News Digest — 10/31/22

Candidates In Final Push To Win Israeli Elections

On the last day before Israelis vote in national elections for the 5th time in 3 years on Tuesday (11/1), candidates perfected their messaging in efforts to reach any and all undecided or uninspired voters.

Prime Minister Yair Lapid toured the Karish natural gas rig on Sunday (30th) and as he posed for photos said the revenue from the natural resource will help fight the rising cost of living.

At his Yesh Atid Party headquarters, organizers said their field work could break the tie that has plagued Israeli politics for years.  “We have the potential for an unprecedented win,” they said as the party mobilized its volunteers to encourage voters to come out on Election Day.

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu appeared before supporters in central Israel during his attempt to entice indifferent Haredi voters to come out to the polls, in their Bnei Brak stronghold on Saturday (29th).  The ultra-Orthodox parties are a critical component in his future coalition building.

On Monday (31st) Netanyahu and Likud Ministers plan to flood the airwaves with interviews, and will enlist the help of Mrs. Netanyahu, who is a popular figure among his strongest supporters.

Likud is fighting voter fatigue after consecutive election cycles ending in a draw and are also eyeing votes moving to far-right Itamar Ben Gvir and the Religious Zionist Party.

Party officials said a strong Likud would result in the popular Ben Gvir assuming a ministerial role in a Netanyahu government.

Gvir said publicly on Sunday (30th) that he wants the job of Public Security Minister in coalition negotiations, should Netanyahu’s right-wing and religious bloc emerge victorious.

The Likud is also intensifying its social media efforts to target potential voters.  Netanyahu, who will be closely monitoring voting on Tuesday (11/1), will use the complete voter roll to see who has already cast their ballots and who would need an additional push.

Parties tittering on the brink of failure to cross the Knesset threshold, including the Labor Party, Meretz and the Arab parties, will be manning phones, sending their members into the streets and fighting for every potential voter.

Jewish Home leader Ayelet Shaked, who is being pressured to back out of the elections, insists publicly that she will be running to the end as she claims she alone could carry the right-wing to victory. 



Will Rain Affect Israel’s Election Results?

After a few days of dry and sunny weather, Israelis can expect a return of the rain and cold – just in time for elections.

Monday’s (31st) weather is partly cloudy with temperatures dropping to near seasonal average.  Local rains will fall from northern Israel to the northern Negev, and there may be violent thunderstorms.  There is a chance that the eastern streams may flood.

Tuesday (11/1), election day, will be cloudy and chillier than Monday (31st), with local rains falling from northern Israel to the Negev, accompanied by thunderstorms, which could lead to flooding of eastern streams.

Wednesday (11/2) will see local rainfall from northern Israel to the northern Negev, accompanied by thunderstorms and flooding.  Thursday (11/3) will be partly cloudy, with a slight rise in temperatures.  Northern and central Israel may still see local rainfall.



IDF Placing Election Day Closure In West Bank After Attacks

The IDF will be placing a closure on the West Bank and closing the crossings between Israel and the Gaza Strip on Tuesday (11/1), Election Day, after terrorist attacks targeted Israelis in Jericho and Kiryat Arba during the weekend, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit announced on Sunday (31st).

A terrorist injured five IDF soldiers when he rammed his car into a bus stop in the Almog intersection south of Jericho on Sunday (30th), the IDF’s Spokesperson’s Unit confirmed.

The terrorist first began his attack at Nebi Mussa and from there continued to Almog Junction and rammed into a bus stop where IDF soldiers were present.

A policeman who was at the scene, together with a civilian, shot the terrorist who is in serious condition, according to a Hadassah-University Medical Center spokesperson.

MDA medical teams provided medical treatment on the spot to five injured people all in their 20s, who were fully conscious.  Two were moderately wounded with head injuries and three had light injuries to their limbs.  Two of the victims were later reported as being conscious and in stable condition in Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center.

The terrorist was identified as 49-year-old Palestnian Barkat Odeh from El-Azaria in east Jerusalem.

The incident follows another terrorist attack that happened in Kiryat Arba, when 50-year-old Ronen Hanania was shot and killed by a Palestinian terrorist on Saturday (29th).

The IDF decided to reinforce troops in the Judea region after the two terrorist attacks, according to the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit.

According to a defense source, the reinforcements include a company of IDF soldiers, an operational arm from the Border Police Internal Security Division, 10 teams of Border Police officers from the Jerusalem envelope and Border Police companies from the Judea and Samaria region, as well as Israel Police officers.  



Kiryat Arba Terrorist Victim Laid To Rest

Ronen Hanania who was murdered by a Palestinian gunman in Kiryat Arba on Saturday night (29th) was laid to rest in Jerusalem’s Har Hamenuchot cemetery on Sunday afternoon (30th).

“He was supposed to celebrate his 50th birthday on Wednesday (11/2).  He didn’t need to be in this place.  It’s hard for me to accept this.” said Ronen’s wife Merav.

