News Digest — 7/5/23

IDF Strikes Gaza After Sderot Rocket Fire Following Jenin Operation

The IDF struck the Gaza Strip early Wednesday morning (5th) after five rockets were fired from the Strip toward the Sderot area in southern Israel on Tuesday night (4th), just hours after the IDF withdrew its forces from Jenin.

All five rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome.  A house in Sderot was hit by shrapnel from one of the rockets, according to the Sderot Municipality.  No injuries were reported.

A site in the northern Gaza Strip near Beit Lahia and a site west of Gaza City were hit by IAF airstrikes, according to Palestinian reports.  The IDF stated that it struck an underground facility used by Hamas’ chemical division to manufacture weapons, as well as a Hamas site for the manufacture of raw materials for rockets.

“This attack constitutes an injury to the ability of the terrorist organization Hamas to strengthen and arm itself,” said the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit.  “The terrorist organization Hamas bears the responsibility for what is happening in the Gaza Strip and is the one who will pay for the security violations against the State of Israel.”

The rocket fire is the first from Gaza since Operation Shield and Arrow in May and came shortly after Israeli forces exited Jenin after a nearly two-daylong operation in the West Bank city.

At least 12 Palestinians were killed and dozens of others were injured in the Israeli operation in Jenin, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.  An Israeli soldier was killed amid clashes during the operation as well.

After the Israeli forces withdrew from Jenin on Tuesday night (4th), Ismail Haniyeh, the head of Hamas’ political bureau, stated that “all options for supporting Jenin and its heroes were on the table” during the operation.  

“We have sent clear messages to the enemy through all parties that the resistance in all arenas is not far from what is happening, and the enemy must stop its aggression immediately,” added Haniyeh.  “We say to the enemy that the time has passed when you practice your aggression against our people without paying the price, and Jenin is today teaching you a lesson in resistance and steadfastness.”



St. Sgt. David Yehuda Yitzhak: IDF Soldier Killed In Jenin

IDF soldier St. Sgt. David Yehuda Yitzhak was killed by gunfire amid clashes in Jenin on Tuesday evening (4th), according to the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit.

Yitzhak, 23, was a resident of the Beit El settlement in the West Bank’s Binyamin region.

“On behalf of all the citizens of Israel, my wife Sara and I send our condolences from the bottom of our hearts to the family of the IDF soldier, St.-Sgt.David Yehuda Yitzhak, who was killed in the IDF operation in Jenin,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

“My heart and thoughts are with the family of the late St.-Sgt. David Yehuda Yitzhak,” Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said in a statement, adding that he recognizes and appreciates “the commanders and troops of the IDF and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) for their exemplary performance” in the operation to destroy terrorist infrastructure in Jenin.

The head of the Beit El local council, Shay Alon, issued a statement eulogizing Yitzhak.

“The residents of Beit El mourn the death of David Yehuda Yitzhak during operational activity in Jenin,” he said.

“David was raised in Beit El and was a respected non-commissioned officer in the elite Egoz commando unit,” said Gush Etzion Regional Council and Yesha Council head Shlomo Ne’eman.  “We share in the tremendous grief and send a warm embrace to his family, community and residents of Beit El.

Meanwhile, hundreds of Palestinians, chanting Allahu Akbar (God is the greatest), took to the streets of the city of Jenin and its “refugee” camp late Tuesday (4th) to celebrate after Israeli security forces completed their withdrawal from the area.

Flashing V-for-Victory signs with their hands, the Palestinians also chanted slogans in support of the local armed groups, specifically the Jenin Battalion, a militia said to be directed and funded by the Iranian-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).  Most of the commanders of the Jenin Battalion had fled Jenin shortly before the start of the large-scale Israeli security operation.

“We swear to God to protect the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque and the soil of the camp,” some of the young men chanted, pledging to “follow in the path of the martyrs.”



Netanyahu: Tel Aviv Attack Won’t Stop Us From Fighting Terrorism

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the terrorist ramming and stabbing in Tel Aviv on Tuesday evening (4th).

“Today a criminal attack took place in Tel Aviv that was stopped due to the intervention of an armed citizen.  Without this intervention it is possible that this attack would have claimed many lives.  I wish the injured a speedy recovery,” Netanyahu said during a visit to a military post near Jenin.

“Whoever thinks that such an attack will deter us from continuing our fight against terrorism is wrong.  He simply does not know the spirit of the State of Israel, does not know our government, our citizens and our soldiers,” he added.

“I congratulate our brave soldiers who destroyed much terrorist infrastructure in Jenin and thus prevented many attacks.  At this time we are completing the task, and I can say that our extensive operation in Jenin is not a one-time event.”

Netanyahu added that, “we will continue as long as necessary to stamp out terrorism – we will not allow Jenin to continue as a sanctuary for terrorism – and we will stamp out terrorism wherever we see it and destroy it.”

At least nine people were injured in Tuesday’s (4th) ramming and stabbing attack in Tel Aviv, five seriously, by  a Palestinian Authority resident who had a medical permit to enter Israel.  He was shot and killed by a civilian at the scene.

Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.



Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: My Fourth Of July

In an exclusive Fourth of July column, Prime Minister Netanyahu reflects on July 4, 1976 – the day Israeli forces, including his brother Yoni, landed in Entebbe and liberated 103 hostages:

The days leading up to July 4, 1976, were filled with anticipation.  For me and my fellow Israeli students in Boston, the American Bicentennial celebrated the birth of liberty in the modern world,  Tall ships sailed into Boston Harbor,  Families were planning their long weekends. Picnics abounded.

It would have been a glorious day for me and the other Israeli students at MIT, too, but it was marred by the news we had received earlier in the week of the hijacking of an Air France plane.

Then on the morning of July 4, breaking news swept the entire world.  On the day America celebrated its bicentennial, Israeli commandos carried out one of the most daring rescues in modern times.  An Israeli force had landed in Entebbe, liberated 103 hostages and flew them back to Israel.  The report added that “one officer was killed.”  My elation over the rescue was abruptly cut short.  Why did they say officer?  Normally they would say “soldier.”

My older brother, Yoni, who was born in New York shortly before Israel’s independence, made the ultimate sacrifice leading the rescue force in a mission that became known as “Operation Jonathan.”  His courage and that of his comrades marked the ultimate commitment to freedom.

The rescue of hostages, targeted simply because they were Jews, epitomized the deepest meaning of the rebirth of the Jewish state.  Occurring on the Fourth of July, this historic mission also underscored the deep bond between America and Israel.

The rise of America ensured the rise of freedom in our world.  Time and again, the United States defeated the forces of totalitarianism and terror.  In this and many other ways, Israel has no better ally than the United States, and the United States has no better ally than Israel.

Happy Birthday America.  May God bless our unbreakable bond.   


‘This Is Terrorism:’ Galilee Business Owners Decry Arab Extortion Rackets

Small business owners in Israel’s northern Galilee region spoke out about a widespread atmosphere of fear in the area as Arab organized crime gangs force proprietors to pay thousands of shekels in so-called “protection fees” or risk seeing their businesses torched.

The owner of a newly opened bed-and-breakfast in the city of Tzfat, who spoke to Ynet anonymously due to the threats against his family, said he had received a threatening WhatsApp message from an extortioner.

They demanded a large sum of money, stating that the man and his children would be killed should he refuse to pay.

“No one can help you, and if you ignore us, you’ll pay for it.  You are in our crosshairs.  If you talk to anyone, you and your daughters are gone.  You have a debt of $108,000,” the message read.

The victim told Ynet that business owners are “going through a horrible time here” and equated the extortion rackets with terrorism.

“They are really terrorizing us, killing our souls.  It’s a death sentence,” he said.

“I can’t leave the house after ten at night because of this problem – my wife and kids are afraid to be at home alone.”

Several weeks ago, National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir pledged to protect business owners and crack down on extortion, ordering a raid on a Bedouin town that is home to some of the organized crime rackets.

A new law proposed by Ben-Gvir, which will set a mandatory minimum term of three years in prison for people found guilty of attempting to extort small businesses, will be presented in the Knesset on Wednesday (5th) for a first reading.

Last month, Israeli police filed an indictment against two brothers from an organized crime gang who burned down a small hotel and torched cars in a privately-owned parking lot that had refused to pay extortion money.

But the owner of the bed-and-breakfast doesn’t feel like authorities are doing enough to combat the phenomenon.

He said to Ynet that “he contacted the police but they did little to help, so the criminals feel they’re invincible, that they can do whatever they please.  And business owners like us feel there is no one to help.”



Israel’s UN Envoy: Israeli West Bank Communities Are Not An Impediment To Peace – Daniel Edelson

• Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan told the UN Security Council on June 27 that building permits in Israeli West Bank communities are “not an impediment to peace.”  He emphasized that home construction in existing communities is “not an inflammatory step,”

• “Judea and Samaria is the heartland of the Jewish people.  We are called ‘Jews’ because we are from Judea.  It was the home of our forefathers.  It is an integral part of our heritage and who we are.  Despite it constantly being referred to here as the ‘occupied Palestinian territories,’ the land has never been the sovereign territory of any Palestinian entity.  The Jewish people can’t be occupiers in our homeland.”

• Erdan stated that Israeli communities constitute “less than two percent of the entire area….Israelis living in Judea and Samaria are human beings who deserve basic needs such as infrastructure and housing.  The building there will not stop.”

• “Did you expect us to simply surrender to all Palestinian demands?  To turn the hills of Judea and Samaria  into terror rocket launch pads overlooking Israeli cities, just like what happened in Gaza?”

• “Palestinian terror attacks have been relentless regardless of Israel’s various governments.  Right-wing, left-wing, centrist – it makes no difference to the Palestinians.  Palestinian incitement persists and, as a result, Palestinian terror persists.”

• “The narrative of a ‘cycle of violence’ is completely false.  There is no such thing.  Terrorists are murdering Israelis as a result of poisonous Palestinian incitement, and Israel is taking actions to defend itself.  There is no ‘cycle.’ ”