News Digest — 6/19/19

Netanyahu: I Say To Israel’s Enemies – Don’t Test Us

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who also serves as Israel’s Defense Minister, met with IDF commanders during an army training exercise in northern Israel Wednesday morning (19th).

During his visit, Netanyahu spoke with IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi, along with officers and troops taking part in the exercise.

At the end of his inspection of the training exercise, Netanyahu made a brief statement, warning Israel’s enemies not to “test” the country’s willingness to defend itself, with veiled references to Gaza, as well as Iran and its proxies, Syria and the Hezbollah terrorist organization.

“I am concluding a major, multi-corps IDF exercise in several areas.  I am very impressed by the improvement in readiness, by the fighting spirit of the soldiers and commanders, and mainly by the destructive power of the IDF.”

“I hear our neighbors from the north, south and east threatening our destruction.  I say to our enemies: The IDF has great destructive power. Don’t test us.”



In First, F-35s Take Part In Massive Drill Simulating War With Hezbollah, Gaza

The Israel Air Force is holding a large-scale multi-day exercise simulating combat action on multiple fronts, the army said Tuesday (18th), with the air force’s F-35s taking part for the first time.

The drill which began Sunday (16th) and ends Wednesday (19th), involves fighter jets, helicopters, cargo planes, drones, air defense units and ground support forces.  It simulates simultaneous fighting in the Gaza Strip, Syria and Lebanon.

Scenarios include involving an enemy armed with advanced technology, such as the Russian S-300 and S-400 missile defense systems; a homefront under massive missile attacks; and challenges such as damaged runways and disabled IAF communications centers.

The drill is primarily focused on the northern arena, with threats posed by the Hezbollah terror group in Lebanon and Iranian forces in Syria.

Forces were also being tested on their ability to carry out strategic bombings while minimizing harm to innocent people in the vicinity.

“We are training at very high intensity with a challenging, thinking enemy that possesses technology beyond what currently exists in the arena.” a senior air force official said.

The official said the new F-35s provide an added value of “lethality and multi-role capabilities that we did not have before.”

The IAF has acknowledged receiving from the US-based Lockheed Martin defense contractor, at least 14 F-35 fighter jets of the 50 that have been ordered.  The rest are scheduled to be delivered in installments of twos and threes by 2024.



UN Nuclear Watchdog IAEA Recognizes ‘State Of Palestine’

The International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN’s nuclear watchdog, took an additional step Tuesday (18th) in recognizing the Palestinian Authority (PA) as a state according to the PA news agency WAFA.

“Palestine and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) signed today a safeguards agreement at its Vienna headquarters,” said the news agency.

“The signing of this agreement follows the accession of the State of Palestine as a State party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons at the beginning of 2015,” WAFA added.

A permanent Palestinian “observer to the United Nations and the international organizations in Vienna, Salah Abdul Shafi, signed the agreement on behalf of the State of Palestine along with IAEA director-general, Yukiya Amano,” WAFA reported.

“Abdul Shafo said that the signing of this agreement is further proof that the State of Palestine shoulders its international responsibilities as an active member of the international community,” said the PA news agency



May Praises Jewish Community in Parting Letter

Outgoing British Prime Minister Theresa May praised the Jewish community for its “extremely important” contributions to society in a parting letter following her resignation last month, JTA reported Monday (17th).

“My support for the community will continue in the years to come,” she also wrote in a letter to the Board of Deputies of British Jews.

“It has been a privilege to attend so many significant communal events in recent years, from meeting communal leaders and celebrating Jewish festivals in Downing Street, to safeguarding the security of British Jews and ensuring a lasting commitment to Holocaust commemoration and education,” May added.

“We are determined to feel sure communities remain safe and that people in their places of worship feel secure,” she also wrote, adding the government had spent nearly $64 million to date protecting Jewish schools and places of worship.

May also lauded the Board of Deputies for “fostering good relations between British Jews and those of other faiths so as to improved understanding and friendship.’

