Israel news summary

Israel News for 5-30-18

Gaza Escalation
Yesterday morning 30 mortar shells were fired into Israel from Gaza. One of the shells landed in the yard of a kindergarten in a kibbutz near the border. Thankfully no children were there. Five Israelis, including 3 soldiers, were wounded from shrapnel from other explosions. Red Code warning alarms were sounded throughout the region including in the cities of Ofakim, Ashkelon and Sderot, throughout the afternoon and into the evening. The IDF said that 25 mortars were intercepted by Iron Dome missiles on Tuesday. On Monday night machine gun fire from Gaza hit several structures and vehicles in Sderot. There were no casualties.

In response to the mortar attacks, the IDF attacked 40 terror targets in Gaza belonging to both Hamas and Islamic Jihad, including weapons storehouses, outposts and a Hamas tunnel near the Kerem Shalom border crossing which penetrated 900 meters into Israeli territory. Then, in response to more rocket fire, the IDF hit another 25 Hamas targets overnight. The IDF said that among the targets were drone storage facilities, rocket and armament manufacturing installations, training camps, military installations, advanced naval armaments and anti-aircraft missile components. However, the IDF did not target homes of commanders in the terror groups or mounted any targeted killings.

There were no casualties reported in any of the attacks.

One of the rockets fired from Gaza hit an Israel Electric Company facility transferring electricity into Gaza. The rocket damaged equipment, causing three power lines supplying electricity to the strip to malfunction. The electric company said that an initial evaluation showed it would take several days to fix the equipment and resume regular supply. Another of the rockets fired last night hit a house in one of the Israeli communities near the border, but miraculously, there were no injuries. And yet another rocket hit a stadium in Netivot, causing damage but no casualties.

In total, in less than 24 hours, over 100 rockets and mortar shells were fired at Israel, with some 40 intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system. Most of the launches were carried out with the help of timers, making it harder on the IDF to track perpetrators before or after a launch.

Israeli analysts are saying that the fact that Hamas did not fire any mid to long range rockets and that the IDF attacks were planned to cause no casualties indicates that both sides want to avoid an escalation of the conflict into all out war. Hamas has apparently ceased firing more rockets today and is preventing other terror groups in Gaza, like Islamic Jihad, from firing rockets.

Israeli ministers are denying that any ceasefire agreement has been made with Hamas.

For further reading click here and here.

World Reactions
Representatives of the US, France, Ireland, the EU and the UN condemned the Hamas rocket attacks from Gaza.

Jason Greenblatt, US Middle East envoy, tweeted, “Reprehensible – mortars fired from Gaza at a kindergarten and community in Israel! Hamas has failed – all it can offer is terror. Palestinians in Gaza need real leaders to work on Gaza’s real problems with its water, its economy and so much more.”

A spokeswoman for the French Foreign Affairs Ministry published a statement saying, “France unequivocally denounces fire at civilian populations that only luckily did not claim any victims. France is unconditionally committed to Israel’s security. France denounces the resumption of violence, which is not congruent with a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney tweeted, “I strongly condemn firing of rockets from Gaza at Israel today. I continue to advocate strongly for people of Gaza who live in impossible conditions, but this Hamas-led violence undermines Palestinian cause + is counterproductive to political progress.”

Emanuele Giaufret, the EU envoy to Israel, tweeted, “As kids were preparing for school this morning a barrage of rockets from Gaza fell on southern Israel. One landed outside a kindergarten. I know the resilience of communities in southern Israel but indiscriminate attacks are totally unacceptable and to be condemned unreservedly.”

For further reading click here.

UN Security Council
US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley called for a Security Council meeting to condemn the rocket attacks from Gaza. She said, “Mortars fired by Palestinian militants hit civilian infrastructure, including a kindergarten. The Security Council should be outraged and respond to this latest bout of violence directed at innocent Israeli civilians, and the Palestinian leadership needs to be held accountable for what they’re allowing to happen in Gaza.”

The United States circulated a draft statement calling on the council to condemn “in the strongest terms the indiscriminate firing of rockets by Palestinian militants in Gaza” toward Israel. The council will hear a report from UN envoy for the Middle East Nickolay Mladenov during the meeting scheduled today.

