News Digest — 10/25/22

IDF Raids Lion’s Den HQ In Nablus, Kills Top Leaders, Destroys Bomb Lab

Israeli forces destroyed early Tuesday morning (25th) the infrastructure hub of the Lion’s Den terror group in Nablus, according to reports.

In a joint operation, the IDF, Shin Bet security agency, and the Yaman national counter-terrorism unit raided the old city, or kasbah, of Nablus, destroying the group’s explosives workshop.

Forces came under fire and Palestinians burned tires and threw rocks at troops.  The PA’s Health Ministry said five Palestinians were killed and 22 were wounded in the clashes.

Television footage showed flames and smoke rising in the night sky over Nablus.

Prime Minister Yair Lapid told Kan public radio that Lion’s Den leader Wadie Houh was killed in a shootout and stressed that “Israel will never be deterred from acting for the sake of its security.”

Similarly, Defense Minister Benny Gantz said Israel will not stand for cities of refuge for terrorists and will “continue to act against anyone who tires to harm the citizens of Israel wherever and whenever necessary.”

Lion’s Den is responsible for several attacks in Israel, including a recent drive-by shooting of IDF soldier Ido Baruch as well as an attempted bomb attack in Tel Aviv, which was prevented thanks to the vigilance of the police.

The group also tried to carry out a bombing attack on a Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria, threw grenades at IDF soldiers in the area, and perpetrated a series of attacks around Nablus.

In the last few months, and especially in the last few days, use of a bomb factory increased as Lion’s Den planned to carry out more attacks against Israelis.

On Saturday night (22nd), a senior member of Lion’s Den was reportedly killed in an explosion in Nablus, with the group blaming Israel for the attack.



Syria Says Soldier Injured In A Rare Daytime Israeli Strike Near Damascus

Israel carried out a rare daytime strike against targets near the Syrian capital Damascus on Monday afternoon (24th), Syria’s state-run broadcaster SANA said, injuring one soldier.

There was no comment from the Israel Defense Forces, in line with its policy of not generally commenting on air raids in the country.

The strike came just days after Israeli missiles allegedly targeted areas near Damascus late Friday (21st), the first reported Israeli airstrike on the country in over a month.

SANA, citing a military source, claimed Syrian air defenses managed to intercept several of the Israeli missiles in Monday’s (24th) strike.  Syria regularly claims to intercept Israeli missiles though military analysts doubt such assertions.

The report did not elaborate on the soldier’s condition or the extent of the damage caused to the targeted sites.

As a rule, Israel’s military does not comment on specific strikes in Syria, but has admitted to conducting hundreds of sorties against Iranian-backed groups attempting to gain a foothold in the country.

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

While alleged Israeli attacks in Syria typically take place under the cover of darkness, Monday’s (24th) strike was reportedly conducted at around 2 p.m., according to SANA.

Israel’s strikes have continued in Syrian airspace, which is largely controlled by Russia, even as Jerusalem’s ties with Moscow have deteriorated in recent months.  Israel has found itself at odds with Russia as it has increasingly supported Ukraine while seeking to maintain freedom of movement in Syrian skies.

In June, Israeli airstrikes put Damascus airport out of service for nearly two weeks.  A pair of sorties targeting the Aleppo airport in early September also forced that facility to shut down.

The alleged strike comes as Israel’s military holds a weeklong drill across the country’s north.

The recent rare lull in strikes coincided with high-stake- negotiations to settle a longstanding maritime dispute between Israel and Lebanon that ended in an agreement earlier this month.  



Netanyahu Vows To Make Peace With Saudi Arabia

Opposition leader and former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to make peace with Saudi Arabia if reelected in the upcoming Israeli national election.

Netanyahu was discussing his just-released 650-page memoir, “Bibi: My Story” with JNS in an interview published on Sunday (23rd).

“In my first meeting with President Trump – and I describe this in my book – I said, ‘There are four peace treaties to be had right away if we pursue them.’  And we waited until the fourth year and happily achieved these four historic peace accords – the Abraham Accords,” Netanyahu said.

“But I think the big prize is peace with Saudi Arabia, which I intend to achieve if I go back into office.  And I think there’s a chance I will achieve it,” he added, “because I think Saudi Arabia and many of the other Arab countries who haven’t yet made peace with us know that I’m absolutely committed to preventing Iran from having nuclear weapons, which is something that they are keenly interested in.”

