News Digest — 11/21/22

In News Surrounding Israel by The Friends of Israel

IDF Troops Nab Suspect In Planning Attacks, 1 Killed

Israeli troops clashed with Palestinian gunmen near the West Bank city of Jenin on Monday morning (21st), as they went to arrest a wanted man accused of planning “significant” terror attacks, the military said.

One Palestinian man was killed and four others were hurt amid the clashes, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.

The Israel Defense Forces said the suspect, Ratib al-Bali, previously jailed for terror offenses, was involved in numerous shootings in recent weeks, and was “advancing significant terror attacks.”

Troops had surrounded al-Bali’s home in the village of Burqin, near Jenin, as clashes broke out.  A local wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) said its members opened fire at the troops as they operated in the city and near al-Bali’s home 

According to the IDF, and footage of the incident, al-Bali surrendered to troops at his home and was arrested.

The IDF said gunmen opened fire and hurled explosive devices at troops, who responded with gunfire.  The army added that “hits were identified.”

Palestinian media identified the dead man as Mahmoud Saadi. The ministry said that four others were moderately or slightly wounded in the clashes.

In footage published by Palestinian media outlets, gunfire could be heard in the Jenin area.  An explosion, reportedly an improvised bomb against Israeli troops, was also seen in one clip.

No Israeli soldiers were hurt in the clashes, the IDF said.

This spring, the military launched a major anti-terror offensive mostly focused on the northern West Bank to deal with a series of Palestinian attacks that had left 29 Israelis dead since the start of the year.

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

In raids across the West Bank early Monday (21st), aside from al-Bali, another eight wanted Palestinians were arrested, the IDF said.



Israel Airstrikes On Syria Kill Four Soldiers, State Media Says

Israeli airstrikes hit central and coastal regions of Syria early Saturday (19th), killing four soldiers and wounding one, the Syrian military said.

State media quoted an unidentified Syrian military official as saying that Israeli warplanes flying over the Mediterranean fired missiles toward military positions in coastal and central Syria.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitor, reported that loud explosions were heard in the coastal province of Latakia as well as the Hama and Homs regions in central Syria, giving no further details.

Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes on targets inside government-controlled parts of Syria in recent years, but rarely acknowledges or discusses such operations

Israel has acknowledged, however, that it targets bases of Iran-allied militant groups, such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah, which has sent thousands of fighters to support Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces.

On November 12, an Israeli airstrike on central Syria targeting the Shayrat air base, used by Russian forces, killed two soldiers and wounded three. 



Report: Hezbollah Transporting Hundreds Of Chemical Weapons To Lebanon

Hezbollah is storing hundreds of missiles carrying a toxic chemical payload at a warehouse in Al Qusayr, near the Lebanese-Syrian border, the Saudi Al-Hadath news reported on Sunday (20th).

The missiles include 110 Fajr missiles and over 300 Fateh missiles which are all carrying “thionyl chloride,” a toxic chemical, according to the report.  The weapons and other equipment were transferred from the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC) in Masyaf to the location in Al Qusayr nearly two weeks ago.

Sources informed Al Hadath that experts from North Korea injected the toxic chemicals into the missiles under the supervision of an Iranian national and expert, specializing in chemical weapons, identified as Qassem Abdullah Massoudyan.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Unit 2250 was in charge of transporting the missiles to Al Qusayr, with an IRGC operative named ‘Abd al-Ilah Bagheri, also known as Hajj Sadiq, supervising the move, according to the report.

The Saudi news channel added that the missiles are only being temporarily stored in Al Qusayr and will be moved on to the Bint Jbeil area of the Nabatieh governorate in Lebanon near a base belonging to UNIFIL.

Israel has operated against Syria’s chemical weapons facilities in the past, including the SSRC facility in Masyaf.

Alleged Israeli airstrikes targeted sites near Masyaf in August, reportedly hitting the SSRC.

In September, Defense Minister Benny Gantz revealed a map showing over 10 different facilities used by Iran to produce advanced missiles and weapons for its proxies in the SSRC in Masyaf.

Last year, The Washington Post reported that alleged Israeli airstrikes had targeted three chemical weapons facilities in Syria, including a facility in Masyaf.

The IRGC’s Unit 2250 was first reported on by Iran International in September, which claimed that alleged Israeli airstrikes targeted sites belonging to the unit near Damascus in mid-September.

