News Digest — 8/21/19

Hamas Threatens Escalation, Drafts Gazans For Border Protests

The Lebanese Al Akhbar newspaper on Tuesday morning (20th) quoted a Hamas source who claimed that the terror groups have sent a clear message saying if Israel does not implement “the understandings,” they will begin escalating the situation.

According to the paper, the understandings Israel must implement include allowing Qatari money into Gaza each month and increasing the electricity it supplies to Gaza by the end of the week.

Qatari envoy Mohammed al-Emadi is expected to arrive in Gaza, via Israel on Thursday (22nd), bringing Gaza’s monthly “stipend” with him in cash.  The funds are intended for poor people in Gaza. Al-Emadi will also bring diesel fuel for use in operating Gaza’s only power plant.

Israel has already allowed two installments of $15 million in Qatari money into Gaza, but Israel postponed the third following the shooting of an IDF soldier by a terrorist from Gaza.

Earlier this year, Hamas agreed to end rocket fire, incendiary and explosive balloons, and the weekly border riots, in exchange for Israel allowing $25 million in Qatari money to reach Hamas, easing economic sanctions, and expanding the fishing zone around Gaza.

Israel began implementing the deal.  However, rocket fire from Gaza has continued, along with border riots and the sending of explosive balloons into Israeli territory.

Meanwhile, the Hamas terror movement has announced a general draft in preparation for the weekly “March of Return” riots held each Friday.  The draft, which has been named, “Responding to the call of Al-Aqsa,” aims to show Gazans’ commitment to “protecting Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque.”

A notice published Monday (19th) said the organization is looking to enlist people for all positions, from lowest to most-senior, and aims to present a strong stance against the “Zionist and American” plans and to support “Palestinians” who protect Al-Aqsa Mosque.

In addition, Hamas called on the public in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority-controlled areas of Judea, Samaria, Jerusalem, and Israel (which it referred to as “Palestine’s occupied interior”) to express their rage and participate in all up-coming weekly “Marches of Return.”



Explosion Rocks Arms Depot Of Iran-Backed Militias Near Baghdad

Iraqi security officials on Tuesday (20th) said an explosion ripped through an arms depot belonging to an Iranian-backed militia faction north of Baghdad.

The explosion is the latest in a series of mysterious blasts that have rocked military bases and weapons depots around the country recently.

It was not immediately clear if there were casualties.

The officials who confirmed the explosion spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

The blasts took place in bases and warehouses belonging to militia groups under the umbrella of the mainly Iran-backed militias known as the Popular Mobilization Forces. The state-sanctioned PMF militias have fought alongside Iraq’s regular armed forces against the Islamic State group.

No one has  claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s (20th) explosion near Balad Air Base in Salaheddin province or the other explosions.  However, many in Iraq have blamed Israeli airstrikes.

Israel has struck Iranian bases in neighboring Syria on numerous occasions, and there has been speculation that it might be expanding its campaign to target Iranian bases, to Iraq.  However, neither the Iraqi government not Israel have addressed the reports.

Israeli officials have identified Iraq as a likely growing base of operations for Iran-backed efforts against the Jewish state.  But Israeli officials have so far neither confirmed nor denied responsibility for the strikes.

On Monday (19th) Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu hinted that Israel was behind recent airstrikes in Iraq, stressing that the Jewish state would continue to act militarily whenever and wherever there is a need to do so.

“Iran has no immunity, anywhere,” he told reporters during a briefing in Kiev in response to a question about the attacks on military installations in Iraq.



For Most Palestinians, The “Occupation” Includes All Of Israel – Steve Frank

→ Ask someone at random what Israel should do to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and the answer you’re most likely to get is “end the occupation.”  For most Westerners, this means the West Bank (acquired by Israel during the 1967 Six Day War).

→ However, for most Palestinians the occupation is not limited to the West Bank, but consists of “historic Palestine,” which includes the whole of Israel.  For most Palestinians, the occupation began in 1948 when Israel was born, and they won’t be satisfied by anything less than the elimination of the State of Israel.

→ Palestinian Authority Leader Mahmoud Abbas told Palestinian TV in October 2013: “All Palestinian land is occupied – Gaza is occupied, the West Bank is occupied, the 1948 lands [Israel] are occupied and Jerusalem is occupied.”

→ A June 2019 survey by the Palestine Center for Public Opinion found that only 30% of West Bankers would approve a two-state solution.  The majority say “the conflict should not end, and resistance should continue, until all of historic Palestine is liberated.”

→ There is no mistaking the meaning of the chant heard at virtually all pro-Palestinian rallies: “From the river to the sea, Palestine must be free.”  The river is the Jordan River and the sea is the Mediterranean Sea. In other words, Palestine is Israel.

→ The Palestinians memorialize the “Nakba” or “catastrophe” to mourn the 1948 War of Independence and the creation of Israel.  That is the occupation they seek to end to this day.

The writer is an attorney who served for 30 years as an appellate lawyer with the U.S. Justice Department in Washington.



Instant Protective Fence Developed By Israel’s Orad Group

The Israeli Orad Group Ltd. has developed a new system for immediate peripheral protection in outdoor conditions, according to a release published on Monday (19th).  The system is already active in one of the country’s facilities by request of the Energy Ministry.

According to the company’s vice president of marketing and sales, Yossi Gofer, the system involves an actual fence and camera that can be set up in a matter of minutes as unconnected periphery markers, without any planning or construction time.

“The system we developed is mobile,” Gofer said.  “It can get where it needs to be and produces a virtual fence capable of alerting users of any intrusion into the protected area.  It offers full video display day or night and in all weather conditions.”

The system is equipped with a local generator and backup batteries that are charged with a solar panel mounted on a portable unit.  The cellular communications channel allows for real-time information transfer to a remote control room or other information center.

“This is an immediate, tactical solution,” added Gofer.



Leaders Of Ugandan Synagogue Named For Tree Of Life Synagogue Pay Visit

The leaders of a new synagogue in Uganda named for Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue visited the Pennsylvania congregation.

Wanani Esau and Yonatan Katz Lukato, the president and founder, respectively, of the synagogue in the capital city Kampala, spoke to Tree of Life members at the nearby Rodef Shalom Congregation on Monday (19th), the Post Gazette reported.  The congregation has been meeting there since a gunmen killed 11 worshippers at Shabbat services in October.

“It’s a dream come true,” Lukato said, according to the newspaper.  “I’ll take the message from here back home and tell my congregants about the good people I met here.”

In the wake of the attack, the Kampala synagogue contacted the Tree of Life Congregation and asked to name the new synagogue in tribute.

Rabbi Jeffrey Myers of the Pittsburgh synagogue said the request received a “unanimous and enthusiastic” response from the board, the paper reported.  He said the congregation plans to send prayer books and other religious items to its namesake, and one day hopes to bring a Torah scroll.

He gave the Ugandan men kippahs with the “Stronger than Hate” slogan printed on them.

Esau and Lukato, members of the Abayudaya Jewish community, traveled to Pittsburgh from the Poconos, where they are working at Camp Ramah for the summer, according to the report.