News Digest — 10/26/22

Herzog Invited To Address Congress For Israel’s 75th Anniversary

US House of Representatives and Senate leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer issued a joint letter on Tuesday (25th) inviting Israeli President Isaac Herzog to address a joint meeting of Congress as Israel prepares to celebrate the 75th anniversary of its founding, according to the Associated Press.  

The letter stated that both nations have shared “an unbreakable bond rooted in common security, shared values and friendship.”

The date for Herzog’s address has not been set.  The State of Israel was proclaimed on May 14, 1948; U.S. President Harry S. Truman recognized the new nation the same day.  In their letter the leaders said Truman’s swift action has always been a point of pride in our country.”

“Across the decades, the United States Congress has been proud to stand in solidarity with Israel on a bipartisan basis.  It is our hope that the Congress will have the opportunity to hear from you at this historic and joyous milestone in the success of the State of Israel and the US-Israel alliance,” the AP quoted the letter as saying.

The invitation to Herzog was issued as he began a two-day visit to Washington on Tuesday (25th), during which he met with Speaker of the House, Pelosi and Secretary of State Antony Blinken.  Herzog is scheduled to meet with President Joe Biden on Wednesday (26th).

Also on Tuesday (25th), Herzog participated in an Atlantic Council event in Washington, DC., marking two years since the Abraham Accords – he also had a conversation with former US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro.

In their conversation, the Israeli President presented intelligence, establishing proof of the use of Iranian manufactured UAVs against civilians in Russia’s war with Ukraine.  



Who Was Wadee al-Houh, The Lion’s Den Gunman Killed In Nablus?

The four Palestinians killed during the Israeli military operation in Nablus early Tuesday morning (25th) were identified as Wadee al-Houh, 31, Hamdi Sharaf, 35, Ali Antar, 26, and Hamdi Qayyim, 30.

A fifth Palestinian, Mashal Zahi Baghdadi, 27, died of his wounds hours after the Israeli troops left the city, the Palestinian Ministry of Health announced.

Al-Houh was one of the founders and commanders of the Lion’s Den group, which is based in the Old City of Nablus.

In recent weeks , al-Houh posted comments on his Facebook account in which he expressed opposition to the Palestinian Authority’s efforts to persuade the group’s gunmen to lay down their weapons and join the Palestinian security forces.

Al-Houh is considered to have been a senior leader of the Lion’s Den and was involved in several terrorist attacks in the Nablus area, including the shooting that killed IDF St.-Sgt. Ido Baruch, Army Radio reported.

In addition, al-Houh was a close friend of  Mosab Shtayyeh, the senior Hamas operative who was arrested by the Palestinian security forces in Nablus a few weeks ago.  Shtayyeh is also considered one of the top commanders of the Lion’s Den group.

Al-Houh was previously known as a senior member of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the armed wing of the ruling Fatah faction.  He spent time in Israeli prison for security-related offenses.

Two years ago, he was briefly detained by Palestinian Authority security officers in Nablus.

He has since used his Facebook account to criticize the PA for cracking down on Palestinian activists in the West Bank.

In the past few weeks, al-Houh has become known as the public face of the Lion’s Den because of his public posts on social media platforms.  He knew that Israeli security forces were aware of his identity and activities, and that’s why he made no efforts to cover his face.

A source in Nablus said that another senior member of the group, Mahmoud al-Banna, was with al-Houh during the military raid, and that he was seriously injured.

The killing of al-Houh is yet another severe blow to the armed group, which lost another one of its commanders, Tamir al-Kilani, in an explosion earlier this week in the Old City of Nablus.

Palestinians called for a general strike and a “day of rage” in Nablus and other parts of the West Bank on Tuesday (25th) to mourn the death of the five Palestinians in Nablus and a sixth young man near Ramallah. 

The ruling Fatah faction said in a statement that the Palestinian people “will confront the aggression of the occupation and defend their legitimate national and historical rights.”

Fatah added that the Israeli security crackdown won’t undermine “the will, steadfastness or unity of our people.”  It called for an escalation of “popular resistance” against Israel, holding it responsible for perpetuating “crimes” against the Palestinians.

Palestinian  Authority spokesperson Nabil Abu Rudaineh announced that PA Leader Mahmoud Abbas was closely following the situation in Nablus and was “praising the steadfastness of the residents who are defending their land.”

