News Digest — 4/29/22

Ahead Of Memorial Day: 24,068 Fallen IDF Soldiers And Victims Of Terrorism

Ahead of Memorial Day, which begins on Tuesday night, May 3, the Ministry of Defense published the number of fallen IDF soldiers and victims of terrorism from 1860 to the present day: 24,068.

From Memorial Day last year and until today, 56 people have been added to the tally, as well as another 84 handicapped people, who died as a result of being wounded and were recognized during the year as IDF casualties.

This coming Tuesday (5/3) at 8 p.m., a one-minute memorial siren will be sounded throughout the country, marking the start of Memorial Day for the Fallen Soldiers of the Wars of Israel and Victims of Actions of Terrorism.  Immediately after the siren, memorial rallies will begin across the country.  The main ceremony will take place at the Western Wall Plaza in Jerusalem in the presence of the President and the IDF Chief of Staff.

On Wednesday (5/4) at 11 a.m., a two-minute memorial siren will be sounded, followed by official memorial services in 52 military cemeteries across the country and at memorial sites.  The main ceremony will take place at the National Memorial Hall for Israel’s Fallen on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem in the presence of the President, Prime Minister and Speaker of the Knesset.  Immediately after the siren, at 11:02 a.m. a special flyover will pass over the Military and the National Memorial Hall on Mount Herzl.

The Department of Families and Commemoration at the Ministry of Defense, which is responsible for the Memorial Day events, has completed the preparation of the 52 military cemeteries, the Memorial Monument to the Bedouin Warriors at Hamovil Junction, hundreds of military burial plots and thousands of graves scattered in various localities from Kiryat Shmona to Eilat.  The works included renovation, accessibility, maintenance, cleaning, landscaping, as well as polishing and replacing damaged or old tombstones.  In recent weeks the department’s employees have initiated calls to the bereaved families in preparation for Memorial Day, in order to provide any assistance they may need.

Along with the Memorial events in Israel and as part of strengthening the connection with the bereaved families living abroad, the Commemoration and Heritage Division of the Ministry of Defense and the World Zionist Organization produced an online Memorial Day ceremony this year.  The ceremony, intended for Israeli communities around the world, is divided into two parts: A ceremony filmed at the National Memorial Hall on Mount Herzl which will be available on the Ministry of Defense’s YouTube page, as well as contents for a community memorial service which will be posted on the website of the Family, Commemoration and Heritage Department.  The content will be distributed to thousands of Jewish communities around the world, and the memorial service will be translated into Hebrew, English, Spanish, French and Russian.

The names of all the victims will be broadcast consecutively on Israeli TV, according to the order in which they fell, from the eve of Memorial Day on Tuesday (5/3) at 6:45 p.m., until the conclusion of Memorial Day on Wednesday evening (5/4).



Arab-Israeli Youth Marched With Holocaust Survivors, Some Wrapped In Israeli Flags

A delegation of the Arab Youth Movement Atidna set out for Poland this week to march with Holocaust survivors and walk through the camps.  The group toured Auschwitz on Wednesday (27th).

“We were taught a lot of things about the Holocaust, now we want to see them for ourselves,” Atidna member Yosef said before passing under the Arbeit Macht Frei (Work sets you free) slogan above the iron entrance gate at Auschwitz.

More than a third of the teens had left Israel for the first time.  They saw piles of shoes, prayer shawls (tallitot) and eyeglasses, but what seemed to affect them the most was a single shoe: the first shoe of a young child.  Thoughts of a younger sibling suffering drained the color from some of their faces.

“Every part we get to, I think: that’s it, it can’t get any worse,” said Ali, as they heard stories of what happened where they were standing.  “But it does – it hurts.” 

One girl wiped away tears after she saw the massive book of names of victims.

“It’s a heavy feeling to relive the awful things that went on here,” said Atidna CEO Dalia Fadila, an Arab-Israeli scholar and social organizer.  “There are terrible memories in every corner”

Salleem, Yosef’s cousin, said a room in which drawings of children were reproduced as scribbling on the wall was what impacted him the most.  Even though it was terrible, he was grateful to have had the opportunity to be there.

As the group marched on Thursday (28th), those they met along the way, felt the same way.  They were repeatedly queried by curious Israelis and Jews from the Diaspora, who even in the most solemn of places were excited by the youth movement and thanked the teens for their tribute to the victims of the Holocaust.

“What we’re doing is historic – the first Arab-Israeli delegation on the March of the Living,” said Suleiman, one of the youth movement leaders.

Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion told representatives of the movement that their visit “is very exciting. You deserve respect for coming.”

As the teens were uploading photos to social media at the beginning of their trip, they were asked where they were going.  Some messages were positive, but questions of why they wanted to go on the march persisted.

Suleiman said it was part of their responsibility to educate the future and build a better one in Israel, and knowledge of the Holocaust is part of that education.

“The Atidna Movement for Arab youth is working to advance and strengthen Arab identity – language, culture, religion – and integration into Israeli society,” said Atidna’s general secretary, Tony Nasser.  “The trip to Poland and education about the Holocaust and its heroes are central parts of our civil identity in the Jewish and democratic State of Israel.”

