Israel News

News Digest — 9/25/23

In News Surrounding Israel by The Friends of Israel

Yom Kippur: Police Remain On Alert

Police remain stationed throughout Jerusalem to prevent vehicular traffic from disrupting the holy day of Yom Kippur, currently being celebrated Monday (25th).

The State of Israel brought in the fast day on Sunday evening (24th) with increased tensions on the Lebanese and Gaza borders, a spate of terror attacks in Jerusalem, and counterterrorism operations in the West Bank.

The police called on the public to be vigilant and report unusual events and suspicious objects to authorities.  They advised citizens to carry legal firearms throughout the High Holidays.

Tens of thousands of worshipers recited prayers at the Western Wall in the early hours of Friday (22nd) ahead of Yom KIppur, which began Sunday evening (24th).

Yom Kippur is the only day in the year when Ben Gurion Airport is shut down, radio and television programs are halted, shops and businesses are closed, and over half of the Jewish population fasts.  Since traffic is kept to a minimum with Jews walking everywhere, including to synagogue, during the “fast day”, children use the empty roads to ride bicycles and scooters throughout the day. 

Yom Kippur ends at sundown Monday evening (25th). 



Netanyahu: My UN Speech Was Broadcast In Saudi Arabia

In an unprecedented move Saudi Arabia broadcast Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to the United Nations in which he spoke about how the two nations were on the cusp of history and would normalize ties, the Israeli leader said prior to his departure from New York.

“The speech at the UN was broadcast live not only on the American news networks but this time also in an unprecedented manner in Saudi Arabia – this is also a good sign for the new year,” Netanyahu said.

It was part of a message that he issued as he spoke to the passengers on his plane over the loudspeakers.

He summarized his weeklong trip to the United States, his first since taking office at the end of December.

“I opened it in California at an important meeting with Elon Musk and leading figures in the field of artificial intelligence, which will affect the future of all of us,” he said.

“In New York, I had an excellent meeting with US President Joe Biden in which we discussed expanding the circle of peace, a continuation of the Abraham Accords that we brought three years ago,” he stated.

Netanyahu added that he also met with 20 heads of state who sought to strengthen their ties with Israel.

Among the leaders who met with him were German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Ukrainian President  Volodymyr Zelensky.

Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi announced  that his country would open an Embassy in Jerusalem, and Paraguayan President Santiago Pena confirmed a pledge that his country had already made to Israel to reopen its Jerusalem embassy.

“I also met with Henry Kissinger and many other personalities, including the heads of the Jewish organizations in the United States.

“At the same time, my wife participated in a number of events with leaders’ wives, including the wife of US President Jill Biden, and was warmly received by her and the leaders’ wives.  I am proud of her work for our country,” he added.    

Netanyahu landed back in Israel Sunday afternoon (24th), just hours before the start of the Yom Kippur Holiday which was set to begin at sundown.



Israel Is Not An Apartheid State, Former South African Defense Minister Says

Israel cannot be compared to an apartheid state, former anti-apartheid activist and South African politician Mosiuoa Lekota said in a complete rejection of the accusation in an interview with the South African Friends Of Israel podcast in September.

Letoka, who served time in prison with Nelson Mandela and later became South Africa’s defense minister, provided arguments against such comparisons.

“I was in Israel, my brother,” Lekota began, recounting his visit.  “In Israel, you won’t find the same divisions between Jews and non-Jews that we used to witness during apartheid.  There are no segregated buses for different ethnic groups, like Jews and Arabs.  In Israel everyone boards the same bus, travels wherever they need to, and disembarks as they wish.  There is no apartheid in Israel, not even within their schools.”

Lekota was interviewed by South African Friends of Israel spokeswoman, Bafana Modise.

Lekota, a 75-year-old anti-apartheid activist with a storied history, initially aligned with the African National Congress (ANC)  and endured imprisonment in 1985.  In 2008, he parted ways with the ANC to establish the Congress of the People (Cope), a splinter party and served as its president..

While with the ANC, Lekota held the esteemed position of defense minister under President Thabo Mbeki from June 17, 1999 to September 25, 2008. 

His nickname “Terror Lekota,” hails from his soccer playing days and his influential role in both the United Democratic Front and the Delmas Treason Trial from 1985-1988.

 Reflecting on his earlier beliefs, Lekota admitted,” I once held the assumption, as we did in South Africa, that most Jews supported apartheid.” He continued ”I always had this idea that all the Jews are in one corner and the others in the other corner, but upon visiting Israel, I was surprised to find that in the parliament, there are Arabs who are members of parliament , and they were all sitting together.”



IDF Strikes Hamas Military Posts In The Gaza Strip following Incendiary Balloon Attacks

An IDF UAV struck two military posts belonging to the Hamas terrorist organization in the Gaza Strip on Sunday evening (24th).

