News Digest — 3/15/22

2 Palestinians Killed In Clashes With Israeli Forces

Two Palestinians were shot and Killed in clashes with Israeli security forces in Kalandiya and Balata in the West Bank on Tuesday morning (15th), according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

Alaa Shaham was named as the Palestinian man killed in Kalandiya, north of Jerusalem.  Six others were wounded in the clashes.

The clashes broke out as Border Police entered Kalandiya to arrest two Palestinians suspected of terrorist activities.  The police responded with riot dispersal methods and live fire.

Nader Haitham Rayan was named as the other Palestinian killed in clashes in Balata, near Nablus, with  three others injured in the clashes.

Border Police entered Balata in order to arrest a wanted suspect, according to authorities.  An M-16 rifle was found in his home.  As police were leaving the home, they were confronted by violent riots, during which Rayan was killed after he fired at Israeli forces.

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist movement warned  Israel of the “repercussions” of the deaths, saying that they would “not go unnoticed.”  The movement called for Palestinians in the West Bank and within pre-1967 Israel to attack Israeli soldiers and civilians.

Hamas official Jasser Barghouti stated on Tuesday (15th) that the deaths were “an indication of the occupation’s horror at the upcoming Palestinian anger, and a failed attempt to deter the angry masses.”  Barghouti called on Palestinians to escalate the situation. 



Between Land Day In Negev And Ramadan In Jerusalem: Efforts To Prevent Security Deterioration

Security tensions are arising ahead of Ramadan.

Palestinian sources report that factions in the Gaza Strip are considering resuming violent clashes with IDF forces at the Gaza Strip border fence and resuming the activities of the night attrition units as part of what they call the “popular protest.”

Sources report that some factions in the Gaza Strip intend to hold events taking advantage of the Negev and Jerusalem issues and organize two large rallies to mark “Land Day”, which will occur on March 30th, adding that the factions are considering holding activities in the Palestinian Authority as well.

The activities to mark Land Day could be the opening shot in a series of events that will lead to an escalation in the month of Ramadan, which will begin two days later and is in close proximity to Passover and moving towards Israel’s Independence Day.

At the end of last week, the “National Committee for the Support of Israeli Arabs” was established in the Gaza Strip.  A Hamas spokesman said at the event that “the meeting of national and Islamic forces in Gaza is a historic event, and the announcement of the establishment of a committee to support Israeli Arabs is intended to prove that our people are indivisible.”

Israeli Minister Zeev Elkin’s intention to resume tree-planting in the Negev, including in areas where violent clashes took place two months ago, is already receiving attention on the Palestinian side.

However, the fear of escalation stems from a series of further developments, including the diverted global attention from the Palestinian issue in the wake of the crisis in Ukraine, pressure on the Palestinian Authority to freeze security coordination with Israel, tensions between Fatah and Hamas, and Israel’s intention to approve the construction of housing units in Jerusalem.

In eastern Jerusalem, which was the center of events last May that led to Operation Guardian of the Walls, Palestinians are warning against Jews ascending the Temple Mount on Purim and the Passover Holiday, in parallel with Ramadan. 



IDF Deploying Troops To Help With Ukrainian Refugees

Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Immigration and Absorption Minister Pnina Tamano Shata  published on Monday (14th) a program that will have IDF soldiers operating as part of the assistance to new immigrants and refugees from Ukraine and Russia arriving at Ben Gurion Airport.

Following the significant increase in the number of olim (new immigrants) and those entitled to return to Israel from Ukraine and Russia due to the fighting, the government is enlisting the help of Russian-and Ukrainian-speaking soldiers to assist immigrants at Ben Gurion Airport.

The soldiers will assist in the absorption procedures but will not be authorized to perform any action themselves that involves exercising discretion to obtain immigrant status, registration in the population registry, or any other benefit.

Israel is expecting the flow of tens of thousands of refugees fleeing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as well as Russians fleeing their country following the financial and democratic deterioration offset by the war and sanctions leveled by the West.

Some 8,000 refugees have arrived in Israel in the past two weeks, including about 600 on four flights on Sunday (13th), and tens of thousands more are expected to arrive in the coming weeks.



