News Digest — 8/17/23

US Approves Sale Of Arrow 3 To Germany In Latest-Ever Israeli Arms Export

The United States has approved Israel’s sale of the Arrow 3 missile defense system to Germany, the Israeli Defense Ministry announced on Thursday (17th).

The $3.5 billion military contract is Jerusalem’s largest ever.  Berlin wants the system, which is capable of intercepting exo-atmospheric ballistic threats, to defend against the threat of Russian missiles.

“The US government’s approval of the delivery…is an expression of confidence in the outstanding capabilities of Israel’s defense industries.  This is a significant decision, which will contribute to Israel’s force buildup and economy,” said Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant in a statement Thursday (17th).  It is particularly meaningful to every Jewish person that Germany is acquiring Israeli defense capabilities.”  

The Arrow 3 was jointly developed by the Israeli Missile Defense Organization and the US Missile Defense Agency, and is manufactured by Israel Aerospace Industries.

In June, German lawmakers approved advanced payments of up to $606 million, for the system, which will be transferred to Israel after a letter of commitment is signed in the coming weeks.

The full contract of $3.5 billion will be signed by the end of this year, subject to approvals from the Israeli and German parliaments.

The German Air Force is slated to take delivery of the Arrow 3 by the fourth quarter of 2025.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz made an initial request for the system in a meeting with then-Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in March 2022, with Israel working behind the scenes since then to persuade Washington to allow the sale.

Because the system was jointly developed, Israel requires American approval to sell it to a third party.

The Arrow 3 is operational in Israel, as part of the country’s multi-tier air-defense program.  Israel Aerospace Industries is now developing the Arrow 4, which will operate both within and above the atmosphere.

Israel defense exports in 2022 accounted for a record $12.6 billion.



Palestinian Gunman Killed, Terror Cell Arrested By Israeli Forces In Jenin

A Palestinian gunman was killed and two others, members of a terror cell, were arrested by Israeli forces in the northern West Bank city of Jenin on Thursday morning (17th), the military said.

In a joint statement, the Israel Defense Forces, Border Guard, and Shin Bet security agency said troops entered Jericho to arrest members of a terror cell planning attacks.

Undercover Border Police officers arrested two wanted Palestinians outside a building in Jenin, following intelligence given to them of their whereabouts by the Shin Bet.

A gunman named Mustafa al-Kastouni, 32, opened fire from inside the building at the Israeli forces, defense officials said.  The Border Police broke into the building, and amid an exchange of fire, al-Kastouni was killed, and one Israeli officer was slightly injured by shrapnel.  

The Palestinian Authority Health Ministry said al-Kastouni was a member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades group.

As the Israeli forces left the northern West Bank city, Palestinian gunmen opened fire and hurled explosives, the IDF said.  Troops returned fire, hitting several armed men, the military said.

The IDF last operated in Jenin on July 31, four weeks after a major operation in the northern West Bank city.

Palestinian terror attacks in Israel and the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) have left 26 people dead and several others wounded since the beginning of the year.

Many Palestinians also have been killed, most of them armed, during clashes with security forces or while carrying out  terror attacks.



Gallant To Naval Officers: Israel Is Prepared For Any Scenario, On Land, Sea, Or Air

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Wednesday (16th) visited the Flotilla 13 (“Shayetet 13”) unit of the Israeli Navy.

Gallant was greeted by the commander of the Israeli Navy, David Sa’ar Salama, and the commander of Flotilla 13, Lieutenant Colonel A, and other commanders in the unit.

During the visit, Minister Gallant was shown the unique operational performance of the fleet in recent months, which earned the fleet commendation of the Chief of Staff.

Gallant participated in the sailing of the ship together with the commander of the corps and the commander of the flotilla and held a discussion with the soldiers on the various operational issues they encountered.

“The Navy is a determined, high-quality, organized, and professional force, and it has a high-quality chain of command.  The units of the force have significant operational achievements that contribute greatly to Israel’s security,” Gallant said during the visit.

He added: “In the face of the rhetoric of our enemies, we are seriously preparing for any scenario – in the air, at sea, and on land.  Don’t let the background noise distract you from the most important task: maintaining the security of the country and the peace of our citizens.”



US Sanctions ‘Green Without Borders’ For Hezbollah-Linked Terror Activity 

The United States sanctioned the Hezbollah proxy group Green Without Borders (GWB) organization and its leader Zuhair Subhi Nahla and designated it as a terrorist group.

“Under Nahla’s leadership, GWB has functioned as a cover for Hezbollah’s terrorist activities,” US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement he issued on Wednesday (16th).

