News Digest — 1/11/23

Netanyahu Set Red Lines For Iran On Israel’s Northern Border

Israel will combat any Iranian attempt to place military bases on its borders with Lebanon and Syria, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said as he toured the North with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Tuesday (10th).

“The main enemy we face is the terrorist regime in Iran and its entrenchment in Syria and Lebanon,” Netanyahu said.

“We are determined to fight Iran’s attempts to develop a nuclear arsenal…and any attempt by Iran to establish a base against us on our northern military border in Syria.”

“We are determined to fight all attempts by Hezbollah to show aggression against us from Lebanon.  And we will remind those who need to be reminded of our ‘red lines’ in this matter.”

Gallant pledged to prevent the transfer of Iranian weapons to Hezbollah adding that peace is an “important goal.”  The two men also visited the Northern Command.

Netanyahu’s northern visit came just one day after he spoke to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) about the danger of Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear arsenal and the importance of creating a common position between Jerusalem and Washington against the Islamic Republic.

He has spoken about Iran almost every day since he was sworn into office two weeks ago.

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan is expected to visit Israel this month to discuss Iran; Israel’s Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer is in the United States currently, where he is speaking with officers from the Biden administration.



Lion’s Den Member Nabbed By Troops In Nablus; 15 More Suspects Arrested In West Bank

Israeli troops on Tuesday morning (10th) detained a member of the Lion’s Den terror group in the West Bank city of Nablus as local gunmen attempted to target the forces, the military said.

The arrest came amid a months-long Israeli anti-terror effort, mostly in the northern West Bank, following a series of terror attacks that killed 31 people in 2022.

The Israel Defense Forces said troops entered Nablus’ Rafidia neighborhood to arrest Wasim Zaher Estitiyeh, 26, a member of the armed group based in the northern West Bank city who was responsible for recent shooting attacks in the area.

Palestinian media reported that gunmen opened fire at the Israeli troops operating in the city.  The IDF said “gunfire was heard in the area” during the operation, but troops did not directly come under attack.

The IDF said another 15 Palestinians were arrested elsewhere across the West Bank, with some violent incidents reported.

In the town of Yabed, an explosive device was hurled at troops and gunfire was heard in the area; in Anata, on the outskirts of Jerusalem, troops used riot dispersal means against Palestinians hurling Molotov cocktails, the military said.

No Israeli soldiers were hurt in the overnight raids.

The IDF’s operation has netted more than 2,500 arrests in near-nightly raids.  It also left over 170 Palestinians dead in 2022, and another four since the beginning of the year, many of them killed while carrying out attacks against Israelis or during clashes with security forces.  



Released Israeli-Arab Terrorist: ‘Palestine’ In Its Entirety Is Ours

Karim Younis, an Israeli-Arab terrorist who was recently released from prison after 40 years, and a member of Fatah’s Central Committee, said Saturday (7th) on Palestine TV that the Palestinians do not recognize the Green Line (the pre-1967 border) and that all of “Palestine” is theirs.

According to a report by MEMRI, he further stated that Israel intends to divide Palestinians but would fail.  Younis was freed from prison on January 4 after serving 40 years for the 1980 murder of Israeli soldier Avraham Bromberg.

Under directives from National Security Minister Ben-Gvir, upon his release, Younis was driven to the Ra’anana central bus station and not released directly from Hadarim Prison to avoid a “victory picture,” Hebrew media reported.

“We do not recognize the Green Line or the 1949 armistice line because we are one people.  They wanted to tear us apart, but they will never succeed,” said Younis.

“We are marching on and we will seize our rights.  I say once again: Palestine in its entirety is ours…Mount Carmel is ours, the Jezreel Valley is ours, the Coastal Plain is ours, the Negev is ours, the Galilee is ours and the triangle region is ours as well,” he declared.

The Israeli Defense Ministry has revoked the entry permits of three senior Palestinian Authority officials after they participated in a homecoming ceremony for the convicted terrorist last week.

On Sunday (8th) Ben-Gvir directed Israel Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai to investigate what he saw as a breakdown that permitted public celebrations for a released Arab terrorist, also he directed police to enforce an existing ban on the flying of Palestinian flags to identify with terrorist groups.



Massive Trove Of Pre-War Jewish Artifacts Unearthed By Construction Workers In Poland

Construction workers renovating an old tenement house in Lodz, Poland , unearthed a surprising find: an untouched cache of hundreds of Jewish artifacts believed to have been hidden in advance of the Nazi occupation of the city.

The trove – which included menorahs, kiddush and ritual washing cups and items from everyday life, all wrapped carefully in newspaper – was buried next to a building just beyond the ghetto in which Lodz Jews were imprisoned during the Holocaust.  Only about 10,000 Lodz Jews survived until the end of the war, out of a pre-war population of about 230,000.

