News Digest — 3/20/19

In News Surrounding Israel by The Friends of Israel

Rabbi Succumbs To Wounds From West Bank Terror Attack

Rabbi Achiad Ettinger, who was critically hurt in Sunday’s (17th) terror attack in the West Bank, has died of his wounds, his family said Monday (18th).

The rabbi was critically wounded, and while doctors at Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva fought for almost 24 hours to save his life, he ultimately succumbed to his wounds.

Ettinger’s son-in-law Ze’ev Goldstein praised the rabbi’s great bravery and said the family believed that “he prevented a greater terror attack from occurring by turning around and shooting at the terrorist.”

In a statement, the family said, “We thank the staff at Beilinson Hospital, the Magen David Adom and the Samaria security division, and all the people of Israel who prayed for his recovery.”

For the past three years, Rabbi Ettinger was head of the Oz and Emunah Hesder Yeshiva (seminary that combines religious study with IDF service) in southern Tel Aviv.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his sorrow over the rabbi’s death on behalf of the nation: “The nation of Israel today mourns the murder of Rabbi Achiad Ettinger.  I send my condolences to his family in this terrible time. May his memory be a blessing.”

Rabbi Ettinger was laid to rest Monday evening (18th) at Segula Cemetery in Petah Tikva.

Staff Sergeant Gal Keidan,19, killed in the terror attack Sunday (17th) was laid to rest at 11 a.m. Monday (18th) in his hometown of Beersheba.  The third attack victim, IDF soldier Alexander Dvorsky, 19, from Nazareth Illit, is still in serious condition at Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva.



The PA Celebrates Attacks On Jews

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman excoriated the Palestinian Authority and the Hamas terrorist organization Monday (18th), denouncing their support for terror attacks on Israeli Jews.

In a tweet Monday (18th) Friedman said that while Israel aggressively prosecutes its citizens who engage in nationalistically-motivated attacks, the Palestinian Authority celebrates Arab terrorists, and even provides them with funding after they have been captured.

“Israelis attacking Palestinians are condemned, prosecuted and incarcerated by the Israeli government,” Friedman tweeted.

“Palestinians attacking Israelis are celebrated, compensated and venerated by the PA leadership and/or Hamas.  And there lies the problem.”

Friedman spoke out in response to the string of deadly terror attacks in Samaria Sunday (17th), which left 19-year-old IDF soldier Gal Keidan, and 47-year-old father of 12, Rabbi Achiad Ettinger dead.  A third Israeli, an IDF soldier, 19, named Alexander Dvorsky, was seriously wounded in one of the attacks.

In a second tweet, Friedman referenced celebrations in the Gaza Strip orchestrated by the Hamas terror organization following Sunday’s (17th) attacks.  Friedman also condemned the Palestinian Authority for its policy of funding jailed terrorists and the families of slain terrorists – a policy Israeli leaders have denounced as “pay-to-slay.”

After news of the attacks reached the Gaza Strip Sunday (17th), supporters of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror groups held celebrations by handing out sweets, candies, and pastries to celebrate Keidan’s murder, and the wounding of the two Jewish men in Samaria.



IRGC Commander: All Of Israel Within Reach Of Hezbollah’s Missiles

All of Israel is within range of Hezbollah’s missiles, Commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Maj.-Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari said in an interview with Iran media on Sunday (17th).

“The current status quo and the current capabilities of the Resistance Front of the Islamic Revolution are all the unique accomplishments of the Islamic Revolution which cannot be verbally described and they rather should be sensed,” he said in an interview with the Persian-language Soroush Magazine

“While they [Israel] once dreamed of their territorial expansion from the Nile River to the Euphrates River, and after wishing this for the past 50 years, today you can see that they have been unable to expand their land even for one inch; they even have lost some of the territories they had already occupied and are under full siege from all around their borders,” he continued.

“Israel and Hezbollah last fought a war – the Second Lebanon War – in 2006, and since then, Hezbollah has morphed from a guerrilla group to an army with a set hierarchy and procedures.  With the help of Iran, it has rebuilt its arsenal and has added hundreds of thousands of short-range rockets and several thousand more missiles that can reach deeper into Israel. To put it in a nutshell, we can say that the enemy has not been successful in the region and with all their plots and operations, have ended up with nothing but failure for them and success for the Islamic Revolution and the Resistance Front,” Jafari said.

Israel’s air defenses currently include the Iron Dome, designed to shoot down short-range rockets, the Arrow system, which intercepts ballistic missiles outside of the Earth’s atmosphere, and the David’s Sling missile defense system, which is designed to intercept tactical ballistic missiles, medium-to-long-range rockets, as well as cruise missiles fired at ranges between 25 and 186 miles

In early March, the IDF announced that the United States deployed its THAAD anti-ballistic missile defense system in Israel as part of a month-long joint drill.



Iran’s President Urges Iranians To ‘Put All Your Curses’ On Israel, US

Iran’s president on Monday (18th) urged Iranians to put a curse on the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia, reiterating his long-standing charge that the US and its allies are responsible for the country’s ailing economy.

President Hassan Rouhani’s remarks were meant to deflect criticism of his administration’s performance amid a spiraling economy after President Donald Trump last year pulled America out of the nuclear deal and re-imposed sanctions on Tehran, targeting Iran’s vital oil sector.

“Put all your curses on those who created the current situation,” Rouhani urged Iranians, adding that “the United States, the Zionists” and Saudi Arabia were to blame.  He didn’t say what kind of curse the Iranians should invoke.

The US plan, Rouhani claimed, was to “dominate” the Iranian nation, something Washington will not achieve.

The crisis gripping Iran has hurt ordinary Iranians and emboldened Rouhani’s critics to openly call for his ouster.  Rouhani came to power in 2017, promising to improve the economy and foster more open relations with the world.



This Week’s Pompeo Mideast Visit To Focus On Iran, Hezbollah

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will travel to Israel this week for “critical” meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a three-country tour in the Middle East.

Pompeo will arrive in Jerusalem after attending the annual U.S.- Kuwait Strategic Dialogue event on Tuesday (19th) in Kuwait City, a senior State Department official told reporters last week, before moving on to Beirut.

Pompeo will meet with “a range of senior Israeli officials” to discuss “the challenges posed to the region, to Israel, to the United States by Iran and by Iranian proxies,” the official said.  He will “reaffirm both privately and publicly during that visit our unwavering commitment to Israel’s security and its right to self-defense,”

No political challengers to Netanyahu are included among the dignitaries scheduled to meet with Pompeo, although, the official stressed, the visit has nothing to do with Israel’s upcoming elections.

Secretary Pompeo told US media that his purpose for going to each of the countries is to help them “bolster their efforts to push back against the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

One of the main topics of discussion will be the threat posed by Hezbollah, the Iran-backed terrorist organization whose attack tunnels into Israel were recently discovered and destroyed by the IDF.  It will also be high on the agenda in Beirut, said the official.