Netanyahu noted, “I think there’s a correlation between the rise of Iran and the rise of Israel.  The rise of Israeli power facilitated the Abraham Accords, and the continual nurturing of Israeli power will also nurture a broader peace with Saudi Arabia and nearly all of the rest of the Arab world.  I intend to bring the Arab-Israeli conflict to a close.” 

The Likud leader made a similar pledge in July when he kicked off his election campaign.

“If I am once again elected by you to lead the State of Israel, I plan on signing a comprehensive peace treaty with Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations,” Netanyahu said at the time.

Doing so “will bring us closer to the end of the Arab-Israeli conflict,” the former prime minister maintained.

Reports have speculated that Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Oman, Libya, Tunisia, Indonesia and Malaysia will be next to join the Abraham Accords.

The Arab nations that have already joined the Abraham Accords and have full ties with Israel are: the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan.

Israel goes to the polls November 1.



Ron DeSantis: Judea And Samaria Isn’t Occupied Territory

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis emphasized his pro-Israel bona fides at a campaign stop in a synagogue north of Miami Sunday night (23rd), ahead of the November 8th gubernatorial election.

Speaking at a Forward Action Fund event at a synagogue in Bal Harbor, DeSantis drew cheers from the audience as he referenced his policies against the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, and rejected claims that Judea and Samaria is “occupied territory.”

“One of the things I said we would do, is that I would ensure that… the State of Florida would be the most pro-Israel state in the United States,” DeSantis said.  “We have delivered on it.”

“Before I even took office, we had this issue of Airbnb going to discriminate against Israel and Jews living in Judea and Samaria.  So I announced… ‘This will not stand, and we will take action very quickly,’”

“And we did.  Once I became governor, we activated our anti-BDS legislation, we identified Airbnb as falling under that, and a couple of weeks later, Airbnb reversed its policy.”

“We were also able to sign in my first year in office the strongest law that combats antisemitism anywhere in the country.”

“We signed that bill at the US Embassy in Jerusalem,” noting that his first trip abroad as governor was to the Jewish state.

DeSantis touted his support for Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria, highlighting his visit to the area during his 2019 trade mission to Israel.

“The State Department would always say, ‘You can’t go to Judea and Samaria,’ because they say that it is ‘occupied territory.’  I know the history, it is disputed territory.  They are among the most historic Jewish lands, and yes, there was a partition agreement on the table in 1948, but the Arabs rejected that agreement and decided to go to war.”

“I was the first major elected official in America to hold a public event in Judea and Samaria.  We did an event at Ariel University.”

Turning to domestic issues, the governor drew cheers for his support of school choice, and highlighted his administration’s support for security arrangements at Jewish day schools in Florida.

“If you look at what is happening in other states, there are some states now where Jews are getting singled out for attacks, criminal acts, and unfortunately it happens very frequently.  We are not going to let the Jewish community be some pinata in Florida that people feel free to attack.”

DeSantis praised Jewish emergency services group United Hatzalah for its efforts following the condominium collapse in SurfSide.

“United Hatzalah was there, in a major, major way, helping folks.”

“What I saw from this community was people banding together, stepping up to the plate, doing whatever they could to help their friends, their families, and their neighbors.”



New UN Commission Of Inquiry Report A Masterpiece Of Modern Antisemitism – Anne Bayefsky

A “commission of inquiry” on Israel created by the UN Human Rights Council released its first report to the General Assembly on October 20, 2022.  Not one Western democracy voted to create the “inquiry” – only 30% of council members are free democracies.  All three members of the “inquiry” were selected because they had already declared Israel guilty of the crimes they were charged with investigating.

The commission issued a “call for submissions” in the fall of 2021 for specifics about victims of “systematic discrimination and repression” as well as “underlying root causes” of the Israeli-Palestinian Arab conflict.  In response, over five million submissions were presented, including details of 190,161 individual Jewish victims of “systematic discrimination and repression” and the roles played by Palestinian and other Arab perpetrators.  Everyone of these submissions was thrown in the UN trash, apparently without being read.

The inquisitors advocate that Israelis be hunted down, prosecuted and jailed for crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court.  On the other hand, they couldn’t name a single Palestinian crime worth prosecuting.

The writer is director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust, and president of Human Rights Voices.