Israel news summary

Israel News for 3-22-2023

News Update

Syrian state media reported that an Israeli airstrike hit the Aleppo airport early Tuesday and put it out of service. According to the state television report, four missiles hit the airfield, activating air defense systems, and large blasts rocked the area.

The U.S. State Department summoned Israeli Ambassador Michael Herzog today to protest the passage of the amendment to the Disengagement Law by the Knesset that will allow Israelis to return to evacuated settlements in northern Samaria. In response, Prime Minister Netanyahu said that Israel had no intentions of establishing new settlements in areas from which Israelis were previously banned.

Security forces are on high alert ahead of the start of Ramadan, on Thursday. For more, click here.

The Iron Dome air defense system shot down a Hamas drone flying over Gaza. The drone did not enter Israeli territory.

The man shot and wounded while driving with his wife through Huwara described the attack and how he fired at the terrorist. To read what he said, click here. 

Israel news summary

Israel News for 3-20-2023

News Update

David Stern, a 41 year old former US marine, martial arts expert and firearms instructor currently living in the settlement of Itamar, was shot and seriously wounded while driving with his wife through the village of Huwara yesterday. The attack took place near where 2 Israeli brothers were murdered by a terrorist a few weeks ago. Stern managed to fire back and hit the terrorist. IDF forces later captured the terrorist, who was hiding in a nearby house with serious wounds. The terrorist fired at Stern’s car using a homemade submachine gun.

Israel, the United States, Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority issued a joint statement Sunday evening in which they said that Israel has pledged not to discuss the construction of new housing units in the settlements for four months and not to approve outposts for six months. Meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh, Israel and the Palestinian Authority reaffirmed their commitment to promoting security, stability, and peace. They also emphasized the importance of creating a diplomatic prospect for peace and addressing pressing issues through direct dialogue. Both sides have pledged to stop unilateral actions, although the construction in the settlements and the approval of outposts were the only specific mentions. They also agreed to establish a mechanism to prevent and control violence, incitement, and inflammatory statements and actions.

The Israel Police said they were stepping up the security measures ahead of Ramadan, that starts later this week. In previous years there has been rioting and violence on the Temple Mount during Ramadan.

US President Biden spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu yesterday and urged him to reach a compromise on the judicial reform initiative. This is an unusual intervention by a US President in Israel’s internal affairs. According to a White House statement, Biden “underscored his belief that democratic values have always been, and must remain, a hallmark of the U.S.-Israel relationship, that democratic societies are strengthened by genuine checks and balances, and that fundamental changes should be pursued with the broadest possible base of popular support.” Biden and Netanyahu also spoke about the Iran threat and the fear of escalating tensions with the Palestinians during Ramadan.

According to the statement from the Prime Minister’s office, Netanyahu informed Biden about the terrorist shooting attack in Huwara, in which a U.S.-Israeli citizen was wounded, and assured him that Israel will “continue to take action against terrorists and architects of terror.” He also reassured Biden that Israel will remain a strong and vibrant democracy committed to his government’s legal reform and thanked the U.S. leader for his unwavering commitment to Israel’s security.

In a show of apparent compromise, Prime Minister Netanyahu said that the government would hold off on moving forward with the judicial reform until April 30, when the Knesset reconvenes after the Passover break. The original plan was to push through the legislation before the Knesset goes on break on April 2. The government also announced a slight modification of the legislation on Supreme Court judge selection, which appears to give the government less control than the original proposal. Now we wait and see what the opposition says.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 3-17-2023

News Update

Prime Minister Netanyahu met with German Chancellor Scholz and German President Frank-Water Steinmeier and discussed the threats posed by Iran as well as the sale of Arrow-3 defense systems to Germany. Scholz urged Netanyahu to accept the compromise proposal presented by Israel’s President Herzog, regarding the judicial reforms. Netanyahu said that Israel will remain a liberal democracy, but that the President’s proposal does not reflect the will of the majority of the people. Scholz also said that expansion of settlements does not contribute to peace in the Middle East and that Germany was working to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

Israeli forces conducted a raid in Jenin yesterday to arrest wanted terrorists. A firefight broke out, during which 4 terrorists were killed, including 2 Hamas leaders.

