News Digest — 11/10/20

IDF’s Kochavi To Knesset: ‘Coronavirus Won’t Stop IDF From War Readiness’

“The IDF will be ready for all eventualities of war regardless of the unique challenges posed by the coronavirus,” IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi said on Tuesday (10th) in his first public appearance to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

Though Kochavi is closing in on 2 years in office, during most of his tenure, the Knesset was not in session due to three rounds of elections.

Kochavi said that “our job is to strengthen deterrence; to defend on all fronts and dimensions; to strike the enemy as much as we can.”

He said the IDF needs “to prepare and be ready for war in order to win decisively, while at the same time to maintain ourselves as an organization with values that set an example.”

The military chief said “the IDF is focused on this, and we mean to continue to do this despite all of the challenges – budgetary, social, and the challenge of corona.  We do not have the privilege to take liberties.  We need an army which is trained and ready in all circumstances.”

Committee Chairman Zvi Hauser responded: “You are leading the IDF in one of the most challenging periods that there has been.”

He said that the IDF currently must achieve greater deterrence and a greater level of deadliness so that it can “win in the moment of truth.”  Hauser stressed that the Knesset’s role is to perform oversight to make sure that Kochavi and the government executive branch do all they can to achieve these goals.

The committee chairman said he sympathized with the challenges that Kochavi must endure during corona and a period of unprecedented political instability, adding it was unacceptable that the Knesset has not passed a budget for the IDF for nearly three years.



Hamas Recruiting Teens To Stage Terror Attacks

Two Palestinian teenagers were arrested and charged with terror offenses after it was discovered that they had been recruited by the Hamas terror group in Gaza to carry out attacks against Israelis in the area of south Jerusalem, the General Security Service said Monday (9th).

The GSS, Israel’s equivalent of the FBI, issued a statement that the two minors were arrested in October after being scouted and recruited by Hamas on social media.  The security agency often delays release of information during the initial phases of investigations.

According to the GSS, the two were recruited by a Hamas operative named  Balal Kardi, who lives in the Gaza Strip and is a member of the terror group’s cyber unit.  The investigation showed that the two were expected to receive weapons, ammunition, uniforms and money that would be used in the attacks.

The two recruits even tried to manufacture their own pipe bombs, but the investigation showed that they did not manage to produce any bombs of quality.

Hamas promised that in return for their actions, the youths would receive sums of money and a commitment that Hamas in the Gaza Strip would take responsibility for their actions.

Also, the two were asked to scout for possible locations to abduct Israeli citizens near their place of residence, apparently in one of the villages in the Gush Etzion bloc south of Jerusalem.

Both teens, one 16, were asked to gather intelligence about nearby Israeli towns and provide photographs of the town of Bat Ayin and Kibbutz Kfar Etzion, along with maps and gathering points of IDF forces in the area.

That is the exact same area where three Israeli high school students were kidnapped and murdered by Hamas in 2014, sparking Operation Protective Edge – a seven-week conflict in which Hamas and other terror groups fired almost 5,000 rockets and mortars at Israel.

Indictments against the two were filed this month in the Military Juvenile Court in Judea, the GSS said.



Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Erekat, 65, Dies Of Coronavirus

Palestinian senior official Saeb Erekat died from COVID-19 on Tuesday (10th) at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem.  Erekat served as PLO Secretary-General and chief negotiator.

Erekat, 65, has been one of the Palestinians most recognizable faces over the past several decades, serving as a senior negotiator in talks with Israel and making frequent media appearances.

He was also a senior adviser to late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, the father of modern terrorism, and current Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

Erekat was transferred to Hadassah Hospital from the Palestinian Authority on October 18.  The hospital said at the time that his condition was “critical but stable.”

Erekat’s case was complicated given his history of health issues, including a lung transplant in the U.S. in 2017.

Erekat was transferred to Hadassah despite the Palestinian leadership’s decision earlier this year to sever ties with Israel over plans to apply sovereignty to part of Judea and Samaria.  Israel has since frozen the plan.

