Israel news summary

Israel News for 7-17-2019

Gaza Workers
Israeli officials are discussing the possibility of allowing 5,000 workers from Gaza to work in Israeli border communities. One security official in favor of the plan said, “It’s cheaper than paying Thai workers. They won’t have to sleep inside Israel, and most importantly, they’ll have something to lose, they won’t go off and burn the field in which they work.”

He added, “In Gaza, people will choose working in Israel over digging terror tunnels. Each of the 5,000 will be thoroughly checked on his way in and out of the Strip and will earn about NIS 3,500 in comparison to about NIS 1,000 he can make inside Gaza — if he’s lucky and has a job there. We’re talking about more than NIS 25 million each month, that will allow workers to purchase products in Gaza and improve the economic situation there, which will in turn bring calm.”

The Shin Bet is rejecting the idea, since unlike in the West Bank, Israel has no presence inside the Strip, and thus can’t make immediate arrests of terror suspects if it needs to. It presented state officials with recent cases in which Hamas took advantage of sick Gazans who entered Israel for treatment and sent them into the West Bank to deliver information, funds or weaponry for terror purposes. The Shin Bet fears that Hamas could send workers on similar missions inside border fence communities so they can to gather information on IDF patrols, school schedules and similar sensitive information.

For further reading click here.

Election Update
The Labor party and Meretz have agreed to run in a joint list in the upcoming elections. They have also apparently asked Ehud Barak to throw his new party into the group too. The latest polls show that if the three parties ran together, they would win 15 seats, compared to the six and four currently held by Labor and Meretz respectively. But the alliance would not strengthen the left-wing camp as a whole and would weaken the center-left Blue and White party, giving the Likud an advantage.

For further reading click here.

Controversial Purchase
The Ateret Cohanim Organization, which purchases properties in the various quarters of the Old City of Jerusalem for Jews to live in, has just recently purchased two hotels near Jaffa Gate (Christian Quarter) from the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate. The Patriarchate apparently didn’t know exactly to whom it was selling the properties. Now it wants the courts to overturn the sale. But the courts have upheld the deal. Ateret Cohanim is expected to vacate the current tenants of the building and replace them with Jewish resident.

In a Yedioth Ahronoth’s report, it was revealed that the former manager of the Petra Hotel, Ted Bloomfield, had received funds for years from the Ateret Cohanim organization in order to push for the deal to take place, and has records that prove it. In light of this new evidence, the Greek Patriarchy is expected to file a request to cancel the court ruling approving the sale.

If the sale is upheld and the buildings are vacated, it could cause a major crisis between Israel and the Greek Orthodox Church, which could also include Russia.

The controversy could also have an impact on other lands under dispute in the capital; the Patriarchy is the original owner of massive lands within Jerusalem’s Rehavia and Talbiye neighborhoods, leased to the Israel National Fund for a period of 99 years, set to end soon. Hundreds of Israelis could lose their homes in case the church reclaims its lands in these central West Jerusalem neighborhoods.

For further reading click here.

Peretz Apology
In an official letter to the Jewish Agency Chairman, which was addressed to the leadership of the Jewish communities around the world and especially the Jewish Federations in North America, Rabbi Peretz wrote: “Out of deep worry for the fate of the Jewish People, I used the word ‘Holocaust’, an expression that expresses the depth of pain and may not have been in place. Of course I did not mean to hurt any Diaspora Jews.

He wrote, “In my remarks, I described how anxious I am for the future of the Jewish People, especially in light of the increasing phenomenon of assimilation among Diaspora Jews, something that keeps me up at night. As someone who has been a lifelong advocate of love of Jews, it is important for me to make it clear that I respect and cherish the entire Jewish People in Israel and the Diaspora. In this context, I would be happy to cooperate with you to deepen education to Jewish identity.”

For further reading click here.

