News Digest — 5/5/22

Ahead Of 74th Independence Day Israel’s Population Numbers 9.5 Million

The Central Bureau of Statistics on Monday (2nd) released its annual pre-Independence Day population data, showing that as it turned 74, the population of the Jewish state stands at 9,506,000.

At just over 7 million, Jews make up 73.9% of Israel’s population.  Arabs account for 21.1% of the country’s population, and 5% are members of other religious groups.

Since Independence Day 2021, 191,000 babies were born, 55,000 people died, and 38,000 people immigrated to Israel – a 20 year record, the data shows.

Overall, Israel’s population increased by 1.9% or 176,000 people.

At the time of Israel’s inception in 1948, the Jewish state numbered 806,000 people.

Israel’s population is also young: 28% of the population is under 14, and only 12% is aged 65 and over.

According to the data, about 45% of the total Jewish population in the world lives in Israel and about 79% of Israelis were born in the Jewish state.

By 2025, Israel’s population is expected to grow to 10.2 million.  It should number 11.2 million by 2030, 13.2 million by 2040, and by Israel’s centennial Independence Day, the population is expected to number 15.2 million, the CBS projected.



Bennett On Independence Day: When Israel Is United, We Are Unbeatable

“74 years of statehood has taught us that when the people of Israel are united – no one can beat us,” said Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at the state ceremony marking the 74th Independence Day.

“Dear citizens of Israel, Independence Day is a day of great pride for all of us,” said Bennett.  “National pride in what we’ve gone through together, and in what we have achieved here together.” 

The prime minister pointed to the hi-tech industry, the healthcare system and the opportunities provided  to the periphery, saying “thank God Israel can provide a livelihood for anyone who is looking for one.”

Concerning the security situation, Bennett stressed that “even though our enemies do not rest for a moment from trying to harm us, the State of Israel is stronger than ever.”

“The IDF, the Shin Bet and the Mossad are intensifying at an unprecedented rate: with lasers, missiles, cyber and above all – by investing in our bold and good soldiers,” said Bennett.

“As the one who bears the ultimate responsibility for Israel’s security, I can tell you clearly: Israel will overcome any threat from outside, near or far.  We have built here a very thick iron wall in front of our enemies,” said the prime minister.

Bennett reiterated the message he stated on Remembrance Day, stressing that sectarianism destroyed the Jewish state in the Second Temple Period and that “a sovereign and united Jewish state has never survived here for more than 80 years.”

“Here we are in the eighth decade of the State of Israel,” said Bennett.  “The decade we have never succeeded in getting through.  This time we have another chance for the Jewish people.  This time we simply must succeed.”

“We must not allow hatred to capture us, to control us.  We need to see each other with a good eye, to believe that the other also wants the good for the state, even if his opinion is completely different.  We should all always place the good of the state above our sector, and above our self-interest,” said the prime minister.



Temple Mount Reopened To Jews After 14-Day Closure

On Thursday, (5th), Independence Day, the Temple Mount was reopened to Jewish visitors after being closed to them for 14-days, following a decision made by the prime minister, who noted that “this is the usual policy for the conclusion of the Ramadan month, a policy that was implemented years ago.”

Over 100 Jews gathered at the entrance to the Temple Mount in the early hours of Thursday morning (5th) waiting to be granted entry. Due to the large number of visitors, police only allowed a few dozen Jews to enter at once, after which the gates were shut until each group left, then another group was permitted to enter.

Meanwhile several dozen Arabs on the Temple Mount Plaza attempted to create a disturbance to prevent Jews from visiting the Mount, chanting, “With our spirit and our blood we will redeem Al-Aqsa.”  According to Palestinian news sources, Israeli security forces used riot means to impose order.

Tom Nissani, the director of “Beyadeinu – “For the Temple Mount,” told the news media, “hundreds of Jews were expected to arrive in the morning and later in the afternoon wanting to visit the Temple Mount.  We must not submit to the dictates of Hamas, not should we worry about their threats.  The Temple Mount is a red line for us, and it will remain so.”

MK Itamar Ben Gvir, head of the Otzma Yehudit party commented: “The quiet on the Mount – despite a few terrorists shouting, proves not only that Hamas is a weak organization, but that it can be subdued with ease –  it’s a shame to get worked up about its threats.”

He added that, “There is no reason for the police to grant entry only to small groups at a time.  Everyone waiting to enter should be allowed to do so.  It’s time we established a synagogue on the Temple Mount and stopped submitting to terrorism.  On Israel’s 74th Independence Day, it’s important for the members of our government to recall that we are actually an independent country.”



Hamas Delegation Arrives In Moscow To Discuss Temple Mount Demands

As relations between Russia and Israel appear to be rapidly deteriorating, a delegation of senior Hamas officials touched down in Russia on Wednesday morning (4th), where they are expected to meet with government representatives.

According to a report from Palestinian Authority-controlled state news agency Safa, the delegation, led by Egypt-based senior Hamas politburo member Mousa Abu Marzook, will hold “important talks” with Russian officials.

The discussions will be focused on recent developments in Jerusalem, including Hamas demands regarding the Temple Mount, and the terror group’s interest in strengthening ties with Moscow.

Both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas have not publicly condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine, likely due to the fact that they have historically enjoyed warmer ties with Moscow than with the US.

Unlike the US, UK and the European Union, Russia has not classified Hamas as a terrorist organization.

Since the 2006 Palestinian elections that brought the terror group to power in the Gaza Strip, Hamas representatives have visited Russia a staggering 14 times, as recently as December 2021.

The Hamas visit to Moscow comes on the heels of a very public diplomatic spat between Russia and Israel.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry has accused Jerusalem of supporting Ukrainian President Volodoymr Zelensky’s “neo-Nazi regime” in Kyiv.

Moscow also recently called for Israel to transfer ownership of a church compound in Jerusalem to Russia after Foreign Minister Yair Lapid condemned the invasion of Ukraine and accused Moscow of committing war crimes.



Iranians Chant ‘Death To Palestine’ To Protest Islamic Republic

In a video, Iranians began chanting “Death to Palestine” in protests over the last few days, triggering a range of reactions and analyses by experts on the Islamic Republic of Iran in light of the unusual event.

“Iranian people in Sirjan chanted ‘Death to Palestine,’ which is against the ideology of the Shia mullahs in Tehran who support the “Palestinian terrorists against Israel.”

“Iranian people are supporting #peace & have no problem with #Israel or the #USA at all,” Erfan Fard, a counter-terrorism expert focused on Iran, tweeted on May 1. 

The video sparked reactions from other Iran experts.  Iranian-American journalist, Karmel Melamed, said: “This is probably an old video…but still accurately portrays the sentiment of many people in Iran today.”

“Iranians are chanting “Death to Palestine” because they are sick and tired of the regime stealing the peoples’ resources to fund terror proxies #Hamas, #Hezbollah & Palestinian Islamic Jihad,” Ellie Cohanim, the first Iranian-born official who worked for the US State Department tweeted.