News Digest — 3/30/22

Five Killed In Bnei Brak Shooting Attack

Five people were killed in a shooting attack in Bnei Brak on Tuesday evening (29th) in at least two different places.

The shooting was first reported around 8 pm on Hashneim Street.  One person was found killed in a car and two other people were killed on a sidewalk nearby.

Another person was found dead on the perpendicular Herzl Street.  A fifth victim, a police officer, was evacuated to Beilinson Hospital in critical condition, where he died soon after.

The shooter was reportedly driving a motorcycle, and his body was found on Jabotinsky Street.  Another person was arrested and investigated at the scene on suspicion of assisting the shooter.

The terrorist was 27-years-old from the village of Ya’bad in the northern West Bank.  He was in jail for 6 months in the past and worked illegally at a building site in Bnei Brak.  Israel Police Spokesperson Eli Levy and the Bnei Brak Mayor requested that bystanders stay away from the area as rescue forces made their way to the scene.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett held a situation assessment Tuesday night at 10 pm with the Defense and Public Security Ministers, the IDF Chief of Staff, Israel Police Commissioner, Shin Bet head and others, the Prime Minister’s Office announced.

Bennett issued a statement several hours later vowing that “Israel will win” the battle against the “wave of murderous Arab terrorism.”  He added, “No evil will make us leave.”  The prime minister said his heart goes out  to the victims’ families and stressed that security forces were conducting a response to the attack.  “We will wage an unwavering fight with an iron fist,” he continued.  

Ramat Gan Mayor Carmal Shama-Hacohen said that all local residents should stay indoors for the time being, News 12 reported.

The attack is the third in a week in which 11 people were killed, making it the bloodiest in years.  It is the tenth terror attack in the month of March.

Tensions have risen in anticipation of the upcoming month of Ramadan and the annual Land Day, marked on March 30.



Israel Is On The Threshold Of Unrest  Like That Of May 2021

Israel is on the threshold of a wave of unrest similar to the events that preceded Operation Guardian of the Walls against Hamas infrastructure in the Gaza Strip in May 2021, but security forces are prepared to respond “swiftly” to further escalation, a high-ranking security official told Israel Hayom on Tuesday (29th) after a Palestinian terrorist murdered five people in a shooting attack in Bnei Brak.

The attack took place the night before the Palestinians marked the 46th “Land Day.”

Land Day will kick off with thousands of Arab Israelis marching from Sakhnin to Kfar Dir Hana in the Lower Galilee.  In honor of Land Day, businesses in the Arab sector will be closed.

The official said, “this Land Day has the potential to light up the streets.  We hope that everything will go quietly, but we have prepared large forces on both sides of the Green Line, and if we see that there is unrest, we’ll attack it quickly.”

Meanwhile the IDF is preparing to help the Israel Police with domestic security work, and Defense Minister Benny Gantz instructed the military to help bolster forces in Israeli cities.  IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi ordered the army to increase its intelligence efforts and prepare for operations in the village of Ya’bed, near Jenin, the home village of B’nei Brak shooter Diaa Hamarsheh.

Additional security will also be provided to Jewish settlements, and random checkpoints will be set up on area roads.  Security forces were also making preparations to handle ethno-religiously motivated crimes.  Also, Israel’s security establishment intends to discuss aid to the Palestinian Authority as a means of restoring calm.

On Tuesday evening (29th), after a situation assessment, defense officials decided to increase forces in the IDF’s Judea, Samaria and Gaza divisions.  Also, Kochavi decided Tuesday (29th) to deploy four more battalions to patrol the border area.

Apart from tactical preparations against escalation, Israel is trying to head off terrorist incidents through civil benefits for Palestinians and calming messages.  Gantz’s visit to Jordan on Tuesday (29th), where he met with King Abdullah II, was part of those efforts.  Gantz informed the king of a series of steps Israel intended to take to ensure freedom of worship in Jerusalem and in Judea and Samaria, and stressed the importance of security coordination between Jordan and Israel.

Gantz’s office said the meeting with Abdullah had been planned before this most recent terror attack at Bnei Brak.

Meanwhile, Land Day could indicate which way the winds will blow for the next month or so, during which Ramadan will coincide with Passover and Easter.  

A high-ranking Israel police official said that the recent attacks by terrorists from Umm al-Fahm and the attack in Beersheba were unusual, and could very well lead to copycat attacks.

“We have made arrests, and anyone deemed to be a potential terrorist will be arrested,” the official said.



Schools Across Israel Cancel Field Trips Following Wave Of Deadly Terror Attacks

Schools across Israel are canceling field trips, following a spate of deadly Arab terror attacks.

