News Digest — 3/6/24

Northern Israeli City Hit During Repeated Hezbollah Rocket Barrages

Hezbollah terrorists in southern Lebanon launched barrages of rockets at the northern Israeli city of Kiryat Shmona Tuesday afternoon and evening (5th), with several rockets reportedly landing inside the city causing damage.

Roughly 30 rocket launches were detected in the afternoon, with Hezbollah terrorists firing Katyusha-style rockets at Kiryat Shmona, following an Israeli bombardment of terrorist positions in the southern Lebanese town of Kafr KIla.

The IDF’s missile defense network managed to intercept ten of the rockets, but several projectiles managed to hit Kiryat Shmona, including at least one rocket which struck a building causing property damage.

According to a statement by Israeli police, no injuries were reported in the attack.

Hours later, a second rocket barrage was reported targeting Kiryat Shmona.  Again the Iron Dome shot down multiple incoming rockets.  There were no injuries reported.

In addition to the rocket barrages, there were two anti-tank missile attacks from Hezbollah towards northern Israel with no injuries reported.

IDF forces struck back at Hezbollah following the attacks, hitting terrorist positions, including command and control centers used to direct rocket attacks, also bombing a rocket launcher position.

Hezbollah terrorists have increased their rocket and missile attacks on Israel this week with at least nine rocket barrages and missile strikes in the last 24 hours.

On Monday (4th) , Pat Nibi Maxwell, a 31-year-old Indian man employed in northern Israel, was killed  in a Hezbollah missile attack on the Israeli town of Margaliot.  Seven other  foreign workers were injured.  The eight were working at an orchard when the missile hit.



Defense Minister Gallant: ‘Hezbollah Is Responsible For Worsening The Situation’

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant visited the Artillery Corps’ Moran Unit in the north of the country on Tuesday (5th), together with the Land Arms Commandant, Brigadier General Aviram Sela, and Gender Affairs Advisor to the Chief of Staff, Brigadier General Ella Shado.

The minister talked to the men and women soldiers about the extensive operational action in recent months, the rapid learning processes and the readiness to continue.

“We need to understand the situation we are in with Hezbollah who is responsible for worsening the situation and bringing us closer to a point, where we will have to make a decision about what we do,” Gallant stated.

He added, “For us, the ultimate goal is to bring the residents home.  We will bring them home either through some arrangement or military-operational action.  This should be clear because it means that you may be called to action, on an immediate basis.”

“My main message to you is to be ready and alert at all times, making sure that at any given moment there is someone who knows what to do – 24/7 – every day of the week, and at the same time to continue improving abilities.  I don’t want us to have to go to war, and I think it is important to know that there is a chance to prevent a war.  But I repeat the very clear and very simple message that I told you – Hezbollah is responsible for worsening the situation and is bringing us towards a decision point – we will decide what will ultimately result in our citizens returning home safely, and not in some ‘shoot and forget’ way,but in a safe way,” said Gallant.



Soldier Seriously Hurt In West Bank Stabbing Attack; Assailant Shot Dead

An Israeli soldier was stabbed and seriously wounded in an attack carried out by a Palestinian teenager in the northern West Bank on Tuesday (5th), the military and medics said.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, the assailant approached an army post at the Yitzhar Junction close to the settlement of the same name, and stabbed one of the soldiers.

Other troops, of the Kfir Brigade’s Nahshon Battalion, shot the stabber dead, the IDF said.

The assailant was named by Palestinian media as Muhammad Shehadeh, 17.

The victim was taken to Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva, which listed him in serious condition.  The IDF said the soldier’s family was updated on his condition.

Earlier Tuesday (5th), the Border Police, Shin Bet security agency , and IDF troops detained a prominent terror operative in Balata near Nablus in the northern West Bank in an overnight raid.

In a joint statement, authorities said Muhammad Tanji was planning an “imminent” terror attack with other operatives.

Tanji was “one of the main operatives in the terror infrastructure in Balata over the past year,” the statement said.

Palestinian media identified Tanji as a leader and founder of the so-called Balata Battalion, a local wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group.

In other raids across the West Bank, another 20 wanted Palestinians were arrested, the IDF said.  Since October 7,  IDF troops have arrested some 3,450 wanted Palestinians across the West Bank, including more than 1,500 affiliated with Hamas.

Tensions between Israelis and Palestinians have risen in the West Bank since the breakout of the war in Gaza following the October 7 massacre on southern Israeli communities, which saw Hamas terrorists kill about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and kidnap 253.

According to the Palestinian Authority health ministry, more than 400 West Bank Palestinians have been killed since October 7, most of them armed in clashes with Israeli forces.



Netanyahu Decides: No Significant Restrictions On Muslim Visits To Temple Mount On Ramadan

In the discussion that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held Tuesday evening (5th) with senior officials regarding the restrictions on the Temple Mount in the month of Ramadan, it was determined that during the first week of Ramadan, next week, Muslim worshipers will be allowed to enter the Temple Mount, in numbers similar to those in previous years.

