News Digest — 7/28/22

After Delay, Israeli Delegation In Moscow Amid Jewish Agency Dispute

An Israeli delegation headed to Russia on Wednesday (27th) on Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s orders in hopes of halting a Russian order to shutter the operations of the Jewish Agency in the country.

The delegation was originally scheduled to travel to Moscow Sunday (24th) but was delayed waiting for the members’ visas to be approved by the Russian authorities.

Russia has alleged that the Jewish Agency, a non-profit organization that works to encourage aliyah, has breached privacy laws by collecting personal information of people who are interested in immigrating to Israel.  Authorities are expected to present more details in a Russian court on Thursday (28th).

The case has stirred worries in Israel about a crisis with Russia, which is home to a large Jewish community and wields clout in next-door Syria. 

“In coordination with the authorities in Russia, the Israeli delegation left for Moscow Wednesday evening (27th) and will hold meetings with the relevant parties in the Russian system,” a statement from Lapid’s office said.

Some 600,000 Russians are eligible to immigrate to Israel.  Officials have said there has been a rise in applications since the dispute arose over the Jewish Agency, as well as a spike since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Lapid has said the closing of the Jewish Agency’s offices in Russia would be “grave, with ramifications for relations” between Jerusalem and Moscow.

Relations between the two countries have become strained in recent months after Israel condemned the Ukraine war and summoned the Russian ambassador over comments made by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov about Adolf Hitler.



Jordanian King Asks Lapid To Allow Koran On Temple Mount

Jordanian King Abdullah II asked Prime Minister Yair Lapid to allow Jordan to bring a Koran onto the Temple Mount during a meeting between the two leaders Wednesday (27th), Kan News reported.

This Jordanian request has been made by the King in almost every meeting he has held with an Israeli official.  This was also the case in his meetings with President Isaac Herzog and with the previous Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett.

Prime Minister Lapid met with the Jordanian monarch at his palace in Amman at the king’s invitation.

The meeting was warm and lengthy, and included a lunch shared by King Abdullah, Lapid, and the delegations.

At the meeting, the two leaders spoke about the many opportunities for additions to the peace agreement, as well as how to improve the years-long relationship between the two nations and strengthen mutual interests.

The leaders emphasized in their meeting the importance of a personal, close, and mutually appreciative relationship between themselves, as an important support for the preservation of real achievements for both nations and the entire region.

Also in the meeting, the two discussed US President Joe Biden’s visit to the Middle East, and the opportunities and options that the visit brought, including issues connected to the architecture of the region.  



IDF: Hamas Rehabilitating Network Of Terror Tunnels In Gaza

The IDF exposed a vast network of tunnels, essentially an underground city, dug by the Hamas terror organization under crucial civilian infrastructure, while warning that these buildings are at risk if the terror organization attacks Israel.

Hamas’ use of civilian settings for its weapons warehouses and training bases has been known for over a decade, as well as its use of human shields, in contravention of all international conventions.  What the IDF revealed on Wednesday (27th) are underground networks that were built within the various neighborhoods in the Strip.  The tunnels pass under buildings necessary for civilian life, with Hamas knowing that Israel’s attacks on these military targets would be very problematic.

If the tunnels collapse, hospitals, mosques, universities and factories will also collapse with them, the IDF warned.

A recent example is the underground terror tunnel dug by Hamas in the Tufah neighborhood in Gaza City.  The tunnel is used for the storage of explosives and for the movement of Hamas terrorists, and is located near the “Pepsi” factory operating under a franchise, and the UNRWA-run “Draaj” elementary school, which is used in times of emergency as a declared shelter for 2,500 people.

Also, a weapons cache and the entrance to a terrorist tunnel shaft were located in the homes of two of the organization’s operatives.  The first is Mahmoud Salah Muhammad Abu Ali, an operative in Hamas’ production system, who has a weapons storage facility on the roof of his house.  The IDF noted that it’s not just his house that he is endangering–the house is surrounded by other residences and is located next to the UNRA clinic, which is across the road and provides medical care to about 15,000 people.

