Israel News

News Digest — 11/17/22

In News Surrounding Israel by The Friends of Israel

Jerusalem Names Plaza After Portuguese Diplomat Who Saved Thousands During Holocaust

A plaza in Jerusalem’s Kiryat Hayovel neighborhood has been named after Aristides de Sousa Mendes, a Portuguese diplomat who saved thousands of lives during the Holocaust.

“This small corner of Jerusalem, the eternal city now carries the name of a hero,” Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion announced in a ceremony last week.

“Think of the many thousands who will pass by here everyday.  Many of them, perhaps Jews who were saved because of the bravery of Sousa Mendes,” he added.

Sousa Mendes served as consul in Bordeaux in 1940 and gave visas to an estimated 10,000 Jewish refugees as the Nazis rose to power in Europe.  Risking danger to himself and his family, Sousa Mendes saved an estimated 30,000 people total despite the “circular 14” decree issued by Portuguese dictator Antonio Salazar, which banned Portuguese diplomats from supplying Jews with visas.

Mendes was recognized with a monument in Lisbon in 2020 – he had an airplane named after him in 2014 – but his actions were not widely acknowledged during his life.  He was recalled back to Lisbon during the war, blacklisted and subsequently fell into poverty.  Lisbon’s Jewish community fed him and his family in their community soup kitchen.

“He lost everything,” Olivia Mattis, president of the Sousa Mendes Foundation and a descendant of one of those saved, told the Times of Israel.

Mendes was posthumously recognized as a Righteous Among the Nations – a title conferred on behalf of the State of Israel by the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem to non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust.

“Paying tribute to this man today is an opportunity to look inside ourselves in search of values of peace, love, humanity and compassion for each other,” said Jorge Cabral, Portugal’s ambassador to Israel, at the plaza-naming ceremony.



Israel Revokes Entry Permits For Hundreds of Relatives Of Aerial Terrorist

The military’s liaison to the Palestinians on Wednesday (16th) said it had revoked the entry permits to Israel from hundreds of family members of the terrorist who killed three Israelis and wounded others a day earlier near a West Bank industrial zone.

On Tuesday morning (15th), 18-year-old Muhammed Souf went on a stabbing and car ramming spree at the Ariel Industrial Park and on a nearby highway, killing three and wounding four others seriously.

The three victims were named as Tamir Avichai, 50, Michael Ledigin, 36, and Motti Ashkenazi, 59.

In a statement, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) – the Defense Ministry body responsible for Palestinian civil affairs – said the decision to revoke some 500 permits was made following an assessment held by Defense Minister Benny Gantz.

COGAT said Gantz approved the move “in accordance with the policy employed in the past year.”

Maj. Gen. Ghassan Alian, head of COGAT, has previously said the policy is intended to dissuade Palestinians from planning terror attacks, as doing so will harm their extended family’s livelihood.

According to COGAT, more than 3,000 work permits belonging to family members of Palestinian terrorists have been revoked in the past year.

Previously, only more immediate family members would have their entry and work permits to Israel revoked, following background checks that would determine their ties with terrorists.

Souf, the attacker, who was a resident of Hares, a town of about 3,500 residents, worked in the Ariel Industrial Zone and had a valid permit, but not one to enter Israel.  Souf had no prior security offenses, a defense source told The Times of Israel.

He was shot dead by soldiers and armed civilians some 20 minutes after beginning the rampage.

The attack came at the time of an Israeli anti-terror offensive mostly focused on the northern West Bank to deal with a series of Palestinian attacks that have left 29 people in Israel and the West Bank dead since the start of the year, including Tuesday’s attack (15th).

The operation has netted more than 2,000 arrests in near-nightly raids, but has also left over 130 Palestinians dead, many of them killed while carrying out attacks or during clashes with security forces.



Day After Ariel Attack: “The Atmosphere In Coexistence Factories In Samaria Is Difficult”

Israel National News spoke with Meir Kahana, CEO of the toy company ‘Isratoys’ in the Barkan Industrial Zone, to understand the consequences of Tuesday’s (15th) murderous attack at the entrance to the Ariel Industrial Zone.  The ‘Isratoys’ company has thus far been described as a successful economic coexistence project between Palestinians and Israelis.

“We went through a very difficult event here and I express my condolences to the families,” Kahana began.  “On the other hand, there is coexistence here.  The Barkan Industrial area is one of the largest in Israel.  It has over 8,000 employees, more than half of them Palestinian.  There are over 170 factories where Jews and Arabs work shoulder to shoulder, and when an event like this comes, it slaps us in the face, and destabilizes everyone, but we continue to work and produce here.”

