News Digest — 7/7/22

Report: Syrian Militant Killed In Alleged Israeli Drone Strike In Quneitra

A Syrian militant working with the Syrian Army was killed in an alleged Israeli drone strike in Quneitra in southwestern Syria on Wednesday (6th), according to Syrian state news agency SANA.

The strike reportedly targeted a location west of Hadar, near the Israeli border and the city of Majdal Shams.  Initial reports by Syrian media indicated that the militant killed was identified as Farid Fouad Mustafa.

Nour Abo Hasan, a journalist from the Syrian Golan reported that Mustafa was active with Hezbollah’s Southern Command and worked under senior Hezbollah official Hajj Hashem.

The IDF has reportedly targeted Quneitra multiple times in recent months as part of efforts to combat Hezbollah’s “Golan File,” which aims to develop and entrench forces along the border with the Golan Heights in Syria in order to attack Israel.

In June, Israeli tanks targeted positions belonging to the Syrian military near El Malgah in the Quneitra region, according to Syrian reports.  After the alleged tank strike, Israeli aircraft dropped leaflets warning that Israel would not tolerate any presence of the Syrian military in the demilitarized zone, according to the opposition-affiliated  Radio Houran.

On Saturday (2nd) an alleged Israeli air strike targeted air-defense batteries belonging to Iran, near the coastal city of Tartus, according to opposition-affiliated media reports.



Terrorist From Givat Shmuel Attack Arrested

The Shin Bet announced on Wednesday (6th) it arrested a Palestinian suspected of stabbing an Israeli man in Givat Shmuel.

The suspect, whose name was not released, is a 33-year-old resident of the town of Einabus near Shechem (Nablus) who held a permit to work in Israel.  The suspect was caught in Petah Tikva.

The victim, Yitzhak Dahan was stabbed in the head during the Tuesday morning (5th) attack while crossing a pedestrian bridge connecting the Tel Aviv suburbs of Bnei Brak and Givat Shmuel.

The police launched an extensive manhunt in Bnei Brak to which the terrorist was believed to have escaped.  He was arrested a little more than 24 hours after the attack.

Yaakov Wieder, a member of the Bnei Brak City Council warned after the arrest that “every day, hundreds of Arabs stay in Bnei Brak illegally, including on Wednesday morning (6th).” 

“Despite all the warnings about the great danger to human life, to this day, despite the murderous attack in the city several months ago and the attack this week, almost nothing has been done to thoroughly eradicate the severe phenomenon,” he stated.

On March 29, a terrorist from Samaria shot and killed five people in the city of Bnei Brak.

“If the security forces do not address this phenomenon, we will.  The lives of the residents of Bnei Brak, will not be left unprotected,” Wieder added.



Erdan: ‘UN Must Take Action Over Hezbollah Posts Along Israel-Lebanon Border’

On Tuesday (5th), Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan sent an urgent letter to the Security Council and the UN Secretary General demanding immediate action against Hezbollah positions recently established near the northern border of Israel that serve as cover for terrorist activities.  Hezbollah has placed transport containers along the border that are used by the fabricated environmental organization “Green Without Borders” for the purpose of monitoring Israel Defense Forces soldiers and Israeli life in the area.  With the assistance of the IDF, a number of photos were attached to the letter, proving the presence of the transportation containers in the area, a short distance from the Blue Line, and the surveillance activities of terrorist operatives.

The letter was sent as Hezbollah continues to intensify its terrorist activity on the northern border in the area under the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFL) mandate, which violates Security Council Resolution 1701, adopted after the Second Lebanon War.

In the letter, Ambassador Erdan wrote, “Under the guise of the so-called ‘Green Without Borders’ environmental organization, Hezbollah is expanding its terror footprints on a daily basis, just mere meters from Israel’s northern border, and from within UNIFIL’s area of operations… Hezbollah’s aforementioned military infrastructures serve as observation posts used to track both Israeli troop movements and Israeli civilian life on the other side of the Blue Line.  Beyond being employed for reconnaissance efforts, these outposts may serve Hezbollah in other ways, such as serving as arms depots; to conceal the construction or existence of attack tunnel entrances; as troop rally points and more.  These are military outposts for all intents and purposes, established and maintained by Hezbollah terrorists, and not innocent Lebanese environmentalists.”

