News Digest — 6/8/23

Assessment: Cabinet Will Approve Strike On Iran If Netanyahu Seeks It

The political-security cabinet is expected to give its approval to a plan to attack Iran if such a proposal is raised by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, Israel Hayom reported Thursday morning (8th).

Tensions between Iran and Israel have grown in recent weeks following Iran’s unveiling of its new “Fateh” missile, which the Iranian regime claims has a range of 1,400 kilometers and is capable of striking Israel.

The commander of the Aerospace Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Amit Ali Hajizadeh, claimed that no missile defense system in the world can intercept its new hypersonic missile, in a clear reference to Israel’s multi-layered missile defense system, which includes the Iron Dome, David’s Sling, and Arrow systems.

A decade ago, Netanyahu failed to secure enough votes in the Cabinet to approve a strike on Iran’s nuclear program.  The assessment is that he would be able to secure a majority now due to the greater immediacy of the Iranian threat and the greater hawkishness of the current government ministers compared to 10 years ago.

The prime minister would not only receive support from the government for a strike against Iran, but from parties in the opposition as well.

National Unity Party chairman Benny Gantz said Monday (5th) at the Jerusalem Post Annual Conference in New York that all of Israel would unite behind the government if a strike against Iran was necessary.

“We cannot allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons,” said Gantz, adding, “As an opposition leader, I want to emphasize this message: We will do whatever it takes to prevent an existential threat to the State of Israel.  We know such action might come at a great cost, but, as always in these matters, all of Israel’s leadership and people will unite.”

Iran has enriched uranium to 84% purity, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), just below the 90% threshold required to produce nuclear weapons and many times the level of purity needed for any non-military purpose.



PA Policeman Who Plotted To Assassinate Samaria Leader Arrested

A Palestinian Authority policeman has been arrested for plotting to assassinate the chairman of the Samaria Regional Council, Yossi Dagan.

The policeman was arrested Wednesday (7th) during an operation in Tulkarm by IDF and police forces.  During the operation, the Israeli forces came under heavy fire, and several explosives were thrown at them.

The suspect confessed to the Dagan assassination plot as well upcoming attempts to carry out multiple shooting attacks on major roads, during questioning.

The Arab policeman had been wanted for four months in connection with the assassination plot.  Security forces raided his family’s home weeks ago, but he had fled to Jericho where he hid in a police station with the aid of the Palestinian Authority.

When he felt that he was close to being captured, he fled back to Tulkarm, believing the IDF would be reluctant  to enter the town and arrest him.

Dagan thanked the security forces for preventing the attempted assassination.

“Personally, I am no different from any other citizen – whoever wants to harm me wants to harm all the citizens of the State of Israel throughout the country.  We are believing Jews, we will never be afraid and will never be deterred.  These threats only strengthen me and compel me to build up Samaria, and the Land of Israel even more,” he said.



Knesset Speaker In Morocco Synagogue: My Father Learned Zionism Here

Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana began his visit to Rabat, Morocco on Wednesday (7th), by putting on tefillin and reciting the Shema prayer in the Rabbi Shalom Zaoui Synagogue, where his father prayed before making aliyah to Israel.

Ohana met members of the Jewish community there and told them that he was excited to meet them and to visit the place where his father grew up.  “It is a great privilege for me to be here today and to sit in the chair in which my beloved father sat and recited his daily prayers, longing to reach one place in particular – the Land of Israel and Jerusalem.  I believe with all my heart that the root of our connection as a people and with it, the connection of myself and my family, to the Land of Israel, is found here among the prayer pages and the unique poems, which demonstrate the longing for Zion.”

“From my father’s memories of the synagogue, I learned about the concept called ‘pure faith’– a complete faith without conditions, which in his eyes symbolized all those of his generation.  We can say with confidence that this pure faith won out and thanks to it, many members of the glorious Moroccan community came to Israel, including my parents.  Even many years after they left, the synagogue was miraculously preserved thanks to the King of Morocco, Mohammed VI, who saw great importance in nurturing and preserving Jewish life in the kingdom,” he added.

