Israel News

News Digest — 5/24/23

In News Surrounding Israel by The Friends of Israel

Arab Israeli Recruited By Hamas To Carry Out Terror Bombing, Arrested By Shin Bet

An Israeli Arab from Umm al-Fahm was arrested by the Shin Bet and Israel Police after he was recruited by Hamas to conduct a bombing attack on a bus in the Hadera area, the Shin Bet announced on Wednesday (24th).

The suspect, identified as Muhammad Nadir Mahajna, was found to have been recruited by Hamas’ military branch in the Gaza Strip a few months ago.

The Shin Bet investigation found that due to economic and mental stress, Mahajna began to draw closer to the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood and decided to carry out a terrorist attack.

Mahajna collected information about potential targets for the planned bombing attack, with a focus on defense facilities and crowded areas and sent the information to Hamas.

Hamas proceeded to direct Mahajna to carry out a bombing attack on the 921 bus line in the Hadera area and Mahajna even carried out a number of actions in order to prepare the attack before he was arrested.

On May 9, an indictment was filed against Mahajna charging him with serious security violations.

The Gidonim (33) unit in the Lahav 433 national crime unit took part in Mahajna’s arrest, releasing footage of the arrest on Wednesday (24th).

Mahajna is the latest in a series of Israeli citizens arrested for working with Hamas in the past year.

In January, two Israeli citizens from Mu’awiya in northern Israel were arrested after being recruited by Hamas to carry out bombing attacks in Israel.

The Shin Bet believes that both Mahajna and the two citizens arrested in January were being directed by the same framework in Hamas.

“The investigation of the affair once again reveals the efforts of Hamas to promote terrorist activity in Israeli territory, while trying to publicly distance its involvement, at the same time falsely presenting that it wants to promote calming moves in the Gaza Strip.  All this, while cynically exploiting the population of Israeli citizens and recruiting them for the benefit of terrorist activity,” said a source in the Shin Bet.

The Shin Bet stressed that the responsibility for these attempted terrorist operations falls on Hamas and especially Yahya Sinwar, the head of Hamas in Gaza.

In October, three Israeli citizens from northern Israel were indicted for helping build a cyber threat against communications infrastructure used by the IDF and for providing sensitive information to the Hamas terror movement in Turkey.

The main suspect in the case, identified as R.A., worked as a software engineer at Cellcom, which provides services to the IDF and police.  The suspect had broad access privileges to the company’s computer and information systems.



Israel Says ‘No Place Can’t Be Reached’ After Report On Iranian Nuclear-Related Activity

National Security Advisor Tzachi Hanegbi on Tuesday (23rd) said a new nuclear facility being built by Iran would not be immune from attack, despite assessments by experts that it will be beyond the reach of last-ditch US bunker-busting bombs.

Hanegbi made the comments in response to an Associated Press report that said the new facility appears to be as deep as 328 feet below ground.

Speaking at a security conference near Tel Aviv, Hanegbi said he was not surprised by the report, noting that Iran has other underground facilities.  While he acknowledged the location would complicate any potential military strike on the facility, he said there are still solutions to the challenge.

“What is possible to say about this matter is that there is no place that can’t be reached,” he said.  He declined to say if Israel had the ability to do this on its own.

“We hope we won’t get to a situation where the solution to the story of a nuclear weapon in Iran is a kinetic solution, a solution involving an attack,” he said, adding that “Israel prefers to see the international standoff with Iran resolved through diplomatic means.”

Israel considers Iran to be its greatest enemy and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly said that he will not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon.  He has said that international diplomacy should be accompanied by a serious military option and hinted that Israel would be prepared to strike Iran on its own if necessary.

Photos and videos of Iran’s new facility from Planet Labs PBC  show Iran has been digging tunnels near the Natanz nuclear site, which has come under repeated sabotage attacks over the years.  Excavation mounds at the site suggest the facility could be between 260 and 328 feet under the ground, according to experts and AP’s analysis.

The Islamic Republic denies it is seeking nuclear weapons, though officials in Tehran now openly discuss their ability to pursue one.  With Iran now producing uranium close to weapons-grade levels after the collapse of its nuclear deal with world powers, the installation complicates the West’s efforts to halt Iran from potentially developing an atomic bomb as diplomacy over its nuclear program remains stalled.  The construction comes five years after then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the nuclear accord.  Since then, Iran has stepped up its uranium enrichment far beyond the limits of the accord.  Experts believe it is just a short step from reaching the 90% enrichment threshold of weapons-grade uranium.

Uranium enrichment is a key element of producing a nuclear bomb.  Israeli experts believe Iran would need additional time, up to two years, to develop the means to deliver and detonate a warhead.

Addressing the same conference, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. -Gen. Herzi Halevi, said Israel is closely monitoring Iran’s nuclear program and reiterated that the military is prepared to take action.  “There are possible negative developments on the horizon and that can bring about action,” he said.  “We have capabilities.  Others have capabilities, and this is a very significant and important matter.”



