News Digest — 6/21/21

Bennett To Hamas: Israel’s Patience Has Run Out

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett warned Hamas on Sunday (20th) that Israel’s patience “has run out,” and that it will not tolerate “any more violence” of any kind from the Gaza-based terror group, a month after the end of the latest round of fighting between the two sides.

“Residents of Gaza border communities are not second-class citizens, they deserve to live in peace and security,” the prime minister said referring to the rocket-battered towns, moshavim and kibbutzim close to the Hamas-run Strip that have borne the brunt of attacks from across the border.

“Our enemies must understand the rules, we will not tolerate violence, we will not tolerate sporadic fire and we will not tolerate renegades,” Bennett said at a state ceremony on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem to commemorate the fallen soldiers of the 2014 Gaza war.

Addressing the residents of the Palestinian enclave, Bennett said that Israel “does not have any intention to harm those who have not risen against us in violence, and those who are held captive by a ruthless and violent terror organization.”

Palestinians said that Thursday (17th) Israeli airstrikes targeted outposts belonging to the Hamas military wing in the northern and southern Gaza Strip after fire balloons  were launched into Israel causing a number of fires in Israeli agricultural lands.  The strikes were in response to three consecutive days of incendiary balloon launches into southern Israel.

Speaking at the same event, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who headed the IDF during the 2014 war, said that it was time for Israel to transform its military achievements in the May conflict into diplomatic gains to ensure that “what was, is no more.”

Israel reportedly signaled to Hamas that it was prepared to reignite last month’s 11-day conflict if it had to, after Gaza militants, egged on by the terrorist organization, kept encroaching on its sovereignty.

The exchanges of fire in the area are occurring as indirect negotiations between Israel and Hamas regarding a more thorough ceasefire settlement and potential prisoner-swap seem to be at a standstill.



Mystery Emergency Shutdown Hits Iran’s Main Nuclear Power Plant

Iran’s sole power plant has undergone an unexplained temporary emergency shutdown, state TV reported on Sunday (20th)

An official from the state electric company Tavanir, Gholamali Rakhshanimehr, said that the shutdown at the Bushehr plant, 746 miles south of Tehran, began on Saturday (19th) and would last “for three or four days.”

Without elaborating, he said that power outages could result.  This is the first time Iran has reported an emergency shutdown of the plant, which went online in 2011 with help from Russia.  Iran is required to send spent fuel rods from the reactor back to Russia as a nuclear proliferation measure.

Earlier on Sunday (20th), Tavanir released a statement saying that the nuclear plant was being repaired, without offering further details.  It said the repair work would take until Friday (25th).

In March, nuclear official Mahmoud Jafari said the plant could stop working since Iran cannot produce parts and equipment for it from Russia, due to banking sanctions imposed by the US in 2018.

Bushehr is fueled by uranium produced in Russia, not Iran, and is monitored by the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency.  The IAEA acknowledged being aware of reports about the plant, but declined to comment.

Construction on Bushehr, on the coast of the northern reaches of the Persian Gulf, began under Iran’s shah in the mid-1970s.  After the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the plant was repeatedly targeted in the Iran-Iraq war.  Russia later completed the construction of the facility.

The plant, which sits near active fault lines and was built to withstand powerful quakes, has been periodically shaken by tremors.  There have been no significant earthquakes reported in the area in recent days.



The Poisonous Fruit Of Appeasing Iran’s Mullahs – Khaled Abu Toameh

Iran is continuing to exploit the Palestinian issue to promote its expansionist schemes and meddle in the internal affairs of Arab countries including Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen and Bahrain.  During the recent war between Israel and Hamas, Iran went out of its way to make known that without Tehran’s financial and military support, Hamas in Gaza would not have been able to fire thousands of rockets at Israel.  

The Arabs clearly see that Iran has ambitions not only to acquire a nuclear bomb, but also to aggressively export its “Islamic Revolution” and terrorism.  Saudi author Mohammed Hassan Mufti said, “There is no dispute among experts and political analysts that Iran is a direct cause of the complete destruction of at least four Arab countries.”

One of the missions of the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force is to “liberate Jerusalem and Palestine,” a euphemism for the elimination of Israel.  Yet Syrian writer and journalist Faisal Al-Qassem noted that polls on Twitter have shown that more than 85% of voters do not trust the Iranian position on the Palestinian issue.

