News Digest — 8/31/23

Truck-Driving Terrorist Plows Into Israelis Outside The Central Israeli City Of Modiin – 1 Dead, Five Wounded

One person is dead and five young Israelis, three of them soldiers, were injured in a vehicular truck-ramming attack outside the central Israeli city of Modiin Thursday morning (31st).

The attack occurred at approximately 9:a.m. on Route 443, one of two major highways linking Jerusalem and the coastal plain.

During the attack the terrorist drove his truck into a group of young Israelis adjacent to the Maccabim checkpoint, near the entrance to the city.

Emergency first responders from Magen David Adom and United Hatzalah were dispatched to the scene to treat the injured, two of whom were listed in serious condition.

“I extend my condolences to the family of the murder victim of this morning’s vehicular attack and wish a speedy recovery to the injured,” Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said after receiving a briefing on the morning’s event.  The defense minister will hold a security assessment.  “This was an attack with severe consequences,” he said.

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich arrived at the scene of the attack.  Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was being briefed on the attack details.

According to preliminary reports, the terrorist fled the scene, but was located and neutralized by security forces on a nearby road.  There are no details regarding the terrorist’s condition, other than he is hospitalized.

The ramming attack comes on the heels of a string of terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria during the past 24 hours.

Just hours prior to Thursday morning’s (31st) ramming attack, four IDF soldiers were injured in a bombing attack  in Nablus.

On Wednesday (30th), a teenage terrorist from eastern Jerusalem stabbed an Israeli man in the back near the Shivtei Yisrael light rail station in the capital.

Earlier on Wednesday, (30th) an Israeli soldier was injured in a ramming attack outside a military post near Beit Hagai, in the Hebron District.



4 Soldiers Hurt After being Hit By Large Explosive Device In Nablus

Four Israeli soldiers were wounded while operating inside the West Bank city of Nablus late Wednesday night (30th), after being targeted by a large explosive device detonated by Palestinian fighters, the military said, and footage showed.

Videos and images circulated by Palestinian media outlets showed a large column of smoke rising after the blast, which came as troops were in the area.

The Israeli Defense Forces said that an officer and three soldiers were wounded as they walked past the explosive device when it was set off.  The soldiers were listed in moderate condition to good condition.  The IDF said all four were taken to Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva.

A local wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group claimed responsibility for the attack, saying its members detonated a roadside bomb near Israeli forces as they entered the city.

Israeli troops were operating in Nablus to secure the entry of Jewish worshipers to the Joseph’s Tomb shrine in the city.

Despite the explosion, the entry to the shrine continued for Jewish worshipers escorted by Israeli soldiers.

“The explosion occurred where security forces were operating to secure routes for the entrance of civilians to the compound.  The entrance of worshipers to Joseph’s Tomb will continue as usual,” the IDF said.

Busloads of Orthodox Israelis visit Joseph’s Tomb under IDF protection on a monthly basis, if not more frequently.  The pilgrimages almost always spark violent clashes with Palestinians each time the IDF enters Nablus beforehand to secure the area for the arrival of worshipers. 

The shrine, regarded as the final resting of the biblical patriarch Joseph, is located in the Palestinian-controlled city in Area A.

The IDF bars Israeli citizens from entering Area A without prior authorization.

Violence has surged across the West Bank over the past year and a half, with a rise in Palestinian terror attacks against Israeli civilians and troops, near nightly arrest raids by the military, and upticks in response-attacks by some settlers to the murder of Jews and Israelis.

Palestinians in the West Bank have targeted Israeli troops with roadside bombs several times in the past year.  In June eight soldiers were wounded after a massive explosive device was detonated next to an army convoy in Jenin.



Netanyahu Talks Iran, Hezbollah, With Sen. Steve Daines Amid Terror Wave

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the danger of Iran and its proxy group when he met in his office with Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) Wednesday (30th).

“The two discussed a variety of security-related issues including Iran, Hezbollah and artificial intelligence,” the Prime Minister’s Office said.

“They spoke about the challenges and opportunities in the field of artificial intelligence and the need for cooperation between countries,” the Minister’s office added.

The two men also discussed ways  to strengthen the “special relationship between Israel and the US.”

Daines visited Jerusalem as concern was high among officials that Iran was purposely inflaming tensions in the West Bank and along its southern and northern border to distract Israel from Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapons program.

Israel has been particularly vocal in its opposition to a US agreement by which South Korea would unfreeze $6 billion in Iranian assets in exchange for the release of five Americans from jail.  

Daines has also spoken out against the deal.  He wrote a letter to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken saying, in part:

“When the Obama administration released $400 million in liquidated assets to Iran in 2016, we warned that this dangerous precedent would put a price on American lives.”

