News Digest — 5/23/22

Minister Of Immigrant Absorption: ‘Israel Will Always Be The Homeland Of All Jews’

Israeli Minister of Immigration Absorption Pnina Tamano-Shata kicked off the Jerusalem Conference, led by Arutz Sheva in Manhattan on Sunday (22nd).

She began by addressing the immediate needs of Israeli citizens when they face the challenges of terrorism.  “When Israel is challenged by terror attacks, Israelis need to know that the support for the Jewish State is not just at home but also across the sea, and that there are many around the world who are looking towards Israel, and praying for the safety of Jerusalem.”

She discussed the sentiment of Aliyah to Israel, along with her mission to support all who make Aliyah.

“As the Minister of Aliyah and Integration, representing the olim, who since Israel’s founding, have played a central role in building our state, my answer to all those who seek to threaten or attack Israel, are the planes of olim who land in Ben Gurion Airport, and continue to realize the two-thousand-year-old dream of returning to Zion.  Israel will always be the safe and secure homeland of all Jews, from all over the world.

“Indeed, we are now in the middle of a national operation, called Olim Habayta, which began with the Russian invasion of Ukraine – an operation to rescue our brothers and sisters, and to bring them home to safety in Israel.  Last month I visited Ukraine together with my friend, Yaakov Hagoel, Acting Chair of the Jewish Agency.”

“It was deeply moving to meet the olim on their way to Israel, accompanied by Israeli shlichim (emissaries).”

Tamano-Shata also reminisced over the successes of the most recent campaign.  She said, “Thank God, we have already absorbed more than twenty thousand new olim since the beginning of the operation.  This is a huge achievement, and we will continue day and night, overseas and in Israel, to ensure that everyone who wants to make Aliyah, can.”

“The circumstances surrounding the Aliyah from Ukraine, especially touched my heart.  When I made Aliyah as a small child of three, in 1984, as part of Operation Moses, my family and I were also refugees for a time in Sudan.  What gave us strength during the difficult time, was the dream of Jerusalem, and the dream of actually reaching Jerusalem,” she said.



Jordan Condemns Court Ruling On Temple Mount

Jordan on Sunday (22nd) condemned an Israeli court decision which said that Jews are permitted to recite the Shema Yisrael prayer and bow while visiting the Temple Mount..

Jordan’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Haitham Abu Al-Foul said in a statement quoted by the Xinhua news agency that the decision is null and void.

He added that it “lacks legal status under international law that does not recognize Israeli jurisdiction on territories occupied in 1967, including eastern Jerusalem.”

Abu Al-Foul stressed that the decision is considered a blatant breach of international legitimacy resolutions related to Jerusalem, including the UN Security Council resolutions that urge all to maintain the status quo of the holy city.

He also stressed that the Al-Aqsa Mosque is “a place of worship for Muslims only,” and the Jordan-run Department of the Jerusalem Waqf and Al-Aqsa Mosque Affairs is the only institution for administering the affairs of the mosque.

Earlier on Sunday (22nd), the Jerusalem magistrates Court ruled that Jews are allowed to recite the “Shema” prayer and bow during visits to the Temple Mount.

The unusual ruling by the Court was made following an appeal against the arrest of three teenaged boys who bowed and recited “Shema Yisrael” while visiting the Temple Mount area.

The teens were arrested by police last week and given a 15-day restraining order from the Old City, due to the fact that they bowed and prayed inside the Temple Mount.  The police claimed in the application for the restrictive conditions that their conduct might lead to a violation of public order.

The teens filed an appeal against the order and Jerusalem Magistrates Judge Zion Saharai ordered the end of restrictive conditions imposed on them by the police.

Saharai wrote in his ruling, “In my opinion, it is not possible to say that bowing and reciting Shema holds a reasonable suspicion of conduct that may lead to a breach of peace, as required by law.  It’s difficult to imagine a situation in which shouting ‘Shema Yisrael’ on the Temple Mount would constitute a criminal offense or an act that could lead to a breach of the peace.”



IRGC Officer Who Planned Attacks Against Jews, Israelis Worldwide, Assassinated In Tehran

A member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds Force involved in planning attacks on Jews and Israelis worldwide, Colonel Hassan Sayad Khodayari, was assassinated in Tehran on Sunday afternoon (22nd), the IRGC announced.

Khodayari operated in Syria, according to the group’s statement.  Photos reportedly from the scene showed Khodayari dead in a vehicle after he was shot.

Assailants on a motorcycle shot and killed the Quds Force member in front of his home on Mojahedin Eslam Street in the capital city of Tehran, according to Iranian reports.  Iranian authorities are searching for the assailants.

