News Digest — 8/2/22

IDF Braces For Fire From Gaza After Arrest Of Senior Islamic Jihad Operative

The Israeli military on Tuesday (2nd) said its forces in the south were on increased alert after the arrest of a senior Islamic Jihad operative on Monday (1st).

Train service in the Ashkelon area has been suspended and some roads along the border were closed, out of concern for possible anti-tank fire from Gaza.

IDF forces arrested Basam al-Saadi, the West Bank leader of the Islamic terrorist group in Jenin Monday night (1st).

One Palestinian, affiliated with the group, was killed in a fire exchange with the soldiers.

An Israeli police spokesperson said commandos disguised as Palestinians entered Jenin to make two arrests and came under fire.  They shot back, hitting several gunmen, and left without suffering casualties, the spokesperson added.

A senior military source said the decision to close roads along the Gaza border came after intelligence officials estimated there would be a response from the Islamic Jihad to the latest wave of arrests of its operatives in the West Bank in the past day, which included 50 suspected of terror activity.

“The preventive measures were put in place to stop the group from bringing about a deterioration of the security along the border,” the source said.

The Islamic Jihad issued a statement after the arrest of al-Saadi was announced.  “We warn Israel against harming the life of al-Saadi and will respond to any aggression,” the group said.

Al-Saadi had been actively building up the group’s military power in the Jenin area specifically, and in the northern West Bank in general, with many of the terror attacks against Israel in the past year, attributed to its members.

Commander Basam al-Saadi had been wanted by security forces and was arrested along with his son-in-law, Ashraf Zidan Molmad Aljada, who was his close aid.  The two men were transferred to the Shin Bet Security Agency for questioning.



In Apparent Warning To Iran PM Lapid Says Israel Has ‘Other Capabilities’

Prime Minister Yair Lapid sent a subtle warning to Iran on Monday (1st), saying that Israel has the capacity to defend itself and counter threats. 

Speaking at a ceremony marking the installation of a new head of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission (IAEC), Lapid said that “our operational arena comprises both defensive and offensive capabilities, and what some foreign news outlets tend to call ‘other capabilities.’

It is unclear what Lapid was referring to.  Over the years foreign media have reported that Israel has atomic bombs to guarantee its survival as part of a supposedly undeclared non-civilian nuclear program with unconventional warheads.  “These other capabilities keep us alive, and will continue doing so as long as our children are here with us,” Lapid added, telling the officials at the commission that “we are proud of you and thank you – Israeli lives are in good hands.”

In recent weeks Iran’s nuclear program has advanced significantly, with uranium enrichment essentially reaching a level that would suffice for the production of a nuclear bomb.  But according to various foreign outlets, Israel has been waging a clandestine campaign to target the program, including through various sabotage efforts and assassinations.

Former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, whose premiership ended in June, has been largely quiet since resigning as prime minister, but who continues to hold the “Iran File,” said at the ceremony that “last year we made decisions to prepare for the Iranian nuclear threat.  We have directed a massive amount of resources to close the gaps that have been making us lose sleep.”  Bennett, without specifying, added: “The Iranians are moving forward but the Israeli system has been working full throttle over the past year.”  

The Israel Atomic Energy Agency Commission was set up by Israel’s first prime minister David Ben Gurion in 1952, with what Lapid called “great vision.”



Israeli Settlers Purchase Hebron Home From Palestinian Owner

Jewish settlers announced their purchase of a three-story Palestinian building in Hebron near the Tomb of the Patriarchs on Sunday (7/31), in what is the second such publication of a property acquisition this year.

“By the grace of God, the Jewish community in Hebron is expanding,” tweeted MK Orit Struck.

The move is part of a long-term campaign by Hebron’s Jewish community and its supporters to expand its property holdings in the section of the city under IDF military control.

This particular building is located in Hebron’s ‘Old Town,’ which the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization inscribed on its World Heritage Danger list and registered it under the name of the “State of Palestine.”

The building has been named “House of Liberty” by settlers.  Its purchase from its Palestinian owner was organized by the right-wing organization Harchvi.

The building is located near the pharmacy checkpoint, not far from the four-storied building called Beit HaMachpela, which settlers purchased from Palestinians, and were given permission to move into in 2019, seven years after they first attempted to enter the structure.

