News Digest — 12/5/22

The Son Of Palestinian Islamic Jihad Leader, Arrested Monday

Yahya al-Saadi, the son of senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad official Bassam al-Saadi was arrested by Israeli forces amid armed clashes in Jenin early Monday morning (5th), according to the IDF’s Spokesperson’s Uniit.

In August Bassam al-Saadi was arrested in Jenin, sparking heavy restrictions on Gaza border communities and threats of retaliation by the Islamic Jihad movement.  After about five days of restrictions, Israel launched Operation Breaking Dawn, striking Islamic Jihad targets in the Gaza Strip as over 1,000 rockets were fired towards Israel by Palestinian terrorists.

Bassan al-Saadi was indicted by IDF military prosecutors in late August.

The arrest of Yahya al-Saadi, also a senior member of the PIJ movement, comes just a day after a rocket was fired from the Gaza Strip towards Israel and just days after Mujammad al-Saadi, a commander in the Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s Jenin Brigade was killed in armed clashes with Israeli forces in Jenin.

The IDF, Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and Border Police arrested 14 suspects across the West Bank as part of Operation Break the wave overnight, according to the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit.  One member of the terrorist group, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) was also killed in clashes in Dheisheh,

Three suspects affiliated with the PFLP were arrested in Dheisheh amid Palestinians throwing rocks, Molotov cocktails and explosives at Israeli forces.

Israeli forces also operated in Beit Kahal, Samua, Tapuah, Beit Awa, Qalqilya, Nilin and Kifal Harat.    



Herzog Lands In Bahrain For First Visit By Israeli President

President Isaac Herzog arrived in Bahrain on Sunday (4th) on a state visit, becoming the first Israeli head of state to do so since the two countries agreed to establish official diplomatic relations in 2020.

Herzog is scheduled to meet with the Gulf state’s ruler King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and other officials before departing for the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

“This is another historic step in the relations between Israel and the Arab world and the strengthening of the Abraham Accords, in the hope that more countries will join the circle of peace,” Herzog said before his departure, referring to a series of US-brokered normalization agreements between Israel and several Muslim-majority countries, of which Bahrain is one of the signees.

“I’m accompanied by a delegation of economic experts in order to tighten economic cooperation and promote other issues.  Bahrain and its economy are very important and I’m glad I have the chance to further advance our relationship.”

Herzog further said that his message conveys “a message of peace to everyone in the Middle East.”

During his visit, Herzog will hold meetings with King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and other dignitaries, as well as pay a visit to Bahrain’s Jewish community and the country’s Economic Development Authority.

Herzog will then leave for the UAE on Monday (5th), where he will attend the Abu Dhabi Space Debate conference and meet with President Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in their fourth meeting to date.  Herzog and his Emirati counterpart will discuss strengthening bilateral relations and cooperation between the countries.

“During my State Visit on Sunday (4th) together with His Majesty the King and other leaders, we will be working on this task: making sure the benefits of regional friendly relations reach each and every Israeli and Bahraini,” Herzog wrote in an article penned for Bahraini press before his visit.

Dozens in Bahrain protested Herzog’s upcoming visit on Saturday (3rd) and the normalization of relations with Israel.  Some of the protesters, who are affiliated with Bahrain’s pro-Iranian political opposition, chanted “death to Israel.” and waved signs calling Herzog a “criminal.”

In meetings held over the last few days, the Shin Bet internal security agency, which is also tasked  with securing VIPs, opted to significantly beef up Herzog’s security detail due to calls from the Bahraini opposition to boycott and disrupt the visit.  Security officials in Bahrain implemented similar measures.

While authorities in Bahrain have allowed the protests to take place, any such demonstrations were banned on the day of the visit itself.

Israel and Bahrain first agreed to establish diplomatic ties in 2020 as part of the Abraham Accords after years of hush-hush communications.

Besides Herzog, several other Israeli officials have visited the Gulf state, including Prime Minister Yair Lapid, former prime minister Naftali Bennett, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, and IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi.



Israel Demolishes Disused Gaza Cargo Terminal To Improve Defenses In South

The Israeli Military and Defense Ministry on Sunday (4th) began to demolish a disused cargo terminal between Israel and the Gaza Strip, more than a decade after it was closed.

The Israel Defense Forces said a barrier would be built in place of the Karni Crossing, in order to improve defenses on the southern frontier.

It will be built as an extension to the existing 40-mile barrier, which is made up of an underground reinforced concrete wall that is studded with sensors to detect tunnels; a 20-foot steel fence; a network of radar arrays and other surveillance sensors; and remote-controlled weaponry.

The IDF said the construction work would last several weeks.

The Karni Crossing, opened in 1994, was shuttered permanently in 2011 following the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007 and repeated terror attacks and rocket fire in the following years.

Its cargo transport operations were moved over to the Kerem Shalom crossing in the southern Gaza Strip, while Palestinian pedestrians enter and exit the territory through the Erez crossing in the northern Gaza Strip.

