News Digest — 11/2/22

Netanyahu’s The Winner, Exit Polls Show; Highest Turnout In Decades

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu is on his way to election victory with a projected win of 61-62 seats, if exit polls for Israel’s fifth vote in three-and-a-half years are to be believed.  Netanyahu who continued to hold the lead Wednesday (2nd) with 80% of the votes counted, paves the way for a return to power with the help of the Religious Zionist party.

According to the polls, Netanyahu’s Likud party has secured the 61-seat majority needed to form a government, ending the stalemate that has plagued Israeli politics for the past three years.

Speaking in Jerusalem in the middle of the night, Netanyahu asked his supporters to have patience and said his Likud party was “on the verge of a big victory.”

Netanyahu was Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, governing for 12 consecutive years – and 15 years altogether – before he was ousted last year by a diverse coalition led by the centrist Yair Lapid.  

The current government led by Prime Minister Yair Lapid, has only secured between 54-55 seats.

The Arab Hadash-Ta’al party secured four seats according to all exit polls conducted by broadcasting networks.

Likud won between 31-33 seats, according to TV channels.

Lapid’s Yesh Atid party won between 22-24 seats. 

The biggest winner was the religious Zionism party led by Betzalel Smotrich, which won 14-15 seats according to exit polls.

The headquarters of Otzma Yehudit, Itamar Ben-Gvir’s party running on Religious Zionism’s slate, broke out in raucous celebrations as men danced and waved Israeli flags.

The anti-Zionist Arab nationalist Balad party, which aims to get rid of the Jewish character of the state and instead calls it “a state for all its citizens” did not cross the electoral threshold according to the exit polls.

Voter turnout was the highest in more than two decades, with 66.3% of Israel’s 6,453,255 eligible voters casting their ballots by 8: p.m. – two hours before the polling stations closed.

Arab cities had the lowest turnout, falling under 50% according to estimates.



Where Israelis Spent Election Day After Going To The Polls

Israelis again went to the polls on Tuesday (1st) to vote in the country’s fifth election in the past three years.  But, the public took advantage of Election Day, which is a government-mandated holiday, to sleep in late, to shop or pay a visit to nature reserves.

Israeli karate champion Hagar Finer, for example, conducted a special morning workout at her gym.  As she circled the gym to give pointers to her clients, she made certain to tell them to go vote when they finished their workout.

Meanwhile, crowds of people bustled about Tel Aviv’s Carmel market.  Stand owners organized their merchandise ahead of the day because they knew each election day brings in a lot of business.

“I haven’t voted yet because I woke up early to organize my goods,” said merchant Gill Manshrof.  

On Election Day, workers get paid 200% of their standard wage.

In one of the stalls, market merchant Tikvah spent the day making fruit juices, and the line for her refreshing treat got longer as the day went by.

“I’m happy with the Election Day, and I’m calling on everyone to go out and vote,” she said.  “Today crowds of people will come to the market, but I am an independent and work alone, so my revenue is the same as any other day.”

Another attraction that was favored by Israelis was the beach.  Even though it is already November and the swimming season is over, many citizens still sit on the sand to get a tan, and enjoy the sight of the blue water.

In addition, some 130,000 people opted to visit the country’s national parks and nature reserves.  Among them, Caesarea National Park saw 5,800 visitors, and Masada National Park saw 3,400 tourists.



Hundreds Of Jews Visited The Temple Mount On Election Day

Twice the number of Jews visited the Temple Mount in Jerusalem on Election Day this year compared to last year, the Temple Mount Administration reported on Tuesday afternoon (1st).

“The visitors said they took advantage of the election day vacation to go up and visit the site where the House of God stood,” the administration said in a statement.  “It reminds them of how fortunate they are to be in a Jewish state, voting for a Jewish government.”

Nearly 300 had already visited the Mount by 10:30 a.m., the administration said.

Visits to the Temple Mount by Jews have been on the rise over the past year in general.

Some 47,988 Jews visited the Mount last year, in Hebrew year 5782 – a 94% increase over the year before.



Israeli Soldier Injured In Vehicular-Ramming Attack

An Israeli man in his 20s was seriously injured in a vehicular ramming-attack near Jerusalem on Wednesday morning (2nd).

According to the military, the incident took place near the Maccabim Checkpoint near Modi’in.

The driver of the vehicle rammed his car into a guard before exiting his vehicle in an attempt to stab him.  The soldier, who was on the ground, fired toward the terrorist and killed him.

