News Digest — 10/20/22

Israeli Military Launches Week-Long Drill Across Northern Israel

The Israel Defense Forces said Thursday (20th) it had begun a week-long military drill across northern Israel as tensions remained high with the Lebanese Hezbollah terror group.

The IDF said the exercise would end next Thursday (27th).  Explosions are expected to be heard in the area, it added.

The military said the drill was planned in advance,  indicating that it did not stem from a new assessment.

Earlier this week, the IDF held a major drill in southern Israel.

The exercise, which lasted between Tuesday (18th) and Thursday (20th), spanned the Negev desert, the Arava Valley region and the southernmost city of Eilat.

According to the IDF, the drill in the south was held alongside all of Israel’s other emergency and security services, such as police, and fire services, among others.  

Tensions between Israel and Lebanon were high recently, amid a dispute over rights to offshore fields thought to hold riches of natural gas.

After over a year of US-brokered talks, both Israel and Lebanon’s government backed a final text of the deal last week, seemingly lowering tensions to a simmer.

Hezbollah had upped its rhetoric as Israel and Lebanon were engaged in talks, launching four unarmed drones at an Israeli gas installation in July.

Beside the sides reaching an agreement, and Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah saying he welcomed the deal, the Israeli army remains on heightened alert along the northern border.

Hezbollah, too, said it would “remain on alert” until the agreement is signed.

Prime Minister Yair Lapid has insisted the agreement is a boon to Israel’s security and “staves off” war with Hezbollah.



Fugitive Gunman Who Killed Soldier Shot Dead After Opening Fire In Ma’ale Adumim

A Palestinian gunman suspected of killing an Israeli soldier in Eastern Jerusalem earlier this month was shot dead on Wednesday evening (19th), after opening fire at security guards near the entrance to the settlement of Ma’ale Adumim.

Police officials confirmed that Udai Tamimi, who they say killed Sgt. Noa Lazar, 18, and seriously injured a civilian guard on October 8th at a checkpoint near Shuafat in east Jerusalem, was killed while carrying out another attack on Wednesday (19th).

A security guard was taken by the Magen David Adom ambulance service to the Shaare Zedek hospital in Jerusalem, with an injury to his hand.  He was physically listed in light condition, the hospital said.

Tamimi, 22, fled the scene of the attack earlier this month.  He was thought by police to have been hiding in Shuafat since then.

Prime Minister Yair Lapid hailed the killing of Tamimi, and sent well wishes to the guard wounded in Wednesday’s attack (19th), in a statement published by his office.

“We will not rest until we lay our hands on every terrorist who harms Israeli civilians and IDF soldiers.  We will act with an iron hand and without hesitation against terrorism,” Lapid said.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz also praised the security guards who shot Tamimi dead.  “Their vigilance, professionalism and determination prevented further harm to human life,” he said.

Police Tuesday morning (18th) arrested eight Palestinians, all residents of Shuafat and the nearby West Bank town of Anata, suspected of hiding Tamimi in his escape.

Wednesday’s (19th) shooting came at a time of rising violence in the West Bank, as Palestinian gunmen have repeatedly targeted military troops operating along the security border, Israeli settlements, and civilians on the roads.

Israeli forces have ratcheted up arrest raids and counterterrorism efforts in the West Bank since a spate of terror attacks against Israelis in the spring that killed 19 people.



Gantz Unveils Fresh Israeli Aid Package For Ukraine, Sans Military Support

Defense Minister Benny Gantz announced on Wednesday (19th) a new humanitarian aid package for Ukraine amid the Russian invasion while stressing there will be no change to Israeli policy regarding the provision of weapons or military equipment to the war-ravished country.

Speaking to EU ambassadors, Gantz said: “We’ll continue to support and stand by Ukraine, NATO and the West, but we won’t send weapons to Kyiv.

“We send humanitarian aid to Ukraine and provide lifesaving defensive systems.  We will continue to support Ukraine within our limits as we have done so far.”

Nevertheless, Gantz revealed that the aid package would include the construction of a smart missile defense alert system similar to the one that exists in Israel.

We call on Ukraine to give us information that would allow us to help build and provide a smart alert system against aerial and other threats,” Gantz said.  “This system will have advantages in saving civilian lives and concentrating the alerts and sirens in relevant areas.”

