capital for both Palestinian and Israeli states. (Ma'an, Dec. 26)