News Digest — 2/7/23

‘Olive Branches:’ Israeli Humanitarian Aid Delegation Arrives In Turkey

Monday evening (6th), the joint “Olive Branches” humanitarian and delegation of the Israel Defense Forces, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Defense left for Turkey to assist in the earthquake stricken area of the country.

The delegation, led by the IDF Home Front Command, left from the Nevatim Air Force Base on Israeli Air Force aircraft Monday night (6th).  The delegation will begin its search and rescue mission immediately.  An advanced team departed for Turkey earlier on Monday (6th) and was there to receive the delegation upon landing.  

The Commanding Officer of the Home Front Command, MG Rafi Milo, defined the delegation’s mission as providing immediate assistance in life-saving efforts.  This includes quickly mapping out the sites hit by the earthquake.  In parallel, the delegation will provide medical assistance to individuals rescued from the sites hit by the quake.

The delegation is being led by the Commander of the National Rescue Unit in the Home Front Command, Col. Golan Vach, and includes active-duty and reservist personnel.  Israel Fire and Rescue Authority personnel also joined the delegation.  The Commander of the Search and Rescue Brigade, Col. Elad Edri, is responsible for search and rescue and logistical preparations.  The IDF Medical Corps is making preparations to send out a delegation to assemble a field hospital if it is deemed necessary and as instructed by the Minister of Defense.

The delegation is operating in cooperation with the Turkish and international counterparts during the mission.

The Israeli delegation is fully prepared to deal with extreme weather conditions.

So far reports from Turkey are 5,000 dead, and thousands injured or missing as of Tuesday morning (7th).



Israel To Give Syria Earthquake Assistance, Netanyahu Says

Israel plans to provide humanitarian assistance to Syria in the aftermath of Monday’s (6th) devastating earthquakes, Prime Minister Benjamin said.

“A request was…received to do this for the many who were injured in the earthquake in Syria, I have instructed that this be done,” he said at a cornerstone-laying ceremony for a new children’s hospital in Tel Aviv.

Israel has never had diplomatic relations with Syria, which sits on its northern border and has fought against the Jewish state in at least four wars.  Both Tehran and Moscow have a military presence in Syria, and the Israeli Air Force often conducts aerial raids there.

The Syrian pro-government  newspaper Al Watan cited an official source as denying Damascus had made such a request of Israel.

Netanyahu, however, spoke about the request when he addressed his Likud faction in the Knesset, stating that Syria’s need for humanitarian assistance had been relayed to Israel by a diplomatic party. 

Asked who made the request, an Israeli official told Reuters, “The Syrians.”  Asked if this referred to opposition members or to President Bashar Assad’s government, the official said only, “Syria.”

KAN news said in an unsourced report that Russia had relayed the request for Israel to assist Syria.

Israel has in the past helped victims of Syria’s civil war by treating the wounded at field hospitals on the borders and in the country’s established medical centers.  The IDF also ran the Operation Good Neighbor program by which it provided medical and humanitarian supplies to Syria.

But it is highly unusual for Israel to receive a direct request for Syrian assistance.

KAN reported that Israel would deliver blankets, tents and medicine to Syria, according to a discussion that took place earlier among the political echelon.

Not all Israeli assistance to earthquake victims has been governmental.  The Israeli nonprofit group SmartAid said it was planning to help survivors there by working through local nongovernmental groups.

In Syria, as of Tuesday morning (7th) reports are of 1,700 killed  and thousands injured in Monday’s earthquake.    



Following Earthquake: Prisoners Escape From Syrian Prison Which Holds ISIS Members

At least 20 prisoners on Monday (6th) escaped a prison in northwest Syria which holds mostly Islamic State (ISIS) members, taking advantage of the earthquake that hit the country, AFP reported.

The military police prison in the town of Rajo near the Turkish border holds about 2,000 inmates, with about 1,300 of them suspected ISIS fighters, a source told AFP.  The prison also holds fighters from Kurdish-led forces.

“After the earthquake struck, Rajo was affected and inmates started to mutiny and took control of parts of the prison,” said an official at Rajo jail, which is controlled by pro-Turkish factions.

“About 20 prisoners fled…who are believed to be ISIS militants,” he added.

The prison escape came after the 7.8 magnitude quake early Monday morning (6th) which was followed by dozens of aftershocks.  The source said the earthquake caused damage to the prison, with walls and doors cracking.

ISIS overran large swathes of Syria and neighboring Iraq in 2014, proclaiming a “caliphate” in land it controlled.

Several military offensives, including those backed by the US-led international coalition, have since seen ISIS lose most areas it once controlled, including the loss of their de facto capital in Raqqa, Syria.



The Jewish Federation Of North America Launches Relief Fund For Quake Victims

The Jewish Federation of North America launched a relief fund to provide humanitarian aid to people in Turkey and Syria after the devastating earthquake Monday (6th).

