News Digest — 8/3/22

In News Surrounding Israel by The Friends of Israel

IDF Road Closure Next To Gaza Continues For Second Day

The IDF has called up a limited number of reservists to deploy along the Gaza Strip as the military continued to close the roads in the area for the second day in a row on Wednesday (3rd) over concerns of an attack after Israeli security forces arrested a senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad operative in the West Bank.

Following a situational assessment, the IDF called up around 100 reservists, mainly security officers for communities in the Gaza envelope for temporary assistance in securing the area.

The call-up came as tensions increased after Bassem Saadi, the head of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) in the West Bank, was arrested with his son-in-law overnight on Monday (1st) during a raid in Jenin.

The Shin Bet said that Saadi was recently working hard “to restore the Islamic Jihad’s operations, in which he was instrumental in establishing a strong military force in Samaria in general and in Jenin in particular.  His presence was a significant factor in radicalizing the organization’s operatives.”

Following his arrest, the IDF raised its alert level in the south and closed roads near the border with the Gaza Strip to civilian vehicles over fears of sniper fire or anti-tank missile attacks.

PIJ is known to have anti-tank guided missiles and has targeted both civilian and military vehicles, killing civilians and IDF soldiers.

Zikim Beach, which lies north of the Strip, has also been closed to visitors, and train service between Ashkelon and Sderot has been canceled.  The Erez crossing, the main crossing between Israel and Gaza, has also been closed.

In addition, the Black Arrow monument, Givat Kobi Lookout in Sderot, the Hill of the Bells in Nir Am, and Givat Nazmit in Mefalsim have also been closed.

According to Walla News, the IDF will be conducting another situational assessment on Wednesday (3rd) in order to decide whether or not to open roads and restore train service in the south.

Hebrew media reports said that Egypt was trying to mediate with Hamas and PIJ in order to de-escalate the situation.

Though Israel insists it is not interested in a new conflict with terror groups in the enclave, Defense Minister Benny Gantz warned Tuesday (2nd) that the IDF would respond forcefully should PIJ carry out an attack.

“Our policy is clear: Whoever wants to work and live alongside us will, we extend a hand.  With the second hand, we will smite whoever seeks to harm Israeli civilians and cause terror,” he said.   



US, Israel Launch 4-Day Naval Exercise In Red Sea

Israeli and US Naval Forces launched a four-day maritime exercise in the Red Sea on Monday (1st) the US Naval Forces Central Command said in a statement.

The drill, which follows the formation of the Red Sea Task Force in April, “is a bilateral training event between the US 5th Fleet and Israeli naval forces that focuses on mission planning, maritime interdiction and other drills at sea,” the US Navy’s statement said.

According to available details, the US navy has sent several major vessels to participate in the exercise, including the USS Nitze – a small destroyer equipped with air-to-air missiles, cruise missiles for long-range land attacks, torpedoes, and a crew of about 400; the USS Lewis B Puller – a military cargo ship capable of deploying marines and serving as a platform for troop-carrying aircraft such as the Osprey; and the USNS Matthew Perry – a logistical support vessel.  They will sail alongside Israeli navy corvettes INS Eilat and INS Keshet.

The US Fifth Fleet is headquartered in Bahrain and includes maritime forces operating in the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea, parts of the Indian Ocean and three critical pinch points: The Strait of Hormuz, the Suez Canal and the Bab el-Mandeb.

The Red Sea Task Force was formed with the aim of countering weapons-smuggling networks linked to the Houthi rebels in Yemen, which operates in Red Sea waters, and seeks to ensure the safety of commercial vessels in the area, The National News noted. 



US Army Carries Out Iron Dome Interception Test

US Army soldiers completed the latest Iron Dome Defense System interception test at the White Sands missile range.

The tests by the US Army were in conjunction with the Israel Defense Ministry’s Israeli Missile Defense Organization (IMDO)  and were “critical steps toward fielding the first of two Iron Dome Defense System-Army (IDDS-A) batteries,” read a statement released by the Defense Ministry.

The US Army in 2018 purchased two batteries off-the-shelf from Rafael Advanced Defense Systems which included 12 launchers, two sensors, two battlement management centers and 240 interceptors.