The Hebron Jewish community’s English-language spokesman Yishai Fleisher tweeted about the latest property acquisition, stating, “New Jewish home in Hebron acquired by the Harchvi organization.  We’re calling it “House of Liberty – purchased from Arabs about a year ago.  Three floors, close to the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs.”

The Palestinian Authority (PA) prohibits the sale of property to Jews and holds it to be a criminal activity punishable by imprisonment, and possible death.

Fleisher said, “The seller is safe and all is going well, thank God.”

In May, Harchvi announced that it had purchased a building named Beit Tekuma, in an area of Hebron near the exit to the Kiryat Arba settlement.

Some 15 families initially tried to enter that building but agreed to leave in exchange for the placement of an IDF guard by the structure, which also has a space for shops on the first floor.

Hebron is divided, with 80% of the city’s over 200,000 Palestinians living under the auspices of the PA with a Palestinian-controlled municipality.

The IDF controls the other 20% of the city, where some 1,000 Jewish Israelis live.



Israel Accelerates ‘Jordan Gateway Project’ To ‘Enhance Peace’ And ‘Strengthen Region’

The Israeli government on Sunday (7/31) approved the proposal of Prime Minister Yair Lapid and regional Cooperation Minister Issawi Frej to accelerate the implementation of the ‘Jordan Gateway Project’ – the joint industrial zone between the State of Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

The project was first proposed during talks on the 1994 peace agreement.

“Twenty-eight years since the peace agreement with Jordan, we are taking the good neighborly relations between our two countries another step forward.  This is a breakthrough that will contribute greatly to developing and strengthening the region,” Lapid stated.

“The first details regarding this initiative were addressed last week during my visit with King Abdullah II in Amman,” he added.

“This is an initiative that will increase employment in both countries, advance our economic and diplomatic relations, and enhance the peace and friendship between our two countries,” Lapid said on Sunday (7/31).

“This is a joint industrial zone on the border.  It will allow Israeli and Jordan entrepreneurs and business people to communicate directly.  It will produce joint initiatives in trade, technology and local industry.”

Regional Cooperation Minister Issawi Frej said that increasing efforts on the project has been one of his primary missions in the past year.

The approved acceleration of the project includes: Advancing operation of the ‘Jordan Gateway Park Terminal’ for the crossing of pedestrians, which will also serve as a convenient crossing for entrepreneurs interested in the joint initiative and in the industrial zone on the Jordanian side.

According to the detailed outline of the decision, subject to budgetary agreements and the approval of the Knesset Economics Committee, the Airports Authority will build and operate the Jordan Gateway Park Terminal.

The terminal will have a facility for hosting business people and guests who arrive from the Jordanian side for business purposes.

The immediate construction of an entrance facility and the necessary structures for operating the park will be evaluated while allocating resources for completion.

An outline will be formulated on developing the initiative on the Israeli side in the immediate-and long-term, which will be evaluated following the completion of the first stage.

“I welcome every action to improve relations with the Kingdom of Jordan.  Jordan is a strategic partner and is of decisive importance for the stability of the entire region.  I am committed to doing whatever proves necessary to establish our relations with the Kingdom and assist in advancing the goals it has in common with the State of Israel,” Transportation and Road Safety Minister Merav Michaeli said.



In Israel, The Idea Of Apartheid Is Laughable – Avi Benlolo

Although signs on city buses in St. John’s, Newfoundland, calling Israel an “apartheid” state were shocking to many Canadians, in Israel the ad drew only laughs.  In the Israeli city of Karmiel on July 27, an Arab-Israeli leader laughed in hysterics when I asked him about apartheid.  He outlined his own success in Israel, having completed a graduate degree at an Israeli university, then having the freedom to travel to Jordan to earn a doctorate and to pursue a successful career as an educator and media personality.

Many of his friends are professionals like him and enjoy the benefits of being Israeli citizens.  In fact, he ran in the last national election.  Indeed, hardly anyone in Israel actually believes it is an apartheid state.  Co-existence and peace is the language of most political and community leaders in Israel today.

The wasted energy and resources on negative ad campaigns that achieve nothing except hate and discord sadly misrepresents the seismic shift that’s now underway in the entire region.  A lie told enough times can become a truth if unopposed.  We have a responsibility to stand up for Israel, because the right thing to do is to support the development of peace and friendship in the region.  (National Post-Canada)

The writer is the founder and chairman of the Abraham Global Peace Initiative.