News Digest — 5/13/22

Police On High Alert Ahead Of Al Jazeera Reporter’s Funeral In Jerusalem

Police are aware that certain parties plan to turn Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Aqleh’s funeral into an incitement campaign, but will not allow that to happen, a senior Jerusalem Police official said Thursday (12th)

Abu Aqleh, who was killed during an exchange of fire between Israeli security forces and armed Palestinians in Jenin Wednesday morning (11th), was set to be buried on Friday afternoon (13th).

Police expect a large number of people to accompany the funeral procession, which will make its way from Habonim Park to Mount Zion in Jerusalem.

“Our goal is to allow the funeral to be held in a dignified and lawful manner,” a senior Jerusalem Police officer said Thursday (12th).  “On the other hand, police have been ordered to show determination in the face of all the rioters who will seek to take advantage of the funeral.”

Undercover police will also be tasked with maintaining order at the scene.

“If there are hostile elements, criminals, inciters, and rioters, we will know how to deal with them whether they are adjacent to the funeral or in other places,” the officer said.

“We are trying to hold dialogue with the family for everything to proceed safely and without provocation,” a Jerusalem Police official said, noting these attempts have been turned down.  

“We will not allow the funeral to provide cover for riots.  We are aware vicious elements will take advantage of it to incite as has happened in recent days near the family home.  We will know how to deal with them as well,” added the officer.



Ecuador To Move Toward Israel At UN – Opens Jerusalem Innovation Center

Ecuador pledged to take a more balanced approach toward the Jewish state at the United Nations, President Guillermo Lasso told his hosts during his visit to Israel which included the opening Thursday (12th) of an innovation office in Jerusalem.  

“President Lasso told his counterparts, his Israeli hosts, that Ecuador will change its voting pattern at the United Nations and be more balanced and supportive of Israel in multilateral arenas,” Foreign Ministry Deputy Director-General Jonathan Peled told The Jerusalem Post.

Ecuador has in the past been part of the bloc of nations that consistently voted against Israel at the UN, where the majority of the 193 member states consistently support the Palestinians.

Each nation that stands with Israel, abstains or is absent from a vote, helps the Jewish state improve its standing in arenas that it views as hostile or anti-Israel.

Jerusalem and Quito have had formal diplomatic ties since 1949, but Lasso’s arrival here on Monday (9th) marks the first time that the country’s president has visited Israel.  He was joined by Foreign Minister Juan Carlos Holguin; Production, Foreign Trade and Investment Minister Julio Jose Prado; and National Secretary for Public-Private Alliance and development Roberto Salas Guzman.

The Ecuadorian officials on Thursday (12th) visited the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where they held a symbolic ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new technology and innovation office.

“A turning point for the country’s entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem!” Holguin tweeted Thursday (12th) after the ceremony.

The new office will be housed in the trade office that Columbia opened in Jerusalem last year.

“We are opening a new page in our relationship with Ecuador,” Peled told the Post.

Peled, who heads the ministry’s Latin American Division, said that Lasso, who was elected into office last year, has sought to improve ties with Israel as part of his desire to strengthen his relationship with the United States and the West. 

“For 15 years, Ecuador was aligned with the Bolivar movement in Latin America, which identified itself with Venezuela, with Bolivia and Cuba,” he said.  “Now, for the first time in a decade and a half, they have shifted their foreign policy.”

Lasso, a Center-Right politician and a former banker, “is shifting toward the West, the United States and toward Israel,” Peled explained.

“Ecuador is a small but important country” that neighbors other Israeli Latin American allies, Columbia and Peru, in northwestern South America,” he said.

“Now that they have decided to shift from an anti-Israel policy to a more forthcoming policy, we are of course very interested on the political level and we see a great opportunity on the commercial and economic level.” Peled said.

“Opening an innovation office is another way to increase cooperation.”

During Lasso’s visit, which ends Friday (13th), the two countries signed cooperation agreements in science and trade, Peled said, adding that Ecuador is particularly interested in Israeli technology with regard to homeland defense and cybersecurity.

Ecuador in turn is one of the leading countries in the export of bananas, pineapples, cocoa and coffee.

The high-level visit took place alongside one by a 100-member Ecuadorian business delegation.



Arabs Viciously Assault 2 Jewish Men In Akko

Dozens of Arabs viciously assaulted and injured two Israeli Jews Wednesday evening (11th) in Akko’s old city, an incident some described as an attempted lynching.