Around 650 reservists in IDF intelligence and cyber units said yesterday that as of Sunday, they would no longer report for duty because of the judicial reform being advanced by the government. Reservists from other elite units and Air Force pilots who have warned they would not volunteer for duty if the judicial reform becomes law.

A Gallup poll published yesterday showed that 49% of US Democrats are sympathetic to the Palestinians vs 38% who are sympathetic to Israel. The poll also showed that 78% of Republicans are sympathetic to Israel vs only 11% for the Palestinians. For more, click here.

[Some readers have asked about my views regarding the judicial reform process. I think Israel’s judicial system has some major issues that need to be worked out. I also think some parts of the judicial reform package need to be compromised on by both sides because they likely are too drastic in their current form. The government’s main argument in pushing ahead with the process to make the judicial reform law is that the voters gave them the mandate to do so by voting for them in the election. While it’s true that democracy is based on majority rule, I think that faced with an issue that splits the country so drastically, the government needs to pause and try to come up with a compromise solution — even if they do have enough votes to pass it as is. Israel is still a very young country, and the systems that govern it need to be developed more, in a thoughtful manner, with all sides participating in the process. It’s time to work together to make Israel a better functioning democracy, and judicial reforms, based on compromise, is a good place to start.]

Israel news summary

Israel News for 3-15-2023

News Update

The IDF, Shin Bet and Border Police arrested 15 terror suspects in overnight raids throughout the West Bank.

Bank of Israel Governor Amir Yaron told CNN that, “Right now, the changes in the judicial reform could weaken some of this independence [of the judicial system]. Moreover, the process itself is hasty and does not have a wide agreement in the public.” Yaron said one of the reasons an orderly and broadly agreed-upon process was important was to stop companies from directing investments away from the Israeli market, something that several major firms have already announced they will do. He also said that he believes that the government will not interfere with decisions and moves made by the Bank of Israel.

Protestors against the judicial reform are planning to block the road to the airport later today to disrupt the departure of the Prime Minister, who is flying to Germany for a 2 day state visit.

Israel’s State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman said in a new report published Tuesday that an estimated 93% of at-risk buildings in northeastern Israel will collapse in the event of a powerful earthquake. The findings indicate that 93% of buildings earmarked for reinforcement in Beit She’an, Tiberias, Safed, Kiryat Shmona, and Hazor HaGalilit, which are communities anticipated to be severely impacted during an earthquake, have not been addressed yet. Also, 38 out of 54, or 70%, of schools that were previously found to not meet standards were also not strengthened yet. According to the report, it would take decades to safeguard all the buildings currently at risk from earthquakes if the current pace is maintained. Costs for reinforcement of at-risk buildings and other protective measures were estimated at around NIS 2.34 billion ($650 million).

Devora Paley, the mother of 2 young boys who were murdered in a Jerusalem terror attack last month, gave birth to a baby boy today. He is the family’s tenth child. Avraham Paley, 42, Devora’s husband, was seriously injured in the attack, and was recently released from Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center, after spending two weeks in a coma.

Israel’s national baseball team was eliminated from the World Baseball Classic after losing to Puerto Rico 10-0, without getting a single hit or getting a runner on base. The Israeli team kicked off the tournament with a surprise win over Nicaragua. It then lost to Dominican Republic. For more, click here.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 3-10-2023

News Update

Last night a terrorist opened fire on a crowd of Israelis outside a restaurant on Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv. Three men in their 30’s were shot and wounded. The terrorist was shot and killed by police. The terrorist, 23, was a member of Hamas from the village of Ni’lin. Security forces raided the village to search for additional suspects and evidence, and to map the house of the terrorist for demolition. They arrested to terrorist’s father and brother, also members of Hamas. Two other men turned themselves in to police in Ramle and are suspected of transporting the terrorist.