The purchase was made to fill its interim needs for an indirect Fire Protection capability (IPC) until a permanent solution to the problem is found.  The US Army plans to field both batteries to defend forces within fixed and semi-fixed locations against cruise missiles.

According to the Defense Ministry, future variants to the program will include technology insertions such as directed energy, which will provide a critical protection capability against subsonic Cruise Missiles, Groups 273 Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), and Rockets, Artillery, and Mortar threats.

IMDO Director, Moshe Patel said it was the second interception test since the two batteries were supplied to the US Army in 2020.  The system, he said, “intercepted all the threats, while being interoperable with US systems.

In use since 2011, the Iron Dome, which is designed to shoot down short-range rockets, is an integral component of Israel’s multi-layered defense array.  The Tamir interceptor is capable of intercepting cruise missiles, unmanned aerial systems, rockets, artillery and mortars.

“Once again, the Iron Dome has proven its effectiveness and operational capabilities in combat scenarios.  As part of the US Army’s operational training, American troops operated the system which functioned with optimal effectiveness against a variety of threats and intercepted targets from different ranges,” said (Ret.) Brig.-Gen. Pini Yungman, Executive Vice President and head of RAFAEL’s Air 7 Missile Defense Directorate.

The other Israeli defense layers include the Arrow 2 and Arrow-3 systems that intercept ballistic missiles outside of the earth’s atmosphere while David’s Sling missile defense system is designed to intercept tactical ballistic missiles and medium-to long-range rockets, as well as cruise missiles fired from ranges of 25 miles to 186 miles. 



Evidence Of Our Connection:  Discoveries At Ancient Jewish Site In Samaria

One hundred years after the first excavations at the ancient Shiloh site in Samaria, a number of rare finds were discovered in a new excavation, including large storage jars that were placed in a row inside a building from the Talmudic period (200-400 CE).

The jars were discovered in their entirety as part of an excavation led by Dr. Reut Ben Aryeh, a resident of Shiloh.

The jugs were found lying under the floor, likely in order to keep their contents at a cool and constant temperature.  Their burial is also what kept them intact.

The Bible recounts how Joshua set the Tabernacle in Shiloh after conquering the Promised Land, and for more than three centuries, this was the center of Israelite life.

The Binyamin Regional Council, which operates the ancient Shiloh heritage site, says that the current excavation was intended to examine the route of the wall around the ancient city and its entrance area in ancient times.

The excavators made a cut on the edge of the southern mound and revealed layers from other historical periods.  The Canaanite wall of the site was revealed for the first time in the excavations of the Danish expedition, which marked the centenary of its work this month.

During the excavations, additional finds were discovered such as coins, a key and a wooden game cube that looks exactly like the game cubes we have nowadays.

Yisrael Gantz, head of the Binyamin Regional Council whose home is in ancient Shiloh, said Tuesday (2nd) that “we are privileged to uncover discoveries that are evidence of our connection to the areas of Judea and Samaria and to the whole of this land.”

“The findings here give meaning to our daily activities in the development of this region of the country.  There is nothing more exciting than realizing with our eyes how we are continuing the lives of our ancestors here.  The eternal story of the people of Israel  – this story instills strength in us,” he added.



Park Hotel Terrorist Completes Master’s Degree In Israeli Prison

Arch Hamas terrorist Abbas al-Sayed, who masterminded the 2002 Park Hotel Passover suicide bombing in which 30 people were murdered and the 2001 Sharon shopping mall terror attack in which 5 people were murdered has completed his master’s degree in regional studies at Al-Quds University and received his graduation certificate, while serving in an Israeli prison for his crimes.

In a statement to the media, al-Sayed’s wife said “despite the suffering and injustice of the prison and the warden, our prisoners still succeed in education and in obtaining higher degrees, thanks to their patience, courage, steadfastness and strong will.”

She added that her mass-murdering husband graduated with honors, expressing hope that he will complete his doctoral studies after he is released from prison.

Al-Sayed was convicted in 2006 by the Tel Aviv District Court and sentenced to 35 consecutive life sentences for each person killed in the attacks he orchestrated.

Al-Sayed was convicted of sending the suicide bomber who blew himself up at the Park Hotel in Netanya on Seder night in 2002 in which 30 were killed and 160 were wounded.  He also planned and masterminded the suicide bombing at the Sharon Mall in Netanya the year before in which five people were killed and 86 were wounded.