News Digest — 1/31/20

Three Rockets Fired From Gaza At Southern Israel

Three rockets were fired from Gaza into southern Israel late Thursday night (30th), the Israel Defense Forces said.

There were no direct injuries, but an infant was moderately injured during a rush into a bomb shelter in Sderot.

Two of the rockets were shot down by the Iron Dome anti-missile system.  A third landed in an open field. There was no immediate report of damage.

Rocket alert sirens sounded in Sderot, at Sapir College, in the Shaar Hanegev Regional Council and in several nearby kibbutzim, including Ibim, Gevim and Nir Am.

In response, Thursday evening (30th), IDF aircraft and tanks targeted a number of observation sites for intelligence collection by the Hamas terror organization in the southern Gaza Strip.

Earlier Thursday (30th), the Israeli Air Force carried out strikes on the southern Gaza Strip in response to incendiary balloon attacks earlier in the day.

Meanwhile, on Thursday (30th), Ibrahim al Shantaf, identified as a member of Hamas’ military wing, died in an accident while working in one of the group’s underground tunnels in the Gaza Strip. 



Defense Ministry Tests Rocket Propulsion System In Central Israel

The Defense Ministry on Friday (31st) conducted an experimental test of its rocket propulsion system from a military base located in the center of the country.  Images shared on social media showed a projectile streaking through the sky. The launch was set in advance and carried out as planned. According to reports Ben-Gurion International Airport diverted air traffic during the test to allow for the system to be fired safely.

There was no comment on whether or not the test was successful nor what system was tested, but some speculated it may have been the surface-to-surface Jericho system, an intercontinental ballistic missile which according to foreign reports can support a nuclear payload.  The system was reportedly tested in December as well.

According to those reports, Israel has had the Jericho in its arsenal for decades with the most recent Jericho-3 entering service in 2011.  Israel is reported to be working on the Jericho-4.

With a multi-layered aerial defense, which includes the Iron Dome, Arrow and David’s Sling, missile system tests such as these are not uncommon.  Rocket propulsion systems are designed to launch large systems such as satellites, ballistic missiles and large ground-to-air missiles.

Israel’s defense currently includes, the Iron Dome, designed to shoot down short-range rockets, and the Arrow system which intercepts ballistic missiles outside the earth’s atmosphere.  The David’s Sling missile defense system is designed to intercept tactical ballistic missiles, medium to long-range rockets, as well as cruise missiles fired at ranges between 12-to-186 miles.



Abbas ‘Discouraged, Isolated,’ As Arab Countries Refuse To Join His Rejectionist Stance

Palestinian Authority (PA) Leader Mahmoud Abbas feels very let down with the positions that most of the Arab world have taken regarding the American peace proposal unveiled Tuesday (28th) by President Donald Trump, Israel Hayom reported Thursday (30th).

A senior Palestinian official who participated in a meeting of the leaders of the Fatah movement that dominates the PA told the Hebrew daily, “The PA chairman looked disappointed and mainly very discouraged by the reactions of the Arab countries.  He understands he’s been left alone in the battle.”

Europe, which the Palestinians normally can count on to protect their interests, has responded positively to the Trump proposals.

For decades a majority of the world has parroted the Palestinian line demanding a state on the entire area Israel liberated in 1967’s Six Day War and the return of millions of descendants of refugees from Israel’s War of Independence.

Abbas has now discovered that support for this maximalist position has withered in almost every country with the notable exception of Iran and Turkey.

The Palestinian street has itself remained largely quiet in the immediate aftermath, even though both Hamas and the PA called for massive riots.

The quiet could also be due to the Palestinian security services, for despite PA anger and its threats to dump the Oslo Accords, the security cooperation with Israel continues.

A senior Palestinian official told Israel Hayom on Thursday (30th), “It is a Palestinian national interest of the highest order to maintain the security cooperation between the Palestinian security and intelligence services with Israel… it’s even more important to us than it is to the Israeli security services.”

The PA requires Israeli help to fend off a Hamas takeover of the area, as happened in the Gaza Strip in 2007. 



Every Time Palestinians Say “No,” They Lose – Bret Stephens

Nobody will benefit less from a curt dismissal of the U.S. peace plan than the Palestinians themselves, whose leaders are again letting history pass them by.  Nearly every time the Arab side said “no,” it wound up with less. That was true after it rejected the 1947 UN Partition Plan, which would have created a Palestinian state on a much larger footprint.  It was true in 1967, after Jordan refused Israel’s entreaties not to attack, which resulted in the end of the Jordanian rule in the West Bank.

It was true in 2000, when Syria rejected an Israeli offer to return the Golan Heights, which ultimately led to U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty of that territory.  It was true later the same year, after Yasser Arafat refused Israel’s offer of a Palestinian state with a capital in east Jerusalem.

The U.S. plan offers Palestinians a sovereign state, mostly contiguous territory, and $50 billion in economic assistance.  What it demands is an end to anti-Jewish bigotry in school curriculums, the restoration of legitimate political authority in Gaza, and the dismantling of terrorist militias.

The Jewish state has thrived in part because it has always been prepared to make do with less.  The Palestinian tragedy has been the direct result of taking the opposite approach: of insisting on the maximum rather than working toward the plausible.



Israel Seeks To Bring 400 Ethiopians To Rejoin Families Before March Elections

Israel could reunite 400 Ethiopians with their children already living in the Jewish state, prior to national elections in March.

Israel’s Channel 12 news first reported the plan on Wednesday (29th).  The Cabinet will discuss it when it meets on Tuesday (2/4).

The Ethiopians representing 60 families who would be brought to Israel before March 2 are part of the Falash Mura community, who claim links to descendants of Jews who left Judaism generations ago under duress but now seek to return to it.

Some 8,000 Falash Mura in Ethiopia are awaiting permission to come to Israel, most of whom have some family members there.  A Cabinet resolution in 2015 committed to bringing all 8,000 to Israel by 2020, but limited money has been allocated to successive budgets to make that happen.  

In October 2018, the Cabinet approved a plan for the immigration of 1,000 candidates in the following year who met the criterion of having first-degree relatives who entered Israel under previous government decisions regarding the Falash Mura community.  But in 2019, only about 600 arrived.

About 140,000 Ethiopians live in Israel.



Chicago Jews Train To Defend Synagogues Responsibly

In the wake of recent violent anti-Semitic hate crimes, Chicago Jews are training up – and praying their tactical knowledge never has to be used.

“CCL Shul Members” is an organization that unites Jewish Concealed Carry License (CCL) holders from across Chicago to promote the safe and lawful possession and use of firearms.

“Throughout our long history of persecution, Jews have rarely been given the right to defend themselves from those who wish to harm them,” said Chaim Naiditch, the group’s founder.  “We are blessed to live in a country where Jews have equal rights, and it is our mission to ensure that these rights are used responsibly to defend ourselves, our families and our places of worship.”

“CCL Shul Members came into being to fill a need,” said Naiditch.  “Many Jews have chosen to arm themselves in self-defense, and we were founded to provide high-level, standardized training to ensure we’re all on the same page, and that we’re doing everything we can to make certain we are defending what we hold most dear in a responsible way.  The multi-level courses offered by the group are provided by highly-qualified trainers, including Illinois police and SWAT trainers. Monthly get-togethers ensure members are consistently keeping their skills sharp, and include guest speakers to keep participants up-to-date and educated.”

“While we pray we never have to use our weapons, our training ensures that we have the tools to defend ourselves against those who wish us harm,” said Naiditch.