Israel News

News Digest — 7/20/21

In News Surrounding Israel by The Friends of Israel

IDF Shells Lebanon After Rocket Fire On Northern Israel

The IDF fired artillery shells into Lebanon overnight after two rockets were fired at northern Israel from Lebanese territory, triggering sirens in the Western Galilee area.

One of the rockets was intercepted by Israel’s air defenses, while the second fell in an open area, the IDF said.  No injuries or damages were reported.

In response, the IDF said it fired artillery shells at targets in Lebanon, giving no detail on the targets hit or who was behind the rocket fire.

The incident took place about four hours after the Syrian military said Israel carried out an overnight aerial strike southeast of Syria’s northern Aleppo province.  The IDF did not comment on the statement or on similar reports on Arab media.

State news agency SANA said Syrian air defenses shot down most of the missiles in the attack that occurred just before midnight.  The targets are still being identified, officials said, saying no casualties have been reported so far.

The Syrian army often says it downs Israeli missiles – statements most Middle East experts dismiss as hollow boasts.

Lebanese television channel Al-Mayadeen, which is affiliated with the Hezbollah terrorist group, claimed it was “Israeli aggression,” stating that Israel’s target was a factory and research center on the outskirts of the city.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the alleged Israeli strikes targeted weapons depots that belong to Iranian-backed militias operating in Aleppo’s Safira region.  The group said the strikes were followed by loud explosions.  The weapons depots were located inside Syrian military posts, the group said.

The reported attack took place on the eve of Eid Al-Adha, one of Islam’s holidays.

Israel has launched hundreds of strikes against Iran-linked military targets in Syria over the years but rarely acknowledges or discusses such operations.  Last month, Israel reportedly carried out an attack on targets in central Syria. 

Israel fears Iran entrenchment on its northern frontier, and it has repeatedly struck Iran-linked facilities and weapons convoys destined for Hezbollah.



Discreet Jewish Prayer Continues On Temple Mount

Discreet Jewish prayer continued on the Temple Mount Monday morning (19th), following a day of mutual recriminations over the holy site on Sunday (18th).

Several dozen Jewish visitors ascended to the Temple Mount in the morning hours, including two bridegrooms who were set to get married later in the day, as well as a three-year old with his family ahead of his ritual first haircut, according to Asaf Fried, a spokesman for an association of Temple Mount activist groups.

Rabbi Eliyahu Weber who heads what is called the Temple Mount yeshiva and who visits the site and holds prayer services there each day said that his group of visitors prayed the morning prayer service.

The rabbi said the prayer service was conducted “discreetly,” at a low volume and without any ritual swaying or prostration which is not tolerated by the police.  He said this has been the practice of his group for some time.

“Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount is so important it cannot even be put into words,” said Weber.

“The authentic place for Jewish prayer is the Temple Mount.  Our forefathers prayed there, King Solomon talked about it, and Maimonides said that the primary aspect of prayer was to pray before Him in His Temple, on the Temple Mount.”

The Jerusalem Post previously reported on the return of Jewish prayer to the Temple Mount back in 2019 and the new approach by the police of turning a blind eye to such prayer services.

The status quo up until that time was that non-Muslim visitation was permitted on the Mount but only Muslims were allowed to pray.

The High Court of Justice has ruled that Jews have a legal right to pray on the Temple Mount, but police have often prohibited it, citing security concerns that such actions would lead to Arab riots.

During the tenure of former Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan (2015-2020), however, the police softened their stance toward Jewish visitors and did not remove those engaged in small, discreet Jewish prayer services from the site.

The Police approach to Jewish visitors, and worshipers on the Temple Mount, since the new government and the new public security minister Omer Bar-Lev took office, remains the same.



Jews Visiting The Temple Mount Is Not An Assault On The Al-Aqsa Mosque – Herb Keinon

The record needs to be set straight.  A few hundred Jews ascending the Temple Mount on Tisha B’Av, the day of commemorating the destruction of the First and Second Temples that stood on that mount, does not constitute “settlers storming al-Aqsa.”  It constitutes Jews wanting to visit their holiest site on the fast day dedicated to remembering the Temples that once stood there, and their destruction.

