News Digest — 9/16/19

Israeli Cabinet Votes To Approve Jewish Town In Jordan Valley

Israel’s cabinet at its weekly meeting on Sunday (15th) approved Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s proposal to establish the community of Mevo’ot Yericho.  The cabinet meeting was held in the region of the settlement which started as a farming community in the 1990s.

The settlement designated prior to the cabinet approval as an unauthorized outpost, now can develop freely and independently.

“We will apply sovereignty in the Jordan Valley and the Northern Dead Sea as soon as the next government is established in the Knesset.  I have appointed a work-team headed by the Director of the Prime Minister’s Office, which will formulate an outline for applying sovereignty,” Netanyahu said at the cabinet meeting.

“Applying Israeli sovereignty to all our communities in Judea and Samaria, including the blocs and the territory outside them, and other areas that are essential for our security and our heritage – these things will come up in the ‘Deal of the Century’ plan, which will come soon after the elections,” Netanyahu said.

The Prime Minister announced his plan to authorize the settlement last week, a day after he announced his intention to immediately extend Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and Norther Dead Sea area should he be re-elected.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelbilt had opposed a vote on the settlement due to the limits set on transitional governments by the Supreme Court.

When he requested the reason why the vote needed to be taken immediately, Netanyahu said it was crucial to clarify the legal status of the community before the Trump administration released its Mideast peace plan, expected to happen immediately after the elections.

Mandelbilt withdrew his opposition to the cabinet vote after Netanyahu’s explanation.



Hezbollah’s New Missile ‘Capable Of Destroying All Military Battleships’

A Twitter account activist affiliated with Hezbollah posted a photo of the terror organization’s newest missile on Sunday afternoon (15th), which he says is capable of destroying all military battleships.

“Our new missile is capable of destroying all military battleships, killing all who are on board,” wrote the Hezbollah activist, who often posts photos of South Lebanon Army (SLA) members and their families who have moved to Israel, announcing that they are being called to trial in Lebanon.

In August, Hezbollah released footage and pictures of the anti-ship missile that struck the INS Hanit during the 2006 Second Lebanon War, an incident that killed four Israeli soldiers in one of the most significant attacks against the IDF in the war.

In a documentary called #Army_To_Be_Downed, which aired on Hezbollah’s Al Manar TV channel marking the war,  the group aired reconnaissance of the ship from the Lebanese coastline, preparations for the launch of the missile, the operations room which directed the strike as well as nighttime footage which showed the impact of the Chinese-made C-802 anti-ship cruise missile.

According to Al Manar, Hezbollah’s navy commander, Hajj Jalal, said the rocket was launched from the Beirut suburb Ouzai after the “Zionist enemy escalated its attacks on various Lebanese areas.”  Jalal said that the group also “could have struck other Israeli ships in the 2006 war even before they entered Lebanon’s international waters, if they had wanted to.”



IDF Soldier In Anti-Tunnel Unit Moves To Gaza Border Kibbutz, With 28 Friends

An Israeli soldier who specializes in locating Gaza terror tunnels has moved to Kibbutz Kerem Shalom, which borders the Strip, and has brought 28 other young Israelis with him, Channel 13 news reported over the weekend.

The soldier who can only be identified by the first letter of his name – Aleph – serves in the Israeli Defense Forces in the area of the kibbutz and decided to move to the community after seeing that the security situation was pushing residents away.

He did not want to make the move alone and sent out a request for volunteers to join him on the WhatsApp messaging platform.  Hundreds responded, and 28 other soldiers eventually made the move.

Aleph grew up in the Gush Etzion bloc in the West Bank and began his army service as a combat soldier in a special unit of the Kfir infantry brigade.  Around two years ago he suffered an eye injury and could not continue to serve in the infantry. He then transferred to a unit specializing in countering the threat from Gaza tunnels.

“There’s a moment when the person drilling says ‘we feel something here’ and you insert the camera, and that’s it, you know you succeeded.  You understand that you have saved lives,” Aleph told Channel 13 news about his role.  “In my job there’s no room for mistakes.  If I miss something, maybe in a few months people will come out of a tunnel and kill civilians.”

Kerem Shalom is a small community ringed with a protective concrete wall that abuts Israel’s border with southern Gaza and is near the border with Egypt.  It is threatened with rockets, tunnels and arson balloons. Palestinian rioters burning tires often cause heavy smoke to drift into the community, and residents hear explosions going off during weekly border protests.

“There are Fridays when you can’t go outside your apartment because of tear gas,” Aleph said.

As a result, the community was underpopulated and struggling to attract new members.

Aleph served in the area for two years without building any personal connections to residents in the area, he said.

One Saturday, he said, “one of the residents sat next to me and said, ‘It’s great to see young life in this place,’ and in that moment something clicked.  I decided I would move there and live,” he said. “It was very clear to me. I’m always working so hard to protect these places. I put a call on WhatsApp – I was sure it would bring in a few people, and it did.”

The community’s newest residents moved into 10 apartments, with two or three in each unit, and have contributed to their new home by painting buildings, setting up a youth club and planting grass and trees.

They sleep in bomb shelters in their apartments because they are so close to the Strip that they have little time to react to incoming rockets.

“They brought in a young spirit to the kibbutz,” Roni Kisin, one of the community members told Channel 13.

“They brought in new energy.  At the beginning we didn’t know how to feel about them.  We thought that they would come and be here for six months or a year then disappear.  But they’re here, and it looks like they’re here to stay. We hope so. Some of them already finished the army and stayed.  In the past we were underpopulated. But today we’re completely full and there is a waiting list to move in, which is staggering and very moving.”



Mayor: Jerusalem Will Be Tech Capital Of Israel

Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion on Sunday night (15th) participated in the International Jewish Leadership Conference, funded by the Keren haYesod – United Israel Appeal organization and the Jewish Federations of North America.

Attending the conference, which was held in Moscow, were 160 important Jewish philanthropists, as well as Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon, Israel Hayom owner Sheldon Adelson and others.

The conference is held once every two years and is hosted in a different country each time. Every conference sees Jews from every corner of the globe, gathered together in support of Israel.

Lion who represented Jerusalem at the conference, said: “Whoever comes to Jerusalem today will see a different city.”

“The most important thing of all is that we are placing the cornerstones for Jerusalem to be Israel’s future tech capital.  We’re developing and advancing every part of the city, and I invite you to come and visit us,” he said.



First Signs Of Autumn As Unexpected Rain Hits Israel — Election Day, Sunny and Clear

Israelis found themselves taking a break from the summer heat and enjoying the unexpected autumn-like weather on Sunday (15th) as the first rain of the season hit the north and some central parts of the country.

The rainy weather continued throughout the day, intensifying throughout the afternoon hours.  Despite the unseasonable precipitation, the weather will remain warm in most of the country.

On Monday (16th) it will be partly cloudy, with warmer temperatures and again, a chance of rain.

However, on Election Day Tuesday (17th), the forecast is for sunny and clear weather.