GWB sites have been used to conduct Hezbollah’s weapons training, to provide support for Hezbollah’s activities along the Blue Line in southern Lebanon, and to impede the freedom of movement of the UN Security Council-mandated United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

“We are taking this action as part of our efforts to prevent and disrupt financial and other support for terrorist attacks in Lebanon, Israel, and around the world.”

“The United States is committed to denying funding and resources to these terrorist support networks and will continue countering the threats they pose both locally and internationally,” Miller added.

Who is this Hezbollah proxy group Green Without Borders?

The US Treasury explained that Green Without Borders was founded in 2013 and had portrayed itself as an environmental group.

It has placed more than a dozen structures along Israel’s northern border that “serve as cover for Hezbollah’s underground warehouses and munitions storage tunnels,” the treasury said, adding that some of its sites are only a little over 82 feet from Israel’s border.

“Alleged encroachment on private property by GWB and Hezbollah, and propagandizing by GWB have also caused well-documented clashes with locals,” the treasury said.



Over 200 New Immigrants From North America Land In Israel

Some 215 new immigrants from the United States and Canada landed Wednesday morning (16th) at Ben Gurion Airport, arriving at the peak of the wave of immigration this summer.  They will join over 1300 immigrants from North America who have arrived in Israel since the beginning of 2023.

The charter flight comprised 22 families with 75 children among them, 15 single men and women and 17 retirees.  The Youngest child on the flight was 4 months old, and the oldest arrival was 77-years-old.  Also on board the flight were seven doctors and 15 health professionals who will be integrating into the Israeli medical system.  Some 27 Olim on the flight are part of the Nefesh B’Nefesh -KKL Go Beyond initiative, which is aimed at developing Israel’s peripheral regions and Jerusalem.

There were also dozens of young adults who will enlist in the Israel Defense Forces as lone soldiers.  They will be drafting with Garin Tzabar, a Friends of Israel Scouts program which offers support before and throughout  military service, and coordinates communities around Israel to serve as a home away from home for these individuals.

For the first time, the immigrants on the flight were able to go through the full absorption process and receive their Teudot Oleh (immigration certificates) while on board, finalizing their Aliyah process.

“It is my absolute joy to welcome these new Olim upon their arrival in Israel.  It is especially exciting to see families with kids and young adults embrace the Zionist dream of making Aliyah,” said Ofir Sofer, Minister of Aliyah and Integration.  “I wish the new Olim much success, as well as a smooth and comfortable absorption into Israel.  Welcome home.”

Wednesday’s (16th) immigrants come from across the United States and Canadian provinces, including New York, New Jersey, California, Texas, Ohio, Massachusetts, Ontario, Minnesota, and Illinois.  The main Israeli cities they are moving to include Jerusalem, Tel Aviv-Jaffa, Ra’anana, Beit Shemesh, Haifa, Afula and Modi’in-Maccabim-Re’ut.



SmartAID Sends Team To Assist Maui Rescue Efforts

Israeli humanitarian aid and disaster relief organization SmartAID has sent a team of specialists to help rescue efforts in Maui after a devastating wildfire scorched areas of the Hawaiian Island last week.

The US National Weather Service said Hurricane Dora, which passed south of Maui, was partly responsible for driving the flames across the island.  The fires destroyed many homes and forced evacuations.  At least 100 bodies have been recovered so far in the search for those (1200-1600) still missing.

A team of eight SmartAID specialists already landed in Maui.  At least four specialize directly in search and rescue.  The others are set to assist in installing telecommunication systems meant to facilitate better coordination among first responders and ensure a seamless provision of aid and various social services.

SmartAID is in the process of establishing a coordination center equipped with laptops and Wi-Fi to assist charities arriving on the island.

Two more team members are scheduled to arrive later this week to help set up solar energy installations. The systems will offer support to medical teams on the ground, who are treating injured civilians.

In order to secure uninterrupted electricity supply, the SmartAID team will also help install Tesla Power Wall Microgrids at five strategic locations.

The team is also distributing crucial relief items, such as hygiene kits, blankets, water filters, and clothing.

In addition, SmartAID’s German volunteers are preparing to ship to Maui essential high-end cleaning machines to local health institutions, temporary shelters and homes that were damaged but not completely destroyed by fires.

SmartAID said the teams are working all across Maui, with locations shifting constantly due to movement of people.  Many locals don’t want to leave the island wishing to stay close to their homes.  Temporary shelters are now being set up by the local government and by the community itself.

“SmartAID is on the ground to support local efforts,” Founding Director Shachar Zahavi told Israel21c.

“We believe that the only way to come out stronger is to allow the local community to decide what is best for them, that they lead the way and decide when and where the aid efforts must be concentrated,” Zahavi said.