Gantz also touched on Iran’s involvement in the Russo-Ukrainian war and tied Tehran’s denial of supplying Moscow with arms to its nuclear program.

“We clearly see that Iran is supplying Russia with offensive capabilities in the form of drones and will likely express readiness to supply additional, more advanced means soon.”

The minister added that “even when there is conclusive evidence of Iranian drones flying over Ukraine, Tehran is systematically lying about selling weapons.”

“If in this matter Iran is lying to the world, there is no doubt it will lie about everything related to developing nuclear weapons, as it has done in the past.  Therefore, we have to increase intelligence and operational cooperation within the international community.  Nonetheless, Israel will continue to develop its capabilities independently.”

Gantz’s comments came after the Washington Post reported that Iran plans on sending further missiles and drones to Russia.  According to the report, intelligence sources from the US and other ally countries confirmed that Iran has already sent Russian suicide drones that caused severe damage in Ukraine.



US Marines Finish Last Iron Dome Test Before Adoption Decision

The United States Marine Corps has recently completed a series of interception tests on an air defense system using Israel’s Tamir Interceptor as they consider adopting the Israeli military tech, according to Israel’s Ministry of Defense.

“This plan had been forthcoming for a long time,” Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Eric Smith was quoted in July as saying: “I would note that we held onto funding for this for almost two years until it could be proven, and now that it is proven, we will start procuring.”

Smith also said that the Iron Dome interceptor “is the thing that is most needed to complete the toolkit that our commanders in the Marines Littoral Regiment will need to be most effective on the future battlefield, and I’m excited about it.”

The experiment included a series of three tests carried out over the course of several months.  The system successfully intercepted a variety of targets.

The tests took place at the White Sands test field in New Mexico, USA.  They were part of a program led by the Marines to test a new prototype system for Medium Range Intercept Capability (MRIC).

The three tests that took place this year proved that the performance of the (MRIC) system, along with the Iron Dome interceptors is good and provides a dedicated launcher solution for the Marines,” said Don Kelly, project manager in the Air Defense Department (GBAD) of the Marine Corps’ Directorate at the end of the test.

The Tamir interceptor is capable of destroying cruise missiles, drones and a variety of rockets, shells, and guided mortars.

Head of the Israel Missile Defense Organization (IMDO) in the Ministry of Defense, Moshe Patel said: “This current test, which completes a series of three, is further proof that the Iron Dome Tamir interceptor and associated ground components can be integrated quickly and efficiently in any relevant defense architecture and intercepts various aerial threats successfully in complex and advanced scenarios.  We welcome any cooperation in the field of defense with the branches of the US military.”

The IMDO at the Israel Defense Forces leads the development of the multi-layered defense system of the State of Israel based on four operational defense layers: the ‘iron Dome’ system, the ‘Magic Wand’ system, and the ‘Arrow 2’ and ‘Arrow 3’ systems.     

The US Army also conducted tests of the Iron Dome Defense System in the summer of 2022.  According to a Jerusalem Post report, the tests were carried out by US Army soldiers assigned to the 3-43 Air Defense Artillery Battalion, who detected, tracked and intercepted multiple cruise missiles and other targets.



Israel And Bahrain Sign Historic Agricultural Agreement

On Wednesday (19th) during the International Summit on Food Technologies from the Sea and the Desert taking place in Eilat, the agriculture ministers of Israel and Bahrain signed a first-of-its-kind agreement of cooperation in the field of agriculture.

During a meeting between Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Oded Forer and his Bahraini counterpart, Wael Bin Nasser Al Mubarak, the two signed a joint declaration for the promotion and expansion of cooperation between the State of Israel and the Kingdom of Bahrain in the field of agriculture, livestock and food security.

Also agreed upon was the mutual sharing of knowledge, technology and diverse products to expand agricultural products and improve their production quality

The conference, an initiative of Israel’s Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry, took place with the participation of ministers of agriculture and senior officials, with a focus on promoting cooperation and innovation in aquaculture, as part of global efforts to address food security.

“Today we took the first step on the path paved by the government’s decision which I led, to turn Eilat into an international research center for food from the sea and the desert,” stated Oded Forer.

“The signing of the agreement with the Minister of Agriculture of Bahrain, at the conference attended by ministers from around the world and senior delegations from Morocco, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), constitutes an important step towards promoting cooperation which will see Israel become a center for research and development of food from the sea and the desert,” he added.