News Digest — 6/4/19

First Lady Of Israel, Nechama Rivlin, Wife Of Israel’s President, Dies At 73

Nechama Rivlin, wife of President Reuven Rivlin, and first lady of Israel, died on Tuesday (4th) at the age of 73, a day before her birthday.  She suffered from lung disease in recent years, and passed away at Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva, near Tel Aviv.

President Rivlin thanked the hospital for its “dedicated, sensitive and professional treatment.”

“Unfortunately, all the doctors’ efforts to stabilize her during the complex rehabilitation process that followed her lung transplant failed,” hospital officials said

Mrs. Rivlin underwent the transplant in March, which was only partially successful in that cardiac complications left her with shortness of breath.

Mrs. Rivlin was born in 1945 in Moshav Herut.  She earned a bachelor’s degree in biotechnology and zoology from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem before meeting her husband, Reuven Rivlin, who later became president.



New Mosque Built On Temple Mount Despite Netanyahu’s Order To Close It

Although Prime Minister Netanyahu announced that he had instructed the authorities to prevent the opening of a new mosque at the Temple Mount’s Mercy Gate, the Moslem Religious Trust (Wakf) has continued construction-work at a feverish pace, causing irreparable damage to the ancient structure.

“Israel has not given its consent to the opening of the new mosque on the Temple Mount,” Netanyahu said at the end of February.

A statement released by the Prime Minister’s Office at the time declared that Netanyahu had given instructions “to enforce a court order without compromise and to ensure that the site remains closed,” but in practice it appears that the work that is turning the site into a mosque has passed the point of no return.

Regavim, an Israeli NGO which deals with illegal Arab building and land issues, petitioned Israel’s High Court of Justice this week on the eve of Jerusalem Day, renewing an earlier call to prevent the opening of the mosque.

Regavim submitted its first petition in March, but Justice Minister Meni Mazuz allowed the government and the Wakf 90 days to respond – a period of time that gave the Wakf “all the time it needed to complete its plan and transform the site into a Muslim-only compound,” Regavim said.

Meanwhile, the Wakf continues the illegal construction work on the Mercy Gate structure, installing ceiling fans, lighting, furniture, and room dividers – permanent changes that have harmed the ancient structure, all without any oversight of the Israel Antiquities Authority, as required by law.

“In 1967, when Israel recaptured the Temple Mount there was only one mosque – Al Aqsa.  Now there are five,” said Naomi Kahn.

“Every single Israeli authority, the police, the courts, the government, have shirked their responsibility.  It’s illegal to carry out work at ancient sites without proper oversight. In those 90 days that Justice Mazuz gave the Wakf, the Muslims did everything and Israel did nothing,” Kahn added.



Iranian Transport Plane Had Landed At Syrian Base Day Before Israeli Airstrike

Israel’s alleged bombing of the Syrian T-4 airbase on Sunday night (2nd) was a “pre-planned” attack that was meant to send a message to Iran, various Middle East experts said on Monday (3rd).  It took place a day after an Iranian transport plane had arrived at the base, according to media reports.

Jerusalem has not confirmed that it was behind the airstrike, though it did confirm other attacks that took place on Sunday (2nd).

If Israel did carry out the attack, it was not because Syrians last week shot an anti-aircraft missile at an Israeli jet, or that they then fired two rockets at Mt. Hermon.  The reason, Syria observer Prof. Eyal Zisser, vice rector of Tel Aviv University told news media, “lies not in Damascus but Tehran.”

Zisser said that Syrian strongman Bashar Assad is still busy with the civil war in his country and “is really not dealing with fighting Israel.  It doesn’t interest him and it isn’t the center of his attention. Those who are able to launch such fire at us are Hezbollah or Iran, as part of their struggle with us – in which there is indeed a potential for a conflagration. The Iranians are more brazen, and are trying to hurt us.”

Zisser said that the bombing of the T-4 base could not just have been a spur-of-the-moment retaliatory strike.

“The attack on the T-4 base in the depths of Syria is one that necessitates a lot of preparation and pre-planning,” he said.  “If it’s an Israeli attack, it’s likely a systematic and planned strike against the Iranians who continue to try to establish themselves in Syria despite our active opposition to them.”

