April 17, 2018

At 70 Israel’s population is 8.842 million, 43% of world Jewry

On the eve of Israel’s 70th Independence Day, its population stands at 8,847,000, of whom 74.5 percent are Jewish, according to figures released on Monday (16th) by the Central Bureau of Statistics.

The Jewish population stands at approximately 6.589 million, while Arabs number 1.849, million, 20.9 percent of the population.  There are approximately 404,000 non-Arab Christians and members of other ethnic groups.

Independence day celebrations begin on Wednesday night (18th), as the country transitions from Memorial Day – 24 hours of mourning for Israel’s fallen soldiers and terror victims.

(cbs.gov.il; timesofisrael.com)


Ben Gurion’s hometown celebrates Israel’s Independence Day

On Sunday morning (15th), several hundred residents of Plonsk, Poland, the birthplace of David Ben Gurion, the first Prime Minister of the State of Israel, took part in a procession to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Israel’s Independence.

The marchers passed several of the way-stations of Ben Gurion’s early life, including a square named after him at the site of the house where he was born in 1886.  They also passed the home of his uncle where he lived as a child. He immigrated to Israel in 1906.

The ceremony included dances in traditional costumes and the singing of Israeli songs.



Students discover ancient menorah-adorned lamp while preparing Independence Day

Israeli students working on the interactive “Sanhedrin Trail” in honor of Israel’s 70th Independence Day celebrations did not imagine that the symbol of the State of Israel would unexpectedly emerge from the ground in the form of an ancient oil lamp bearing the symbol of the Temple’s menorah.

During archaeological excavations at Horbat Usha, the first place where the Sanhedrin relocated after the failed Bar Kochba revolt which ended in 135 CE and where Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi, codifier of the Mishnah, spent his childhood, the students discovered a 1,400 year old oil lamp bearing the menorah.

The menorah serves as the official symbol of the State of Israel.



Lieberman labels east Jerusalem community center a ‘terror establishment’

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman labeled on Monday (16th) The lliya Institute, a community center operating in eastern Jerusalem, a terror establishment, following recommendations by the Shin Bet security agency.

According to a statement from Lieberman’s office, the defense minister signed a special order under section 3 (a) of the Anti-Terrorism Law after it was found that the Institute, which operates as a youth center, was acting on behalf of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP).

The recommendation was made after months of surveillance by the Shin Bet which found the Institute was promoting the ideology of the DFLP through recruitment, training and incitement videos.

The security establishment led by Shin Bet said it will uproot any attempt to establish terror elements in eastern Jerusalem.

“We will not accept any institution that acts as a terror outpost in the capital of Jerusalem,” Lieberman stated.

(reuters.com; jpost.com)


Senior Iranian Commander: Israel can no longer threaten Iran

As tensions continue to rise along Israel’s northern border, the Commander of Iran’s Ground Forces has warned that Israel can no longer threaten the Islamic Republic.

Speaking in Tehran ahead of Iran’s Army Day, Brigadier General Kiumars Heidari was quoted by news agency Mehr saying that Iran’s armed forces “are much more powerful than before” and “the date has been set” for Israel’s destruction.

Iran’s Army Day is marked on April 18, the same day that Israel will celebrate the country’s 70th Independence Day.



Analysis: Iran’s plummeting currency reflects country’s economic, military concerns

With much of the world focused on the military confrontation in Syria over that country’s use of chemical weapons, Iran’s economy took a major hit as its currency plunged to record low levels.  The dive in Iran’s currency, “the rial,” caused a panic among Iranians as the government sought to keep things under control.

However, the ongoing threat of a major war in Syria – where Iran is heavily involved in support of Syrian President Bashar Assad – coupled with the potential collapse of the Iranian nuclear deal next month could spell instability ahead for Iran.

Most observers are pointing to corruption, political infighting and fear of collapse of the Iranian nuclear deal as major factors in the rial’s tumble.  



Iran MP claims China in talks to build it small nuclear reactors

Tehran and Beijing are in talks to have China build several small nuclear power plants in Iran, an Iranian lawmaker said Sunday (15th), amid concerns the Islamic Republic is seeking to build nuclear powered submarines.

“Some negotiations have been held on mutual cooperation and building small nuclear power plants in Iran by China,” the Fars news agency quoted lawmaker Mojtaba Zonnour as saying.

Zonnour is the chairman of the Iranian parliament’s Nuclear Committee.



Palestinian leaders vow to resist, outlast Trump

Jailed terrorist leader Marwan Barghouti said that if the Palestinian Authority will just remain steadfast, U.S. President Donald Trump will soon disappear, and the “peace” process can return to being a fully anti-Israel affair.

Barghouti urged Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas to reject any peace plan Trump should offer no matter what pressure he might come under.

“We need to realize that Trump will be gone in one to five years, but Jerusalem and its people will remain to pursue their resistance against the Zionist colonialism,” Barghouti said.



Gaza’s mass protests are failing to make an impact – Seth J. Frantzman

The Friday “March of Return” protests that Hamas launched on March 30 at the Gaza border saw their lowest turnout in three weeks and the smallest number of casualties in clashes with Israeli forces, with one Palestinian killed and 528 reported injured on Friday (13th).  The proportion of those injured by live fire has declined by half, indicating a major reduction in the size of the protests. Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman tweeted that “from week to week there are fewer riots on our border with Gaza. Our resolve is well understood from the other side.”

The number of protesters who gather each Friday has decreased from 20,000 or more the first week to 17,000 the second week, and to 10,000 this past Friday.  There have been almost no mass protests in the West Bank to coincide with the Gaza clashes.



Jordan authorities stop Gaza Solidarity March in Amman – Leith Juneidi and Mehmet Nuri Ucar

Jordan security forces in Amman dispersed a Friday (13th) demonstration held in solidarity with ongoing Palestinian protests along Gaza’s border with Israel.  Following Friday prayers, Jordanians set out from the Al-Hussein Mosque intending to march towards the city’s central Al-Nahl Square, but before reaching the square, the protesters were persuaded by Jordanian security forces to call off the march.