News Digest — 8/15/23

Netanyahu : We Don’t Just Have A Strong Economy, We Have A Strong Army

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commented Monday afternoon (14th) about  the Fitch Rating’s affirmation of Israel’s A+ credit rating.

“A short time ago, we received very good news.  Fitch Ratings has kept Israel’s credit rating at A+.  This is a very high rating.  This confirms what I have been saying for a long time:  We have a strong economy.  Whoever invests in Israel profits.  Whoever pulls out of Israel loses. People understand this,” Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu added, “I would like to add one more truth: We not only have a strong economy but a strong military as well.  Our enemies should make no mistake – we will see to it that our military remains very strong.”

In a report Monday (14th), Fitch stated that Israel’s continued A+ credit rating, “balances a diversified, resilient and high value-added economy and strong external finances against a relatively high government debt/GDP ratio, ongoing security risks, and a record of unstable governments that has hindered policymaking.”

However, the company added that “proposed reforms could weaken Israel’s ranking compared with peers.”



Hamas Kidnapping, Terror Plot Thwarted: 9 Arrested

Israel’s security and intelligence agencies arrested nine Palestinians from PA-controlled enclaves in Samaria for their roles in a thwarted terror plot, which included plans to kidnap an Israeli soldier and carry out shooting attacks.

The nine men, who authorities say are all affiliated with the Hamas terror group, were arrested in July, but a gag order barring media reports on the case was lifted Monday (14th).

All of those detained are residents of the PA town of Biddu, which is over three and a half miles northwest of Jerusalem’s municipal borders.

According to a statement from the Shin Bet, the Hamas operatives had engaged in months of preparation before the attack was foiled.

The suspects established a bomb laboratory, created explosive devices and readied them for use, and conducted “intelligence gathering tours”of the Binyamin region in order to better understand soldiers’ routines and patterns of movements in the area.

They also selected a secure location in which to hide the kidnapped soldier, authorities said.

Beyond the kidnapping, which would likely see demands for the release of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the soldier, the members of the Hamas cell were planning a series of attacks on Israeli civilians.

Raw materials, including explosive substances and pipes, along with submachine guns, were seized from the cell’s laboratory.

Additionally, maps marked with potential attack sites and escape routes were discovered.

“Together with the IDF and the Israel Police, we will continue to work even harder to thwart any attempt by terrorist elements outside to promote terrorist activity against the State of Israel and to bring those involved to justice,” the Shin Bet said in a statement. 

The thwarted plot underscores the Gaza-based Hamas terror group’s increasing presence in Judea and Samaria.  As the Palestinian Authority’s control over Arab enclaves in the region continues to weaken, security officials have expressed concerns that Hamas’ position in the area will be strengthened.



Egypt, Jordan Voice ‘Full Support’ For Palestinians, Slam Israel

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Jordan’s King Abdullah on Monday (14th) affirmed their “full support” for Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas and urged Israel to fulfill its obligation in accordance with international law and honor all agreements signed with the Palestinians.

Finding a suitable solution to the Palestinian cause and achieving a just and comprehensive peace is a “strategic option and a regional and international requirement,” the three leaders said in a joint communique after the tripartite summit in the Egyptian city of El Alamein.

The summit was held amid ongoing talk about a possible normalization deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia.  In their communique, Sisi, Abdullah and Abbas did not make any direct reference to reports about US efforts to broker a deal between Jerusalem and Riyadh.  They stressed their “adherence” to the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, however, which stipulates that the Arab states would normalize their  relations with Israel only after a full withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.

In the past, the Palestinian leadership accused the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Sudan of violating the terms of the Arab Peace Initiative by reaching separate normalization agreements with Israel.

Last weekend, Saudi Arabia said it had named its Ambassador to Jordan, Nayef al-Sudairi, as Ambassador Extraordinary to the State of Palestine and Consul-General in Jerusalem.

Some Palestinians are convinced that the move is linked to US efforts to broker a deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia.  They view the appointment of the envoy as part of the Saudi attempt to placate the Palestinians ahead of a normalization agreement with Israel.

At Monday’s summit, Sisi, Abdullah and Abbas lashed out at Israel over its policies and measures with the Palestinians.

In their statement, the three leaders called on Israel to halt military incursions into Palestinian cities in the West Bank, saying it was undermining the ability of the PA government and security forces to carry out their duties.

They urged Israel to release Palestinian tax revenues it had seized because of payments made by the PA to security prisoners and the families of those killed while carrying out attacks against Israelis.

The three leaders condemned “the ongoing and escalating Israeli illegal practices” against the Palestinians and warned that Israel’s actions were “undermining the two-state solution and causing violence and chaos.”

They called for halting Israeli settlement activities.

They also denounced Israel for “violating the legal and historical status quo in Jerusalem and its holy sites” and demanded an end to the “storming” of al-Aqsa Mosque, a reference to visits by Jews to the Temple Mount.  According to the communique,Sisi and Abbas emphasized the importance of the Hashemite custodianship of Jerusalem’s holy sites, including the Haram al-Sharif/Noble Sanctuary (Temple Mount). 

