News Digest — 10/3/23

SUKKOT: Israel’s Capital Prepares For 68th Jerusalem March

Israel will host the 68th annual Jerusalem March this week, continuing a tradition that began in 1955 and draws a crowd of tens of thousands each year, according to the Jerusalem municipality.

The event will begin with a morning walk, to take place along three routes of varying physical difficulty.

The 10 km Route A which will begin in the neighborhood of Gilo, is expected to draw 1,500 people, and is “suitable for experienced walkers,” according to the city website.   2,000 are expected to take Route B, which will begin at Nahal Refaim Park, and is about 8 km total.  But the shortest route will be the largest draw: about 8,000 are expected to walk Route C, beginning at Safra Square and going about 5 km total.

The three routes will converge in SacherPark, for a festive event lasting into the afternoon.  Entertainment will include circus shows and performances by the Israeli dance troupe Mayumana, and more.

Then the parade itself will begin at 15:00 on Bezalel Street and wind its way through the city center, via Hillel ben Sira and King David Streets, and will conclude at the First Station.  It is expected to end around 17:30.

A short history of the Jerusalem March published in 2013 by Israel21c relates that the event began in 1955, as a four-day march to Jerusalem for 200 IDF soldiers and 70 civilians.  The march turned into a mass event two years later, with 5,000 soldiers marching, and by 1966, it drew 15,000 participants.

Represented at the Jerusalem March every year is a large contingent of Evangelical Chrisitians from around the world, most of whom are associated with the International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem (ICEJ), an evangelical organization founded in 1980.

Each year since then, the ICEJ has invited Christians to come to Israel to celebrate “the Feast of Tabernacles,” using an English phrase for the Jewish holiday of Sukkot.  That year 1,000 Christian pilgrims heeded the call, and 400 participated in the Jerusalem March.



Rocket Fired From Gaza Into Sea In Possible PIJ War Simulation

A rocket was fired from the Gaza Strip into the Mediterranean Sea on Tuesday morning (3rd) setting off alerts in an area north of the terrorist enclave, the Israel Defense Forces said.

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s Al-Quds Brigade said around the time of the rocket launch that it was engaging in a military exercise with live ammunition.

The terrorist group said the exercise simulated raids on Israeli military sites and fortifications using combined arms, including special forces, rockets, artillery, armor, and intelligence units.

Ali Abu Shaheen, Politburo head, told Shams News Agency Monday (2nd) that the terrorist organization had become the “spearhead” in confronting the “Zionist project.”

The terrorist leader praised PIJ’s survival in two major confrontations, possibly referencing the 2022 Operation Breaking Dawn and the 2023 Operation Home and Garden.  Abu Shaheen said that continued resistance was an existential issue for Palestinians, with the need to stop the annexation of the West Bank, Israel sovereignty over Jerusalem, and Judaization of the territory.  He however decried internal squabbles between the Palestinian people and those willing to barter for financial gain, both which help Israel.

The Gaza border had seen unrest in recent weeks, with near-daily riots. Israeli forces had fallen under repeated gunfire and explosive attacks during the riots, leading Israeli forces to return fire.  The IDF had also hit unmanned Hamas posts with tank and drone strikes.  Also terrorist groups had resumed incendiary balloon attacks on Israeli territory, sparking multiple fires.



Alleged israeli Strikes Target Syria – 2 Soldiers Wounded

Alleged Israeli airstrikes targeted sites used by the Syrian Army and Iranian militias in the Deir Ezzor region of eastern Syria on Monday night (2nd) according to Syrian reports.

The Syrian state news agency SANA reported that two Syrian soldiers were injured in the strikes.

Earlier, opposition-affiliated Syrian-media news sites reported that unidentified aircraft targeted sites belonging to Iranian militias in the Deir Ezzor region of eastern Syria.

At least one of the airstrikes hit a site near Al-Bukamal, near the Iraqi-Syrian border, according to the reports.  Additional airstrikes were reported near the cities of al-Mayadeen and Deir Ezzor.

The Deir Ezzor Now news account on X reported that the strikes targeted a railway crossing on the Iraq-Syrian border, a bridge along the border, a radar system belonging to Hezbollah in the city of Deir Ezzor, and a building belonging to the IRGC.  Additional Syrian sites reported a similar list of targets.

The airstrikes come just two days after alleged Israeli airstrikes reportedly targeted an Iranian weapons shipment near al-Dimas, northwest of Damascus. The Syrian Capital Voice news site reported the airstrikes targeted a building belonging to Hezbollah and that the shipment  of weapons targeted were headed to Lebanon.  Syrian media did not comment on this airstrike.



Settlers Seek Private Force As Route 55 Becomes Hot Bed For Rock-Throwing

Data obtained by Israel Hayom shows a massive uptick in incidents in which commuter buses are targeted by Palestinians in key intersections.  “I urge people not to sit near specific windows – it’s only a matter of time until someone gets hurt,” a bus driver says.

Route 55 has become a prime target for Palestinian rioters, both against private vehicles and commuter buses.  Rafael Cohen-Yigudaiev, a bus driver on the Kedumim-Kfar Saba line, told Israel Hayom about a horrifying incident during which a large stone was hurled at this bus, narrowly missing his wife.

