News Digest — 12/29/23

2 Wounded, One Seriously In Stabbing Attack Near Jerusalem

One woman sustained moderate to severe injuries and a man suffered minor injuries in a stabbing attack at Mazmuria checkpoint near Har Homa in southern Jerusalem on Thursday night (28th).

A terrorist approached the two victims and stabbed them as they were standing at the checkpoint.

One of the wounded victims shot and killed the terrorist at the scene.

MDA medics provided the wounded with emergency treatment and evacuated them to Shaare Zedek hospital in Jerusalem.

An emergency medic from MDA’s motorcycle unit, Yosef Haim Israeli reported what he saw:

“When we arrived at the scene, we saw the two stabbing victims.  The young woman was sitting and the young man was walking around, both with stab wounds to their bodies.  We gave them initial medical treatment, which included stopping the bleeding, administering bandages and medication, and evacuated them to the hospital in stable condition.”

Just after Rosh Hashanah, there was an attempted stabbing at Mazmuria checkpoint that was thwarted when Border Police fired at the terrorist and neutralized him.

Since the beginning of the war with Hamas, there have been several attacks at checkpoints and against Border Police, at least one of them fatal.

Last week a female Border Police officer was moderately wounded in an attack with a vehicle at the junction of the village of Barta’a in Nahal Iron near Harish.  She suffered a lower-body injury and was evacuated to Hillel Yaffe Hospital in Hadera.

On November 7th, Border Policewoman Rose Elisheva Lublin was fatally stabbed at Herod’s Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City.

The attacker was shot and killed at the scene and was identified as a 16-year-old male from East Jerusalem.

Rose Lublim made aliyah from the United States in 2021 as a lone soldier.



Alleged Israeli Airstrikes Target Southern Syria, Damascus Twice Within Hours

Alleged Israeli airstrikes targeted sites in southern Syria and near Damascus on Thursday night (28th) in two separate waves, according to Syrian reports.

Syria’s state news agency SANA reported that Israeli fighter jets conducted airstrikes from over the Golan Heights targeting sites in southern Syria, causing material damage.

The local Suwayda 24 News site reported that a radar site belonging to the Syrian Army at Tal al-Sahn, not far from the Syrian-Jordan border, was targeted and destroyed in the strikes.  No injuries were reported.

Syrian air defenses were activated in the Damascus area as well during the strikes, although it is not yet clear what locations in the Damascus area were targeted.

The Tal al-Sahn site has been targeted repeatedly in the past by alleged Israeli airstrikes.

A few hours after the first wave of airstrikes, a second wave was reported in the Damascus area, with Syrian air defenses activated in response.

SANA reported that the second airstrikes were conducted from over Lebanon and targeted several sites near Damascus, causing material damage.

According to the Syrian Capital Voice News site, all the attack targets were holding air defense systems.

The airstrikes come just days after  Razi Mousavi, a senior officer in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), was killed in an alleged Israeli airstrike in the Damascus area.  Mousavi served as one of the leaders of Iran’s efforts in Syria and had been targeted by Israel in the past, according to Iranian media.

The airstrikes also come just a day after the Damascus International Airport returned to service after being knocked out of service by an alleged Israeli airstrike in late November.



Benny Gantz In Southern Israel: ‘We Are Ready For The Next Stage Of The War’

National Unity Chairman Benny Gantz visited the IDF Southern Command Thursday (28th) and was briefed by Commanding Officer,  Major General Yaron Finkelman.

Later, he visited the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council together with MK Alon Schuster, where they met with local leaders from southern Israel.

“I met today with the Tkuma Directorate, held an operational briefing at the Southern Command, and I now finished meeting with the local leaders of the Western Negev.  In the operational aspect, the toll on our sons is unbearable; however, the accomplishments on the battlefield are accumulating,” said Gantz.

He explained: “We built military infrastructure in the field that supports the fighting.  We eliminated thousands of terrorists.  We destroyed and we continue to destroy expansive sections of the underground, and we harmed Hamas’ command and control abilities and its launch capabilities, and I wish to give a big thank you to the IDF forces and security forces who supported all this.”  

Gantz declared: “We are ready for the next stage in the fighting, which will be longer, more intense, and deeper than Hamas imagines.  Anywhere Hamas and terror organization men lift their heads – we will put them down.  Whoever won’t surrender will be buried in the end – in the ground or deep under it, sooner or later.”

“As our control of the area and successes advance, we get closer to the day when we can allow residents to return to their communities.  I discussed that with the local leaders and the Tkuma Directorate, and we are all preparing for it.  I will work so the issue is discussed in the War Cabinet in the near future.”

He added: “When it can, the return process led by the Defense Ministry will be fully coordinated with the council leaders so that each town, community, and individual will receive solutions that are appropriate for their needs, with massive support from the state.”

Gantz concluded: “I ask to send a message from here to the residents who for months, are scattered across the country – you are the true heroes.  Your resilience and strength are fuel for the soldiers.  The return of the hostages and your return home will be the State of Israel’s picture of victory.”



Maps Of Tunnels And Bombs: How The ‘Document And Technical Means Collection Unit’ Works

The Intelligence Directorate (j2) has been coordinating the collection and examination of Hamas assets since the beginning of the war and the ground operation.  The unit is made up mostly of reservists, and its job is to extract intelligence from the assets collected by all the soldiers in the field.  The unit analyzes and  concludes operational implications, which improve the activity of the soldiers in the Gaza Strip.  In this way, the unit assists in the extraction of intelligence and its return to the operational end, and at the same time, helps to maintain the security of the IDF soldiers.

