News Digest — 7/28/21

Israel, US To Work Together On New Laser Weapon System

Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and the American Lockheed Martin companies will collaborate in the development of a ground-based laser weapon system.

The two companies announced on Tuesday (27th) their signing of a “principles of cooperation” agreement to build the system for Israel.  The two businesses will also explore marketing the system in the US.

Unlike defense systems that use missiles to shoot down other missiles, lasers are capable of unlimited firings, cost less per intercept, require less manpower and operational resources, and leave no debris.

But Rafael and Lockheed Martin will have challenges to overcome: lasers can only strike targets in their line of sight, and atmospheric conditions can impact their effectiveness.

Also, keeping a laser fixed on a moving target long enough to destroy it is no simple matter.  And militaries are exploring technologies to counter the effects of lasers.

However, Israel’s Defense Ministry and Elbit Systems scored a major breakthrough in June by successfully testing an airborne high powered laser system.

“Israel’s defense challenges underscored the vital importance of increasing Israel’s capability to address rocket attacks,” said Tim Cahill, Lockheed Martin’s senior vice president of global business development, in a statement.

“We are honored to work with the Israeli government and industry to address this critical security,” Cahill added.  “Rafael is a world-class defense company, and we look forward to expanding our existing collaboration by leveraging our respective capabilities in high-energy laser systems to address this growing threat.”

Ariel Karo, Rafael’s executive vice-president of marketing and business development, said that the laser system’s capabilities “will widen our multi-layered air defense umbrella based on our wide mutual expertise and deep operational experience that is based on multi-disciplinary technologies and best-of-breed systems.”

The first tier of Israel’s missile defense, the better-known Iron Dome, protects Israel from short-range threats such as rockets fired by Gaza terror groups.

The second tier, David’s Sling, is designed to intercept medium range threats, such as Hezbollah’s medium and long-range rockets, as well as cruise missiles and enemy aircraft.

The third tier, Arrow, was developed to intercept ballistic missiles flying in space.

The agreement comes amidst the backdrop of the IDF’s Momentum Plan, a multi-year program to create what some call a “sharper, more lethal” IDF.

The plan. unveiled in 2019 by Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, will digitally network the fighting units and see major investment in drones, precision-guided munitions, air defense systems and artificial intelligence.



Swastika Carved Into US State Department Elevator

WASHINGTON – A swastika was found on Monday (26th) inside an elevator at the State Department building, near the office of the special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism, Axios first reported on Tuesday (27th).  The website also obtained a photo of the swastika, etched into the wall of elevator 36.  It has since been removed.

State Department spokeswoman Jalina Porter told reporters that the swastika was discovered late on Monday (26th).

“This hateful graffiti has been removed and this incident will be investigated.  As Secretary Antony Blinken has shared, with a message to all of our employees, ‘this is completely abhorrent.  It’s a painful reminder that anti-Semitism isn’t a relic of the past, it’s still a force that we’re dealing with in the world and unfortunately we’re dealing with it close to home,’” Porter said.

“Anti-Semitism has no place in the United States and certainly has no place in the State Department,” she said.

The department is working on the nomination of a special envoy to combat anti-Semitism, Porter said, adding that it hopes to have a person in place soon.

Israel’s Ambassador to the US and UN Gilad Erdan said in a statement on Tuesday (27th) that “the swastika etched in the State Department is a serious incident of anti-Semitic vandalism, which once again shows that anti-Semitism does not distinguish between Jews in Israel and Jews in America, and harms not only Israel but the entire world.”

“We must fight together resolutely against anti-Semitism of any kind and bring to justice anyone who acts out of hatred for the Jewish people,” Erdan added.



Report: Government Not Evicting Arab Squatters From Jerusalem Neighborhood

The Israeli government does not intend to evict Arab squatters from Jewish-owned land in Sheikh Jarrah because of how politically sensitive the issue has become, The Jerusalem Post reported Tuesday (27th).

The High Court of Justice is due to hear an appeal on Monday (8/2) filed by four Palestinian families living on the disputed eastern Jerusalem property.  Lower courts have already ruled that the property belongs to the Nahalat Shimon Company, but the Netanyahu government balked at enforcing the ruling.

A source close to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett told the Post ahead of the hearing that even if the High Court allows the state to evict the Palestinians, the government won’t do so, preferring to lower tensions.  The source explained that the government doesn’t expect the High Court justices to impose a deadline for the eviction.

