News Digest — 7/30/21

Report: Israeli Ship Attacked In Gulf Of Oman

An Israeli ship was attacked in the Gulf of Oman on Friday morning (30th), the Associated Press reported, citing the British Defense Ministry.

The BDM did not provide further details, other than that the incident occurred Thursday night (29th) near the Omani island of Masirah, 186 miles from the capital Muscat, and was being investigated.  Oman, Israeli military sources and the US Fifth Fleet, which patrols the area, have yet to comment on the situation, AP reported.

The incident comes amid heightened regional tensions, particularly regarding Iran, which is currently in the midst of frozen nuclear deal negotiations with the West.

However, it is not the first time such an incident has occurred in the region.

In April 2021, an Israeli-owned ship called the Hyperion was attacked near the shores of the Fujairah emirate in the United Arab Emirates after Iran vowed vengeance for the attack on the Natanz nuclear facility, which it blames on Israel. 

A week before that, an Iranian vessel was attacked in the Red Sea, near Djibouti, with the media reporting that Israel confirmed to the US that it was responsible for it.



Over 170 New Immigrants Land In Ben Gurion Airport This Week Amidst Spike In  Aliyah

A total of 172 olim (new immigrants) landed this week on four Nefesh B’nefesh Group Aliyah Flights, in cooperation with the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration, The Jewish Agency for Israel,  and JNF-USA.

The flights arrived during a record-breaking summer of aliyah (immigration to Israel), with an expected arrival of 2,000 olim.  This incredible spike follows the increase in olim who applied for aliyah during 2020.  Over 14,000 aliyah applications were opened last year, the highest recorded number of aliyah applications the organization has experienced since its founding nearly twenty years ago.

As of June 2021, over 1,100 people have made aliyah – with 2,000 additional olim expected over the rest of the summer.  Nefesh B’Nefesh is anticipating surpassing the total number of olim who arrived in all of 2020 by September of this year.  In addition, over 4,300 aliyah applications have been submitted in 2021, already exceeding the total number of applications submitted in 2019 (the year prior to the COVID-19 pandemic).

“With the many changes people have faced over the past year and a half, causing them to rethink their approach to family, community and employment, aliyah has become more attainable than ever before,” said Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Nefesh B’Nefesh.

“We are seeing how these shifts, while fundamentally difficult, are enabling more and more people to consider aliyah today.  It is amazing to see how the increase in applications have had tangible results, showing that people are making the necessary decisions and putting aliyah at the forefront.”

The olim on this week’s group flights were 172 individuals, the oldest of whom was 87 years old and the youngest a 6-month-old girl.  They hailed from New York, New Jersey, California, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Ontario and will be moving to Jerusalem, Beit Shemesh, Modi’in, Kiryat Gat, Ra’anana, and Netanya.  Among the olim who arrived this week were 12 medical professionals including four physicians, a number of lawyers, accountants, engineers, and educators, all eager to join and contribute to the Israeli workforce.



Azerbaijan Opens Trade Office In Tel Aviv 30 Years After Forming Ties

Thirty years after establishing diplomatic relations with Israel, Azerbaijan inaugurated its Trade and Tourism office in Tel Aviv on Thursday (29th), a preliminary step to the opening of the Azeri Embassy, the Tourism Ministry said.

Trade between the two countries was about $200 million in 2020, excluding oil supplies.  Israeli companies are represented in Azerbaijan in a variety of fields, from road construction to telecom and medicine.

“Relations between Israel and Azerbaijan are of a strategic nature and are based on trust and mutual respect,” said Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov.  “Over the past three decades we have witnessed many breakthroughs in relations between the two countries, but the opening of the official Trade and Tourism Representation is another historic event.”

“I would like to congratulate President IIham Aliyev on this important decision that will further strengthen the partnership between the two countries.” Razvozov continued.  “It will definitely serve as an address for Israeli entrepreneurs in fields like energy, medicine, water treatment, agriculture and investments.”

Azerbaijan Economy Minister Mikayil Jabbarov called on Israeli businessmen to take advantage of the beneficial business atmosphere in Azerbaijan created to facilitate mutual investments and transactions.



Report: US To Impose New Sanctions On Iranian Missile Program

The US could soon begin targeting Iran’s missile and drone programs with a new sanctions campaign in light of the assessment that they pose a more immediate threat than the nuclear-or ballistic-missile programs, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday (29th) based on conversations with Western officials.

