News Digest — 9/13/23

Sinkholes Open Across Central Israel Amid Unseasonable Rain, Weather

Sinkholes opened on Eliezer Hoofien St. in Holon and Shirat Geulim St. in Herzliya on Wednesday (13th) as unseasonable rainy weather was reported in multiple locations across Israel.

Police were at the scenes directing traffic and recommended taking alternative routes.

The remnants of storm Daniel, a tropical-like cyclone that caused intensive flooding in Libya and Greece reached Israel on Wednesday (13th), sparking isolated thunderstorms and unseasonably rainy conditions along the coast and in central Israel.

The Israel Meteorological Service (IMS) warned that flooding could occur along the central and southern coast, with a chance of flash floods in streams in eastern Israel.  The IMS predicted that 1.9 – 2.9 inches of rain would fall along the coast.

The IMS noted that while the amount of rain in September in Israel is usually very low, this year an upper-level low-pressure system developed earlier than usual, interacting with a high sea temperature to create a type of cyclone referred to as a “deep depression” with a lot of energy.

When storm Daniel was West of Israel and rotating counter-clockwise earlier this week, it brought hot temperatures and haze to Israel.  On Wednesday (13th) the remnants of the storm  reached Israel, bringing unseasonal amounts of rain.

The rain is expected to end by Wednesday (13th) evening.

Due to the weather, police called on motorists to drive carefully and to avoid flooded areas.  Police also recommended avoiding underground parking lots and elevators on underground levels.  Warnings were also given for people to stay away from the beaches due to the  danger of strong winds and high waves.



Nearly 5 Million Travelers Expected To Pass Through Ben Gurion Airport During Holiday Season

Data from the Israel Airports Authority indicates that more than 4.9 million passengers are projected to travel through Ben Gurion Airport during the upcoming holiday season.  The surge in passenger numbers already began in recent days, coinciding with the approach of the Jewish New Year on September 15th, and it is anticipated to persist until the conclusion of the holiday season, around Simchat Torah on October 7.

The highest number of passengers is anticipated on specific dates during the holiday season.  On September 14, a day before the start of Rosh Hashanah, approximately 102,000 passengers are expected to travel through Ben Gurion Airport.  On September 19, around 100,000 passengers are projected to pass through the airport.  The peak of passenger traffic during the holiday season is expected on September 28, leading up to the eve of Sukkot, with an estimated 103,000 passengers passing through Ben Gurion Airport according to estimates.

On the evening of Yom Kippur, September 24, international air travel operations will cease at 2 p.m. and will resume at 10 p.m. the following day.

Based on the information provided by the Airports Authority, popular destinations during the holiday season include: Turkey, Greece, the United States, Italy, Cyprus and the United Kingdom.

Thousands of Hasidic Jews and worshipers started arriving at Ben Gurion Airport on Monday (11th), with the intention of visiting the grave of Rabbi Nachman in the Ukrainian city of Uman. Throughout the week, approximately 50 dedicated flights are scheduled to depart from Ben Gurion Airport bound for Uman.  However, due to the ongoing war, these flights will be redirected to nearby destinations such as Romania, Poland. And Moldova.

According to the Ministry of Transportation, “the Airport Authority has expanded its workforce, will be operating fast check-in kiosks and self-service baggage delivery, have added fast electronic screening measures to reduce queues, established special routes for passengers with disabilities and expanded the shuttle system for transportation between terminals and parking lots.

The Airport Authority recommends that “passengers perform check-in from home,  and arrive three hours ahead of departure, preferably using public transportation with an emphasis on Israel Railways,” according to a statement.



Israel’s Declaration Of Independence Displayed On WZO Building

In a symbolic move, the World Zionist Organization (WZO) building in Tel Aviv overlooking Leonardo  da Vinci Street, displayed the Declaration of Independence  on Tuesday morning (12th).  This act came as part of an initiative to display the foundational document across various buildings throughout Israel, and in the midst of the heated debate in support or against the judicial reforms.

The decision of promoting the Declaration of Independence was adopted by the World Zionist Congress; and was promoted by the liberal factions of the Zionist Movement.

According to a statement by the WZO on Tuesday (12th) , the Declaration not only proclaims the establishment of the State of Israel, but also emphasizes its core principles: the right for every Jew to immigrate, laws that benefit all residents, and the vision of a society rooted in freedom and equality regardless of religion, race, or gender.

Yaakov Hagoel, chairman of the WZO, emphasized the Declaration’s inclusive nature, stating it transcends any single political perspective.

Dr. Yizhar Hess, the organization’s vice chairman, commented on the growing trend of buildings showcasing the Declaration, viewing it as a collective reconnection to Israel’s foundational values amidst current societal challenges.



Two Lightly Wounded In Terrorist Shooting Attack Near Huwara

Two people were lightly wounded in a shooting attack near Huwara in the northern West Bank on Tuesday evening (12th), according to Magen David Adom.