Dozens of cities and towns have instructed local schools to nix or delay planned field trips citing the stabbing attack in Beersheba last Tuesday (22nd) which left four dead, a shooting attack that killed two Border Police officers in Hadera last Sunday (27th), and the shooting attack in Bnei Brak Tuesday night (29th) that left five dead.

According to a report by Kan news Wednesday morning, (30th) the city councils of Petah Tikva, Modi’in and Rishon Letzion are among the municipalities ordering local schools to cancel planned field trips.

Numerous smaller towns across Israel announced plans to increase security in and around schools.

The Mayor of Modi’in, Haim Bibas, who also heads Israel’s Federation of Local Authorities, called on Public Security Minister Omer Bar Lev to deploy security forces to protect schools across the country.

Israeli towns across Judea and Samaria have temporarily banned entry to Palestinian Authority workers, while in some cities inside the Green Line, including Ramat Gan, Afula, Ashdod and Kiryat Gat, mayors have requested that contractors voluntarily halt the use of Palestinian Arab laborers at construction sites.



Report: Abraham Accords Partners Eye Israeli Missile Defense Systems

The Negev Summit hosted by Israel saw the foreign ministers of the United Arab Emirates, Morocco and Bahrain express interest in expanding defense intelligence collaboration with Israel, as well as potentially procuring Israeli-made defense systems, financial daily, Globes reported Monday (28th).

Citing “Israeli and other sources,” the report said that during the summit, which Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said would become an annual event, officials representing the Gulf partners to the Abraham Accords asked Israel for defense systems, expressing interest specifically in Iron Dome and Arrow defense systems and the Green Pine radar system, the report said, noting that this was not the first time the Gulf kingdoms had expressed interest in acquiring Israeli air defenses.

Internationally renowned for its performance, Iron Dome is designed to intercept and destroy short-range rockets and artillery shells fired from distances of between 2.5 to 43 miles.  Since becoming operational in 2011, Iron Dome has been instrumental in defending the Israeli home front from rocket salvos fired by Gaza Strip-based terrorist groups on the country’s central and southern regions, and against Hezbollah threats in the north.

The Arrow systems are a group of anti-ballistic missile defense systems designed to intercept ballistic missiles during the space-flight portion of their trajectory.  Arrow 2 is a short-and medium-range ballistic missile interceptor and Arrow 3 is an exo-atmospheric hypersonic interceptor.  Arrow is considered one of the most advanced missile defense programs currently in existence.

Green Pine Radar Systems are a family of transportable ground-based radar systems, designed to autonomously detect and simultaneously track dozens of tactical ballistic missiles from long ranges under all weather conditions and in the presence of undesired signals.

According to the report, the defense systems’ developers have already received procurement inquiries and the matter is pending the Defense Ministry’s decision, as it must sign off on any sale of an Israeli-made defense system to a foreign country.



18 Reported Bomb Threats Directed At U.S. JCCs And Synagogues In March

Since the beginning of March, there have been at least 18 reported bomb threats directed at Jewish Community Centers (JCCs) and synagogues in nine states in the U.S., according to a report by the Secure Community Network (SCN).  In a press release by the Jewish Security organization in the U.S., it said that it “is actively working with community leaders and law enforcement agencies to address a recent wave of bomb threats against Jewish facilities nationwide.”  According to SCN, “this alarming number serves as a reminder that the Jewish community remains a top target for hate crimes in the United States and it must continue to foster preparedness and resiliency.”

The New York Jewish Week reported this week that the JCC of Staten Island briefly evacuated its buildings Friday (25th) following a bomb threat.  Communications Director Allison Cohen told the Jewish Week that the JCC received a threatening email, in what may be the latest in a spate of such false threats sent into JCCs and other Jewish institutions around the country.

As the official safety and security organization for the Jewish community in North America, SCN recently joined with JCC Association of America to convene a meeting with more than 100 executive directors of JJCs, law enforcement agencies, Jewish security professionals and officials from the FBI to discuss the magnitude of the threats, and how best to protect the local communities affected by these incidents.  FBI officials said investigations into these threats are active and remain a high priority for the agency.

Jewish Community Centers are the central address in 170 neighborhoods, towns and cities across North America, frequented by both the Jewish community and many others who are drawn to our programs,” said Doron Krakow, President and CEO of the JCC Association.  Nothing is more important than safeguarding those who rely on JCCs every day, and together with SCN and our partners in law enforcement we will do everything necessary to ensure that JCCs remain safe and open for everyone.”

The Secure Community Network (SCN) is the official homeland safety and security initiative of the organized Jewish community in North America.  SCN was founded under the auspices of the Jewish Federation of North America and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish organizations.