News Digest — 8/22/23

IDF Arrested Palestinians who murdered Israeli Mother In Terror Attack

The IDF, Shin Bet and the Border Police arrested two Palestinians Tuesday morning (22nd) suspected of carrying out the shooting attack in which preschool teacher Batsheva Nigri, a mother of three, was murdered near Hebron on Monday (21st), according to a joint statement by the security forces.

During initial questioning, by the security forces, the two Palestinians tied themselves to the attack.  The weapons used in the attack were seized by Israeli forces after the arrest.

The arrest took place in the southern part of Hebron at the suspects family home, although the family did not seem to be aware of their terror activity prior to the arrest.  It is unclear if the suspects were supported by or tied to a terror organization.

Nigri, 42 was shot in front of her 12-year-old daughter on Monday morning (21st).  Her daughter was unharmed and alerted emergency services.  The driver, Aryeh Gottlieb, also of Beit Hagai, is in serious condition at Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant voiced his appreciation for Israeli security forces on Tuesday (22nd), vowing that the terrorists will “rot in prison for the rest of their lives.”

“We will use every tool at our disposal to strengthen security,” Gallant wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.  “We will pursue and reach our enemies.”



Netanyahu: Wave Of Terror Is Encouraged, Funded By Iran

Iran is funding the recent wave of terrorism in the West Bank, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the site of Monday’s (21st) deadly terror attack on Mount Hebron.

“We are in the middle of a terrorist onslaught that is encouraged, guided, and funded by Iran and its proxies,” Netanyahu said.

“A significant portion of this wave of terrorism came from external guidance,” he added.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said that Iranian funding marks a “significant change,” leading to more weapons reaching Palestinians in the West Bank.

Palestinian terrorists cut off an Israeli car on Route 60 near Beit Hagai Junction and shot at it at least 20 times, murdering Batsheva Nigri, 42, in front of her 12-year-old daughter on Monday (21st).  Driver Aryeh Gottlieb, 39, is in serious condition from gunshot wounds.


The terrorism is “all guided by Iran, which is looking for any way to harm Israeli citizens,” Gallant said.  “We will reach the terrorists and will take additional actions that will ensure the security of the citizens of Israel and make those responsible pay a price.”

Netanyahu said Israel is “acting around the clock…to find the murderers and those who want to kill the citizens of Israel…We will use additional means of attack and defense to make the terrorists pay, along with those who send them, both near or far.”

The prime minister also emphasized that he gives his “support to all the commanders and all the soldiers who work day and night…to defend us all and we all must back them.”

The remark came after members of his Likud party and governing coalition denigrated some of the IDF’s top commanders, including Chief of Staff Maj.-Gen. Herzi Halevi.



Hamas Official Praises ‘Hero’ Who Carried Out Hebron Shooting Attack

Ismail Radwan, a senior Hamas official in Gaza, praised the Monday (21st) shooting attack in which a woman was murdered in front of her 12-year-old daughter.  The attack left a man in serious condition.

“We praise the hero who carried out the attack in Hebron and the opposition-battle which is escalating in the West Bank,” Radwan said, adding that “the act in Hebron was carried out as part of the natural response to the continued crimes of the occupation against Al-Aqsa Mosque, the security prisoners, and our Palestinian nation.”

In an interview with Hamas’ Al-Aqsa television channel, Radwan said, “The fire which broke out in Al-Aqsa Mosque 54 years ago is still burning due to the ongoing harm done to it by the settlers.”  Therefore, he said, “The act in Hebron on the date when we mark the fire of Al-Aqsa Mosque, comes to tell us that the opposition will continue to be the shield which protects the holy places.”

Radwan’s statements refer to an attempt by a non-Jewish Australian tourist to burn Al-Aqsa Mosque in 1969.  The event is often claimed to be the fault of the “Zionists.”

Radwan also emphasized  that the “organizations of the struggle” can harm Israel at the time and place that is appropriate, and that they continue “to improve their abilities.”

“The Hebron act,” Radwan said, “proves the scope of the armed Palestinian battle throughout Judea and Samaria, and its ability to hit the ‘occupation’ even on the home front of Tel Aviv, and the unity of the battlefronts.”

“The message of the terror attack,” he said, “is that Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque are red lines – the ‘occupation’ is responsible for the religious war in the region, and the future holds much greater things since Israel will bear responsibility for all of the consequences of the ‘invasions’ of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the harm to the ‘Palestinian nation.”  



Syrian Soldier Injured In Alleged Israeli Airstrikes In Damascus Area

A Syrian soldier was injured in alleged Israeli airstrikes targeting sites in the Damascus area on Monday night (21st), according to Syrian state media.

The Syrian Capital Voice News reported that sites in or near the Damascus International Airport were targeted in the strikes.  Additional reports by Syrian news sites indicated that targets near the city of al-Kiswah, south of Damascus, were attacked also.

The strikes come just hours after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that a wave of recent terror attacks were being “encouraged, directed and financed by Iran and its affiliates,” shortly after Batsheva Nigri was murdered in a terrorist shooting attack near Hebron on Monday morning (21st).

The strikes in the Damascus area are the first alleged Israeli airstrikes reported in Syria since four Syrian soldiers were killed in airstrikes near Damascus in early August.