Ancient Find
A huge ancient settlement, one of the largest of its kind in the region, has been discovered during archaeological excavations by the Israel Antiquities Authority near Motza Junction (near Jerusalem). According to Dr. Hamoudi Khalaily and Dr. Jacob Vardi, excavation directors at Motza on behalf of the Antiquities Authority, “this is the first time that such a large-scale settlement is discovered in Israel. At least 2,000 – 3,000 residents lived here – an order of magnitude that parallels a present-day city!” The settlement is thought to be from the Neolithic period, which lasted until 3,500 BCE.

For further reading click here.

Hot Hot
A severe heat wave is hitting Israel today, with temperatures hitting 100 degrees Fahrenheit almost everywhere. Meteorologists say that the heat wave will be brief, and temps will begin to cool down by evening. Conditions will be extremely dry and there will be winds, so the Fire and Rescue Services are warning people not to light fires in open areas and forests.

Try to stay cool!

For further reading click here.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 7-15-2019

Education Minister
In a televised interview over the weekend, Education Minister Rafi Peretz said that he supports conversation therapy for homosexuals and that he has referred people to it. His words unleashed a flood of criticism. Hundreds of protestors demonstrated in Tel Aviv yesterday, calling for his dismissal. PM Netanyahu tweeted that Peretz’s statements are unacceptable and “do not represent my government’s position.”

Justice Minister Amir Ohana, who is openly gay, said “sexual orientation does not require therapy nor conversion. Preconceived notions and ignorance require therapy and conversion.”
 
Peretz responded by trying to clarify his statements. He said that his words were distorted. He said, “I love and respect every person as he or she is. This is the essence of my educational path, this is my approach to life. That is the education I’ve given to thousands of graduates of the preparatory academy. The combination of a rabbi and a politician doesn’t obligate me to hide the truth.”

He said, “I was also asked about my relationship with the LGTBQ community. Anyone who wants to hear exactly what I said is invited to watch the interview and see that it is not like what everyone is shouting. I said that first of all, I respect every human being. I emphasized that I was not giving grades to anyone. When I was specifically asked about conversion treatments, I said from my own experience that when I was approached by Religious Zionist students and asked for guidance, I referred them to professionals at their request and saw that it was possible. I did not say that I was in favor of conversion treatments.”

“I first gave my students a hug and spoke to them warmly. I also offered to study and look into it together, with the goal that the student opposite me will recognize himself better. From that point, the choice is his own and I respect and love each one regardless of their sexual orientation. Sometimes the most convenient thing is to swim with the stream and scream with everyone. You’ll learn that there are other opinions, complex but inclusive. Accepting the other is not the possession of one side. I am not coercive and I do not intend to impose anything on anyone.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu said he spoke with Rabbi Peretz and clarified: “The Education Minister’s statements regarding the gay community are not acceptable to me and do not represent the stance of a government led by me. I spoke this evening with Rabbi Rafi Peretz, who explained himself and emphasized that Israel’s educational system will continue to accept every Israeli child as he or she is, without discriminating based on gender identity or sexual orientation.”

For further reading click here.

Gaza Talks
Delegations from Qatar and the United Nations will enter the Gaza Strip in the coming days in order to continue mediating the indirect talks between Israel and Hamas. This comes in the wake of renewed tensions along the Gaza border. Yesterday a mortar shell was fired from Gaza and landed in an open area in Israel.

Also, an Egyptian delegation comprised of senior officials of the General Intelligence Service, entered the Strip on Friday. They held talks with the Hamas officials and other factions in Gaza City before leaving the enclave early Saturday. On Friday thousands of Gazans took part in violent demonstrations along the border fence.

For further reading click here.

Afula Park
Last month the city of Afula issued a regulation prohibiting access to a large public park from non residents. Arab rights groups challenged the ruling in the Nazareth district court, claiming that the regulation was directed at excluding Arabs from nearby villages from visiting the park. Lawyers for Afula, a city of 50,000 people, contended the restrictions stemmed solely from a desire to reduce overcrowding during the summer months and keep maintenance costs down.