For further reading click here.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 5-25-18

Soldier Wounded
A soldier in the elite Duvdevan unit taking part in an operation to capture a group of terrorists in the al-Am’ari refugee camp near Ramallah was hit on the head and severely wounded by a concrete slab thrown at him from a window. The IDF and Shin Bet are searching for the terrorist who threw the slab. The wounded soldier is fighting for his life at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem.

Regarding the soldier’s injury, an IDF official said, “His helmet was destroyed. He fell on his back and suffered another blow. So he was hit hard in the head and was evacuated.” He added, “This was a necessary raid to arrest several terrorists who carried out attacks in the past. The soldier was wearing full protective gear, including a helmet, and while he was standing close to one of the homes the marble slab was thrown down at him.”

The operation, which is based on Shin Bet intelligence, is part of the IDF’s Judea and Samaria Brigade’s wide scale activity to thwart attacks during the month of Ramadan.

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman tweeted, “Our hearts are with the Duvdevan soldier and his family in their difficult time, with all of Israel praying for his recovery. We consider the incident to be very grave. The callous terrorist who harmed him will not know rest. Before long, we will get our hands on him—dead or alive.”

For further reading click here.

Syrian Strikes
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and Syrian state media have reported that the Dabaa air base, that houses Hezbollah fighters near Homs, was attacked overnight by jets. Syrian news sources claim that the jets were Israeli. Opposition news sites reported that 25 Iranian and Hezbollah fighters were killed in the strike. The pro-Hezbollah newspaper Al Akhbar reported on Friday morning that the attack on the military airbase was “the largest by the Israeli Air Force since the night of the missiles,” a term used in reference to the night in which Iran launched 32 rockets at Israeli targets earlier this month.

For further reading click here.

Settlement Construction
Defense Minister Lieberman said yesterday that he plans to seek approval next week for the construction of around 3,900 new homes in Jewish settlements in the West Bank. He said a regional planning board would be asked to designate 2,500 of the housing units for immediate construction, and another 1,400 to follow. The housing units will be distributed mainly between the settlements of Ariel (400), Ma’ale Adumim (460), Kiryat Arba (15), Avnei Hefetz (130), Talmon (180), Kfar Etzion (160) and Halamish/Neve Tzuf (60).

Lieberman said, “We committed to building in Judea and Samaria and we are fulfilling that commitment. We will approve 2,500 new housing units next week at the planning council for immediate construction in 2018. In the coming months we will seek approval for thousands of additional housing units. We will continue to populate and develop Judea and Samaria with actions.”

For further reading click here.

Stop Funding
Israel called on the European Union today to halt funding to more than a dozen European and Palestinian non-governmental organizations that it says promote boycotts against Israel, claiming that the financial support violates the EU’s stated policy that it opposes boycotts against Israel.

A report published by Israel’s Strategic Affairs Ministry said, ”The state of Israel expects the EU to act with full transparency and reveal the scope of its financial aid to organizations that have ties to terror and promote boycotts against Israel” the report said. “Israel strongly urges the EU to fully implement in practice its declared policy of rejecting boycotts against Israel, and to immediately halt funding to organizations which promote anti-Israel boycotts and de-legitimization.”

The EU had no immediate comment.

For further reading click here.

Recognize Golan
In an interview with Reuters this week, Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz called on the US to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan. He claimed that the move would be a strong message against Iranian aggression in the region. He said, “It’s time for the US to recognize the historic truth, the historic fact, and strengthen Israel.”

Israel captured the Golan from Syria in the 1967 Six Day War, and officially annexed the Golan in 1981. There are currently over 20,000 Jews living in towns, settlements and kibbutzim in the Golan. There are also around 20,000 Druze living in several villages near the Syrian border.

For further re reading click here.

Royal Visit
Prince William, direct heir to the British throne, will come to Israel at the end of June for the first-ever visit by a member of the British royal family. He will arrive in Amman, Jordan on June 24 and visit the historic city of Jerash the following day. On the evening of June 25 he will come to Tel Aviv and the following day will be spent in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. June 27 will be spent in Tel Aviv and Ramallah in the West Bank and June 28, the final day of the trip will be devoted entirely to Jerusalem.

