Israel News

News Digest — 5/26/23

In News Surrounding Israel by The Friends of Israel

Armed Terrorist Shot By Security Guard At Entrance To Teneh Omarim Synagogue

An attempted terror attack was thwarted in the Jewish settlement of Teneh Omarim, close to Hebron, on Friday morning (26th).

Shortly before 10 am, a terrorist infiltration alert was sounded, and the Home Front Command issued instructions for residents to immediately go inside, lock the doors and close the windows, adding that they must remain indoors until further notice.

After infiltrating the settlement, the terrorist, who was armed with a knife, headed for the community synagogue, where Shavuot holiday prayers were taking place.  An eyewitness said that a security guard, a member of the settlement’s security team, who noticed the terrorist attempting to stab local residents as he made his way to the house of worship, opened fire and neutralized the subject.  

The terrorist is reportedly in critical condition, and no injuries were sustained by Israeli forces or settlement citizens, the IDF confirmed.

Meanwhile the Palestinian media reported a Palestinian “youth” was shot in front of a synagogue in a settlement, south of Hebron.  They did not identify the terrorist.



Shavuot Heatwave And Thunderstorms: Israel Set For Weekend Of ‘Unusual’ Weather

While the weather in Israel will be unseasonably warm over the Shavuot weekend, localized rain and thunderstorms are expected to occur throughout Friday (26th) and Saturday (27th),with slight concerns of flooding in the east and south of Israel.

The weather on Friday (26th) will be cloudy with a rise in temperatures throughout the country.  In the evening, clouds will remain, and in the northern mountains of the country, strong winds are expected.

The rise in temperature will continue into Saturday (27th) when southwesterly winds will strengthen and the air will become hazy with sandstorms in the south of the country.  Early afternoon, rainstorms may occur, alongside isolated thunderstorms with slight concern of flooding in Israel’s southern and eastern rivers.

On Sunday (28th), there will be some relief from the high temperatures, but it will still be unusually hot for this time of year. Rain and thunderstorms are expected to occur across most of the country, with concerns of flooding, and strong winds in Israel’s south.

On Monday (29th) temperatures will cool and rains will continue throughout the country until around midday.



University Elections Prove Growing Support For Hamas In PA-Controlled Areas

Representatives from Hamas on Wednesday (24th) won a plurality of seats on Birzeit University’s student council, in a clear example of the terror group’s growing popularity among Palestinians living in Judea and Samaria.

Hamas was awarded 25 seats out of 51, with the Fatah party that currently governs the region trailing behind at 20, and various smaller political groups picking up the remaining six seats.

Because Palestinian Leader Mahmoud Abbas has refused to hold national elections since 2006, the university vote constitutes a rare opportunity to measure the sentiments of Palestinian voters.

Octogenarian Abbas is wildly unpopular among his constituents, with the vast majority expressing that they wish for him to resign.  Rumored to be in poor health for years, Abbas has failed to appoint or acknowledge a public successor, leaving a political vacuum that may be leveraged by Hamas after he dies.

Birzeit University officials told media that within PA-controlled enclaves, the educational institution’s elections are taken seriously by the public as a whole due to their lack of opportunities to express their political opinions.

What makes the election at Birzeit University significant is that it reflects the different political perspectives in Palestinian society,” Iyad Tomar, head of the election committee and dean of students at Birzeit University, told Reuters.

“It is the only place where we can exercise our democratic right and vote,” Anan Safi, a student who voted for the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), said to Reuters.  “We don’t have presidential or national elections.”

Critics of the PA, like the late political activist Nizar Banat, are often prosecuted or even murdered at the hands of the body’s security forces. 

Notably, while Hamas concentrates extensive resources on campaigns aimed at attracting support in PA-controlled areas in Judea and Samaria, the terror group does not permit elections in universities in the Gaza Strip.



EU Envoy Says ‘No Such Thing As Area A And B, It’s All Palestine’

EU diplomat Sven Kuhn von Burgsdorff, who represents the European Union in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, said on Wednesday (24th) during a visit to Samaria, “There is no such thing as Areas A, B and C, it’s all Palestine.”

Areas A, B, and C are three administrative zones in Judea and Samaria established under the Oslo Accords.  Area A is under Palestinian Authority civil and security control.  Area B is governed by PA civil control but joint Israeli-Palestinian security.  Area C, roughly 60% of the area is fully under Israeli civil and military control.

