News Digest — 11/29/22

Netanyahu To Choose Temporary Knesset Speaker

Following an agreement between the Likud and Religious Zionism, Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday (29th) will choose the temporary Knesset speaker from among the candidates for the permanent position.

The leading candidates are Likud MKs Amir Ohana, Yariv Levin, and Yoav Kisch.  All three are considered to be close to Netanyahu, and there is a good chance that the person chosen on Tuesday (29th) will hold the seat until after Israel’s next election cycle.

Meanwhile the Likud has not yet sent a request to outgoing  Knesset Speaker Micky Levy (Yesh Atid) to hold a vote on his replacement.

Earlier Kan News reported that Levy said in closed conversations that he intends to delay the appointment of his successor by at least a week after he receives the request.

Such an act could significantly delay the swearing-in of the new government, since prior to its swearing-in, the Likud wishes to pass a number of laws, including one which will allow Shas chief MK Aryeh Deri to become a minister.



IDF Says West Bank Raids Foiled Some 500 Terror Attacks Over Past Year

Citing Military Intelligence assessments, the Israel Defense Forces on Monday (28th) said it had foiled some 500 terror attacks in the past year, during a months-long operation in the West Bank.

According to the IDF, the army has arrested more than 2,500 terror suspects since late March, following a series of deadly attacks.  The attacks have left some 31 people in Israel and the West Bank dead since the start of the year, including several soldiers.

The IDF said that of 3,000 individual arrest operations, 550 involved special forces.  At least 250 weapons and $785,000 in cash allegedly intended for terror were seized in the operations.

Meanwhile, the IDF recorded at least 281 shooting attacks and attempts against Israeli civilians and soldiers in the West Bank this year, compared to just 91 last year.

During the operations, around 150 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire, according to the Palestinian Authority.  The IDF says many of them – though not all – were killed while carrying out attacks or during fierce clashes with security forces amid the near-nightly raids.

Much of the operation has been focused on the northern West Bank cities of Nablus and Jenin, long considered hotspots for terror.  According to IDF assessments, some 25 percent of Jenin – where troops have repeatedly come under fire during arrest raids – is affiliated with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terror group.



Fake Hysteria Over Temple Mount Prayer – Nadav Shragai

Critics are warning that the appointment of MK Itamar ben-Gvir as Israeli’s public security minister will lead to a decision to permit Jewish prayers on the Temple Mount.  Let everybody calm down and take a deep breath.  This is the year 2022.  Jews have been praying on the Mount for five years now; quiet prayers, without provoking anyone, in the southeastern corner of the Mount, with police authorization, and under police supervision.  This was implemented gradually, after endless material changes on the holy Mount initiated and executed by the Muslims in violation of the status quo.

Changes by the Muslims on the Mount since 1967 include turning the Dome of the Rock into a mosque, which originally was not a mosque.  They paved large sections of the Temple Mount compound, which is in practice used as a mass prayer hall for tens of thousands.  They established three additional mosques on the Mount: the Al-Marwani Mosque, located in Solomon’s Stables; the ancient Al-Aqsa Mosque underneath the overground Al-Aqsa Mosque; and the Gate of Mercy compound.

Eventually, the Jews decided in a bottom-up initiative that if everything is allowed to change on the Mount, then it is time for a change to counter the blatant discrimination against them with regard to prayers at the holiest site in the Jewish religion.



Iran Reveals ‘Ideal Targets’ To Bomb In Israel

The Knesset, the Prime Minister’s Office, and Ben Gurion Airport were all revealed to be on an Iranian ‘hit list’ as sites to target in a future war, according to reports by the Hezbollah-affiliated Lebanese news outlet Al-Mayadeen and Iran’s state-controlled Tasnim news agency.

A Jerusalem Post report on Monday (28th) summarized the list of “sensitive sites” that Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), an internationally designated terror group, believes would be ideal targets for bombing by the Islamic regime.

The Post report noted that the publication list is unusual, as it appears to be one of the only times that Iran has directly threatened specific sites within the Jewish state and may signal that Iran’s regional proxies may be preparing to ramp up their activity against Israel.

Israeli government buildings, such as the Knesset, and the Defense Ministry are on the Iranian list, along with educational institutions including the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot and Haifa’s Technion – Israel Institute of Technology.

The list erroneously categorized the Jerusalem-based government buildings as “nuclear sites” and the universities as “warehouses,” presumably for weapons or other military assets.

Ben Gurion International Airport, which is the main port of entry into Israel, and Ramon Airport in the southern Negev desert, some 12 miles north of Eilat were also included as potential sites to attack.

