News Digest — 8/25/20
IDF Hits Gaza Strip Terror Targets As Attacks On Israel Continue
On Tuesday (25th), IDF fighter jets, tanks and aircraft continued to strike Hamas terror posts and underground infrastructure in the southern Gaza Strip, the military reports.
The IDF is responding to the daily launching of explosive and arson balloons from the Gaza Strip which began several weeks ago, an attempt by Hamas to bully Israel into agreeing to a lengthy list of demands.
On Monday (24th) 36 fires were started by the floating incendiary devices. The fires have so far not resulted in a loss of Israeli life, but a fire burned a kindergarten and a rocket damaged a home in Sderot.
Israel has been unable to prevent the low-tech method of attack. It has recently put into operation its Light Blade combat laser. In footage released last Friday (21st), the system can be seen intercepting 32 explosive and incendiary balloons fired by terrorists from the Gaza Strip.
Hamas leaders have reportedly gone underground, fearing that Israel will return to targeted assassinations.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday (25th), a Qatari representative arrived in the Gaza Strip to try and mediate a solution. Qatar, which supplies $150 million to the Gaza Strip in humanitarian aid, agreed to increase its contribution.
An Egyptian delegation is also trying to mediate a solution.
Pompeo In Jerusalem: US Will Guarantee Israel’s Mideast Military Edge
The United States will ensure that Israel still holds a military advantage in the Middle East under any future US arms deals with the United Arab Emirates, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday (24th), as he met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.
“The United States has a legal requirement with respect to qualitative military edge. We will continue to honor that,” Pompeo said.
Netanyahu said he had been reassured on the issue by Pompeo, whose visit to Jerusalem was the first leg of a regional tour that will showcase US support for Israeli-Arab peace efforts and building a front against Iran.
His tour will include Sudan, Bahrain and the UAE, the latter having reached recent agreement for formalized ties with Israel. Additional stops in the Gulf were also possible, the State Department said.
Pompeo said he hoped other Arab countries would also establish diplomatic relations with Israel.
“I am hopeful that we will see other Arab nations join in this,” Pompeo said.
“The opportunity for them to work alongside, to recognize the State of Israel and to work with it will not only increase Middle East stability, but will improve the lives for the people of their own countries as well.”
The Israel-UAE agreement reflects a changing Middle East in which shared concerns about archenemy Iran have largely overtaken traditional Arab support for the Palestinians.
Both Pompeo and Netanyahu criticized the lack of international support for the US demand for the restoration of UN sanctions against Iran.
“We are determined to use every tool that we have to ensure Iran can’t get access to high-end weapon systems. The rest of the world should join us,” Pompeo said.
Israel’s Military Supremacy Is Non-Negotiable – Maj.-Gen. Amos Gilad
→ Abu Dhabi, the leader of the UAE, has impressive military capabilities based on a strong army and air force that have already proven themselves in operations beyond their borders. The Emirates already possess advanced American-made defense systems and jet fighters which they successfully deploy in a large operational radius. It is no secret that if Tehran could, it would have conquered the Gulf states if it were not fearful of the consequences.
→ The Arab nations, which tried time and time again to annihilate Israel militarily, have reached the conclusion that it is better to cooperate with it. But Israel must not forget that this stability could vanish at any point.
→ The US refrains, as its policy is required by law, from selling advanced and sophisticated weapons systems to Arab countries, even those among them that are associated with Israel in peace relations. An example of this commitment is the F-35 fighter jets Israel acquired. These planes grant Israel total military supremacy in the region.
→ Intentions are fluid and prone to rapid change. Turkey, once a close friend of Israel, has now become a strategic foe. The same goes for Iran, which before the 1979 revolution was a soulmate with deep ties to Jerusalem, but is today its number one enemy. In the 2011 Arab Spring, the Muslim Brotherhood took over Egypt and nearly created an additional threat against Israel, until Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi took power.
→ As long as Israel maintains its qualitative military advantage, stability and peace will endure. The only way to maintain peace and long-term stability is for Israel to prevent the sale of American-made F-35 fighter jets to any other Middle Eastern State, regardless of current or future relations.
