News Digest — 3/13/24

Stabbing Attack At Jerusalem Entrance Tunnel, leaving 2 Injured

Two people were injured in a stabbing attack at a checkpoint at the entrance to Jerusalem early Wednesday morning (13th), the IDF confirmed.  The attack took place at a tunnel checkpoint in Gush Etzion.

The attack was perpetrated by a 15-year-old terrorist. Who at 8:15 a.m., arrived at the tunnel crossing on a bicycle from the Jerusalem area.  As security forces at the crossing attempted to check him, the terrorist drew a knife and began stabbing forces at the scene.

Armed civilian guards immediately responded to the terrorist, and IDF forces present at the crossing neutralized the terrorist with precision without further casualties.

A 25-year-old man and an 18-year-old woman were lightly injured.

Shortly after the attack, MDA EMTs and paramedics were at the scene treating and evacuating the injured, who were in light and moderate condition, to Shaare Tzedek Hospital.

In response to Wednesday’s (13th) attack. The mayor of the Gush Etzion Regional Council and chairman of Yesha Council, Shlomo Ne’eman stated, “This morning we are dealing with a nation whose main ritual during its most important holiday is to carry out terrorist attacks.  The people of Israel will not be intimidated by these barbarians, nor will they cut-off our eternal connection to the Land of Israel.”



4,500 Attacks On Hezbollah Targets, More Than 300 Killed In Current War, IDF Updates

On Tuesday (12th), hours after the heaviest rocket barrages from Lebanon into Israel territory since the beginning of the war, and after additional attacks in the Baalbek region deep in Lebanon, the IDF published an interim summary-damage to the Hezbollah in the last five months, and a map of the targets attacked as a kind of additional message to the Shiite terrorist organization.  The IDF noted that about 4,500 targets have been attacked since the beginning of the war.  Almost at the same time the announcement was made, rocket alert sirens sounded on the northern border, this time in the Western Galilee.

According to the IDF announcement, in the last five months IDF forces, led by the Northern Command and the Israeli Air Force, attacked more than 1,200 Hezbollah targets from the air and more than 3,100 from land.

The IDF said that, since the beginning of the fighting, the troops have killed more than 300 terrorists and injured more than 750, and dozens of terror squads were attacked that directed rocket fire at Israeli territory.  “During these five months we have been hitting Hezbollah infrastructure, commanders and capabilities every day.  The IDF is constantly working to push Hezbollah forces out of the area of southern Lebanon, and has carried out significant attacks in this area,” according to the IDF.

The IDF also acknowledged the residents who have been evacuated from their homes for the last five months.  “We are well aware of the great and ongoing hardship of the residents of the north and appreciate the resilience they are demonstrating.  The IDF is committed to continuing to work for a good and stable security reality.”

Meanwhile, after the attack in Baalbek, Tuesday (12th), a Hezbollah source told the Qatari Al-Araby Al-Jadeed  that “Hezbollah will not be silent about the Israeli attacks in the south, in Baalbek or any other area of Lebanon, and the response will be the same, only stronger.”  The source said, ”we are at war with the enemy.  All options are open and Hezbollah is prepared for any and all expansions.”



Thousands Of Police To Deploy In Jerusalem’s Old City For Ramadan Prayers Friday

Israel’s Police force said it will deploy thousands of officers across Jerusalem’s Old City for Ramadan’s first Friday (15th) prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, with tensions high amid the Gaza war. 

“We are prepared for Friday (15th) prayers with more police officers.  Thousands of them will be in the area of the Temple Mount,” police spokeswoman Mirit ben Mayor told reporters, referring to the holy site upon which the mosque sits.

Hundreds of police officers have already been deployed in the Old City since Ramadan began on Sunday (10th).

Ben Mayor said up to 25,000 worshipers had already visited the mosque for prayers during the Muslim fasting month without any incidents.

“We will do everything to enable this Ramadan to be quiet,” she told a news conference.

Last week Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said Muslim worshipers would be allowed to access Al-Aqsa Mosque in the same numbers as in previous years during the first week of Ramadan.  “Every week following, there will be a situation assessment in terms of security and safety and decisions will be made accordingly,” it said.

Palestinians coming to the Temple Mount from the West Bank were expected to face some restrictions, police said in a statement.

Only men aged 55 and older and women over 50 from the territory would be allowed to enter the mosque compound “for security reasons,” government spokesperson Ofir Gendelman said.



Netanyahu To AIPAC: To Win War We Must Defeat Hamas In Rafah

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday (12th), addressed by video link, the AIPAC Conference in Washington, DC.

The Following are Prime Minister Netanyahu’s full remarks.

“I want to say a few words.  I want to say a few words to you Mr. President, and to our wonderful friends at AIPAC,  Thank you for standing with Israel at all times and especially during these trying times.  Thank you AIPAC.

“I deeply appreciate it, the support we’ve received from President Biden and the administration and I hope it will continue.  But let me be clear.  Israel will win this war no matter what.

“To win this war, we must destroy the remaining Hamas battalions in Rafah.  If not, Hamas will regroup, rearm and reconquer Gaza and then we’re back to square one.  And that is an intolerable threat that we cannot accept.

“We will destroy Hamas, free our hostages and ensure that Gaza doesn’t ever pose a threat to Israel again.  

