News Digest — 3/29/19

Hamas Chief Emerges From Hiding Place In Gaza, Declares Victory

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh on Wednesday (27th) made his first public appearance since Israel destroyed his office in a retaliatory air strike this week, claiming victory over “Zionist arrogence.”

Haniyeh visited the rubble of his Gaza City office, coming out of hiding after a two-day flare-up of violence, which ended with an unofficial Egyptian-brokered ceasefire between Israel and the Hamas terror group, which rules the Gaza Strip.

The fighting broke out after a rocket fired from Gaza struck a home in central Israel and wounded seven people.  Israel responded with dozens of airstrikes in the Strip, while Palestinian terrorists fired dozens of rockets at communities across the border.

“The resistance has had the last word, and Israel got the message,” Haniyeh said.  “I am grateful to all parties who helped stop the Zionist arrogance in the Gaza Strip.”

In a statement, an Israeli diplomatic official quipped that Haniyeh “had better find a new office before he brags.”



IDF On High Alert As Hamas Calls For Million Man March On Anniversary Of Riots

Friday (29th) marks exactly one year since Hamas began its weekly Gaza border riots and attacks, the so-called “March of Return”

On Wednesday (27th), Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh called for a million-person march on Israel’s border and the IDF is now on high alert, streaming heavy reinforcements to the border, including an armored division and artillery, preparing for what could be a violent few days.

“I urge our Palestinian people in Gaza, the occupied West Bank and abroad, to march on Palestinian Land Day and take part in the One Million March Demonstration of Land and Return, this week,” Haniyeh said in a press release.

According to public statements by the Hamas terror organization and the IDF’s intelligence and operational analysis, these events are part of Hamas’ ongoing armed conflict and active hostilities against Israel.

In fact, a review of the statistics and security-related data from the past year reveals a significant increase in Hamas aggression and violence against the Jewish state.

Since the organized cross-border violence began last March, some 2,200 terror-related incidents have been recorded, including 1,233 rocket and mortar attacks, the latest of which occurred earlier this week.

The year of violence on the border has claimed the life of one IDF soldier.  Four others were severely wounded and 12 suffered light-to-moderate injuries.

Gazans claim that more than 250 Palestinian civilians have been killed during the last year of border violence.  However, the IDF has proved – and the Hamas leadership has admitted – that the majority of those killed were terrorists.



‘Very Wrong’: Top UAE Minister Slams Boycott Of Israel, Urges ‘Shift’ In Arab World

Speaking on the heels of the International Ideas Abu Dhabi Conference in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) capital, Emirati Minister of State Anwar Mohammed Gargash predicted a “significant shift” in Israel’s relations with the Arab world in the coming years.

According to Gargash, the longstanding boycott of the Jewish state maintained by most nations in the Arab world was a major misstep.

“Many, many years ago, when there was an Arab decision not to have contact with Israel, that was a very, very wrong decision looking back,” Gargash told The National, a UAE-based English-language news service.  “Because clearly, you have to really dissect and divide between having a political issue and keeping your lines of communication open.”

In addition to bilateral agreements between Arab states and Israel, political visits, and cultural exchanges,  Gargash told The National he foresees a shift with regard to progress on the peace front.

According to Gargash, the region needs a “more stable system” to resolve  the Yemen civil war, the Syrian crisis and the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

Gargash also took aim at “political Islam” as a system of government, which he deemed a “total failure.”

“If you look at political Islamists, they took over Egypt,” he said.  “If you look at their literature they have hundreds of books on segregation between men and women.  And they have very, very little on running a modern economy.”



Swastikas Daubed On Chabad Center In Arizona

Swastikas were spray-painted on windows and carved into walls at the site of a Chabad center under construction in Flagstaff, Arizona, last weekend, in an incident which is being treated as a hate crime by local police.

The graffiti and vandalism is thought to have happened between Friday night (22nd) and Monday morning (25th).

According to the Arizona Daily Sun, the Flagstaff Police Department said the incident was being treated as a hate crime because of the center’s “affiliation with a synagogue and because of how the swastika symbol has been used historically.”

Rabbi Dovie Shapiro – who heads the Chabad center in Flagstaff – said it was “pretty clear that the incident was an act of hate,” and described it as a setback to the construction of what will be called the Molly Blank Jewish Community  Center.

He said, however, that the attack had strengthened the resolve of the Jewish community and its leadership to increase their activities and devotion to Jewish life in the city.

One reporter who covered the incident, made a tin-foil heart and hung it at the construction-site’s fence, an act that was copied by dozens of other city residents.  Many carried messages of love for the Jewish community.

The graffiti in Flagstaff comes following an incident in February in Brooklyn, New York in which the front window of a Chabad synagogue was deliberately smashed.



Israeli Hospital Gets Support From American Volunteers

A group of about two dozen American volunteers helped out recently at Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot during a two-week mission to Israel.

Jerome Baxley of Dothan, Alabama was among the volunteers who “cleaned walls, floors, bathrooms, supply shelves, bed pans and hospital beds, and worked in the kitchen feeding hundreds of staff in the hospital.  The businessman added “Rehovot is just north of the Gaza Strip and Kaplan Medical Center is responsible for caring for more than a million people – Jews and Palestinians alike – who live in this region.”

Baxley is on the committee of the American Friends of Kaplan Medical Center and co-chairs the “Brick-By-Brick” campaign which hopes to build a new cardiac center.

“Kaplan has some of the best heart doctors and most up- to-date medical equipment in the world today,” he explained, “but this is housed in run-down 1950s wooden buildings.  Kaplan is in much need of a new hospital, but not just a normal hospital; because of the close proximity to Gaza, this hospital has to be built to withstand rocket attacks that are constant threats to the people in this region.  I know because I’ve been there when rockets landed just a few miles away – we could hear and feel the explosions,” he said.

Retired couple William and Annette Sutter have been on multiple missions to the Jewish state and don’t mind “menial but meaningful” tasks if it helps the cause.  They noted some Israelis were wary of the volunteers and wondered about ulterior motives. But every year they found the Kaplan staff warmly anticipating the group.

The trips are organized by Friends of Israel, a New Jersey-based group that publishes Israel My Glory, a pro-Israel Christian magazine.  The Friends of Israel organization, founded during the Holocaust, not only defends against anti-Israel bias in the media, but has countered some anti-Jewish sentiment as well with articles countering replacement theology.