Israel News

News Digest — 4/1/24

In News Surrounding Israel by The Friends of Israel

Israeli Forces Arrest Sister Of Hamas Chief Ismail Haniyeh

Israeli security forces arrested the sister of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in Tel Sheva on suspicion of having ties to Hamas and engaging in incitement and support for terror, Israeli media and Israel Police reported Monday morning (1st).

The police statement identified the detained suspect as a close member of a senior member of Hamas.  Media reports noted that the relative was 57-year-old Zebah Abdel Salem Haniyeh.

The operation dubbed “Early Dawn,” was conducted via a multi-department effort.  The Police–Shin Bet joint operation culminated in the arrest in Haniyeh in an early morning raid carried out by police, border police, IDF and the Israel police aerial unit.

During the raid of Haniyeh’s home compound, security forces reportedly found documents, media, phones, and other evidence indicating her participation in serious security offenses.

According to police, Haniyeh is set to be brought before the Beersheba Magistrate’s Court later on Monday (1st) in order to extend her detention.

Commenting on the arrest operation, Southern District Commander Superintendent Amir Cohen emphasized that no effort would be spared in the war against terrorism and that every asset available would be used to ensure peace and security for Israeli citizens.



‘We’re At War ’ – Three Seriously Wounded In Terror Stabbing

A Palestinian terrorist stabbed three Israelis in a shopping center in Gan Yavne on Sunday evening (3/31), seriously wounding them.

The victims, aged 25, 20, and 17 were rushed to Assuta Medical Center in Ashdod.  The two older victims were later transferred to Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv and Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikvah for neurosurgery.

 All three victims have “extremely serious” head injuries, Assuta said in a statement.

The perpetrator of the terror attack, a 19-year-old from the Palestinian Authority-administered town of Dura near Hebron, was shot and killed by police at the scene.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir visited the site of the attack and praised a police officer who had been patrolling nearby at the time of the stabbing spree, for quicking reacting to the commotion and shooting the terrorist.

“We’re at war, and certainly the enemy has more motivation to harm us,” Ben-Gvir said, encouraging Israelis to practice vigilance in public places.

The assailant, who has not been publicly named, was said to be illegally present in Israel.  At one point in time, he held a work permit that allowed him to be employed within an industrial zone in Judea and Samaria, but not within pre-1967 Israel.

Police said he had likely infiltrated into central Israel via a hole in the security barrier.

Eduardo Schlafen, a municipal inspector, told Radio 103FM  that he and a police officer had rushed to the mall after hearing reports about a disturbance.

“We arrived at the scene within a minute and a half.  We saw a young man who was covered in blood,” Schlafen said.

“I went up the stairs into the mall, then out of nowhere the terrorist came toward us.  At first we didn’t see the knife.  But when we saw the knife he was already very close to me,” he continued.

“I ran to the side to give the policeman enough room to shoot.  The terrorist ran after me, the policeman shot him, but he continued in my direction. I fell, the terrorist fell on top of me, I pushed him off with my legs  and the policeman finished the neutralization.”

The stabbing came on the heels of  a terror stabbing earlier on Sunday (3/31), in the Beersheba Central Bus Station.

In that incident one soldier was wounded and the assailant, a Bedouin-Israeli, was shot dead.



Hamas Is Collapsing, Captured Terrorists Tell Israel

The Hamas terrorist organization is suffering heavy losses and is collapsing in on itself, captured terrorists told their Israeli interrogators, according to Israel’s Defense Minister. 

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant met with IDF soldiers at the 98th Division ‘s headquarters, Sunday (3/31) and held an operational assessment.

During his visit, Gallant discussed Israel;s recent gains in its ongoing war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, saying that testimonials by terrorists captured in the IDF’s massive raid on Shifa Hospital in Gaza City highlighted the decline of Hamas’ operational capabilities.

“The group is collapsing from within,” Gallant said captured terrorists told Israeli security officials.

“In the last week or two, hundreds of terrorists have been captured and what they say about what happened to them tells the whole story.  They say that Hamas is collapsing from within.  The prices they are paying are very heavy.” 

“In the last few days, We have also seen very great progress, both in the terrorists in the field and with more senior commanders, even very senior ones,” Gallant continued.

Shifa Hospital, the local headquarters for Hamas in the Northern Gaza Strip prior to the Israeli invasion of Gaza, was reoccupied by Hamas forces in recent months, Israeli security officers said earlier this month.

On the night of March 18th, the IDF launched a massive, multi-day raid on the hospital, sparking running gun battles with terrorists inside  and outside the facility.

Hundreds of terrorists were killed during the operation, with over 800 others arrested.

IDF chief spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari told reporters on March 25th that the operation in Shifa Hospital had “a huge effect on Hamas and Islamic Jihad,” adding that it was the most combatants killed and captured in a single raid in the war, which has caused “severe damage” to terror organizations in the northern Gaza Strip.



US Agrees  To Send More Bombs, Warplanes To Israel

The US in recent days authorized the transfer of billions of dollars of bombs and fighter jets to Israel, two sources familiar with the effort said on Friday ( 3/29), even as Washington publicly expresses concerns about an anticipated Israeli military offensive in Rafah.

The new arms package includes more than 1,800 Mk84 2,000-pound bombs and 500 Mk82 500-pound bombs, said the sources, who confirmed a report in the Washington Post.

