Israel news summary

Israel News for 11-27-2019

News Update

No Returns: Defense Minister Naftali Bennett instructed security authorities to halt any future release of the bodies of terrorists held by Israel, regardless of the terrorist organization the person was affiliated with. The new directive must now be approved by the security cabinet, which it should be shortly.

Israel currently holds the bodies of Hamas terrorists and of other terrorists who have perpetrated major terror attacks. The rest of the bodies are returned gradually to Palestinian hands, usually on Friday evenings, when public attention in Israel is not directed to it.

The family of Lt. Hadar Goldin, whose body is still being held by Hamas since 2014, praised the Defense Minister’s decision saying, “It is inconceivable to continue releasing dead or living terrorists while the soldiers are held in Hamas’s hands.”

More Rockets and Response: Two rockets were fired into Israel from Gaza yesterday. One was intercepted by the Iron Dome and the other fell into an open field. In response, IDF planes struck Hamas military targets in Gaza. DM Bennett warned Hamas of severe consequences if they continue attacking Israel.

Around 8,000 demonstrated in support of PM Netanyahu in Tel Aviv last night.

In what was most likely an accident, a tank shell fired from Egypt hit the dining hall of a yeshiva in Bnei Netzarim, a community located only a few kilometers west of Egypt and south of the Gaza Strip on Tuesday. The students were studying in a different part of the building, so there were no casualties. Rabbi Hillel Rothkoff, the head of the yeshiva, called it a great miracle.

IDF Central Command grounded all its Yas’ur-type Sikorsky helicopters until further notice, following a crash-landing earlier that day in the Negev desert. There were no casualties. The IDF is in the process of replacing the helicopters with newer models.

El Al will start testing direct flights between Israel and Australia. The flight will be made with the Dreamliner and take between 17 and 18 hours. Meanwhile, El Al reported a decline of 30% in gross income over the last quarter – from $42 million last quarter to $27 million – resulting in a 19% drop in the company’s stocks on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 11-25-2019

News Update

Palestinians in the West Bank have declared Tuesday “a day of rage” in protest over the United States decision to soften its position on Israeli settlements in the area. The demonstrations will be held under the leadership of veteran Fatah leader Mahmoud al-Aloul, with the knowledge and consent of Palestinian President of Mahmoud Abbas. They are expected to turn violent in areas where Israeli soldiers are stationed.

The Likud party is expected to hold a primary in six weeks. PM Netanyahu’s chief rival Gideon Saar is expected to challenge him for the party leadership.

US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley met in Israel Sunday with his Israeli counterpart Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi. The IDF said that the two discussed “a series of operational topics and regional developments.” General Milley also reaffirmed the US commitment to its relationship with Israel. Last week, US Air Force Chief of Staff David L. Goldfein visited Israel to participate in the Blue Flag joint military exercise. On November 10, the commander of American military forces in the Middle East arrived in Israel for meetings with the IDF leadership.

A free bus service started operating this past Shabbat in and between the cities of Tel Aviv, Ramat Hasharon, Kiryat Ono, and Givatayim. The service began at the commencement of the sabbath on Friday evening. It has 500 stops in the participating cities, placed so as to avoid areas with sizable religious populations. The service does not come within the definition of public transport, which under the religious status quo does not operate in these cities on Saturdays, but is a private venture for the welfare of the citizens of the cities involved, and use of it is free of charge.

Pepsico, which acquired Israeli company SodaStream over a year ago, is planning to expand the SodaStream facility near Rahat at a cost of NIS 320 million. SodaStream currently has 1,500 employees at the plant, and will hire 1,000 more for the expanded plant.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 11-22-2019

News Update

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit yesterday indicted PM Netanyahu on charges on charges which include bribery, fraud and breach of trust. It is the first time in the nation’s history a sitting premier faces a criminal trial. According to the indictment, Netanyahu accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars of champagne and cigars from billionaire friends, offered to trade favors with a newspaper publisher and used his influence to help a wealthy telecom magnate in exchange for favorable coverage on a popular news site.

It could take many months before the cases are brought before the court. Netanyahu could also seek a plea deal rather than stand trial. Netanyahu’s supporters in the Knesset could move to pass a bill granting him parliamentary immunity from prosecution, but with no clear majority in the Knesset, it’s unclear how such a bill would pass.

To read more detail about the indictment charges click here.

The PM called the indictment against him a “government coup” and pledged to continue leading the country. He said, “This evening we are witnesses to an attempted government coup against the prime minister, using false allegations and stained investigations. You must have noticed that the attorney general’s decision was made and announced at an unprecedented speed, and I would say during the most sensitive time for our political system since the establishment of the state.” And he continues along the same train of thought for quite a while.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit said, “Netanyahu is a richly deserving person. I made the decision to indict him with a heavy heart, but with a whole heart. Law enforcement is not a matter of choice, it’s not a matter of left or right, it’s not a matter of politics, it’s my duty to the citizens of this country. The public interest demands that no-one should be above the law. It’s a hard day, but also an important day.”