A court yesterday struck down the town regulation and ordered the park open to everyone. Judge Danny Sarfati stopped short of accusing it of racism and cited a legal opinion by Israel’s attorney general, who said municipal parks were public property open to all.

[Apparently, Israel is not an apartheid state after all]

For further reading click here.

Traffic Jam
A 3 year potential traffic jam has begun at the main intersection at the entrance to Jerusalem from Route 1, as a result of a major construction project of a new business district that is expected to bring an additional 60,000 jobs to the capital. The road will be closed to private vehicles but open for public transport.

For further reading click here.

Yiddish Music
Did you know that lots of Yiddish songs were written about the experiences of Russian Jewish soldiers during WWII? To watch the a concert of previously unrecorded songs about Jewish resistance and bravery, click here.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 7-10-2019

Hamas Training
Hamas yesterday held a massive military exercise throughout Gaza. All land crossings were closed and fishermen were banned going out to sea. [I wonder what they’re training for…hmm.]

For further reading click here.

Tunnel Found
The IDF has discovered a tunnel in southern Israel, originating in Gaza. The tunnel was found in an area in which many similar excavations have been discovered over the last 20 years. At this stage, it appears that this is an old tunnel, not one that was recently excavated or was intended to be used by Hamas in the near future.

For further reading click here.

Strong Statement
Rafi Peretz, Israel’s Education Minister, was quoted as having said that “assimilation [meaning intermarriage] is like the holocaust”. Apparently this is supposed to cause some sort of outrage, but should it? What he clearly meant was that assimilation was destroying the Jewish people, just as the holocaust did. Of course it’s not violent, physical destruction. But the end results — the depletion of the Jewish community (less Jews) — are the same.

Aliyah Stats
According to Israel’s Bureau of Statistics, 28,000 Jews made aliyah (immigrated) to Israel in 2018, which is 6.6% higher than in 2017. Around 10,400 of the immigrants came from Russia, which is a jump of 46% from last year. The number of immigrants from France was 2,400, a 24% drop from last year. In total, 78% of immigrants came from Europe, 15% from North America, around 5% from Asia and the rest from Africa. Most of the new immigrants are highly educated.

3D Map
We found this great 3D map of Israel, that really clarifies the topography of the land and gives you insight into the strategic issues related to defending it. Click here.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 7-8-2019

Drone Downed
The IDF said it shot down an unmanned aerial vehicle launched from Gaza, in southern Israel. There was no comment from Gaza. Hamas leaders are known to have developed a drone program with Iranian help. The drones are typically used for reconnaissance along the Israeli-Gaza border and it’s unclear if they have potential to carry out attacks.

For further reading click here.

Tragic Mistake
IDF released preliminary findings from an investigation into a failed commando raid into Gaza last November that resulted in the death of a Lt. Col. and the injuring of another officer. According to the findings, the officer’s death was a result of friendly fire that took place after the commando unit was uncovered by Hamas militants.

IDF Chief of General Staff Lieutenant General Aviv Kochavi said the military’s examination of the event showed there were mistakes made on the ground that led to the force being compromised. The findings show rescue forces excelled in extracting the troops and are considered for special citations.
 
The IDF Spokespersons Unit added that the lessons learned from the investigation are already being implemented and the division is currently developing a multi-year program based on these conclusions.

PM Netanyahu (who is also the Defense Minister) said, “the lessons will be learned and the recommendations will be implemented. I welcome the courage of the fighters and pilots who worked under very difficult conditions and the heroic rescue operation.”

For further reading click here.

More Protests
Protests by the Ethiopian community are expected to continue this week in the wake of news that prosecutors will recommend against manslaughter charges for the police officer who shot and killed a 19 year old Ethiopian Israeli, Solomon Tekah in Haifa last Sunday.

