News Digest — 9/30/22

Visits To Joseph’s Tomb Suspended As Israel, Palestinian Tensions Rise

Israel has indefinitely suspended all visits to Joseph’s Tomb in Shechem (Nablus) with officials citing rising security tensions in Samaria, Israel’s Kan News reported on Thursday (29th).

According to the report, the IDF wants to scale back its activities in the city and give Palestinian Authority security forces more leeway to operate.  A military source stressed to Kan, however, that the IDF will continue to operate in all Palestinian cities on an as-needed basis.

Joseph’s Tomb is located in Area A of Samaria, meaning it is under both the administrative and security jurisdiction of the PA.  Israeli citizens are barred from entering Area A without prior permission.

Jewish worshipers make monthly visits to the Tomb of the Biblical Joseph in coordination with the IDF.  Palestinians frequently attack the convoys of worshipers.

Israeli security forces have arrested more than 2,000 terror suspects and have prevented hundreds of terrorist attacks since launching Operation Break the Wave in May.  The nearly-nightly counterterrorism raids began following a number of Palestinian terror attacks in the spring which killed 19 Israelis.



Judea And Samaria Face Threats Of Escalation Not Seen In Years

The holiday season has gripped Israel, but the reality is that travel and activities at this time depend on containment, or more precisely – on the quality of intelligence of the Shin Bet security and countermeasure capabilities of the IDF and Israel Police.

Such efforts only come to the public’s attention when an unusual event occurs, such as the military operation carried out in Jenin on Wednesday (28th), in which four Palestinian gunmen were killed, two of which had been wanted for involvement in terror activities.

Accurate intel from Shin Bet led to the military locating the terrorists’ hideout.  During the raid, a large explosive device detonated, which – had it been planted in Israel – would have led to many casualties. 

Contrary to regular IDF operations, Wednesday’s (28th) measures were carried out in broad daylight due to intelligence and operational reasons.  Intel showed that the terrorists were going to attempt to carry out more shooting attacks on Israeli vehicles or IDF posts, similar to those perpetrated earlier in the week.  As such, it was necessary to arrest or eliminate them immediately.

In addition, terrorists in Jenin are used to the IDF operating at night, because of the technological and operational advantages that it provides.  A daytime raid – when residents are awake and active, and apparently also more dangerous – is meant to show that Israel is not afraid of friction and seeks to have the culprits arrested.

As in previous cases in the last few weeks, so too this time some of those eliminated were active members of the Palestinian security system.  This points to two phenomena that have troubled Israel for a long time and which have been exacerbating at a dangerous rate.

The first is the Palestinian Authority’s increasing loss of control in northern Samaria.  Jenin was the first to break off, and anarchy is rapidly spreading south, toward Nablus, and even further, to Ramallah and beyond.  Wednesday’s (28th) violence was directed against Israeli forces. But in many cases, it is also directed internally, against Palestinian Authority targets, who are struggling to regain control of the territory.

The second is the number of Palestinian security operatives who are involved in terror activities and shootouts with IDF forces during arrests.  This was highlighted in Jenin on Wednesday (28th) when one such operative tried to shoot at the soldiers and was killed.  This is disturbing not only because of the weapons that they as police officers possess, but also because it can turn a colleague into a predator, forcing the IDF and Shin Bet to treat every partner as a potential enemy.

Since Israeli-Palestinian security cooperation has been proven essential to de-escalate tension in the area, it must be restored as soon as possible using every possible means – political, economic, and security.

Otherwise, the security situation will continue to escalate as will the IDF’s counter-terrorism measures in Judea and Samaria, which, we know, will create a loop of more casualties and more attack attempts.  This is also reflected in the scope of the warnings for terror attacks, which necessitates increasing the defensive and offensive efforts in the area.

The coming weeks are particularly dangerous due to the Jewish holidays, pilgrimages to Jerusalem, and high concentrations of vacationers and tourists.  As such, the IDF must increase its activities in Judea and Samaria and the police in city centers.  

This effort, which was the focus of the situation assessment that IDF Chief of Staff Lt, Gen, Aviv Kochavi and the Central Command held on Wednesday (28th), is expected to increase in the coming days, but it is doubtful whether it will succeed in curbing the current trend of escalation.

