Israel and Palestinian Territories in June 2023
- Israel’s DM Gallant Meets U.S. CENTCOM Commander Kurilla (i24 News). The defense minister, alongside IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi, presented the military achievements of the recent Operation “Shield and Arrow” in Gaza.
- At Least 10 Palestinians Wounded by Israeli Settlers Attack Near Nablus, Jenin (New Arab). According to the Palestinian news agency Wafa, at least ten Palestinians were injured on Wednesday during an Israeli settlers’ attack on the village of Jaloud, south of the occupied West Bank city of Nablus.
- Israel to Conduct Navy Drills Near Border with Lebanon (New Arab). Israel said it will conduct naval drills on the border with Lebanon Wednesday evening. “A military manoeuvre will take place this evening in the maritime area in the north of the country,” the Israeli army said in a statement.
- Condemnation and Anger after Israel’s Decision to Convert the Citadel of Jerusalem into a David Museum (Al Jazeera). Palestinian authorities condemned the occupation’s decision to convert the historic Citadel of Jerusalem, which is located near the Hebron Gate area in the Old City, into the so-called “David Citadel” museum, stressing that this is a flagrant attack on the city’s history and falsification of historical facts.
- Israeli Strikes in Syria Said to Target Training Base for Hizballah’s Golan Force (Times of Israel). Airstrikes in the Damascus area attributed to Israel earlier this week targeted a Hezbollah terror group training base, according to an Israeli television report on Wednesday.
- Israel Slams UN Atomic Watchdog for Closing Iran Investigation (Times of Israel). Israel blasts the closure of an International Atomic Energy Agency investigation into a suspicious Iranian site, calling it “a matter of great concern.”
- Three Israeli Soldiers Killed on Egyptian Border Laid to Rest on Sunday (Jerusalem Post). The funerals of the three soldiers who were killed by an Egyptian police officer at the Israeli-Egyptian border on Saturday, were held on Sunday afternoon.
- Israeli Knesset Members Call to Change Egypt Open Fire Rules After Attack (Jerusalem Post). Knesset members called to change the IDF rules of engagement in the Egyptian border region on Saturday night, in response to the terrorist attack by an Egyptian border guard that killed three Israeli soldiers.
- Casting Wary Eye on IAEA, Israel Fears US is Laying Groundwork for New Iran Deal (Times Of Israel). Signs are pointing in a worrying direction for Israel. A smattering of reports, meetings and an announcement appear to indicate that the US is moving toward a new deal with Iran over its nuclear program, and Israeli officials have broadcast fears that Washington is bowing to key demands from Tehran to finalize the pact.
- Two Delegations from Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Cairo to Discuss Truce (Alarabiya). Today, Sunday, two delegations from the Hamas and Islamic Jihad movements arrived in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, to discuss political issues and files related to calm, reconciliation, and developments in the occupied territories…Egypt had succeeded in reaching a truce agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Jihad movement, following clashes that took place in May.
- Israeli Energy Minister Opposes Idea of Civilian Saudi Nuclear Program (Jerusalem Post). Israel’s energy minister voiced opposition on Monday to the idea of Saudi Arabia developing a civilian nuclear program as part of any US-mediated forging of relations between the countries…Pointing to precedents like Iraq and Libya, Israel has long worried that potentially hostile neighbors could use civilian nuclear energy and other projects developed under the 1970 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as cover for clandestine bomb-making.
- All of Israel would unite to support a strike on Iran – Gantz (Jerusalem Post). All of Israel will match if a strike against Iran is needed, National Unity leader Benny Gantz said at The Jerusalem Post Annual Conference in New York on Monday…“As an opposition leader, I want to emphasize this message: We will do whatever it takes to prevent an existential threat to the State of Israel. We know such action might come at a great cost, but, as always in these matters, all of Israel’s leadership and people will unite,” he stated, adding that such unity is “imperative”…Gantz added: “We cannot allow tactical actions or internal politics to hinder our security.”
- UN Nuclear Chief Rebuffs Israeli Criticism on Iran, Says Agency Fair But Firm (Times of Israel). The International Atomic Energy Agency will “never politicize” its work in Iran, the head of the UN nuclear watchdog says, insisting after Israel’s prime minister accused it of capitulating to Iranian pressure that his agency has been “very fair but firm.”
- Israel-Egypt security cooperation rattled but steady after the border attack (Al Monitor). Israeli security experts believe that the strategic partnership with Egypt will not be harmed by a deadly incident on Saturday morning when an Egyptian police officer crossed the border fence and killed three Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers on Israeli territory.
