Israel news summary

Israel News for 6-17-2019

Gaza Attacks
Incendiary balloon attacks from Gaza continue, despite the ceasefire agreement reached after the latest round of fighting between Israel and the Gaza terror groups, which included the transfer of $25 million to Hamas from Qatar.

At least three fires were started on Sunday in the Eshkol and Sha’ar HaNegev Regional Councils. All the fires were extinguished and no injuries were reported. The same two communities were subjected to incendiary balloons attacks on Friday as well with at least seven fires breaking out there. Between Tuesday and Thursday more than a dozen fires were started as a result of terror balloons.

The terrorists have apparently devised a new method of delivering the incendiary balloons which causes more fires. They soak a slow-burning fuse in explosive liquids and attach it to an incendiary balloon. The balloon drips fireballs as it flies, creating several ignition points from just one device.

Meanwhile, Palestinian media is reporting that an IDF unit trying to enter the city of Khan Younis in southern Gaza last night came under fire from Hamas and was forced to retreat back into Israel. The IDF has not commented on the report.

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Election Update
Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman on Sunday reiterated that he would only join a government of national unity after the September 17 elections, citing a looming economic crisis and the need to block religious and far-right legislation. He told Channel 13 on Saturday night that he would only support a coalition of both Likud and the Blue and White party as such a government would better reflect the will of the voters.

In response, Likud warned that Lieberman would lead to a left-wing government, so voters should vote only for Likud. Meanwhile, Blue and White has pledged not to join a unity government as long as PM Netanyahu faces corruption charges.

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Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, of the haredi UTJ party, rejected reports that his party was discussing joining a government with Blue and White. He reiterated that UTJ will only join in a government formed by PM Netanyahu.

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Former Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said that Israel should take advantage having a sympathetic US administration in office and annex Area C of the West Bank, which is roughly 60% of the West Bank and contains all of the Jewish settlements and is under full Israeli military control.

She also confirmed that she would run again in the upcoming election but did not indicted what party she would run with. Shaked is viewed by many as the only person who can unite the right wing voter base.

Meanwhile, the PM is expected to appoint United Right leader Rafi Peretz as education minister and the second-in-command, MK Bezalel Smotrich, as transportation minister in his interim cabinet. Both men will also reportedly be given seats in the security cabinet. However, Smotrich said today that he would not, under any circumstances, join a temporary cabinet.

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Trump Heights
The cabinet convened in the Golan on Sunday to to announce the inauguration of a new settlement named after President Donald Trump, called Ramat Trump or Trump Heights. U.S. Ambassador David Friedman, who attended the ceremony, called it “absolutely beautiful” and said, “I can’t think of a more appropriate and a more beautiful birthday present.” Friday was the president’s birthday. In April, the US president recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan.

The settlement, which was established in 1991 as Beruchim, currently has only 10 residents. The newest plan is to build 110 housing units in Trump Heights. For now, there will be no luxury high-rise apartments or hotels. But you gotta start somewhere.

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Mixed Celebration
The mayor of a West Bank village was expelled from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party after pictures emerged of Israeli ultra-Orthodox settlers attending his son’s wedding celebration. The group from Modi’in Ilit were at Thursday’s celebrations for the son of Radi Nasser, mayor of Deir Qaddis, at the invitation of Palestinians who work with them at a car repair garage near the settlement.

The mayor denied any knowledge of the Israelis’ participation, telling the Jerusalem Post: “When I learned about the presence of the settlers, I kicked them out, together with the (Palestinian) men who were with them.” But pictures of the wedding appeared online showing the Jewish men dancing with other wedding guests.

The Jerusalem Post quoted Fatah spokesman Osama Qawassmeh as saying that the participation of “terrorist settlers in Palestinian social events is a cowardly, condemnable, despicable and reprehensible act.” The PA said it will launch an investigation and possibly take steps against those who invited the Israelis. 

To see photos from the event click here.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 6-12-2019

Syrian Target
Syrian media has reported an alleged Israeli airstrike against Syrian army targets in the Tal al-Hara area in southern Syria, overlooking the Golan Heights. The Syrians claim that their missile defense system shot down several missiles and that there was “limited damage” and no loss of life. Israel did not confirm or deny the report.

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Mistaken Identity
During an IDF operation in Nablus last night, IDF troops mistakenly identified personnel at the Palestinian Authority security services headquarters as armed terrorists and opened fire on the building. The Palestinians returned fire. One Palestinian was wounded. There were no IDF casualties. The IDF apparently forgot to inform the Palestinian District Coordination Office prior to entering Nablus. The IDF is investigating the incident.

