News Digest — 12/19/22

Jerusalem’s Mayor Lights Hanukkah Candles At The Western Wall

Candle lighting for the first night of Hanukkah took place Sunday evening (18th) in the presence of the rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz; the Mayor of Jerusalem, Mr. Moshe Lion; MK May Golan (Likud); Director of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation Mordechai Eliav and the general public.

Rabbi Rabinowitz said at Sunday evening’s (18th) ceremony: “Whoever makes their way to the modest plaza at the front of the ancient stones and joins the tens of thousands who come to the Western Wall every day, sees that the Western Wall continues to be a place of connection and unity.”

“They see a place where prayers of every kind are recited alongside each other.  They see additional prayers and those that spontaneously erupt from the heart.  Everyone is attracted to the Western wall and to the light that shines from it onto the nation and out to the entire world.  This year again, we will light the menorah of the Western Wall Plaza every night of Hanukkah.”

“Rabbis and leaders, the public, people from Israel and from the Diaspora will stand together and be blessed by the light of the candles, the light of the Western Wall, the light of unity and humility, the light of belonging and solidarity which will continue to illuminate humanity for all eternity.”

Mayor of Jerusalem, Mr. Moshe Lion added: “it is a huge privilege for me to light the first Hanukkah candle here at the Western Wall, at the remnant of our Temple, where the miracle happened, in Jerusalem, the capital of a free and independent Israel, and to bless – with great joy and wholeheartedly – He who has granted us life and sustained us, and brought us to this time.”

Hanukkah is a festival of light, a festival of miracles, a festival of bravery.  But the bravery of Hanukkah is not that of soldiers or of physical courage.  The bravery of the Hasmoneans is of learners in a study hall [beit-midrash] who decided to fight for the privilege of living and returning the glory of Israel’s monarchy.”



Erdan Lights Hanukkah Candles In New York: ‘When We Are United Evil Cannot Prevail’

Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan, on Sunday night (18th) lit the first candle in the world’s tallest menorah with the mayor of New York City, on Fifth Avenue.

After lighting the candle, Ambassador Erdan said, “The story of Hanukkah is one of victory of light over darkness.  Our enemies tried to erase our Jewish identity but we refused to surrender and let them win.  With faith and determination, the few defeated the many.”

“Since then every year, we light the Hanukkah candles by our windows and in public places like here on Fifth Avenue to publicize the miracle and to show the world that we are proud to be Jews and we are not afraid to show it,” he continued.

“But friends, today in a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise, we are once again fighting the darkness and fighting for our religion and culture.  But this time, we are not fighting alone. Standing with us here is the mayor of New York City, Eric Adams, in the city with the most Jews in the Diaspora.  In the hardest times, our communities have stood by one another in the face of oppression and racism.  And now our communities’ age-old covenant must be re-forged.  When we are united, evil cannot prevail.  And evil will not prevail.  As the Rebbe taught us, ‘a little bit of light can dispel much darkness,’ said Erdan.

“As I light this menorah, symbolizing the miracles in our history, we pray to God to continue to see miracles today, and in our future,” he concluded.



Hamas, Islamic Jihad Call To Step Up ‘Resistance’ Attacks Against Israel

Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) leaders  have called for stepping up attacks against Israel, especially in the West Bank.

The call was made during a meeting in Beirut between Saleh al-Arouri, deputy chairman of the Hamas Politburo, and PIJ Secretary-General Ziyad al-Makhaleh.

The meeting took place on Saturday night (17th) and was attended by several representatives of the two Iranian-backed Islamist groups.

It took place amid mounting violence in the West Bank and of a Palestinian Authority security crackdown on members of the two groups.

It also came ahead of the formation of a new Israeli governing coalition headed by Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu.

“The two sides affirmed the joint cooperation in strengthening and activating the resistance of our people in all of Palestine in the face of the Israeli occupation and criminality,” Hamas said in a statement after the meeting.  “They also emphasized the importance of rallying around the resistance in all its forms.

Hamas and PIJ use the term “resistance” to refer to the use of violence and armed attacks against Israel.

Hamas said the two sides stressed the importance of “confronting Zionist schemes that aim to undermine the resistance and liquidate the Palestinian cause.”

Meanwhile, Abu Obeida, spokesman for Izzadin al-Qassam, the so-called military wing of Hamas, on Sunday (18th) hinted that his group was planning to kidnap IDF soldiers.

“The decision to increase the number of soldiers held by the Izzadin al-Qassam Brigades remains effective, and is being carried out,” he said in an interview with a Hamas-affiliated website to mark the 35th anniversary of the founding of Hamas.

He was referring to the remains of IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, who were killed during the 2014 Israel-Hamas war.

“The Israeli enemy will regret its intransigence regarding a new prisoner-exchange deal,” he said, regarding Israel’s alleged refusal to release thousands of Palestinian security prisoners held in Israeli jails in return for the bodies of the soldiers.

Two Israeli civilians who reportedly entered the Gaza Strip on their own, Hisham al-Sayed and Avera Mengistu, are also being held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip.  