For further reading click here.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 5-23-18

Terror and Response
Several terrorists crossed into Israel from Gaza yesterday and set fire to an abandoned IDF post before returning to Gaza. The terrorists videod the incident. In response the IDF launched air strikes that destroyed a Hamas terror tunnel and some Hamas boats that were going to participate in an attempt to break the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza.

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman tweeted about the strike, saying, “The IDF destroyed another tunnel belonging to the Hamas terror group tonight. Attempts to assail Israel from the air, through the fence and below-ground will be met with an iron wall and the IDF’s might.” He added, “It’s good for the heads of Hamas to internalize that their military project is a failure and invest all of their efforts in improving the life of Gazans.”

For further reading click here.

New Construction
Around 300 new housing units have been put up for sale and will be constructed in the settlement of Beit El in Samaria (West Bank), near Ramallah. The construction of the homes was approved over 5 years ago. No new housing has been built in Best El over the past 10 years. The new housing units are part of a plan launched by Finance Minister Moshe Kahalon to provide affordable housing. Kahalon is in favor of annexing Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

For further reading click here.

The Bunker
Israel’s Security Cabinet has begun holding its weekly meetings in a secure underground bunker in Jerusalem. The bunker, known as the “National Management Centre”, is beneath the government complex in Jerusalem and includes living quarters as well as command facilities. According to reports, the reason given for the new meeting location is to prevent leaks and spying attempts.

For further reading click here.

Air Force Revelation
The commander of Israel’s Air Force, Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin, told foreign air force commanders at a conference in Herzliya that Israel is the first country in the world to use the new F-35 fighter jet in combat. He presented a photo of an Israeli F-35 jet circling over Beirut, saying, “We attacked twice in the Middle East with the F-35—we’re the first in the world to do so.” Israel recently purchased 50 of the new fighters from the US, and have so far taken possession of 10, and are apparently putting them to good use.

For further reading click here.

New Conversion Bill
A new bill proposal has been submitted to PM Netanyahu that would make the State, through the rabbinical courts, the only body with the power to perform conversions. The bill would establish a new conversion authority in the Prime Minister’s Office that would be responsible for both civilian and military conversions. The bill would, in effect, prevent the recognition of conversions performed by rabbis not approved by the state authority. That would include Reform, Conservative and even some Orthodox rabbis. The proposal states that, “Conversion performed in Israel will be recognized for the purposes of any law only if it was performed by a rabbinical conversion court under the conversion authority. No legal relevance will be given to any conversion performed in Israel not by the conversion court in the conversion authority.”

Under the new law, all conversions performed abroad by a recognized Jewish community, including Reform and Conservative, would be accepted for legal matters, such as the Law of Return.

The proposed bill is part of an effort to reach some sort of compromise in the conversion debate by removing the power of conversion from the Chief Rabbinate and giving it to the Prime Minister’s Office. The PM would appoint the head of the new conversion authority, which would be independent of the Chief Rabbinate. The rabbinic judges will be appointed by a committee headed by the prime minister or his representative, in which there will be no Orthodox or ultra-Orthodox majority, and the Reform and Conservative movements will have a voice. The new conversions authority will also be able to recognize religious marriages of Jewish converts, which will further weakened the Chief Rabbinate, currently the sole body with such authority. Any appeals about the conversion process will be discussed by a higher rabbinical court, which will be established within the new conversions authority, and its decisions will be final.

The Reform Movement reacted to the proposal with mixed emotions. The movement’s executive-director Gilad Kariv said that “naturally, we do not support the idea of only having one option for conversion in Israel. However, we welcome the full recognition of Reform conversions in the Diaspora and the assurance to converts in Israel who are already citizens and residents that they will be listed in the civil registry as Jews. In addition, we welcome the apparent recognition of the need to drastically minimize the influence of the Chief Rabbinate on conversions, in light of this institution’s strict stance towards those who sought to convert in recent decades.”

It is doubtful whether the Haredi parties will allow the bill to pass, since they are against removing the power over conversions from the Chief Rabbinate, which they in effect control.

For further reading click here.

