News Digest — 11/8/23

Israel Observes National Day Of Mourning, One Month After October 7 Massacre

Israelis across the country observed a minute of silence at 11 am on Tuesday morning (7th) to commemorate the victims of Hamas’ October 7 massacre, one month after the deadly onslaught.

The minute of silence marked the start of memorial ceremonies across the country, but unlike Holocaust Remembrance Day and Memorial Day, it was not accompanied by a siren.

Following the silence, flags across Israel were lowered to half-staff and mourners sang the national anthem, Hatikvah.

On October 7, thousands of Hamas terrorists burst into southern Israel, slaughtering some 1,400 people in their homes, on the street and at an outdoor music festival in the deadliest terror attack in Israel’s history.  Among the dead were also hundreds of soldiers and police, some killed defending communities and some in military bases that were overrun.  At least 247 people, mostly civilians, were taken hostage, including young children and the infirm; four were released and one was rescued.

Prior to Tuesday’s (7th) memorial events, a Defense Ministry ceremony was held on Monday night ( 6th) in the State Hall of Remembrance at Mount Herzl, Israel’s largest military cemetery, where the newly engraved names of 349 people killed on October 7 were unveiled on the walls of the commemorative building.

The names included those of soldiers, police officers, Shin Bet operatives and civilian security team members who died defending communities on October 7.

At the same time, the faces of the hostages held in Gaza were projected across the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City.

In Ra’anana, a memorial ceremony organized by Yad Lebanim, an organization dedicated to commemorating Israel’s fallen soldiers, began with the Yizkor memorial prayer on Tuesday morning (7th), after which memorial candles were lit and participants were invited to sing Hatikvah.

An additional Yad Lebanim ceremony was held on Tuesday evening (7th) in Petah Tikvah, at Yad Lebanim Square.  The organization distributed yellow ribbons to attendees as a sign of solidarity with the hostages.

The use of the yellow ribbon to show solidarity with captives held by terror groups in Gaza since October 7 recalls a 2008 campaign to raise awareness about the plight of Gilad Shalit, an IDF soldier who was held in Gaza from 2006–2011.

In keeping with the symbolism, a Bar Ilan University memorial ceremony released 242 yellow balloons, one for each hostage held by Hamas.

Elsewhere in the country, youth movements were marking the day with related lesson plans and activities, and schools and universities conducted their own ceremonies.

At 6 pm, groups gathered in the central squares in each major city in order to light candles in memory of those killed, and then at 6:30 pm, a memorial service was held at the Tel Aviv Cultural Center, accompanied by the Philharmonic Orchestra. 

The ceremony was broadcast live on social media and on screens set up at the candlelight vigils.

Following the ceremony in Tel Aviv, a memorial rally and protest  was held in Jerusalem at 7:30 pm, led by bereaved families.

Inside the Knesset on Tuesday morning (7th), committee sessions were paused at 11 am in order to observe the moment of silence, and several ministries held their own memorial services.



Netanyahu: ‘We Have Killed Thousands Of Hamas Terrorists’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a statement to the media Tuesday evening (7th), one month after the outbreak of the war and the surprise attack in which Hamas massacred over 1,400 Israelis.

“Hamas is discovering that we are reaching places it never dreamed we could reach,” Netanyahu said and added: “We have eliminated thousands of terrorists above and below the ground – this enemy will be destroyed.”

“Gaza will no longer pose a threat to Israel,” he declared.

Addressing the continued violence from Hamas and Hezbollah in Lebanon, Netanyahu said that “if Hezbollah chooses to enter the war, it will have made the mistake of its life.”

“I say to our enemies and our friends, there will be no ceasefire without the return of our hostages,” he added.  “We are working by all means and on all fronts to return everyone home.”

“We are working in the political arena to give the IDF room to maneuver.  I say to world leaders – if we don’t win, you are next in line.  We will win and we will not stop until we win,” he said.



Hamas Tunnels, Weapons Found Near Amusement Park And University

Tunnels and weapons warehouses used by Hamas were found near an amusement park and a university in the Gaza Strip during the IDF’s ongoing operations in the coastal enclave, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit revealed on Tuesday (7th).

The Paratrooper Brigade found a tunnel opening near an amusement park in the Strip.  The opening was destroyed by the IDF.

Maj. Roi, a commander in Sayeret Tzanhanim, stated “we found a logistic tunnel.  It didn’t pass over this area.  We blew it up – the opening has been destroyed and we intend to do this in every place we get to.”

The Paratrooper Brigade and the 7th Brigade also found a tunnel opening and a weapons warehouse near a university, uncovering chemicals, RPGs, and explosives, among other objects.

The commander of the 202nd Battalion, Lt. Col. Almog stated “we uncovered a very significant tunnel opening seemingly leading to a tunnel system.  We’ll continue to destroy all the infrastructure we find.”

“All of this is further evidence of the Hamas terrorist organization’s cynical use of facilities and the civilian population as human shields for the terror group’s needs,” said the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit.   



Israel Gears Up For The Prosecution Of Oct 7 Perpetrators

The government’s legal advisor, Gail Baharav Miara, and the state attorney Amit Isman published an announcement on Tuesday evening (7th) regarding preparations for the trials of the Hamas terrorists caught in Israel after October 7.

“The State of Israel will not put up with the murder, kidnapping, and injury of civilians and members of the security forces, and with the destruction of communities,” it said.  “Besides the activity on the operational and political level, and for the return of the abductees since October 7, intensive activity has been carried out in the legal field.”

