News Digest — 4/21/22

IDF Strikes Hamas Military Compound After Rocket From Gaza

The Israeli Air Force struck targets in the Gaza Strip overnight on Thursday (21st) in response to earlier rocket fire launched toward southern Israel Wednesday evening (20th).

The first rocket fired from Gaza occurred around 10:30 p.m., with a rocket damaging a parked car and house in the college city of Sderot.

Several people were treated for shock, including a 70-year-old man who was transferred to the hospital.  Six other people were injured while seeking shelter, with four transferred to the hospital for medical treatment.

In response, the IDF said that fighter jets targeted a military post and a tunnel complex in the Hamas-run enclave “containing raw chemicals used for the manufacturing of rocket engines.”

The IDF said that the strikes dealt “a significant blow” to the rocket production process in Gaza.

During the airstrikes, terrorists in the Strip fired anti-aircraft missiles, the second time in a row that such a system was used.

On Tuesday (19th) during retaliatory Israeli strikes on the coastal enclave, Hamas fired a Russian-made Strela (SA-7) shoulder-to-air missile.

The IDF said that attempts to hit the planes, both on Tuesday (19th) and Thursday (21st), failed and no damage had been caused.

Another rocket landed within the Gaza Strip, the IDF added.

“Prime Minister Naftali Bennet must respond to the attack,” Sderot Mayor Alon Davidi said at the scene of the attack.  “It was a miracle no one was hurt.  It is the government’s responsibility to ensure Sderot residents can enjoy the Passover holiday in peace,” the mayor said.

During a visit on Tuesday afternoon (19th) to the Judea and Samaria Border Police, Defense Minister Benny Gantz warned that Israel would not allow for continued rocket fire from the Hamas-run enclave.

“The IDF is ready with a wide range of means and targets – so that peace and stability continues,” he said.

“If the incitement and rocket fire continues – the terrorist organizations will be severely harmed, as will the people of Gaza, who are currently benefiting from the moves we have made to develop the economy and allow them to work in Israel,” he warned.  “These are moves that we will expand if the stability continues or we can go backward, if the Hamas leaders decide to harm it,” he concluded. 



Palestinian Rioters Inside Al-Aqsa Mosque Throw Rocks, Fireworks At Security Forces

Thursday morning (21st) saw violence on the Temple Mount continue.  After dawn prayers ended, several dozen Palestinians, mostly masked, began disturbing the peace.

Before daybreak, they entered Al-Aqsa Mosque, closed the doors and started throwing rocks and fireworks at security forces outside.

Police were operating at the site to restore order and protect visitors.

On Wednesday (20th), Palestinian rioters holed up in the mosque threw Molotov cocktails at security personnel.  One of the improvised explosives landed on the carpet, causing a fire that was extinguished immediately.

Police arrested seven residents of east Jerusalem on suspicion of involvement in the Molotov cocktail assault.  On Thursday (21st) the suspects were due to attend a remand hearing.

However, Arab social media users continued to spread false stories about events on the Temple Mount.

Meanwhile, Jews continue to visit the Temple Mount under heavy security.  Police moved their path to the Mount, with approval from Temple Mount rabbis, in an attempt to skirt the Palestinian rioters.

The site was open to Jewish visitors until 10:30 a.m., Thursday (21st).



Israel To Supply Helmets, Vests To Ukrainian Rescue Services, But Not To Military

Israel announced on Wednesday (20th) that it would supply protective helmets and vests to Ukrainian rescue services and civilian organizations but not to its military.

This is the first time such equipment will be delivered by Israel to Ukraine, since the Russian invasion in February.

The decision, which was announced by the Defense Ministry, followed high-level consultations over the past week.

The details of the procurement and of delivery have not yet been finalized.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz spoke with his Ukrainian counterpart Oleksii Reznikov and informed him of the decision to respond to his request.  Gantz said that the supplies are supplemental to other humanitarian aid sent by Israel, which includes the establishment of a field hospital, safe haven from the war for refugees, food, medical supplies and more.

The Defense Minister’s office said the two men discussed the international efforts, as well as those of Israel, to bring about an end to the war.

Gantz said Israel stood by the citizens of Ukraine and supports the need to continue providing aid and working towards bringing about a cessation of fighting.

