News Digest — 6/30/22

Israeli Knesset Dispersed, Elections To Be held On November 1

The 24th Knesset voted to disperse on Thursday morning (30th) with a 92-0 vote and to hold the next election on November 1.  Party list must be handed in by September 15 at 10 p,m.

The next elections will not include Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, as he announced on Wednesday (29th) that he will not run.  Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked is expected to head the Yamna party after Bennett’s departure.

The Knesset plenum rejected the proposal submitted by the opposition factions, according to which the elections would have been on October 25.  47 MKs initially supported the date change, whereas 57 opposed it.  Because the Metro Law did not pass, both Labor and Yisrael Beytenu withdrew from the vote to disperse the Knesset.

Blue and White MK Eitan Ginzburg said that his party “did not want to dissolve the Knesset.  I believe we gave up too soon.  Elections for the fifth time in four years are not a healthy thing for the country. We in the Knesset had created something special that had not seemed possible in the past.”

Labor head Merav Michaeli said that “the Knesset’s dissolution shouldn’t have happened.  The Knesset and the government are good for the State of Israel and should have continued to work, but some could not withstand the pressure.”

At noon, there was a ceremony to replace Naftali Bennett with Yair Lapid as Prime Minister.  Lapid will remain as PM until the next elections and a new government is formed.

Meanwhile opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu stated that “this is what happens when you mix together a fake right-wing party and extreme leftist parties – that is what you get.”

“That is exactly what the upcoming election is about.  Will there again be a failed Lapid government here, dependent on the Muslim Brotherthood in common with supporters of terrorism, or a broad strong national government headed by us that will return pride, power and hope to Israel?”he asked.

Calling the coalition “a failed experiment,” Netanyahu stated that “we are the only alternative.  When we win the next elections, our first mission will be to lower prices and restore economic stability and growth for all Israeli citizens – Jews, Arabs, Bedouins, religious, secular and haredim.”

The next elections will be the fifth that Israel has had in the past 3 and a half years.



3 Wounded In Shooting At Joseph’s Tomb

Palestinian gunmen injured one IDF officer and two civilians when they fired on a group of Israelis who had entered Nablus to pray at Joseph’s Tomb under escort from the IDF.

The attack occurred during a regularly scheduled visit to the tomb, in which thousands of Jewish worshipers were allowed access to the site in the dead of night (early Thursday morning 30th), after the IDF had secured passage to the tomb.

During the visit “armed terrorists opened heavy fire against the tomb’s complex,” the IDF said.

In a video published of the incident, soldiers can be heard telling worshipers to turn out the compound’s light after the firing started.  

Among the three that were wounded was IDF Samaria Regional Brigade commander Col. Roi Zweig, the army said. The two civilians were not identified.

Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan said that Zweig did not seek medical treatment until he had overseen the evacuation of all the worshipers from the area of the tomb.

“He is a true hero and I salute him on behalf of all the people of Israel,” Dagan said.

He stated that Israel should keep a regular presence at the tomb on a permanent basis because Jewish worshippers pray there.

“The lack of an IDF presence in this holy place is the reason why the murderous Palestinian Authority raises its head and allows itself to shoot Jews during their prayers,” Dagan said.

“We will not give up our hold on this place, and we will continue to visit and pray at Joseph’s Tomb,” he added.



Support For PA Leader Mahmoud Abbas Nosedives As Palestinian Support Shifts To Hamas

A new poll of Palestinians in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Sttrip released on Tuesday (28th) shows that the Islamic terror organization Hamas has edged ahead of Fatah, the PLO’s main national faction, in terms of public support, though backing for both groups is in decline.

The survey conducted by the Ramallah-based Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) revealed that 33 percent of Palestinians believe that Hamas should be leading the Palestinian struggle, with only 23% opting for Fatah under its current leader, PA’s Mahmoud Abbas, who has clung to his post since 2005.

However, a plurality of respondents – 38 percent – said that neither group deserved a leadership role.

