News Digest — 5/6/21

Palestinian Terrorist Who Murdered Israeli Teenager Apprehended

Israel security forces arrested the Palestinian terrorist suspected of shooting three Israeli teenagers, Israel’s Army Radio reported Thursday (6th).

Following the four-day manhunt, soldiers tracked down Muntasir Shalabi, 44, a resident of the Palestinian town of Turmus Ava, who was wounded in the attack.  IDF soldiers fired back at Shalabi as he sped away in a car after shooting the three Israeli teens at a bus stop north of Jerusalem, one of whom subsequently died of his wounds early Thursday (6th).

The Shin Bet General Security Service set up a special headquarters to conduct the manhunt for the terrorist and gather intelligence, receiving information that the terrorist was wounded, on the run and was being assisted by family members, the Army Radio report said.

During the manhunt, 12 suspects were arrested on suspicion they helped Shalabi escape and hide.

Towards nightfall Wednesday (5th), the Shin Bet was able to obtain accurate information about Shalabi’s hiding place in the village of Silwad, east of Ramallah.  The terrorist was reportedly surprised to be found and surrendered without resistance.  He was taken to the hospital for treatment after apparently being hit by IDF soldiers as his car sped away from the shooting attack Sunday (2nd).  He will be returned to the Shin Bet for interrogation after treatment, to determine who helped him escape capture over the past few days.

Yehuda Guetta, 19, was critically wounded in Sunday’s (2nd) attack and died early Thursday (6th) as doctors struggled to save him.  Two of his friends, Bnaya Peretz and Amichai Challah, both 19, were also hit in the shooting attack.  Challah was slightly injured, but Peretz remains hospitalized in critical condition.

Under Palestinian Authority policy, Shalabi and his family are now expected to receive a monthly cash stipend from the PA as compensation for getting arrested and for attacking and killing an Israeli civilian, in their “Pay for Slay” policy.



Critically Wounded Victim Of Tapuah Junction Attack Passes Away

19-year-old Yehuda Guetta, a student at the Itamar Yeshiva who was critically wounded in the shooting attack at the Tapuah Junction on Sunday (2nd), succumbed to his wounds at Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva early Thursday morning (6th).

Guetta, a resident of the Kiryat Moshe neighborhood of Jerusalem, is survived by his parents, four brothers and two sisters.

Yossi Dagan, head of the Samaria Regional Council, called for the checkpoints in Judea and Samaria to be restored and for a new community to be established in Samaria in response to the murder.

“A heavy tragedy – not only for the Itamar Yeshiva and the settlement in Samaria – but for the entire State of Israel.  Yehuda did not die of cancer.  He was murdered because he was a Jew in the Land of Israel.  He was killed by a vile murderer, who was instigated and funded by the terrorist Abu Mazen and his terrorist friends from Ramallah.  The Israeli government must wake up,” Dagan said.

“Our lives are more important than any politics.  I’m not ready to hear that the IDF has contained the incident.  Our lives are not a line in a presentation.  The Israeli government must now show leadership.  I call on the Prime Minister to immediately approve the establishment of a new community near the Tapuah Junction, the scene of the murder, and to double the community of Itamar, where Yehuda had studied.  Terrorism must not feel that it is winning.  It should be clear that the people of Israel are defeating their vile enemies,” he added.



Opposition Leader Yair Lapid Handed Mandate To Form Government

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Wednesday evening (5th) tapped Yair Lapid, leader of the Yesh Atid party, to form a government.

Lapid’s center-left party controls 17 seats in the Knesset, the second-largest party there.  The Likud has the most with 30.  Lapid will have 28 days in which to assemble together a coalition.

He was given the mandate after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to produce a government before his own 28-day mandate expired at the end of the day on Tuesday (4th).

“Last night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu informed me that he had not been able to form a government, so he returned the mandate to me,” Rivlin said.

Rivlin said he based his decision on the fact that Lapid has the most members of the Knesset recommending that he be given the mandate, a total of 56.

