News Digest — 5/31/19

In News Surrounding Israel by The Friends of Israel

Jerusalem Day, June 2, 2019

“Jerusalem Day,” or “Jerusalem Reunification Day,” is an officially recognized national holiday in Israel which enjoys broad acceptance in the country.  It commemorates the liberation and reunification of Jerusalem in 1967. After the liberation of Jerusalem during the Six-Day War the city was under Jewish sovereignty.  The Chief Rabbinate of Israel declared Jerusalem Day as a holiday to thank God for the victory in the War and for answering the Jewish prayers of “Next year in Jerusalem.” Although Jerusalem Day is observed by Jews worldwide, the celebrations are not comparable to those inside reunited Jerusalem.  Thousands of people march through the Old City, where Jews were denied access under Jordanian control. The festivities on this public holiday in Jerusalem are accompanied by concerts, street parades, singing and dancing and lectures on the history and future of Jerusalem. For the first time in 30 years, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem will be closed to Jewish visitors.

On Wednesday (29th), Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research presented a statistical review of the city for 2019 to Mayor Moshe Lion that showed some 927,000 people currently live in Jerusalem, compared to 200,000 prior to the 1967 Six Day War and 83,000 at the end of the 1948 War of Independence.

The population of Jerusalem is 62.1% Jewish and 37.9% Arab.

Jerusalem Day activities will end at sundown on Sunday evening (2nd)



Palestinian Terrorist Stabs 2 In Jerusalem – Killed By Police

On Friday morning (31st) a Palestinian terrorist carried out a brutal stabbing attack near Damascus Gate, one of the main entrances to Jerusalem’s Old City

A 50-year-old Israeli is in critical condition, while a second 18-year-old victim is in moderate condition.  The 19-year-old suspect was shot and killed by security forces on the scene.

The stabbing occurred just hours before weekly Friday (31st) prayers at the nearby Al-Aqsa Mosque, which sits on the Jewish Temple Mount, where tens of thousands of Muslims are expected for prayers on the last Friday of Ramadan.

In other countries across the Middle East, rallies are set to take place Friday (31st) to mark Quds (Jerusalem) Day, an annual event on the last Friday of Ramadan during which demonstrators call for the destruction of the State of Israel.

On Sunday (6/2), Israel marks “Jerusalem Day,” when it celebrates the reunification of the Old City during the 1967 Mideast War.



Hamas Leader Sinwar Threatens To Attack Tel Aviv With Double Force

Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar on Thursday (30th) threatened Israel ahead of Jerusalem Day and used the opportunity to reject US President Donald Trump’s peace plan and the Bahrain summit.

“Trump wants to sell Jerusalem to the Zionists without paying a price,” Sinwar said according to Channel 12 News.  “I call him from here and say that I and the Palestinian people will be demonstrating along the Gaza fence in light of Jerusalem Day in numbers that have not been seen before.”

Sinwar threatened to attack Tel Aviv and other cities with double the force if “the enemy dares to attack once again.”

He claimed that Hamas had improved its technology since the self-made rockets they shot at Tel Aviv in Operation Protective Edge in 2014.

“We developed our capabilities, and we also received financial and military help from Iran,” Sinwar said.  “We will only continue and improve our capabilities. If Iran had not supported us in recent years, we would not have accomplished what we did.”

He further claimed that Hamas launched over 1,000 rockets “at the enemy” in the last confrontation, including Iranian-produced grad missiles.

The Hamas leader also flatly rejected any peace initiative coming from the US president – saying that “all transactions aimed at eliminating the Palestinian issue will fail” – and called on the Arab world to do the same.

“Anyone who deals with the issue of Jerusalem is an enemy to us, and we have no dialogue with him.  I call upon the leaders of the Arab countries – if you want to keep your seats, you have no choice but to choose our option, the option of liberating Palestine,” he insisted.

Sinwar promised to continue to imbue the Palestinian people with the rejection of the Jewish state.

“Generation after generation, we will continue to bring to our hearts the concept of struggle… until the end of the occupation,” he stated.

Referring to the Bahrain “economic workshop,”scheduled to take place at the end of June, he urged Arab representatives who announced their participation, that “when the time comes, do not leave the house.”



Netanyahu Shows Off Golan Map With Trump’s Handwriting

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said US President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner gifted him with an official State Department map, updated to incorporate the Golan Heights as part of Israel.

At a news conference in Jerusalem on Thursday (30th), Netanyahu spoke to a nation rattled by the prospect of an unprecedented second election campaign after the newly re-elected Netanyahu failed to form a governing coalition.

In a bid to play down the political chaos and focus attention on foreign policy – in particular, his close friendship with Trump – Netanyahu produced Kushner’s map, on which President Trump had scribbled, “Nice.”  Trump also signed the map.

Israel captured the Golan Heights in 1967, during the Six-Day War.

The White House upended decades of policy when it recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the area several months ago, citing its vital importance to Israel’s security.

Netanyahu, Kushner and Trump envoy,Jason Greenblatt met in Jerusalem Thursday (30th) ahead of the Middle East economic summit in Bahrain next month.  The summit is to be part of the Trump administration’s peace plan between the Israelis and Palestinians.



President Rivlin Welcomes Injured British and Israeli Veterans For Inaugural Sporting Event

Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin welcomed injured veterans from the UK and Israel to his official residence in Jerusalem Thursday (30th) on the occasion of the first Veterans’ Games, the president’s office said in a statement.

The games are a new event “during which 100 injured veterans from Israel and the United Kingdom compete in a number of sporting events and meet with international experts on post-trauma and rehabilitation,” said the statement, which added that the event is hosted by the IDF Disabled Veterans Organization.

The English Chelsea Football Club sent a team of coaches to the Games to work with children of veterans from both countries and conduct workshops with Israeli sports instructors, said Rivlin’s office.

“Looking around this room, I see true heroes who answered their country’s call and went to war to preserve our values and protect us all.  I salute you!” the president told the participants, adding: “I am proud to see our own IDF soldiers here today who also bear the scars of battle and who took part in the games.  You returned from battle but there were those – your comrades, your friends – who did not. Let us pay tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice.”

“Israel and Britain are true allies,” said Rivlin.  “We face the same enemies: global terrorism and those who seek to undermine global security, and we share the same values: democracy, freedom and tolerance,” he added.

Also present was British Minister for the Middle East, Andrew Murrison.

“I am inspired by these games that bring together Israeli and British servicemen and servicewomen,” said MP Murrison.  “The mark of a decent society is the way it treats its veterans. That is the essence of the military covenant – the agreement between the state and the military that we will do the best by you, those who have given the most to the state,” the British minister told the gathering.

A representative of the veterans, warrant Officer Matt Tomlinson of the Royal Marines, said that “during the competition, we shared sweat, pain and more pain, neither side giving up but both sides encouraging and supporting the other.”