Israel Update: 19 April 2018
YOM HA’ATZMAUT 70
ISRAEL 70 – THE HOME OF HOPE
A short video message from Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks (1:35 )
A timeline: 70 years of Israel Achievement
A list of notable things the country has done over the past 12 months
Israel’s 70th Independence Day and annual torch lighting ceremony took place at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem Wednesday evening. Margalit Zinati from the village of Pke’in was one of 12 torchlighters representing the 12 tribes of Israel. The Zinati family has lived in Pke’in since the days of the Second Temple
MEMORIAL DAY (immediately preceding Independence Day)
Israel came to a standstill on Wednesday morning with a two-minute memorial siren at 11 a.m. commemorating the 23,646 fallen members of the security forces and 3,134 victims of terrorist attacks
Some 1.5 million people were expected to visit the 52 military cemeteries, hundreds of military plots and thousands of graves across the country on Memorial Day.
MAJOR INDEPENDENCE DAY BOMBING ATTEMPT FOILED
A truck carrying very powerful explosive devices. was stopped during a routine inspection at a checkpoint. It is believed that the Palestinian driver was supposed to deliver the bombs to someone in Israel planning to use them in a terror attack during Yom Ha’Atzmaut. http://www.jerusalemonline.com/news/in-israel/local/independence-day-terror-attack-thwarted-35492
STABBING ATTACK FOILED
A Palestinian man was arrrested at a checkpoint near Jerusalem on Wednesday after a search uncovered a knife on his person. He admitted planning to carry out a stabbing attack.
The Iranian drone that was downed by the Israeli air force after it infiltrated Israeli airspace in February was armed with explosives and on its way to carry out an attack, it was revealed on Friday. The drone was operated by the Iranian air force from a command centre at Syria’s T-4 air base, which Israel then targeted.
At the T-4 base in Syria, Iran has been building a fully functional air base of its own in every respect, with only the fighter planes missing. It was the centre of Iran’s attack drone operations. It had surface-to-air missile defence systems and all manner of other protections. The February drone attack was the first direct Iranian confrontation with Israel, after years of it employing Lebanese and Palestinian proxies to target the Jewish state from Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza.
For several days, Gazans have flown kites carrying burning cans of fuel into Israeli territory , causing fires including a serious conflagration on a kibbutz.
Thousands of Gazans gathered on the Israel-Gaza border on Friday as violent clashes with Israeli forces were renewed for the third consecutive week. Israeli troops used live fire and riot dispersal methods at several points along the security fence.
The IDF announced Friday: “There have been several attempts to damage the security barrier and cross it. In addition, a number of attempted terrorist attacks were carried out including the throwing of explosives, Molotov cocktails and the destruction of a security barrier.”
Speaking on Holocaust Remembrance Day last Thursday at a kibbutz 5 km. from Gaza, the Israeli Defence Minister said, “My message to our neighbours from the south…Change direction and start to think, not about how to destroy the State of Israel, but how to exist alongside the State of Israel.”
The IDF has exposed and neutralized a “high quality” Hamas terror tunnel encroaching 20 metres into Israeli territory. It was the 8th tunnel discovered and destroyed in the past few months. Israel’s Defence Minister described the tunnel as “the longest and deepest exposed thus far. Millions of dollars were invested in its excavation, money that would have been better served mitigating the plight of (Gaza) residents…
IDF tanks attacked a Hamas outpost Tuesday in response to shots fired at soldiers near the Gaza border fence.
The Innovation Africa charity installs solar, water and irrigation systems in poor villages in Uganda, Malawi, Tanzania, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, Senegal and Cameroon.
Regardless of stances on the Palestinian question, many African countries seek closer ties with Israel in fields such as security and counterterrorism. Extremist movements, such as Boko Haram in Nigeria and Al-Shabaab in Somalia, are a threat in East and West Africa alike. Israel’s security knowledge is perceived as beneficial, especially in surveillance, collecting personal data, and border-control systems.
THE EUROPEAN UNION
The E.U.’s parliament on Wednesday advanced legislation geared to prevent content deemed hateful in Palestinian textbooks insisting that educational material financed by Union funds, comply with the common values of freedom, tolerance and non-discrimination through education adopted by education ministers of the Union in Paris on 17 March 2015. https://www.timesofisrael.com/eu-resolves-to-nix-intolerant-content-in-palestinian-textbooks/
THE PALESTINAN AUTHORITY
P.A. President Abbas welcomed a terrorist immediately upon his release from a 20-year sentence in Israel prison for murder 1997 murder of yeshiva student Gabriel Hirschberg in the Old City of Jerusalem
The mayor of the West Bank Christian town of Beit Jala, near Bethlehem, on Wednesday dropped a bombshell by admitting that he also works as a sales representative for Tnuva, the Israeli food processing cooperative specializing in milk and dairy products.