The victim’s son Daniel, who received minor injuries in the attack, eulogized his father: “Dad I love you so much.  You were with me the entire time, during your last minutes.  I call on the government to do everything so this doesn’t happen again.”

MK Amir Ohana (Likud) stated at the funeral: “We are living the dream that Jews have dreamt for 2000 years, and that dream has a price, today we are paying that price.  Our enemies don’t just want Efrat, or Hebron or our settlements, they want Jaffa, Acre, and Tzfat.  Only through strength will we bring peace.”

MK Itamar Ben Gvir (Otzma Yehudit) eulogized: “I feel as if I’m at the binding of Isaac.  I am addressing the decision makers: When will we understand that Jewish blood isn’t free?  Ronen got to visit the graves of our patriarchs.  Ronen and Merav raised their son Daniel with love.  We will do everything to return the fight so that our soldiers’ hands won’t be tied.”

Among those present were the Chief Rabbi of Israel, David Lau and Religious Zionism party chairman MK Bazalel Smotrich.” 



UAE Deploys Israeli Air-Defense System, Satellite Image Shows

The United Arab Emirates has deployed Israeli air defenses to bolster capabilities against Iranian missiles and drones, according to an analysis of satellite images published by the Tactical Report website on Friday (28th).

The satellite images showed what Tactical Report said were two Barak 8 launchers and an Elta ELM 2084 radar system deployed at the Al Dhafra Air Base south of Abu Dhabi.

The Barak 8 system was jointly developed by Israel and India to defend against jets, helicopters, drones and even missiles.  A naval version has already been deployed on the Israeli Navy’s Sa’ar 5 corvettes and several Indian Navy destroyers.  Azerbaijan and Morocco have also purchased the system.

In 2021, a Barak 8 system in Azerbaijan intercepted a Russian-made ballistic missile fired by Armenia during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.  The short-range Iksander missile was headed towards the Azeri capital of Baku.

The ELM 2084 radar system was developed by ELTA, a division of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).

The UAE was struck by missiles and Iranian-made drones launched by Yemen’s Houthi rebels in the beginning of 2022.  One attack occurred  during a visit by Israeli President Isaac Herzog in January.

Russia has used Iranian-made kamikaze drones in destructive barrages on Ukraine, particularly on their infrastructure.  Israel fears similar barrages launched by Hezbollah or other Iran-backed militias could target the Jewish state’s electricity grid, ports, bridges, and other infrastructure.

In addition to serving the UAE Air Force, the Al Dhafra Air Base also hosts the United States Air Force’s 380th Air Expeditionary Wing.

The Tactical Report assessment comes on the heels of a Reuters report in September that Israel also sold the UAE an advanced short-to-medium range Spyder air defense system.  



US Jewish Communities Increase Security By 42% Amid Rising Antisemitism

In response to rising antisemitism, the number of Jewish communities in North America that use security programs has increased by 42%, the Jewish Federations of North America announced at the start of its annual gathering on Sunday (30th) in Chicago to some 1,200 Jewish communal leaders.

At the time of the Tree of Life Synagogue shootings in Pittsburgh in 2018, only a smattering of communities had professional community security initiatives, but since the launch of the LiveSecure initiative, things have gotten better,” said Jewish Federations board chair, Julie Platt.

“It’s incredible to see LiveSecure in action, making our communities safer everyday, even as antisemitism and hate are on the rise,” she added.

Antisemitic incidents reached an all-time high in the United States in 2021, with 2,717 reported incidents of assaults, harassment and vandalism reported to the Anti-Defamation League.  This represents the highest number of incidents on record since the ADL began tracking antisemitic incidents in 1979 – with an average of more than seven incidents per day and a 34% increase year over year.

Just one year since the launch of Jewish Federations’ $130 million LiveSecure initiative, the largest security campaign in the history of the North American Jewish community, the total number of Jewish communities that have comprehensive security programs stands at 64.  Before the launch of the initiative, there were only 45 such programs.

New security programs have been launched in San Diego, California; Houston, Texas; Birmingham, Alabama; Rockland County, New York; and Jacksonville, Florida, among other cities.  Existing initiatives have grown in strength and scope as well.

LiveSecure works with grants issued by Jewish Federations of North America, with matching funds raised by the local federation.  Funds go toward implementing professionally led, comprehensive communal security initiatives and active-shooter security training, and enhancing them where they already exist.  Funds are also used in advocacy and training on how to access government funding.

Community Security Initiatives across North America have saved countless lives and thwarted a multitude of potential threats against the Jewish community.  Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker credited the training he received to saving his life during the hostage crisis in January at Beth Israel Synagogue in Colleyville, Texas.

In addition to LiveSecure, Jewish Federations advance security through advocacy activities.  Since 2004, Jewish Federations have advocated for the vital Nonprofit Security Grant Program, which helps bolster the physical security of Jewish communities by funding communal building reinforcements and access controls, CCTV systems and more.

Jewish Federations played a lead role in advancing a proposed increase in funding to the program, from $250 million to $360 million in 2023.