News Digest — 10/4/22

Israel Will Shut Down For Yom Kippur As Security Remains On High Alert

Israel is preparing to shut down on Tuesday evening (4th) for Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day Of Atonement and the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, as security forces remain in a heightened state of preparedness amid a record number of terror alerts in the lead-up to the holiday.

The IDF will also impose a closure on the West Bank and Gaza, a standard practice over Jewish and Israeli holidays.

Security officials have received more than 80 warnings or intelligence tips about possible terror attacks as Jewish Israelis prepare to observe the fast day, according to Hebrew-language media reports.  The number is higher than last year when two Palestinian security prisoners were on the run following a prison escape and security forces were grappling with a spate of stabbing attacks.

The security alerts came as Israel faces several security challenges amid the High Holiday season.  Israeli troops have come under increasing gunfire during raids in the West Bank, and there have been repeated clashes in recent weeks between security forces and Palestinians in East Jerusalem and the Old City.  Additionally, there were also several failed shooting attacks targeting Israelis in the West Bank last week.

According to Channel 13 News on Monday (3rd), 26 military battalions will receive reinforcement over Yom Kippur and thousands of Israeli soldiers will remain in the West Bank and along the security barrier.

The number of battalions in the West Bank has increased to 26 from about 13-14 since around March when the military launched Operation Breakwater in response to a wave of terror attacks that killed 19 israelis between March and May.

Over 2,000 Palestinians have been arrested since the beginning of the anti-terror operation in the spring, and over 200 Palestinians have been killed in what has become the deadliest period in the West Bank in years.

Most of the dead have been wanted terrorists who opened fire, or youths who threw firevombs or rocks at soldiers entering their neighborhoods.

Starting Tuesday afternoon, (4th), all flights in and out of Ben Gurion Airport and Israel’s air space will close to flights passing through, as Jewish Israelis mark Yom Kippur.  Flights will resume Wednesday evening (5th).  Border crossings will also be shut and will reopen late Wednesday (5th).

As sundown approaches Tuesday (4th), all local radio and television broadcasts will gradually fall silent.

Public transport will also halt, with buses and trains stopping their routes until after the fast day.  Inner-city buses and inter-city transport will gradually restart Wednesday evening (5th).

Roads will largely be cleared of cars by early Tuesday evening (4th) as is the national tradition – to be replaced with multitudes of people on bicycles and other non-motorized vehicles.  Driving during the Jewish Day of Atonement is considered taboo, and many secular Israelis have turned the day into a biking holiday, taking advantage of the car-free roads.

For religious and traditional Jews, the 25-hour period of fasting is set to begin at 5:45 p.m. in Jerusalem and 6:01 p.m. in Tel Aviv.  It will end on Wednesday (5th) at 6:55 p.m. and 6:57 p.m. respectively.

Security and rescue services will remain on high alert throughout the day.

For the Magen David Adom Rescue service and other paramedics, Yom Kippur is one of the busiest days of the year with hundreds of extra medics, paramedics, ambulances and volunteers deployed across the country.

Most injuries over Yom Kippur come from accidents on the roads as tens of thousands of children and teens take advantage of the deserted streets to ride their bicycles.  Other Yom Kippur issues are caused by dehydration and complications from fasting.



Hundreds Pray Outside Shechem, Huwara As Terror Wave Continues

On the eve of Yom Kippur, hundreds of settlers and residents of Samaria gathered outside terror hotspots Tuesday morning (4th) for prayer rallies to protest a recent spate of terror attacks in the area.

Selichot and morning prayer groups were held outside of the Palestinian Authority-administered city of Shechem (Nablus) in Samaria, as well as the nearby Arab village of Huwara.

The largest gathering took place at the northern entrance of Huwara, and included MK Bezalel Smotrich, Samaria Regional Council Chairman Yossi Dagan, and Samaria Regional Council Chief, Rabbi Elyakim Levanon.

In addition, dozens of Israeli residents of Samaria blocked the primary entrances to Shechem (Nablus), stopping traffic for roughly an hour.

Israeli forces were dispatched to the area to prevent clashes between Israelis and Palestinian Authority residents.

A protest committee formed by Samaria residents issued a statement Tuesday morning (4th), vowing to escalate the ongoing protests “until security is restored.  So long as residents have no security, our enemies won’t have their routines.”

The number of shooting attacks in Samaria has risen sharply over the past few months with two such attacks reported Sunday (2nd).

Following Sunday night’s (2nd) shooting attack, in which Samaria Regional Council Chief Yossi Dagan protected children while using a weapon, Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades issued an official proclamation calling for him to be assassinated.

As a result, Dagan was given 24-hour security detail around his home in Samaria.       



Two Terrorists Died After After Attempted Car Ramming On IDF Soldiers

Two terrorists were killed in the West Bank on Monday morning (3rd) after attempting to ram IDF soldiers carrying out a raid.

A third terrorist was wounded in the incident, that took place in a town outside Ramallah.

