Israel Update: 16 November 2017

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Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu offered humanitarian assistance, through the Red Cross, to the victims of the devastating earthquake that has killed hundreds in Iran and Iraq, but the offer was immediately rejected.  The assistance was meant to show Israel’s commitment to friendship with the people of Iran and Iraq, despite the activities of their governments. In 2003, Iran similarly rebuffed an Israeli offer of assistance after an earthquake.


The magnitude 7.2 earthquake caused tremors in parts of central Israel. The compiler of this update visiting a 21st floor apartment in Netanya, experienced the building swaying, light fittings rattling, furniture moving etc.


Iran is building a permanent military base in Syria just south of Damascus, and only 30 miles from the Israeli border the BBC reported Friday, citing a Western intelligence official. The BBC showed a series of satellite pictures indicating widespread construction at the site. Israel has long warned that Iran is trying to establish a permanent presence in Syria as part of its efforts to control a land corridor from Iran through to the Mediterranean Sea as it attempts to expand its influence across the Middle East.

The I.D.F.’s Patriot missile defence system shot down a drone above the Golan Heights Saturday after the unmanned aircraft approached the Israeli border from Syria. Israeli security officials said the drone’s operators had deliberately attempted to fly the aircraft across the Israeli border, later concluding that the aircraft belonged to Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime.




British Airways chairman and CEO Alex Cruz recently visited Israel marking the 85th anniversary of flights from the UK. In 1932, Imperial Airways (later BOAC, then B.A.) operated flying boats that landed on the Sea of Galilee 72 hours after leaving the UK, carrying 16 passengers. After landing, the passengers were transported by boat to land. Cruz said that B.A. would consider operating flights to Eilat through a new brand  “Level”, being launched in response to growth by low cost airlines.




A Palestinian man was arrested outside a settlement last Thursday, after a search of his backpack yielded a meat cleaver, a knife, and a copy of the Quran.


The recent 11-day Blue Flag aerial exercise in southern Israel included over 1,000 people, five different types of fighter jets, dozens of aircraft and hundreds of sorties in the IAF’s largest aerial exercise to date and the largest in the world in 2017, according to the Israeli military. For the first time Germany’s Luftwaffe took part alongside planes from India, France, Greece, Poland, Italy, the US and Israel

Blue Flag is not only a military exercise; it is a demonstration by Israel that more countries than ever are willing to engage with it publicly as strategic allies.



Israel’s Fluence Corp. has been awarded a 1.5 million euro contract to supply three NIROBOX reverse-osmosis seawater desalination units for the French island of Mayotte in the Indian Ocean. This follows the company’s recent contract to supply a desalination plant in South Africa.



In an unprecedented interview to a Saudi news outlet, the I.D.F. Chief of Staff said Thursday that Israel is prepared to share intelligence with the Gulf kingdom in their joint efforts to curb Iranian influence in the region. Israel and Saudi Arabia do not have official diplomatic relations.




In an interview just before the 40th anniversary of former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s historic visit to Israel in 1977, Egypt’s ambassador to Israel said his country’s 1979 peace agreement with Israel should serve as a blueprint for Israel to forge comprehensive peace with the Arab world. On November 20, 1977, Sadat made history when he became the first Arab leader to address the Knesset and call for peace with Israel. However, reports in Hebrew-language media this week said that not a single Egyptian official had accepted an Israeli invitation to next week’s ceremony marking the 40th anniversary of Sadat’s visit.



Israel Aerospace Industries has developed two new unmanned ground vehicles: a D9 Panda bulldozer and Robattle, an engineering vehicle-robot hybrid. A company official said: “These systems will provide commanders an edge when trying to promulgate their strategy to outsmart the enemy, thereby carrying out missions more effectively and precisely without sending a plant or battalion of soldiers out in harm’s way…and could change the rules of engagement.,7340,L-5040230,00.html



The UN on Monday authorized Israel to expand its observation systems supporting the U.N.’s peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic to help improve security in the country. Since 2015, Israel has contributed both static and mobile observation systems to the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA). These capacities have proven highly successful in increasing situational awareness and preventing outbreaks of violence, including during the visit of Pope Francis, the election process in Bangui (CAR’s capital) and many other events associated with potential security threats.The Department of Field Support thanked the Government of Israel for its continued support to UN peacekeeping.


The Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Bangalore has inaugurated a dedicated Israel Centre which aims to serve as a focal point of academic cooperation between the two nations.




11,000 Israeli teenagers are working voluntary shifts as emergency medical technicians on MDA ambulances throughout Israel, making up a remarkable 60 percent of the volunteer staff, thought to be the biggest youth corps by percentage in the world. Dina Abu Toameh of Jerusalem, a 17-year-old Muslim, says the calls she finds most gratifying are those where her Arabic translation abilities are critical.



As a result of unrelenting Palestinian efforts to have Israel sanctioned by FIFA over Israeli soccer clubs in the West Bank, FIFA President Gianni Infantino sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, saying his organization was tired of being pulled into internal political matters.”We are not the playground of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” he wrote.




Facing criticism at home, an Iraqi beauty queen on Wednesday defended her decision to pose for a photo with her Israeli counterpart and to post the joint selfie online, saying it was an expression of a desire for peace


Aftermath of Priti Patel affair:

J.Post Editorial 12/11/17. Extract: the British press, in a tendentious attempt to sensationalize what was in reality nothing more than a breach of protocol, presented one leg of the trip as though Patel was seeking to transfer hard-earned British taxpayers’ money to the Israeli military. In reality, however, Patel was looking into the possibility that Britain would help defray some of the costs for maintaining an Israeli field hospital on the Golan Heights that treats wounded Syrian refugees…But Patel’s treatment is not just the collateral effect of May’s crisis-ridden government. Rather, the Patel scandal is an uncomfortable reminder of the toxic atmosphere of anti-Israel sentiment both in British society and in the Foreign Office

Simon Plosker: As with so much media coverage involving Israel today, nuance is not part of the conversation. Surely it should be possible to acknowledge both that Patel may have ignored ministerial protocol, and that Israel is a close ally of the UK.

Balfour Centenary articles


Einat Wilf: Israel is the outcome of deliberate Jewish action – not of foreign hand-outs. Israel is a country attained – not a land given. Without collective Jewish mobilization in the name of self-determination and liberation, this (Balfour) declaration would have come to naught. The idea of Jews as active players in history – as masters of their fate – still grates on the consciousness of peoples and civilizations that were structured on the presumption that the Jews should have headed to the dustbin of history. For too many, the story that Jews could attain something for themselves by operating, as all peoples do, on multiple fronts – diplomatically, economically, militarily – is still so fanciful that to some, the story of Israel only makes sense if presented as a series of handouts by foreign powers with shady motivations. To the chagrin of those who want to put the Jews back “in their proper place,” the State of Israel came into being 31 years after the Balfour Declaration precisely because Zionist Jews were done entrusting their fate to others. Through their actions, from 1917 on, the Zionist Jews simply said to Britain, and the world: “Thank you very much Lord Balfour. We’ll take it from here.”

Colonel Richard Kemp: The Jews of Palestine were a strategic asset to Britain in WW2 and Israel’s strategic value to Great Britain and the world has increased dramatically from the early days of 1917 to the very present.


Adam Levick (UK Media Watch): The Guardian published an op-ed by PA President Mahmoud Abbas that included nearly every distortion and lie within what’s known as the ‘Palestinian narrative’…  While Abbas claims that 2.9 million Palestinians live in the West Bank under a draconian military occupation, in fact, over 95% of the Palestinian population in the West Bank live under Palestinian Authority control …Abbas’ op-ed is an illustration of the Palestinians’ refusal to acknowledge and learn from past mistakes and come to terms with the true “obstacles to peace”: endemic anti-Semitism, the glorification of violence, and the failure to promote tolerance, pluralism and other liberal democratic values.