News Digest — 3/2/23

Netanyahu: ‘We Can’t Accept Riots In Huwara Or In Tel Aviv’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement on Wednesday evening (1st) in response to the protests that took place during the day against the government’s planned judicial reforms and the clashes with the police in Tel Aviv.

“The freedom of demonstration is not a license to plunge the country into anarchy, because a sovereign country cannot tolerate anarchy.  I know there are citizens who love the country who passionately support the reform and there are others who love the country who passionately oppose the reform.  In a democracy there are clear rules on how to conduct debate and there are red lines that must not be crossed.  The red line – the sharp and clear line is a complete ban on violence and anarchy,” Netanyahu said.

He added, “We will not accept rioters in Huwara and we will not accept rioters in Tel Aviv.”

Netanyahu recalled the controversy which surrounded the 2005 Disengagement Plan.

“Two decades ago, our internal debate was no less stormy, earth-shattering, and far-reaching.  An entire population that opposed the government’s policies with all its soul felt that the world was being destroyed.  In its Disengagement, the government decided to uproot over 8,000 Israelis from their homes.  The opponents saw their life’s work collapsing and many of them believed with all their hearts that this was the beginning of the destruction of ‘the Third Temple.’  They embarked on an acute, determined, poignant and powerful public struggle that encompassed large populations in the country.  That struggle did not cross red lines.  We did not see then what  we see today.  The demonstrators did not beat police officers, did not call for refusals to follow orders, did not withdraw their money from the state and did not defame Israel on the global stage,” he said.

“We didn’t cross red lines then.  The opposition led by me behaved responsibly then.  Today, unfortunately, the opposition opposes responsibility.  A certain party leader fuels the demonstrations and aims to cause a constitutional crisis in the hope that it will lead to the collapse of the government.”

Opponents of the judicial reforms had declared Wednesday (1st) a “Day of National Disruptions,” with protesters shutting down traffic into Jerusalem on Route 1 Wednesday morning (1st).  In Tel Aviv protesters disrupted train service and barred passengers from boarding or exiting trains at HaHagana Station.

Clashes broke out between protesters and police when hundreds of protesters broke through police barricades onto the Ayalon Highway.



As U.S.-Born Terror Victim Is Laid To Rest, IDF Nabs His Killers

Security forces arrested two Palestinian suspects in the killing of 27-year-old U.S.-born Elan Ganeles in the West Bank’s Aqabat Jaber, as hundreds of mourners attended his funeral.

According to the military, troops circled several homes in the town southwest of Jericho to hem in the suspects and came under heavy military fire.  There were no injuries among Israeli forces.

One of the suspects was apprehended by IDF commandos whereas another suspect surrendered himself.  A third suspect who also barricaded himself in the hideout tried to escape arrest and was shot. 

Locals began rioting in response to the raid and called to confront Israeli security forces.  Palestinians later reported that two members of the Palestinian security apparatus were injured during the operation.

According to the IDF and the internal intelligence agency Shin Bet, forces seized weapons and other military equipment allegedly used by the suspects before they were taken in for questioning.

Ganeles was driving to a wedding in the south West Bank when Palestinian gunmen opened fire at his car, causing him to crash.  He had been critically wounded and succumbed to his wounds at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem shortly after.

The suspects continued on their rampage, targeting two other passing vehicles, but with no further casualties.  They then went on to set their car afire and fled to Aqabat Jaber on foot, setting off a large manhunt by Israeli forces in fear they might commit further attacks.

The suspects were identified within hours as a 62-year-old man and another accomplice.  It is unclear if the two are affiliated with any terrorist group.

Meanwhile, over 1000 people attended Ganeles’ funeral in the old cemetery in the central city of Ra’anana.  His younger brother Simon mourned him saying,” he was an inspiration to me, and I’ll miss him.”

“Elan meant everything to me, I was so lucky that I got the chance to spend the last week of his life with him,” said brother Gabriel.

Ganeles’ mother Caroline said “Elan was the most brilliant child I’ve ever met.  He was such a gift in our life, he wanted to see the world and soak up every aspect, beauty, and culture.  He was so loved.  He’ll be missed so much.”

At Columbia University in New York, where Ganeles studied, more than 100 students gathered to pay their final respects and honor his memory.

Katya, a Columbia University student who shared classes with Ganeles, said it was important to commemorate him with a joint event hosted by the Columbia Hillel Center for Jewish students and Chabad where he was very active.

Attendees prayed together, recited the Kaddish, and listened to eulogies and a special address to Ganeles.



IFCT Doubles Number Of Bomb Shelters In Tiberias

Doubling the number of safety shelters in the northern Israeli city of Tiberias, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews placed nine new shelters around the city this week.  The placement of the shelters was based on assessments of the IDF Home Front Command which worked to identify specific geographic areas where residents required additional protection.

