News Digest — 3/15/21

Kosovo Opens Embassy In Israel

Kosovo opened its embassy to Israel in Jerusalem on Sunday (14th), joining the United States and Guatemala as the only countries with embassies in the Israeli capital.

Muslim-majority Kosovo promised to locate its embassy in Jerusalem when it established diplomatic ties with Israel last year under US sponsorship.

Kosovo’s Foreign Ministry said on Twitter that with the embassy’s opening, “the pledge given in the Oval Office is finally fulfilled today.”

Israel sees its new ties with Kosovo as part of its broader normalization with Arab and Muslim countries under agreements sponsored by former US President Donald Trump.

Wasel Abu Youssef, a member of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), said the opening of Kosovo’s embassy in Jerusalem contradicted UN resolutions and aimed to “weaken the Palestinian cause.”

No date was immediately announced for a formal opening ceremony.

On Thursday (11th), the Czech Republic opened a diplomatic office in Jerusalem, a branch of its embassy in Tel Aviv, a move that drew condemnation from the Palestinians and Arab League.



Freed Terrorist Who Laughed About Killing Israeli Kids ‘No Longer Subject To Interpol Warrant’

Global police organization Interpol has reportedly dropped its arrest warrant for Ahlam Tamimi, the female terrorist behind one of the most notorious suicide bombings of the Second Intifada.

On Sunday (14th), Arabic language media published a letter from the law enforcement agency, dated March 8, which stated that Tamimi is “no longer subject to Interpol notice.”  The letter did not provide an explanation for the decision.

Tamimi’s image was also removed from the “Most Wanted” section of the Interpol site.

Her husband, Nizar Tamimi, confirmed the development in a Facebook post, writing “Praise be to Allah.”

In August, 2001, Tamimi assisted in the planning and executing of the Sbarro pizza restaurant suicide bombing in Jerusalem, which killed 15 people, including eight children and a pregnant woman, wounding 130.

The Jordanian-born journalist scouted out the location for the attack and drove the perpetrator of the attack, Izz al-din Al Masri, through a checkpoint to the site of the bombing.

It is widely believed because she was dressed in Western-style clothing, she deflected attention away from the bomber which helped him get past Israeli security officials who may have otherwise stopped him.

Tamimi was sentenced to 16 life sentences for her role in the murders, but was released during the October 2011 Gilad Shalit prisoner swap.

In a chilling interview which took place while she was incarcerated, Tamimi expressed no regret for her crime.  When an Israeli journalist asked if she knew how many children were killed in the bombing, she smiled and said, “three.”

The journalist informed Tamimi that eight children had been killed.  In response, she laughed and smiled widely.

One of Tamimi’s victims, 16-year-old Malki Roth, held American citizenship.  Both Roth’s parents have lobbied the US government for years to leverage a law which permits terrorists who murder American citizens abroad to be prosecuted and incarcerated in the US.

After Tamimi was released from prison, the FBI offered a $5 million reward for her capture and the Interpol arrest warrant was issued.  In June 2020, the US government issued an extradition request for Tamimi, but the Jordanian government has refused to honor it.

“I do not regret what happened.  Absolutely not,” she told Jordanian news site Ammon in 2012.

“I dedicated myself to jihad for the sake of Allah, and Allah granted me success.  You know how many casualties there were?  This was made possible by Allah.  Do you want me to denounce what I did?  That’s out of the question.  I would do it again today and in the same manner.”



Iron Sting: Israel Debuts Munition That Will ‘Revolutionize Ground Warfare’    

Israel successfully tested Iron Sting, a ‘networked precision fire system,’ the IDF announced on Sunday (14th).

Iron Sting is a 120 mm mortar munition that employs laser and GPS to engage targets accurately and prevent collateral damage.

The announcement signals that trials have been conducted successfully, concluding the system’s development.  The completion of testing enables the start of serial production ahead of the system’s supply to the IDF.

Tests were carried out using two networked “Cardom” mortar systems developed by Elbit: a “Cardom” system, mounted on an M113 APC and a “Cardom Spear” mounted on a Hummer 4X4 SUV.

The Iron Sting is designed to engage targets precisely, in both open terrains and urban environments, while reducing the possibility of collateral damage and preventing injury to non-combatants.  Its operational use will revolutionize ground warfare and equip battalions with organic, accurate and effective fire power.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz said, “The technology made available to the IDF by Israeli Industries changes the battlefield and provides our forces with more accurate and effective means.”