- Drone Taxis Take First Test Spin in Israel in Bid to Ease Traffic Congestion (Times of Israel). Israel has started test flights of autonomous aircraft that can carry passengers and heavy cargo as the country prepares its national airspace for air taxi transportation and multiple drone delivery services.
- Israeli Arab Killed in Third Shooting in 24 Hours (Jerusalem Post). An Israeli Arab man named Khaled Halabi was killed in a shooting in the village of Khawaled in northern Israel on Monday, according to Israel Police.
- United States Urges Israeli Military to Reassess Use of Lethal Force After Killing a Palestinian Child (Times of Israel). On Tuesday, the United States urged Israel to investigate its use of lethal force during military operations among civilians, a day after a two-year-old Palestinian boy was accidentally shot dead by Israeli troops during a crossfire in the West Bank last week.
- Israel Threatens to “Bomb Lebanon Into Stone Age” if Hezbollah Starts War (Nahar Net). Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has threatened to bomb Hezbollah and Lebanon “into the stone age” if the Lebanese, Iran-backed group “makes a mistake” and “starts a war against Israel.”
- OECD Projects More Moderate Growth for Israel, Citing Judicial Overhaul Tensions Risk (Times of Israel). International economic organization slightly lowers Israeli GDP forecast to 2.9% in 2023 and 3.3% in 2024, notes underperformance of shekel and local stock market.
- For the Second Time in Months, Israeli Finance Minister Smotrich is Boycotted During Visit to France (Aljazeera). Israeli newspapers said – today, Wednesday – that French officials and leaders of major Jewish organizations in France boycotted Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich during his visit to Paris because of his extremist positions that sparked angry international reactions.
- Tens of Thousands March in Tel Aviv’s 25th Annual Pride Parade (Times of Israel). More than 150,000 revelers marched on Thursday in the 25th annual Tel Aviv Pride Parade, kicking off a weekend of festivities in the largest event of its kind in the Middle East.
- 5 Shot Dead in Town Near Nazareth in Apparent Gangland Massacre (Times of Israel). Five people were killed in a mass shooting Thursday in a town near Nazareth, one of the most deadly incidents of apparent criminal violence in recent years.
- US CENTCOM and Israel Team up in Joint Bomber Task Force Mission (Jerusalem Post). The Commander of US CENTCOM’s air forces, Lt.-Gen. Alex Grynkewich, on Thursday, announced that his forces had joined with coalition forces in the Middle East region, including Israel, for a Bomber Task Force mission. Grynkewich’s statement did not specifically mention Iran or any other adversary. Still, it is well-known that Israel and the US have been displaying their power projection capabilities to the Islamic Republic to deter Tehran from crossing the nuclear threshold and carrying out other destabilizing activities.
June 12, 2023
- Germany Advancing Planned Purchase of Israel’s Arrow 3 for $4.3 Billion (Times of Israel). German lawmakers will be asked to release advance payments of up to 560 million euros ($600 million) next week to secure a government-to-government deal with Israel of the Arrow 3 system at the end of the year. The Arrow 3 is Israel’s most advanced long-range missile defense system. It is meant to intercept ballistic missiles while they are still outside the atmosphere, taking out projectiles and their nuclear, biological, chemical, or conventional warheads closer to their launch sites.
- IDF Soldiers Thwart Drug Smuggling Attempt at Egyptian Border, Two Arrested (Jerusalem Post). According to the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit, an IDF soldier intercepted a group of drug smugglers at the Israeli-Egyptian border and arrested two suspects on Friday. The drugs had a total street value of approximately NIS 5 million (roughly USD 1,390,000), including a bag that contained 21 kg of marijuana with a street value of NIS 2.35 million (approximately USD 654,000) and 26 kilograms of a drug believed to be hashish, worth a further NIS 2.35 million.
- Israeli Army Gives the Green Light to Fire at Any Suspicious Egyptian Soldier Following Border Shooting (New Arab). The Israeli army has issued new, stricter instructions to its members serving at the border with Egypt to fire at any suspicious Egyptian soldier following this month’s deadly shooting, which left three Israeli troops killed.
- Israel Informs Biden Administration It Will Build 4000 New Housing Units in West Bank Settlements (Al Jazeera). Axios quoted Israeli and American officials as saying that the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu informed President Joe Biden’s administration that it intends to announce later this month the construction and planning of thousands of new housing units in Settlements in the occupied West Bank. The Palestinian Authority is calling for international pressure to prevent the division of the West Bank into two separate areas.
