News Digest — 10/12/22

IDF Soldier, Staff Sergeant Ido Baruch Succumbs To Injuries After West Bank Drive-By Shooting

An IDF soldier who was shot and seriously wounded by a Palestinian gunman near the settlement of Shavei Shomron in the northern West Bank Tuesday afternoon (11th) succumbed to his injuries, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit announced.

He was later identified as Staff Sergeant Ido Baruch, 21 of Gedara.

According to the military, “two assailants arrived in a vehicle adjacent to the community of Shavei Shomron and shot live fire at IDF soldiers who were conducting operational security activity in the area.”

The soldier was taken to Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba with a gunshot wound to the shoulder.  The bullet had traveled through his shoulder into his chest cavity, causing him excessive bleeding.  After long resuscitation attempts, doctors had to pronounce him dead.

The military extended its condolences to the soldier’s family and it launched a manhunt after the shooter who was seen fleeing the area in his car.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz vowed to capture the attacker and his accomplices.

“I would like to send my condolences to the family of the IDF soldier who was killed today in an attack in Samaria.  The manhunt continues,” Gantz said.

“We will put our hands on the terrorist and those who assisted him.  Counterterrorism operations will continue and intensify in order to give security to the citizens of Israel.”



Defense Minister Gantz Releases Statement

Defense Minister Benny Gantz released a statement on Tuesday (11th) regarding the death of IDF Staff Sergeant Ido Baruch, killed earlier in the day by a terrorist who opened fire on his post, in Samaria.

“Today, a holiday turned into a day of sadness and pain.  It was with great sorrow and pain that I received the news of the death of an IDF soldier from the Givati Brigade Reconnaissance Unit, Staff Sergeant Ido Baruch, who fell in the line of duty in a shooting attack by a despicable terrorist.  On behalf of myself and the Government of Israel, I send condolences to his family and fellow soldiers in his brigade.  There are no words to express the great pain and sorrow.  We will not stop until these murderers are caught.  May his memory be a blessing.” Gantz wrote in a statement.

A preliminary IDF investigation found that the soldier and his comrades were securing a settler rally attended by thousands of people for the holiday of Sukkot.

IDF soldiers have begun searching the area for the terrorists.  As part of the search, security forces entered several nearby villages and set up roadblocks.  

Currently all roads in and out of Nablus have been closed.



Israel Can’t Rely On PA To Stop West Bank-Based Lion’s Den Terror Group – Yossi Yehoshua

The new Palestinian terror group called the Lion’s Den is said to be behind the fresh wave of violence in Nablus, as well as recent terror attacks aimed against Israeli civilians and soldiers in the West Bank.

According to estimations, the group consists of some 50 Palestinians all under the age of 30.  It has no affiliation with any “established” terror organizations and is described by residents of Nablus as “local thugs.”

“They hurt our economy, deal in protection rackets and behave like criminals,” said one local resident.  The group’s main goal revolves around targeting Israeli security forces, and encourages other youths to imitate them and as a result become social media “terror influencers.”

The IDF warned the Palestinian Authority that it intended to raid Nablus to detain members of the group, but the PA requested a shift in the course of action because every Israeli raid in the West Bank generates economic damage and scares away tourists.

The Lion’s Den has no headquarters nor a chain of command.  Nor do they have any organizational conduct from which any solid intelligence could be generated.  They have managed to become quite the headache for PA’s Preventive Security Service (PSS), which appears to be helpless in the face of the group’s emergence.

But for the IDF, they are just another terror group.  They must be stopped and Israel can’t wait for the PA to get itself together and do it since Israelis are the ones who end up paying the price.

The latest terror attack for which the group claimed responsibility  occurred on Tuesday afternoon (11th) and claimed the life of IDF Staff Sergeant Ido Baruch.  Also attributed to the Lion’s Den was the death of soldier Sgt. Noa Lazar on Sunday (9th).  Both soldiers were killed in drive-by shootings.

On Tuesday evening, I toured the area of Ido Baruch’s attack and spoke to several soldiers.  They said there is great difficulty in maintaining operational awareness when each vehicle passing by could potentially be carrying terrorists who could at any moment open fire at troops.

The conclusion is that Israel needs to create deterrence, and then uproot terrorist elements from the general population across Palestinian cities.  Only this time it seems to be a more complex issue. 

According to the Palestinians, terror elements are now interconnected with the criminal ones. Which unfortunately happens way too often in the Arab sector even inside Israel.



Sukkot In Ukraine: ‘There Were Loud Explosions, We Hid In The Basement’

The Jewish communities in Ukraine will not quickly forget Sukkot 2022.  While the Russians upped their offensive against the country, Ukraine’s Jews celebrated their ancient religious Sukkot holiday.  This holiday saw the largest challenge since the Jewish holiday season began.  

“On the day before the holiday, there were loud explosions,” recounts the rabbi of Kharkiv and Chabad emissary Rabbi Moshe Moskowitz, “On the morning of the holiday there was more shelling.  The electricity went out.  During the second night of the holiday, the electricity came back thanks to the generator which we received ahead of time from the Chabad Hatzalah headquarters in the country.  Despite the situation, we managed to hold holiday prayers and meals with a large crowd in attendance.  During the lulls in the attacks, the Jews got to make a blessing on the four species in the city streets.  It’s a big miracle that no one was hurt.  We have to thank and praise God.”