A military spokesperson said neither of the terrorists involved in the attempted car-ramming were connected to the suspect the IDF sought to arrest.

The early morning raid was part of the IDF’s Operation Breakwater, an extensive anti-Terrorism campaign in Judea and Samaria.

On Sunday (2nd) a soldier was shot in the leg near the Itamar settlement in Judea and Samaria.  The fighter, from the 202nd Battalion of the Parachute Brigade, was transported to Bellinson Hospital in Petah Tikvah in central Israel.

He was reported physically in light condition and conscious.

Immediately before the shooting, a demonstration took place by settlers who were protesting the security situation in light of recent attacks.

Dramatic video from the scene of the shooting showed settler activists ducking behind cars with their guns drawn.  Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan can be seen with his pistol drawn, protecting young children.

The IDF searched the area extensively after the shooting.

On Sunday (2nd), the state comptroller issued a report stating that the military was “logistically unprepared” to continue Operation Breakwater, though the IDF said that Many of the shortcomings listed in the report were already amended.



Gantz Makes Secret Visit To Azerbaijan

Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Monday (3rd) ended an official visit to Azerbaijan, which was dedicated to security and policy issues, and aimed at fostering defense cooperation between the two countries.

During the visit, the Minister met with the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev,  He was also welcomed to the Ministry of Defense with an honor guard ceremony and met with his counterpart, Minister of Defense Colonel General Hasanov Zakir Asgar Oglu.  Minister Gantz also met with the Chief of State Border Service, Colonel General Elchin Guliyev and visited a State Border Service Headquarters.

During the visit, Minister Gantz emphasized the importance of maintaining strategic relations between the State of Israel and the Republic of Azerbaijan, as well as the importance of continuing to work towards regional and global peace and stability.  During his meetings, Minister Gantz reflected on the changes in the Middle East region following the signing of the Abraham Accords, and discussed Israel’s developing ties with Turkey and additional countries in the region and the world.

Minister Gantz was joined by the MOD Director, Maj. Gen. (Res.) Amir Eshel, Director of the Policy and POL-MIL Bureau, Dror Shalom, and Military Secretary Brig. Gen. Yaki Dolf.

The visit was not reported until Gantz departed back to Israel for security reasons.



Israeli Relief Workers Fly To Florida In Hurricane’s Wake

Just over a week after United Hatzalah sent a mission to Puerto Rico to assist people affected by Hurricane Fiona, the Israeli voluntary emergency response organization dispatched a second relief team, this time to assist Floridians following the devastation caused by Hurricane Ian.

“This is our fastest turnaround time ever for separate missions,” said Vice President of Operations of United Hatzalah Dov Maisel as the team departed from Israel on Saturday night October 1.

The team that assisted in Puerto Rico had arrived back to Israel on Friday (9/30).  Its Washington-DC-based leader, UH Director of International Emergency Management Gavy Friedson, also is leading the mission to Florida.

The Florida-bound volunteers under Friedson include EMTs and members of UK’s Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit.  Their main task will be providing psychological first aid and emotional stabilization to people traumatized by Hurricane Ian.  Medical care and humanitarian assistance will be provided as needed.

“When we saw the level of damage caused by Hurricane Ian and the fact that millions of people were forced to evacuate and suffered losses and damage, we knew we had to help,” said Friedson, who was a United Hatzalah EMT in Israel for many years.

This will be Friedson’s third hurricane relief mission, and his second in Florida, having also been part of the relief team that assisted after Hurricane Irma struck Florida in 2017.

Nor is this the first international relief mission for most of the team members, who’ve previously provided emergency care in places such as Houston following Hurricane Harvey in 2017, Pittsburgh following the synagogue shooting in 2018, Surfside following a building collapse in Florida, and Moldova during the refugee crisis at the beginning of the war in Ukraine.



What Was The Year’s Most Popular Baby Name In Israel?

Mohammad was the most popular name overall given to newborns in Israel in the past year, according to an annual report released by Israel’s Population and Immigration Authority to coincide with Rosh Hashanah – the Jewish New Year.   

The Muslim name was given to 1,949 Israeli babies, from Israel’s Arab sector, in the Hebrew year of 5782.  Mohammad was followed by Adam, which was given to 1,364 baby boys.

Yosef or Yousef, a name popular with both Jews and Muslims, ranked third with 1,294 babies.  Then came David (1,119), Ariel (1,053), Omer (1,039), Lavi (864), Daniel (828), Rafael (779), and Ori (774).

Avigayil (the Hebrew pronunciation of Abigail) was the most popular girl’s name, with 993 girls.  Abigail was followed by Tamar (943), Yael (797), Noa (740), Sara (739), Mia (733), Adel (657), and Lia (655).

According to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics released in August, Mohammad has consistently remained Israel’s most popular name since the state’s founding in 1948.

The Phenomenon is now commonplace in Europe too, and in Paris the top ten most popular names are all Muslim.  And in 2019, Mohammad entered the top ten most popular baby names in the US according to BabyCenter.