“The results of the second quarter of 2022 show a significant change in the domestic balance of power in favor of Hamas and its leadership only three months after Fatah had managed to restore some of the popularity it had lost in the aftermath of the April 2021 cancellation of the legislative and leadership elections, the May 2021 war between Hamas and Israel, and the killing of the opposition figure Nizar Banat at the hands of the Palestinian security services,” the PSR noted in an accompanying analysis.

Abbas’ personal ratings were dismally low, according to the survey, with 73 percent of respondents registering dissatisfaction with the performance of the 87-year-old leader – a slight improvement on the 80 percent who agreed that he should resign in a PSR survey in September 2021.  Additionally, the number of Palestinians who view the PA as a “burden” also rose, to 59 percent from 55 percent in PSR’s last survey three months ago.

If elections were held today, Abbas would win 33 percent of the vote, with 55 percent expressing support for Ismail Haniyeh, his Hamas rival.  However, only 49 percent of respondents said they would bother to vote in such a poll.  If Abbas decided not to run, 30 percent of Palestinians would opt for the imprisoned Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti, with a further 34 percent declaring themselves undecided.



Report: Senior IRGC Officer Arrested On Suspicion Of Spying For Israel

Senior Iranian commander Brig.Gen. Ali Nasiri was secretly arrested on allegations of spying for Israel, The New York Times reported on Wednesday (29th) quoting iranian sources.

Another source said that two months before Hasiri’s arrest several dozen employees of the Iranian Defense Ministry, who worked on developing its missile program, were detained on suspicion of leaking classified information to Israel.

“The security breaches inside Iran and the vast scope of operations by Israel have really undermined our most powerful intelligence organization,” former Iranian vice president Mohammad Ali Abtahi told the Times in a phone call.  “The strength of our security has always been the bedrock of the Islamic Republic and it has been damaged in the past year.

According to the paper, the moves have caused a growing atmosphere of mistrust within the Iranian leadership, especially since Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps chief of intelligence Hossein Taeb was removed from his position.  Taeb’s apparent dismissal came on the heels of scathing criticism he faced following a failed attempt to carry out a terrorist attack against Israelis in Turkey, causing a diplomatic crisis with ally, Ankara.

According to Abtahi, by dismissing Taeb, Tehran acknowledged that confronting the “threat from Israel” required new leadership and changes in strategy.

On Saturday (25th), Iran named Gen. Mohammad Kazemi as the new chief of intelligence.  The IRGC also named Gen. Hasan Mashroueifar as head of the Vali Amr Unit – the special forces unit that provides personal security for Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.



Over 2,700 Anti-Semitic Incidents reported In Germany In 2021

A group tracking anti-semitism in Germany said Tuesday (28th) it documented more than 2,700 incidents in the country last year, including 63 attacks and six cases of extreme violence.

In a report, the Department for Research and Information on Anti-Semitism, or RIAS, said the coronavirus pandemic with its anti-Jewish conspiracy narratives and the Middle East conflict with anti-Semitic criticism of Israel were the main drivers of the 2,738 incidents it documented.

The incidents include both criminal and non-criminal, the group said.

The German government’s commissioner to combat anti-Semitism, Felix Klein, called the  number of incidents – more than seven per day – frightening, but also said that “at the same time, each of the reported incidents is also a step toward reducing the dark figures.”

Right-wing extremists were responsible for 17% of the incidents, but more than half of all the anti-Semitic incidents could not be assigned to a specific political view, the report said.

Among cases of “extreme violence,” RIAS included an attack on a Jewish participant in a vigil for Israel in Hamburg and a shooting at a Jewish community center in Berlin.

“Altogether, 964 people – both Jews and non-Jews- were directly affected by anti-Semitic incidents,” Benjamin Steinitz, the head of RIAS, told reporters in Berlin.

Marina Chernivsky of the Ofek counceling center for victims of anti-Semitic violence and discrimination, called the high number of cases “background noise” in the everyday lives of Jews in Germany.