Qassem quoted one Arab commentator who preferred keeping Jerusalem under Israeli control over its liberation by Iran.  “Look at the capitals occupied by Iran: Baghdad has become, according to the United Nations, the dirtiest capital in the world, while Beirut has become the largest dumpster in the Middle East.  As for Damascus, it turned into a ruin, while Sana’a returned to the Middle Ages.”

The Arabs are telling the Americans and other Westerners that appeasing Iran by reviving the nuclear deal, lifting sanctions or giving it money will only assist its regime perpetrating more crimes and increasing instability and terrorism in the region.



Bipartisan Senate Bill Set To Establish US-Israel AI Research Center

A new Senate Bill seeks to establish a US-Israel Artificial Intelligence Research and Development Center “to further bilateral cooperation in AI and contribute to the advancement of this critical field.”

US Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), and Jacky Rosen (D-NV) introduced the bipartisan legislation.

The bill would fund the new center with $10 million a year for the next five years, with the US government paying “not more than 50% of the costs of implementing the agreements.”

“The purpose of the center shall be to leverage the experience, knowledge, and expertise of institutions of higher education and private sector entities in the United States and Israel to develop more robust research and development cooperation in the areas of machine learning; image classification; object detection; speech recognition; natural language processing,” and other fields,” the bill reads.

“The center will serve as a hub for robust research and development in AI across the public, private and education sectors in the two nations,” the senators wrote.

“America and the world will benefit immensely when we engage in joint cooperation and partnerships with Israel, a global technology leader, and our most important ally in the Middle East,” Senator Rubio said in a statement.  “I’m proud to lead this legislation to build on current, highly successful bilateral research ties between the US and Israel, as well as help both nations stay ahead of China’s ever-growing technology threat.”

Senator Blackburn said that “countering China’s increasing Artificial Intelligence advancement and destabilizing presence, is essential for global security.”

“The US-Israel Artificial Intelligence (AI) Research and Development Center reaffirms our relationship with our strongest ally in the Middle East and ensures our bilateral capacity to research, develop, and innovate AI technologies,” she added. 

Senator Rosen said that “the center is needed to maintain our technological edge and enhance our competitiveness.  The United States must act now to rapidly field AI systems.  As the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence rightly points out, leveraging allied innovation advantages is critical to winning the AI era.”

“To help us stay ahead of the curve, this bipartisan legislation would enable greater collaboration between the United States and Israel – a major hub for new and emerging AI technologies,” she continued.  “Together, we can develop AI technologies that enhance our national security and the US-Israel relationship.  I thank Senators Rubio, Cantwell, and Blackburn for their leadership on this legislation.”



Israeli Food Vendor Removed From Philadelphia Event Due To ‘Security Risk’

The Philadelphia-based non-profit “Eat Up The Borders” removed an Israeli vendor from participating in this year’s “The Taste Of Home” event after it was alerted to protests being planned against its presence.

“The Taste Of Home” event, which took place on Sunday (20th), Father’s Day, was organized to bring awareness to immigrant-owned businesses across the Philadelphia metropolitan area.

The Israeli vendor was cancelled right before the event was supposed to begin on Sunday morning (20th).

Additionally, the “Eat Up The Borders” Instagram account became quiet after comments flooded the page calling them out for anti-Semitic behavior, according to JTA  

The Israeli food vendor, Moshava Philly, alerted the public to its removal via Instagram.

“We have some unfortunate news to share with all of you,” read the post.  “We won’t be attending The Taste of Home event, this Sunday on Father’s day.”

“We are deeply saddened by this,” Moshava Philly added.  “The organizers of the event heard rumors of a protest happening because of us being there and decided to uninvite us for fear that protesters would get aggressive and threaten the event.”

The food vendor added that it was hoping “Eat Up The Borders” and its partnered non-profit “Sunflower Philly,” “would step up to the plate and defend local, small and immigrant-based businesses, no matter where they are from.”

“We really do hope that in the future organizers don’t succumb to such anti-Semitic and dividing rhetoric and keep true to their words of a safe environment for all religions and nationalities – not just all of them except Israeli and Jewish ones.”