News Digest — 8/9/19

Waqf Calls On Muslims To Pray In Al Aqsa On Tisha B’Av

The Waqf called on Muslims to pray in the Mosques on the Temple Mount during the Jewish holiday of Tisha B’Av on Sunday (11th), to prevent Jews from going up there to pray, the Army Radio reported on Friday (9th).

The Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, a branch of the Jordanian Ministry of Sacred Properties, is the Muslim authority managing the Islamic holy sites on the Temple Mount including the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock.

According to the Army Radio, a Waqf document circulating in Arab media invited all Muslims living in the Jerusalem area to go up to the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock instead of their local mosque, to keep Jews from going up during the holiday.

The site, referred to in Hebrew as Har Habayit, is the holiest religious site for the Jews and the third holiest for the Muslims.  However, an agreement was reached after Israel conquered the Old City in 1967, allowing Jordan to maintain civil administration over the area, restricting Jewish access to it.  Jews are allowed limited access to the Temple Mount, but are not allowed to pray there.

Starting on Saturday night (10th), Tisha B’Av mourns the destruction of both the First and Second Temple in 586 BCE and 70 CE.  On the day of Tisha B’Av, Jews observe mourning practices including fasting, sitting on the floor or low chairs and reciting the Book of Lamentations, in which the Prophet Jeremiah laments the destruction of the city and the subsequent exile.

This year, the end of Tish B’Av coincides with the beginning of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, their “festival of sacrifice.”

Tensions on the Mount often increase when Jewish and Muslim holidays overlap.

On Friday morning (9th), hundreds of Muslims gathered in the Mosques on the Temple Mount for prayer, Palestinian media reported.



At Scene Of Terror Attack, Netanyahu Vows Israel Will Settle The Score

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday (8th) visited the scene of a West Bank terrorist attack in which a yeshiva student was killed, vowing Israel would track down whoever was behind the deadly stabbing.

“We lost Dvir here, a precious member of the Sorek family that also lost a grandfather years ago.  Our hearts are with them and we are embracing them at their difficult moment.” said Netanyahu, who is also defense minister.

The body of Dvir Sorek, who was in a program combining religious study and military service, was found early Thursday (8th) with stab wounds, near Migdal Oz.

“Our answer to the murderers is two fold: They come to destroy and we are building.  Our hands will reach them and we will settle the score with them. The investigation is going forward and is at its height,”he added, echoing comments he had made earlier in the day at the Bet El settlement.

No Palestinian terror group has claimed credit for the attack.

Authorities are launching a wide-scale manhunt for the killers and the IDF has sent troops into the West Bank.

Meanwhile, Dvir Sorek’s funeral was held Thursday evening at 8 p.m., in the settlement of Ofra, his hometown.



Hamas, Islamic Jihad praise killing of 19-year-old Jewish Student

Islamic Jihad and Hamas praised the killing of an IDF soldier and yeshiva student on Thursday (8th) with both terror groups calling it “heroic.”

Islamic Jihad said the stabbing attack “sent an important message and was heroic.”

Hamas said, “We congratulate our people for the heroic action in which the soldier was killed.  We call on the PA and the security forces to stop the security coordination with Israel. Armed struggle in the West Bank is noble.  Our people will sacrifice what’s most dear to them to defend our land and Jerusalem.”

Neither group took credit for the killing.  However Hamas has been actively building terror cells in Judea and Samaria.  The IDF revealed on Tuesday (6th) that it had broken up a Hamas bomb-making cell in Hebron in June.

Ma’ariv reports several Hamas cells have been discovered in Judea and Samaria whose goal is to recruit Hamas activists for terror attacks.

A senior members of Israel’s Shin Bet said that, “The military arm of the Hamas terror group in the Gaza Strip continues to invest great efforts into establishing a terror infrastructure in Judea and Samaria with the goal of carrying out attacks in Israeli territory.”



