News Digest — 4/19/22

Israel Strikes Targets In Gaza Following Rocket Fire

The Israeli Air Force struck targets in the Gaza Strip overnight Tuesday (19th) in response to earlier rocket fire launched towards southern Israel.

“Fighter planes attacked a number of targets and destroyed a Hamas weapons production facility,” the IDF’s Spokesperson’s Unit said in a statement.  “Israel regards Hamas as responsible for all events in and from the Strip.”

Hamas spokesperson Hazim Qassem said that there were no injuries in the strikes that targeted a site west of Khan Younis and claimed anti-aircraft fire was launched at the planes.  According to reports, a Russian-made Strela (SA-7) shoulder-to-air missile was fired at Israeli jets.

“The Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades announced that its air defenses responded to the hostile warplanes at 1;35 a.m., SAFA news agency reported.

“The attempt to hit the planes failed and there was no damage done to the aircraft,” the military said.

Terror groups in the Strip have fired surface-to-air missiles toward Israeli platforms during past operations over the Gaza Strip.  None has caused any damage, including during the strikes on Tuesday morning (19th).



Iron Dome Intercepts Rocket From Gaza To Israel

The Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip towards Israel on Monday night (18th), the first in four months.

The incoming rocket siren was activated around 8:30 p.m. in the southern Israeli communities of Kissufim, and Ein Hashlosha, which are located just across from the city of Khan Younis.

The Eshkol regional council and Magen David Adom said there were no reports of injuries following the rocket attack.

On Sunday afternoon (17th), sirens were activated in the town of Nahal Oz.  The IDF later said that it was a false alarm.  The last time that rockets were fired from the Hamas-ruled enclave was on January 1 when two rockets landed in the sea off the coast of Tel Aviv.

The rocket fire comes as tensions rise surrounding the Temple Mount as dozens of Palestinians have been injured and many arrested following violent clashes with Israeli police.

The international community, including Arab states that have normalized ties with Israel as well as Jordan, have been highly critical of the actions of Israel’s security forces and Hamas and other groups in the Strip have warned that Jerusalem and the holy compound were a red line.

“Our Palestinian people are committed to holding to their rights, land and holy sites,” said Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh.  “All attempts to dominate Al-Aqsa Mosque or change its Islamic identity will not succeed.” 

Israeli officials understand that while Hamas is not interested in any conflict, their major concern is that the violence might spiral and lead to other terror groups in the Strip launching rockets into Israel, therefore dragging the Strip into yet another war.

Last year, violence on the Temple Mount, coupled with the cancellation of Palestinian elections led to Hamas firing seven rockets toward Jerusalem leading to 11 days of deadly conflict called Operation Guardian of the Walls by the IDF, and Sword of Jerusalem by Hamas.

According to reports, Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations have been mediating between Israel and Hamas in order to calm tensions and prevent further violence.



On This Day: The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising Began

On this day, April 19, 1943, the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising began.  The revolt would last a few days short of a month.

When the Nazis invaded Poland in September of 1939, more than 400,000 of the Jews who lived in Warsaw were confined to the Ghetto, which was the largest in Poland.  In November of 1940, the ghetto was sealed off, and anyone caught leaving was shot on sight.

The lack of food and overcrowding killed thousands of people each month.

In the middle of 1942, Heinrich Himmler ordered the Jews “resettled” to extermination camps.  The Jews were told they were going to work camps, but word reached them that deportation meant they were going to die.

By September 1942, more than 280,000 Jews were deported to Treblinka or forced labor camps, and many were killed during the deportation process.

Approximately 60,000 Jews were left in the ghetto, and they formed groups such as the Jewish Combat Organization and the ZOB.  These groups aimed to fight back and managed to have weapons smuggled into the ghetto by anti-Nazi Poles and the Jewish Military Union.

In mid-January of 1943, the Nazis entered the ghetto to prepare a new group for deportation but were ambushed by the ZOB.  The fighting lasted a few days, after which deportations were suspended for a few months.

On April 19, Himmler sent in SS forces to raze the ghetto to the ground.  The forces far outnumbered the Jews and were equipped with tanks and heavy artillery, but the Jews put up a fight that lasted until May 16 when the SS regained control of the ghetto.

