News Digest — 8/4/21

Gantz Visits South: The State Of Israel Is Prepared For Any Scenario

Defense Minister Benny Gantz toured southern Israel on Tuesday (3rd), together with Deputy Defense Minister, Alon Shuster, Head of the IDF’s Planning Directorate, Maj. Gen Tomer Bar, Head of the Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Eliezer Toledano, and Head of the Gaza Division, Brig, Gen. Nimrod Aloni.

During the visit, Minister Gantz participated in a situation assessment in which the officials reviewed the recent military operation, “Guardian of the Walls.”  Minister Gantz was also given an operational briefing and participated in a discussion with commanders in the Gaza Division.

At the end of the visit, Minister Gantz said, “I am concluding a visit to the Gaza Division with the Head of the Planning Directorate and Head of the Southern Command, during which we discussed the implementation of our policy following operation ‘Guardian of the Walls.’  At the end of the operation, I said that the situation that was before, will be no longer – both in terms of policy and operational activity.  We have demonstrated this through our firm responses to every violation of our sovereignty.”

“The State of Israel is prepared for any scenario, and for long-term calm, or on the flip-side, for an escalation.  With the help of our Egyptian partners who play a constructive role, as well as additional international officials, we will continue to work to ensure long-term peace, to provide economic assistance to Gaza residents, and to ensure the return of our boys,” he added.

“At the same time, we are accumulating hundreds of new terrorist targets in order to ensure that we are ready to protect the residents of the south and to remove any potential threats.”

“Another issue we are trying to improve is transfer of Qatari aid.  Israel greatly appreciates Qatar’s contribution to stability in the area, and we are working together to create a mechanism that will ensure greater security for Israel, while strengthening the Palestinian Authority, as a moderate element and representative of the Palestinian people, and will promote the well-being of Gaza residents who suffer under the leadership of the Hamas terrorist organization.  We need long-lasting quiet – the longer it lasts, the better the situation will be for citizens on both sides,” concluded Gantz.



Palestinian Muntasir Shalabi Convicted For Killing Of Yehuda Guetta

The Judea Military Court on Tuesday (3rd) convicted Muntasir Shalabi for the terror murder of 19-year-old Yehuda Guetta in a drive-by-shooting on May 2nd, at Tapuah junction.

The legal proceedings moved forward at a fast pace with the IDF prosecution filing an indictment on June 10th and the trial opening on June 29th.

Shalabi, 44, was also convicted of multiple attempted -murder counts after he wounded two other 19-year-olds during the attack.

The indictment was filed following a combined interrogation by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and the police.

Five others were previously indicted in the Judea Military Court for obstruction of justice by giving Shalabi a place to hide during the initial manhunt when he managed to avoid arrest.

All five are being kept in police custody until the conclusion of their trials.

In late June, there was an additional suspect who is also expected to be indicted for harboring Shalabi in his efforts to avoid authorities.

Shalabi was eventually arrested in Silwad, northeast of Ramallah.

A resident of Jerusalem, Guetta had been a student in the Itamar Yeshiva.  He is survived by his parents, four brothers and two sisters.

“Yehuda in the last few days, we worried as you fought for your life, we prayed from the depth of our hearts that you would overcome your wounds, and across the entire country we begged for your recovery, but this morning, to our great sorrow, these prayers have turned to a eulogy,” Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion, said at Guetta’s funeral on May 6th.

“Our hearts are broken – but our spirits are strong,” Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan said, calling upon the government to establish a settlement near Tapuah junction in Guetta’s memory.

“I send sincere condolences to Yehuda Guetta’s family,” then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said within minutes of hearing of the young man’s death.  “These are difficult moments for the Guetta family, and the entire nation of Israel shares in your sorrow.”

“My heart goes out to the Guetta family who lost Yehuda tonight, only 19-years-old, who was shot during the heinous terrorist attack at the Tapuah junction,” a statement by Defense Minister Benny Gantz read after the attack.



PA, Qatar Reach Agreement On Transfer Of Aid Funds To Gaza

The Palestinian Authority and Qatar have reached an agreement on the transfer of the Qatari aid money to the Gaza Strip, after Hamas folded and accepted the new agreement and the involvement of the PA in the transfer process.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh confirmed Monday night (2nd) that “the PA agrees to be responsible for transferring part of the Qatari grant to the Gaza Strip intended only for needy families.”

