Israel news summary

Israel News for 12-30-2022

News Update

Israel’s 37th government, headed by Prime Minister Netanyahu, was sworn in and approved by the Knesset yesterday. It is the most right wing government in Israel’s history. This will be Netanyahu’s 6th term as Prime Minister.

Here are some of the new government’s main cabinet ministers:

Defense Minister – Yoav Galant, Likud, former navy seals commander and IDF general, construction and housing minister, aliyah and integration minister and education minister.

Foreign Minister – Eli Cohen, Likud, will serve as foreign minister for one year before rotating with Likud’s Israel Katz for the Energy Ministry for the next two years.

National Security Minister – Itamar Ben Gvir, Otzma Yehudit, will direct the security services including the police.

Finance Minister – Betzalel Smotrich, Religious Zionism, will also serve as a minister in the defense ministry in charge of matters related to Judea and Samaria.

Justice Minister – Yariv Levin, Likud

Health Minister – Aryeh Deri, Shas

Interior Minister – Aryeh Deri, Shas

Construction and Housing Minister – Yitzchak Goldknopf, UTJ

Intelligence Minister – Gila Gamliel, Likud

Other Likud appointees include Haim Katz as tourism minister, Yoav Kisch as education minister, Avi Dichter as agriculture and rural development minister, Shlomo Karhi as communications minister, Miri Regev as transportation minister, former Yamina member Idit Silman as environmental protection minister, Miki Zohar as culture and sports minister and Ofir Akunis as science and technology minister.

For a complete list of the 31 ministers and portfolios, click here. 

US President Biden issued a statement related to the new government:

“I look forward to working with Prime Minister Netanyahu, who has been my friend for decades, to jointly address the many challenges and opportunities facing Israel and the Middle East region, including threats from Iran. The United States is working to promote a region that’s increasingly integrated, prosperous, and secure, with benefits for all of its people.

From the start of my Administration, we have worked with partners to promote this more hopeful vision of a region at peace, including between Israelis and Palestinians. We aim to continue this important work with Israel’s new government under Prime Minister Netanyahu’s leadership. And as we have throughout my Administration, the United States will continue to support the two-state solution and to oppose policies that endanger its viability or contradict our mutual interests and values.”

According to a report published yesterday by the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), Israel’s population currently stands at 9,656,000, of which 7,106,000 are Jews, 2,037,000 are Arabs and 513,000 defined as other (including non Arab Christians and other religions). For more detail, click here.

According to an IDF annual report, there were 285 shooting attacks in the West Bank this year, compared to 61 in 2021 and 31 in 2020. Thirty one people were killed in terror attacks in 2022. For more of the annual report, click here.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 12-28-2022

News Update

Security forces have announced the arrest of the terrorist who detonated bombs at two Jerusalem bus stops in November, killing 2 Israelis and wounding several others. The arrest occurred on November 29th, but was not made public until yesterday.  The terrorist, Islam Faroh, 26, was a resident of East Jerusalem and had no criminal record. He is the son of two doctors and a graduate of the Azrieli College of Engineering in Jerusalem, where he attained a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, as well as extensive technical knowledge that helped him plan out the attack. He is not a member of any terrorist organization.

According to sources in the security services, Israel is negotiating for the release of the bodies of two IDF soldiers, Hadar Goldin and Oren Shaul, as well as two civilians, Avera Mengistu and Hisham Al-Sayed, who are currently being held by Hamas in Gaza. Israel will reportedly release several Hamas prisoners serving lengthy sentences, including Abdullah Barghouti, who was convicted and sentenced to 67 life sentences and an additional 5,200 years in prison for his involvement in attacks that resulted in the deaths of numerous Israelis and the injury of hundreds of others during the second Intifada from 2000 to 2004.

The prisoners, who all hold Jordanian passports, will be transferred to Jordan where they will serve between 5 and 10 years in a Jordanian prison. Upon their release, they will be granted a royal amnesty but will not be allowed to return to the West Bank or Gaza and will instead remain outside the region. Israel will also release the bodies of Palestinians who have been involved in recent terror attacks.

The Knesset has passed an amendment that removes the obstacles to allow Shas leader Aryeh Deri to serve as a minister and Religious Zionism leader Betzalel Smotrich to serve as a minister within the Defense Ministry, giving him more power over decisions related to Judea and Samaria. The Knesset also passed a law giving the national security minister, slated to be MK Ben Gvir, authority over the police. This clears the way for Shas and Religious Zionism to officially join the government coalition. Likud and United Torah Judaism signed a coalition agreement yesterday. Netanyahu is planning to announce his new government on Thursday.

