News Digest — 8/4/22

IDF Chief Of Staff Visits Gaza Division As Tensions Remain High

With tensions high in southern Israel, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi toured the Gaza Division on Thursday morning (4th) and approved offensive plans should there be an escalation of violence with the Gaza Strip.

Road restrictions in southern Israel will remain in place for the third day in a row over concerns of an attack by Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) after Israeli security forces arrested the senior leader of the group in the West Bank, overnight Monday (1st).

On Wednesday (3rd) the IDF called up 100 reservists to bolster the Gaza Division to assist in securing the area and keep civilians out of the areas that could be targeted by the PIJ, which has in the past fired anti-tank guided missiles toward Israeli vehicles both civilian and military.

The military is also on alert for any rocket fire and has placed its Iron Dome missile defense system on alert in order to intercept any projectiles.

Both Qatar and Egypt are trying to mediate with Hamas and PIJ in order to de-escalate the situation. 

Though Israel insists it is not interested in a new conflict with terror groups in the enclave, Defense Minister Benny Gantz warned on Tuesday (2nd) that the IDF would respond forcefully should PIJ carry out an attack.

Troops in the Southern Command and Gaza Division have been ordered to thwart any hostility if identified, such as a PIJ cell preparing to fire rockets, mortars or anti-tank missiles.  Armed drones flown by the Israel Air Force have also been readied to strike armed cells.

By using tactics developed and used during last year’s Operation Guardian of the Walls, both ground troops and armed drones are able to identify and strike targets in real time, including missile launchers and the cells using them.

Two weeks ago, the military censor allowed the publication that the Israel Air Force uses armed drones in operations, which played a significant role in the 11-days of fighting last year.

Despite the tensions, Israeli security forces, this week, continued with their arrest raids in the West Bank arresting 22 on suspicion of being involved in terror, including PIJ operatives.



Senior Islamic Jihad Official: ‘We Will Bomb The Center Of Israel’

Israel’s military is bracing for an attack near the border with Gaza, but other areas might be at risk as well.

Khaled al-Batsh, head of the politburo of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip, told The Media Line that central Israel is under threat by his organization.

“We have every right to bomb Israel with our most advanced weapons, and make the occupier pay a heavy price.  We will not settle for attacking around Gaza, but we will bomb the center of the so-called State of Israel,” Batsh said.

In an interview with The Media Line on Wednesday (3rd), Batsh made it clear that Islamic Jihad intends to retaliate for the arrest of its West Bank commander, Bassam al-Saadi, late on Monday night (1st).  “The Palestinian Islamic Jihad can’t sit silent and watch the Israeli crimes, and the spilling of Palestinian blood in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip,” he said.

Batsh also denied that Hamas is trying to prevent the PIJ from attacking Israel, stating that contact between the organizations is ongoing.  “No one attempts to stop us from using our right to stop the Israeli crimes,” he said.

“Our goal is to make the occupation pay for its crimes, and to prove that the Islamic Jihad will keep to its commitment to protect the Palestinian people and the resistance anywhere,” he added.



PA Destroys Hasmonean Fortress, Declares Area ‘Palestinian National Archaeological Park’

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has commandeered another archaeological site in Samaria and has converted it into a “Palestinian National Archaeological Park,” the latest in a series of Israeli heritage sites in the area lost to the PA.

The PA is continuing to destroy Tel Aroma, a Hasmonean-era fortress in Samaria which it seized in February 2020 and converted it into “a Palestinian tourist site,” as part of its campaign to seize Jewish heritage sites and transform them into “Palestinian sites” while systematically demolishing archaeological findings.

The PA has now announced it plans to develop it into a “National Archaeological Park.”

The archaeological site contains historical finds that testify to a Jewish presence since the Biblical period, as well as a Hasmonean-era fortress, and large ancient water reservoirs.

Under the cover of a Coronavirus (COVID-19) shutdown, during which Israeli Civil Administration inspectors were kept home, the PA rolled heavy machinery over the remains of the ancient fortress, paving an access road that has destroyed the remains of the 3,000-year-old fortress walls and water cisterns.  By doing so, the PA consolidated its takeover of Tel Aroma.

