News Digest — 10/2/23

Largest Sukkah In The World Built In Jerusalem

The Jerusalem Municipality and the Israel Heritage Department, led by Deputy Mayor Aryeh King, this year put up the largest sukkah in the world in the municipality’s Safra Square.

The sukkah is built on an area of 800 square meters and can accommodate 650 people at a time.  The sukkah also offers a variety of activities for the general public during the weekdays of the holiday, including workshops, plays and performances for all ages and sectors in the city, and all are free of charge.

Work on the sukkah began many weeks before the holiday with a team of engineers and designers, under the direction of Deputy Mayor King.

Verses from the Bible about Jerusalem were written on the sukkah walls, combined with spectacular photos of the city.  Besides the sukkah,  the Priestly Blessing ceremony will be held at the Western Wall.  Also Klezmer musicians will be playing at the Jaffa Gate and in the Jewish Quarter throughout the week.

The 68th International Jerusalem March will take place on Wednesday evening (4th) passing near the Jerusalem mayor’s sukkah, with tens of thousands of people participating in the colorful and largest popular march event in Israel.



Suspected Gunmen Hit Settlement Homes in Southern West Bank

Gunmen fired a hail of bullets at a Jewish settlement in the southern West Bank Sunday evening (1st), the military said, hitting several homes without causing any casualties.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, damage was caused to a number of homes in the settlement of Asa’el.  A window of one home in the settlement was shattered in the attack.  One father said that bullet casings were found near the bedroom of his children.

There were no injuries in the attack.

The IDF said that troops launched a manhunt for the suspects, who fled the scene.  The bullets were fired from outside the settlement which is located south of the Palestinian town of as-Samu and a mile north of the Green Line.

In recent months Palestinian gunmen have repeatedly targeted military posts, troops operating along the security barrier, Israeli settlements, and civilians on the roads.

On Friday night (9/29), Palestinian gunmen in the West Bank opened fire at the northern Meirav Kibbutz, adjacent to the Israeli security barrier.  A group of Meirav residents crossed the fence into the nearby Palestinian village of Jalbun Sunday morning (1st) to protest the attack, the latest of several to target the community.

Violence has surged across the West Bank over the past year and a half, with a rise in Palestinian shooting attacks against Israeli civilians and troops, near-nightly arrests by the military, and an uptick in revenge attacks by Jewish settlers against Palestinians.



Gaza Terror Group Vows To Renew Border Fence Riots As Jews Visit Temple Mount

The Revolutionary Youth terror group threatened to undermine agreements brokered through Qatari and Egyptian mediation, as Jews visited the Temple Mount Sunday (1st), and are calling for resumption of riots against the IDF along Gaza’s eastern border. 

As is the case every year, some of the pilgrims attempted provocative actions by bringing “sacrificial offerings” and were subsequently detained by authorities.  Thousands more are anticipated to visit the Temple Mount in the coming days.

In response to the visit of Jews to the Mount, the Revolutionary Youth group, known for leading disturbances along the Gaza border, has announced a renewal of hostilities with the Israel Defense Forces on the eastern border of the Strip.  They have referred to the Jewish ascent to the Temple Mount as “provocations akin to the incidents at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.”

Terrorist groups often exploit Jewish visits to the Temple Mount to incite against Israel and advance the conspiracy that the Al-Aqsa Mosque is under threat.

“We have decided to expand the scope of clashes, to add fuel to the fire – igniting our eastern borders today to prevent humiliation and submission,” the organization added.

This threat from the leaders of the riots comes as simultaneous security discussions are underway with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with senior members of the security establishment, including Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi, and Shin Bet Director Ronen Bar.

Hamas, thus far, has refrained from openly endorsing the renewed riots that have erupted after several relatively calm years, despite tacit approval as a means to exert pressure and concessions from both Israel and Qatar, which handles the transfer of aid funds to the Gaza Strip.  Qatar’s emissary to the Gaza Strip, Mohammed al-Emadi, confirmed that indirect talks had taken place, emphasizing that they were the reason for the recent opening of border crossings last Thursday (9/28).



IDF Reportedly Strikes Iranian Weapons Shipment Near Damascus

The Israel Defense Forces reportedly carried out strikes near Damascus after midnight on Sunday (1st), targeting an Iranian weapons shipment that appeared to be making its way to Lebanon.

The airstrikes were reported by news sites affiliated with the Syrian opposition and were not confirmed by state media.

The strikes targeting sites belonging to the Syrian army and pro-Iranian militia groups took place in Al-Dimas, just west of Damascus, the reports said.

There were no immediate reports of casualties, and it was not clear the extent of the damage caused by the alleged strikes.

Footage posted on social media caught explosions heard throughout the area, caused by the strikes.

As a rule, the IDF does not comment on specific attacks in Syria, though it has admitted to conducting hundreds of sorties against iran-backed groups attempting to gain a foothold in the country over the last decade.

