News Digest — 1/23/23

Netanyahu Dismisses Arye Deri From Israeli Government Following High Court Disqualification

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu removed Shas Party chairman Arye Deri from his position as Interior and Health Minister on Sunday (22nd), in accordance with the High Court of Justice ruling last Wednesday (18th) that Deri was unfit to serve as a minister because of his criminal past.

“As is known, I decided to appoint you as Deputy Prime Minister and Interior and Health Minister with the approval of the majority of Knesset members due to the fact that I see you as an anchor of experience, intelligence and responsibility that are important to the State of Israel at all times, and especially at this time,” he wrote in a letter to Deri, which he read out loud at the weekly cabinet meeting.

“I also thought that it was important that you serve the State of Israel as a member of the natural security cabinet in my government and contribute, due to your many years of experience as a cabinet member in the governments of the late prime ministers Yitzhak Shamir and Yitzhak Rabin – rich experience that contributes to the security and resilience of the State of Israel.”

“Unfortunately, despite the above, on January 18, 2023, the High Court of Justice decided that I have an obligation to remove you from your position as Interior and Health Minister.  This unfortunate decision ignores the will of the people, as reflected in the great trust that the public gave to the people’s representatives and their elected officials in my government, when it was clear to everyone that you world serve in the government as a senior minister.”   

“I intend to look for any legal way in which you can continue to contribute to the State of Israel from your vast experiences and skills, in accordance with the will of the people.”

“However, following the provisions of the said judgment, I must inform you that according to Section 22 (b) of the Basic Law: The Government – I am forced with a heavy heart, with great sorrow and with extremely difficult feelings, to remove you from your position as a minister in the government,” Netanyahu concluded.

He waited until Sunday (22nd) despite a letter from Attorney-General Gali Baharav-Miara on Thursday (19th) that called for him to fire Deri, reportedly to give his longtime ally time to decide whether to resign on his own accord.  The delay created tension, as some politicians accused Netanyahu of purposely dragging his feet and showing contempt for the High Court.

The termination of Deri’s tenure will come into effect on Tuesday morning (24th).

Deri still attended the cabinet’s weekly meeting on Sunday (23rd), reportedly because its agenda included an update regarding the national health basket, which the Health Ministry under his lead had worked on last week.  His seat to Netanyahu’s right was left vacant while Netanyahu spoke to the press at the beginning of the meeting.  He entered the meeting after the press had left the room and did not stop to speak to reporters in the hallway.

However, the Likud released a picture from the meeting of Netanyahu and Deri speaking to each other, presumably to show that Netanyahu  still considered him an ally.

Deri later on Sunday (22nd) participated in a meeting of all the coalition party leaders, and a picture was circulated from that meeting as well.



Gallant: Israel’s Submarines Are Insurance Against Iran And Other Enemies

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Sunday (22nd) said that the country’s submarines are insurance for Israeli security against Iran, Hezbollah , Hamas and other security threats. 

Speaking on Mount Herzl in a memorial service for the 69-member Dakar submarine crew lost when the submarine sank disastrously in 1968, he said, “submarine crews today are continuing the same strategic mission of the Dakar crew.  Much of the activity of the Shayetet 7 submarine units is kept classified from Israel’s citizens.”

“We face a long list of threats – with the Iranian threat being at the forefront – which challenge us in both nearby and far off areas.  The submarines are insurance for the State of Israel’s security, and they have a vital hand in confronting the threats surrounding us,” he said.

The defense minister continued, saying “submarines have acted in unknown locations and places… playing critical joint operational roles with other arms of the IDF for many years.”

According to foreign sources, Israel has submarines that can fire nuclear missiles, giving it a “second strike” capability for destroying any enemy who might think to try a surprise attack against Israel’s military centers on land.

This second strike capability provides a tremendous deterrent against any enemy force trying to strike Israel in any existentially destructive way.

IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Maj.-Gen. Amir Baram said at  the ceremony, “the Dakar warriors were daring…and devoted  to the State of Israel.  Their battles were concealed from the public but they were ready to act against any threat near or far – even at the cost of their lives.”

Baram also said, “The conflict with Iran is expanding into every arena…we are determined and persistent with the same spirit which led the Dakar crew.  The IDF Navy’s dominance has grown in recent years and there are many complex operations day after day.”

Baram added that his forces have “stopped both Hezbollah and Gaza Attacks, and continue to stop the growing power of Iranian proxies.”

In addition, he said that the navy “guarantees the stability of the Israeli economy through maintaining the freedom of the seas and access to seaports.”

IDF Navy Chief Maj.-Gen. David Sa’ar Salama spoke at the Mount Herzl ceremony also, saying that the IDF’s submariners have “had many successes in the ‘war between wars’” in taking away areas of activity (a reference to weapons smuggling) from IDF enemies and improving the navy’s overall readiness for any future conflict.

