News Digest — 8/24/23

Child Killed, At Least Eight Injured In Dead Sea Rockslide

A five-year-old boy was killed and at least 8 others injured in a rockslide at Nahal David near the Dead Sea on Thursday morning (24th).  A four-year old girl and two others were moderately injured, according to Magen David Adom.

Seven injured individuals were evacuated from the stream and treated by paramedics, while another three were being treated alongside the stream.  

MDA helicopters were called to the scene to help rescue the people trapped under the rocks.  A large number of forces from the police, Fire, and Rescue Services, and ambulatory services headed to the scene as well. The Israeli Air Force’s Unit 669 and medical forces of the IDF Bekaa and Emekim Brigade took part in rescue efforts as well, according to the IDF’s Spokesperson’s Unit.

The Nature and Parks Authority stated that a team from the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve was helping handle the rockslide.  United Hatzalah said it had dispatched its Crisis Response team to the scene to help.  The injured were taken to Soroka Medical Center.

MDA paramedic Lior Shasha and medic Majhad al-Amor stated: “This is a complex area – we arrived quickly at the scene.  We left the ambulances in the parking lot of the stream and went down with the medical equipment by walking about 25 minutes to the scene of the incident.  We noticed a number of injured people who were hurt by a rockslide.  A five-year-old boy was unconscious and suffered a severe stomach injury.  A 40-year-old woman and a 12-year-old girl were fully conscious and also suffered injuries.”

“Together with the rescue unit and medical forces of the IDF, we gave the child medical treatment and performed prolonged resuscitation operations.  The woman and the girl were described as being in light to moderate condition.  Four more injured people arrived at the stream’s parking lot, including a man about 20-years-old, a man about 40-years-old, a girl about 4-years-old, and a boy about 8-years-old who were injured by the falling rocks.  They were all treated and defined as in light to moderate condition.  After treatment in the field, we evacuated the injured by MDA and Air Force helicopters to the hospital.  In addition, we treated a number of anxiety victims who witnessed what happened.”

Environmental Protection Minister Idit Silman received updates from the Nature and Parks Authority and emergency services.  He is set to hold a situation assessment upon completion of the rescue efforts.

Nahal David is part of the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve next to the Dead Sea.  The site includes a waterfall and a stream, as well as a hiking path which goes up to Mount Yishai.



Gallant: Where We Did Not Strengthen The Settlements, We Got Terrorism

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant arrived Wednesday (23rd) at the IDF Central Command base in Jerusalem, where he held a situational assessment with senior security officials.  Afterward he met with the leaders of the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria.

During the assessment, the Defense Minister received an update on the ongoing hunt for the terrorists who murdered Shai Silas Nigreker and his son Aviad Nir in Huwara on Saturday (19th) and issued instructions to the security forces to reinforce the efforts to confiscate illegal weapons throughout Judea and Samaria.

Later, he met with the municipal leaders of Judea and Samaria.  He expressed his appreciation for the total backing they gave to the security forces and said that this support is of crucial importance in the eyes of the residents and the soldiers.

Officials present at the meeting, according to Israeli media, were Minister Gallant and Maj.-Gen. Yehuda Fuchs, who claimed that one of the main reasons for the increase in terrorist incidents is the fact that there are too many illegal weapons in Judea and Samaria.  The Major-General claimed that the IDF is given freedom of action and enters areas where it previously did not operate.

The Judea and Samaria leaders stated during the meeting that they are not interested in telling the IDF what to do, but want a sense of security.  They said that when the home front is fearful, the army is weakened, and when the home front is strong, the army is strengthened in turn.

Gallant reiterated that Iranian elements are attempting to foment violence in Judea and Samaria.

IDF officials stated that they did not criticize the leaders of Judea and Samaria in recent days, but those who attacked senior IDF officials following recent terror attacks.

During the meeting Gallant said: “Where there is no army, there is no settlement.  And where we did not strengthen the settlements, then we got terrorism.”  At the end of the meeting, Gallant in his capacity as commander and director general of the Defense Ministry, promised that the Binyamin Brigade near the settlement of Beit El would be evacuated in order to build 350 housing units on that land, as Prime Minister Netanyahu had previously promised.  



Gaza Raises Alert Level Amid Fears Of Assassinations

The Palestinian organizations in the Gaza Strip have raised their state of alert amid the fear of targeted assassinations of senior commanders in response to the terror wave in Judea and Samaria similar to the assassinations of senior Islamic Jihad members last May.

A source in one of the Palestinian “resistance” organizations told the Hezbollah-aligned Lebanese newspaper al-Akhbar that the answer to a  possible Israeli assassination “would be greater than what the occupation predicts, and it will be surprised by the pattern and the scope of the reaction.”