Since the beginning of the war, thousands of documents and technical assets were collected by IDF soldiers, which were transferred to the extraction team and contributed critical intelligence.  The IDF’s operations in Hamas strongholds and the transfer of assets to the Document and Technical Means Collection Unit for in-depth research, add a significant lever to the intelligence assessment from the tactical to the strategic level, and enable intelligence insight to return to the operational end.  The materials are investigated according to their type and in cooperation with various collection and research codes in the intelligence community.

Among the documents found is a map of tunnel shafts seized by the 252nd Division in the residence of a company commander in Hamas’ Beit Hanoun Battalion.

A key explaining the map was located and collected by the division at the residence of another operative.  With the arrival of the materials to the research team, the important link between the map and the key was created – making it possible to identify the tunnel shafts in the field, of which many tunnel shafts were destroyed.

A Hamas map with tunnel shafts marked on it was acquired by the Document and Technical Means Collection Unit research team, found by the 36th Division in the residence of the accomplice of the Commander of the Shejaiya Battalion, Wissam Farhat.  After initial processing in Unit 9900, the information was relayed back to the soldiers in the field resulting in tunnel shafts being identified near IDF soldiers and neutralized by combat engineering soldiers.

In addition, a document was seized with the locations of explosives in the area of Beit Hanoun.  After the Document and Technical Means Collection Unit’s examination of it, operating forces were directed into the area and neutralized the explosives.



Poll Finds High Support Among Arab-Israelis Volunteering During War

A new poll among Arab Israelis found that an overwhelming majority support assisting with civilian volunteering efforts during the war – such as helping evacuees, and providing medical assistance – amid a strong sense of kinship with the country in the wake of the October 7 massacres.

Asked if they feel “a part of the State of Israel and its problems,” about two-thirds of respondents (65%) answered affirmatively, reinforcing a trend that had been observed in a similar survey in November, when the figure stood at 70% – a 20-year high.

The new survey, published Tuesday (26th), was carried out by the Israel Democracy Institute between late November and early December.  The last poll before the outbreak of the war was conducted in June, and revealed that less than half of Israel’s Arab citizens (48%) identified with the Jewish state.

Among the different religious sub-groups that constitute Arab-Israeli society, the Druze are the minority that identifies the most with the state (80%), followed by Christians (73%) and Muslim (62%).

Arab Israelis tend to feel a greater sense of belonging if they live in the Negev (73%) – where the Arab population is almost exclusively Bedouin – and in mixed cities (71%), while the percentages are lower in the Galilee (64%) and the central Triangle region (60%).

A large number of respondents (86.5%) supported the participation of Arab-Israelis in civilian volunteering efforts during the war.



After Injuries In Wars And Terror Attacks, IDF Reservists Came To Fight Again – Korin Elbaz-Alush

Among the stories of heroism that have come to light since October 7 are the reservists who suffered severe injuries in the past, but despite the physical and mental scars, they did not think twice.  They put on uniforms and volunteered for reserve duty as soon as the war broke out.

Ben Atia, 42, a father of two, was a young soldier in 2000 when a Palestinian terrorist stabbed him in the neck and caused near-fatal injuries.  He says today, “I did not hesitate at all.  Volunteering for the reserves is important to me….My younger brother is in Gaza.  This is what we know: as long as we are alive, we stand up and contribute….I understand that I am not invincible.  I know what will happen if I get injured, but that doesn’t control me.”

Moti Dahan, 41, a father of three, was mortally wounded in the Second Lebanon War from a mortar.  Following that injury, Dahan underwent 17 surgeries on his leg and still has shrapnel in his body.  He says, “When I saw what was happening on October 7, I immediately decided to return to the reserves….It was impossible to stop me….This is a war that needs all of us.”

During his reserve service near Gaza, Dahan hears and sees the evacuation helicopters.  “Every helicopter like this that passes over me gives me chills.  I understand that it is carrying one or more persons whose life will no longer be the same.  I, myself, visit the wounded and try to strengthen them as much as possible, and I hope that the fact that I am here, on duty, is also something that strengthens and conveys the message that there is life afterwards.”



The IDF Is Fighting a Two-Level War In Gaza, Making Military History – Ron Ben Yishai

The fighting in Gaza is a war carried out on different levels.  The top level is above ground and the bottom is a tunnel city with underground bases built over a 15-year period at great financial cost and with much sophistication.  Control only above ground does not weaken the hold that Hamas has on Gaza and would not prevent it from renewing its military capabilities.

The underground infrastructure includes rocket launchers and rocket production facilities as well as command centers.  Only destruction of the underground networks would achieve Israel’s goal to eliminate Hamas – and for that the military needs time to complete that job.

But fighting in the underground complexes is a military first.  The American forces in Vietnam did fight the Vietcong in tunnels and bunkers, but they were used to remain out of sight before striking and not as fortified military positions.  Hamas constructed its tunnel networks to be used as positions from which to attack IDF troops while also providing protection from air raids.  The fighting above ground will continue as long as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad forces remain organized inside their underground bases and are able to attack Israeli forces above ground.

The IDF has taken control of 60% of Gaza and is taking apart the Hamas infrastructure in the north.  In Khan Yunis, the troops focus the fighting on intelligence-led targets.  The IDF is fighting intensely where Hamas is able to fight in an organized manner.