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The Day in Israel: Sun Mar 22nd, 2009

Click refresh to see new updates during the day

Security forces prevented a large terror attack last night in Haifa after disarming a bomb inside a car parked outside the Lev HaMifratz shopping mall.

At around 8:00 – 8:30PM, forces were called to the parking lot after the mall’s security guards heard a small explosion coming from the direction of a Subaru registered as belonging to a female (Arab) resident of Jerusalem. Bomb sappers dismantled the remaining explosives, which were concealed in a bag, with current estimates putting the weight of the explosives involved at nearly 100 pounds.

Police immediately evacuated the mall and sealed off the area, with the mall remaining closed overnight as police continue to comb the area.

An organization calling itself the ‘Galilee Freedom Battalions’ claimed responsibility for the incident, saying in a written statement: “This bomb was intended for the Zionists who visit the mall, and bringing it in was very complicated. At around 9:15 (pm). Immediately afterwards the cell left the area. Due to a technical defect or technical error, the bomb did not go off…This operation is part of the series of operations we promised you in response to the demolition of homes in east Jerusalem and the slaughter carried out by the occupation in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. This operation is just the beginning.”

Needless to say, the motive for the attempted bombing is being treated as terrorism.

Updates (Israel time; most recent at top)

10:15PM: Fifteen Arabs reportedly tried to abduct a Jerusalem municipality worker this Sunday afternoon, but were scared away after the worker fired his gun in the air.

10:12PM: Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilna’i has called for Israel to recapture areas from which rockets are fired into the western Negev.

9:58PM: Ha’aretz reports:

A top Israel Defense Forces commander on Sunday defended the army’s adherence to wartime moral standards, despite contrary testimonies describing lax rules of engagement in the Gaza Strip released last week by troops who served in Operation Cast Lead.

“The reports were exaggerated and any deviations from the IDF’s moral standards will be dealt with,” GOC Home Front Command Major General Yair Golan said during a panel discussion at the Institute of National Defense Research in Tel-Aviv.

8:12PM: Two palestinian children have reportedly been killed by a “suspicious object.”

And the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) won’t let the fact they have no information on the object, stand in the way of blaming Israel.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) confirmed that two children were killed by a suspicious object in the Az-Zaytoun neighborhood of Gaza City on Saturday.

It was not immediately clear whether if the object was a weapon, although the PCHR speculated it could have been unexploded ordinance left behind from Israel’s recent 22-day assault on the Gaza Strip.

The boys were identified as 14-year-old Mohammed Hijji and 15-year-old Ahmed Shneiwra. They were reportedly killed instantly when the object exploded, according to medics at Ash-Shifa Hospital.

Palestinian police sources informed PCHR that they had opened an investigation into the incident, but that they had not obtained any data about the suspicious object.

In a statement, the PCHR called on all concerned sides to take specific and required measures to make sure such accidents do not happen again.

7:46PM: 30,000 people were in danger of being killed or injured last night in the failed bomb attack in Haifa.

5:38PM: From the Mashaal interview linked to in my 3:35PM update:

“The conditions of a deal have been known for three years and the Egyptians are familiar with them. We’re talking about 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, returned in two phases,” he said.

“Olmert has just re-dealt the cards: Of the 450 prisoners in the first phase, most will not be released. As such, the war continues, while we are ready to release Shalit,” he said.

The Hamas leader claimed that, in comparison to previous deals (such as the Jibril deal in which Israel released 1,150 prisoners for three soldiers), the group’s demands are relatively low.

There you have it. Our previous terrorists-for-bodies (and drug dealer) deals have set expectations from which there may be no turning back.

4:42PM: Here is Israeli President Shimon Peres being interviewed by Australian journalist George Negus from Dateline, and showing the latter to be woefully uninformed in the process.

Part One:

Part Two:

Part Three:

Part Four:

3:35PM: Since my last update:

  • A siren went off in northern Israel, but there was no sign of any rockets being fired into Israel
  • Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that a ‘miracle’ had prevented a huge bomb attack from taking place in Haifa
  • Head Hamashole Hamas Khaled Mashaal has accused Israel of constantly changing conditions in the prisoner swap negotiations, and said he expected to turn into a shahid at any moment. I hope he’s right on that last point.

9:55AM: Al Hayat has reported that Israel agreed to release all but five prisoners demanded by Hamas in the prisoner swap talks last week.

The five were:

  • Ahmad Sa’adat – the Secretary-General of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine who was convicted of plotting the murder of former minister Rehavam Ze’evi.
  • Ibrahim Khaled – commander of the Hamas military wing
  • Abdallah Barghouti – a Hamashole who prepared the explosive devices used in a number of terrorist attacks in which 66 Israelis were killed and many others sustained serious injuries
  • Hassan Salameh
  • Amana Muna – convicted for luring Israeli teen Ofir Rahum, via the Internet, to a secluded location and brutally murdering him.

6:08AM: Quote of the day comes from Alykhan Velshi, spokesman for Canadian Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, who had this to say about George Galloway:

“I’m sure Galloway has a large Rolodex of friends in regimes elsewhere in the world willing to roll out the red carpet for him. Canada, however, won’t be one of them.”

“We’re going to uphold the law, not give special treatment to a street-corner Cromwell who brags about giving ‘financial support’ to Hamas, a terrorist organization banned in Canada.”

About the author

Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
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