News Digest — 5/15/19

In News Surrounding Israel by The Friends of Israel

Israeli Military Ready For Potential Violence During Nakba Day and Eurovision

Israeli security forces and communities near the Gaza border prepared for thousands of Palestinians to take part in Nakba Day demonstrations along the security fence surrounding the coastal enclave on Wednesday (15th), though this year it is expected to be tamer than last year’s Nakba Day clashes in which protesters attempted to breach the security fence, threw explosives at Israeli troops and shot at soldiers.

In what remains the deadliest day of fighting in Gaza since the 2014 War, 62 Palestinians were killed in the clashes on May 14, 2018, 53 of whom were claimed as members of terror groups.

Israeli troops along the Gaza border and throughout the West Bank are on high alert ahead of the demonstrations planned for Wednesday afternoon (15th), though a shaky ceasefire agreement struck between Jerusalem and the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror groups in the Strip earlier this month – following a vicious round of fighting last week – will likely prevent a repeat of last year’s violence.

In an effort to avoid another flare-up, Israeli troops were reportedly given strict rules of engagement, requiring higher levels of approval before live fire can be used.

The Border Police also prepared for potentially violent protests in the West Bank, according to police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld.

Nakba Day or Catastrophe Day, is commemorated each year following Israel’s Independence Day, which celebrates the creation of the State of Israel  on May 15, 1948.

A complicating factor for Israeli security forces in preparing for this year’s Nakba Day protests is the Eurovision Song Contest, which is being held in Tel Aviv this week.  The international competition and the global recognition that comes with it, presents a highly vulnerable target for terror groups, as an attack during the event would likely garner worldwide coverage.

At the same time, Israel would likely respond forcefully to any such offensive – a significant deterrent for Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other terror groups.



Synagogue Vandalized Near Tel Aviv, Arabs Suspected

A synagogue in Lod, near Tel Aviv, was vandalized overnight (15th), as assailants forced their way into the place of worship and tried to open the locked holy ark.

The gabbai of the synagogue recorded a video showing the extent of the damage.

The door at the entranceway was broken down.  Prayer items were flung across seats, a table coving was lifted, and drawers were opened as the perpetrators ransacked the small sanctuary.

The gabbai showed how the assailants tried to forcibly open the ark, where Torah scrolls are kept.

Small Israeli flags were strewn on the floor.

Some members of the Indian-Jewish community who pray at the synagogue voiced suspicion that the attack was linked to May 15, the anniversary on the Gregorian calendar of the date in 1948 when the British Mandate was abolished and the Jewish State of Israel was established.

Lod has a mixed Jewish-Arab population. Some in the Arab sector mark this date as Nakba, ‘a day of catastrophe.’

A deputy mayor told Israeli news media that another synagogue in Lod had been vandalized this past weekend on the Jewish Sabbath.

United Right Member of the Knesset Ofir Sofer said the scenes of the ransacked synagogue conjured up memories of the Holocaust.  Holocaust Remembrance Day, was observed in Israel less than two weeks ago.



Celebrating One-Year Anniversary Of U.S. Embassy In Jerusalem

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took part in a festive event Tuesday evening (14th) marking the one-year anniversary of the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Israel’s capital of Jerusalem.  The event was held at the David Citadel Hotel.

Ambassador Friedman said at the event: “365 days ago we opened up the Embassy in Jerusalem on the 70th anniversary of the State of Israel – literally at exactly the day and the time when David Ben Gurion declared Israel’s Independence.”

“And in less than six months after that, we opened up a beautiful embassy building in a beautiful ceremony and all the predictions – some of our own making – about what could happen – the doom and gloom – didn’t take place.  I don’t think there were more than 20 people who protested,” the ambassador said.

“The embassy opened, the sun rose the next morning, and off we went under this new beautiful paradigm of an American embassy in Jerusalem.  The ancient city of Jerusalem now has a new shrine,” he said.

