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Israel Update 23.1.20



In the biggest diplomatic event in Israel’s history, delegations from 49 countries, including 41 heads of state are attending the Fifth World Holocaust Forum in Jerusalem this week to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp. Read more here


List of World Leaders Attending the World Holocaust Forum in Jerusalem. List here


The Prince of Wales met with Israel’s President Rivlin as he began his first-ever official visit to Israel on Thursday. Charles later met with a group of Holocaust survivors and was also due to visit his grandmother’s grave. Read more here



From March 2020, the Israeli humanitarian aid organization Natan will run two clinics in the new Gaza Health Centre to provide trauma, medical and dental care to Gaza civilians . Natan has provided assistance to victims of disasters from floods, earthquakes and typhoons in Asia and Africa and sent medical care to Syrian civilians. Read more here



Three Gazan infiltrators were shot dead after they crossed the border into southern Israel from Gaza and threw an explosive device at IDF troops Tuesday night. Read more here


Several incendiary balloons launched from Gaza into Israel exploded when police inspected them last Thursday.Read more here


Last Friday, an explosive device attached to several balloons landed in Israeli territory and was neutralised. Earlier, several balloons had landed near Ashdod. Read more here


Police sappers dealt with a suspicious object attached to balloons near Beit Shemesh on Monday.  Read more here


There were at least two attacks by balloon-borne incendiary devices on Wednesday. One bundle of balloons attached to a “suspicious object” landed in a family’s backyard. Israeli officials believe Hamas is behind the spate of balloon-borne bombs and incendiary devices launched into Israel in recent days. Read more here


IDF forces on Thursday defused an explosive charge near the border with Gaza. The explosives were concealed in a soccer ball that was tied to a bundle of balloons flown into Israel. Read more here




In 2019, the Israel Security Agency (ISA) “prevented upwards of 560 significant terror attacks, including 10 suicide bombings, four kidnappings and more than 300 shooting attacks. Five Israelis were killed in terror attacks in 2019, not including Gaza rocket attacks. Read more here


Israeli security forces have seized dozens of guns owned illegally by Palestinians in the West Bank over the past 6 weeks. The weapons seized included 13 hand guns, 25 Carlo-style submachine guns, two M-16 assault rifles and ammunition. Read more here




A 22-year-old Israeli civilian was stabbed in the shoulder on Saturday on the road designated for worshippers between Kiryat Arba and the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron. The Palestinian attacker was detained. Read more here




The British Army recently showed off a Challenger 2 main battle tank optimized for urban operations, dubbed Streetfighter II. The vehicle has an Israeli-made IronVision system, which allows the crew to see in all directions while riding inside with all the hatches closed. Read more here



After Jordanian singer Aziz Maraka, performed recently in the Israeli Arab town of Kafr Yasif before an audience of 5,000 people, there were calls from the BDS movement to boycott  him. Maraka responded “I’m not willing to be dictated to about what to believe….I will go out and sing before any audience that’s willing to hear me, and it doesn’t matter at all where this audience lives…”  Local Arab fans commented..that from their point of view, the connection to the greater Arab world is more important than BDS, which leads to separation and isolation. (Also see COMMENT & OPINION below) Read more here




During the recent flood disaster in Israel, Arab “tractorists” – the heavy machinery operators who live near Nahariya – jumped into their vehicles, of their own personal volition, and rushed to help the Jewish residents of Nahariya. ..They simply stepped forward to help friends in need, and this show of solidarity helped save lives, rescue residents trapped in the flood, and open roads. There are many Arab communities around Nahariya whose residents interact with the city on a daily basis. At the hospital in Nahariya, the Galilee Medical Centre. Jews are treated by Arab medical staff – and vice versa – and the hospital is managed by Dr. Masad Barhoum, an Arab. The Galilee region can provide an important lesson in co-existence, tolerance and mutual aid.  Read more here




Masala Tagnia, manpower officer of the IDF’s Galilee Division, is the first Ethiopian-Israeli woman to achieve the rank of Lt.-Col. Read more here




As world leaders gather in Jerusalem this week to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, the official P.A. daily, published an op-ed on Saturday by columnist Yahya Rabah who wrote: “One shot will disrupt the ceremony and one dead body will cancel the ceremony.” Read more here


The Western Wall belongs only to Muslims and must be defended even to the death, Palestinians were told on official PA TV and in the official PA newspaper. Read more here




Ten Israeli heath tech startups have been invited by UK Government’s Israel Tech Hub to help UK healthcare organizations build more modern and effective healthcare services. Read more here

Israel’s TytoCare device allows for doctors to examine patients from remote locations. Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is to be the first provider in the UK to partner with TytoCare.  Read more here




A laboratory at Ben Gurion University has scooped two prestigious grants totalling four million euros over the past two months to help it advance groundbreaking research into the way microbes might be used to reduce humanity’s damage to the planet. The aim is to engineer communities of microbes to reduce climate-warming methane as well as to create energy and treat waste in more sustainable ways.  Read more here




Israeli security firm Elbit it has successfully tested a new system for fighting fires from a high altitude. Using the “HyDrop,” system, which uses pellets instead of liquid, two firefighting aircraft extinguished a burning field from an altitude of 500 feet, over four times higher than the current average altitude for firefighting sorties, and safer for the crews. Read more here


Drone video analyst Edgybees helped combat the fires in California last year, and has responded to an urgent request from Australia donating its technology to help put out fires in New South Wales. Read more here




Innovation Africa, whose Israeli-made solar panels power schools, clinics and water pumps in 10 African countries, has changed the lives of 1.7 million people. Read more here or listen to podcast



Two extracts from recent articles by Israeli-Arab commentator Khaled Abu Toameh:

To justify their public mourning of Soleimani, Hamas and Islamic Jihad have revealed that the Iranian military commander played a major role in helping them develop their military capabilities, particularly regarding the thousands of rockets that were fired into Israel from Gaza in the past decade. Ahmed Abdel Hadi, Hamas’ “ambassador” to Lebanon, said on Jan. 9 that thanks to Soleimani’s support, rockets fired from Gaza were able to send one million Israelis into bomb shelters. Senior Hamas official Mahmoud Zahar said Soleimani “gave the Palestinian armed groups all that they needed to develop their military capabilities…The ongoing cooperation between Iran and the Gaza-based groups poses an imminent threat to Israel, the PA, Egypt, and other Arabs who are opposed to Tehran’s expansionist schemes. Read more here

Never mind that Maraka, an Arab, was invited by Arabs to a Christmas event in an Arab town. Never mind that Maraka was not invited by any Israeli private or public institution. Never mind that Maraka did not perform before a Jewish audience…None of that matters to the anti-Israel groups and individuals who are slandering the Jordanian singer and accusing him of “treason” and “promoting normalization” with Israel. The campaign of hate against Maraka shows that those who are calling for boycotting Israel care nothing about the well-being or interests of Arabs, including the two million Arab citizens of Israel. Read more here