News Digest — 2/27/23

Minister Bezalel Smotrich: ‘We Must Not Take The Law Into Our Hands’

Minister Bezalel Smotrich on Sunday evening (26th) spoke to the Jewish rioters in the village of Huwara following the terrorist attack in which brothers Hillel and Yagel Yaniv were murdered Saying: “My fellow residents, the pain is great, but believe me, we are working hard to provide a real response to terrorism, both militarily and with settlement.  Since the terrible attack, we have only been preoccupied with this.  But we must not take the law into our hands and create a dangerous anarchy that could get out of control and cost human lives.  Allow us, the political echelon, to formulate the answer and for the IDF to win.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement on Sunday evening (26th) against the settler attack, while calling for restraint and urging Israelis caution against vigilante actions.

“A terrible tragedy occurred today.  I would like to send condolences to the Yaniv family, which lost two of its dear sons; may God avenge them.”

“The IDF and the security forces are currently in pursuit of the murderer.  We will find him.  We will apprehend him and we will settle accounts with him.”

“I ask – even when the blood is boiling –  not to take the law into one’s hands.  I ask that the IDF and the security forces be allowed to carry out their work.  I remind you that in recent weeks, they have targeted dozens of terrorists and thwarted dozens of attacks.”

“Let the IDF complete its pursuit and do not take the law into your hands; together we will defeat terrorism.”

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant added, “Even at the end of a difficult and painful day, in which two young brothers were murdered by a vile terrorist, I call on the citizens of Israel: Do not take the law into your own hands.  Violations of order in Huwara endanger the citizens, and harm the activities of the security forces in the hunt for the terrorists.  I trust the commanders and soldiers of the IDF, and I am sure that they will put their hands on the murderers.”

President Isaac Herzog said, “Taking the law into your own hands, riots and violence against innocent people – are not our way; I condemn it.  We must allow the IDF, the Israel Police and the security forces to capture the despicable terrorist and restore order immediately.”



IDF: Two Israeli Brothers Shot Dead In West Bank Terror Attack

Two Israeli brothers were shot dead in a terror attack in the northern West Bank town of Huwara on Sunday (26th), the military and medics said.

The Israel Defense Forces said a Palestinian gunman opened fire from close range at an Israel-owned car on the Route 60 highway, then fled the scene, apparently on foot.

The two were identified as brothers Hillel Yaniv, 21 and Yagel Yaniv, 19, residents of the Settlement of Har Bracha.

Graphic footage from the attack in Huwara showed the victims’ car riddled with bullets.  Troops at the scene found 12 nine-millimeter shell casings, indicating the attacker used a handgun or makeshift submachine gun.

An initial probe of the shooting suggested the gunman took advantage of a traffic jam on the highway to carry out the attack.

The Magen Adom ambulance service initially said its medics were treating two men who were critically hurt and were taking them by helicopter to a hospital.  However, it was later announced that they died.

The IDF said it had launched a manhunt for the gunman, closing off several roads in the area.

On Sunday evening (26th), after holding a situational assessment with top defense officials, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant ordered the military to ramp up operations in the West Bank to locate the gunman.

“Gallant directed the security forces to focus operational and intelligence efforts to capture the terrorist, while taking any necessary action, including offensive actions, to prevent further attacks,” his office said in a statement.

Gallant also approved a bolstering of Military forces in the West Bank, “with the aim of expanding defense operations in the settlements and on the roads,” his office added.

Huwara has long been a flashpoint in the West Bank as it is just about the only Palestinian town through which Israelis regularly travel in order to reach settlements in the northern West Bank.

There have been several shooting attacks against Israeli motorists on Route 60 in Huwara.

In recent months Palestinian gunmen have repeatedly targeted military posts, troops operating along the West Bank security barrier, Israeli settlements and civilians on the roads.

Tensions between Israel and the Palestinians have been high for the past year, with the IDF conducting near-nightly raids in the West Bank amid a series of deadly Palestinian terror attacks.

A string of Palestinian terror attacks in Jerusalem in recent weeks left 11 people dead and several seriously hurt.

Over 60 Palestinians have been killed since the beginning of the year, most of them while carrying out attacks or during clashes with security forces.

The attack on Sunday (26th) came as Israeli and Palestinian officials sat down for a meeting in Jordan in a bid to restore calm to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip amid deadly violence.    



Ministers Vote In Favor Of Death Penalty Law For Terrorists

Israel’s Ministerial Committee for Legislative Matters voted in favor of a bill calling for the death penalty over acts of terrorism on Sunday (26th), minutes after a shooting attack killed two Israeli brothers.

According to the law, which was part of a coalition agreement between the Likud and Otzma Yehudit, Israeli courts will be permitted to impose the death penalty on those who commit murder on nationalistic grounds against Israeli citizens.