Ambassador Friedman praised the Trump Administration’s steadfast support and friendship with the State of Israel.  He noted not only Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem and the embassy move, but his withdrawal from the Iran deal, and his recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.  

The embassy was opened on May 14, 2018, the 70th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel.  The move fulfilled a promise by U.S. President Donald Trump to relocate the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Last week, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued an official statement that the United States would no longer sign the order suspending the transfer of the embassy to Jerusalem:  

“On May 14, 2018, the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem officially opened for business.  Now, as we near the first anniversary of that momentous event, I am pleased to report that I have provided my determination to Congress that the relevant elements of the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 have been addressed.  Accordingly, no further Presidential waiver of the funding restriction under the Act is necessary.”



Palestinian Leader Jibril Rajoub Receives Medical Treatment In Israel

Senior Palestinian leader Jibril Rajoub is currently undergoing treatment at an Israeli hospital, Palestinian Media Watch  reported on Tuesday (14th).

According to the PMW organization, Rajoub has repeatedly expressed his support for terror attacks and violence against Israelis, while emphasizing the importance of maintaining the backing of the international community.  For this reason, he opposed suicide bombings in Tel Aviv, while encouraging targeting soldiers and settlers.

Rajoub was admitted to Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv, despite the fact that two months ago the Palestinian Authority announced that they would end all medical care for Palestinians in Israel.  Thousands of Palestinians have been treated in Israeli facilities every year.

This decision was taken after Israel withheld from the taxes that it collects on behalf of the PA, an amount equivalent to the salaries that the PA pays to the families of terrorists.

“The favoritism of the PA is striking,” said PMW’ senior analyst, Nan Jacques Zilberdik.  “Not only do ordinary Palestinians have to forego medical care in Israel because the PA is adamant about paying high salaries to terrorists, but Palestinians also have to witness one of their own leaders getting treatment in an Israeli hospital that for them is off bounds.”

As Chairman of the PLO’s Supreme Council for Youth and Sports Affairs, Rajoub recently also appealed to the Spanish club Atletico Madrid to cancel a match with the local Israeli team, Beitar Jerusalem, scheduled in Israel for May 21st.   



Wife Of Sweden Jewish Leader Stabbed, Seriously Wounded

The wife of the secretary of the Jewish community in Helsingborg, Sweden, was stabbed several times on Tuesday morning (14th), TPS reported.  The woman is reported in serious condition.

The stabber fled the scene, said the news agency, adding that the attack is being investigated as a hate crime.

The woman was identified as in her 60s.  The identity of the assailant was not clear at the time, but Wednesday morning (15th), Danish police arrested a Muslim suspect.

Security has been increased around Jewish institutions in the city, according to local news media.

Members of the Jewish community said that they live in such a hostile environment that they are afraid to identify themselves as Jews.

Talia, a young Jewish woman who lives in Stockholm, told World Israel News, “I’m not shocked.  It’s not safe to be a Jew in Sweden.”

“Even the Orthodox rabbi wears a hat rather than a kippah, fearing for his safety,” she said.

She declined to give her surname, saying that when she looks for work, a potential employer could find her name in “an article.”  

“It’s not good for one’s career here to be pro-Israel,” she explained.

“Once again, Jews in Europe are in danger,” Israeli President Reuven Rivlin stated.  “Today’s brutal stabbing of a member of the Jewish community in Helsingborg, Sweden is yet another reminder that we cannot rely on fading memories of the Holocaust to keep today’s Jewish communities safe, as our schools, synagogues and community centers are turning into fortresses.  

“We will fight anti-Semitism with all our might, and will speak out against these dreadful incidents.  Our thoughts and prayers are with the injured, her family and community,” he said.

Meanwhile the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) reports the Helsingborg region’s 1,200 Jews encounter dozens of hate crimes annually.  The region is located about 40 minutes north of Malmo, a city which has become known for its anti-Semitism.