“We will finish the job in Rafah while enabling the civilian population to get out of harm’s way.  We’ve taken measures to minimize civilian casualties that no other army has taken in history.  Just ask Colonel John Spencer, a world expert on urban warfare, in charge of urban warfare at West Point.  We have taken measures to minimize civilian casualties that no other army has taken in history.

“So to our friends in the international community, I say this: you cannot say you support Israel’s right to exist and to defend itself and then oppose Israel when it exercises that right.  You cannot say you support Israel’s goal of destroying Hamas and then oppose Israel when it takes the actions necessary to achieve that goal.  You cannot say that you oppose Hamas’ strategy of using civilians as human shields and then blame Israel for the civilian casualties that result from this Hamas cynical strategy.

“For Israel, every civilian death is a tragedy.  For Hamas, every civilian death is a strategy.  So it is wrong and immoral to hold Israel to a standard for avoiding civilian casualties that no other country on earth is held to.

“My friends, I want to assure you, none of these pressures will stop us.  Israel’s very future, its very survival is at stake.  We have no other option but total victory and that victory is in and within reach.

“I know that the overwhelming majority of the American people stand with us.  I know that the overwhelming majority of Congress stands with us.  I know that you stand with us.  I know that you’re working tirelessly, day in and day out, to get us the tools so we can finish the job faster.

“And on behalf of the united people of Israel, I want to say thank you, AIPAC.  Thank you for everything you’re doing for Israel.  God bless Israel.  God bless America.  Thank You.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu added:

“Some people would make you believe that the people of Israel are disunited.  In fact, some people would have you believe there is the prime minister and then there is the people of Israel.

“The truth of the matter is that the people overwhelmingly support the policies set forth by myself and my government.  They overwhelmingly support the need for total victory.  Overwhelmingly.  They overwhelmingly oppose the idea of having a Palestinian state rammed down our throat.

“We just had a vote in the Knesset, to illustrate the point I just made, 99 to 9 supporting this position.  And you know what?  It’s not irrational.  It’s because they think that giving now a Palestinian state after the October 7th massacre will be the greatest reward for terrorism in modern times.

“They overwhelmingly reject the idea that we should implant, after we’ve destroyed Hamas in Gaza, the PA that still inculcates its children towards terrorism and the annihilation of Israel.  We want a future of peace, a future of security that is purchased by a resounding victory.

“And as I say, the possibilities of this victory, the possibilities that are opened up are immense but they require that one word: victory.  And I will repeat it again, victory, victory, victory.  No substitute for that and we will achieve it together.”



A New Terror Threat Is Emerging In Europe Linked To Iran, Gaza War – Bojan Pancevski

In a previously unreported investigation last December, police in Austria and Bosnia arrested two separate groups of Afghan  and Syrian refugees who carried arms and ammunition, including Kalashnikov assault rifles and pistols.  Investigators found pictures of Jewish and Israeli targets in Europe on some of their mobile phones.

Investigators said Europe’s terror threat is coming from new sources, including Iran and its proxies in the Middle East, including Hezbollah and Hamas.  In December, German police launched raids across the country targeting Hamas and its affiliates.

German and Dutch investigators also arrested four people for receiving the order from Hamas to open a secret cache of weapons and attack Jewish targets in Berlin and elsewhere in Western Europe.  German prosecutors said Hamas had buried the weapons underground in Europe years ago but that the suspects, all longstanding Hamas members involved in the group’s overseas operations, wouldn’t reveal where.

Both Hamas and Hezbollah have so far used Europe as a fundraising hub and a safe house for operatives.  But the recent raids on Hamas suggest those groups are now pivoting to plotting assassinations and sabotage in Europe, directed mainly at Jewish and Israeli targets.



Israel’s Persian Spokesperson Believes “Israel’s Only Friends In The Middle Are The Iranian People” – Ohad Merlin

Benni Sabti, 52, was born in Tehran seven years before the 1979 Islamic Revolution.  After suffering much persecution and harassment, Sabti and his family fled Iran by foot when he was 15, arriving in Israel through Europe.  Later he helped establish the IDF Spokesperson Unit’s Persian department and has been serving as the government’s spokesperson in Persian.

“Many Iranians are eager to hear about Israel in Persian – in their own language,” he said.  “The regime itself admits that 70-75% of the Iranian public watches the expatriate channels, including on social media, rather than the Iranian regime’s outlets.  Few watch the regime’s channels.”

“Today, anti-Semitism originates almost exclusively from the regime.  The pro-Hamas demonstrations are pushed by the regime itself – but the public is mostly not with them.  At the start of the revolution, many were anti-Semitic, but the failure of the revolution and the totalitarian dictatorship it brought upon Iran led to a reversal and a rejection of anti-Semitism.  Today, 50% of Iranians say that they are not hostile to Israel and even sympathize with it – and those are the only ones who dare to speak.”

“We need to push the West to stand up to Iran: not to give the regime any privileges or lift sanctions at our expense.  This money translates very quickly into Hezbollah missiles.  We must support Iranian youth.  They are not in this game, they do not want the regime; they want freedom and happiness.  Israel’s only friends in the Middle East are the Iranian people,” said Sabti.  (Jerusalem Post)