News Digest — 7/26/22

Israel Publishes Travel Warning To Ukraine

Israel’s Foreign Ministry has issued a travel warning to Israelis, warning them not to travel to Ukraine, including to Uman and the surrounding areas.

In the warning, the Foreign Ministry says, “Israeli citizens who are in Ukraine are called to immediately leave the country’s borders.  The Israeli Embassy does not have a continuous presence in Ukrainian territory these days and therefore cannot provide consular services.”

“The security situation is volatile, including the danger of bombings from the air or rocket fire, including on civilian areas and towns, including in the center and west of the country, and presents a real and immediate danger to life.”

The Ministry continued, “The Ukrainian government announced a state of emergency beginning on February 24, 2022, leading to the limitation of freedom of movement and the imposition of a curfew on various areas, as well as increasing the means of security and policing in various areas (including checks, arrests, and deportations).”

Last week, Israeli Ambassador to Ukraine Michael Brodsky recommended that Israelis avoid traveling to Ukraine this year, due to the war with Russia.

Speaking to Yediot Aharonot , Brodsky stressed, “It’s important to emphasize that Ukraine is in a war and it will be very hard to ensure the safety of those visiting the country.”



Hezbollah Official: ‘We Are Close To Defeating Israel By Land And Sea’

Senior Hezbollah officials threatened Israel on Monday (25th) with an attack on its offshore gas rigs amid US-mediated negotiations between Israel and the Lebanese government to resolve a high-stakes maritime border dispute.

“All of Israel’s gas fields are under threat from our missiles – not just Karish.  The ships that extract the gas are Israeli, even if under a Greek banner,” Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah told Lebanon’s Al-Mayadeen TV.

“There’s no target in the sea or in the air that is not within range of Hezbollah’s precise missiles,” he said.  “No one wants war and the decision is in Israel’s hands, not in our hands.”

Nasrallah has been vocal about opposition to Israeli extraction of natural gas, which Lebanon claims is done from oil reserves within its maritime border, particularly the Karish gas field.

“If the extraction of gas from ‘Karish’ begins in September before Lebanon gets its rights, we will have a problem,” he warned.

On July 2, the IDF shot down three unmanned aerial vehicles approaching Israel’s Karish platform from Lebanon.

One of the UAVs was downed by an Israeli F-16 fighter jet, while the other two were intercepted by the INS Eilat missile corvette, according to the IDF.  All three were shot down over the Mediterranean Sea.

Nasrallah also touted his group’s drone capabilities, claiming: “We have drones that can evade the enemy; a number of our drones in recent years entered parts of the Galilee and returned without being shot down.”

The Head of Hezbollah’s executive council, Sayyed Safieddine, meanwhile, said Monday (25th) that the Iran-backed terrorist organization was “close to defeating the Israelis by land and by sea if we want to, and we will decide when to do it.”

Speaking in the southern Lebanese town of Kfar Kila, Safieddine, echoing Nasrallah, reiterated that while Hezbollah does not desire war with Israel, it is prepared for one. 

“The more you put pressure on our country, the more our determination, strength and solidarity will increase,” said Safieddine, according to the report by Lebanese news site Naharnet.

The executive council is responsible for the terrorist organization’s civilian activities and is one of five bodies subordinate to Hezbollah’s Supreme Council, which is headed by Nasrallah.

Early in July, Nasrallah threatened Israel in a televised speech addressing the maritime border talks, which also touched on Beirut’s attempt to gain access to part of the Karish gas field off the Haifa coastline.

“We’re following up on ‘all gas fields’ across Palestine,” said Nasrallah.  “If you don’t allow firms to extract gas, we’ll flip the table on the entire world and go to war.”



Israeli Forces Nab Hamas Cell Operating In Jerusalem

The Israel Police and Shin Bet security service have recently exposed and rounded up a Hamas terror cell that was active in Jerusalem.

The security officers conducted an investigation in recent weeks following suspected security violations and revealed that the suspects under surveillance worked to recruit operatives into the ranks of the Hamas terrorist organization in the neighborhoods of eastern Jerusalem.

As part of the investigation, nine suspects were arrested in recent weeks throughout Jerusalem.  Some were arrested at home and some while traveling.

The investigation by the Shin Bet and Police showed that the Hamas elements were in continuous contact with Hamas leaders located “outside the country’s borders,” probably Turkey.