“On this difficult day, when two Israeli citizens were killed in a Palestinian terror attack, there is nothing more symbolic than passing a death penalty for terrorists law,” National Security Minister and Otzma Yehudit head Itamar Ben Gvir said.

Noting that the death penalty exists in the United States, he went on to call it “a moral and fair law” that should “certainly also exist in a country where a wave of terrorism plagues the country’s citizens.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the government “will continue to act by all means at our disposal – security-wise, operationally, and legislatively – to deter terrorists and maintain the security of Israel.  Our response to terror is to strike at terror with force and deepen our roots in our country.”

The committee decided that following a preliminary vote, and prior to a first reading in the Knesset, a discussion will be held in the security cabinet on the exact wording of the law.

A poll published in November showed that a majority of Israelis – 71% – support the death penalty for terrorists convicted of killing Israelis.



Secret Hezbollah Gold Trade In South America Foiled By Israeli Intelligence

An order signed recently by Defense Minister Yoav Gallant indicates that there is a gold smuggling operation between Iran and Venezuela that is funding Hezbollah terror activity.

It was revealed that, in May, dozens of kilograms of gold were smuggled on an Iranian Mahan Air flight, which is subject to American sanctions, from  Venezuela to Tehran.  The funds from the smuggled gold were transferred to Hezbollah.

This smuggling ring was uncovered during a joint effort between the National Bureau for Counter Terror Financing of Israel (NBCTF) and the Defense Ministry, along with the Israel Police and the Tax Authority.

A key player in this operation was Badr Ad-Din Naimi Musawi, an Iranian businessman who conducts worldwide trade.  He managed the secret operation within the Iranian Quds Force, purchasing gold in Venezuela and using his business and political connections to provide a cover for his illicit funding.  He was responsible for smuggling the gold from Venezuela to Iran and selling it at a profit to finance Hezbollah.

According to security sources, senior Hezbollah officials who are subject to US sanctions for their involvement in terrorist activity are also involved in this gold trade scheme.  These include Ali Kasir, the representative of Hezbollah’s Economic Affairs Ministry in Tehran, as well as Mohammad Kasir, the head of Hezbollah’s logistics unit who dealt with the transfer of funds after the gold had been turned into cash.

Musawi even took part in a delegation of the Quds Force to Venezuela together with the CEO of Mahan Air, Hamid Evranjad, as part of an effort by Iran to strengthen ties in South America and ultimately use those ties to bolster its own terrorist activity.  



Illegal Arab Takeover Of Destroyed Jewish Communities Revealed

In a hearing of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on the repeal of the Disengagement Law, Avraham Binyamin, Director of Regavim’s Policy Division, presented documentation showing massive illegal Arab construction in northern Samaria in general, and particularly on the ruins of the Ganim. Kadim and Sa-Noor Jewish communities that were de-populated as part of the 2005 disengagement plan.  The aerial photographs presented to the committee show thousands of illegal Arab structures in Area C, the portion of Judea and Samaria under full Israeli jurisdiction – hundreds of them built only in the past year.

The Regavim movement stated that the strategic implications of the illegal construction extend beyond the sheer number of illegal buildings.  These illegal structures create a land-bridge between blocs of Palestinian Authority-controlled Area B Arab settlements, undermining the Oslo framework under which Area C remained fully under Israeli jurisdiction.

According to the figures presented by Regavim. Illegal structures in Area C take up over 27,000 acres of land, about double the amount of land taken up by all Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria.

Avraham Binyamin, Director of Regavim’s Policy Division, said: “The 2005 Disengagement Law is one more element abetting the creation of a terrorist state in the heart of the Land of Israel,” as he presented aerial photos of large-scale illegal construction in the region.  “The lands on which the de-populated Jewish communities of northern Samaria once stood – Ganim, Kadim, Sa-Noor – have been overtaken by illegal Arab construction, despite the fact that the IDF ostensibly retains control of the territory.”

“By emptying the northern Samaria communities of their Jewish residents, the Disengagement Law opened the door for Palestinian Authority annexation of the territory which the Civil Administration has done absolutely nothing to prevent,” he added.

Meir Deutsch, Director General of Regavim, released a statement following the Knesset hearing: “Nearly a century ago, Joseph Trumpeldor summarized an essential truth of the Zionist ethos that is no less relevant today than it was in the pre-state era: ‘The place where the last row is plowed will be the border of our country.’  Land on which there is no Jewish presence will be lost.  Settlement and security are not only related, they are inseparable.”

“The false prophecies of the architects of the ‘disengagement,’ who claimed that ceding territory would enhance Israel’s security, continue to blow up in our faces.  Precisely because there is no longer a Jewish presence on the ground, there is no security.  The borders of the State of Israel are being re-drawn by the Palestinian Authority – without negotiation, without compromise, in ways that threaten security of the entire State of Israel.  It is long past time to reverse this disastrous policy.”