As an election is called for 17 September, a reminder that internal Israeli politics are outside the ambit of this Update. HRG
Fuelled by scorching weather, more than a thousand fires devastated towns and forests across Israel from Thursday to Saturday, forcing thousands of people out of their homes. Some 50 houses burned down in central Israel — 40 of the 50 homes in Mevo Modi’im and 10 more in the nearby Kibbutz Harel. After an investigation into the blaze, the fire service determined it was sparked in several different spots, raising suspicion of arson. Authorities are also investigating the cause of other blazes. More than a thousand firefighters were dispatched late last week throughout the country to battle the 1,023 blazes that started over a period of 41 hours — a new fire every two and a half minutes. Thirteen firefighters were lightly injured. The blazes burned down 7,940 dunams (1,962 acres) of forests, according to authorities’ data. One of the areas that suffered the worst damage was the Ben Shemen Forest. Read more here
“The damage is enormous, not just to the woodland, but also to the animals,” said a JNF official. “Large swathes of the woodland, the green lung of the Dan region were burnt.” Firefighting brigades mobilized all available units and used planes and dozens of fire trucks.
A fire broke out on Monday night in the Pisgat Ze’ev neighbourhood of northern Jerusalem as a result of firebombs thrown by Arabs from the Shuafat refugee camp. Firefighters and rescue teams extinguished the flames and prevented the fire from approaching the homes. But as the firefighters were working to extinguish the flames, Arabs continued to throw firebombs at them on the second consecutive night in which arson has occurred in this area. Read more here
Firefighters struggled to contain the blaze that broke out in the northern Jordan Valley Friday, managing to put it out only early Saturday morning. But the flames had already spread across the border into Jordan, where local firefighters were dispatched to battle the flames. Arson is suspected. Security forces arrested three residents of East Jerusalem on suspicion of arson on Friday. They are suspected of attempting to start fires in and around Jerusalem in separate incidents. Read more here
Incendiary Gaza balloons ignited dozens of fires throughout southern Israel last Thursday. A terroristgroup admitted to having launched hundreds of the arson balloons which threaten the fragile informal truce between Israel and Hamas
On Tuesday there were two fires in the Be’eri Forest due to balloons,
Two fire-fighting aircraft and a four-member team of ground-support Cypriot firefighters arrived in Israel on Friday morning following a formal Israeli request on Thursday evening
Egypt came to Israel’s aid, sending two Mi-8 transport helicopters to battle brush fires in Israel’s south. Crews also came from Greece, Croatia, Italy and Cyprus to battle the flames. The Palestinian Authority and Russia had also offered help.
Video: Egyptian military helicopter help douse fire in Beit Ezra near Ashdod
Disabled military veterans from Israel and the UK are participating in the Veteran Games held in Israel May 26-30. Participants, ranging from their 20s to late 50s, are competing, trying new sports and learning about how their respective countries provide specialist care for those injured in combat. The delegation of more than 150 British veterans are joined by many family members. Fiona Masson served three tours in Afghanistan with the Royal Regiment of Artillery, and spoke about her first visit to Israel: “It’s a different feeling here, I’ve fallen in love with the country, the people, the overall positive attitude. It’s nice to see another country that is so focused on the well-being of its veterans…” The games, she said, are “an inspiration. It should be for everyone who can see what Israel is doing, and I think it’s something that should definitely be looked into for all countries. They can learn a lot… It’s a wonderful place to be, a nice atmosphere and a positive experience.”
277 U.S. Army veterans travelled to Israel with the Jewish National Fund-USA partner Heroes to Heroes, a U.S.-based organization that provides spiritual healing and peer support for American combat veterans who have attempted suicide or are on a path to self-destruction. In partnership with JNF-USA, American and Israeli military veterans are also able to meet and bond during a 10-day journey to Israel, where teams of 12 to 14 U.S. vets are led by programme alumni. While in Israel, the vets are joined by their Israeli counterparts and visit various sites important to Israel’s path to independence.
One year old Fatma from Zanzibar, whose mother was saved in Israel by Save a Child’s Heart 20 years ago, has undergone successful lifesaving heart surgery at Wolfson Medical Centre, Holon Israel. She is the 5,000th child treated by Save a Child’s Heart an organisation which has saved the lives of more than 5,000 children from 59 countries in Africa, South America, Europe, Asia, and throughout the Middle East and trained more than 120 medical team members from these countries.
