News Digest — 8/6/21

20 Rockets Fired From Lebanon To Israel, Iron Dome Activated

Rocket sirens sounded on Friday morning (6th) along Israel’s northern border with Lebanon and Syria.  The rockets came from Lebanon, but it was not clear if the source was Hezbollah or Palestinian-affiliated groups along the border.  The IDF responded with artillery fire at the Mount Dov area.

Alarms sounded in Ein Kuniya, Snir and Neve Ativ in the Golan Heights and northern Galilee.

No casualties have been reported so far.  The IDF confirmed that 10 rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome, with circulating reports indicating that around 20 were originally fired.  It is unclear in which area some of the rockets fell.

A Lebanese security source confirmed to Reuters that rockets had been fired from southern Lebanon towards Israel.

This follows prior rocket fire earlier in the week with rockets fired into Israel from south Lebanon.

Instructions were sent to the residents of Kiryat Shmona, stating that shelters opened on Tuesday (3rd) following rocket fire from previous days will remain open over the weekend to give residents a sense of security.  Mayor Avihay Shtern and the Municipal Chief of Staff Dekel Arieh are in continuous contact with military officials.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz went out in the middle of recording an interview for a security update in the Kirya military headquarters, which includes the General Staff Headquarters in Tel Aviv, in preparation for Israel’s response.

On Wednesday (4th), the IDF identified three launches from Lebanon with one rocket falling inside Lebanese territory, one intercepted by Iron Dome and one landing in an open area in Israel.

The IDF retaliated with three rounds of artillery shells.

The latest update has Hezbollah claiming responsibility for the current rocket attack Friday morning (6th).



Bennett: Still No Plan To Allow Vaccinated Tourists Into Israel

There is no plan to let vaccinated tourists into Israel, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Thursday (5th) during a Facebook briefing in response to a question from the Jerusalem Post.

“The plan will be dependent on the virus,” he said.  “If we go out and we vaccinate and the virus is quelled, we can open up to tourists again – with the proper testing and other procedures, such as testing before takeoff and landing and isolation based on the location from which the tourist is traveling.”

“With the way the situation is now, we cannot take the chance and let mass amounts of tourists into Israel,” the prime minister said.

At the end of the third wave, the previous government made a commitment to allow individual vaccinated tourists into the country on July 1, a move that was pushed off until August 1 and now it seems indefinite.

Small numbers of tourists traveling in approved groups have been entering Israel since the end of May.

The Delta variant has been rapidly spreading across the country.  On Wednesday (4th) some 195 people who had entered Israel from abroad within the last 10 days tested positive for the virus.



Michael Herzog, President’s Brother Said To Be Next Ambassador To Washington

According to Hebrew media reports, retired IDF Brig.- Gen. Michael Herzog, a veteran diplomatic negotiator and brother of President Isaac Herzog, is the leading candidate to become Israel’s next ambassador to Washington.

Because of the importance Jerusalem places on managing relations with the US, the position is regarded as one of Israel’s most important diplomatic postings.

The reports said that Prime Minister Naftali Bennett hopes to bring Herzog’s nomination to Sunday’s (8th) weekly cabinet meeting for final approval.

The appointment also needs Foreign Minister Yair Lapid’s assent.  Reports said that Bennett wants someone who Lapid would be comfortable keeping in that post when Lapid becomes Prime Minister.  Under the terms of the coalition agreement, Lapid is due to become Prime Minister in August, 2023.

Ambassador Gilad Erdan is currently Israel’s top envoy to both Washington and the United Nations.  It’s believed that Erdan, who was appointed by Benjamin Netanyahu, will continue representing Israel in the UN.

Herzog is now a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

He fought as an infantryman in the 1973 Yom Kippur War before climbing the ranks of the IDF, eventually serving as chief of staff to four defense ministers.  Herzog also served as former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s special envoy to the peace process in 2009-2010 and was also a negotiator in Netanyahu’s back-channel talks with the Palestinians in 2013-2014.

Herzog has relationships with a number of key figures in Washington, including President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.

A source told the Times of Israel that Herzog was a “slam dunk” for the post.  “He checks all the right boxes,” he said.



130 New Immigrants Arrived In Israel From France

130 new olim (immigrants) arrived in Israel from France Wednesday evening (4th) on an aliyah flight funded by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.  More than half of them were children.

While the olim cited many reasons for wanting to come to Israel, safety was a common theme – especially as anti-Semitism in France is on the rise.  Celine, a 40-year-old mother of three, said, “We simply want to live openly as Jews.  I dream of the moment when our son will be able to walk outside with his yarmulke on and be able to feel safe.”

