News Digest — 4/26/19

Tens Of Thousands Visit National Parks On Second Passover

Tens of thousands of Israelis took advantage of fair weather on Friday (26th), Pesach Sheni (Second Passover holiday), to visit the country’s nature reserves and national parks.

The Israel Nature and Parks Authority estimated that around 80,000 people had visited by noon.

Popular locations included the Yarkon National Park, east of Tel Aviv, the Ashkelon National Park, Gan HaSlosha (Sakhne) and the Banias Nature Reserve in the north, and Masada and Ein Gedi in the south.

Thousands of people were also enjoying the beaches of the Sea of Galilee.

Passover began on April 19th at sundown and will end on the evening of April 27.



Congress Introduces Bill To Monitor Palestinian Textbooks For Encouraging Violence, anti-Semitism

A bipartisan bill committing the U.S. State Department to annually review the Palestinian curriculum for content encouraging violence, anti-Semitism and intolerance, was brought forward last week.

The legislation – introduced by Reps. Brad Sherman (D-CA) and Lee Zeldin (R-NY) on Thursday afternoon (25th) – has been referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, of which both lawmakers are members.

The measure was supported by the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Culture Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se), a Jerusalem-based watchdog that backs reforms for the Palestinian curriculum.  The group sponsored nearly-identical legislation last year, which did not advance past the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Titled the Peace and Tolerance in Palestinian Education Act, the most recent bill would require the State Department to submit annual reports reviewing the educational material used by the Palestinian Authority (PA) and UNRWA, which runs 715 schools for some 532,000 Palestinians in Judea and Samaria, the Gaza Strip, Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria.

The reports would, in part, determine if content “encouraging violence or intolerance toward other nations or ethnic groups has been removed,” and whether U.S. money was used to fund the dissemination of such materials “directly or indirectly.”

It would also affirm Congress’ position that the PA and UNRWA “have not sufficiently worked to eliminate all content and passages encouraging violence or intolerance toward other nations or ethnic groups from the curriculum used in their respective schools.”

Educational materials used by the PA and UNRWA, both of which have sustained dramatic U.S. aid-cuts under the Trump administration, have faced accusations of inciting hatred and violence in past years.  A 2018 report by IMPACT-se found that grade 1-12 textbooks routinely describe Israel as the “Zionist Occupation,” refer to UN-recognized Israeli territory as Palestinian, and in some cases praise acts of Palestinian violence against civilians.

Several European governments, including Switzerland, Germany, and the United Kingdom, have committed to reviewing Palestinian textbooks following IMPACT-se’s reports.

Last year, European Union lawmakers approved amendments to prevent aid to the PA from financing educational materials considered discriminatory or intolerant.



Gaza Rocket Attack Survivor: “Our Enemies Don’t Understand That We Aren’t Going Anywhere” – Yaron Doron

On Sunday (21st), the Wolf family – whose home on Moshav Mishmeret was destroyed by a rocket fired from Gaza last month – welcomed their fifth grandchild.  Grandfather, Robert Wolf told Israel Hayom: “Susan, my wife, still has shrapnel in her head….She was wounded all over her body because she had her back turned.  She, like any good mother, took care that everyone made it into the safe room and didn’t manage to get inside herself.”

“She’s a very strong woman.  The first thing she said in the hospital was, ‘We’re so lucky it landed on us, since we have a safe room, and not on the neighbors, who don’t.’…You can’t take it lightly – you need to get into the safe room when there is a warning siren.  It saves lives.”

“What gives us strength is the miracle we experienced.  Seven people were in a house, and we’re all still here. We’ll build another house.  I’m deeply rooted in this land. When I came to Israel 35 years ago from the UK, there were 3 million people here.  Now we’re nine million. Our enemies still don’t understand that we aren’t going anywhere. They don’t understand that Israel is growing and getting stronger.”



UN Confirms 3rd Hezbollah Tunnel Crossed Border Into Israel, Violating Ceasefire

A UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon Thursday (25th) confirmed that a tunnel discovered earlier this year by Israel had crossed the Lebanese-Israeli border, in the third such breach of a ceasefire resolution.

Israel, in January accused the Iran-backed terrorist organization Hezbollah of having dug what it described as the deepest, “longest and most-detailed” cross-border tunnel it had discovered.  

The Israeli army said the tunnel from the Lebanese town of Ramyeh – about 2,700 feet from the border – reached over 282 feet into Israel, and descended 180 feet underground.

UNIFIL said Thursday (25th) the tunnel was the third to have crossed the “Blue Line,” a demarcation line drawn by the UN to mark Israel’s withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000.

“UNIFIL’s independent assessment confirms this tunnel crosses the Blue Line in violation of Resolution 1701” which ended the 2006 War between Israel and Hezbollah, it said.

“UNIFIL has informed the Lebanese authorities about the violation and has requested urgent follow-up-actions,” the UN force said in a statement.

Lebanon and Israel are still technically at war.  Israel is currently building a wall along the 80 mile frontier to block Hezbollah’s attempts to infiltrate.

In December, Israel accused Hezbollah of digging cross-border tunnels into its territory from southern Lebanon and launched an operation to destroy them.



UN Ambassadors From Around The World To Join March Of The Living

Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, will lead a delegation of 30 of his peers from across the world to visit Poland and Israel next week.  The diplomats, representing Kenya, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras, Latvia, and Lithuania, will join him in the “March of the Living” on Holocaust Remembrance Day next Thursday, May 1.

More than 10,000 Jewish and non-Jewish youth from around the world will participate in the 31st annual International March of the Living to pay tribute to the victims of the Holocaust and call for an end to anti-Semitism.

Joining the UN ambassadors will be a delegation of senior American diplomats, including U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, as well as the U.S. Ambassadors to Germany and Poland.

According to the Israeli Mission to the UN, for many of the ambassadors from Africa, Asia, the Pacific Islands, Latin America and Eastern Europe, this will be the first time they will be taking part in the annual march.  The group will visit the Auschwitz death camp and Krakow’s historic Kazimierz Jewish quarter. After Holocaust Remembrance Day, the group will fly to Israel for a five-day tour of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

In the capital, they will visit the Old City, the Western Wall and Yad Vashem.  Following a meeting with President Reuven Rivlin, Ambassador Danon will take the group of diplomats to the Gaza border where they are expected to attend a briefing with Senior IDF officers.  



Israel Announces Its Participation In World Expo 2020 In Dubai

Israel will take part in the 2020 World Expo in the United Arab Emirates city of Dubai, the Foreign Ministry announced Thursday (25th), in another sign of warming relations with Gulf Arab states.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel’s participation was “another expression of Israel’s rising status in the world and the region.”

The Foreign Ministry said it welcomed “the opportunity to share our spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship and to present Israeli innovations and trailblazing technology in various fields such as water, medicine and information technology.”

“Expos are meeting places where people from all over the world come together and take advantage of each other’s talents to face joint challenges and advance society,” it said.

“We have invited every country in the world without exception,” organizers in Dubai announced, saying it would be “a truly international event with approximately 190 countries expected to showcase their cultures, innovations and visions for the future.”

“For more than 170 years, World Expos has held a-political events focused on furthering humanity for the common good through innovations, cultural exchange, creativity, and collaboration.  We are proud to continue that tradition,” the organizers said in a statement.

Expo 2020, which runs from October 20 next year to April 20, 2021, is set to attract some 25 million visitors to Dubai, famed for its luxury resorts and opulent shopping malls.