Israel and Palestinian Territories in April 2023
3 April 2023
- Israeli Air Force Downs Unidentified Aircraft Crossing into Israeli Airspace from Syria (Times of Israel). The military said that air force combat helicopters and planes downed an unidentified aircraft that appeared to have crossed into Israeli airspace from Syria on Sunday. The incident came amid escalating tensions between Israel and Iran related to Iran’s presence on Israel’s northern border and after a series of airstrikes attributed to Israel in Syria. Around an hour after the incursion, Syrian media reported explosions at an airport near Damascus but did not blame Israel.
- Netanyahu Tells UK Israel Will Respond To Iran’s 90% Uranium Enrichment (Iran International). A senior Israeli official, who accompanied Netanyahu on his trip to London on Friday, informed Iran International that the Israeli prime minister told UK’s Rishi Sunak that “military attacks on nuclear facilities in Iran are not the only solution for Israel, and this country is considering other solutions to stop Iran.”
- Fear of Confrontations During Easter, A Request from the Churches of Jerusalem to Israel (AFP). On Friday, the leading Christian churches in Jerusalem called on the Israeli authorities to “cooperate” to ensure security and religious freedoms for Christians in the Holy Land with the advent of Easter, expressing concern about the recent “escalation of violence.” Al Sharq Al Awsat reported that Israel had thwarted a plan to attack a police bus in Jerusalem supposed to be carried out by a HAMAS member after receiving instructions from one of the movement’s activities in Lebanon.
- Dozens of Settlers Entered Al-Aqsa Mosque Courtyard While Israeli Forces Expelled Muslim Worshipers (Al Sharq Al Awsat). The Islamic Endowments Department in Jerusalem reported that on Sunday morning, dozens of settlers stormed the courtyards of Al-Aqsa Mosque from the Mughrabi Gate, with heavy security from the Israeli police, who forcibly removed the Muslim seclusions from the mosque and removed young men from the path of the incursions.
- In Gesture of Goodwill, Israel Will Increase Work Permits for Palestinians from Gaza (Elaph). The security system in Israel is considering increasing the number of those who have the right to enter Israel to work from the Gaza Strip. The number of regular work permits may reach about fifty thousand in the coming months. An informed Israeli security source indicated that the number could be increased as well, which contributes to improving the economic situation of the residents of the Gaza Strip.
- Israeli Government Approves Ben-Gvir’s Proposal to Form National Guard (Jerusalem Post). The government on Sunday approved a proposal by National Security Minister MK Itamar Ben-Gvir to form a National Guard that would operate independently of the Israel Police in different emergency scenarios, fight terror, and apply sovereignty in “areas where this is necessary.”
- Israeli Minister Says Government Will Restart Judicial Reform After Passover (Jerusalem Post). Transportation Minister Miri Regev told the Likud publication Melukadim on Sunday that immediately after the Passover break, the government would continue to move forward with the judicial reforms. She even claimed that “Netanyahu paused [legislation] to allow for negotiation, but if there will be none, we will bring it [back up] for reconfirmation.”
4 April 2023
- Hamas Sentences Two People to Death on Charges of Collaborating with Israel (AFP). The Supreme Military Court in Gaza said it had issued “final rulings against six collaborators with the occupation in six pending cases.” Last year witnessed an increase in the issuance of death sentences in the Gaza Strip, reaching 17 verdicts, which raises the number of death sentences issued since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority to at least 270, 240 of which were in the Gaza Strip alone, according to Palestinian human rights centers.
- Netanyahu Is Looking for a Right-Wing Soldier to Lead Ben Gvir’s “Militia.” (Al Sharq Al Awsat). The sources said that one of the strongest candidates for the position is Gal Hirsch, a former senior army officer and member of the Likud leadership who is facing trial on charges of arms trafficking with internationally banned parties.
5 April 2023
- Iran’s Supreme Ruler Tweets About the Palestinian Resistance Gaining Strength (Twitter). Khamenei wrote on his Arabic Twitter account that he received a report within 24 hours that Palestinians carried out 27 attacks in Israel.
- Several Major Israeli Universities Suffer Cyberattack (Israel 24). The websites of several major Israeli universities were subjected to a cyberattack on Tuesday by a group of hackers calling themselves “Anonymous Sudan.” The University of Haifa, the Weizmann Institute of Science, the Open University of Israel, and Reichmann University are among the inaccessible sites.
