News Digest — 12/13/22

Itamar Ben-Gvir Pushes Back On US Demand For Accountability

National Security Minister-designate MK Itamar Ben-Gvir pushed back Tuesday morning (13th), after the US State Department called for “accountability” following the accidental shooting of a Palestinian Arab teenager during a gun battle between IDF forces and Arab terrorists in the northern Samaria city of Jenin.

“The comments by the American government are distressing,” Ben-Gvir said.

“When hundreds of bullets were fired by terrorists at IDF soldiers and Border Police officers, we cannot judge our soldiers as if they are working in a laboratory situation.”

“Without a doubt the teenage girl’s death is a tragedy, but there is also no doubt that any other army in the world would have completed the kind of operation we carried out in Jenin with dozens of hostiles killed, and not with measured, pinpoint operations.”

“I call on the residents of Jenin and the civilian population there not to leave their homes when terrorists are shooting at IDF soldiers.  I give my backing to the IDF soldiers and Border Police officers.  They have the right to defend themselves.”

On Monday, (12th) State Department spokesperson Ned Price called for “accountability” following the death of a 16-year-old Palestinian Arab girl during Sunday night (11th) firefight clashes in Jenin.



Hamas: PA Won’t Let Us Celebrate In West Bank

Hamas claimed on Monday (12th) that the Palestinian Authority security forces have banned its supporters from holding rallies in the West Bank to mark the 35th anniversary of the founding of the Islamist group.

The ban coincides with the ongoing security crackdown on Hamas supporters and members by the PA security forces.

The PA security forces have in the past banned Hamas from holding rallies in the West Bank to celebrate anniversaries.

Hamas, established in 1987, is expected to hold a major rally in the Gaza Strip later this week to mark its birthday.

“Hamas strongly condemns the security forces of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank for banning anniversary celebrations,” read a statement issued by Hamas.  “The desperate attempts by the Palestinian Authority to prevent the activities of Hamas will not succeed in removing the idea of resistance from the hearts of our people.”

Hamas also denounced the PA security services for arresting and summoning for interrogation supporters of the group in the West Bank.

The group called on the PA to stop its clampdown and release all Hamas supporters who were detained by the Palestinian security forces over the past few weeks.  Hamas also called on the PA to halt security coordination with the Israeli security forces, arguing that this was being done “at the expense of our people and their national principles.”

Senior Hamas official Hussam Badran revealed that the PA security forces were targeting not only Hamas supporters, but members of other Palestinian groups and “anyone who is active with the resistance against the occupation.”

“Political arrests have been going on since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority,” Badran said.  “These days, however, there is a major offensive against our people in the West Bank.”

The Hamas official described the PA security crackdown as a “stab in the back of the Palestinian national unity,” a reference to recurring failed attempts to end the dispute between the ruling Fatah faction headed by Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas.

The allegations come two months after Hamas and Fatah signed an agreement in Algiers to resolve the dispute.  Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmed said then that the agreement “will be implemented and will not remain ink on paper.”  The agreement was one of many signed between the two rival parties over the past 16 years, none of which was ever implemented.

A committee representing families of detainees held in PA prisons said that at least 11 Palestinians were taken into custody by the Palestinian security forces in the past 48 hours.  Another 18 Palestinians were summoned for interrogation, the committee said.

Most of those detained or summoned for interrogation are known as Hamas supporters, according to Palestinian sources.  The sources said that the Hamas supporters were warned by the Palestinian security forces against attempting to hold any public rallies to mark the Hamas anniversary.

Among those who received a warning were: Sheik Mohammed Nazzal, a resident of Qalqilya, and Ubay Hamadneh of Nablus, Amer Halaykeh of Hebron, and Hassan Abu al-Rub of Jenin.

According to the Palestinian Lawyers for Justice (human rights group), the PA security forces have arrested or summoned for interrogation more than 500 Palestinian activists since the beginning of the year.  The group called for ending the crackdown, noting that the activists were targeted because of their political affiliation.



Mossad Chief Reveals How Israeli Spy Eli Cohen Was Discovered

Mossad Director David Barnea on Monday (12th) attended the dedication of the Eli Cohen Museum in Herzliya, where he publicly revealed – for the first time – the last telegram that he received from the late Eli Cohen, prior to his capture.

In the telegram, which is dated February 19, 1965, the day on which he is estimated to have been captured, Mossad agent Cohen reports on a Syrian General Staff meeting held the previous evening with the participation of then Syrian President Amin Al-Hafez.

“Eli Cohen was among our best agents,” Barnea said.  “He continues to influence us and instill in us a fighting spirit, courage, values and devotion – even from the depths of history.”

“He is a source of inspiration not only to today’s agents but to all Mossad employees in their various positions.  We all learn from him, even today, from his Zionism, his sacrifice and his dedication.”

“The reason for Eli Cohen’s capture has always been controversial.  The issue has been subject to dispute for many years.

“I will honor this holy place and reveal, for the first time, following in-depth research that was carried out recently, that Eli Cohen was not captured due to the quantity of his transmissions or pressure from headquarters to transmit too frequently.”

“Eli Cohen was captured because his transmissions were simply intercepted and triangulated by the enemy.  This is now an intelligence fact.”

“Today the Mossad will give to the Museum the last telegram that Eli Cohen sent as a free man.  The telegram is dated February 19, 1965, the day of his capture, on which he reported about a discussion at the Syrian General Staff with the participation of then President Amin Al-Hafez.”

