News Digest — 4/8/21

Israel Strikes Targets Near Damascus

Israel carried out a missile strike near the Syrian capital of Damascus and its southern suburbs early Thursday (8th) that wounded four soldiers, Syria’s state media said.

State news agency SANA, quoted an unidentified military official as saying Syrian air defenses were able to shoot down some of the missiles fired by Israeli planes.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitor, reported that the Israeli strikes targeted military posts near Damascus, with no further details.

Israel has launched hundreds of strikes against Iran-linked military targets in Syria over the years but rarely acknowledges or discusses such operations.

Iranian entrenchment on Israel’s northern border remains a red-line for the Jewish State, and it has repeatedly struck Iran-linked facilities and weapons convoys destined for Hezbollah terror groups.



Israel Marks Holocaust Memorial Day With Remembrance Events, 2-Minute Siren

Events for the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day got underway on Wednesday evening (7th) at a state ceremony at the national memorial Yad Vashem, in Jerusalem.

Speaking at the event, President Reuven Rivlin called on Israelis to embrace Holocaust survivors as they struggle with their old age and the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Some 900 died because of the virus; they survived the death camps and the ghettos, the detentions and the journey to Israel, but they waged their final battle behind masks, frightened,” Rivlin said.  “They were thirsty for contact with each other, and tonight our thoughts and prayers go out to them and their families,” he continued.

On Thursday morning (8th), Israelis observed a two-minute moment of silence as a siren sounded all across the country, in memory of the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust.  Traffic came to a standstill as the nation stood in place.  The siren is heard from every corner of the country to keep those who were murdered during the Holocaust in everyone’s mind.  No matter where they are, Israelis stop and stand and remember: in offices, schools, on the highways, in busy city streets or at home.  

Various events and ceremonies will be taking place throughout Thursday (8th), with special programming on the media, including testimonies of survivors and documentaries retelling their stories.

On Wednesday night (7th), as he spoke about his upcoming departure from office as his term ends, Rivlin vowed that he would not relinquish his duties to keep Holocaust survivors in mind.  “Despite my presidency coming to an end, I will never end my commitment as a human being, Jew and Israeli to remember you, the Holocaust survivors,” and “I will remind others about the Holocaust and teach people the values you have instilled in all of us.”  



Netanyahu: Israel Won’t Be Bound By Deal Which Allows Iran A Nuclear Bomb

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a sharp warning Wednesday night (7th) to the international community and implicitly to the United States that any agreement with Iran that allows a path to develop nuclear weapons will not be binding on the Jewish State.

He made his comments during the opening ceremony of Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day at Yad Vashem’s Mount of Remembrance in Jerusalem, in which he also noted the severe difficulties and loneliness experienced by the country’s Holocaust survivors during the COVID-19 pandemic, 900 of whom died due to the disease.

Netanyahu noted that an international agreement between world powers and Iran was once again under discussion, in reference to the indirect talks which commenced on Tuesday (6th) in Vienna between the US and Iran, mediated by officials from the UK, France, Germany, Russia and China.

“A nuclear agreement with Iran is again on the table, but history has taught us that agreements like this with extremist regimes are worth as much as a garlic peel,” said Netanyahu.

“To our best friends I say – an agreement with Iran which paves its way to nuclear weapons that threaten us with destruction – an agreement like this will not bind us,” vowed the prime minister.

“Only one thing binds us, to prevent those who seek to destroy us from carrying out their plans.  During the Holocaust we did not have the power to protect ourselves and we did not have the privilege of sovereignty.  We had no rights, no state and no defense.”

“Today we have a state, we have the power to defend ourselves and we have the natural and full right as the sovereign state of the Jewish people to protect ourselves from our enemies,” Netanyahu added.



Canada: Deportation Proceedings Of ‘Nazi Death-Squad Member’ To Go Ahead

A federal court in Canada has rejected a request by Helmut Oberlander, a 97-year-old former Nazi death-squad member to have his deportation proceedings permanently ended.

Oberlander’s lawyer had earlier in the year filed a motion to postpone a hearing that would have deported him from Canada.

“We are pleased to learn that Canada’s Federal Court has rejected former Nazi death-squad member Helmut Oberlander’s request to permanently end his deportation proceedings.  Oberlander must face justice once and for all, without delay,” Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies said in a tweet.

Oberlander has lived in Canada since 1954.  He has been fighting deportation for years for his role as an interpreter with a brutal Nazi death-squad.  His Nazi past was discovered in 1995.

Starting in 2000, Canadian courts have taken away Oberlander’s Canadian citizenship four times, focusing on his past membership in the “Einsatzgruppen,” which he failed to disclose to immigration authorities upon becoming a Canadian citizen in 1960.

When the motion to stay Oberlander’s deportation proceedings became public, the CBC reported that there was outrage in the Jewish community.

“Every time there is a delay…I feel that there is no justice for the people that were murdered in the Shoah,” said Pinchas Gutter, a Holocaust survivor.  “It hurts.  It hurts inside.  It breaks my heart…each time there is a delay.”



Muslim-Arab Nurse To Light Independence Day Torch

Maheer Ibrahim, the head nurse of Afula’s Haemek Medical Center’s coronavirus ward, on Tuesday (6th) was informed by Israel’s Culture Ministry that he was chosen to light an Independence Day torch at the ceremony marking Israel’s 73rd birthday next week.

In February, Ibrahim made headlines when he said the “Shema” prayer with a Jewish patient dying of coronavirus at the hospital. 

The patient, who was identified as Rabbi Shlomo Aharon Glaster, was a prominent Chabad hasid in Israel.  

When Rabbi Glaster’s condition deteriorated his family was called to his side, but became trapped on the roads during a snowstorm.

When Ibrahim realized that Rabbi Glaster’s family would not make it in time to see him before his death, he decided to help Rabbi Glaster with his final prayers himself, an act that warmed the hearts of millions.  Following his act of humanity, Ibrahim received a phone call from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, thanking him for his exemplary behavior and general dedication to the coronavirus patients he treated.

Culture and Sport Minister Hili Tropper (Blue and White) said: “Maheer Ibrahim represents the human and professional excellence of the nurses’ staff in our country’s healthcare system.  Each and every one of them, in their shared path, is a symbol and example of Israeli brotherhood and a bridge between the various communities and religious ethnicities in our nation.” 

“Ibrahim is a nurse par excellence, who has been working for many years to build bridges of humanity, compassion, and tolerance among patients from across the spectrum of ethnicities and religions of Israel,” Minister Tropper concluded.