News Digest — 9/26/23

Israel Honors Yom Kippur War Fallen Soldiers In State Memorial

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attended the 50th-anniversary state memorial service for Israel’s fallen soldiers in the Yom Kippur War at Mount Herzl Tuesday morning (26th).

The Prime Minister spoke at the memorial, addressing the crowd in attendance and all people of the State of israel.  He recalled the horrors of the Yom Kippur War and the bravery of the soldiers who fought on behalf of the nation..

“We did what few militaries in the world succeeded in doing,” he said.

“When it comes down to it,” Netanyahu said addressing the polarization in Israel today, “we all know that we have one nation, one people, one military.  We all know that we have one past.  We have one future, one that is shared among all of us.”

“Fifty years ago,” he said, “most nations in the Middle East were Israel’s enemies.  Today, many of them want peace with the State of Israel.”

Israel’s President Isaac Herzog gave a speech following recitations of Yizkor and El Malei Rachamim and by various family members of fallen soldiers and current IDF members.

President Herzog  said he recalled the words of the Yom Kippur liturgy: “Who will live, and who will die.  Who by fire and who by sword. 

Both Netanyahu and Herzog decried the infighting of Jews at a prayer service in Tel Aviv  at the end of Yom Kippur Monday evening (25th).

Herzog said, “Fifty years exactly after the outbreak of the war, we saw in the first Hebrew city a shocking and painful example of how internal struggle can escalate and become extreme, and he asked the question: How did we get to this terrible situation?”

Netanyahu said,”The people of Israel wanted to unite on Yom Kippur in prayer for forgiveness and unity… to our surprise, in the Jewish nation, on the holiest Jewish day, left wing protesters rioted against Jews as they prayed.”

He said, “Most Israelis reject this – there is no room for such violent behavior among us.”



Ahead Of Sukkot: Thousands of Police Officers Deployed In Jerusalem

Israeli police have decided to continue operating at an increased alert level throughout Israel, at least until after the Sukkot holiday, Kan News  reported.

The decision follows a rise of 15% in the number of alerts to possible terror attacks ahead of the holidays.

In an effort to ensure the public’s safety, thousands of police officers will be posted throughout Jerusalem, especially in the Old City, as well as in centers of entertainment throughout Israel, for the rest of the holidays.

On Sunday, (24th) the Eve of Yom Kippur , three shooting attacks took place.  No one was injured.  In one of the attacks, terrorists fired towards a Jewish town, and the bullet blasted through the window of a home.  The Islamic Jihad terror group took responsibility for the attack.



After Attacks On Troops, IDF UAVs Strike Hamas Positions On Yom Kippur

Israeli Defense Forces unmanned aerial vehicles  (UAVs) struck three Hamas military military positions following shooting and explosive attacks on soldiers along the security barrier over the Yom Kippur holiday, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said.

No casualties were suffered in the attacks on soldiers, who have been countering the violent security barrier riots that have plagued the Gaza border for 11 days.

Monday night (25th) an IDF drone struck a terrorist site where a gunman shot at troops during a Karni crossing riot.  The soldiers fired at the terrorist and hit him.  Hamas had reported on Monday midday (25th) that a “martyr”had succumbed to wounds suffered in clashes in eastern Gaza.

Also, two suspects attempted to infiltrate into Israel from Gaza Monday (25th) but were spotted by surveillance and arrested by IDF soldiers.

Terrorists have continued arson attacks on the Gaza envelope, sparking fires.  The KKL-Jewish National Fund said that three fires were started in the Gaza periphery on Sunday (25th), two in the Be’eri Forest and one in Kissufim. Emergency teams  reportedly took control of the fires – two of them were started by incendiary balloons.

Otzma Yehudit MK Almog Cohen appealed to Defense Minister Yoav Gallant after the arson attacks, saying that the residents of the Gaza periphery needed swift military action against the attacks.

Gallant visited the area on Sunday (25th) to receive a situational assessment from field commanders, after which he held a briefing with the IDF Chief of Staff, head of Aman military intelligence and head of the Operations Directorate.

“The IDF and its soldiers, along with the entire security establishment, are standing guard – in the air, at sea and on land,” Gallant wrote on social media.

Hundreds of Gazans have been rioting along the border for 11 days, with some of the participants throwing explosive devices and shooting at IDF troops.  Palestinian gunmen have been killed in return fire by the IDF.



Explosion Hits Area Of Iran Missile Base; Israeli Involvement Expected

A suspicious explosion rocked the area of the Iranian city of Khorramabad on Monday evening (25th), with some unofficial reports speculating it could have been a sabotage operation in a nearby underground ballistic missile base.