In 1999, 31 years after the Dakar sank, some of its remains were found 3,000 meters under the sea between Crete and Cyprus.  Even after the discovery, there is no definitive explanation as to why the submarine sank.



Hezbollah Builds 20 New Observation Posts Along Israel-Lebanon Border

The Hezbollah terror group has built no less than 20 observation and guard posts over the past year along Israel’s border with Lebanon, Ynet News learned Monday (23rd).

According to the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701, following the 2006 Lebanon war, Hezbollah is forbidden from operating near the border fence.

The Lebanese terror group appears to have taken on the project at the same time that Israel began building a fortified perimeter fence along the 87 miles joint border.

Each tower is 59 feet long, and is established parallel to the yet-to-be-completed fortified perimeter fence being constructed by the Israeli military.

“A few days ago, we saw a large truck unloading the top part of the watchtower,” said Ori Eliyahu, local resident of Moshav Shtula in the Upper Galilee near the Lebanese border.

“The outposts don’t concern me, because I know that Hezbollah is deterred by Israel,” Eliyahu said.  “They are establishing the watchtowers as a miserable response to the work Israel is conducting along the border.”

“Hezbollah knows very well that if they dare harm us, the IDF will wipe out all their infrastructure.  And while they will be able to  shoot at us from the outposts, they know doing so will have severe consequences.”

The IDF is closely monitoring Hezbollah activity along the border, and the Israeli residents living close to the border fence were promised the outposts would be razed if the Iran-backed terror group initiates a military escalation.

“They understand that once the barrier is completed, we will no longer see them and they won’t be able to provoke us anymore.”



EL AL Relaunches Program To Educate World About Israel

Israel’s El Al airline is looking to expand through merger deals in the North American market, increasing flights to the continent, the company announced this week.

According to CEO Dina Ben-Tal Ganancia, the national flag carrier is restarting its “Ambassadors” program, first launched in 2011, in tandem with the pro-Israel nonprofit StandWithUs.  The El Al Ambassadors program was shut down for two years due to the COVID pandemic, but it is now up and running once again.

Some 83 ambassadors – staff on the Israeli carrier – participate in the project on an entirely voluntary basis.  They take time out of their busy schedules to educate people about life in Israel at Universities, religious centers, and other spaces.

“With the world readjusting post-pandemic and tourism to Israel soaring again, this program represents another way for people to get closer to Israel,” StandWithUs said in their announcement.  “The initiative sees pilots and top flight personnel utilizing their layover-time to visit and speak to audiences, in uniform.”

“The idea is for audiences both far and wide to see Israel through the eyes of its people: the diverse faces of El Al, who represent Israelis from all different backgrounds and walks of life,” the statement continued.

“This is a chance for people to meet real Israelis with incredible life stories who represent the welcoming face of our open society.  The Ambassadors participate in the program on a voluntary basis – they take pride in making a difference and representing their country, Israel.”  



London’s Orthodox Jews Targeted In Latest Wave of Antisemitic Hate Crimes

The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) in London has arrested a Tik Tok user who filmed himself staging a series of menacing pranks against the Orthodox Jewish community.

According to Shomrim Stamford Hill, a Jewish community defense group, the 18-year-old male went on a “One-man hate spree,” blocking a car driven by an Orthodox Jewish man, jumping on the back of a Jewish teenager, and faking a robbery on a Jewish man whom he accosted and told “You’re under arrest, give me what you have.”  He also filmed himself mockingly dressed as a Jew wearing a fedora.

The male was arrested Wednesday (18th) and is now in police custody.

In another incident that took place on a Transportation for London (TFL) bus, a male verbally abused a Jewish mother and her three-year-old child, calling them “vermin” and “bad people.”

The TFL bus driver sadly took no action,” Shomrim said.

A group known as the “Web Estate Gang” has also been harassing a Jewish family for several months, stealing a family bicycle, pounding on their windows and doors, and trespassing on their property, according to the group.

A total of 3,211 antisemitic hate crimes have been recorded in London since 2018, with incidents peaking in 2021 when there were 853.  In Dec., 2022, there were 44 incidents, and in the previous month, 43.

The new year has already witnessed a fresh wave of attacks on the Orthodox Jewish community in London, one of the largest in Europe.  On Jan. 3, Shomrim reported that a man entered a Jewish bakery and attempted to assault a woman after asking “Are you Jewish?”

Such crimes represented a persistent threat to quality of life throughout 2022, according to community groups.

In December, a man in the Stamford Hill area, stalked and assaulted an Orthodox Jewish woman, following her and shouting “Dirty Jew” while snatching her shopping bag, dumping it on the pavement, and laughing.

Convictions of those who commit antisemitic hate crimes are scarce, with “too few cases” being brought before the courts, Dave Rich, head of Policy at Community Security Trust (CST) wrote last February.

“The wheels of justice seem to be stuck,” he added.