News Digest — 3/29/22

Officers Killed In Hadera Terror Attack Laid To Rest

Two Border Police officers killed in a Hadera terror attack were laid to rest on Monday (28th) as thousands of Israelis gathered to pay their last respects.

Corporals Yazan Falah and Shirel Aboukrat, both 19, were off duty in the vicinity of Hadera bus stop when two terrorist opened fire.

Both were shot and critically wounded as they ran towards the fire before succumbing to their injuries at Hadera’s Hillel Yaffe Medical Center. 

Others were injured in the attack, some hospitalized in serious and moderate condition.

Falah was buried in the Druze village of Kisra-Sumei.

Aboukrat, who was born in France and made aliyah with her family in 2005, was buried in Netanya.

The terrorists, cousins Ibrahim and Ayman Aghbaria of Umm al-Fahm, were shot and killed by responding police officers.  Ibrahim had served time in prison for trying to enter Syria through Turkey to join Islamic State (ISIS).  Before the attack they posted a video on Facebook pledging allegiance to islamic State.

The attack came less than a week after another Islamic State-aligned terrorist attack that killed four Israelis in Beersheba.



Police Arrest 12 Islamic State Terror Suspects In Northern Israel

Israeli police raided several Arab towns in the north on Monday night (28th) and arrested 12 suspects connected to Islamic State terrorism.

The arrests follow Sunday night’s (27th) terror attack in Hadera in which two Islamic State terrorists shot at Israelis, killing two Israeli Border Police troops and wounding others.

The Islamic State (ISIS) claimed responsibility for the attack.

The two terrorists, Ibrahm and Ayman Aghbaria, were both from Umm al-Fahm, one area in which the police conducted raids on Monday night (28th).  Both terrorists had Israeli citizenship.  Further arrests in the area are expected in the coming days.

Earlier on Monday (28th), the police announced the arrest of an ISIS-affiliated activist from the Bedouin town of Tel Sheva in the south.  The 23-year-old was arrested on Friday night (25th) on suspicion of supporting and identifying with a terrorist organization and inciting terrorism.

Since the beginning of March, Muslim terrorists have carried out nine terrorist attacks across the country in which 25 Israelis were injured and six were killed.

Security tensions in Israel are high, after a series of attacks in the Jerusalem area and the murder of four Israelis in Beersheba by an Islamic State terrorist, and ahead of the Muslim month of Ramadan which usually spells an uptick in Muslim violence and acts of terrorism in Israel.

The country’s security establishment is bracing for violence, especially as Ramadan coincides with Passover, and following the first anniversary of Operation Guardian of the Walls in May 2021, which was launched by the IDF following a Hamas rocket attack on Jerusalem that began at the height of the Month of Ramadan.



Moroccan FM Calls Negev Summit ‘Best Response’ To Terrorism

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, the foreign ministers of four Arab states – Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco, and the United Arab Emirates – and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken gathered in Sde Boker on Sunday evening (27th) launching the Negev Summit.

The summit was meant to show a united front between the countries for regional prosperity and stability, and against Iran, which threatens all the participating countries.

Even before dinner began, sources close to Lapid said that in his initial meetings with the foreign ministers of Bahrain and Egypt, they began to discuss “ideas to promote a regional security architecture to build deterrence against Iranian threats from the air and sea.”

Behind closed doors, Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al Zayani, whose country hosts the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, talked about building a “mini-NATO” of countries facing similar security challenges.  He was also the only Arab foreign minister to specifically mention the threats from Iran and its proxies, like the Houthis and Hezbollah in his public remarks.

The meeting between the Arab foreign ministers and Israel will become a regular event, Foreign Minister Lapid said Monday (28th).

“This meeting was something people didn’t think would happen – that never could have been envisioned.  They were wrong,” Lapid said.  “It happened because we believed in it, because this is the vision we have set up for the future of our region.”

“Sunday night (27th) we decided to make the Negev Summit into a permanent forum,” he said alongside counterparts from the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco, Egypt and the United States.

“We are today opening the door before all the peoples of the region, including the Palestinians, and offering them to replace the way of terror and destruction with a shared future of progress and success.”

Lapid said that the “new architecture” frightened the moderate Arab states’ and Israel’s common enemies – primarily Iran and its satellites. 

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday (28th) said Washington and its allies will work together to confront security challenges and threats including from Iran and its proxies.