Ambassador Erdan also wrote, “Israel continues to stress that the responsibility for Hezbollah’s expansion lies squarely on the shoulders of the Lebanese authorities, and expects the Lebanese government to take immediate action to curb Hezbollah’s advancements and military buildup.” 



Abbas, Haniyeh Meet For First Time In 6 Years In Algeria

Palestinian Authority (PA) Leader Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday (5th) met with Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh in Algeria, the first such meeting between the two in six years.

The two were visiting Algeria to celebrate the Northern African nation’s 60th Independence Day.  Their meeting was arranged at the behest of Algerian President Abdelmajid Tebboune, Israel media reported.

Haaretz cited Palestinian Authority sources as saying that the aim of the meeting was to advance a unity government including both Abbas’ Fatah party and its rival Hamas.  The factions hope that the effort will pave the way for general elections in the Palestinian Authority, the report said.

Because of Fatah-Hamas disagreements, Palestinians have not held a national election since 2005.  Abbas is currently in the 17th year of a four-year term as president.

Multiple attempts at reconciling the factions have occurred over the years, with Egypt serving as mediator, but all have proved fruitless.

Abbas called legislative elections for May 2021 but canceled at the last minute, with the excuse that Israel was not allowing Arab residents of eastern Jerusalem to vote.  Polls at the time, and since then, have shown that Hamas would likely beat Fatah if elections were held.

Palestinians were outraged that the aging leader scrapped the elections, and several high profile activists began a campaign demanding a chance to vote.  Protests against the government in Ramallah ensued in the month following the cancellation, culminating in the death of anti-Abbas activist Nizar Banat who was beaten to death while in PA custody.

A poll conducted last month of Palestinians in Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip showed that while public support for Hamas had edged ahead of Fatah, both groups had declined in popularity. 

It found that 45% of respondents believed Hamas should lead the Palestinians, while only 19% said Fatah should.  80% of Palestinians called on Abbas to resign.

It was deemed the “worst polling ever seen for Abbas,” according to the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, which carried out the survey.



Earliest Depictions Of Biblical Deborah, Yael Unearthed In Ancient Synagogue

A team of archeologists have unearthed nearly 1,600-year-old mosaics in an ancient Jewish synagogue at Huqoq in Israel’s Lower Galilee, in the first known depictions of the biblical heroines Deborah and Yael as described in the Book of Judges.

The team of specialists and students who discovered the findings were led by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill religious studies professor, Jodi Magness, who has been excavating in the area for a decade, save a hiatus during the coronavirus pandemic.

The floor of the synagogue, which was built in the late fourth-early fifth century C.E., is decorated with a large mosaic panel that is divided into three parts called registers.  Each one depicts the victory of the Israelite troops, led by the prophetess and Judge Deborah and the military commander Barak, over the Canaanite army led by the general Sisera.

In the Book of Judges, Barak told Deborah he would only go to battle if she joined him.  Deborah prophesied that the person to defeat Sisera would be a woman.  Sisera took refuge in the tent of a Canaanite woman named Yael, who killed him by driving a tent peg through his temple while he slept.

“This is the first depiction of this episode and the first time we’ve seen a depiction of the biblical heroines Deborah and Yael in ancient Jewish art,” Magness said.  “Looking at the Book of Joshua chapter 19, we can see how the story might have had special resonance for the Jewish community at Huqoq, as it is described as taking place in the same geographical region – the territory of the tribes of Naphtali and Zebulon.”

The first register of the mosaic shows Deborah looking at Barak.  In the middle one, of which only a small section is preserved, Sisera is seated.  The last register shows Sisera lying dead on the ground, bleeding from the head.

The team has unearthed dozens of mosaics at the site since 2012, including depictions from the Book of Daniel, images of the Israelite spies, and of Jonah and the whale.