News Digest — 10/7/21

Presidents Of Israel, Germany, Ukraine Attend Babi Yar 80th Anniversary Memorial In Kiev

President Isaac Herzog participated on Wednesday (6th) in the memorial service marking 80 years since the massacre of Jews at Babi Yar, outside Kiev during the Holocaust. 

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier attended as well.

Ukraine’s Holocaust memorial center on Wednesday (6th) revealed the names of the 159 Nazi SS troops who took part in the killing of Jews during the Babi Yar massacre in Ukraine eight decades after one of the most infamous Nazi mass slaughters of World War II.

“There was no colder or more awful act of murder, no more murderous representation of the ‘Holocaust by bullets’ than the Babi Yar massacre,” Herzog said in his speech.  “There is no escaping the terrible thought that the sun rose over this valley.  The birds chirped.  The forest was quiet.  But the butchers – they butchered.”

“The establishment of the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center, which tells the story of the 2.5 million Jews of Eastern Europe, including 1.5 million Ukrainian Jews, who were murdered and buried in mass graves, is an important step and an important chapter in the shared history of Ukraine and Israel, of Ukraine and the Jewish people,” he said adding, “commemoration and remembrance are vital for the whole of humanity, against evil, cruelty and apathy.”



In First, Court Backs ‘Silent’ Jewish Prayer On Temple Mount

An Israeli judge ruled Wednesday (6th) that the silent prayer of Jews on the Temple Mount is allowed, saying it cannot be deemed a “criminal act.”

The Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism.  The complex also houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque – the third holiest site for Muslims – making it the most volatile spot in Jerusalem.

Seeking to maintain the fragile status quo in the capital, Jews are barred from praying there.

Still, the practice of “silent prayer,” devoid of any overt markings of a religious ceremony, such as tallit and tefillin, has been taking place almost daily in the eastern part of the mountain, with consent of the police.

Wednesday (6th) saw Jerusalem’s Magistrates’ Court Judge Bilha Yahalom issue her ruling on appeal by Rabbi Aryeh Lippo against a police ban on his visits to the flashpoint site.

Lippo’s daily arrival at the Temple Mount “indicates that this is a matter of principle and substance for him,” the judge said, adding that footage of his prayer indicated that he was not in violation of current guidelines on the Temple Mount.

Wednesday’s (6th) ruling was the first by an Israeli court to support Jewish prayer at the holy site.

“We have shown that ‘The Holy Places Law’ also applies to Jews and the most sacred place for the people of Israel, the Temple Mount,” Lippo said, referring to the legislation ensuring freedom of worship for all religions in holy sites across Israel.

“The police also wished me luck because we all understand that it is time to fulfill the dream of the generations, and serve God in Zion without fear.”

A group calling itself the “Headquarters of the Temple Organizations” also welcomed the ruling “which recognizes the positive process going on at the Temple Mount.”

Right-wing lawyer Moshe Polsky said, “We welcomed the court’s decision, which effectively upholds what has actually been happening on the Temple Mount over the past year, and is a de facto statement for Jews who visit the Temple Mount and want to pray,” he told local media.



Thousands Of Gazans Apply For Israeli Work Permits

Thousands of Gazans applied Wednesday (6th) for work permits for Israel, which has recently reopened its gates to laborers from the Palestinian enclave following the latest war in May.

Many Palestinians want to work in Israel where the wages are higher than in Gaza, which suffers from an unemployment rate of above 50%.    

In Jabalia, in northern Gaza, a crowd of men holding their identity papers lined up hoping to obtain a permit that would allow them to work inside Israeli territory, AFP journalists said.

“There is no work in the Gaza Strip,” said Fathi Abu Nur, a 40-year-old father of five from Gaza.

“Yesterday I heard that workers were registering to get permits for Israel,” Abu Nur added.  “I hope things will get better because the current situation is really difficult.”

The total number of permits being granted by Israel to Palestinian laborers in Gaza is 7,000, an Israeli security official told AFP, up from 5,000 workers and traders allowed in August.

Palestinian economic analyst Omar Shaaban said Israeli work permits “could help alleviate the unemployment crisis and poverty” within the territory, ruled by the Islamist movement Hamas.

According to Shaaban, Gaza’s income would increase by $3 million per day, if Israel granted 20,000 Palestinians work permits. 

Meanwhile, the increase in permits was “the result of a political process, including discussions in Cairo between Hamas and Egyptian officials,” a Palestinian official at the chamber of commerce said on condition of anonymity.

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid has put forth a plan to improve living conditions in Gaza in exchange for a commitment to “long-term quiet” on the part of the Hamas terrorist group which controls the Strip.



Knesset Honors Former Minister, General Slain By PFLP Terrorist

Israel’s Knesset held a special memorial service Wednesday (6th) in honor of former Tourism Minister and storied General Rehavam Ze’evi on the 20th anniversary of his death.

Ze’evi who was nicknamed Ghandi was gunned down in 2001 by an operative from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) at a hotel in Jerusalem.

“The assassination of Minister Ze’evi had been planned and organized for a long time.  Members of the PFLP followed him and gathered intelligence about his itinerary,” said Knesset speaker Micky Levy.

“The cold-blooded decision to assassinate a minister in Israel was and still is a crossing of all red lines.  This was a criminal attack on the State of Israel, its symbols and an unbearable violation of its sovereignty and rule.”

Levy who was serving as commander of Israel’s police division in the Jerusalem district at the time of the murder, said he remembered the slaying well.

“I was horrified to find that an Israeli minister had been murdered.  It was a traumatic and terrible day at my job.  I then organized the pursuing forces together with the intelligence services to catch the lowly terrorists.”

For a while the PFLP assassins were holed up in Arafat’s Mukata in Ramallah.  Later they were placed in a PA prison.  But, in 2006, the assassins were brought to Israel by force, after Israeli security forces surrounded the prison.  The four involved in the Ze’evi killing stood trial and were found guilty – they were convicted and received long prison terms ranging from 30 years to 145 years.



SupPlant To Help 500,000 Kenyan Maize-Growers Avoid Crop Failure

Some 500,000 smallholder maize farmers – mostly women living in Bungoma and Busia – received access Wednesday (6th) to Israeli-developed technology that can help them avoid crop failures.

Afula-based SupPlant’s new sensor-less technology collects and analyzes hyperlocal climatic, plant, and irrigation data that offers extremely low-cost irrigation recommendations, weather forecast and crop stress alerts, as well as AI-enabled agronomic guidance, to make smallholders more resilient to climate change.

SupPlant partnered with Plant Village, which is part of Penn State University, to reach these farmers, who represent a portion of the nearly half a billion farmers who grow on less than 2 hectares (5 acres) worldwide.  Plant Village is working with partners in Kenya reaching 9 million farmers each week.  By 2022, SupPlant intends to serve at least 2 million smallholders across Africa and India.

While most AgriTech companies only target 2% of the world’s growers and ignore the 450 million smallholder farmers worldwide, SupPlant grew by 1200% over the past 18 months by serving the traditional AgriTech market of corporate growers, the company said.

It recently raised $10 million of growth capital to continue this increase.

“SupPlant’s unique dataset, agronomical expertise, and proprietary algorithms offer a very interesting step change for farmers facing the threat of drought,” said David Hughes founder of Plant Village.  “Our initial pilots are successful and we want to see accelerated delivery at scale, and hope to see tremendous results during the upcoming harvest season.”