Also last night, a terrorist left a bomb in a bag on a bus in the settlement of Beitar — but the bomb failed to detonate.

Security forces conducting a raid in a village near Jenin yesterday came under fire from 3 terrorists in a moving vehicle. Troops returned fire and killed all 3 terrorists. It turns out that 2 of the 3 terrorists were targets of the arrest raid and were planning to carry out shooting attacks against Israelis.

President Issac Herzog addressed the nation yesterday and said that judicial reform legislation being pushed through the Knesset are wrong, destructive, an affront to Israel’s democratic values, and must be replaced. He said he had, over the past 10 weeks, met with all sides and can say that most disagreements have been resolved and that a resolution to the crisis was within reach. He added, “We cannot allow a small detail – no matter how vital, to lead the country to disaster. The time to stop this is now.”

According to a Wall Street Journal report, Saudi Arabia asked the US to provide security assurances and help to develop its civilian nuclear program as a condition for normalizing ties with Israel. For more, click here.

The US has approved a visa for Finance Minister Smotrich, after talk of denying him the visa because of comments he made about destroying the village of Huwara.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 3-8-2023

News Update

Israeli forces mounted a major raid into Jenin yesterday to capture several wanted terrorists including the one who murdered the Yaniv brothers in Huwara last week. Shootouts broke out between the troops and terrorists. Six terrorists were killed, including the Huwara terrorist. Two Israeli commandos were lightly wounded. About a dozen other terrorists were wounded. Troops fired missiles from a helicopter as well as hand held missiles.

Prime Minister Netanyahu said in a statement, “IDF, Shin Bet and Yamam fighters today eliminated the despicable terrorist who murdered in cold blood the two lovely brothers Hallel and Yagel Yaniv.” Our brave warriors operated surgically in the heart of the murderers’ den. I praise them and send recovery wishes to the wounded from among our forces. As I say again and again, time and time again: whoever hurts us – their blood will be on their head.”

An explosive device was activated near an IDF bulldozer doing maintenance work at the Gaza border today. No IDF injuries were reported. In response, IDF tanks shelled Hamas military positions in Gaza.

According to the Syrian military, an Israeli air strike caused material damage to the Aleppo airport, putting it out of service. Israel did not comment on the report.

A compromise proposal for the judicial reform plan espoused by the government is being seriously considered by several top government ministers. For more, click here.

Israel’s Supreme Court has ruled that marriages conducted overseas through video conference calls must be registered as marriages in Israel. Since there is no civil marriage in Israel, couples who do not want to get married in a religious ceremony through their respective religious administrative authority (like the rabbinate) would often travel to Cyprus or some other country and get married there in a civil ceremony. Then they would return to Israel and have their marriage registered by the government. Now they can save the travel and get a civil marriage at home, online. For more, click here.

El Al is launching 4 new routes, to Porto (Portugal), Dublin, Tokyo and Istanbul. For more, click here.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 3-6-2023

News Update

Security forces arrested 14 suspected terrorists in overnight raids. They also mapped the home of the terrorist who killed Elan Ganeles last week, for demolition.

The IDF will seal off Judea, Samaria and Gaza during the holiday of Purim on Tuesday and Wednesday. No Palestinians will be around to leave those areas.

The government has decided to close the Temple Mount to Jews for 10 days during the Muslim Ramadan holiday. The days coincide with the final period of the holiday, when Muslims sleep in the Al Aqsa Mosque compound. The closure occurs every year. Security Minister Ben Gvir is vehemently opposed to the decision and is attempting to get it reversed.

Security Minister Ben Gvir has ordered the police to carry out several evictions of Arab families in east Jerusalem this month, coinciding with Ramadan. The families are illegally residing in homes owned by Jews. Security officials fear that the eviction could trigger major unrest in the capital. For more, click here.

