News Digest — 6/28/22

Health Of Israeli Captive In Gaza Deteriorating, Hamas Claims

The Hamas terror organization announced Monday (27th) that the medical condition of one of the Israeli captives has deteriorated.

The terror group has been holding Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed captive since 2014 and 2015 respectively and has refused to allow the Red Cross to visit them.

In the announcement, it did not indicate to which of the two it was referring.

It has also refused to return the bodies of IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, who were killed during Operation Protective Edge in 2014.

Following the announcement, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett stated:

“Hamas has proven yet again that it is a cynical and criminal terrorist organization, which holds mentally ill civilians in violation of all international conventions and laws, as well as the bodies of fallen IDF soldiers.”

“Hamas is responsible for the state of the captured civilians.”

“The state of Israel will continue its efforts mediated by Egypt, to bring home the captives and the missing, with responsibility and determination.”

According to an Israeli security source, the announcement at this time, could be an act of psychological warfare.



Finally, SLA Vets Get Housing Grants From Israel

Twenty-two years after they fled their country to save themselves from Hezbollah’s wrath, hundreds of South Lebanese Army (SLA) soldiers will get Israeli state aid they had never received before.

“Done,” tweeted Prime Minister Naftali Bennett Sunday (26th).  “Today we have fixed it for the SLA fighters.  They fought at our side for 18 years….When we retreated from Lebanon in 2000, many SLA soldiers had to leave their homes in Lebanon and fled to Israel within a few hours….They came homeless, without a job – with nothing.”  

“Unfortunately, many of them were abandoned.  Today, the government approved a housing grant of $146,203 for every vet.”

“As one who fought in the security zone alongside our SLA brothers, I’m proud to stand at the head of the government that closes this circle and pays back our brothers-in-arms.”

According to a 2002 report that Maj. Gen. Meir Dagan gave to prime minister Ariel Sharon before being appointed head of the Mossad, SLA officers ranking from company commander and up who managed to get to Israel in the final days before the withdrawal were taken care of by the Shabak intelligence agency.  The agency also assisted personnel from the SLA security services.

But this only accounted for approximately half of the 2,900 troops who fled.

The lower ranks and ordinary soldiers and their families, who were just as much in danger of reprisals if they had stayed in Lebanon, received no help. – a state of affairs that was decried even then.  Many have struggled since then to make a living.

The IDF said it has been in contact with all the former soldiers who are still in the country, and have told some 400 of them that they are eligible for the grant.  The money will be made available through 2026 to either the men themselves or their widows, if they are living in Israel.

Chief of Staff Lt. Gen Aviv Kochavi praised the move, which he said had been in the works for some four years.

“I’m happy that our efforts are bearing fruit today,” he said.  “The process is not yet complete but we see this step as a significant and valuable achievement.”

“It is our moral duty to provide them with a dignified and respectful life,” he said of the now middle-aged men who “fought by our side for many years and risked their lives.”

June 6 marked the 40th anniversary of the First Lebanon War, called then, Operation Peace for Galilee, as the IDF invaded Israel’s northern neighbor to stop the constant rocket attacks launched by the terrorist Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) that controlled Lebanon’s south.

After the PLO was kicked out by international agreement, Israel established a security belt in Lebanon in 1985 ranging from 3 to 12 miles deep, patrolled both by the IDF and its Christian Arab allies.

The casualty count rose over the years of clashes with Islamic militias in the zone, including the newly established Hezbollah, although far more died among the SLA forces than the IDF.

Finally, then-prime minister Ehud Barak bowed to public pressure to retreat completely to the international border in 2000.



Death Toll Rises in Toxic Jordan Port Blast to 13, 250 injured As Israel Offers Help

State-run Jordan TV said on Monday (27th), the death toll in an explosion of toxic gas has risen to 13 killed.  Al Mamlaka TV, another official outlet, said 199 were still being treated in hospitals.  The Public Security Directorate said a total of 250 people were injured.

The deputy chief of the Aqaba Region Ports Authority, Haj Hassan, told Al Mamlaka that an “iron rope carrying a container with a toxic substance broke, resulting in the fall and escape of the poisonous substance.”

The channel also cited the former head of the company that operates the port, Mohammed al-Mubaidin, as saying that a vessel had been waiting to load almost 20 containers of liquified gas “containing a very high percentage of chlorine.”

He nonetheless added that the gas is heavy and “it isn’t easy for the gas clouds to move…as they concentrate in one area and are affected by wind movement.

Israel’s Eilat emergency services said in a statement that there was no impact on the city, but that the situation was being watched closely.

“Israel has offered to help Jordan in dealing with Monday’s (27th) toxic blast at the Red Sea port of Aqaba, with many killed and injured,” Defense Minister Benny Gantz said.