Iranian media outlets affiliated with the country’s Islamic regime reported that a “terrible sound” was heard by local residents, who also said the ground had been shaking.

However, official reports said later that no earthquake had been recorded in the area, and authorities also denied that an explosion had taken place, adding that the source of the disturbance was being investigated.

Situated some 22 miles from Khorramabad is the Imam Ali base, one of Iran’s two underground missile silos, where former President Mohammad Khatami ordered the production of Shahab-3 medium-range missiles – new variants of which have a range of 1242 miles and are thought to be capable of hitting Israel and of carrying a nuclear warhead.

The semi-official Tasnim news agency reported that around 10 p.m. on Monday (25th), “strong shocks, accompanied by a terrible sound caused tremors in parts of the city of Khorramabad, causing panic and disrupting the peace of the people at night.”

The report added that after it became clear that no earthquake had been recorded, “the occurrence of the explosion became more prominent in the minds of the people.”

Some observers, such as US-based Iranian-American Middle East researcher Erfan Fard of the Counter-Terrorism Center, suggested the incident  could have been a successful operation by Israel’s Mossad spy agency.

Unofficial and unverified reports said the operation may have been conducted using attack drones.

Israel views Iran as its greatest threat and has repeatedly threatened to take military action to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.  Iran denies seeking such weapons and has vowed a harsh response to any Israeli aggression.



‘No Decision Yet’ – U.S Denies Israel Foreign Minister’s Claim That Visa Waiver Is Finalized

U.S administration officials put a damper on Israeli celebrations regarding a visa waiver agreement between the two countries, saying that officials have yet to make a final decision on the matter.

On Monday (25th), State Department representatives denied that Washington had officially decided to move forward with a program that will see mutual visa-free travel between the US and Israel.

“The Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State, will make a determination in the coming days” regarding the visa waiver agreement, a State Department spokesperson told Reuters.

That clarification comes in stark contrast to messages released by Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, who announced that the program was finalized and that the Israeli government had secured a “diplomatic achievement..”  

Cohen had also hailed the alleged decision as ”good news”  for all Israeli citizens interested in traveling to the US.

In recent months, the Israeli government has made a number of significant compromises in order to meet American demands for ‘’reciprocity’ regarding freedom of travel.

Gazans and residents of PA-controlled enclaves who hold American citizenship are now permitted to fly in and out of Israel via Ben Gurion Airport, as well as travel as tourists within Israel for up to 90 days – in a sharp deviation from previous security policies.



Saudi Delegation To Visit West Bank This Week As Israel Normalization Talk Increases

A senior Saudi delegation will visit the West Bank this week for a meeting with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas as the kingdom edges closer to a normalization deal with Israel, the Reuters news agency reported over the weekend.

The delegation will be led by Saudi ambassador to Jordan Nayef al-Sudairi, who was appointed last month as Riyadh’s first-ever non-resident ambassador to Palestine and its first-ever non-resident consul general to Jerusalem, the report said.

A senior Palestinian official Hussein al-Sheikh confirmed that al-Sudairi would be visiting Ramallah.

“We welcome His Excellency, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the ‘State of Palestine’ who will present his credentials to His Excellency Chairman Mahmoud Abbas within a few days.”

The visit comes as Israel and Saudi Arabia move closer to inking a US-brokered deal that would see Riyadh giving up on its earlier demand for a Palestinian state before normalization.  However, the Saudis are still reportedly demanding significant Israeli concessions to the Palestinians as part of the deal.

In his UN speech on Friday (22nd), Netanyahu said Israel was on “the cusp” of a historic peace agreement with the Saudis, a deal he said would transform the Middle East, “encourage other Arab states to normalize their relations with Israel, and enhance the prospects of peace with the Palestinians.”

Still, the Saudis continue to insist publicly on the need for a Palestinian state.

Saudi Arabia on Monday (25th) issued a statement condemning incidents of Jews praying on the Temple Mount, which houses the THIRD holiest site in islam, the al-Aqsa Mosque.

The Temple Mount is the HOLIEST place in Judaism as it is the site of the Biblical Temples. 

Several hundred Jewish worshipers were seen in the compound on Monday (25th) which was Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement.

Israel captured the Temple Mount and Jerusalem’s Old City in the Six-Day War and extended sovereignty throughout Jerusalem.  Anxious to reduce friction with the Muslim world, however, Israel since 1967 has allowed the Jordanian waqf to continue to maintain religious authority atop the Mount.

The sensitive site has been a frequent flashpoint, sparking wider violence across the region.