News Digest — 7/31/23

First Time Since Operation: IDF Arrests Two Terrorists In Jenin

The IDF operated overnight in the Jenin “refugee” camp for the first time since its major counterterrorism operation in June and arrested two wanted terrorists from the Hamas terror organization.

According to Palestinian reports, one of the terrorists arrested was Fathi A’tum, a senior member of Judea and Samaria Hamas, who previously sat in an Israeli prison.

It was further reported that heavy exchanges of gunfire were conducted until the forces left the city.

The city of Jenin in northern Samaria has increasingly become a terrorist stronghold.  On Thursday (27th), a terror cell attempted to fire a rocket at the Jewish town of Ram-On in the Gilboa Regional Council.  The rocket did not hit its target, and its remnants were found in Palestinian Authority-controlled territory in Samaria.

In June, the IDF operated three days to combat terrorism in the city of Jenin.



Thousands Of Recruits From All Over The World Join IDF Combat Units This Summer

The main recruitment for the IDF’s combat units, during which thousands of young men and women will join the ranks and begin their basic training, began in July and will continue until September.

Of the new recruits, 57.6% are men, while 42.4% of the new combat soldiers will be women.

Not all of the new recruits are 18-year-old recent high school graduates.  While the average of the recruits is 18.9 years, the ages vary from the youngest recruit who is 17 years and 7 months old, to the oldest who is 30 years and 10 months old.

Almost 500 of the new soldiers are recent immigrants (olim hadashim).  478 soldiers are olim, 313 of them men, and 165 are women.

Russia is the country of origin of the most immigrant soldiers. 

471 are lone soldiers, who came to Israel to serve in the IDF and do not have family in the country.

The IDF also announced that starting on July 30, the combat intelligence corps will receive red combat boots, a new pin, and a spotted camouflage beret.

The new pin was specially designed after years when the corps had no military pin.  The new beret will replace the desert-colored beret.

The change is being made out of a desire to increase military pride based on a cohesive identity while also strengthening the ties between the formations within the corps, according to the IDF.



Netanyahu, Security Chiefs Meet As Hezbollah Violates Border

While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was meeting with defense officials on Sunday (30th), including regarding the defense situation in the North, Hezbollah operatives were recording themselves violating the border and waving the terrorist organization’s flag.

Videos posted to social media showed several Hezbollah operatives crossing a UNIFIL boundary that identifies the border between the northern part of Ghajar, considered part of Lebanon, and the southern part of the village, considered part of Israel.  In the video, they can be seen waving flags and jumping up and down.  Hezbollah confirmed that “a group of youths” marched through the area to protest Israel’s holding on to southern Ghajar.

Ghajar was split by the UN in May 2000 when Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon.  In recent months, Hezbollah has increased a variety of activities challenging Israeli sovereignty in a dozen minor border disputes..

Netanyahu’s meeting included IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Herzi Halevi, Mossad Director David Barnea, Shin Bet Director Ronen Bar, Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer, National Security Council Chief Tzachi Hanegbi, IDF Intelligence Chief Maj.-Gen. Aharon Haliva, and other senior officials.

Over the weekend, Hezbollah Chief Hassan Nasrallah made his second threatening speech in the last few weeks.  The looming question is whether Jerusalem will decide to use force to remove a small Hezbollah outpost in the Mount Dov area.

Israel says that the Hezbollah outpost of under 10 operatives, set up months ago but only exposed by the media a month or so after it was established, is a few meters into Israeli territory and so does not pose any danger.

The IDF and the government decided to go the diplomatic route for the past several months to persuade Hezbollah to withdraw, though the terrorist group has made it clear it will not do so.

Saturday morning (29th), Nasrallah said the entire Middle East will not rest until the “cancerous gland” that is Israel, is removed.  He further warned that Palestinians today “believe more than ever in the resistance.”  He also reaffirmed that Hezbollah “stands by the Palestinians.”

Earlier this month, IDF soldiers used warning shots and crowd dispersal methods to remove at least 20 Lebanese citizens who crossed about 130 feet into Israeli territory in the isolated Mount Dov region.  Prior to that, the IDF struck sites in Lebanon after an anti-tank missile was fired from Lebanon toward Ghajar.



Palestinian Factions Fail To Reach Agreement On National Unity

A meeting of leaders of several Palestinian factions ended on Sunday (30th) in Egypt without agreement on achieving “national unity.”

The conference, which lasted for four hours, ended without a joint communique by the participants, a move reflecting the failure of the factions to reach an agreement on the formation of a Palestinian unity government and ending the feud between Palestinian Authority  Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ ruling Fatah faction and Hamas.

“We can’t solve all our differences in one day,” said a PA official.  That’s why there wasn’t a joint statement.  There will be more meetings in the near future.

Instead of a joint communique, Abbas read out a statement at the end of the meeting in which he called for the formation of a committee that would “continue dialogue [between the factions] to achieve national unity.”

