News Digest — 4/22/22

Lapid: 5 Facts About The Temple Mount

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid on Thursday (21st) shared some truths about the Temple Mount in a bid to stop dissemination of false information about the tensions at the complex.

“5 facts about the Temple Mount – instead of the disinformation being spread on line,” Lapid wrote in a series of tweets.

“1. Israel is preserving and will continue to preserve the status quo on the Temple Mount.  We have no intention of changing it whatsoever.”

“2. In the first two weeks of Ramadan, hundreds of thousands of Muslins have prayed at Al-Aqsa.  The only people who’ve disturbed them are extremists & Hamas supporters who took control of the mosque, desecrated it, disrupted prayer, & lobbed firebombs, fireworks & rocks from within.”

“3. The Israel Police acted only to prevent such violence and allow prayer to continue as normal.  The moment they put a stop to the violence, the police left the site and enabled thousands of believers to enter the Temple Mount & pray in peace.  This is Israel’s policy – there is no other.”

“4. Videos posted online with false content are part of a campaign of disinformation by extremists whose objective is to incite a violent confrontation.  Israel has no interest in a confrontation, and in fact, has enacted tangible policies to reduce tensions during Ramadan.”

“5. Continued violence only serves the interests of extremists on both sides.  Just yesterday, Israel stopped Jewish extremists who tried to inflame tensions in Jerusalem.  Muslim moderates need to do the same thing when it comes to Islamist extremists.”

Earlier on Thursday (21st), Lapid met with a State Department delegation visiting Israel.  The two sides discussed the recent Arab riots on the Temple Mount and Israeli efforts to quell the surge of violence during the Islamic month of Ramadan.

“The State of Israel is dealing with extremist Islamist terror whose entire goal is to sow violence, fear and chaos,” Lapid said after the meeting.  “We call on all leaders in the region to act and speak responsibly in order to calm the situation.  Israel is preserving and will continue to preserve the status quo on the Temple Mount and we have no intention of changing it whatsoever.”

The clashes on the Temple Mount resumed on Thursday morning (21st), with Arabs reporting that Israeli security forces entered the site and closed the worshipers in, at one of the mosques.

Footage from the scene showed that the forces used riot dispersal methods after the rioters attacked them with rocks and fireworks and tried to harm the police officers from within the mosque.



Haniyeh: Hamas Will Determine Outcome Of Next War

One day after rockets were fired at the southern city of Sderot from the Gaza Strip, Wednesday (20th), Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said Israel no longer controlled the equation of deterrence and that Hamas would be the one to determine the outcome of the next campaign.

“Just as we defeated the flag march in Jerusalem, so too will we defeat the policy of breaking into Al-Aqsa Mosque, and we are still at the outset of the campaign.  If the occupation thinks invading Al-Aqsa will change the Islamic character of the mosque, they are wrong,” Haniyeh said.

Another senior Hamas official said the Israeli strike on the Gaza Strip Wednesday night (20th) would not impact the will and determination of the Palestinian people.  He emphasized the “resistance” would continue to defend Jerusalem, Al-Aqsa, and the Islamic holy sites.

He went on to say that there would be no return to the equations of deterrence imposed by the Israeli Defense Forces’ Operation Guardian of the Walls on Gaza in May of 2021.

“The resistance forced Israel to change the framework of the radical settlers’ march, said Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem, adding “this campaign has one end and it is the victory of our people and the achievement of its goals of liberation and the Palestinian ‘right’ of return.”



Over Ukraine, They Side With The Victims. Over Israel, They Side With The Aggressors – Melanie Phillips

Not only the Western media but also the U.S. administration, which unequivocally condemned Russia for attacking Ukraine, refuse to condemn the Arabs who have been hurling boulders and fire bombs at Israeli Jews in the past week and instead hold Israel responsible for the escalation in violence.

The Palestinian Authority has been inciting hysteria and violence by claiming that the “evil Jews” – note “Jews,” not “Israelis” – are “defiling” al-Aqsa and intend to destroy it (a baseless claim which the Arab and Muslim world has used to incite murderous attacks on Jews for more than a century)

The demand is not just that Jews should stay out of the al-Aqsa mosque itself (where Jews have no interest in entering), but that no Jew should be allowed onto the Temple Mount – an area of more than 35 acres.  The Palestinian Arabs demand that Jews be barred from the most sacred site in Judaism, the site of the Jews’ two biblical Temples.

