News Digest — 3/24/21

Rocket Fired On South As PM Makes Campaign Stop – IDF Retaliates

Palestinian terrorists fired a rocket toward Beersheba on Tuesday (23rd) in an apparent effort to disrupt Israel’s election, just as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was hitting the campaign trail in the city.

The Israeli Defense Forces said that the projectile’s trajectory was not aimed at a residential area but rather an open space, and thus no specific red alert to take shelter was issued.

Despite this, Netanyahu’s security detail made sure to take him to a secure area as soon as the IDF identified the rocket.

Just hours later, IDF aircraft hit several Hamas military installations in the Gaza Strip early Wednesday morning (24th).  There were no reports of casualties.

“Fighter jets and attack helicopters targeted a rocket manufacturing facility and a military outpost belonging to the Hamas terrorist organization in the Gaza Strip, in response to the rocket fire from Gaza into Israeli territory,” the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said in a statement.

The army added that it holds Hamas responsible for what happens in Gaza and that it would “bear the consequences of terrorist acts against Israeli citizens.” 



“The People’s Choice” – By President Reuven Rivlin To The Israeli People On Election Day

Waking up on Election Day is always exciting.  The sight of ballot boxes carrying the state emblem reminds me of days long ago, when we were not allowed to raise the Israeli flag.

I was only nine years old when the most amazing miracle of modern times happened for the Jewish people – the inception of a Jewish and democratic state and the renewal of our sovereignty in the Land of Israel.  We were like dreamers.  And today, Israeli citizens are privileged to walk through the gates of the polling stations and exercise their democratic right to elect their representatives in the Israeli parliament–the Knesset.

I will admit that today, this festive excitement is mixed with feelings of worry and apprehension.  Going to the polls for the fourth time in less than two years following the prolonged political crisis that has been plaguing us, is not festive for any of us.

The dire consequences of this situation do not stem only from the impairment of the state’s ability to appropriate budgets and operate the essential services it provides the public in the fields of healthcare, education, employment and welfare – areas that seem more critical than ever in times of a global pandemic.

This situation has eroded the public’s faith and confidence in the state’s democratic institutions – the Knesset, the government, and the political parties – in an unprecedented way.

The feeling of despair that threatens to creep into the hearts of many Israelis cannot be allowed to stake its claim.  A people’s resilience depends on the extent to which they believe in their ability to work together, and in their willingness to do so.

While our elected officials in the Knesset have not succeeded in this important task over the past two years, the coronavirus crisis has proven that Israelis, on the ground, can meet this challenge.  In hospitals, at police checkpoints, in charity and aid organizations – Israelis from all walks of life came together, working shoulder to shoulder to weather the storm.

Touring our country over the past year, I saw the commitment demonstrated by the Israeli public – the determination, optimism and urgent sense of mission – and I was filled with profound hope; sincere faith that we have the power to join forces and continue to build and develop our Jewish and democratic state.

This hope must take us – all of us – to the polling stations to vote.  This hope should fuel our demands of our elected officials to find a way to foster politics based on compromises; the kind of politics that is committed to integrity, to a partnership, and to all sectors of the Israeli public.

My fellow Israelis, do not let despair take hold.  This is the time to effect change.  Whatever your political beliefs may be – you have the power to shape the nature of the country you want to live in.  Take pride in your choice and be hopeful of the result.  Go Vote!



Report: ISIS In Sinai Leader Killed In Clash With Egyptian Forces

Leader of the ISIS terrorist organization in the Sinai Peninsula, Salim Salma Said Mahmoud al-Hamadin, was killed during clashes with Bedouin and Egyptian forces near Al-Barth, south of Rafah and near the border with Israel according to Arabic media.  A bodyguard and escort were also detained.

Al-Hamadin, referred to as the “most dangerous and oldest of the takfiri elements in the Sinai,” was responsible for the murder of hundreds of civilians and Egyptian soldiers, according to the reports.  “Takfiri” is a word often used to refer to armed extremist groups, but originally referred to Muslim apostates or infidels.

The targeting of the ISIS leader was conducted as a joint operation between the Egyptian military and the Sinai Tribal Union.

The terrorist leader has been arrested in the past due to involvement in bombings in Taba and Sharm al-Sheikh, but managed to escape and continue his terrorist activities.

Al-Hamadin recruited a large number of people to the terrorist group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis before the group swore allegiance to ISIS, according to Sky News Arabia.  ISIS in the Sinai has bombed gas pipelines between Egypt and Israel and has launched rockets at Israel multiple times.

In 2019, Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi confirmed that Egypt’s military was working with Israel to combat ISIS in the Sinai in an interview with CBS.



Massive Grounded Cargo Ship Turns Sideways – Blocks Egypt’s Suez Canal

A cargo container ship that’s among the largest in the world has turned sideways and blocked all traffic in Egypt’s Suez Canal, officials said Wednesday (24th), threatening to disrupt a global shipping system already strained by the coronavirus pandemic.

The MV Ever Given, a Panama-flagged container ship that carries trade between Asia and Europe, became grounded Tuesday (23rd) in the narrow, man-made waterway dividing continental Africa from the Sinai Peninsula.

It wasn’t immediately clear what caused the Ever Given to turn sideways in the canal.  GAC, a global shipping and logistics company, described the Ever Given as suffering “a blackout while transiting in a northerly direction,” without elaborating.

An Egyptian official, who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity, simply blamed a strong wind in the area for the incident.  Egyptian forecasters said high winds and a sandstorm plagued the area Tuesday (23rd) with winds gusting as much as 40 mph.

“All crew are safe and accounted for,” said Bernhard Schulte Ship Management, which manages the Ever Given.

“There are no reports of injuries or pollution.”

Opened in 1869, the Suez Canal provides a crucial link for oil, natural gas and cargo being shipped from East to West.  Around 10% of the world’s trade flows through the waterway and it remains one of Egypt’s top foreign currency earners.  In 2015, the government of President Abdel-Fatah el-Sisi completed a major expansion of the canal, allowing it to accommodate the world’s largest vessels.

The Ever Given had listed its destination as Rotterdam in the Netherlands prior to getting stuck in the Canal.  The ship, built in 2018 with a length of nearly a quarter mile and a width of 193 feet, is among the largest cargo ships in the world.  It can carry some 20,000 containers at a time.



Rome Delivery Man Rants About Jews, Stabs Bystander Who Confronted Him

On Monday (22nd), a food delivery man in Rome stabbed a colleague during a confrontation that erupted over an anti-Semitic rant in front of McDonalds.

The assailant, who works for the Delivery service, Delivroo, launched into a tirade about Jews as he waited for an order at the fast food giant’s Piazza dei Re di Roma Square location, JTA reported.

The victim, an employee of competitor Just Eat who was also waiting to pick up an order for delivery, objected to the assailant’s anti-Semitic rant.

In response, the Deliveroo man pulled a knife and stabbed the Just Eat employee.  

The unidentified victim sustained serious lacerations to his face and arms, but was not in critical condition.

It was unclear from reports in the Italian media whether the victim was Jewish.

Both men were described as middle-aged by witnesses.

Immediately following the attack, the perpetrator fled on his motorcycle.  Rome law enforcement officers are currently searching for the suspect.