“The Mossad has worked, and will continue to work, to reveal intelligence and new details about the period in which Eli Cohen served in Syria, and will continue to work to bring his remains for burial in Israel,” Barnea concluded.  



Terrorist Freed In Exchange For Gilad Shalit Dies In Construction Accident

Two people were killed and four more injured in a construction accident northwest of Jerusalem Monday afternoon (12th).

At least six people, all of them workers employed at the site, were trapped after scaffolding collapsed from the ninth floor of a 12-story building under construction on HaRakefet Street in Givat Ze’ev.

Rescue teams and emergency medical responders from Magen David Adom (MDA)  and United Hatzalah were dispatched to the scene to recover and treat the injured.

Two of the victims pulled from the debris were declared dead at the scene, while a third victim suffered moderate injuries.  The remaining three victims all suffered light injuries.

“Large pieces of scaffolding collapsed at a construction site,” said United Hatzalah volunteers EMTs Yossi Guthold and Avi Yudakowsky, who were among the first responders at the scene.

“We treated five people who sustained varying degrees of injuries as a result of the collapse, and our ambulance team transported one of them to the hospital.  Firefighters pulled one person from the wreckage who was already dead, and there was nothing for us to do to treat him.”

Police officers are searching the debris for any other trapped workers.

According to a report by Channel 12, one of the victims killed in the collapse has been identified as a former terrorist who had been incarcerated in an Israeli prison.  He was freed as part of a prisoner exchange with the Hamas terrorist organization in 2011 to secure the release of captured IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.  

Israel released a total of 1,027 prisoners in exchange for Shalit’s return.

The names of the victims killed in the collapse have not been declared for publication at this time.

The injured workers have been identified as Arab residents of the Palestinian Authority-administered city of Bethlehem.



2,200-Year-Old Coins From Maccabean Period Discovered In Judean Desert

A wooden box containing 15 silver coins from the Maccabean period will be put on display at the Hasmonean Museum in Modi’in in honor of Israel’s Heritage Week which is set to be marked over Hanukkah.

The coins dating back to the years leading up to the Maccabean Revolt around 2,200 years ago, were discovered in the Wadi Muraqabat Caves in Nahal Darga in May of this year during an excavation project in the Judean Desert.

The excavation was carried out by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) in collaboration with the Jerusalem and Heritage Ministry in March-May 2022.  Among the many finds, an ancient wooden box was uncovered inside one of the caves.

Upon opening the box, the team of archaeologists discovered that the top half of the box was filled with loose soil, with small stones pressed into the undersides of the rim.  Underneath the soil, a large piece of purple cloth covered 15 silver coins, each one protected by a layer of wool.

The IAA reported that the uniform group of silver tetradrachm coins were minted by Ptolemy VI, King of Egypt, who reigned over Egypt at the same time as his uncle – Antiochus IV – reigned over the Seleucid  Empire.  The three earliest coins in the hoard were minted in 176 BCE, while the later coins in the hoard date from 171-170 BCE.  One of the coins featured a handwritten engraving of the name “Shalmai” in Aramaic script.

“It is interesting to imagine who the man was who fled and hid his private property there with the intention of returning,” said IAA researcher Dr. Eitan Klein of the discovery.  “It seems that due to the events of the time, the man was killed in battle and didn’t come back to take his property, leaving it for us to find 2,200 years later.”

Stressing the unique nature of the find, Klein added that it is “the first clear archaeological evidence that the caves of the Judean Desert were used as an area of activity for Jewish rebels or refugees in the days before the Maccabean Revolt, or at the start of it.”

The Maccabean Revolt was a Jewish rebellion led by the Maccabees against the Seleucid Empire and the influence their Hellenistic lifestyle was having over Jewish life.

The revolt lasted from 167-160 BCE but is considered to have officially ended in 134 BCE when the Maccabees gained independence.

The Maccabean revolt forms the basis of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, which celebrates the Maccabean victory over the Seleucid Empire.

Hanukkah begins Sunday the 18th and ends Monday the 26th. 



Brooklyn: Jewish Boys Chased By Attackers With Taser In Flatbush

A group of Jewish boys was chased by attackers firing a taser gun and shouting “Run Jews!  Get out of here!” in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn, according to the Shmira Jewish public safety group.

The incident took place on Avenue J and East 16th St., near the Flatbush Yeshiva and Touro College’s Lander College of Arts and Sciences.

Shmira shared surveillance camera footage from the scene on Twitter.  The footage shows a group of Jewish boys running down the street as a group of assailants run after them shouting.

The antisemitic attack is under investigation by the New York Police Department’s 70th Precinct and the Flatbush Shmira chapter.

The New York Police Department recently reported that in November, it dealt with 45 anti-Jewish incidents, which comprised 60% of all hate crimes during the month.

This is a 125% increase in antisemitic incidents in New York compared to the same month in 2021.

The incident in Flatbush comes days after a Jewish man was shot in the neck with a BB gun in the same neighborhood.  That came after a similar assault against an Orthodox man and his seven-year-old son in Staten Island a day earlier.

In September, a student was robbed in front of his yeshiva in Flatbush.  Days earlier, a man pulled a gun on a group of Brooklyn yeshiva students, telling the boys to “go home.”