News Digest—06/28/19

Netanyahu: If Israel Wasn’t Here, The Middle East Would Collapse

Israel Hayom editor in Chief Boaz Bismuth greeted Prime Minister Netanyahu Thursday night (27th) at the inaugural Israel Hayom Forum on US-Israel Relations in Jerusalem.

In his opening statements, Bismuth, who was the first foreign journalist to interview U.S. President Donald Trump after his election victory in 2016, hailed the U.S. president for “keeping every promise he has made“ to the State of Israel.  

The U.S.-Israel alliance “has always transcended partisan lines,” Bismuth added, before welcoming Netanyahu to the stage.

After a short film highlighting key points in U.S.-Israeli cooperation since 1948, which included the U.S. investment in the Iron Dome missile defense system in 2010; Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel; and Trump’s recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, Bismuth asked Netanyahu if there were “new peaks” he was hoping for.

Netanyahu answered that U.S.-Israeli cooperation was always growing.

“I’m being very careful, but the cooperation between us now is something we have never had.” Netanyahu said.

“You’ve heard of the 5 ‘I’s’ in U.S. defense?  Well there is a sixth ‘I,’ and that is Israel. Israel not only receives intelligence from the U.S. but gives the U.S. intelligence that is second to none.  Israel is a tremendous ally of the U.S.,” Netanyahu said.

The prime minister added that Israel did not seek “American boots on the ground.”

“We don’t ask Americans to fight for us.  Can you name any other U.S. ally that categorically says that?  Israel is the best ally the U.S. has,” Netanyahu said.

“Israel makes technology that services not only intelligence at the government level, but in every field of human endeavor.  We are in the middle of a technological revolution,” the prime minister added.

“If Israel wasn’t here, the Middle East would collapse,” Netanyahu said.  “Israel ensures the entire region remains pro-Western, pro American.”

Netanyahu noted that he was happy with the direction the region was going and that he’d like to “see more of the same, and to institutionalize the growing alliance between Israel and moderate Arab states in such a way that it would withstand winds of change.” 



Palestinians Ramp Up Arson Attacks, Ignite 24 Fires In Israel

On Thursday (27th), Palestinians in the Gaza Strip launched a new wave of arson attacks, using incendiary devices attached to balloons, to ignite fires in Israeli territory in the southern region.

In total, Palestinians caused about 24 fires in southern Israel’s Gaza belt, based on a report from Israeli authorities.  

The Palestinian arson campaign began in March 2018 and has fluctuated between periods of heavy and light attacks since then.

Thursday’s (27th) campaign represented an uptick in the attacks, which involve the use of balloons, kites, and live falcons to send incendiary devices into Israel, where they start massive fires that have destroyed thousands of acres of farmland and nature reserves, costing Israel millions of dollars.

Some of the blazes have destroyed communities in the Sha’ar Hanegev and Eshkol regions.  On Thursday (27th) fire struck both areas.

In response to the most recent wave of arson attacks, Israel stopped supplying gasoline and diesel fuel to the Gaza Strip this week, with the hope that the terror groups that rule the coastal enclave will rein in the cells that launch the attacks.



After U.S.-Russia Summit, Netanyahu Says Israel Won’t Halt Hitting Iran In Syria

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday vowed to continue to act against Iranian entrenchment in Syria, a day after a high-level trilateral meeting with the U.S. and Russia.

Netanyahu also warned that an Israeli retreat from the Jordan Valley in the West Bank would lead to war, speaking at a ceremony for pilots graduating from the Israeli Air Force’s 178th flight school training program.

“We will continue to act against Iran’s attempt to establish itself in Syria, with the air force having a central role,” Netanyahu told the new pilots.

“We always remember that we must be ready to protect ourselves with our own strength against every threat – that is the basic principle which assures our future.”

The comments came a day after Jerusalem hosted U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton and Russia’s Security Adviser Nikolai Patrushev, with National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat, for talks revolving around Syria and Iran.

In statements to the press, Patrushev rejected the view held by the U.S. and Israel that Iran represents “the main threat to regional security” and said Israeli airstrikes in Syria against Iranian forces and its proxies were “undesirable.”

Israel has admitted to carrying out hundreds of airstrikes in Syria in recent years targeting Iranian military assets and infrastructure which it sees as a threat to the Jewish state.



Israeli Company Wins Bid To Help Secure U.S. Border

Israeli defense electronics company Elbit Systems announced on Wednesday (26th) that its U.S. subsidiary has been awarded a $26 million contract by the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Protection Agency to install a multi-sensor system to monitor the U.S.-Mexico border.

According to a report in the Israeli financial daily Globes, Elbit will install an Integrated Fixed Towers (IFT) system in Arizona.

Elbit has been involved in a number of projects with U.S. Customs regarding border security.

The IFT system is a command and control center with sensors that monitor the U.S.-Mexico border and provide intelligence to agents patrolling on the ground.



Palestinian Stands Trial In Germany For Murder Of ‘Rich Jew’ 

In Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany, a Palestinian identified only as “Iyad B.” in the news media is standing trial for the brutal murder of Michael Riecher, a German real estate investor whom the suspect reportedly referred to as a “rich Jew” who “annihilated [his] country,” reported the Jerusalem Post.

According to a report in the German newspaper Schwarzwalder Bote, the witness who testified to these comments on Wednesday (26th) claimed that the Palestinian supect’s hatred of Jews was his motive for the murder, which occurred in November.  Investigators said the cause of Riecher’s death was strangulation.

Though it is unclear if Riecher was even Jewish, he played a major role in renovating the sanctuary of a synagogue in Germany.

In 2014 Free Democratic Party MP Michael Theurer was quoted as saying, “If Michael Riecher had not taken over the financial risk of the property developer, we would not be sitting in a rock-solid renovated sanctuary today.”

The murder plot was allegedly hatched by Mohammed Omran Albakr, a 28-year-old from Syria.  Schwarzwalder Bote apparently hailed Albakr in 2016 as a model refugee after his arrival in Germany.

Riecher’s murder comes amid growing anti-Semitism in Germany and Europe at large.