News Digest — 10/8/21

Turkey, Egypt Bristle At Israeli Decision To Allow Jewish Prayer On Temple Mount

Turkey and Egypt issued statements Thursday (7th) condemning an Israeli court that a day earlier had ruled that Jews were allowed to pray silently on the Temple Mount.

The Temple Mount is the holiest place in Judaism and houses the third-holiest site for Muslims – Al-Aqsa Mosque.  Jews have until now been banned from praying at the site in an attempt to maintain the fragile status quo in the capital.

“We strongly condemn the Israeli court’s ruling that Jews are allowed to pray silently in Al-Aqsa Mosque,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement, adding that it was worried the decision might undermine the status quo in Al-Aqsa Mosque and cause renewed tensions.”

“We call on the international community to strongly oppose this wrong, illegal and dangerous ruling, and all provocations against the Al-Aqsa Mosque,” the statement read.

Echoing similar sentiment, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said the ruling was “a violation of the sanctity of Al-Aqsa Mosque, a site for Muslim worship only.  We condemn the decision and stress the need to respect the historic and legal status of Jerusalem, as well as its holy sites for Muslims and Christians, in accordance with the legitimate international decisions of the United Nations and UNESCO.”

It called on the Israeli government to refrain from taking steps that would go against the status quo.

The last time Turkey criticized Israel’s legal system was in April – which coincided with Ramadan this year – when Ankara condemned Jerusalem for its actions in the Gaza Strip in response to rocket launches by Hamas into Israeli territory.

“It is worrisome that the policy of repression and violence against the Palestinian people is intensifying during Ramadan,” Ankara said in a statement at the time.  “The Israeli government is making it difficult for the Palestinian people to pray during Ramadan.”



Hamas: Jewish Prayer On Temple Mount: ‘Declaration Of War’

On the heels of a ruling by an Israeli court which essentially permits silent Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount, terror group Hamas released a statement calling the decision a ‘declaration of war.’

The ruling is “a blatant attack on Al Aqsa Mosque and a clear declaration of war,” read a Hamas statement.

The Battle of the Sword of Jerusalem [Hamas’ name for Operation Guardian of the Walls] was not and will not be the last chapter of the confrontation for control of Jerusalem,” the statement continued.

“The Resistance…confirms that it is ready and prepared to repel aggression and defend rights.”

The Jewish State must understand that “any Israeli attack on Al Aqsa is an explosive game,” the group added.

“The Israeli court’s decision to allow Jews to pray in the courtyard of the blessed Al Aqsa Mosque is an open and direct aggression against the Muslims’ exclusive right to its third holiest mosque,” read a statement from the Palestinian National Council.

“This decision sets a serious precedent and is a clear violation of the historical and legal status quo of Al Aqsa Mosque by the occupation, which aims to…implement a division of spaces [within the compound].”

Palestinian Islamic Jihad called the ruling “invalid and an attack on the sanctity of Al Aqsa Mosque and the pure right of Muslims to it.”

The issue of Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount has long-been contentious.  Because of its proximity to the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the fact that the compound is legally under the Islamic guardianship of Jordan’s Wakq, Muslins have long objected to the presence of Jews at the site. 

Previously, Israeli government policy regarded audible or silent prayer on the Temple Mount as a provocation.

Police officers were authorized to physically remove Jews suspected of praying from the area, for fear of conflict with Muslins at the site.



Hamas Is Building A Second Front Against Israel In Lebanon – Yaakov Lappin

→ Hamas is building a second front against Israel in Lebanon.  Major Tal Beeri, director of research at the Alma Research and Education Center, who served for 20 years in IDF Military Intelligence, said Hamas is recruiting from the 200,000 Palestinians in Lebanon who have never received  Lebanese citizenship.

→ Hamas’ military-terrorist program in Lebanon is led by Salah Al-Arouri, deputy head of Hamas’ political bureau.  Arouri is also responsible for orchestrating Hamas activities in the West Bank.  After the IDF conducted a series of counter-terrorism raids last week in the West Bank to disrupt a major terrorist plot in Jerusalem, “it would be safe to bet that Al-Arouri had a hand in the plot,” Beeri said.  Al-Arouri currently resides in Lebanon, where he has set up a significant Hamas headquarters.

