Israel Update: 20 April 2017

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(The Israel  Update is taking a break for one week – hopefully will return on 3 or 4 May)



Jillan Farmer, the medical director of the United Nations, will lead a seminar to Israel next month to meet with medical professionals as the global body seeks qualified people to fill the ranks of its peacekeeping forces. The UN has a particular interest in Israeli doctors because of their field and medical experience, Last November, the UN’s World Health Organisation recognised the Israeli army’s field hospital, which is regularly sent abroad to provide aid at natural disaster sites, as “the number one in the world.”…Israeli disaster relief delegations have been some of the first and largest to arrive at the scenes of natural disasters. Teams from the IDF Medical Corps and Home Front Command provided rescue and medical services after an earthquake in Turkey in 1999, an earthquake in Haiti in 2010, a typhoon in the Philippines in 2013 and, most recently, an earthquake in Nepal in 2015.



Hannah Bladon, an exchange student from Birmingham University, who was on a study programme at the Hebrew University, was stabbed to death last Friday on the light-rail by East Jerusalem resident Jamil Tamimi, 57, a Palestinian Arab with a history of mental problems. She was standing by the exit doors of the train, near to Tamimi, because she had given up her seat to enable a woman who was holding a baby to sit down.Tamimi told investigators that he attacked her because he wanted to die and hoped the soldier who was standing next to her on the train would kill him, Channel 2 reported, describing the killing as “an attempted suicide attack.” The murderer was on his way from a mental hospital in northern Israel when he carried out the fatal stabbing.

Derby County soccer club held a minute of silence before the start of its game against Huddersfield Town on Monday evening in honour of Hannah Bladon, who had been a fervent Derby County supporter.



A 60 year old Israeli man suffered a head wound in a car-ramming attack near the Gush Etzion Junction in the West Bank on Wednesday. The assailant was shot and fatally wounded by IDF troops on the scene.




Two Gazan women were caught trying to smuggle explosives into Israel using tubes labelled for medication, taking advantage of an entry permit issued for one of them to seek cancer treatment in Israel. The explosives were “sent by Hamas and it is believed that they were meant to be used to carry out attacks in Israel in the near future,” according to the Israeli security officials. The explosives were hidden inside tubes labeled “medical materials” and were to be used to manufacture improvised explosive devices.
”Unfortunately, this is more proof that terror groups in Gaza are continuing to take advantage of humanitarian channels to export terror into Israel,” said Defence Ministry Crossings Authority Director Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Kamil Abu Rokon

Two Palestinian Arab residents of Nablus were arrested near the village of Silwad Tuesday after they were discovered armed with M-16 rifles.,7340,L-4950822,00.html



On the eve of Passover, Israeli security forces at a checkpoint arrested a Palestinian planning an attack inside Israel who was armed with a knife and a stun grenade. His interrogation revealed that he had planned to carry out the attack with another person who subsequently turned himself in to security forces.,7340,L-4948899,00.html



Using the internet and monitoring social media, the Israel Security Agency and IDF Military Intelligence have stopped 2,200 Palestinians at various stages of planning and preparing terror attacks, mostly stabbings and car-rammings, in less than a year. More than 400 Palestinians were arrested by Israel and similar number by the PA, while the rest received warnings.






The New York Times’s public editor Liz Spayd on Tuesday criticized the paper’s op-ed department for its failure to list the terror crimes that earned Palestinian terrorist Marwan Barghouti five life sentences in prison, saying such skimping on opinion writers’ biographical information is a repeated fault that discredits the paper. Barghouti had written wrote a NYT article published Sunday defending  the mass hunger strike by Palestinian security prisoners he initiated on Monday. The op-ed’s tag line described Barghouti as a “parliamentarian and leader” but did not mention the terror attacks for which he was convicted.




In the West Bank, teenagers from Gush Etzion and the  nearby Arab village Al Khader  meet and learn photography together under the auspices of the Roots coexistence programme.






With near-nonexistent inflation and low unemployment, Israel is no. 3 on a list of the world’s most stable and promising economies in 2016 published by Bloomberg, following Hong Kong and South Korea.






