News Digest — 5/4/22

Israel Begins Memorial Day With One-Minute Siren

Israel honored its fallen with a one-minute siren at 8 p.m. Tuesday evening as Memorial Day began.  A national ceremony was also held at the Western Wall in honor of Israel’s dead.

This year Israelis will be mourning the deaths of 24,068 IDF men and women who have died since the establishment of the state, and 4,216 civilians who were the victims of terror attacks.

This year, 56 more names were added to the list of fallen, and 84 people died from wounds received in past wars.

President Isaac Herzog said in a speech that the enemies of Israel rise up even today, to destroy the country with their acts of terror.

“Over the past year, past weeks, and indeed past few days, grief and pain have struck us time and again,” Herzog said.

“As always our enemies find us ready and determined, with one hand holding a weapon and the other extended in dialogue and peace,” he said.

“From here, I pray for the speedy return of our captured and missing soldiers and civilians, and the task of bringing them back home remains on our shoulders,” he said, referring to two soldiers presumed dead and two civilian captives, held by the Hamas terror group in Gaza.

On Wednesday (4th), a two-minute siren was marked at the start of the day’s events with national memorial services held in 52 cemeteries.

The main event will be held on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem that will include an Air Force flyover.

A separate event in the memory of the victims of terror will begin at Mt. Herzl at 1 p.m. local time.

In a message to troops Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi said the events of the day give pause and allow the time to reflect on those who have died and on their families.

“This relentless pain is present at all times but reminds us of our freedom, independence and security.”

In a ceremony held earlier on Tuesday (3rd), Prime Minister Naftali Bennett called for unity and an end to the polarization gripping the country.

“If internal unity fails, and anger and hate is allowed to take hold, our enemies will use it to harm us.  Our people carry the scars of our forefathers’ internal strife,” he said.



‘Despicable Timing:’ Police Attacked During Memorial Day Siren, Suspects Arrested

In Lod during Israel’s commemoration Tuesday evening (3rd) of its fallen IDF soldiers and victims of terror, Arab residents carried out a violent attack against police officers, Channel 12 noted.

While the memorial siren blared and the country was at a standstill, police noticed Arab residents launching fireworks.  They then attacked the officers who arrived at the scene.

Lod police said the incident occurred while the station police were carrying out increased and targeted enforcement against perpetrators of crime in the city, with an emphasis on weapons offenses, for the safety of area residents, the report said.

The suspects were arrested.

In May 2021, during Israel’s Operation Guardian of the Walls in response to hundreds of rocket attacks, Lod, among other mixed Arab-Jewish cities experienced violent anti-Semitic attacks and vandalism against Jewish civilians and property, with one victim killed.



Florida Governor Issues Special Israel Memorial Day Message

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued a statement Tuesday evening (3rd), marking Israel Memorial Day.

DeSantis vowed to stand “shoulder-to-shoulder with Israel,” and recognized “those who have lost their lives in defense of the beacon of democracy and liberty in the Middle East, our ally, the State of Israel.”

“Every casualty on the battlefield or loss of life in an act of terror is a tragedy.  Your presence here to remember those who have passed and honor their legacies reminds us that the flourishing of the Jewish state today is rooted in the sacrifices of those who have laid down their lives over the past three quarters of a century.”

DeSantis also touted his pro-Israel credentials, citing his record as a member of Congress, and his efforts against the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement while serving as governor in Florida.

“I have been a staunch supporter of Israel throughout my time in elected office.  As a Congressman, I worked to ensure Israel maintained its qualitative edge and received the military assistance Israel needs to defend itself.”

“I pushed for the US Embassy to be moved to Jerusalem… and I encouraged the US to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.”

“My administration has also combatted the anti-Semitic BDS movement by placing companies that target Israel on Florida’s List of Scrutinized Companies that Boycott Israel, including Airbnb, and Ben & Jerry’s.”

DeSantis concluded his statement recalling the aid Florida rescue teams received from Israel, after an apartment building collapsed outside of Miami.

