News Digest — 10/29/21

In Closed Talks, PM Says Coalition Won’t Last

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett does not believe the coalition government will last long enough for Foreign Minister Yair Lapid to become premier, Channel 12 News reported Thursday (28th).

“I believe that the rotation will not happen,” Bennett was quoted by the TV news site as saying, in a closed meeting.

“There is a considerable chance the government will dissolve between the budget and the time of the change of power, for various reasons,” he said.

When asked about the report, the Prime Minister’s Office confirmed Bennett had made the remark but said the prime minister would honor the rotation nonetheless.

“The partnership with Alternate Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid is based on mutual trust and fairness,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement, according to Channel 12 News.

“Ahead of the passage of the budget, which guarantees the stability of the government, there are predictable reports of various quotes from various times that were only … appraisals.”

“The budget will pass, and the partnership will continue,” the office said.

In a statement, Lapid said, “Both Bennett and I have one goal – to pass a budget and bolster the government.  I won’t be distracted by leaks and recordings aimed only at doing harm.  I don’t deal with nonsense.”

“They won’t succeed in souring the good atmosphere in the government.  We will continue to work well together for the good of the State of Israel,” he said.

In June, Lapid and Bennett agreed to a rotation deal for the premiership that will see the Yesh Atid party leader take over the role of Israel’s premier in August 2023. 



Report: Israel Complied With Laws Of War, Minimized Casualties During Gaza Conflict

A new report from JINSA, a Jewish security think tank, found that the Israel Defense Forces complied with the laws of war and even went to great lengths to minimize civilian casualties during the 11-day conflict in May with Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist groups in Gaza.

The report, authored by a JINSA task force composed of retired US military officers, found that “Israel consistently implemented steps to minimize civilian risk.”

It added that some of the measures, such as the legal screening of proposed targets; telephone calls and texts warning civilians of pending attacks; and the dropping of more than 1 million leaflets, “even exceeded similar steps in recent US combat operations.”

“Our consensus judgment is that the IDF military operations complied with the LOAC (Law of Armed Conflict) and consistently implemented precautions to mitigate civilian risk, some exceeding those implemented in recent US combat operations that we participated in, despite confronting an adversary that often sought to exacerbate that risk deliberately,” argued the assessment, which was drafted by a dozen high-level US generals, admirals and legal experts.  “Yet we found a significant gap between this reality of IDF LOAC compliance, and of Hamas’ violation of it, and the public’s perception.  Israel’s messaging efforts were unable to close this gap.”

Israel has drawn international criticism over its conduct during the roughly two-week Gaza conflict in May that saw more than 4,000 rockets fired on Israel and 13 Israelis killed, in addition to 256 Palestinians.  Israel says at least 200 of them were members of terror groups.

Even as accusations that Israel was violating the LOAC grew louder and more pervasive, the task force found, it was actually Hamas that was launching indiscriminate attacks against Israel, directing those assaults against Israeli civilians and exposing Gaza civilians to avoidable risk.

The report’s authors also argued that there were significant lessons for the US military from the conflict.

“The United States should prepare to face future adversaries – from loosely organized terror groups to conventional armed forces – that willingly put civilians at risk and blame the other side for it,” said the authors.

It noted that the US military should train to operate in environments as densely populated by civilians as Gaza but with more limited intelligence, no air dominance and a contested electromagnetic spectrum while still observing the laws of war, and trying to  explain this legal compliance more proactively to the public.



The Palestinian Prisoners No One Talks About – Khaled Abu Toameh

Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) prisoners held by Israel have received wide coverage.  They are in prison because many of them were involved in major terror attacks against Israel, including murder, though some international media refuse to call them terrorists, but rather “militants” or “political detainees.”  Yet there is hardly any mention of prisoners and detainees held by the Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces in the West Bank.

A Palestinian who goes on a hunger strike in a Palestinian prison can only dream of being noticed by a foreign journalist or a human rights organization.  A Palestinian who declares a hunger strike in an Israeli prison knows that within minutes, the whole world will learn about his “grievances.”

The Palestinian Authority continues to hold many Palestinians without trial and denies them basic rights such as meeting a lawyer or family members.  Many are suspected of affiliation with rival groups, such as Hamas and PIJ.  Most of these detainees are never formally charged or brought to trial.  Those now being held in Palestinian prisons are undoubtedly wishing that they could be in Israeli prisons, where they would be better treated and win international sympathy.



Hamas Condemns Six Gazans To Death For Cooperating With Israel

Hamas condemned six people to death on Thursday (28th) for cooperating with Israel, the military judiciary in the Gaza Strip announced,

Additional sentences were issued as well, ranging from hard labor to life in prison, as well as one acquittal due to lack of evidence.

Two of the people sentenced to death, a 58-year-old Gazan and a 57-year-old resident of Khan Younis have so far evaded the authorities in the Gaza Strip, according to the military judiciary.   

The judiciary stated in the announcement that the sentences were issued “within the framework of carrying out its duty to protect Palestinian society, and to confront the scourge of communication with the Israeli occupation.”

Earlier this month, the military judiciary announced that two Palestinians were sentenced to death by hanging and another two were sentenced to hard labor on charges of collaborating with Israel.

According to the Palestinian Safa news agency, any collaborator who surrenders willingly to the authorities in Gaza will benefit from an easing of trial procedures.



3 Years Marked Since Deadliest Anti-Semitic Attack In America

Three years after a white supremacist killed 11 worshipers in Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue and injured seven, the congregation held a memorial ceremony in a local park while Jewish leaders pledged action to protect their communities.

Tweeting a picture of a memorial (“Yizkor”) candle with the names of the mostly elderly victims, in its invitation to the ceremony, the synagogue wrote, “Each person left an indelible mark on our community.  It is our prayer that their memory be a blessing on this day and all of the days to come.”

The rabbi, Jeffrey Myers, who had been in the synagogue and pulled some congregants to safety during the shooting, told the Times of Israel that those who died were “the really engaged, active, involved people,” who came to synagogue “because of great devotion…a love of being Jewish.”  He had never thought “that houses of worship of any faith would be attacked,” but said that “hatred against all kinds of minorities was on the rise, which speaks to a serious illness in humanity.”  He was, however, heartened by the non-Jewish community’s empathetic response and support after the attack, which is “still there to this day.”

Many synagogues became more security-conscious as a result of this attack, hiring guards, locking doors, and maintaining closer relations with local police forces.

The fact is that anti-Semitism is a rising challenge in the United States.  The FBI’s hate-crime statistics published in August showed that in 2020 Jews were the most targeted religious group in the country.  Fully 57% of all such crimes were committed against Jews even though they comprise perhaps two percent of the population.

Just this week, an American Jewish Committee poll also revealed that 24% of Jews reported being attacked either online or in person in the past year, although only three percent said they had been physically assaulted.  A whopping 90% feel that anti-Semitism is a problem in the US.

On Saturday, October 27, 2018, 46-year-old Robert Bowers entered the Tree of Life/Or L’Simcha building in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood during the prayer services of three congregations housed there.  He opened fire with both a semi-automatic rifle and semi-automatic pistols to kill and injure congregants in the entrance to the building, the main hall and in the basement.  Within ten minutes the police arrived and a shootout began, in which five officers were wounded, one critically, and Bowers himself was hit three times before being captured.  

Bowers’s trial is still ongoing.  He is facing 63 charges in all, including federal hate crimes violations, obstruction of religious belief and firearms offenses and could get the death penalty for his actions in the murdering of 11 Jewish worshipers.