News Digest — 9/20/23

Israel’s UN Envoy Waves Mahsa Amini Photo during Iranian President’s Speech

Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan waved a photo of Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish Iranian woman, 22, killed in the custody of Iran’s “morality police,” during an address by Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi at the UN General Assembly on Tuesday night (19th).

The photo included text reading “Iranian women deserve freedom now!”  Erdan and the rest of the Israeli delegation proceeded to exit the plenum, after displaying the photo.

“While the Butcher (Raisi) from Tehran is speaking at the UN and is being respected by the international community, hundreds of Iranians are protesting outside, shouting and calling on the international community to wake up and help them!  It is a disgrace that ambassadors stay to listen to a mass murderer,” said Erdan.

“It is inconceivable that a murderer with blood on his hands gets a platform here at the UN.  I left the hall to make it clear that the State of Israel stands by the Iranian people.  I call on the international community to stop the madness and prevent murderers and anti-Semites from coming and speaking here at the UN.”

Raisi is often referred to as the “Butcher of Tehran” in light of his involvement in the mass executions of Iranian political prisoners in the 1980s.

Earlier, Erdan published a video of himself in front of a display set up by Iranian protesters in front of the UN.  The display showed the Iranians killed by the regime.

“While the UN rolls out the red carpet for the Butcher of Tehran, President Raisi, Iranians here in New York are here to show the true face of the Ayatollah regime.  The leaders in Iran only seek to oppress, starve, and murder their own people, while exporting terror and racing toward nuclear weapons,” wrote Erdan on X (formerly Twitter).

“The world must wake up and listen to the voices of innocent Iranians!  The Ayatollah regime must be held accountable for its crimes and pay the price!  The people of Israel stand with the people of Iran.”



‘I Expect A Lot From Israel,’ Zelensky Tells Netanyahu

In a Tuesday (19th) meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York City, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that the Jewish state would continue to assist Ukraine amid its ongoing conflict with Russia.

Netanyahu specified that aid would focus on humanitarian issues, including dealing with landmines.

Wearing his trademark military green shirt, Zelensky approached Netanyahu, and they shook hands and exchanged salutations,  “I see you all the time.” Netanyahu said.

When introduced to the Israel entourage, Zelensky said, “You have a very big team.”

Mossad director David Barnea received a hug from Zelensky, who said “I’m glad to see you.”  The exchange “sparked worldwide attention and speculation that the two know each other,” news media reported.

Netanyahu’s office called the meeting “cordial.”

Zelensky opened the meeting by emphasizing that relations between the two countries are good, adding that he expects ‘a lot’ from the Jewish state.

“I expect a lot from Israel, but there are no problems in our relations.”

The meeting was the first between the two leaders since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022.



4 Palestinians Killed In Clashes With IDF In Jenin

4 Palestinians were killed and many wounded during clashes with the Israeli military in Jenin in the northern West Bank on Tuesday evening (19th), Palestinian health officials said.

The Israel Defense Forces confirmed that troops were operating in the Jenin ‘refugee’ camp, and had used a Rafael Spike FireFly loitering munition, but did not provide further details.

A local wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad said its members opened fire at Israeli forces and detonated explosive devices in the area.

One video showed gunfire appearing to hit a minaret where shots were apparently fired from.

The Palestinian Authority Health Ministry said two Palestinians were shot dead, with others wounded, including 7 seriously, amid the clashes.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant’s offices said they were being updated on the fighting in Jenin as well as the rioting on the border with the Gaza Strip.

Earlier Tuesday (19th), a Palestinian was killed during rioting on Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip, health authorities in the territory announced, including several that were wounded.

Violence has surged across the region over the past year and a half, with a rise in Palestinian terrorist shooting attacks against Israeli citizens and troops in the West Bank, and near-nightly arrest raids by the military.

Palestinian terror attacks in Israel and the West Bank, since the beginning of the year, have left 27 civilians and three soldiers dead, and many seriously wounded.

183 West Bank and eastern Jerusalem Palestinians have also been killed during the same period – the majority during armed clashes with security forces or while carrying out terror attacks.



Israel Unveils IDF’s New AI-Powered ‘Barak’ Super Tank

The IDF’s new advanced and AI-powered Barak tank is operational and beginning to join the ranks of the army’s tanks, starting with Armored Corps’ Battalion 52, the Defense Ministry announced on Tuesday (19th)

The new tank has been in development and production for over five years.  It was developed in a joint effort by the Defense Ministry’s Directorate of Defense Research and Development, the IDF Ground Forces, the Armored Corps, and the 401st Brigade.

With new targeting abilities, the tank is designed to monitor its surroundings and process and present the information to the soldiers in a simple and easy-to-use way.  As part of this, the tank is programmed to zero in on, and target the enemy before they are able to attack the tank.

The system also allows the driver to focus on one environment at a time, allowing the operator to see the surroundings outside the tank with a push of a button.  This is meant to help solve complex navigation issues in different areas, especially urban areas.