The second activist is Amer Awni Muhaisen, a Hamas commander in charge of training in the Al-Shujaiya Brigade, whose house has an entrance to a terror tunnel shaft dug 197 feet away from a school with about 20 classes and which is used as a shelter for refugees during an emergency, and 98 feet away from a mosque.

Another tunnel passes near the main ambulance center in Gaza, which includes 14 ambulances.

“The locations where these infrastructures  were discovered present a difficult and sad picture, where exploitation and inhumanity would be a problem in any course of action,” the IDF stated.  “The enemy will be hiding under the noses of innocent people in the next war, thus putting them, against their will, at the front of the next campaign.”

The Israeli military shared that the commanders from all the IDF units in the sector are faced with significant dilemmas because of the complex situation.

“The commanders operate with the knowledge that if they do not act – those places will be used for terrorism.  This is how the surgical and pinpoint strikes that the IDF is known for were created,” the IDF explained.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz toured Israel’s southern border on Wednesday (27th) and visited the IDF’s Gaza Division.  He stated that the IDF has “revealed examples that show how Hamas endangers Palestinian civilians.  Hamas launches attacks from within population centers towards population centers.”

“The whole world must see this crime against humanity.  Israel will operate with precision and force against terror targets, and defend the citizens of the State of Israel,” he said.



Father Of Israeli Held Captive By Hamas Pleads To UN Security Council For Son’s Freedom

Sha’aban al-Said called on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on Tuesday (26th) to rescue his son Hisham, held captive by Hamas in the Gaza Strip since 2015.

“I am pleading with you to get involved and exert effort and place pressure on Hamas and the Palestinian Authority to free my son as soon as possible, and not to use him as a card against Israel,” al-Said said in a video message played by Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan.

Addressing the 15-member council after playing the brief message, Erdan said, “Here is a father of a son with special needs that is begging this council–begging you–to take action.  Hamas is using his boy as a sick bargaining chip and the world remains silent.  I hope we all internalize his words.”

On June 27, Hamas announced that the health of Hisham al-Said had deteriorated and released footage of him hooked up to a respirator.

Al-Said, who is from a Bedouin community in Israel, crossed into the Hamas-ruled enclave of Gaza of his own accord seven years ago.

He is one of two Israeli civilians held captive by Hamas.  The other, Avera Mengistu, also crossed in voluntarily, in 2014.  Mengistu also reportedly suffers from mental health issues.

Hamas is also holding the remains of Israel soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, who were killed in combat during “Operation Protective Edge” in 2014.

In response to the video last month, the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office released a statement saying, “Hamas has proven yet again that it is a cynical and criminal terrorist organization, which holds menatlly ill civilians in violation of all international conventions and laws, as well as the bodies of fallen IDF soldiers.  Hamas is responsible for the state of the captured civilians.”

Then-Israeli premier Naftali Bennett added that “the State of Israel will continue its efforts, mediated by Egypt, to bring home the captives and the missing, with responsibility and determination.”



Boise Rocked By 6th Antisemitic Incident In Last 9 Months

Boise, Idaho has experienced a troubling string of antisemitic incidents over the last nine months, with the latest occurring over the weekend.

According to the Idaho Statesman, there have been at least six incidents in Idaho, with three serious incidents between November and February. 

In the most recent case, Police said that swastikas were spray-painted in northwest Boise over the weekend.  They were discovered on a bike lane, Boise police said on Tuesday (26th) in an Instagram post.  Officers painted over the hate symbols in coordination with the highway district.

“We appreciated the community reaching out to us about these hateful acts of vandalism and we take these matters very seriously, not just for the crime but for the fear it creates,” Boise police said in a post.

“The Boise Police department is committed to making this a safe city and a city for everyone,” they added.

“This latest incident is under investigation,” police said.