Israel news summary

Israel News for 1-4-2023

News Update

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir visited the Temple Mount yesterday, on the fast day commemorating the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem by the Babylonians that lead to the destruction of the first Temple. The visit lasted 15 minutes and there were no incidents. Ben Gvir’s wife visited the Temple Mount shorty after him.

The police, Shin Bet and IDF all participated in the visit planning and security, and approved the visit from a security standpoint. Ben-Gvir said, “Temple Mount is the most important site for the people of Israel, and we maintain our freedom of movement there.” He added that the government will not bend to Hamas threats and will respond with an iron fist to terror. A rocket fired from Gaza yesterday landed in a field in Gaza.

The Palestinian Authority, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, France, England and the UAE all condemned the visit, calling it an attack against the mosque. Prime Minister Netanyahu will have to postpone and reschedule his planned visit to the UAE. The U.S. Embassy in Israel issued a statement saying, “Ambassador Nides has been very clear in conversations with the Israeli government on the issue of preserving the status quo in Jerusalem’s holy sites. Actions that prevent that are unacceptable.”

Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef and the Haredi UTJ party blasted Ben Gvir for visiting the Temple Mount, because they consider it to be forbidden by Jewish religious law.

IDF troops came under attack during an arrest raid in the Deheisheh refugee camp outside Bethlehem last night. Troops opened fire. A Palestinian teen was killed.

The Border Police is investigated an incident where a female Border Police soldier was “forgotten” and left behind in the heart of the Palestinian town of Al-Ramm, located just north of Jerusalem. Video footage shows her walking through the town alone, with her rifle drawn. The soldiers commander and the soldiers of her unit have been suspended.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham criticized new Foreign Minister Eli Cohen for failing to condemn Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. Cohen said, in his first speech, emphasized Israel’s close relationship with the US but that Israel will not be “talking as much” about Ukraine as the previous Israeli government. Graham responded by tweeting, “I’m glad to see Mr. Cohen is prioritizing the U.S.-Israel strategic relationship and supports continued humanitarian aid to Ukraine, however, the idea that Israel should speak less about Russia’s criminal invasion of Ukraine is a bit unnerving. I hope Mr. Cohen understands that when he speaks to Russia’s Lavrov, he’s speaking to a representative of a war criminal regime that commits war crimes on an industrial scale every day.” Graham is a staunch friend of Israel.

The IDF Manpower Directorate reported on Tuesday that 44 active Israeli service members have passed away in 2022, the highest such figure in five years. Included in the total were 3 soldiers killed in terrorist attacks, 6 by friendly fire and 14 by suicide.

Prime Minister Netanyahu and Minister of Finance Bezalel Smotrich have agreed in principle to partially or fully freeze the price rises in electricity, water and municipal taxes. For more, click here. 

Israel has ranked 10th in U.S. News’s 2022 list of the world’s most powerful countries, based on dominating headlines, preoccupying policymakers, and shaping global economies. The top 9 were the US, China, Russia, Germany, the United Kingdom, South Korea, France, Japan and the UAE. For more, click here.

Rishon Lezion has the best quality of life of any major city in Israel, the Central Bureau of statistics reports, followed by Rehovot, Ramat Gan, Kfar Saba, Petah Tikva, Netanya and Ashkelon. In the middle range of the ranking were Tel Aviv-Yafo followed by Haifa and Beit Shemesh, and in the bottom range were Bnei Brak, Beersheva, Ashdod, Holon, Jerusalem and Bat Yam. For more, click here.