Now What? Netanyahu can still legally run for election and form a government, which is what he will almost definitely do. And if he succeeds in finally forming a government, there’s a very good chance that its first order of business will be to pass legislation to grant him immunity from prosecution. So, the voters will decide.

In other news, tens of thousands of Jews will be spending this Shabbat in Hebron, which coincides with the weekly Torah reading of Chayeh Sarah, which recounts the story of Abraham purchasing the Cave of the Patriarchs. And we’ve never left.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 11-21-2019

News Update

Last night, Blue and White leader Gantz informed President Rivlin that he is unable to form a government. Now there will be a 21 day period during which any member of the Knesset can form a government. PM Netanyahu urged Gantz to join a unity government with, of course, Netanyahu as Prime Minister. That seems to be a dealbreaker for the Blue and White leadership, who refuse to have a PM who is under criminal investigation and could be indicted within the next few weeks on fraud, breach of trust and bribery charges. Even if he his indicted, that wouldn’t mean that he has to step down from his political role. But it could put a damper on his election prospects. Or not (it doesn’t seem to bother his voters very much).

More troubling for Netanyahu could be a challenge from within his own party by his primary rival Gideon Saar, who claims that he would be able to form a unity government and avoid a third round of elections. But it’s unlikely that Netanyahu will be unseated by his own party.

Russia condemned Israel’s attack against Iranian bases in Syria yesterday, and also revealed information about another 4 Israeli attacks that occurred in the last 10 days. They accused Israel of causing ‘increased tensions and the potential for conflict around Syria,’ and ‘counteracting our efforts to control the situation’.

The members of the UN Security Council strongly opposed the U.S. announcement that it no longer considers Israeli settlements to be a violation of international law and warned that the new American policy undermines a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Britain, France, Germany, Belgium, and Poland also released a statement reiterating that “all settlement activity is illegal under international law.”

Israel news summary

Israel News for 11-20-2019

News Update

IDF airstrikes hit dozens of Iranian military targets in Syria early this morning. The targets included surface-to-air missiles, weapons warehouses and military bases near Damascus. Eleven militants were killed. After the Syrian military fired an air defense missile, a number of Syrian aerial defense batteries were also destroyed.

The Israeli strikes came in response to 4 Iranian rocket that was fired from Syria into the Golan on Tuesday. All 4 rockets were intercepted. Defense Minister Naftali Bennett said, “The rules have changed: whoever fires on Israel during the day will not sleep at night. Our message to the leaders of Iran is simple: you are no longer immune. Any place you dispatch your tentacles, we will chop them off.”

Blue and White leader Gantz met with PM Netanyahu last night in another attempt to form a unity government, with less than 12 hours remaining until he must return his mandate to form a government to the president. But reports say that the Blue and White leadership, including Yair Lapid, Moshe Ya’alon and Gabi Ashkenazi, are refusing to join a government led by Netanyahu.

Yisrael Beiteynu leader Lieberman, who holds the key to a non-unity government coalition, said that the country is headed for another round of elections since neither Gantz nor Netanyahu is willing to make the compromises necessary to form a unity government. Lieberman has said he will not join a narrow coalition either on the right or left. That leaves only 2 options: unity or elections.

The US, on Monday, reversed its long held position that Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria are illegal according to international law. Israel is clearly happy with the policy change. The Palestinians are furious. The US evangelical community, President Trumps main base of support, praised the move. The UN says the settlements are still illegal.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 11-18-2019

News Update

With only three days left for Blue and White leader Benny Gantz to form a government before he must return his mandate to the president, President Rivlin scolded both Gantz and PM Netanyahu saying, “I believe a government could still be formed. The disagreements are more personal, rather than logical, political or for the interest of the state. Israel’s leaders need to understand that the citizens are the main priority”.

The Blue and White negotiation team met earlier Sunday with their counterparts from Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteynu and reportedly had reached an agreement on outlines for a possible government. Senior officials close to Gantz claim that he is determined to form a government in which he is prime minister, even if it means relying on the support of the Arab parties, at least for the short term. They claim that Lieberman is willing to sit in such a government.

But wait. Netanyahu and Lieberman met yesterday in a meeting that was apparently considered to be a success, which could mean that Lieberman could be brought back into a right wing government led by Netanyahu. At the same time, leaders of the ultra-orthodox (haredim) parties said that they see a possibility of reaching a compromise with Lieberman on religious issues related to public policy that do not contradict Jewish law. If Lieberman and the haredim reach a compromise, that would allow PM Netanyahu to form a narrow right wing government.

The next few days will be interesting.

Meanwhile, White House sources say that President Trump is also frustrated and “very disappointed” with Netanyahu and Israel politics in general, which he feels is preventing him from releasing his long awaited peace plan.