According to the IDF’s Spokesperson’s Unit , the two posts are located in the area of the centers of Bureij and Jabalya where violent riots  have been taking place. 

An explosive device was hurled from the center of Bureij toward IDF soldiers, adjacent to the security border in the Gaza Strip.  No IDF injuries were reported.

Sunday afternoon into evening (24th), approximately a hundred rioters  gathered adjacent to the security fence in the Gaza Strip.  IDF soldiers were dispatched to the scene and operated against the violent riots using riot dispersal means and precise live fire.  A number of hits were identified.

The strikes follow the launching of incendiary balloons from the Strip which caused fires in southern Israel earlier in the day.

Firefighters on Sunday afternoon (24th) were able to extinguish two fires that broke out in southern Israel which were caused by the incendiary balloons.

The balloon attacks resumed on Friday (22nd), for the first time in two years causing a large fire near Kibbutz Kissufim, located near the Gaza-Israeli border.

On Friday night (22nd), the IDF struck three military posts belonging to the Hamas terror organization in the Gaza Strip in retaliation for the balloon attacks.

On Saturday night (23rd), an IDF UAV struck a military post belonging to the Hamas terror organization adjacent to the area where a violent riot was taking place.

During the riot, shots were fired toward IDF soldiers, adjacent to the Gaza security fence.    



IDF Uncovered Hamas Cell Planning Yom Kippur Attack

Israeli security forces arrested eight terrorists Sunday (24th), breaking up a terror cell the military said was preparing for an imminent attack on an Israeli target.

The eight terrorists, affiliated with the Gaza-based Hamas terror organization, were operating out of Birzeit University near Ramallah, an IDF spokesperson said Sunday afternoon (24th).

The terror cell was planning on carrying out an imminent attack, the army said, likely during the Yom Kippur Holiday, which began at sundown Sunday (24th).

IDF forces working in conjunction with the Shin Bet carried out the Birzeit University campus raid.

A  ninth terrorist was also apprehended in the village of Birzeit.

Four other Hamas terrorists were also arrested in raids in the Hebron district of Judea before dawn on Sunday (24th)..  The four were part of  the “Haktala Islamiya” wing of the Hamas organization, which enlists students to aid the terror group.

“This is another example of how the Hamas terror organization uses legitimate institutions in order to promote terrorist activities that serve as a refuge for these operations,” an IDF spokesperson said.



IDF, Lebanese Army Clash On Israel’s Northern Border

Clashes broke out Saturday afternoon (23rd) between the IDF and the Lebanese army near the northern border after a heavy-duty vehicle illegally crossed into Israel.

Armed forces fired “protest dispersion” tools such as stun grenades at the vehicle that crossed into Israel in the Mount Dov area, after surveillance identified it.

A statement released by the IDF stated that the tractor crossed the Blue Line from Lebanon into the Mount Dov area by about a mile, leading to multiple grenades being fired from Lebanon  toward where the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon was stationed. 

The current demarcation line between the two countries is known as the Blue Line, a frontier mapped by the United Nations that marks the line to which Israeli forces withdrew when they left southern Lebanon in 2000.

The IDF returned fire and the vessel returned to Lebanese territory, Israeli media reported.  According to the IDF, neither Lebanese soldiers nor Hezbollah fighters crossed over the border.

Later on Saturday (23rd), the Lebanese Armed Forces said it fired tear gas at Israeli forces following the launch of stun grenades at the heavy machinery.

“Elements of the Israeli enemy violated the withdrawal line and fired smoke bombs at a Lebanese army patrol that was accompanying a bulldozer removing an earthen berm erected by the Israeli enemy north of the withdrawal line, the Blue Line, in the Bastra area,” the Lebanese army said in a statement.

“The Lebanese patrol responded to the attack by firing tear bombs…forcing them to withdraw to the occupied Palestinian territories,” Lebanon’s army added.

“UNIFIL is in touch with the parties to decrease tensions and prevent a misunderstanding.  At the moment we are on the ground, monitoring the situation and trying to bring calm back to the area,” spokesperson Andrea Tenenti said.  

On Thursday (21st), IDF tanks unusually attacked two structures in the Golan Heights, used by the Syrian army, that violated the 1974 separation forces agreement between Israel and Syria in the Ein Altaniya area.

“The IDF considers the Syrian regime responsible for everything that happens in its territory and will not allow attempts to violate the separation agreement,” the IDF said.

The move also follows a recorded incident of Hezbollah tents built inside Israeli territory next to the Lebanese border, which the IDF decided not to destroy immediately.  However, this time the army decided to act quickly and thwart a possible attack during what it considered a particularly tense time on its borders.