- New Israeli Army Intelligence Unit Prepares for Possible War with Iran (Al Jazeera). The goal of this unit is to prepare for a possible conflict between Israel and Iran. Its establishment is considered a significant step in the strategic planning of the Israeli army, as the unique nature of such a conflict requires a different approach compared to previous military operations, according to the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth.
- Abbas Arrives in Beijing for a Four-Day Visit (Elaph). Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas arrived in Beijing on Tuesday for a four-day visit, state media reported, when the Asian giant is searching for mediating roles in current conflicts in the Middle East. According to the Palestinian official news agency, Wafa, Abbas will meet with several senior Chinese officials on his fifth visit to Beijing, led by President Xi Jinping.
- Herzog Said Set to Meet Biden, Address Congress in Mid-July; Sides Do Not Confirm (The Times of Israel). Hebrew media outlets say the date will be set in the coming days, maybe July 19; the invitation was extended during the president’s trip to Washington last year; offices say nothing has been set.
- Israeli Army Investigation Holds Border Division Commander Accountable for Terrorist Killing of Israeli Soldiers (Al Jazeera). The results of the Israeli army’s investigation into the killing of 3 of its soldiers by an Egyptian policeman near the Al-Awja or Nitsana border crossing with Egypt on the third of June concluded that there were what it called “several failures” in combat readiness on the border with Egypt…For his part, the Chief of Staff of the Israeli Army, Herzi Halevi, imposed sanctions on a number of army officers working in the Southern Command, and decided to hold the commander of the 80th Military Division operating on the border with Egypt responsible for the killing of Israeli soldiers.
- Opposition Knesset Member Wins Judicial Selection Committee Seat in Crucial Vote (The Jerusalem Post). Yesh Atid MK Karin Elharrar was chosen to represent the opposition in the Judicial Selection Committee after the Knesset voted 58-56 in her favor in a dramatic day of voting in the Knesset…The judicial reform negotiations at the President’s Residence are on the brink of collapse after the fateful vote for the second Knesset representatives on the Judicial Selection Committee was postponed for a month following a dramatic morning on Wednesday in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the leaders of coalition parties tried to find a way out of a complex political crisis.
- Netanyahu Chose War Against Democracy, Israeli Protest Leaders Say After Knesset Vote (The Jerusalem Post). The anti-judicial reform protest movements said on Wednesday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chose a “war against democracy” after his coalition delayed a vote on the Judicial Selection Committee, but not before allowing opposition MK Karin Elharrar to win a seat in the coveted committee…” Netanyahu decided to destroy the country – only the public can save Israel from a dark dictatorship,” said the protest movements. “Today it became clear that Netanyahu is trying to seize the committee and appoint judges of his liking…we will fight this on every front and come out victorious.”
- Israel Records $12.5 Billion in Defense Exports, 25% to Arab Neighbors (The Jerusalem Post). Though the report did not name countries, it is known that the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have purchased defense products, and Morocco and Sudan are also part of the Abraham Accords…Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said, “The remarkable data unveiled by the Israeli defense establishment, reaching new heights in defense exports, showcases the State of Israel’s strength and excellent technological capabilities. Through the creativity and innovation of the Israeli defense establishment and the Ministry of Defense, we outpace our adversaries and sustain our qualitative edge.”
- Israel Set to Export Flagship Merkava Tanks to Europe (Jerusalem Post). Israel is in talks to sell its Merkava tank to two countries, one of them in Europe, in what would be the first export of the flagship fighting vehicle, a Defense Ministry official said on Thursday…Introduced after Israel’s armored corps suffered heavy losses against Egypt and Syria in a 1973 war, and to reduce reliance on foreign arms supplies, the Merkava – biblical Hebrew for “chariot” – is now in its fourth generation.
- Israel, Cyprus Make Strides Toward EastMed Undersea Electricity Cable (Al Monitor). Israel’s Energy Minister, Israel Katz, met with his visiting Cypriot counterpart, George Papanastasiou, in Jerusalem Thursday for a round of discussions on strengthening energy cooperation, particularly an initiative to connect the two countries’ electricity grids via an undersea cable.
- Foreign Minister Eli Cohen says US Bipartisan Support Will Help Expand Abraham Accords (Jerusalem Post). Foreign Minister Eli Cohen praised the passage of a bill in the US House of Representatives, creating an ambassador-level position to promote the Abraham Accords. “The US and Israel stand shoulder to shoulder in promoting peace agreements and normalization in the Middle East and the establishment of diplomatic relations with Muslim states in the world,” Cohen said.
