Israel news summary

Israel News for 5-18-2022

News Update

Security forces arrested 14 terror suspects overnight in West Bank raids. The forces came under attack during some of the operations, and responded with gunfire.

PM Bennett has instructed the IDF to use “all kinds of weapons” against terrorists. That could include attack helicopters and air-to-surface missiles.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz will travel to Washington today for meetings with U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. Gantz will also take part in events in New York and Miami, organized by the American Jewish community, with the participation of families of fallen IDF soldiers.

Israel has delivered 2,000 helmets and 500 protective vests for emergency and civilian organizations in Ukraine. Israel has also set up a field hospital in western Ukraine to treat civilians, and has provided food and medicine to the country. However, Israeli officials have been careful not to directly criticize Russia, which has a major military presence in Syria and has not prevented Israel from carrying out strikes against Iranian backed targets in Syria.

MK Mansour Abbas’ Ra’am party has agreed to support a bill that will subsidize academic scholarships for IDF combat fighters, lone soldiers and soldiers of lower socioeconomic status. The bill was expected to pass with support from the opposition, but doubts arose whether the opposition would oppose the bill in order to make the government look weak. But now with Ra’am’s support, the bill should pass.

Israel has an ambassador in Chad for the first time in 50 years.

Tonight is Lag B’omer, the 33rd day of the 49 days counted between the second day of Passover and the holiday of Shavuot. According to the Talmud, during this period of time in the second century in Israel, 24,000 students of the great sage Rabbi Akiva mysteriously died. One of the reasons given by the Talmud was that their deaths were punishment for their ill treatment of one and other. Whatever the reasons, the students stopped dying on Lag B’omer and so the rabbis turned it into a day of celebration.

Hundreds of thousands of Jews from all walks of life and religious leanings will converge on the town of Meron in the Galilee to celebrate the festival of Lag B’omer at the tomb of the second century Talmudic sage Rabi Shimon Bar Yochai (also a student of Rabbi Akiva) who died on Lag B’omer and who is credited in Jewish tradition for authoring the Zohar, the famous cornerstone of the Kabbalah (Jewish mystical teachings).

According to the Zohar, on the day of his death Rabi Shimon Bar Yochai gathered together all of his students, who were the greatest sages of the time, and revealed to them the deepest secrets of the Kabbalah. During this momentous session his home was filled with an intense light, like a fire.

To commemorate this holy and mystical event, thousands of bonfires are lit in Meron and throughout Israel. In fact, the Ministry of Environmental Protection said that most of the air quality monitoring stations noted a rise in particle concentrations due to the many bonfires lit. This year private bonfires are prohibited, except for in specially designated areas.

The main bonfires in Meron are lit by prominent rabbis, including many Hasidic Rebbes. The first bonfire is lit by the Boyan Rebbe, as has been done for the last 100 years.

In addition to the bonfires, thousands of 3 year old boys are given their first haircut at Meron, following the Kabbalistic tradition performed by the Arizal, one of the greatest expounders of Kabbalah who lived in 16th century Tzfat. Hundreds of hairdressers set up shop in the area to lend a professional hand.

The festivities in Meron continue through the night and into the next day. As a result of last years tragedy, when dozens of visitors were trampled to death, this year all visitors must have tickets (free) to the event, in order to limit the crowds. Safety procedures have been vastly improved at Meron and police will be out in force to assure a safe event.

May the bonfires and prayers at Meron bring light and peace to the entire world.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 5-16-2022

News Update

Police arrested a 22 year old Palestinian with an axe today in the West Bank. The man admitted that he intended to attack Israelis on the road. He was carrying a letter in which he outlined his intention to avenge the death of friends by launching an attack, and was prepared to pay for his actions with his life. The IDF also arrested 5 suspected terrorists in the man’s home town of Al-Bireh overnight and several other suspects in other villages.

The Ra’am party said Sunday that it had reached a new agreement with the rest of the coalition regarding unrecognized communities in the southern Negev region of the country that would allow for some illegal construction to remain standing without penalty. Ra’am said the government had decided not to demolish buildings of up to 70 square meters (750 square feet) in unrecognized villages, nor fine the owners. The rules will apply to new homes and extensions that bring existing buildings up to that size, as well as to roof replacements. Ra’am said the development was just one of several it had secured in a new agreement with the government. The Islamic party is key to maintaining the government coalition, even though the coalition currently has only 60 seats, one short of a majority.

The US State Department will remove the Kahane Chai organization from its terror blacklist. The group was founded by the late Rabbi Meir Kahane. To read more, click here.

