News Digest — 6/29/23

Eid al-Adha: Arabs Hang Pro-Terror Banner And Flags On Temple Mount – 15 Arrested

Israeli police arrested 15 suspects for hanging a sign with photos of terrorists and waving flags of terror organizations after the Muslim Eid al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice) morning prayers on the Temple Mount Wednesday morning (28th). 

According to the police, the prayers concluded without any noteworthy incidents, but at the end of the service and as worshipers dispersed, several masked men waved flags and banners of terror organizations in the Temple Mount Plaza. 

Police arrested 15 suspects and quickly worked to remove a banner that was hung.

The arrests were carried out by police officers from the David police station and Jerusalem Border Police officers, with the help and guidance of Mabat 2000 lookouts, who directed the forces to the suspects.

On some of the detainees, police found flags and flyers of terror organizations and pistol bullets.  The suspects were led away for questioning at the Jerusalem district’s David station.

Jerusalem District Commander Doron Turgeman said regarding the issue: “Jerusalem District police officers are committed to allowing any individual, from any religion, to celebrate their holiday legally, the same goes for Eid al-Adha, which is today.  This morning there were again those who abused the holiday and the holy sites to demonstrate incitement and support of terror.  Whoever thinks that the carrying out of these acts under the guise of the holiday would grant him immunity or protection from the law is greatly mistaken.”

“Until now, we arrested 15 suspects who were involved in flag-waving, pro-terror chants, and hanging terror organization banners.  Acts of incitement, encouragement, and support of terror will be dealt with anywhere in Jerusalem, including on the Temple Mount.  There are no ‘dead areas,’ there is, and there will be no immunity for those who support, encourage and identity with terror and terrorists on the Temple Mount and anywhere else.”



World Zionist Organization, MKs Push Jordan Valley Annexation With New Knesset Group

The head of the World Zionist Organization called for Israeli annexation of the Jordan valley on Wednesday (28th) as lawmakers launched a new Knesset group with that goal.

“Fifty-six years since we liberated Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and the Jordan Valley, and there’s still no sovereignty,” Yaakov Hagoel said, using the biblical terms for the West Bank.  “We’re patient, but we’re running out of patience, and need action.”

“We need to implement sovereignty.  Both the right and the left want sovereignty in the Jordan Valley, and the sooner the better,” Hagoel said.  The WZO is a non-government umbrella group based in Jerusalem and focused on promoting Zionism.

The Jordan Valley is a swath of land on Israel’s eastern border between the West Bank and Jordan that Israel sees as a vital security asset.  It is home to Israeli settlements and Palestinian communities.

Hagoel made the push for annexation as coalition lawmakers launched the new Knesset group, called ‘Sovereignty Over the Jordan Valley First.’

The group launched “with the aim of bringing a major achievement in applying sovereignty in the Jordan Valley, and is led by Likud MK Dan Illouz and Shas MK Yosef Taieb,” WZO said in a statement.

“We’re in a historic moment.  If there isn’t significant progress on this issue, there will be tears shed for generations,” Illouz said.

“The historical roots of the people of Israel are in the areas of Judea and Samaria, and the way to secure our place is to stand firm for our historical right to the Land of Israel,” he added.  “The road begins with applying sovereignty in the Jordan Valley.”

“Above all, this is important because the Jordan Valley belongs to the Jewish people and the Land of Israel,” Taieb said.

Agriculture Minister Avi Dichter, Settlements and National Missions Minister Orit Strock, Cabinet Minister Yitzhak Wasserlauf, 12 MKs and seven settler leaders took part in the launch event.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pushed for annexation during his previous tenure as premier.

Netanyahu, during the 2020 unveiling of the Trump administration’s peace plan, declared that Israel would immediately annex West Bank settlements and the Jordan Valley.  The declaration reportedly caught the US off guard and caused some friction with the White House.  Netanyahu also said during a 2019 political campaign that if reelected he would annex the Jordan Valley.  But, Netanyahu dropped the annexation push as part of the US-brokered Abraham Accords agreements, which saw Israel normalize ties with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Morocco.



Biblical Kingdom Of Judah Expanded Into Israel Earlier Than Previously Thought

Contrary to previous beliefs that the expansion of the Kingdom of Judah took place only in the late 9th or 8th century BCE, 200 to 300 years after King David, a new Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HU) study shows that it had already begun to spread into the hill country and the northern Shefela (lowlands) as early as the 10th century BCE.  The expansion of the southern Shefela followed about two generations later in the time of David’s grandson Rehoboam.

HU’s Institute of Archeology has just published an article entitled “Early City Planning in the Kingdom of Judah: Khirbet Qeiyafa, BethShemesh 4, Tell en-Nasbeh, Khirbet ed-Dawwara, and Lachish V” by Professor Yosef Garfinkel in the Institute’s publication, The Jerusalem Journal of Archeology.

In this comprehensive study, Prof. Garfinkel examines the earliest fortified sites in the Kingdom of Judah during the 10th century.

“The five sites reveal significant insights into the urbanization process, urban planning, and borders of the earliest phase of the Kingdom of Judah.  The Shefela region, located southwest of Jerusalem, played a crucial role in the Kingdom of Judah’s expansion, due to its favorable ecological conditions for agriculture,” the team said, “because of its low, rolling topography, fertile soil and enough rain to make the kingdom’s breadbasket. that could feed a large population.”