“Seven years later, the current administration is providing a ransom payment worth at least 15 times that amount to the world’s largest state sponsor of terror, in yet another violation of the United States’ long-standing ‘no concessions’ policy.”

“The release of such a significant sum to the Iranian regime… will only serve to encourage additional hostage-taking for financial or political gain,” he wrote.



Israeli President Isaac Herzog To Pay Visit To Slovakia and Austria

Israeli President Isaac Herzog will next week pay a state visit to Slovakia and Austria.

The trip will begin on Monday (4th), with Herzog arriving as the guest of the President  of Slovakia, Zuana Caputova, and the President of Austria Alexander Van der Bellen.  During the visit, President Herzog will meet with the countries’ heads of government, other senior officials and leaders of the Jewish communities.

The President’s visit is taking place against the background of the ongoing close diplomatic relations and cooperation between the countries in the fight against terrorism and anti-semitism, with an emphasis on the strategic relationship and desire to develop and promote relations in a range of other areas.

The Israeli President will also meet with representatives of the Jewish community of Slovakia and visit the grave of the renowned Rabbi Moses Schreiber (1762-1839), known as one of the greatest spiritual leaders of European Jewry.

Later, In Austria, the president will hold a working meeting with the Austrian Chancellor, Karl Nehammer, and will meet with other senior officials and heads of the Jewish community.

At the conclusion of his visit, President Herzog will participate in an unveiling ceremony at the home of the founder of modern Zionism, Theodor Ze’ev Herzl (1860-1904), with participation of the Mayor of Vienna, Michael Ludwig, including participation from the leadership of the World Zionist organization.

President Herzog will then make his way back to Israel.  



Bypass Road Around Terror-Heavy Huwara To Open Ahead Of Schedule: ‘It Will Save Lives’

The main section of road that bypasses the Palestinian town of Huwara, where terror attacks commonly occur, will open after the High Holidays, Israel Hayom has learned.

Four Israelis have been killed in Huwara in the past six months – brothers Hallel and Yagel Yaniv  in February and father and son Shay Silas and Aviad Nir Nigrekar earlier this month,

Transportation Minister Miri Regev toured the site on Wednesday (30th) together with the head of the Samaria Regional Council, Yossi Dagan, when the two announced that the road would open two months ahead of schedule due to the danger facing Judean residents, who – without an alternative – are forced to drive through Huwara to commute to work,

Dagan has been the main driving force behind the initiative and together with families of terror victims has pushed for a bypass road for about six years.

Work on the road began approximately two years ago with several delays in the beginning.  The construction received a boost in the form of an additional 50 million shekels following the murder of the Yaniv brothers and was planned to be completed in December.

Regev lauded the project, saying the bypass road “will save lives and give residents a sense of security.”

Dagan said, “This is great news for the residents of Judea and Samaria and all the people of Israel, both in terms of safety and security, and is a significant tool for reaching the goal of one million residents in the Samaria region.”



Iranian Weightlifter Banned For Life For Shaking Hand With Israeli

An Iranian weightlifter has been given a lifetime ban by authorities in the Islamic Republic after shaking hands with an Israeli competitor at an event in Poland, AFP reported on Wednesday (30th), citing state media.

Mostafa Rajaei, in his 40s, shook hands with Israeli weightlifter Maksim Svirsky on Saturday (26th) after they both stood on the podium at a World Masters championship in Wieliczka, Poland.

“The weightlifting federation bans athlete Mostafa Rajaei for life from entering all sports facilities in the country and dismisses the head of the delegation for the competition, Hamid Salehinia,” the body announced in a statement by state news media IRNA.

According to the IRNA report, Rajaei “crossed the red lines of the Islamic Republic” at the event where the Iranian delegation had been “sent with the support of the federation.”

Rajaei is a former member of the Iranian national team and represented his country at the Asian Weightlifting Championship in 2015 in Thailand.

Iran, which does not have ties with Israel, regularly orders its athletes to withdraw from sporting competitions in order to avoid facing Israelis.

In 2012, Iranian athletes announced their intention to boycott competitions against Israelis at the London Olympics. 

In 2017, two Iranian players were criticized in their home country after they appeared for their Greek club Panionios in a Europe League qualifier against Maccabi Tel Aviv.

The two were initially banned for life from the Iranian national team as punishment, but Iran appeared to cancel the ban after a huge outcry from soccer fans on social media and the launch of an investigation by FIFA, which has rules against political interference in national teams.

The most famous incident in recent years was that of Iranian judoka Saeid Mollaei, who was forced to throw a match against Israelis, even after the international Judo Federation (IJF) and Iran reached an agreement which stipulates that Iran will no longer boycott competitions against Israelis.