→ Beeri said Hamas is also shaping an offensive force in Lebanon itself.  “Hamas has two Lebanese units that can be activated: The El-Shimali Unit and the Khaled Ali Unit.  Each one has hundreds of operatives.  They both deal in recruitment and training and specialized qualification courses, such as sniping, operating anti-tank missile launchers, drone operation, urban warfare, and tactical intelligence collection.”

→ “Both of these units develop and manufacture weapons in Lebanon, particularly rockets and drones, as well as small unmanned submarines.  These two units also create operational cells, and formulate operational attack plans,” said Beeri.

→ “For around a decade, Hamas has been building a very serious military infrastructure in Lebanon, which will provide them with back-up operational options against Israel in addition to Gaza,” Beeri warned.  There were five rocket attacks out of Lebanon against Israel between May and August.  “The likelihood that Hamas was behind all these attacks is very high,” said Beeri.

→ “All of Hamas’ activities in Lebanon are occurring with the assistance of the Palestine Branch of the Quds Force, a part of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps of Iran.”



Hamas Conference Envisions “Post-Liberation Palestine” After Israel Disappears

On September 30, 2021, Hamas sponsored a conference in Gaza on “Post-Liberation Palestine,” to discuss preparations for the future state of Palestine after Israel “disappears.”

The published concluding statement recommended rules for dealing with “Jews” in the country, including defining which of them will be killed or subjected to legal prosecution and which will be allowed to leave.  It also called for preventing a brain-drain of Jewish professionals and for the retention of “educated Jews and experts in the areas of medicine, engineering, technology, and civilian and military industry…[who] should not be allowed to leave.

Hamas leader in Gaza, Yahyah Al-Sinwar said, “Liberation is the heart of Hamas’ strategic vision, that speaks of the full liberation of Palestine from the sea to the river, the Palestinian refugees’ return to their homeland, and the establishment of a Palestinian state with full sovereignty over its lands, with Jerusalem as its capital….We are sponsoring this conference because it is in line with our assessment that victory is nigh.”

Hamas political bureau member Mahmoud Al-Zahhar noted, “Hamas’ dispute with the plan of Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah is that they are settling for the western side of Palestine being for the Jews and the eastern side for the Palestinians – what is known as the two-state solution….We must not relinquish a single inch of our land.”



Mike Pompeo To Receive ‘Peace Through Strength Award’

The Friedman Center for Peace Through Strength has announced its program for the gala dinner being held at the Museum of Tolerance Jerusalem on the evening of October 11, 2021.

The Master of Ceremonies for the event will be media personality and journalist Jacob Eilon.  The program will include welcome remarks from Larry Mizel, who serves as chairman of the Museum as well as the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and philanthropist Sylvan Adams.

Ambassador David Friedman will address those in attendance and present the Friedman Center inaugural “Peace Through Strength Award” to former Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo, following which secretary Pompeo will offer remarks.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino will be attending at the invitation of former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and is making his first trip to Israel as President of FIFA.  He will offer remarks as well.

Finally, the Friedman Center will screen a condensed version of “The Abraham Accords,” produced by Ambassador Friedman to be shown in the Museum’s ‘state of the art’ movie theatre.

“The Friedman Center for Peace Through Strength is committed to advancing and promoting the Abraham Accords to bring an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict,” the center said in a statement.



Technion And UNC Researchers Develop Algorithm For Automated Surgery

Researchers from the Technion and the University of North Carolina (UNC) developed an algorithm that safely moves surgical needles along 3D mapped trajectories.

Procedures such as certain cancer therapies and biopsies require a needle to be moved inside the body without damaging other tissues, a difficult process that is further complicated when the target is located behind those tissues or other obstacles.

Innovations such as bevel-tipped needles intended to simplify such procedures are, nevertheless, complex to use and require a precise surgeon to manually perform the operation, unless assisted by “motion planning algorithms,” which steer the needle automatically.  It is often difficult to gain regulatory approval for such algorithms, as the procedures in which they are used are risky and require extreme precision.

The researchers, Dr. Oren Salzman of the Taub Faculty of Computer Science at the Technion and Prof. Ron Alterovitz and Mengyu Fu of UNC, developed one such algorithm that performs calculations more quickly than others and “guarantees” that the needle will reach the relevant part of the body without damaging other tissues, alerting the surgeon if there is no safe path.

The project was funded by the Binational Science Foundation, the US National Institutes of Health, and Israel’s Science and Technology Ministry.