The police officer, who was with his wife and children at the time, claims that he spotted Tekah and several other teens, who appeared to be intoxicated, attacking a 13-year-old boy. When he intervened and identified himself as a police officer, Tekah and the others attacked him, hurling stones at him. That’s when the officer fired a shot that ricocheted off the ground and struck Tekah, killing him.

Tekah’s family are calling the killing racially motivated. They say, “We won’t stop the protests until the situation changes.”

For further reading click here.

Olympic Dream
Hamas officials are planning a grandiose project to build an Olympic village on the ruins of an Israeli settlement abandoned in 2005 when Israel withdrew from Gaza. The planned project on 720 acres where the settlement of Netzarim used to be, will include a state-of-the-art soccer stadium with 25,000 seats, an Olympic size swimming pool and an indoor stadium for competitions and training. The project will be built in stages, over at least 5 years.

Hamas believes is can raise the funds needed for the project internationally because their plan will benefit Gaza’s civilian population. No money has been raised yet. The area is now used for Hamas military training.

For further reading click here.

EU Investing
The European Commission will invest up to €15 million in Israeli companies for the purposes of commercializing products, in exchange for shares. The financing will be granted under a new, eighteen-month pilot program within the Horizon 2020 research and development funding framework. The objective of pilot program is for the EU to invest in 20-40 companies using a budget of €100 million.

For further reading click here.

Lobster Fest
Israel’s ambassador to Brazil, Yossi Sheli, posted a photo of himself at a dinner with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Sunday. Next to him were plates with what appear to be lobster, sloppily blurred out with black paint. Bolsonaro invited Sheli to lunch at a seafood restaurant in the capital of Brasília before the two made their way to the Maracana stadium to watch Copa América Final.

It’s unclear whether Bolsonaro had the lobsters blurred out to hide his expensive tastes from his cost conscious electorate, or whether Sheli was trying to hide the fact that he was eating non kosher food, which is taboo for Israeli diplomats while in official capacity.

For further reading click here.

Equestrians Qualify
Israel’s equestrian team has qualified for the Olympics jumping show. The team beat Poland by one point to qualify. Good luck!

For further reading click here.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 7-3-2019

Ethiopian Crisis
On Sunday an off duty police officer shot a 19 year old Ethiopian man, Solomon Tekah, in a Haifa suburb. The officer said he opened fire while walking with his family, in order to break up a fight that he felt was endangering his family’s safety. The officer’s conduct is being investigated and is under house arrest.

Yesterday, hundreds turned out for Tekah’s funeral. Later that evening thousands of protesters blocked several major highways throughout the country to protest what they consider to be racism against the Ethiopian community. Some protesters burned tires and smashed car windows. A total of 83 people were injured in the protests, including 47 police officers, and 60 protesters were arrested.

The PM called on protesters to stop blocking roads, while promising to work on solving the communities problems. He said, “We all mourn the tragic death of the teen Solomon Tekah, ” said Netanyahu. “We embrace the family. We embrace the Ethiopian community. These are not empty words. We know there are problems that need solving, and we need to work hard to solve them, but I ask one thing of you — stop blocking roads. We are a country with a rule of law. We won’t tolerate the blocking of roads. I ask of you, let us solve problems together while respecting the law.”

President Rivlin said,“We must exhaust the investigation into Solomon’s death and we must prevent the next death. The next hit. The next humiliation. We are all committed to this.”

He added, “The rage, it must not be expressed violently. The handful of protesters who chose violence is not the face of the protest. Let us sit together… Only in this way, in an open and piercing discourse, will we reach a change. We are brothers and sisters. We came here, all of us, to our homeland, which is home for every one of us, and we are all equal in it.”

For further reading click here.

Election Updates
Avigdor Lieberman strongly criticized the religious zionist pre-army prep schools, calling them hotbeds of extremism and private militias. He also said that the entire religious zionist sector was becoming much more extremist. Finally, he said that the Haredi parties should be kept out of the next government.

