December 27, 2018

IDF Activates Air Defenses Against Incoming Syrian Missile

Israeli air defenses were activated against a missile fired from Syria, a military spokesman said at around 10:40 p.m. Tuesday evening (25th).

No damage or casualties were reported.

Shortly before the announcement, Syrian sources reported strikes on the Damascus region and said Syrian air defenses had been activated.

Specifically, SANA news said the strikes were launched from Lebanon, with the Syrian news outlet claiming that several targets were intercepted.

Meanwhile, Times of Israel reported that Lebanese media claimed Israeli Air Force planes had flown over southern Lebanon.

Over the past several years, Israel has launched hundreds of airstrikes in Syria targeting Iranian personnel and military infrastructure, which the Islamic Republic built up during Syria’s bloody civil war.

On Tuesday evening (25th), SANA posted videos to social media allegedly showing missiles fired from the Damascus vicinity.



IDF Chief: Iran Wants To Deploy 100,000 Fighters In Syria; ‘We’re Preventing It’

Outgoing IDF Chief Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot on Sunday (23rd) defended the military against recent criticism of insufficient action against Palestinian terrorism in the West Bank and Gaza Strip saying the army’s primary goal in recent years has been thwarting Iran’s efforts to establish a permanent military presence in Syria.  Tehran is seeking to establish a force of 100,000 fighters in Syria, he said, and the IDF is preventing it from doing so.

Eisenkot, who is due to end his four-year tenure as army chief next month, acknowledged that the Israel Defense Forces failed to give Israelis, especially those living near Gaza, a “feeling of security,” but indicated this was in part due to the fact that the civilian population is unaware of the majority of the military’s activities.

Comparing the threats to Israel to an iceberg, Eisenkot said that the visible dangers – terror attacks in the West Bank, and rockets from Gaza – are the smallest, while “what isn’t seen, and takes much of the army’s efforts, is the multi-dimensional threat of Iran.”

While the army chief warned of ongoing threats to Israel, his speech was overall optimistic about the Jewish state’s security situation.

“I think we can look back proudly at how the country has grown and thrived in the past year despite the mighty challenges Israel has faced, from Iran, from Syria, from Lebanon, from the West Bank, from Gaza, from international terror groups,” Eisenkot said.

“Israel has great deterrence toward our surroundings, in terms of the way we radiate power and in how we are seen by our enemies.  Israel has intelligence superiority, aerial superiority, naval superiority, cybernetic superiority – the country’s enemies know this,” he said.

The army chief made his remarks during a wide-ranging and extensive speech at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya at an annual event honoring former IDF chief of staff Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, who died in 2012.



Israeli Anti-Drone Company In Spotlight After London Airport Rescue

An Israeli technology company says its anti-drone system is drawing major interest after rogue unmanned aircraft sowed chaos at London’s Gatwick Airport last week.

With more than 750 flights canceled, over 120,000 passengers impacted and tens of millions of dollars in losses, the incident was deemed a major security breach, notwithstanding the lack of casualties or damage to property that ensued.  

The Israeli company Skylock is working to combat threats like the one that caused the Gatwick shutdown.  Skylock is among a growing industry specializing in detecting and downing intruder drones by “jamming” them, or disrupting their frequencies.

The company said Tuesday (25th) it saw a 40% spike in inquiries into its product since the Gatwick episode.

Product manager Asaf Lebovitz said the company, which emerged to target militant drone-use in Syria, has shifted focus to commercial applications and has been approached by airports in North America and Europe.

Noam Milstein, drone operations chief for Israel’s Civil Aviation Authority, said such systems are “obviously becoming crucial to prevent drone incursions from those who don’t care about the regulations in place.”



Radical Islamists in Gaza Waged War On Christmas

A flyer circulated by the Al-Nasser Salah al-Deen Brigades, a coalition of small-scale Islamist groups operating in Gaza, warned Christians living in Gaza, as well as Muslims looking to take part in the Christmas festivities Tuesday (25th), that celebration of the Christian holiday is forbidden by Islam.

The leaflet included quotes from the Koran alongside a burning Christmas tree.

Israel, however, took special measures to assist Palestinian Christians in observing the holiday.  On December 19, Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) Maj. Gen. Kamil Abu Rukun met with various Palestinian leaders, including some residing in the Gaza Strip, presenting special measures such as more flexibility in granting permits for Christian Gazans to visit family members both in Judea and Samaria and abroad via Ben Gurion Airport.

Roughly 50% of all Christians living in Gaza received these special permits.   

Meanwhile thousands of Palestinian Christians and international visitors celebrated Christmas Eve in Bethlehem on Monday night (24th).  There are 48,850 Palestinian Christians living in all of the West Bank and 1,138 in Gaza, the PA reported in February.

When Israel handed Bethlehem over to the Palestinian Authority in 1995, it had “a Christian population of roughly 80%.  Now it’s about 20%,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in October.

In the northern city of Nazareth over eighty-thousand people took part in the Christmas celebrations and the annual parade through the city, this week.

The Israel Police international spokesman said that police units accompanied all events and continued security measures throughout the celebrations for the Christian communities.

Israel’s Central Bureau Of Statistics reports that 175,000 Christians live in Israel, about 2% of the population.  Arab Christians account for 78% of that number.



Last Survivor Of Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, Simcha ‘Kazik’ Rotem, Dies, At 94

The last survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising Simcha Rotem, also known by his underground nickname ‘Kazik,” died in Jerusalem Saturday (22nd) at the age of 94, surrounded by his two children and five grandchildren.

During the 1943 uprising, the largest single act of Jewish resistance in the Holocaust years, Rotem fought and served as a liaison between the bunkers in the ghetto and the Aryan side of the city as a member of the Jewish Combat Organization (ZOB).

At the conclusion of the uprising, Rotem, who was born in Warsaw in 1924 as Szymon Rathajzer, led the last fighters from the ghetto through the sewers, saving their lives.  He kept them in hiding in the forest and in various apartments until the end of the war. Following the uprising, Kazik continued to function as a liaison and took part in the general uprising led by the Polish resistance in Warsaw in the summer of 1944.

The Nazis had entered the ghetto on April 19, 1943, the eve of the Passover holiday.  The Jewish fighters struggled for almost a month before their leader, Mordechai Anielewicz died in the ZOB command bunker on 18 Mila Street.

In 1946, with the end of the war, Kazik immigrated to Israel and was imprisoned by the British in the Atlit detention camp.  He then joined the Haganah and fought in the War of Independence.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin paid their respects to Rotem on Saturday (22nd).

“Kazik fought the Nazis, saved Jews, made aliyah after the Holocaust, and told the story of his heroism to thousands of Israelis,” Netanyahu said.  “His story and the story of the uprising will forever be with our people.”

Rivlin said: “Thank you for everything, Kazik.  We promise to try everyday to be deserving of the description ‘human.’”