News Digest — 5/11/22

Report: Alleged Israeli Strike Targets Site Near Syrian Border

An alleged Israeli missile strike targeted the Qurs al-Nafi site in Quneitra in southwest Syria near the border with Israel early Wednesday morning (11th), according to Syrian and Iranian reports.

According to the Iran-affiliated Lebanese UNews agency, four missiles were fired toward the site and no casualties were reported.

The area was last targeted in August, when Al-Mayadeen reported that an Israeli missile strike targeted the site.  At the time it was reported that two sites were targeted, an observation post belonging to Hezbollah and another site belonging to the Syrian army.

Shortly after the strikes in August, flyers warning locals against working with Hezbollah were reportedly dropped in the area.

The last airstrike blamed on Israel in Syria was reported in late April as strikes targeted a number of sites near Damascus.

Earlier this month, local Syrian media reported an airstrike that targeted a convoy belonging to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), killing an officer in a vehicle, although the reports were split on whether Israel or the international coalition led by the US were behind the strike.  Syrian media did not report the strike,

Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah warned on Tuesday (10th) that the movement was on alert as the IDF began conducting the “Chariots of Fire” drill, the largest exercise the IDF has carried out in decades.  Nasrallah stated that he had received messages that Israel was not interested in attacking Lebanon, but added that “we do not trust the Israeli enemy.”

Hezbollah published a video shortly after Nasrallah’s speech showing him warning that “any mistake, any stupidity, any aggressive action, large or small, that the Israeli enemy conducts will be responded to swiftly and directly.”  The video featured Hebrew subtitles and showed a number of different missiles.



Israel Revokes 1,100 Entry Permits For Families Of Terrorists

In response to the recent wave of terrorist attacks which has left 19 people dead, Israel has prevented the entry of 1,100 Palestinian Arabs from Judea and Samaria whose family members carried out attacks on citizens and security forces.

A senior security source told military reporters Tuesday (10th) that the revocation of entry permits to Israel is an effective tool aimed at deterring potential terrorists from carrying out terrorist acts.

“We will not allow the families of terrorists who have chosen the path of murder against us to enter the State of Israel for employment and trade.  Every Palestinian who thinks of choosing the path of terrorism will know that the attack he is committing will cause great harm to his family,” the source said.

The senior official added: “The security system operates with a combination of arms, full strength, and great power.  We will exact a heavy toll from the terrorists, their aides and the instigators of terrorism.”

Following the attempted attack in Tekoa that took place on Sunday (8th), 124 entry permits to Israel were denied to relatives of the terrorist who tired to break in to the Maimon family home.  That evening, a terrorist attacked a Border Patrol soldier at Damascus Gate in Jerusalem and 137 members of his family will no longer be able to enter Israel for employment and trade.

Following the axe attack in Elad in which three Israelis were murdered, the security establishment revoked 206 entry permits held by the relatives of the terrorists.  After the attack in Ariel, 215 permits held by the terrorists’ relatives were revoked.  Following the attack on Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv, 58 permits were revoked and after the deadly attack in Bnei Brak, 78 permits were revoked from the family of the terrorists.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett called for the formation of a civilian national guard in response to the recent terror wave on Sunday (8th).

“Capturing the murderers is not enough.  We are at the start of a new stage in the war on terrorism.  Those who incite cannot rest easy.  Those who throw matches can not run away,” he declared.

“And we are establishing a national guard.  I have instructed the National Security Council, in coordination with the Public Security Ministry, to present the government with an orderly and budgeted plan to establish a civilian national guard by the end of the month,” Bennett added.



Israel’s Latest Terror Wave Sparks Debate On Death Penalty

The terror wave that has engulfed Israel in recent weeks has sparked another round of nationwide debate on whether the de-facto ban on the death penalty should be lifted as a way to deter potential terrorists.

While capital punishment is legal in Israel, it has so far only been handed out for crimes committed during World War II, being imposed twice, against a convicted Nazi official and a convicted Nazi soldier.

“Of course I think that the death penalty is the solution, because in the last few weeks, 19 Israelis were murdered,” said Hananya Naftali shortly after the capture of the two terrorists who went on a deadly axe-wielding rampage in the city of Elad, killing three.

“Let’s face it, we live next to radical neighbors that want to see our blood, not our smiles.  They want to see our funerals – not our weddings.”

Joel Schalit, editor-in-chief of news startup The Battleground, disagreed with sentencing terrorists to death on the grounds that captured operatives are useful intelligence resources to prevent further attacks.  “I think that captured terrorists are a lifelong intelligence opportunity for security services to exploit, and that will provide more protection for Israelis, Schalit stated.”



Russian Ambassador Storms Out Of Knesset Over Ukraine War Criticism

Russian Ambassador to Israel Anatoly Viktorov stormed out of the Knesset plenum after Knesset members attacked Russia in the Israeli parliament for its invasion of Ukraine during Victory Day celebrations, Israel media reported on Tuesday (10th).

According to the report, one of the MKs who attacked Russia in the plenum was Yisrael Beytenu’s Ukrainian-born Evgeny Sova, who called Russia’s war on Ukraine a “slap in the face of our grandparents who fought the Nazis.”

The ambassador quickly left the plenum after several MKs began speaking about the ongoing war in eastern Europe, claiming Russia is committing war crimes on Ukrainian soil.

Diplomatic ties between Russia and Israel have gradually deteriorated since President Vladimir Putin launched his “special military operation” in February.

Israel has attempted to remain neutral throughout the conflict, with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett initially taking a mediator role, during which he became one of the only world leaders to meet with Putin after the war began.

Israel did give a significant amount of humanitarian aid to Ukraine, but after the Bucha Massacre, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid directly condemned Russia for war crimes.

However, a crucial turning point in relations came when Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov launched an antisemitic attack on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, claiming that “the fact that he is a Jews does not negate the Nazi elements in his country.”

Lavrov’s comment, which garnered mass condemnations from Bennett and leaders worldwide, was retracted by Putin who apologized to his Israeli counterpart in a phone conversation last week.

Sova, who was speaking as the ambassador left the plenum, reacted to the incident later on Tuesday (10th), stating that the incident was being looked into.  The coalition MK said that Viktorov had “urgent meetings and had to leave the Knesset anyway,” which was confirmed by the Russian embassy.



Brooklyn Antisemitism Awareness Sign Defaced With Swastikas

A sign in Brooklyn by a Jewish advocacy organization calling for awareness of rising antisemitism was defaced with two swastikas in broad daylight.

A video showed the vandal spray painting swastikas on the sign at a Brooklyn bus stop, drawing one swastika over the sign with white paint and another above it.  He then sat down at the bus stop to wait for the bus.

The NYPD is searching for the suspect.

The sign by the JewBelong organization was part of a recent anti-Semitism awareness campaign.  It said: “We’re just 75 years since the gas chambers…So no, a billboard calling out Jewish hatred isn’t an overreaction.  #EndJewHate.”

“This type of hate, followed by the deafening silence from supposedly good people should be abhorrent to anyone who stands for justice.  You don’t have to be a historian to know that to be quiet about hate doesn’t stop the haters,” JewBelong co-founder Stacy Stewart told the NY Daily News.

Stewart remarked that with Jews making up a tiny portion of the American population but being victims of 58% of the nation’s hate crimes, she wasn’t surprised that the sign was vandalized with swastikas during the middle of the day.

“For more than a year now, Jews being spat upon, slammed into cars and worse, has become normalized,” she said.