The closed Karni Crossing was also the site of violent protests orchestrated by the Hamas terror group in 2018 along the Gaza border.  Palestinians had repeatedly hurled explosive devices at Israeli troops in the area.

The construction work came hours after rocket alerts were activated near communities inside Israel as Hamas launched missiles at Israeli aircraft, with Israeli jets carrying out retaliatory strikes against the terror group in the Gaza Strip.

The IDF said it targeted a weapons workshop and tunnel used by Hamas for a Saturday evening (3rd) rocket attack, which had broken a month of relative calm.  The military later added that it targeted a Hamas military post in retaliation for the anti-aircraft fire. 

There was no claim of responsibility for the Saturday night (3rd) rocket launch, which came after Israeli officials reportedly expressed concerns over the weekend about potential retaliation, including in the form of rocket fire from Gaza, over the deaths of two Islamic Jihad terrorist members.

Both PIJ and Hamas threatened to hit back over the deaths of the pair, who were killed Thursday (1st) during a firefight with IDF forces in the West Bank.

Over the past year, the PIJ has launched rockets at Israel in response to terrorist members being killed or arrested in the West Bank.



Israel Police Remove Palestinian Hamas Flags In Jerusalem

Israeli police officers on Sunday (4th) removed Palestinian flags which were hung on electricity lines in the Silwan neighborhood in Jerusalem, police said.

Jerusalem district officers, accompanied by Border Police officers, removed eight flags associated with the Palestinian Authority or Gaza-based terrorist group Hamas.

According to police, the flags were hung “in a manner that endangers the public and represents a disturbance to its safety and security.”

Clashes erupted as Israeli forces removed the flags, with Palestinian rioters throwing rocks at security forces, who responded with riot control measures. 

There were no injuries reported in the clashes, police confirmed.



Nevada Become First State Higher Education System To Adopt IHRA Definition

Amid a national spike in anti-Semitism in the United States,, the Nevada Board of regents voted on Friday (2nd) to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Definition of Anti-Semitism for use in anti-bias and anti-discrimination education and training for all colleges and universities of the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE).

This was the first time a state higher education system itself actively adopted the measure rather than doing so through legislative decree or gubernatorial order.

Nevada was one of ten US states that announced in January that they will adopt the IHRA working definition of anti-Semitism.  The announcement came as the world marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The IHRA definition of anti-Semitism is distinct from other descriptions of anti-Jewish discrimination because it says that while not all criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic, criticism can cross the line into anti-Semitism when delegitimizing, demonizing, or applying double standards to Israel.  The definition also addresses the anti-Semitic nature of attacks against Jewish individuals or institutions that attribute to all Jews’ collective guilt for real or perceived actions by Israel.

So far, 28 state governments have adopted or endorsed the IHRA definition, the most widely accepted legal standard for anti-Semitism internationally.  Over 865 national, state, and local governments and major public entities have endorsed the IHRA definition in recent years, including the US Departments of State, Education, and Justice.  It has also been endorsed by 51 of the 53 member organizations of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations.

“Anti-Semitism is at crisis levels nationally, and the Board of Regents wanted to be proactive here, and get in front of the problem.  By adopting the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism we are making a statement that the Nevada System of Higher Education is committed to equal protection for all out students,” said Nevada Regent Byron Brooks.

The Los Angeles-based Israeli-American Council (IAC), which includes a Nevada chapter, welcomed the NSHE’s adoption of the IHRA definition and commended the Board of Regents for working on the policy improvements with IAC’s legislative and policy-making arm, the Israeli-American Coalition for Action (IAC For Action).

“The adoption of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism by the Nevada System of Higher Education advances equal protection for Jewish students and sets a standard that we hope other states will soon follow,” said IAC National Board Chair Naty Saidoff.  “It is a necessary step in fulfilling Nevada’s commitment to creating an environment of safety and inclusion for Jewish students on college campuses across the state.”

Brooks spearheaded the Nevada effort over the past 18 months.  The Nevada System of Higher Education’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and access (IDEA) Committee voted unanimously in September to approve the adoption of IHRA as part of a broader update to anti-bias education and training requirements.  The policy recommendation was enacted at the quarterly meeting of the Board of Regents.

This policy update is in line with national Title VI policy and with our governor’s proclamation this past January that endorsed the IHRA definition and called for policy solutions.  I would like to thank the IAC for Action for their expert guidance on this matter and for working closely with our team,” Brooks added.

IAC for Action also helped lead Florida, Iowa, South Carolina, Tennessee, New Mexico and Arizona to enact state IHRA definition legislation.  The Florida and Tennessee legislation adopted the IHRA definition specifically for educational settings.  The definition has also been endorsed through proclamations and resolutions in 22 additional states: Alabama, Alaska, Connecticut, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.