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Sara Cuts Deal
Sara Netanyahu, wife of the PM, signed a plea deal today for the reduced charge of deliberately exploiting another’s mistake for her own financial benefit, in a way that does not constitute fraud.

Netanyahu was originally charged with fraud and breach of trust in June 2018 for having ordered $100,000 worth of meals from high-end restaurants on the governments tab, although a cook had been hired to prepare the meals at the PM’s residence.

Sara is expected to reimburse the state for the sum of NIS55,000 (approximately $12,000) – far less that the amount in the original charge. The reimbursement includes a NIS 45,000 repayment to the state coffers, and a fine of NIS 10,000. She will not have to plead guilty to fraud or stand trial.

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Arab Attendance
Egypt, Jordan and Morocco have informed the White House that they will attend the US sponsored Bahrain conference later this month. They will join Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar to discuss ways to improve the economic situation of the Palestinians. The Palestinians are boycotting the event.

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Palestinian Farmers
Three hundred Palestinian Arab farmers from Judea and Samaria visited Tel Aviv for the annual Agro Mashov agriculture and gardening convention. The two-day event, which began Tuesday, is being held at the Tel Aviv Convention Center, and showcases the latest Israeli agricultural technology.

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Moldova Embassy
The government of Moldova has announced that it will move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. It will become the first European country to do so.

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Ford in TA
The Ford Motor Company has opened a research center in Tel Aviv. The Ford Research Center will assist its global Research and Advanced Engineering team, and identify local technologies and start-up companies to support Ford’s automotive and mobility businesses. 

Bill Ford, executive chairman of Ford, said, “We recognize the importance of being in one of the world’s leading innovation communities and ecosystems. This new center is not only an expansion of our existing Research and Innovation centers but provides an opportunity to join a growing innovation community in Israel.”

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Israel news summary

Israel News for 6-7-2019

AG Says No
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit on Thursday rejected PM Netanyahu’s request to postpone his pre-indictment hearing, explaining that new elections did not constitute a justification for further delay to the proceedings. The attorney general has already granted the prime minister a three-month extension from the formerly agreed upon date of July 10 for the hearing.

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Syrian missiles
The IDF said yesterday that several anti-aircraft missiles were fired from Syria toward the Golan Heights. The missiles failed to reach Israeli territory.

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Justice Minister
PM Netanyahu appointed Likud MK Amir Ohana as the new Justice Minister. Ohana, who is the first openly gay Knesset member, will only serve until new elections in September. If the PM wins again, he will likely give Ohana the communications ministry and save the much sought after justice ministry for a valuable coalition partner, as a bargaining chip.

Announcing the appointment Wednesday, Netanyahu called Ohana “a lawyer who knows the judicial system well.” He added that the new minister was one of the proposers of the controversial Nation-State Law, which defines Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people.

Ohana lives in Tel Aviv with his partner Alon Hadad, and their four-year-old twins who were born in the U.S. to a surrogate mother.

MK Bezalel Smotrich from the Union of Right-Wing Parties, who was outspoken in his desire to be Justice Minister, is likely to be appointed Transportation Minister instead. Smotrich recently said that he would like Israel to be governed by Jewish religious law (halacha).

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Parade Arrests
Around 15,000 people turned out yesterday for the Gay Pride parade in Jerusalem. At least 2,600 police officers were deployed to secure the event. The police said at least 49 people had been detained before and during the parade, including a man carrying a knife who was arrested by undercover police officers just hours before the event was due to get underway. The police said the suspect refused to identify himself and was taken for further questioning.

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Election Update
PM Netanyahu has decided not to allow Ayelet Shaked to join the Likud list for the upcoming election, as was initially speculated. Many senior Likud members had informed Netanyahu that they would oppose allowing her to join. Shaked can either run again with the New Right party or join the larger United Right.

According to the latest poll, Likud is estimated to win 37 seats against 33 for Blue and White.

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Richest Israeli
According to a report in the Hebrew business daily The Marker, Israeli-American philanthropist Miriam Adelson is the richest Israeli of 2018 with an estimated value of $22 billion. Most of her wealth was transferred to her this year as a gift from her husband, philanthropist and businessman Sheldon Adelson, in the form of stock shares of his Las Vegas Sands Corporation.

The Marker also reported that it was due to Miriam’s influence that her husband founded the daily newspaper Yisrael Hayom and has made huge donations to Israel-related projects over the years, such as Birthright Israel.