The IDF yesterday revealed a cross-border Hizbullah tunnel discovered running into Israeli territory from Lebanon, saying it was “the longest and most significant” subterranean passage found yet. The tunnel, dug to a depth of 80 meters (260 feet), was a kilometre long and penetrated 77 meters (250 feet) into Israeli territory. It was equipped with infrastructure for electricity, ventilation and communications systems, and would have taken years to complete.
Read more here
Video inside Hizbullah attack tunnel:Watch here
The IDF attacked an anti-aircraft battery on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights Monday, after a round was fired at an Israeli fighter jet flying a routine mission over northern Israel. The missile landed in Syrian territory and did not harm the aircraft. Read more here
A Palestinian woman who joined ISIS and who was planning to execute a terror attack in Israel was arrested by Palestinian authorities. She had learned through internet manuals how to assemble large explosive devices, which she could strap to herself to commit a suicide terror attack in the heart of Israeli territory.
NATO and Israel are deepening ties…On countless occasions, Israel has provided NATO allies with life-saving intelligence. Last year, Israel prevented a blood bath at a political rally in Paris plotted by diplomats of the Iranian regime. Israeli warnings also foiled an ISIS attack at a soccer match between NATO ally Albania and Israel in 2016.
Palestinian security prisoners receive special food for holidays, a TV in every cell, access to a ping-pong table and games, workout machines, and unlimited newspapers, according to official details released by the Israel Prison Service to the Israeli NGO Im Tirtzu.
Japan’s Mitsubishi Corp will open an innovation centre in Tel Aviv, turning to Israeli start-ups for new technologies. Over the past four years, Japanese investment in Israel has topped $5 billion, with more than 70 Japanese firms opening missions in Israel.
El Al Israel Airlines Ltd. is launching a thrice-weekly direct route connecting Tokyo to Tel Aviv in March 2020.
SodaStream, manufacturer of fizzy drink-machines, on Monday hosted nearly 3,000 Israelis and Palestinians for a Ramadan fast-ending meal at its factory in the southern town of Rahat. Read more here
539 multinational companies representing 35 countries are currently active in Israel.
No other single country – certainly not one as young and as tiny as Israel – has contributed more breakthroughs to the area of food security. One example is the tiny BioPersimilis, a highly efficient enemy of the spider mite, a devastating agricultural pest.BioPersimilis is used by most of California’s strawberry farmers and by growers of peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, beans, corn, cucumber, melon, eggplant and ornamental flowers in order to reduce the amount of pesticides they use by up to 80%. Read more here
Former Arsenal club manager Arsène Wenger will be joining Tel Aviv-based startup PlayerMaker as an investor and operating partner. PlayerMaker has developed a technology that tracks and analyzes soccer players’ technical, tactical and physical performance using sensors that are mounted on the athletes’ shoes.
Guy Richie, director of the new action film Aladdin, conducted an entire interview in Hebrew. He has been learning the language for 15 years. Watch here
Hen Mazzig:Israel’s critics have undertaken a strategic campaign to taint Israel as an extension of privileged and powerful white Europe, positioning Israel as a colonialist aggressor rather than a haven for those fleeing oppression. This narrative all but erases the story of my family, who came to Israel from Iraq and Tunisia. Indeed, the majority of Jews in Israel today are of Middle Eastern and North African descent…Demographic ignorance also works to deny the existence of almost 200,000 descendants of Ethiopian Jews who were airlifted to Israel in the early 1990s.One of Judaism’s central themes is a story of national liberation in the face of imperial powers. Israel is a place where an indigenous people have reclaimed their land and revived their ancient language, despite being surrounded by hostile neighbours and hounded by radicalized Arab nationalists who cannot tolerate any political entity in the region other than their own
James Kirchick: The amount of global resources heaped upon the Palestinians appears wholly disproportionate when contrasted to the measly efforts expended upon other stateless peoples, like the Tibetans and Kurds. That the Palestinians lack a state is a tragedy, but it is a tragedy largely of their own making. More than once have they been presented with the opportunity to create a sovereign country alongside Israel; each and every time they responded with violence. On the long and growing list of world problems, the absence of a Palestinian state ranks somewhere between the conflicts over Transnistria and Western Sahara, neither of which you are likely to read about on newspaper front pages.