April 18, 2022

In-Depth Issues:

Russia Summons Israeli Ambassador after Foreign Minister Condemns Ukraine Invasion (i24News)
    Israel's envoy to Moscow, Alex Ben Zvi, received a summons on Sunday to appear at the Russian Foreign Ministry on Monday, after Israel's Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and a number of other Israeli officials issued sharp condemnations of Russia's Ukraine invasion, Army Radio reported.

Iranian Forces Replacing Russians in Syria - Zvi Bar'el (Ha'aretz)
    Russia is reducing its forces in Syria, among them hundreds of mercenaries from the Wagner Group, to beef up its presence in Ukraine, Arab media report.
    The Russian soldiers are being replaced by Iranians and pro-Iranian militias, reflecting the Syrian regime's reliance on Iranians to fill the gap left by Russian forces.

Israel Tests Laser Missile Interception System - Yaniv Kubovich (Ha'aretz)
    A new Israeli laser-based missile interception system has accurately intercepted UAVs, mortars, rockets and anti-tank missiles, the Defense Ministry revealed Thursday.
    "For the first time, an energy-based weapons system actually works," said Brig.-Gen. Yaniv Rotem, head of the ministry's weapons development administration.
    A battery may be deployed on the Gaza border toward the end of the year.
    Laser-based interception is silent and invisible, and costs about $3.50 per interception, in contrast to the Iron Dome, which costs $49,000 per interception.
    However, the laser system does not function well in times of heavy cloud cover or other inclement weather.

Poll: 3/4 of Palestinians Believe Quran Predicts Israel's Collapse - Ori Nir (Ha'aretz)
    Prominent Palestinian West Bank Islamist scholar Dr. Bassam Jarrar, a longtime Hamas spiritual leader with 700,000 subscribers on YouTube, has predicted since 1992 that Israel's demise is destined to take place between March and June 2022, based on several Quranic verses and on intricate numerology.
    Jarrar says the likelihood is around 95%.
    The latest Palestinian public opinion survey shows that 73% of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza believe the Quran includes a prophecy regarding the demise of Israel.
    Palestinians are attracted to these notions because they yearn for divine intervention, some external force that will turn the tables on the Jews.

Bringing Sacrifices to Temple Mount Is Barred by Israel's Chief Rabbinate (Times of Israel)
    Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, the Chief Rabbi of the Western Wall, on Friday reiterated that "bringing a sacrifice to the Temple Mount is contrary to the Chief Rabbinate of Israel's ruling."
    Rabinovitch noted it was forbidden to bring animals to the Western Wall plaza.
    See also Samaritans Carry Out Passover Sacrifice in West Bank (Jerusalem Post)
    Around 800 Samaritans live in Israel and in Samaria in the West Bank. Every Passover, they sacrifice 40 sheep in a traditional ceremony on Mount Gerizim in Samaria, and they performed the ceremony on Thursday night.
    The Samaritan Passover is believed to have been observed for more than 2,000 years.
    This tradition ceased among the Jewish people with the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE.

Report: Bashar al-Assad's Brother Killed Hizbullah Leaders in Syria - Charly Azar (Sawt Beirut International-Lebanon)
    Observers of the Syrian war have revealed that Maher al-Assad, the brother of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who commands the Fourth Division, killed a large number of Hizbullah's strongest leaders who had gained great military experience and high-precision training by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.
    They added that those related to the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri were assassinated one after the other.
    Maher al-Assad operated in cooperation with a Russian unit that specialized in monitoring the movements of the Hizbullah leaders.

