News Digest — 5/7/19

23,741 Fallen: Israel Remembers Its Dead In Ceremonies Starting At Sundown

Israel’s Memorial Day will be marked with a series of solemn ceremonies starting at sundown on Tuesday (7th).  The Day of Remembrance officially begins at 8:00 p.m. when a one-minute siren will sound throughout the country.

Over the next 24-hours, Israel will remember its 23,741 fallen soldiers (counting from 1860 when the Zionist enterprise is considered to have begun in the Land of Israel until today).

Israel will also remember the 3,500 civilians who were killed in hostilities since the state’s establishment.  Four of those civilians were killed in the last round of fighting between Israel and Hamas. The number also includes 120 foreign citizens who were killed in attacks and 100 Israelis who were murdered while abroad.

After the 8:00 p.m. siren, the main ceremony will be held  at the Western Wall in Jerusalem to open Memorial Day.

On Wednesday (8th), at 11:00 a.m., a two-minute siren will sound for which Israelis stand in silence, followed by the main memorial service for Israel’s Fallen Soldiers on Mount Herzl.  The president, prime minister and chief of staff will be in attendance.

In preparation for Memorial Day, flags were placed at gravestones of fallen soldiers on Monday (6th).

IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi sent a letter on Tuesday (7th) to the Army, saying: “The sound of the siren cuts across the land, through the commotion of the day, calling for peace and unity.”

“Wherever that sound reaches, there is a grave, and everywhere a battle that took place which exacted a heavy price.  The sound represents the voice of those who died, and whose images and features appear before our eyes.”



Presidential Surprise for IDF Soldiers

For the fifth year in a row, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin will host the main celebration on the morning of Israel’s 71st Independence Day in a singing event called “All Israel from Jerusalem.”  The event, a tribute to the spirit of Israel, will be held on Thursday (9th) in the gardens of Beit HaNasi in Jerusalem.

The celebrations will continue with the traditional ceremony for outstanding soldiers, attended by Israel’s leading political and security figures.

Ahead of the event, President Rivlin went out to the gardens of Beit HaNasi Tuesday morning, (7th) where he met the 120 outstanding soldiers who were rehearsing for the ceremony.

The president welcomed the excited soldiers, saying, “Greetings to the best of the best.  It’s wonderful to see you. I welcome you here, as the president does every year. This is truly uplifting today.  You are the chosen 120 from the very best who come here that the whole State of Israel can salute you, and through you, salute the entire IDF.  I see berets here of all colors, and together they make up our army.” The president also thanked Lt.-Col. Oded Nahari, who will command the event for the 18th year, and asked him to make sure that the soldiers also “have an opportunity to enjoy their day.”



Islamic Jihad Admits Its Misfired Rocket Killed Baby In Gaza, Not Israel – By Baruch Yedid

The Islamic Jihad terror group admitted that a rocket fired on Saturday evening (4th) killed a baby in the Gaza Strip, contradicting initial claims she was killed in an Israeli strike.

Gazan sources identified the victims as 14-month-old Saba Mahmoud Abu ‘Arar and her pregnant mother Falastin.  However, the initial reports of the identity of the woman appear to have been inaccurate, as it was not the baby’s mother – rather another female victim in the household.

TPS has learned that the baby and woman were killed when Islamic Jihad terrorists launched a rocket towards Israel from within a populated area in eastern Gaza City, but the rocket misfired and landed short, exploding in a nearby house, killing the two.

Mahmoud H., a local resident, told TSP about a massive pit he saw inside the house after the rocket’s explosion.

The rocket was locally produced and may have malfunctioned or exploded prematurely because of low-grade explosives.

A source in Gaza told TSP that Islamic Jihad representatives met with the Abu ‘Arar family on Sunday morning (5th) and offered them full compensation and a registry of the baby as a “Shahid” (martyr) entitled to long-term support in exchange for their silence.

Arab journalists in Gaza are aware of the facts, but have refrained from reporting on them due to the sensitivity of the situation.

TSP was successful in capturing Hamas’ report on the Islamic Jihad’s culpability.

Hamas’ al-Risala News published a news item on the issue in its Telegram account on Sunday afternoon (5th), but removed it shortly after.  The item then appeared on another Hamas-lined Telegram channel and quickly disappeared.

The item said: “A leak from the heroes of the [Islamic Jihad’s] Sarayat al Quds (Jerusalem Brigades) on the circumstances of the death of the baby Saba Abu ‘Arar indicates that a rocket of the resistance exploded inside the family’s home due to a technical failure.  It prematurely exploded. There is no doubt that the baby’s death had nothing to do with Israeli enemy planes,” the report added.

The IDF stated Sunday afternoon (5th) that “Palestinian weapons caused the tragic death of a pregnant woman and baby in Gaza.”



As Gaza Fighting Ended, IDF Reminded Public Of Planned Flyby Practice

The Israeli military issued a reminder that there would be fighter jets and other aircraft zooming overhead on Monday (6th) and Tuesday (7th) as part of practice for this week’s annual Independence Day flyover.

Monday’s (6th) reminder was an apparent bid to prevent a panic following two days of intense fighting in the Gaza Strip.

Residents of the cities of Haifa, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, as well as the communities of Kibbutz Gal’ed and Ramat David, were told to expect to see training flights on Monday and Tuesday, that had been originally scheduled for Sunday (5th), but were postponed due to the fighting in Gaza.

Additional flyby practice flights are scheduled for Tuesday (7th) over Tel Aviv and the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, the army said.

Independence Day this year begins the night of May 8th, after the country ends its Memorial Day commemorations.  The festivities – including the annual flyby – continue into the next day.

The aerial demonstration, known in Hebrew as the matas, features fighter jets, transport planes, aircraft acrobatics, and helicopters flying past major Israeli cities and towns to delight residents with a show of military power.



Iranian Plot on U.S. Possibly Thwarted Due To Israeli Intelligence – Report

The United States received information from Israel concerning an alleged Iranian plot to attack American interests in the Gulf, Axios reported on Monday (6th).

The U.S. National Security Adviser, John Bolton, publicly warned on Sunday (5th) that Iran will face “unrelenting force” if it attempts to harm the U.S., in an unusual statement.  In the same statement the U.S. announced that it would deploy the aircraft carrier USS Lincoln to the region.

According to the report, intelligence provided by Israel’s Mossad agency was at least part of the reason for the warning and the move to deploy the aircraft carrier.  The information was allegedly passed to a U.S. team headed by Bolton two weeks ago by an Israeli delegation led by National Security Adviser Meir Ben Shabbat.

It wasn’t clear what Iran’s plans would have been, but it might have attempted to hit a U.S. target in the Gulf, or one of its allies in the region such as Saudi Arabia or the UAE.

Saying that “Iranian temperature is rising” due to U.S. sanctions, an unnamed Israeli official said Iran is looking into attacking U.S. interests in the Gulf.