New Embassy
Paraguay’s President Horacio Cartes inaugurated his country’s new embassy in Jerusalem on Monday. He remarked, “The opening of the embassy holds special meaning, because it expresses the sincere friendship and the brave solidarity between Paraguay and Israel.”

PM Netanyahu responded, “A great day for Israel. A great day for Paraguay. A great day for our friendship. You have not only the support of our government but the profound gratitude of the people Israel.” He added, “You’re an amazing friend to Israel,” Netanyahu told Cartes. “Under your leadership, Paraguay made courageous moves in the international arena and refused to take part in the lies against Israel. It’s time we do a lot more together and increase the cooperation between us. We’ve been discussing water, agriculture, security, and we are doing and want to do more. And we will.”

The Palestinians denounced the embassy move calling it illegitimate and illegal.

For further reading click here.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 5-18-18

Gaza Update
Israel partially resumed the supply of cooking gas and diesel fuel to Gaza via the Kerem Shalom border crossing after Palestinians set the crossing on fire several times over the last few weeks. The pipeline repairs have been completed. Twelve tanks of diesel fuel and one tank of gas were transferred into the strip on Thursday to test the repaired system. If no leaks are found, the supply of fuel and gas will continue on Monday.

For further reading click here.

Senior Hamas official Salah Bardawil told Palestinian media on Wednesday that 50 of the 61 Palestinians killed in the Gaza Strip border riots Monday were members of Hamas. Also on Wednesday, Israel trucks carrying medical equipment for hospitals in Gaza were prohibited from entering Gaza by Hamas.

For further reading click here.

Following Monday’s deadly border riots, Hamas leaders told people to stay away from the border, which is why the area has been relatively quiet since then. The reason for this is because Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh met with Egyptian intelligence leaders on Sunday, who promised that Egypt would open the Rafah border crossing (between Egypt and Gaza) to allow humanitarian aid if Hamas would stop its provocations along the Israeli border. Hamas reportedly promised to cease all military (terror) activity along the border. As a result, the IDF has decreased troop numbers in the area, although it is still on high alert.

The month long Muslim holiday of Ramadan began yesterday.

For further reading click here.

Yesterday, Kuwait submitted a draft resolution to the UN Security Council calling for the stationing of a UN force along the Gaza border to protect Gaza’s residents. The resolution also demands that Israel, “immediately cease its military reprisals, collective punishment and unlawful use of force against civilians, including in the Gaza Strip.” The US is expected to veto the resolution.

For further reading click here.

Romania Deal
Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, the manufacturer of the Iron Dome missile defense system, has signed an agreement with Romanian company Romaero to allow the transfer of know-how and production of Rafael-developed systems in Romania in the framework of procurement programs for the Romanian army already approved by the Romanian parliament. The agreement refers to air defense systems, including rocket interception system Iron Dome and its naval version; Samson remote controlled weapons stations; and Spike anti-tank missiles.

Is it a coincidence that Romania is on the verge of deciding to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem?

For further reading click here.

New Publisher
Israel’s free daily newspaper “Israel Hayom” announced that its publisher Asher Baharav and CEO Zippi Koren are leaving. Taking over the job of publisher will be Dr. Miriam Adelson, the wife of Sheldon Adelson, who owns the paper.

For further reading click here.

Buffet on Teva
Berkshire Hathaway, controlled by the “oracle of Omaha” Warren Buffett, has doubled its stake in Israeli Pharmaceutical giant Teva Pharmaceutical Industries (TEVA). The announcement sent Teva’s shares soaring 5% in after hours trading. Buffett’s company now holds 40.5 million Teva shares worth about $693 million and representing a 3.45% stake in Teva, which has a market cap of $20.5 billion.

Time to buy TEVA?

For further reading click here.

The holiday of Shavuot begins on Saturday night and extends for one day in Israel and two days outside of Israel (Sun and Mon). The holiday literally means weeks, and is the culmination of the counting of 7 weeks (49 days) from the second day of Passover. Shavuot is described in the Torah as the harvest festival during which farmers bring their first produce to the Temple in Jerusalem. Shavuot is also the anniversary of the giving of the Ten Commandments and Torah at Mount Sinai. The Book of Ruth is read in the synagogue, and dairy meals are traditionally eaten. It is also customary to stay up all night (first night) to study Torah.