These are the first protective shelters IFCJ has added in the northern region of the country after several years where protective efforts have been more heavily focused in the country’s south, closer to the Gaza Strip.  In the coming months, additional shelters will be placed in northern cities and towns in coordination with the Home Front Command at a projected cost of over one million shekels.

“Thank you to the IFCJ for their contribution to improving the security of the residents of our city and visitors,” said Boaz Yosef, Mayor of the city of Tiberias.  “The deployment of these shelters around the city will increase the sense of security for all of us, giving us a wider range of protection during emergency situations.  Tiberias is a city which hosts hundreds of thousands of tourists every year and it’s important for our public spaces to have the necessary response available to all during an emergency.”

“Strengthening the protection of Israel and her people during emergencies is one of the main missions of the Fellowship,” said Yael Eckstein, President of IFCJ.  “We are honored to contribute to the protection of Israel and her citizens, and to assist security forces in creating an effective response for people in public spaces during an emergency situation.  These shelters not only provide this protection but also represent the decades of support and love of our hundreds of thousands of donors around the world in making this happen.”

The new shelters are part of the ongoing efforts by IFJC, in coordination with the Home Front Command, to make public spaces around the country more secure.  IFCJ has placed over 400 shelters in locations around Israel, and renovated 2400 shelters, investing in emergency and security protection in recent years.

“Our goal is to assist in reducing the gaps in protection all across the country,” said Safwan Marich, Director of the Safety and Emergency Response Division of IFCJ.  “These new shelters were all placed in a calculated manner in coordination with Home Front Command, with the aim of providing a safe response to any future event, with the hope, of course, that it will not be necessary.”

Among the foundation’s recent contributions towards security and emergency needs was the distribution of four armored vehicles for cities bordering Gaza, hundreds of first-response kits for security coordinators in front-line communities, a mobile emergency command center for the city of Ashkelon, a protected room at the French Hotel in Nazareth and an MRI machine for the protected area of Barzilai Hospital.



Iranian Cleric Claims: Six Million Jews Were Not Killed In The Holocaust

An Iranian cleric recently gave a Friday sermon in the city of Arak in which he expressed doubt that six million Jews were indeed killed in the Holocaust.

The cleric, Gholamali Dorri-Najafabadi, is the representative of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to Iran’s Markazi Province.  He said in the sermon on Friday, February 17, that it is not true that six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust, because there were not that many Jews in Europe.

He claimed that the true figure is about 50 or 60 Jews, and that the Holocaust has been used as a “pretext” to fight against Islam, Muslims, and the hijab.

The sermon was aired on Iran’s Aftab TV and translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

“If anyone talks about the Holocaust, [the West] imprisons them, flogs them, executes them, fines them… if anyone talks about hijab, they torture them and kill them.  They fight Islam,” claimed Dorri-Najafabadi.

“[The number of] Jews killed in the Holocaust during Hitler’s [rule] was not six million.  There were not even six million Jews [in Europe] to be killed.  Maybe 60, six, or 50 [Jews] were killed.  We don’t want to be antisemitic, but this has been used as a pretext.  So for 70 years they have been fighting Islam, hijab, and Muslims,” he added.

Holocaust denial is a recurring phenomenon in Iran.  Khamenei questioned the veracity of the Holocaust on International Holocaust Remembrance Day in 2016.  Two years earlier, Khamenei suggested that the Holocaust “was not real.”

Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denied the Holocaust on a regular basis as well. Prior to leaving the presidency, Ahmadinejad said he prided himself most on his denial of the Holocaust.

Iran’s current President, Ebrahim Raisi, this past September refused to acknowledge that the Holocaust happened, telling CBS’ “60 Minutes” in an interview that it should “be investigated.”



Palestinian Mother Instructs Her Son How To Become A Martyr- By Itamar Marcus

When a 16-year-old Palestinian boy told his mother “I’ll come back to you as a Martyr,” she could have discouraged him with several possible responses.  However, she did not say she loved him nor that she would rather have him live to adulthood and raise a family.  She did not tell him NOT to seek suicide as a “Martyr.”  What she did, alternatively, was give him instructions on how to assure Allah accepted him as a Martyr.

This is the shocking account that the mother of 16-year-old Muntasir Al-Shawa told PA TV:

“The day before [my son’s] injury [from which he died], he told me: ‘I want to go to Balata refugee camp [near Joseph’s Tomb], and I’ll come back to you as a Martyr.’  I laughed at him and told him: ‘Do you think being a Martyr is something trivial?  Go bathe, pray, bow down to Allah, and then there might be a chance that Allah will agree to accept you [as a Martyr].’  The following night he came back to me as a Martyr.  Praise Allah.”  [Official PA TV News, Feb. 21, 2023]