News Digest — 1/4/21

Tel Aviv Baffled By Mysterious Hot Steam Coming From Ground

Tel Aviv Municipality employees and other authorities remain baffled after trying for three days to find the mysterious source of underground heat that is causing steam to emerge from the ground between two apartment buildings in the center of the city, Kan News reported Sunday (3rd).

On Thursday (12/31), residents were evacuated from two apartment buildings on busy Ibn Gvirol Street following reports of hot steam emerging from the ground between the buildings.

Municipality workers dug down, but were unable to find the source of heat that was producing the steam.  The city called in the Ministry of Environment Protection, Ministry of Energy, the electric company, the fire department and geology experts, but have so far been unable to find the source of the steam and with no toxic gases or signs of an erupting volcano, the residents were allowed back into their apartments.

“A mystery,” said Tel Aviv City Council member Zippy Brand.  “The earth is boiling beneath the city,” she posted on her Facebook page, adding that “for three days now, a smoking cistern has been raising steam at a temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit.”

“We already know what it is not,” Brand said.

“It is not oil…I’ve been hoping for a moment that there’s oil in our city,” she added jokingly.

“There’s no fear for anyone … Slowly it is becoming a tourist site,” Brand said, asking followers on Facebook to help solve the mystery.

Experts said that the heat is coming from some source of energy in the ground, but for now it was not yet possible to determine what the exact source is and there is no immediate danger to the stability of the buildings.

There are several geothermal hot springs in Israel where underground water is heated in the earth and rises to the surface.  The closest hot springs are six miles north of Tel Aviv at Kibbutz Ga’ash, whose name can also mean “volcano” in English.



IDF Captures Suspects In Rock-Throwing That Critically Injured Jewish Woman

The rock-throwing attack that critically injured a 30-year-old woman Sunday (3rd) near Neve Tzuf in the region of Judea and Samaria was an organized attack made up of two terrorist squads, Israel’s Channel 10 reports.

One of the groups blocked the road while the second threw rocks.  One of the rocks struck the woman in the head.  She was treated at the scene and rushed to Tel Hashomer hospital.

The IDF took off in hot pursuit, focusing on the nearby Arab village of Deir Nizam, and by 8: pm, had encircled it.  So far the IDF has arrested 20 suspects.

The driver has been identified as Rivka Teitel.  Two of her sons with her were not injured.

The family said “Rivka is suffering from a head injury and more than that – we do not know, we are waiting for doctors who will update us and tell us what to do.” 

Two weeks ago in the same area, terrorists threw rocks and stones at vehicles on Route 465 near the same village and damaged a vehicle, but with no casualties.

A week ago, terrorists threw rocks at a bus near Beit Anun, north of Kiryat Arba and damaged it.



Iraqis Rally To Commemorate One-Year Anniversary Of Soleimani’s Killing

Thousands of Iraqis converged on a landmark central square in Baghdad on Sunday (3rd) to commemorate the anniversary of the killing of a powerful Iranian general and top militia leader in a US drone strike.

Roads leading to Tahrir Square were closed off and security was tight as the crowds gathered in response to a powerful Iraqi militia’s call for a rally marking the occasion and demanding the expulsion of the US troops from Iraq.

The killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis pushed Tehran and Washington close to all-out conflict and sparked outrage in Iraq, leading parliament to pass a non-binding resolution days later calling for the expulsion of all foreign troops from Iraq.

Sunday’s (3rd) rally was being held amid heightened tensions between Iran and the US in the final days of the Trump administration.

Already, America has conducted B-52 bomber flyovers and sent a nuclear submarine into the Persian Gulf, described as sending a message during the time period of the first anniversary of the strike at Baghdad airport on Soleimani and al-Muhandis.

Carrying Iraqi and militia flags and posters of the two men, thousands of Iraqis marched  toward Tahrir Square for the Sunday (3rd) rally.  The event was organized by mostly Iran-backed militias known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF).

Soleimani headed the elite Quds Force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, responsible for the Islamic Republic’s foreign operations, who frequently shuttled between Iraq, Lebanon and Syria.  Al-Muhandis was Iraq’s most powerful militia leader who was deputy commander of the PMF.

Their killing dramatically ratcheted up tensions in the region and brought the US and Iran  to the brink of war.  Iran hit back by firing a barrage of ballistic missiles at two Iraqi bases housing US troops, some of whom suffered concussions.  Iranian officials have suggested that more retaliation is coming.

On Saturday night (2nd), thousands of people took part in a commemoration ceremony held at Baghdad airport where the strike took place a year ago.

The scene of the bombing was turned into a shrine-like area sealed off by red ropes, with a photo of Soleimani and al-Muhandis in the middle, as mourners lit candles.  Shrapnel marks from the blast were still visible on the asphalt and concrete walls in the area.

The wreckage of two cars was on display on the road outside the airport as a reminder of the attack.



Israeli Defense Ministry Completes Iron Dome Delivery To US Army

Israel delivered the second of two Iron Dome defense system batteries to the US Army over the weekend, the Defense Ministry said Sunday (3rd).

The move was carried out by the Israel Missile Defense Organization (IMDO), a division in the ministry’s Directorate of Defense Research and Development (DDR&D).

The batteries will be employed in the defense of US troops against a variety of ballistic and aerial threats, the Defense Ministry said.

“The delivery of the Iron Dome to the US Army once again demonstrates the close relations between the Israel Ministry of Defense and the US Department of Defense, the effectiveness of the system against various threats, and the excellent technological capabilities of Israeli industries,” Defense Minister Benny Gantz said.

“I am confident that the system will assist the US Army in protecting American troops, ballistic and airborne threats, as well as from developing threats in the areas where US troops are deployed on various missions,” he added.

In August 2019, the US and Israel signed an agreement for the procurement of two Iron Dome defense system batteries (IDDS-A).  The first battery was delivered last September and is undergoing a process of implementation in the US.  The second battery was delivered in accordance with the agreement and project schedule.

The prime contractor for the development and production of the Iron Dome is Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd.  The MMR radar was developed by ELTA, a subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).  The command and control system (BMC) was developed by mPrest.

Iron Dome is an integral part of Israel’s multilayered defense array developed by the IMDO.  It includes the Iron Dome, David’s Sling, Arrow-2 and Arrow-3 weapon systems.

Last month, as part of a series of live-fire intercept tests, the Iron Dome system intercepted a cruise missile for the first time.



US Says Suspected Killer Of Jewish-American Journalist Won’t ‘Escape Justice’

The US Justice Department said Wednesday (12/30) that Washington will not let the suspected murderer of Jewish-American journalist Daniel Pearl “escape justice.”

The acting US Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen made the statement in apparent response to a Pakistani court ruling, acquitting Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh of masterminding the 2002 kidnapping and beheading of the Wall Street Journal reporter.

Pearl, a bureau chief for the Journal was kidnapped and subsequently beheaded in the Pakistani city of Karachi as he worked on a story on Islamist militants.

Sheikh is accused of helping to goad Pearl into arriving in the city.  He was convicted for his alleged part in Pearl’s murder and spent over a decade on death row. 

A Pakistani court acquitted him earlier this year.

“The separate judicial rulings reversing his conviction and ordering his release are an affront to terrorism victims everywhere,” Rosen said Wednesday (12/30), referring to the suspected terrorist.

He hailed the appeals against the contentious rulings and said that if those were to fail, the Justice Department would be willing to take matters into its own hands.

“The United States stands ready to take custody of Omar Sheikh to stand trial here,” Rosen said.