Moody's Upgrades Israel's Outlook to Positive, Affirms A1 Rating (Reuters)
    Global ratings agency Moody's on April 8 upgraded Israel's outlook to "positive" from "stable" and affirmed its sovereign credit rating at "A1."
    Israel's economy grew 8.2% in 2021, above forecasts by the country's central bank, after a 20.2% contraction in 2020 due to the corona epidemic.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israel Targets Iranian Militias in Syria
    Israel targeted groups loyal to Iran and the Palestinian Liberation Army southwest of Damascus last week. Syrian Observatory for Human Rights head Rami Abdel Rahman said Israel clearly knows everything about the Iranians in Syria and has many spies deployed among the Syrian regime, Hizbullah, and Iranian-backed militias. "The spies provide it with information about their movements, warehouses and missiles."  (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
        See also Israel Targets Advanced Iranian Weapons in Syria
    Al-Arabiya sources reported Thursday that Israeli raids in Syria targeted newly arrived Iranian air defense batteries, a shipment of advanced Iranian drones, and a radar system. (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights-UK)
  • University of British Columbia Rejects BDS Movement - Dion J. Pierre
    The University of British Columbia (UBC) in Canada has condemned a recent student union vote to divest from nine companies doing business in Israel. On Tuesday, UBC President Santa J. Ono affirmed that the university "cannot support" the student union motion.
        "Positions on complex geo-political issues that protect human rights are best made by guarding academic freedom and freedom of expression in an environment that supports constructive and respectful debate. But constructive and respectful debate cannot occur when members of one group are made to feel personally attacked for their identity or where tolerance and inclusiveness are not fostered in productive discourse," Ono said. (Algemeiner)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Palestinian Rioters Attack Jewish Worshippers at Western Wall in Jerusalem
    Early Friday morning after Ramadan prayers, dozens of young Arabs on the Temple Mount fired fireworks and threw stones toward the Jewish prayer space at the Western Wall below. Israeli forces responded to break up the violent crowd. (Ynet News)
        See also Video: Arabs Riot on Temple Mount in Jerusalem (AFP)
        See also below Commentary: The "Al-Aqsa Is in Danger" Libel
  • Police Re-enter Temple Mount after Arabs Gather Rocks to Throw at Jews
    Israeli police entered the Temple Mount complex on Sunday morning as hundreds of Palestinians - many of them masked - were stockpiling rocks and iron bars to use to prevent non-Muslims from touring the compound. "Alongside the visits, freedom of worship will continue to be fully preserved for the worshipers on the Temple Mount," the police said. Non-Muslims can only visit the Temple Mount during certain hours and are barred from praying at the site, which is the holiest in Judaism. (Times of Israel)
  • Bus Carrying Jews to Temple Mount on Passover Targeted by Arab Rock-Throwers, 5 Injured - Efrat Forsher
    Arab rioters pelted three buses carrying Jews to the Western Wall with rocks on Sunday morning, smashing windows and injuring five. (Israel Hayom)
  • Video: Jewish Worshippers Attacked in Jerusalem's Old City
    Three Jewish worshipers wearing prayer shawls were walking in Jerusalem's Old City on Sunday when rioters suddenly attacked them, threw large objects at them, punched and kicked them, and then fled the scene. Two suspects were arrested by Israeli police. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israeli Arab Teen Stabs Jewish Man in Haifa - Michel Makhoul
    An Israeli Arab teenager, 15, attacked a Jewish man in Haifa on Friday in a city park. The man said he was walking when he sustained a sudden blow to the head. "I saw it was a big rock. I turned around and saw a girl standing there, with a keffiyeh wrapped around her face, holding a knife....I fell on my back....I started to fight her off by kicking, which is why I have a wound on my leg....Two Arab guys arrived and talked to her, and tried to stop her."
        According to a senior police official, when her father learned about his daughter's plan, he called the police and reported her. He told the police his daughter had wanted to "hurt Jews." (Israel Hayom)
  • Attempted Attack on West Bank Jewish Community Thwarted
    On Saturday morning a lookout at the Jewish community of Beit El spotted a Palestinian man, 21, attempting to climb over the perimeter fence at 11 a.m. A local security guard apprehended the man, who was carrying a knife. He told investigators he had planned to carry out a terror attack, Channel 13 reported. (Times of Israel)
  • Palestinian ISIS Supporter Admits to 2019 Murder of Jerusalem Couple
    Wasim a-Sayed, 34, a Palestinian from Hebron who swore allegiance to Islamic State, has confessed to the 2019 murder of Yehuda and Tamar Kaduri in their apartment in Jerusalem's Armon Hanatziv neighborhood, the Israel Police revealed on Thursday. He is also suspected of the murder of Ivan Tarnowski, 37, a Moldovan citizen, who was stabbed on March 21, 2022, in the Arnona neighborhood of Jerusalem. (i24News)
        See also Palestinian ISIS Supporter: "I Looked for Jewish Victims"
    Wasim a-Sayed told investigators, "I decided that I will murder Jews but I won't tell anyone about it. It will only be between myself and my God. I decided that the Islamic State is my path. I looked for Jewish victims. I wanted to murder a man or a woman," Channel 13 reported. He went to Jerusalem, in an area where he had previously worked, to look for targets, and attacked a 14-year-old girl in a building stairwell. A-Sayed attempted to slit her throat, but the collar of her shirt saved her.
        A day later, he saw Yehuda Kaduri, 71, unloading groceries from his car. A-Sayed said, "The moment I saw him go out again to get the grocery bags, I went into the apartment. I went into the bedroom, murdered the woman, and hid in the apartment." Yehuda found a-Sayed in the apartment, the two fought, and a-Sayed killed the older man. After the murders, a-Sayed stayed in the apartment overnight. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:

