News Digest — 12/19/19

IDF Retaliates After Rocket Attack, Bombs Hamas Weapons Factory

Overnight, a rocket was launched from the Gaza Strip at Israeli territory, the IDF reported on Thursday (19th).

In response, IDF fighter jets struck a Hamas weapons manufacturing site in the northern Gaza Strip.

The IDF says it 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 civilians,” it said in a statement.

Israel’s southern residents have endured ongoing rocket attacks from the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, and are demanding the government take stronger action to stop the onslaught.

On Wednesday (18th), an Israeli who lives near the Strip, Adele Raemer, spoke at the UN Security Council’s monthly meeting on the Middle East.  She was a guest of U.S. Ambassador Kelly Craft. It marked the first time someone from southern Israel had appeared before the council.

“Have you ever had to run for your life?” Raemer, whose bedroom was destroyed by a rocket during Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014, asked the council.

“When I hear the Red Alert early warning system for incoming rockets, I know that I have between 5-10 seconds to get to someplace safe – regardless of where I am in my little kibbutz house.  If I am out, I either throw myself next to a wall – or just lie down wherever I am, cover my head and hope that whatever falls doesn’t fall too close.”

“During the 11 rounds of escalated rocket fire that we have had in the past year and a half, there were numerous alerts every single day,” she recalled.  “1,800 rockets were launched at our communities during this period. What would you do if this number of projectiles was launched over your border?” she asked.  



Massive 50-Member Arab Terrorist Squad, Linked To Teen Murder In Samaria, Captured By Israeli Forces

Israeli security forces said on Wednesday (18th) that they had captured a massive terrorist squad of some 50 members in connection with a deadly attack in August at a fresh water spring in Samaria.  They reportedly acted under the umbrella of the PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) terrorist organization.

In the bombing attack Rina Shnerb, 17 was murdered, and her father Eitan, and her brother Dvir, were wounded.

The three family members were visiting a spring named in memory of terror victim Dani Gonen, who was murdered there, by Arab terrorists in 2015.

In September, the IDF announced that three terrorists who were responsible for the attack had been arrested.

However, the military now says that there was a larger terror cell that was behind the August attack.

“The squad was apprehended as part of a wide-scale operation in the Ramallah and Kalkilya districts in Palestinian Authority territory,” said Wednesday’s (18th) Israeli statement, noting that the IDF, Israel Police, Border Police, and the Shin Bet intelligence agency had all taken part in uncovering the large terror operation.

“The IDF will continue to operate in order to preserve the security in the area, thwart any terror attempts, and arrest terrorists,” said the Israeli military statement.

Investigations also found that the terror cell was involved in two shooting attacks near the Israeli community of Beit El, north of Jerusalem, a year and a half ago.

During the Shin Bet’s initial questioning of the three terrorists involved in the bombing attack whose capture was announced in September, information was also obtained leading to the discovery of various hidden weapons linked to the PFLP cell, including M-16 assault rifles, an AK-47 assault rifle, a Galil assault rifle, a Carbine rifle, an Uzi-type machine gun, pistols, a silencer, material used to assemble bombs, remote detonators, telescopic rifle sights, and large quantities of ammunition.



‘Erdogan Turns Blind Eye As Hamas Plots Attacks On Israel From Turkish Soil

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is turning a blind eye to the fact that senior Hamas officials are actively plotting terrorist attack against Israel, British daily, The Telegraph reported on Wednesday (18th).

According to the report, the interrogations of several terror suspects derived that senior Hamas operatives are using Turkey’s largest city to plan and direct attacks in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem.

Israel has repeatedly warned Turkey that officials with Hamas, an Islamist terror group from the school of the Muslim Brotherhood (also sponsored by Iran) is using its soil to plot attacks.  Still the warnings seem to fall on deaf ears.

Last week, Erdogan met with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in Ankara and declared his country “will keep on supporting our brothers in Palestine,” the report said.

This support of an organization designated by many Western nations, including Israel, the United States and the European Union, as a terrorist group further seems to be in breach of a 2015 US-brokered deal with Israel, by which Turkey was supposed to stop Hamas planning attacks from its soil.  

Ankara has consistently failed to honor the agreement, Israeli officials said.

The report further quoted Israeli and Egyptian intelligence sources as saying that about a dozen senior Hamas operatives have moved to Istanbul from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip in the past year alone.

The report noted that so far, Israel has refrained from acting against Hamas operatives in Turkey, saying Jerusalem may be wary of the diplomatic fallout should it pursue a targeted assassination on a NATO member’s soil, as well as over what such a move may mean to its diplomatic relations with Turkey.

Israel and Turkey were once close allies but relations have soured over the last decade as Turkey has gone from a secular government to a more Islamist government under Erdogan.



Largest Menorah In Israel Is Inaugurated In Sderot

A giant Hanukkah menorah was inaugurated Tuesday (17th) in Sderot at a festive event in the presence of Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog and Sderot Mayor Alon David.

The 40-foot-high menorah is now the largest in Israel, and was donated by the Dutch organization Christians For Israel (CVI) to show solidarity with residents on the Gaza border in light of rocket fire.  The event was also attended by Dutch Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs and CVI Chairman Mr. Pim van der Hoff, whose organization is also committed, through Keren Hayesod, to supporting Jewish Agency programs for Gaza border residents.

Chairman of the Jewish Agency, Isaac Herzog said: “This huge “hannukiah” that made its way to Sderot all the way from the Netherlands is a symbol of the tremendous support Gaza border residents also receive from friends of Israel across the globe.  The solidarity that members of Christians for Israel wanted to express with Sderot and the surrounding communities is heart-warming. Let’s all hope the light of candles brings resilience and quiet to all who live here. The Jewish Agency will continue to support Gaza border residents, together with our partners at the Jewish Federations of North America and Keren Hayesod.”



Gravestones desecrated In Slovakia Jewish Cemetery

Vandals have desecrated dozens of graves in an 18th-century Jewish cemetery in northern Slovakia, local officials said Tuesday (17th), according to AFP.

59 gravestones including some dating back 200 years were pushed over in the town of Namestovo, the cemetery’s general manager Karol Kurtulik said.

“When I discovered this, my legs went weak.  It’s a barbaric act,” he told AFP, warning of an increasing spread of anti-Semitism through “fake news and online conspiracy theories.”

Local police said they had launched a criminal probe into the incident, which caused at least $56,000 in damages.

Kurtulik said efforts were underway to help raise funds for repairs.  

“Many locals and people across Slovakia contacted me offering to help,” he added.

Some 105,000 Slovakian Jews, or 77 percent of the Jewish population in the country, were killed during World War II.

Only about 5,000 Jews live in Slovakia today, according to the Central Union of Jewish Communities in Bratislava.

Earlier this month, 107 gravestones were vandalized in a cemetery in Westhoffen, west of Strasbourg, France.

Last month, gravestones in the Jewish section of a churchyard in Randers, northwestern Denmark, were vandalized with green paint and knocked over.

In October, four headstones at a Jewish cemetery in the United Kingdom were destroyed.