Had Jews been prevented from commemorating Tisha B’Av, there would be no end to it.  Israel cannot allow the threat of violence to determine its policies.  Israel also has the right to expect that 1,700 Jews going to the Temple Mount not be falsely framed as an assault on al-Aqsa.  Those who framed it in this manner want to ignite passions and invite violence.

To say that any Jew going up to the site on Tisha B’Av is somehow a provocation or a desecration – as claimed by Hamas, Iran, the Palestinian Authority, and Turkish President Erdogan – is not something that Israel should have to accept.  The Jordanians sent an “official letter of protest,” calling on Israel to respect “the freedom of worshipers.”  The call for freedom of worship at the site is particularly ironic since Jews are strictly forbidden to pray there by Muslims.



What On Earth Is The Problem With A Jewish Majority In Israel? – Eric H. Yoffie

→ Why should the Jewish state not do what it can legally do to maintain a Jewish majority?  Why do so many of its champions find it difficult to affirm what is so clearly sensible and right?  Students of Israel and Zionism know that demography is destiny.

→ Zionism has always been about creating a democratic state with a Jewish majority.  The State of Israel can, and must, take appropriate steps to assure that a stable Jewish majority is maintained.  Taking such steps, and being honest about your intentions, need not be inconsistent with democratic principles or with the ideals of Israel’s Declaration of Independence.  The loss of a Jewish majority means the end of Zionism and the disappearance of the State of Israel.

→ The premise of Zionism is that there are many Jews who desperately want to live in a majority-Jewish state.  Their eagerness is understandable, and they make no apologies for this fact.  They are grateful that the State of Israel, after millennia of Jewish exile, finally enables them to do so.  Israel, they remind us, was created to promote the religion, civilization and culture of the Jewish people and its dominant Jewish majority.

→ To forcibly transfer Arab citizens out of the country would be a violation of democratic norms and international law, not to mention Jewish values and tradition.  But assuring a Jewish majority by adopting laws and policies that are consistent with democratic governance is an altogether different matter.  It is both acceptable and desirable.

→ Absent a Jewish majority, would Israel continue to provide no-questions-asked refuge to Jews facing danger and distress in countries around the globe?  Almost certainly not.

→ We Jews want a state of our own, where the Jews, a secure and confident majority, will call the shots, govern democratically, and live in peace with our neighbors.  That is what Zionism is.

The writer is a former president of the Union for Reform Judaism.



PA: ‘We’ll Never Stop Pay-For-Slay –  Terrorists Will Get Their Salaries’

The Palestinian Authority’s pay-for-slay policy in which it pays salaries to prisoners convicted of terror offenses against Israeli citizens, has drawn international ire.

Israeli law permits the Jewish State to deduct terror payments from the taxes it collects on behalf of the PA and freeze accounts linked to prisoners, putting a serious economic strain on Palestinian banks.

In 2018, former president Donald Trump cut off aid to the PA, stating that financial support would only be resumed if they agreed to abandon the pay-for-slay practice.

And as the PA seeks to strengthen ties with the Biden administration, officials have publicly downplayed the practice and suggested that a solution could be found to end it.

But according to a report from watchdog group Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), what the PA is telling the international community is in stark contrast to promises it’s giving to its constituents.

“Our position regarding the payment of the salaries and allowances of the prisoners and their families is firm,” read a July Facebook post from the PLO’s Prisoner Affairs Commission.

“This is their right, and it is anchored in all the international conventions and treaties, because our prisoners are prisoners of a liberation movement and freedom fighters.”

“Since [the start of] the Israeli threats and pressures on the banks that are active in Palestine, the position has been clear.  We must continue to pay and to ensure the allowances of the prisoners and their family members,” read a July statement published in the PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida.

On an official PA TV news broadcast, Minister of Communications and IT, Is’haq Sidr explained that there was a new system in place via private ATMs not linked to specific banks, which would allow the families of prisoners to collect payments.

“We have activated an entire banking mechanism here that is a cash management system that transfers data between us and the ATMs,” he said.

“We have installed 20 ATMs in the residential areas where the beneficiaries of these services are located, and Allah willing we will reach 30 ATMs in the coming days.”