Earlier this month, Abbas invited the leaders of all Palestinian factions to a conference in Egypt to discuss ways of achieving national unity and ending the split between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.  The invitation was issued during an emergency meeting of the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah to discuss the recent Israeli military operation in the Jenin refugee camp.

Abbas was hoping to use the conference to persuade Hamas and other Palestinian factions to join a unity government, according to Palestinian officials.  But the gap between the positions of Fatah and Hamas was mirrored in the speeches delivered at Sunday’s (30th) conference by Abbas and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh.

While Abbas called for endorsing a “peaceful popular resistance” against Israel, Haniyeh insisted that his group supports a comprehensive resistance” that would also include armed struggle.

Addressing the conference, Abbas said: “We have practiced different forms of struggle at different stages, and we see today that peaceful popular resistance, at this stage, is the best way to continue our struggle and achieve our national goals.  Our choice of this method of national struggle is not a random choice, but rather a thoughtful one based on historical data and experiences.”

Abbas urged the faction leaders to agree on this form of resistance to confront the aggression of the occupiers.  In an indirect criticism of Hamas, Abbas denounced the “coup” the Islamist movement staged in taking over the Gaza Strip from the PA in 2007 as a “catastrophe.”  

“The coup that took place in 2007, and the abhorrent division it inflicted on us, our cause, and our people, is a new catastrophe, and it must be ended immediately and without any hesitation or delay,” Abbas said.  “We must work to end the division and restore matters to their proper place, within the framework of one state, one system, one law, one legitimate weapon, and one government.”

The PA Chairman repeated his demand that Hamas and other Palestinian factions recognize the PLO as the sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, and adhere to the organization’s political programs and all its international obligations.



Rallies In Gaza Denounce Hamas Terrorist Rulers

Palestinian Arabs throughout the Gaza Strip held a number of rallies denouncing the Hamas terrorist group ruling over the coastal enclave and demanding improvements to their quality of life, i24NEWs reported on Sunday (30th).

The long-brewing discontent among Gazans living under the yoke of the  Islamist terrorist group was magnified in recent weeks by power shortages that left residents with only a few hours of electricity a day, the report said.

“Where is the electricity and where is the gas?” the protesters chanted in one town, repeating the refrain of “for shame, for shame.”

Footage showed protesters torching Hamas flags and denouncing Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas Chief Ismail Haniyeh.

The tensions  in the Hamas-ruled territory also came amid efforts to effect a reconciliation between the Hamas terrorist group and Abbas’ Fatah faction, in Cairo, Egypt on Sunday (30th).  



Netanyahu Announces $27B Railway Plan That Will Link Israel To Saudi Arabia

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday (30th) announced a $27 billion plan to link the northern city of Kiryat Shmona to the southern city of Eilat by a high-speed rail that would eventually link to Saudi Arabia.

“My vision is for every Israeli citizen to be able to travel to or from the center from anywhere in the country in less than two hours,” said Netanyahu.  “In most cases under an hour, and even less than that.”

The rail line “will also be able to link Israel by train to Saudi Arabia and the Arabian peninsula – we’re working on that too.”

According to the Israeli leader, the periphery has “disappeared.”

“We are linking Israel in one bloc with extraordinary possibilities for the citizens of Israel, who will no longer need to live with their parents at crazy rental prices,” he said.

The rail line, which will stretch 250 miles, will also include a bullet train segment through the Negev Desert.

“Ben Gurion said go down to the Negev,” said Netanyahu.  “We are bringing the infrastructure to the Negev.  Without the infrastructure in place, it is a giant but empty vision.”

Netanyahu made his remarks in the wake of a visit by top Biden officials to Jeddah and comments by Biden that a normalization deal between  Israel and Saudi Arabia “may be under way.”



India: Attack On Jewish Chabad House In Mumbai Averted

Following the seizure of photos of the local Chabad House from arrested terrorist suspects carrying explosives, Mumbai police enhanced security measures for the Jewish community center.  The suspects were allegedly surveilling  the Jewish center in the Colaba neighborhood in Mumbai, India.

Six Jews were killed, including the couple that ran the Chabad House in 2008, when 10 members of Lashkar-e-Taiba, an Islamist organization from Pakistan, carried out 12 coordinated shooting and bombing attacks lasting four days across Mumbai.  Subsequently, Indian police have maintained 24/7 security at the location.

As reported in the Indian media, the Maharashtra Anti-Terriorism Squad (ATS) apprehended the two suspects, during a recent night patrolling operation.  It is suspected that the duo was also plotting a terror attack in Rajasthan.

After discovering two saved photos of the Chabad House on Google, the ATS alerted the Mumbai police, prompting an increase in security and a reinforcement of policemen at the center.  A security exercise was conducted in the area.

Rabbi YIsroel Kozlovsky, the Chabad emissary in Mumbai acknowledged the heightened security measures, and emphasized their continuous vigilance throughout the year.  He said that local security levels are adjusted based on alerts, but he did not have detailed information about the recent arrests.