News Digest — 8/7/19

Report: Israel Involved In US-Led Naval Mission In Strait Of Hormuz

Sources in the Foreign Ministry said Tuesday (6th) that Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz, speaking during a closed-door session of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said that Israel was involved in a US-led naval mission protecting ships in the Strait of Hormuz after a number of ships were recently seized by Iran.

Katz reportedly said that Jerusalem is providing intelligence and other unspecified operations in the Persian Gulf, adding that he instructed members of the Foreign Ministry to provide said assistance following a recent visit to the United Arab Emirates.

A source from Abu Dhabi told Israeli media that the US mission was launched in order to tackle the emerging “Iranian threat” that has disrupted trade in the region.

Katz also praised the UK for agreeing to join the US-led mission following an announcement from London on Monday (5th).

Britain is the only country to officially announce that it was joining the US naval mission to help protect maritime vessels transporting goods through the Strait.

The Strait of Hormuz is the world’s single-most important oil passageway.  About 20% of global oil shipments pass through the Strait, and in 2018 that amounted to 17.4 million barrels a day.



Netanyahu Condemns Terror Attack Near Cairo Hospital That Killed 20

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday (5th) condemned a terrorist attack in downtown Cairo that killed some 20 people outside a cancer hospital in the Egyptian capital.

“We extend our heartfelt condolences to the families of the innocent victims, and wish a speedy recovery to the injured,” Netanyahu said in an English-language statement, adding, “We stand by the Egyptian people in their battle against terrorism.”

Earlier on Monday (5th) Egypt’s Interior Ministry said that a car packed with explosives collided with other vehicles and exploded, killing 20 people.

The blast went off Sunday night (4th) on the busy Corniche Boulevard along the Nile River, setting other cars on fire and injuring at least 47.  It damaged Egypt’s main cancer hospital nearby, shattering parts of the facade and some rooms inside, forcing the evacuation of dozens of patients.

It was the deadliest attack in the Egyptian capital in over two years.

Authorities had initially said the explosion was caused by a multi-vehicle accident.  But later Monday (5th), the interior ministry acknowledged that a car bomb was involved.

It accused a militant group known as Hasm, which has links to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, saying it was moving the car to carry out an attack elsewhere.  The ministry did not say what the intended target was.

President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi called it a “terrorist incident” in a tweet, expressing condolences for the dead and vowed to “face and root out terrorism.’

The attack is the deadliest in Cairo since a bombing at a chapel adjacent to Egypt’s main Coptic Christian cathedral killed 30 people during Sunday services in December 2016.  That attack was claimed by Egypt’s affiliate of the Islamic State group.



Shin Bet Busts Hamas Cell Planning Jerusalem Bombing Attack

The Shin Bet security service on Tuesday (6th) said it thwarted plans by Hamas members from Hebron to conduct a bombing attack in Jerusalem earlier this summer, retrieving the 6.6 pound explosive device they intended to use.

The Shin Bet said the cell, along with others arrested by Israeli forces in recent months, had been directed to carry out attacks against Israeli and Palestinian Authority targets by Hamas’ military wing in the Gaza Strip.

“The operatives in the West Bank were instructed to form cells in order to carry out kidnappings, shootings and stabbings, purchase weaponry, and find and recruit additional operatives for terrorist activities,“ the Shin Bet said in a statement.

The security service did not elaborate on the details of the planned Jerusalem bombing.

A member of the cell planning the Jerusalem bombing, university student Tamer Rajah Rajbi, was arrested in Hebron in June, leading to additional arrests of other Hamas operatives, including other students, the security service said.

Details of the case were censored until Tuesday (6th) after Rajbi’s indictment the day before.  Other members of the cell were indicted in recent weeks.

“The Hamas terror group is not queasy about the tools it uses, or the young people it takes advantage of in the West Bank, harming both them and their families, to advance terrorist activities, “ a statement by Shin Bet said. 

In recent months, the Shin Bet has thwarted several attempts by Hamas to establish infrastructure in the West Bank for the purpose of carrying out terror attacks in Israel and PA areas. 



Tel Aviv University Scientists Develop Vaccine For Melanoma

Researchers at Tel Aviv University (TAU) have developed a novel nano-vaccine for melanoma, the most aggressive type of skin cancer.

So far the vaccine has been proven effective in mice in preventing the development of melanoma and treating primary tumors and metastases that result from the disease, the researchers said in a study revealed in the August 5 issue of Nature Nanotechnology.

The vaccine still hasn’t been tested on human beings, only on human tissue.

“Our research opens the door to a completely new approach – the vaccine approach – for effective treatment of melanoma, even in the most advanced stages of the disease,” said Prof. Ronit Satchi-Fainaro, chair of the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology and head of the Laboratory for Cancer Research and Nanomedicine at TAU’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine.

The researchers demonstrated the effectiveness of the vaccine under three different conditions: as a preventive measure in healthy mice; to treat a primary tumor in mice in conjunction with immunotherapy; and to treat tissues taken from patients with melanoma brain metastases.

“The war against cancer in general, and melanoma in particular, has advanced over the years through a variety of treatment modalities, such as surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and immunotherapy; but the vaccine approach, which has proven so effective against various diseases, has now materialized against cancer,” said Satchi-Fainaro.

“In our study we have shown that it is possible to produce an effective nano-vaccine against melanoma and to sensitize the immune system to immunotherapies.”

The researchers believe that their “nano-vaccine” approach can be expanded beyond melanoma.

“We believe that our platform may also be suitable for other types of cancer and that our work is a solid foundation for the development of other cancer nano-vaccines,” Satchi-Fainaro said.



UK: Man Shoves Baby Stroller, Calls Parents ‘Dirty Jews’

 A Jewish family filed a complaint to the police after a man shoved their baby stroller and called them “dirty Jews” in the town of St. Albans, England earlier this week.

Michael, one of the victims who videoed the incident, told the Independent that he was sitting outside a coffee shop with his family and baby, including his in-laws, when a man passed by, and in an unprovoked attack, “shoved the pram aggressively with the infant in it.”  When the startled family questioned him, he said it was because they were “dirty Jews.”

“At that point I took out my phone and started filming and asked him to repeat it, which he did,” Michael said.  The man repeated the insult and tried to knock Michael’s phone down.

“It was a bit of a shock and completely unprovoked,” Michael said.  “It was very upsetting and very distressing. Obviously this comes at a time of rising anti-Semitism in the UK.  It’s very uncomfortable.”

Michael reported the attack to the Hertfordshire Constabulary, who assured him that they would be investigating the incident as a “racially aggravated assault.”

Michael, who wears a kippah, said that he has been the victim of prior anti-Semitic attacks.  “This is definitely not the first time, but I’ve never had it quite like this. It is not uncommon for people to drive past and shout abuse out the window of a car.  It is rarer on the street,” he said.

Last month, a British Jewish community watchdog said that a record number of nearly 900 anti-Semitic incidents have been recorded in the United Kingdom for the first six months of 2019.  It is a 10% increase over the same period of 2018.