The driver continued, “If I hadn’t swerved in the nick of time, the stone would have struck the windshield, possibly injuring or even killing her.  The shattered glass even reached the back seats.  We are traumatized.  It’s only a matter of time before someone gets hurt.” 

The rise in attacks comes as Palestinian assailants consider these buses – as attractive targets, using heavy rocks as they ambush vehicles at various locations.

The consequences of these attacks are alarming.  Reports indicate that in the past year, 24 buses operated by the Tnufa public transit company, which serves Jerusalem and the Samaria region, have come under attack, with many of them sustaining severe damage to the point that they had to be taken off the road.  As of early September four drivers have been injured and granted medical leave.

Hannanal Dorani, the Mayor of Kedumim said, “This road has become a target for rock-throwing attacks.  There’s hardly a day goes by without a car or a bus being targeted.  Luckily, most of the attacks result in damage to property only.” Dorani stressed that major intersections on Route 55 have become security hazards because they are built in such a way that they force vehicles to slow down making them easy targets.

The severity of the situation has prompted local residents to take matters into their own hands.  Aviad Gadot, a Kedumim resident and the organizer of the Torat Lechima organization that supports the formation of a civilian patrol unit, believes that the security forces’ rules of engagement hamper their ability to address the situation effectively.  “When Jews are on the line, the IDF should be there.”

However, Mayor Dorani opposes civilian patrols, stating , “it would be wrong to establish a private militia.  We must not take matters into our own hands.  The army is strong and knows how to do the job, but we need to exert pressure on the authorities to act as needed.”

In response to the escalating crisis, the IDF said in a statement, “This is a private civilian initiative not coordinated with the IDF.  The IDF operates using various means, both overt and covert, to address stone and rock-throwing incidents and has apprehended dozens of suspects in recent months.” 



Nasrallah: Any Nation That Normalizes With Israel Must Be Condemned

Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah spoke for the first time Monday (2nd) on the possibility of a normalization agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Nasrallah said during a speech marking the birthday of the Islamic Prophet Mohammed that all Muslims “must bear responsibility for what is happening to the Palestinian people and the Al-Aqsa Mosque.”

“Instead of heeding this call, we see moves toward normalization.  Any country that might sign a normalization agreement should be condemned and held accountable for its actions, “ he added.

Israel, Saudi, and American officials have signaled increased optimism in the negotiations on a normalization deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia in recent weeks.

In his speech before the General Assembly last month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he believes “that we are at the cusp of a historic peace between Saudi Arabia and Israel.  Such a peace will go a long way to ending the Arab-Israeli conflict.”

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman also commented on the negotiations with Israel in an interview with Fox News last month.

“Everyday we get closer, it seems it’s really serious for the first time.  We will see how it goes,” he said, adding that his country could work with Israel, no matter who is in charge and calling a potential deal “the biggest historical deal since the end of the Cold War.”

Israel Hayom  reported Monday morning (2nd) that Israel and Saudi officials feel that the primary obstacle in the negotiations is the Biden Administration’s focus on the issue of the Palestinian Arabs as part of any agreement.

One of the sources stated that the disagreements on the central issues in the negotiations, including the US-Saudi defense pact and the Saudi nuclear program, are not highly significant and can be overcome, but the Americans are giving excessive focus to the Palestinian issue in a manner that threatens to collapse the entire process.

The Palestinian Authority has opposed any efforts by Arab and Muslim states to reach normalization agreements with Israel, including the 2020 Abraham Accords.  The Iranian government and its proxy terrorist organizations, including Hezbollah and Hamas, also oppose normalization efforts and seek the complete destruction of the State of Israel.



The Cause Of The Death Of The Two-State Solution – Benny Morris (Tablet)

• The initial and compelling cause of the death of the two-state solution was Palestinian Arab rejectionism.  The Palestinians have displayed remarkable consistency in rejecting the two-state solution.

• They said “no” to the Peel Commission partition proposed in 1937 ( which awarded the Arabs 70% of the land; they said “no” to the UN General Assembly’s partition resolution of November 1947 (which proposed Palestinian statehood on 45% of the land); PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat said “no” to the partition proposals of the year 2000 (the Clinton Parameters”) that awarded the Palestinians a state on 21%-22% of the land; and current Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas failed to respond (said “no”) to Israel Premier Ehud Olmert’s partition proposals, which were akin to Clintin’s in 2007-08.

• The fundamental wing of the Palestinian national movement, Hamas, which won the Palestinian elections in 2006 and is still the most popular Palestinian party, rejects out of hand any talk of partition.  It aims, so its charter says, to clearly eradicate Israel and replace it with a Sharia-ruled state between the Jordan and the Mediterranean.

• And while the Palestinian Authority, dominated by the Fatah party, occasionally pays lip service to the two-state idea, it too, covets all of the land “for Palestine” (why else insist on  the refugees’ “right of return,” which, if realized, would cause an Arab majority?)

• Partition is not on the Palestinian agenda today, if it ever really was.

The writer is professor emeritus of Middle Eastern Studies at Ben-Gurion University.