News Digest — 11/27/19

Israel Attacks Terror Targets In Gaza After Intercepting Incoming Missiles

After an incoming rocket from the Gaza Strip was intercepted by Israel’s missile defense system, Tuesday night (26th), and another landed in an open space, it was the IDF’s turn to mete out punishment.

Fighter jets from the Israel Defense Forces hit a number of Hamas terror targets in the southern Gaza Strip.  Among the sites targeted was an underground infrastructure.

“The IDF holds the Hamas terror organization responsible for events transpiring in the Gaza Strip and emanating from it.  Hamas will bear the consequences for actions against Israeli citizens,” the Army’s Spokesperson’s Office announced Wednesday (27th).



2 Rockets Fired At Southern Israel From Gaza As Palestinians Mark ‘Day Of Rage,’

Terrorists fired two rockets at southern Israel on Tuesday night (26th), as Palestinians marked a “day of rage” in response to a recent decision by the United States supporting Israeli settlements, the army said.

One of the projectiles was shot down by soldiers operating the Iron Dome missile defense system.  The second appeared to strike an open field in the Sha’ar Hanegev region of southern Israel.

No injuries or damage was caused by the rockets, though one woman was slightly injured when she fell while running to a bomb shelter.

The rockets triggered alert sirens in the southern town of Sderot and surrounding communities.

The attack from Gaza came after a day of protests by thousands of Palestinians in the West Bank, in response to a recent US announcement that it no longer believes that Israeli settlements in the West Bank violate international law.

At Israeli checkpoints near Ramallah, Bethlehem, and Hebron, dozens of protesters threw stones at Israeli forces who responded with tear gas.

Dozens of protesters were lightly hurt, according to Palestinian rescue services.

Tuesday night’s (26th) rocket attack also came a day after Palestinian terrorists in the Strip fired a mortar shell at southern Israel, striking an open field in the Easkol region, Israel authorities said.

The renewed fire came as a Qatari official said Monday (25th) that aid money would be handed out on Wednesday (27th) to Gaza residents as part of an unofficial ceasefire agreement between Israel and terror groups in the Strip.   



To India’s Modi, Netanyahu Remains A ‘Dear Friend’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s legal and political woes have not chased away foreign comrades, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing the prime minister on Tuesday (26th) as “my dear friend.”

“My dear friend Bibi,” Modi wrote in a tweet.  “Thank you for your message on India’s #ConstitutionDay.  Israel is a cherished strategic partner. We share and value the same principles of democracy.” Modi, who also posted that tweet in Hebrew, was responding to a congratulatory message tweeted by Netanyahu on the occasion of India’s 70th Constitution Day.

Netanyahu used the same salutation – “my dear friend” – in reference to Modi in his tweet, saying that “India and Israel share the values enshrined in your constitution: democracy, the rule of law, liberty, and equality.  Our countries are both vibrant democracies, proud of our achievements, eager to seize the future with innovation and imagination. Happy Constitution Day, India.”

Modi and Netanyahu have forged a close relationship, and the ties between the two countries have soared over the last number of years.

Constitution Day was instituted by Modi in 2015 to commemorate the adoption of India’s constitution on November 26, 1949.  Congratulatory messages were also sent by President Reuven Rivlin and the Knesset.



Naftali Bennett: Israel Will No Longer Release The Bodies Of Terrorists

Israel will no longer release the bodies of terrorists according to a new policy by Defense Minister Naftali Bennett.  This will be the case regardless of to which terrorist organization the person belonged.

Bennett instructed the IDF and the defense establishment on Tuesday (26th) to completely stop the release of terrorists bodies.  The decision came following a number of discussions that he held on the issue of deterrence with senior security officials.

Exceptions, according to a statement by the Ministry of Defense, will only be made in extenuating circumstances and at the direction of the defense ministry. 

The new policy will be introduced shortly in the Security Cabinet, as part of a broader deterrence policy, and will come into effect after the cabinet’s approval.

