News Digest — 8/10/23

Palestinian Gunman Killed Near Nablus

A Palestinian gunman was killed by Israeli forces near the northern West Bank city of Nablus before dawn on Thursday (10th), Palestinian officials said.

Amir Khalifa, 27, reported by Palestinian media to be a member of an armed group in the Nablus area, and wanted by Israel, was shot during clashes with Israeli forces in the town of Zawata.

The Israel Defense forces said troops carried out “proactive activity” near Nablus and came under fire.  The soldiers returned fire and hit the gunman, the IDF said.

ATelegram account thought to be tied to the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades claimed Khalifa was a commander in the terror group’s local wing in the Ein Beit al-Ma’ camp in Nablus.

Meanwhile, on Thursday morning (10th), police revealed for publication that special forces had detained a Palestinian suspected of planning a terror attack in Israel last week.

The 21-year-old suspect was detained by members of the elite police Unit 33, also known as Gideonim, in the city of Jericho.

Violence has surged across the West Bank over the past year and a half, with a rise in Palestinian shooting attacks against Israeli citizens and troops, near-nightly arrest raids by the military, and attacks between Jewish settlers and Palestinians.

The IDF military on Thursday (10th) also confirmed reports of gunfire on Wednesday morning (9th) by Palestinians toward the Israeli town of Bat Hefer, situated close to the security barrier and the Palestinian city of Tulkarem.  No damages or injuries were caused.

Palestinian terror attacks in Israel and the West Bank have left 26 people dead and several others seriously wounded since the beginning of the year. According to a tally by The Times of Israel 169 Palestinians have also been killed during the same period – most of them gunmen clashing with security forces or carrying out attacks against Israel.



Palestinian Authority ‘Strains Ties’ In Jenin As It Reasserts Control

The Palestinian Authority is “straining ties” with Jenin as it continues its efforts to assert control over the city.  Meanwhile, Israeli officials say the true test will be whether they have the will and the ability to dismantle terror groups in the city and surrounding northern Samaria.

The PA’s efforts come one month after Operation Home and Garden, a two-day Israeli counter terror incursion into the Jenin refugee camp. 

A Palestinian source inside Jenin told the Tazpit Press Service that nearly 500 Palestinian security personnel have been deployed in the city, but none so far have entered the refugee camp.  The camp is home to about 18,000 Palestinians.

TPS has learned that Ramallah’s instructions to the security forces primarily revolve around preventing any activities by Palestinian Islamic Jihad and general support for terrorism.

A source in the Israel Defense Forces confirmed to TPS that the IDF is allowing the PA to regain control within the city and the Jenin camp.  The source emphasized that the true test of the PA’s intentions lie in Ramallah’s efforts to dismantle the armed terror groups.

Other measures the PA is taking include an amnesty for members of terror groups who turn in their weapons.  This amnesty includes economic benefits and assistance in finding jobs.  However, it isn’t clear how many Palestinians have taken advantage of the PA’s offer.

“This method worked in Nablus and led to the self-surrender of the Lions’ Den organization,” a Palestinians official in the city told TPS. 

Meanwhile the PA governor of Jenin, Akram Rajoub, told TPS, “The Palestinian Authority will not allow any manifestations of anarchy in its territories and will not allow any of the various parties to harm the government institutions.”

More than 10 members of Islamic Jihad’s Jaba Battalion have been arrested.  A Palestinian source in Jenin told TPS that these were the people who set fire to a police station to protest the Palestinian Authority’s lack of response to Israel’s operation in the camp.

The situation in Jenin remains strained with  numerous reports of Palestinian security forces arresting the relatives of terrorists as a way of pressuring them to surrender their weapons.  Detainees have included “seemingly untouchable” Palestinians who served time in Israeli prisons, relatives of “martyrs,” and senior figures in Hamas and even the PA itself.

A number of students, writers, and critics of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas have also been arrested in PA roundups.



Paraguay Poised To Return Embassy To Jerusalem

Paraguay will move its embassy back to Jerusalem, in a sign of growing support for Israel in Latin America, a Paraguayan senator said on Monday (7th).

Sen. Gustavo Leite spoke a week before Paraguayan President-elect Santiago Pena, who has pledged to move the embassy back to Israel’s capital, will be sworn into office and a month before he is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.

“The president-elect is a person of his word so you can count on it that it will be done,” Leite said in a telephone interview with JNS from the Paraguayan capital of Asuncion.  “All the things are in place for the move.”

The president-elect told Netanyahu in a congratulatory phone call in May that he plans to return the South American country’s embassy to Jerusalem immediately after his August 15 inauguration.

Paraguay previously moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in 2018, following then-President Donald Trump’s lead and became the third country to do so after the United States and Guatemala.

However, months later, a successive Paraguayan president returned the embassy to Tel Aviv, setting off a diplomatic crisis with Israel.  The surprise decision led Israel to shutter its embassy in Paraguay, citing the harm the Paraguayan move had caused to bilateral relations.

During this year’s election campaign, Pena pledged that he would return the embassy to Jerusalem.

