News Digest — 4/9/21

Remembrance Day: 43 Fallen IDF Soldiers In The Past Year

A total of 43 deaths were added to Israel’s list of fallen soldiers between the previous Remembrance Day until now, the Defense Ministry announced on Friday morning (9th), with another 69 disabled persons dying as a result of injury in defense services.

Major ceremonies at the Western Wall, the National Hall for Israel’s Fallen on Mount Herzl, and at Yad LeBanim Memorial Center in Jerusalem are set to take place on Remembrance Day Eve, Tuesday, April 13.  However this year’s attendance will be restricted to Green Pass holders.  Only people with a vaccination certificate or recovery will be allowed to attend the ceremony, and only 5,000 people will be allowed to attend the Western Wall ceremony.

During Remembrance Day, bereaved families will be allowed to visit the cemeteries without COVID-19 limitations.

The Defense Ministry’s Family, Memorial and Heritage Department said on Friday (9th) that it calls on the general public to visit the cemeteries on the week before Remembrance Day, which was dubbed as “Memorial and Remembrance Week” (from Friday, April 9, to Tuesday, April 13).  Defense Ministry personnel will welcome visitors in the cemeteries and will hand out water and flowers.

As it is every year, a siren will go off on the eve of Remembrance Day, Tuesday evening (13th) at 8 p.m., and another one on Remembrance Day (14th) at 11 a.m., during which the country stands for a moment of silence and remembrance for the fallen soldiers of the IDF.

Remembrance Day ends at sundown Wednesday (14th), immediately followed by Independence Day, which begins at sundown Wednesday (14th) and ends at sundown on Thursday (15th).



Unto Every Person There Is A Name: Holocaust Remembered In Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin each laid a wreath at a Yad Vashem ceremony honoring Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day, which took place on Thursday (8th).

They also participated in the “Unto Every Person There is a Name” ceremony, which is held every year on Yom HaShoah at the Knesset.  Names of Holocaust victims are read aloud during the ceremony by Israeli officials.  It was first held in 1989, at the initiative of then-Knesset Speaker Dov Shilansky.

Netanyahu said at the ceremony, “The desire to commemorate the deceased is embedded deep in human nature.  This ceremony gives clear expression to this, because the desire to commemorate is underscored in our people, which lost millions of our brothers and sisters in the Holocaust.”  

Rivlin noted that for many years he came to the ceremony with his recently departed wife Nechama.  He said since the last year of her life, when her health did not permit her to come, he has taken upon himself to read the names of her family members who perished in the Holocaust on her behalf.

The national day of mourning began on Wednesday evening (7th) at Yad Vashem.  Netanyahu used the opportunity to speak of the danger from Iran, drawing a link between the Nazis’ attempt to annihilate the Jews and the Islamic Republic’s stated goal to follow in their footsteps.



Holocaust Survivors Join Virtual March Of Living Ceremony At Auschwitz

The March of the Living, an annual event that brings together Holocaust survivors and family members at the former Auschwitz death camp, was held online for a second consecutive year on Thursday (8th) due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Participants usually stage a march at the site in southern Poland but restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus made that impossible.  Nevertheless, organizers and participants said it was important that the event go ahead.

“We have no other choice,” said 84-year-old Holocaust survivor Tzipora Freund.

“This time it has to be virtual because every year people march… Each and every year youngsters and elderly will march there and will not forget.”

Freund and her son, who were in Israel, laid virtual messages of remembrances in the railway track leading to the gate of the death camp as part of a computer simulation of the event, as did Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and others.

More than 1.1 million people, mostly Jews, perished in the gas chambers or from starvation, cold and disease at Auschwitz, which the Nazis set up in occupied Poland during World War Two.

“We have to remember that the Holocaust, anti-Semitism and also hate and racism are things that are still happening.  It’s not something that is simply part of history,” said Baruch Adler, 70, co-founder and vice chairman of the March of the Living.

“So my message is: You have to know that you have to fight – and that ‘remembrance is a fight.’”



Israel Responds To ICC: ‘You Have No Jurisdiction Over Us’

Israel will not cooperate with the International Criminal Court’s (ICC’s) investigation of Israel for alleged war crimes, top ministers decided on Thursday (8th).

The state will argue in a letter of response to The Hague that the court has no jurisdiction to open the probe, consistent with Israel’s longstanding position.

The letter will also declare that Israel rejects the accusation that it committed war crimes.  

Israel is not a member of the ICC, and has a policy of not cooperating with it, such that it was unclear that the government would respond at all to the letter Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda sent last month.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and Defense Minister Benny Gantz met for a second time on Thursday (8th), one day before the deadline for Israel to respond to Bensouda’s letter.  Also at the meeting were Strategic Affairs Minister Michael Biton, Education Minister Yoav Gallant, Energy and Water Minister Yuval Steinitz, Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit, National Security Council head Meir Ben-Shabbat and IDF Chief Military Advocate Sharon Afek, among others.

“While IDF soldiers fight with supreme morality against terrorists that commit war crimes daily, the court in The Hague decided to denounce Israel,” Netanyahu said in the discussion.  “There is no other word for this than hypocrisy.  A body established to fight for human rights turned into a hostile body that defends those who trample human rights.”

The Israeli argument is based on the court’s own rules, which state that its cases involve member states, and that it does not intervene in countries with judiciaries able to fairly prosecute cases of crimes against humanity.

The government’s letter will say that Israel has its own independent judiciary capable of trying soldiers who commit war crimes.

The Prime Minister’s Office said the ICC’s “unprecedented intervention lacks any legal basis and opposes the purposes for which it was established.  Israel is committed to the rule of law and will continue to investigate any accusation against it, regardless of its source, and expects the court to avoid violating its jurisdiction and authority.”

Moreover, Israel has argued that although the Palestinian Authority is a party to the Rome Statute that established the ICC, it is not a state and therefore cannot legally be a member of the court.  The PA submitted the complaint against Israel, which led to the investigation.   

Bensouda announced last month that she would open a war crimes investigation against Israel that is expected to include 2014’s Operation Protective Edge, the riots at the Gaza border in 2018, and the settlement enterprise, including east Jerusalem.



Al-Aqsa Preacher: Muslims Who Sell Property To Jews Are Denied Burial

Sheikh Ikrima Sabri, the preacher of Al-Aqsa Mosque and former Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, announced on Thursday (8th) that any Muslim who sells land or houses to Jews will be denied burial in a Muslim cemetery.

Sabri’s new fatwa (Islamic religious decree) came after 15 Jewish families moved on Thursday morning (8th) into 15 apartments in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan (Kfar HaShiloach).

The village, built on the slope descending from the Mount of Olives, includes the City of David archaeological site and was previously inhabited by Yemenite Jews.

The apartments were reportedly purchased by Ateret Cohanim, an organization that has long been working to expand the Jewish presence in east Jerusalem.

“Anyone who sells property to Jewish organizations will not be buried in Muslim cemeteries,” Sabri ruled.

In 2018, the present Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Sheikh Mohammed Hussein, issued an edict in which he warned that anyone found to have “sold, bestowed ownership or even facilitated the transfer of any part of Jerusalem or the Land of Palestine to the enemies will be considered a heretic and traitor.”

The fatwa also states that Muslims should refuse to marry, attend the funeral of, or do business with any Muslim involved in real estate transactions with Jews.

On Thursday (8th), three Muslim families from Silwan published statements in which they “disowned” their sons for their alleged involvement in the sale of the three buildings to Ateret Cohanim.