September 19, 2018

Thousands Visit Holy Sites In Predawn Pilgrimages

Roughly 15,000 Jews visited the Tomb of the Patriarchs holy site in Hebron on Sunday night (16th) and early Monday morning (17th) ahead of the upcoming Yom Kippur holiday which begins at sundown Tuesday (18th).

Each year, during the period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur – known as the 10 days of repentance – thousands of Jews make a pilgrimage to the site, believed to be the burial place of the Jewish patriarchs and matriarchs Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, and Jacob and Leah.  Some say Adam and Eve are buried there.

At the Tomb of the Patriarchs, the pilgrims said special prayers known as Selichot.

The Israeli military and police provided security during the visit.

“IDF soldiers, along with Border Police and Israel Police forces provided increased security for the event, and allowed the prayer service to take place safely,” the army said.    

In addition, approximately 1,500 people visited Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus for Selichot prayers.  

“The prayer service in Nablus was also guarded safely,” the army said.



Hamas Creates New Force To Ramp Up Gaza Border Attacks – Yoni Ben Menachem

Over the past two weeks, Hamas has created a new unit called, “The Night-time Deployment Unit.”

The purpose of the unit is to strike against IDF soldiers on the Gaza border during the night and to break the routine of incidents on the border ending in the evening hours, or on one day of the week.

The establishment of the new unit is part of Hamas’ strategic decision to ramp up again the incidents on the border following the failure to secure a calm through the Egyptian-sponsored negotiations.  The tactic is part of the strategy to pressure Israel to remove the blockade of the Gaza Strip.

As part of this operation, Hamas has also established a new “Return Camp” in northern Gaza adjacent to the Israeli border on the beach near the Israeli Kibbutz of Zikim – in addition to the five existing refugee camps.  While demonstrations have taken place near the existing camps every Friday, Hamas seeks to create new points of friction with IDF forces – such as a weekly protest flotilla every Monday or demonstrations on Tuesday.

Senior Hamas Political Bureau official, Fathi Hamad, stated last weekend, “If the embargo is not removed this week, we will reveal new fighting methods and demonstrate new progress on land, sea, and, Allah willing, also in the air.”



Palestinian Ministry Retracts Claim Gaza Boy Was Killed By IDF Troops

A medical source in the Palestinian Health Ministry backed away on Monday (17th) from an assertion that an 11-year-old boy killed at a protest on Friday (14th) at the border with Israel had been shot by Israeli soldiers.

“The boy died of a head injury,” said the medical source, who asked not to be identified, declining to give specifics and stopping short of attributing the death to Israeli gunfire.

On Friday (14th), Ashraf al-Qidra, spokesman for the Health Ministry in Gaza, said the youth, Shadi Abdel-Al, had been shot dead by Israeli troops.

An Israeli military spokeswoman, asked on Monday (17th) about the circumstances of the boy’s death and media reports that he had been killed by a rock thrown during protests.  

The spokesman tweeted that there were “increasing indicators from Gaza that question the credibility” of the Palestinian Health Ministry’s original statement about the boy’s death.

“According to the indicators and testimonies, the boy was killed as a result of an injury from rocks thrown during the violent riots,” the spokesman wrote.

In Friday’s (14th) violent protests, some 13,000 Palestinians who massed at several points near the fence, hurled rocks and fire bombs at troops under cover of smoke from burning tires.



Rabbi Sacks Warns House Of Lords On Danger Of Anti-Semitism In Britain

Former UK Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks told the House of Lords on Thursday (13th): “The greatest danger any civilization faces is when it suffers collective amnesia.  We forget how small beginnings lead to truly terrible endings. A thousand years of Jewish history in Europe added certain words to the human vocabulary: forced conversion, inquisition, expulsion, ghetto, pogrom, Holocaust.  They happened because hate went unchecked. No one said ‘stop.’”

“It pains me to speak about anti-Semitism, the world’s oldest hatred.  But I cannot keep silent. One of the enduring facts of history is that most anti-Semites do not think of themselves as anti-Semites.  We don’t hate Jews, they said in the Middle Ages, just their religion. We don’t hate Jews, they said in the nineteenth century, just their race.  We don’t hate Jews, they say now, just their nation-state.”

“Anti-Semitism is the hardest of all hatreds to defeat because, like a virus, it mutates.  But one thing stays the same. Jews, whether as a religion or a race or as the State of Israel, are made scapegoats for problems for which all sides are responsible.  That is how the road to tragedy begins. Anti-Semitism, or any hate, becomes dangerous when three things happen. First, when it moves from the fringes of politics to a mainstream party and its leadership.  Second, when the party sees that its popularity with the general public is not harmed thereby. And three, when those who stand up and protest are vilified and abused for doing so.”

“All three factors exist in Britain now.  I never thought I would see this in my lifetime.  That is why I cannot stay silent. For it is not only Jews who are at risk.  So too is humanity.”



Israeli Water Officials Predict A Rainy Winter That Won’t Make Up Deficit

The Israeli Water Authority says its updated weather models predict better than average rainfall coming this winter following five years of severe drought.

The predictions are welcome news, but won’t be enough to offset the severe deficit in Israel’s freshwater streams, lakes and aquifers, the state’s official water supply and planning agency said in a statement on Monday (17th).

“The aggregate shortage over the past five years of drought is enormous,” the statement read.  “The natural water sources lack some 660 billion gallons of water. We need an unusually powerful winter to make up these shortages.”

The extended drought has driven these natural reservoirs, and the streams that flow from them, to 98-year lows, according to Water Authority data.

The authority launched a public awareness campaign in May entitled “Israel is drying out…again,” which aimed to urge Israelis to conserve their water usage.

Israelis have not felt the current drought as acutely as past dry spells, or as sharply as Israel’s neighbors, because of the construction in recent years of five massive desalination plants on the Mediterranean coast that now provide some 70% of the country’s drinking water directly from the sea.  The state also recycles some 86% of its wastewater for agriculture.