“A find like this comes along once in a decade,” Adam Pustelnik, the vice mayor of Lodz, said in a tweet.

“The discovery is remarkable, especially the quantity.  These are extremely valuable, historic items that testify to the history of the inhabitants of this building,” said Agnieszka Kowalewska-Wojcik, director of the Board of Municipal Investments in Lodz, according to Polish media.  She said the artifacts are being transferred to the city’s archeological museum, adding, “I hope a special, generally accessible exhibition will be prepared.”

Before World War II, Lodz, one of Poland’s major industrial centers, was one of the largest Jewish communities in Europe, numbering over 230,000 or 31% of the city.  Almost all of them were killed by the Nazis during their occupation of the city from 1939 to 1045.

“For us archeologists, such unusual finds are a challenge, but also a great joy.  I don’t remember the last time such treasures were unearthed in Lodz,” said Bartlomiej Gwozdz, a local archeologist.  “At the moment, each item is being carefully cleaned so that nothing is damaged, broken or destroyed.”

Two of the discovered menorahs were lit during Hanukkah celebrations this year by the Lodz Jewish community, whose offices happen to be on the other side of the block from the building on Polnocna Street, where the trove was discovered.

The trove is not the first notable Jewish relic to be unearthed in Lodz.  In 2018, workers excavating a building that was inside the Jewish ghetto uncovered what researchers concluded was a bloody prayer shawl that had been left behind during the 1940 pogrom, when the Nazis attacked Jews who had gathered to pray on Yom Kippur.



Sale Of Israel’s Haifa Port Finalized for $1.15 Billion

A consortium headed by India’s Adani Group has finalized its purchase of Israel’s Haifa Port, Israel’s Finance Ministry said on Tuesday (10th) in a statement about the completed deal.

Reuters states that the port, which is located in the coastal city of Haifa in the north of Israel, was sold for a sum of just over $1.15 billion dollars.

One of the new owners, Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Limited, is owned by Indian billionaire Gautam Adani.  Adani founded his namesake company and is listed as the third richest man in the world by Forbes Magazine.  His net worth is estimated at $126 billion.

According to Adani, the company “is the largest commercial ports owner in India, and accounts for nearly one-fourth of the cargo movement in the country.”  The other new owner is Israel’s Gadot Group, a chemical company.

Previously the Haifa Port was run by the Haifa Port Company, a government corporation that describes the port as “the largest leading port in Israel.”

According to Reuters, the process of the sale of Haifa Port has spanned five years and indicates the fruition of nearly 20 years of Israeli efforts to bolster an underperforming sector.

The intention to sell the port was announced in July of last year by the previous Israeli administration.  At the time, Israel’s i24News quoted then Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman, as saying the “privatization of the Port of Haifa will increase competition at the ports and lower the cost of living.”

Furthermore, according to a 2019 report by Haifa Port, roughly 98% of Israel’s trade with foreign countries goes through Israel’s maritime ports.  Based on the report, more than half of that flows through Haifa Port.

The sale seems to continue a quickening trend of Israel selling its ports to private organizations.  Last year, also in Haifa, China’s Shanghai International Port Group also opened a port.

The cementing of this latest sale occurred under new Finance Minister Bezalel Smotritch who took office at the start of January.   



Ahead Of The U.S. And Switzerland:  Survey Finds Israel Worldwide Leader In Volunteering

President Isaac Herzog was presented Monday (9th) with the results of the annual survey on volunteerism in Israel, which showed that almost half of the population (42.5%) engage in such activities to various degrees.

The study which included 503 participants, stated that Israel is one of the leading countries in volunteering, along with Canada (79%), Britain (63%), Australia (57%), New Zealand (51%),  and ahead of Switzerland (39.9%), the Netherlands (39%), and the U.S. (25%).

It further showed a balance between male volunteers (42.6%) and female ones (42.2%).  In terms of age groups, 34% aged 18-34 said they volunteered on a regular basis, as well as 47.9% aged 35-54 and 42% aged 55 and older.

In addition, Israelis with tertiary education and those with higher-than-average incomes reported higher rates of volunteering.  Sector-wise, the highest rate of volunteering was reported among the Ultra-Orthodox (60%).

Most respondents said they preferred to volunteer in areas of welfare and assisting disadvantaged populations, followed by education, health, environment, religion, and social change.

Upon receiving the survey, Herzog said, “Today, perhaps more than ever, it is up to us to boost social involvement and choose to see what unites us and brings us closer, not what divides and separates us.”

The poll was conducted by the National Council for Volunteering and the Hebrew University’s Center for the Study of Civil Society and Philanthropy with the help of the Welfare and Social Affairs Ministry.