It was also decided that there would be a situational assessment of the security situation every week, in which further measures, if necessary, would be considered.

Netanyahu said at the start of the meeting, “Israel’s policy has always been and always will be to maintain the freedom of worship for all religions.  This is, of course, how we also behaved during the Ramadan holiday, and this is how we will behave now as well.

He added, “We will do everything to preserve the freedom of worship on the Temple Mount, while appropriately maintaining security and safety needs, and we will allow the Muslim public to celebrate the holiday.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, a proponent of imposing restrictions on access to the Temple Mount during Ramadan, in light of the war against Hamas and attempts by Hamas and Iran to incite terrorist attacks during Ramadan, condemned the decision.

“The decision to allow pilgrimage to the Temple Mount during Ramadan similar to previous years, and contrary to my position and that of the police, shows that the small cabinet thinks that nothing happened on October 7.  This decision may allow a picture of victory for Hamas, and endangers the citizens of Israel,” said Ben Gvir.



Rare Bar Kochba Revolt-Era Coin Discovered In Judean Desert

In a significant archaeological discovery, a rare coin dating back to the time of the Bar Kochba Revolt has been found in the Mazuq Ha-he’teqim Nature Reserve in the Judean Desert. The coin, emblazoned with the name of “Eleazar the Priest” in ancient Hebrew script, is believed to date to the first year of the revolt, circa 132 CE.

Uncovered alongside three additional coins bearing the name “Simeon,” the find was made during the ongoing Judean Desert Cave Survey, conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority in collaboration with the Heritage Ministry and the Archaeological Office for the Military Administration of Judea and Samaria.  The initiative aims to safeguard ancient artifacts from being plundered by antiquity looters.

The identity of Eleazar the Priest depicted on the coin sparks speculation among historians and archaeologists.  One prevailing theory suggests that the figure could be Rabbi Eleazar Hamod’ai, a prominent Tannaic Rabbi during the time of Rabbi Akiva, who is said to have played a significant religious role in the Bar Kochba Revolt.  Rabbi Eleazar Hamod’ai was believed to have resided in Beitar, the epicenter of the revolt, and historical accounts indicate his demise likely occurred during the uprising.

The coin itself bears intricate engravings, with a date palm depicted on the obverse face along with the inscription “Eleazar the Priest,” in ancient Hebrew script.  On the reverse side, a cluster of grapes is surrounded by the inscription “Year One of the Redemption of Israel,” again inscribed in ancient Hebrew script.

This discovery marks another triumph for the ongoing efforts of archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority Prevention of Archaeological Theft Unit.  Since 2017, their systematic survey of the Judean Desert has yielded a treasure trove of artifacts including fragments of the Twelve Minor Prophets scroll, Roman iron swords (one still housed in its sheath) , and what is believed to be the earliest complete basket ever found.

The unveiling of this rare coin adds another layer to our understanding of the Bar Kochba period, shedding light on the religious and historical context of ancient Judea.



How Oct. 7 Changed The Hopes Of Some Gaza Border Residents – Canaan Lidor

• Irit Lahav, a peace activist from Kibbutz Nir Oz, where one in four residents were killed or kidnapped, had entertained no illusions about Hamas even before the Oct.7 massacre.  She had seen how the group deliberately targeted civilians, including by firing rockets into residential areas at specific times to increase loss of life.

• Yet she had always believed that Hamas’ actions were distinct from and unrepresentative of the wishes of the silent majority of Palestinian civil society, whom she imagined were concerned primarily with providing for their children and improving their own lives.

• That belief was shattered on Oct. 7, by what she says were “hundreds of civilians, including women and children, who followed” behind the terrorists, invading Israeli communities to celebrate and join in the pillaging, vandalization and destruction of Israeli communities.

• “I used to think Palestinians were good people, like you and me.  That Hamas were thugs that got in the way of the population’s desire for a good life….After Oct. 7, I realized I was wrong.  Just as the Israeli government represents Israelis, Hamas represents the people of Gaza.”

• Lahav used to belong to a group of volunteers who would drive Palestinians in need of medical treatment from Gaza to hospitals in Israel.  She now believes that “all of the people of Gaza, all of them, hate us to a degree where they would murder babies and pillage our property with zero compunction.”

• She is not impressed with the images of devastation coming out of Gaza, she said.  “I don’t believe a word they’re saying.  Not the death toll, not the images.  I know the Israel Defense Forces avoids killing civilians whenever possible and I don’t believe the [Hamas reported] figure of 30,000 dead”

• “When I thought of Gaza, I thought about barefoot children on dirt roads.  That’s the sort of images we kept seeing out of there.  But now the soldiers are streaming images [from Gaza]  of beautiful, paved streets.  High-rise apartment buildings.  It was all a show!  They took foreign media to their filming locations.  So now I don’t believe any video they show.

• “As long as their ‘school shows and programs’ are about martyrs killing Jews, there is no way forward,” she said.