News Digest — 9/8/22

Palestinian Terrorist Attacks Israeli Soldier With Hammer At IDF Post

An IDF soldier sustained mild injuries to his face after being attacked with a hammer by a Palestinian at a military post in the West Bank overnight Thursday (8th).

The soldier shot and killed the assailant.  A search of the body found he was also carrying a knife.

The soldier was attacked after leaving a military vehicle during a patrol in the Binyamin Regional Council, with the terrorist charging at him and attempting to strike him on the head with a hammer.  Following the incident the soldier received medical treatment at the scene.

Meanwhile, Israeli security forces arrested four Palestinians early Thursday (8th) for their suspected involvement in a terrorist attack on a bus carrying soldiers in the Jordan valley earlier in the week.

Two suspects are from the town of Jenin while the other two are from the PA town of Bruqin.

During the raid, Israeli troops clashed with armed locals who threw explosives at them.  One soldier was mildly injured by shrapnel and was taken to Emek Medical Center in Afula.

The raid came as part of an extensive Israeli crackdown on Palestinian terrorist activity throughout the PA territory, dubbed Operation Breakwater, which was prompted by a series of Palestinian attacks that left 20 Israelis dead earlier this year.

Over the months-long operation, Israeli forces have made hundreds of arrests and seized arms and funds earmarked for terrorist attacks against Israelis.

According to data provided by Israel’s Shin Bet internal security service, August was particularly violent in the West Bank and saw a significant increase in the number of attacks against Israeli civilians and security forces, a trend which is spilling over into September.

Shin Bet data shows that 172 attacks were carried out against Israeli targets across the territory in August, including 23 shootings, compared with 113 attacks and 15 shootings a month prior.  The number of Molotov cocktails thrown at IDF troops in August, totaled 135, with 75 in July.



US Sends Message To Lapid: New Iran Deal Off The Table, Report Says

A new nuclear deal between Iran and world powers is “off the table” for the foreseeable future, President Joe Biden and senior US officials told Israel’s Prime Minister Yair Lapid, according to a report in the Hebrew-language Zman Yisrael news site published on Wednesday (7th). 

The message was conveyed in a series of recent conversations with Lapid, the news site said.

According to the report, Lapid became “more and more convinced in recent days that a deal was becoming unlikely” and therefore turned his focus onto other issues, including fighting terror in Judea and Samaria.

A scrapped nuclear deal would be a major trophy for Lapid’s caretaker government ahead of November’s general election.

Iran’s nuclear chief said over the weekend that “the enemies decided to go back on their commitments,” in an apparent signal to western powers that Tehran would not accept the current proposal of the nuclear deal.

The latest proposal by the EU was said to be scuttled over Iran’s demand that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) stop monitoring three nuclear sites which, inspectors discovered, contained uranium traces.

According to the report, Israel pressured the US  to commit to the fact that IAEA monitoring would be a condition of the new deal.

The report also cited Biden administration officials as telling veteran Israeli reporter Barak Ravid that the deal would mean Iran would need to remove all uranium enriched from 20% to 60% as well as commit to transfer of its centrifuges to a warehouse under IAEA supervision.

The IAEA on Wednesday (7th) also warned that it could not guarantee that Iran’s nuclear program was peaceful and that there had been “no progress” in receiving answers about the uranium traces.

The UN watchdog was “not in a position to provide assurance that Iran’s nuclear program is exclusively peaceful,” the IAEA said in a report seen by the AFP News Agency.

Iran’s stockpile is currently over 19 times the limit set out in the accord, the IAEA reported, which according to Reuters News Agency is enough to build a bomb.

Mossad Director David Barnea, who is in the US to discuss Iran, warned last month that the latest iteration of the nuclear deal was a “strategic disaster.”

“The agreement is a bad deal that gives Iran a license to manufacture a bomb,” Barnea was quoted by Hebrew media as saying.



Gantz To US: ‘The IDF Chief Of Staff Will Determine Our Rules Of Engagement’

Wednesday morning (7th), Defense Minister Benny Gantz visited the IDF’s Intelligence Division, together with the Director of the IDI, Maj.-Gen’ Aharon Haliva, Head of the Research Division, Head of Intelligence Operations and additional senior officials.

Minister Gantz held a situation assessment regarding various challenges including Iran, the northern arena, and the Palestinian Authority and Gaza arenas.  He also discussed lessons learned from Operation Breaking Dawn, and toured the unit’s headquarters.

The Minister expressed his appreciation for the unit’s work during the recent military operation, including the close cooperation with the ISA.  He also expressed his appreciation for their ongoing operational activities in all arenas.

