News Digest — 3/1/24

Rabbi, Teen Hitchhiker Killed In Terror Shooting At West Bank Gas Station

Two Israelis were killed when a Palestinian terrorist opened fire at a gas station in the West Bank on Thursday afternoon (2/29) before being shot and killed by the proprietor of a nearby business on leave from fighting in Gaza, the military and medics said.

The attack, the second deadly shooting at the spot outside the settlement of Eli since June, comes as security tensions around the West Bank have risen ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, even as the military remains focused on fighting in Gaza and escalating skirmishes on the northern border continue.

The Magen David Adom ambulance service  said two men were found shot dead at the gas station shortly after 5: p.m., one on the side of the road and one in a car.

The victims were named as Rabbi Yitzhak Zeiger, 57, a father of three and a resident of Shavei Shomron in the West Bank, and Uria Hartum, a 16-year-old high school student from the settlement of Dolev who had been hitchhiking a ride with Zeiger.

Zeiger, a volunteer with paramedic and rescue services organizations, was filling the car with gasoline when he was shot and killed, though he attempted to return fire, according to local authorities.

The Israeli Defense Forces said the assailant, later identified as a Palestinian Authority policeman, was shot dead at the scene by the owner of a nearby hummus restaurant.

Aviad Gazbar, who said he had recently returned from reserve duty in the Gaza Strip, told media  at the scene that he “heard shots” while in the restaurant.  “I fired a bullet so the terrorist would know that I was there.  He saw me, and started charging toward me. I took him down and continued scanning,” he added.

Images showed that the terrorist was armed with an assault rifle.

The Shin Bet security agency identified the assailant as Muhammad Manasra, 31, an officer in the Palestinian Authority’s police, from Qalandiya, near Jerusalem.

Suspected infiltration alarms sounded in Eli following the terror attack, amid fears of additional gunmen in the area.  Residents were ordered to remain in their homes for about half an hour before an all-clear was given.

The attack took place at the same location as a deadly terror assault in June, in which four Israelis were killed.

Tensions in Israel and the West Bank have been high since October 7, when some 3,000 terrorists burst through the Gaza border into Israel in a Hamas-led attack, killing at least 1,200 people, most of them civilians, and seizing 253 hostages.

Security officials have expressed fears that the security situation in the West Bank could deteriorate around Ramadan, which is set to begin March 10th.

Since October 7, the IDF said that IDF troops have arrested some 3,400 wanted Palestinians across the West Bank, including more than 1,500 affiliated with Hamas.



Netanyahu: ‘Victory Requires Eliminating All Hamas Battalions

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a statement to the media Thursday evening (2/29) on the progress of the war against Hamas and the deadly terrorist attack at the entrance to Eli in the late afternoon in which two Israelis were murdered.

“I would like to send my condolences to the families of those murdered in the attack near Eli.  May God avenge their blood,” the Prime Minister began.

He later stated that the current “freedom of action for the security forces is unprecedented since the establishment of the state.”

At the same time, Netanyahu said that “the international pressures on us are increasing.  Victory requires the elimination of all Hamas battalions both in the center of the Gaza Strip and in the south.

On the issue of the hostages, he said that “the return of all our hostages is a sacred goal.  I demand to know the names of all the living hostages who will be released in the deal.  We have not yet received those answers.”

It’s too early to know if we will succeed in reaching a deal.  We will not fold in the face of the delusional demands of Hamas.  We are determined to return everyone, with or without a deal,” he said.

“When we stand together we are very strong.  Since the beginning of the war we have shown wonderful unity on the battlefield and outside it,” Netanyahu added.    



IDF Spokesman: ‘IDF Did Not Fire On Gaza Aid Convoy’

UDF Spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari delivered a statement Thursday evening (2/29) regarding the morning’s incident involving a humanitarian aid convoy in northern Gaza and the IDF’s ongoing humanitarian aid efforts.