The residents of Mykolaiv also heard the explosions.  “There was a lot of heavy shelling during the holiday,” said the rabbi and Chabad emissary to the city Rabbi Sholom Gottlieb, “We did everything in such a way that it would not harm the joyousness of the holiday.  Hundreds of Jews came to make the blessing on the four species and to attend the holiday meals.  We strengthened the congregation through holiday sermons and we spoke about how this year is the year of the ‘Hakhel’ ceremony and how God is certainly watching over us.”

The Jews of the capital city, Kyiv, had a difficult holiday.  “It wasn’t easy at all,” reports one of the rabbis in the city.  “There were loud explosions.  We all escaped to the bomb shelter and waited until things calmed down.  We currently are without electricity.  There are planned power outages.”

In Kryvyi Rih, where President Zelensky was born, the electric grid was extremely damaged.  “The situation didn’t ruin the joyfulness of the holiday,” said the city’s rabbi and Chabad emissary Rabbi Liron Edry, “Many Jews came to rejoice and celebrate while following the guidelines, of course.”

In the city of Zaporizhzhya, the houses of the local Jews shook non-stop.  “There were unusual explosions here, even relative to what we’ve seen in the war,” said the city’s Rabbi, Nachum Arntroy, “There was loud shelling just meters away from us.  Buildings fell.  We spent the holiday in the basement, and anyone who was there was saved.  Unfortunately, tens were killed in the bombings.  On the morning of the holiday, a missile hit the central power station in the city. We were without power for hours.”

Rabbi Arntroy tried to uplift his congregation which sat in the synagogue’s basement.  “People wanted to celebrate the holiday and we did everything to make them happy.”

The Chabad Hatzalah Ukraine headquarters, which is located in Israel, kept track of the events from afar.  “We can’t describe the fact that despite the tough situation and the fear, the rabbis and emissaries continued to lead their congregations,” said a source in the headquarters.



Iran’s Protests Are Proving A Durable Challenge To The Islamic Republic – Sune Engel Rasmussen

The anti-government protest movement in Iran has proved more durable than previous challenges to Tehrean’s leaders.  Students across the country rallied outside universities on Sunday (9th), chanting slogans including “death to the dictator,” and schoolgirls marched in the streets of Tehran waving their veils in the air.  Stores stayed closed as part of a widening strike of shopkeepers.  Meanwhile, images of pro-government toughs using force against unveiled schoolgirls is amplifying public anger.

The latest protests have unprecedented support from Iranians across class, gender, and age, and come after years of economic hardship that has driven millions of Iranians into desperation.  According to a poll in March by Gamaan, based in the Netherlands, of 17,000 respondents living in Iran, 18% of Iranians want to preserve the values and ideals of the Islamic Revolution.  A 2020 study by the group found 72% of Iranians opposed mandatory veiling.

Previous protests mostly called for reforms within the existing system.  However, Iranians are now calling for a wholesale overthrow of the Islamic Republic.



Report: Over 90% Of Slanted Articles In Top US Campus Papers Are Biased Against Israel

Between 2017 and 2022, 92.82% of the articles in leading US college newspapers that strayed from journalistic objectivity were anti-Israel, according to a report from Alums for Campus Fairness.

ACF surveyed 75 leading college and university newspapers.  Of all the articles about Israel exhibiting a bias, 181 were biased against Israel. Only 14 portrayed it positively.

AVI Gordon, executive director of ACF, told JNS that the increase in “hatred towards Jewish and pro-Israel students standing up for the truth” reflects the fact that Israel has become a “divisive topic.”  Israel is always considered newsworthy, which fosters a culture of saturation coverage in which bias against the Jewish state is popular, he explained.

Gordon said there has also been a shift in the general discourse on Israel.  “Whereas it used to be, ‘I am not antisemitic – I am anti-Israel’ or ‘anti-Zionist,’ this distinction is increasingly becoming meaningless.”

“Jewish students are more afraid to share their Judaism or their love of Israel” openly, he noted, describing instances of people who are scared to wear a yarmulke or IDF shirt on campus, or to share their culture and faith.

Douglas Sandoval, the managing editor of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA), said that “in the last five years, groups like Students for Justice in Palestine, Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights, Jewish Voice for Peace and ‘activists masquerading as academics have intensified  their efforts to demonize the State of Israel and gather support for this hateful ideology in the classroom, student life and campus papers.”

“Not only are we seeing articles with a negative and inaccurate slant on Israel, we are also seeing an uptick in the chilling of speech of Jewish and pro-Israel students,” he continued.

The report also found that op-eds are a much healthier platform for pro-Israel voices.  While the survey did find that there were more anti-Israel than pro-Israel op-eds, the split was not nearly as sharp as among news articles.

Gordon expressed hope that the ACF’s findings will spark Jewish and pro-Israel students to share op-eds more widely and call out hostile newspapers.

“This is a call for universities to have a more balanced approach in their publications,” he said.

Sandoval called on school administrators to “examine the study and adapt their policies.”  He added that “adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Anti-Semitism is one such way to identify and address antisemitism.”

As of 2021, 30 US colleges have endorsed the IHRA definition.

None of the surveyed newspapers responded to requests for comment.