Israel news summary

Israel News for 12-18-2019

News Update

The Shin Bet (Israel’s FBI) announced today that it had arrested 50 Palestinian terror suspects in recent weeks, including those believed to have murdered 17-year-old Rina Shnerb in an attack at a West Bank tourist spot in August. The suspects belong to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and plotted to carry out “major terrorist attacks.” A large number of firearms and bombs were also found.

An IDF aircraft killed an armed terrorist who was approaching the security fence along the Gaza border yesterday.

Sources say that the Israeli military is considering cancelling rocket alert sirens, leaving the civilian population to rely solely on the Iron Dome defense system. The reason is because most Israeli injuries during the rocket attacks have been caused by running to find a bomb shelter. A large number of people are also often treated for shock due to anxiety involved with hearing the sirens.

During the last bout of violence, during which 450 rockets were fired at Israel, 60% of the rockets landed in open areas. Out of the remaining 40% that had been heading for residential areas, 90% were intercepted by the Iron Dome.

According to the IDF, due to the Iron Dome’s improved capabilities, it’s appropriate to reexamine the current policy and take a calculated risk in an effort to reduce the number of casualties.

The military emphasized, however, that the proposal only intends to stop the sirens during occasional rocket fire that occurs when “rouge” elements in Gaza fire rockets. During a war or a military operation the sirens would sound anytime a rocket fire is detected. In addition, the sirens policy in Israeli communities bordering Gaza also wouldn’t change since not all projectiles fired from such a short distance can be intercepted. The Home Front Command is against getting rid of the sirens. 

British newspaper The Telegraph is reporting that Hamas senior leaders are planning their attacks against Israel from offices in Istanbul, with the consent of Turkey’s president. Both Hamas and Turkish officials denied the report.

The high-speed express train line between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv was inaugurated today, 11 years after it was due to open and at more than twice the original cost. The train, which will open to the public on Saturday night, will take 28 minutes each way. The new train line is 57 kilometers long, runs over nine bridges and through five tunnels and cost NIS 7 billion to build.

The Hebrew weekly Makor Rishon reports that around 25% of the new immigrants to Israel from Russia and Ukraine just come to obtain an Israeli passport and then immediately return to their original countries. A cottage industry of companies promising expedited Israeli citizenship, and the passport that comes with it, have sprung up in Russia since the passage of a law allowing new immigrants to receive the travel document within the first three months of their aliyah. [Who knew that an Israeli passport was so valuable?]

Meanwhile, more than 40 Israeli civilians who landed on an El Al flight at Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport today were detained and had their passports confiscated. All were released after two hours of questioning and fingerprinting.

Prince Charles, the future King of England, plans to visit Israel in January to commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Intel has acquired Tel Aviv-based artificial intelligence chip developer Habana Labs Ltd. for $2 billion. Habana will continue to operate as an independent business unit under its current management team and will remain in Israel. In 2017 Intel bought Jerusalem-headquartered automotive chip developer Mobileye for $15.3 billion. Intel employs 12,000 people in Israel directly and another 1,100 through its subsidiary Mobileye. The State of Israel will collect somewhere between $350-$500 million of tax revenue from the sale.