According to the initial estimate released by the Central Bureau of Statistics today, Israel’s GDP shrank by 1.6% on an annualized basis in the first quarter of 2022. The growth rate last quarter was 15.6%, but the 25% plunge of the NASDQ has a significant detrimental impact on the Israeli Technology sector. To read more, click here.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 5-13-2022

News Update

Sgt. Maj. Noam Raz, 47, a member of Yamam, Israel’s elite police anti-terror unit, was killed in a shootout with Palestinian terrorists during a raid in the town of Brukin on the outskirts of Jenin this morning. Palestinian sources report that 11 Palestinians were wounded in the shootout, including the brother of a terrorist commander. Sgt. Maj. Noam Raz leaves behind a wife and six children.

Earlier this morning, IDF troops opened fire at a Palestinian who threw a cinderblock at a passing Israeli vehicle in the West Bank. The terrorist also tried to open the doors of the vehicle before being shot.

A man in his 20’s shouted “Allahu akbar” and lunged at police in Jerusalem’s Old City. Police shot and seriously wounded the attacker, who turned out to be unarmed.

Israel has asked the US to persuade the Palestinian Authority to agree to a joint investigation into the killing of Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh on Wednesday during exchanges of fire in Jenin. PM Bennett expressed concern that the Palestinians might try to corrupt the evidence or prevent a proper investigation in order to cover up the fact that the reporter was shot and killed by Palestinian fire. The Palestinians have denied Israel’s request to examine the bullet that killed the reporter. Thousands of mourners are attending the journalist’s funeral today in Jerusalem.

Prosecutors filed two indictments today against Sheikh Yusuf Albaz, 63, from Lod, charging the imam with incitement to violence. The Cyber Department of the State Attorney’s Office filed the charges due to Albaz’s public support for rioters who attacked police on the Temple Mount during Ramadan.

Israel, yesterday, approved the building of 4,427 new housing units in various settlements in the area commonly referred to as the West Bank.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 5-11-2022

News Update

Ra’am leader Mansour Abbas said today that his party will remain in the coalition, making it highly unlikely that the opposition will attempt to pass a resolution to dissolve the government.

Syrian state media reported an Israeli missile strike in the Quneitra area, near the Israeli border. Material damage, but no loss of life, was reported.

Al Jazeera journalist Shareen Abu Akleh was shot in the head and killed during exchanges of fire between Israeli troops and Palestinian gunmen in the Jenin refugee camp today. Palestinian Authority President Abbas blamed the IDF for the killing, but PM Bennett and DM Gantz responded that the facts indicate the likelihood that she was killed by Palestinian fire. The IDF is investigating the incident. For more, click here.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 5-9-2022

News Update

Security forces, after a 4 day manhunt, captured the 2 terrorists who killed 3 and wounded 4 in Elad last week. The 2 were captured on Sunday morning without a fight, in a wooded area not far from Elad. Investigators have revealed that one of the men killed in the terror attack, who worked as a driver, drove the terrorists from an area near the security fence to Elad, thinking that they were workers renovating a synagogue in the town.

A 24-year-old Border Police officer was stabbed and moderately wounded by a terrorist at the Nablus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City. Other Border Police officers at the scene shot and neutralized the terrorist. About an hour later, a knife-wielding Palestinian was shot and killed by a local resident after he infiltrated the West Bank settlement of Tekoa in the Gush Etzion Regional Council. The resident was having tea with his wife on his porch when he spotted the terrorist climbing over the settlements fence. For more, click here. Large military forces were scanning the area for three other suspects who remain at large.

A Palestinian who tried to cross into Israel from the West Bank near the city of Tulkarm was shot dead by an Israeli force that was stationed nearby. Government leaders, including the PM and DM, estimate that the recent terror spree could continue for the foreseeable future.

The UK Sunday Times reported that Israel told allies that it was sending hit teams to assassinate Hamas leaders abroad in retaliation for the recent deadly wave of terror attacks in Israel.

Police returned the bodies of 2 terrorists who murdered 2 Border Police officers in Hadera last month. The terrorist were Israeli Arab citizens. The bodies were returned on the condition that the two funerals together not be attended by more than 100 people, no flags or signs be raised during the funeral and no processions take place.

A new session of the Knesset opened today, with no majority for the government. The opposition, led by former PM Netanyahu met to discuss how to proceed in attempting to topple the government. The opposition doesn’t have a majority either. To read more, click here.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 5-6-2022

News Update

Two terrorists, armed with a hatchet and knives, attacked people in the city of Elad yesterday, killing 3 men and wounded another 4. The terrorists, both from a village near Jenin, fled. Security forces launched a massive manhunt to capture them.

