News Digest — 7/17/23

Israel’s Top Diplomat Arrives In Kenya For African Union Summit

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen landed in Kenya on Sunday (16th) for a short visit at the invitation of the African nation’s president.

Cohen is in Nairobi to attend the African Union’s Mid-Year Coordination Meeting.  Also, he is to meet with other leaders at the event. 

Earlier this year, an Israeli delegation was ejected from an African Union Summit in Ethiopia, a move the Foreign Ministry blamed on “extremist” countries.

“Israel looked harshly upon the incident in which the Foreign Ministry’s deputy director for Africa, Ambassador Sharon Bar-Li, was removed from the African Union Hall despite her status as an accredited observer with entrance badges,” the ministry said in a statement.

“It is sad to see that the African Union has been taken hostage by a small number of extremist countries such as Algeria and South Africa, driven by hatred and controlled by Iran.  We call on the African countries to stand against these actions that harm the organization of the African Union itself and the entire continent,” added the statement.

Ebba Kalondo, the spokesperson for the African Union’s commission chairman, said Bar-Li had been removed because she was not the accredited ambassador to Ethiopia, the official who was expected.

Israel was granted observer status in July 2021.  Many non-African countries and groups hold that designation, “Palestine” being one of them.  Israel had been trying to win back the status for 20 years, since it lost it when the Organization of African Unity was disbanded in 2002 to make way for its replacement organization, The African Union.

At its meeting last year, the 55-member African Union pushed off a vote over Israel’s observer status and instead set up a committee to examine the matter.

In May, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met in Jerusalem with Kenyan President William Ruto, with the two men holding a private conversation before an expanded meeting in the framework of a working lunch.

Netanyahu praised Ruto’s commitment to advancing relations as well as policies to strengthen regional stability, and noted that Kenya could serve as a gateway for trade and international cooperation with the rest of Africa.

The two men agreed to work together to strengthen economic and diplomatic ties in areas including bilateral trade, technology, cyber defense, advancing the restoration of a direct air route, water and agriculture.

A day earlier, Cohen met with his Kenyan counterpart Alfred Mutua in the Israeli capital.  The two diplomats signed a memorandum of understanding on water technologies and climate change.  They also agreed to promote direct flights between the countries as well as the continuation of Kenya’s support for Israel at international institutions, particularly in the African Union.

“Kenya is a significant African player and an important factor in the Conference of the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency.  I emphasized to my friend Foreign Minister Mutua the ways in which we can deepen the relationship between our countries in the fields of security, trade and the economy,” said Cohen at the time.

“Kenya has significant potential in helping to expand the Abraham Accords and harnessing additional partnerships in Africa for the benefit of regional prosperity and stability,” he added.

Netanyahu has made strengthening ties with Africa a central platform of his premierships.



Prime Minister Discharged From Hospital After Being Fitted With Heart Monitor ‘No Irregularities Found’

Prime Minister Netanyahu was discharged from Sheba-Tel Hashomer Medical Center in Ramat Gan on Sunday (16th) some 20 hours after being admitted to the emergency room due to dehydration.

The hospital, where Netanyahu stayed overnight Saturday (15th), said on Sunday (17th) that no irregularities were found in tests that included subcutaneous heart monitoring following his admission for dehydration.  As part of additional medical tests, Netanyahu was fitted with a subcutaneous halter, or heart monitor, and found to be “in complete cardiac health” the hospital statement read.

The weekly cabinet meeting, which usually takes place on Sunday mornings, was postponed to Monday (17th).

According to unconfirmed reports cited by local media, the 73-year-old Netanyahu briefly lost consciousness in his private home in Caesarea and subsequently hit his head on the floor before checking himself into the emergency room.  But his office stressed that he was conscious all through the ride and walked into the hospital by himself upon arrival.

His personal physician, Dr. Zvi Berkowitz, rushed to Sheba Medical Center to tend to the premier.  The doctor described the prime minister’s condition as “good and stable.”

Following his arrival at the hospital, Mr. Netanyahu reportedly underwent a brain imaging procedure to rule out brain damage as a result of the fall – also an examination by a cardiologist.  

In a video on social media after the end of Shabbat, the prime minister clarified: “Yesterday, I spent some time at the Sea of Galilee with my wife, in the sun, without a hat and without water.  Not a good idea.”

“Thank God, I’m feeling very good,” continued Netanyahu, while urging the public to spend less time in the sun and drink more water.

In recent days , Israel has been experiencing a scorching heatwave, with temperatures reaching as high as 100 degrees F in southern Israel.  The heatwave, which is affecting the eastern Mediterranean region as well as the Balkans and much of Europe, is expected to continue through the middle of this week.

In October, Netanyahu spent a night at the hospital under medical observation due to chest pains that began while he was attending Yom Kippur synagogue services.  Medical tests all came back normal, the Shaare Zedek Medical Center said at the time.



3 Wounded In Terrorist Attack In Gush Etzion, One In Serious Condition

Three people were wounded in a terrorist shooting attack in the eastern Gush Etzion area south of Jerusalem Sunday morning (16th).

