News Digest — 11/18/22

Festive Hebron Event Marred By Attempted Stabbing

A Palestinian man carrying a knife was arrested on Friday (18th) in the West Bank, outside the Israeli town of Kiryat Arba, Israeli authorities said.  No one was hurt.

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) troops on a routine patrol spotted the suspicious young Palestinian man at the entrance to Kiryat Arba.  The troops subjected him to a search, found a knife on him and arrested him.  The incident took place just as thousands of Israelis began descending on Hebron and the nearby communities to celebrate the “Life of Sarah” events, which memorialized the biblical heritage of the Jews in the city, and specifically the historical figures that are buried in the Cave of the Patriarchs.

The incident comes days after a stabbing attack in the West Bank city of Ariel, where a Palestinian terrorist killed three Israeli civilians, and wounded four seriously.



Hungarian President Visits Western Wall

On Friday (18th), Hungarian President Katalin Novak came with her delegation to the Western Wall for the second time as part of her visit to Jerusalem and the Old City.

On Thursday (17th) Novak met with Prime Minister-designate MK Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Hungarian President was greeted by the rabbi of the Western Wall and holy sites, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, who explained the Jewish nation’s profound connection with its capital and the meaning of King David’s prayer in Psalms, where he “requested the welfare of Jerusalem.”

Rabinowitz blessed the President for coming to Jerusalem and for the connection of her country with Israel.

President Novak wrote in the Western Wall guestbook: “May our prayers be listened to and may our people understand that in God we are united, and our Father brings us closer to each other. [May] the Israeli-Hungarian friendship [be] long-lasting.”



21 Palestinians, Including Children, Killed By Massive Gaza Fire

At least 21 Palestinians were killed in a fire that erupted Thursday night (17th) in a residential area of Jabalya in the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian Authority-controlled WAFA reported that “scores” of casualties were evacuated from the burning building to a nearby hospital, with the number of casualties likely to increase.  Seven children were reported to have died in the fire, according to Israeli reports.

Footage circulated on social media and witnesses said the whole residential building caught fire in the Strip’s North, sending flames and smoke from the site.  Witnesses said they could hear screaming but they could not reach the victims to offer help because of the intensity of the fire.

According to preliminary reports, the building which caught fire stored large amounts of gasoline that potentially ignited, causing the massive flames.

PLO Secretary-General Hussein al-Sheikh called on Israel to open the Erez Crossing, between Israel and the Gaza Strip, to transport Palestinians with severe injuries.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz expressed sorrow on behalf of Israel for the deadly Gaza fire and stated that the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) offered humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian leadership in the evacuation of hurt civilians.

“Israel will be right there to help the residents of Gaza who were harmed, in order to save lives,” Gantz wrote on Twitter. 

Palestinian head Mahmoud Abbas declared a day of mourning as firefighters continued efforts to control the rising flames.  In a speech, Abbas described the fire as a “national catastrophe,” ordering all relevant authorities to help families of the victims, WAFA reported.



In Phone Call With Netanyahu, Erdogan Declares ‘New Era’ In Israeli-Turkish Ties

In a phone call on Thursday (17th), Israel’s designated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sought to advance a “new era” in the relations between the two countries.

“We are highlighting the beginning of a new era in the Turkey-Israel relations thanks to the strong will displayed by both sides,” President Erdogan said.  “It was in the shared interest of Turkey and Israel to maintain the relations by respecting sensitivities on the basis of mutual interests, and to strengthen them on a sustainable basis,” this, according to a readout of the call by Erdogan’s office.

In what marked the first conversation between the two leaders since 2013, Netanyahu called Erdogan to express his condolence over the deaths of Turkish citizens in last week’s terror attack in Istanbul, while Erdogan conveyed his “sadness” over this week’s stabbing attack in Ariel in Samaria which killed three Israelis and wounded four.

During the call, Netanyahu told Erdogan that Turkey’s mediation efforts between Russia and Ukraine were “important to the world.”

Erdogan also congratulated Netanyahu on the recent Israeli election results and wished that Israel’s new government would be “auspicious for the country and the region.”

Turkey and Israel have this year taken cautious steps of rapprochement in a bid to put an end to long-strained bilateral ties.  Back in March, Israel’s President Isaac Herzog became the first Israeli head of state to visit Turkey since 2008 when he met with Erdogan in Ankara.

In this latest move of warming relations, Turkey and Israel agreed to re-appoint respective ambassadors more than four years after they were called back.

Israeli and Turkish relations have remained tense since the 2010 Mavi Marmara flotilla incident, which saw the deaths of 10 Turkish activists aboard a ship attempting to breach the Israeli-Egyptian blockade of Gaza, and since that time, another rupture in 2018 after the US moved its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.



Netanyahu Sets Deadline For Forming Government

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday evening (16th) set next Wednesday (23rd) as a deadline for forming the next government, Walla news reported.

According to the news site, Netanyahu also raised the option of swearing in a government of just 57 MKs, composed of the Likud party, United Torah Judaism, Shas, and Otzma Yehudit without the Religious Zionism party.

The reports follow a stalemate in coalition negotiations between Religious Zionism and the Likud, with MK Bezalel Smotrich, Religious Zionism’s chairman, demanding either the Defense Ministry or the Finance Ministry, and Netanyahu’s refusing to give him either one. 

A source in Religious Zionism responded to the Walla report, saying, “if Netanyahu leaves Religious Zionism out – he is invited to try to form a government with the United Arab List (Ra’am).”

Earlier on Thursday (17th), a source in UTI’s Agudat Yisrael faction clarified that his party will not join a coalition unless Religious Zionism is included as well.

Speaking to Kikar Hashabbat, a UTI source involved in the coalition negotiations said. “There is a right-wing bloc, and the entire bloc is responsible for the victory, not just the Likud alone.  Netanyhau is in charge because of the entire bloc.  We will demand that the entire bloc be happy, and if Smotrich is not in, we are not in, either.  There is no discussion on that.”



BBC Slammed For Airing Palestinian Arab Songs Targeting Jews

The BBC is facing intense criticism for broadcasting Palestinian Arab folk songs that encourage violence against Jews, according to the Jewish Chronicle,

The songs reportedly included lyrics that called for attacks on Jews and glorified terror groups.  The songs included one with 35 million views on the BBC’s Arab language service that is dedicated to Palestinian terrorists.

The lyrics of the song, translated by the watchdog organization Camera Arabic, includes the lines: “The force in your hand is your right.  Don’t leave your weapon in its sheath… From the Jerusalem mountains and from the plain, your blood, should it be shed on the earth, would make red freedom bloom.”

While the song is being played, a BBC presenter is shown in the video nodding along as he films the performance with his phone.  The song was aired by the BBC Xtra show’s “Nakba day” episode in May 2022.

In another case, a song was broadcast by the BBC’s Arabic division that speaks of a terrorist visiting his mother before committing a terrorist attack.

None of the songs were ever criticized on air by the BBC for their inflammatory content.

Lord Carlile, the British government’s former independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, told the news outlet that the songs were apt to give succor and encouragement to extremists.”

The BBC has also faced a barrage of criticism that the broadcaster has taken months to respond to complaints about biased coverage of Israel and Jews by its Arabic language division, with reports of over half of the complaints it receives being ignored without response.