Von Burgsdorff also said that “what we’re seeing in Homesh is not just a violation of international law…it’s a violation of Israeli domestic law.”  He was referencing the Knesset’s vote in March to repeal articles of a 2005 law banning Israelis from setting foot in the four communities in northern Samaria: Homesh, Sa-Nur, Ganim, and Kadim – that they evacuated during the disengagement.

The EU on Wednesday (24th) issued a statement saying it is “gravely concerned by, and condemns the decision of Israeli authorities to allow Israeli citizens to establish a permanent presence in the outpost in Homesh.

Von Burgsdorff made his comments during a tour for senior EU diplomats organized by three Israeli NGOs opposed to Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria.

The tour included a visit to the archaeological site of Sebastia (biblical Shomron), the capital of the northern Kingdom of Israel in the eighth and ninth centuries BCE.

The Nachala Settlement Movement condemned the group’s visit saying, “The cooperation between ‘Peace Now’ and the European Union representatives with the aim of undermining the Jewish hold on northern Samaria illustrates the ridiculous and ludicrous situation of the movement’s representatives and their entire initiative.”  

The name Homesh remembers the five daughters of Zelophehad who in their love for the Land of Israel [the Book of Numbers] refused to give up any physical part of it.

“The city of Shomron was founded 1,500 years before the Roman Emperor Sebastian [Agustus – the Greek Sebastos, or “venerable,” is a translation of the Latin Augustus] was born.  Ignorance and stupidity lead the group of ‘Peace Now’ and the European Union to the mouth of the abyss,” the Nachala Settlement Movement said.



Israel Is Humane, Diverse, Democratic – David J. Michaels

As the grandson of Holocaust survivors, I know how blessed I am to call America home – but also the importance of Jews’ restored ancestral homeland.  The birth of Israel represented the fulfillment of a yearning for Jews to be able to return to the center of their religious and historical saga – but also of their right to independence, defense and equality.  Israel’s aspirations are our aspirations.

As a critical partner in the fight against terrorism, a foremost center of technological innovation and a bridge between Europe, Asia and Africa, Israel is an indispensable ally to the United States.  It is also the rare Middle Eastern country where minorities, including Christians, enjoy fundamental civil liberties and have grown continually.

Israel is one of the world’s only parties in a conflict whose adversaries seek a country’s complete destruction.  This is the explicit doctrine of Iran, which has sought nuclear capabilities and supports groups with the same goal.  By contrast, Americans, Irish, and Indians sought independence from Britain – not its eradication.

Israel has made incomparable overtures and sacrifices for peace.  It has established peace and partnership with every willing Arab interlocutor, including Egypt, Jordan, the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco.  But Palestinian extremists have answered every Israeli peace proposal with rejection and relentless violence.

Some allege that Israel is guilty of “ethnic cleansing.”  Yet since 1948, the Arab population in Israel-controlled land has increased by millions.  Israel’s values are our values.  Its quest for acceptance is vital to the interests of America and our world.  (La Crosse Tribune – Wisconsin)

The writer is director of UN and Intercommunal Affairs at B’nai B’rith International.



Hezbollah Is Much Weaker Than It Seems – Michael Young

With thousands of men under arms, a missile arsenal, Iranian backing and much of the Shiite religious community behind the party, Hezbollah remains a potent force in Lebanese society.  Yet its ability to act as Iran’s deterrent has been severely compromised by Lebanon’s domestic situation.  Hezbollah’s plan is to turn the country into a “resistance state” that acts as an outpost for Iranian influence, and another counterweight to Israel and the US.

Hezbollah has lost two of the essential prerequisites needed to conduct a war against Israel, were Iran to demand it.  The first is Lebanon’s ability to absorb Israeli retaliation and rebuild as happened in 2006.  Lebanon’s bankruptcy means that after a war against Israel, the country would be unable to bounce back from the destruction.

The second is a minimum level of consensus nationally behind Hezbollah’s “resistance” agenda.  The rifts in the political class as a result of the popular protest movement mean that there is no discernible consensus to back Hezbollah in going to war.  When Ziad Aswad, a prominent member of the Hezbollah-allied Christian Aounist faction, declares that Lebanon “cannot continue to hold a rifle when its people are hungry,” he expresses a widespread view.

Hezbollah would be blamed for sacrificing Lebanon for Iran.  Hundreds of thousands of displaced Shiites would have to find refuge in areas hostile to the party, which could result in a civil conflict that it could not hope to win, nullifying its usefulness to Iran.  As Iran looks at Lebanon, it sees its local ally presiding over a state in ruin whose population is angry and refuses to suffer for Tehran.  (The National-Abu Dhabi)

The writer is editor of Diwan, the blog of the Carnegie Middle East program in Beirut.