Police arrested two Arabs on suspicion of involvement in the assault.  An initial investigation showed that the taunting of the Jews – two brothers who were out fishing at the old port – deteriorated into a violent attack with clubs, iron bars and knives.

The two Israeli men were lightly wounded and evacuated for treatment  at the Galilee Medical Center in Nahariya.

Gabi Moati, the father of the two brothers aged 18 and 20, told Israel Hayom that one of his sons had gone to inflate a tire on his ATV at a gas station and four Arabs started teasing him.  The brothers then continued on to search for a good fishing spot.  Further down the harbor, they stood next to two older Arab fishermen in their 50s, “and together they fished and everything was fine.”

“Suddenly, they saw dozens of young people coming towards them.  The mob started teasing them, threatening them and attacking them,” Moati said.

According to Moati, his sons called the police while trying to escape.  Upon arrival of the police, the dozens of attackers fled to the old city.

One of the victims required stitches after being stabbed with a knife.

“It is a sad and difficult event and very serious.” Moati concluded. 

The police will be requesting an extension to the detention of the 2 arrested suspects in the Magistrate’s Court in Akko.

Members of Knesset Simcha Rothman warned Minister of Public Security Omer Barley and the police that if they do “not handle these events with all their might, in a few hours we can find ourselves again in Operation Guardian of the Walls,” during which, in May of 2021 Arabs rioted in Israeli cities throughout the country.



Iraq Bill: Death Penalty For Normalization With Israel

The Iraqi parliament is discussing a bill banning the normalization of ties with Israel, with the punishment being the death penalty or life imprisonment, The Arab News reports.

According to the report, the Iraqi Council of Representatives on Wednesday (11th) held the first reading of the draft law, which aims to stamp out future efforts for Iraq and the Iraqi Kurdistan region to formalize ties with Israel.

According to the bill, which was published by Iraq’s state media in Arabic, all Iraqi officials, including those in the northern Kurdistan region, government institutions, private sector companies and the media are banned from establishing relations with Israel or promoting normalization.

The bill was introduced by the Sadrist bloc, which won the most seats in the country’s October parliamentary elections, after prominent Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr called for his members to introduce the bill in a tweet on April 23.

“The bill needs to pass several stages in order to become a law, currently it has been addressed to the parliament’s legal committee, where changes will be made, and then other committees will have a say on the bill,” Aryan Tawagozi, an Iraqi lawmaker from the New Generation faction and member in the parliament’s foreign relations committee, told The New Arab.

Four Arab countries – the United Arab Emirates, Sudan, Bahrain, and Morocco – established diplomatic relations with Israel as part of the US-brokered Abraham Accords in 2020.

This past September, prominent Sunni and Shiite leaders held a conference in the city of Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan region of Iraq, in which they openly called for peace with Israel.

The Iraqi government condemned the conference, and a Baghdad court later issued an arrest for two people who participated in it.

Iraqi lawmakers are adamant that Iraq will not join the Abraham Accords, despite calls on it to do so.

“We, as Fatih Alliance, totally refuse the issue of normalizing ties with the Israeli entity,” Mohammed al-Hayani, a leader in the pro-Iran Fatih Alliance, told The New Arab in a brief phone call.  “We will certainly vote in favor of the bill in parliament.”

He said that it is a necessity for Iraq to have such a law “because currently there are political sides that try to normalize relations with Israel.”



City Of Ma’ale Adumim Bars Entry Of Arabs Wearing M-16 Shirts

The mayor of the city of Ma’ale Adumim Benny Kasriel ordered the city’s security department not to allow the entry of any Arab worker wearing signs expressing support for terrorism, such as the M-16 emblem, which has become a fashion craze in Arab society.

“Zero tolerance and zero inclusion for any gesture or sign indicating support for terrorism and threats.  We have already released several workers caught with the same gestures to terrorism,” he stated Thursday (12th).

The police have received reports at various locations across the country of Arab workers wearing T-shirts with M-16 rifles on them, which were found menacing.

Palestinian Media Watch reported this week that the latest fashion craze in the Palestinian Authority areas and among some Israeli Arabs are shirts and pants with M-16 rifles printed on them.

“Israeli academics and politicians say that the attacks that Palestinians recently carried out against Israeli targets, using M-16 weapons, have become an inspiring symbol for many young Palestinians, increasing their desire to copy those carrying out the attacks,” Al Arab reported.

Israelis are naturally outraged at the open terror support, encouragement, and admiration these young Palestinians and Israeli Arabs are receiving, especially from the PA leadership.