Israel News for May 27, 2016

Jerusalem Fires
Apparently as a result of the many Lag B’omer bonfires in the city, several large fires are raging on the outskirts of Jerusalem and are approaching inhabited areas due to heavy winds.

Residents were evacuated from homes in the neighborhoods of Ramot, Gilo, Romema and Abu Gosh. Residents in nearby Mevaseret Zion were told to stay indoors with doors and windows closed.

Eighteen firefighting teams were deployed, as well as a water tank and eight firefighting planes. Jerusalem’s Fire Department has put out a cross-district general call for assistance.

Smaller fires have also broken out in numerous other areas of Israel.

I guess Smokey the Bear never made it to Israel.

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General Meetup
As he prepares to take over the job of Defense Minister, Avigdor Liberman met with several IDF reserve major generals to assure them that they have nothing to worry about with him at the helm of the Defense Ministry. Liberman will need to put together an operating team with a Chief of Staff before taking office on Tuesday.

There’s a lot of uneasiness throughout the Defense establishment, as well as within much of the Knesset, with Netanyahu’s appointment of Liberman, given that his only military experience was his mandatory 3 year army service during which he reached the rank of corporal. The post of Defense Minister usually goes to a prominent general with extensive military credentials.

Does a Defense Minister need to have practical military experience? The US Secretary of Defense is usually a civilian. So maybe the model can work in Israel too? On the other hand, the military in the US isn’t an integral part of American daily life and the daily security of its citizens, like the IDF is in Israel.

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Minister Resigns
Minister of Environmental Protection Avi Gabay (Kulanu) announced today that he is resigning from the government in protest to Avigdor Lieberman’s joining it. He reportedly admitted that the appointment of Liberman as Defense Minister was “a step that he couldn’t live with.”

Explaining his resignation Gabay said, “This week, a year after I entered the position, came something that I just couldn’t stomach: Liberman’s appointment to minister of defense, which is in my opinion irregular even in the cynical world of politics. The minister of defense is the most important minister. I urge the Prime Minister to pull himself together and remember that the security is security, and he is relying on people and leadership, not only on tanks and planes.”

Gabby, 49, previously served as the CEO of Bezeq, Israel’s “brick and mortar” phone company, before entering the public sector.

Will there be more resignations in protest of Liberman’s entry into the government?

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According to senior officials, the Homefront Command is forming civil defense units throughout northern Israel to be prepared in the event of a future conflict with Hezbollah. The Home Front Command is not officially part of the IDF and volunteers do not wear uniforms. Israel Arab citizens are being included in the civil defense units.

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Elton in TA
As the LAg B’omer bonfires of Meron died out last night, stage lights illuminated Yarkon Park in Tel Aviv for an Elton John concert with 40,000 fans in attendance. Think about it.

To see video clips of the concert, click here.