The letter was written in response to one sent to May by British Jewry in the wake of her resignation as prime minister, as well as Conservative Party leader.

In that letter, Board of Deputies of British Jews President Marie van der Zyl wrote, “We sincerely thank Theresa May for being a true friend to the Jewish community during her time in office.”

Focusing on May’s record on issues close to the heart of British Jews specifically, van der Zyl recalled that her “government had adopted the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, marked the Balfour Centenary with pride, banned terror organization Hezbollah, increased security funding and opposed anti-Israel bias at the UN Human Rights Council,” among other policies.

British Jews, van der Zyl added, “will always appreciate her friendship and support.”

May is a strong supporter of Israel and the Jewish community and has repeatedly  denounced anti-Semitism. She also criticized British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn who has been involved in a series of controversies surrounding the anti-semitism in his party and his past voicing of support for Hamas and Hezbollah.



Report: Israel Upgrading Pipeline To Boost Gaza Strip Water Supply

Israel’s national water carrier Mekorot recently began upgrading its pipeline from Israel to Gaza to increase the flow of drinkable water to faucets in Gaza homes.

“Water is a basic thing.  There’s an entire population in Gaza that doesn’t want war with Israel,” an employee from the construction crew said.

“It’s a shame that’s the situation.  Most of the people in Gaza are thirsty for water, but also hungry for a normal life and a better future for their children.  Despite everything, they’re our neighbors and we can’t ignore what’s happening there,” he said.

The water situation in Gaza is dire, and a recent report published in March found that 97% of the water pumped from local aquifers is unfit for human consumption.

Further exacerbating the situation, Gaza’s desalination plants are already too small to accommodate the territory’s needs and are frequently disrupted by power cuts.

Israel and Hamas are reportedly engaged in informal talks with Egypt, Qatar and the UN among others to formulate a plan to rehabilitate the Strip’s water and sewage infrastructure.



Better Wound-Sealing With A Hot-Glue Gun

Hot-glue guns can be used for more than putting together cardboard furniture, home decorations and toys.  Researchers at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and Boston Children’s Hospital have developed a hot-glue gun to adhere torn human tissues together.

Most serious injuries are currently treated with staples and stitches that have many drawbacks.  They are painful, leave scars, require high skill from the doctor, and sometimes have to be removed after the tissues heal.

Medical glue, on the other hand, can produce improved medical and cosmetic results.  But the medical glues used today in dermatology and several other fields are very toxic and can be utilized only on the surface of the skin.  In addition, hardening of the glue may make the organ less flexible or the adhesion may not be sufficiently strong.

With these limitations in mind, researchers have long been trying to develop a nontoxic glue that is suitable for different tissues and flexible after hardening.  Such a glue would also need to decompose in the body after the tissue is fused together.

In an article published recently in the journal Advanced Functional Materials, Technion Biomaterials Laboratory head Prof. Boaz Mizrahi and doctoral student Alona Shagan introduce an invention that checks all those boxes.

The new approach is based on a biocompatible, low-melting-point, four- armed N-hydroxy – succinimide – modified polycaprolactone (star-PCL-NHS).  Star-PCL-NHS is inserted into a hot-melt glue gun and melts upon minimal pressure, the team wrote.

Unlike the glue guns you can buy in craft stores, this glue is delivered by a special medical glue gun that warms the glue to a moderate temperature – just above that of the body – so as not to cause a burn.

After the glue is squeezed directly onto a wound, it quickly hardens, bonding strongly with both edges of the wound.  The dried glue decomposes within a few weeks, so nothing has to be removed.

The researchers say their novel adhesive – formulated by altering its molecular weight to control adhesive strength, melting point and elasticity – is four times as strong as existing medical adhesives and also can be used for gluing together torn tissue inside the body.

The researchers believe the new concept will lead to the development of wound-management devices that will reduce the use of stitches, staples and pins, speed up the healing process and reduce scarring.

The research was funded by the US-Israel Binational Science Foundation.