6 April 2023
- IDF Chief: ‘We can carry out an attack on Iran even without the USA’ (i24 News). IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi said Wednesday that Israel can – and is ready to – carry out a preemptive attack on Iran, even without the help of the United States, in an interview with the IDF’s army radio. “We are ready to act against Iran. The Israeli army has the ability to strike both in distant countries and near home. In the coming years, the IDF will significantly strengthen its capabilities for a [pre-emptive strike on Iran] and, despite the distance, such a strike will be overwhelming,” he said.
- Clashes Reported Between Palestinians and Police in al-Aqsa (Jerusalem Post). For the second night in a row, Palestinians clashed with police on the Temple Mount, while riots erupted at multiple protests across Israel. In addition, Al-Quds Brigades, the military arm of the Islamic Jihad terror group, took responsibility for launching two rockets against Israel from Gaza during Passover Seder.
- For the Second Night, Israeli Forces Assaulted Worshipers (Al Jazeera). On Wednesday evening, for the second night, Israeli forces stormed the courtyards of the Al-Aqsa mosque before the end of Tarawih prayers, assaulted the worshipers, and began to evacuate those in retreat forcefully.
April 13, 2023
1. Israel is Closer to War than Calm, IDF Intel Warns the Government (Jerusalem Post). The IDF’s Military Intelligence Directorate warned the political echelon in recent days that war is closer than calm…According to intel estimates, security tensions will not disappear after the end of the month of Ramadan, and the security trend could lead to war…Additionally, Israel’s enemies recognized the United States’ withdrawal from the Middle East, which included removing advanced aircraft from the region and replacing them with less advanced aircraft. This change affects Israeli deterrence, alongside the growing American preoccupation with China and Russia. Also, the intelligence estimates that Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, decided a year ago to respond to Israel’s actions against the regime in Tehran. According to the estimates, the Iranian leader demands a response to the assassinations and attacks attributed to Israel, and therefore the Iranians are making an effort to move the terrorist activities into Israel and not stay on the borders.
14 April 2023
- Israel Must Prepare for War with Iran Without US Help, Former NSA Chief Says (Times of Israel). “Iran is more sure of itself. It has managed to sign several agreements with Arab states. As a result, the world is starting to look different,” [Yaacov Amidror] said, referring to the recent agreements by the UAE and Saudi Arabia to restore diplomatic ties with Tehran. “With all that, the chances of a [security] deterioration are greater,” said Amidror, a hawkish former general who served as Nation Security Council chief under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from 2011-2013.
- Israel Seeks US Support for IDF Buildup as Experts Predict Iran Strike (Jerusalem Post). On Thursday, top Israeli defense official Eyal Zamir sought United States support to bolster IDF forces as a security expert predicted that Israel might have to strike Iran within the year to halt its nuclear program…[Zamir] spoke after a meeting with US Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl in Washington, which took place as Israel remains in danger of an immediate war on one or all of three borders – Gaza, Lebanon, and Syria – after rockets were launched during the last week against Israel from all three fronts.
- Secretary-General of Palestinian Islamic Jihad Visits Iraq, Vows to Expel Zionist Invaders from Palestine (Abu Ali Express). Ziyad al-Nakhlah, who arrived in Baghdad last night, met today with former Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi, and with Iran’s ambassador to Iraq. Al-Nakhlah delivered a speech from the virtual stage of the Iranian-backed “International Jerusalem Day,” during which he praised the entire Arab nation for uniting against Israel and also praised the Palestinian people.
18 April 2023
- Lindsey Graham Tells Netanyahu U.S. Working for Saudi-Israeli Normalization (i24 News). “We want normalization and peace with Saudi Arabia. We view that as perhaps a giant leap towards ending the Arab-Israeli conflict,” Netanyahu told Graham. “This agreement could have monumental consequences, historic consequences both for Israel, Saudi Arabia, the region, and the world.”
- China Ready to Facilitate Middle East Peace: State Media (Al-Monitor). China’s foreign minister told his Israeli and Palestinian counterparts his country is ready to help facilitate peace talks, state media Xinhua reported Tuesday.
19 April 2023
- Saudi Crown Prince MBS and Palestinian President Abbas Review Developments in the Palestinian Territories (Al Akhabria). During the meeting, both leaders reviewed the latest developments. They emphasized the continuation of the efforts exerted to guarantee the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people to establish their independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital, in accordance with the Arab Peace Initiative and relevant international resolutions.