Netanyahu: Israel Is Far Ahead Of Its Enemies

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited an IDF Intelligence base on Tuesday (23rd) together with the head of IDF Intelligence Maj.-Gen Aharon Haliva and additional commanders.

The prime minister received an in-depth briefing on the efforts being made in various fields regarding the Iranian threat.

He was also presented with details of the daily efforts to thwart terrorism in Judea and Samaria, and reviewed intelligence information that enabled the targeting of the senior Islamic Jihad commanders in the Gaza Strip during “Operation Shield and Arrow” earlier this month.

“I have just finished visiting one of our intelligence bases and I left feeling encouraged,” Netanyahu said.

“Israel has opened a gap against all of our enemies and it has done so with a combination of human intelligence and artificial intelligence.  What I saw here is that the future is already here today.  So let all of our enemies know.  We are far ahead of you.”

Also participating in the visit were National Security Council Director Tzachi Hanegbi and the prime minister’s Chief of Staff Tzachi Braverman and Military Secretary Maj.-Gen. Avi Gil.

After the visit, the prime minister was briefed on the “Bridges project,” the goal of which is to impart technological know-how to pupils from the periphery.



Alan Dershowitz: ‘I Will Represent Rabbi Leo Dee Against CNN Pro Bono”

Professor Alan Dershowitz has announced that he will be representing Rabbi Leo Dee, whose daughters and wife were killed in a shooting attack in the Jordan Valley, at no charge in a lawsuit against CNN.

In an interview with i24NEWS, Professor Dershowitz denounced the apology given by CNN anchor Christine Amanpour after she stated during a broadcast that Lucy Dee and her daughters Rina and Maia had been killed in “a shootout.”

“This was not a slip of the tongue,” Professor Dershowitz claimed.  “It comes as part of a pattern that CNN and Amanpour have created over more than a decade.”

“Amanpour constantly creates a false equivalence between terrorists who murder people in cold blood and the innocent victims, like the victims in this case,” says Professor Dershowitz.  “An organization called CAMERA, which documents these things, has documented a long pattern by CNN and by Amanpour of constantly siding against Israel and trying to create a moral equivalence between innocent victims of terrorism and actual terrorists.”

Let’s see what Amanpour has to say – not in a scripted apology, but under my cross-examination and that of other lawyers,” professor Dershowitz challenged.



Top Palestinian Officials Hail Terrorists Behind Dee Murders As ‘Heroes’  

The terrorists responsible for the murder of British-Israeli Lucy Dee and her two daughters, Maia and Rina Dee, were hailed as Palestinian heroes by the Palestinian Authority leadership this week.

Spokesman for PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, Nabil Abu Rudeina condemned  Israel for the ‘crime of murdering” Hassan Katnani and Ma’ad Masri, whom he referred to as “martyrs,” according to a translation of his remarks by monitoring group Palestinian Media Watch.

Israeli security forces killed Katnani and Masri, who were members of the Hamas terror group, during a gun battle in the Palestinian Authority-controlled city of Nablus earlier this month.

PA Prime Minister Shtayyeh “condemned the Israeli act of aggression due to which 3 Martyrs ascended to Heaven” and called on the European Union to issue condemnation against Israel.  Shtayyeh also shared a photo of the murderers.

Abbas’ ruling faction glorified the two as “heroic Jihad fighters,” dubbing them “the heroes from the Jordan Valley.”  The terrorists also were referred to as grooms on their way to “their wedding”- referencing the 72 virgins that martyrs are believed to wed in paradise according to Islam.



Report: Saudi Arabia Removes ‘Practically All Anti-Semitism’ From Textbooks

Saudi Arabia has removed “practically all anti-Semitism” from school textbooks, according to a report released Tuesday (23rd) by education watchdog Impact-se.

Since its last review of the Saudi curricula in 2019, Impact-se also found positive changes in the depiction of Israel and Zionism, citing one social studies textbook in which an entire chapter containing harmful material about Israel had been removed.

One textbook chapter-heading on Israel’s pre-state history was changed from “The Attempt to Create the Zionist Entity” to “British Mandate in Palestine.”

“Highly inflammatory hadiths and texts” have been removed from the textbooks, as have statements condemning infidels and Christians,” the report said.

Nonetheless, the report notes, problematic examples remain: a first-grade textbook teaches that “any other religion than Islam is false.”

Zionism is still described as a “Jewish racist political movement” that “aims to expel the Palestinian people and establish a Jewish state by force.”

“Practically all the previously identified antisemitic material in Saudi Islamic Studies textbooks has now been removed,” the group’s CEO Marcus Sheff said in a statement.  “This follows the previous removal of significant amounts of antisemitism in other subjects over the last four years.  While all textbook reform is important, Saudi Arabian textbooks are particularly consequential.  Kudos is due to the Saudi government for this multi-year and systematic removal of Jew-hatred and moderation of content on Israel in the textbooks of over six million Saudi children, and of many more who study the textbooks outside of Saudi Arabia.”

The changes come amid warming ties between Israel and the Gulf Kingdom, as well as a wide-sweeping education reform by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salmán.