News Digest — 12/14/22

Right-Wing Lawmakers To Launch Legislative Blitz Wednesday

Less than 24 hours after the right-wing bloc replaced the Knesset Speaker, Tuesday (13th), the Likud and its allies are expected to launch a legislative blitz in the Israeli parliament, laying the groundwork for a new government before Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu’s mandate to form a coalition expires.

President Isaac Herzog granted Netanyahu a ten-day extension to his mandate, which had been set to end this past Sunday (11th).

While the Likud has signed coalition deals or preliminary agreements with all five of its rightest allies – Shas, United Torah Judaism, Otzma Yehudit, the Religious Zionist party, and Noam – in order to ensure that the terms of the agreements are fulfilled, the new coalition must pass four pieces of legislation prior to the establishment of a new government.

The first step towards passing the bills in question was achieved Monday morning (12th), when Likud MK Yariv Levin was given the nod to be Knesset Speaker, replacing Yesh Atid’s Mickey Levy.  The actual vote was taken on Tuesday (13th).

The move guaranteed the right-wing bloc control over the Knesset’s agenda, and paved the way for a late-night preliminary reading in the Knesset plenum of the “Deri Law” – an amendment to Israel’s Basic Law on government, guaranteeing that Shas chief MK Aryeh Deri can serve as a minister.  

Right-wing lawmakers are slated to push through another series of critical votes Wednesday (14th), including forming key committees for the 25th Knesset which are necessary for moving forward with the four bills the coalition seeks to pass before a government is formed.

Along with the Deri Law, the right-wing bloc plans to pass the “Ben Gvir Law,” which would expand the Public Security Ministry, with significantly broader powers; the “Smotrich Law,” which will split control of the Defense Ministry’s Civil Administration from the Defense Minister’s portfolio, enabling the Religious Zionist Party to control settlement affairs without holding the Defense Ministry portfolio, and a bill limiting the ability of rogue MKs to establish break-away factions.



Israel Struck Iranian Arms Convoy Along Syrian-Iraq Border –  IDF Chief

Israel struck a convoy of trucks carrying Iranian weapons along the Syrian-Iraqi border last month, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi confirmed on Wednesday (14th).

Without specifying the exact timing, it appeared clear that he was referring to an attack within Syria, next to the Iraqi border, which the Wall Street Journal and various other media outlets attributed to Israel in early November, but which Israel did not take responsibility for at the time.

According to reports at the time, the caravan was moving Iranian weapons, likely including powerful missiles, from Iraq to Syria and a number of Revolutionary Guard Corps members and other Iranian-associated forces were killed.

Speaking at a conference at Reichman University, Kochavi said that the IDF had “perfect intelligence” to hit “Truck Number 8” out of a 25 truck caravan, because it knew that this truck was the one containing Iranian weapons.

Kochavi gave his example to show how crucial a revolution he took forward in connecting intelligence to operations, for Israel’s security, during his approximately four years as IDF chief.

He said that the IDF’s “war between wars” has not been hermetic and that sometimes Tehran has succeeded in smuggling weapons to Syria and Hezbollah in Lebanon, but that overall Iran’s dream of a “new Hezbollah” from the Syrian Golan Heights has been thwarted.

Likewise, he said that Hamas in Gaza has stayed out of a number of conflicts in the area because of the punishment it received from the IDF during the May 2021 Gaza War.

As examples, he noted that Hamas has not fired rockets from Gaza during the last eight months and that the IDF and security forces have regularly arrested Hamas agents in the West Bank.

Further, he emphasized that Hamas stayed out of the August round of fighting with Islamic Jihad.



Czech President Requests Removal Of Embassy To Jerusalem

Czech President Milos Zeman requested on Monday (12th) to move his country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in the coming months.

Zeman has asked Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala to approve the move before his term ends next March but could face opposition from the EU.

The President even suggested he and Fiala would visit Israel for the grand opening.

In an interview with Rádio Jornal in the Czech Republic, Zeman said that he assumed that this time, the Czech government would approve his request for the transfer of the embassy after the previous prime minister opposed the move.

According to estimations, Zeman’s statement was intended to put pressure on the Czech government because he considers the embassy a legacy he seeks to leave behind.

Prime Minister Fiala had previously signed, as a member of parliament in the Czech opposition, a petition calling for the transfer of the embassy.

However, Fiala faced several obstacles: The process is not supported by the Czech coalition, and the dependence of Prague on the European Union – in terms of policy against Russia, its ongoing energy crisis, and other issues – means there will be great difficulty in carrying such a move to effect – and it is contrary to popular opinion in the European Union.



Israel’s ‘Iron Fist’ Vehicle Protection System Completes Tests

The Ministry of Defense Tank and APC Directorate, the IDF Ground Forces, and the Elbit Systems Land Division on Monday (12th) jointly announced the completion of a successful series of “Iron Fist” Active Protection System tests.