- Top HAMAS Leader Visited Saudi Arabia for the First Time Since 2015 (Al Jazeera). A leading delegation from the “Hamas” movement performed Umrah during its visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the first since 2015. The Hamas delegation is headed by Ismail Haniyeh, head of the movement’s political bureau. The delegation includes Khaled Meshaal, head of the movement abroad, and political bureau members Musa Abu Marzouq and Khalil al-Hayyah, among others. The Hamas delegation’s visit to Saudi Arabia coincides with a visit by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
- About 300,000 Worshipers Celebrate the Twenty-Seventh Night of Ramadan at Al-Aqsa Mosque (Al Quds). Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in the West Bank and Jerusalem and its environs flocked to Al-Aqsa Mosque to practice the night-long religious retreat. [Editor’s Note: a large number of worshipers attended the Al Aqsa mosque despite allegations of aggressive behavior by Israeli security forces.]
- Son of Iran’s Shah Pahlavi Arrives in Israel on Controversial Visit (Al-Monitor). Announcing his visit to Israel on Sunday, Reza Pahlavi touted his message of seeking to overthrow Iran’s rulers. “I want the people of Israel to know that the Islamic Republic does not represent the Iranian people,” he said. Over the years, he had expressed his support for normalizing ties with Israel and also his support of the 2020 Abraham Accords.
20 April 2023
- Israel’s Foreign Minister Lands in Turkmenistan in Historic Visit (Jerusalem Post). This is the first visit to Turkmenistan in 29 years by an Israeli foreign minister since the two countries established relations in the 1990s. Israel’s Foreign Ministry said, “Foreign Minister Eli Cohen will inaugurate the Israeli embassy in Turkmenistan, located 17 kilometers from the border with Iran. Foreign Minister Cohen is expected to hold policy meetings with the president and senior ministers.”
- ‘The Galilee Forces – The Lone Wolves,’ A Palestinian Organization Linked To HizbAllah, Makes Dubious Claims Of Responsibility For Terrorist Attacks In Israel, Incites Attacks (Memri). On March 13, 2023, an unknown Palestinian group calling itself “The Galilee Forces – The Lone Wolves” posted an announcement on its Telegram channel claiming responsibility for an IED attack that had occurred that day at the Megiddo Junction in northern Israel…The statement generated interest because, according to the Israeli media, Israeli security forces believe that the perpetrator infiltrated the country from Lebanon and was in some way affiliated with Hizballah.
- “Axios”: Israeli Fears of the End of the Normalization Process with Sudan (Al Mayaseen). According to Axios, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been involved in recent years in the process of normalization with the head of the Sudanese Sovereignty Council, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan. It was also noted that “Mossad is in communication with the deputy head of the Sudanese Sovereignty Council, Muhammad Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti.” Israeli Foreign Ministry officials have also spoken with Al-Burhan, while Mossad officials have contacted Hemedti.
- IDF Hits Hizballah Sites in Southern Syria, Then Drops Flyers (Times Of Israel). The Israel Defense Forces dropped threatening pamphlets in southern Syria on Wednesday, warning Syrian soldiers to stop cooperating with Hezbollah, an opposition journalist reported, hours after Israel reportedly conducted artillery strikes on sites belonging to the Iran-backed group.
- Israeli Drone Crashes inside Syria Following IDF Shelling of Regime Positions in Quneitra (Syria TV). According to a statement by an Israeli army spokesperson, a “sky passenger” drone crashed at night in Syrian territory due to technical issues, with an assurance that there is no risk of information leakage… Meanwhile, according to the local network As-Suwayda ANS, Israeli artillery shelled Iranian positions in Quneitra in response to Iranian militias monitoring Israeli movements in the occupied Golan.
- Israeli Professor Wanted for Arms Dealing Goes Missing before US Extradition (Jerusalem Post). Israeli professor Gal Luft, who is wanted by US authorities for arms dealing, has gone missing in Cyprus after a Larnaca court had released him on bail, Cypriot website Philenews reported on Wednesday
21 April 2023
- Gallant: Iran gives Hezbollah $700m a year, is ‘driving force’ of current escalation (The Times of Israel). Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Thursday said in a briefing that Iran funds the Hezbollah terror group in Lebanon with $700 million a year, as well as “knowledge and strategic weaponry” such as precision-guided munitions. The Hamas terror group that rules the Gaza Strip is funded by Iran with $100 million annually, with additional funding worth tens of millions of dollars going to the second largest terror group in the Palestinian enclave, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Gallant said.
