November 13, 2018

Netanyahu, Putin Talk In Paris For First Time Since Downed Plane

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin held an impromptu conversation Sunday (11th) in Paris, their first since the downing of the Russian plane in Syria on September 17.

Moscow holds that Israeli actions led to the downing of the plane by Syrian anti-missile aircraft.

However, the two leaders did manage to talk on the sidelines of an event at the Elysee Palace in Paris.

Netanyahu told reporters that the “conversation was good and to the point, I would say very important.”

He refused to elaborate any further on the conversation.  Netanyahu also held a brief conversation with U.S. President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

In an unusual manner, Netanyahu held a public, on the record, press conference in the afternoon in Hebrew at his hotel near the Arche de Triomphe, to answer questions from Israeli reporters.

Earlier in the day he participated in France’s formal ceremony to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.

With regard to Gaza, he said, “I am working in every way possible to return calm to the southern border with Gaza.  I am not afraid of war, but I want to prevent one if I can.”

Netanyahu echoed Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman when he said that he did not believe it was possible to arrive at a long term solution in Gaza.

“There are organizations [Hamas} with whom you can not enter into a long-term agreement,” he said.

He spoke about the sudden thaw in Israel’s ties with the Arab world saying, “They admire Israel’s technology and economy and want similar developments in their countries.”

Netanyahu will meet on Monday (12th) with French President Emmanuel Macron.



Palestinian Man Who Entered Israel From Gaza Burned Down Greenhouse In Border Community

A Palestinian man who infiltrated into southern Israel from Gaza set a greenhouse on fire, causing hundreds of thousands of shekels in damage.

The man made it several hundred yards into southern Israel, reaching a community near Israel’s border with Gaza, on Friday evening (9th), according to the Israel Defense Forces.  He was caught and turned over to the Israel Security Agency, Shin Bet.

The IDF at first thought that the greenhouse caught fire from one of the flares used to find the man.  But he later told interrogators that he had set the fire. It reportedly is not the first time that this Gazan Palestinian man has infiltrated into Israel.

The community was identified in media reports as moshav Netiv HaAsara.

Udi Dreilich, the owner of the greenhouse, told Walla news that his entire operation is now charred remnants.

“All my equipment was in the greenhouse, the seeds for the crops are gone, and all the nets and nylon are burned.  I looked at the damage and it hurt my heart; it’s years of work,” he said. “The feeling that he managed to break through the fence and reach us is not good – it raises concerns.  Our problem is that if someone managed to break through the fence, he could come to the community and carry out an attack. An hour earlier my workers were there and it could have ended differently.”

The incident occurred as some 12,000 Gazans participated in protests near the border fence.



Military Choppers Called In To Rescue Group Stranded By Floods In Israeli South

Two military helicopters were sent Saturday afternoon (10th) to help in rescue efforts in southern Israel after five people were caught in a flood during an off-road excursion.

Rescuers were in contact with the stranded group south of Mitzpe Ramon and finally brought them to safety.

In a separate incident 12 hikers were caught in a flood but managed to extricate themselves.

Meanwhile the Foreign Ministry said Saturday (10th) it had managed to make contact with all previously missing Israeli tourists in southern Jordan, amid deadly flash floods across several areas that claimed the lives of 12 Jordanians since Friday (9th).  The Israeli tourists were reported safe.

In Israel, the Nature and Parks Authority said it dealt with 11 incidents over the weekend, including four hikers who were stranded in a cave by rising floodwaters.  All incidents ended well with only one person hospitalized for minor injuries.



Hizbullah: ‘Israel Can’t Handle Our Missile Stockpile’

The head of the Lebanon-based Iranian proxy group Hizbullah says the Lebanese government should not give in to diplomatic pressure seeking to strip his group of its rocket arsenal.

Hassan Nasrallah said Saturday (10th) that neither threats nor sanctions will force his group to give up its capabilities, including a rocket arsenal, financed by Iran, that Israel has constantly warned represents a significant threat.

Nasrallah’s speech was broadcast on a large screen in Beirut’s southern district.

The terror leader claimed his group would respond to any attacks from Israel.

Specifically, Nasrallah said that despite the fact that the Jewish state “possesses a large army, advanced air force and nuclear weapons, Israel cannot handle the number of missiles possessed by Hizbullah.”  

Nasrallah’s comments arrived against the backdrop of Israel’s warnings to the Lebanese government that if it does not take action to rein in the terror group’s rocket production facilities, Israel will be forced to address the threat militarily.

Israel reportedly conveyed the demand to Lebanese officials through a mediator.



Why Israelis Live Longer – Prof. Rafael A. Beyar

Israel is among the top countries in longevity with an average lifespan of 82.5 years as of 2016.  Other countries on the longevity list – Canada, Sweden, Italy, and Japan – are tranquil, wealthy and at peace.  But for Israel, confronted over its 70-year history with war and perpetual conflict, and a seven-fold increase in its population including a large and diverse immigrant base, these findings may come as a surprise.

One answer is a “Mediterranean diet” high in fruits, vegetables and fish.  Another is low alcohol consumption. Another quite important reason is the close family structure in Israel.  But probably the single most important factor is the Israeli healthcare system. All it citizens receive healthcare services regardless of income or pre-existing health conditions.  Yet Israel spends just 7.4% of its GDP on healthcare, compared to the U.S., which spends about 18% of its GDP while still leaving out large numbers of people.

All Israeli residents are covered by one of four major health funds.  Excellent public hospital care is available equally to all sectors of society.  Costs are kept down through a combination of government controls, purchasing power by the health funds, incentives and competition.  Israelis, who are known to complain about much, usually are complimentary about their healthcare. And with many now living well into their 80s, they should be.

The writer is Director General and CEO of the Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa.