News Digest — 1/6/22

IDF Tanks Fire At Syrian Position On Golan Heights

IDF tanks on Wednesday (5th) fired at a Syrian position east of the Israeli-Syrian border that was directed at suspects who were seen nearing the frontier, the military said.

There were no injuries reported in the incident on either side of the border, and the IDF deployed more troops to the area in anticipation of further infiltration attempts, including ground forces and aircraft.

Earlier the Lebanese-based Al-Mayadeen network said the Israeli fire was directed at a Syrian army position near the city of Quneitra and the village of Al Huria on the Syrian Golan Heights.

In a statement, the IDF Spokesperson’s unit said that after an IDF lookout post identified suspects inside Syrian military positions, flares were fired along with tank fire in order to prevent infiltration.

The IDF has opened fire at suspects nearing the border in the past, including in August of 2020 when four suspected terrorists were killed when they attempted to lay explosive devices near the border fence.

According to foreign media reports, the IDF had also attacked targets near Quneitra in the past, as part of the effort to prevent Iranian entrenchment on the Syrian Golan.



Terrorist Gets Two Life Sentences For Murdering Yeshiva Student

Muntasar Shalabi, the terrorist who carried out a murderous attack at Tapuach Junction in May, shooting and killing yeshiva student Yehuda Guetta and wounding two others, was sentenced to life in prison on Wednesday (5th).

The Judea Military Court imposed two life sentences and compensation of millions of shekels on Shalabi after he was convicted of intentionally causing death, the carrying, possession of, and producing of weapons, and obstruction of justice.

Members of the Guetta family attended the sentence reading.

Advocate Haim Bleicher, of the Honenu legal rights organization representing the Guetta family, stated, “We hope that the cursed terrorist will end his life within the prison walls as the sentence orders.  But the story of the war on terror cannot end here.  The State of Israel must take strict measures against the terrorist’s environment, which includes severe punishment against his aides.”

After Shalabi’s conviction, Rabbi Elisha Guetta, Yehuda’s father, sought to impose the death penalty on the terrorist.

“This terrorist deserves death.  It is time for the judges, especially the military, to come out of their own box and decide what is good for the people of Israel, how to maintain the sanity of the state, and return the rulings accepted in military courts, a death sentence to such lowly people who sanctify death.  We sanctify life,” he stated.

“He murdered in cold blood a young man, not yet 19.  He deserves a death sentence, his family exiled, and all his aides.  Life imprisonment!  It is a pity we are humiliating ourselves with this sentence,” he added.



Gantz Meets Jordanian King, Stresses Importance Of Closer Ties

Defense Minister Benny Gantz met King Abdullah II on Wednesday (5th) in Jordan to discuss regional stability, the two sides announced on Wednesday.

According to a statement from the Jordanian monarchy, the king reaffirmed the “importance of maintaining calm in the Palestinian territories and taking all measures to create the horizon needed to achieve a just and comprehensive peace between Israel and the Palestinians. However, Abdullah is pushing for the “two-state solution.”

This meeting follows a secret one last year between Abdullah and current Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, as well as a separate meeting between the countries’ foreign ministers.

Gantz’s office said the minister “emphasized the strategic importance of closer ties between Israel and Jordan, which will contribute to the security of both nations.”

According to the statement, the two “discussed security and diplomatic issues and Gantz thanked the king for his efforts to maintain the stability of the region and for strengthening peace and normalization.”

The meeting comes just days after Gantz met with Palestinian Authority Leader Mahmoud Abbas to discuss efforts to calm the tension between Israel and the Palestinians amid a spate of attacks by terrorists in Judea and Samaria.  Gantz came under attack  by lawmakers on the Right for supposedly bolstering Abbas’ stature and hosting him at his home in Rosh Ha’Ayin.

Israel and Jordan made peace in 1994 and maintain close security ties, but relations soured in recent years over tensions relating to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and the peace process with the Palestinians.  The countries also fell out over a shooting incident by a guard at Israel’s embassy in Amman.

Both Jordan and the Palestinians were adamantly opposed to the Trump administration’s Mideast peace plan.



Poll: Almost 80% Of Israelis Concerned By Growing Anti-Semitism Worldwide

A recent Israel-wide survey has found that almost 80% of Israelis are concerned about Anti-Semitism globally, with almost three-quarters (73%) believing anti-Semitism is widespread.  More than half (61%) believe that the problem has only grown stronger during the past five years.

During the survey of more than 500 Israeli citizens, commissioned by World Likud and conducted by the Shiluv i2r Institute, it was also found that 58% of Israelis feel that Israel’s relations with the Diaspora have been harmed by the current government policy not to allow Diaspora Jews to enter due to COVID-19.

When questioned further in the survey, Israelis responded that the State is not doing enough for global Jewry to minimize anti-Semitism and heighten the sense of security for those facing Jew-hatred.  Additionally, 70% of Israelis deem that Jews living abroad are only somewhat or not at all safe living in their current place of residence due to this global issue.

Israel’s former Ambassador to the UN and Chairman of the World Likud Danny Danon called 2021 “a year which has seen a record rise in terms of the manifestation of anti-Semitism.”

Although more than 90% of Israelis think that each foreign government should take responsibility for the anti-Semitism in their own country, many also believe that the State of Israel should intervene further to address the issue, and work toward more being done to ensure the security of world Jewry. 

Such actions include requesting more from the UN and other international organizations (94%), and demanding concrete statements and actions from world leaders in order to try and eradicate anti-Semitism (94%).



US Synagogues Ramp Up Security Amid Increasing Anti-Semitic Attacks

Attempted arson attacks, vandalism, the dissemination of anti-Semitic materials and packages containing potentially toxic materials are just some of the threats Jews in North America have recently had to face.  In response, the community has decided to raise the issue of synagogue security to the forefront of the agenda.

According to Rebecca Caspi, director-general at the Jewish Federations of North America’s Israel branch, anti-Semitic incidents have now gone beyond online harassment to the point where Jews are the targets of verbal and physical assault.  Caspi described one such incident in Florida where four men started shouting at a man wearing a kippah and threatened his family.  In Austin, Caspi said, a synagogue had been set on fire and a rabbi was stabbed outside of a Jewish school in Boston.

In yet another incident in recent days, anti-vaccine posters that featured the Star of David on them were discovered in at least two Los Angeles-area locations this week, including ones pasted to an electrical box outside a synagogue.

The JFNA, which serves as an umbrella organization for 146 Jewish federations and 300 Jewish communities across the United States and Canada, decided it would not stand idly by in the face of the violence.  They established the nationally funded “Live Secure” program in partnership with the US Homeland Security Department to provide “local federations with the tools, training and resources needed to keep our summer camps, synagogues, and classrooms safe,” according to the JFNA website.

The $34 million in funding for the program will allow the communities to be connected to a special surveillance and security network that will perform an intelligence assessment of the extent of threats to Jewish community members posed by terrorist and anti-Semitic organizations, allowing each community to be ranked according to the security threat it faces.

As part of the security upgrade, synagogues will receive closed-circuit security cameras, have secure doors installed, and community members will be trained for potential terrorist threats.  Private security guards will also be hired for special events in certain communities.

According to Caspi, such measures have already saved lives.  She noted that secure doors installed at the entrance to a synagogue in the German city of Halle had prevented an attacker from entering and carrying out a massacre.

According to the US Commission on Civil Rights, the number of anti-Semitic incidents reported in the first half of 2021 was double that reported in the same period the previous year.