Israel News for February 17, 2016

Hezbollah Threats
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, broadcasting from his secret bunker, threatened yesterday to fire missiles at the ammonia plant in Haifa, which he claimed would cause an explosion similar to that of a nuclear bomb. His speech was in honor of “Loyalty to Martyrs and Leaders” day. Past leaders of Hezbollah, all killed at “work”, were honored at the special ceremony which was held under the slogan, “the resistance isn’t defeated.”

Nasrallah directed this special message to IDF Chief of Staff Eisenkodt: “its simple mathematics. A few missiles on a few ammonium plants equals the same amount of death as an atomic bomb…you can destroy Lebanon and Dahiyeh. You have the strongest airforce, you have missiles, and you have other means by which to do it. But we can do the same thing to you (Israel) with only a few missiles aimed at a few amonium plants.”

He added that Hezbollah did not want to start a war, but that it would be prepared to respond if attacked.

Unfortunately, Nasrallah does have a point regarding the dangers of the ammonia plant being located in a densely populated city like Haifa. After the Second Lebanon War, the Haifa municipality ordered a report from a British company, in order to mitigate the risks to the ammonia plant. The report revealed that in the event of a hit on the ammonia plant, it will release a cloud ten miles in diameter, and will cover all of Haifa and Acre.

According to Professor Amos Natua of the Technion, “Researchers who conducted the studies in the 1990’s concluded that there could be 70,000 casualties. The State Comptroller released a statement in 2003 that the number will likely be much higher.”
The Haifa municipality issued a response to the speech saying, “We don’t believe that we should run the country based on Nasrallah’s arrogant speeches, but we’re happy that he put this worrying and important issue on the agenda – – even if it is coming from a frightened man who’s been hiding in a bunker for the last several years.”

Perhaps some good will come of Nasrallah after all.

For further reading click here.

PA Security
Palestinian Security Forces thwarted a bombing attempt at the Jalame checkpoint in Jenin yesterday morning. According to Palestinian sources, two 15 yr olds were caught by Palestinian Security Forces stationed on the Palestinian side of the checkpoint moments before they were to enter Israel. The teens planned to carry out a two stage attack – first detonating the pipe bombs, then stabbing the survivors.

It’s good to see that despite the calls by many in the Palestinian leadership to cut off all cooperation with Israel, the security cooperation continues, at least to some degree.

For further reading click here.

Reporters Questioned
Police briefly detained The Washington Post’s Jerusalem bureau chief, William Booth, and reporter Sufian Taha at the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City yesterday after a witness said that they tried to stage a confrontation by Arab youth with the police.

The police later released a statement apologizing for any emotional harm caused to the journalists, saying that an investigation of the incident showed that the detainment was necessary in light of the information that had been received, which later turned out to have been false.  

According to the Foreign Press Association, Booth and Taha were trying to interview Palestinian high-school students near the Damascus Gate when they were waved away by police. They then moved under a tree and tried to interview the teens there, when they were stopped again by police officers who asked for their IDs. The journalists showed their Government Press Office cards, but the officers rejected them, asking for official identity documents, and then detained them.

Perhaps the police made a mistake in this case, but it certainly wouldn’t be the first time that foreign journalists have staged Palestinian protests or violence against Israeli security forces.

For further reading click here.

Eilat Gambling
PM Netanyahu will meet with Tourism Minister Levin and Transportation Minister Katz to discuss the idea of opening casinos in Eilat. Netanyahu has suggested opening a single casino but Levin is thinking bigger. He wants to create a complex containing several casinos, hotels, entertainment centers, restaurants and retail stores on the site of the Eilat’s airport, which is due to be dismantled and replaced by the new Arava International Airport outside of the city.

The ultimate goal is to turn Eilat into a major international tourist destination. Both Netanyahu and Levin are in favor of imposing certain restrictions on Israelis gambling. But the negative effects that casinos would have on the Israeli population is raising fears and opposition, particularly from the religious parties including Bayit Yehudi, Shas and UTJ as well as from the far left Meretz.

Casinos in Eilat could give a whole new meaning to the term “holy rollers”.

For further reading click here.

Angel Revealed
A young female soldier sitting on a train in central Israel was on the phone with the electric company. She was crying hysterically because the company was about to cut off the electricity to the apartment that she lives in with her single mother, who was waiting for her disability check. The electric company wasn’t swayed by her tears. But a stranger was. The man, who appears to be in his 30’s, came over, grabbed the phone and paid the entire bill, which totaled 1,950 shekels. He even gave the girl the confirmation number of the payment. Wow.

Another female soldier witnessed the incident and asked the man if she could take his photo so that she could spread the story on Facebook and teach everyone that there are still good people in the world. He agreed.


To see the man’s photo click here.