The Biden administration is considering denying entry to Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, because he commented that the village of Huwara should be wiped off the map. Smotrich later walked back his statement about Huwara, saying he did not mean it literally and was referring to targeting terrorists and their supporters. But that has not appeased the Biden administration, who claim that Smotrich is inciting violence. Smotrich is planning to attend an Israel Bonds meeting in the US. AIPAC has refused to meet with him.

Prime Minister Netanyahu met with Slovakian Prime Minister Eduard Heger in Jerusalem on Sunday. discussed deepening the cooperation between Israel and Slovakia, especially in technology, innovation and tourism, as well as regional issues.

A special report on women published by the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, Israeli women are marrying and having children later, with Jewish women lagging Arab women by a significant percentage. For more, click here.

Tonight and tomorrow is Purim, the holiday celebrating the deliverance of the Jewish People in the Persian kingdom from the annihilation planned by Haman, the prime minister of the kingdom. The salvation is spearheaded by Queen Ester and her cousin Mordecai, the leader of the Jews. While we might not be facing annihilation today, we certainly are in great need for some Divine deliverance. So let us all pray for peace and unity on this Purim.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 3-3-2023

News Update

According to a Bloomberg report, Iran is seeking sophisticated new air defense systems from Russia that Israeli officials say would reduce the window of a potential attack on Tehran’s nuclear program. Israeli and American sources told Bloomberg that the prospect of Tehran obtaining these systems, the S-400s, would speed up the decision on a possible attack on Iranian nuclear sites. It would take almost 2 years for the S-400s to be made operational, if they were to be delivered. U.S. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said last week that Russia has offered Iran “unprecedented defense cooperation, including in the field of missiles, electronics and air defense” and may supply Tehran with fighter jets.

A Lebanese government security source has revealed that Palestinians residing in Lebanon are being recruited to join the Russian army to fight in Ukraine. The majority of the Palestinians being deployed to the frontlines in Ukraine hail from Ein Al-Khalwa, the largest Palestine refugee camp in Lebanon, just south of the port city of Sidon. They reportedly receive a monthly stipend and compensation for their families. Hezbollah is also reportedly actively enlisting supporters to fight for Russia in Ukraine. For more, click here.

Government officials are exploring the possibility of allowing Palestinians to fly to Mecca for the annual Haj pilgrimage directly from Ramon Airport in southern Israel. The Haj takes place from Jun 25-30. Arabs that are not Israeli citizens must currently travel overland to Jordan to get an international flight to Saudi Arabia. For more, click here.

Hungary will move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem next month, as a result of an agreement between the Prime Ministers of Hungary and Israel. Hungary will be the first European Union member country to have an embassy in the capital. For more, click here.

Prime Minister Netanyahu visited the Yaniv family, whose sons, Hillel and Yagel were murdered by a terrorist in the village of Huwara this week. To read more, click here.

Israeli defense electronics company Elbit Systems Ltd. has won three deals with NATO countries worth $372 million. For details, click here.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 3-1-2023

News Update

Security forces are conducting an anti-terror operation in the Aqabat Jabr refugee camp outside of Jericho. One of the objectives is to capture the terrorist who shot and killed Elan Ganeles, 26, at the Almog Junction near Jericho on Monday. Ganeles was an American who made aliyah and served in the IDF before moving back to Connecticut where he was living and studying. He was visiting Israel this week to attend a friend’s wedding. He will be buried in Ra’anana, Israel.

Security forces are engaged in gunfights with terrorists in Aqbat Jabr. One terrorist is reported killed and 4 arrested. The operation is continuing at the time of this writing.

[On a personal note, my wife and I drove past Jericho and stopped for gas at the Almog Junction on our way to the Dead Sea on Sunday. On our drive back on Monday afternoon, I decided to take an alternative route that did not take us through the territories and past Jericho and the Almog Junction because I felt nervous due to the recent terror attacks and violence. Elan Ganeles was killed at the Almog Junction later that day.

Thousands of Israelis drive through Palestinian areas on highways assumed to be safe every day, including in and around Jerusalem. We should not have to fear being killed each time we go for a car ride. It wouldn’t be acceptable in the US or any other civilized country, and it shouldn’t be acceptable in Israel. The terror must be stopped.