Israeli Ambassador Calls On UN To Condemn Terrorist Murder

Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, sent a letter to the Security Council, addressed to UN Ambassador to Poland Joanna Wronecka, demanding the Council condemn the murder of Corporal Dvir Sorek.

“The attack and its glorification are the direct result of the Palestinian leadership’s ongoing policy of educating and incentivizing its youth to kill Jews throughout Israel,” Danon wrote in the letter.  “I call upon the Security Council to condemn this sickening act of terror immediately, unequivocally and in the strongest terms possible. It is the duty of the council to put an urgent stop to all Palestinian incitement efforts.”

Sorek was murdered in a stabbing attack in Gush Etzion early Thursday morning (8th).

Sorek’s yeshiva said he had gone to Jerusalem to buy books for the yeshiva, and was on his way back when he was killed.

At a certain point, contact was lost with him.  At 7:30 p.m., Wednesday night (7th) police received a report of a missing person, and forces began extensive searches to locate the soldier.  His body was found around 3 a.m. Thursday (8th).



Holocaust Survivor Marks 104th Birthday At Western Wall With 400 descendants

Holocaust survivor Shoshanna Ovitz had requested ahead of her birthday that “all of her children, grandchildren and descendants come together to the Western Wall.”

On Wednesday (7th), hundreds heeded the call, flocking to the holy site days before Ovitz’s 104th birthday.

“We don’t have an exact number, but there are about 400 grandchildren and descendants here,” Pnina Friedman, Ovitz’s eldest granddaughter, told theWalla News site, as a photo of the gathering swiftly went viral.

“It wasn’t easy organizing such a one-time event.  We started sending out emails, messages and making phone calls.  It was important for us to contact everyone. She asked us to put together a list of all the names of the grandchildren and great-grandchildren so that she could look at them and pray,” Friedman said.

Some of Ovitz’s descendants lived abroad and couldn’t attend, Friedman said.

“It wasn’t until we got to the middle that we realized what a big undertaking this was.  Everyone had eyes filled with tears. It was very moving,” said Friedman.

One of her grandchildren told Israel journalist Sivan Rahav Meir of Channel 12  that Ovitz survived Auschwitz and was separated from her mother who was killed by Josef Mengele.

Ovitz met her husband while the two were searching for surviving relatives after the Holocaust and married when she was in her early 30s.  Before moving to Israel, they lived in a transit camp in Austria – where their first daughter was born. They later moved to Haifa, where they established their family, which grew to include two sons and two daughters – and decades later, hundreds more descendants.



Jewish Sisters Find Swastikas In Indiana College Dorm Room

The University of Indianapolis has launched an investigation after two Jewish sisters from Israel found swastikas drawn inside their dormitory room after arriving on campus for the Fall term.

Michal Sasson said she and her twin sister, Shira, were still carrying their suitcases when they discovered two reddish-pink swastikas Monday night (5th) on a wall in their room at Roberts Hall.  She said the shocking find “was like a kick in my stomach” and that she and her sister were scared.

“I just said: ‘We’re miles and miles away from home, and this is our home away from home,’” Sasson told the Indianapolis Star.  “And at that moment, I felt even farther away from my home.  I felt like I was excluded, and it was very painful.”

The sisters, who are juniors,  have attended the university on Indianapolis’ south side for the past two years.  Both play basketball for the college, which is affiliated with the United Methodist Church.

School officials said in a statement that they’re “saddened and angered by this act of hate and bigotry” and are investigating.

“Although we do not yet know the source of this anti-Semitic act, we should all be reminded that the University of Indianapolis is a welcoming and inclusive environment, denounces actions such as these, and does not tolerate anti-Semitic actions or any behavior that is aligned with ideologies that promote hate,” the statement said.

The university’s probe will include tracking down everyone who rented campus housing over the summer or had access to the sisters’ room.

Michal Sasson said the love and support she and her sibling have received from friends, family and school employees have made the situation easier.  

“I’m very pleased at the way they are handling it,” she said.

The Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council said it appreciated the college’s quick action and its statement condemning anti-Semitic acts.