Gazans Hand Out Sweets After Israeli Border Police Officer Dies; Israel, US Working on ‘Plan B’ as Iran Nuclear Talks Sputter

Reprinted from Honest Reporting.

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Israel Border Police officer St.-Sgt. Barel Shmueli, 21, died on Monday, nine days after being shot in the head at point-blank range while guarding the border during ongoing Hamas-organized riots in the Gaza Strip.

Video footage widely shared on social media last week showed a Gazan — who, according to local reports, is a lieutenant in the Hamas terror group — shooting the police officer in the head through a small hole in the concrete security fence.

“The medical staff fought for Shmueli’s life as he underwent several surgeries. In spite of all the efforts and due to the complex nature of the injury sustained, we were forced to determine his death,” the Soroka Medical Center announced on Monday afternoon.

Hours later, thousands of Israelis turned out for Shmueli’s funeral at the Kiryat Shaul military cemetery in Tel Aviv. Following the news of his passing, Palestinians across the Gaza Strip handed out sweets in celebration.

Meanwhile, hundreds of Palestinian rioters again rioted along the Israel-Gaza border for the third night in a row. Gazans affiliated with terror groups rolled burning tires towards Israeli territory and hurled explosives at troops stationed at the fence. IDF chief Aviv Kohavi warned on Monday that Israel will no longer tolerate the violence.

   

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Israel and the United States are working to develop a “Plan B” if the Biden Administration’s drawn-out talks with the Iranian regime concerning the 2015 nuclear deal fail, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz announced. He did not specify what this alternate plan would entail.

“The United States and Israel share intelligence information, and the cooperation with the United States in this field is only getting stronger,” Gantz told journalists. “We are working with them in order to establish a Plan B and to demonstrate that if there is no deal, other activities will begin, as President Biden said.”

On Friday, US President Joe Biden told a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett that his administration was “ready to turn to other options” if diplomatic talks with Iran failed.

Meanwhile, Israeli media reported that former US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro has joined the State Department’s Iran team. Shapiro, who served as ambassador to the Jewish state when Biden was vice president, will liaison with Jerusalem regarding Tehran’s nuclear program and regional interventionism.

   

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Following a meeting with Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz announced several steps to strengthen the PA. Notably, he said he offered Abbas a loan of NIS 500 million ($155 million), an arrangement that would allow Jerusalem to circumvent a 2018 law requiring it to withhold payments over the PA’s “Pay-for-Slay” policy.

Gantz also announced that Israel would extend 15,000 additional work permits to Palestinians. Furthermore, building permits are expected to be issued to Palestinians in Area C of the West Bank, which is under full Israeli administrrative and security control. Finally, Gantz stated that Israel would begin determining the legal status of thousands of undocumented Palestinians living in the West Bank.

The gestures were announced in the wake of Sunday’s meeting between Gantz and Abbas, believed to be the first tete-a-tete between the PA president and an Israeli minister in over a decade.

“As the Palestinian Authority gets stronger, Hamas gets weaker, and so long as it has greater governance, we will have more security and we will have to act less,” Gantz postulated.

   

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The number of letters addressed to God from around the world sent to Jerusalem for placement in the Western Wall has tripled over the past year, the Israel Postal Company revealed. This week, the mail company placed hundreds of notes between the stones of the site ahead of the new Jewish year, Rosh Hashanah, which starts next week.

The letters sent by writers of different religions arrived from all over the world, including the United States, Canada, Russia, Germany, France, India, Japan, Spain, Belgium, Denmark, Poland, Ecuador and Kenya.

Many prayed for bringing the COVID-19 pandemic under control, while others asked for atonement and forgiveness. There were also many requests for new friendships, the post office said, most likely due to the isolation during coronavirus lockdown periods.

Each year, the prayer notes placed between the stones of the last remaining wall of the Temple Mount are removed ahead of Rosh Hashanah. They are then put into special bags and buried along with other holy books and documents on the Mount of Olives.

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