News Digest — 8/5/19

Netanyahu, Modi Celebrate Friendship Between Israel And India Online

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi expressed their mutual appreciation on Twitter Sunday (4th), celebrating the strong ties between the two nations.

The online greetings were triggered by a tweet from the Israeli Embassy in India to mark Friendship Day, which Indians celebrate every year on the first Sunday in August.

“Happy#FriendshipDay2019 India! May our ever-strengthening friendship & #growing partnership touch greater heights,” the embassy wrote.

Modi responded by attesting to his strong ties with Netanyahu, who in 2018 made a historic visit to New Delhi, following Modi’s visit to Jerusalem – the first by a sitting Indian prime minister.

Writing in Hebrew, Modi tweeted: “Thank you [the embassy]: I wish the great citizens of Israel and my friend @netanyahu a happy Friendship Day. Israel and India have proved their friendship over time.  Our ties are eternal and strong. I hope that our friendship will continue to thrive and grow even further.”

Netanyahu later issued a similar greeting, echoing Modi’s sentiment: “Thank you, my friend, Indian PM @narendramodi. I could not agree with you more.  The deep connection between Israel and India is rooted in the strong friendships between Israelis and Indians. We cooperate in so many areas. I know our ties will only strengthen in the future.”



Nazi Symbol Flies Over Hamas Riot In Gaza Strip

Some 6,000 Palestinians rioted along the Gaza border on Friday (2nd), throwing molotov cocktails, grenades and pipe bombs, according to Israeli media.

During the riots, a Nazi symbol was raised on the border fence.  The IDF noted it and tweeted: “The Nazi Swastika flag A symbol of murder And sheer hatred Raised yet again At a Hamas riot inside Gaza. In the face Of this hatred Stand IDF soldiers Alert and determined Ready to defend Israel Today and every single day.” 

According to the Palestinians, 50 rioters were hurt during the day.

Israel also located a balloon bomb on Friday (2nd) that floated in from the Gaza Strip near Kibbutz Lahav, 12 miles north of Beersheba in the Bnei Shimon region.  The device was deactivated by Israeli police sappers.

“I’m saddened that the settlements of Bnei Shimon are caught in the line of fire in this routine and incessant war.  However, we have a strong, professional security force that affords us an envelope of meaningful protection at all times,” said Nir Zamir, head of the Bnei Shimon Regional Council.



The Arab-Israeli Conflict Is About The Existence Of Israel – Tawfik Hamid

In 1947, the UN Partition Plan gave the Arabs control over most of the Holy Land.  The rejection of the plan by the Arab nations, and their declaration of war against Israel, was the first clear indication that the Arabs’ desire was never to provide a state for the Palestinian people, but to erase Israel from the map.

This destructive intent is memorialized in the Hamas Charter, which calls for the eradication of the State of Israel.  This intent is also aligned with the Iranian leaders’ continuous entreaties to destroy Israel. An evaluation of social media commentary in the Arab world demonstrates a genuine desire by many – if not most – to see the destruction of Israel and the killing not just of all Israeli Jews but of all Jews.

Rejecting the State of Israel is related to the fact that it is a Jewish rather than a Muslim country.  On several occasions I have asked Arab Muslims whether they would continue fighting Israel if its entire population converted to Islam.  The answer is a unanimous “no.” Then the problem has nothing to do with the land, as many claim, but with the Jewishness of the State of Israel.

The only place I have found discrimination in Israel was by Muslims, at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, where non-Muslims are not permitted to enter (because non-Muslims are seen as unclean).  By contrast, I – with my Muslim background – was freely allowed to visit the Western Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem without any objection from the Israeli authorities.



New IDF Team Will Specialize In Hunting Terrorists – Batya Jerenberg

The IDF’s new Special Operations Combat Team successfully finished its first exercise last week in hunting down terrorists, Makor Rishon reported Sunday (4th).

The special operations group was established after a series of deadly terror attacks over the past year in Judea and Samaria ended with the perpetrators evading capture for days and even weeks.

“It was clear that we had to change our outlook,” one of the team’s commanders told the newspaper, after the shootings near the Gilad Farm (January 2018), in the Barkan Industrial Zone (October 2018), and the stabbing and shooting near the Ariel Junction (March 2019) left five people dead and the killers at large.

Following the attacks, the team developed advanced techniques in cooperation with elite IDF units, including those that specialize in undercover work and collecting intelligence,” he said.

“We call the team the ‘Special Operations Depth Combat Team.’  Immediately after an attack, all the units gather at the site under a single commander at the brigade-level, with each bringing its own abilities.  We created a synergy whose goal is to capture the terrorist.”

According to the IDF, most intelligence gathering – electronic and human – is done by members of Battalion 636.  The elite Duvdevan unit is one that goes undercover into Arab villages.

They work with soldiers currently on duty in Judea and Samaria.  But there are others in the group whose identity is still being kept a closely guarded secret.

The intense, two-day army exercise gave the ‘terrorists’ 12 hours to hide.

It tested the new team’s abilities to first reconstruct the attack, and then track the fleeing men, said the IDF.  They made good use of security cameras scattered around much of the region and put all their intelligence-means into play to search for their targets.

The war-room constantly rang with phone calls as additional information poured in, and the commanders called in more forces as necessary until the ‘capture’ was made.

The officer quoted in Makor Rishon expressed confidence that the special unit will catch future terrorists far more quickly than before.

“The minute that everyone comes to the attack-site under one brain, and commander, the chase is more efficient,” he said in the report.

“The special forces will immediately join the community’s first responders and get the information they need.  The overlap will be faster and more efficient, and will get us to the critical hours much more prepared, he added.”



Jordan Orders Closing Of Aaron’s Tomb, Visiting Israelis Were ‘Stripped Down’

The Jordanian Waqf, the Islamic trust in charge of Muslim holy sites in Jordan as well as the Temple Mount in Jerusalem – Judaism’s holiest site and Islam’s third holiest  – announced the closure of Aaron’s Tomb on Thursday (1st) after Israeli tourists had entered the site and prayed there, according to a Sky News Arabic report, and Hebrew news media.

The site is located at the top of Mount Hermon, west of Petra City in southern Jordan.

The Israelis made the four-hour trek to the site on the occasion of the anniversary of the death of Aaron the High Priest, biblical Moses’ brother.

The first day of the Hebrew month of Av—which coincided this year with Thursday evening, August 2 at sunset until Friday evening (3rd), according to the Jewish lunar calendar—marked the anniversary of Aaron’s passing.  As recorded in the Bible, “At God’s order, Aaron the priest went up on Mount Hor, and he died there the first day of the fifth month of the fortieth year after the people of Israel had left the land of Egypt. Aaron was 123 years old when he died on Mount Hor.” (Numbers 33: 38-39)

The Jordanian Minister of the Waqf, Abdul Nasser Musa Abu al-Basal, ordered the closure of the site after a video surfaced showing some 500 Israelis praying there.  The minister claimed his office had not been informed of the visit in advance.

Roni Ayalon, the Israeli tour guide leading the group on the four-hour trek into Jordan, insisted that the visit had been coordinated.   The guide told news media that the Jordanians “stripped down everyone.” Women’s hair coverings and men’s skull caps were removed. In addition, all religious items were taken away.  

The Waqf said it will open an investigation into the incident and find the person responsible for allowing the Israelis to enter the tomb.