Early Wednesday morning (26th), the Israeli security forces continued cracking down on the Nablus-based Lion’s Den group, arresting 15 members of the group overnight.

One of the arrested members was identified by the IDF as Muhammed Nabulsi, the brother of one of the group’s founding members Ibrahim al-Nabulsi, on suspicion of possessing weapons, manufacturing explosives and being involved in the terror group.



Israeli Seriously Wounded In Stabbing Attack, Terrorist Arrested

An Israeli man was stabbed in a Palestinian terror attack in Samaria on Tuesday evening (25th) the Israeli military said.

The IDF immediately launched a manhunt for the terrorist, who escaped after stabbing the 55-year-old victim outside the Palestinian village of al-Funduq, near the Israeli community of Kedumim.  Later in the evening a suspect was arrested and identified as 19-year-old Younis Hilan from a village near Qalqilya.

“According to a passerby, the man was attacked when he entered a store inside the village,” one paramedic said, adding that he was stabbed in the stomach.

The stabbing came amid a spike in terror attacks in the area, many of which were carried out by the Lion’s den terror group.

Days earlier, another Israeli man was stabbed in he back and seriously hurt in a terror attack in Jerusalem.  The same day also saw a Palestinian driver shot and neutralized after ramming into a group of soldiers with his car.  None of the soldiers were hurt.



Israel Acquiring New Heavy-Lifter Helicopters From The US

The director general of Israel’s Ministry of Defense, Major General (Ret.) Amir Eshel, who is on a working visit to the United States, visited the Lockheed Martin-Sikorsky factories in Stratford, Connecticut, on Monday (24th) and toured the production line of the CH-53K helicopter that Israel is procuring.

So far, the Ministry of Defense has purchased 12 helicopters for the Israeli Air Force, which will replace old attack helicopters currently in use.

A heavy-lift cargo helicopter, the CH-53K, was first put into service this past April.

According to Lockheed Martin, the CH-53k King Stallion advances Sikorsky’s 50 years of manufacturing and operational success along with its CH-53A, CH-53D/G, and CH-53E predecessors.

Built to thrive on the modern battlefield, including shipboard operations, Lockheed boasts that the SH-53K aircraft is designed to be intelligent, reliable, low maintenance and survivable in the most austere and remote forward operating bases.

The CH-53K helicopter has been designed and built to the exact standards of the US Marine Corps (USMC) and will serve as its critical land and sea based logistics connector.

The new heavy lifter will allow the US Marine Corps and international militaries to move troops and equipment from ship to shore and to higher altitude terrain, more quickly and effectively than ever before.

Israel is the second country, after the US, to purchase the most advanced transport helicopter of its kind in the world.  The production process of the helicopters for the Israel Air Force will begin in the coming months.



Israeli Researchers Use Geomagnetic Data To Support Biblical Accounts

An Israeli scientific breakthrough has enabled researchers to verify biblical accounts of wars between ancient Jewish kingdoms and their enemies, according to a statement released by Tel Aviv University on Tuesday (25th).

The scientists examined archaeological findings containing magnetic minerals which, when heated or burned, record the local magnetic field.  These magnetic records can thus be used to date the fires, matching them to reported military campaigns, in a manner reminiscent of radiocarbon dating.

Using such records, a joint study by TAU and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, employing some 20 researchers from a variety of countries and disciplines, was able to accurately date destruction layers at 17 archeological sites throughout Israel, according to the statement.

The researchers were able to reconstruct the direction and intensity of the Earth’s magnetic field in burnt remnants at various battle sites, enabling them to match the dates of the fires to biblical accounts of battles between Israel and Judah, the two ancient Hebrew kingdoms that formed after the division of the united Israelite monarchy, and armies from ancient Egypt, Aram, Assyria and Babylon.

“Findings indicate, for example, that the army of Hazael, King of Aram-Damascus, was responsible for the destruction of several cities – Tel Rehov, Tel Zayit, and Horvat Tevet,” according to the statement.  Hazael’s campaign also resulted in the destruction of the Philistine city of Gath, an event recorded in the Bible.

“At the same time, the study refutes the prevailing theory that Hazael was the conqueror who destroyed Tel Bet-Shean.  Other geomagnetic findings reveal that the cities in the Negev were destroyed by the Edomites, who took advantage of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Kingdom of Judah by the Babylonians,” the researchers said.”