News Digest — 4/25/22

IDF Artillery Targets Southern Lebanon After Rocket Fire

The IDF fired dozens of artillery shells toward sites in southern Lebanon after a rocket was fired into northern Israel near the town of Shlomi.

The retaliatory fire targeted the launch area as well as an unspecified “infrastructure target,” the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said.

IDF Spokesperson Brig.-Gen. Ran Kohav wrote on Twitter that the retaliatory strikes were done “in order to make it clear to those on the other side that we do not intend to accept any violation of Israeli sovereignty.  We have a variety of tools in order to respond, and there is no intention to allow for such fire to continue. We are not going to get used to even a single rocket; we will continue to respond as necessary.”

Kohav added that there is no change in the alert level along the northern border and that Remembrance Day and Independence Day will pass quietly.

“It’s our job to protect the State of Israel and we will continue to do so.”

The rocket fired from southern Lebanon on Sunday night (24th) landed in an open area near Kibbutz Matzuva.

While no one has taken responsibility for the rocket fire, it is believed to have been carried out by Palestinian operatives who belong to Hamas in southern Lebanon.

Hamas has been active in Israel’s northern neighbor for decades and its military activity in the country is carried out under the assistance, initiation and supervision of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force.

Kohav told KAN radio on Monday morning (25th) that the IDF believes the rocket fired by Palestinian factions “is connected to the Ramadan period and the events of the Temple Mount.”

According to Army Radio the defense establishment is considering the possibility that Hamas ordered the rocket fire following closure of the Erez crossing between Gaza and Israel.

The IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi held a situational evaluation with senior defense officials on Monday morning (25th).    

The rocket fire from Lebanon comes after several rockets were fired last week from the Gaza Strip towards southern Israel amid tensions at Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Temple Mount.

Last year, rockets were fired from Lebanon during Operation Guardian of the Walls in May, and again in July and August.

After the IDF responded to the rocket fire from Lebanon in August, targeting launch sites with 100 artillery shells and an airstrike targeting a road used by the terrorists, Hezbollah responded with nearly 20 rockets toward open territory in northern Israel.



Lapid: ‘Terrorists Are Trying To Hijack Al-Aqsa Mosque’

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid defended Israeli police for their recent actions to break up riots on the Temple Mount, and to remove rioters from the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Speaking with foreign journalists at the Foreign Ministry’s central offices in Jerusalem Sunday afternoon (24th), Lapid said the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorist organizations were to blame for the recent clashes on the Temple Mount and around the Old City of Jerusalem.

“In the past three weeks, there has been a dangerous effort underway in Jerusalem,” Lapid said.  “During Ramadan terrorist organizations have been trying to hijack the Al-Aqsa Mosque, in order to create an outbreak of violence in Jerusalem, and from there, a violent conflict across the country.”

“Hamas and Islamic Jihad extremists burst into Al-Aqsa Mosque in the early mornings, again and again.  They brought weapons into the mosque.  They threw rocks and explosives from within it, and used it as a base to incite violent riots.”

“I’m not a Muslim, but I know enough about Islam to tell you: This is not how you act in a holy place.  They’ve done this to create a provocation, to force the Israeli police to enter the mosque and remove them.  They’ve sacrificed their own religion for a viral video.”

The only reason the police have twice entered the mosque to remove them in recent weeks, is because at the same time, tens of thousands of Muslim worshipers began arriving at the Temple Mount.  It is not Israel that endangered worshipers – it is the terrorist organizations who endangered them.”

“If we had not removed these rioters, there would have been a disaster.”

“Alongside this violence, we have had to deal with an unbelievable amount of fake news and altered videos which have gone viral.”

Lapid also denied claims that Israel is working to partition the Temple Mount along religious lines.

“I want to clarify: Israel is committed to the Status Quo on the Temple Mount.  Muslims pray on the Temple Mount, non-Muslims visit.  There is no change.  There will be no change.  We have no plans to divide the Temple Mount between religions,” Lapid concluded.



Never Again? Nearly Half Of Israelis Fear Another Holocaust

Almost half of the Israeli public (47%) is worried that another Holocaust will befall the Jewish people, according to a poll conducted by the “Pnina” movement prior to the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, Wednesday, April 27.

The poll sought to address sensitive questions about preserving the memory of the Holocaust and Israeli society’s existential anxiety – rooted among other things, in fears of another Holocaust.  Also adding to these concerns, it appears, are Iran’s threats to destroy Israel and the Islamic republic’s nuclear project.

According to the poll, women are more fearful (55%) compared to men (42%), while youngsters are also fearful: 24% of Israelis 24 years old and younger said they are very concerned about a second Holocaust, as opposed to 12% of Israelis over the age of 45.  Additionally, 23% of those questioned who defined themselves as ultra-Orthodox said they were very fearful of a second Holocaust, compared to 11% among secular Israelis.