Now I’m pretty sure that I’ll receive some emails telling me that the terror will stop if we leave the territories. To be fair, that is a separate discussion that can be had between Israel and the Palestinians, but it has no bearing on the issue of terrorism. There is NO excuse for terror attacks. They happened before a single Jew was living in the territories and are directed against any Jewish presence in any part of the Land of Israel. Terror will never solve anything. It will only bring suffering on those who support it or simply stand by and let it occur.

The Jewish People are in the Land of Israel to stay, and we will use all the power at our disposal to protect ourselves — that is something that Israelis of all political leanings agree upon. Most of the Arab countries have accepted this reality. Once the Palestinians accept it, we can move forward and find away to for Jews and Arabs to live together peacefully in this land.

Warning: if you feel the need, there’s an unsubscribe link at the bottom of this email. Instead of getting your blood pressure in a boil, just click the link. It’ll be healthier for both of us.]

In the aftermath of the settler retaliatory attack on the village of Huwara, during which 1 Palestinian was killed, 35 homes were burned to the ground and close to 100 cars torched, State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said: “We expect the Israeli government to ensure full accountability and legal prosecution of those responsible for these attacks in addition to compensation for the loss of homes and property.” He added that Washington appreciated the statements made by President Herzog and Prime Minister Netanyahu urging Israelis to refrain from taking the law into their own hands. Israeli police have so far made several arrests of suspects related to the attack. Israelis have donated over $270,000 to a GoFundMe campaign for the victims of the Huwara attack.

During a joint press conference with Germany’s Foreign Minister, Israel’s Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said that Israeli settlements in the West Bank would continue to be built under the current government.

Large demonstrations throughout Israel today against judicial reform disrupted highway and train traffic. Police have thus far arrested 16 demonstrators and have been attempting to disperse crowds with water cannons and stun grenades.

MK Avi Maoz, a deputy minister in the Education Ministry and known for his openly homophobic views, announced Monday evening his resignation from the government. He felt that he could not implement any of his initiatives. He will remain a member of Knesset.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 2-27-2023

News Update

On Sunday, 2 brothers from the settlement of Har Bracha were murdered by a terrorist who shot them as they were sitting in traffic while driving through the village of Hurawa on highway 60. Hillel (22) and Yagel (20) Yaniv were laid to rest earlier today, escorted by thousands of mourners. Both of the men were yeshiva students. Hillel had completed his IDF service in the navy and Yagel was training to join  an elite IDF combat unit.

After the terror attack, hundreds of settlers converged on the village of Hurawa and burned down 35 houses and close to 100 cars. Palestinian sources say that around 75 homes in total were damaged. One Palestinian man was killed and close to 100 injured, most from smoke inhalation. Hundreds of IDF troops entered Hurawa to stop the violence and help rescue residents from their burning homes. Internal Security Minister Ben Gvir visited the scene and said that while he understands the settler’s anger, citizens must not take the law into their own hands. Only the government can deal with terrorism. Finance Minister Smotrich echoed Ben Gvir’s words. The IDF added several additional combat battalions to existing forces in Judea and Samaria.

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved a bill yesterday that would allow courts to impose the death penalty on terrorists. The bill will now head to the Knesset. Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara opposed the bill, claiming it contained serious constitutional problems.

Officials from Israel, Jordan, Egypt, the Palestinian Authority and the U.S. met in the Jordanian city of Aqaba yesterday to discuss ways to reduce tensions. The Jordanians claim that Israel agreed to halt new settlement approvals in the West Bank for four to six months and that both sides agreed to support “confidence-building steps” and to meet again next month in Egypt. But Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and Internal Security Minister Ben Gvir denied that Israel agreed to any settlement freeze. National Security Advisor Tzachi Hanegbi, the prime minister’s envoy to the meeting, also said that Israel had not agreed to any policy changes regarding settlements.