News Digest — 10/23/19

Israel Said Bracing For Direct Cruise Missile Or Drone Attack By Iran

 Israel is readying for a direct cruise missile or drone strike by Tehran in response to recent attacks on Iranian regional proxies which have been attributed to the Jewish state, Army Radio reported Tuesday night (22nd).

Unlike ballistic missiles, which usually fly through a high arc on the way to their target, cruise missiles and drones fly at low altitude, making them harder to detect.

The report cited anonymous “Israeli sources,” who said the IDF was already on high alert for the possibility, and that the security cabinet will convene for an “unplanned” meeting Tuesday (23rd) against the backdrop of tensions with the Islamic Republic.

This would be the second time this month that the high-level security cabinet has convened.  On October 6, its members gathered amid cryptic warnings by Israeli leaders of a growing security threat from Iran.  That meeting lasted for nearly six hours.  

During the meeting, ministers discussed a proposal being pushed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for a $290 million project to boost Israel’s air defenses that would place particular focus on defending the country against cruise missile attacks.



Arabs Throw Molotov Cocktails In Jerusalem, Driver Seriously Injured As Car Bursts Into Flames

Early Tuesday morning (22nd), Israeli forces raided the town of al-Issawiya in eastern Jerusalem after receiving reports of Molotov cocktails thrown at vehicles traveling adjacent to the neighborhood, Israel media reported.

According to the reports, the rioters threw Molotov cocktails and rocks at the Israeli forces.

During the altercation, a Molotov cocktail hit a passing car that caused it to burst into flames.  The Arab driver in the car was badly hurt and one of the Israeli policemen who rushed to save the man was slightly injured.

Police officers also rescued a local man from his burning car after it was set on fire by an incendiary device which had been thrown at him – he was evacuated in very serious condition to the hospital in a police vehicle.  One of the officers was injured during the rescue, and was treated at the scene, a police spokesperson said.

The police arrested eight of the Arab rioters during the raid.

Following the arrests, the police released a statement saying that it will “use all means at its disposal to reach any suspects who endanger the safety of civilians, road users and police forces, and arrest and prosecute them for their actions.”

Earlier in the month, the IDF arrested two Palestinians, one a Hamas member, in connection to a pipe bomb thrown at Rachel’s Tome.

In July, a Molotov cocktail was thrown at an Israeli family traveling near the Mount of Olives.

The firebomb injured three family members, including a baby girl.  The victims were treated by paramedics and the baby girl was transported to Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center in Jerusalem for further treatment.



Palestinian Man Beaten By PA Forces After Converting To Judaism

A 50-year-old Palestinian resident of the West Bank was severely beaten by Palestinian Authority security forces after he converted to the Jewish faith, Ynet reported on Tuesday (22nd).

The man was arrested two weeks ago and kept in custody after he was asked by his sons to meet them somewhere in the West Bank.

The man completed the long process of Jewish conversion on Rosh Hashanah in a Haredi court led by Rabbi Nissim Karelitz, who passed away this week.

The man was in the process of having his new identity approved by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, which would have enabled him to apply for Israeli citizenship under the law of return.

Instead he was called to the West Bank to meet his family and was arrested by the PA security forces and delivered to the PA police station in Hebron.

The man spoke over the phone with Haim Perg, who is a leader of the Jewish community in Hebron, and told him he was badly beaten and his hands were burned.

Perg claimed the man is the grandson of an Arab man who rescued the lives of 26 Jewish people during the 1929 Hebron Massacre and Riots.  In his in-depth study of the riots, Professor Hillel Cohen pointed out how alongside cases of Arab brutality and killing of Jewish neighbors in Hebron, were cases of Arabs saving Jews, in his 2015 book “1929: Year Zero of the Arab-Israeli Conflict”

Saying that the man is like his own son to him, Perg vowed to “shake the world” to have him released.



2.5 Million People Visit The Western Wall During The Month of Tishrei

How many people prayed at the Western Wall in the last 30 days?

According to the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, more than 2 million came to visit the Kotel during the past 30 days, which included the holidays of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Simchat Torah.

The number, the foundation said, represents a significant rise over previous years.

What did people do at the Western Wall?

  • They participated in Silchot, a prayer for forgiveness consisting of songs, laments, confessions and the blowing of the shofar.
  • They celebrated The Feast of Tabernacles with personal prayers in honor of the historic pilgrimage holiday.
  • They took part in the Priestly Blessing ceremony, Birkat Kohanim, which is recited during the immediate days of the Sukkot holiday.  During the ceremony, hundreds of kohanim raise their hands and bless the people.
  • They danced “hakafat,” making circles around the bima, the place where the Torah is read in a Jewish synagogue, to celebrate Simchat Torah.

“The Western Wall Heritage Foundation reported a yearly rise in the number of people coming to the Western Wall during this time of year from all around Israel and from around the world, and from different segments of society,” according to the release.

Similarly, Rabbi of the Western Wall, Shmuel Rabinowitz, noted that “the masses who visited the Western Wall served as impressive and inspiring evidence of the unifying connection we all have with it.”

“It’s hard not to be amazed by the sight of so many people visiting the Wall, which points to the real power of the Jewish nation,” he said.



‘Pontius Pilate Built Pilgrim’s Road In Jerusalem’

Archaeologists now believe that Jerusalem’s “Pilgrim’s Road” was built by none other than Pontius Pilate, the infamous Roman governor of Judea.

The ancient road in the City of David, which was preserved under the ashes of the Roman sack of Jerusalem in 70 CE, was used by pilgrims to ascend from the Siloam Pool to the Second Temple, according to historical descriptions.

According to research published on Tuesday (22nd) in the Journal of the Institute of Archaeology of Tel Aviv University, the more than 100 coins found beneath the ancient road prove it must have been completed between 31 and 40 CE, a period mostly covered by Pilate’s governorship.

According to Dr. Donald Ariel, an archaeologist and coin expert with the Israel Antiquities Authority, “dating using coins is very exact, as some coins have the year in which they were minted on them.  What that means is that if a coin with a date on it is found beneath the street, the street had to be built in the same year or after that coin had been minted.”

To further narrow things down, Ariel explained that “statistically, coins minted some ten years later are the most common coins in Jerusalem,” and that because these coins are not found under the road, “the street was built before their appearance, in other words only in the time of Pilate.”

He suggested the possibility that Pilate had the street built to reduce tensions between the Romans and the Jewish population.  Although “we can’t know for sure,” he said, “these reasons do find support in the historical documents.”

At a dedication ceremony for the unveiling of a section of the road in June, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said the discoveries made at the site are a confirmation of Israeli sovereignty over the City of David.

Before hammering through the final bit of wall covering the road at the ceremony, Friedman said: “Whether there was any doubt about the accuracy, the wisdom, the propriety of U.S. President Donald Trump recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, I certainly think this lays all doubts to rest.”

The City of David Foundation, which plans to open the road to the public, funded the excavation and restoration.