News Digest — 10/28/22

IDF: Palestinians Open Fire On Troops Near Nablus As Closure In City Eased

Palestinian gunmen in passing cars opened fire on Israeli troops near Nablus early Friday morning (28th), Israel’s army said, moments after the military announced it was easing a blockade on the Palestinian city following gains against a local terror group.

Two Palestinian men were killed and a third injured by Israeli fire, the Palestinian Authority Health Ministry said.

The Israeli Defense Forces said in a statement that a group of soldiers in the town of Huwara, just south of Nablus opened fire after Palestinian cars opened fire on separate troops at an IDF post in the town.

No soldiers were injured and hits were identified, the army said.

The military said soldiers who shot at the cars had been in the area as part of routine operations.

Troops were searching the area for additional suspects, and a number of shell casings were found at the scene of the incident, according to the IDF.

The attack occurred about an hour after the Israeli military announced it was opening a number of entrances into Nablus, which has been under a tight military cordon since October 12.

The decision to ease the blockade on the city came after Israel appeared to make major gains against the Lion’s Den terror group in recent days.  The ad hoc group, which had formed less than two months earlier, had claimed responsibility for near-nightly attacks on soldiers and settlements, including a shooting on October 11 that left one soldier dead.



Amb. Erdan To UN: ‘How Can You Look Into These Parents’ Eyes And Be So Heartless?’

On Thursday morning (27th), Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan spoke at a UN meeting in which the report by the Commission of Inquiry (COI) into Israel established by the Human Rights Council was presented.  The Ambassador was joined by Shani and Asaf Avigal, the parents of the late Ido Avigal, who was killed by a Hamas rocket that hit the bomb shelter of his home during Operation Guardian of the Walls in May 2021.  Ambassador Erdan demanded that the members of the Commission look into the eyes of Ido’s parents and explain why they chose to deliberately ignore the death of their son, and all the victims of terrorism in Israel.

Israel’s Mission to the UN said that “the COI report does not mention Hamas, rockets or the word terrorism at all.  Instead, it places responsibility on Israel for every aspect of the conflict.  The report, just like the Commission that wrote it and the Council that appointed it, is illegitimate.  Supporting the report proves that terrorism pays off and promotes antisemitism and violence against Jews.”

In his remarks, Ambassador Erdan slammed the selection of the members of the Commission saying,… “how do you choose Commissioners that will ensure the desired outcome of demonizing Israel?  You don’t choose them for their investigative skills but rather for their very public and very poisonous hatred of Israel.  They were chosen precisely because they hate the Jewish State.”

He also presented anti-Israel and antisemitic quotes from members of the Commission: “Ms. Pillay calling Israel an apartheid state and supporting the boycott of Israel is the only reason why she was chosen to lead this Commission.  Could anyone honestly think she is impartial?  Mr. Sidoti, not only do you ridicule antisemitism, you’re also a strong supporter of numerous pro-Palestinian organizations.  You’re definitely not an objective member.  According to Mr. Kathari, Israel doesn’t even deserve to be a member of the UN, and that’s just a taste of his venomous statements.”

In the meeting the Ambassador presented signs with clear quotes from the members of the Commission proving their anti-Israel and antisemitic positions.  In addition, Ambassador Erdan referred to the illegitimacy of the Human Rights Council itself, a body which continues to discriminate against the State of Israel on a regular basis, simply because it is a Jewish state.  He said, “Here are some facts that prove this: The Council has adopted more resolutions condemning Israel than resolutions condemning Syria, Iran, and North Korea – combined.  The Council dedicated a permanent Special Agenda item against Israel –  the only country in the world to have this – ensuring that not a single Council session passes without the chance to bash Israel.  Nothing screams antisemitism more than this blatant double standard against the one and only Jewish State.”



Lebanese President Contradicts Lapid, No Recognition Of Israel After Deal, Still At War

Lebanese President Michel Aoun clarified on Thursday (27th) that the maritime border deal forged with Israel does not constitute recognition by Beirut of Israel, after Prime Minister Yair Lapid suggested as much.

In a statement issued after he signed a letter approving the terms of the agreement, Aoun said it would have “no political dimensions or impacts that contradict Lebanon’s foreign policy.”

Lapid signed the US-mediated accord on Thursday (27th), following its approval by the cabinet earlier in the day.

“This agreement strengthens Israel’s security and our freedom of action against Hezbollah and the threats to the north,” he said, adding that “everyone has signed off on this agreement and its contribution to Israel’s security and our operational needs.”

Lapid also suggested that by agreeing to the deal, Lebanon, “an enemy country,” was effectively recognizing Israel.”

The agreement draws a border between the two countries’ exclusive economic zones (EEZs) based on a boundary known as Line 23, and awards a disputed area of 324 square miles to Lebanon, while recognizing Israel’s claim to the Karish gas field and to royalties from the section of the Qana field that extends into the Jewish state’s EEZ.

A ceremony took place in the afternoon at the United Nations base in Naqoura, located along the Israel-Lebanon border, attended by members of the Israeli, Lebanese and US negotiating teams.

