News Digest — 1/25/23

Unannounced Trip: Netanyahu Meets King Abdullah In Jordan

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made an unannounced trip to Jordan on Tuesday (24th) to meet with King Abdullah II.

The two leaders discussed regional issues – in particular – strategic, security and economic cooperation between Israel and Jordan.

They praised the long-standing friendship and partnership between the countries, which contributes to stability in the Middle East.

However, ties between the two countries have been strained over the years.

Most recently, Amman reacted furiously when earlier this month Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir visited the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City.  The Temple Mount is Judaism’s most holy site.  The visit was an unthreatening 12-minute stay, in the early morning when few were on the Mount, and the minister left quietly.  

But, Jordan denounced Ben-Gvir “in the severest terms for storming the Al-Aqsa Mosque and violation of its sanctity,” despite the Israeli minister not having approached the mosque.

Abdullah said in December that he was ready for a conflict should Israel’s new government violate “red lines” by changing the dynamics governing relations at Jerusalem’s holy sites.

“We have to be concerned about the next intifada [Palestinian terror war],”  Abdullah said in an interview with CNN, adding, “If that happens, that’s a complete breakdown of law and order and one that neither the Israelis or the Palestinians will benefit from.  I think there is a lot of concern from all of us in the region who don’t want to see that happen.”

Jordan has long since had the status of custodian of Muslim and Christian holy sites in the Israeli capital, including the Al Aqsa Mosque.

Tensions were raised again last week when Jordanian Ambassador to Israel Ghassan Majali was delayed  while attempting to ascend the Temple Mount.

According to police, Majali showed up at the site without prior coordination and was not immediately recognized by officers, causing a “very small” delay while authorities looked into the matter.

He subsequently walked off angrily, before returning to the holy site later in the day.



Herzog To Give European Parliament Holocaust Remembrance Day Address

President Isaac Herzog will deliver the keynote Holocaust Remembrance Day address to the European Parliament.

Herzog is scheduled to leave for Brussels Wednesday (25th) and will spend two days in the Belgian capital.

During his visit, he will meet with King Phillippe of Belgium, the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leven, the President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola, the Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg, whom he will brief on Israel’s strategic policy; and Jewish community representatives of Brussels and Antwerp.

In the course of his two-day sojourn, Herzog will visit the Athenee Ganenou Jewish School and the Great Synagogue of Europe which is located in Brussels.  At the European Parliament he will also meet with Holocaust survivors.

Herzog regards his first trip abroad in 2023 as “an important and exceptional visit to the European Union.”

As he considers Belgium to be a close friend of Israel’s, he is sure that his meetings with the king and government officials will act as a catalyst for future cooperation.

Insofar as the EU is concerned, Herzog notes that “Israel’s relations with the nations of Europe and the institutions of the European Union have an impact on almost every area of our lives as a people and as a state.”

As the son of an officer in the British Army who helped to liberate Bergen Belsen, and the grandson of a rabbi who went to Europe immediately after the war to rescue Jewish children who had been placed in convents and monasteries, Herzog is particularly sensitive to anything related to the Holocaust, and admits to being filled with a sense of “sacred trepidation” with regard to his address to the European Parliament on Friday (27th), Holocaust Remembrance Day.

“We must never forget that the Holocaust, the darkest abyss in human history, grew out of the fertile soil of antisemitism that had spread through Europe for generations and tragically is rearing its head in many forms in the present day,” he said.

“The historical responsibility borne by the whole family of nations – and the nations of Europe in particular – requires us to not only deepen our remembrance and commemoration, but also to draw lessons, to educate and to wage a persistent, determined, and most importantly common battle against antisemitism, racism, and xenophobia.”



Hezbollah Blinding Israeli Drivers, Pedestrians Nightly With Lasers

Hezbollah activists have been harassing residents of the northern town of Metulla from across the border for the last several weeks by using powerful lasers, Channel 11 reported Monday evening (23rd).

Standing on a hill in Lebanon that is perhaps 180 meters from the town, they shine a blinding green light into Jewish homes, at pedestrians, and perhaps, worst of all, into the eyes of Israeli drivers.

This kind of laser can cause irreparable damage to people’s eyes, including permanent blindness, the report said.

The IDF has not yet found a solution to the problem.

In an effort to keep the long-distance stalkers away from their gathering spot, a large floodlight was placed for several days at the most directly affected area, the town’s popular promenade, to shine a revealing beam at them.  This has not discouraged Hezbollah.

