News Digest — 10/12/20

IDF Launches First Medical Deployment To Treat Civilians

The Israeli military on Sunday (11th) opened a new coronavirus unit in a converted parking garage at a hospital in northern Israel, in a first-of-its-kind effort by the army to assist the country’s overloaded health care system.

The unit, set up at Haifa’s Rambam Health Care Campus, will utilize some 100 military doctors, nurses and other medical personnel working alongside hospital staff.  It is the first time the army has deployed its medical personnel to treat Israeli civilians in the country’s history.

Dr. Norman Fink, the deputy chief medical officer of the military, said the army would operate two wards capable of supporting several dozen “intermediate to severe” cases.  It accepted its first two patients on Sunday (11th).

“The purpose of the operation is to support the hospitals in the north and treat COVID-19 patients,” said Fink who holds the rank of colonel.

Rambam set up the underground hospital unit in wake of Israel’s 2006 war against the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.  Operating primarily as a parking garage, the facility can quickly be converted into an emergency hospital insulated from rocket fire.

The new coronavirus unit marks a new partnership between the hospital, the military and the National Health Ministry.  In recent months, the army has taken on an increasingly prominent role in managing the crisis and is now in charge of the country’s contract-tracing efforts.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz, a former military chief of staff, visited the hospital Sunday (11th) to see the new coronavirus unit.

“I am proud of the IDF, which is working within the Health Ministry for the first time,” he said.  “We are working on closing the gaps that have formed within a good public health-care system that needs our help.”



Assad: No Peace Unless Israel Gives Us The Golan

Syrian Dictator Bashar al-Assad said the only way his country would make peace with Israel is if it gives him the strategic Golan Heights.

Assad made the comments in an interview this week with the Russian Sputnik TV channel, a transcript of which was published by the Syrian News website.

Asked if he would consider establishing diplomatic relations with Israel, like the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain did last month, Assad was emphatically negative.

“Our position was very clear, since the beginning of peace talks in the ‘90s, so nearly three decades ago, when we said peace for Syria is about rights,” Assad said. 

“Our right is our land.  We can only have normal relations with Israel when we have our land back.  It’s very simple.  So, it is possible when Israel is ready, and Israel is not ready.  It has never been ready.  Theoretically yes, peace is possible, but practically, so far, that answer is no,” Assad said.

In March 2019, the United States officially recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, a plateau on Israel’s northern border with Syria that had Jewish populations dating back more than 2,000 years.  Israel captured the Golan in the 1967 war – territory from which the Syrian army routinely bombed Israeli towns and farming communities.

Assad came to power in 2000 after the death of his father, Hafez al-Assad, who had been dictator of Syria for almost 30 years after seizing power in a 1970 coup.

Following the Arab Spring demonstrations in 2011 in which Syrians protested peacefully for more rights, Assad cracked down on the protestors and a civil war broke out that claimed the lives of an estimated 700,000 Syrians, destroyed most of the country’s economy and infrastructure, and forced some 13.5 million Syrians to become refugees.

The embattled dictator, who needed military intervention by Russia and Iran to survive the almost decade-long Syrian civil war, rejected a report two weeks ago that suggested Syria had sent signals it was interested in restarting negotiations with Israel.

“No, there is none – nothing at all,” Assad said.



Israel Will Oppose Any US F-35 Sale To Qatar, Intelligence Minister Says

To preserve its Qualitative Military Edge (QME), Israel will ask the US not to sell F-35 fighter jets to Qatar, Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen said Sunday (11th).

Asked on Army Radio if Israel would oppose the sale after Qatar submitted a request last week, he answered in the affirmative.

“As far as we’re concerned, security and our superiority in the region are the most significant things,” Cohen said.  “For us, our region still has not become Switzerland.  Israel is the most threatened country, not only in the Middle East but in the whole world, and as such, we need to preserve our superiority.”

Israel works in partnership with the US for both their interests, and has halted arms sales due to American demands, he said.

Qatar’s request comes as the United Arab Emirates continues its year-long pursuit of the warplanes in light of normalization ties with Israel. The Trump administration has sought to push the sale to the UAE forward as soon as possible, but Israel opposes it, seeing it as a threat to its QME. 

Israel’s QME is written into US law.  The White House and State Department have to give Congress their views as to whether any arms sales in the Middle East threaten Jerusalem’s regional advantage.  US officials, including Jared Kushner, senior adviser to the president, have said they will find a way to complete the F-35 sale while also maintaining Israel’s edge.

Israel is currently the only Middle Eastern country to receive F-35s, ordering 50 and having an option for another 25.