The attack occurred near Tekoa Junction, outside of the Israeli community of Tekoa southeast of the capital, when a terrorist driving down the road opened fire on a passing car.

The victims wounded in the attack included a 35-year-old man and his two daughters ages 14 and 9.

The male victim, identified as Nokdim resident and father of five, El-Roi Kapach, suffered gunshot wounds and is listed in serious condition, while the two female victims – Rachel and Avigayil Kapach – were wounded by shrapnel and are listed in light condition.

Eighteen years ago, Kapach’s father-in law and mother-in-law, Dov and Rachel Kol, were murdered by Palestinian terrorists in a roadside shooting attack in Gush Katif.

MDA and United Hatzalah emergency first responders were dispatched to the scene to treat the victims, before evacuating them to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem.

Gush Etzion Regional Council Mayor and Yesha Council Chairman Shlomo Ne’eman siad: “It was a terrible morning with difficult news, as there was a terrorist shooting here in Gush Etzion.  We’re talking about an area where there hasn’t been a serious attack for years.  We all wish a speedy recovery to the persons wounded, and embrace the security forces who will soon catch the despicable terrorist and settle the score with him.  We will not give in to the terrorists who seek to spill Jewish blood and throw us out of our country.”

IDF forces and Israel Police units launched a manhunt of the area to search for the terrorist responsible for the shooting.

Later Sunday afternoon (16th) it was reported that the terrorist who opened fire had been arrested after he was found hiding in a mosque in the PA-controlled city of Bethlehem.

He was taken into custody with no exchange of fire,



Israel Sends Warning To Hezbollah To Stop Provocation On Border

Israel relayed a warning to the Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group on Sunday (16th) that their provocations along the Israel-Lebanon border could lead to a military confrontation, officials said adding Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah may think he is not himself in danger.  On Saturday, (15th) a group led by a member of the Lebanese parliament, and accompanied by journalists, crossed into Israel in the area of Mount Dov and in an earlier incident last week, an IDF surveillance camera was removed.

The officials said Hezbollah’s actions thus far are not as serious as they had been in past years when rockets were periodically fired into Israel and attempts were made regularly, to kidnap Israeli soldiers protecting the border.

However, the officials believe that Nasrallah likely thinks that his organization’s provocations are below Israel’s threshold which would justify a harsh military response, but if that is the case, he will be failing to consider that should Israel choose to take action in retaliation of his provocations, both sides may be pushed to war, which neither wants.

Lebanon’s internal problems are great.  The parliament, which has already convened 12 times to elect a president, has failed to do so, and the parties in its political arena are unable to reach an agreement.  The officials believe that Hezbollah may be blamed for much  of the political and economic chaos.

Hezbollah refuses to allow anyone but their own candidate Suleiman Frangieh, to be elected president and he may be looking to divert attention from Hezbollah’s culpability to conflicts along the border with Israel.  

After an Israeli demand to remove the tents placed by Hezbollah operatives inside Israeli territory last month, the terror group removed just one of the two erected tents, prompting a warning to the Lebanese government that that was not enough, and that Beirut must take further action.



Hamas Newspaper: Rockets In Judea And Samaria Are The Beginning Of The Zionist Entity’s End

The development of the ability to manufacture rockets in Judea and Samaria and fire them towards Israeli towns changes the equation of power in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Hamas’ Falastin newspaper claims.

In an article published in Falastin, publicist Ahmad Abu Zouhari claims that the development of the rockets is a most important development, which shows the abilities of the “Palestinian resistance organizations” to overcome security challenges, achieve sources of funding for this project, acquire the required military knowledge, copy the method of action used in Gaza in the field of rockets, and create a strategy of appropriate conflict against the “occupation.”

According to him, by means of the rocket launches, the terror organizations are showing that Israeli attempts to eliminate “Palestinian resistance” did not succeed, since they have created a new reality which is more dangerous to Israel with their ability to acquire new weapons.

Abu Zouhari also added that Judea and Samaria is not going to be safer for “the occupation, its soldiers and its settlers,” since “the nightmare of Gaza and its rockets will chase the occupation in every place.”

He added that, “The rockets are the beginning of the end of the Zionist entity,” adding that the launch of rockets will not cease, and relying on security coordination will not provide security to Israel and will not bring about a limitation of the military powers of the Palestinian resistance organizations.



President Isaac Herzog To leave Monday For The United States

Israeli President Isaac Herzog will depart for the United States Monday evening (17th) where he is scheduled to visit the White House and address a joint session of Congress.  

Herzog’s trip to Washington and New York this week is meant to strengthen the ties between the two countries,” his office said.

He will meet with US President, Joe Biden  and other officials during his visit, which wraps up after he spends Shabbat in New York.  He will address Congress on Tuesday (18th).

“I am very much looking forward to representing the entire nation of Israel as president of the State of Israel before the elected representatives of the American people, to mark the 75th Anniversary  of the State of Israel,” Herzog said ahead of the trip.

It will be the second address ever given to a joint session of Congress by an Israeli president.  Isaac Herzog’s father Chaim Herzog, the sixth president of Israel, delivered the first address in 1988.