A tiny satellite built by Israeli high school students was launched Tuesday from NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre  on its way to study the atmosphere as part of an international research project. The Duchifat-2 is one of 28 nanosatellites from 23 countries participating in the EU’s QB50 thermosphere research programme.




Sixty percent of the 6.8 million litres of daily sewage sludge generated in Brazil gets dumped back into nature untreated. Now Brazil is poised to clean up its sewage problem using an Israeli invention for transforming human waste into odour-free, sterilized farm fertilizer. Incorporated in February, Lodologic was established by a group of Brazilian companies in partnership with Israeli company Paulee CleanTec.






Yair Lapid MK (Chairman of Yesh Atid party): A New York Times opinion piece identifies its writer, Marwan Barghouti, as “a Palestinian leader and parliamentarian.” That isn’t an error, that is an intentional deception. Marwan Barghouti is a murderer. He was convicted in a civilian court on five separate counts of murder of innocent civilians. He was involved in dozens of attempted terror attacks. He caused people to lose their families and led to people being maimed. He destroyed lives.
Barghouti is in prison not for his views, nor for his desire for a Palestinian state. He chose the path of terror, murder and violence.



Reuven Ben Shalom: Barghouti is a murderer who inflicted pain and suffering on many innocent victims. He refers to “dark [prison] cells.” But I’ve visited Barghouti’s prison. Not only is his cell well lit, but the abundance of books supplied by the Israel Prison Service enabled him to complete a PhD in political science within his prison cell.



Amos Harel: A hunger strike by Palestinian security prisoners in Israel that began on Monday has as much to do with intra-Palestinian power struggles as it has with the struggle against Israel. The Palestinian Authority leadership, which is officially supporting the strike, in actuality is concerned about any outcome that could advance the standing of Marwan Barghouti, who initiated the strike and who is not especially liked by President Abbas.



Daniel Pipes: So long as rejectionism runs rampant, debates about one-, two-, and three-state solutions, or about electricity grids and water supplies, are for naught. There can be no resolution so long as most Palestinians dream of obliterating the Jewish state.…they (Palestinians)will greatly benefit from throwing off the burden of anti-Zionism. Finally, they can begin to build their own polity, economy, society, and culture. All will gain when this proud people turns its attention to creating the institutions of civil society and to teaching children skills rather than hatred.

Israel Update: 13 April 2017

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The “Islamic State” affiliate in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula took responsibility for firing a rocket into southern Israel on Monday. The missile damaged a greenhouse in Yuval near the Egyptian border. A 50-year-old man who was nearby when it struck suffered an anxiety attack.




Last week, the Israeli army provided medical treatment to seven Syrians wounded in their country’s civil war. The man, four women and two children, were wounded by shrapnel from explosions in villages near the Syrian border with Israel. Among them was a 2-year-old girl who sustained a severe head injury. Over 3,000 wounded Syrians have been treated by the I.D.F. medics and in Israeli hospitals since 2013. (Syria is an enemy state at war with Israel)


Most Israeli politicians were outraged at reports of last week’s deadly chemical attack on Idlib with the exception of the Joint (Arab) List. This 13-member amalgamation of convenience of four very different Arab-led factions has not condemned the gas attack, and members of one of its constituent factions, Hadash, have expressed some support for the regime of President Assad.




Hamas on Monday said its forces arrested a Palestinian for the assassination of one of its commanders Mazen Faqwa in the Gaza Strip last month. Hamas had accused Israel of being behind the killing, and vowed “divine punishment” for Faqha’s assassins. Israel’s Defence Minister had said that Hamas was responsible for the killing and that it came as a result of an internal dispute.


The 2011 Shalit deal saw the release of 1,027 prisoners collectively responsible for the murder of 569 Israelis. This infused Hamas’ leadership with new blood, including its new leader, Yahya Sinwar. (Israeli) Defence officials today believe that 50% of those released in 2011 are currently involved in terrorist activity.


IDF Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the Coordinator of (Israeli) Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), contacted international aid organizations last week to warn that the Gaza aquifer has been destroyed by years of excessive pumping and 96% of the water is now unfit to drink. In January, UNICEF finished construction of a desalination plant in Khan Yunis, but Hamas won’t allow the plant to be connected to the electric grid. Israel has offered to double its supply of water to Gaza, but the PA is not rushing to implement the offer


IDF Combat Intelligence Corps soldiers stationed along Israel’s borders combine infantry combat capabilities with advanced intelligence-gathering skills…the Bedouin troops who patrol Israel’s borders are highly respected for their tracking skills. Maj. Tamir Sawad said that because he knows every inch of the land, he was able to spot two IEDs that had been placed on the Gaza border fence last month.



