News Digest — 3/20/23

Ahead Of Ramadan: Israel Repeats Commitment Not To Build In Judea And Samaria

The second session of the joint forum of the United States, Egypt, Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Authority came to a close on Sunday evening (19th) in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

A senior political source stated that “the sides renewed their commitments to the agreements made in Aqaba –  possible agreements to halt one-sided steps on both sides.”

The Israeli delegation, led by National Security Advisor Tzachi Hanegbi, included Shin Bet Chief Ronen Bar and senior officials from the Defense and Foreign Ministries.  It emphasized, “To prevent an escalation during and after Ramadan, we need to work determinedly against terrorism without compromise.”

The forum is set to meet again within the coming weeks, probably after Ramadan.

In a declaration published after the summit, Israel repeated its commitment not to authorize new construction in Judea and Samaria in the coming months.

The participants emphasized their commitment to promoting stability and peace for Palestinians and Israelis and to take steps to build trust while opening diplomatic horizons.  “Israel commits to stop the discussion of new housing units in the settlements for a period of four months,” states the declaration.

The declaration also notes that “Israel and the Palestinian Authority emphasize their commitment to all the previous agreements between them and decided to create a system to reduce violence and incitement.  The Palestinian Authority takes responsibility for security in Judea and Samaria.”

The Muslim fasting month of Ramadan begins in late March, and in previous years, clashes have erupted between Israeli police and Palestinian rioters around Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa compound at the height of the holiday.  There is also an uptick in terror attacks and violence by Palestinian terror groups throughout the period.  This year Ramadan coincides with the Jewish holiday of Passover and the Christian celebration of Easter.

The Month of Ramadan begins on March 22nd.



‘COOLEST HEAD UNDER FIRE:’ American-Israeli Victim Shoots Palestinian Terrorist After Being Shot In The Head

A dual-American citizen and former U.S. Marine managed to draw his weapon and shoot a Palestinian terrorist after he was shot in the head at point blank range in Huwara on Sunday (19th).

David Stern, a martial arts instructor, was wounded when a Palestinian terrorist shot him in the head after approaching his vehicle on Route 60 near the Palestinian village of Huwara, Samara.  He then shot the terrorist who then abandoned his carlo-style machine gun and fled, before being caught by Israeli authorities who neutralized him.

Mk Tzvi Sukkot from the religious Zionist Party described Stern as a “professional fighter” who has “the coolest head under fire in existence.”

“After sustaining a direct volley of gunfire, he managed to return fire and wound the terrorist – and then treat himself.  A miracle happened here!” Sukkot tweeted, adding that Stern was a “dear friend.”

Stern and his wife were evacuated to Rabin Medical Center-Beilinson in Petah Tikvah.  She was treated for shock.  He was described as in moderate to serious condition.

Their children were in the back of the vehicle but were not harmed in the attack.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Stern a “hero” for shooting the terrorist.

“I am praying for the wounded hero injured in the attack in Huwara, who was able to shoot the terrorist.  I send my support to the security forces operating in the area.  I reiterate: Anyone trying to harm the citizens of Israel will pay the price,” he said.

The attack occurred near the scene of a deadly shooting last month that claimed the lives of two brothers – Hillel Menachem Yaniv, 29, and Yigal Yaakov Yaniv, 20.

According to a new poll, 71% of the residents of Huwara, a hotbed of terror, approved of the brothers’ murder.  There were celebrations in the village after the attack.  Huwara has been the site of dozens of terror attacks over the past two decades, including several car-ramming attacks, IEDs, and pipe bombings.

Sunday’s attack (19th) took place as Israeli and Palestinian delegations met in the Egyptian town of Sharm el-Sheikh in an attempt to “curb and counter violence, incitement and inflammatory statements” and “prevent further violence,” according to a joint statement from Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Egypt, Jordan and the U.S.

Last month’s terror attack that claimed the lives of the Yaniv brothers in Huwara also occurred as Israeli and Palestinian delegations met in Aqaba.



PIJ Claims: Israel Assassinated Islamic Jihad Member In Syria

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement blamed Israel for the assassination of Ali Ramzi Al-Aswad, a senior member of the movement’s al-Quds Brigades, near Damascus on Sunday morning (19th).

According to the movement, Al-Aswad was an engineer in the Brigades and was assassinated by “the agents of the Zionist enemy in the countryside of Damascus.”

The Islamic Jihad movement stressed that it holds Israel responsible for the killing adding that “we affirm that we will continue to confront the enemy, attack it and respond to all its crimes against our people and our resistance.”

Palestinian sources told the Lebanese Al-Mayadeen TV that investigations into the assassination are still ongoing and that the decision to respond will be made based on the results of the investigation.The sources added that the method of assassination is similar to previous operations in Syria and Lebanon.

In November 2019, an alleged Israeli airstrike targeted the home of a senior Islamic Jihad official named Akram al-Ajouri, killing him and another individual.

The alleged assassination on Sunday (19th) comes just a day after the secretary-general of the Islamic Jihad movement, Ziyad al-Nakhala, met with the secretary-general of the Hezbollah movement, Hassan Nasrallah.

During the meeting, al-Nakhala and Nasrallah discussed the “continuation of consultation and coordination between them in a way that strengthens the resistance in the face of the Zionist enemy.”