The Northern Command has turned to the UNIFIL forces that have been stationed on the border since 1978 and whose formal mandate includes assisting the Lebanese government to return to its effective authority in the border area rather than leaving Hezbollah, an Iranian proxy in charge. 

This was one of the conditions Israel set down for ending the 2006 Second Lebanon War against Hezbollah forces that controlled the southern region of the country, but it has yet to be fulfilled.  In any event, it would most likely make no difference, as Hezbollah is part of the government in Beirut and has infiltrated many of its own men into the Lebanese armed forces.

The UN has promised to intervene, but nothing has been done to date.

An army spokesperson apparently tried to put a positive spin on the military’s efforts, saying, “The IDF is in close contact with the residents of the sector and works in cooperation with them continuously to strengthen the sense of security in the area in the best possible way.”

Hezbollah is also trying to stymie other IDF moves in the area.  While the terror group has seemingly given up on digging attack tunnels through to Israel, in parallel to the Israeli army’s current construction of 15-meter-high walls to prevent overland infiltration, Hezbollah is putting up simple but even taller towers on its side of the border so that the terrorists can continue to observe Israeli activity.



Hamas Cyber Attack Fails To Silence Gazans: Videos Exposing Miserable Life Under Terrorist Rule Go Viral

An organization that gives voice to abused residents of Gaza was the target of an unsuccessful cyber-attack on Tuesday (24th) launched by Hamas.

The Center for Peace Communications (CPC) recently created an animated series, titled “Whispered in Gaza,” telling about life under the brutal terrorist regime that rules the Strip with an iron fist.

“Hamas has placed Palestinians in Gaza under a communications blockade.  ‘Whispered in Gaza’ helps them breach it,” the CPC site explains.

It includes interviews with Gazans from all walks of life, using video animation in lieu of the speakers’ visages to protect their identities.”

Twenty-five clips in all are being published in a weekly series, accompanied by research and analysis, according to CPC.

In one video, for example, a young woman describes the repressive society she lives in.  She and her husband for now, have decided not to have children because “it would be wrong to bring a child into the conditions we endure.”

In recent weeks, the videos, published in several languages, have been seen on various sites across the globe, and Hamas, apparently feeling threatened by the exposure, is attempting to shut the site down.

“Gazans want their voices to be heard.  Hamas doesn’t.  Days after we launched a platform for ordinary Palestinians to expose Hamas abuses, it was swarmed by pro-Hamas accounts,” CPC tweeted regarding the attack.  “Row upon row of pro-Hamas attacks, all identical, posted simultaneously – the attack was clearly not a professional job.”

“In the attack, one user accuses the Gazan speaker of being an ‘intelligence officer’…and is simultaneously repeated verbatim by 27 others.  ‘Where’s the credibility here?’ asks ‘Adiele Elvis.’  Oddly, 26 others asked the exact question at the exact same minute,” the Center noted.

“We are committed to helping Gazans overcome the communication blockade on their free speech, and this attack only underscores the need for us to persevere,” a CPC spokesperson told World Israel News.



Israeli Doctors Go To Nigeria To Treat Children’s Eye Diseases

During a five-day humanitarian mission last week to Ilorin, Nigeria, five specialists from Israel’s Sheba Medical Center treated pediatric eye cancer patients and worked to increase the capacity for long-term optical care in southern Nigeria.

Because an estimated 1 in 15,000 Nigerian children suffer eye cancer, the mission focused on treating children with a type of cancer called retinoblastoma, which can be deadly if not caught early.

The team, led by ocular oncologist Dr. Ido Didi Fabian, also established an intra-arterial chemotherapy center to provide ongoing care for eye cancer patients in the region.  This treatment delivers chemotherapy directly to the tumor through a catheter inserted into an artery, allowing for higher doses of chemo while minimizing the exposure of healthy tissue to the drugs.

“Intra-arterial chemotherapy is a highly effective treatment-modality that can make a significant difference in the outcome of cancer treatment, and it is something that we have a lot of experience with at Sheba,” said Fabian.

“Together with my Sheba colleagues, I am honored to have the opportunity to share our knowledge and skills with our local colleagues in Nigeria and to work together to treat infants with this lifesaving treatment.”

“Sheba’s commitment and dedication to extending a hand to those in need across the globe is a fundamental guiding principle for us,” said Yoel Har-Even, Director of the International Division & Resource Development at Sheba Global.