September 20, 2018
Israel Marks Yom Kippur
Israeli security forces began placing a closure around the West Bank overnight Monday (17th) while shutting the Erez and Kerem Shalom border crossings between Israel and the Gaza Strip as security forces took extra precautions ahead of Yom Kippur – the Jewish holiday of atonement and repentance.
The closure around the West Bank will continue until midnight between Wednesday (19th) and Thursday (20th) several hours after the conclusion of the 24-hour fast which began on Tuesday evening (18th).
The precautionary measures will also be accompanied by the presence of heightened fears of terror attacks during the Jewish festival, particularly in the wake of Sunday’s (16th) deadly stabbing attack on 45-year-old Ari Fuld.
Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar is observed by prayer services and fasting. Children take to the streets on foot or bicycle to enjoy the near complete absence of cars on streets and highways. The atmosphere is calm, nearly silent, as the country literally grinds to a halt.
Magen David Adom (MDA) medical workers and volunteers will be on call throughout the holiday period and deployed in various areas in anticipation of a high number of dehydration cases among the thirsty population fasting under Israel’s sun.
Putin Says Israel Did Not Shoot Down Russian Plane, Calls It A Tragic Accident
MOSCOW–Russian President Vladimir Putin confirmed Tuesday (18th) that Israel did not shoot down a Russian military plane with 15 people on board, saying the downing of the plane by Syria air defense was a “chain of tragic accidental circumstances.”
“It rather looks like a chain of tragic accidental circumstances,” Putin told reporters, rejecting any comparisons with the downing of a Russian jet by Turkey in 2015.
“An Israeli jet did not shoot down our plane,” Putin said.
The Russian defense ministry earlier Tuesday (18th) had blamed Israel for the accident and warned of reprisals.
Putin was scheduled to speak to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later Tuesday (18th), according to Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov. However it was not certain if the conversation would take place, with Israel observing Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year, from Tuesday evening (18th).
On Monday (17th) Syria accidentally shot down the Russian plane, killing 15 crew members, when its air defenses swung into action against an Israeli strike. The incident was the worst case of friendly fire between the two allies since Russia’s game-changing military intervention in September 2015.
The Russian plane was downed by a Russian-made S-200 air defense supplied to Syria.
The Israeli military on Tuesday (18th) acknowledged conducting an airstrike against a Syrian weapons facility the night before and “expressed sorrow” for the deaths of the 15 Russian airmen.
In a statement, however, the Israel Defense Forces denied all responsibility for the downing of the Russian spy plane, saying that Syria, Iran and Hizbullah were the ones at fault.
Israel Places Syrian Dictator In Sights With New Satellite Photos
As Israel prepares to celebrate the 30th anniversary of its first orbital spy satellite the Ofek 1, the Defense Ministry released several current surveillance photos taken by its current fleet of satellites.
Among the images released were a number of sites located deep into Syrian territory, including an image of the palace of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad.
Israel’s decision to reveal the image has been interpreted as a warning to the Syrian ruler regarding the IDF’s military capabilities and the Israeli Air Force’s knowledge of the lay of the land.
The other two photos that Israel released depict Syrian tanks on a military base and the Damascus international airport, which Syria claims Israel targeted on Saturday evening (15th).
The Israeli military’s ability to strike Syrian targets, as well as Iranian military assets and personnel within Syria, is no secret, with the Jewish state carrying out hundreds of airstrikes since 2017. While Israel generally neither confirms nor denies the strikes initially, it has on a number of occasions subsequently taken responsibility for destroying Syrian and Iranian military facilities and weapons shipments.
Israel has consistently made it clear that Iranian entrenchment in Syrian territory is a ‘red line’ it will not countenance, resorting to both military and diplomatic responses to the Islamic Republic’s use of the Syrian civil war as cover for its regional expansionism and attempts to carve out a Shiite corridor in the Middle East.
Gaza Says 2 Killed In Monday Night Airstrike Near Border
Two Gazans were killed in an Israeli strike near the border fence with the enclave, the Hamas and Gaza Health Ministry said early Tuesday (18th).
The Israel Defense Forces had earlier said Monday night (17th) that its aircraft targeted Palestinians who approached the fence and placed what the military said was a suspicious object.
“An IDF aircraft attacked terrorists who approached the fence in the southern Gaza Strip in a suspicious manner and planted a suspicious object along it,” the army said in a statement.
The Gaza-Israel frontier has been volatile for months, with the Hamas terror group leading weekly marches on the fence that have recently ramped back up after a brief lull in tensions.
On Monday (17th), thousands gathered on Gaza’s Mediterranean beach, near the fence separating the territory from Israel.
Some activists sailed in small fishing boats near the fence, flying the Palestinian flag.
A group of Gazans were also said to have broken through the security fence and entered Israeli territory on Monday (17th), setting fire to an empty sniper post near the border.
Israel says its actions – and particulariy the use of live ammunition – are necessary to defend the border and stop mass infiltrations from the territory. Israel has accused the Hamas terror group of encouraging the protests and using them as cover to attempt to carry out terror attacks, including firing at troops and attempting to breach the border.
Homemade Bomb Found Affixed To Headstone In NJ Jewish Cemetery
A homemade explosive device was found affixed to a headstone in a Jewish cemetery in New Jersey.
The device was discovered on Sunday (16th) at the B’nai Abraham Cemetery during the Jewish Federation Cemetery Visiting Day, a public event organized by the Jewish Federation of Greater Metrowest. The cemetery was evacuated following the discovery of the device, NJ.com reported.
Police checked the rest of the cemetery for other bombs.
An Essex County Bomb Squad member defused the explosive device, News 12 New Jersey reported.
The homemade explosive was made up of a non-military mortar taped to a container of lubricant, the police said.
“There is no indication at this time that the device was targeted as a bias/hate crime incident, but we will follow up with our law enforcement partners at Homeland Security to advise them of the incident,” said the police.