The murdered victims of the attack were Yonatan Havakuk, 44, Boaz Gol, 49, and Oren Ben Yiftah, 35, all fathers who leave behind 16 orphans. For more, click here.

The attack comes just days after Hamas leader in Gaza Yahyah Sinwar called on Palestinians and Israeli Arabs to carry out attacks against Jews by any means, including axes. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the attack. The US, UK, France and the EU also condemned the attack, which occurred as Israel celebrated its 74th independence day.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 5-4-2022

News Update

Today is Yom Hazikaron, the day Israel remembers and honors its 24,068 fallen soldiers, police and security forces along with 4,217 civilian victims of terror. A two-minute siren sounded across the country at 11am, followed by state memorial services at the country’s 52 military cemeteries nationwide, attended by bereaved families, public figures and representatives of the government, police and the security forces. The main service was held at the national military cemetery on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem.

Last night a 1 minute siren sounded at 8pm. An annual state ceremony was held at the Western Wall in honor of the dead, attended by the country’s top officials.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett released a video statement for the bereaved families:

“The sacrifice of the fallen obliges us, the living, to do better and be more united; to conquer our divisions and to love one another as well, and perhaps especially, when we do not agree on everything. Among the fallen, there are religious and secular people, right and left, Jews and non-Jews. They lived together, served together, fought together and died together. And they would probably like us to continue living together. Your loved ones have paid the ultimate price in the continuous struggle for our independence, for our security here in this country, and we will continue to do everything to ensure that their way, which is the way of the whole nation, is the one that prevails.”

Hamas has claimed responsibility for the terror attack outside of Ariel this weekend, which took the life of an Israeli security guard. The Hamas leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, praised the attackers in a speech on Saturday. The 2 terrorists were captured by security forces after a 20 hour manhunt.

Turkish President Erdoğan sent Israeli President Herzog a congratulatory letter on the occasion of Israel’s 74th Independence Day. The letter said: “On the occasion of the National Day of the State of Israel, I extend congratulation to Your Excellency and the people of Israel on behalf of my nation and myself. In the new period in our relations, heralded by your Excellency’s visit to our country in March, I sincerely believe that the cooperation between our countries will develop in a way that serves our mutual national interests, as well as regional peace and stability. Taking this opportunity, I extend my best wishes for the health and happiness of Your Excellency, and for the well-being and prosperity of the people of Israel.”

A fatal car crash in southern Israel claimed the lives of three parents on Tuesday, leaving behind 21 newly orphaned children. The three victims were identified as Tzipi Shimoni — mother of ten children aged between two months and 15 from Moshav Sde Uziyahu, Fentanesh Obenach — mother of eight from Kiryat Malachi, and Matanya Ayoubi — father of three, the youngest of whom is just one month old, from Moshav Even Shmuel. Six other people were injured. Since the beginning of the year, 124 people have been killed on the road in Israel.

Air Cairo has this week launched three weekly flights between Tel Aviv and Sharm El-Sheikh in the Sinai.

The unemployment rate in Israel fell to 2.9% in the first half of April, from 3.7% in the second half of March, which is a 50 year low. To read more, click here.

Tonight Israel begins celebrating its 74th Yom Ha’atzmaut, Independence Day, with celebrations throughout the country tonight and tomorrow.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 5-2-2022

News Update

On Friday afternoon, 2 terrorists in a car pulled up along the guardhouse at the entrance to Ariel and opened fire at the guardhouse with submachine guns. Security guard Vyacheslav (Daniel) Golev, 23, was killed, but he managed to shield his fiance’ and save her. Golev was laid to rest yesterday in his hometown of Beit Shemesh. The 2 terrorists were captured on Saturday, after a massive manhunt.

As Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel Independence Day, approaches, the population of Israel stands at 9,506,000. Almost 20% of the population is below the age of 9, and almost 17% is between 10 and 16. Around 7 million, or 73%, of the population are Jewish, 2 million Muslim and Christian Arabs and the remaining half million having no religious affiliation. The non affiliated are primarily people who qualified for citizenship under the Law of Return, but are not recognized as Jewish by the rabbinate.

Official Independence Day celebrations in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and other cities (on Wed night and Thursday) will not include fireworks this year, out of sensitivity to veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disease.

The Israel shekel continues to weaken against the US dollar, to around 3.35 shekels to 1 dollar.