The study stressed the importance of the kingdom’s expansion to the Shefela, and its agricultural resources as a key stage in its development.

Regarding the publication date of the research, Garfinkel explained that “the evidence was known before; it isn’t a matter of new discoveries.  What was needed was someone to come along and observe the complete picture that these findings portray.  I am glad that I was able to fulfill that role.”

The excavations that formed the basis of these conclusions were conducted by Saar Ganor from the Israel Antiquities Authority and Prof. Michael Hazel from the Southern Adventist University in Tennessee.

The five sites showcase an urban plan characterized by a casemate city wall (a double wall with the space between the walls separated into chambers that could be filled up to better withstand battering rams in case of siege)

They noted that “Lachish, Level V, has a similar pattern but without casemates in its city wall.  The findings have far-reaching implications for understanding the urban planning and territorial boundaries of the earliest phase of the Kingdom of Judah.” 

Three things were common to all these cities – they were fortified with casemate city walls and were located on the kingdom border and on a main road leading into the kingdom.  Khirbet Qeiyafa in the Elah Valley protected the southwest border of the kingdom. Beth Shemesh, in the Soreq Valley protected the western border of the kingdom.Tell en-Nasbeh near Ramallah protected the north, and Khirbet ed-Dawwara protected the northeast border.  The urban plan is clearly recognized in these sites.  Recently, excavations at Lachish V, uncovered a similar pattern comprising a peripheral belt of structures abutting the city wall.  This city wall was solid with no casemates.

Radiometric dating techniques confirm that the fortified cities of Khirbet Qeiyafa and Beth Shemesh date back to the first quarter of the 10th century BCE, the time of King David.  The analysis of the urban planning and the geographical location of the sites clearly indicates that it was a strong kingdom able to build well-planned cities on its borders and protect the main roads leading into its capital Jerusalem.

“The discovery of a barrier wall in this area effectively defines the boundaries of the urban core of the Kingdom of David, putting an end to the longstanding historical debate surrounding the existence of the Kingdom and its borders,”  Garfinkel declared, adding that “this finding provides tangible evidence on the ground and dated to the relevant period, supports the biblical accounts of Rehoboam’s expansion and fortification as described in the Book of Chronicles.  It’s a rare instance where we can present empirical historical and archeological evidence aligning with biblical narratives from the 10th century BCE.”



Israel Earns 25 Medals At 2023 Special Olympics In Berlin

Thirty-four athletes with intellectual disabilities represented Israel in eight sports at the 2023 Special Olympics in Berlin.  The team came home with 35 medals, the most it has garnered in its 30 years of participation in the Special Olympics Games.

This year’s Israeli participants competed in athletics, judo, swimming, cycling, tennis table tennis, soccer and bowling, paired with opponents based on their level of disability.

In all, more than 7,000 athletes from 126 countries took part in this year’s Special Olympics, June 17-25.

The 25 medals include nine golds, eight silvers and eight bronzes, representing every discipline in which the team competed.

Several athletes earned more than one medal, such as runner Ron Beck, 16, who snagged a gold in the 3,000-meter men’s race, a silver in the 5,000-meter run and a bronze in the mixed 4x400m relay.

Mir Segal, winner of a gold medal in 100-meter freestyle swimming, said nothing could have prepared him for how it would feel to stand on the podium listening to Israel’s national anthem, “Hatikvah,” playing in his honor.

Segal, 28, is the caretaker of the therapeutic horses stable at ADI Negev-Nahalat Eran, part of an Israeli network of specialized rehabilitative care for those with disabilities.  He is on the autism spectrum.

“I overcame obstacles and people viewing me as different,” said Segal after his Special Olympics win. “I was successful – I was able to conquer my fears, reach my goal, and also bring honor and pride to Israel.  And it was fun.”



Italy Declares War on Anti-Semitism In Soccer

Anti-Semitism in European soccer stadiums is not a new phenomenon and in Italy in particular there have been recurring incidents in recent years, causing great distress and embarrassment to the local sports league.  Now, it seems that the Italian government decided to take matters into its own hands.

On Tuesday (27th), in the presence of Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi, Italy signed a declaration of intent, outlining steps to eradicate the taint of anti-Semitism once and for all.

The country’s bad reputation in this area derives from expressions of anti-Semitism and racial incitement, disgraceful chants directed toward Black players, and the use of the word “Jew” as a derogatory term between fans of rival teams, as well as the widespread use of Nazi symbols by extremist fans.  These events occur far too often in Italy’s stadiums.

At a ceremony in Rome on Monday (26th), attended by Italy’s sports minister and the president of the Italian Football Federation, the new policy was introduced.

The letter of intent states that soccer players in Italy will be banned from wearing No.88 on their team jerseys, which is a numerical code for “Heil Hitler.”

Several senior players in the Series A league have worn this problematic number over the years, sparking harsh criticism

Furthermore, the use of flags, symbols, shirts and banners with anti-Semitic content or content that may incite anti-Semitism will be completely prohibited.  

The new policy is expected to require immediate suspensions of games and cases where fans are persistent in expressing or singing anti-semitic chants and displaying symbols with anti-Semitic content.