israel news

Israel News for 7-20-18

Hamas Hit
The Israeli air force attacked a terror squad launching incendiary balloons next to a Hamas military post in the southern Gaza Strip yesterday. Palestinian sources reported that one Hamas terrorist had been killed and three others wounded. Shortly after the attack, two mortar shells were fired at an IDF force near the border fence. No casualties were reported. The IDF released a statement shortly after the airstrike saying, “The IDF will continue to act with greater strength against terror activities that are being led by the Hamas terror movement and it views these activities seriously.”

Meanwhile, 14 fires broke out in the Gaza area as a result of incendiary balloons and kites yesterday. Egypt and the UN are reportedly pressuring Hamas to stop the firing of any terror devices in order to avoid an all out war with Israel.

Today, Defense Minister Lieberman warned Hamas that Israel would launch a “wide scale and painful military campaign” if the terror attacks continue.

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Nationality Law
The Knesset passed the controversial Nationality Law yesterday by a vote of 62-55. The law states that, “Israel is the historic homeland of the Jewish people and they have an exclusive right to national self-determination in it”. The bill also strips Arabic of its designation as an official language alongside Hebrew, downgrading it to a “special status” that enables its continued use within Israeli institutions.

Clauses that were dropped in last-minute political wrangling—and after objections by Israel’s president and attorney general—would have enshrined in law the establishment of Jewish-only communities, and instructed courts to rule according to Jewish ritual law when there were no relevant legal precedents.
Instead, a more vaguely-worded version was approved, which says: “The state views the development of Jewish settlement as a national value and will act to encourage and promote its establishment.”

PM Netanyahu said, “One-hundred-and-twenty-two years after Herzl published his vision, we’ve enshrined into the law the basic principle of our existence.”

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Houses Demolished
Two families residing in the Arab neighborhood of Beit Hanina in east Jerusalem demolished their respective homes in response to a Supreme Court ruling in January that the that the land on which the homes were constructed had been under Jewish ownership since 1974 and that documents presented by the Palestinian families to support their claims had been forged. They said that they would rather destroy them than face the prospect of Israelis moving in.

The Israel Land Fund, whose stated goal is “acquiring all the Land of Israel for the Jewish people,” advertised on its website after the court decision six months ago for “4 idealistic families” willing to move into the homes. The group’s director, Arieh King, told Reuters there were no immediate plans for new construction. He said the land had been sold by its original Israeli owners to other Israeli buyers, but did not identify them.

For further reading click here.

Rebels Surrender
Rebel forces occupying the Quneitra province (Syria) along the border with Israel have agreed to surrender to Syrian government forces. They have agreed either to accept safe passage to the rebel-held province of Idlib in the northwest or to remain in the area on the state’s terms. According to the agreement, rebels who want to remain in the Quneitra province will receive pardon. Persecution of rebel soldiers, officers and deserted citizens will cease and they will not face trial. Syrian forces and Russian police units will return to the ceasefire line and the demilitarized zone, according to the 1974 agreement.

For further reading click here.

New Tank
The Israeli army on Thursday revealed details of a new tank it is developing, designed more for use in guerrilla warfare conditions. The Merkava 4 Barak, scheduled to be operational in three years, will be the latest of the Israeli Merkava tank series.

The “dual-use” tank contains technologies including a sensor system in the helmet that gives the commander a full view of the surroundings. It will also be equipped with a computer system based on artificial intelligence, and is designed to be more secure in the confines of guerrilla clashes.

To view a video of the new tank click here.

Tisha B’av, the 9th day in the month of Av, commemorates the date that both the first and second Temples in Jerusalem were destroyed, first by the Babylonians in 586 BC and then by the Romans in 70 AD. Tisha B’av will be observed this Saturday night and Sunday with fasting, reciting lamentations, and other displays of mourning. In Israel most restaurants and entertainment venues are closed.

The Talmud attributes the reason for the destruction of the Second Temple to baseless hatred. The political and social situation in Israel at the time of the destruction was rife was infighting and strife. Instead of focusing on fighting the Romans, the various Jewish factions fought and killed each other before finally uniting to face the Romans, when it was already much too late. Had the Jews been united, perhaps the destruction, even the war itself, could have been avoided.

The destruction of the Second Temple marked the start of a close to 2,000 year period of statelessness and exile, filled with persecution and massacres, and culminating in the ultimate horror of the Holocaust.

Now we have returned to our homeland, reestablished our sovereignty over it (more or less, despite the efforts of most of the world to keep us vulnerable) and made it thrive. We have a second chance to correct the mistakes we made the first time around. If we can unite and exist in (relative) harmony, we can remain invincible in our land forever.

This is the message, and challenge, of Tisha B’av, and why we continue to commemorate the day of our greatest defeat (what other nation commemorates defeat?).

Will we learn our lesson and correct the mistake of Tisha B’av? That’s a question that only we can answer.

May this be the last Tisha B’av we commemorate, and may we come together as one family, one people, in unity and harmony, to continue to build our homeland and our destiny in peace.