The writer is former Director of Policy and Political-Military Affairs at the Israel Ministry of Defense.
Report: Switzerland Mulls Outlawing Hezbollah
Switzerland is reportedly considering barring all Hezbollah activities within its territory in a move that will effectively outlaw the Iranian-backed Shiite terrorist group.
Hezbollah has been designated as a terrorist organization by several Western countries, including the US, the UK, Canada, Germany, Argentina, Paraguay, and Israel, as well as Arab League member Bahrain. Some countries such as Australia and France, only classify Hezbollah’s military wing as a terrorist organization.
According to local media reports, the Swiss Federal Council is set to debate a motion by Switzerland’s Christian Democratic People’s Party to that effect. If granted, the motion could result in a full ban on Hezbollah operations in Switzerland.
The bill cites Germany’s decision of April to ban all of the organization’s activities on its soil citing Hezbollah’s call for an armed struggle against Israel and rejecting the Jewish state’s right to exist.
“The EU previously banned the military arm that engaged in terrorist activities. It is not known which activities Hezbollah is developing in Switzerland. In view of the neutrality of Switzerland, however, the activities of Hezbollah on Swiss soil cannot be legitimized,” the party’s motion said.
Should the Swiss Federal Council grant the motion, all of Hezbollah’s assets and bank accounts in the country will be seized by Bern authorities.
Judge Allows Anti-Israel Protests Outside Ann Arbor Synagogue – Ryan Stanton
US District Judge Victoria Roberts on August 19 dismissed a lawsuit over anti-Israel protests outside Beth Israel Congregation in Ann Arbor, ruling that “Peaceful protest speech such as this – on sidewalks and streets – is entitled to the highest level of constitutional protection, even if it disturbs, is offensive, and causes emotional distress.” Anti-Israel protesters have demonstrated on Saturday mornings outside the synagogue for more than 16 years. Protest signs have carried messages such as “Resist Jewish Power,” “Jewish Power Corrupts,” “No More Holocaust Movies,” “Boycott Israel,” “Stop US Aid To Israel,” and “End The Palestinian Holocaust.”
Meanwhile, Rabbi Nadav Caine of Beth Israel Congregation argues that while a federal judge has concluded that protests outside his synagogue amount to free speech, it’s still hate speech. “They fill our sidewalks with hate speech to harass our worshipers.” And their hate fails to alarm those “who would be rightfully shouting from the rooftops if this were a mosque.”
The leader of the protest group said, “We’re not here because they are Jews. We’re here because they are Jewish Zionists,” and “because the synagogue displays the Israeli flag and prays for Israel.”
Holocaust Survivor Finally Receives High School Diploma
A Holocaust survivor finally – and officially – completed her formal education after gaining an honorary diploma from a Jewish high school, fulfilling a lifelong dream.
Miriam Schreiber, 88, received the diploma August 16 from the New England Jewish Academy in West Hartford, Connecticut.
According to a story on We-Ha.com, Schreiber was only seven years old when the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939. Until 1946, she lived and worked in a Russian displaced persons camp. After the war she yearned to attend school to get her diploma but never had the opportunity.
Several months ago, courtesy of Jewish Family Services, several of the school’s students met Schreiber and heard her story. After speaking and connecting with her, they said they wanted to help her.
With the participation of school principal Richard Nabel, a meeting was held, during which seniors voted unanimously to have her be part of the graduating class of 2020.
“When the class of 2020 was asked if they would share their graduation ceremony with Miriam, the response was jubilant,” Nabel told outlet We-Ha.com. “As the first class to graduate from the New England Jewish Academy, they were proud to join generations together in this milestone event.”
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the class had an online graduation ceremony.
They waited until this month when the situation in Connecticut, as well as much of the northeastern United States, improved, and the coronavirus case numbers were down. A small ceremony was held for the octogenarian with a few family members and friends at the school, where she was personally handed her diploma.
Schreiber said, “It was my lifelong dream to get a diploma of some sort. I didn’t have the chance, never went to school, never had the opportunity.”