News Digest — 3/9/23

IDF Eliminate Three Terrorists Near Jenin

A Border Police SWAT team eliminated three terrorists Thursday morning (9th) in the town of Jaba south of Jenin in Samaria. 

The three terrorists exited a vehicle and opened fire at IDF soldiers, who returned fire.  The terrorists were armed with explosives, pistols and rifles. 

Two of those killed were targeted for arrest and belonged to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror organization.  They were suspected of carrying out several shooting attacks near Jenin.  The third terrorist also belonged to the organization and was released from prison last month.

On Tuesday (7th), IDF, YAMAM, and Shin Bet forces came under fire while carrying out an operation to arrest wanted terrorists in Jenin.  Six terrorists were killed in the battle, including the terrorist who shot and killed the Yaniv brothers in the Arab village of Huwara in Samaria on February 26th.



West Bank Closure May Continue Amid Concerns Of Revenge Attacks For Jenin

The police are requesting that the closure of the West Bank that began Monday (6th) for the Purim holiday be extended an extra day due to concerns of revenge attacks in response to the IDF raid in Jenin on Tuesday (7th), Army Radio reported on Wednesday (8th).

The IDF is opposed to an extension of the closure, according to the report.  Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has not yet issued a decision on the matter.  

On Tuesday (7th), Abdel Fattah Hussain Harousha, the terrorist who murdered Hallel and Yagel Yaniv in Huwara was killed in a firefight with the IDF and the National Counter Terrorism Unit (YAMAM) in Jenin.

In total, six Palestinian terrorists died in the raid and others were wounded according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. Two YAMAM officers were injured by Palestinian fire also.

After the operation, the Islamic Jihad terrorist movement warned that “the resistance will not let the blood of its fighters be wasted, and response to the enemy’s crimes will not be long in coming.” 

Hamas called for an escalation of violence following the raid and said it will “increase our determination and strength in confronting the occupation and its settler militia.”

On Wednesday afternoon (8th), shots were fired towards an informational tour being led by Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan at the Yosef Observation Point on Mount Gerizim next to Nablus.

According to the Samaria Regional Council, four shots were fired at the tour, forcing Dagan and guests from abroad  who he was guiding, to take cover.

“The settlement in Samaria will never lower its head.  We are not afraid.  And I say to PA head Mahmoud Abbas, the terrorist, and his murderous friends in Nablus, we, the people of Israel, are not afraid of you, we are stronger than you, we believe, and we will add light here.  We will travel without fear, without concerns, we will defeat you, you bunch of barbarians,” said Dagan.

The regional council head called on the government to act saying, “we will continue to travel and build and the people of Israel will win.”



IDF Strikes Hamas Unit In Gaza After Explosives Triggered Near Israeli Forces

The IDF on Wednesday afternoon (8th) fired shells on a Hamas unit engaging in potentially dangerous explosives-setting-activities near the Gaza border.

According to the IDF, it detected Hamas units activating previously planted explosive devices near a passing IDF bulldozer which was trying to clear parts of the Gaza border.  IDF tank units responded by shelling the position of the attackers.  

There are no signs that the IDF has responded yet to rocket fire from Gaza overnight early Wednesday morning (8th), in which a rocket landed just over the Israeli side of the border, but not near a populated area.

Israeli officials had anticipated that there might be rocket fire from Gaza in retaliation for the IDF raid in Jenin on Tuesday (7th) that killed the murderer of the Israeli Yaniv brothers on February 26.

IDF sources suggested that the incident Wednesday afternoon (8th) might not be connected to any of the incidents around Jenin, Nablus, or the Gaza rocket fire, although there was no explanation as to why Hamas would specifically have tried to attack an IDF bulldozer on Wednesday (8th) as opposed to other days of regular maneuvers to clear border areas.



Purim On The Temple Mount: Record Number Of Jewish Visitors This Year

453 Jews visited the Temple Mount over Purim according to the Temple Mount Administration, 55 percent more than did last year on Purim, and many more than the 315 Jews who visited on Purim in 2020.

Police securing the site allowed families with children to visit the Mount, including those in Purim costumes.  Many families including those with babies in strollers took advantage of the opportunity, and despite calls on Arab social media for riots at the holy site in order to prevent Jews from entering, calm prevailed throughout.  Police removed several people suspected of trying to instigate riots.