“The activity is carried out from an overall view of the criminal terrorist attack, in all its aspects, national and international.  This, with the aim of investigating and conducting legal proceedings against those who carried out these atrocities, planned them and were involved in them, wherever their place of residence may be,” the statement continued.

According to their statements, “the State of Israel will work to prosecute terrorists who have been caught or will be caught and will demand punishments that reflect the severity of the atrocities committed.  “This is an unusual and unprecedented event in its scope, and the law enforcement system must deal with the challenges of the complex investigation of the criminal acts of terrorism, as well as with the complex legal issues that arise from these acts.”

“For obvious reasons, primarily the desire not to disrupt the ongoing investigations, it is not possible to detail the activities being carried out on this issue.  It can be said at this stage that the atrocities are being investigated in close cooperation with the Shin Bet [Israel Security Agency], the Israel Police, and the IDF and that the investigation is being done under the close supervision of the State Attorney and his staff, and under the supervision of the legal advisor to the government.”

 Baharav Miara and Amit Isman revealed that they had established joint and united work teams of the various bodies, in which the most senior and experienced officials in the law enforcement system are participating.  The teams regularly report on the progress of the work at the investigative and legal level, nationally and internationally, to the legal adviser to the government and the state attorney.

In the meantime, the work of collecting evidence (including digital media) from all the scenes is centralized by the Israel Police, and for this purpose, it has assigned experienced forces, unprecedented in their scope, led by the head of the investigation and intelligence division of the Police.  At the same time as the collection of evidence progresses, the Ministry of Justice – the legal and advisory system for the government and the state attorney’s office, is promoting benevolent solutions to all the complex legal issues and questions that arise.

According to them, there are thousands of victims as well as a wide range of scenes where horrific acts of terrorism were committed, and extensive efforts are being made to optimally collect all the necessary evidence, in the most professional, fast, and sensitive way possible.

The task of identifying the areas and locating the missing, the task of investigating, bringing the terrorists to justice, and punishing them with all severity, is a task of national and international importance.  They say in their statement that in the largest terrorist attack in the history of the State of Israel, thousands of terrorists carried out mass and systematic massacres of civilians and soldiers, which included, according to the information in the hands of the investigating authorities – torture, abuse, rape, burning people alive, mutilation of bodies, destruction of settlements and looting.  At the same time, the terrorist organizations fired indiscriminate rocket fire at civilian population concentrations in Israel.  

“The dimensions of the destruction and devastation are enormous and also included the abduction of over 240 people to the Gaza Strip, the vast majority of them civilians, including toddlers, children, women, and the elderly, and the murder of over 1,400 civilians and members of the security forces, including citizens of about 40 foreign countries.  Thousands more were injured,” it added.

During the fighting, the security forces eliminated many of the terrorists, and others who were involved in the murderous attacks were captured.



Israel Sees Surge In Immigration Interest From US And France Since Oct. 7

Israel is bracing for a significant increase in Jewish immigration, or aliyah, in the coming year, according to Aliyah and Integration Minister Ofir Sofer in a statement his ministry published on Tuesday (7th).  There has been a striking rise in the number of people exploring the possibility of immigration to Israel, with a 149% increase in France, and an 81% increase in North America, according to the minister.

Sofer conveyed the country’s readiness to face what he described as “a state of emergency” due to the rise in anti-Semitic events as a result of Operation Swords of Iron in Israel.

According to the statement, “the minister has been actively engaged in emergency discussions with key security and international agencies.”  He added that reports from Jewish leaders around the world highlight a sharp rise in anti-Semitic attacks, especially against young Jews in educational settings.

France in particular, saw an unprecedented increase in anti-Semitic attacks, with the past month’s incidents surpassing the peak numbers recorded in 2022.  Sofer has instructed his ministry’s professionals to prepare for a large wave of immigrants, reflecting a heightened sense of unity and a collective desire to support Israel.  “We are in a state of emergency,” the minister stated in the ministry’s release.  “The reports I have been receiving are very concerning.  Our goal now is to strengthen the ties between us and support the communities that stand with Israel.”

Emphasizing the urgency and solidarity, he noted, “Precisely now, we are seeing a surge in the number of people interested in aliyah.  The waves of unity and Jewish solidarity are bolstering the aliyah movement and strengthening the State of Israel.”

Sofer also reassured that new arrivals would be met with adequate support systems to ensure smooth integration.  “The State of Israel awaits everyone,” he added.

“That said, Israel is actually seeing a decrease in aliyah in 2023: In July, a report from the Jewish Agency for Israel, obtained by The Jerusalem Post revealed a significant drop in aliyah from Western countries to Israel during the first half of 2023, even as numbers from Russia showed a notable rise.  This trend aligned with the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, which appeared to be a major contributing factor to the fluctuation in migration statistics.”

The number of immigrants from Western European countries arriving in Israel during January-June 2023 was recorded at 889, marking a decrease of 44% compared to the same period in the previous year.  Country-specific data portrays a sharper downturn.  French aliyah, for example, fell by 59% to 393 immigrants, and from Britain, the number dropped by 40% to 171 immigrants.

In contrast, the data shows a significant surge in aliyah from Russia.  Amidst the escalating Russian-Ukrainian conflict, the number of immigrants from Russia rose sharply, marking a 32% increase with 22,855 immigrants compared to the same period in the previous year.

According to the Jewish Agency, about 700 immigrants arrived during October 2023 – when Israel was at war for most of the month – while in October 2022, 5,773 new immigrants arrived in Israel, 4,553 of them from Russia.