According to the Memorandum of Understanding between the Palestinian Authority, the Ministry of Social Development and the Qatari Foreign Ministry through the Gaza Rehabilitation Committee,” the PA has agreed to transfer Qatari funds through banks subject to the supervision of the Palestinian Monetary Fund according to a list of names to be received from the Qatari side.

The transfer will be made using ATM cards and each bank that pays the amounts will issue special cards bearing the bank’s logo.  The transfers include assistance to 100,000 beneficiaries from poor families as well as to 27,695 beneficiaries, most of whom are Hamas officials.

After the funds are transferred to PA banks, the Authority will issue magnetic cards that will be recharged each month, in the amount of $100 and these will be handed over to the poor families in the Gaza Strip.

The parties agreed that the beneficiaries will be paid according to an agreed replacement mechanism, without deducting fees.

A senior Palestinian Authority official confirmed Tuesday (3rd) that the funds intended for the 27,000 Hamas administration officials in the Gaza Strip will also be transferred through PA banks and from them to the officials.

Hamas officials recently announced that they would agree to this mechanism if it was assured that no fee would be deducted from the family aid monies and that the list of names would include those that Hamas required Qatar to include in the lists now being handed over to the PA.



Israel: EU Legitimizing Terror By Sending Diplomat To Raisi Inauguration 

The EU is legitimizing Iranian aggression by sending its deputy foreign affairs chief to the inauguration of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, this week, the Israeli Foreign Ministry stated on Monday (2nd).

Enrique Mora, the EU coordinator in Iran nuclear talks and deputy secretary-general of the European External Action Services, of the EU’s foreign ministry, plans to attend Raisi’s inauguration.  The event is set to take place less than a week after Iran attacked an Israeli-managed ship off the coast of Oman, killing a citizen of Romania (an EU member state) and a British national.

Israel called on the EU to cancel its participation in the event.

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Lior Haiat said “the decision of the European Union to send a senior representative to the swearing-in ceremony of the ‘Butcher of Tehran’ is puzzling and shows poor judgment.”

Raisi’s nickname refers to the former judge’s role in the execution of thousands of Iranian dissidents, which earned him US sanctions for human rights violations.

Calling the attack on the ship Mercy Street an act of state-sponsored terror, Haiat said EU attendance at Raisi’s swearing in “gives legitimacy to the Iranian attack and the policy of aggression of the ayatollahs’ government.

Former EU high representative for foreign affairs Federica Mogherini attended the inauguration of Iran’s departing president Hassan Rouhani. 

However, the current ceremony is taking place after a nearly two-months break from indirect negotiations between Iran and the US to return to the 2015 nuclear deal.

Mora’s visit to Iran is meant in part to break the impasse and revive the talks, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Some of the European parties to the 2015 Iran deal – the UK, France and Germany, known as the E3 – objected to sending Mora to the inauguration, but none of the non-E3 European Union member states opposed it, according to the newspaper.

It was also reported on Tuesday (3rd) that Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh will begin his new term as the head of the terrorist organization’s political bureau by visiting Tehran this week to attend Raisi’s inauguration, according to media outlet Al-Mayadeen which is affiliated with Hezbollah.



Western Wall Stones Undergo Safety Inspection Ahead Of High Holy Days

A manual inspection of the Western Wall stones took place on Tuesday morning (3rd) ahead of the month of Selichot and the High Holy Days.

The inspection takes place twice a year, once before Rosh Hashana and again before Passover, to examine the stability of the Western Wall stones, including inside of Wilson’s Arch, in a detailed and comprehensive manner.

The inspection team uses a crane to move from stone to stone, checking the durability and maintenance level of each one, comparing it to the data collected from the previous inspection.

The inspection takes place under the halachic supervision of the Western Wall Rabbi, Shmuel Rabinowitz, in conjunction with the Israel Antiquities Authority and engineers of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation.

Director of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, Mordechai Eliav, commented on the inspection process, saying that “This foundation has been working for many years for the safety of visitors to the Western Wall.”

He continued, “We are concerned among other things, with examining the stability of the Western Wall stones.  Each stone has an identity card on which we keep track and inspect them twice a year, before thousands of pilgrims visit at special times and throughout the year.”

Ahead of this year’s selichot prayers and High Holy Days, the Western Wall Heritage Foundation has added more prayer events than usual, 17 in total, and has added live broadcasts to all selichot events, allowing those who cannot come in person to still participate.

The first Selichot event of this year will take place at the Western Wall Plaza on August 12, starting at midnight.