Rabbis Yitzhak Brand, Pinchas Engel, Eliyahu Weber, and Elisha Wolfson were among those visiting the Mount, as well as former MK Yehuda Glick.

The Temple Mount Administration is currently making preparations for an expected increase in the number of those visiting the Mount during the Jewish month of Nissan (which begins in two weeks), which this year will coincide with the Muslim month of Ramadan.  Record numbers of visitors are expected on Rosh Chodesh (the first of the month) and during the upcoming Passover holiday.  At present, the Mount is expected to be open to Jewish visitors in the mornings, and efforts are being made to prevent the closing of the site during the afternoon.



Israel Engaging 4 Muslim Nations To Expand Abraham Accords

Israel is working to expand the Abraham Accords with four other nations, Israel Hayom learned this week.

Sources said that Foreign Minister Eli Cohen was working to normalize ties with Mauritania, Somalia, Niger and Indonesia.      

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is  – of course – also involved in efforts behind the scenes, as are United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, and Amos Hochstein, who mediated the Israel-Lebanon maritime deal during the Bennett-Lapid government.

Negotiations with Mauritania are in the advanced state, as Cohen hinted last week in a meeting with German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, during which he officially asked her to help Israel with the breakthrough vis-a-vis Mauritania and Niger.

Israel and Mauritania used to have diplomatic relations – established in 1999 – but cut ties in 2008 due to the Gaza War.

Israel and Somalia have never had diplomatic ties, but over the past year, reports have said that the country’s President Hassan Sheik Mohamud is interested in establishing them.  Jerusalem is also interested due to Somalia’s important strategic location between the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean at the entrance to the Red Sea.

With Niger, Israel has never had official diplomatic relations either. And even those that did exist unofficially suffered during the Yom Kippur War and the Second Intifada, but no efforts to re-establish them have been made since.

Jerusalem is interested in normalizing ties with Niger as it is a global supplier of uranium and its ties to Israel might prevent the sale of the material to hostile countries and reduce the number of nations voting against Israel in international forums.

Cohen is also working to normalize ties with Indonesia, the biggest Muslim country in the world.  Although Jakarta does not have official diplomatic ties with Jerusalem, there have been unofficial connections in trade, technology, and tourism.



Terror Victims Yagel, Hallel Yaniv’s Corneas Donated To 4 Israelis

The corneas of Yagel and Hallel Yaniv, who were murdered over a week ago in a shooting attack in Huwara, were transplanted to four patients at Rabin Medical Center-Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva.  This was announced by the hospital together with the National Transplantation Center on Wednesday morning (8th).

The parents of the brothers, who had signed organ donor cards, decided to donate the corneas immediately after the attack.

One of the patients, 68-year-old Ziona Salzberg from Migdal Haemek, talked about the excitement of having her eyesight return: “I wouldn’t have imagined.  What a strong family – I’m so looking forward to meeting them already – just to hug them.”

Another patient who is receiving his eyesight back thanks to the transplant is 66-year-old Ron Carmeli: “When this terrible incident happened – I didn’t imagine  even in my wildest dreams that I would get to see again, thanks to them.  I appreciate them and this noble act so much.”

Yagel and Hallel’s parents, Esti and Shalom Yaniv said: “We were excited to receive the announcement about Hallel and Yagel’s cornea transplants this morning.  We wish for those receiving the corneas that they will see the world’s goodness and joy, as our sweet sons saw it.  Their good and beautiful eyes will continue to illuminate our world through these dear messengers and we are filled with satisfaction that even after their deaths they were able to do good for others.”

Professor Irit Bachar, director of the eye department at Beilinson Hospital said: “Corneal transplantation is a medical operation that brings together bereavement and loss on the one hand and the saving of sight and excitement of the transplanted on the other.  I have transplanted hundreds of corneas during my years of work but these transplants were very exciting for me.”

“The noble decision of the family at the moment of the tragedy of their lives is exceptionally moving.  Since the tragedy – in the last week – we performed four cornea transplants for patients who have been waiting for a transplant for over a year.  Thanks to this donation, we were able to restore the eyesight of all four patients.  The transplanted will be able to see optimally about a month after the operation,” Bachar added.