Meanwhile, the poll also showed that a majority of Israelis expect the manner in which Holocaust Remembrance Day is observed to change over time.  Asked how it will be observed in 30 years, 45% of those questioned said it would erode and only include ceremonies; while 13% of Israelis believe the character of the day will have changed completely and will be just a regular day.  On the other hand, 16% said Holocaust Remembrance Day will be observed even more intensely and carry even more significance, while 26% said the day would remain exactly the same.  In this context, it should be noted that younger Israelis predict a disconcerting future, with 21% of Israelis in the 35-45 age range saying Holocaust Remembrance Day will disappear altogether, as opposed to 12% of those aged 65 and older who said the same.

As of January 2021, some 165,800 Holocaust survivors were living in Israel, 90% of them 80 years old and above.  Every day an average of 42 Holocaust survivors pass away; and in the future, the challenge of telling their stories  will be even greater.

The poll also found that 56% of Israelis believe the public school should be exposed to recorded testimonies of survivors so that Holocaust Remembrance Day remains relevant, and 29% said the country needs to subsidize trips to former Nazi concentration and death camps for every Israeli.  Additionally, 19% of Israelis believe it is inevitable that the day will become less important over time.

Meanwhile, 62% of the people questioned in the survey said they very much support the practice of blacking out entertainment and sports channels on Holocaust Remembrance Day, and 11% said they were opposed.



Anti-Israel Demonstrators Call For Resistance ‘By Any Means Necessary’ In NYC

Several anti-Israel organizations, including some designated by Israel as terrorist organizations, joined to protest actions in the last few weeks by the security forces in the Jewish state in front of Israel’s consulate and permanent Mission to the United Nations in Midtown Manhattan, calling for “resistance and liberation by any means necessary” on advertisements for the event.

“This statement is concerning, and we take it very seriously,” said Itay Milner, a spokesman at the Israeli consulate.  “We witnessed in the past weeks how these kinds of statements incited violence in the Middle East.  Now, some people want to bring the same violence here to New York City.”

The rally started at 5 p.m. – a time when the consulate was closed and staff had been allowed to leave work early because of Passover – and continued into the evening.

Milner said the Israeli consulate took all necessary precautions, making sure that any employees left in the building were not in sight except for security.

At approximately 5:30 p.m., about 150 attendees stood outside the consulate, holding signs, waving flags, banging on drums and chanting: “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”   Protesters could also be heard calling to “globalize the intifada.”

The protest later moved into the streets where the group marched and blocked traffic.  Police officers with the New York City Police Department followed the march on foot, in police cars and on scooters.

The march ended at Manhattan’s Grand Army Plaza with speeches and more chanting.

The rally was organized by anti-Israel groups, including Within Our Lifetime, Palestinian Youth Movement and Samidoun, among others.

Samidoun advocates for the release of Palestinian prisoners, and according to NGO Monitor, has ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which is designated a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, Canada and Israel

Israel’s Ministry of Defense named Samidoun itself a terrorist organization due to it being a subsidiary of the PFLP.  The ministry also said that the group’s founder, Khaled Barakat, “is involved in establishing militant cells and motivating terrorist activity in Judea and Samaria, and abroad.”

Many of the groups involved took part in a protest on March 30, when they gathered in front of several offices of pro-Israel organizations in Manhattan.



Israeli Astronaut Eytan Stibbe On His Way Back To Earth

Israeli astronaut Eytan Stibbe and his crewmates on the first-ever all-private astronaut team to fly aboard the International Space Station, departed the orbiting outpost on Sunday (24th) to begin a descent back to Earth, capping a two-week science mission hailed as a milestone in commercial spaceflight.

A SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule carrying the four-man team from the Houston-based startup company Axiom Space undocked from the ISS at about 9:10 p.m.  Sunday (24th) to embark on a 16-hour return flight, a live NASA webcast showed.

The Axiom astronauts, garbed in their helmeted white and black spacesuits, were seen strapped into the crew cabin shortly before the spacecraft separated from the station, orbiting some 250 miles above Earth.  A couple of brief rocket thrusts then pushed the capsule safely clear of the ISS.

If all goes smoothly, the Dragon capsule, dubbed Endeavor, will parachute into the Atlantic off the coast of Florida  on Monday (25th) around 1 p.m.

The flight home was postponed for several days due to unfavorable weather at the splashdown zone, extending the Axiom crew’s stay in orbit well beyond its original departure date early last week.

Launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on April 8, the team spent two weeks aboard the ISS with the seven regular, government-paid crew of the space station: three American astronauts, a German astronaut and three Russian cosmonauts.

The Axiom quartet became the first all-commercial astronaut team ever launched to the space station, taking with them equipment for two dozen science experiments, biomedical research and technology demonstrations to conduct in orbit.