News Digest — 9/8/23

Defense Minister Gallant: ‘Terror During The Holidays?  Don’t Even Try Us’

Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant held a situational assessment on Thursday (7th) to discuss the defense establishment preparations ahead of the Jewish holiday season, which begins next Friday (14th) with the Jewish New Year.

The discussion, which took place at the Defense Minister’s office at the Kirya base in Tel Aviv, was attended by IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi, the deputy director of the Shin Bet, Ronen Bar,  the head of the IDF Operation Directorate Maj. Gen. Oded Basiuk, Head of the Military Intelligence Directorate, Maj.Gen. Aharon Haliva, Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Maj. Gen.Ghassan Alian and additional defense establishment officials.

Minister Gallant emphasized that the security forces were prepared to face any threat.  “We are in a complex time on all fronts, especially in Judea, Samaria and around Jerusalem.  To make sure that the citizens of Israel spend the holiday period safely, the defense establishment is on standby, with intelligence, protecting roads and communities, and missions to stop terror operatives.”

“My message to the defense establishment is clear.  We must protect the citizens of Israel.  Now there will be those who try to harm us under the aegis of the holidays.  We will act against terror through defensive action, and if we need offensive action, we will do so overwhelmingly.  I suggest to the terrorists – in Judea and Samaria, in Gaza, in Lebanon, and anywhere else, don’t test us.”



Netanyahu Backs Knesset Speaker’s Warning To The Supreme Court

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shared Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana’s full speech in which the latter threatens not to abide by the Supreme Court’s decision if it tries to cancel Israel’s Basic Laws, vowing “not to give into the court.”

Among other things, Ohana told the judiciary to “Take stock of your limitations, in a democratic system, no single authority has the power to do everything.  The Knesset has realized this, now it’s your turn.”

Netanyahu followed this up by sharing Ohana’s full speech on the X social media platform (formerly Twitter).

“These laws are known as the Basic Laws because they deal with the question of who has the power to remove an acting Prime Minister – and the answer to that question is the people who helped elect him.  This is known as ‘democracy,’” Ohana said in the speech retweeted by Netanyahu.

“The one line that hasn’t been crossed yet is the overturning of the Basic Laws by the Supreme Court – and this is likely, God forbid, to take place as well.  Tonight I’m asking for a stop sign.”

“The Knesset will not be trampled without a fight,” he promised.  “As Speaker of the Knesset, I highly advise the Supreme Court to take stock of its limitations,”

The anti-reform movement responded to Netanyahu’s sharing of Ohana’s speech, by saying in a statement, “A prime minister who reduces the Knesset to criminal activity is not a legitimate prime minister.  He will soon discover millions of Israelis protesting against his intentions and defending the court with their bodies.”.

The Knesset voted 64-0 in July to pass the so-called “Deri Law,” named after former Health Minister and Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, after his appointment to the Netanyahu government was ruled illegitimate by the Supreme Court under the reasonableness standard.

The law, which amends Israel’s proto-constitutional Basic Laws, bars the judiciary from striking down government appointments or decisions on the basis of the reasonableness standard.

On August 9th, the Supreme Court issued an injunction against the government, demanding it respond to petitions against the Deri Law.

The court is set to hold a hearing on the matter next week, raising the possibility judges could strike down the amendment to the Basic Law, an unprecedented move for the judiciary.



US, EU Slam Palestinian Head Mahmoud Abbas For Justifying Hitler And The Holocaust

The US, and the EU on Thursday (7th) denounced Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ “hateful” remarks questioning the ancestry of Ashkenazi Jews and Adolf Hitler’s motivations, saying it fostered  anti-Semitism and disgraced the memory of the victims of the Holocaust.

The US administration’s Special Envoy to Combat Anti-Semitism, Deborah Lipstadt, reproached Abbas for the “hateful anti-Semitic remarks” during his speech in August to the Revolutionary Council of his ruling Fatah party, while the EU called his comments “false and grossly misleading.”

“The speech maligned the Jewish people, distorted the Holocaust, and misrepresented the tragic exodus of Jews from Arab countries,” Lipstadt noted on X.

“I condemn these statements and urge an immediate apology,” she added.

Abbas, in his speech, revisited several anti-Semitic narratives he had mentioned in the past, including an assertion that Adolf Hitler persecuted Jews because of their “social role” related to financial dealings, and not because of his Jew-hatred.

“This has been explained by many Jewish authors,” Abbas said.  “When they said that Hitler killed the Jews for being Jews, and that Europe hates the Jews because they were Jews, no.  It was clearly explained that they fought the Jews because of their social role and not their religion.”

The EU responded: “The historical distortions included in the speech are provocative, deeply offensive, and foster tensions in the region, benefiting no one.”

“These distortions… downplay the Holocaust, thus encouraging anti-Semitism, and insult the numerous Holocaust victims and their families,” the EU added in its reprimand.

In a 2018 address, Abbas, whose doctoral dissertation was a credo of Holocaust denial. Suggested the “social behavior” of Jews led to the Holocaust.