The defense system deployed to Eitan APCs, intercepted anti-tank threats in various challenging scenarios.

The “Iron Fist” system developed by Elbit Systems is an advanced active protection system that provides 360-degree coverage against multi-range threats in open and urban environments.  In addition to its defensive capabilities, the “Iron Fist” provides APC teams with fire course location to close the fire circle in multi-threat combat arenas.  The system includes an electro-optic sensor suit, searching and tracking radar, and a reaction suit with launchers and interceptors, neutralizing threats at a safe distance from the APC.

Head of the Defense Tank and APC Directorate in the Israel Ministry of Defense, Brigadier General Oren Giber said: “The Tank and APC Directorate is currently completing its preparation for the delivery of the self-developed Eitan advanced 8×8 wheeled APC to the IDF.  The “Iron Fist” system is an important part of this project.  It is currently in advanced stages of development and deployment to the Eitan APC and the bulldozer, undergoing rigorous trials to ensure its suitability for the battlefield.  The “Iron Fist” will substantially improve the protection of the Eitan APC and enhance the vehicle’s maneuverability in combat while protecting combat soldiers.”

IDF Ground Forces Chief of Staff, Brig. Gen. Aviram Sela said: “The “Iron Fist” system is part of the IDF Ground Forces’ efforts to enhance protection measures for forces on the battlefield.  The system will expand the operational capabilities of the “Eitan” wheeled APC and bulldozers combat teams.  This series of successful tests is a significant milestone in the joint development process for the Ground Forces, the Ministry of Defense, and Elbit Systems.”

General Manager of Elbit Systems Land, Yehuda (Udi) Vered said : “We are proud to provide the IDF with an advanced active protection technology, which is a significant contribution to force structure buildup, to the safety of the crew and the continuity of the mission.  The “iron Fist” Active Protection System is unique, being a lightweight system that can be installed on a variety of fighting vehicles such as armored personnel carriers, bulldozers and more.”



The Unsung Story Of How Denmark Saved Its Jews From Nazi Clutches – Yigal Cohen

As a child, one of the most meaningful inspiring events for me was seeing the Danish boat at Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum and learning about the amazing story behind it.

This is the story of one awe-inspiring society – Danish society – that during one of humanity’s lowest points – the Second World War and the Holocaust of the Jewish people – chose to show compassion, morality, resourcefulness, and extraordinary courage above all.

The Nazis invaded Denmark in April 1940.  Right from the beginning of the occupation, the Danes, led by King Christian X, opposed the implementation of the Nazis’ racist policy toward the Jews, sparing them from any form of harassment or discrimination.

However, at the end of September 1943, the Nazis decided to apply their “Final Solution” to the Jews of Denmark as well.

From this point forward, the Jews were hidden in every nook and cranny, in large part thanks to the local resistance, and were eventually smuggled to the country’s eastern shore right under the Germans’ noses.  From there, thousands of Jews were smuggled in fishing boats to neutral Sweden within days.

Bottom line, despite two and a half years under Nazi occupation, the authorities and people of a European country managed in October 1943 to complete a heroic, and unfortunately unprecedented, operation to save 95% of their Jewish neighbors, friends and colleagues in one month.

Individual Righteous Among the Nations were scattered all throughout  Europe, but a whole nation?  As a child learning about this for the first time, I was left speechless, astonished and thrilled.

“Who knew what crossroads a nation would come upon?” wondered Yitzhak Antek Zuckerman, one of the leaders of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. 

Well, describing the crossroads the Danish people faced as “dangerous and challenging” would be an understatement, and they succeeded with flying colors.

To this day, the memory of these events strengthens my faith in the spirit of man and the ability of human beings to make the right and moral choice even in the most desperate of times.

Thankfully, Danish Ambassador to Israel Anne Dorte Riggelsen also ascribed great importance to this chapter in the relations between the two peoples, and for the past two years, she’s been hard at work developing an educational program that touches on that rescue operation and the lessons that can be learned from it.

There is a great opportunity here to learn from this amazing story and present it as an educational model of true virtue for our children and our students in Israel and around the world.  A model that will serve as a source of inspiration of how society should behave.  A model for the exemplary society that we should aspire to become. Who knows what is to come here now, or in the future in a country that is constantly faced with complex and social challenges?

The Danish people taught us a lesson that is not celebrated much in the history of the Second World War and the Holocaust of the Jewish people, but deserves a place in the hearts of each of us who desire to live in a democratic and healthy society – standing up bravely to a brutal regime and stating firmly: “Hands off our Jews!”

This statement stems from generations of civic education and the internalization of concepts such as collective responsibility and solidarity.

Let this be an extremely important educational lesson for us, and especially for the younger generation.