Israel Update: 31 August 2017

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Seven members of IsraAID an Israeli NGO flew to Houston on Tuesday,(where they will join three other members of the group who were already in the U.S.) seeking to provide emergency assistance to relief efforts as a massive storm pummelled the city with severe flooding. Among the group are disaster management experts, mental health experts, and engineers. They will focus on coordination of relief work and provide basic needs including stress relief activities and recreation for those impacted by the disaster.


A team of Israeli mental health professionals organized by the Israel Rescue Coalition arrives in Houston on Thursday to help victims of Hurricane Harvey. “People need help on the ground. They need to be able to wrap their minds around what was lost and they need assistance figuring out how to cope and where to go from here,” said Dov Maisel, Director of International Operations for the IRC and Vice President of United Hatzalah.





Two plastic surgeons from the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa recently returned from Africa where they were participating in an international  mission to correct facial deformities in local children.





Israeli doctors have cured a Gazan man who had become a recluse suffering from ‘tree man disease’ for nearly 10 years. Following an operation at Hadassah Medical Centre, Jerusalem, Mr Taluli is convinced his life will return to normal.

A new Israeli patent to treat congestive heart failure, implanted for the first time in a Canadian patient at Haifa’s Rambam Medical Centre, could be a “therapeutic breakthrough,” said Dr. Yair Peled, the cardiologist who invented it. In a minimally invasive operation, while the heart is beating, the CoRolla device was implanted by catheter in the left ventricle of the heart.





A group of Palestinian agronomists and agricultural engineers recently completed training in avocado cultivation at the Galilee International Management Institute (GIMI) in northern Israel.The purpose of the training was to improve the Palestinians’ avocado crop. Participants toured the avocado plantations in the north and met with Israeli avocado farmers. During the training, the Palestinians expressed a desire to cooperate with Israeli growers to facilitate export. About 40 percent of the participants were women, most of them agricultural entrepreneurs with a particular interest in avocado growing.





During his first visit to the region since taking office earlier this year, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres praised the residents of Kibbutz Nahal Oz near the Gaza border for what he described as their “fantastic example of solidarity, humanity and tolerance” in their request to the UN to help Palestinians in the Gaza Strip emancipate themselves from the draconian rule of Hamas. Speaking in Tel Aviv following a visit to the southern region of Israel, where he viewed a Hamas terror tunnel near the Kibbutz, held discussions with its residents and received a helicopter tour of the Israel-Gaza border with Israeli officials, Guterres decried the fact that the community has “been bombarded several times” and that “one child has been killed by rockets.”,7340,L-5009811,00.html


A Palestinian refugee receives a budget four times larger than a Syrian, Iraqi or African refugee, according to a study. The UN is currently addressing the largest refugee crisis in history involving 68 million people worldwide. In 2016, UNRWA, which provides assistance only for Palestinian refugees, spent $246 for each of the 5.3 million Palestinians it defines as refugees*, while UNHCR, which deals with all other refugees, spent $58 per refugee.,7340,L-5008515,00.html


*NOTE: The UNWRA definition of a refugee includes all descendants of the original circa 800,00 Arab refugees in 1948 (roughly equivalent to the number of Jewish refugees from Arab countries) whereas the UNHCR definition does not extend to subsequent descendants. See a 2011 comparison  which remains relevant today:





Karnataka, a state in southwestern India, has transformed 59,305 acres of drought-stricken land in Hunagund into a fertile green pasture, thanks to Israeli drip irrigation. As a result, by October, 15,000 farmers will harvest their first monsoon season crop in several years.





A Syrian rebel commander said his group’s cooperation with Israel made it the target of criticism from the Iran-funded militias that are fighting on behalf of Syrian President Assad, but humanitarian concerns superseded old hatreds…he said while his group tries to tread a fine line as it relates to disclosing their cooperation with Israel because of how it can be manipulated for propaganda purposes, he and the civilians in the region welcomed the aid and thanked Israel for its generosity. He also described the process of bringing people into Israel for medical treatment.





PA President Abbas said last Thursday, “I don’t intend to cease payments for families of prisoners and martyrs; even if it costs me my seat, I will continue to pay them until my last day,” the Kan Hebrew news outlet reported. During President Trump’s visit to the region earlier this year, he stressed to Abbas that the U.S. will not tolerate the PA’s payments for families of terrorists.


The PA’s most fundamental message to its people and its children – that all of Israel is actually “Palestine” – is prominent in many songs broadcast regularly on official PA and Fatah TV stations. On Aug. 25, PA TV broadcast a video depicting a bird that flies over all of “my country Palestine.” The bird “flies over” the Israeli cities of Safed, Tiberias, Acre, Haifa, Nazareth, Beit Shean, Jaffa, and Ramle.

This song has been broadcast at least 30 times this year





A summer camp for Israeli Arab youth organized by the Balad party (an Israeli-Arab political party represented in the Israeli Parliament) held its concluding ceremony this week in the West Bank, with campers marching in a procession honoring Palestinian “martyrs.” Draped in Palestinian flags, the children chanted, “With spirit and blood we will redeem you, Palestine.” Afterwards, they visited families of terrorists who were killed or wounded during terror attacks against Israelis.,7340,L-5009612,00.html





The new Iranian defence minister, Brig.-Gen. Amir Hatami, reemphasized on Aug. 20 the Defence Ministry’s strong support for the “resistance front” and the need to promote the Iranian regime’s missile programme. In addition, the new commander of the Iranian army, Maj.-Gen. Abd al-Rahim Mousavi, vowed that he is committed to the goal that Israel would cease to exist within 25 years, thanks to the bravery of the “Iranian martyrs”.





Shoppers in Reykjavik, Iceland, will now be able to receive food and other goods direct to their doors via Israeli-made drones, which will significantly speed up delivery times. AHA, Iceland’s largest online marketplace, reports a 60% reduction in delivery costs and up to 20 minutes of reduced transportation time during peak hours using Flytrex drones





A Kurd from Northern Iraq visited Israel recently:

Extract; “My time in Tel Aviv was brief, a little over a week. But what the city offered was unprecedented to me, especially in the Middle East. It is modern, filled will young Israelis enjoying life at the beaches, nightlife spots, restaurants. It is also historical and diverse. I witnessed Muslims and Jews intermingling, mosques calling for prayer, Arab families enjoying their time together on the beaches after breaking their fast. No one bothered others; everyone minded their own business. I tried hard to discover instances of negative interactions between the two peoples, but they even smoked hookah together at the local café.”

(The writer also spent time in Jerusalem)


This summer, 28 US army cadets and US Navy Midshipmen embarked on a journey throughout Israel during which they visited the country’s most prestigious sites and were briefed by some of the most distinguished experts in Israel’s political and military sphere; in this interview with Ynetnews, the cadets shared some of their conclusions about the country; ‘It put all the media coverage into perspective.’ One commented “I think I am taking away a much greater appreciation for the Jewish people in general over the last 2000 years and how much of a miracle it is that Israel has become what it is today”,7340,L-5009454,00.html



Last Tuesday was the 120th anniversary of the First Zionist Congress convened by Theodore Herzl in the Swiss city of Basel on August 29, 1897.