According to a political source, the policy change followed a request made by the family of Lt. Hadar Goldin, whose body has been held in the Gaza Strip by Hamas since 2014, to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In a statement, the family said that they support Bennett’s decision as it “is inconceivable that as Hamas soldiers continue to hold our soldiers we release terrorists, be they dead or alive.”

“We are supporting the defense minister’s decision.  Freeing terrorists is a prize that Hamas cannot be given while holding onto our soldiers and civilians.”

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pledged to us that a ceasefire will not take place without bringing the boys home and we expect to see that economic- civilian projects will not be promoted as long as our boys remain in Gaza,” the statement said.



Journalists from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq Tour Israel

The Israel Foreign Ministry hosted a delegation of Arab journalists last week – including from countries with which Israel has no diplomatic relations – in an attempt to chip away at Israel-hatred in the Middle East.

“My goal is to bring people here to get to know the real Israel, to see it first hand, and not through television and social media, and see how Israel is unjustly slandered,” said Hassan Kaabia, the Foreign Ministry’s spokesman for the Arabic media who organized and accompanied the group.

The delegation, which toured the country for five days, included senior journalists from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq and Egypt, as well as two musicians from Iraq.

Israel has no ties with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait or Iraq, and Kaabia said he did not know whether the governments of those countries knew about the visits.

“I deal with people not governments,” he said, adding that he knows the members of the delegation from interactions he has made with them on social media.  The Foreign Ministry has active Facebook and Twitter pages.

Unlike the six person delegation that came in July, where one member – Saudi blogger Mahmoud Saud – was willing to be identified and go public, none of the members of the current delegation would identify themselves.  Saud was cursed, jeered and spat upon by Palestinians when he visited the Muslim shrines on the Temple Mount during his visit here. He frequently posts pro-Netanyahu items on social media.

Faced with a sea of hatred toward Israel in the Arab world, Kaabia said that these delegations – though small – can have a major impact.  He said that the members of the current delegation are well known in their countries – with a YouTube release of one of the Iraqi musicians songs garnering 24 million views – and that they all write about their visit, as well as talk about it with their family and friends.  

The delegation met for two hours with Foreign Minister Israel Katz, as well as other Foreign Ministry officials and Knesset members from across the political spectrum.  They also toured Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and other parts of the country.

As to why they were not willing to go public, Kaabia said that their reply was that the Arab Street is not yet ready for open ties with Israel, “So let’s do it slowly.”



Palestinians Build Junkyard On Jewish Historical Site, Says Antiquity Watchdog

The Israeli government is being urged to take “emergency” action to stop what is said to be yet another Palestinian example of destroying remnants of the Land of Israel from ancient times.

The latest case involves an antiquity site located near the Israeli community of Shavei Shomron in Samaria.

According to Shomrim Al Hanetzach, (“Preserving Eternity”) an umbrella group formed to fight the phenomenon of such demolitions, the site is being used as an auto parts junkyard, threatening to erase archaeological finds that go as far back as the Roman period, roughly ranging between 27 BCE and 476 CE.

Preserving Eternity refers to the site as “impressive in size and in terms of findings which have been located there.”

It says that, in fact, the junkyard has already been operating at the site for at least two years and that aerial photos show that it is expanding.

However, Preserving Eternity says this is but one example of a “phenomenon of antiquity theft, damage and demolition of archaeological sites which are known to have taken place over the course of years throughout Israel.’

The umbrella group says that its membership is comprised of a “broad coalition” of local authorities and organizations which fight against various issues: unintentional damage by individuals who take advantage of what appears to be open land, theft on the part of local residents or professionals, and outright intent to do damage or erase history. 

It says the Israeli government must formulate an emergency plan to safeguard the sites and artifacts so that history is protected against both unintentional and purposeful damage.

The umbrella group says that there are some 40,000 antiquity sites in Israel, including an estimated 10,000 in Judea and Samaria.

“There is almost no antiquity site that has not been robbed,” says Preserving Eternity.

Though the problem exists throughout Israel, the complexities of Judea and Samaria, where Israel has never declared sovereignty, makes it more difficult for the Israel Antiquities Authority to operate than in other parts of the country, says Preserving Eternity.