Miriam, 73, born and raised in Tel Aviv, went to medical school and practiced internal medicine in a Tel Aviv hospital.

Second on the list, Roman Abramovich, worth $13 billion.

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Shavuot
The holiday of Shavuot begins Saturday night and extends for one day in Israel and two days outside of Israel. 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 6-5-2019

Stabbing
A 46 year old man walking in the street in Ramat Hasharon, a city in central Israel, was stabbed and wounded this morning. Witnesses say that the attacker came out of a nearby building site and swore at his victim in Arabic. He stabbed the man several times in the back and pelvis. The victim was evacuated to hospital in stable condition. Police are searching for the attacker and are still investigating whether to classify the attack as nationalistically motivated.

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Fires Arson
An investigation into the recent wave of fires in Israel suggests that hundreds of blazes were the work of Arab arsonists operating in the greater Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh areas. Last week, Jerusalem police arrested three Arab residents of Jerusalem suspected of setting fires around the capital.

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Rocket Stockpile
According to a recent Wall Street Journal report, Gaza terror groups have replenished their stockpile of rockets, which totals around 10,000, including long range rockets that can hit Tel Aviv and other populated areas far from the border. Most of the rockets are made with “crude material” brought into Gaza via tunnels from Sinai. Hamas leaders confirm the stockpile and threaten to use it.

Islamic Jihad leader Ziad Nahala said, “Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip have the capability to launch a thousand rockets a day for a whole month.” He added, “In the last round of conflict, Palestinian factions limited themselves to medium-range fire. In the next confrontation with Israel, rockets will be fired not only at Tel Aviv, but at all Israeli cities, whatever the consequences.”

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Driver Defense
After a spate of attacks against bus drivers, the Histadrut labor union has decided to equip drivers with tear gas, and train them on using it.

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Nechama Rivlin
Nechama Rivlin, the wife of Israel’s president, will be laid to rest today at Mount Herzl cemetery in Jerusalem, on what would have been her 74th birthday. She passed away on Tuesday from complications that occurred following a lung transplantation which she had undergone in March. Rivlin was a popular first lady who focused on the arts, the environment and children with special needs, and was a trusted adviser to her husband. May her memory serve as a blessing.

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Israel news summary

Israel News for 6-3-2019

IDF Strikes Syria
IDF warplanes struck Iranian and Syrian military targets near the Golan yesterday killing 3 Syrian soldiers and 7 foreign fighters. The strikes came in response to several rockets that were fired into northern Israel, towards Mt. Hermon, from Syria on Saturday. There were no Israeli casualties or damage.

An Israeli military spokesman confirmed on Twitter that Israel targeted several military positions in Syria. He said the targets included two artillery batteries, several observation and intelligence posts and an SA2 air defense unit.

Israel also struck a T-4 airbase in Homs, hours after an Iranian Revolutionary Guard aircraft reportedly carrying advanced weaponry landed there. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition’s war monitor, said that at least five people were killed – three of which were Syrian soldiers – and two others wounded, and that an ammunition warehouse was hit in addition to damage to buildings and equipment.
 
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US Warns Lebanon
According to a report in the Saudi-owned Al Hayat newspaper on Sunday, the US has warned the Lebanese government to take action against Hezbollah guided missile production facilities in the country before Israel does.

The American warning is believed to be the reason behind a defiant speech by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah on Friday, in which he admitted that his Iran-backed organization possesses and continues to develop precision-guided missiles.

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You’re Fired
PM Netanyahu, yesterday, fired Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked from the cabinet. The New Right party the two started failed to win enough votes to get them reelected to the Knesset, and with new elections on the horizon for September, the PM apparently felt that they should not continue in their posts without the support of the electorate.

Any cabinet appointments that are made before the next election will be temporary. Bennet will reportedly run again with his New Right party, but it is unclear whether Shaked will be joining him again or join the Likud instead.

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Turkish Shuls
Istanbul’s new international airport, considered to be the largest in the world, has inaugurated two Jewish prayer rooms in the airport’s regular and business class lounges. The new airport is the hub for Turkish Airlines, which has 10 daily flights between Tel Aviv and Istanbul.

Rabbi Mendy Chitrik, the Chabad emissary and Ashkenazi rabbi of Turkey, said “There are more Turkish Airlines flights from Tel Aviv to Istanbul than from Istanbul to London. They supply between 600 and 5,000 Kosher meals daily, certified by the Rabbinate of Turkey, under my supervision.”

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