News Digest — 10/18/21

Hamas Sentences Two Men To Death For Collaboration With Israel

Two Palestinian Arab men from Khan Yunis and Rafah were sentenced by a court, to death by hanging on charges of collaboration with Israel, Jerusalem Post’s Khaled Abu Toameh reported on Sunday (17th).

According to Ynet, two other Palestinian Arabs were sentenced to penal labor for the same charge.

Hamas regularly claims to have captured “Israeli spies,” and many times it tries them and sentences them to death.

In October of 2018, the group claimed to have exposed and arrested a Palestinian Arab who had worked as an intelligence agent for Israel for 15 years.

In March of that year, the group claimed it had arrested a local man who had been working as a “spy” for Israel and who intended to convince Gazans not to take part in a violent march along the Gaza-Israel border.

In 2019, Hamas reportedly uncovered an Israeli espionage attempt against one of the organization’s commanders.

In theory all execution orders in the Palestinian Authority (PA) territories must be approved by PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas, who is based in Ramallah and who imposed a moratorium on executions several years ago.

Hamas no longer recognizes Abbas’ legitimacy and has in the past emphatically declared that the death penalty in Gaza can be carried out without his consent.



Israeli Minister Vows To Continue Ban On Jewish Prayer On Temple Mount

Israel’s Internal Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev reinforced his decision that Jews will be restricted from praying on the Temple Mount, although they will still be allowed to visit.

The minister held a meeting in his office on Sunday (17th) to discuss the conduct of Jews who went up onto the mount during the High Holiday period, Israel media reported.  At the meeting, a member of the Shin Bet – Israel’s General Security Service – said that he feared Jews openly praying on the mount would cause the situation to erupt into violence.

According to the status quo, established when the Jews recaptured Jerusalem in 1967, the Temple Mount is overseen by the Jordanian Waqf, while the mount’s security is managed by Israel.  Jews pray at the Kotel or Western Wall.  Muslims pray on the Temple Mount in various mosques.

All Israeli governments since 1967 have adhered to this status quo, which was further solidified when Israel made peace with Jordan in the 1990s.

“The Temple Mount is sacred to the Jews (Jew’s holiest place) and the Muslims (Muslim’s third holiest place), hence the sensitivity and tentative explosiveness in any deviation from the current situation,” Bar-Lev said, according to the media.

For the last two years, since late 2019, Jews have successfully prayed quietly and relatively undisturbed on certain parts of the Temple Mount.

Earlier this month, the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court made a ruling that implied support for allowing silent or quiet Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount – a ruling that was overturned a few days later after Muslims threatened violence.



IAF, Luftwaffe Fly Over Knesset In Jerusalem As Blue Flag Drill Launches

The Israel Air Force (IAF) and German Luftwaffe flew over the Knesset in Jerusalem on Sunday (17th) as the International Blue Flag exercise launched with the participation of seven countries.

Blue Flag, which will take place until October 28, will include air force soldiers from the US, Germany, Italy, the UK, France, India and Greece.  This is the largest and most advanced aerial exercise ever hosted in Israel.

This is the first time that British fighter jets will take part in an exercise in Israel since the British Mandate, the first time that an Indian “Mirage” fighter squadron has ever been deployed in Israel and the first deployment of a French “Rafale” fighter squadron in the Jewish state.

The exercise is meant to strengthen strategic international cooperation through shared learning about the integration of fourth-and fifth-generation aircraft in complex operational scenarios.  The participating forces will drill air-to-air and air-to-ground combat, advanced surface-to-air missile (SAM) threats and a number of operational scenarios in enemy territory.

The flyover of Jerusalem, titled “The Wings of History,” was led by IAF commander Maj.-Gen Amikam Norkin in a “Baz” F-15 fighter jet, alongside an “Adir” F-35.  Luftwaffe (German Air Force) Inspector Lt.-Gen. Ingo Gerhartz flew alongside the Israeli aircraft in the “Eagle Star” Eurofighter, which was painted with the Israeli and German flags.