Families of Palestinian terrorists receiving monthly payments from the Palestine Liberation Organization are pushing for an increase, amid growing pressure from the United States and other donor countries on the Palestinian Authority to end the practice. Relatives of ‘martyrs’ want the allowance they are paid to be linked to the cost of living.




Worshippers thronged to Jerusalem for Palm Sunday earlier this week. Crowds gathered at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and at the Mount of Olives one week before Easter



Teva Pharmaceuticals has found a new way of delaying drug metabolism and so slowing down the breakdown of active ingredients. By replacing some of the hydrogen atoms in a drug for the treatment of Huntington’s disease with the heavier isotope deuterium, the drug has been shown to remain unchanged in the body for longer. Slowing down drug metabolism means that doctors can prescribe lower doses of drugs to achieve the same effect, meaning that patients suffer fewer side-effects.


The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) purchased 28 ReWalk Personal Exoskeleton Systems to support an ongoing national clinical trial The first 20 systems were shipped to VA in the first quarter of 2017. ReWalk Robotics Ltd.(of Yokneam, Israel) develops, manufactures and markets wearable robotic exoskeletons for individuals with spinal cord injury.



Israel’s Holstein cows produce about 3,000 gallons of milk per cow per year, a figure that is among the highest in the world. More than 80% of Israel’s cows are registered in the Israel Herd Book, a computerized database that allows tracing the genealogy, history, milk yield and other factors for each cow. Special sensors measure cows’ daily body weight and milk composition for protein, fat, lactose and more.




At the request of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Indian Red Cross, senior first-aid instructors and paramedics from Magen David Adom – Israel’s national emergency-response organization – are spending two weeks in India training instructors within the Indian Red Cross to improve first response in India, a country prone to disasters and traffic accidents.



Israeli company “Unavoo” was founded and developed at home by Israeli entrepreneur Yuval Maimon, (diagnosed with diabetes at age 38) has produced a sweetener claimed to be sweeter and healthier and without the disliked aftertaste common to many other sweeteners. Israel’s sugar monopoly, Sugat, and its London-based parent company, ED & F Man, have invested in the product.


Last week, 28 Eurovision finalists planted trees in Israel representing their countries during a four-day promotional tour ahead of the 62nd Eurovision Song Contest in Kiev, May 9-13, 2017. The contestants also performed their songs for local and international media in Tel Aviv.




A growing number of young black South Africans — including members of the ANC’s youth division — have visited Israel and now forcefully reject the parallels drawn between the racist regime under which their parents suffered and the current reality for Palestinian Arabs. Prominent among them is Nkululeko Nkosi, a 23-year-old member of the ANC Youth League… Nkosi argues that apartheid was about race, while the Israeli-Palestinian conflict encompasses both religious and territorial disputes. He said: “On my last trip to Israel, I found that unlike apartheid South Africa, there is no deliberate effort by the government to segregate a specific group in Israel,” he wrote. “In day-to-day discussions with ordinary Israeli citizens, I learned from Arabs and Jews, and I sensed their burning desire to live together as harmonious neighbours.”

And see: New African Perspectives on Israel and the Palestinians (Africans for Peace)


David Makovsky, Ghaith al-Omari and Lia Weiner: Any progress on trying to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must first address the lack of trust that exists between the two sides. For Israelis, Palestinian incitement to violence casts serious doubt as to whether the Palestinians are serious about peace. Despite Israeli-Palestinian security cooperation, official PA pronouncements still refer to Palestinians who murder Israelis as “martyrs.” The egregious practice of making payments to families of Palestinians who engage in clear acts of terrorism and to prisoners convicted of such acts stands out severely in this regard. Every year, the Palestinian Authority spends more than $300 million, or 7.6% of its total budget, in support of two foundations dedicated to assisting families of “martyrs” and Palestinians detained in Israeli prisons.