In the wake of reports that lawmakers from the Religious Zionism party are planning to support legislation that could discriminate against members of the LGBTQ, it seems increasingly likely that Amir Ohana, an openly gay Knesset member, will be named the next speaker of the Knesset.

Mike Ben-Ari who was last week extradited from Bosnia to Israel was today indicted of defrauding NIS 550 million from 960 investors. To read more, click here.

Mekorot Israel National Water Co. and the Israel Water Authority today launched the “Reverse Water Carrier” project in the north. The project will allow desalinated water from the Mediterranean Sea to flow inland to Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee). The aim of the project, which has been set up at a cost of NIS 1 billion, is to maintain the level of the Kinneret in dry and low rainfall years.

Most of the water that flows out of the taps in Israeli homes comes from desalination plants and not from the Kinneret, but the level of the Kinneret is important as the country’s emergency reservoir for water, as well as in ecological terms. Israel also supplies water from the Kinneret to Jordan as part of the peace agreement between the two countries. Recently, Israel agreed to double the amount of water it supplies to Jordan to about 100 million cubic meters annually, making the need to maintain Kinneret’s level even more critical. For more, click here.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 12-26-2022

News Update

Israel’s Shin Bet revealed today that it had foiled a terror attack that was supposed to involve a large explosive device. The terror cell disrupted was managed remotely from Gaza. Nine terror suspects were arrested overnight in Jenin. There were also 2 shooting attacks overnight in the West Bank, but there were no injuries.

Russia is demanding ownership over three churches located on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. It will submit a claim to the Israeli courts for the Church of Mary Magdalene, The Chapel of the Ascension, and the Viri Galilaei Church, which used as a summer retreat by the Greek Orthodox patriarch. Russian President Putin has also demanded an end to the litigation preventing the transfer of the Alexander Nevsky Church. For more, click here.

Oman’s lower house of parliament voted to expand its Israel boycott law. The Majlis al-Shura, or Consultative Assembly, voted to amend the first clause of its Israel boycott law to include any sports, cultural or economic contact. The amendment also specifically bans in-person or online interaction with Israelis. Currently, Omani law prohibits citizens from making contact with entities or individuals based in Israel directly or through mediators, for any purpose.

According to a conservative estimate by the Ministry of Economy and Industry’s Foreign Trade Administration (FTA), Israel’s exports of goods and services will amount to at least $160 billion in 2022, a new record and up more than 10% from last year, when exports of goods and services totaled a then record $144 billion. There were very significant increases in the exports of goods in chemicals and chemical industry products (+55%), diamonds (+41%) and electrical and mechanical equipment (+18%). Israel’s exports to the US grew by 19% in 2022, by 113% to the UK, by 115% to Ireland, by 90% to Brazil, by 39% to India, by 95% to Canada, by 85% to Singapore, by 24% to Hong Kong, by 17% to Turkey, by 22% to France and by 181% to the Philippines.

Rabbi Chaim Druckman, one of the senior spiritual leaders of the religious zionist movement, passed away on Sunday at the age of 90 as a result of Covid-19. Thousands of mourners attending the funeral today. The eulogizers included President Isaac Herzog, Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu, Chief Sephardic Rabbi of Israel Yitzhak Yosef, Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi of Israel David Lau, Chief Sephardic Rabbi of Jerusalem and former Chief Sephardic Rabbi of Israel Moshe Amar, Ramat Gan Yeshiva Dean Rabbi Yaakov Ariel, Beit El Yeshiva Dean Rabbi Zalman Baruch Melamed, Jerusalem Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Aryeh Stern, Religious Zionist Party chief MK Bezalel Smotrich, and Bnei Akiva Secretary-General Yigal Klein. For more, click here.

It is snowing on Mount Hermon in the Golan and raining in most of the rest of Israel.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 12-23-2022

News Update

Prime Minister designate Netanyahu must swear in a new government by January 2. But to do so he must get 3 laws passed that would allow his coalition partners to get the positions and powers he promised them. Also, negotiations with the ultra-Orthodox UTJ party are still ongoing. This coming week will be a big one in the Knesset.

Russian President Vladimir Putin called Prime Minister designate Netanyahu to congratulate him on his election victory. The call mainly revolved around the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Netanyahu told Putin he hopes a resolution to end hostilities will be found as soon as possible. He also told Putin that he is determined to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons and from establishing a military presence in Syria and Lebanon, along Israel’s borders.