When the Arab-Israeli teens saw a Belgian youth delegation wearing Israeli flags as they walked along the tracks to Birkenau, and as the shofar sounded and the march began, some of the Arab-Israeli youths wrapped themselves in the Israeli flag and became part of the river of white and blue.  They were indistinguishable from the other delegations paying tribute to the victims of the Holocaust.



Hamas Delegation Welcomed In Iran

A delegation of high-ranking members of the Hamas terror group touched down in Tehran on Thursday morning (28th) and were warmly received by Iranian officials, Farsi-language media reported.

Led by senior Hamas politburo official Khalil al-Hayya, who is based in Gaza, the delegation is meeting with a number of prominent Iranian government officials to discuss progress in the Palestinian nation’s “resistance,” according to the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).

Hamas’ Lebanese and Iranian representatives are also expected to join the meetings.

The Hamas visit to Iran came on the eve of International Quds Day, an Islamic day of rage aimed at opposing Israeli control of Jerusalem.  The protest day takes place on the last Friday of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which is April 29th this year.

Iran and Hamas have long-shared close ties, with Hamas’ chief official Ismail Haniyeh thanking the Islamic Republic in 2017 for its financial and military support.

Tehran “did not hold back with money, weapons, and technical support,” Al-Hayya said.

On Thursday, (28th), Iranian parliament speaker Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf said during a meeting with Al-Hayya that former Iranian leader Imam Khomeini “considered Palestine as the main issue of the Islamic world.”  He emphasized that “the Islamic Republic will continue its support for the Palestinians and Al-Quds [Jerusalem].”

Al-Hayya told Qalibaf that “the occupiers have been attempting to increase their presence at Al-Aqsa and empty the mosque of Palestinians,” IRNA reported.

He added that “the Palestinian people and resistance groups have thwarted that plan, with Al-Quds and Al-Aqsa still remaining as symbols of resistance.

Last week, Hamas called for a Palestinian “mobilization” to “protect Al-Aqsa Mosque,” encouraging violent rioting and clashes with Israeli security forces.

As talks aimed at coaxing Iran into a nuclear deal appear doomed to fail, reports indicate that Saudi Arabia has started cozying up to the Islamic Republic.  



ISIS Attacks Spike In Sinai, Elsewhere Around The World

Attacks by the Islamic State group (ISIS) have spiked in its areas of activity around the world, including in the Sinai Peninsula, where Egyptian armed forces have spent years battling the terrorist organization, a new report by an Israeli think tank said on Wednesday (27th).

The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center noted a discernible rise in attacks in various ISIS flashpoints across the globe in the past two weeks, attributing the rise to the organization’s declaration of a campaign of revenge for the deaths of the former leader, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, and the group’s former spokesman, both killed in February in an American counter-terrorism raid in Idlib, Syria.

According to the report, multiple attacks occurred in the northern Sinai in recent days, including a shooting attack on April 25 targeting an Egyptian army patrol south of the town of Sheik Zuweid.  Two Egyptian soldiers were killed and a third was wounded.  An exchange of fire on the same day took place between ISIS terrorists and fighters from a Sinai Bedouin tribal union that supports the Egyptian army.

The pro-Egyptian militia received air support during that exchange from manned and unmanned aircraft, according to the report.  Six Bedouin fighters were killed, it added.

Roadside bombs and ambushes occurred in other areas of northern Sinai as well in April.

The Egyptian military’s campaign against ISIS is backed by armed Bedouin who support the Egyptian effort.

The report said that on April 22, two Bedouin fighters were abducted by ISIS and executed.  Two days later, an ISIS-affiliated media outlet released video footage showing the murder of men it claimed were “spies,” who were likely the abducted victims.

Earlier this month, the Islamic State group’s official media platform, Al-Furqan, released a statement calling on its supporters in Israel to conduct terror attacks.

The spokesman said ISIS terrorists in Israel “fight and are killed for the sake of Allah and religion,” and criticized the terrorists belonging to Fatah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), who he said battle for “land and homeland.”



American Jews Who Support Israel Stand For The Very Best Of Our American Heritage And Values – Amb. David Friedman

“Support for Israel is actually a quintessential American value.  Indeed the Bible, so much of which is predicated upon God’s covenant to our forefathers to install, and then later to restore the Jewish people in the Land of Israel, is foundational to the principles upon which America was founded….The values of the Bible are deeply infused within our foundational roots.”

“How did our founding fathers know which rights God considered unalienable?  Our founders knew, because they all read the Bible.  There can be no question that the American Republic was sculpted from the lessons of the Bible.  Not surprisingly, all of the unalienable rights identified in the Declaration of Independence – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – find their home in the Bible.”

“Understanding America’s biblical heritage also is to understand why the United States opened a consulate in Jerusalem in 1844, 104 years before the State of Israel came into existence….It is also to understand why almost every state in the union has cities and towns named after cities and towns in biblical Israel, from Bethlehem to Shilo to Bethel to Hebron to Jericho to Nazareth to Zion to even Jerusalem.”

Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman spoke on April 19 at Bar-Ilan University’s Ingeborg Rennert Center for Jerusalem Studies.