“Last year, we witnessed the heroism and skill of the Israel Defense Forces just miles from where you are gathered, when we welcomed the IDF’s Search and Rescue Brigade to assist at the tragic Champlain Towers collapse site.”



Temple Mount Expected To Reopen To Jewish Visitors On Independence Day

The Temple Mount is expected to reopen to Jewish visitors on Thursday (5th), as Israel marks Independence Day, although this is dependent on security assessments, Israeli Police confirmed on Tuesday (3rd).

The Temple Mount has been closed to Jewish visitors since April 22.

Makor Rishon reported on Tuesday afternoon (3rd) that the Israel Police Jerusalem District had confirmed that the Temple Mount is expected to reopen to Jewish visitors on Independence Day, but The Jerusalem Post also reported that there could be a situational assessment.

According to the Joint Headquarters of the Temple Mount Organizations, the Temple Mount is expected to be opened to Jewish visitors on Thursday from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. and from  1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.  The joint headquarters added that the opening and closing times may change due to the security situation and advised those interested to contact them and stay updated.

The Joint Headquarters of Temple Mount Organizations had launched a campaign in recent days demanding that the government reopen the mount to Jewish visitors on Israel’s Independence Day.



Palestinian Prime Minister Praises Mother Of Six Terrorists

“A mother of six terrorists is ‘awe-inspiring,’ and stands as a mother who represents all the mothers of the prisoners,” Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh declared during a meeting with Latifa Abu Hmeid, the mother of six terrorists.  Five are serving life sentences in Israeli prisons and one was killed during an attempted arrest by Israeli forces.

Shtayyeh and Ramallah District Governor Laila Ghannam met with Abu Hmeid at her home for an Iftar dinner at the end of a Ramadan fast day last month, during which Shtayyeh conveyed to her the blessings of PA leader Mahmoud Abbas.

He emphasized that “the prisoners’ needs and making every effort to release them all from Israeli prisons will remain at the top of the PA leadership’s priorities,” the official PA daily Al-Hayat Al Jadida reported.

Shtayyeh saluted Abu Hmeid for her resolve and her “awe-inspiring standing as a mother who represents all the mothers of prisoners, as she defends them and waves their flags in her heart.” 

Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), which reported on the event, noted that the PA’s “lauding of Abu Hmeid because of her terrorist children is nothing new.”

In an event organized by the European Union to celebrate International Womens’ Day, PM Shtayyeh specifically singled out Abu Hmeid as “an example of a woman who is fighting and standing firm.”

Abu Hmeid’s six terrorist sons are responsible for the murder of at least 10 Israelis, and she still has three children at home.



Antisemitic Death Threat Painted On Portland Synagogue

An antisemitic death threat was discovered written in yellow paint on the outside of Congregation Beth Israel in Portland, Oregon on Monday morning (2nd).

Several fires were also set in the front of the sanctuary, leaving scorch marks, Oregon Live reported.

Staff from the synagogue said that the phrase “Die Juden” (“The Jews” in German) was painted on the building.  But in this case, it appears that “die” was meant in the English meaning – as in “death” – and not in the original German meaning of the word.

Rabbi Michael Cahana called the graffiti a “death threat” and said it was found on the synagogue’s exterior front wall four days after Holocaust Remembrance Day.

“It’s easy in Portland to think this doesn’t happen around here.  That we’re free of anti-Semitism and hate speech, but the reality is it’s very much a part of our world,” Rabbi Cahana told the news outlet.  “It’s very much a part of the Pacific Northwest.”

Rabbi Cahana spoke to security professionals and to the police, and is confident that the congregation is safe.  He added that he doesn’t want to see the community fearful but cautioned them to be aware and vigilant against antisemitism.

The marks left by fires found on Monday (2nd) were located on the side door and the entryway for the main entrance.  The fires seem to have been set between Sunday evening (1st) and early Monday morning (2nd).

A report has been filed with Portland Police, the FBI’s Hate Crimes Division and the Security Community Network, the safety and security organization of the Jewish Community in North America.