Mossad director David Barnea warned of Iran’s increased attempts to acquire nuclear weapons and to mount attacks on friendly Moslem nations. He also said that Iran was supplying Russia with ballistic missiles and drones. He also said, “Iran will not have nuclear weapons, not in the coming years, never, this is my commitment, this is the Mossad’s commitment.”

The European Union recently adopted a resolution “strongly condemning” the Palestinian Authority for incitement to violence and antisemitism in its school textbooks, which the EU funds. For more, click here.

The Jewish Agency said that 2022 was a record year for aliyah, with 70,000 new immigrants arriving in Israel. This is the highest number in the past 23 years. Here’s the breakdown: 37,364 immigrants from Russia, 14,680 from Ukraine, 3,500 from North America, 2,049 from France, 1,993 from Belarus, 1,498 from Ethiopia, 985 from Argentina, 526 from Great Britain, 426 from South Africa and 356 from Brazil.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 12-16-2022

News Update

In an interview to Dubai based Al Arabiya English,Prime Minister designate Netanyahu said that decisions relating to the West Bank will be made by his Defense Minister, a Likud member, and not by Religious Zionism leader Betzalel Smotrich, who demanded broad powers over the West Bank as part of his deal to join the coalition. Netanyahu also said that he would work to open diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia.

As part of their conditions to join a Netanyahu led government, ultra-Orthodox parties and the religious nationalist Religious Zionist party have demanded that people two-generations removed from Jewish ancestry, be no longer eligible for Israeli citizenship under the law. According to the current Law of Return, anyone with at least one Jewish grandparent, even if they themselves are not legally Jewish, to get immigrate to Israel and get citizenship, along with their spouses. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, one in four immigrants is not Jewish.

The Likud is reportedly considering a compromise that would grant permanent residence status to people with one Jewish grandparent who are not themselves Jewish. There is strong opposition to changing the current Law of Return. Most of the non Jewish immigrants are from Russia and Ukraine.

A panel set up to review the deployment of IDF soldiers to security prisons presented its findings to the ministers of defense and public security, with a recommendation to remove all active duty troops from deployments in prisons. The panel was established after allegations surfaced, that female IDF soldiers, working as wardens in security prisons were sexually abused by inmates.

The first night of Hanukkah begins on Sunday night. The Jewish battle against the Greeks and Hellenists began in the town of Modiin by Matityahu the Kohen and his five sons, who became known as the Maccabees (hammers). I am writing this email in the modern city of Modiin, which sits near the ruins of its ancient predecessor, and is a testament to the continuation of the miracle of Hanukkah and the victory of the Jewish nation over its enemies, both spiritual and physical. Happy Hanukkah!!

Israel news summary

Israel News for 12-14-2022

News Update

Security forces arrested 15 terror suspects in raids throughout the West Bank last night. Some were fired at some of the forces. There were no Israeli casualties.

Turkish media is reporting that Turkish security forces questioned 44 people allegedly working for the Mossad, secretly following Palestinian citizens, institutions and non-governmental organizations in Turkey.

Likud MK Yariv Levin was elected as speaker of the Knesset on Tuesday. Levin, a close Netanyahu confidante, is set to clear the way for votes in the coming days on crucial legislation seen as necessary to form the coalition. One of the laws needed would permit Shas leader Aryeh Deri to serve as a minister, which he is currently barred from doing because of a conviction on probation this year for tax offenses. Two other laws would give expanded powers over the West Bank and the Israel Police to coalition partners Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 12-12-2022

News Update

Security forces arrested 3 wanted terrorists in a raid in Jenin yesterday. The forces came under attack from terrorists and returned fire. One teenage girl was reportedly killed in the crossfire. There were no Israeli casualties.

Iran-backed Hezbollah forces in Syria have reportedly been repositioning weapons from their locations to more fortified positions disguised as Syrian Army outposts and facilities in the face of ongoing Israeli strikes. The IDF reportedly distributed leaflets around Quneitra, in the Syrian Golan, warning Syrian Army soldiers not to aid Hezbollah.

Israeli Ambassador to Ukraine Michael Brodsky announced last Friday that Israel is preparing to send further humanitarian aid to Ukraine. The aid package includes advanced surgical equipment worth $1.2 million which was transferred to a children’s hospital in the Ukrainian capital, as well as a donation of 20 powerful electric generators worth over $1 million to help Ukrainians deal with vast damages to the electric grid from Russian bombings.

Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said he hopes Israel and Taiwan will develop closer relations since the two countries share similar values.