Last week, Hamas Yahya Sinwar said his group would give Israel “a limited time to complete the [prisoner exchange] deal.”  Otherwise, Hamas “will close the file of the four enemy prisoners forever and find another way to liberate our prisoners,” he said in a speech to mark the Hamas anniversary.  

Abu Obeida said in the interview that the Izzadin al-Qassam Brigades “forms the nucleus of the Palestinian Liberation Army.”

The rising tensions and violence in the West Bank was the most significant action in the past 15 years and would have “strategic consequences on the future of the Zionist entity,” he said.

Addressing the Palestinians in the West Bank and Jerusalem, Abu Obeida urged them to “continue escalating the resistance because we are facing an existential battle.”

In a related development, a committee representing several Palestinian factions in the West Bank on Sunday (18th) called on Palestinians to “target the settlements with all available means and tools until the settlers no longer feel safe, and leave the Palestinian territories.”



Suspect In Friday’s Shooting Attack Arrested

Border Police and IDF forces Sunday morning (18th) arrested a suspect in Friday’s (16th) shooting attack near Havat Gilad in Samaria.

The IDF stated that the suspect has been identified as Nasser Nakiv, a 47-year-old resident of  Nablus.  The detainee was previously involved in another shooting attack and had served time in an Israeli prison as a member of the Tanzim terrorist organization.

Nakiv’s son was also arrested on suspicion of involvement in Friday’s (16th) shooting attack. 

In the shooting at an Israeli vehicle, one of the bullets hit the driver’s headrest.  He was not injured.

A preliminary investigation revealed that the driver was traveling from Elon Moreh to Emanuel.  After the driver turned towards Havat Gilad, a terrorist fired at him and fled towards Nablus.  One of the bullets went through the windshield and hit the driver’s headrest, but miraculously the driver was not hurt.

Samaria Regional Council chairman Yossi Dagan congratulated security forces on the capture of the suspect.

“On behalf of the residents of Samaria and the entire nation of Israel, I thank the IDF, the Shabak and the security system for the quick and efficient action,” Dagan said.  “I was there at the scene of the attack on Friday (16th) and it was a step away from becoming an incident with fatalities.  It was a great miracle that the incident ended without casualties.  Catching the targeted terrorist immediately is of great importance.  The settlements in Samaria and the entire nation of Israel are strong, we will never break.”



West Bank’s Maccabee Palaces Must Be Israel National Parks, Settlers Say

Israeli visitors who want to walk in the footsteps of the Maccabees and see one of the remnants of their seats of power are also forced to navigate the geopolitics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

This is because the site of the palaces of the Maccabean High Priest Yohanan, also known as John Hyrcanus, and his son Alexander Jannaeus are located on the edge of the Palestinian city of Jericho.

The remnants of the palaces, with their ritual baths and the ancient Hasmonean synagogue, which King Herod converted into his winter palace, are located in Area C of the West Bank, which is under IDF military and civilian control.

Israelis, as a result, have to travel over a half a mile through Area A, which is forbidden to them, before they can wander among the ruins, which include remnants of courtyards with pillars and the hill where King Herod’s throne was located.

At present, Israelis can only visit through organized tours that are coordinated with the army.

Foreign tourists, in contrast, can enter through Jericho to see the palaces of the ancient Jewish warriors who were at the heart of events upon which the Hanukkah holiday that began on Sunday night (18th) is based.

“We may expect that the new government will turn it into a national park and open it to the general public,” said Binyamin Regional Council deputy chairman Raful Engel.  The ruins are located within his council’s boundaries.  The council, along with the right-wing archaeological group Shomrim Al HaNetzach, have worked to preserve the site.

One entire section of the ruins has essentially been lost because it is located in Area A, which is under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority, Engel said.

Israel has to pressure the PA to preserve the part of the site that is under its control, he said.

At the site, Moshe Goodman of Shomrim Al HaNetzach pointed to a row of small homes that ran along the edge of Area C.  They essentially were built on the site, and behind them was the remnant of an additional Herodian-era palace, he said.

“History is simply being erased here,” Goodman said, adding that it ultimately robs the global community of its collective history.

“This heritage must be preserved for future generations,” he said.

To get to the site, reporters passed by a half-built structure and had to work their way around a construction crane.

“The miracle of Hanukkah, in which the menorah at the Temple in Jerusalem was lit for eight days with one jar of oil sufficient for only one night, is only one aspect of the overall story,” Goodman said.

“To solely focus on that and not on the overall victory of the Hasmoneans over the Greeks and their importance in Jewish history is like celebrating the fight against the British in the 1940s without celebrating Israel’s victory in the War of Independence,” he added.

The Binyamin Regional Council hopes that the Religious Zionist Party’s plans to transfer aspects of Israeli civilian life in the West Bank, now under the IDF’s Civil Administration, to relevant ministries, will help them in their battle to preserve the Hasmonean site by placing it under the Antiquities Authority.