Happy Shavuot!!

Israel news summary

Israel News for 5-16-18

Riots and Response

Yesterday was Nakba day, which is the day that the Palestinians commemorate the “catastrophe” of the declaration of the State of Israel and the subsequent self imposed exile and expulsions of around 300,000 Arabs. Most of those Arabs were either instructed to vacate their towns and villages by the Arab governments attacking Israel, who promised them Jewish property after the Jews were defeated and “thrown into the sea”. Many also fled because of fictitious rumors that the Jews would massacre them, while a small number were, in fact, expelled by the IDF.

The Palestinians traditionally commemorate Nakba Day with widespread protests, which often turn violent. The fear was that as a result of the opening of the new US embassy in Jerusalem on Monday, the Palestinians would unleash their fury at the US and Israel with massive violence on Nakba Day, resulting in tremendous loss of life, But while several thousand Palestinians did clash with IDF troops in 18 different locations, only one Palestinian was killed and two Israeli soldiers lightly wounded in the riots.

Along the Gaza border, only around 400 Palestinians protested yesterday and no casualties were reported. One of the primary reasons for the relative peace was because the IDF sent drones over the border to drop tear gas canisters in order to keep people away from the border. This tactic succeeded on averting loss of life and dispersing any potential trouble.

The situation on Monday was very different. While the US embassy was being inaugurated in Jerusalem, around 40,000 Palestinians in Gaza massed along the border fence and attempted to break down the fence and infiltrate into Israel. Waves of thousands of “protesters” rushed the fence. Many tried to cut the fence with wire-cutters. Some tried to place explosive devices along the fence.

In the face of this massive attempt to breach the fence and cross the border into Israel by tens of thousands of Palestinians, the IDF was forced to use deadly force to defend the border and its soldiers. More than 1,200 were shot and wounded, with 116 in serious or critical condition and 61 killed. A joint investigation conducted by the IDF and the Shin Bet following the violence found that 24 out of the 61 people killed were terrorists affiliated with Hamas or Islamic Jihad. According to reports from the scene, the IDF exercised extreme restraint in its reaction to the attack, which greatly reduced the casualties that could have otherwise resulted.

Regarding the moving of the US embassy and the assertion that it destroys all hope for a peace agreement, the fact is that the embassy is located in the western part of Jerusalem which has always been recognized as being part of Israel. So locating the US embassy in its current location makes no statement regarding the status of east Jerusalem.

In fact, President Trump clearly stated that the US was not making any decisions regarding the status of east Jerusalem and rumors have circulated that Israel might even be asked to withdraw from certain Arab areas of east Jerusalem, which would become part of a Palestinian capital, as part of a potential peace agreement. These rumors were never confirmed, but the fact remains that a US embassy in west Jerusalem recognizes only that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital, not that the entirety of what is considered part of Jerusalem today (like certain areas of east Jerusalem) must always remain under Israel’s jurisdiction.

What the US has done is stand up for truth and reality — that Jerusalem as a whole is not on the negotiating table and will remain Israel’s eternal capital. Now perhaps a real, practical agreement between Israel and the Palestinians can be achieved. But only if the Palestinians agree to participate.

World Reaction
In response to the violence and loss of life along the Gaza border on Monday, the UN Security Council convened an emergency session, called by Kuwait. US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley told the council, “Those who suggest the Gaza violence has anything to do with the location of the American embassy are sorely mistaken. Rather the violence comes from those who reject the existence of the State of Israel in any location … We must remember that the terrorist organization Hamas is the one undermining regional stability for many years before the US decided to move the embassy. It was Hamas who set fire to the Kerem Shalom crossing, the main crossing through which equipment and food arrives in the Gaza Strip.”

Regarding the IDF response to the attacks Haley said, “Who among us would accept this type of activity on your border? … No country in this chamber would act with more restraint than Israel has.”

In other reactions, Turkey expelled the Israeli Ambassador and other diplomats, while other European countries called for an investigation into the bloodshed.