Israel, the Palestinians, and several Arab countries recognize Jordan’s role in administering the holy sites.

In recent years, however, unconfirmed reports in Israeli and Arab media outlets said the Saudis were also seeking a role in administering the Islamic sites in Jerusalem, a move that would end Jordan’s exclusive and historic status in the city.



Hamas Holds Meeting To Discuss ‘Local Elections’ In Gaza

Hamas on Monday (14th) organized what was described as a broad “consultative meeting” to discuss local elections in the Gaza Strip, reported the Times of Israel.

The meeting was attended by dozens of political and civil figures who emphasized the importance of the step, the report said.

Hamas indicated it viewed the step as a prelude to holding general elections throughout Palestinian Authority-assigned territories in Gaza, Judea and Samaria.

Zakaria Abu Muammar, head of Hamas’ National Relations Office, said at the meeting, “Hamas, with this inclusive meeting, is looking to build a national consensus among the people and the factions in the Gaza Strip to support local elections.”

“These elections will be important and a pivotal step to build towards a larger national consensus, and consolidate the unity of the Palestinian people and their lands,” he added.

While Hamas and other Palestinian Arab factions have pushed for elections in Judea and Samaria, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has not heeded their call.

PA elections were scheduled for 2021, but Abbas officially announced that they would be postponed.

While the PA chairman cited Israel’s refusal to allow Arabs residing in eastern Jerusalem to vote as the reason for postponement, many believe the real reason is Abbas’ fear that he would lose the elections to Hamas.

Abbas’ term as PA Chairman was meant to expire in 2009, but he has remained in office in the absence of elections.

No PA elections have taken place since 2006, when Abbas was elected for a three-year term, and similar initiatives in the past have failed to result in new elections. So Mahmoud Abbas has served consecutively as PA Chairman for 17 years.



In First, Precious Stones Unearthed In Israel, Fulfilling Biblical Prophecy

In what is being hailed as a fulfillment of biblical prophecy, an Israeli mining company has been recognized by the Israeli government for its unprecedented discovery of precious gems in Israel.

The precious stones unearthed by the family-owned Holy Gems company, which include sapphires, rubies, and even diamonds, align with a verse from the Book of Isaiah: “… I will lay your foundations with sapphires and I will make your windows of jasper and your gates of carbuncle stones, and all your borders of precious stones.” (Isaiah 54: 11-12)

Reflecting on the find, Holy Gems CEO Tali Shalem-Taub told Fox News, “It is a promise of God to Israel.  Why nobody ever tried to find them before, I don’t know, but it’s true.”

After obtaining authorization to market the gems extracted near Haifa, the Taub family launched Holy Gems.  Their facility in the ancient city of Acre is open for visitors, where gems are separated from the soil.

Notably, tha Carmel Sapphire, containing a mineral believed to be extraterrestrial in origin, was identified.  It was selected as the international Mineralogical Association’s 2018 mineral of the year.  Highlighting the gem’s significance, Shalem-Taub mentioned, “The scientists actually said that it was like a scientific proof of the uniqueness of the land itself.”

Chanan Taub, Shalem-Taub’s grandfather, inaugurated one of Israel’s pioneer diamond polishing factories after fleeing Europe during Hitler’s regime.  The business saw a shift into jewelry under Avraham Taub, Shalem-Taub’s father.   

Despite facing numerous challenges, the Taub family’s tenacity led to the creation of Holy Gems.  Reflecting on the journey and her late father’s dream, Shalem-Taub said, “For me, it connects me to him.”



Majority Of Jewish Australian Students Hide Identity At Universities

Sixty four percent of the Australian Jewish university students reported experiencing anti-Semitism during their academic journey, according to a new survey that was published Monday (14th).

One out of every five students has actively avoided campus to escape bigotry, while more than half have felt the distressing need to hide their Jewish identity, the survey said.

The survey, representing the experiences of roughly one out of every 14 Australian Jewish university students, was conducted by the Zionist Federation of Australia and backed by the Australian Union of Jewish Students and the World Zionist Organization.

“It is unconscionable that such a large fraction of Australia’s Jewish university students have felt the need to hide their identity,”Zionist Federation of Australia president Jeremy Leibler said, adding that he had pressed the Australian government for an immediate response and suggested the formation of “a working group to critically assess and determine the measures universities, as well as  state and federal governments, should undertake in response to this unsettling situation.”

Australian Union of Jewish Students president Alissa Foster said: “The data corroborates what I witness on a day-to-day basis.  Our universities have glaringly failed Jewish students, making many feel the need to conceal their identity.”

“This startling data will prompt decision-makers to introspect and act, ensuring that Jewish students receive the recognition, voice, and representation they deserve,” she said.

The survey highlighted the reluctance among Jewish students to report anti-Semitic incidents due to skepticism about universities’ responsiveness.  Many indicated that having a concrete definition of anti-Semitism would encourage them to voice their concerns.

Racheli Baratz-Rix, head of the World Zionist Organization’s Department for Combating Anti-Semitism and Financing Resilience said: “These numbers serve as a cautionary indicator.  The escalating anti-Semitism in Australia is a harbinger, demanding immediate and holistic action to prevent graver repercussions.”