News Digest — 1/18/23

US Will Reimburse Israel For Weapons Transferred To Ukraine

The US will replenish any weapon that it has recently transferred from Israel to Ukraine, an IDF source confirmed on Wednesday (18th).

Further, the IDF affirmed that the transfer of weapons and ammunition from Israel to Ukraine would not in any way impact Israel’s readiness for any emergency situation or conflict.

Earlier Wednesday morning (18th) The New York Times was the first to report the US transfer of weapons and ammunition to Ukraine that it regularly stores in Israel for use in the event of a sudden conflict in the area.

Around one year into the war, US weapons manufacturers are not keeping pace with the needs that Ukraine has to maintain to keep its level of military activity versus the much more powerful and massive Russian military juggernaut.

To augment the ongoing manufacturing of new weapons and ammunition, but without delays that could have Ukraine fall behind in significant ways, Washington decided to tap its weapons reserves that it has been storing in Israel.

An IDF spokesperson told the Times that the transfer of US weapons from Israel to Ukraine does not signify a shift in Israeli policy when it comes to providing Ukraine with military aid.

Rather, an IDF spokesperson said matter-of-factly, “a few weeks ago, based on a US request, certain equipment was transferred to the US from its stockpiles in Israel.”

Israel initially expressed concerns over the transfer of weapons, the Times stated, worried that it would damage the country’s position with Russia.  However, around half of the 300,000 rounds destined for Ukraine have already been shipped to Europe and will be delivered via Poland, Israeli and US officials confirmed to the media outlet.

The Jewish state itself has not supplied military aid to Ukraine due to concerns that besides damaging the relationship with Moscow, providing the weaponry could also fall into the wrong hands (Iran).

However, Israel has sent large shipments of humanitarian aid to Ukraine throughout the last year, and helped establish a field hospital in the country back in March 2022.

The US has been stockpiling weapons in Israel since the Yom Kippur War in 1973, with instances where Washington has allowed Jerusalem to withdraw munitions from their supplies, including during the Second Lebanon War in 2006 and Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in 2014.



Israel And Spain Strengthening Ties

Foreign Minister Eli Cohen on Tuesday (17th) met with Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Cohen congratulated his Spanish counterpart on Spain’s upcoming term in the presidency of the European Union, which will begin in the middle of the year, and expressed hope that his country would lead a constructive and balanced line of the EU towards Israel.  He noted that Israel considers it important to work together with European countries and with the European Union, in order to realize the potential of cooperation between the parties and reach new heights.

Cohen expressed his appreciation for the role and contribution of Spain in the UNIFIL peacekeeping force which is stationed in Lebanon, but stressed that “the force will not be able to fulfill its role as long as Hezbollah continues to resort to violence against the UN forces in the region, as has already happened recently in an incident in which a UNIFIL soldier from Ireland was killed.”

Minister Cohen added that there are many possibilities for promoting relations between Israel and Spain, mainly in the fields of climate innovation, water, agriculture and desertification, and invited his counterpart from Spain to visit Israel in the coming months with the goal of strengthening the warm relations between the countries.

The two agreed that the Spanish minister will make an official visit to Israel during the month of May.



Netanyahu Meets With AIPAC Leaders Hails Strong Bond With US

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday stressed the importance of bilateral relations with the United States in a meeting with top officials from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

Netanyahu met with AIPAC President Betsy Korn, CEO Howard Kohr and Israel Director Cameron Brown.

The Israeli leader also emphasized that the country’s main struggle has been – and remains – against Iran.

Netanyahu earlier this month addressed the AIPAC Political Leadership Forum, focusing on the importance of US-Israel cooperation to curb Terhran’s nuclear program.

“The time has come for Israel and the United States, along with other countries, to stand together, and I look forward to discussing this with President Biden and his team,” said Netanyahu.  “Today more people agree on the issue than ever before.”

The prime minister said that people around the globe are now seeing the Iranian regime’s internal repression of its citizens.

Demonstrations are taking place across the country following the death of 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman Mahsa Amini, in the custody of the regime’s morality police.

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said last week that the Iranian nuclear threat would be a “substantial topic of conversation” during his upcoming visit to Israel.

“We’ll have the opportunity to engage deeply with the new Israeli government on the threat posed by Iran.  And I think we share the same fundamental objectives.  And we will work through any differences we have on tactics, the same way we have over the course of the past two years,” Sullivan said.

Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer was in Washington last week for high-level meetings with American officials that focused primarily on the Islamic Republic.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price said earlier in January that there was “absolute unanimity” with Israel that Iran must be prevented from acquiring a nuclear weapon, but conceded that there were “tactical differences” between the countries on how to go about doing so.



Palestinian Terrorist Killed While Shooting At IDF Troops Near Hebron

IDF reservists on Tuesday (17th) shot and killed Palestinian terrorist Hamed Abu Diah, a released prisoner, during a vehicle check near Hebron in the West Bank. Israel media reported.

