News Digest — 8/14/23

Gallant To New Recruits: I Will Not Let Any Harm Be Done To The IDF

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant vowed to not “lend his hand” to any harm caused to the Israeli military in a visit to Tel Hashomer, where the IDF induction center is based, on Sunday afternoon (13th).

Gallant held conversations with new recruits to the Kfir and Nahal infantry brigades, issuing reassurances regarding the IDF’s continued role as the “place that unifies us the most.”

Gallant stressed that he is “not ignoring the issue,” referring to the government’s judicial reform, which drove many reservists to announce a halt to their service in protest.  “Together with the Chief of Staff, I am working every day to find a way to unite everyone and maintain harmony and preparedness” of the Israeli military.

The defense minister further called on the new recruits to be cognisant of the “insurmountable responsibility” resting on their shoulders.  ”Resilience is not just personal fitness but also national resilience that is directly correlated with your willingness to serve, work together and volunteer time and time again.”

“I will never lend my hand to any harm being caused to the IDF, which is Israel’s protective shield, and our service is vital to our continued existence.”

During his visit, the defense minister also received a briefing on recent military draft statistics, and toured the different stations along the IDF’s chain of induction.  Gallant also handed some new recruits their new military gear, as part of his visit.

“Based on all the statistics presented to me, I am happy that the social tensions have not had an effect on draft numbers,” Gallant said.  “When it comes to the moment of truth, everyone understands the importance of service.”

“I will never lend my hand to any harm being caused to the IDF,” he repeated.

Gallant also praised OC Manpower Directorate’s Meitav division and Col. Alon Mazliach for retaining a high recruitment rate in combat units, as well as improving draftees’ conditions during the recruitment process.

The defense minister’s visit comes amid a recent push by the Israeli military to reach out to new recruits.  IDF Manpower Directorate chief Maj. Gen. Yaniv Asur tried to paint the most positive picture possible of recruitment during a visit to Tel Hashomer earlier in August..



Netanyahu To resume Foreign Travel In September After Health Pause

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s international travel will pick up again in September, following a pause after he had a pacemaker implanted last month, sources in his office told The Times of Israel on Sunday (13th).

Netanyahu will head to Cyprus on September 3, after his planned July 25 trip was pushed back in the wake of his surgery, undergone two days earlier.  Netanyahu will hold a delayed tripartite summit with Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides and Greek Prime Minister  Kyriakos Mitsotakis then, said the Prime Minister’s Office.

The prime minister also delayed a trip to Turkey originally scheduled for the same week.  New dates have not been finalized for that trip.

Netanyahu will fly in mid-September to New York to address the United Nations General Assembly.  He could meet with President Biden during that trip, either at the White House or on the sidelines of the UN gathering.

The prime minister will also make his first trip to the United Arab Emirates at the end of November for the COP28 climate summit in Dubai along with dozens of other foreign leaders.  Netanyahu had sought to make the UAE his first foreign destination upon returning to the premiership, but the UAE canceled amid anger over a then-visit paid by National Security Minister Ben Gvir to the Temple Mount.

Netanyahu has not flown since his July surgery, and is waiting the 30 days recommended by his doctors after having the pacemaker inserted.

He will also use, for the first time, The Wings of Zion, Israel’s version of Air Force One, on one of the trips, likely to the UAE.

“The plane is slated to take its first flight at the end of October or early November,” said a source with knowledge of the project’s details.  “It’s in its final stages in terms of operational competence of the entire support network.”



Israel Rules Out Jerusalem Base For Saudi Envoy To Palestinians

Israel ruled out on Sunday (13th) a diplomatic base in Jerusalem for the new Saudi envoy to the Palestinians, whose appointment comes as Washington tries to forge Israeli relations with Riyadh.

Saudi  Ambassador to Jordan Nayef Al-Sudairi on Saturday (12th) expanded his credentials to include a non-resident envoy to the Palestinians. A social media post by his embassy in Amman said “consul-general in Jerusalem” was now among Al-Sudairi’s duties.

Israel deems Jerusalem its own capital, a status recognized by the United States under then-President Donald Trump in 2017 but not by other world powers.  Israeli authorities bar Palestinian diplomatic activity in the city.

Saudi Arabia, Islam’s birthplace, has championed the Palestinian cause and shunned official ties with Israel but the US is seeking to promote what could be a historic Middle East deal that would include Israeli-Saudi relations.

“Al-Sudairi could be a delegate who will meet with representatives in the Palestinian Authority,” Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen told the news media.

“We will not allow the opening of any kind of diplomatic mission in Jerusalem,” Cohen added.  “Will there be an official physically sitting in Jerusalem?  This we will not allow.”

Riyadh has previously conditioned recognition of Israel on Palestinian statehood being addressed.

Bassam Al-Agha, the Palestinian ambassador to Riyadh, cast Al Sudairi’s appointment as Saudi affirmation of Palestinian statehood and “rejection of what had been announced by former US President Trump.”

