News Digest — 1/5/22

IDF Downs Hezbollah Drone Over Northern Border

The IDF on Tuesday (4th) confirmed that it had downed a Hezbollah drone flying over the Israel-Lebanon border.

A statement from the military said that the UAV was being tracked the entire time.  It did not specify how the drone was downed when it breached Israeli space.

A picture of the drone released by the military showed a small quadcopter that did not appear to be armed.

“The IDF will continue to act to prevent violations of the State of Israel’s sovereignty,” the statement said.

There was no immediate statement from Hezbollah nor affiliated media outlets on the drone. 

Tuesday’s incident came a day after the anniversary of the United States drone strike that killed Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani, who was responsible for Iran’s overseas operations and backer of armed groups such as Hezbollah.

In August, the IDF similarly said it downed a drone belonging to Hezbollah, days after the largest exchange of fire on the border since the 2006 Second Lebanon War between Israel and the Iran-backed terror group.



Lapid Tweets To Iranian Foreign Minister About Regime’s ‘Evil Essence’

“Iran will not be able to destroy Israel,” Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said in response to his Iranian counterpart on Twitter Tuesday (4th). 

Lapid’s tweets came after Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian tweeted: “The disturbing remarks of the foreign minister of the fake Israeli regime towards the great nation of Iran are an example of the famous Iranian proverb that ‘a camel dreams of a grain of cotton, sometimes it licks a grain of a grain.”’

“We defend the rights, interests and progress of the Iranian nation with authority and rationality,” Amirabdollahian wrote.  “Zionism has no place in the future of the world.”

Lapid tweeted in response: “The extremist Iranian regime threatens Israel with annihilation but will continue to lose the battle.”  

“Failed leadership is destroying Iran from within,” said Lapid, “and in the words of the Iranian poet Saadi: ‘He whose essence is evil, will forever remain so.”’

It was unclear which of Lapid’s remarks Amirabdollahian found disturbing.  A day earlier, Lapid said that negotiations for Iran to return to the 2015 nuclear deal were unlikely to end well for Israel.

The Vienna talks “won’t reach an optimal result as far as we’re concerned, but we are always working with the people involved to improve the result for Israel,” Lapid said.

World Powers’ negotiations with Iran resumed on Monday (3rd), after a break for New Year’s weekend.

China, France, Russia, the UK and the US issued a joint statement that they “consider the avoidance of war between nuclear-weapons states and the reduction of strategic risks as [their] foremost responsibilities.”

“We affirm that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought,” the joint statement reads.



Palestinian Prisoner Ends Hunger Strike In Deal With Israel

Hisham Abu Hawash agreed to end his 140-day hunger strike after reaching an agreement with Israel.  The 40-year-old Hawash, who is a member of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), will be released from administrative detention next month, his lawyer said.

Hawash’s lawyer, Jawad Boulos, said Israel agreed not to renew his administrative detention and pledged to release Hawash on February 26.

Haaretz reported that the negotiations involved Israeli, Palestinian Authority and Egyptian officials.  Egypt has been trying to broker a long-term ceasefire between Hamas and Israel.  PIJ had threatened violence if Hawash died in Israeli custody.

Islamic Jihad’s firing of two rockets towards Israel on Saturday (1st) was said to be related to Hawash’s deteriorating health.  He was recently transferred to the Shamir Medical Center (Assaf HaRofeh) south of Tel Aviv.

Administrative detention is a holdover from the British Mandate.  The policy allows the government to arrest and hold a suspect without charge if they pose a security risk.  It is primarily used when the state has sensitive intelligence indicating that the suspect is involved in terror activity even though the suspect has not necessarily committed a crime.   

This week the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terror group had threatened Israel that “Hawash’s death in Israeli detention would lead to the bombing of Tel Aviv.”



MPs, British Jewish Groups Urge The BBC To Adopt Anti-Semitism Definition

British Jewish advocacy organizations and members of parliament are urging the BBC to adopt the international definition of anti-Semitism and pledge to adhere to fair standards around Israel and Jews, as the British broadcaster repeatedly faces calls to amend its biased reports.

The Jewish Chronicle revealed that pressure for the BBC to hold its reporting up to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism is rising after both the English language and Arabic reports from the broadcaster were found to have “systematically slandered” Jews and Israel.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) recently dubbed the BBC with the dubious distinction of being ranked third on the watchdog group’s “Global Anti-Semitism Top Ten List.”

The SWC cited a recent report by the BBC on a Hanukkah party bus filled with Orthodox Jewish passengers being attacked by Muslims in London, which falsely stated that the Jewish victims had started the incident by yelling slurs at the assailants – a completely untrue and unsubstantiated claim.

A tweet by a BBC journalist which read “Hitler was right,” as well as reports branding victim of anti-Semitism Alfred Dreyfuss “a notorious Jewish spy,” and a panel featuring no Jews which debated whether or not Jews are an ethnicity and can be the victims of racism, were some of the other causes for concerns referenced by the SWC.

“The BBC director general, Tim Davie, needs to urgently sit down with Jewish community leaders and senior editors and producers to ensure that anti-Semitism or so-called  anti-Zionism is banished from every last BBC office and corridor,” MP Robert Halfon told the Chronicle.

“The BBC should be a public service for those of the Jewish faith, just as it is for everyone else.  The questions Tim Davie should ask himself are: Do Jews count?  Or will the BBC get mired into the ugly swamp of anti-Semitism?  A welcome step would be for the BBC to adopt the international definition of anti-Semitism.”

“The threat the BBC poses is of a globally trusted brand which is putting out information about Jews and Israel that is often misleading or outright wrong,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, director of the SWC.

In a laconic statement which did not address the ranking on the anti-Semitism list or the specific incidents cited by the SWC, the BBC said it “strives to serve the Jewish community and all communities across our country fairly with accurate and impartial reporting.”



World Braille Day: How Does Israel Use Braille?

January 4 marked the third annual observation of World Braille Day, an international day meant to mark awareness of braille and its importance as a way to communicate written information for the blind and visually impaired.

The day was celebrated in 2019 following a proclamation from the United Nations General Assembly and was chosen due to January 4 also being the Birthday of French educator Louis Braille, who created the braille language.

Since Braille’s death in 1852, the writing system has expanded all over the world and is used internationally, with very little having changed.

In 1944, Israel had completed an international Hebrew braille code that reads from left to right, unlike Hebrew’s right to left.

On Braille Day, in 2022, some facts about braille in Israel  are these: Bus stops in Israel include route numbers and destinations in braille.  The  stop buttons on buses and trains also include braille.  Even Israeli currency has braille on it so the amount of money in each bill can easily be known.

The State of Israel uses braille in many other ways, all to make it easier for its blind and visually impaired residents and tourists to live a better quality of life.