News Digest — 10/16/19

Storms Flatten Trees And Sukkahs, Causing Blackouts And Concert Cancellations

An early season storm rattled Israel on Tuesday (15th), causing sporadic power outages, a bridge collapse, beaches to shut down and concerts to be cancelled across the country, as Israelis marked the week-long Sukkot holiday.

The incidents came hours after a rare lightning strike in southern Israel left five members of the Hazut family from Beersheba injured on a beach, including a 14-year-old boy who was critically hurt. A woman in her 20s sustained serious injuries, while the condition of the other three was described as moderate.

All the victims were taken to Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon for further treatment.

Footage on social media showed a tree that had collapsed on a home in Sha’ar Golan in northern Israel causing damage.

Clips shared online showed sukkahs – makeshift huts used during the Jewish festival of Sukkot – that had blown over in the northern city of Tiberias.

The Kinneret Authority announced that beaches surrounding the Sea of Galilee were closed in the early afternoon as the rain and wind began to pick up.

In southern Israel, the Nature and Parks Authority said the Og and Murabba’at Wadis in the Judean Desert would be closed to travelers on Tuesday (15th) and Wednesday (16th) due to fears of flooding.

Despite the extreme weather conditions, the Nature and Parks Authority said that 120,000 Israelis still trekked through national parks and nature reserves throughout the country on Tuesday (15th).  Some 5,000 spent the previous night camping at public sites.



Iranian MP Blames Israel, U.S., Saudis For Tanker Attack

Abolfazl Hassanbeigi, a member of the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission blamed Israel, the United States and Saudi Arabia for a missile attack on an Iranian oil tanker in the Red Sea last week.

The MP told the Iranian Mehr News Agency that “a video captured by cameras installed on the tanker show the attack was carried out by the U.S., the Zionist regime and Saudi Arabia.

The Sabiti tanker, owned by the National Iranian Oil Company, was hit by two missiles in the Red Sea in the waters off Saudi Arabia on Friday (11th), leading to an oil leak.

“Saudi Arabia and the U.S. are trying to put the blame on ISIS or the Taliban for the attack, but documents dismiss such a notion as no ISIS or Taliban terrorists are present in the Red Sea,” said Hassanbeigi, adding that ISIS and the Taliban were created and sponsored by Saudi Arabia  and Israel in any case.

Hassanbeigi stated that Iran will be bringing evidence from their investigation into the attack to the United Nations and the UN Security Council.

Both Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and President Hassan Rouhani said that the attack was carried out by one or more foreign countries.



PM Phones Ethiopia’s Ahmed To Congratulate Him On Nobel Peace Prize Win

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called his Ethiopian counterpart Abiy Ahmed on Tuesday (15th) to congratulate him on winning the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize.

According to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office, “The Ethiopian Prime Minister told Prime Minister Netanyahu, that he was impressed by his visit to Israel in September and that he admires the developments that have taken place in Israel in recent years.”

Additionally, Ethiopian Prime Minister Ahmed invited Prime Minister Netanyahu to make an official visit to Ethiopia,” the PMO statement said.

Ahmed was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday (11th) in recognition of his efforts to end his country’s long-running border conflict with Eritrea.

In a move that caused surprise in the long-turbulent Horn of Africa region, Ethiopia accepted a peace agreement with Eritrea, ending one of Africa’s longest-running conflicts.

The Norwegian Nobel Institute also praised the “important reforms” that Abiy, Ethiopia’s leader since April 2018, has launched at home.



Iran Knows Israel Will Respond To Missile Attacks – Ben Caspit

→ “We know it was the Iranian air force” that attacked Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure, a former Israeli senior security official told Al-Monitor.

→ “The Americans know it too.  Everyone who needs to know does.  Yet that doesn’t prevent Iranian Foreign Minister  Mohammad Javad Zarif from sitting in a TV studio and stating without the slightest hesitation that Iran had nothing to do with the attack.”

→ Concern soared in Israel following the attack.  “It’s not as if we didn’t know that Iran has cruise missiles and armed drones,” a former senior military official said.

→ “The problem is that…so far, Iran’s performance in its clashes with Israel have been feeble at best.  They tried to fire rockets at the Golan Heights a few times, but these mostly landed on the Syrian side of the border.  It turns out that they are capable of much more.”

→ Israel believes that if there is an Iranian attack, it will not be launched from Iranian territory.  Israel has stressed that if that does happen, Israel will not allow Iran to hide behind its proxies.

→ Would a real Iranian strike on Israeli targets by Iran’s proxies force Israel to respond against Iranian targets in Iran proper?  The answer is yes, and Israel believes that Iran knows it. 



Muslim Educator: Jews Have A Right To Pray On Temple Mount

Nahil Zoabi, a Muslim educator from the village of Nein in Israel’s north, stated upon his visit to the Temple Mount that the site is sacred for all religions and that prayer should also be allowed for Jews there.

Zoabi, an educator for some 25 years, and the principal of the school in Tamra for some 15 years, is accustomed to ascending to the Al-Aqsa Mosque from time to time, to pray to his Creator, he says.  He believes everyone should be allowed to pray anywhere – certainly on the Temple Mount – without fear.

“The Temple Mount is a connecting, uniting place, and therefore every person, certainly Jews who wish to pray there, should have a fundamental right to do so,” said Zoabi.

“Believers of all religions and faiths should be invited to pray with respect and tolerance on the Temple Mount.  I would be more than happy to see, alongside Muslims praying at Al Aqsa, Jewish worshipers, praying with mutual respect.”



Rabbi Nachman’s Grave In Ukraine Vandalized With Hitler Graffiti, Suspect Detained

A graffiti image of former Nazi leader Adolf Hitler was found spray-painted on a wall next to the grave of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov last Friday (11th) in the Ukrainian town of Uman.

Israel’s Ambassador to Ukraine Joel Lion took to Twitter last Friday to condemn the incident, writing that anti-Semites “painted a graffiti-image of the biggest murderer of Jews in history.  #NeverAgain begins by fighting any kind of #AntiSemitism as defined by [the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance].”

Lion added that Ukraine “should strongly condemn the vandalism and bring the perpetrators to justice.”

The graffiti featured a picture of a bloodied Hitler and a sentence in German: “Reputation is easy to lose and hard to earn.”

Local authorities acted quickly, removing parts of the offensive graffiti within one hour from the ambassador’s tweet.

Authorities also apprehended the suspect behind the anti-Semitic act, who is facing up to five years in prison.

The grave of Rabbi Nachman (Nachman of Breslov), founder of the Breslov Hassidic Movement in Judaism, is a major site for pilgrimage by thousands of his followers from across the globe.