News Digest — 3/11/22

Mufti Of Jerusalem Slams Pence For ‘Storming’ Tomb Of The Patriarchs In Hebron

Sheikh Mohammad Hussein, the Mufti of Jerusalem, condemned former U.S. Vice President Mike Pence’s visit on Wednesday (9th) to Hebron, particularly to the Tomb of the Patriarchs, Khaled Abu Toameh reported in The Jerusalem Post.

Yishai Fleisher, international spokesperson for the Jewish community of Hebron, gave Pence and his wife, Karen, a tour of the biblical city.

“Abraham was the father of 3 great world religions and it was a joy for @KarenPence and I to be able to visit his final resting place,” Pence tweeted.

The Tomb of the Patriarchs is the burial place of patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and matriarchs Sarah, Rebecca and Leah.  The matriarch Rachel is buried separately near the city of Bethlehem.

The Tomb is the second-holiest site in Judaism after the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.  It includes a mosque called al-Haram al-Ibrahimi.

In a statement Thursday (10th), the Mufti slammed Pence for “storming the site,” saying “it’s a place for Muslims only,” the Post reported.

Abu Toameh explained that the Palestinians regularly use the word “storm” to describe visits by Jews to the Temple Mount, the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus (Shechem) in Samaria.

In what could be seen as an act of incitement to violence, the mufti said that what Pence did by visiting the Tomb “is a provocative and dangerous act for which the Israeli occupation authorities bear the consequences.”

The mufti also condemned the work being carried out by the Israeli authorities in the courtyards of the Ibrahimi Mosque in order to make the site wheelchair accessible according to the Post. 

The mufti added that “all religions and international laws forbid causing any harm to places of worship.”

He called on the Arab and Islamic countries and international institutions to protect religious holy sites in the ‘occupied’ Palestinian territories and prevent the takeover of the Ibrahimi Mosque and any changes to it,” the report said.

In fact, Hebron was the first capital of the Jewish people, specifically the tribe of Judah, from whom many Jews today descend.  King David served as king in Hebron for seven years before he was crowned King of Israel in Jerusalem.

“Thank you for your incredible effort against the historical theft that UNESCO made when it declared that this is not a Jewish site, that this is a world historical site that is Palestinian,” Fleisher told Pence.

In July 2017, the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee designated the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Hebron a Palestinian heritage site.

Then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu read passages from the Bible during the following Sunday’s weekly Cabinet meeting as a refutation of the UNESCO resolution.  



Lapid, Jordan’s King Discuss Jerusalem Tensions

Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid met Thursday (10th) with Jordan’s King Abdullah II at his palace in the kingdom’s capital of Amman, the Foreign Ministry reported.

According to the ministry, the two met to discuss the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, as well as growing tension in Jerusalem and on the Temple Mount.

“We agreed that we should work together. Especially in the run-up to Ramadan and Passover, and worry about the tense security situation in Jerusalem,” Lapid said.

“Our special friendship with the Kingdom of Jordan promises a better future for our children.  Peace is not only about being neighborly, but it is also our moral responsibility to both of our people.”

This was the second meeting Lapid had with the king –  the first took place in September of last year.

Lapid’s office reported that the two also discussed regional and international policy issues, the progress of normalization and peace, as well as joint projects pertaining to renewable energy and trade.

The Jordanian news agency Petra reported that the king “reiterated the need not to harm the historical and legal status quo in Jerusalem, to maintain total peace, and to stop all unilateral measures that undermine the two-state solution.”

The meeting was also attended by Jordanian deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ayman Safadi, with whom Lapid also met separately.

Thursday’s (10th) meeting follows a string of violent incidents in Jerusalem, the last of which took place Monday (7th), when two policemen were stabbed and moderately injured by a Palestinian man near the Old City.

Officials in the defense establishment stated that there was a need to increase the presence of security forces in the area ahead of April – when the month of Ramadan, and the Passover holiday takes place.

The officials added that the recent clashes between Palestinians and security forces in the contested neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem have also contributed to the recent spike in tensions in the flashpoint areas. 



