News Digest — 8/14/19

With Music And Shofar-Blasts, Israel Welcomes Olim From North America

To the sounds of shofar-blasts and the cheering of hundreds of Israelis who came to celebrate with them, 242 new immigrants stepped off a Nefesh B’Nefesh chartered El Al flight in Ben-Gurion Airport on Wednesday (14th), arriving from the United States and Canada.

The new immigrants, decked out in Nefesh B’Nefesh caps and T-shirts, were part of a total of 2,282 olim expected to arrive from the U.S. and Canada this summer.  Of the 242 that landed, 41 plan to join the IDF and 103 are under the age of 18.

Despite the 6 a.m. arrival, the immigrants were welcomed off the plane to a live band and hundreds of enthusiastic and teary-eyed family members, friends, and supporters.  Among the attendees were the wife of the prime minister, Sara Netanyahu, Aliyah and Integration Minister Yoav Galant, Jewish Agency chairman Isaac Herzog and others, including Nefesh B’Nefesh founders Rabbi Yehoshua Fass and Tony Gelbart.

“Today we celebrate the joy.  We celebrate the homeland. We celebrate the coming home,” Fass told the cheering crowd.  “We celebrate you, and your determination and your values and this historic, majestic moment.”

With the flight that arrived on Wednesday (14th), Nefesh B’Nefesh has assisted over 60,000 immigrants to pick up and move from North America and settle in the Jewish state.

The new olim are from a variety of backgrounds culturally and demographically – hailing from 22 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces.  They also include 21 medical professionals, three sets of twins, and a 28-day-old baby, who officially becomes the youngest Oleh to make Aliyah with Nefesh B’Nefesh this summer.



Netanyahu Visits Family Of Murdered Soldier On His 19th Birthday

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday (13th) visited the family of the murdered soldier Dvir Sorek in honor of what would have been his 19-year-old birthday.

The body of 18-year-old soldier Dvir Sorek was found with multiple stab wounds last Thursday (8th) on the side of a road near the seminary where he studied.  The two Palestinians suspected of Sorek’s murder were arrested on Friday (9th) after an extensive manhunt.

“They have an exemplary family, we saw the children and their love for each other – the love of Israel and of their fellow man is ingrained in them,” said Netanyahu at the Sorek family home in the settlement of Ofra in the West Bank.

“We are determined to protect the country… We will continue spreading roots and fighting as long as it’s necessary,  The Land of Israel is in agony,” he added.

Netanyahu’s wife, Sara, who accompanied the prime minister, said her heart is “hurting” but Israelis will continue to defend themselves “here in our country.”

The soldier’s father, Yoav Sorek, said earlier they are not celebrating Dvir’s birthday but rather commemorating it as it falls on the week-long mourning period known as Shiva.

“When Dvir was born, his circumcision ceremony was at the same synagogue where his funeral proceedings were held,” said the father.  “And in the backyard of our house we’re now sitting shiva.”



Israel Planning ‘Security Wall’ On Gaza Border

Israel’s defense establishment has decided to build another barrier at the Gaza envelope, this time a security wall against infiltration of terrorists into towns and communities located near the Gaza border.

According to a report Monday (12th) on Channel 12 News, the wall will be 20 feet high and five and a half miles long.  It will run adjacent to localities in the Gaza envelope and along Highway 34 between Yad Mordechai and Nahal Oz.

The wall is supposed to be another barrier in the space between the Gaza border and the localities, which should delay terrorists during an attempted infiltration if they are able to cross the border on their way to carry out an attack.

The cost of the project is tens of millions of shekels.  Discussions are taking place between the Ministry of Defense and the Prime Minister’s Office concerning the budget sources for the wall construction.

Meanwhile Israeli troops on Monday (12th) arrested an armed Palestinian man attempting to infiltrate into Israel from the Gaza Strip, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

The attempted breach marked the third time in a single week that Israeli forces thwarted infiltration attempts from the coastal enclave.

Last Saturday (10th), four heavily armed men were killed attempting to enter Israel from southern Gaza.



Abbas: ‘Settlements Will Be Swept Away, Palestinians Came From Ancient Canaanites’

Palestinian Authority Leader Mahmoud Abbas has asserted settlements in the West Bank will be swept into “the dustbins of history” and contended that Palestinians are the original inhabitants of the region according to biblical history.

Abbas made the comments over the weekend in a strongly-worded speech during the course of an extremely rare visit to Jalazone in the West Bank, days after Israeli officials pushed forward thousands of new settlement homes.

“We will remain and no one will be able to move us out of our homeland.  He who wants to do that: ‘Go.’ The unexpected visitor in this country has no right in this country.  Thus, we will tell them: ‘Every brick you laid in our land and every house you built in our land will vanish, if God permits,” Abbas said, speaking in an event hall at Jalazone, which is situated north of Ramallah and adjacent to the Israeli town of Beit El.

“Whatever homes they announce here or settlements there, they will all disappear, if God wills it.  They will be in the dustbins of history and they will remember that the land is for its people, its residents and the Canaanites who were here 5,000 years ago.  We are the Canaanites,” he added.

Abbas’ reference to the Canaanites, an ancient people who predated the Israelites’ settling of Canaan, according to the biblical narrative, came in response to recent comments by Netanyahu that Palestinians only recently arrived in the area.

Netanyahu said in early July that the ancestors of the Palestinians came from the Arabian Peninsula.

“There is also no connection between the ancient Philistines and the modern Palestinians, whose ancestors came from the Arabian Peninsula to the Land of Israel thousands of years later,” Netanyahu Tweeted, attaching an article on a study that appears to back the theory that the biblical Philistines came from somewhere other than the Middle East.  

Some Palestinians have contended that they are the descendants of the Philistines.

Abbas was accompanied by senior Palestinian officials on his visit to Jalazone, including PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh, senior PLO official Saeb Erekat and Fatah Central Committee member Hussein al-Sheikh.



U.S. Signs Contract To Purchase Iron Dome System From Israel

It’s official.  The U.S. Defense Department formally signed the contract to purchase two complete Iron Dome Systems from Israel, Defense News reported on Tuesday (13th).

The contract was signed in the last few weeks, the site reports.  Israel and the U.S. are currently in talks on transferring the systems to America.

“Now that the contract is set in stone, the Army will be able to figure out delivery schedules and details in terms of taking receipt of the systems,” Defense News reports.

Iron Dome is meant as an interim defense solution for the U.S., but Defense News says it could turn into a permanent solution, depending on its performance in the field.

“While Iron Dome has been in operational use by the Israeli Air Force since 2011 and proven effective in combat, it should be noted that the U.S. Army will assess a variety of options for its long-term IFPC solution,” the U.S. said in February when the deal was announced.

IFPC refers to the Indirect Fires Protection Capability program, which is developing missile defense against a variety of threats.

The deal has been described as historic, marking the first time Israel has sold a standalone weapons system to the U.S., which typically fields weapons that are superior to other countries.

The Iron Dome, which is built by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and co-developed with U.S. firm Raytheon, protects against incoming missiles by shooting them out of the sky.

Most recently, in May, facing a barrage of some 690 rockets from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip the system achieved an 86% kill rate.  Only 35 rockets and mortar shells got through to score hits, the IDF reported at the time. The rate may have been higher if Israel had more Iron Dome batteries at its disposal.

In February, Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Benjamin Netanyahu said of the up-coming sale: “It is a great achievement for Israel, this is yet another expression of the strengthening of our strong alliance with the U.S. and an expression of Israel’s rising status in the world.”