The Hamas elements directed the cell and financed them, intending to motivate their activity and recruit more activists in eastern Jerusalem.

Some of the suspects were caught in possession of evidence linking them to offenses attributed to them, the police said.

After an evidentiary foundation has been compiled, the Jerusalem District Attorney’s Office is expected to file the first indictment against the main suspect, a city resident in his 40s.

The investigation of additional suspects continues and in the coming days, additional indictments are expected, the police stated.

“The Israel Police and Shin Bet will continue to act resolutely with the security forces against terrorist operatives who try to harm the security of the state, and against hostile elements who are in contact with terrorist organizations and who work in their ranks and on their behalf,” they stated Monday (25th).

Hamas has a headquarters in Turkey from which it directs and finances its activities in Israel and elsewhere.  Despite the recent warming of relations between Jerusalem and Ankara, Hamas continues to operate in Turkey unhindered.



Report: Abbas Creates Dictatorship In Palestinian Authority

Palestinian Authority Leader Mahmoud Abbas has implemented measures that could turn the PA into a dictatorship, according to a new report published just two weeks before the 29th anniversary of the signing of the Oslo Accords.

The report was authored by the Israeli NGO Palestinian Media Watch, which has followed developments in the PA virtually since its inception in 1994.  The report found that over the last four years, “Abbas has made decisions and implemented fundamental changes to the Palestinian political system, the overall purpose of which is to completely abolish what is left of Palestinian democracy and replace the PA’s institutions with the Palestinian Liberation Organization.”

Abbas’ first step, according to the report, was to make structural changes in the PLO that gave him increased control.  The Palestinian National Council, which is the legislative body of the PLO, has barely convened.  To ensure greater control, in 2018 Abbas ordered the PNC to transfer its authorities to the Palestinian Central Council, a much smaller body that is far easier to control.

In December 2018, Abbas dismantled the Palestinian Legislative Council, which functioned as a type of parliament after Hamas won the 2006 elections.  Abbas promised that new parliamentary elections would be held six months after its dispersal, but these were never held.

In February 2019, Abbas spearheaded another change: He abandoned the PA’s constitution as the source of the PA’s executive power and replaced it with the PLO’s constitution – so that only the PLO could control the PA

The last phase came in February 2022, When Abbas adopted a resolution ordering the PLO’s Executive Committee, which Abbas heads, to restructure the PA’s institutions.  Even before then, in the first half of 2021, Abbas canceled the PA’s presidential election, ensuring he would continue holding the position he has held since 2006 without elections.  So, in essence Abbas has been serving 16 years of a four-year-term as head of the Palestinian Authority.

“All international proposals that champion the creation of a Palestinian state emphasize that it needs to be democratic, but there is nothing left of Palestinian democracy,” said attorney Maurice Hirsch, the head of legal strategies for PMW and editor of the report.

“The term ‘Palestinian democracy’ has always been an oxymoron, but it’s gotten worse recently,” explained Hirsch.

The steps taken by Abbas need to sound the alarm in every country that helps the Palestinians financially via the PA’s institutions.  They want to believe they are granting aid to the Palestinian people, but essentially they are sustaining the PLO and solidifying Fatah’s hegemony.  If the international community doesn’t intervene and demand from Abbas that he reverse his anti-democratic measures, Fatah’s dictatorial rule over the Palestinian Authority will be strengthened even more,” Hirsch concluded.



March Marked 80 Years Since Nazi Liquidation Of Warsaw Ghetto

A march of hundreds through Warsaw on Friday (22nd) commemorated the 80th anniversary of the Nazi liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto.

The marchers walked through the area where the Jews trapped in the ghetto were deported to the Treblinka death camps in 1942, that resulted in the murder of 260,000 people, AFP reported.

Symbolic ribbons containing the names of murdered Jews were carried by the march’s participants.

This year’s march was also carried out in dedication to victims of deportations in the context of the Ukraine conflict, with Russia’s troops forcing the displacement of millions of Ukrainians since the invasion began in late February.

The Warsaw Ghetto, the largest ghetto created by the Nazis during the Holocaust, was formed in 1940 and was home to around 500,000 Jews during the Nazi occupation of Poland.

Residents of the ghetto were forced to live in a small area full of hunger and disease.  On July 22, 1942, the Nazis announced the liquidation of the ghetto, and in three months, 260,000 Jews were sent to die at Treblinka.