COMMENT & OPINION
Randy Hultgren and Aviv Ezra:. Israel has implemented a good neighbour policy since 2013 that calls for medical treatment of all Syrian civilians seeking care. More than 4,000 Syrians have been treated in Israel, including 1,000 children. Israel has even opened up a maternity hospital on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights. Syrian children are also receiving necessities to improve their quality of life, such as eyeglasses and hearing aids. Israel treats any Syrian who needs it, free of charge. In addition, the Israeli Army has an official program, Operation Good Neighbour, that provides food, clothing, fuel, equipment and medical supplies to 250,000 Syrians.
We call upon the UN Human Rights Council to acknowledge that Israel has saved thousands of Syrian lives during one of the largest human rights atrocities in the world.
Vivian Bercovici: Peaceful protests do not encourage participants to overrun an international border, or use weapons, while threatening to conquer the country and murder its people. Peaceful protests are not organized by terrorist organizations and led by terrorist leaders, some of whom show up with Molotov cocktails and other weapons.
If a group like Hamas was to carry on in Europe as it does on the Gaza-Israel border, it is difficult to imagine Europeans would sit back in deck chairs with binoculars and just watch. The global community should be asking: why are Hamas’ “peaceful protesters” carrying weapons and calling for the destruction of Israel?
Thomas L. Friedman: Iran (is attempting) to turn Syria into a forward air base against Israel, something Israel is vowing to never let happen. The Iranian drone shot down on Feb. 10 “was carrying explosives.” It suggests that Iranian forces may have been trying to launch an actual military strike on Israel from an air base in Syria, not just reconnaissance.
“This is the first time we saw Iran do something against Israel – not by proxy,” a senior Israeli military source told me. This certainly helps to explain why Israeli jets launched a missile raid on the Iranian drone’s T-4 home base last Monday.
Defence officials say there is zero chance Israel will let Iran establish a massive missile threat in Syria like Hizbullah has established in Lebanon.
Prof. Eytan Gilboa : Throughout all the military confrontations Hamas initiated against Israel in 2008-09, 2012, and 2014, as well as in the recent “March of Return,” it has systematically disseminated outright fabrications and distortions and manipulated Western and social media.
Hamas deployed operatives among the demonstrators and ordered them to throw firebombs, shoot at Israeli soldiers, put explosives on the fence, cross into Israel’s territory, and, if possible, kill or kidnap soldiers and citizens. They also wanted as many Palestinians as possible to be killed, including women and children, in order to obtain favourable media coverage…
The media in the U.S. and Europe, including the elite press of the New York Times, Washington Post, Guardian, CNN, and BBC, largely accepted the manipulations, lies, and fabrications of Hamas without much questioning or reservation. They conveniently removed any reference to Hamas’ motivation, aggression, war crimes, and manipulations.
In 2005, Israel dismantled all its settlements in Gaza and evacuated all the Jews who lived there and its entire military, giving the Palestinians an opportunity in Gaza to show how they can live in peace with Israel. They failed. This failure suggests that territory and settlements have never been the main obstacles to peace. The Palestinians are not prepared to accept Israel as a Jewish state within any territory or borders.
Koolulam is a year-old social phenomenon that has gathered thousands of Israelis to sing together. Last week, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin joined Koolulam at a mass singing of Naomi Shemer’s “Al Kol Eleh” to honour Israel’s upcoming 70th anniversary.
ISRAEL AT 70
Evelyn Gordon: 90% of Israelis define themselves as Zionist. Zionism is simply the belief that the Jewish people has a right to its own state, and that a Jewish state therefore ought to exist. Israelis …are very confident of their identity: They are Jews living in the world’s only Jewish state. This is the state created precisely so that all Jews, anywhere, will always have a home.
Barbara Sofer lists 70 plus 1 reasons why she loves Israel.
EXTRACT: 90% of our wastewater is recycled. Spain is No. 2 with 20%. 93% of Israeli homes use solar energy for water heating, the highest percentage in the world. Israel has the largest percentage of vegans per capita in the world – 5% of the population.
Tel Aviv has more start-ups per capita than anywhere else, and it has 61 companies on NASDAQ. That’s more than Europe, Japan, Korea and China combined. Israel has the highest percentage of start-ups in the world and is second only to the U.S. in absolute terms
Jack Rosen: Israel at 70: What next for the nation and its people?
This small country, 58 percent of which is largely barren desert, has despite all odds become a world leader in the fields of energy and technology, a veritable breeding ground for innovative start-ups. Despite being in its infancy as a nation, Israeli innovation has spawned myriad inventions, from the UBS memory stick and essential smart phone technology, to cherry tomatoes and water conservation technology.
Dore Gold: Israel at 70: Flourishing against all odds.
EXTRACT: There was this extraordinary commitment to innovation. Every time our adversaries threw at us another strategic challenge, we had an answer. Just even recently, we’ve been facing this threat of rocket fire from Lebanon and the Gaza Strip. So what does Israel do? It develops the first really working rocket defense system, after we developed missile defense systems 10, 20 years ago. To replace the rocket, our adversaries develop tunnels. Tunnels are an old technology, but these tunnels were going to allow terrorists to come in their hundreds into Israeli territory and kill innocent civilians. What does Israel do? It makes the first anti-tunnel system in the world. So innovation that came out of military necessity helped give Israel a scientific and technological leg-up.