According to the source, “Such a step could bring a major escalation that would be seen on various fronts where the resistance operates.”

He added that by turning to the option of assassinations outside of Judea and Samaria, the Israeli government is “trying to create a new equation title: the response to attacks in the West Bank will be assassinations.”

The Palestinian source emphasized, “The resistance organizations will not allow the occupation to change the rules of the confrontation in the Gaza Strip or outside it.”

Hisham Qasim, a member of the Hamas leadership, stated that the armed activities in Judea and Samaria will not stop since they are part of the war of attrition against the “Zionist occupation” and the Palestinian people have the right to “fight the occupation in all lands of Palestine.”



Shin Bet To Assist Police In Tackling Deadly Crime In Arab Sector

The Shin Bet internal security agency will assist the police in tackling crime in the Arab sector, the Prime Minister’s Office announced Wednesday (23rd) following a meeting by a ministerial panel established to address the spiraling Arab crime wave.

Although normally in charge of matters of national security, the Shin Bet will be brought in “against criminal organizations in all matters related to municipal elections.”

According to Kan News, the agency has already identified 15-20 Arab localities in which candidates, voters, or elected officials are being threatened by criminal elements.

The panel – chaired by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – convened following the murder of two political figures from the Arab community in just two days.

Netanyhau said the shooting of the figures “crossed the line.”

“We will use all means, including the Shin Bet and the police, to defeat this criminal phenomenon.  We have eliminated organized crime in the Jewish sector in Israel and we will eliminate organized crime in the Arab sector as well,” he said.  “Every citizen of Israel must feel secure and not under the shadow of the threat of internal terrorism.”

Similarly, National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir has called for the Shin Bet to investigate all violent crimes in the Arab sector and demanded the use of administrative detention that would enable holding suspects for extended periods of time without charging them.



Hundreds Of Former IDF Soldiers To Become Holocaust Educators Abroad

Hundreds of former IDF soldiers will soon become Holocaust educators as part of a program by the World Zionist Organization meant to keep the memory alive and spread awareness of anti-Semitism.

The future educators – volunteers of the Heroes for Life non-profit – will travel to over a dozen destinations in delegations to bring the stories of Holocaust survivors and Righteous Among the Nations to global communities.

They will be trained by the Zikaron BaSalon (literally, “memory in the living room”) initiative that specializes in Holocaust commemoration and encourages survivors to share their stories with small groups.

Special delegations are expected to take off in the coming weeks, with more to set out throughout the year, including to Mexico, Guatemala, Panama, Costa Rica, India, Vietnam, and Nepal.

“I am thrilled to take part in such a special project,” one of the volunteers, who will be traveling to Brazil said.  “These stories are shocking and timeless and it’s important for them to be heard around the world.”

Sarit Handknopf, executive director of the WZO’s Department for Israel and Holocaust Commemoration Worldwide, said the cooperation was doubly special as “the IDF is one of the main symbols of our victory over the Nazi oppressor.”

“Our moral duty to the heroic Holocaust survivors who are dwindling, is to preserve the memory of their heroism,” she said.



82 years After Nazi Massacre: Mass Jewish Grave Unearthed In Latvia

A mass grave of Jews murdered by the Nazis in Latvia was uncovered in the city of Liepaja using special technology invented by United States researchers, Latvian television reported Wednesday (23rd).

On July 15, 1941, German soldier Reinhard Wiener captured several black-and-white photographs of Liepaja’s lighthouse.  These photographs remain the only evidence of the Jewish massacre that took place there.  Over the years, people attempted to identify the burial site based on the structures in the old photos, but these efforts proved unsuccessful.

This summer, researchers from the United States were invited to Liepaja, equipped with modern technology that enabled them to locate the mass burial site from 82 years ago.  It contained the remains of dozens of Jews who were slain at the hands of the Nazis.

Ilana Ivanova, a representative of the Jewish community in Liepaja, said that modern technologies often help bridge historical gaps.  Ivanova noted that the burial site is situated within Liepaja’s industrial zone,currently leased by a Lithuanian fish processing company looking to expand its operations in Latvia.

The director of the Museum of Jews in Latvia, Ilya Lensky, believes it is wrong to construct buildings on the graves.  Instead, he suggests that the location should be marked as a memorial monument to honor the Jews who suffered and perished there.

Guntars Ansins, the Mayor of Liepaja and head of the City Council, acknowledged that discussions are ongoing in the municipal council to determine how to address this situation.  He emphasized the need to find an appropriate solution.