Thousands have been killed in what officials are calling the worst quake to hit the region in decades.

“We mourn the tragic loss of life brought by this disaster and send our hopes and prayers for all those who have been injured,” said Julie Platt, JENA’s board chair.  “We remain in close contact with our disaster relief partners on the ground and are mobilizing our communities to raise funds to support their life-giving work.”

The Jewish value of tikkun olam – repairing the world – guides the umbrella group “day in and day out to extend our hands to those in need, and Jewish Federation pledges to carry out this mandate with pride and dignity,” she added.

The State of Israel has already sent aid to the region.

IsraAid, which has provided relief in the aftermath of earthquakes in Haiti, Indonesia and elsewhere, said it too will assist.

“We are committed to using our extensive experience of responding to earthquakes and other disasters around the world to serve vulnerable people, who have been affected by these crises,” said Yotam Polizer, the humanitarian organization’s CEO.

According to the US Geological Survey, “the overall population in this region (Turkey and Syria) reside in structures that are extremely vulnerable to earthquakes, though some resistant structures exist.  The predominant vulnerable building types are unreinforced brick masonry and low-rise non-ductile concrete frame with infill construction.”



Netanyahu Leads Planting Ceremony On Jewish ‘New Year Of Trees,’ Honors Jerusalem Terror Victims

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu led a tree-planting ceremony on Monday (6th) to mark Tu b’Shvat, the Jewish “new year for trees,” in the Neve Yaakov neighborhood of Jerusalem , where a Palestinian terrorist killed seven people last month.

Netanyahu was joined by Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion and family members of the murder victims, as well as police officers, medics and paramedics who treated the wounded at the scene of the Jan. 27 attack.  The following day, another Palestinian terrorist shot and seriously wounded an Israeli father and son near the entrance to the City of David National Park adjacent to the Old City in the Israeli capital.

“Dear bereaved families, I know the pain that you are going through, our heart is with you, the heart of the entire people.  This tree is their tree of life.  They (terrorists) come to sow death and we plant life.  Several days ago, they murdered seven of our loved ones and here we are, a few days later, deepening our roots in our land,” said Netanyahu on Monday (6th).

“We know that the proper response to terrorism is to strike at it and to deepen our roots in the soil of our homeland.  We are striking at terrorism.  A day later, a murderous band tried to carry out another terror attack at a restaurant at Almog Junction, to murder dozens of Israeli citizens and  – miraculously – they failed.  Today, IDF soldiers, together with the ISA (Shin Bet) have eliminated five of these terrorists, two of whom tried to carry out the attack at Almog Junction,” added the prime minister.

Netanyahu was referring to an operation overnight Sunday (5th) by Israeli security forces in which they arrested the terrorist cell responsible for an attempted shooting massacre at a restaurant near Jericho.  Miraculously the terrorists’ guns jammed.

“The proper response to terrorism is to fight it and to plant deep roots in our homeland. This is what we are doing today in Neve Yaakov.  This is what we are doing throughout the country.  We will not stop planting and will continue apace,” said Netanyahu.

“I embrace you all, dear families.  We will overcome it together.  The memory of your loved ones will always be with you, forever, and with us as well; however, the proper response for the State of Israel is to deepen the attachment of the people of Israel here in our land,” the Israeli premier concluded.



There Are No Two Sides Here – Ben-Dror Yamini

→ No, there are no “two sides.”  There is no “cycle of violence.”  There is a Palestinian side, which is pro-Iranian or jihadist, which has no interest in reconciliation and peace, but rather in the destruction of the Jewish state.  The mythical leader of the Arabs of Palestine was a Nazi Islamist, the Mufti, Haj Amin al-Husseini, who preached the extermination of Jews.  Hamas and Islamic Jihad are his successors.

→ There is another side; the side of the Jews who were persecuted in almost every country in the world, who fled or were expelled from both Europe and Arab countries.  They established a state.  Throughout the years, Jews have repeatedly extended a hand for peace, with a willingness to make far-reaching concessions.  The outstretched hand was repeatedly rejected.

→ When the Americans killed the leader of Al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, no one condemned “both sides.”  When the American army was mobilized to defeat al-Qaeda and ISIS, no one said “the cycle of violence should be stopped.”

→ All the violence belongs to the side that supports terrorism, that educates its children to hatred, that identifies with messages of antisemitism and racism.

→ Those who prefer jihad over peace and reconciliation – they are the problem, even if they are portrayed as the weak side.  Those who prefer rockets to welfare – they are the problem.

→ A few days ago there was a suicide terror attack in a mosque in Peshawar, Pakistan.  Muslims murdered over 100 Muslims.  The real enemy of the Muslims and the Palestinians is terrorism – groups like Islamic Jihad and Hamas, and not those who fight them.  (Los Angeles Jewish Journal)