“The integration of ‘Iron Sting’ in the IDF, corresponds to the vision presented in the military’s ‘Trufa’ multi-year-plan.  It also fulfills the IDF’s needs, adapting combat capabilities to contend with enemies hidden within civilian, urban environments, while meeting the legal and moral standards set by the State of Israel.”

Brig. Gen. Yaniv Rotem, who heads research and development in the Department of Defense R&D, said: “Ten years of research and development have led us to this moment when we can provide the IDF’s ground forces with advanced capabilities made for the modern battlefield.”

“This laser and GPS-guided mortar munition provides troops with a precise firing capability that has only been implemented in missiles and air munitions so far.  This is a very complex program and a groundbreaking system on the international level.”

Col. Arik Avivi, head of the weapons department in the IDF’s ground forces, said “The Ground Forces command is leading the process of integrating the ‘Iron Sting’ into the IDF.”

“This precise guided mortar munition is groundbreaking for IDF battalions, equipping them with accurate and organic firepower.  This capability has so far been reserved to large and complex missiles.  Thanks to this impressive technological development, it will now be implemented in mortar munitions on a wide scale.”



Netanyahu: Gulf States To Invest $10 Billion In Israel

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed on Thursday (11th) that the United Arab Emirates, with which Israel signed a peace deal in September, plans to invest $10 billion in the country.

Speaking during a press conference with his Hungarian and Czech counterparts in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said that Israel’s economy would “take a leap forward” due to the investment, and that “specific projects” were already under discussion.

The press conference came just hours after a planned visit to the UAE was canceled due to a delay in obtaining Jordanian permission to traverse its air space.

“Accordingly, I just spoke with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, a great leader, the leader of the UAE, and we agreed on three things: One, to carry out another visit soon; two, to advance the ‘Green Passport’ program between Israel and the UAE, and three – and this is very important news for the citizens of Israel – regarding the UAE’s intent to invest, by various means, the staggering sum of $10 billion dollars in Israel,” he said.

Earlier on Thursday (11th), the Czech republic opened a branch of its Israeli embassy in Jerusalem in a ceremony attended by the Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis and Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi.



Israeli Scientists Develop Ultra-Accurate Lie Detector Test

While polygraph tests are presented on daytime talk shows and criminal dramas as foolproof methods for discovering the truth, these so-called  “lie detector tests” are widely considered unreliable in the world of science and law.

Studies have shown the tests to be inaccurate, and in many US states the results of polygraph tests are inadmissible as evidence in court.

But now, Israeli scientists from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have created a super-effective lie detecting method, utilizing the Concealed Information Test (CIT) with a specialized algorithm, which they say is far more accurate than polygraph examinations.

A study recently published in brain science journal Cortex presented the findings of the researchers, led by Dr. Natalie Klein Sala and Dr. Chen Guetta.  The researchers developed the method as a tool for police investigations.

“This test is a worthy alternative to the polygraph lie detector test, which is a common but problematic method for many reasons…The CIT is a more reliable and objective method, relying on only the real criminal to identify information related to the crime he committed,” Dr. Klein Sala told Channel 20 News.

During the CIT test, the suspect is presented with information about a crime that only the perpetrator would know.  Using a real-time Al-driven algorithm, the CIT test can recognize if the examinee’s initial response is to hide his/her familiarity with the information.

Rather than focusing on trying to determine whether or not an examinee is lying, the system works by recording the brain reaction of the person upon hearing information.  If the examinee’s first response is to attempt to comprehend whatever they were told, it’s a sign that they were previously unaware of the information.

But if their first reaction is to try to hide their familiarity with the information, this suggests that the examinee has first-hand knowledge of a crime.

In contrast, polygraph tests measure the physiological reactions of the person being tested.  The examiner notes responses such as spikes in heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure as evidence that the examinee is being dishonest.

Critics have pointed out that people can easily beat polygraph tests by simply remaining calm while lying.  Examinees can also use breathing techniques to skew the results of the examinations.

Although there’s no timeline in place for introducing the test as a standard part of police investigations, Klein Sala told Channel 20 News that she was optimistic about the value of the CIT when paired with algorithms.

“These results…pave the way to develop algorithms with many applications in criminal investigations,” she said.