An estimated 7,000 Jews were killed in the uprising, and it is believed that they took hundreds of Germans with them.

The remaining Jews were sent to extermination or labor camps.



Sanctifying The Murder Of Innocents, The Palestinians Fall Farther Behind – Prof. Eyal Zisser

Terrorist attacks perpetrated by evil murderers, in the heart of flourishing and prospering cities, encapsulate the history of Israel’s struggle.  From the outset of the Zionist enterprise, we have settled this land, building a modern progressive state and diverse, pluralistic, and dynamic society, while the response from the Palestinians has been death and bloodshed.  They rejected the UN Partition Plan in 1947; then again after the signing of the Oslo Accords, when instead of trying to establish state institutions they focused on preparing waves of terror; and another time in the wake of the Gaza disengagement, when they turned Gaza into a terror incubator.

This is essentially the crux of the problem.  The parents of the Tel Aviv attacker recently praised his actions and relatives flocked to the family’s mourning tent to glorify and laud his deeds.  And those who label terrorists as shahids (holy martyrs) and pay salaries to their families legitimize their actions.  Zionism has never sanctified the murder of innocents, and never made terrorism and armed struggle its entire purpose and reason for existence.  Israel’s heroes are not shahids.

We in Israel continue on our journey, paying a painful price for every step, yet marching from victory to victory for the past 74 years of independence. 

The Palestinians, meanwhile, fall farther and farther behind.

The writer is a lecturer in Middle East history at Tel Aviv University.



New Jordan Valley Spring Named After Terror Victim Rina Shnerb

A new spring was inaugurated in the Jordan valley on Sunday (17th) and named after 17-year-old Rina Shnerb, who was killed in a terror attack while hiking with her father and brother in Judea and Samaria in August 2019.

The spring was built by youngsters from the Mehola settlement with the help of the Kol Rina Foundation, which was established in Shnerb’s memory, and works to set up hiking sites in her honor.

Her father, Rabbi Eitan Shnerb, who survived the attack along with his son, thanked the group for their efforts and invited Israelis to visit the site, which is now open to the public.

Director of the Kol Rina Foundation Matanya Shnerb said, “Rina, who loved Israel and used to go on many trips, was killed on her way to the spring.  By establishing springs and hiking trails we follow in her footsteps.”    

He vowed the foundation would continue establishing sites in Shnerb’s memory all across Israel.



In Every Generation They Rise Up To Destroy Us – Warren Goldstein

→ The recent murderous attacks in Israel had no specific political objective other than to murder Jews.  They followed the general objective issued in countless public statements and enshrined in the Hamas charter: the eradication of the Jewish state and the elimination of Jews from every inch of Israel

→ There is a word for violent, unprovoked attacks against innocent Jews going about their ordinary lives: pogrom.  But unlike the situation in late 19th century Russia, when Jews relied on the czar’s good graces for protection, today we can defend ourselves, thank God.  These terrorist are modern-day Cossacks, and they are not perpetrating terrorist attacks with clear political objectives but pogroms.

→ Theodor Herzl, who helped form the modern Zionist movement, believed that if Jews, the only nation in Europe without a country of their own, could only have their own state, it would end the hatred.  But it didn’t.  The bitter irony is that the Jewish state has become the new focus of antisemitic hatred.

→ How is it possible that this country, on a sliver of land smaller than New Jersey, has been the target of more UN Human Right Council resolutions than the rest of the world combined?  The only country in the world with a global movement denying its right to exist.  How can it be that within living memory of the Holocaust, there is a new credible threat to obliterate another six million Jews, only this time with a single detonation?

→ For generations, Jews have understood the biblical prediction: “Vehi Sheamda” – “In every generation they rise up to destroy us” –  which we recall every year on Passover.  We must sing those words on Seder night not with fear or sadness or bitterness.  Instead, we should feel the pride of the generations of brave Jews who came before us, and hand these truths to our children so they will know who they are, so they will know our enemies and not fear them.

The writer is Chief Rabbi of South Africa