To achieve this, large forces will also be required from within the Palestinian Authority and beyond it, which seems impossible now because the exact opposite is true, as the factors most active in the field are negative, and led by Hamas.

This also explains the rather gloomy situational assessment issued by various Israeli intelligence branches, who said that Judea and Samaria is facing a threat of escalation unseen in many years.



Hamas Funneled Terrorist Funds Through Gazans With Israeli Entry Permits

The IDF and Shin Bet thwarted a Hamas terrorism financing scheme using Gazans who were entering Israel for humanitarian reasons or with work permits and student activists at the Birzeit University in the West Bank, the IDF’s Arabic language spokesperson Avichay Adraee announced on Thursday (29th).

The terrorist movement used the financing scheme in order to transfer funds from the Gaza Strip to Hamas members in Turkey and to finance terrorist activities in the West Bank and Turkey.

A group of student activists at Birzeit University were arrested in the case after they were caught in possession of credit cards that were used to transfer illegal funds from the Hamas leadership in Gaza to Hamas officials in Turkey.

The money was smuggled out of Gaza using people who entered Israel for humanitarian reasons or with the aim of looking for work.  The students at Birzeit University then withdrew the money from ATMs in Ramallah and used the funds for terrorist purposes, including to fund Hamas activists who belong to the Islamic bloc, which is considered to be student cells who work for Hamas at educational institutions in Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip.



Study Finds 45% Of French Jews Ask Their Kids To Hide Identity

A new study has found that nearly half of French Jews worry about their children’s safety enough to ask them to hide their Jewish identity outside the home.

The study by Jewish People’s Political Institute (JPPI) found that 45 percent of French Jews prefer that their children not reveal in public that they are Jewish, with a corresponding increase in worldwide antisemitism, particularly in France and Germnay.

The survey found that 20 percent of French Jews were the victims of an antisemitic physical assault while 37 percent said they frequently or regularly felt unsafe as a Jew living in France.

A large percentage (45 percent) also reported telling their children not to reveal their religion, LPH reported.

Given the results of the study, the JPPI urged the Israeli government to combat the resurgence of anti-Semitism by strengthening the relations between Israel and Diaspora Jews and to work to combat antisemitism worldwide.



How Iran Took Over Syria’s Secret Missile Production – Yoav Limor

Not a week goes by without some foreign media reporting on an alleged Israeli strike against Syria.  The main objective of these reported attacks is to frustrate Iran’s entrenchment in Syria through the militias it trains and arms, as well as to interdict the weapons shipments to its proxies in the region – chiefly Hezbollah.  Weapons manufactured in Iran are transported to Syria by air, land or sea, and from there to Lebanon.  Israel has reportedly attacked these routes hundreds of times in recent years.

The systematic attacks have cost Iran dearly and derailed its plans to arm Hezbollah with precision-guided munitions within Syria to challenge Israel’s security from the Golan Heights.  To overcome the difficulties posed by these strikes, Iran is using Syria’s indigenous production capabilities to manufacture arms.  This has led to dozens of strikes against Syrian infrastructure and installations.

These are under the auspices of the Scientific Studies and Research Center (CERS) – Syrian military industries.  Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz recently revealed that there are dozens of subterranean installations that Syria uses to manufacture advanced arms.  Moreover, Iran has been engaged with CERS without even coordinating this with the Syrian authorities.  Senior members of the Revolutionary Guards have been paying CERS bigwigs and essentially have them work on Iranian projects.

Israel has increased its strikes against this newly built Iranian apparatus, seeking to damage the manufacturing assets so that they are no longer usable.  Since 2017 Israel has struck CERS facilities – according to foreign reports – dozens of times.  Targets include factories for the production of engines, casting of warheads, manufacturing of propellants and engine casings for missiles, as well as centers for research and development.  These targets are the product  of pinpoint intelligence and rigorous analysis.

According to Israeli officials, the ties between the Revolutionary Guards and the CERS upper echelon have not been sanctioned by Syrian President Bashar Assad and his defense ministers.  

“Assad is hardly aware of what is going on; he is being fed lies by his people,” a senior Israeli official said.