News Digest — 11/6/19

Israel Celebrates 28,000 New Immigrants In Past Year

The Ministry of Immigration and Absorption on Monday evening (4th) launched events celebrating Aliyah Day in honor of olim, or new immigrants to Israel.

During a special ceremony, Ministry of Immigration and Absorption Yoav Galant awarded a prize to those immigrants whose special achievements were determined as “an extraordinary contribution to society and the country.”

The winners included Professor Karl Skorecki, a world renowned physician and scientist in the field of genetics, Yaakov Friedman, the coach of Israel’s national fencing team, and Ronit Avera, who has developed a culture oriented program to prevent and contend with domestic violence.

“On Aliyah Day we honor the immigrants to Israel through the generations – the people who left everything and immigrated here,” Galant stated.  “The bravery, determination and unique contribution of each one is felt in all aspects of life in this country.”

He said that “every Jew around the world should see his home and his future in the State of Israel, even if his current place or residence is different.”

Established in 2016, Aliyah Day is celebrated on the seventh day of the Hebrew month of Cheshvan, coinciding with the reading of the Torah portion in which Avraham is told by God to leave his home to go to Israel.  The day is marked with celebrations in the Knesset, a special cabinet session, events at the President’s Residence, and schools, army and police facilities.

The past year saw an increase in the number of olim to Israel.  Since the beginning of 2019, more than 28,000 new immigrants from all over the world moved to Israel and the positive trend continues.  In 2018, 26,000 olim came to Israel. The majority this year came from Russia and Ukraine.

Some 3.5 million Jews have made Aliyah since 1948, making up 42% of the total population.

In 2019, over 70 years after the Holocaust, the world’s largest Jewish population lives in Israel.  This figure represents 43% of world Jewry.



As Iran Expands Enrichment, Netanyahu Vows It Will Never Have Nukes

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed Tuesday (5th) to “never let Iran develop nuclear weapons” after Tehran announced it was expanding its uranium enrichment efforts in a further breach of the 2015 nuclear deal.

“Iran expands its aggression everywhere.  It seeks to envelop Israel. It seeks to threaten Israel. It seeks to destroy Israel,” Netanyahu said at an event in Jerusalem’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel.  “We’ll fight back,” he added.

“And I also want to say, given Iran’s efforts to expand its nuclear weapons program, expand its enrichment of uranium for making atomic bombs, I repeat here once again: We will never let Iran develop nuclear weapons.  This is not only for our security and our future; it’s for the future of the Middle East and the world.”

Netanyahu spoke just hours after Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani announced that Tehran will begin injecting uranium gas into 1,044 centrifuges located at the heavily fortified Fordo facility in Iran’s Qom Province.

The move marks Iran’s latest step away from its nuclear deal with world powers since President Donald Trump withdrew from the accord over a year ago.

The development is significant as the centrifuges previously spun empty, without gas injection, under the accord.  It also increases pressure on European nations that remain in the accord, which has all but collapsed.

A statement carried in  Iranian media later Tuesday (5th) said enrichment would go to 5% beginning Wednesday (6th) when the centrifuges at Fordo would be injected with uranium gas.

Rouhani’s remarks, carried live on Iranian state television, came a day after Tehran’s nuclear program chief said the country had doubled the number of advanced IR-6 centrifuges in operation.

Iran has regularly threatened to destroy Israel, and has developed ballistic missiles believed in the West to be intended to carry nuclear warheads in the future.



Report: Advanced Israeli Missile Technology Captured By Russia In Syria

Russia has in its possession an advanced Israeli interceptor missile belonging to the David’s Sling defense system, designed to intercept planes, drones and ballistic missiles, New China News Agency reported Wednesday (6th).

According to the report, one of the two missiles launched by Israel at targets in July of last year, apparently fell in Syrian territory and was later captured by the Russian forces in the area.

On July 23, 2018, Israeli military activated David’s Sling for the first time since the operational testing was complete after it identified two OTR-21 Tochka missiles (Soviet tactical surface-to-surface ballistic missiles) heading toward the Golan Heights.

One interceptor destroyed the Russian-made missile and exploded, while the other missed and landed in Syria.

The report says that Syrian military dispatched a special forces unit to the area of the crash and was able to locate the Israeli missile, which sustained only minor damage.  The force took the missile to a Russian military base in the area, and from there it was flown straight to Moscow for the purpose of exploring its technology (a process called reverse engineering).

When reached for comment, Israeli military said it “doesn’t comment on foreign reports.”

David’s Sling has been jointly developed by the Israel defense contractor Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and the American defense contractor Raytheon and is meant to eventually replace the MIM-23 Hawk and MIM-104 Patriot in the Israeli weapons arsenal.

The defense system is capable of intercepting targets up to 400 miles away and is on a par with the S-400 Russian missile system.

The Chinese report, which was cited in various Russian media outlets, added that Russia can improve its air defense system using Israeli technology.  Moscow has so far not commented on the report.



Arab Daily: Qatar May Halt Funds To Gaza Strip

Qatar may halt its monthly cash infusions to the Gaza Strip, Lebanese daily Al Akhbar reported on Tuesday (5th).

Qatar has promised a total of $330 million in aid, which is delivered in monthly installments.

The report didn’t make clear why Qatar said it may halt the cash flow – only that the Qatari delegate Mohammed Al Emadi told leaders of Hamas and other factions during a recent visit that it would be “very difficult to renew the cash grant, estimated at $30 million per month.”

According to the reports, the monthly amount provides for 109,000 Palestinian families in the Strip.  The Qataris are also providing a subsidy to pay for fuel for electricity.

Hamas leadership hopes that it will be able to renew the grant through contacts with Prince Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Emir of Qatar.

It also released a not-so-veiled threat against Israel, warning that “non-renewal means heading to an explosion in the face of the Israeli occupation who is responsible for the siege.”

Hamas referred to the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip, which is in place in order to prevent advanced weapons from reaching terrorist hands.

Hamas, a fundamentalist Islamist terrorist organization, is sworn to destroy Israel.  Its covenant is rife with passages calling for Israel’s destruction, violent jihad, rejection of peace negotiations and anti-Semitic conspiracies.

It views the conflict with Israel as a religious struggle.  According to Article 15 of its covenant, “It is necessary to instill in the minds of the Muslim generations that the Palestinian problem is a religious problem, and should be dealt with on that basis.”



French Resistance Member Who Helped Jewish Families Dies at 103

Yvette Lundy, a member of the French Resistance who provided false identification papers to Jewish families, has died.  She was 103.

Lundy, who also survived two Nazi concentration camps, died in the northern French town of Epernay on Sunday (3rd).

She would go on to become a schoolteacher and also worked at the town hall.

Lundy joined the Resistance at the beginning of the Nazi occupation of France, the French news agency AFP reported.  She provided fake papers to Jewish families and escaped prisoners of war.

She was arrested, interrogated and imprisoned by the Gestapo in 1944, when she was 28.  Lundy was imprisoned in the Ravensbruck concentration camp and later at Buchenwald. Later she was assigned to a Kommando slave labor unit near Weimar and was liberated by the Russian army in April 1945.

Lundy returned to France but did not begin speaking about her experiences until 1959.

“The words of Yvette Lundy were a powerful call for citizen vigilance, so that the darkest hours of the 20th century would never be repeated,” a statement issued by the office of President Emmanuel Macron said.

Her memoir “Le Fil de l’araignee” (The Spider’s Web) was published in 2012.  In 2017, she received one of France’s highest honors, becoming a Grand Officer of the Legion of Honor.