January 31, 2018

Tu B’Shvat – A joyful day in Israel to celebrate trees

It is now the season of Tu B’Shvat – a joyous day in Israel when it is customary for children – and adults – to go on tree planting and agricultural field trips.  Diaspora Jews and supporters of the Jewish state traditionally contribute funds towards planting trees in Israel in order to support agricultural development in the land.

Israelis have a natural awareness of agriculture, as the Jewish state – in the land of “milk and honey” – produces close to 70% of all its food requirements.

On the holiday of Tu B’Shvat, there is the custom to eat new seasonal fruit and especially fruit from the
“Seven Species” described in the Bible as being plentiful in the Land of Israel.  The seven species are: wheat, barley, grapes, figs pomegranates, olives and dates (honey), Deut. 8:8.

Tu B’Shvat began at sundown Tuesday (30th) and ends at  sundown Wednesday (31st).



Midnight Gaza rocket falls inside Israel

A Code Red siren was sounded at midnight Monday (29th) in the Sdot Negev and Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Councils after a rocket was fired into Israel.

Explosions were heard in the area, and after investigation, the IDF confirmed that a rocket had fallen in an open space in Israeli territory.  No damages or injuries were reported.

The last attack from Gaza took place at the beginning of January when three mortar shells were fired at Israel, all of which landed in uninhabited fields in Israeli territory.

(israelnn.com; ynetnews.com)


IDF launches plan to improve security in Jerusalem area

An IDF task force is working to reorganize the borders of the area assigned to the brigades charged with protecting the Jerusalem periphery, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot confirmed.

The IDF stressed that the process of reorganization was a response to a number of terrorist attacks in Jerusalem environs, which led to seeking improved operational efficacy for troops.

A military spokesman said Monday (29th) that the changes would not only lead to improved operational capabilities, but interorganizational communication.



U.S. delegation flees Palestinian mob in Bethlehem

A delegation of U.S. diplomats was forced to cut short a business event in Bethlehem and flee the city Tuesday (30th) after violent Palestinian protesters stormed the workshop.

The Palestinian mob, which was protesting President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, threw tomatoes at the delegation’s cars as they left and kicked the vehicles, agencies reported.

Reuters reported one of the cars was damaged.

(worldisraelnews.com; reuters.com)


Cost of border fences, underground barrier, reaches NIS 6 billion

Over the past 17 years, Israel has spent NIS 6 billion on building and improving border fences along the Jordanian, Egyptian, Syrian, Lebanese and Gaza borders, as well as on the first-of-its-kind underground barrier project on its southern border with Gaza – which costs nearly half the sum itself.

The underground barrier near the Gaza border is currently being constructed and will be completed in 2019.

The fence along the Israeli border with Syria was refurbished following the outbreak of the Syrian civil war.

The fence along the Jordanian border was built to stop migrants from entering Israel by passing through Sinai.

Construction on a Jordanian border fence near Eilat is still ongoing.



U.S. envoy Greenblatt views Hamas terror tunnels – Herb Keinon

On Sunday, (28th) U.S. Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt visited the area in Israel near Gaza for a view of recently uncovered terror tunnels that penetrated into Israel.  Following the visit, Greenblatt wrote on Twitter that “Hamas wastes resources on tunnels and rockets to attack Israel, instead of helping the people of Gaza by getting the lights on, the water flowing & the economy growing.”  Hamas “spews hateful rhetoric & foments a vicious cycle of violence.  Gaza deserves better!”



UN envoy: Gaza on verge of ‘total systems collapse’

Gaza is beyond a “humanitarian crisis” and “on the verge of a total systems failure,” UN Mideast envoy Nickolay Mladenov said Tuesday (30th).

Speaking at the INSS annual conference in Tel Aviv, Mladenov defined a total systems failure as the “full collapse of the economy and social services,” with all the “political, humanitarian and security implications stemming from that.”



IDF orders thousands of shoulder-fired infantry rocket launchers

An agreement was signed recently between the Israel Defense Forces and the Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Company for the acquisition of thousands of light-weight shoulder-fired rocket launchers for the Israeli army’s infantry units.

Intended for use against both armored vehicles and fortified enemy positions, the MATADOR rocket systems are specially designed for use in close-combat, including in urban combat situations.



B’nai B’rith honors Guatemalan president for embassy move to Jerusalem

The President of Guatemala was honored with an award from an International Jewish organization for his decision to move his country‘s embassy to Jerusalem and for his unwavering support of Israel.

Jimmy Morales received the Human Rights Award from global and regional B’nai B’rith officials during a ceremony Thursday (25th) in Guatemala City.

(timesofisrael.com; jta.org)


German city, Frankfurt cuts ties to banks that enable Israel boycotts

The deputy mayor of the city of Frankfurt announced on Monday (29th) that the municipal government will end all commerce with banks that conduct business with organizations that support a boycott of the Jewish State.

In a statement to The Jerusalem Post, Deputy Mayor Uwe Becker wrote that “We will shortly only work together with banks, peoples’ banks, and Sparkassen [public savings banks], that do not maintain business relations with organizations of the anti-Semitic BDS campaign or affiliated groups.”

Frankfurt is the first German city to sanction banks and financial institutions for providing services to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign targeting Israel.