News Digest — 1/20/20

Governor Abbott: “Anybody Who Is An Enemy Of Israel Is An Enemy Of Texas”

Governor of Texas Greg Abbott was honored at the Friends of Zion Heritage Center in Jerusalem, Friday (17th) with its highest honor – The Friends of Zion Award – during his visit to Jerusalem.  At the ceremony, Gov. Abbott said, “There are strong relations between Texas and Israel. Anybody who is an enemy of Israel is an enemy of Texas. Whenever anybody threatens Israel, we come side by side with Israel to support Israel in any way we can.”

The “Friends of Zion Award” is bestowed on world leaders that have gone – above and beyond –  in defending the State of Israel and the Jewish people. Over a dozen leaders have received this award including US President George W. Bush and President Donald Trump.

Gov. Abbott is an American attorney and politician who has served as the 48th governor of Texas since January 20, 2015.  On Israel’s Independence Day, Gov. Abbott signed into Texan law an anti-boycott Israel bill that would limit those whose focus is to unjustly sanction and divest from Israel.  His signing of the bill made Texas the 18th state in the USA to take action against the anti-Israel BDS movement.

Abbott actively advocates and defends Israel on his personal special media accounts and has been to Israel twice since taking office for Texas-Israel economic trade missions. 

In thinking of Gov. Abbott’s service in building a strong Israel-US relationship, Dr. Mike Evans, founder of Friends of Zion Heritage Center (FOZHC), and a Texan, said, “I appreciate and admire the work of my governor, Greg Abbott.  His dedication to anti-BDS laws and building stronger economic ties shows that there are those in the world that are willing and proud to support the State of Israel. Gov. Abbott is a true Friend of Zion and espouses the unbreakable bond between the State of Israel and the United States of America.”



Jordan’s Parliament Votes To Cancel Israel-Jordan Gas Deal

The Jordanian parliament has voted in favor of a law to ban gas imports from Israel, reported AFP on Sunday (19th).

According to the report, in order to become law, the motion needs to be sent for approval to the government, which in turn must send it back to the legislature for a formal vote.

“The majority has voted to send an urgent motion to the government requesting a law banning Israeli gas imports to Jordan,” parliamentary speaker Atef Tarawneh said, as cited by AFP.

On Friday (17th), thousands of Jordanians took to the streets of Amman, the Jordanian capital to demonstrate against the “shameful “$10 billion dollar gas deal signed between Jordan and Israel,” Quds Press reported.

According to the news agency, some signs at the rally read: “The gas agreement is occupation,” “The enemy’s gas is occupation,” “The people of Jordan are not for sale,” and “Down to all projects to suppress the Palestinian cause.” 

In December, two electrical transformers in northern Jordan intended for the transport of the gas were torched, Jordan’s Petra national news agency reported.

On January 1, Israel began pumping its first supply of natural gas to the kingdom via the Leviathan gas field, off the Israeli coast, under the terms of an agreement with Jordan. 

Last week Israel began exporting natural gas to its southern neighbor Egypt as part of a deal signed last month.

Jordan and Egypt, two of the Arab states bordering Israel, have peace treaties with the Jewish State.  The pact with the Egyptians was signed in 1979. The Jordanians signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994.



IDF Struck Hamas Border Post After Apparent Balloon Attack From Gaza

The Israeli military fired a shell at a Hamas observation post along the Gaza border Sunday afternoon (19th) in response to the launching of a balloon-borne explosive device from the Strip, Palestinian media reported Sunday.

There were no reports of Palestinian injuries.

An explosives-laden balloon had earlier detonated over Sderot, in southern Israel causing no injuries or damage according to Israeli media reports.  The Sderot municipality said it was aware of the explosion and the location of the blast.

On Friday (17th), police sappers were scrambled to the coastal city of Ashdod after an explosive device tied to a bunch of balloons was found near the town’s promenade.

Terror groups in the Gaza Strip, over the past year and a half, have flown in numerous bombs and incendiary devices into Israeli territory from the enclave with the aid of helium-filled balloons.

Police have called on the public to alert authorities to any suspicious-looking objects and refrain from approaching them.

On Thursday (16th), at least two clusters of balloons carrying explosive devices were apparently launched from the Strip, into southern Israel with one of them detonating soon after impact, police said.  The previous day as well, police sappers were dispatched to the border town of Sderot where a suspicious object attached to a cluster of balloons landed in a residential neighborhood.

The tactic of launching balloons carrying explosives and arson devices from Gaza into Israel emerged in 2018 as part of a series of protests and riots along the Strip’s border, known collectively as the March of Return.  The simple and cheap method of attack by Palestinians which has proved effective, as Israeli security forces have struggled to counter the tactic, had largely stopped over six months ago.



IDF Begins Underground Barrier In North To Block Hezbollah Tunnels

The IDF began work Sunday (19th) on an underground barrier on the northern border that will notify Israel in real time if Hezbollah tries to restart its terror tunnel project according to the Israeli military.

In announcing the newest defensive venture, IDF Spokesman Brig. Gen. Hidai Zilberman clarified that the IDF does not believe any new tunnels are in the works.  The purpose of the work that has begun near Kibbutz Misgav Am and which “will be seen both in Israel and in Lebanon” is “to prevent escalation,” he said.

“We continue to work on the intelligence, engineering and technological levels, to prevent the Hezbollah terror organization from repeating its attempts to get into Israeli territory underground,” said the spokesman.

“The infrastructure is designed to detect seismic and acoustic noises,” Zilberman explained. “We will expand it to nearby communities in the coming years, depending on an assessment of the situation and our budget.”

The IDF says that the state-of-the-art barrier is part of the Defense Obstacle Project that was begun in 2016 at the Gaza border, in Israel’s south, to prevent terror tunnels from being dug into Israel by the Hamas terror organization, which has controlled the Gaza Strip since overthrowing the Palestinian Authority in 2007.

In the north, the work has included building a security wall in certain areas along the border, creating cliffs, and clearing vegetation to make it easier to spot digging activity.

IDF Spokesman, Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said that the UNIFIL peacekeepers stationed in Lebanon were notified of Israel’s intentions and that all the work would be done on Israel’s side of the border.

Last year the IDF discovered six tunnels running from inside Lebanese villages toward and into Israel.  In Operation Northern Shield, the army destroyed or neutralized them using explosives or liquid concrete.  Israel received official confirmation from the UNIFIL commander that the tunnels were “a grave violation” of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 that ended the Second Lebanon War in 2006.

Jerusalem’s demand that the Lebanese army take charge of the border area instead of Iran-backed Hezbollah – a key component of the resolution – has yet to be fulfilled.



Weekend Storms Raise Sea Of Galilee Water Level By Two Inches In A Single Day

Rainy weather over the weekend brought the Sea Of Galilee up two inches since Sunday (19th) – it currently stands at 689 feet below sea level.

An additional 6.12 feet are needed before the lake reaches the upper red line signaling that it is full.

Storms in Israel are expected to continue through Monday (20th) and Tuesday (21st).

On Monday there will be intermittent rainfall from northern Israel to the northern Negev, and there may be thunderstorms, especially in the north.  Snow will continue to fall on Mount Hermon, with lower temperatures than usual. The Judean Desert, Dead Sea and coastal areas may see flooding.

On Tuesday (21st), light snowfall is expected in Israel’s northern and central mountains.  

On Sunday (19th) forecasters said there may be snowfall in Jerusalem as well.