For further reading click here.

Guatemalan Embassy
Guatemala’s President Jimmy Morales inaugurated his country’s embassy in Jerusalem today. He tweeted, “Today we mark a historic day in the friendly relations between Guatemala and Israel.”

PM Netanyahu said (at the ceremony), “It’s not a coincidence that Guatemala is opening its embassy in Jerusalem among the first, you were always among the first. You were the second country to recognize Israel, but you had a very important role in this. Your ambassador to the United Nations, Jorge Granados, was very active in lobbying the countries at the UN at the time to support the Partition Resolution, which was effectively the recognition of the Jewish state by the United Nations.”

In conclusion, the PM said, “In this spirit of friendship and a common bond, we welcome you to Jerusalem for the opening of this embassy. I look forward to discussing with you the practical ways that we can advance this friendship and this alliance.”

Paraguay has said it will move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by the end of May.

For further reading click here.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 5-14-18

Embassy Opened
The US embassy in Jerusalem will be officially opened and dedicated at 4pm Israel time today. The embassy will, for the time being, be housed at the current US consulate in the Arnona neighborhood in west Jerusalem and consist of the offices of the ambassador, with around 50 employees. The remainder of the approximately 1,000 US embassy employees will remain in the current embassy building in Tel Aviv until a permanent embassy building can be built in Jerusalem, which could take several years. The US Ambassador will work and host dignitaries in the Jerusalem embassy.

The US delegation attending the embassy opening is led by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin along with Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.

Today’s date is significant in that it is the day in 1948 when the State of Israel was declared. It is also the day that the Palestinians commemorate as the “Naqba”, or disaster, on which they usually hold protests.

Gaza Protests
Ahead of the US embassy opening this morning, tens of thousands of Palestinians gathered at the Gaza border with Israel and clashed with IDF troops. According to reports, 16 Palestinians have been killed in the protests and one IDF soldier has been injured. This story is currently unfolding.

For further reading click here.

Tunnel Destroyed
The IDF reported that it destroyed a Hamas terror tunnel that opened just meters from the Erez crossing long the Gaza border. Palestinians said the strike caused no casualties, and that ten missiles were launched at the tunnel, situated in the vicinity of the city of Beit Hanoun. The IDF said that advanced technologies were used to pinpoint the exact location of the tunnel before it crossed the security fence into Israel.

For further reading click here.

East Jerusalem Funding
A comprehensive five-year plan for narrowing economic and social gaps in East Jerusalem was approved by the Israeli cabinet today. The NIS 2 billion plan is designed to help Arab residents of East Jerusalem integrate in Israel’s society and economy. The plan includes allocations for improving transportation, education, employment, welfare, and health.

NIS 445 million will be invested in education over the coming five years, with nearly half of this amount being invested in informal education in East Jerusalem, mainly in a long school day or enrichment lessons in schools. Nearly NIS 200 million will be injected into educational institutions teaching the Israeli curriculum.

NIS 500 million will be invested in improving transportation infrastructure in East Jerusalem, with half of the amount being allocated to detailed planning of the “American road.” A pilot for public transportation lines connecting East Jerusalem to West Jerusalem will begin this year. It is being proposed to invest NIS 1.5 billion in upgrading transportation infrastructure by 2027.

Substantial funds will also be invested in improving healthcare and employment opportunities.

For further reading click here.

East Jerusalem Land
The Israeli government has allocated NIS 50 million for the regulation of all land in east Jerusalem. The plan is to have all east Jerusalem properties registered within the next 7 years and is meant to further strengthen Israeli sovereignty in the contested eastern part of the city. East Jerusalem residents are expected to benefit from the move, since anyone who claims ownership over land would be able to file a petition to the Registration Commissioner and be officially recognized by the state as the land’s owner.

For further reading click here.

Israel Wins
Israeli singer Netta Barzillai won the Eurovision song contest for Israel with her song Toy. The winner was chosen based on popular vote. As a result of the victory, next year’s contest will be held in Israel.

To watch the song video click here.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 5-10-18

Iran Attacks. Israel Responds.
Iranian forces based in Syria launched 20 missiles at targets in the Golan yesterday. All of the missiles were either intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system or missed their targets and caused no damage.