Morocco’s Foreign Minister said on Monday (28th) his presence alongside three Arab counterparts at the Israeli-hosted summit was the “best response” to attacks such as an Islamic State-linked shooting spree in Israel, which he condemned as terrorism.



The West Cannot Afford To Be Complacent About The Iranian Threat – Amb. Dore Gold

→ When the United Nations drafted resolutions covering Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, they required that ballistic missiles beyond the range of over 93 miles had to be removed or destroyed under international supervision.  Missiles of this range were prohibited outright; they could not be manufactured or transferred to surrogates like Hezbollah.

→ A decade later, no such provisions were created for Iran under the JCPOA.  Consequently, Iran’s ballistic missile capacity grew, both in numbers and quality, including the range and accuracy of its missile force.

→ Iran is already altering the balance of power in the region, as demonstrated by the January 2020 Iranian attack against U.S. troops at the Ayn al-Asad Airbase in western Iraq that left 110 Americans servicemen with brain injuries.

→ Iran proxy forces, such as Yemen’s Houthis, have unleashed repeated strikes in the last three years at the Saudi capital, Riyadh, using ballistic missiles and drones.

→ Commander of the U.S. Central Command, Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, said this month that Iran now has 3,000 ballistic missiles, which has become the greatest threat to Middle Eastern security.

→ Without some major change in Iran’s intentions towards Western states, European countries could soon become the very real targets of Iran’s increasingly robust missile forces.

The writer, former Director-General of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Israeli Ambassador to the UN, is President of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.



Sodastream Opens Youth Center In Warsaw For Ukrainian Refugees

Israeli carbonated beverage machine company Sodastream set up a center called the Island of Peace in Poland to help Ukrainian youth who are refugees from the war.

The center includes play and rest areas with gaming consoles, computers and cell phone charging stations, as well as exercise equipment, and is staffed by rotating delegations of Sodastream employees from around the world.

The project is a collaboration with Nienudno Poland, an organization that provides education to displaced people.

The group told Sodastream about a lack of educational structure for displaced youth, so the company established the center in a refugee area in Warsaw, where about 10,000 people visit per day.

“Together with the whole world, we were horrified by the difficult scenes that came from the war and we felt we had to do something,” Sodastream CEO Eyal Shochat said.

“We thought about how we could help even a little bit and decided to set up a center for the young people under the name ‘Island of Peace – Warsaw,’ which corresponds with the nickname ‘Island of Peace’ affiliated with our own manufacturing plant in Lehavim, which is a symbol of coexistence and joint work between Arabs and Jews,” he added.

“I’m excited about our activities for young people and thankful to workers from all over the world who volunteered to travel to Poland and help operate the center.”



Shocking Anti-Semitic Attacks Against Dutch Jewish Man Are Ignored

A Jewish man from Holland spoke out about violent anti-Semitic harassment he has received for the past two years, and what he says is a lack of action on the part of the Dutch authorities to hold the perpetrators accountable.

Kevin Ritstier, 34, told the Dutch newspaper de Gelderlander that he has been targeted by an anti-Semitic street gang, primarily a group of between 7 and 15 young men, in his hometown of Wijchen in eastern Holland.

He said the harassment began after the men spotted him returning home from a Bar Mitzvah clad in a kippah [Jewish head covering] and Tallit [Jewish prayer shawl].

Since then they have taunted him with anti-Semitic remarks, including “Hamas, Hamas;” “Jews to the gas;” [and] “cancer- Jew,” while physically attacking him, and pounding on the front door of his home, where he lives with his wife and infant son.

After one attack, Ritstier said his leg was slashed and he was left with bruising and a split lip after being ambushed by the gang.

According to Ritstier, despite repeatedly phoning the police and filing a formal complaint after each incident of verbal and physical intimidation and harassment, his reports had resulted in the culprits receiving one fine and one “stop conversation,” in which the officers essentially told the perpetrators to knock it off.

Ritstier added that in one incident, the police subtly admonished him as though his reporting the harassment was a burden to the authorities.  “I was told that I called very often,” he said.

He noted that none of the perpetrators have been criminally prosecuted for the ongoing harassment, and that the police had told him it was due to a “lack of evidence.”

In a statement to de Gelderlander, the police said that they had always taken Kevin Ritstier’s requests “very seriously,” and said they couldn’t comment on the details of his situation due to privacy concerns.