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.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 11-7-2019

News Update

Democratic congressman from Michigan Andy Levin (who is Jewish), on a tour of the West Bank earlier this week, said he was enraged by the situation in Susya, where Palestinian villagers are denied water access, while Jewish settlers nearby are granted government-supplied amenities. Israel has several times in the past demolished Palestinian buildings in Susya, saying they were built without permits. Levin also praised the “resilience” of the Palestinian villagers.

Shin Bet chief Nadav Argaman said that his organization (Israel’s internal anti terror security force) has thwarted over 480 major terror attacks in the past year, and arrested over 500 terrorists. He also said that the Shin Bet stopped numerous cyber attacks against Israel. Argaman said, “The reality is very complex. We can say that on the surface we observe relative calm, but we must emphasize that this is on the surface – Hamas is trying with all its might to carry out terrorist attacks from Judea and Samaria with guidance from the Gaza Strip, Turkey and Lebanon.”

The Tel Aviv District Planning and Building Committee has confirmed a very large urban renewal project in Bat Yam. The plan is based on a demolition and reconstruction project in the Ramat Hanasi neighborhood in the west of the city, which would see 424 existing apartments replaced by 1,728 housing units. The project also includes thousands of square meters in commercial space, public buildings and open space.

According to traffic app Waze, Tel Aviv is the world’s fourth most traffic congested city. First place goes to Manilla, followed by Bogota and Jakarta. Sao Paulo came in fifth.

Professor Uri Marinov, the founder and director of the Environmental Protection Service (EPS) and the first Director General of the Ministry of Environmental Defense, is warning that rising sea levels caused by climate change will cause major flooding in Tel Aviv and other Israeli coastal cities and towns. He said, “The question is whether it will happen in the next five or ten years, and what will be the scale of the flood. If we don’t take the necessary measures right away, the coastal region will indeed be flooded.”

Israel news summary

Israel News for 11-5-2019

News Update

Israel’s Supreme Court upheld the ruling of a lower court that allowed the government to not renew the working visa of Omar Shakir, the local director of Human Rights Watch. The government claims that Shakir is supporting the international BDS movement, which promotes boycotting Israel. An Israeli law from 2017 bars entry to those who publicly support a boycott of Israel or its West Bank settlements. Shakir, a US citizen, will need to leave Israel within 20 days.

Jordan will return its ambassador to Israel in the next few days, after the two countries reached an agreement to release two Jordanian citizens being held in administrative detention in Israel. Israel’s deputy foreign minister, Tzipi Hotovely, said that both detainees had been suspected of security offenses. Their release, approved by the Shin Bet and the PM, is seen as a goodwill gesture.

Annexation Moves: Likud MK Sharren Haskel is preparing a bill that would require Israel to annex the Jordan Valley area. New Right leader Ayelet Shaked, on Sunday, proposed legislation for the annexation of the Gush Etzion block and Ma’aleh Adumim.

The Housing Cabinet has approved the Ministry of Tourism’s plan for a cable car to Jerusalem’s Western Wall from the old railway station. The cable car will travel over 1.4 kilometers and there will be 73 cars with the capacity to transport 3,000 people in each direction.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 11-1-2019

News Update

The Israeli Air Force will host a massive international exercise called “Blue Flag”, from Sunday to Thursday. The exercise will be hosted at the Ovda air base in southern Israel and will include over 1,000 air crews and personnel from Israel, Germany, Italy, Greece and the US.

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) will soon test its version of Air Force One. The Boeing 767-300 was converted into a “head of state” plane over 3 years and at a cost of over NIS 700 million. The plane will be able to fly non-stop to the Far East and the US. Advanced encoded communications systems are installed on the aircraft in order to enable a president or prime minister to maintain continuous contact with various parties when the plane is airborne and far from the country’s borders. [No more chartered El Al flights!]

Blue and White leader Gantz met with the leaders of the Arab Joint List on Thursday as part of his efforts to form a coalition government. Arab MKs expressed satisfaction with the discussion, which revolved primarily around social and financial issues effecting the Arab community. They look forward to further meetings.

Jason Greenblatt on Thursday officially completed his term as US President Donald Trump’s envoy to the Middle East. Avi Berkowitz, a 30 year old Orthodox Jew from Lawrence (Long Island) who met Jared Kushner at a Passover getaway in Arizona many years ago, is expected to take over most of Greenblatt’s duties.

A British production company with an Israeli branch is developing a TV series based on the live of PM Netanyahu, based on the biography by Ben Caspit. [Look out]

 

Israel news summary

Israel News for 10-30-2019

News Update

A terror attempt was foiled today when a female terrorist was neutralized when she tried to stab Border Police officers at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. A preliminary investigation into the incident revealed the attack was pre-planned and the woman managed to make it through several checkpoints at the heavily guarded shrine.

Moving Funds: PM Netanyahu indicated in a speech this week that he plans to move funds designated for civilian purposes to military spending to meet any threats from Iran. There are no details about amounts or timing.

Blue and White leader Gantz will be the key speaker at the annual memory service for the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin that will take place Saturday evening at Rabin Square outside Tel Aviv city hall. Also, Gantz said this week, “When I will be the Prime Minister of Israel, I will embrace all streams of Judaism. We are part of an inspiringly colorful mosaic of cultures and traditions. I will nurture this pluralism.” He promised to implement the compromise agreement relating to creating a non denominational prayer area at the southern part of the Western Wall.

Israeli embassies and consulates throughout the world shut down today in protest of the Finance Ministry’s demand that foreign ministry employees pay taxes on the financial allowances they receive for being overseas.

There’s been a butter shortage in Israel for the past year, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to get better anytime soon.  The reason for the shortage stems from the fact that the government caps the price of butter, which makes farmers divert their production to more profitable products. There are also import quotas and duties on imported butter.

The Jerusalem municipality wants to triple the size of the Malcha Mall, but neighborhood residents are fighting the plans, claiming that the expansion will harm their quality of life.

Israel news summary

Israel News for 10-28-2019

News Update

J Street, the left-wing Jewish Middle East policy group, is calling on Democratic presidential candidates to make U.S. aid to Israel conditional. Jeremy Ben-Ami, the group’s president, called on candidates to reverse Trump administration policies that have favored Israel over the Palestinian Authority and announced that the organization’s student wing, J Street U, launched a campaign to press the Democratic Party to include in its platform a call on Israel to end its presence in Judea and Samaria.

Visiting Jerusalem today, US Treasury Secretary Mnuchin promised to “ramp up” US sanctions and other pressure against Iran.

Unity Talks: Blue and White leader Gantz and PM Netanyahu met on Sunday to discuss the possibility of forming a unity government. Nothing was accomplished, other than decided to meet again. No one wants another election.

Soda Stream plans to replace all of its plastic bottles with metal ones by 2021, eliminating the production of hundreds of millions of disposable plastic bottles over the coming years.

Over the weekend Israel and Jordan marked 25 years since signing a peace treaty.