In response, Israel launched a massive attack on Iran’s military infrastructure in Syria. An IDF spokesman said, “We do not know yet the (Iranian) casualty count. But I can say that in terms of our purpose, we focused less on personnel and more on capabilities and hardware … to inflict long-term damage on the Iranian military establishment in Syria. We assess it will take substantial time to replenish.” He also said that Russia had been informed prior to the operation.

According to reports from the Russian Defense Ministry, the Israeli attack was carried out by 28 planes that fired 60 missiles. Israel also fired more than 10 tactical ground-to-ground missiles. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported the overnight attacks struck several military posts for Syrian troops and Iranian-backed militias near Damascus, in central Syria and in southern Syria. According to their report, 23 military personnel were killed and many more wounded.

Defense Minister Lieberman said, “We hit … almost all of the Iranian infrastructure in Syria. I hope we finished this chapter and everyone got the message.”

For further reading click here.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 5-9-18

Iranian Base Attacked
The Syrian army has claimed that Israel attacked a base near Damascus last night. The anti-government Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that at least 15 people, including eight Iranians, were killed in the attack.

The attack came after the IDF ordered the opening of bomb shelters in the Golan because of “a series of irregular identifications among Iranian forces in Syria”. It is assumed that the base contained missiles that the Iranians were preparing to launch against Israel.

On Monday Arab media outlets reported that eight soldiers from the Syrian army’s aerial defense force were killed in a mysterious explosion that took place Sunday on the Damascus-Suwayda road. The soldiers were from the battalion responsible for shooting down an Israeli fighter jet 2 months ago.

For further reading click here.

Iran Deal Responses
In response to President Trump’s announcement that the US is pulling out of the Iran deal, PM Netanyahu called the move, “correct, wise and courageous.” He said, “Had the deal remained in place, it would have allowed Iran to enrich enough uranium within the span of a few years to create an entire arsenal of nuclear bombs. In addition, the deal has already funneled Iran billions of dollars to finance its war machine throughout the Middle East.”

President Reuven Rivlin said, “The decision made by the president of the United States constitutes an important and significant step in ensuring the security of the State of Israel, the security of the region and the security of the entire free world. Alongside the nuclear threat we do not, for a moment, forget the arms race Iran is leading on our borders, and we follow the developments closely and responsibly in order to protect the security of our citizens. The threat of Iranian consolidation is not a threat to the State of Israel alone, and therefore international pressure is necessary in the struggle against this danger.”

Yesh Atid Chairman and opposition leader Yair Lapid said, “We must mobilize all of Israel’s political forces to ensure the Europeans, Chinese and Russians join the move and prevent Iran from resuming the development of nuclear weapons.” He added, “As I have acted alongside the government before to have this bad nuclear deal annulled, we will make no calculations of opposition or coalition again and work to have sanctions reimposed and Iran blocked.”

For further reading click here.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu is in Moscow today for talks with Putin. He also participated in an annual march commemorating Russia’s victory over Nazi Germany.

To watch the entire parade and ceremony click here.

To catch Netanyahu in action head over to around the one hour and 26 minute mark of the video.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 5-7-18

Gaza Border
IDF soldiers killed 3 terrorists who were attempting to infiltrate into Israel from Gaza. A fourth terrorist was wounded. The incident took place at Khan Younis when troops from the Golani Brigade’s 51st Battalion opened fire on the four suspects. An IDF investigation subsequently revealed that the group was planning to carry out terror attacks against Israelis. The group was under military surveillance and was spotted while “moving suspiciously and hitting the perimeter fence and crossing while crossing it,” the IDF said.

For further reading click here.

Hezbollah Victory
According to preliminary results from Lebanon’s elections, Hezbollah and its allies have won at least 67 out of the country’s 128 parliamentary seats, giving it effective control over the governing body. Hezbollah’s allies include the Shiite Amal Movement led by Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, the Christian Free Patriotic Movement established by President Michel Aoun and other groups and individuals that view its weapons as an asset to Lebanon. On the bright side, Hezbollah and its allies are not on course to win the two-thirds majority that would allow them to pass big decisions such as changing the constitution. But having an Iranian backed terror group with that much power over a country on Israel’s border is clearly problematic, to say the least.