The Ukraine ambassador to Israel Yevgen Korniychuk, had a month ago, thanked Prime Minister Naftali Bennett for Israel’s efforts to aid Ukraine but urged Bennett to send protective gear to Kyiv.

In a recent press conference in Tel Aviv, Korniychuk wore a helmet and said that if Ukrainian rescue teams had such equipment at their disposal, they would be safe.



Russia Completes First Launch Of New Nuclear-Capable ICBM

The first launch of the Russian intercontinental ballistic missile “Sarmat” was successfully carried out from the Plesetsk cosmodrome in the Arkhangelsk region, the Russian Defense Ministry stated on Wednesday (20th).

It has been under development for years and so its test launch is not a surprise for the West, but it comes at a moment of extreme geopolitical tension due to Russia’s war in Ukraine.

“On Wednesday (20th) at 15:12 Moscow time at the Plesetsk state test cosmodrome in the Arkhangelsk region, a Sarmat fixed-based intercontinental ballistic missile was successfully launched from a silo launcher,” the Russian Defense Ministry said.

“Sarmat is a strategic missile system, a heavy-class liquid-propellant ICBM, the weight of one such missile exceeds 200 tons,” said the ministry.  According to open sources, the cast weight is 10 tons.

The new missile system will replace the R-36 “Voevoda”  ICBMs currently in use by Russia’s Strategic Missile Forces.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who watched the launch of the missile via video link, said that it would have no analogs in the world for a long time to come and would make those “who, in the heat of frenzied aggressive rhetoric, are trying to threaten our country, think twice before acting against Russia.”   

“The new complex has the highest tactical characteristics and is capable of overcoming all modern anti-missile defense systems,” Putin said.

“Sarmat” is the most powerful missile with the longest operational range in the world, according to Russia, which will significantly increase the combat power of the country’s strategic nuclear forces.

“The launch tasks have been completed in full.  Design characteristics have been confirmed at all stages of its flight.  Training warheads have arrived in a given area at the Kura training ground on the Kamchatka Peninsula,” the Defense Ministry added.



Malawi President Plans To Move Embassy To Jerusalem, MP Tells Post

Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera plans to move his country’s embassy to Jerusalem according to MP Joyce Chitsulo.

“I would be lying if I told you a timeframe, but I hope the move will happen soon,” Chitsulo said in March during a visit to Israel as part of the Israel Allies Foundation Chairman’s Conference. 

Chitsulo is the local chair of her parliament’s Israel Allies Caucus, which is pro-Israel and focused on supporting Israel through faith-based diplomacy.  Its members believe in the biblical connection of Jews and Christians to Israel and stand with Israel as a result.

Chitsulo has held her position since 2019.

“I remember the president’s first national address, how he mentioned having an embassy in Jerusalem,” Chitsulo recalled.  “That was very good, and I rose up and supported him.”

Since then, she said, she and her fellow pro-Israel parliamentarians have been encouraging others to join the cause – both inside and outside parliament.

“We are recruiting others to make sure it is known to the president that he has political support for the move,” Chitsulo stressed, “Most Malawians would not complain, but there may be a small percentage who would.  So, it is our duty to mobilize the people to support the president and give him the strength to move forward with the plan.”

“If it is just a quiet dream, it may die.  So, we have to continue to speak about it.”

Chitsulo said that she has always loved Israel, but she only became politically active for Israel when she joined parliament in 2019.  She received the caucus chairmanship because the previous chair was not reelected.

“Being a Christian, I believe in the Bible,” she told the Jerusalem Post.  “I believe the Bible stories and I believe that as a Christian I am mandated by God to make sure I stand for Israel.  God will bless those who stand for Israel and so I feel compelled to do so.”

Around 44% of the Malawi population is Protestant Christian, according to the World Atlas.  Another 16% are Roman Catholic and 13% other types of Christians.  Only 19% of the population is Sunni Muslim.

The Israel Allies Foundation coordinates a network of more than 50 Israel-Allies Caucuses worldwide, including the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus, the Congressional Israel-Allies Caucus, and caucuses in Europe, Latin America, Australia and Africa.  Around 20 caucus chairs were in Israel on the March trip.