News Digest — 6/27/19

Russia Reportedly Interfered With Air Navigation In Israel

Senior Israeli officials believe that Russia has been disrupting civilian aircraft navigation systems for the past three weeks, according to reports released Thursday morning (17th).  Army Radio called the move a “hostile attack.”

The Israeli Airports Authority announced on Wednesday (26th) that pilots were having difficulty landing, experiencing mysterious disruptions.  To resolve the issue, Israel has sent a defense official to Russia to discuss the interference, Army Radio reported.

Russia has denied the report.

Despite the disruption, the airport authority was able to ensure safe landings for its incoming planes.

“As a result, changes were made in some of the entry procedures for landing to ensure safety – these are procedures used daily in airports around the world,” the authority said in a statement.  “From the day the disturbance appeared, all of the elements in Israel have been working to solve the problem and find its source.” 

The military explained that the incident was purely civilian and did not affect any of its activities.  However, the army has been assisting with the disturbance “to allow freedom of action” in Israeli airspace.

The report on Israeli aircraft interference comes only days after Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev was in Jerusalem for a historic trilateral meeting with U.S. and Israeli national security advisers John Bolton and Meir Ben-Shabbat. 



Bahrain FM To Times Of Israel, ‘Israel Is Here To Stay, And We Want Peace With It’

MANAMA, Bahrain – Bahrain see the U.S.-led economic workshop taking place in Manama this week as a possible “gamechanger” tantamount in its scope to the 1978 Camp David peace agreement between Israel and Egypt, the Gulf state’s foreign minister said Wednesday (26th), also firmly backing Israel’s right to exist.

“We see it as very, very important,” Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa told the Times of Israel on the sidelines of the “Peace to Prosperity” workshop.

Khalifa also stressed that his country recognizes Israel’s right to exist, knows that it is “there to stay,” and wants peace with it.

He said the U.S.-organized conference, which is focused on the economic aspects of the Trump administration’s Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, could be the Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s visit to Jerusalem in 1977, which helped pave the way to the Camp David Accords and the normalizing of relations between Egypt and Israel.

“As much as Camp David was a major gamechanger, after the visit of President Sadat – if this succeeds, and we build on it, and it attracts attention and momentum, this would be the second gamechanger,” Khalifa said.

In an interview in his suite at Manama’s posh Four Seasons Hotel, Khalifa did not commit to normalizing diplomatic ties with Israel in the near future, but unequivocally affirmed Israel’s right to exist as a state with secure borders.

“Israel is a country in the region…and it’s there to stay, of course,” he said.

While Bahrain is the only Arab state, besides Egypt and Jordan, to publicly acknowledge Israel’s right to exist, “we know our brothers in the region do believe in it as well,” he said. 



COGAT Tells Palestinians Terrorism Is What Cuts Their Electricity Short

The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) Maj.-Gen. Kamil Abu Rokon shared a video telling the Palestinians in Gaza that terrorism prevents them from having increased electricity hours.

“Between 85 and 75 tankers of fuel enter the Gaza Strip each week, which helps significantly increase electricity hours.  Terrorism prevents you from having that,” the video explained.

The video was released after COGAT announced on Tuesday (25th) that it will stop the transfer of fuel into Gaza following the 13 fires that broke out in Gaza and border communities throughout the day Monday (24th).

The statement released by COGAT also claimed that no more fuel will be delivered till further notice.

Meanwhile, incendiary balloons launched from the Gaza Strip started 19 fires in southern Israel on Wednesday (26th), according to authorities.

Tensions with Gaza have been steadily rising in recent days amid a spike in balloon attacks which have exploded both on the ground and in the air.  One such balloon caused a fire this week in a Kindergarten playground, just minutes after school closed. 



Former U.S. Envoy To The United Nations Nikki Haley Prays At The Western Wall

Former U.S. ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley prayed at the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City on Wednesday (26th) after arriving in Israel for a conference.

Haley, who stepped down in December, won plaudits in Israel and among the pro-Israel community in the U.S. while in office for her staunch backing of the Jewish state at the United Nations.

While praying at the holy site, Haley placed a note in the Western Wall, which she also visited during a trip to Israel two years ago as the American envoy to the UN.  Haley is in Israel to take part in the “Israel Hayom Forum for U.S.-Israel Relations.”  

Among the major American initiatives at the UN during her tenure were the decisions to pull out of the Human Rights Council, end funding for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees and defend U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.



Iranians Say Economic Problems Are Self-Inflicted – Nasser Karimi and Mohammad Nasiri

Many Iranians blame their own government for the economic pressure they face.  Inflation is over 37%, while 12% of working-age citizens are unemployed. A simple cell phone costs two months’ salary for the average government worker.  Hossein Rostami, 33, a taxi driver, told AP: “The cause of our problems is the officials’ incompetence.  Our country is full of wealth and riches.”

“Our problem is the embezzlers and thieves in the government,” said Nasrollah Pazouki, who sells clothes in Tehran’s Grand Bazaar.  “When people come to power, instead of working sincerely and seriously for the people, we hear and read after a few months in newspapers that they have stolen billions and fled.”  Jafar Mousavi, who runs a dry-goods store in Tehran, said many of the woes are self-inflicted from rampant graft. “The economic war is not from outside of our borders but within the country.”



Israel Shows Off Hi-Tech Solutions At Agritech Conference

Israel has been showing off the cutting-edge technology that local companies offer in the agriculture and food fields to hundreds of representatives from over 40 countries during a four-day conference that will wrap up Thursday (27th),

At Agrisrael 4.0., which describes itself as the “fourth agricultural revolution,” over 100 Israeli companies, including two dozen start-ups, are showing off their wares.

State and corporate agents are being treated to live demonstrations of how sensors, drones, artificial intelligence and satellites can increase yields and protect crops, orchards and beehives.

In a Western world where farm workers grow more scarce, representatives are seeing how drones can pick apples and robots can collect tomatoes.  The conference includes data and satellite-imagery to analyze the best time to irrigate fields and how much water to use. Those attending are also learning about Colony Collapse Disorder – still a global threat to bees which pollinate 70% of the crops that feed the world – and shows how Israeli sensors can save hives.

“Israel’s agriculture industry has been a world leader in terms of development and innovation as a whole,” Israel Export and International Cooperation Institute Director-General Lior Konitzki told The Jerusalem Post.  “Nowadays, when we see the real integration of technology into agriculture, Israel will be leading the scene as a real global player.  Israel technology is relevant all over the world whether it is tackling water scarcity in California or precision farming in Holland.”

Israeli companies are also finding solutions to help the food chain.  They are showing technology that can monitor and supervise inventories of perishables and non-perishables to representatives of conglomerates that sell food throughout the world.

The conference is a joint venture of the country’s Foreign, Agriculture, and Economy and Industry Ministries and the Israel Export and International Cooperation Institute.

Currently, Israel agritech exports are valued at some $9 billion, with 93% going to Europe, the U.S., South America and Australia.