The IRGC called the assassination a “criminal terrorist act of the counter-revolution and elements related to global arrogance,” a term often used to refer to the US and Israel.

The Iranian Nour News Agency called the assassination a redline, saying it “changes many equations” and that those responsible would “pay a heavy price.”

Iranian military journalist Hossein Dalirian pointed a finger at the Mossad in a tweet saying that it seemed its agents were involved in the killing.

An Iranian security source told the Iranian news outlet Jadeh Iran that Khodayari was prominent in the country’s military industry, especially concerning drones.  In March, the IRGC fired missiles at what they claimed was a site used by the Mossad in Erbil, Iraq, reportedly in response to an alleged Israeli strike on an IRGC drone base in Mahidasht, Iran.

Shortly after the assassination, in a seemingly unrelated incident, the IRGC claimed that it had arrested a “network of thugs” associated with the Mossad without providing further details.

In November 2020, Iran’s chief military nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was assassinated in Tehran in an attack Iranian officials blamed on Israel.  Iran threatened to respond to the killing at the time.

Last year, the Jewish Chronicle reported that Fakhrizadeh was assassinated with a “one-ton remote-controlled gun” that was smuggled into the country by the Mossad.  The report noted that the mysterious weapon was smuggled into Iran by a team of more than 20 Israeli and Iranian nationals.

It reportedly took eight months of “painstaking surveillance” for the Mossad operatives to smuggle the mysterious weapon, which was divided into pieces, into the Muslim country, intelligence sources told the Chronicle.



Hezbollah Smuggling Weapons On Civilian Flights From Iran, IDF Reveals

Hezbollah is transferring strategic weapons from Iran to Lebanon on civilian flights, the IDF revealed, exposing another method in which the terror organization is arming itself in clandestine ways.

Lieutenant Colonel Avichay Adraee, head of the Arab media division of the IDF Spokesperson’s Weapons Unit, stated Friday (20th) that the transfer route is run by Rada Safi al-Din, the son of Hashem Safi al-Din, head of the Executive Council of the Lebanese Hezbollah, who “is using his high position and the infrastructure of the Lebanese state to help his son transfer strategic weapons from Iran to Hezbollah.”

To ensure secrecy, weapons are transported on civilian flights from Iran to Damascus International Airport, “exposing civilians to imminent danger.”

According to Ynet News, Hezbollah is smuggling advanced military components related to the production of military weapons.  They are relatively small and look innocent in appearance and are therefore easier to disguise in luggage taken on civilian flights.

To further disguise the smuggling route, some of the luggage departs on civilian flights from Tehran to a European country and then is moved on to a civilian connecting flight to Damascus or Beirut, the report said.

Hezbollah “is exploiting the state of Lebanon and its citizens for terrorist purposes that serve the Iranian interests,” Adraee underscored.

The IDF will “continue to monitor all attempts by Hezbollah to threaten the security of the State of Israel, and will act as needed to protect the security and citizens of the country,” he added.

Iran routinely attempts to arm the Lebanon-based Hezbollah with advanced weapons.  Israel has exposed and thwarted multiple attempts by Iran to transfer game-changing weapons to Hezbollah, including by air shipments from Iran through Damascus Airport

Rada Safi al-Din is married to the daughter of Qassem Suleimani, the commander of the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force (IRGC) who was killed by the US in January 2020.

Hashem Safi al-Din is regarded as second only to Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah.  In 2017, he was designated a terrorist by the US Department of State.



Three Killed In Alleged Israeli Attack on Hezbollah Sites In Syria

Three people were killed in an alleged Israeli attack in southern Damascus, Friday night (20th), which was launched from the Golan Heights, Hebrew media reported citing the Syrian Defense Ministry.  Fires started in the area as a result of the strikes, the report said.

Syrian media claimed that Syria’s air defense systems were activated and intercepted the “hostile targets” in the Damascus skies.  The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights stated that targets of the attack were Syrian army bases and Iranian militias in a suburb of the capital.  

Two flights were postponed at the Damascus Airport as a result of the strikes there.  Echoes of explosions were also heard in the coastal area of Syria in the vicinity of Tartus.

According to Ynet Friday night’s strikes were reportedly aimes at weapons depots owned by Hezbollah.

In the southwest Damascus area, there have been a number of attacks in recent months that were attributed to Israel.  For example, last week, two Israeli strikes allegedly targeted sites near the Syrian border.

One strike targeted Qurs al-Nafl in Quneitra in the southwest part of the country near the border with Israel.

In April, four Syrian soldiers were killed in another alleged Israelis airstrike on Damascus.