“As we told our friends in Jordan, the Israeli defense establishment is ready to assist with any effort, by any means necessary,” he said in a statement.

He offered condolences for the dead and well wishes for the wounded.

Footage on state TV showed a large cylinder plunging from a crane on a moored vessel causing a violent release of yellow gas.

The force of the blast sent a truck rolling down the harborside, while port workers could be seen running for their lives.

The injured were transported to two state hospitals, one private hospital and a field hospital

Aqaba health director Jamal Obeidat said that hospitals in the area, just across the Gulf of Aqaba from Eilat, are full and “cannot receive any more cases.”

The injured are in medium to critical condition,” he added.

Jordan’s civil defense spokesman Amer al-Sartawy said that “specialists and the hazardous substance team in the civil defense are dealing with the incident.”



Israel Launches ‘One Million Plan’ To Reduce Private Car Travel By 5% In A Year

Israel’s Cabinet approved on Sunday (26th) in its last meeting in its current format Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Transport Minister Merav Michaeli’s “One Million Plan” to reduce within one year private car use by 5%, or one million trips per day.

Bennett urged his ministers during the meeting that “in the days and hours that are left, you need to clear your desks in order to expedite carrying out what may be done before the dissolution of the Knesset.”

Bennett stated that the plan is “a significant message to the Israeli public.  The goal of the program is to encourage the use of public transportation to alleviate traffic congestion in the short-and medium-term.”

Michaeli noted that Israelis “feel the congestion on our roads, and today more than ever we understand that the solution goes farther than public transport and using trains and buses, walking and cycling.”

The program aims to reduce the use of private vehicles and encourages the use of public transport to reduce congestion on the roads and includes “dozens of measures to correct the distortions” that incentivize the use of private vehicles, along with strengthening the various modes of public transport and accelerating projects to reduce journeys by private vehicle.

The main points of the program include improving the public transportation system by establishing 75 miles of public transport routes throughout the country, improving the conditions of public transport drivers in order to bring more workers to the sector which is suffering from a lack of manpower, and the extension of public transport provisions.

The program also includes a campaign promoting shared travel and expanding the possibilities for working remotely in the public sector.

Working with Israeli developers to accelerate trials of transportation technologies such as smart traffic lights, traffic management centers, vehicle counting, and drone projects is also on the list.

Israel is one of the countries with the highest road congestion in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).



Britain Must Move Its Embassy To Jerusalem And Move Its Consulate For The Palestinians To Ramallah – Alastair Kirk

To mark the Queen’s 70th year on the throne, earlier this month, the United Kingdom hosted parties around the world.  However, in Jerusalem, Israel’s capital, the UK hosted its Jubilee party for Palestinians, and no Israelis were invited.  The reason is because Britain refuses to acknowledge Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.  Meanwhile the British consulate to the Palestinians is not in Ramallah, the main Palestinian city; instead it is in Jerusalem.

Britain claims that the status of Jerusalem “should be determined in a negotiated settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians.”  On the other hand, Britain adds that “the final determination of Jerusalem must ensure that the holy city is a shared capital of Israel and a Palestinian state,” effectively ignoring its own advice by pre-determining the outcome of negotiations.

The Palestinians have refused to acknowledge the Jewish connection to Jerusalem.  Yet it is unfathomable for the Jewish connection to Jerusalem to even be called into question.  Moreover, if Jerusalem “must” be shared in the UK’s opinion, then why does Britain not just recognize West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital?

The writer is the development manager for Christians United For IsraelUK.



Israeli Sugar-Replacement Startup Wins Global Award

Israeli company Amai Proteins, which uses a sweet protein to replace up to 70 percent of the added sugar used in the food industry, was named overall winner in one of the world’s largest startup competitions, held on June 14.

Amai (Japanese for “sweet”) is a white powder protein that is 10,000 times sweeter than sugar, with zero glycemic index.  The award-winning startup in Rehovot has collaborations with food industry giants, including cranberry juice maker Ocean Spray.

Amai was named the global winner out of more than 2,000 hopefuls at the Extreme Tech Challenge (XTC) awards ceremony in Berkley, California, after its CEO and founder Ilan Samish gave his pitch to the panel of judges.

XTC is the world’s largest competition for purpose-driven technology inspired by the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals – it connects innovators with a network of investor corporations, and mentors to help them raise capital, launch corporate collaborations, and scale their world-changing startups.

XTC entrants are judged on their credentials and experience, level of innovation, readiness of their product for market and its potential impact on the health of people and the planet.

Amai was judged best in the agtech and food sector and went on to be named the overall global winner among entrants in all categories, including biotech, cleantech, digital health, education and fintech.

“The number one non-communicable disease, accounting for most hospitalizations, is obesity and related metabolic and cardiovascular diseases.  And that stems mainly from sugar overconsumption,” said Samish, who founded the company after two decades in academia and protein research.