Israel News for September 8, 2015

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Third Duma Victim
Just over a month ago Jewish assailants threw firebombs into a house in the Arab village of Duma in the West Bank, killing an 18 month old boy and wounding his parents and brother. Soon after, the boy’s father succumbed to his wounds.

Yesterday, the mother, Rihad Dawabsheh, 27, died in an Israeli hospital. Thousands of Palestinians attended her funeral. Some threw rocks at Israeli soldiers afterwards.

PM Netanyahu issued a statement expressing his condolences and saying “security forces are doing their utmost to apprehend the assailants and bring them to justice.”

The four year old brother is still undergoing treatment in Israel.

The Russians are Coming
While the US and the Europeans continue to be reluctant to put “boots on the ground” to combat ISIS or to put an end to the fighting in Syria, the Russians don’t seem to have the same reservations.

Intelligence sources report that the Russians are building bases in Syria and providing military support, including commando troops, to boost President Assad’s dwindling control over his ever shrinking territory.

The Russians have their only Mediterranean naval base in the Syrian port of Tartus. They sell weapons to Syria and vote against UN condemnations of Syria. With most of the Middle East under US influence, Syria could be the Russians great hope to get back into the Mideast power game.

US Secretary of State Kerry warned the Russian Foreign Minister that Russian involvement could potentially lead to a confrontation with coalition forces.

How does this affect Israel? If the Russians can bring stability to Syria and get rid of ISIS, there will be some lively Vodka toasts in the Knesset. And with over a million Russian-Israelis, there could be a lot of people toasting Russia’s success in Syria.

More Fencing
Israel already has security fences along its borders with Lebanon, Syria and Egypt. Now it’s building one on its border with Jordan. The reason seems to be to prevent Syrian refugees from entering the country via Jordan.

The PM has empathized with the “human tragedy” of the Syrian civil war, but has made it clear that Israel is too small to start taking in refugees. Opposition leader Isaac Herzog has said that Israel should take in a limited number of Syrians.

Are Syrian refugees really so anxious to resettle in Israel? Doubtful. But the southern portion of the fence which is being constructed first and which will stretch from Eilat to Timna (18.6 miles) will probably be used to prevent African migrants from crossing into Israel. And the Africans are seen as the main threat to Israel’s demographic balance. So far, the Sinai border fence has been extremely successful at stopping the Africans.

More Time for South
The IDF’s “Color Red” early warning radar system has done an excellent job in warning Israelis about incoming rocket attacks. Israeli communities near the Gaza border get about a full 15 seconds to find shelter before the rockets hit. Not a lot of time, but better than the warning they get for mortar attacks. Currently, when a mortar shell is fired from Gaza, residents get maybe 5 seconds or less of warning. That’s hopefully going to change.

The IDF announced a new tactical radar system that will give residents a full 15 seconds of warning for mortar attacks. About 25 of the new systems have been deployed in communities along the Gaza border. They’re set to become operational in October.

See what you can do in 15 seconds. Go.

Swiss Snub BDS
The Swiss has given the BDS movement a slap in the face. Last night, both houses of the Swiss parliament approved a massive deal to purchase six Israeli made Hermes 900 unmanned military aircraft for $256 million.

The Swiss approved the deal after months of deliberations despite protests by pro Palestinian BDS supporters. The Swiss defense minister claimed that they were buying the planes from a private company, Elbit Industries, and not from the State of Israel. Not a very convincing argument in BDS land.

The hope is that more European countries will now follow Switzerland’s lead and choose Israeli weapons over BDS threats. After all, business is business.

New Year’s Gift
Israel’s Public Utilities Authority is giving Israelis a special Rosh Hashanah gift: lower electric bills. On Sunday the average household electric bill will drop by 6.2%, making the total price cut for this year 15.6%. If you’ve ever gotten an electric bill in Israel, you’ll know that that’s a nice chunk of change that Israelis will be able to hold on to.

The price cut was made possible by the electric company’s increased use of coal to produce their power. Coal prices have plummeted over 17% this year.

But wait. This is Israel, so there’s got to be someone who’s complaining. The IEC (Israel Electric Corporation), which is the publicly traded company that actually produces the electricity and is regulated by the Public Utilities Authority, thinks that cutting prices isn’t the right fiscally responsible decision to make. They’ll be appealing the decision.

I guess they haven’t heard of: never look a gift horse in the mouth.