Gantz said: “I have just completed a situation assessment and a series of intelligence reviews of all the arenas.  Later today I will conduct a situation assessment focused on Palestinian affairs, in light of the recent increase in terror attacks.”

“Our excellent intelligence and outstanding personnel prevent attacks and save lives.  As a result of our accurate intelligence, and the operational methods we have developed, we operate in a precise manner against terrorism, protect the citizens of Israel and reduce harm to innocent civilians.

Responding to the US State Department’s statement that the US would press Israel to change its rules of engagement in light of the death of the Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Aqleh, Gantz said that Israel would determine its rules of engagement without foreign interference.

“The IDF’s Chief of the General Staff, and he alone, determines, and will continue to determine the rules of engagement in accordance with our operational needs and values of the IDF.  These instructions are implemented in a strict manner by soldiers and their commanders.  There has not been, and there will not be any political involvement in the matter.  IDF troops have my full backing in their mission to protect the citizens of Israel.”

“At the same time, we demand that the Palestinian Authority not only speak out against terrorism, but also act against it.  The spread of weapons and lack of governance are harming both the Palestinian people and the Palestinian Authority itself.  I conveyed this message again today, to  the PA leadership.  We will not allow armed men who seek to murder Israelis, to roam around freely.  We will pursue and stop them.  At the same time, we will continue to strengthen moderate actors, and prevent harm to the routine lives of the majority, who are not involved in terrorism,” Gantz concluded.



Hamas, Islamic Jihad Call To Step Up ‘Resistance’ In West Bank

Hamas and Islamic Jihad on Wednesday (7th) called on Palestinians to step up the “resistance” attacks against Israeli soldiers and settlers in the West Bank area.

The call came in response to increased IDF counter-terrorism operations in the territory.

A senior Palestinian official, meanwhile, ruled out the possibility that PA security forces would move to disarm armed groups in the northern PA areas.

The official told The Jerusalem Post that the PA leadership has come under pressure from Israel and some international parties to take action against the gunmen, most of whom belong to Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the ruling Fatah faction led by Palestinian Authority head, Mahmoud Abbas.

On Wednesday morning (7th) a 21-year-old, identified as Yunis Ghassan al-Yayeh was shot after reportedly hurling an explosive device at IDF soldiers.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad are proud of Palestinian ‘martyrs’ killed by the IDF and express pride in them, and continue to urge Palestinians in the West Bank to continue to support the “heroic battle” against the soldiers and settlers.

The Gaza-based Popular Resistance Committees, a coalition of various armed groups, also called on the Palestinians to step up terrorist attacks against “the Zionist enemy and the criminal settlers.”

The PLO’s Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) warned that Israel’s increased security crackdown, especially in the northern West Bank, “will result in more popular resistance against Israel in all its forms.” 

The Palestinian Authority, whose security forces haven’t moved to disarm the large number of armed groups in the Nablus and Jenin areas, said Israel’s ongoing military operations will lead to an “explosive new cycle of violence.”

The PA Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed that Israel’s crackdown on gunmen was part of its attempt to force the Palestinians to surrender and accept the “occupation and the settlements.”

Israel’s activities in PA territories over the past several months to hunt down terrorists in the area, has been in response to several Palestinian terrorist attacks in Israel in late spring that killed 20 Israelis.



Israel Repatriates Rare Papyrus Script From First Temple Period

A joint intelligence operation conducted by Israeli authorities, repatriated an ancient Hebrew script on papyrus belonging to the First Temple period, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) said on Wednesday (7th).

The document was likely found in the Judean desert caves.

The script is composed of four torn lines that begin with the words “To Ishmael send…,” which indicates that it’s a fragment of a letter containing instructions to the recipient, according to an IAA press release.

“Based on the writing, the proposed dating of the ‘Ishmael Papyrus’ is set between the seventh and the sixth centuries BCE. joining only two other documents from this period in the Israel Antiquities Authority Dead Sea Scrolls collection.  All three papyri come from the Judean desert, where the dry climate enables the preservation of the papyri,” the statement said.

“The name Ishmael mentioned in the document, was a common name in the Biblical period, meaning ‘God will hear.’  It first appears in the Bible as the name of the son of Abraham and Hagar, and is subsequently the personal name of several individuals in the Bible, including Yishmael ben Netanyahu, who murdered the governor Gedaliah ben Ahikam,” IAA Professor Shmuel Ahituv explained.

It also appears as the name of officials on paleographic finds such as bullae (clay stamp seals) used for sealing royal documents in the administration of the Kingdom of Judah, for example, the bulla reading, ‘To Yishmael, son of the king.’  The present document probably certified the dispatchment of something either to, or from Yishmael,” he added.

Ahituv will present his document findings on September 15 at the IAA’s First Judean Desert Conference at the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem.