Israel news summary

Israel News for 3-29-19

Gaza Update
PM Netanyahu said yesterday that Israel will launch a ground operation into Gaza only if all other options fail. Hamas is planning a “million man march” for Saturday along the Gaza border with Israel, which could lead to violence and an escalation in the already fragile situation along the border.

The IDF Spokesman’s Unit said that due to the tense and sensitive situation, all fighting forces in the Israeli Southern Command will remain on their bases during the weekend, and a division, three brigades and artillery forces have been deployed to the Gaza border.

Former IDF Chief of Staff Rabi Ashkenazi, one of the leaders of the Blue and White party, said that Israel “needs to catch the terrorists when they’re not expecting it – in their camps, in their military headquarters, in their beds. [We] need to kill as many of Hamas’ leaders, commanders, and members as possible, not be afraid of a wide scale operation including sending in ground forces if need be – and immediately after that put forth a regional initiative to rehabilitate Gaza.”

Meanwhile, a delegation of Egyptian intelligence officials is shuttling between Gaza and Israel to try and broker some sort of agreement to halt hostilities.

In a sign that the situation seems to have calmed down, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh made his first public appearance since violence with Israel erupted earlier this week. During times of fighting, Hamas leaders typically go underground, fearing assassination.

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Changing Times
United Arab Emirates Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said that there needs to be a shift in Arab policy towards Israel in order for there to be peace. He said, “Many, many years ago, when there was an Arab decision not to have contact with Israel, that was a very, very wrong decision, looking back. Because clearly, you have to really dissect and divide between having a political issue and keeping your lines of communication open.”

Gargash said he expected increased contact between Arab countries and Israel through small bilateral deals and visits by politicians and athletic delegations.

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Jews Returning
During the 14th and 15th centuries, the Jews of Spain and Portugal were either expelled or forced to convert. Many reluctantly chose conversion, but continued to practice Judaism in secret. They were derogatorily called Marranos, or pigs, by Christians and “Anusim” (those forced) by Jews. Thousands of these Anusim, spread throughout Spain, Portugal and Central and South America continued hiding their true identities in the face of the inquisitions, some for hundreds of years, until their Jewish practices were all but totally forgotten.

There are tens, possibly hundreds of thousands, of descendants of these Anusim today. Some of them have begun to reconnect with their Jewish roots and even return to Judaism.

In Brazil, one rabbi runs a summer camp geared towards the Bnei (children of) Anusim scattered throughout the country. It is an inspiring story of lost Jews returning to their faith.

To read more about this story click here.

Salt Cave
Israeli researchers have surveyed what they now believe to be the world’s longest salt cave, a network of twisting passageways at the southern tip of the Dead Sea.

A recently completed survey of the Malham Cave determined the labyrinthine cavern stretches more than 10 kilometers (6 miles) in length. That puts it well ahead of Iran’s Namakdan Cave, previously thought to be the longest salt cave.

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