The two suffered from injuries from shards of glass, according to MDA.

The IDF conducted a manhunt in pursuit of the suspected shooters.  Shortly after the attack, the al-Fajr Brigade terror group claimed responsibility for the shooting, according to Palestinian reports.

Last week, the al-Fajr Brigade claimed responsibility for a shooting attack in the Jordan Valley in which a Border Police officer was moderately injured.

Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan  was in the area at the time of the attack Tuesday (12th) and helped treat the wounded.

“I am standing here and I am telling the prime minister, I am telling the defense minister, and I am telling all the ministers, this is your responsibility.  It is in your hands and you are responsible for the fact that Jews are being shot here again and again in the center of the State of Israel,” said Dagan.  “We came here to live.  We will not let this go.  We demand security, we demand that you restore deterrence.”

Dagan called for checkpoints to be set up by Israeli forces throughout the northern West Bank.

Hamas spokesperson Muhammad Hamadeh welcomed the attack Tuesday evening (12th), saying: “The shooting operation in the town of Huwara, this evening is a heroic response to the foolishness of National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir against the prisoners, and the settlers’ plans against the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque.  It is a message of fire to the occupation and its settlers who threaten Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa with assault and desecration during the Jewish Holidays.



UK Foreign Secretary: Abbas Should Condemn Terror Instead Of Spreading Anti-Semitism

British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly on Tuesday (12th) called on Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas to condemn terrorist attacks against Israelis, rather than spread “disgusting anti-Semitis tropes,”  The Jerusalem Post reported.

“When I meet with the leadership of the Palestinian Authority – I will make it clear that rather than spread disgusting anti-Semitic tropes and outrageous distortions of history, he should be clear in his denouncement of violence,” Cleverly was quoted as having told the World Summit on Counterterrorism in Herzliya.

The PA “should be clear that there is no acceptance of brutality and terrorism,” Cleverly said, adding “It should be clear that there is no excuse to target Israelis, particularly Israeli citizens because that is the only way peace is possible.”

Cleverly’s comments follow Abbas’ recent anti-Semitic speech in which the PA Chairman claimed that Jews are not Semites and that Adolf Hitler only killed Jews “because they dealt in usury and money.”

The comments have been widely condemned, including by US Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, Deborah Lipstadt.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo stripped Abbas of the French capital’s highest honor due to the speech.

The representative Office of Canada to the PA joined in on the condemnation of the speech, writing, “We strongly condemn the inflammatory and anti-semitic comments made by PA Leader Abbas.  These remarks distort the historical truth of the Holocaust and promote classic and contemporary tropes of Jew-hatred.”

Cleverly in his remarks on Tuesday (12th) lauded the strong bilateral relationship between Israel and the United Kingdom and condemned Iran for its call to destroy the Jewish state as well as its support of terror against it.



Gaza Terror Groups Stage Military Drill To Mark Anniversary Of Israeli Pullout

The Gaza Strip’s so-called “Joint Operations Room,” composed of various Palestinian terror groups, held a military drill Tuesday morning (12th) to mark the 18th anniversary of Israel’s 2005 pullout from the territory.

Hamas, Islamic Jihad and 10 smaller factions participated in the exercise, in the fourth iteration of a yearly PR ritual that began in 2020.

Photos and video footage published by the Joint Operations Room and Palestinian media outlets showed a barrage of rockets fired toward the Mediterranean sea, and showcased supposed drone capabilities and urban guerrilla warfare.

In an official statement, Hamas affirmed that the drill conveyed a “message of unity and strength in the internal and external level, and proof of the readiness of the resistance and its development on the field.”

Hamas political bureau chief Ismail Haniyeh said Israel’s “defeat” in the Gaza Strip in 2005 came thanks to the escalation of the ‘resistance.” and the introduction of new military strategies, including the use of mortar shells, Qassam rockets and tunnels.

Mohammed Deif, head of the Hamas military wing the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, said in a televised speech on the sidelines of the drill that “armed resistance is the only way for Palestinians to liberate their historic lands and declare their own state.”  He added that armed groups “will force Israel to evacuate the West Bank and all the occupied Palestinian territories,” according to a report in The New Arab.

The pullout of the 21 settlements in Gaza and the removal of Israeli forces from inside the Strip was actually carried out in August of 2005, but September 11 was the day when the last Israeli flag was lowered in the IDF’s Gaza Strip divisional headquarters, and therefore Gaza factions celebrate September 12 as the first day without Israeli presence in the Strip.

Hamas has ruled the coastal enclave since 2007, when it expelled its rival Fatah following a bloody struggle for control of the territory.  Israel has fought several large campaigns against terror groups in the Strip since Hamas took control of the area, along with dozens of smaller skirmishes.