 “This morning, the IDF coordinated a convoy of 38 trucks to provide additional humanitarian assistance to the residents of northern Gaza.  This humanitarian aid came from Egypt, went through a security screening at the Kerem Shalom crossing in Israel, and then entered Gaza for distribution by private contractors,” Hagari began.

“As these vital humanitarian supplies were making their way towards Gazans in need, thousands of Gazans dispersed upon the trucks.  Some began violently pushing and even trampling other Gazans to death,  looting the humanitarian supplies,” he explained.

According to Hagari,”the unfortunate incident resulted in dozens of Gazans killed and injured.”

“Here are the facts,” he said.  “At 4:40 a.m. the first aid truck in the humanitarian convoy started making its way through the humanitarian corridor that we were securing.  Yes, the IDF was securing the humanitarian corridor so that the aid convoy could reach its destination in northern Gaza.  Our tanks were there to secure the humanitarian corridor for the aid convoy.  Our UAVs were there in the air to give our forces a clear picture from above.”

During this humanitarian operation at 4:45 a.m., a mob ambushed the aid trucks, bringing the convoy to a halt,” he said as he presented a new video of the incident.  “As you can see, in this video, the tanks that were there to secure the convoy saw the Gazans being trampled and cautiously tried to disperse the mob with a few warning shots.”

He continued, “When the hundreds became thousands and things got out of hand, the tank commander decided to retreat to avoid harm to the thousands of Gazans that were there.  Here you can see how cautious they were when we were backing up.  I think, as a military man, they were backing up securely, risking their own lives, not shooting at the mob.”

Rejecting Hamas’ accusation of a massacre of over a hundred civilians, he said that “The Israel Defense Forces operates according to the rules of engagement and international law.  No IDF strike was conducted toward the aid convoy.  I want to repeat that.  No IDF strike was conducted toward the aid convoy.”

On the contrary, the IDF was there carrying out a humanitarian aid operation to secure the humanitarian corridor, and allow the aid convoy to reach its distribution point, so that the humanitarian aid could reach Gazan civilians in the north who are in need,” he said.

“We have been conducting a humanitarian operation of this kind for the last four nights without any problem, this is the first we have had this kind of event,” he said.

“Our war is against Hamas, not against the people of Gaza,” he said.  “We recognize the suffering of the innocent people of Gaza.  This is why we are seeking ways to expand our humanitarian efforts, that is why we are conducting humanitarian operations like the one we conducted this morning.” 



No, Most People In Gaza Are Not “Just Like Us” – Gerald M. Steinberg

According to the mantras of peace activists, the way to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is by recognizing that the people on the other side are “just like us.”  This article of faith is also passionately repeated by Western diplomats.  But is Palestinian society “just like” Israeli society?

Israelis look at Gaza and see that many supported the horrendous brutality in the Hamas atrocities of Oct. 7.  Large crowds turned out to cheer the terrorists returning from their heinous spree of torture, murder, rape and kidnapping.  Some of the “ordinary civilians” ran immediately to join in the looting.  Long before Oct. 7, everyone living in Gaza (including UNRWA employees) knew that Hamas was stealing international aid to build a massive underground terror infrastructure.

In contrast to the majority of Israelis, many Palestinian mothers repeatedly encourage their children to become “martyrs” and express pride when they are killed while murdering and brutalizing Jews.  No, they are not “just like us.”  In what Prof. Richard Landes calls “honor-shame cultures,” humiliation (such as defeat in an aggressive war) which leads to unbounded determination to exact revenge.  This is the essence of the Palestinian nakba – the ongoing humiliation of the 1948 war in which the Arab armies were defeated by Jews and Zionists.  If Palestinians were “just like us,” they would instead examine their own shortcomings.

In contrast to Palestinian textbooks, in which Jews and Israelis are depicted as monsters, Israeli children are not systematically raised on hate and incitement.  The fundamental differences in our identities are deeply embedded in cultural values taught to children.

