Israel Update: 6 July 2017
FIRST VISIT TO ISRAEL BY AN INDIAN PRIME MINISTER
Indian Prime Minister Modi arrived in Israel Tuesday for a three-day visit both countries lauded as a historic affirmation of the ties between the two nations. Mr Modi will not visit the Palestinian Authority, an exceedingly rare move for countries with good ties in the Arab world. New Delhi has explained this anomaly as part of a “desire to de-hyphenate” its relationships with Jerusalem and with Ramallah.
“Israel is a real friend and I have really felt that feeling of kinship. I feel absolutely at home here,” Mr Modi said during a meeting with President Rivlin in Jerusalem. “Your Excellency, you yourself broke protocol and stepped onto the road [at the President’s Residence] to receive me, and this is a mark of respect to the entire Indian nation comprising 1.25 billion people,” he added.
10,000 members of the Indian community in Israel welcomed Mr Modi at an event in honour of his visit on Wednesday in Tel Aviv.
Mr Modi met Wednesday with Moshe Holtzberg, now ten years old, whose parents, Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivka, were murdered in the 2008 terror attack on the Chabad House in Mumbai. Moshe, who was 2 years old at the time, survived the attack thanks to his Indian nanny, who came with him to Israel and was granted Israeli citizenship
The two prime ministers attended a demonstration of a mobile desalination unit, which included a “wade in the water”.
Round-up of visit: http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Modis-Visit
A joint exercise between Israeli and Palestinian firefighters took place on Tuesday in Jenin. At the end of the exercise, the two teams of firefighters shared a meal, took a joint photo and promised to carry out additional training.
Israel will build a pipeline to treat sewage from Beit Lahiya and Beit Hanun in northern Gaza after the sewage treatment facility there was shut down due to the electricity crisis in Gaza. Currently, the sewage from the Gaza Strip flows through Nahal Hanun, is stored in the sands of Moshav Netiv Ha’asara and pollutes the area and the groundwater. Once every few days, Israeli trucks come and draw the sewage
U.S. NAVY VISIT
The U.S. Navy supercarrier USS George H.W. Bush anchored off the Israeli port of Haifa Saturday on a break from operations against Islamic State. The ship dropped anchor three miles offshore and did not enter the port due to its length. The crew celebrated July 4th onshore in Israel.
INTERNATIONAL COUNTER TERRORISM
The rise in the number of Islamist attacks by “lone wolves” in Europe has led to increased liaison on the issue between a number of foreign security agencies and Israel. A British team, according to Whitehall sources, is due to travel to Israel to look at the methods used there in the near future.
MAJOR ATTACK FOILED
Israeli border police foiled a terror attack Tuesday after finding a bag of knives, stun grenades and firebomb materials during the search of a Palestinian vehicle headed into Jerusalem at a checkpoint outside Bethlehem. The six occupants of the vehicle lacked entry permits and admitted during questioning to planning to carry out a terror attack in Jerusalem.
The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) reported to UNESCO that the Palestinian request to list Hebron’s Old Town and the Cave of the Patriarchs on the “World Heritage in Danger” list as part of the “State of Palestine” has overly focused on Hebron’s Muslim history to the exclusion of the Judeo-Christian heritage. The PA proposal only focused on Hebron from the Mamluk period of 1250 and onward. “This excludes the extremely important time depth of Hebron, a town whose history can be extended back at least a thousand years before the Mamluk period and possibly much longer,” ICOMOS said.
Israel took nine visiting UN ambassadors representing Australia, Estonia, Gabon, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Papua New Guinea, Poland, and Togo, on a tour of the City of David archaeological park in Jerusalem on Sunday in a bid to highlight the Jewish heritage of the holy city following a spate of UN resolutions denying that historic link. They were shown ancient remains believed to be from the Jewish city that stood on the site in biblical times
POST-SCRIPT TO RAMADAN
The IDF respects Muslim soldiers who protect Israel during the long hours of the fasts during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. After sunset each night, the army prepared for them the special celebratory iftar meal.
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem has been working with Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda, to develop fish farms that have restored indigenous species of fish previously devastated by Lake Victoria’s invasive Nile perch.
RyanAir, Monarch, Finnair, SAS and Wizz have signed up to use the new, ultra-modern Ilan and Assaf Ramon Airport which is scheduled to open next spring near Eilat. Once Ramon Airport opens, Eilat and Ovda airports will be closed, and at full capacity, the new airport will be able to accommodate up to 2 million passengers per year.
A mortar shell fired from Syria landed in the northern Golan Heights on Friday.The IDF returned fired at the source. This was the 16th time stray fire from battles in Syria had struck Israeli territory in the preceding week.
The 20th Maccabiah Games, the world’s third largest sporting event, opens Thursday.
COMMENT & OPINION
Journalist Hunter Stuart recounts how he was exposed to the realities of reporting from Israel and found that his pro-Palestinian views were dramatically changed as a result: I find it odd that once in awhile, foreign news organizations wouldn’t see fit to run an article about Gaza’s wealthy neighbourhoods or million-dollar mosques. But no, they prefer to focus on the tiny minority of the Strip that is still damaged from the war with Israel in 2014 (a war that, by the way, Hamas started) because that is what confirms the narrative …that too many people want to hear.
Colin Rubinstein: …in the early days of UNRWA, it operated inside Israel, and aid recipients included Jewish refugees of the war who had previously lived in areas conquered by Jordan and Egypt. That period didn’t last long. Israel quickly absorbed its internally displaced Arab and Jewish refugees, taking them off UNRWA’s rolls, while UNRWA increasingly entrenched itself in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. The organisation that originally served, according to its own estimates, 760,000 needy and stateless Palestinian Arab refugees today considers five million Palestinians to be under its mandate, regardless of means-tested needs or even the fact many of these “refugees” hold citizenship elsewhere, like Jordan. Meanwhile, UNRWA’s mandate to resettle these refugees was removed in 1965, formalising a perpetual state of Palestinian dependency on the organisation.
Tunku Varadarajan: Modi and Netanyahu have formally acknowledged a civilizational bond between two peoples that share many of the same values and all of the same fears. https://www.wsj.com/articles/modi-and-netanyahu-begin-a-beautiful-friendship-1499296575
This video features two of Israel’s medical clowns – one Jewish and one Christian Arab – who are cheering up Syrian patients being treated in Israel.