News Digest — 4/5/22

IDF: At Least 10 Terror Attacks Thwarted In Past Two Weeks

IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi disclosed on Monday night (4th) that the IDF thwarted at least 10 Palestinian terror attacks in the last two weeks.

“At least 10 terror attacks have been prevented in the past two weeks, thanks to intelligence and operations.  Even at this moment we are focusing on thwarting further attacks,” Kochavi said in remarks at an Air Force ceremony.

“This is the IDF’s main mission at the moment.  We will act wherever, as required, and using all methods to stop terrorism,” he added.

Kochavi did not provide further details about the thwarted attacks.

In the span of 8 days in March, 11 Israelis were killed in terror attacks in Beersheba, Hadera and Bnei Brak.

Tensions are especially high with the month-long Islamic holiday of Ramadan having begun on Saturday (2nd).  According to a Dutch study cited by the Jerusalem Post, “Ramadan brought with it a 200% increase in terrorist attacks in Israel between 2005 and 2016.”

Meanwhile Israel’s Kan News reported that in Gaza, Hamas has prevented Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) from firing rockets at Israel.  Islamic Jihad has vowed to avenge the deaths of its three operatives who were killed by Israeli security forces in a shootout on Friday (1st).  Israeli officials described the three in the  terror cell as a “ticking time bomb,” preparing to carry out a mass casualty attack.



Security Escalation Sees Firearm Permit Applications Hit Record High

The recent wave of terror has made Israelis seek better self-defense and the number of civilians applying for firearm permits has reached an all-time high this week, sources in the Public Security Ministry, which enforces gun-control regulations, said.

Last week the Firearms Licensing Division in the ministry saw a staggering 700% spike in applications in the span of 24 hours, but that record was broken shortly after the police urged the public to volunteer for the Civil Guard.  The latter currently has 23,787 volunteers with 734 joining over the past three months.

A spike in the number of Israelis seeking firearm permits is often seen in the wake of terrorist attacks, but March has set a record of 6,625 firearm permit applications, ministry data shows.

Last May, at the height of Operation Guardian of the Walls, the Firearms Licensing Division received 6,525.

A senior Public Security Ministry official told Israel Hayom that “the increase in demand is unusual on a historic scale.”  Applicants include members of Israel’s ultra-Orthodox, and those in Muslim and Arab sectors, he said.

Another ministry official said the number of gun permit applications indicates “an ongoing trend of an unprecedented scale.”

The Israel Police urged civilians carrying weapons to act responsibly as consequences for negligent use could be dire.

Police Operations Department Commander Sigal Bar-Zvi said that given the current security situation, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s call for civilians to carry weapons if licensed “can save lives.”

Bar-Zvi stressed that “the use of firearms must be done according to law, with a license and proper training.  If you carry a weapon you have to assume responsibility for it.”

Unlike the United States, Israel does not offer its citizens any “right to bear arms” within its framework of basic laws.  In fact – and contrary to common misconception – the Jewish state has some of the strictest gun-control laws in the world.

As of January 2022, only 149,000 Israeli civilians were licensed to carry a firearm.

Moreover, unlike in the US, where guns are readily available for purchase, even Israelis who have completed their military service cannot apply for a license before the age of 20.  Those who did not serve in the IDF, for whatever reason, have to wait until they are 27 to seek a firearm license.

All applicants are required to meet a long list of criteria and the type of firearm and number of bullets that a licensed firearm holder is permitted to purchase is limited.

Each type of firearm requires a separate license and assault  rifles are off limits – the most a civilian can apply for is a pistol.



Israel Authorizes $56.5 Million In Emergency Police Funding

The Israeli government has authorized the allocation of $56.5 million in emergency funding to the Israel Police.

The budget supplement was authorized “in light of the significant challenges that Israel’s police force currently faces and given the operational gaps that have accumulated in recent years,” according to an official statement.

The emergency funding comes as Israel’s police forces struggle to deal with multiple terror attacks taking place throughout Israel.

“For many years, the Israel Police was overlooked and the operational needs that it required to carry out its tasks were not met,” said Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.

“We are correcting this and are now allocating significant resources in order for it to carry out its supreme task–defending public security.  A strong police equals a strong State of Israel….We wre in the midst of a wave of terrorism directed against the citizens of Israel and are acting with all the tools in all sectors in order to restore security and the sense of security.”

Israeli Public Security Minister Omer Barlev called the plan to strengthen Israel’s police force “an unprecedented milestone.”

The funding will be allocated in two phases, with $34.7 million being provided immediately and the remaining $21.9 million by August.