    The "Al-Aqsa Is in Danger" Libel

  • Palestinians and Israeli Arabs Incited to "Protect Al-Aqsa Mosque from Passover Sacrifice" - Nir Hasson
    The intense clashes Friday morning on Jerusalem's Temple Mount were almost inevitable after rumors on social media that Jews were planning to come to the site and offer a Passover sacrifice spread like wildfire. Over the last few days, Israel has tried to broadcast to Palestinians that they have nothing to worry about. Indeed, Israeli police rushed to arrest several members of a fringe group that discussed such a move. But the rumors about this apparent threat to Al-Aqsa gained steam among many young Palestinians and Israeli Arabs. There were also those who worked to stoke the fears of the Palestinians.
        On Thursday night, dozens of buses with Arabs from Israel's north arrived in Jerusalem, apparently under the guidance of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement. By morning there were already thousands at the site, who began to chant and throw stones towards the Mughrabi Bridge, endangering Jewish worshippers below at the Western Wall.
        The police could have locked the young people in the mosque and left, but feared they would break out and throw stones at the Western Wall. Police were also concerned that the concentration of young people in the mosque would severely disrupt the Muslim noon prayer on Friday. So after several hours of skirmishes, police forces broke into the mosque and detained everyone inside - 470 people - nearly all of whom were later released. Police then withdrew from the mosque to allow Palestinians to clean it and prepare for noon prayers, which were attended by thousands of worshipers from the West Bank. There were no further violent incidents.
        This year, no Passover sacrifice was made on the Temple Mount, nor has there been one for 1,952 years. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel: Temple Mount Riots Were Organized - Elior Levy
    The violent clashes on the Temple Mount on Friday and Sunday were not spontaneous. The scope of violence required advance preparation. Many of the rioters are residents of eastern Jerusalem and call themselves the gang of al-Aqsa. Their numbers are in the hundreds. According to sources, they are led by Nihad Zreiyer, 43, who is close to Fatah. The group is funded by the Palestinian Authority, local residents, and funding from Turkey. They smuggled fireworks, rocks and other objects to hurl at the police into the mosque compound over several days and stored them in several locations. (Ynet News)
  • The Defenders of Al-Aqsa Are Desecrating It, Just Look at Their Feet - David Horovitz
    Tens of thousands of Palestinian Muslim worshippers, including many from the West Bank, gathered at the Al-Aqsa compound atop the Temple Mount, said their midday prayers, and headed quietly back home again on Friday. The young Palestinians who rioted hours earlier, by contrast, had come to fight.
        Media showed that the stone-throwers who barricaded themselves inside Al-Aqsa Mosque had their shoes on - in breach of the Islamic tradition to remove footwear when entering the house of prayer. (Times of Israel)
  • Al-Aqsa Mosque Is Not under Threat - Nadav Shragai
    For over a week, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority have been telling the public that "Al-Aqsa is under threat." They're knowingly lying, just as they did in the past. The Jordanians know full well who is behind the disturbances on the Temple Mount. They know that Israel went above and beyond to avoid the events that took place, but they "must" blame us when it comes to Al-Aqsa to avoid domestic unrest in the kingdom.
        Israel did not invade Al-Aqsa as the Palestinians claim. It acted like a law-abiding country and took minimal, sensitive, and considerate action against rioters who turned the third holiest site in Islam and the holiest site in Judaism into a weapon for the millionth time, to try and destroy what remains of the fragile coexistence between Jews and Arabs. We must also tell the Jewish, Israeli truth about the Temple Mount, a place where existential changes to the status quo have been made by the Muslim and not the Jewish side. (Israel Hayom)
        See also The "Al-Aqsa Is in Danger" Libel: The History of a Lie - Nadav Shragai (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Israel Cannot Allow Rioters to Desecrate Temple Mount - Editorial
    The Palestinian rioters who threw rocks and fireworks at police and on Jewish worshipers gathered at the Western Wall below the Mount did not go to the al-Aqsa compound for a spiritual Ramadan experience. The Muslims who stockpiled rocks, logs, and fireworks in al-Aqsa prepared for a riot, not for prayers - to bombard Jewish worshipers who had come to pray at the Western Wall at the start of the Passover holiday.
        Stockpiling rocks and weapons in a mosque is a desecration. Israel cannot allow a minority of violent rioters to desecrate the holy site. Anyone who supports freedom of religion and truly cares about the Temple Mount should condemn the Arab rioters, not the police. (Jerusalem Post)

In Every Generation They Rise Up to Destroy Us - Warren Goldstein (Jerusalem Post)
  • The recent murderous attacks in Israel had no specific political objective other than to murder Jews. They followed the general objective issued in countless public statements and enshrined in the Hamas charter: the eradication of the Jewish state and the elimination of Jews from every inch of Israel.
  • There is a word for violent, unprovoked attacks against innocent Jews going about their ordinary lives: pogrom. But unlike the situation in late 19th-century Russia, when Jews relied on the czar's good graces for protection, today we can defend ourselves, thank God. These terrorists are modern-day Cossacks, and they are not perpetrating terrorist attacks with clear political objectives but pogroms.
  • Theodor Herzl, who helped form the modern Zionist movement, believed that if Jews, the only nation in Europe without a country of their own, could only have their state, it would end the hatred. But it didn't. The bitter irony is that the Jewish state has become the new focus of anti-Semitic hatred.
  • How is it possible that this country, on a sliver of land smaller than New Jersey, has been the target of more UN Human Rights Council resolutions than the rest of the world combined? The only country in the world with a global movement denying its right to exist. How can it be that within living memory of the Holocaust, there is a new credible threat to obliterate another six million Jews, only this time with a single detonation?
  • For generations, Jews have understood the biblical prediction: "Vehi sheamda" - "In every generation they rise up to destroy us" - which we recall every year on Passover. We must sing those words on Seder night not with fear or sadness or bitterness. Instead, we should feel the pride of the generations of brave Jews who came before us, and hand these truths to our children so they will know who they are, so they will know our enemies and not fear them.

    The writer is Chief Rabbi of South Africa.

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