Regarding the atmosphere in the days after an attack, in factories where Jews and Arabs work together, Kahana says that there is indeed “a tense atmosphere, an atmosphere of concern.  The Palestinian workers do not agree with these incidents.  I have workers here who have been working with me for thirty years.  There is no insurance, but those who work here from seven in the morning until 11 at night, clearly do not want to cause harm but to earn a living and provide for their families.”  “On Tuesday (15th), there was tension both on our part and on the part of the Palestinian workers, and they withdrew more.”

Faced with this atmosphere, Kahana said: “A very serious thing happened yesterday, and yet we continue to work and produce.  We don’t act as if nothing happened, but we continue to work, talk and try to restore trust.. .”

Kahana emphasized the importance of the factories in the industrial zones in Samaria to the Arab population as well: “The Barkan Industrial Zone transfers almost NIS 40 million a month in salaries that are spent in the Palestinian Authority.  That is, with this money they buy goods in Nablus and Ramallah and this is also how we drive the Palestinian economy and not only the Israeli one.  There is nothing better for coexistence than mutual sustenance.”  Kahana said he is an industrialist, and as such he believes that reality will change through the economy.



Israeli Humanitarian Organization Saves The Life of Mauritian Toddler

Doctors from the Wolfson Medical Center, who volunteer at the Israeli humanitarian organization “Save A Child’s Heart,” managed to save the life of a one-year-old Mauritian toddler with a complex heart condition.

Little Raghav, nicknamed Samael, was born in April 2021 in Mauritius, an island nation in the Southern Indian Ocean.  His mother Marie, could already sense something was wrong during her pregnancy, which was difficult and painful.  During an ultrasound, her doctor grew suspicious that the fetus she carried had a heart defect.

Marie went to a cardiologist to make sure, and he confirmed the doctor’s fear.  Even before Samael was born, his mother knew he would need complex life-saving surgery.

Samael was born with TOF (Tetralogy of Fallot) – a condition that comprises four congenital heart defects, including a hole in the wall between ventricles and a problem with the flow of blood between them.  The condition leads to extreme fatigue from even the smallest action, delays the baby’s development and endangers its life.

Samael’s mother said, “We prayed for a miracle.  The surgery he needed was not available where we live, but then our story reached “Save A Child’s heart.”

So far “Save a Child’s Heart” has operated on children from 65 countries around the world and has brought more than 6,000 children to Israel from developing countries and from countries with whom Israel does not have diplomatic relations. 

Thanks to a collaboration with the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Israeli Embassy in Pretoria, Marie soon got the news that her little boy would receive life-saving surgery in Israel.  The people from Save A Child’s heart even accompanied Marie and Samael to Israel.

A few days later, Samael was admitted to Wolfson Medical Center for open heart surgery.  Dr. Lior Sasson Director of Pediatric Cardiac Surgery said, “We’ve already performed surgery on thousands of children, but we still get excited and happy every time we manage to reach another child from a distant country.”

“Samael’s surgery was successful and will allow him to lead a full and healthy life just like any other child,” he said.

So far “Save a Child’s Heart” has reached children from Tanzania, and Zanzibar, Iraq, Afghanistan, Moldpva, Kosovo, Ethiopia, the Palestinian Authority/Gaza and other countries, carrying out complex and sometimes secret missions to bring children to Israel for life-saving surgery.



Over 3 Million Israelis Are Younger Than 17, Study Says

A report published on Wednesday (16th), which marked Children’s Day in Israel, said that there are currently 3.09 million children and teenagers under the age of 17 living in Israel, meaning almost a third of the country’s population are minors.

According to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) data, nearly 2.24 million young people under the age of 17 are Jews, which amounts to 72.5%.  Another 741,000 are Arab, 24%.

However, the percentage of Jewish minors residing in Israel has decreased, according to CBS, while that of Arab minors has risen.     

A total of 186,040 babies were born in Israel in 2021, with 95,265 of them boys and 89,775 girls.

According to estimates of the Education Ministry, in 2025 the number of minors among the country’s population is expected to reach 33.4%.  In 2045 it will amount to around 32.6% in the center of the country, with 710,700 of them residing in the central district, 396,000 in the Tel Aviv district and 494,000 in the Jerusalem district.

In the meantime, the highest proportion of children are recorded in Israeli settlements in the West Bank with almost half (47.9%) of the area’s total population.