The senior Palestinian official was “receiving top-notch professional care like all serious corona patients at Hadassah,” hospital director Zeev Rothstein said at the time.

It is common for Palestinian leaders to seek medical care in Israel, despite accusing Israel of a litany of crimes.  (Israeli surgeons reportedly operated on Abbas, his wife and his brother-in-law).  Erekat himself has been behind some of the most vicious fabrications against the Jewish State, including the Jenin massacre, charges of apartheid and, most recently, that Israeli troops were purposefully infecting Palestinians with coronavirus.

David Weinberg, vice president of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, upon hearing of Erekat’s transfer to Hadassah last month, said, “And here is one more bitter, ugly irony from the propaganda shop of Saeb Erekat.  When he got deathly sick this week, Erekat knew how to make a run for the best medical care Israel can offer.  But he has cynically and cruelly denied that opportunity to his own people.”



Dutch Protestant Church Apologizes For Not Helping Jews In Holocaust

The Dutch Protestant Church apologized on Sunday (8th) for having failed to do more to protect Jews during and after the Holocaust, as well as for its role in preparing “the ground in which the seeds of anti-Semitism and hatred could grow,” the Associated Press (AP) reported

The comments were made during a ceremony ahead of Monday’s (9th) anniversary of Kristallnacht, a Nazi pogrom that marked an infamous event in the Holocaust, where Jews throughout Germany and Austria were terrorized, their homes and buildings destroyed and many Jews sent off to concentration camps.

However, as the church expressed, the apology was a long time coming, as they had played a role in creating this climate long before 1938.

“For centuries a rift was maintained that would later isolate the Jews in society in such a way that they could be taken away and murdered,” Rene de Reuver said at the ceremony, speaking on behalf of the Protestant Church in the Netherlands, General Synod, AP reported.

“Also in the war years, the ecclesiastical authorities often lacked the courage to choose a position for the Jewish citizens of our country.”

“Approximately 70% of Dutch Jewry died in the Holocaust, and many,” de Reuver included, “think it’s time the church admits it.”

“The church recognizes its faults and feels a present responsibility,” he said, according to AP.  “Anti-Semitism is a sin against God and against people.  The Protestant Church is also part of this sinful history.”

However, he promised this would change going forward, explaining that “we undertake to do everything possible to further develop Judeo-Christian relations into a deep friendship of two equal partners, united among others in the fight against contemporary anti-Semitism.”

Other world leaders also spoke out against anti-Semitism ahead of the anniversary of Kristallnacht.  In a video clip, Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin, Austria’s President Alexander van der Bellen and Germany’s President Frank-Walter Steinmeier called on people everywhere to fight anti-Semitism.

“Eighty-two years since Kristallnacht, and the dark shadows of the past have not disappeared from our streets,” the presidents said together.

“We will stand against hatred.  We will stand against racism, and anti-Semitism.  We will stand together in Vienna, in Jerusalem, and in Berlin.  Never again means never again.  Let there be light.”



Headstones Smashed At Jewish Cemetery In Ukraine

Multiple headstones were destroyed at a Jewish cemetery in Malyn, Ukraine.

The damage at the graveyard, which is about 60 miles northwest of the capital Kiev, was discovered last week according to a Facebook post by Evgeny Gorodetsky, a Ukrainian Jew who has helped raise donations for renovating the cemetery.

Police have no leads in their attempts to identify the culprits.

One of the headstones smashed in Malyn was of Faina and Gregory Getz, a husband and wife who were buried in 1965 and 1947, respectively.  A new marble headstone installed by their families on the joint plot featuring the couple’s portraits and a Star of David were smashed to pieces.  

The perpetrators also climbed into some fenced burial plots to smash headstones, which collapsed against the fencing.

Last month, headstones were desecrated at Jewish cemeteries in neighboring Moldova and Hungary.

In addition to frequent vandalism, including for anti-Semitic reasons, a recent report noted that Jewish cemeteries in Eastern Europe are being turned into residential areas, public gardens, leisure parks, army grounds and storage sites; some have been turned into lakes.