News Digest — 5/5/20

Israel Reportedly Targets Syrian Chemical Weapons Research Facility

An attack on two military facilities southeast of Aleppo and attributed to Israel were carried out on Monday night (4th), Syrian news sources report.

The attack took place in the Al-Safira region.

“The flight’s missiles targeted some military depots…the air defenses confronted the hostile missiles,” Syrian state news agency SANA reported, quoting a military source.

The air strikes reportedly came from the direction of Jordan and Iraq in contrast to earlier recent attacks that originated from Lebanon and the Golan Heights.

Al Jazeera reports that Syrian state TV said a research center was hit. The Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center in Aleppo is suspected of making chemical weapons according to Western sources.

Al Arabiya reports that the research center is also developing missile technologies in cooperation with Iran.

Israel did not comment on the attack

“Shortly after the strikes in Aleppo, additional airstrikes by unidentified aircraft were carried out in Al-Mayadeen in the Deir Ezzor area located near the Syria-Iraq border, The Jerusalem Post reports.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor, based in London, 14 Iranian-backed militia members were killed in Monday night’s (4th) attack. 

Last Thursday (4/30), Syrian media reported that Israeli aircraft had attacked multiple targets in southern Syria with missiles.  A radio station affiliated with the Syrian regime said that the attack had taken place in the Quneitra area, on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, near the border with Israel.

Subsequent reports said that the air strikes targeted members of the Lebanon-based Hezbollah terrorist organization operating on the Israeli border.

Last week, Syria’s air force reported that it had identified a “hostile Israeli attack” on southern Damascus.

The SANA news agency reported that Syria’s missile detection systems intercepted the “Israeli aggression” which came from Lebanese airspace and was able to down several rockets fired at Syrian territory.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors military activities in Syria, said that four pro-Iranian militia members and three others were killed in the Israeli air strikes.



Western Wall Reopens: Worshipers Temperatures Checked, Details Recorded

The Western Wall Plaza, in Jerusalem’s Old City, reopened to worshipers on Tuesday (5th) as coronavirus regulations were lifted.  Worshipers will need to have their temperatures checked and their personal details recorded before entering, and they are asked to maintain over six feet distance from others and wear masks.

The plaza is being split into a number of prayer complexes that will follow Health Ministry regulations.  300 worshipers will be allowed in the plaza at a time while wearing masks.

If the maximum number of worshipers is reached, others will have to wait outside while maintaining social-distancing from others until room becomes available.

The Rabbi at the Western Wall, Shmuel Rabinowitz reminded worshipers that according to Jewish law, those who have not seen the Temple Mount (meaning the plaza above the Western Wall) in the past 30 days should tear their clothing and say “Beis Kadsheinu Vesifarteinu Asher Haleluch Haysa Lecharva” (in English, “Our holy Temple, our pride, Where our fathers praised You, Has been consumed by fire: And all that is dear to us is ruined”).



Top Jewish Leader Praises President Trump For Commitment To Fighting Anti-Semitism Amid Covid-19

The head of a leading international Jewish group praised U.S. President Donald Trump over the weekend for a proclamation condemning anti-Semitism, saying, “I know personally that he is committed to eradicating the spread of anti-Semitism from our society.”

“President Trump has consistently stood by American Jewry and the State of Israel throughout his tenure,” said World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder.  He added that Trump’s commitment applies “even in the midst of the immense global uncertainty and concerns accompanying the COVID-19 crisis.”

“As the president emphasized…anti-Semitic discrimination, persecution and violence continue to plague our Jewish communities,” Lauder noted, saying the president’s words “must be repeated over and over again…until it is made absolutely clear that incitement, bigotry, hatred, and xenophobia will not be tolerated.”

“The World Jewish Congress deeply appreciates the U.S. administration’s ongoing efforts to combat the evil of anti-Jewish hatred, and its continuing support of American Jewry in its cherished traditions and innumerable contributions to society,” he added.  “We look forward to the day when we will be able to say that anti-Semitism has truly been eradicated in America.”

Lauder’s comments came in response to a proclamation late last week marking Jewish American Heritage Month.  In the statement Trump said, “Hatred is intolerable and has no place in our hearts or in our society.  We must therefore vigorously confront anti-Semitic discrimination and violence against members of the Jewish community.”

“This month, we reaffirm our commitment to never compromise our steadfast support for the Jewish community, our rejection of anti-Semitic bigotry, and our disdain for malicious attacks of hatred,” the president added.



Egypt Says It Destroyed More Than 3,000 Gaza Tunnels

Egypt has destroyed more than 3,000 tunnels along its border with the Gaza Strip in the past five years, Egyptian Army Spokesperson Tamer Al-Refai revealed.

In an interview with the private Egyptian news channel Extra News on Sunday night (3rd), he said: “In 2015 the Egyptian government took a decision to establish a buffer zone along the border with the Gaza Strip, and found many tunnels.  These tunnels were used to threaten Egypt’s national security, including the infiltration of terrorists, smuggling of weapons, ammunition, goods, narcotic drugs and vehicles.  We established the buffer zone in stages because residents had to be relocated and compensated.”

“Some of the destroyed tunnels were almost two miles long and about 100 feet deep,” said Al-Refai.

He said the Egyptian forces continue their “heroic actions to defeat terrorists” in the Sinai Peninsula, adding that 126 of them were killed during a recent operation there.

“During the operation, Egyptian forces seized different types of weapons, and destroyed 650 explosive belts,” Al-Refai added.

The Egyptian Air Force targeted and destroyed 228 hideouts and shelters used by terrorists, he said.  In addition, 116 four wheel-drive vehicles were destroyed and 366 terrorist suspects were arrested.

The Egyptian armed forces are working around the clock to combat terrorism and secure our borders,” Al-Refai said  We have scored many achievements on the ground, including the destruction of the terrorist infrastructure.”

The announcement concerning the demolition of the tunnels along the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt came shortly after the Egyptians announced Sunday (3rd) that 15 Egyptian officers and soldiers were killed or wounded recently during anti-terror operations in Sinai.



Israeli Team Designs Coronavirus Mask For Hearing Impaired

The coronavirus pandemic presents extra challenges to those with disabilities, and an enterprising group of Israelis has devised a solution for those with hearing impairments who are used to reading lips not covered with protective face masks.

A doctoral student at Ben-Gurion University whose parents are both deaf, teamed up with a high school robotics team from Dimona and developed the “Read My Lips” mask that has a clear plastic front, allowing people to see the lips of those who are wearing it.

Carolina Tannenbaum-Baruchi, student at BGU of the Negev School of Public Health needed a mask that not only had clear plastic over the mouth, but one that doesn’t fog up when the person wearing it talks.

She teamed up with the “Roboactive 2096” team at the Zinman Darca High School and within three weeks the students there developed the special face mask.

“The coronavirus requires us to wear masks that cover our mouths.  Consequently, hearing-impaired people can’t communicate with lip-reading wearing a regular mask,” the robot team tweeted.  “With Ben-Gurion University we’ve created a no-vapors mask which allows easy breathing and lip-reading.”

The mask is reusable and can be washed and sterilized.

“We will soon start a crowd fundraiser in order to manufacture the mask in a factory in large amounts.  We hope that we can ship it abroad,” the team tweeted.