“It’s part of a comprehensive approach so we’re dealing with all aspects of the Iranian threat,” a senior US official told the newspaper.

According to the report, the apparent shift comes in the wake of a sharp rise in the employment of guided missiles and drones against US assets.

“Iran’s drones are becoming an increasing threat to our allies in the region,” another US official told the paper.  The officials noted that since the original nuclear deal with Iran in 2915 did not prevent the US from imposing missile-and terror-related sanctions on Tehran, the move should not impact the negotiations in Vienna aimed at restoring or modifying the nuclear deal.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Thursday (29th) the negotiating process with Iran to revive a 2015 nuclear deal could not go on indefinitely, and that the ball was in Iran’s court.

“We are committed to diplomacy, but this process cannot go on indefinitely.  At some point the gains achieved by the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) cannot be fully recovered by a return to it if Iran continues the activities that it’s undertaken with regard to its nuclear program,” he said, addressing a news conference in Kuwait.

“We have clearly demonstrated our good faith and desire to return to mutual compliance with the nuclear agreement…The ball remains in Iran’s court and we will see if they are prepared to make the decisions necessary to come back into compliance.”

Indirect talks between Tehran and Washington to revive the nuclear pact, from which former president Donald Trump withdrew the United States, adjourned on June 20, two days after the hardline cleric Ebrahim Raisi was elected president of the Islamic Republic. Raisi is to take office on August 5th.   



Israeli Tech helps Secure Tokyo Olympics

Aerostats – lighter-than-air aircraft buoyed by helium gas – made by an Israeli company are in use by Tokyo police to help secure the Olympic Games, the manufacturer of the systems, RT, announced Thursday (29th).

RT’s SkyStar 180 tactical aerostats are being used by law enforcement for public safety, including traffic and crowd control.

The systems “were integrated into the command and control center of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police,” RT said in a statement, and “are positioned at several different locations about 492 feet above the ground.  These spots were identified by the end-user as sites where many of the events are taking place.

The high-quality video from the aerostat is transmitted in real time to the command center, which is controlled by the Tokyo Police.

According to RT, SkyStar aerostats deliver persistent surveillance of an area and full digital recordings of mission video and data.  The systems can stay airborne for up to 72 hours and operate in a wind velocity of up to 46 miles per hour.

It only takes 20 minutes to refill them with helium, the company said.

“We are proud of the selection of the SkyStar 180 tactical aerostat system by the Tokyo Metropolitan Police for a mission that is so important in safeguarding the 11,091 participants in the 2020 Olympic games,” Rt CEO Rami Shmueli said.  “We look forward to continuing our cooperation with the Tokyo Metropolitan Police on further security missions in the future as well.”



Toronto Assault Highlights Trend Of ‘Free Palestine’ Anti-Semitism

A recent assault on a Jewish man near his home in broad daylight is just the latest in a disturbing trend of attacks on  Jews stemming from anti-Israel sentiment.

On Wednesday morning (28th), Sam Brody was walking his dog in the Midtown area of Toronto while wearing his kippah, or Jewish skullcap.  A man who was passing Brody in the opposite direction suddenly pushed him to the ground and shouted “You, you Jew – you’ll never take Israel, free Palestine!”

The incident has been reported to the Toronto Police Service.  B’nai Brith Canada has been advocating directly with police in this case on behalf of the Jewish community.

This brazen assault comes amid an unprecedented surge in physical attacks on Canadian Jews.  In May of this year, against the backdrop of renewed fighting between the Hamas terror group and the Jewish State, B’nai Brith recorded 61 incidents of anti-semitic violence in Canada, the highest on record dating back to the launch of the Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents in 1982.

Many of these assaults involved Jews being attacked due to an identification with Israel, including in Toronto, Winnipeg and Montreal.

“Wednesday’s (28th) attack is the latest in a string of anti-Jewish violent episodes of ostensibly motivated anti-Israel sentiment,” said Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada.  “As we pointed out at the recent national Summit on Anti-semitism, Jew-hatred disguised as anti-Zionism is a serious threat to the Canadian Jewish community.”

“We call on all Canadian jurisdictions and institutions – cites, provinces and universities –  to adopt and implement the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA)  Definition of Anti-Semitism, in order to stop hate in its tracks.”

Coincidentally. Just a day before Brody was assaulted, Statistics Canada released its 2020 figures on police-reported hate crimes in the country, noting that, “Jews remained the most targeted ‘religious group’ by a large margin, and the second-most targeted group overall  after Black Canadians.”