Although 56 is still short of the minimum 61 seats necessary to form a government in the 120-seat Knesset, Lapid’s chances of success are possible as he has already agreed to concede the prime minister’s chair in a rotational leadership with Bennett.

In a press conference prior to Rivlin’s announcement, Bennett strongly suggested he would support a unity government.

“There are two options: to be dragged to a fifth, sixth and seventh election that will simply destroy the country, or to establish a broad emergency government, although it would be challenging, but one that will be able to get the wagon unstuck from the mud,” he said.

However, he also said he would not concede on right-wing values and principles, something that would be a challenge in a government whose majority is made up of left-wing parties.



Jerusalem Day: Capital’s Population Approaching One Million

The population of Jerusalem is approaching 1 million, a review published by the Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research showed, ahead of Jerusalem Day.

On Tuesday JIPS researchers presented President Reuven Rivlin with a statistical review of the capital for 2021, which showed that Jerusalem continues to be the largest city in Israel.  At the end of 2020, the capital’s population comprised 952,000 residents.

The average age in Jerusalem, 24, was much lower compared to the national average, 30.  In Tel Aviv, the average age was 36, in Haifa, 38.

At the same time, the Jewish population in the capital is statistically older than the Arab one.  In 2019, the average Jewish resident was 26 years old and the average Arab resident 22.

According to JIPS data, Jerusalem experienced a negative net migration last year, with 8,200 residents leaving the city.  Most of those who move to and from Jerusalem are Jews.

By March, the capital reported 130,200 coronavirus cases, or 139 cases per 1,000 residents, a number much higher than the national average, 91.2, but lower than the average in other ultra-Orthodox cities, like Beit Shemesh, 162.

The number of vaccinated stood at 355,300 or 570.3 per 1,000 residents, lower than the national average of 729, but higher compared to other Haredi cities.

According to data, Jerusalem is the second-largest economy in Israel, after Tel Aviv.  Some 344,300 Jerusalemites are employed, which is 9% of all those employed in the country.  The high-tech industry, in particular, has grown exponentially since 2015.  The Hebrew University of Jerusalem had the most PHD students in the country.

“The statistical yearbook contains important information pertaining to all of Jerusalem’s strata, all its neighborhoods – East and West, old and new, religious and secular, Jewish and Arab,” Rivlin said.

“Jerusalem’s future is also the future of the State of Israel.  It is here, in the city, that comprises the full range of Israel’s demography in all its richness, that we need to find a way to create a dialogue, to connect, to cooperate,” he added.

“The year of COVID-19 and recent events demonstrate just how much Israel’s capital is a multi-faceted and multi-varied city,” JIPS Director-General Lior Schiller said.

“Developments and events in Jerusalem have political significance and make an impact throughout the entire country.  In many respects the developments and trends in the city are a prelude to what will transpire throughout Israel in the coming decades.  In this sense Jerusalem is Israel’s ‘national laboratory,’” added Schiller.

Jerusalem Day Begins Sunday evening (9th) and ends Monday evening (10th).  The Holiday is a celebration of the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967.



Swastikas, Slurs And Nazi Slogan Found On Geneva, NY Elementary School

Police in Geneva, New York are investigating the weekend defacement of an elementary school with swastikas, racial slurs, obscene images and the slogan “Bring the Nazis back,” reported WROC-TV.

The vandalism was discovered on Sunday (2nd) and was mainly on the school’s playground and included swastikas and slurs carved into school property.  A window and a flood light were also damaged, said police.

The graffiti on the playground was removed before school began on Monday (3rd).

Police canvassed the surrounding area and are currently reviewing security footage given them by the school district.

The footage has been “extremely helpful” and several suspects have been identified, Geneva Police Chief Michael Passalacqua told WROC-TV.

In April, a similar anti-Semitic incident occurred in West Haverstraw, New York when it was discovered that a playground at the shuttered North Garnerville Elementary School had been defaced with swastikas.