“The State of Israel recognizes Jerusalem as its capital,” he said in March.  “The seat of the parliament is in Jerusalem, the president is in Jerusalem.  So who are we to question where they establish their own capital?”

Four countries currently have their embassies in Israel’s capital: The United States, Guatemala, Honduras and Kosovo.  With Paraguay set to move its embassy back to Jerusalem, more than half of the embassies in the city will soon be from Latin America.

The landlocked Paraguay, one of the poorest countries in South America, has a long history of friendship with Israel dating back to its vote for the creation of the Jewish state at the United Nations in 1947.

“The relationship between Paraguay and Israel is  entering a new era of unprecedented collaboration and achievements,” said Leopoldo Martinez, Latin American director at the Washington-based Israel Allies Foundation.



Australia To Resume Use Of Term ‘Occupied Palestinian Territories’

Australia’s Labor government will resume the use of the term “occupied Palestinian territories” in reference to eastern Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, reversing an unofficial policy stance that had been in place for almost 10 years.

“In adopting the term, we are clarifying that the West Bank, including eastern Jerusalem and Gaza were occupied by Israel following the 1967 war and that the occupation continues,” Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong told lawmakers on Tuesday (8th), The Guardian reported.

Australia’s top diplomat furthermore said the government would strengthen its opposition to Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, calling them “illegal under international law and an obstacle to peace.”

Sources cited by the Guardian said ministers had broadly refrained from using the term “occupied” or “occupation” since 2914, beginning under the leadership of Prime Minister Tony Abbot (2013-15), once named a top Christian ally of the Jewish state.

“The description of eastern Jerusalem as ‘occupied east Jerusalem’ is a term freighted with pejorative implications, which is neither appropriate nor useful,” then-Attorney General George Brandis said at the time.

The Palestinian Authority welcomed Tuesday’s (8th) policy shift, calling it a “significant and important development in the Australian position\,” but said Canberra should go even further and “recognize the state of Palestine swiftly, in accordance with international legitimacy.”

The Zionist Federation of Australia and the Executive Council of Australian Jewry in a joint statement slammed the move as “inaccurate, ahistorical and counterproductive.”

Canberra’s decision “effectively denies any Jewish claim to the West Bank, known by its biblical names as Judea and Samaria, and Jerusalem.  The most important Jewish holy sites of the Temple Mount and the Western Wall are in eastern Jerusalem, and there has been an unbroken Jewish presence in the West Bank for thousands of years,” the two organizations said.

In October, Prime Minister Antony Albanese’s cabinet revoked the country’s recognition of western Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, walking back language adopted by former Liberal Party Minister Scott Morrison.



Huckabee:The Land Is ‘Occupied’ By Those Who Have The Title Deed To It

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee spoke Tuesday night (8th) at the Israel Heritage Foundation – and Israel National News Conference in Jerusalem.

In his remarks, Huckabee described how his love for the State of Israel began with his first visit to the Jewish State in 1973.

“Something happened deep within me on that very first trip 50 years ago this summer.  I’d never been here before but I felt at home in a place I’d never been.  I can not describe why that is, other than that it was not political, it was not economic, it was not geographic, it was spiritual.  Because I had an understanding that this is the land that God had set aside for His people 3,800 years ago when He gave Abraham the title deed to all of Israel and said: ‘Those who bless Israel will be blessed, and those who curse Israel will be cursed,” Huckabee said.

He noted the “extraordinary similarities” between the US and Israel, saying that “both countries have been created by people who escaped the galloping terror of tyranny and wanted their families to live in freedom and to be able to worship and have liberty, which should be the right of every human being on the planet.”

“The Zionist movement brought people who had been scattered across the earth for 2,000 years back to the homeland, and over these years we have seen the dry bones come to life as the prophet promised they would, and we have seen the desert bloom,” he said.  “When people say, ‘Why do you keep coming to Israel?’ I say: ‘Because God is up to something incredible there, and I don’t want to miss it.”

“There is no explanation for Israel, nor is there an explanation for the United States, apart from the intervention of God,” the former governor stated.  “I don’t see how anyone with a semblance of intelligence can see the miracle of Israel or for that matter, the miracle of the United States, and come to any other conclusion than that this is not just man’s doing, this is God’s doing.”

Huckabee reiterated his position that Israel has the most legitimate claim to the ancient heartland of Biblical Judea and Samaria.  “When people say, ‘Well, what do you think about the occupied territory?’ I say: Oh, it’s occupied, all right, by the people who have the title deed and have an indigenous sovereign right to be in this land!  It’s occupied by the people who own it.”

“You’ll never hear me use the term ‘West Bank,’ because Judea and Samaria are not the West Bank of something, they are the land that God has given to his chosen people,” he said.

“It’s irrational to me to think that somehow, there are those who believe that if Israel just continues to give more and more land away, they will get peace, when in every single situation, without exception, when they give away land,they get less land, and they get less peace,” he declared.

Huckabee stated that “there can be no two-state solution because nobody can simply say: ‘Yes.  Even though the land is ours, and even though we have the title deed, we’re simply going to just allow people who don’t even acknowledge our existence to take a big chunk of it.’”