“We are living in a very complicated region, and the threats to the State of Israel from the Gaza Strip, Lebanon, Syria, and Iran are only increasing,” said Norkin.  “Holding an international exercise in this current reality, while continuing our overt and covert operational activities on all fronts, is of utmost strategic importance and has extensive impact over the Israeli Air Force, the IDF and the State of Israel.  This exercise is groundbreaking in terms of technology, quality of training, and the number of participating nations.  It illustrates the partnership and strong bond between the nations’ air forces and acts as a stepping-stone toward regional and international cooperation.” 



Report: Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Forced To Leave The UAE

Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was forced to leave the United Arab Emirates after he arrived in the country to visit the Expo 2020 in Dubai, due to the recommendation of Emirati officials, according to Iranian Fars News.

He reportedly returned to Iran on Sunday night (17th).

Ahmadinejad served as the sixth president of Iran from 2005 to 2013.  In May it was reported that he wants to run for the presidency again.

The Expo 2020, an event to display the achievements of all participating countries to the world, had been postponed to October 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  It was originally supposed to begin last year.

The European Parliament voted last month to boycott the UAE Expo due to the country’s human rights record and also called on other member states to not participate in the event.

Ahmadinejad is known to be controversial due to his statements denying the Holocaust.  He attempted to justify his claims by saying that the Holocaust is “a pretext for Israeli oppression of Palestinians.”



Extremist Preacher Suggests UK Lawmaker May Have Been Killed For Being Pro-Israel

David Amess, the British Conservative lawmaker who was murdered on Friday (15th) by 25-year-old Ali Harbi Ali in what police have deemed a terror-motivated attack, may have met his demise due to his rumored support for Israel.

Amess, 69, was fatally stabbed in a church during a constituency meeting, Friday (15th), and police say there are no additional suspects.  Amess previously served as honorary secretary of Conservative Friends for Israel.

Anjem Choudary, an extremist Islamist preacher who in the past expressed support for the Islamic State told the Daily Mail on Sunday (17th) that Amess’ support for Israel may have been the cause of the murder.

“Many people do believe that Israel is a terrorist state, and, who would possibly be a friend of Israel after you see the carnage that they carry out against Muslims in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and continue to do so, with the appropriation of properties?” Choudary asked.

Choudary formerly led the banned Islamist group Al-Mubajiroun, and was sentenced to prison for five years and six months for inviting support for the Islamic State in 2016.  He was released in October 2018.

“No one in his right and rational mind would support such a state as Israel,” Choudary said.

Ali is detained under Britain’s Terrorism Act 2000.  His father confirmed that his son was arrested in connection to the politician’s murder.



Sweden: ‘Holocaust Was A Scam’ Projected On Synagogue

Swedish police are investigating how the words “The Holocaust was a scan” were projected onto the main synagogue in Malmo while that city was holding an international forum on combating anti-Semitism.

The projection was seen on the synagogue of Malmo and on other buildings in cities across southern Sweden on Wednesday night (13th), the day of the Malmo International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Anti-Semitism.

Police are handling the case as a hate crime, the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter reported.

The Nordic Resistance Movement, a neo-Nazi group, claimed responsibility for the incidents, according to the same paper.

The conference had brought together heads of state and other prominent government officials from dozens of countries in a city known for its high rates of anti-Semitism.  

Because of the uptick in anti-Semitic activity in Sweden’s third-largest city Malmo, it has seen its Jewish community dwindle to around 500.

Despite Wednesday’s synagogue incident, Katharina Von Schnurbein, the European Commission’s coordinator on combating anti-Semitism, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency on Friday (15th) that she thinks the conference shows that “change is possible.”

“The fact that the conference happened in Malmo sends a message, that this sort of thing will not be accepted and will be confronted,” von Schnurbein said.

At the conference, she presented a new strategic plan for combating anti-Semitism and fostering Jewish life in Europe, published by the European Commission on Oct.5.

Among the goals of the plan is the setting up of a cross-European methodology for documenting and reporting anti-Semitic hate crimes.