To avoid more disasters, Israelis must firmly reject the temptations of “common humanity” and other illusions,  As long as the goal of the Palestinians, Iran, and their allies is the elimination of Israel, sufficient military power must be available and displayed so that they understand that attacks on Israel will result in their own destruction.  A strong and “disproportionate” deterrent force is the best option for survival.

The writer, a fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, is professor emeritus of political studies at Bar-Ilan University and president of NGO Monitor,  (Los Angeles Jewish Journal)



Poll Finds Nearly 1 In 4 Americans Hold Anti-Semitic Views, Highest In 60 Years

Nearly a quarter of Americans hold anti-Semitic beliefs, with a disturbing reversal in trends showing that younger generations are more likely to believe in anti-Semitic tropes than previous generations, the Anti-Defamation League found in a survey released Thursday (2/29).

The poll of more than 4,000 US adults asked responders the extent to which they agree with statements such as “Jews have too much power in the business world,” “Jews have too much control and influence on Wall Street” and “Jews are more willing than others to do anything to get what they want,”

The results showed that 24 percent of Americans agreed with at least six of the statements, up from 20 percent in 2022, and the highest figure since the 11 statements were first polled in 1964, when 29% agreed.  Only 8-11% agreed with the statements from 2014-2019 before spiking this decade.

“After decades of anti-Semitism mostly keeping to the fringes of society, it is shocking to see the number of Americans who openly hold anti-Semitic beliefs, increase so significantly in recent years,” ADL Director Jonathan Greenblett said in a statement.

The poll found that those under 45 bow to anti-Jewish tropes.  A generational breakdown found that millennials agreed with an average of 5.37 of the statements posed while generation Z agreed with 5.01.

Among the disturbing findings, 27% of respondents said it would be at least somewhat acceptable for a close family member to support the Hamas terror group – with over half of Gen Z supporting this statement – while 23% have a close friend or family member who doesn’t like Jews.

The survey was taken in early January after Hamas’ October 7 massacre – in which terrorists carried out atrocities in southern Israel, killing around 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and kidnapping 253, including babies as young as 9-months-old.

In regards to Israel, 17% of Gen Z and 12% of millennials believe that the correct solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is “the termination of the State of Israel and the establishment of a Palestinian state in all areas of “historic Palestine,” in which the Jews living living there are not granted full citizenship rights.”

One fifth supported, strongly or somewhat, the removal of Israeli products from grocery stores.  And more than a third agreed to some extent with the statement, “I would not consider voting for a pro-Israel politician.”  (While they disagree on Israeli policy, all major candidates in the upcoming election say they are supporters of Israel).

Despite the findings regarding anti-Israel beliefs, the overwhelming majority of respondents – 88.8% – said Jews have the right to an independent country.

According to the ADL, belief in conspiracy theories persists as “the main predictive factors of the anti-Semitic attitudes and beliefs,” with respondents in the upper quartile of conspiracy theory belief agreeing on average with over twice as many of the tropes than those in the bottom quartile.


“The sharp reversal, from older generations to younger generations being more likely to hold anti-Semitic beliefs, is a terrifying concern for our future,” Greenblatt said.  “The need for better solutions is more urgent than ever – before this dangerous momentum keeps growing.”

There were 3,283 anti-Semitic incidents in the US between October 7 and January 7, according to the ADL report last month – including 60 physical assaults.  It also counted 553 incidents of vandalism and 1,353  incidents of harassment.

The total number of incidents during the past three months is more than four times the number that occurred during the same period last year. 

The rise in anti-semitism has been traced to the October 7 attack and the ensuing offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, which has sparked worldwide protests against Israel.

Since the beginning of the year, according to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry, 30,000 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip.  These numbers cannot be independently verified and do not differentiate between civilians and Hamas operatives. Israel says it has killed over 12,000 Hamas operatives inside Gaza since the beginning of its offensive and about 1,000 inside Israel on Oct. 7.