On Sunday morning (19th), Nasrallah met with a delegation from the Hamas movement led by Saleh al-Arouri.  The two discussed “the responsibilities entrusted to the resistance movements, and the entire axis of resistance in this historical stage.”

On Sunday afternoon (19th), Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stressed at a cabinet meeting that “all those who try to harm the citizens of Israel  – their blood is on their heads.  We will reach the terrorists and the architects of terrorism everywhere.”  Netanyahu did not refer specifically to the alleged assassination in Syria.

On Saturday evening (18th), a rocket was fired from the Gaza Strip towards southern Israel, landing in an open area near Nahal Oz.  A group calling itself “the Lions’ Den Gaza” claimed responsibility for the rocket fire.  The group first claimed responsibility for rocket fire from Gaza in November.

The rocket fire on Saturday (18th) came just two days after two commanders of local branches of the Islamic Jihad and Hamas terror groups in Jenin were killed in clashes with Israeli forces.

Both Hamas and Islamic Jihad threatened to respond after the clashes by saying those responsible for the deaths “would pay the price for these crimes.”



German Tourist Attacked In Shechem: ‘It Definitely Changed My Mind About The Palestinians’

Jerald Hetzel, a young tourist from Germany, was attacked together with a second tourist on Saturday (18th) by an Arab mob in Shechem (Nablus) after he entered the city with a vehicle rented from a Tel Aviv car rental service bearing a small Israeli flag.

“We felt very, very afraid,” Hetzel told Kan 11 of the ordeal.  “I didn’t know if I would get out alive because they had so much hate against us.’

Hetzel said he did not expect such an attack since he had traveled to Judea and Samaria in rented cars in the past and had no issues.  “We were literally attacked by a mob of young angry people from the street,” described the young tourist.

“They suddenly came out of the taxis and surrounded us, and we tried to explain in English that we are tourists from Germany, that we are both not Jewish so that we are not a target for them.  They just screamed at us, and they started to hit our car with their fists, and then they took traffic signs and rocks and began throwing them at us.”

Jerald and his companion were rescued by an Israeli Arab at the scene.  “I saw a car with an Israeli license plate, and he signaled to me to follow him, so I followed him, and he led us away through smaller roads, away from the main road to the border of the city of Nablus,” he recounted.

Hetzel added: “It definitely changed my mind about the Palestinians, because until now, I had better experiences with them, and it just showed me that over nothing, they could attack you.  They were so triggered by this very small Israeli flag on the car that they decided to attack us, and I don’t know if they wanted to kill us, but we definitely had that impression.”



A Florida Bill Banning ‘Ethnic Intimidation Flyers’ Aims To Stop The State’s Neo-Nazi Rise

Responding to the recent rise in neo-Nazi activity in his state, a Jewish lawmaker in Florida is trying to outlaw displays of “religious or ethnic animus” on private property in Florida.

H.B. 269 takes aim at a variety of activities that neo-Nazi groups in the state have undertaken, from distributing flyers with hate speech to broadcasting intimidating messages in public places.

Those groups’ activities have been rising in Florida for several years, according to a 2022 report by the Anti-Defamation League titled “Hate in the Sunshine State.”  The report was published before the founder of the Goyim Defense League, which distributes anti-Semitic literature in public places and to private homes, relocated to Florida.

“We have actual Nazis who have proudly taken up residence in Florida,” the bill’s co-author Rep. Randy Fine, recently told the Algemeiner.  “The things that they are doing, all of which I find disgusting, are reprehensible, and we are going to make them felonies.”

Fine, Florida’s only Jewish Republican state legislator, did not respond to Jewish Telegraphic Agency requests for comment.

Over the last couple of years, antisemitic groups have rallied outside Disney World and a Chabad house in Orlando; displayed messages of Jew-hatred on a Jacksonville stadium during a highly-watched college football game; and visited Florida universities trying to provoke students with antisemitic messaging.

Many, but not all of those activities have been fueled by members of the Goyim Defense League, whose founder specifically said he expected Florida to be more hospitable to him and his worldview when he moved his operations there from California’s Bay Area.

Now the Goyim Defense League’s signature tactic would transform into a felony under H.B. 269, which has bipartisan support and this week advanced to the legislature’s Judiciary Committee, a crucial step in the passage of legislation.

The bill would prohibit Floridians “from distributing onto private residential property any material that evidences religious or ethnic animus for the purpose of intimidating or threatening the owner or resident.”  it would also prohibit harassing or intimidating people “wearing or displaying any reference to religious or ethnic heritage,” such as kippahs and other items of religious Jewish attire.

Other sections of the bill describe activities that the state’s neo-Nazi groups have undertaken in recent months, including displaying messages of ethnic intimidation on sports stadiums and other buildings, and entering college campuses in order to intimidate.  The bill would classify such activities as third-degree felonies, with violations carrying prison terms of up to five years.

“Holding Nazi views is not illegal,” Fine acknowledged in a press release last month, adding that his bill builds on existing criminal codes.

“It is illegal to trespass.  It is illegal to litter.  It is illegal to assault people,” he said.  “And we need to say that, when your stupid Nazism moves from words to actions, we’re going to hold you accountable.”