News Digest — 5/12/20

IDF Soldier Killed By Rock During Operation, 1st Army Death In 2020

An IDF combat soldier was killed early Tuesday morning (12th) when a rock was thrown at his head during operational activity in Ya’bad, west of Jenin in Samaria.

The operation was almost completed when the incident occurred as the rock was thrown from the roof of the very last house, just as the IDF soldiers were leaving the village, the Israel Army reported.

Staff Sgt. Amit Ben Yigal, 21, served in the Golani Brigades Reconnaissance Unit.  He was posthumously promoted to Sergeant 1st Class.

His family in Ramat Gan was notified, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his sorrow.

“On behalf of myself and the citizens of Israel, I would like to send sincere condolences to the family of Amit Ben-Yigal, who was killed by depraved individuals during an operation last night.  As has occurred in all the cases in recent years, the long arm of Israel will reach the terrorist and settle accounts with him.” 

Netanyahu added that “the army is investigating to find out who threw the rock, actually a small cement block.”  

The army said that Ben-Yigal was wearing a helmet, but that he was hit in an angle that was “very bad,” which killed him.



Gilad Erdan To Serve As U.S., UN Envoy

Israel’s Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan will be heading to the United States after accepting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s offer to serve as Israel’s next ambassador to the United Nations, replacing Danny Danon.

But in an unconventional move, The Prime Minister’s Office also announced that Erdan will be taking over as the country’s next Ambassador to the U.S. from Ron Dermer, who has served in Washington since 2013.

“I am so proud and emotional about the honor to fight for the justice of our cause in the international arena and defend Israel in the face of the challenges ahead,” Erdan said in a statement.

It remains unclear how Erdan will shuffle between the responsibilities of both offices, but a spokesman for his office said that he was confident he can manage each role effectively and will travel between Washington D.C. and New York.

Erdan has been reluctant to assume a diplomatic role in the past, rejecting multiple offers in recent years, but was finally persuaded after meeting with Netanyahu in Jerusalem over the weekend.



Israeli Surgeons Remove Iron Rod From Man’s Skull, Saving Life

Doctors from Hadassah Medical Center surgically removed an iron rod that had penetrated completely through Kamel Abdel Rahman’s head, The Jerusalem Post reports.

A month ago, the 46-year-old Rahman fell onto the rod from the second floor of an apartment which was under construction.  “I couldn’t move so I called for help,” he said.

“I was conscious and I did not feel any pain at all.  I do not know how to explain it,” Rahman recalled.

When his family members rushed to his aid, he saw the expressions of shock on their faces and heard their screams.  “I knew the situation must be serious,” he said.

Rahman was taken to the hospital in the Ein Kerem neighborhood of Jerusalem where he was met by Dr. Samuel Moscovici.

“When I got to the trauma room, I saw a man with an iron rod through his head – it just went in one side and came out the other,” said Dr. Moscovici.

The doctors conducted imaging tests which showed that the rod had entered between the two important arteries that supply blood to the brain but did not appear to damage them.

“For many hours we analyzed the wound and we took the rod out of his head very carefully,” Dr. Moscovici said.

Prof. Jose Cohen performed a brain catheterization, and doctors closed the area and waited a few days for the swelling to go down.

The team then performed a 10-hour endoscopic nose surgery to repair the severe damage and stop the leakage of cerebrospinal fluid.  After the surgery, they hermetically closed the base of the skull with fat taken from Rahman’s abdomen.

Doctors were optimistic but unsure of their patient’s recovery.  However, he woke up, showed positive vital signs, and was released from the hospital last week.

“They saved my ability to speak and walk,” Rahman said.  “They saved my life.”



‘Year Two Of Freedom:’  Ancient Coin From Bar Kochba Revolt Found Near Temple Mount

The Israel Antiquities Authority on May 11, 2020 revealed a coin minted during the Bar Kochba revolt  that was unearthed near the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City.

The announcement of the coin’s discovery was timed to coincide with the Lag B’Omer holiday, which began Monday evening (11th) and marks the death of the second-century sage Rabbi Shimon Bar Yohai.

The festival is usually celebrated in Israel with large bonfires, which are meant to honor both Bar Yonai and those who took part in the Bar Kochba revolt, an uprising against Roman rule in Judea in 132-135 CE.

The coin which was found in the William Davidson Archaeological Park next to the Western Wall, is adorned with a cluster of grapes and the words “Year Two of the Freedom of Israel” on one side – declaring the rebels’ purpose – while the other side has a palm tree and the word “Jerusalem.”

Dr. Donald Tzvi Ariel, head of the Israel Antiquities Authority’s coin department, said of the thousands of coins found in the area of the Old City, only four have been from the time of the Bar Kochba revolt, though many more have been discovered elsewhere in the country.

He said the new coin was the only one from that era found in Jerusalem that bears the city’s name.

The Bar Kochba revolt, which lasted three and a half years, was the last and arguably greatest of several Jewish uprisings against foreign rulers in ancient times.  The rebels prepared well ahead of time and according to the 3rd century historian Dio Cassius, Roman legions were brought from other empire outposts to quell it.

Dio Cassius wrote that some 50 Jewish fortresses and over 1,000 settlements were destroyed, along with hundreds of thousands of Jewish lives lost.  Rabbinical leaders who supported Bar Kochba were executed, including the scholar Rabbi Akiva, who had renamed Shimon Bar Coseba as Bar Kochba (Son of the Star), a messiah for the Jews.  



How Does Israel Keep Getting Past Syria’s Air Defenses? – Will Christou

There is deep frustration in Damascus at what seems to be a never-ending string of Israeli airstrikes.  It appears the Syrian government has decided that Russia’s air-defense systems, rather than its Syrian operators, are to blame for the failure to stop these strikes.

In October 2018, Moscow gifted Damascus the S-300 air defense system in spite of vocal protests from numerous Western countries.  However, the S-300 has an inherent limitation, said Sitki Egeli, former Director of International Affairs for Turkey’s Undersecretariat for Defense Industries.

“The S-300 suffers from the problem of radar horizon, meaning targets cannot be detected if they’re lying low due to the curvature of the earth.  Strike aircraft, such as F-16s, fly relatively close to the surface of the earth, and by the time they’re detected, they have already launched their munitions, so it’s too late.”  Typically, this blind spot is compensated by other components of an integrated air defense system, such as airborne early warning aircraft and passive ground-based sensors.

In the case of Syria, however, equipment is either too dilapidated to detect more advanced Israeli technology in time, or personnel is too thinly-stretched and poorly-trained to operate the necessary equipment.  “There is little doubt that Israel is using cyber attacks and electronic countermeasures in parallel with its airstrikes,” Egeli added.



Hamas MP Says Israeli Annexation ‘Violates Allah’s Will’

Hamas parliament member and cleric Yunis al-Astal said in a parliament session last week that Israeli annexation of parts of Judea and Samaria would constitute a crime against the will of Allah, and called for the parliament to recommend the murder of Jews “wherever they may be found.”

In the May 6 session, which aired on Hamas’ Al-Aqsa TV, al-Astal said that the Jews were “the most corrupt of Allah’s creatures,” and that annexation went against Allah’s will for them, which is that they suffer “humiliation, misery and wrath.”

The Jews, he said, are more dangerous than the coronavirus and are planning to eventually occupy parts of the Arabian Peninsula, including Medina.

The solution, he said, “was that the Jews should be treated according to Allah’s decree about them.  Allah decrees, in the Quran: ‘Kill them wherever you find them, and drive them away from wherever they drove you away.’”