“There is no doubt that I feel at home here, the warmth, the language, the heartfelt hospitality, they all remind me of the synagogues we have in Be’er Sheva.  In my opinion, if it were possible to move this synagogue as it is to the neighborhood of that city, no one there would notice and life in the synagogue, its poetry and music would continue as usual,” the Knesset Speaker said. 

Israeli Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana arrived in Morocco on Wednesday (7th)



Jordanian Guards Barred Religious Jews From Entering Country – Threw Kippah Into Trash Can

Border guards in Jordan barred members of an Israeli delegation from entering the country Tuesday (6th) after they were found to be in possession of traditional Jewish articles of clothing, including yarmulkes and tzitziot, (tasseled, four-cornered ritual garments) Israel Hayom reported Wednesday (7th).

The delegation, which was organized for an educational tour of Jordan, was made up of senior municipal officials from cities and regional councils across Israel.

The participating officials were slated to cross into Jordan at the Yitzhak Rabin Crossing in Eilat, adjacent to the Jordanian city of Aqaba, when guards on the Jordanian side of the border insisted on thoroughly examining the delegation members for any possible hidden Jewish religious items.

According to participants cited in the report, the Jordanian border guards ordered the delegation members to lift up their shirts, so that border officials could see if they were wearing tzitziot.

While the delegation members had agreed not to openly wear Jewish clothing items at the border, they did not anticipate the refusal of border officials to even allow them to retain such items in their luggage.

All delegation members with yarmulkes, tzitziot, or any other visibly Jewish clothing items were ordered to surrender them to border officials or be banned entry into the Hashemite kingdom.

One of the members of the delegation reported that a border official took his yarmulke and threw it in a garbage can.

At least two of the delegation members, the directors-general of Modi’in Illit and the Binyamin Regional Council in Samaria, refused to comply with the Jordanian border guards’ demands and returned to Eilat.

“We wanted to put the tzitziot and kippot away in our bags, but they didn’t agree,” a delegation member told Israel Hayom.  “We were instructed to collect all the Jewish items and return them to Eilat.  It’s so shameful; if we would have done something like this at the Israeli border or the entrance to the Temple Mount and said there is no problem so long as you leave behind any religious items, the whole world would have condemned us.”

This is not the first time Jewish visitors to Jordan have reported harassment by border guards.

In September, 2022, tourists entering the country were told that Jewish religious items, including prayer shawls and phylacteries, were “illegal.”

“The Simon Wiesenthal Center has received numerous complaints of harassment, and attempted confiscations by Jordanian officials of these basic religious items that millions of Jews don each morning during their prayers,” Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center , said in a joint statement.

“Security officials the world over know that these holy items pose no security threat whatsoever.  Some travelers have reported they were told that it is illegal to bring these holy items into Jordan.”



Fatah Official Said Party’s West Bank Popularity Dropping Due To Unkept Promises

A senior Palestinian official warned on Wednesday (7th) of the ruling Fatah party’s declining popularity in the West Bank because of its failure to deliver on promises.

Mahmoud al-Aloul, deputy chairman of Palestinian Authority Leader Mahmoud Abbas’ secular Fatah movement, which dominates the territory, was speaking in Ramallah, the seat of the PA.  

“I can tell you there is something of a decline in Fatah’s presence among the masses,” Aloul told journalists.  “Fatah adopted peaceful means, and made promises to the public, but it has not been able to deliver on them.”    

“This is an essential part of what has led to a decline in its popularity,” he said.

At 72, Aloul is one of the most senior figures in the Palestinian movement and is often mentioned as a possible successor to 87-year-old Mahmoud Abbas.

But Aloul also appeared on Wednesday (7th) to rule himself out as a successor, saying: “We will look for someone from the younger generation.”

Aloul rose through the ranks of the Palestinian guerrilla movement in Lebanon in the 1970s and returned to the West Bank in 1995.

His comments were a rare acknowledgement by a senior Abbas ally of waning fortunes for the party, which has dominated the West Bank since Israel and the Palestinians signed the Oslo peace accords in 1993.

In the 1996 legislative elections, 89% voted for Yasser Arafat’s Fatah.

Nearly three million Palestinians live in areas of Judea and Samaria, known as the West Bank area.