The PA also built a mosque on the hill near the archaeological site, and a uniquely decorated Herodian wall was stolen.   

The site is located in area B, under the PA’s civilian administration, which limits the access of Israelis to visit the place and preserve the findings.

Yossi Dagan, head of the Samaria Regional Council, stated Wednesday (3rd) that “in recent years, we have witnessed a new type of terrorism whose goal is to harm Jewish history in Samaria.  The Palestinian Authority is working to destroy any historical evidence that Samaria, along with the entire Land of Israel, belongs to the People of Israel.”

In recent years, huge PLO flags have been hoisted at several heritage sites, severely damaging the archaeological remains.

In November 2020, the PA inaugurated a “Palestinian” tourist complex in the town of Sebastia in Samaria, the historical capital of the Biblical Northern Kingdom of Israel.  A flagpole with the PLO flag was affixed to the ancient stones, under the auspices of UNESCO and the Belgian government, without any archaeological and scientific supervision.

More recently, unknown individuals from the PA again caused damage to the biblical-era site of Yehoshua ben Nun’s altar on Mount Ebal.

Dagan called on the government to “act as soon as possible and protect these important places.  Just as no other country in the world would allow the history of its people to be damaged, we too must not allow vandals from the Palestinian Authority to damage our history.  Tel Aroma is the heritage of the people of Israel and an important part of the history of the Jewish people and we must not stand by when the place is systematically destroyed.”

Findings presented to the Knesset in January showed that 90% of the sites that are destroyed are done so by the PA for development purposes, and 1% are destroyed by vandals for robbery purposes.



Hamas Summer Camps Offer Children Firearms Training

Hamas, the terrorist group controlling the Gaza Strip, launched its annual summer camp venture recently, indoctrinating the coastal enclave’s children and teens in the ways of its extremist ideology and offering weapons training to “prepare kids for liberating Palestine.”

According to the Middle East Media Research Institute, Hamas launched some 500 summer camps on July 23.  Some 100,000 boys and girls of various ages are attending the “Saplings of Jerusalem” camps.

MEMRI cited Hamas official Muhammad Farawneh as saying that holding the camps where an Israeli settlement once stood – “on soil that has been freed of the contamination of the occupation, is a sign that all of the Palestinian land will one day be regained.” 

Another Hamas official, head of the summer camp committee in Gaza’s central district, Muhammad Abu Mahmoud, said that the name “Saplings of Jerusalem” was chosen “to stress our deep-rooted rights in Jerusalem, and convey that the generation of liberation will continue to bear the banner until the occupation is removed from all of our occupied Palestinian land.”

The summer camps “are intended to raise a generation that possesses awareness and is capable of liberating Palestine,” a third Hamas official said, while a fourth mused, “Oh lion cubs, you are the generation of liberation, and with your help, we will liberate Al-Aqsa, Allah willing.”

The report noted that like previous summer camps, this year’s camps underscore religious and nationalist content alongside military and weapons training, as well as recreational activities.



Jews Were The Canadian Religious Minority Most-Targeted By Hate Crimes In 2021

Jews were the Canadian religious minority most-targeted by hate crimes in 2021, according to Statistics Canada, the national statistics agency.

Statistics Canada reported on Tuesday (2nd) that Jews were victims of 14% of Canada’s reported hate crimes despite making up just 1% of the population.  The report also noted that Jews faced a 47% increase in hate crimes compared to 2020. 

Overall hate crimes against all demographic groups rose 27% from 2020 and 72% over two years.

Statistics Canada stressed that the numbers were based solely on hate crimes reported to the police.

The Statistics Canada report focused on rising rates of overall crime, which it attributed to “unprecedented disruptions” to society stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.

Shimon Koffler Fogel, head of the Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency he was “deeply concerned” by the findings.

“This disturbing trend clearly proves the need for more protective measures to stop the rising hate that targets diverse Canadians based on their identity,” Koffler said.

“Statistically, Canadian Jews were more than 10 times more likely than any other Canadian religious minority to report being the target of hate crime,” Fogel noted.  This is alarming.”

Canada has 380,000 Jews.  Most live in and around Toronto and Montreal, the country’s two most populous cities.