News Digest — 10/26/21

Lebanese Farmers Allowed Into Israel By IDF For Olive Harvest

The IDF is allowing olive growers from Lebanese border towns to enter Israeli territory under supervision in order to harvest olive trees, the IDF announced in a statement Tuesday (26th).

“In light of the economic situation in Lebanon, and as a gesture of goodwill to the Lebanese people, the IDF opened the border to agricultural workers from Al Jabal, Itaron and Balida,” the statement read.

“The IDF allowed the workers to cross the Blue Line, to a certain extent, allowing them to harvest olive trees in Israeli territory.  This gesture was reported to the Lebanese side by UNIFIL.”

The move came just two days after IDF soldiers and Israeli Police foiled an attempt to smuggle weapons and drugs across Israel’s border with Lebanon.

The economic crisis leaves the IDF concerned that there may be an increase of drug smuggling and infiltration of migrant workers and refugees along the northern border.

Lebanon and Israel are also in dispute over the delineation of their international waters and negotiations between the old foes could lead to Lebanon being able to unlock valuable gas reserves amid its financial crisis.

The IDF, however, decided that the agriculture workers do not pose a threat to Israel.



UAE Air Force Commander Participates In Israeli Exercise

On Monday (25th), as part of the “Blue Flag” exercise, the Commander of the United Arab Emirates Air Force, Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Nasser Mohammed Al Alawi, arrived for a visit to Israel.

The commander was welcomed at Palmachim Air Force Base by an honor guard led by the Commander of the Israeli Air Force, Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin.

The commanders discussed developing cooperation and strengthening relations between the two air forces.

Commander of the Israeli Air Force Maj. Gen. Norkin said: “I thank you, Maj. Gen Al Alawi, for this visit to Israel.  This is a truly historic day with tremendous significance for the future of cooperation between our air forces.”

The current “Blue Flag” exercise is the largest and most advanced so far, with the participation of eight countries training with the fourth generation aircraft along with fifth generation F-35s, which expands the IAF’s capabilities in the battlefield.  70 jets and 1,500 crewmen are participating.

In addition, there will be an F-35 conference in the Nevatim Air Force Base during the exercise that will include the delegations from Italy, Norway, Netherlands, UK, US, and Belgium. 



The Battle Over A US Consulate For The Palestinians In Jerusalem – Nadav Shragai

The US has expressed its intention to open an American consulate in Jerusalem for the Palestinians in the coming weeks.  Former Israel Foreign Ministry Director-General Dr. Dore Gold, currently President of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA), believes that Israel should clarify to the US very openly what it can do and what it is not licensed to do.

“If we are very clear about our real maneuvering space, the Americans will respect that.”  Gold defines the US intentions as “scandalous.”  “Israel cannot come to terms with threats to its sovereignty in Jerusalem.”  Moreover, “the Palestinians haven’t changed their behavior and they are receiving a reward,” he said.

“Coordination with the United States is something that is vital and important, but the story of the consulate is critical, and there is no room for compromise on this issue.  It is something that is at the very soul of the state.  We cannot compromise on our rights in all of Jerusalem.”

“The formal reality now is still such that from the perspective of the United States, Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.  The United States has not withdrawn recognition of this.  In this reality, we must be tenacious and manage this battle with the US with prudence and sensitivity, but most of all with tenacity and faith.”

“The opening of the consulate on Argon Road in the west of the city will not only undermine Israeli sovereignty in the capital, it will also result in a grave withdrawal from the status Israel achieved in West Jerusalem prior to 1967,” Gold added.



Israeli Official: Sudan Military Leader’s Takeover Likely To Boost Normalization

An Israeli official voiced indirect criticism over the US reaction to the apparent coup in Sudan after the special US envoy to the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman called the military takeover “utterly unacceptable” and threatened to cut off financial assistance to the country.

The Israeli official told Israel Hayom that due to the current state of affairs in the African country, Israel should support the military and its head, Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, rather than the prime minister, Abdalla Hamdok, who has been arrested and taken to an undisclosed location.

The official said that “the coup was all but inevitable because the prime minister has been at odds with the military for several years and it was obvious that this would reach a decision point.”

The official further said that the situation in Sudan “is very much like what Egypt experienced after former strongman Hosni Mubarak was toppled in 2011, who had ruled the land of the pyramids for decades before stepping down during the popular uprising known as Arab Spring.

“The country [Sudan] is not democratic as it was ruled for 30 years by the authoritarian regime of Omar al-Bashir.  While we understand why the US would like to see the democratization of Sudan, between the two Sudanese leaders, it is Burhan who is more inclined to bolster ties with the US and Israel,” the official said.

The official further added that “in light of the fact that the military is the stronger force in the country, and since Burhan is its commander in chief, the events of Monday night (25th) increase the likelihood of stability in Sudan, which has critical importance in the region, and it increases the chances of stronger ties with the US, the West, and Israel in particular.”

Sudan has joined the Abraham Accords, a peace initiative that culminated with normalization processes between Israel and four Arab states.  But unlike the other three countries, it has not taken concrete steps to establish official ties with the Jewish state or set up an embassy.  This is partly because of the ongoing political strife there.



Migrant Who Shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ Before Murdering 3 Woman Found Not Guilty

A Somali man who killed three women while shouting “Allahu Akbar” during a knife-wielding rampage was found to be not responsible for his crimes by a German court.

In June 2021, Abdirahman Jibril A., whose last name is being withheld from media publication in line with German privacy laws, stole a knife from a department store in downtown Wurzburg and began stabbing people in an unprovoked attack.

In addition to stabbing to death three women in the store, he injured another five women, along with a child, on the street outside.  But despite multiple witnesses hearing the man shout “Allahu Akbar” before the attack, German authorities said there was no Islamist motive behind the murders.

Because the man’s cell phone and computer did not contain extremist material, the police said there was no basis to call the event a terror attack, reported Germany’s daily Express.

Since the slayings, Mr. A. has been held in a psychiatric hospital in Bavaria. 

Although doctors told the court that he is benefiting from a cocktail of medications that has restored him to sanity just three months after the incident, they said the man could not be held legally responsible for his actions the day of the killings.

A German court agreed, determining the man to be not guilty of the attack due to his insanity at the time.

Hans-Jochen Schrepfer, Mr. A.’s attorney described his client as remorseful for the attack.  He is “very reflective,” about what occurred, Schrepfer told the Express. 

“He expressed his regret for the fate of his victims and explained his…point of view” to investigators who recently spoke to him, Schrepfer said.

In April 2021, a French court refused to prosecute a Muslim migrant who murdered his neighbor, an elderly Jewish woman and threw her out the window of her apartment, arguing that he was not responsible for the slaying because he had smoked marijuana on the day of the killing.