From Kitchenware To Anti-Tank Obstacles: Ukrainian Factory Enlists In Battle

The ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine has forced previously inconceivable changes on the besieged country’s populace and industry, both of which are now forced to adapt to a new, often brutal and bloody reality.

One such Ukrainian who decided to aid his country in time of crisis is Max Andrewshush – who owns the Lviv-based “Steel Manufacture” factory – which before the war specialized in manufacturing kitchenware.  Now the workers are manufacturing steel plates for bulletproof vests, as well as anti-tanks barricades and traps meant to fend off the encroaching Russian forces.

“At the beginning of the war we had a very hard time deciding what to do and how to help,” said Andrewshush.

“We contacted volunteers who joined the fighting and the first thing they told us is that they were missing steel barricades against tanks.  We started working immediately and thus far fabricated over 600 barricades.”

According to Andrewshush, the majority of his workers were drafted to the army, so he found himself with no more than 30 workers – all volunteers – working tirelessly to produce and send hundreds of barricades to the Ukraine/Belarus border, which recently became one of the main fronts of this war.

These barricades each weigh over 330 pounds and are effective against armored vehicles weighing up to 240 tons,” Andrewshush said.

“They are relatively simple to make in our factory since we have the tools needed to produce them, but our problem is that we have a limited amount of steel, which is nigh impossible to get into Ukraine these days.”

Alongside the barricades, the factory also produces steel traps used by Ukraine’s army and militias to halt the advance of Russian vehicles.

According to Andrewshush, his 30 workers already produced 50,000 such traps, many of which are used daily all over western Ukraine, where the fighting is especially fierce.

The factory owner adds he and his men are also creating hundreds of steel plates for bullet proof vests every day.

“We can produce 300 steel plates every day.  Knowing that it is now difficult for our country to pay for such items, we have decided at this stage to adopt a policy of non-profit production.”

In addition to military tools, the factory workers also found creative ways to produce useful appliances to provide some semblance of comfort for the thousands of soldiers and officers stationed all across Ukraine – including wood-powered heaters to provide much needed heat in Ukraine’s cold freezing climate.



This Year Israeli Students Are Baking ‘Putintaschens’ –  Cookies For Purim

The classic hamantaschen cookie for Purim is getting an updated twist this year:  Young Israeli students living in Warsaw have decided to bake the popular Jewish triangle cookies with a new and funny name, “Putintaschens,” as the cookies of Russian President Vladmir Putin.

Hamantaschen means Haman’s pockets in Yiddish.  It is also sometimes described as Haman’s ears.  It is an Ashkenazi Jewish triangular-filled pastry associated with Purim.  The name refers to Haman, the villain in the Purim story.

Gefen Levy, a medical student at a local Warsaw-based university, grew up in Ma’aleh Adumim, near Jerusalem.  Lately she has been volunteering with the From the Depths organization and hosting families of Jewish refugees in her small apartment.

On Sunday, (14th) Levy and her friends baked what they now call Putintaschens.

“I’ve been learning a bit less lately because of the terrible situation,” she told The Jerusalem Post.  “Even though I’m a college student, I donated as much money as I could.  My friends and I also volunteered with the doctors who came from Israel.”

The hamantaschens she made are based on her grandmother’s recipe from Morocco.  She made them with poppy seeds and chocolate.

From the Depths founder Johnny Daniels joined her in the baking process.

“We will reach everyone with our Putintaschens and gifts for the needy,” he told the Post.

“So many organizations do sacred work on the ground in Poland and other countries,” Daniels said.  “Therefore,  we are baking these hamantaschens for the refugees of Ukraine to make them smile during this difficult time, but also to empower the organizations, such as ours, who are working with the Jewish refugees.”

“This Purim, we understand that as Jews, we will always be in difficult situations,” he said.

“But the holidays are what connects us to our past and to each other.  As soon as we started thinking about hamantaschens, I looked at the sad refugees around me, and I realized how we needed to name them after Putin – Putintaschens – Putin’s ears.”

“This will make them smile,” he added.