- Coalition Members Accuse Likud Traitors After Opposition Wins Judicial Panel Seat (The Times of Israel). Several coalition members directed their fire at Netanyahu’s Likud party, the most moderate faction in the right-religious coalition, following the election of Yesh Atid MK Karine Elharrar to the Judicial Selection Committee, which nominates judges, including for the Supreme Court. Channel 12 news quoted a Likud lawmaker who said they backed Elharrar in the secret ballot amid widespread speculation that Netanyahu had sought to appease the opposition, which had threatened to pull out of talks aimed at bridging wide gaps over changes to the judiciary if no representative was put on the panel.
- How Israel Lost the Syrian Civil War (The Jerusalem Strategic Tribune). Apart from the Syrian people themselves, Israel comes out of the 12 years of civil war in Syria as the biggest loser. The survival of the Assad regime, closely allied with Iran, amounts to nothing short of an Israeli strategic failure…Israel’s short-term tactical calculations ignore the longer-term risks. Iran is determined to accept substantial losses in order to persist in its primary objective: deploying long and medium-range missiles in Syria, complete with air defense systems. So far, Iran has shied away from sending significant numbers of its own troops to Syria, preferring instead to send teams of IRGC ”advisors” to command mostly Shiite militiamen and local recruits. In the future, under a new Supreme Leader and following modernization of its air force, Teheran may be prepared to raise the stakes.
- High Court Issues Interim Injunction on Law Expanding Ben Gvir’s Power Over Police (The Times Of Israel). The High Court of Justice issued an interim injunction on Sunday against a controversial law granting National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir increased powers over the police, underscoring rising concerns about the politicization of law enforcement…According to the ruling by Justices Uzi Vogelman, Yitzhak Amit, and Yechiel Kasher, the government must respond to a petition against the legislation within 90 days. Such a ruling indicates that the court agrees in principle with the petitioners’ case against the law.
- Israel Creates Fast Track for Settlement Building, Palestinians Cancel Meeting (The Jerusalem Post). The government fast-tracked the approval process for West Bank settler homes, removing diplomatic safeguards that have been in place for almost three decades, at Sunday’s cabinet meeting…Minister for the Development of the Periphery Yitzhak Shimon Wasserlauf (RZP) lauded the amended procedure…Such a move is necessary, he said, to halt the Palestinian takeover of land in Area C of the West Bank that would “lead to the establishment of a terrorist state” in that region.
- Israeli Cabinet’s Committee on Arab Affairs Includes 18 Ministers and Only One Arab (The Times Of Israel). A committee was established by the cabinet Sunday to deal with issues relating to the Arab community — particularly the mounting epidemic of violent crime — but it will include 18 Jewish ministers, including four from the far-right Otzma Yehudit and Religious Zionism parties, and only one Arab…The Ministerial Committee for Issues in the Arab Community, headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, will include ministers Itamar Ben Gvir, Bezalel Smotrich, Orit Strock, and Yitzhak Wasserlauf.
- Intel to Invest Unprecedented $25 Billion in Chip Manufacturing Plant in Israel (The Times Of Israel). US semiconductor giant Intel Corp. has inked an agreement in principle with the Israeli government to build a chip manufacturing plant in Kiryat Gat at an investment of $25 billion…Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the Intel investment was “unprecedented” in Israel and would go toward building a chip manufacturing plant that will use the most advanced technology in the world. In 2019, Intel already held talks for investing around $10 billion into building the Kiryat Gat chip plant.
- Abbas Welcomes Chinese Mediation and Accuses US of Obstructing the Two-State Solution (Al Wahdawi). On Saturday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he welcomed “any Chinese mediation between the Palestinians and the Israelis to reach peace”…In an interview with the Chinese “CCTV” channel, Abbas said, “China’s presence at the recent Arab summit was a great indication, promising that China entered the Arab countries through the summit,” expressing his hope that this participation would continue in future summits. Abbas also expressed hope that China would play a role in the mediation process with Israel.
- Netanyahu’s Coalition Moves to Restart Overhaul, Sets Plan to Limit High Court’s Judicial Review (Times of Israel). Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hardline coalition decided on Monday to reignite its controversial plan to shake up Israel’s judiciary, setting a goal to curtail judicial review of the “reasonableness” of government decisions before the Knesset recess next month…The coalition leaders’ decision likely sounds a death knell for the stalled talks hosted by President Isaac Herzog to work towards a consensus solution.
- Fiercest Fighting in Years Erupts in the West Bank City of Jenin, At Least 5 Palestinians Killed (Associated Press). On Monday, the Israeli military raided the West Bank city of Jenin, striking the refugee camp with helicopter gunships. This has triggered the most ferocious fighting in the occupied territory in years, killing five Palestinians, including a 15-year-old boy, and wounding over 91 others, health officials said, including 12 in critical condition. Seven Israeli soldiers were also injured.