The Barak was designed with the soldiers at the center.  As such, the operating system is able to adapt itself to the tank and needs of the soldier using it with a choice within the platform that allows the soldier to pick the optimal setting for the task at hand.

While this is meant to lessen the workload for the soldiers, the teams will have the same four people (commander, driver, gunner, and loader),but the tasks performed by the team members may change.

The tank also includes advanced AI, “multi-touch 21” screens, and helmets with binoculars similar to those used by fighter pilots.

The new tank’s system is designed to keep advancing as warfare and the battlefield develop.  Machine learning will adapt the system in such a way that soldiers won’t have to constantly learn how to use new functions.

As part of the Merkava series (Mark 4 of the fifth generation),the Barak is technically a tank,  but everything about its functions, abilities, and design, set it apart from the other models in the series.  With time, the IDF intends to replace the older Mark 3 tanks with the Barak.

“On the occasion of marking fifty years since the Yom Kippur War, and the heroic battles fought by the Armored Corps defenders of our land, we receive further proof of the relevance and strength of the tank as a fundamental and decisive component of the ground forces,” Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said.

“The new era ushered in by the Barak tank is an extraordinary leap and a clear expression of the technological capabilities that continually enhance and secure the qualitative advantage of the IDF, both in defense and offense.  I extend great appreciation to the engineers and professionals of MANTAX, the Ground Forces, and all involved in this project,” he added.



Tunisia Hints Israel Is Behind Devastating Storm Daniel Due To “Zionist” Name

The massive storm that devastated Libya’s Derma is somehow linked to Zionism because it was named “Daniel,” according to Tunisian President Kais Saied.  In a conversation posted on social media on Tuesday (19th), he can be heard making a series of comments about the storm and its name.

Storms are often named randomly in line with various methods of naming storms after women and men and using sequential letters of the alphabet.  Nevertheless, Saied said the name “Daniel” was evidence of “Zionism’s growing influence.”

“Derna has been devastated by the storm and floods,” said the Arabic-language Euro News site which also reported on Saied’s comments.  “Bodies are still being pulled from the sea, and thousands of people are missing and presumed dead.  A quarter of the city is believed to be destroyed.”

“Amid this humanitarian crisis, a statement by Tunisian President Kais Saied sparked a wave of criticism that deemed him busy with another topic that was not commensurate with the scale of the disaster.” 

“He had excoriated the name of the storm (Daniel), as if the name itself had something to do with how devastating it was, and he claimed ‘Zionism’ had penetrated,” according to the report.

One comment on social media said, “Daniel is not only a name associated with a prophet and Jews, but is also known in Islam as well, and there are tombs and pilgrimage sites associated with him in Iraq and Iran.”

In addition there were concerns that Saied”s comments came in the wake of an attack near the synagogue in Djerba, where Tunisia has a Jewish community.

The comments also came in the wake of Palestinian Authority Leader Mahmoud Abbas making anti-Semitic remarks, and after a controversy in Libya regarding a meeting between the Libyan foreign minister and Israel’s foreign minister in Italy.  The Libyan minister fled the country after reports of the meeting, which led to protests. 



Second Temple-Era Workshop Discovered Near Jerusalem

Israeli archeologists have discovered an ancient workshop for the manufacture of stone utensils just outside Jerusalem, the Civil Administration’s Archaeology Unit announced on Monday (18th) 

The workshop, which experts said dates back to the Second Temple period (516 BCE-70 CE), was discovered along Road 437 between Geva Binyamin/Adam and Kfar Hizma, north of the Israeli capital.

“During the excavation, remains were uncovered not only of tools, but of an entire production center which included several Quarries,” a spokesperson for the Civil Administration told the media.

“During the Second Temple Period. It was customary to use utensils made of stone,” added the spokesperson.  “Stone utensils have been discovered and are being found at almost every site, in various forms – cups, bowls, trays and various other utensils that are meticulously styled and designed.”

Benny Har-Even, the head staff officer of the Civil Administration’s Archaeology Unit, said that “We will continue to work day and night to preserve the archeological sites and findings in Judea and Samaria, which are part of the treasures and culture of the region.”

Israeli archeologists uncovered a similar workshop near Hizma 10 years ago, indicating that the area was once a major center for the mining, production and distribution of stone tools, serving ancient Jewish Jerusalem and its environs.

“Two thousand years later, we are privileged to continue the work of our ancestors here and (to) widen the road from Binyamin communities to Jerusalem,” commented  the Binyamin Regional Council, which has jurisdiction over large parts of southern Samaria.

Earlier this year, the Israeli Transportation Ministry and the Jerusalem Municipality started work on widening Road 437 between the busy Hizma checkpoint and the Sha’ar Binyamin Industrial Park.

The project includes adding multiple lanes in each direction, significantly reducing travel time between Jerusalem and the Samaria region.