The strikes in early August targeted sites near Saidnaya and Mneen, north of Damascus, hitting warehouses belonging to the Syrian military used by Iranian-backed militias, according to the Capital Voice news.



Israeli, Pakistani MDs Save Eyesight Of Afghan Children

Retinoblastoma, a potentially deadly eye cancer affecting children up to the age of five, is highly curable in high-income countries.  But in many other countries, barriers to healthcare cause survival rates to plummet below 50 percent.

Hoping to save the eyes of children from Afghanistan, a country with no established treatment centers for Rb, physicians from Israel and Pakistan formed the Retinoblastoma Silk Road Project a little over a year ago.

Afghanistan, a low-income country in Central Asia under Taliban control since 2021, has nearly 100 new cases of Rb every year.  Eye clinics operated by the Afghani International Assistance Mission (IAM) through the National Organization for Ophthalmic Rehabilitation (NOOR) aren’t equipped to deal with this disease, leaving the children’s parents no alternatives.

Ophthalmologists from Israel’s Sheba Medical Center, including ocular oncologist Prof. Ido Didi Fabian, teamed up with IAM/NOOR and Pakistani Rb Centers of Excellence to establish an official referral pathway for Afghan children with suspected Rb to receive specialized treatment in neighboring Pakistan.

“Through international collaboration, telemedicine consultation, geographic coordination and charitable contributions, the Retinoblastoma Silk Road Project aims to significantly reduce child mortality rates caused by this fatal cancer,” said Fabian.

“At Sheba Global, we try to help patients across the world, also in Iran, Saudi Arabia and Syria,” said Fabian.  “Since 2017, through a study group I initiated, I’ve been in touch with physicians who treat Rb across the world.  Doctors from Afghanistan and Pakistan are part of this, and that’s how the project started.”

The partners engage an Afghan coordinator who takes the referred children and a parent to the border, where a dedicated driver from the Pakistani side takes them to the eye center in Lahore.  The families get free lodging at a nearby safehouse.

The Israeli physicians help decide which children to refer to Pakistan, via consultations held over WhatsApp and Zoom where they can see the medical imaging.  They are also available to the pediatric oncologists at the Pakistani Rb centers of Excellence in Lahore and Karachi to consult on individual cases.

The joint endeavor, Fabian noted, aligns with the goals of the World Health Organization’s Global Initiative for Childhood Cancer, which recognizes Rb as one of the six cancers in which the initiative strives to achieve at least a 60% survival rate by 2030.

The Retinoblastoma Silk Road Project, said Fabian, “aims to become a model referral pathway for other countries, especially in under-served nations and communities.”



The Oslo Disaster 30 Years On – Efraim Karsh

• Upon receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres lauded the “Oslo peace process” between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization not only as the end of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict but as the harbinger of a “New Middle East.”  Viewed from a 30-year vantage point, the “Oslo peace process” stands as the worst calamity to have afflicted Israelis and Palestinians since the 1948 war.

• By replacing Israel’s control of West Bank and Gaza Palestinians with corrupt and repressive terrorist entities that indoctrinated their subjects with burning hatred of Jews and Israelis, as well as murdering some 2,000 Israelis and raining thousands of rockets on their population centers, the Oslo process has made the prospects for peace and reconciliation even more remote.

• For Palestinians, it has brought about regimes that have reversed their hesitant advent of civil society, shattered their socioeconomic well-being, and perpetuated the conflict, as their leaders lined their pockets.  For Israel, it has established ineradicable terror entities on its doorstep, denting its military and strategic posture, and weakening its international standing.

• The Oslo process had one major achievement that has gone virtually unnoticed, “As of today, there is a Palestinian state,” said Ahmad Tibi, Yasser Arafat’s Arab-Israeli advisor, a day after the January 1996 Palestinian Council elections.  Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Yossi Beilin – chief architect of the Oslo process – proclaimed the elections to have irreversibly ended Israel’s occupation of Palestinian-populated areas.

• In one fell swoop, Israel effectively ended its 30-year-long control of the West Bank and Gaza’s populace.  Since then 99% of the Palestinians in these territories have not lived under  Israeli “occupation” but under Palestinian rule.

• Yet, rather than use the end of occupation as a springboard for bilateral negotiations on the future of the largely unpopulated West Bank territories still under Israel’s control (Area C), the Palestinians have sought to damage their “peace partner” at every turn.  This is because the PLO viewed the Oslo Accords as a “Trojan Horse” (to use the words of PLO official Faisal Husseini) designed to promote the strategic goal of “Palestine from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea” – that is, in place of Israel.

• As Arafat told a skeptical associate shortly before moving to Gaza (in 1994), “I know that you are opposed to the Oslo Accords, but you must always remember what I’m going to tell you.  The day will come when you will see thousands of Jews fleeing Palestine….The Oslo Accords will help bring this about.”

• No sooner had Arafat made his triumphant entry to Gaza than he began constructing an extensive terror infrastructure in flagrant violation of the accords.  He refused to disarm Hamas and Islamic Jihad as required and tacitly approved the murder of hundreds of Israelis by these terror groups.  As a result, terrorism in the territories spiraled.

The writer is emeritus professor of Middle East and Mediterranean studies at King’s College London and former director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University.