- Netanyahu Says IDF Training for Possible Fight With Arab Israelis in Wartime (The Times of Israel). Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly informed lawmakers that the IDF is training to deploy masses of soldiers to counter a possible fifth column of Arab Israelis fighting inside the country in the event of a multi-front war with enemy states.
- Israel Agreed to Give Up Sovereignty in Part of Jerusalem Old City in 2000 — Document (The Times of Israel). Israel agreed in principle to give up its sovereignty in parts of Jerusalem’s Old City, including part of the Temple Mount, during peace negotiations with the Palestinians 23 years ago, according to a newly declassified document. The Israel State Archives on Sunday published Jerusalem’s official response to then-US president Bill Clinton’s Israeli-Palestinian peace proposal in 2000, the Ynet news site reported.
- Palestinian Gunmen Kill Four Israelis Near West Bank Israeli Settlement (Reuters). Palestinian gunmen killed four people in a shooting attack near an Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday in an attack that the militant Hamas group said was a response to a raid by Israeli forces a day earlier in the flashpoint city of Jenin…As well as the four killed, Israel’s ambulance service said four more people were wounded in the attack. The Israeli military said a civilian “neutralized” one gunman.
- Top Israeli, German Defense Officials Move Forward with Sale of Israeli Missile System to Germany (Jerusalem Post). Defense Ministry Director-General Eyal Zamir met with the State Secretary of the German Federal Ministry of Defense to discuss selling the Arrow 3 missile system to Germany. German defense sources have confirmed that the country’s national security establishment is genuinely concerned about future threats from Russia and possibly even later from China. This led the German government and military to press forward to get approval to purchase the Arrow 3 from Israel and then later from the US.
- The Ties that Bind Israel, Greece, and Cyprus – Analysis (Jerusalem Post). Diplomats, experts, and academics gathered in Cyprus for the Israel-Hellenic Forum, highlighting the strategic shift and growing partnership between Israel, Greece, and Cyprus. The forum focused on shared interests and values, with energy and defense collaborations playing a significant role. The meeting emphasized the importance of geography and regional alliances, including trilateral meetings and the involvement of the US. However, challenges remain as tensions with Turkey persist over territorial claims and the unresolved division of Cyprus—the forum aimed to strengthen relationships and promote cooperation among the liberal democracies of the Eastern Mediterranean.
- Israel to Move Ahead With 1,000 New Homes in West Bank Settlement (Reuters). Israel plans 1,000 new homes for the Eli settlement in the occupied West Bank, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said on Wednesday, calling this a response to a Palestinian gun attack there that killed four people. Netanyahu and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich “agreed to move ahead immediately” with the planning, the statement said, without giving further details on the timetable. The United States has cautioned Israel against new settlement projects.
- Hezbollah Infiltrates, Sets Up Armed Position in Israel (Jerusalem Post). Hezbollah has reportedly infiltrated Israel and established an armed military position within Israeli territory in recent weeks. The IDF and relevant authorities are aware of the situation and are dealing with it. UNIFIL and the UN are said to be involved. The terrorists crossed the border near Har Dov, set up tents, and are armed. Due to the sensitivity of the area, the IDF has not taken immediate military action. This is the second incident in a few months where Hezbollah has managed to infiltrate Israel.
- Israeli Settlers Torch Palestinian Homes and Cars to Avenge Deadly Shooting (Associated Press). Hundreds of Israeli settlers entered the Palestinian town of Turmus Ayya in the West Bank, setting fire to cars, homes, and trees in retaliation for the deaths of four Israelis killed by Palestinian gunmen. The incident occurred as the Israeli military deployed additional forces in the West Bank and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced plans to construct 1,000 new settler homes in response to the shooting.
- With Drone Strike, IDF Changes West Bank Rules in Response to Emboldened Terrorism (Times of Israel). Israel’s recent use of air power in the West Bank after two decades of refraining from such actions indicates a shift in its approach to fighting Palestinian terror. The decision seems to respond to increased terror attacks and resistance by Palestinian armed groups. Using airstrikes and drone strikes, including an attack on a car carrying Palestinian gunmen, demonstrates Israel’s efforts to regain deterrence and prevent gunmen from fleeing after attacks.
- Mahmoud Abbas’ Position Under Threat Amid West Bank Turmoil (Jerusalem Post). With renewed turmoil in the West Bank and fading hopes for a negotiated peace, uncertainty looms over the position of 87-year-old President Mahmoud Abbas. The recent violence highlighted the PA’s weakness in the face of militant groups and Israeli settlements, raising concerns about the future of Palestinian leadership. Potential successors within Abbas’ Fatah party are vying for position, while the departure of Abbas could lead to chaos or the rise of Hamas in the West Bank.