Magen David Adom Rescue Services said that it was providing medical care to the man who was conscious with limb injuries and evacuated him to Shaare Zedek hospital in Jerusalem.

“The victim was fully conscious with injuries to his limbs. We provided medical treatment that included stopping the bleeding, immobilization of the injuries and pain relief, and rushed him to the hospital while administering continuous treatment,” said MDA paramedics Ishai Bauchberger and Shira Malka.

Hamas spokesperson Hazem Qassem celebrated the attack, saying that it was in response to Israel’s “crimes against Al-Aqsa Mosque and our people.”

“The escalating revolution in the West Bank is expanding its location and goals.  The occupation is in a state of real confusion and is unable to contain it,” he was quoted by the Palestinian Shehab New Agency as saying.

On Sunday (10/30), the IDF announced that it would redeploy forces to the Yehuda Brigade in the West Bank after a car-ramming attack near Jericho.  That attack came less than 24-hours after a Palestinian terrorist shot and killed a civilian and wounded three others in Hebron.

The troop deployment comes as concerns have mounted that the escalation in the West Bank has spread from the North, near Jenin and Nablus, to the South.



Security Guard Who Was Injured In Shooting Attack Wakes Up

Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital in Jerusalem announced on Tuesday (1st) that the condition of David Morale, a security guard who suffered severe injuries in a terror attack at the Shuafat Checkpoint near Jerusalem last month, has improved.

Thanks to Hadassah’s neurosurgery team who has been working to further improve his condition, David is returning to consciousness.

“David is slowly coming back into consciousness, he still has a long way of treatment to go, but we are happy with how far he has come up until now,” said neurosurgery department director, Dr. Guy Rosental.

David was injured last month when a terrorist opened fire at the Shuafat Checkpoint – IDF soldier Sergeant Noa Lazar (18) was killed in the attack.  The terrorist who carried out the shooting was killed in a firefight several weeks later, after opening fire on security guards at the entrance to Ma’aleh Adumim.  Morale immigrated to Israel from Brazil in 2017 and began working as a security guard after serving in the IDF as a lone soldier.  



Samaria Dog-Unit Trains Dogs To Protect Jordan Valley Kibbutzim

The Israel Dog Unit (IDU), a Samaria-based nonprofit specializing in training and deploying working dogs, has entered into a joint initiative to save lives together with the civilian security coordinators and emergency responders from kibbutzim near the Jordan border.

The meeting in Kibbutz Ashdot Yaakov, which hosted the IDU on Monday night (10/31) seeking help from the organization, was far removed from the political tensions surrounding election day and focused on the potential for cooperation.  The kibbutzim seek to protect the Jordan Valley and to create a force of trained working dogs to rescue missing people.

The Jordan Valley is known to Israel’s security forces as a common point of entry for smugglers moving firearms, drugs and other contraband into Israel.  Earlier on Monday (10/31) security forces prevented the passage of dozens of guns through the area.   

Aside from criminal activity, the Jordan Valley is also considered a volatile region of the country with a high potential for terrorist action.  In September, a shooting attack on a bus full of soldiers left several injured and nearly ended up with the bus going up in flames.  Sunday (10/30), five were injured in a car-ramming attack at two separate junctions in the region.  A recent record-number of warnings of impending terrorist attacks makes the pilot program’s security aspects take on an unprecedented urgency.

Regional safety concerns for the Jordan Valley are not exclusively made of human elements.  The area is part of the African- Arabian rift system, among the world’s largest tectonic rifts, and population centers located in the valley are at extreme risk in the case of an earthquake.  Located in such an isolated region of Israel, kibbutzim struck by an earthquake may need to be able to provide essential rescue services for themselves until official rescue officials can make their way to the scene.

The IDU’s working dog curriculum will allow participating kibbutzim to prepare themselves with a dog specifically trained to direct rescuers to victims trapped under rubble or lost in the harsh terrain of the Jordan Valley, saving critical time in extracting them from collapsed buildings.

IDU director Yekutiel Ben-Yaakov commented: “We thank the civilian security coordinators from the Jordan Valley and Miki Harel, head of the town emergency squad from Ashdot Ya’akov, for this blessed initiative.  The IDU is happy to add the twenty-two kibbutzim in the area to its national project.  Within our framework, in which the Israel Dog-Unit (IDU) establishes response apparatus in different regions of the country, in coordination with councils, municipalities, and kibbutzim, we equip them with dogs and give them training that will be able to save lives both in the field of rescue and in the field of defense.”