Washington gives $3.8 billion in annual military assistance to Israel, its longtime ally.  The package comes as Israel faces strong criticism over its bombing campaign and ground offensive in Gaza, and as some of the members of President Joe Biden’s administration calls for him to cut US military aid.

The White House declined to comment on the weapons transfer.  The Israeli Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.  The decision on weapons follows a visit by Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant last week where he discussed Israel’s weapons needs with US counterparts.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday (3/26), Gallant, apparently seeking to cool US-Israeli tensions, said he stressed the importance of US ties to his country’s security and of maintaining Israel’s “qualitative military edge” in the region, including its air capabilities.



ISIS Calls For Ramadan Massacre Of Christians And Jews  By ‘Lone Wolves’

ISIS called for “lone wolves” to murder Christians and Jews around the world as part of the holiday of Ramadan, British news outlet Mirror reported over the weekend.

Islamic State Spokesperson Abu Hudhayfah al-Ansari praised the terror attack on Crocus Concert Hall in Moscow, where 140 were murdered, the British news media outlet reported.

Al-Ansari proceeded to reach out to “lone wolves” on Telegram, urging them to “target Christians  and Jewish people, especially in the US, Europe, and Israel during the holy month of Ramadan.

Commemorating the 10th anniversary of the ISIS caliphate declaration in Iraq, and Syria, al-Ansari stated that American troops in Iraq will “lead to more attacks” from the terror organization.

In a 41-minute audio speech, the spokesman “highlighted and praised the global expansion of Islamic State” and sharply criticized the terrorist organization Al-Qaeda, claiming that it had strayed from its path.

ISIS’ al-Ansari urged members in Mozambique to “double attacks” and terrorists in the Philippines to “move operations into major cities,” signaling a dangerous escalation.  He emphasized obedience to elders and spreading ISIS’ message far and wide, calling on those who engage in jihad, also known as Mujahidin, to heed their leaders’ orders.

Besides assuming his role in August 2023, little was known about al-Ansari who  replaced Abu Omar al-Muhajir.  However, his anti-Semitic rhetoric resonates strongly with extremists.

According to the Mirror report on January 4, al-Ansari stated that “monotheism is the goal and jihad is the path.”  He then proceeded to declare that the conflict with the Jewish people “will not end” in any of the currently suggested solutions.

“It is a religious ideological war that will continue,” al-Ansari said, followed by a list of various methods of mass murder.



A Free Society Is Only As Strong As The Citizens Willing To Defend It – Bari Weiss

On Oct. 7, ordinary Israelis left their offices, closed their laptops, and abandoned their fields to pick up weapons, in many cases without waiting for instructions from the state or its army.  On that black morning, and in the months since, these men and women have displayed the kind of heroism most thought belonged to the mythic past.

The public intellectual and Bible scholar Micah Goodman told me in Jerusalem that the country went through a collective near-death experience.  “For the first time in our lives, we had a moment where we could imagine that the whole thing was over.  That the whole thing ended.  You know how when individuals have a near-death experience, they’re transformed.  Because they learned that life should not be trivialized.  As a country, we had a near-death experience, and now we’re transformed because we know that Jewish sovereignty should not be taken for granted.”

Israel is currently fighting a second war of Independence – an existential war necessary for the survival of the state, as everyone here believes.  Before Oct. 7, despite the country’s universal draft, many Israelis say they too, believed that history and heroism were things that belonged to the past.  Then the most serious thing imaginable was upon them.  And the most serious men and women I have ever encountered emerged to confront it.

The writer Haviv Rettig Gur told me in Jerusalem:  “We will continue as our forefathers and foremothers did before us: to live on our sword.  We will defend ourselves.  We will stand united against enemies who want to destroy us.  And they actually want to destroy us.  This isn’t World War I-style propaganda.  They say it.  They’re actually coming for us.”  (Free press)



I’m Proud To Be A Zionist – Anthony Housefather

As I listened to the debate in the House of Commons on a motion that sought to reverse the last five decades of Canadian foreign policy as relates to our friend and ally Israel, I realized that there was a fundamental misunderstanding of what Zionism was and why the vast majority of Canadian Jews identified with Israel and supported it in its effort to eradicate the terrorist group Hamas which attacked the country on Oct. 7.  We are also keenly aware that following the Oct. 7 pogrom, Hamas encouraged followers to target Jewish communities across the world including here in Canada.

In my address to the House I explained that Jewish Canadians love our country and that there is nothing irreconcilable in being both proud Canadians and Zionists.  My community has been here since 1760 and helped build this country.  We have fought in all of Canada’s wars and are an integral part of this country.  But the vast majority of us are also Zionists, as are many other Canadians who are not Jewish.

Zionism is simply the belief that Jews have a right to have one state in our ancestral homeland.  Jews are indigenous to Israel.  We have been there for thousands of years.

We also have a history where Jews have faced persecution in every country in the world.  As such, it is etched in our collective understanding that for security we needed one place where every Jew in the world could go if things went wrong in their country.  

That is Israel.  That is what Zionism means.  I am proud to be a Zionist.  It means that we will not give willful support to those who seek the disappearance of Israel and create false double standards making ludicrous comparisons between a democratically-elected government and a terrorist organization.

The writer is a Member of Parliament  in Canada.  (National Post-Canada)