- Ben Gvir Overrules Police on Freezing Wind Farm Project, Despite Druze Riots (Times of Israel). Construction work on a controversial wind farm in the Golan Heights continued despite protests and rioting by Druze residents. Israel’s National Security Minister, Itamar Ben Gvir, overruled the Israel Police Commissioner’s request to freeze the project. While police initially ordered the work to stop, they later allowed it to continue. The Druze community views the wind farm as threatening their way of life and ancestral lands.
- Israel Concerned About Abraham Accord States’ Ties with Iran (Jerusalem Post). Israeli diplomat Aliza Bin Noun expressed concerns about the improving relations between countries involved in the Abraham Accords and Iran. During her visit to Bahrain, she inquired about reestablishing ties with Iran and decreasing visits to Israel from Bahrain. Bahraini officials assured her that ties with Iran would not harm relations with Israel and promised more visits. The United Arab Emirates has also taken steps to improve relations with Iran, while Morocco postponed a summit due to settlement activity.
- Why are Golan Heights Druze Protesting Israel’s Wind Turbines Project? (Al Monitor). Frustration has escalated among the Druze community in the Golan Heights due to a wind turbine project on their land, which they perceive as another affront by Israeli authorities. Thousands of Druze protested against the project, leading to violent clashes with the police. The community fears that the turbines will disrupt their rural way of life, heritage, and health…While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has requested a temporary suspension of the project, tensions persist as the Druze community demands its complete cancellation.
- Netanyahu: Israeli Weapons Given to Ukraine Could Fall into Iran’s Hands (Enab Baladi). Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel’s situation with Russia differs from that of any Western countries that support Ukraine. Netanyahu added, “We have close military borders with Russia; our pilots fly next to Russian pilots in the skies of Syria.” He also stressed the need to preserve “Israel’s freedom” to act against what he considered Iran’s attempts to position itself militarily on the borders of the northern occupied Palestinian territories with Syria. The Israeli official also expressed concerns that any systems Israel gives Ukraine will be used against the Israelis, given that they could fall into the hands of the Iranians and be used against Israel. “It has already happened with Western anti-tank weapons that we now find on our borders, so we must be cautious here.”
- Netanyahu’s Reason to Not Help Ukraine is ‘Complete Nonsense,’ Ukrainian Envoy Says (Jerusalem Post). Ukrainian Ambassador Yevgen Kornichuk called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s reasons for not providing military assistance “complete nonsense.” Ukraine had requested defensive weapons such as anti-missile systems to protect civilian population centers. The embassy accused Israel of justifying its inaction by introducing fictional assumptions about weapons transfer to Syria and Iran. They also criticized Israel’s close relations with Russia, claiming it displayed a pro-Russian position and disregard for moral boundaries. The embassy urged Israel to change its stance and support Ukraine with defensive means.
- Head of US Military Cancels Trip to Israel Amid Russia Crisis (Times of Israel). General Mark Milley, the top military officer in the United States, canceled his planned trip to Israel and Jordan due to the intensifying crisis in Russia. His decision came shortly before Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the Wagner Group, ordered his troops to retreat from their advance toward Moscow.
- Ben-Gvir Tells Settlers: We Need to Kill Thousands of Terrorists (Jerusalem Post). National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir has called on the Israeli government to approve the settlement of the Evyatar outpost in the West Bank…He also called for a large-scale military operation in the West Bank, advocating for the elimination of terrorists to ensure security for residents. The approval of Evyatar has been stalled despite previous agreements, and settlers are urging the government to fulfill its commitment to legalize the outpost.
- Netanyahu Trials: Bribery Charge to Remain Despite ‘Complexity’ – Prosecution (Jerusalem Post). The prosecution in the corruption trial against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plans to continue pursuing the bribery charge in Case 4000, despite concerns expressed by judges about the difficulty of proving it. Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara stated that no circumstances had changed, and the prosecution would persist with the case and reject criminal arbitration. The judges reportedly suggested a plea bargain for the “good of the country.” Netanyahu faces multiple charges, including fraud, breach of trust, and bribery.
- Israel’s Netanyahu Briefly Freezes Golan Wind Turbine Project that Set Off Rare Clashes (Associated Press). Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered a temporary halt to constructing a wind turbine project in the Golan Heights following clashes between Druze residents and the police. Netanyahu agreed to pause the project during the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday for negotiations. The Druze community opposes the plan, citing concerns about agricultural harm and lack of consultation. Demonstrations against the project turned violent, with residents storming a police station and engaging in various acts of vandalism.