Since the UAE-Israel peace was announced, Qatar has been mentioned as a country that may be next in line to declare official ties with Israel.  However, Qatar is on a different Middle Eastern axis than the UAE, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.  The moderate Gulf states boycott Doha (Qatar’s capital), which is aligned with Turkey and the Muslim Brotherhood and helps fund Hamas.

Qatar is also host to the largest US military facility in the Middle East and home to 8,000 US service members and Department of Defense civilian employees.



The Palestinian Leadership Has Lost Support In The Arab And Muslim World – Dan Diker interviewed by Israel Kasnett

→ Dan Diker, director of the Political Warfare Project at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, told JNS,”20 years after the deadly ‘Al-Aqsa Intifada,’ the Palestinians find themselves cornered or ‘checked’ with limited possible moves on the Arab Muslim majority Middle East chessboard.”

→ He noted that the Second Intifada was Arafat’s “Hail Mary pass” using violence and terror “to try and bury Israel, and drive it into submission.  It represented the end of Arafat’s acceptance of the Oslo presupposition of staging peace with Israel and was a return to the 1968 charter which called for the liberation of Palestine.  It was all framed in an Islamic context.  It was called the ‘Al-Aqsa Intifada.’  Arafat’s goal was to mobilize the Muslim world against Israel.”

→ Diker said a former member of the Tanzim, a militant faction of the Fatah movement, told him Arafat ignited the Second Intifada in order to try to overcome the popularity of Hamas “and that this internal ‘Palestinian tidbit’ is a fact that many Palestinians do not know.  The Palestinian war with Hamas got played out in an intifada against Israel.”

→ Having been mostly defeated in their effort to terrorize Israel into submission, the Palestinians moved from violence and physical terror to ideological warfare.  Abbas and the PA actively supported the delegitimization and dehumanization of Israel as an alternative to all-out-suicide-bombing warfare.  The Palestinians now aimed to internationalize the conflict and move towards ideological warfare through complete delegitimization and defamation of Israel as a recognized Jewish nation-state.”

→ But “they overplayed their hands and lost three main audiences they had won over in the early ‘90s: the Palestinian public, the Israeli public, and the Arab world.”

→ The recognition of and normalization with Israel is the key.  It is highly unlikely for there to be any progress unless the Palestinians do what the UAE did, which is to recognize that there is a Jewish people and a Jewish civilization.  That’s why the agreement was called the ‘Abraham Accords.’  The Abraham Accords uprooted the Palestinian ideological narrative and strategy.”



Anti-Semitic Graffiti In Paris Draws Condemnation

An apparent anti-Semitic attack prompted outrage on Sunday (11th) after some twenty swastikas were found scrawled on Paris’ Rue de Rivoli, near the Louvre Museum.

A 31-year-old suspect was reportedly arrested nearby and an investigation has been launched to determine whether he was responsible for the graffiti featuring red swastikas on walls and columns.

Deputy and Acting Chairman of The World Zionist Organization Yaakov Hagoel issued a statement saying:
“Anti-Semitism continues to rage… This incitement is dangerous and could lead to bloodshed.  I congratulate the authorities in Paris for arresting the despicable criminal.  But unfortunately, it does not stop here.  We must take a hard line and uproot the source of anti-Semitic hatred that is raging all over the world.”



Israel’s Oldest Man Dies At 117, Due To Coronavirus

Shlomo Sulayman, Israel’s oldest man, passed away on Sunday (11th) at the age of 117, Ynet reported.

His grandson Gil Radia said that Sulayman stayed sharp into old age and that he was a generally healthy and active person – he even lived alone until the end – but it was the solitude that the coronavirus pandemic brought with it that caused the end of his grandfather’s life.

Sulayman’s wife passed away several years ago at the age of 94.

According to his grandson, Sulayman would go to synagogue everyday, even at the age of 116.  He said his grandfather ‘s “mind was clear until the last moment,” and that he was a scholar of Jewish Scripture.  Radia said he would advise people who came to him how to live according to Hebrew texts.

His grandson attributed Sulayman’s longevity to being physically active  and not eating too much.

“He would eat small portions,” Radia said.  “In the morning a piece of bread with cream cheese, for lunch either chicken, fish or an egg with rice, and in the evening a salad with an egg.”

Sulayman immigrated to Israel in 1949 with his wife and children.  He lived in Netanya, and after serving in the IDF, worked in agriculture, according to Ynet.

Sulayman died with his family by his side and is survived by six children, and dozens of grandchildren, great and even great-great grandchildren.

According to Ynet, Sulayman was born in 1903, making him the oldest person in Israel, if not the world.