For further reading click here.

Russian Invite
Russian President Putin has invited PM Netanyahu to join him in an annual march in Moscow on Wednesday marking Russia’s victory over Nazi Germany in WWII. After the march the two will meet in the Kremlin to “discuss regional developments,” including the Israeli airstrikes against Iranian bases in Syria and the possible sale of the Russian-made S-300 aerial defense system to Syria. This will mark the two leaders’ eighth meeting in the past two years.

On Tuesday Netanyahu will be in Cyprus for a meeting with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.
For further reading click here.

Override Law
The ministerial legislation committee today approved a bill introduced by MK Bezalel Smotrich (Bayit Yehudi) giving a majority of 61 MKs the power to ratify a law struck down by the Supreme Court. The bill is an amendment to the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty.

Minister of Education and Diaspora Affairs Naftali Bennett and Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked said, “The government today began building a wall separating the three branches of government. The High Court’s interference in legislation and the government’s decisions long ago deviated from the accepted norm. The override clause will restore the public’s confidence in the High Court and restore the original functions to the three branches: the Knesset legislates, the government executes, and the court interprets. No branch should interfere with another one. As the representative of the people, the Knesset is sovereign, as in any proper democracy.”

The bill was opposed by members of the Kulanu party and the Attorney General. The Supreme Court judges as well as members of the opposition have strongly criticized the bill as a threat to democracy.

For further reading click here.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 5-4-18

Abbas Apologizes
Palestinian Authority President Abbas apologized today for anti-semitic remarks he made regarding Jews and the Holocaust earlier this week. He said, “I condemn the Holocaust, which was the worst crime in human history. If anyone, especially anyone of the Jewish religion, was insulted by what I told the Palestinian National Council, I apologize to them.”

For further reading click here.

Arms Exports
According to data released by the Israeli ministry of defense on Wednesday, Israeli arms exports reached $9.2 billion in 2017, up 41.5% from 2016. The dramatic increase was bolstered by $2 billion-worth of missile system deals signed between state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and India.

Israel is among the top ten countries exporting arms, with the U.S. and Russia holding first and second place, respectively. Israel has a major advantage in arms exports, since it can often market its exports as “battle-tested” due to its continuing conflict with the Palestinians.

Israel’s largest arms customers are located in Asia, accounting for 58% of total exports. India alone accounts for a third of all sales. Europe accounts for 21% of Israeli arms exports, and the US for 14%. Most of the export trade is divided between the industry’s four largest defenses manufacturers: IAI, Rafael, IMI Systems, and Elbit Systems Ltd.

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Bus Driver Attacked
Shimon Gabbay, a 60 year old bus driver in Afula was stabbed Wednesday night by 2 youths who he described as belonging to an ethnic minority. The attack caused the driver to lose control of the bus and hit a nearby private vehicle, a water pipe and a wall. He was evacuated to Rambam Hospital in critical condition. His attackers escaped, prompting police to launch a manhunt. The motive of the attackers is still not clear.

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Dead Sea Scrolls
An Israeli researcher has uncovered three new fragments of writings in the Dead Sea Scrolls. The writings, which are invisible to the naked eye, have been identified as being part of the Psalms scroll, the Temple scroll, and a new scroll as of yet to be discovered.

The scrolls, comprised of thousands of passages, were written during the Second Temple period over 2,000 years ago and are considered to be the oldest Hebrew manuscripts ever discovered. While researchers were able to piece together some of the more prominent writings, many of the scrolls had to be placed in boxes without being sorted or studied due to their minute size and poor condition.

Recently, as part of a digitization project, select samples from the unsorted boxes were viewed using state-of-the-art photographic equipment developed by NASA, and turned up new markings understood to be handwriting on some parchments that seemed to the naked eye to be completely blank.

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Log B’omer
If you couldn’t make it to Meron to celebrate Lag B’omer with tens of thousands of other Jews yesterday, here’s a video of the lighting of the first bon fire by the Boyaner Rebbe. Lot’s of amazing singing and dancing. To watch the (long) video click here.