- Rocket Fired from West Bank at Israel for First Time in 18 Years (Jerusalem Post). A missile was fired from Jenin towards Israel but exploded in Palestinian territory without causing any harm to Israelis or Israeli locations. Israeli forces arrived at the scene to investigate the incident, and searches were conducted, but no arrests have been reported yet. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) stated that the incident is under review without providing further details on the perpetrators or future preventive measures. This incident follows recent concerns raised by Israeli security officials about Palestinian efforts to acquire rockets in the West Bank.
- IDF Says Drone ‘Fell’ Over Lebanon; Hezbollah Claims it Shot it Down (Times of Israel). An Israeli military drone crashed in southern Lebanon, and the Hezbollah terror group claimed responsibility for shooting it down. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) stated that the drone fell during routine surveillance activity but did not provide further details on the cause of the crash. The IDF assured that there was no risk of intelligence being compromised. Tensions have been high on the Israel-Lebanon border recently, with clashes between Israeli troops and Lebanese rioters and the presence of armed Hezbollah posts in Israeli territory.
- U.S. to Test its Palestinian Dual-Nationals’ Israeli Access in July (Reuters). The United States plans to test Palestinian Americans’ freedom of travel in Israel next month to prepare for proposed U.S. visa exemptions for Israelis. Israel aims to be admitted to the U.S. Visa Waiver Program (VWP) by October. It must demonstrate unrestricted access for Palestinian Americans at Israel’s border and the occupied West Bank. A pilot program will be launched mid-July, monitoring Palestinian-American travel through Ben-Gurion Airport and West Bank checkpoints. This move could add pressure amid ongoing violence and strained Israeli-Palestinian relations.
- Smotrich Urges Netanyahu to Oppose US Return to ‘History-Distorting’ UNESCO (Times of Israel). Finance Minister Argues Washington’s Move is Based on Consent of Previous Israeli Government, ‘Does Not Reconcile in Any Way’ with Current Leadership’s Policies. Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich has urged the government to formally object to the United States’ intention to rejoin UNESCO. Smotrich argues that Israel must take a public stand against the return of the US to the organization, citing UNESCO’s “history-distorting” nature and previous anti-Israel bias. Former President Donald Trump withdrew the US from UNESCO in 2017, but the current administration aims to rejoin to counter China’s growing influence within the organization. Israel, which left UNESCO in 2019, had previously indicated to the US that it would not oppose its efforts to rejoin.
- Israel Advances Plans for 5,700 West Bank Homes Despite US Objections (Reuters). Israel’s government has approved the construction of 5,700 additional housing units for Jewish settlers in the West Bank, despite pressure from the United States to halt settlement expansion seen as an obstacle to peace with Palestinians. The decision, made by Israel’s Supreme Planning Council, covers various areas of the West Bank and has been praised by Jewish settler leadership.
- Israel Seizes Millions in Crypto Assets Belonging to Iran’s Quds Force and Hezbollah (Jerusalem Post). According to Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, Israel’s defense establishment has seized millions of dollars in cryptocurrency belonging to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force and Hezbollah. This seizure represents the largest confiscation of cryptocurrency from these groups to date. Cryptocurrency has become a preferred means of financing for terror organizations due to its ability to evade banking regulations and tracking mechanisms. Gallant emphasized that the funds were intended for terrorist activities and reaffirmed Israel’s commitment to combating terror financing.
- Netanyahu Tells US Lawmakers He is Heading to China (Times of Israel). Prime Minister Netanyahu has confirmed that he will travel to China…The announcement followed speculation that the visit indicates Netanyahu’s growing impatience with Washington. Netanyahu emphasized that military and intelligence cooperation between Israel and the US is at an all-time high, and he reaffirmed the US as Israel’s principal ally. Critics, however, argue that the visit could harm Israeli interests and damage the special relationship with the US.
- Herzog Calls Abbas to Urge a Fight Against Terror and to Condemn Settler Violence (Times of Israel). President Isaac Herzog spoke with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, emphasizing the need to combat terrorism and incitement following recent deadly attacks on Israelis in the West Bank. Herzog also condemned vigilante attacks by Israelis on Palestinian civilians. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant spoke with senior Palestinian Authority official Hussein al-Sheikh, expressing Israel’s concern over the violence against Palestinian citizens and the need for swift action against terrorism. Both sides agreed on the importance of calming the situation to benefit both Israeli and Palestinian populations. The call marked the first publicly announced contact between Gallant and Palestinian Authority officials.