“Jews faced opposition not for their religious beliefs but for their roles in society, associated with finance and other matters,” he said.

He reiterated a slanderous narrative that Hitler, a sergeant during World War I, harbored resentment against Jews for engaging in financial activities he viewed as subversive.

Abbas blamed the United States and the United Kingdom for the creation of Israel, citing their endorsement of the Balfour Declaration, which expressed support for a Jewish “national home” in the Land of Israel.

“It was not just the UK; the US was involved in Israel’s formation,” he claimed.  “They are the ones to be held responsible for the adversities we face, for relinquishing our homeland to the Israelis or the Jews.”

Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, slammed the remarks, saying they exposed “the true nature of the Palestinian leadership.”

“Abbas not only attributes the Holocaust to Jews but also holds them responsible for the turmoil in the Middle East,” he wrote on X.

Erdan urged the international community to reprimand the octogenarian leader and maintain “zero tolerance for Palestinian incitement and terror.”

Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, demanded global leaders explicitly reject Abbas’ “despicable comments” which “must not be tolerated.”



Will The Rocket Threat To Israel From Jenin Match The Threat From Gaza? – Dr. Uzi Rubin

Recent Palestinian attacks against Israelis have included the attempted launching of rockets from the Jenin area toward Israeli communities.  At present, the Jenin rockets are simple and can be quickly produced in any moderately equipped machine shop.  The rocket fuselage is made of commercial-grade steel pipes that are widely available.  The propellant can be produced from foodstuffs and fertilizers.  The plans for simple launchers and instructions on “how to “cook simple propellants” are available online.

The evolution of rocket fire from Gaza may be seen in three periods.  From 2001 to mid-2005 there were about 50 rockets per year.  During this period, parts of Gaza were ruled by the Palestinian Authority, and the IDF had freedom of action in the Israeli-controlled regions.  In the second stage between mid-2005 and mid-2007, the rate of fire doubled to about 200 rockets per year.  This occurred between Israel’s unilateral pullback from Gaza and the seizure of power there by Hamas.  The third period, commencing in mid-2007 and lasting to this day, overlaps with the absolute Hamas control of Gaza (in conjunction with Islamic Jihad).  As soon as Hamas evicted the PA from Gaza, the rate of rocket fire made quantum leaps to hundreds and then thousands of rockets per year.

Presently. The terrorists organizations’ capabilities in the Jenin district are equivalent to Gaza’s capabilities in the early 2000s.  It stands to reason that the terrorist groups in Jenin will continue to manufacture and launch their local version of rockets in growing numbers, quality, and range – which eventually will cause damage and casualties in nearby Israeli communities.  It also stands to reason that there will be attempts to smuggle completed Grad-equivalent rockets and launchers – shipped from Lebanon or Iran through Jordan to Jenin.

Regarding concealed launching pits, storage sites and tunnels now used in Gaza, the geological differences between Samaria and Gaza should be noted.  Gaza sits on sandy soil, which facilitates underground digging.  In contrast Jenin and the other Samaria cities are on hard limestone rock.  That makes underground digging more difficult, but not impossible.

In Gaza, the transition from home-produced rockets to imported military-grade rockets happened when the IDF had vacated the area.  In contrast, the IDF maintains a significant presence in Samaria.  It stands to reason that once smuggled military-grade rockets become known, the IDF will act energetically to block the smuggling routes and shut down depots and launching pits inside the Palestinian cities.  In Gaza, the IDF had no boots on the ground to block the establishment of the Gaza Military Industries.

The writer was founding director of the Israel Missile Defense Organization, which managed the Arrow program.  (Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security)



Conference: Lessons Learned From The Oslo Accords – Debbie Mohnblatt

On September 4, The Jerusalem Center For Public Affairs and the Israel Defense and Security Forum (IDSF) held a conference in Jerusalem to explore the success of the Oslo Accords on its 30th anniversary.  The Oslo agreement had aimed to establish a path to peace between Israel and the Palestinians, but that goal still remains elusive.  Israeli MK Yuli Edelstein said that “the expectations were very high then, but the reality turned out to be very different.”

Brig.-Gen. (res.) Amir Avivi, founder and chairman of the IDSF, noted that since the Oslo Accords, the number of civilians killed or injured has been tenfold compared to the entire period from 1948 to the signing of the Accords on September 13, 1993.  “The biggest failure was really choosing to do business with a murderous terror organization like the PLO,” Avivi said.  “We had local leadership in the Palestinian towns in Judea and Samaria, but we chose to go to an organization that was founded in 1964, before the Six-Day War, in order to liberate Palestine, meaning basically to annihilate Israel.”

“We are talking about a peace agreement [Oslo Accords], and Arafat arrived while smuggling weapons and terrorists inside his car.  And then he gave a speech full of hate saying that with blood they were going to fight Israel, and I felt very uncomfortable.  I felt that something was really very wrong,” added General Avivi.   (Media Line-Ynet News)