The terrorist reportedly shot at a bus in Gush Etzion earlier this week.  He had also been trying to shoot Israeli soldiers near the checkpoint before they fired back and killed him, Ynet reported.

According to the media, Abu Diah had previously served as a prisoner in Israel, but after his release, he worked as a Palestinian Authority police officer in the Bethlehem area.

A letter supposedly written by the 40-year-old terrorist was later shared on Palestinian news outlets, where he claimed that he had made the decision to “take revenge and hurt the Zionists,” as well as sacrificing his life to protect Muslim holy sites.

Also Tuesday (17th), a terrorist armed with a knife attempted to enter the Israeli settlement of Elon Moreh in the West Bank but was stopped by security authorities.

Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan praised the settlement’s leadership for their response.

“You showed bravery and you saved lives in Israel today,” he said.  “All settlements in Samaria are proud of you and the people of Israel are proud of you.”

He further vowed to continue settlement construction in Samaria, but warned that there is a significant security system shortage there.

Dagan noted that the terrorist was stopped after security cameras were installed by the IDF’s Home Front Command fairly recently at the settlement’s request.

“We have a miracle here: that the terrorist tried to infiltrate a settlement that had security cameras installed just a year and a half ago,” Dagan said.  What would have happened if there weren’t any installed?  It would have been just like when Rina Shnerb was killed in Ein Bubin two years ago.”

He called on Israel’s security apparatus to immediately order more security systems for the settlements, to be completed.



Defense Ministry Clears Mines Left From Yom Kippur War

The Defense Ministry cleared a minefield left from the Yom Kippur War in the Golan Heights recently, it announced on Tuesday (17th).

The ministry released a video showing the operation to clear the field.  After a 20-second countdown, a row of explosions can be seen in the video.

The cleared field will be used to produce green energy.

“Along the borders of the country there are minefields laid by the IDF or by the Syrians and Jordanians,” explained Sharon Hadad, head of the Israel National Mine Action Authority (INMAA), to the Defense Ministry’s podcast Mod.Cast.  “A situation has arisen in which there are different types of mines in the ground from different sources, among others British, French, Czech, German mines.  For example, just recently we found in Kala in the Golan Heights a German mine with a swastika that Syria received from Germany.”

According to Hadad, the INMAA has cleared 33,000 dunams of minefields and unexploded ordnance in the past ten years.

“The areas we clear are used for agriculture, industrial development, the opening of travel areas and tourist sites, and the expansion and establishment of settlements,” said the INMAA head.

“Each minefield has its own ‘identification card’ and we adapt the most correct way to handle it.  In recent years, the use of technologies that already significantly shortened (and will further shorten) the time it takes to locate and clear mines and fallout, has been increasing.”



‘No Occupation:’ New Israel PR Campaign Stresses ‘The Bible As The Deed To Our Land’

Public Diplomacy Minister Galit Distel Atbaryan (Likud) said Monday (16th) that it is time to go on the offensive in explaining Israel’s position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The campaign will focus on the Arab world, demonstrating that “there is no occupation,” she said.

“I think that the public diplomacy line has to go on the attack,” she said in an interview on Israel Radio about the new international campaign she is planning to lead.

“Let’s check for a minute what the Palestinian Authority is, let’s examine who is really to blame for the bitter fate of the Palestinian people.  Let’s see how corrupt the PA is, let’s see what happened in Gaza the second we got out of there.  It could be that these people are victims of their own government…

“We in Israel extended a hand for peace starting with the 1947 Partition Plan up to the 1990s, when we offered almost 99% of what they asked for,” she continued.

“What kind of despairing and occupied nation nonchalantly refuses such a deal?” she asked.  “Maybe it wants something different.”

In addition to debunking Palestinian claims regarding the conflict, the minister, who was appointed last Monday (8th), said that Israel must do a better job emphasizing the ancient Jewish ties to its land, which would help put the issue into perspective.

Referencing the Bible as the “deed” of the Jewish people to Israel, and especially to the region of Judea and Samaria, will be a major focus of the campaign, since “people do not know about this.”

This historical ignorance is particularly acute in the Arab world, she said, where “many people…have fallen sway to mistaken information and incitement.”

This emphasis on history will drive home the message there that “we have not occupied any territory, there is no occupation.”

Gaining more of the Arab world’s understanding will help solve the Palestinian issue, Atbaryan added, giving credit to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the idea of “changing the equation.”

“Instead of solving one percent, which is the Palestinian problem, and then hoping that 99% of the Arab world will come toward us, let’s have the 99%…with us, and then the Palestinian problem will be solved through dialogue, together with the Arab world,” she said.

“There is simply no other solution,” she insisted.  “The solution that the left suggests is not only inapplicable, it’s a real strategic danger for Israel.”