- Israeli Bill Seeks to Revive Western Wall Compromise After Six Years (Jerusalem Post). The proposed law seeks to allow Orthodox prayer arrangements in the central plaza of the Western Wall while also providing space for egalitarian prayers in the southern plaza. The bill has received support from various Knesset members, including opposition leader MK Yair Lapid. The Kotel Compromise was initially approved in 2016 but was later reversed due to pressure from ultra-Orthodox parties. The new bill suggests establishing a council to oversee the egalitarian plaza and introduces a role for the person in charge of the southern prayer plaza.
- Israel Helped UAE Fend Off Major Cyberattack, Emirati Cyber Chief Says (Jerusalem Post). Israel recently helped the UAE fend off a serious DDoS (distributed denial of service) cyberattack, UAE cyber chief Muhammad al-Kuwaiti said on Tuesday. Speaking at the Tel Aviv Cyber Week Conference, he said, “Thank God for the Abraham Accords”…Israel’s cyber chief, Gabi Portnoy, urged international cyber officials to collaborate to prevent Iranian and Hezbollah hackers from launching attacks globally. He specifically mentioned the threat posed by the group MuddyWater, affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which targets not only Israel but also civilian targets in various other countries.
- World Zionist Organization and New Knesset Group Push for Annexation of Jordan Valley (Times of Israel). The head of the World Zionist Organization, Yaakov Hagoel, called for Israel’s annexation of the Jordan Valley…Right-wing lawmakers in the Knesset also launched a new group called Sovereignty over the Jordan Valley First, aiming to achieve annexation…The annexation push was previously advocated by former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu but was put on hold due to the Abraham Accords agreements.
- In a Fiery Security Meeting, Ben Gvir Defended Violent Settlers as “Sweet Kids” (Times of Israel). A high-level meeting in Israel, convened by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to address settler violence in the West Bank ended without any agreed-upon actions. National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir reportedly downplayed the actions of Israeli extremists and opposed condemning the settler actions, instead calling for a harsher crackdown on Palestinians. Ben Gvir referred to the settler vigilantes as “sweet kids” and accused the participants of hypocrisy. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant accused Ben Gvir of paying lip service to law and order and urged him to condemn the rampages publicly.
- 15 Arrested for Raising Hamas Flags at Temple Mount on Eid al-Adha (Jerusalem Post). Fifteen Palestinians were arrested by Israeli police on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem for allegedly displaying photos of terrorists and waving flags of Palestinian terrorist organizations, including Hamas, after the Eid al-Adha prayer. The flags and banners were confiscated, along with a single bullet. The Temple Mount, a site of religious significance for Jews and Muslims, is closed to non-Muslim visitors during Eid al-Adha.
- Dozens of Israeli Air Force Vets Threaten Not to Serve After Netanyahu Resumes Judicial Overhaul (Associated Press). Dozens of Israeli air force reservists have threatened to refuse duty if the country’s government proceeds with a plan to overhaul the judiciary, granting it more power. The reservists believe such legislation would undermine democracy and give the government unlimited power. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant criticized the threats, stating they undermine the army’s values and the state’s security.
- Blinken Says West Bank Unrest Makes Israel-Saudi Deal Much Tougher, If Not Impossible (Times of Israel). US Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed concern that the ongoing unrest in the West Bank is making US efforts to broker a normalization agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia much more difficult, if not impossible. He warned that instability in the West Bank would hinder the deepening contracts and the expansion of normalization efforts. Blinken also emphasized that it is not in Israel’s interest to escalate, as it would complicate normalization and have practical consequences.
- Netanyahu Rules Out Giving Ukraine Iron Dome Anti-Missile System (Times of Israel). Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ruled out supplying Ukraine with the Iron Dome missile defense system, citing concerns that the technology could fall into Iranian hands and be used against Israel. Netanyahu emphasized the importance of preventing Israeli systems from being reverse engineered and used against Israel. He highlighted the success of Iron Dome in intercepting missiles aimed at populated areas and expressed the potential danger if the system were to fall into Iranian possession. Israel has provided Ukraine with a rocket and attack drone alert system but has hesitated to supply missile interceptor capabilities due to strategic considerations and concerns about antagonizing Russia.
- President Herzog to Address Joint Session of US Congress Next Month (Jerusalem Post). Israeli President Isaac Herzog is set to address a joint session of the US Congress on July 19 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Israeli statehood. Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy expressed his honor to host Herzog, highlighting the significance of the US-Israel bond. Herzog is also expected to meet with US President Joe Biden during his visit to Washington. Although Biden has not invited Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House, security and intelligence cooperation between the US and Israel remains ongoing.