While Cohen said Al-Sudairi’s appointment had not been coordinated with Israel, he saw a possible link to the normalization prospects.

“What is behind this development is that, against the backdrop of progress in the US talks with Saudi Arabia and Israel, the Saudis want to relay a message to the Palestinians that they have not forgotten them,” Cohen said.



Escalation: Hezbollah Operative Throws Fire bomb Across Border

A Hezbollah operative in Lebanon threw a Molotov cocktail at the Israeli side of the perimeter fence in the Metulla area on Sunday evening (13th), damaging a water carrier.  The IDF force on the scene responded by firing warning shots.  So far, the Shiite terrorist organization has not responded to the incident, nor has any documentation of the incident been made public from the Lebanese side.

The IDF has already deployed extra troops along the border to prevent the permanent presence of troublemakers and Hezbollah provocateurs.  This is in parallel with the preparation for a discussion at the United Nations in New York that is expected to take place in the coming days and will revolve around the renewal of the mandate of the Interim United Nations Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in southern Lebanon.

Representatives of the IDF and the government are expected to demand at the UN that UNIFIL inspectors enforce the ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hezbollah that was signed at the end of the Second Lebanon War, and has been violated even more seriously in recent months by the terrorist organization.  Aso, Israel will continue to demand the removal of Hezbollah’s tent from Mount Dov.

Against the backdrop of tensions on the Lebanese border and Hezbollah’s repeated provocations, Defense Minister Gallant sent a message to the Lebanese terrorist organization last week referring to the Mount Dov area, where one of Hezbollah’s tents is still standing.

“I warn Hezbollah and Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah not to make a mistake,  You made mistakes in the past and paid very heavy prices.  If God forbid, an escalation or conflict develops here – we will return Lebanon to the Stone Age,” said Gallant.

The defense minister added that “we will not hesitate to use all our power, and wear out every inch of Hezbollah and Lebanon if we have to,” and noted that “we know how to protect the citizens of Israel and the State of Israel in every way.  The enemy should understand that when it comes to Israel’s security – all of us are united.”    

There has been an escalation on the northern border in recent months.  In a situation assessment published about a month ago, the research staff at the Alma Center for the Study of Security Challenges in the North reported: “We recognize a clear pattern of Hezbollah in the last month and a half to create friction and escalation in the areas of dispute on the Blue LIne” – the dividing line between Israel and Lebanon according to a UN resolution.

The research institute in the Galilee stated that those areas, 13 in number, are the ones that Lebanon claims were taken from them by Israel.

The first of these incidents, which according to the institute’s researchers is “a leap forward and a trend that will continue to escalate,” took place in June with the disclosure of the invasion of Hezbollah fighters into the sovereign territory of the State of Israel on Mount Dov and the establishment of two tents, which were manned by armed forces.  But some will say that the beginning of the escalation was a barrage of 34 rockets that were fired into Israel from Lebanon in about half an hour during Passover – the heaviest barrage seen on the northern border since 2006, the days of the Second Lebanon War.

Despite the research institute’s findings, in recent weeks there has been a decrease in incidents at the Lebanese border, since the IDF activated a stun grenade last month that injured a number of Hezbollah operatives who tried to sabotage the border fence.  The IDF spokesman’s statement about the incident noted that “the identity of the suspects is unknown” – but later Gallant said that these were Hezbollah operatives, and the terrorist organization confirmed it.



Princeton University: Course Study-Book That Claims Israel Maims Arabs For Profit

A course scheduled for the upcoming fall semester at Princeton University will include reading material alleging the Israeli military attempts to cripple Palestinian Arabs for profit, The New York Post reported.

The reading list in the course titled “The Healing Humanities: Decolonizing Trauma Studies from the Global South,” which according to the university’s website, “introduces the transdisciplinary field of narratives and paradigms of healing individual and collective trauma,” includes several books, including “The Right To Maim,” by Rutgers University professor Jasbit K. Puar.

“Debilitation is extremely profitable economically and ideologically for Israel’s settler colonial regime,” Puar writes, adding that Israel’s efforts to avoid the loss of innocent life during conflicts with Palestinian’Arab terrorists are actually a shrewdly contrived scheme to strengthen its “stranglehold” over Judea and Samaria.

“Perhaps different from earlier colonial and occupation regimes where deprivation was distributed in order to maim yet keep labor alive,” another passage reads.  “There is less need for Palestinian labor, for Palestinian production.  Rather, profit is derived from the dismemberment of reproduction, a function of capitalism without labor. … This inhuman biopolitics flourishes through and beside human populations – economic life growing without human life.”

World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder condemned the course and called the university to cancel it and fire the professor teaching it.  “Princeton University is not only sanctioning hate speech but is establishing fertile ground for a new generation of anti-semitic thought-leaders.  I am calling on Princeton University to cancel the course in question immediately, fire its professor, Satyrl Larson, and issue a public apology to its students, the global Israeli community, and Jews all over the world,” Lauder wrote.

Princeton University did not respond to a request for comment.