News Digest — 10/7/19

Tens Of Thousands Flock To Western Wall As Judaism’s Holiest Day Approaches

Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, doesn’t fall suddenly into people’s lives each year.

Starting 40 days earlier for Sephardic Jews and two weeks ago for Ashkenazi Jews, penitential prayers known as Selichot are said in synagogues throughout the world to encourage introspection  and contrition in the run-up to the Days of Awe, which culminate in the fast day (Yom Kippur) that begins this year on Tuesday night (8th).

The Selichot are traditionally said at midnight, and in Israel, the most popular place to recite and sing these prayers is the Western Wall, which tradition says is the one place in Israel that God’s presence has never left.

Tens of thousands of men, women and children have flocked to the Kotel, as it is known in Hebrew, to pray over the last month.  Hundreds of thousands are expected Monday night (7th) for the last time Selichot will be said this year.

People come from all across the country, many not strictly religious.  They come, as one participant told Channel 13 News, “because of something in their heart that tugs them to the Western Wall.”

Tourists are also very touched by the sight of so many people praying together at the Wall.

“We feel a sense of belonging,” said Sarah Zohar.  “We come from France, where we don’t have this feeling of community, and when we come here and see all the people – everyone together – it’s simply heart warning and terrific.”

According to an Israel Democracy Institute poll, fully 60% of the Israeli Jewish population plans on fasting completely on Yom Kippur, with an additional five percent saying they will drink, but not eat.

This despite the fact that only 23% will spend the whole day in the synagogue praying, as religious tradition dictates, with another 19% planning on attending at least some of the services.



Remembering Ari Fuld, One Year After His Murder

Sunday (6th) was Ari Fuld’s first anniversary of his death, and the Fuld family and the Ari Fuld Project invited the public to a dedication ceremony of the IDF Soldiers Hospitality Truck at the Gush Etzion Junction Sunday afternoon.

Last September, Ari Fuld died a hero’s death after being stabbed by a Palestinian Arab terrorist in Gush Etzion.  Despite his fatal wounds, Ari pursued his attacker to save others from being harmed before collapsing and succumbing to his wounds.

Twenty six years earlier, Ari had enlisted in the IDF as a lone soldier together with fellow lone soldier Yehoshua Friedberg from Canada.  A year later, in 1993, Yehoshua was kidnapped and murdered by Arab terrorists. Ari took it upon himself to always remember Yehoshua, keeping in touch with his family throughout the years.

The last project Ari was working on before his death was creating a hospitality truck to serve IDF soldiers as they travel from one mission to the next, in memory of Yehoshua.  Unfortunately, Ari didn’t have a chance to complete the project before his life was cruelly cut short in the prime of his life.

On Sunday (6th), on the first anniversary of Ari’s death, his dream was fulfilled and the IDF Soldiers Hospitality Truck was dedicated in Yehoshua’s memory, and unfortunately, in his memory as well.



Netanyahu Proposes Air Defense System To Defend Against Iranian Attack

In a cabinet meeting on Sunday (6th), Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proposed a massive air defense system to defend against Iranian attacks, especially cruise missiles like those used in attacks on a Saudi Arabian oil facility last month according to KAN.

Last month, cruise missiles and explosive drones were used in an attack on two plants at the heart of Saudi Arabia’s oil industry including the world’s biggest petroleum processing facility.   

The United States, Saudia Arabia, Britain, France and Germany have publicly blamed the attack on Iran, which denies involvement in the strike.  The attacks on the two facilities cut Saudi Arabia’s crude oil supply by around 5.7 million barrels per day or about 50% of its output.

The plan proposed by Netanyahu will cost billions of shekels.  Some of the funds for the project won’t be allocated officially until after a government is formed, assuming there aren’t third elections.

Reports of an attempt to assassinate the commander of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds force, Qassem Soleimani, may be used as an excuse to launch an attack against Israel.  The Iranian government claimed on Thursday (3rd) that it had foiled an Arab-Israeli plot to assassinate Soleimani. Hossein Ta’eb, the IRGC’s head of intelligence, said that three suspects in the alleged plot were arrested, Iran’s Tasnim News Agency reported. 

The cabinet meeting was called in the wake of comments by the prime minister at the swearing in of the 22nd Knesset on Thursday (3rd).

“Today, we are facing a huge security challenge, which has grown with each passing week, and has intensified over the last two months… Anyone with eyes in his head can see that Iran is getting stronger,” said Netanyahu. 



Israeli High-Tech Defense Company Lands Southeast Asian Military Contract

An Israeli high-tech defense company has been awarded a multi-million dollar contract to supply an array of unmanned aircraft drones to a non-disclosed Southeast Asian army, reports Globes.

“Elbit Systems Ltd, was awarded a contract valued at approximately $153 million to supply an army of a country in Southeast Asia with a comprehensive, multi-layered array of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS),” the company said in a statement, as reported by the news outlet.

The full supply would be made available over the course of a 22-month period, said the report.

“This contract award underlines our competitive edge as armies increasingly view multi-layered UAS solutions as key to providing superior intelligence while maintaining a high-level of operational flexibility,” Elbit CEO Bezhalel Machlis said.

Elbit Systems is an international high technology company that is engaged in a wide range of defense, homeland security, and commercial programs throughout the world.  The company says that it operates in the areas of aerospace, land, and naval systems.

Elbit was the world’s 28th largest arms-exporter in 2018, according to a report published in March by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). 

According to SIPRI, two other Israeli high tech defense manufacturers cracked the top 100 arms exports company list that year.  Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd (IAI) claimed the 41st spot and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. was ranked 45th.

The report also found that Israel was the eighth-largest arms-exporter in the world in 2018.

Over the past decade, Israeli arms exports increased by 60%, the SIPRI report says.  In comparison, US arms exports increased by 30%, while Russia saw a 17% decrease.

The five largest suppliers in the world in 2018 were the United States, Russia, France, Germany and China, jointly contributing to 75% of all arms exports, the report says.



India On High Alert Over Terror Threat Targeting Israeli, Jewish Sites On Yom Kippur

Security authorities in India are on heightened alert due to a threat that terrorists will target Israeli and Jewish sites in the country during the High Holidays, with a particular concern over Yom Kippur, which begins Tuesday night (8th), Channel 12 reported.

The Israeli Embassy in New Delhi, synagogues, Jewish schools, including restaurants and hotels popular among Israeli tourists, are said to be among the targets of a terror cell linked to Al-Qaeda or ISIS.

According to the Channel 12 report, Israel is cooperating with India in an effort to thwart the potential attacks.

In November 2008, six Jews were killed at the Chabad center in Mumbai, which was among multiple sites in the coastal metropolis simultaneously hit by a group of Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists who arrived by sea.

In February 2012, the wife of the Israeli military attache was injured in a car bomb attack in New Delhi.  Indian police concluded that Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps was behind that attack.

Despite the heightened alerts, India’s ties with Israel have warmed in recent years, particularly in the area of military cooperation.