“The general situation of the Zionist regime at the military level and its equipment has been examined, and the list of sites reflect that research,” Tasnim reported.

The list of potential attack locations in Israel comes as Jerusalem steps up airstrikes and other military action against Iranian assets in Syria.

Last week,  a senior IRGC commander was killed in a roadside bombing in Syria.  Arab and Iranian news sources have attributed responsibility for the slaying to Israel.



Israel, US To Hold Air Drill Simulating Striking Iran’s Nuclear Program

The Israel Air Force this week will hold one of the largest drills in years with the United States Air Force simulating offensive strikes against Iran’s nuclear program.

The drill will take place from Tuesday (29th) until Thursday (12/1) over the Mediterranean Sea and Israel.  It will include long-range flights such as those that Israeli pilots might need to make in order to reach the Islamic Republic.

The exercise will include refuelers as well as fighter jets from both forces.

Washington and Israel have signed an agreement that would see the US come to assist Israel with mission defense in times of war, and the two militaries have held numerous joint air defense exercises in recent years.

Tensions between Israel and Iran remain high.

Iran, which possesses over 1,000 short-and medium-range ballistic missiles, continues to smuggle weapons to countries and non-state actors such as Hezbollah, which is estimated to have an arsenal of some 50,000 missiles on Israel’s northern border.

With tensions high over Iran’s nuclear program and regional hostility, Israel and the Islamic Republic have been threatening each other with senior officers stating that their militaries are capable of striking the other.

Israel has significantly increased its readiness level and has taken steps throughout the past year to prepare a credible military option against Iran’s nuclear facilities.

The NIS 58 billion defense budget set for the IDF in the coming year is expected to allow the Israeli military to focus on the threats posed by Iran across the region, with some NIS 3.5b. designated specifically for this.

The upcoming drill was discussed by IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, during his visit to Washington last week.  Kochavi, who returned to Israel a day earlier than planned following a deadly double bombing in Jerusalem, had met with senior American officials including Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, and CENTCOM Commander Gen.Michael Kurilla.

In the last year, the IDF and CENTCOM forces have held several joint drills as well as operational missions.

Kurilla was in Israel a week prior to Kochavi’s visit and toured the northern border as well as the IAF’s fleet of F-35 Adir stealth fighter jets. 

“We are operating together on all fronts to gather intelligence, neutralize threats, and prepare for various scenarios in one or multiple arenas,” Kochavi said during Kurilla’s visit, adding that the two countries were developing joint military capabilities at an “accelerated rate” against Iran and other threats in the Middle East.

Outgoing Defense Minister Benny Gantz told reporters at the beginning of the month that while Israel has the capabilities to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities, Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu must consider the issue “carefully” before giving the order.

“Israel has the ability to act in Iran.  We have the readiness, development capabilities, and long-term plans we are managing.  We need to prepare for this possibility, and we will also need to consider this issue very carefully before carrying it out,” he said.

According to Gantz, the option to strike Iran “should be prepared and this issue should also be considered very carefully before implementation.”



Reenergizing The Israel-Africa Strategic Partnership – Dr. Yechiel M. Leiter

On November 23, 2022, Dr. Yechiel M. Leiter, Director General of the Jerusalem Center, addressed a regional conference at the Institute for Peace and Security Studies (IPSS) at Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia on national security challenges in the Horn of Africa, saying, in part:

→ Since the advent of Zionism and the birth of modern Israel, there has been a strong ideological connection between Israel and the African continent.  The fruitful experience of a strategic partnership between Ethiopia and Israel goes back at least as far as King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.

→ Israel contributes to “world order” by opposing hostile states and their proxies with intelligence-gathering and sharing, military know-how, and, when necessary, military action, and by contributing to economic growth and human development through advanced technologies in agriculture, medicine, R&D, and social and cultural cohesiveness.

→ There are many places where our interests converge.  One such area involves the safety of waterways in and around the Red Sea.  Curtailing contraband, drugs, arms smuggling, and other forms of serious corruption are all vital for us.

→ One critical area of cooperation I’d like to put the spotlight on is in the realm of food security from the social and economic realm to the realm of national security.  National security includes the ability to feed the people of one’s sovereign country.

→ Imagine Ethiopia’s cows producing 30 to 40 liters of milk a day instead of the 2 or 3 that they produce now.  Imagine the establishment of an agricultural industry that grows alternatives to wheat.  Imagine a fish industry based on fish pond production.  Israel has proven technology in all of these and other agro-areas, and we are neighbors.