News Digest — 12/29/20

Amb. Friedman: More Building Is Right Response To Esther Horgan’s Murder

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said Sunday (27th) in a condolence visit to the Horgan family that the only proper response to the Palestinian terrorist who murdered their mother, Esther, last week is to expand her Samarian community of Tal Menashe.

Speaking to Esther’s husband, Benjamin, he said, “Sadly, the murder of your wife Esther will lead to the enlargement of the community, it will be the effect of the murder.  It is a shame that it needs to happen like this.  She was murdered because she belonged to the Jewish people, and the only correct response is to remain here and thrive.”

Talk of construction in the face of terrorism is a right-wing mainstay in Israel.  Before becoming ambassador, Friedman, a partner in a law firm, was the volunteer head of a charity that supported the Benjamin region village of Bet El, and was an outspoken supporter of the settlement movement.  He was also a significant voice who helped encourage President Donald Trump to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the American Embassy there from Tel Aviv in 2018.

Horgan was killed Sunday, December 20, in the nature reserve right next to her home in Tal Menashe.  The Shin Bet captured the 40-year-old murderer four days later.  He has already confessed to the crime, telling the investigators that he had waited in the forest for a potential victim, caught Esther out on a power-walk, and struck her head with a rock several times before hiding the body and fleeing the scene.

The man from a village near Jenin, has a history of anti-Israel activity.  It is possible that he acted alone in this case, as no terrorist organization has claimed that the murder was done in its name.



Gaza Terror Groups To Carry Out Large Military Drill

Palestinian terror groups are expected to carry out a large-scale military drill in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday (29th).

Twelve armed groups will participate in the joint drill, which “comes in the context of enhancing cooperation and joint action between the resistance groups to raise their combat readiness permanently and continuously,” according to a statement by the Gaza-based joint Operations Room, a room consisting of various terrorist factions.

The Hamas-controlled Ministry of Interior on Monday (28th) said the drill would begin at 10: a.m. and that the sea would be closed to all residents of the Gaza Strip, including fishermen, for its duration.  In addition, several security and police headquarters will be evacuated for 24-hours.

The main groups expected to participate in the drill belong to Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Fatah.

According to the groups, the drill aims to send a “message of deterrence” to Israel.  “The main message is that the Palestinian resistance groups are ready to respond to any Israeli aggression,” a Hamas official in the Gaza Strip told reporters.

Abu Mujahed, a spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committees, one of the groups scheduled to participate in the drill, said it would “carry new surprises and messages to the Zionist enemy.”

The Palestinians will see how the performance of the “resistance groups have developed their capabilities,” he said.

The drill will show “that the resistance has an army that believes in unity in confronting the Zionist enemy and carries a message to the enemy that any aggression against our people will be met with a unified response,” Abu Mujahed said.



PA Says Loyalists Of Deposed Fatah Strongman Undermining Abbas

A Palestinian Authority official says deposed Palestinian strongman Mohammed Dahlan is funding opposition to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, The Jerusalem Post reported Monday (28th).

A Fatah activist told news reporter Khaled Abu Toameh that over the past few weeks Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces loyal to Abbas arrested several Palestinian activists suspected of having contacts with Dahlan, the former head of Palestinian security in Gaza, who fled to the United Arab Emirates after the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah accused him of murdering Yasser Arafat in 2011.

Palestinian sources this week accused Dahlan of providing funding for dozens of disgruntled Fatah members as part of his effort to undermine Abbas.

“The money coming from the UAE is being used to purchase weapons,” the sources told Abu Toameh.  “Dahlan wants to replace Abbas and that’s why he’s recruiting many Fatah activists.”

“Dahlan has become very active, especially after the signing of the peace agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates,” a Palestinian official added.

In October clashes broke out in Ramallah and several other locations after Palestinian police broke up a rally in support of Dahlan and arrested several of his followers.

Over the weekend Palestinian police arrested Hani Salloum, a Fatah activist suspected of supporting Dahlan, who was also arrested five years ago for the crime of naming his newborn son after Dahlan.

Last week a lawyer representing 165 Palestinian Authority employees asked the European Union to help resolve a pay dispute after Abbas reportedly cut their salaries because they are Dahlan supporters.

While in the UAE, Dahlan became close to Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed.  When the UAE normalized relations with Israel in September, Dahlan was one of those condemned by the PA for having had a hand behind the scenes in making the deal that they called “a stab in the back” of their cause.

Despite the concern from the PA, a Palestinian public opinion poll published two weeks ago showed that at best Dahlan has the support of only 10% of Palestinians if elections were held now to replace Abbas.



More Than 20,000 Olim From 70 Countries Moved To Israel In 2020

The Jewish Agency for Israel estimates that it will have assisted more than 20,000 new immigrants from 70 different countries make aliyah by the end of the year despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Aliyah and Integration Ministry and the Interior Ministry helped in the effort, the Jewish Agency said. 

According to the Jewish Agency, during the January-November period this year, some 10,200 people arrived from the Commonwealth of Independent States, the former Soviet Union; 3,120 from Western Europe, including 2,220 from France; 2,850 from North America, including 2,550 from the US; 1,500 from Latin America; 280 from South Africa; and 90 from Australia and New Zealand.  The total number of olim from Ethiopia in 2020 is expected to be 1,200, including 650 in December.

The Jewish Agency estimates that Israel can expect an influx of about 250,000 olim to Israel over the next three to five years, assuming the government implements a national plan for such a large wave of immigration and absorption.

Meanwhile, the Jewish Agency continues to be the Jewish world’s first responder, prepared to address emergencies in Israel and to rescue Jews from countries where they are at risk.



Pro-Israel Group Targets Warnock In New Ad

The political arm of the largest pro-Israel membership group in the United States launched an ad campaign on Dec. 23 targeting Rev. Raphael Warnock, the Democratic candidate for Senate in the Georgia runoff.

The 30-second spot from Christians United for Israel Action Fund takes aim at both Warnock’s record of statements critical of Israel and his recent attack on Evangelical Christians, traditionally staunch backers of Israel.  

The ad calls him “Radical Raphael Warnock” and said he is “preaching a gospel of hate.”  The voiceover says “Warnock demonizes Christians who stand with Israel,” a reference to his sermon after the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem in 2018 in which he accused “mealy-mouthed evangelical preachers” of being “responsible for the mess that we find ourselves in…misquoting and misinterpreting the Scriptures talking about peace.”

A spokesperson for the group said the ad is backed by a six-figure digital and social media-buy, targeting pro-Israel voters in Georgia, where the organization has approximately 500,000 members, according to the spokesperson.

Last month, Pastor Jay Bailey, CUFI’s Georgia state director, published an op-ed criticizing Warnock’s “condemnation of Israel” as disgusting.

The organization announced this week it had reached 10 million members.

Warnock is locked in a tight race with incumbent Senator Kelly Loeffler (R.).  The runoff election will take place on January 5.