Israel News

News Digest — 7/22/21

In News Surrounding Israel by The Friends of Israel

Israel Hits Targets In Syria, 2nd Time In A Week

The Israel Air Force (IAF) bombed Hezbollah targets in the Homs area in Syria early Thursday morning (22nd), the country’s state media reported, and there are reports of casualties in the attack.

A military source told SANA news that “at around 1:13 a.m. the Israeli enemy carried out an air attack from northeast Beirut, targeting some points in the Al-Qusayr area in Homs countryside.”

Al-Qusayr serves as a major crossroads for arms shipments between Syria and Lebanon, on their way to Hezbollah from Iran, which have previously been attacked by the IAF. 

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported that the Israeli strikes targeted military sites belonging to the Lebanese Hezbollah terror organization in the area of Al-Dabaa Military Airport, and other Hezbollah military points and sites in the eastern sector of the Homs region.

The strikes destroyed ammunition depots and there were deaths and injuries in the bombing.

If there were in fact Hezbollah casualties in the strikes, this could mean a serious escalation, as Hezbollah has vowed to retaliate for any of its operatives killed by the IDF.

The IDF has remained silent on the reports, as it usually does.

This is the second time this week that the IAF has reportedly bombed targets in Syria.

The IAF attacked targets inside Syria in the Al-Safira area in Aleppo on Monday night (19th), hitting Iranian weapons caches.

The SOHR noted that the targeted site hosts an Iranian-Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) headquarters, a base, and weapons warehouses which were destroyed in the Israeli attack.

Iran and Hezbollah’s military build-up in Syria remains a red line for Israel.  The IAF has carried out hundreds of attacks to thwart the Iranian entrenchment in the war-torn country. 

Israeli leaders have repeatedly declared that they will not tolerate an Iranian threat on its northern border with Syria and will take all necessary measures to ensure that such a menace does not emerge.



Herzog Calls Boycotts Of Israel A ‘New Form Of Terrorism’

Boycotts of Israel are a new form of terrorism that is trying to hurt the citizens of Israel and the Israeli economy, President Isaac Herzog said Wednesday (21st) at a ceremony honoring Israel’s late prime ministers and presidents.

Herzog made his statements after ice cream giant Ben & Jerry’s announced it would stop selling its products beyond the Green Line, or as the company put it, in the “occupied Palestinian territories.”

“There is no doubt that all the prime ministers and presidents of Israel over the years would respond harshly to the loathsome calls to boycott Israel and the citizens of Israel,” Herzog said.

“We must oppose boycotts and terrorism in any form.  The BDS campaign does not seek peace, and wants to undermine Israel’s very existence, and is now taking aim at the Israeli economy,” Herzog continued.

Herzog also discussed the importance of unity in Israel, saying that the late Prime Minister Yitzshak Shamir, the “father of the unity government, as a concept and a reality … insisted when he didn’t have to, on establishing a unity government.”

“He [Shamir] led it to impressive achievements,” the president noted.

“We tend to think today that it’s either/or – or that one can be an ideologue, or supportive of unity, but unity demands compromise.  There never was an ideologue and a notable right-winger like Yitzshak Shamir, and there has never been as radical a man of unity as he was,” Herzog continued. 

The President addressed Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, saying, “Mr. Prime Minister, I know you and your colleagues in the government think exactly like I do, and I hope,  for all the Israeli people, that this is how you will act, for the sake of the unity of Israel.”



Terrorist Caught During Arson Attack South Of Jerusalem

An Arab terrorist who started several fires near the community of Har Gilo in Gush Etzion on Wednesday (21st) was captured by Israeli security forces in the midst of committing an attack.

The terrorist reached Nahal Heletz and started igniting the natural grove and trees at several points near Gilo, apparently in an attempt to cause damage to the houses and Israeli residents in the area.

A resident who identified the terrorist reported the incident to the Gush Etzion Regional Council, which alerted the security forces.

The forces arrived and began a chase that lasted about an hour, after which the terrorist was caught, and a gasoline tank with a knife and a tear gas canister were seized in his vehicle.

Gush Etzion Council Chairman Shlomo Ne’eman stated after the incident that “today we received further proof that our war on the ground is a war for life – whoever ignites this land probably does not believe it belongs to him.”