Egypt’s El-Sisi Has Made A Strategic Decision To Deepen Ties With Israel – Danny Zaken

→ Egypt is adopting a new proposal to Israel and is striving to deepen economic and commercial ties.  This new approach can be attributed to the major success of the Abraham Accords which have helped promote economic deals signed between countries, including Israel and Egypt.

→ In his recent gesture to greet Israel’s Energy Minister in Cairo, el-Sisi was showing his people and the Arab world that Egypt is prepared to open up to Israel, economically, with tourism, and in a range of other ways.

→ A new deal conveys gas from Israel’s offshore Leviathan field through Israel to the Jordanian border and then southward through Jordan and beneath the Red Sea to Egypt.  There is an existing pipeline between Israel’s Mediterranean coast and the Jordanian border near Beit Shean following a 2016 deal to supply natural gas to Jordan.

→ The pipelines carrying Israeli gas to Egypt via Sinai are operating at full capacity, with a bottleneck between Ashkelon and Ashdod preventing the purchase of all the gas that Egypt needs.  It is hoped that the Israeli government company Israel Natural Gas Lines will complete laying a new gas pipeline to relieve the congestion by the end of 2023.

→ According to the agreement signed in February in Cairo, the amount of gas that will be conveyed to Egypt via the Jordanian pipeline will reach 2 billion cubic meters (BCM) annually, while 3.5 BCM will eventually be conveyed from Ashkelon to El Arish in Egypt.  In other words, Israel will be selling Egypt 5.5 BCM annually.

→ Thus the walls are continuing to fall between Israel and its neighbors.  Israeli, UAE and Jordanian trucks travel between Israel and the UAE via Saudi Arabia filled with Israeli goods, and Israeli water irrigates fields in Jordan.



Polish Yeshiva That Was Largest In World Becomes Refugee Camp For Ukrainian Jews

A yeshiva in Poland that was once the largest in the world has been converted into a refugee camp for Ukrainian Jews fleeing their home country as Russia’s war continues.

Chachmei Lubin Yeshiva operated in Lublin, Poland from 1930-1939.

It now holds roughly 190 beds for Ukrainian Jewish refugees, American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee director in Poland, Karina Sokolowska said on Monday (7th), as reported by The Jerusalem Post.  She said that “some are regular hotel rooms, but we also have large halls in the building where we put many mattresses on the floor.”

The JDC has an additional 500 beds across Poland in temporary refugee camps and is working closely with the Jewish community in Warsaw and Poland’s Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich to help Ukrainian Jewish refugees as much as possible.

“Sometimes, we cannot give them a place to stay immediately,” said Sokolowska.

“Sometimes they have to wait for hours to be picked up from the border.”

She added that almost everyone she knows in the Jewish community in Warsaw is housing a Ukrainian family to help with the shortage of available hotel rooms..

“Until 12 days ago, my job was to promote Jewish education and culture in Poland,” said Sokolowska.  “But now I am dealing with a whole different world.  I never thought I would need to run a huge operation for Jewish refugees – definitely not in Poland.”

The JDC also has two storage centers in Poland where it keeps food, clothes, shoes and other items to aid Ukrainian Jews.



Israel Airlifts 10 Hospitalized Kids From Ukraine For Care In Israel

Ambassador of Israel to Romania David Saranga and his embassy staff helped rescue 10 Ukrainian children with serious illnesses and bring them to Israel for treatment.

Schneider Medical Center of Petah Tikva sent medical personnel and a special plane to safely transport the children to Schneider’s hospital for children.

The special 48-hour rescue operation included entering Ukraine, bringing the young patients out of the hospital in Kyiv and closely accompanying them to the waiting plane.  

Several of these children, aged 3 to 18, were too weak to walk on their own.  Some of them have cancer, some need dialysis and others are suffering from complex diseases.

“As diplomats representing the state of the Jewish people, we cannot remain indifferent to the suffering of others.  It is our moral duty to do everything in our power to alleviate the suffering of each other,” said Saranga, who has actively been aiding refugees since the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

The embassy staff thanked Romanian authorities for helping to smooth the way for this dangerous lifesaving mission.