The T-4 base is well-known to Israel as a place where Iran has stored weapons meant for the Jewish state, and Jerusalem hit the base more than once last year as a result.

According to General Amos Yadlin, this attack was also connected to an Iranian armaments build-up there, as an Iranian 747 had unloaded cargo at the site three times in the last week.



IDF Troops To Get Special Devices To Identify Terrorists On Time

Terrorist attacks by lone-wolf  perpetrators in Judea and Samaria have become an ongoing problem for security forces.

Recently the Israel Defense Forces launched a new initiative aimed at streamlining the flow of intelligence and improving the readiness of forces for such situations by harnessing new technology.

The goal is to let troops get the most up-to-date and pinpointed information on ongoing terrorist plots and perpetrators before they can execute their attacks.

The measure comes amid a review of the past year’s terrorist incidents which showed that only 12 of the 19 major terrorist attacks in the area ended with terrorists being neutralized at the scene.

A special watch-like device that will be distributed among fighters over the coming weeks will let them know what is going on around them.  The device will alert fighters in real time on suspicious movements nearby, allowing them to properly assess their surroundings and confront the would-be attackers before it is too late.

Additional technological improvements have also been introduced, including security cameras that use special algorithms to analyze movement of individuals and new radars to detect various signals.

Officers say that even if the new systems only give the soldiers a few extra seconds to assess the situation, they may save lives.



Last Living Survivor Of Sobibor Uprising Dies At 96

Semion Rosenfeld, the last living survivor of the 1943 Sobibor Uprising, has died at the age of 96.

Rosenfeld, who was living in a retirement home, died in the early hours of Monday morning (3rd), Maariv news reported.

Born in 1922 in the small Ukrainian town of Ternovka, he joined the Red Army in 1940 to fight the Nazis, but was later captured and taken as a prisoner of war in 1941.  He was sent to a concentration camp in Minsk, and from there, in 1943 he was sent to Sobibor, located in Poland.

Sobibor was a Nazi extermination camp built and operated by the SS during World War II.

In his memoir “The Revolt in Sobibor,” Alexander Peczorski an organizer and commander of the Sobibor Uprising, described the harrowing details of their escape:  “Eleven SS guards were killed during the uprising, as well as several Ukrainian guards. The group cut any form of communication, including the telephone wires and stormed the wire fences and main entrance to the camp, attacking SS guards with axes and knives.  Some 300 people managed to escape the camp but they were either killed while crossing the mine fields that surrounded the camp, or killed by Nazis during pursuit. Only 47 people managed to survive the uprising in the end.”

Rosenfeld survived in the forest with a small group of escapees.  In 1944, following the liberation of Chelm by the Red Army, he rejoined and fought the Nazis as a member of the 39th Guards Motorized Rifle Division, which helped take Berlin.

He moved to Israel in 1990 from the Ukraine.

Following Rosenfeld’s death, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu posted a short statement on Facebook eulogizing him:

“Semion Rosenfled, a Holocaust survivor and the last survivor of Sobibor, has passed away.  He was born in 1922 in Ukraine. He joined the Red Army, was captured by the Nazis but managed to escape from the death camp and continued to fight the Nazis.”

“May his memory be a blessing,” the Prime Minister added.



Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Signs Law Against Anti-Semitism

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis officially signed into law, legislation against anti-Semitism two days after a ceremonial signing in Jerusalem.

DeSantis had held the ceremonial signing during a Florida cabinet meeting at the US Embassy on Wednesday (5/29), and officially signed the bill at home on Friday (5/31) in Tallahassee.

Using the State Department definition as its template, the legislation defines as anti-Semitism: calls for violence against Jews, advancing conspiracy theories about Jewish control, and Holocaust denial.  It also includes “applying double standards” to Israel “by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.”

The measure also mandates that discrimination against Jewish people be treated the same as acts of racial discrimination in Florida’s public education institutions.

“I’m proud to sign this bill to make clear through a bipartisan effort that anti-Semitism has no place in our state, and our educational institutions will not tolerate discrimination against the Jewish people,” DeSantis said at Friday’s signing.

He called Florida “the most Israel-friendly state in the country.”