(the writer is a columnist for The Times-UK)



Russian Envoy: We’ll Respond Accordingly If Israel Gives Ukraine Defensive Gear

Russia’s envoy to Israel warned Thursday (21st) that Moscow will respond if Jerusalem supplies Kyiv with defensive gear amid his country’s invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking with Russian state television, Ambassador Anatoly Viktorov noted Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s announcement a day earlier that Israel will provide Ukraine with helmets and flak jackets.

Gantz’s office stressed the equipment will go to Ukrainian civilian rescue and medical forces, not the military.

“We are carefully checking this information and will respond accordingly if it is confirmed,” Viktorov said.

It was not clear from Viktorov’s remarks what such a response might entail.

Gantz’s announcement Wednesday (20th) marked a policy shift for Israel, which first weighed Ukrainian requests for some defensive equipment in March.  More recently devastating images coming out of the Kyiv suburb of Bucha galvanized many countries against the Russian effort and led to a change of tone from Israeli politicians.

Israel has avoided aligning too closely with either side since Russian troops invaded Ukraine on February 24.  It is one of the few countries that maintains relations with both Ukraine and Russia.

However, the rhetoric coming from Jerusalem shifted in the wake of the reports of widespread civilian killings by the Russians.

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid even explicitly accused Russia of war crimes earlier this month, in the strongest comments yet by a top Israeli official against Moscow.

While Jerusalem might have somewhat shifted its tone to align more with Western powers, it has so far steadfastly declined to contribute to the Ukrainian military effort.  Instead, Israel has sent a 100-ton humanitarian package to Ukraine and built a field hospital in the west of the country.



Laser Game-Changer in Middle Eastern Warfare – Amb. Dore Gold

→ Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, commenting on the latest Israeli anti-missile laser test, said: “energy-based weapons with a powerful laser are, in my opinion, a very significant game-changer.”

→ The Soviet Scud missiles supplied to Egypt just before the Yom Kippur War in 1973 offered assured penetrability of Israel’s air space.  From then on, Israel had to find a way to neutralize the ballistic missiles of its adversaries.

→ The introduction of a new generation anti-missile system based on lasers could provide Israel with a more cost-effective solution than the Iron Dome, whose Tamir interceptors each cost $80,000.  The cost of each laser shot is less than $5.00.

→ Today, rockets and ballistic missiles are being employed by Iranian proxy forces like Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Houthis in Yemen.  The Houthis have also fired armed drones at the heart of Riyadh and at Abu Dhabi.

→ There is a collective interest among Israel and the Gulf states to deny Iranian allies the ability to hit their most sensitive infrastructures.

→ The Abraham Accords have created new regional possibilities for marrying up Israeli technology with the financial power of the Arab Gulf states.  This is the real game-changer that is emerging now.



Boca Raton Targeted By Antisemitic Flyers On Hitler’s Birthday

Police are investigating after antisemitic flyers with a photo of Adolf Hitler on them were left outside homes in Boca Raton, Florida Wednesday morning (20th).

The fliers, which were placed in plastic bags and filled with kernels of corn, depicted Hitler’s image with the caption: “Died fighting the human race’s eternal enemy, the Jew.”

Boca Raton Mayor Scott Singer tweeted: “Angry that this AM a cowardly hatemonger left anti-Semitic and pro-Hitler flyers in driveways at homes on four streets in our city.  We fully condemn this vile hate.  Boca PD [Police Department] investigating.  Unusual here; unacceptable anywhere.  We stand strong and united against all bigotry and anti-Semitism.”

Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla) also posted on social media about the incident, writing “these were delivered to homes in Boca Raton, Florida on the fifth day of Passover.  Hitler attempted to eradicate the Jews from the earth.  His Nazis slaughtered 6 million Jews.”

“This vile anti-Semitism must be universally condemned, and the cowards spreading this hate must be held accountable,” he added.

Earlier this week, antisemitic fliers were left on homes in Beverly Hills and Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill Neighborhood.