News Digest — 3/21/19

In News Surrounding Israel by The Friends of Israel

Soldier Wounded In Sunday Terror Attack Improving

An IDF soldier seriously wounded in a terrorist attack in Samaria on Sunday (17th) has regained consciousness and has started to communicate, according to a report in Walla News.

Nineteen-year-old Alexander Dvorsky’s brother is quoted by the news site as saying that the wounded soldier “recognized us and even tried to speak to us even though it’s still hard for him.”

The brother said that those at the soldier’s bedside have still not talked to him about the attack.  “We want him to recover and get stronger,” he said, adding however that the soldier “definitely understands the situation in which he now finds himself.”

Dvorsky underwent several operations and on Monday (18th), was taken off a respirator.  He is now classified by the hospital as in moderate to serious condition, with his wounds no longer posing an immediate threat to his life.

According to Ynet News, Dvorsky immigrated to Israel from Moldova and was described by Eyal Betzer, the head of the Jezreel Valley Regional Council, where he first arrived, as “A Zionist soldier who immigrated to Israel alone… and whose family immigrated shortly after – a young man who fulfilled his mission by enlisting in an IDF combat unit.”

Staff Sgt. Gal Keidan and Rabbi Ahiad Ettinger were killed in the attack.

The search is still underway for the attacker, identified as Omar Abu Laila.

On Monday (18th), Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “We know the identity of the assailant and are in close pursuit.  We know where he lives and have located his family.”



IDF To Shutter West Bank, Gaza Crossings To Palestinians For Purim Holiday

The Israel Defense Forces announced Tuesday (19th) that it will enforce a total shutdown of all crossing points into Israel from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as a security precaution ahead of Purim, as is standard practice during festivals and holidays.

The closure will last from 12 a.m. Wednesday (20th) until 12 a.m. Sunday (24th).  Exceptions will be made for humanitarian and other outstanding cases, but will require the approval of the Defense Ministry’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories.

Purim starts Wednesday evening (20th) in most of the country, and Thursday evening (21st) in Jerusalem.

The Jewish holiday of Purim is generally a festive, carnival-like occasion, celebrated with costumes, parades and street parties in cities around Israel.



IDF Strikes Hamas Terror Cells In Gaza In Response To Incendiary Balloons

The IDF struck several targets in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday evening (19th), in response to the renewed launching of incendiary balloons from the Strip into Israeli territory, the IDF reported.  Two separate cells were targeted.

Balloon terrorism has returned in recent weeks with several launches at communities in the Gaza vicinity. Incendiary balloons were reported to have been found in the Eshkol Regional Council on Tuesday (19th).  Residents reported the incident to security personnel, who found the balloons with a message attached in Arabic.

Shortly after, the IDF launched an initial airstrike, attacking the position from where the balloons were launched, in the northern Gaza Strip, they followed it with a second strike, the IDF spokesperson reported.

Also Tuesday (19th), riots broke out simultaneously at the border fence, in which three Palestinians were injured.

Earlier on Tuesday (19th), the IDF Spokesperson stated that soldiers identified three Palestinian suspects crossing the border fence in the southern Gaza Strip, placing a flag there, and returning immediately to the Strip.

On Monday (18th), IDF soldiers arrested a number of suspects at the border who crossed the security fence.  They were transferred to security forces for questioning.

For a year, Gaza protesters have launched hundreds of incendiary kites and balloons into Israel sparking fires that have destroyed forests, burned crops and killed livestock.  Over 7,000 acres have been burned, causing millions of shekels in damages, according to Israeli officials.



UNHRC Should Condemn The PA And Hamas For Abuse Of Palestinian Children – Maurice Hirsch, Itamar Marcus, and Nan Jacques Zilberdik

On Monday (18th ), the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) condemned Israel for its treatment of Palestinian children.  The reality is that while Palestinian children are indeed suffering, the ones responsible are the Palestinian Authority and Hamas leaders who have systematically stolen the childhood from Palestinian youth by raising them to see violence and martyrdom-death as ideals to strive for.  Palestinian children and teenagers have been taking an active part in violence and murderous terrorism for years and have paid the price with both their lives and as prisoners in Israeli jails.

While the UNHRC is always quick to condemn Israel for the deaths of Palestinian teen terrorists and for the imposition of prison terms on arrested teen terrorists, it should instead be condemning the PA for using children as combatants in violation of international law and morality.  Israel cannot be blamed for arresting or shooting anyone while defending itself against Palestinian terror, even if the terrorist is a teenager. The bottom line is that if the PA would stop using children as terror combatants, there would be no Palestinian child terrorist prisoners and potentially no or many less child casualties.



In First For EU State, Hungary Opens Diplomatic Trade Office In Jerusalem

Hungary’s foreign minister opened a trade office in Jerusalem that will have official “diplomatic status” during a short visit to Israel Tuesday (19th).

The new trade office is considered a “branch” of the Central European country’s embassy in Israel, which will remain in Tel Aviv.

“This is a very exciting moment for us because it’s the first European diplomatic mission opened in Jerusalem in many decades and three Hungarian diplomats are going to be assigned to this office for trade purposes,”Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the mission’s opening ceremony.  “That’s important for trade, for diplomacy and for the move that Hungary is leading right now, to change the attitude in Europe toward Jerusalem.”

In his speech, Netanyahu mentioned US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the opening of the US Embassy in the city in May 2018.

“And there’s a plot waiting for you right next to the American Embassy,” Netanyahu told Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto, who had arrived from Budapest for the occasion.

The new trade office is located on the 15th floor of the Migdal Ha’ir office tower in western Jerusalem.

“We have always fought for a fair and balanced approach on behalf of the international community toward Israel,” Szijjarto said.

At the opening ceremony, Netanyahu and Szijjarto cut the ribbon at the new trade mission’s entrance.  In attendance were US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, US Ambassador to Hungary David Cornstein, Hungarian Ambassador to Israel Levente Benko, Czech Ambassador to Israel Martin Stropnicky and Israeli Ambassador to Hungary, Yossi Amrani.

The Czech Republic in November ceremoniously opened the so-called Czech House in Jerusalem, which houses these companies: Czech Invest, Czech Trade, Czech Tourism, and Czech Center, in a small office space in the capital’s Cinematheque.

As opposed to the planned Hungarian trade mission, the Czech House does not have diplomatic status, according to officials.