The military says it attacks armed shipments believed to be bound for those groups, chief among them Lebanon’s Hezbollah terror group.  Additionally, airstrikes attributed to Israel have repeatedly targeted Syrian air defense systems.

Israel has repeatedly accused the Syrian military of actively assisting the Iran-backed Hezbollah in the area.

Last week, two men were killed in an alleged Israeli drone strike in southern Syria, media outlets affiliated with Syria’s opposition reported.  

The two men were reportedly riding on a motorcycle when they were struck by a missile.

They were named in reports as Ali Okasha Abu Jarrah and Zaher as-Saadi Abu Alaa, and their affiliations were not known.  Rumors on social media said they were members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), but it was not verified.



IDF’s Givati Tzabar ‘Ready For Anything’ After Northern Warfare Training

The Givati infantry brigades’ Tzabar Battalion is ready for the security demands on the Lebanese border and for northern warfare after holding a three-day exercise starting last Tuesday (9/26), Combat Support Company Captain Dan Katzir said in a conversation with The Jerusalem Post.

“No one can stop us,” said Katzir.  “We are prepared to protect our citizens, defend the towns in the north, and all of Israel.”

Much of Givati has been deployed in the Gaza Strip area, where it has faced rising tensions in the form of riots, shooting and explosive attacks, and incendiary balloons, but Tzabar has been preparing for its redeployment to the North, which has its own challenges.

“We try to prepare the soldiers for every reality,” said Katzir, who explained that both the terrain and enemy were different on the northern border than down south.

During the battalion-wide exercise, the soldiers practiced traversing and operating in rocky hills and forests and engaging in simulated battles in open fields, woodland warfare and urban combat.

Katzir’s combat support company contains specialized platoons like mortars and snipers, the latter of which held a live fire exercise on Wednesday morning (9/27).

“We need to be ready for anything – we’re always at a high level of alertness,” said Katzir.  He said that this included keeping mindful of the enemy’s technological developments.  Soldiers in the north have to be conscious not just of direct attack by gunmen, but also of enemy actions in the air and underground – Hezbollah tunnels are still a danger.

A longstanding threat from Hezbollah is anti-tank weaponry, which is employed not just against vehicles, but infantry positions.  During the exercise, the soldiers practiced combined arms operations with tanks and armored personnel carriers.  Katzir said that in one exercise they trained for response against anti-tank guided missile attack on their armor, and deployment and response by the infantry.

Battalion-level exercises involve grueling marches for dozens of kilometers followed by strenuous sprints of simulated combat.  The soldiers operate with little sleep and minimal food, often in bitter cold or sweltering heat.

“It’s important that people don’t forget that the warriors are working hard, and it shouldn’t be taken for granted,” said Katzir.

The northern border has been heating up with intrusions into Israeli territory, with Hezbollah setting up tents and Lebanese infiltrations.

Yet, with these challenges, Katzir said the Tzabar Battalion “is like a spring ready to jump” into action.



Poll: 90% Of French Jewish University Students Experience Anti-Semitism

A startling 90% of Jewish University students in France have experienced anti-Semitism on campus, according to a new poll from the French Institute of Public Opinion.

The survey, in which both Jewish students and non-Jewish students participated, quizzed the respondents regarding anti-Semitic incidents they had witnessed at French universities.

Shockingly, 20 percent of respondents said they had seen an anti-Semitic attack that involved physical violence on campus at least once.

Notably, 83 percent of Jewish students said they feared anti-Semitism originating from the far-left.  Significantly fewer (63 percent) cited right-wing anti-Semitism as a major concern.

“Hostility toward Jews doesn’t come from any one community, including Muslims.  Far-left propaganda is a bigger issue,” Philippe Schmidt, vice president of the International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism, said in a media statement.

75 percent of French university students said that they had felt obligated to defend Israeli security policies due to their Jewish identity.

12% of the students said that they had heard professors spout anti-Semitic rhetoric in the classroom.

France is home to the second largest diaspora Jewish community in the world after the U.S., with some 550,000 Jews living in the country.

But despite their relatively large numbers, French Jews have cited an increasingly anti-Semitic atmosphere as having a major impact on their quality of life.

In several high-profile incidents in recent years, Jews have been murdered in anti-Semitically motivated slayings, yet French authorities have been slow to name Jew-hatred as a motivating factor behind the killings.

Sarah Halimi, an elderly Jewish woman, was brutally murdered by her Muslim neighbor in 2017.  The perpetrator had repeatedly targeted Halimi with anti-Semitic insults prior to the incident.

He eventually broke into her apartment, attempted to suffocate her, and ultimately hurled her from the third floor of the building.

However, despite reciting verses from the Quran at the time of his arrest and his documented history of anti-Semitic statements towards the victim, French police dismissed anti-Semitism as the motive for the murder.