Rabbi Chaim Druckman, one of the leaders of the Religious Zionist community in Israel, is in serious but stable condition from the Covid virus. The public is requested to pray for the recovery of Rabbi Chaim Meir ben Milkah.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 12-9-2022

News Update

IDF forces conducted a raid in the Jenin refugee camp yesterday to capture 3 wanted terrorists, when they came under fire. Troops returned fire, reportedly killing 3 attackers. No troops were hurt.

Likud and Shas have reached a coalition agreement. Despite having secured 64 Knesset seats, Incoming Prime Minister Netanyahu sent a letter to President Herzog requesting the 14 day extension to present the new government. Netanyahu needs more time to finalize ministerial appointments.

Israel Police is preparing to begin testing and applying one of the world’s most advanced traffic violation enforcement systems. The system will include extensive use of sensors deployed along Israel’s roads that will stream information to an advanced central processing computer based on AI software capable of extracting data from the sensors, automatically analyzing videos and producing tickets for offenses. For more, click here.

Chevron and its partners in Israel’s offshore Tamar gas field announced an investment of $673 million in expanding gas exploration. For more, click here.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 12-7-2022

News Update

Security forces arrested 8 terror suspects in overnight raids in the West Bank. Palestinians fired at IDF troops during an arrest operation in Nablus. No soldiers were hurt.

Likud and United Torah Judaism are still in the process of negotiating a coalition agreement, but they have signed an agreement regarding UTJ ministerial appointments. UTJ chairman Yitzhak Goldknopf will be Minister of Construction and Housing, including the Israel Land Authority. Moshe Gafni will be appointed chairman of the Knesset Finance Committee. MK Uri Maklev will be a deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Transportation. Meir Porush will be Minister of Jerusalem and Heritage. Yaakov Asher will chair the Internal Affairs and Environment Committee. Yisrael Eichler will chair the Labor and Welfare Committee and Yaakov Tesler will be appointed deputy minister in the Ministry of Welfare or another ministry to be agreed upon with the Prime Minister.

Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir told members of the American Jewish Committee that, “The direction of Saudi-Israeli relations is normalization, but it will take more time and we must not put the cart before the horse.” He also said, “Israel and other Gulf states have been gradually normalizing for years. The process must be allowed to mature.”

The Be’er Sheva Magistrate’s Court sentenced a Bedouin man living in southern Israel to 12 months in prison after he was convicted of polygamy. Polygamy is wide-spread in Israel’s Bedouin community and is permitted under Islamic law. The sentence marks an escalation in punishment for polygamy charges. For more, click here.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 12-5-2022

News Update

A gun battle broke out between security forces and terrorists in the Dheisheh refugee camp south of Bethlehem this morning, during an IDF operation to arrest wanted terrorists in the area. According to Palestinian reports, 1 terrorist was killed and 6 wounded. Three terrorists were arrested.

Israeli forces also exchanged fire with terrorists in Jenin during an arrest operation there. IDF forces arrested one terrorist, the son of a Islamic Jihad commander who was arrested in August. Security forces also conducted operations in several other West Bank towns and villages.

Terrorists fired a rocket into Israel from Gaza on Saturday night, which landed in an open field. In response, IDF jets attacked a Hamas rocket production facility and a terrorist tunnel. Hamas fired 2 anti aircraft missiles at the fighter jets, after which Israel attacked a Hamas military outpost.

Qatar has reportedly been pressuring Gaza terrorist groups to hold off any actions that could escalate security tensions with Israel until after the FIFA World Cup, hosted in Qatar. Qatar is a major sponsor of Hamas.

The United Torah Judaism (UTJ) party signed a coalition agreement with the Likud this morning. Shas is now the only remaining coalition partner not to have signed an agreement to form a new government.

President Isaac Herzog arrived in Bahrain on Sunday on a state visit. During his visit, Herzog held meetings with King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and other dignitaries, and paid a visit to Bahrain’s Jewish community and the country’s Economic Development Authority. He then flew to the UAE today, where he will meet with the king.

US Secretary of State Blinken said that the Biden administration would “gauge the [Israeli] government by the policies and procedures, rather than individual personalities.” Blinked indicated that the US would oppose settlement expansion and annexation of the West Bank. For more, click here.

A car thief took a wrong turn and ended up breaking through a checkpoint at Ben Gurion International Airport yesterday. The breach set off a security alert throughout the airport and passengers at the airport’s departure Terminal 3 were instructed to lay on the ground for fear of a terrorist attack. Airport security eventually caught the Palestinian driver and passenger, who were from the West Bank and were in Israel illegally.