The unit is a subset of the IRGC’s Unit 2000 and is charged with receiving incoming equipment, weapons, and personnel from Iran as well as supporting Iran-backed militias in Syria.  The report identified a person known as “Seyyed Reza” as the head of the unit’s office in Damascus and Abdollah Edabi and Meysam Katbi as employees in the office.



In First, Israeli Passport Issued To Child Born In The United Arab Emirates

The Israeli Embassy in Abu Dhabi on Thursday (17th) issued the first passport to an Israeli child born in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The infant, Mateo David, was born on May 13, 2022, to Israeli national Danielle Talvi and her Belgian husband Mitz Bekovens, who works at the Al-Jazeera soccer club and also serves as an international player agent.

Israeli Ambassador to the UAE Amir Havek handed the passport to the parents and said it was an “exciting moment” for him.

Talvi said the issuing of the passport marks an “historic moment in the relations between the countries” and added, “because I am a Zionist, I told my husband that I would issue the Israeli passport first, followed by the Belgian one.”

Talvi, who has been living with her husband in Abu Dhabi for the past year, told Ynet that “we enjoy a good life here because it’s a very family-friendly place, quiet and safe.  The people here are very kind and respectful.”

“There is a great appreciation for Israel in the United Arab Emirates,” she added.  “I am treated with much respect [by Emiratis] when I say that I am an Israeli.  It’s an honor to be here and say that I am from Israel.”

Although Mateo David is not the first Israeli child born in the UAE, it is the first time an Israeli passport has been issued to a baby in the Gulf State.

The first Israeli child born on Emirati soil is the daughter of Israel’s former consul general in Dubai Ilan Sztulman Starosta, who was born in August last year.  The baby was given a temporary transit certificate because it was not yet technically possible to issue passports at the embassy.



Waves Of Bomb Threats Hit Jewish Schools Across The US

In the latest wave of antisemitism to hit the US-based diaspora, Jewish schools and community centers around the United States have received bomb threats, forcing closures throughout the country.

At Jewish day schools in Texas and Pennsylvania, bomb threats were made to these institutions, forcing them to evacuate for student safety.  This follows a consistent uptick in antisemitic attacks and comments in the US in recent weeks.

Monday (14th), while school was in session at the Austin Jewish Academy in Austin, Texas, a parent shared that an assailant had called the school to say there was a bomb in one of the hallways.  Students were evacuated and the building was swept, but nothing was found.

In Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, the Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy was evacuated after receiving what school officials called “multiple concerning calls.”  The school was evacuated for hours.

Michael Balaban, chief executive of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, told Forward that several schools across state lines received similar calls over a 30-minute period.  Of the five contacted only two were Jewish, leading officials to believe it was not an outwardly antisemitic attack.

The School Watch Initiative of the Israeli-American Council (IAC) has reported hundreds of percent-worth of antisemitic comments in schools.  “I cannot remember the last time that there were so many cases of teenagers using the word ‘Hitler’ in American public schools,” IAC’s CEO Shoham Nicolet told The Jerusalem Post from his home in California.

The council president explained that most of the “Israeli-American” community sends their children to public schools and that this is exactly where the hate is coming from.

“I don’t think that Israelis fully understands the depth of the strategic significance and effect that these antisemitic incidents have on Israel’s perception of the US,” Nicolet said.  Most of the funds and resources about combating antisemitism are geared toward young adults while studying in college, he said, yet in his eye, its about time for us to fund these types of programs for younger audiences.

“We all know that BDS organizations are active on college campuses,  and Jewish Voice for Peace and other groups have been working to combat antisemitic activity on college campuses for many years.  But what about high school students, like those who filed a complaint with us from Colorado, who say that teenagers threatened a Jewish student to wear a gas mask?  Hate and incitement have become more popular at younger ages: We need to combat it.”

Another phenomenon that Nicolet and his team are seeing is that many parents, especially “Israeli-Americans,” aren’t always aware of the fact that their child or they themselves experienced antisemitism.  “Many parents – as well as their children themselves – don’t understand that what is being said to their child is actually antisemitic,” he explained.  School Watch is also working on advocacy on that front.

“Antisemitism is new to Israeli-Americans,” Nicolet explained.  He pointed out that Israelis living in the US, as opposed to American Jews, “are still learning what it means to be a minority.  It’s a matter of awareness.”