The first supplement will be directed towards implementing the first stage of establishing a “Border Police Brigade” based on reserve forces; recruiting 200 career Border Police officers; purchasing 6,500 ceramic vests, 4,000 helmets, and 40 motorcycles; equipment for 10 reserve Border Police companies; recruiting volunteers, strengthening the national guard and recruiting reservists.



Iran: Another Nuclear-Armed Dictatorship Flush With Cash And Attacking Its Neighbors – Gabriel Noronha

The deal being negotiated in Vienna is dangerous to U.S. national security, to the stability of the Middle East, and to the Iranian people who suffer most under that brutal regime.  The lack of evidence to justify a removal of U.S. sanctions is illegal, and the deal that will be foisted upon the world without the support of Congress will be illegitimate.  This deal will not serve U.S. interests in either the short or long term.

The U.S. has promised to lift sanctions on some of the regime’s worst terrorists and torturers, on leading officials who have developed Iran’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) infrastructure, and may agree to lift sanctions on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) itself.  In exchange, Iran will receive fewer limitations than those imposed under the 2015 JCPOA, and the restrictions on its nuclear program will expire six years sooner than under the terms of the old deal.

Iran is set to get access to a massive windfall of cash: My latest estimate is $90 billion in access to foreign exchange reserves, and then a further $50-$55 billion in extra revenue each year from higher oil and petrochemical exports, with no restrictions on how the money can be spent.

The most troubling will be the $7 billion ransom payment the U.S is preparing to pay for the release of four Americans from an Iranian jail.  They are innocent victims who have suffered unjustly for far too long.  But this payment will only supercharge Iran’s hostage-taking industry.  After President Obama paid $1.7billion for four Americans back in 2016, Iranian clerics and generals bragged about it for years.

At prices like these, more Americans are sure to land in Evin Prison.

The writer served as Special Advisor for Iran in the U.S. State Department in 2019-2020.



Israel’s Second Astronaut To Launch Friday In Mission To The ISS

On Friday (8th), Israel’s second astronaut, Eitan Stibbe, is set to take off for the International Space Station (ISS) for the long-awaited Rakia mission.

The mission, led by Israel’s Science and Technology Ministry and the Ramon Foundation, selected 35 different experiments for Stibbe to undertake during his 10-day stay in orbit.

The experiments cover a wide variety of different fields of study, including testing or demonstrating the viability of certain technologies, observing scientific phenomena, studying mechanisms of theorized concepts and groundbreaking tests on food and agriculture.

Stibbe will also bring other items with him that are not related to the mission.  They include a scale model of the World Peace Bell, an ancient coin dating back to the time of the Bar-Kochba Revolt, and a children’s story, “Beauty of the World,” written and illustrated by Paul Korr, which Stibbe will read to children while he is in space.

The Rakia mission is being launched as part of Axiom Mission 1, the first fully private space mission headed by Housten-based start-up Axiom Space.  The four astronauts will be launched on Friday (8th) from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida onboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.  The crew is set to dock at the ISS on Saturday (9th).

The mission was originally slated for a March 30 launch, but it was postponed twice to give more time to complete pre-launch processing work.



In Boost To Health System, Hundreds Of US Doctors Set To Make Aliyah

Hundreds of doctors and medical workers are set to make aliyah from North America to help ease the manpower shortage in Israel’s health system. 

Senior health officials met in New Jersey last week with 350 doctors, nurses, psychologists, and paramedical professionals interested in immigrating to Israel in the next six months to two years.

The meeting was the initiative of Nefesh B’Nefesh, one of the main organizations facilitating immigration and absorption of new immigrants from North America and the United Kingdom, in cooperation with the Immigration and Integration Ministry, the Jewish Agency, the Jewish National Fund, the Health Ministry, and the Israel Medical Association.

The aim of the meeting was to significantly cut red tape and hire attendees for various medical positions in both the center of the country and the periphery area upfront to allow them to make a significant contribution to the Israeli health system immediately upon making aliyah.

Nefesh B’Nefesh founder Rabbi Yehoshua Fass called the effort “a one-time opportunity for such a personal and necessary meeting between medical workers on the ground and senior health system officials in Israel.”

Fass, who noted Israel currently faces a shortage of thousands of medical workers, said, “We must act tirelessly to help bring trained professionals who will bolster health services in Israel.”

At the Medex Fair in New Jersey, where the meeting took place, participants began the process of obtaining a license to practice medicine in Israel and were interviewed by representatives of Israel’s four national Healthcare providers as well as hospitals situated in Israel’s center and the periphery.

Representatives of the development of the Periphery, the Negev, and the Galilee Ministry spoke to attendees about government benefits for those who choose to live in those areas.

Development of the Periphery, the Negev, and the Galilee Minister, Oded Forer said “Israel will make every effort to help Doctors making aliyah upon arrival – no matter where they are in Israel’s health system.”