Dov, 21, is about to realize his aliyah dream after living in Israel for two years during his youth.  He leaves behind his parents in order to live in the Holy Land.  “My parents could not leave their jobs,” he said, “but I always wanted to fulfill the Zionist dream.”

Yael Eckstein, President and CEO of the Fellowship, said, “We are so proud that we’ve been able to continue to bring olim to Israel, despite the ongoing challenges of the coronavirus crisis.  The fact that they still long to come to Israel despite those challenges shows their commitment.  It is the embodiment of Zionism.  In cooperation with the Minister of Aliyah and the Ministry she heads, the Fellowship will ensure that olim have all the tools they need to become full, productive members of Israeli society.”

Pnina Tamano Shata, Israel’s Minister of Aliyah and Integration, said, “I am blessing the arrival of 130 olim that landed in Israel from France today and are starting their new lives here in Israel.  The Ministry of Aliyah and Integration will accompany them in the upcoming years in order to allow them a smooth and quick integration.”



Why Are PA Banks Delaying Transfer Of Qatari Funds To Gaza?

In a move that could jeopardize the fragile Egyptian-brokered ceasefire between Hamas and Israel, Palestinian Authority banking and humanitarian systems are refusing to be the conduit through which Qatar can disburse its money to the Gaza Strip, Ynet reported Thursday (5th).

Palestinian sources told the news site that officials were concerned that if any Qatari humanitarian funds reached Gaza’s Islamist groups (Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad), they could be exposed to lawsuits on the grounds of supporting and funding terrorism.

According to “the Memorandum of Understanding between the Palestinian Authority through the Social Development Ministry 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 compiled by the Qatari side, Ynet said.

The transfers will provide much needed assistance for approximately 100,000 beneficiaries from poor families, as well as some 28,000 additional ones, most of whom are Hamas officials.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that following Operation Guardian of the Walls against Hamas infrastructure in the Gaza Strip, Israel wanted to ensure that humanitarian aid was indeed used for that purpose and not to rearm the terrorist groups’ military wings.

Hamas leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar has consistently threatened resumption of violence if the transfer of Qatari aid money to Gaza is blocked.



Palestinians Rewrite History To Refute The Jewish Connection To Israel

On June 29 and 30, 2021, the Ramallah branch of al-Quds Open University held a conference sponsored by PA Leader Mahmoud Abbas as part of a program on “Deconstructing the Zionist Narrative.”  PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh reiterated the Palestinian claim that no connections exist between the Hebrews, the Israelis and the Jews, and that today’s Jews are actually Khazars, a Turkish-speaking tribe which converted to Judaism in the 6th century CE.  Other speakers stressed that the Jews had no links to Jerusalem.

The objectives of the Palestinians are to deny the existence of the Jewish people and its historical connections to the Land of Israel, foster hatred for Israel and the Jews, and sabotage any chance of significant dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians.  

In his opening speech, Abbas boasted that international world opinion was gradually moving towards an acceptance of the Palestinian narrative.   



UK Anti-Semitism At All Time High During First Half Of 2021

During the first half of this year British Jews experienced record levels of anti-Semitism, with a 491 percent increase in school-related incidents, said a report released this week.

The significant uptick came largely in May during the fighting between Israel and Hamas according to newly compiled statistics released by the Community Security trust (CST), the organization tasked with providing security to the UK Jewish community, reported the Jewish Chronicle.

The document detailed 1,308 anti-Semitic incidents between January and June, the highest number ever recorded by the CST.

Reported incidents involving schools, teachers and students increased from 22 during the first half of 2020 to 130 during the first half of 2021.  The vast majority of those cases took place at non-religious schools, a number up 62 percent from last year.

Levels of anti-Semitism experienced by the Jewish community were “worse than anything seen in recent decades,” said CST CEO Mark Gardner.

Most of the incidents involving schools occurred in May during the reopening after a Covid lockdown and the 11-day conflict between Israel and Hamas.

Gardner called the targeting of younger Jews “disgraceful.”

He pledged to continue to do “everything that we can to protect our Jewish communities and to give them the security and comfort that they need.”

Nearly half of all incidents from January to June occurred during May.  The number of incidents that month, 639, is the highest monthly figure recorded by the CST.

During the six-month time period studied, there were 89 violent attacks, an increase of 68 percent over 2020.  All but two of the assaults were categorized as “extreme violence.”

There were also 56 incidents of vandalism to Jewish property, 85 anti-Semitic threats and five anti-Semitic mailers.

The incidents mostly took place in Manchester and London.