News Digest — 9/11/19

Remembering 9/11 In Jerusalem

In a ceremony held on Tuesday evening (10th) at the KKL-JNF Living Memorial Plaza in Jerusalem Park, a “Tribute in Light,” two illuminated pillars 985 feet tall were lit up, shining from Emek Ha’arazim all the way to Route 1, marking 18 years since the 9/11 attacks on the United States.

At the ceremony, held by KKL-JNF and JNF-USA, the beams were lit up by the prime minister’s wife, Sara Netanyahu, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, KKL-JNF Chief Development Officer Ronnie Vinnikov and JNF-USA Chief Israel Officer Eric Michaelson.

The “Tribute in Light” has been held each year in New York in remembrance of the victims of the September 11th attacks, with Israel being the first country to participate in this ceremony outside of the United States.

“Tribute in Light” will continue through the annual 9/11 Memorial Ceremony on Wednesday (11th) until the morning of 9/12.



During Netanyahu Campaign Rally, Gaza Rockets Shot Toward Israeli Cities – IDF Hits 15 Terror Targets

IDF fighter jets struck 15 terror targets in the northern and central Gaza Strip in the early hours of Wednesday morning (11th)  following a rocket attack on Israeli cities.

The targets included a military weapons manufacturing site, several targets in a naval force military compound and an offensive terror tunnel belonging to the Hamas terror organization.

The airstrike was in response to a rocket attack on Tuesday evening (10th), launched by Palestinian terrorists from Gaza at Israeli cities.  Israel’s Iron Dome system downed two of the incoming missiles.

The rockets’ trajectory prompted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to evacuate a campaign event in Ashdod.

One rocket landed near Ashkelon, whose Mayor Tomer Glam ordered all bomb shelters opened for residents of the city.

In Ashdod, the rocket siren wailed in the middle of Netanyahu’s address, after which the prime minister reportedly urged audience members to “quietly leave the area.”

In Ashkelon, a campaign event by the Blue and White party was also interrupted by the Palestinian rocket fire.  The party’s Gabi Ashkenazi was the main speaker of the Ashkelon event.

Palestinian terrorists fired the rockets just hours after Netanyahu announced that he would extend Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley if he “commands a mandate” in next week’s national elections.

Following the rocket attack on Tuesday (10th), Hamas forces evacuated posts throughout Gaza in anticipation of a retaliatory Israeli strike, reported the Times of Israel.

“The IDF will continue operating against attempts to harm Israeli civilians, and holds the Hamas terror organization accountable for events transpiring in the Gaza Strip and emanating from it,” the Israeli Army said.



Hamas Leader Envisions ‘Final Victory’ With Iran Over ‘Zionist Enemy’

Ties between Hamas and Iran “are just getting tighter” since a visit to Tehran by a Hamas delegation in July for the purpose of “coordinating positions” amid growing tensions in the Strait of Hormuz, the Gaza Strip, and in the area of Israel’s northern border with Lebanon and Syria, writes the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA) in an article published Tuesday (10th) in Israel Hayom.

In a letter sent by Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, “Haniyeh expresses his appreciation and thanks for Iran’s unquestionable support for the resistance,” which was expressed during the recent round of talks in Tehran, says JCPA.

Haniyeh adds that Iran has expressed its “willingness to equip” the Palestinian terror organization with “all of its requirements to fulfill its obligation,” according to JCPA.

The Jerusalem Center says that its information is based on reports in Persian-language news agencies.

It says that the contents of the letter are consistent with previous reports on the JCPA website of growing coordination and Iran’s willingness to provide military assistance to Hamas.

Haniyeh says that the support pledged to Hamas by Iranian leaders, including Khamenei himself, during the visit to Iran in July “opens before us immense horizons.  This will have a significant influence on the strategic dimensions and extent of operations against the Zionist enemy…until final victory” is achieved, according to JCPA.



Saudi Authorities Arrest Over 60 Hamas Members, Supporters

Security forces in Saudi Arabia have arrested over 60 individuals identified as Hamas members, the Lebanese news outlet Al Mayadeen reported on Tuesday (10th), quoting Palestinian sources based in Saudi Arabia.

According to the Lebanese report, the detainees are Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip who are members of the Hamas government.

The report said that Saudi forces raided the offices of Palestinian Hamas operatives in the kingdom, seizing computers and documents.

Al Mayadeen reported that for some weeks, Saudi security forces have been arresting and questioning Hamas supporters and operatives in Saudi Arabia.  The Saudi government has reportedly issued orders to confiscate the money and assets of Hamas operatives and supporters, as well as an order banning Hamas activity in the kingdom and banning membership in organizations suspected of helping Hamas launder money.

Hamas put out a statement claiming that on April 4, Saudi authorities arrested senior Hamas official Mohammed al-Khoudari, who is nearing 80 and has been living in the Saudi coastal city of Jeddah for the past three decades.  For two decades al-Khoudari was a prominent figure in Hamas-Saudi relations, as well as filling other roles in the leadership of the terrorist group. He is known as the “Hamas ambassador” to Saudi Arabia.

Since his arrest, al-Khoudari – who is reportedly suffering from a terminal illness – has been kept in detention.

Hamas called his arrest a “strange, incomprehensible step.”



Immigration To Israel Up 28% In 2019

Immigration to Israel is on the rise, while emigration from the Jewish state continues to decline.

Last month, Immigration Minister Yoav Galant celebrated the arrival of 242 new immigrants from the United States and Canada with a Facebook post, touting a 21% increase in Aliyah, or immigration to Israel, over the past 12 months.

A report Monday (9th) by Globes, however, found that the increase in the rate of immigration since 2019 began is even higher, with the number of immigrants who arrived in Israel during the first seven months of 2019 up 28% over the number of immigrants during the same period in 2018. 

If Israeli citizens born abroad are included, a total of 20,506 immigrants made Aliyah to Israel between January 1st and July 31st 2019, compared to 15,965 immigrants who moved to Israel during the same period in 2018.

By year’s end in 2018, a total of 31,601 immigrants had moved to Israel.

The increased level of immigration is due largely to a surge in the number of immigrants from Russia, a trend which began in 2018.

According to a December 27, 2018 report by the Jewish Agency, 2018 saw a 45% increase in immigration from Russia, even as immigration from other Eastern European countries like Ukraine declined that year.  More than 10,500 immigrants from Russia moved to Israel in 2018.

Immigration from Eastern Europe continued to increase in 2019, and by mid-year, it accounted for 74% of all immigration to Israel.

Last month, Nefesh B’Nefesh, an NGO working to facilitate immigration from North America to Israel, brought its 60,000th immigrant to Israel.