- Pledged Israeli measures to boost cash-strapped PA back on track after delay (The Times of Israel). A series of small Israeli measures aimed at financially boosting the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority are now in place after over a month-long delay, a senior National Security Council official told The Times of Israel on Thursday. The top official said that Israeli authorities this week granted final approval to lower the handling fee Jerusalem charges Ramallah for fuel transfers from three percent to 1.5%; raise the percentage of revenues it transfers to Ramallah from the fees it collects from travelers at the Allenby border crossing between the West Bank and Jordan, and expand the list of tax-free imports that it facilitates on the PA’s behalf.
- Israelis, Palestinians Share West Bank Iftar ‘to End Hatred’ (Arab News). South of Bethlehem, Palestinian Territories: Dozens gathered in the occupied West Bank to break the fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, but the food is kosher, and Israelis are honoring a Palestinian guest.
- After the “David’s Sling”… Israel seeks to sell the “Sahm 3” system to Germany (Sky News Arabia). On Thursday, the Israeli Ministry of Defense announced that it had begun talks to sell an advanced missile defense system to Germany, a month after it sold David’s Sling missile system to Finland, a move that could draw Russia’s attention in the midst of the Ukraine war.
24 April 2023
- Israel Arrests Jordanian MP for Trying to Smuggle 200 Guns into West Bank (Times of Israel). Israel arrested a Jordanian parliamentarian on suspicion of smuggling over 200 guns and gold into the West Bank, Jordan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement Sunday. According to Jordan’s Ammon news outlet, the arrest occurred Sunday morning at the Allenby Bridge border crossing as MP Imad al-Adwan was heading into Israel by car. Israel’s Foreign Ministry declined to comment on the episode.
- Israeli-Ukrainian Volunteer Captured, Killed by Russian Forces in Bakhmut (Jerusalem Post). Oleksandr Dubovik, whose call sign was Partyzan, was reportedly killed on December 23 after being seriously wounded and captured by Russian soldiers in Zaitseve, in the Bakhmut region. As per the Ukrainian report, Dubovik was born in Dnipro before making aliyah to Israel.
- Israel’s Security Chiefs Split on Supporting Sudan’s Burhan, Hemedti (Al-Monitor). A top Israeli diplomatic official told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity that Israel was still undecided about its role in the conflict. “The problem with Israeli involvement is that we have not decided whom we support, and we are playing a double game, helping both Burhan and Dagalo.”
25 April 2023
- Netanyahu Meets with Democrats as He Looks to Buck Notion of Strained US Ties (Times of Israel). The meeting with the 12-member delegation of American congressional Democrats led by House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries took place in Jerusalem against the backdrop of polling showing waning popularity for the longtime Israeli leader among both parties in Washington.
- Israel to Supply Azerbaijan with Satellites in $120 Million Deal (Al-Monitor). Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen confirmed Monday that Israel Aerospace Industries would supply Azerbaijan with two satellites at $120 million.
26 April 2023
- Israel Ushers in 75th Independence Day in Shadow of Political Upheaval (Times of Israel). Israel marked its 75th Independence Day on Tuesday under the pall of societal fissures exposed by the hardline government’s controversial policies, with a national ceremony in Jerusalem and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urging unity. At the same time, protesters demonstrated outside the main event, and the coalition’s opponents held a dueling rally in Tel Aviv.
- Israel’s Population Almost 10 Million, No Longer a Small Country (Jerusalem Post). This is important because it has been a small Middle Eastern country. It was a country under siege by enemies, surrounded by larger states.
27 April 2023
- Unusual American Declaration of Support for Israel Does Not Include the Two-state Vision (Haaretz). American lawmakers, Republicans, and Democrats issued a statement yesterday (Tuesday) on the occasion of Israel’s 75th Independence Day, which unusually did not include an explicit reference to the Palestinians and the vision of the two states. Nevertheless, 401 lawmakers supported approving the declaration, and 18 Democratic congressmen voted against it, as well as one Republican congressman.
- The Commander of U.S. Central Command, GEN Michael Kurilla, Landed in Israel (IDF Twitter). As the guest of IDF Chief of the General Staff LTG Herzi Halevi, GEN Kurilla will conduct meetings with Israeli senior defense officials on Thursday.
- Netanyahu’s Facebook Hacked Amid Independence Day Cyberattacks (i24). According to Israeli cybersecurity companies, Israel has suffered numerous cyberattacks claimed by Anonymous Sudan, which is believed to be linked to Russia and not to the Palestinians, as the group claims, or Iranians that were previously attacking Israel. In addition, Netanyahu’s Facebook page was filled with Quranic verses in Arabic script, yet it was quickly restored to normal.