Israel in the News: Jan/Feb 2018

Bibi: Israel Rejects New Hamas-Fatah Government

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said recently Israel will not accept the new, unified Hamas-Fatah government unless Hamas renounces terrorism and acknowledges Israel’s right to exist.

“Israel opposes any reconciliation in which the terrorist organization Hamas does not disarm and end its war to destroy Israel. There is nothing Israel wants more than peace with all our neighbors. Reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas makes peace much harder to achieve. . . . Reconciling with mass-murderers is part of the problem, not part of the solution,” Netanyahu posted on Facebook.

The Fatah-Hamas agreement, brokered by the Egyptian government in October, ended the decade-long schism between the two factions. Fatah agreed to lift punitive sanctions on Hamas in exchange for control of the Gaza Strip and the formation of a unity government, JNS.org reported.

The Israeli government also called on Hamas to release two Israeli hostages—Avra Mengistu and Hisham a-Said—and return the remains of fallen Israel Defense Forces soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, JNS.org reported.

From news reports

IDF Speakers Combat Anti-Semitism on U.S. Campuses

As virulent anti-Semitism increases on U.S. college campuses, the pro-Israel organization Reservists on Duty (RoD) has stepped up its efforts to counter false claims against the Jewish state.

It recently organized a speaking tour called Arabs Breaking the Silence, featuring Christian, Muslim, Druze, Bedouin, and Arab-Palestinian former Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers who shared their experiences of living in Israel and serving in the IDF. The former soldiers spoke on university campuses in California, Arizona, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and New York.

The tour countered the claims of the anti-Israel organization Breaking the Silence. According to data collected by the AMCHA Initiative, a nonprofit that documents and combats anti-Semitism, the beginning of the 2017–2018 school year has seen a marked increase in anti-Israel activity, including Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) posters and swastika incidents. In the fall, AMCHA had reported 457 anti-Semitic incidents on U.S. college campuses in 2017.

Pro-Palestinian students from the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) have been promoting a book called the Disorientation Guide on such campuses as Tufts University, Columbia University, and New York University (NYU) to convince incoming freshmen that Israel is a white supremacist, apartheid state. SJP is connected with the terrorist organization Hamas.

SJP activists at NYU accused the university of “racist” and “Zionist” policies and called for it to end its study-abroad program to Tel Aviv University, falsely claiming “students of Palestinian descent, or Arab descent more broadly, are distinctly prohibited from studying at the Tel Aviv site.”

The SJP chapter at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst sponsored a speaker who accused Israel of pursuing “ethnic cleansing” and “ethnic purity,” JNS.org reported. Such accusations of Israel as a white supremacist nation are baseless, said Ron Krudo, director of Campus Affairs for StandWithUs. About 70 percent of Israelis were born in African or Middle Eastern countries and thus “would be considered ‘people of color’ in America,” Krudo told JNS.org.

In October NYU also hosted a 10-day run of “The Siege,” an anti-Israel play performed by Palestinian actors who portrayed as heroes the Arab terrorists who seized Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity in 2002, JNS.org said.

From news reports

U.S. Islamic Charity Promotes Anti-Semitism

Senior officials from the U.S.-funded Muslim charity Islamic Relief have promoted anti-Semitism and praised Arab terrorists on social media, according to the Middle East Forum’s recent Islamist Watch report.

In numerous social media posts, Chairman of Islamic Relief’s U.S. branch, Khaled Lamada, expressed support for the Muslim Brotherhood; admired violence against Israel; and praised Egyptian guerilla fighters for “causing the Jews many defeats.” Another U.S. Islamic Relief official, Yousef Abdallah, posted content glorifying Arab terrorists as “martyrs” who provided weapons to “kill more than 20 Jews” and “fire rockets at Tel Aviv.”

The United States gave $370,000 in aid to Islamic Relief in 2016, and Islamist Watch research has revealed Islamic Relief sends much of its funding to Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

JNS.org

UNESCO Appoints First-Ever Jewish Director-General

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recently voted to appoint its first-ever Jewish director-general a day after the United States and Israel announced they would withdraw from UNESCO due to its anti-Israel bias.

Former French Minister of Culture Audrey Azoulay won the narrow vote—30 to 28—against Qatari Hamad Bin Abdulaziz Al-Kawari. “In a time of crisis, we need more than ever to get involved [and] work to strengthen the organization,” said Azoulay.

JNS.org

U.S. Opens First Permanent Military Base in Israel

The United States has opened its first- ever permanent military base in Israel, continuing the long trend of U.S.-Israeli military cooperation. The base, located in southern Israel, will house dozens of U.S. military personnel who will assist Israel’s air defense missions. “[The American military] will assist and improve the ability of the state of Israel and IDF’s air defenses,” Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus told JNS.org.

The U.S. task force will help Israel “improve detection, interception and deployment in aerial defense while strengthening cooperation,” IDF Brig. Gen. Tzvika Haimovich said.

JNS.org

Hamas Keeps Building Tunnels Into Israel

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) has discovered a Hamas terror tunnel underneath a United Nations’ school in the Gaza Strip, placing the school’s children in grave danger. “Yet another terror tunnel under an UNRWA schoolyard. This is what Hamas rule looks like, and this is more proof of the double war crime committed as terror tunnels are built to attack Israelis, while using the children of Gaza as human shields,” Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said.

Days later, the Israel Defense Forces demolished a Hamas terror tunnel being built inside Israeli territory near the Gaza Strip, The Times of Israel reported.

From news reports

Israel Launches New Satellite

Israel has successfully launched its most recent cutting-edge satellite to monitor climate change, adding to the nation’s reputation as a rising star in space and satellite technology. Israeli and French aerospace firms developed the microsatellite, Venus, which weighs 550 pounds and observes 110 sites on five continents every two days to monitor humanity’s impact on vegetation, water, and carbon levels.

Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems provided the microsatellite’s electric propulsion system, and Elbit Systems manufactured its high-resolution camera.

Israel is one of only 11 nations possessing the ability to independently launch unmanned missions into space. “Israel is one of the few countries that has the entire chain of satellite capabilities, which means launch, design, construction, and operation,” Director General of the Israel Space Agency Avi Blasberger told JNS.org.

JNS.org

IDF Soldiers Help Sudanese Refugees

Israeli NGO iAid recently sent two former Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers to Uganda’s border to help South Sudan’s refugees who have fled due to national unrest, famine, and economic crisis. “In an effort to support the conflict’s most vulnerable displaced communities, the two former combat soldiers were there to utilize their elite training to assess the situation and provide much-needed support for sustainability,” The Jerusalem Post reported.

Israeli NGOs such as iAid and IsraAID are continuing to send workers to aid the more than 11 million Sudanese men, women, and children facing displacement, hunger, and a lack of medical necessities, the Post reported.

From news reports

UAE Discriminates Against Israeli Judo Players

When Israeli Judo champion Tal Flicker won the gold medal recently at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam judo tournament in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), he quietly sang Israel’s national anthem, “Hatikvah,” to himself because the tournament’s organizers refused to play it. They also refused to let the Israeli players compete under the Israeli flag or wear their nation’s flag on their uniforms, as the other players were allowed to do.

Israeli bronze medal winner Tohar Butbul was shunned by his opponent, who refused to shake his hand. The president of the UAE Judo Federation and the general secretary of Abu Dhabi Sports Council later apologized.

From news reports

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