Ehud Barak said that he would not join in a government led by PM Netanyahu. And the granddaughter of former PM Yitzhak Rabin announced that she is joining Barak’s new party.

MK Amir Peretz won the Labor party primaries on Tuesday and will lead the party in the elections. It’s still unclear whether Labor will join together with any of the other left leaning parties in order to make sure they pass the threshold and make it into the Knesset.

Cyprus Hit
One of the missiles fired by the Syrian army to fend off the alleged Israeli attack earlier this week ended up hitting just outside of a village in northern Cyprus. Oops.

For further reading click here.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 7-1-2019

Israeli Attacks
Syrian media is reporting that Israeli warplanes attacked attacked military positions in central Syria early Monday, with a missile near the capital, Damascus, killing four civilians and wounding 21. The planes fired missiles from Lebanese airspace, and Syrian missile defense fired at the aircraft.

The Syrian London based Observatory for Human Rights reported Israeli jets and naval gunships attacked at least ten Syrian government targets among them a research facility and Hezbollah bases near the Syrian-Lebanon border and that fires broke out as a result of the attack.

Lebanese Al Mayadeen television reported one of the targets hit was the town of Al-Kiswah near Damascus which had been targeted by Israel in the past and contain weapons depot.

Israel did not comment.

For further reading click here.

Pollution Solution
Last week, the Regional Committee for Planning and Building for the Western Negev gave final approval to the laying of a sewage pipeline that will divert waste coming from Beit Lahia and Beit Hanoun in the north of the Gaza Strip. The pipeline will carry the waste directly to the Sderot sewage treatment plant.

Since the collapse of the Gazan sewage treatment plant, Gazans have been pouring the waste from the communities directly into Israeli territory via Hanoun River, next to Erez Border Crossing. The waste contaminates the soil and causes bad odors.

The cost of the new pipeline, which will run along the Gaza border, will likely be deducted from the monies transferred by Israel to the Palestinian Authority. Work on the pipeline will start in the coming days.

For further reading click here.

Pilgrimage Road
After six years of extensive archaeological excavations led by the Israel Antiquities Authority, a 350-meter-long section of the 2,000 year old Pilgrimage Road was unveiled at a festive ceremony in the City of David. The project was funded by the City of David Foundation, who plan to open up the site to the general public in the near future. The ancient road was the one taken by millions of pilgrims who visited the Temple during the 3 Jewish festivals of Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot.

US Ambassador David Friedman and White House special envoy Jason Greenblatt both attended the ceremony. Jordan strongly criticized Israel’s opening of the road, calling it “illegal and irresponsible” and claimed that Israel is trying to change the identity of Jerusalem.

The Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organization and chief Palestinian Authority negotiator Saeb Erekat attacked Friedman and Greenblatt for taking part in the event.

For further reading click here.

Share the Wealth
Palestinian engineers working for Israeli chip designer Mellanox Technologies are poised to share a $3.5 million payout when the company’s takeover by U.S. chip supplier Nvidia Corp is completed. Mellanox is one a few Israeli companies using Palestinian engineers, who cost about the same as engineers in India and the Ukraine (popular tech outsourcing locations).

Mellanox, a chip maker, offered stock options to more than 100 Palestinian engineers and designers based in the West Bank and Gaza, when it hired them as independent contractors as a result of a severe shortage of engineers in Israel. They will soon be able to exercise those options after Nvidia’s $6.8 billion takeover closes at the end of 2019, and stand to collectively earn as much as $3.5 million. The median daily wage in the West Bank is $28 and just $11 in Gaza, according to the Palestine Economic Policy Research Institute.

ASAL, the Palestinian company that outsources engineers from the West Bank and Gaza, also services Microsoft, Intel and Cisco. Palestinian universities produced around 3,000 engineers in 2018.

For further reading click here.