Israel and Lebanon remain technically at war and the delegations did not appear together at the ceremony.

Lapid met at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv with US mediator Amos Hochstein Thursday evening (27th).

“Amos, I want to thank you and your crew for all the great work – nothing less than great work – in making the deal between us and Lebanon happen,” Lapid told Hochstein.

“It wouldn’t have been possible without you.  Your commitment to Israel is deeply appreciated and your commitment to the whole process is deeply appreciated.”



Israel Breaks 20-Year Aliyah Record With 64,000 Immigrants Expected By Year’s End

A record number of immigrants are moving to the Jewish state amid regional conflict and Aliyah efforts, in a trend that Israeli officials expect is more likely to accelerate than reverse.

Nearly 60,000 people immigrated to Israel during the Hebrew calendar year 5782, which began on September 25, 2022, Israel’s Ministry of Aliyah and Absorption shared in an updated report on Wednesday (26th), surpassing a two-decade high.

By the end of December 2022, Israel may greet more than 64,000 new immigrants, the Ministry stated.  In comparison, some 323,000 immigrants made Aliyah in all of the last decade.

It would be the largest number of immigrants to Israel in a single year since 1999, when the country welcomed more than 76,000 newcomers – a figure that dropped steadily following the outbreak of the second Palestinian intifada in 2000.

Of the immigrants who arrived in the past year, 47% came from Russia, while 25% came from Ukraine, 6% from the United States, 4% from France and Latin America each, 2% from Ethiopia, and 12% from the rest of the world.

The Ministry indicated that it expects immigration to remain at an elevated level amid geopolitical developments in former Soviet Union countries and continued fighting in Ukraine.

A smaller number of immigrants – some 1,500 – are also expected to arrive from Ethiopia before the end of 2022 as part of “Operation Tzur Israel,” an initiative launched in December 2020 to unify Ethiopian Israelis with family members who remained in Ethiopia, which has brought some 3,500 immigrants to Israel thus far.

“A majority – 63% – of all immigrants to arrive in the past year are working age, marking a critical boost for the Israeli economy,” the Ministry stated.  Of those, 27% are between the ages of 18-35, while 21% are ages 36-50 and 15% are ages 51-65.  A further 23% are under 18 years old, while 14% are over 65 years old.

More than 6,000 immigrants settled in Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Netanya each, while Jerusalem took in some 4,300 more.  Other top 10 destinations include Bat Yam, Ashdod, Rishon Lezion, Nahariya, Ashkelon, and Bet Shemesh.

The Ministry emphasized the benefits of the immigration wave, pointing out that newcomers who arrived in the last decade included thousands of doctors and medical professionals, researchers and scientists, engineers, teachers, students and lone soldiers.

“I pray that next year,” said Immigration and Absorption Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata, “we will celebrate here with tens of thousands more new immigrants in Jerusalem.”



Report: Israel Warns Syria It Will Ramp Up Strikes Over Iran Weapons Transfers

Israel has threatened Syria it will ramp up airstrikes in the country over its cooperation with Iran in smuggling arms to the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, according to a Thursday (27th) report, which came following three attacks in Syria attributed to Israel within days.

The Saudi-funded Al-Arabiya, citing unidentified sources, said Iran has been sending weapons disguised as aid for Syria and Lebanon by air, land and sea.

The network said a rare daytime airstrike on the Syrian capital Damascus on Monday (24th) targeted military sites belonging to the elite Fourth Armored Division, which is commanded by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s brother, Maher.  

The report said Maher Assad’s unit “supports Iran in the transfer of strategic weapons and dangerous materials” for Syria and Lebanon.

Additionally, the strikes targeted the headquarters of the “Lebanese Legion” of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, involved in transferring arms to Lebanon.

The report did not say how or when the Israeli message had been delivered.

Israeli missiles damaged sites near the Syrian capital early Thursday (27th) in the third alleged strike in under a week, the official SANA news agency said.

There was no immediate comment from Israel on the reports, which has admitted it has conducted hundreds of sorties against Iran-backed groups attempting to gain a foothold in the country over the last decade.

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



Israel Developed Drone Swarm For Urban Battlefield – David Hambling

Israel is converting infantry support companies into “seek and strike” units equipped with swarming drones to search buildings and carry out attacks.  The swarm is powered by Legion-X, an “autonomous networked combat solution” developed by Elbit Systems.

The Iranian-supplied Shahed-136 kamikaze drones which Russia is using in Ukraine are often described as swarming drones, but this is not correct.  Although the drones are launched in groups, they do not exchange information or co-ordinate their movements like a true swarm.  Israel has taken the lead in enabling multiple drones to work together, directed by one human operator.

In 2011, the IDF used swarming drones in operations in Gaza.  Mortar support companies were re-equipped with drones which gathered intelligence, located targets, and carried out attacks on Hamas forces.  They also provided targeting information for guided mortar weapons and carried out more than 30 “successful operations” against militants attempting to launch rockets at Israel.