“The seekers of our souls will not succeed in harming neither our lands nor our communities.  The burners of the trees and fields will never be able to claim ownership of this land,” he declared.

Israeli fields and orchards in the Gush Etzion area have been repeatedly hit by Arab arson attacks, often with significant damage caused to the land.



70 Years Ago Jordan’s King Assassinated By Palestinian On Temple Mount

Tuesday (20th) marked 70 years since Jordanian King Abdullah I was assassinated by a Palestinian on the Temple Mount as he was visiting Jerusalem to meet with Israeli officials amid his efforts to reach a settlement with Israel.

Abdullah I was assassinated at the age of 69 by a Palestinian gunman while exiting al-Aqsa Mosque after Friday prayers with his grandson Hussein.

The assassin, Mustafa Shukri Ashshu, was associated with ex-Mufti of Jerusalem Amin al-Husseini, who sparked riots against Jews in Mandatory Palestine and was a close friend of Adolf Hitler during World War II.  Those associated with the ex-mufti were “bitter enemies” of Abdullah I, as the ex-mufti supported the establishment of a Palestinian state, which the Jordanian king seemed to have thwarted by annexing the West Bank, according to a Guardian article from the day after the assassination.

A few days before the assassination, Riad al-Sohl, the first prime minister of Lebanon, was also assassinated in Jordan.  Ali Razmara, prime minister of Iran, and Abdul Hamid Zanganeh former education minister of Iran, were also assassinated in the months before Abdullah’s assassination.  The killings were seen as signs of increased instability in the region.

Abdullah I was succeeded by his son Talal, who was forced to abdicate about a year later due to mental illness.  Talal was succeeded by Hussein, who ruled until 1999, when he was succeeded by the current king of Jordan, Abdullah II.

King Abdullah I of Jordan was known for his efforts to reach at least some form of peace with Israel, although he was assassinated 43 years before a peace treaty between the two nations was finally signed.

Abdullah I met with Reuven Shiloah, the first Mossad director, and Golda Meir in a number of discussions from 1949 to 1950.  The king made extensive efforts to get other Jordanian officials to support reaching a settlement with Israel, but faced intense opposition from both officials and the Jordanian and Palestinian public.

Abdullah I had been set to meet with Shiloah and diplomat Moshe Sasson in Jerusalem the day after he was assassinated, according to Avi Shalim, an Israeli-British historian. 

In Lion of Jordan, Shalim’s biography of the king’s grandson, Hussein, Abdullah I is quoted as having told Sasson, “I want to make peace with Israel, not because I have become a Zionist or care for Israel’s welfare, but because it is in the best interest of my people.  I am convinced that if we do not make peace with Israel, there will be another war, and another war, and another war, and another war, and we shall lose all these wars. Hence it is in the supreme interest of the Arab nation to make peace.”

By the time of of his assassination, Israeli officials had largely lost hope that the Jordanian king’s efforts would ever lead to an actual peace due to continued opposition by Arab and Jordanian officials.

When he was assassinated, a newsreel by the British Pathe News described Abdullah I as “the one man who might have brought peace to the Middle East.”



‘Jews Are Behind The Pandemic’ Chanted At Anti-Vaccine Protest In Poland

An anti-vaccine protest that took place in Glogow, Poland, blamed Jews as being responsible for the start of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, according to the website Notes from Poland.

Those that took part in Monday’s (19th) protest chanted: “Jews are behind the pandemic,” and “They rule the world.”

“Every Pole can see today that behind the ‘pandemic’ are the Jews,” the crowd chanted together.

Polish police arrested three protesters at the site after engaging in confrontations where participants were behaving aggressively toward them.

The American Jewish Committee Office in Central Europe, and based in Warsaw, condemned the protests in a tweet.

The far-right Polish Confederation Party has taken part in many protests against COVID restrictions, and one of its followers shared a video saying that she “doesn’t want Jewry in Poland.” 

Grzegorz Braun, one of the party’s leaders, who reportedly has promoted many anti-Semitic conspiracy theories in the past, compared the requirement of wearing masks to how Jews were forced to wear armbands when they were victims to the Nazi regime.

In 2019, another Polish Confederation Party member placed a kippah over a Polish politician’s head during a political debate and claimed the Polish government was “kneeling to Jews.”