Two rockets were fired from Gaza at Be’er Sheva on Saturday. The IDF responded with air strikes against Hamas outposts. Both rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 11-14-2019

News Update

A ceasefire went into effect this morning between Israel and Islamic Jihad. Since Tuesday, at least 25 terrorists were killed by the IDF as they tried to launch missiles and anti-tank rockets towards Israel. In total, 450 rockets were fired at Israel since Tuesday morning. Around 90% of those heading towards population centers were intercepted by the Iron Dome. Sixty percent of the rockets landed in unpopulated, open areas.

IDF aircraft carried out dozens of strikes on Islamic Jihad targets, hitting military compounds, weapons depots, training facilities, command centers, rocket launcher, naval vessels, tunnels and observation posts.

Israel’s Magen David Adom emergency service said 77 people were treated for various degrees of injuries since the violence broke out, including an elderly woman from Ashkelon whose assisted living facility was hit by a rocket.

Defense Minister Naftali Bennett said today, “The IDF will operate with full impunity and without restrictions against anyone attempting to cause harm to the population of Israel. There will be nowhere to hide.”

Israel news summary

Israel News for 11-13-2019

News Update

The IDF positioned artillery batteries around the Gaza border Wednesday in anticipation of an escalation of hostilities. An IDF infantry battalion was also dispatched to the area overnight along with an infantry battalion from the Golani Brigade. The IDF said that its airstrikes had targeted Islamic Jihad’s production of long-range rockets and warheads in Gaza, including its stores of raw materials.

Over 250 rockets have been fired at Israel since the fighting began on Tuesday morning. The Iron Dome has intercepted around 90% of the missiles.

Palestinian sources claim that 22 people have been killed in Gaza in the fighting, including a Gaza brigade commander and other Islamic Jihad terrorists.

An Islamic Jihad spokesman said today that his group was not interested in a ceasefire until it was done retaliating for the assassination of its senior Gaza commander. Egyptian and UN officials have been trying to find a way to put an end to the violence.

And the rocket fire continues.


Israel news summary

Israel News for 11-12-2019

News Update

An IDF airstrike in Gaza killed Islamic Jihad senior commander Bahaa Abu al-Atta early this morning, in the first targeted killing of terrorist leaders since 2014. PM Netanyahu said that Abu al-Atta was planning imminent attacks against Israel. Blue and White leader Benny Gantz tweeted his support of the killing, and said that Israel’s security supersedes all politics.

As of 1pm today, over 150 rockets had been fired into Israel from Gaza, in response to the assassination, of which the Iron Dome intercepted around 50.

Twenty-nine people were treated for light injuries in the rocket attacks. One person was hurt in a direct hit on the Route 4 highway at Gan Yavne next to the southern city of Ashdod and a 35-year-old man was wounded in Moshav Be’er Tuvia in southern Israel. Fifteen people were hurt as they ran for their bomb shelters and 13 people were treated for shock. A house in the southern community of Netivot sustained a direct hit from a rocket.

The IDF is expecting several days of fighting.

Shortly after the assassination in Gaza, a bomb exploded in the home of Islamic Jihad’s deputy leader Akram Al-Ajouri in Damascus. Two people were killed dead and six others injured, but it is unclear whether Al-Ajouri was one of the casualties.

In other news: Jordanian media is reporting that Jordanian intelligence recently foiled a plot by two suspected militants to mount terror attacks against U.S. and Israeli diplomats alongside U.S. troops deployed at a military base in the south of the country. The suspects had planned to drive vehicles into their targets and attack them with firearms and knives.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 11-11-2019

News Update

Naftali Bennett, leader of the New Right party, was appointed Defense Minister yesterday. The position had been held by PM Netanyahu. The appointment is seen as a move by the PM to keep Bennet’s party firmly in the Likud block and out of a potential government formed by Blue and White. Likud and New Right will also operate as a joint faction in the Knesset for the time being.

The latest poll released yesterday shows that if new elections were held now, the balance of power between the right and left would remain the same. Deadlock.

Benny Gantz, leader of Blue and White, faced verbal abuse from guests at the wedding of the son of a Haredi MK that he attended last night. Gantz received a warm reception from most of the wedding attendees.

Jordan’s King Abdullah announced Sunday that two pieces of land leased by Israel would be returned to the “full sovereignty” of Jordan. Israel has controlled the agricultural lands for over 70 years and had been permitted to lease the areas under the 1994 peace agreement, with the assumption that the arrangement would be extended once again. Last year, Jordan chose not to renew a clause of the peace treaty that granted Israel use of the two enclaves, called Tzofar and Naharayim in Hebrew, inside Jordanian territory.

Amazon has launched a free delivery service in Israel for purchases of over $49. The free delivery offer does not include all products, but does extend to thousands of products in various categories, which are marked, “Free shipping to Israel.” There is also an option to search for products in stores of specific sellers included in the bargain campaign. Amazon’s international website is now also available in Hebrew.