The legal battle over the Sheikh Jarrah property goes back decades.  Jewish ownership dates back to the Ottoman period.  The four Palestinian families moved to Sheikh Jarrah during the 1948 War of Independence when eastern Jerusalem was controlled by Jordan.

The Post’s source added that the government doesn’t compare Sheikh Jarrah to the illegally built Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar.  That village, located east of Maale Adumim, was built on state-owned land in Area C of Judea and Samaria, where Israel has security and administrative control.

Unlike Khan al-Ahmar, the government is not a party to the legal conflict over Sheikh Jarrah.

Court rulings have cleared the way for the state to evacuate and demolish Khan al-Ahmar, but former government officials confirmed that this never happened for political reasons, and the new government has asked for a delay to study the issue more closely before formulating a position.



Report: Jordanian Intelligence Foils ISIS Attack Against IDF Troops

Jordanian intelligence agents have thwarted a potential Islamic State attack on Israeli troops on the border the two countries share, Jordanian Daily Al Ra’i reported on Tuesday (27th).

According to the report, Jordanian intelligence agents uncovered the plot in February, and after a lengthy investigation, arrested four ISIS operatives implicated in the plan.

The four are suspected of planning to ambush Jordanian Border Police forces near the border, seize their vehicles and weapons, and use them to ambush IDF soldiers operating along the Israeli side of the border.

The report noted that the four, all residents of Kerak, some 87 miles south of Amman, were radicalized after being exposed to ISIS propaganda on social media.

They were also planning to attack what the newspaper described as “Jewish targets” in Jordan.

The four were indicted for and convicted of membership in a terrorist group and planning acts of terrorism.  The report did not note what kind of sentence they may face.

In 1994, Jordan became the second Arab country to sign a peace deal with Israel, following Egypt in 1979.  Jerusalem and Amman consider each other strategic partners in the effort to maintain regional stability and maintain close security ties as part of the war on terror.

Israel’s border with Jordan is the longest among the Jewish state’s frontiers, stretching across some 192 miles.  The border has three crossings: the Yitzhak Rabin Terminal/Wadi Araba crossing, the King Hussein bridge Crossing, and the Jordan River/Sheikh Hussein Crossing.



The Main Issue Is Not The Boycott Of Israel But The Thinking Behind It – Melanie Phillips

The fury and disgust among Israel-supporters at Ben & Jerry’s announcement is more than justified.  But suppose the boycott and lawsuits directed at Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever force the company to resume ice-cream sales in the disputed territories.  What then?

Throughout the West, innumerable companies, universities, government bodies, professional organizations, the arts and other cultural institutions are stuffed with people who believe that Israel has no right to exist at all.  They’ve swallowed the falsehoods and distortions about Israel that now drive not just the boycott movement but much Western opinion.

They believe that the Palestinians were the indigenous people of the land of Israel who were displaced by the Jews; that there is such a thing in international law as Palestinian land; that Israel is in illegal occupation of some or all of that land; and that it is only Israel that stands in the way of the obvious “two-state” solution to the Middle East conflict.  All these claims are falsehoods and distortions.

The Jewish world, including the State of Israel, should be constantly hammering home the fact that the indigenous people of the land of Israel are the Jews; that the notion of Palestinian rights to any of that land is a legal and historical fiction; and that Israel liberated the disputed territories from the truly illegal occupation of those lands by Jordan between 1948 and 1967.  Moreover, the Palestinians reveal by their words, actions and insignia that their aim remains the obliteration of Israel; the “two-state” solution is a convenient untruth; and it is only Israel that stands for peace, justice and the rule of law.

The writer is a columnist for The Times-UK



Tokyo Olympics: Iranian Refugee Thanks Israel After Winning Silver

Iranian born judoka, Saeid Mollaei has won a silver medal in the Tokyo 2020 judo tournament as a representative for the Mongolian team.

Mollaei was granted refugee status by Germany in 2019 after fleeing Iran for refusing to forfeit his match against Israeli judoka Sagi Muki.

Noting his close friendship with Muki, Israeli Channel Sports 5 quoted him as thanking Israel: “Thank you to Israel for all the good energy – this medal is dedicated to you as well and I hope Israelis are happy with this victory, toda [thank you].”

Mollaei received citizenship in Mongolia a short time ago, and was chosen to compete under their flag in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic games.