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Latest Israel News – 16th August

Israel’s Innovation Showcase

Israel is known for its creative ways of saving water and making unusable water drinkable.

But what about in places where there isn’t even salty water to desalinate? Or dirty water that could be cleaned? Leave it to Israel to come up with something to create water from seemingly NOTHING.

Dershowitz presented this Israeli product by WaterGen that pulls moisture from the air, purifies it, and produces 15-20 liters of drinkable water a day! That means that in places where water is not found, thanks to Israel, water can now be “created.”

People who in the past could die of thirst now have hope again for life!

Pedestrian bridge collapses on Highway 4, one dead

A pedestrian bridge collapsed on Highway 4 between Givat Shmuel and Bnei Brak in Central Israel Monday night, causing the death of a truck driver whose vehicle was struck by the debris.

United Hatzalah paramedics rushed to the scene near the Ramat Elchanan neighborhood of Bnei Brak and Fire and Rescue workers also arrived within minutes to help safely extricate the truck driver.

Magen David Adom later reported that the man in his 60s died from his injuries.

Pedestrian Bridge

“After complex and prolonged rescue operations, paramedics declared the death of a man of about 60,” said the MDA spokesperson.

According to police, no one was walking on the bridge when it collapsed for unknown reasons shortly after 8 p.m. And no serious injuries have been reported.

“When the pedestrian bridge fell on the Number 4 Road it landed on a truck,” said Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld shortly after the collapse.

“Police units quickly arrived at the scene and dealt with the incident, and luckily no passenger vehicles were driving under the bridge when it fell.”

Rosenfeld added: “The area has been closed off, resulting in temporary traffic congestion, but Traffic Police on the scene hope to reopen the area soon.” (Jerusalem Post)

Outgoing IAF commander: Our enemies would be surprised by our abilities

Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin officially assumed command of the Israel Air Force (IAF) in a ceremony held at Tel Nof Airbase on Monday evenin.

The ceremony was attended by Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot and US Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen. David Goldfein.

Norkin is replacing Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel, who is retiring from the IDF after 40 years of service.


Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot (L), Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin (C) and former IAF commander Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel (R)

During Eshel’s tenure, two major operations were conducted in the Gaza Strip—the 2012 Operation Pillar of Defense and the 2014 Operation Protective Edge—along with hundreds of sorties and covert operations beyond Israel’s borders, including strikes against Hamas and Hezbollah.

“The Middle East is changing before our eyes. The global transformation in the balance of forces and the changing battlefield continue to expand the responsibility and mission of the Air Force. It also requires us to continue developing our capabilities to deal with the challenges of the future,” said Norkin.

“The Air Force will continue to acquire new and advanced technologies. The Air Force of the future will continue to strengthen its ties with other air forces and strengthen Israel’s standing in the region and in the world. I take this command with confidence in our people and our capabilities,” Norkin concluded.

In his remarks, Eshel said, “The skills of the IAF in offense and defense have been tested in recent years in thousands of operations across five arenas; both in close range and thousands of kilometers from home. Threats were thwarted, rockets were destroyed and aircraft were intercepted in the Middle East and beyond its borders.

“The Israeli Air Force gives the IDF unprecedented strength. Our enemies cannot imagine its quality and scope. If we are forced to fight, they will be very surprised. Our personnel are extremely professional, determined and humble.”

Lt. Gen. Eisenkot echoed the confidence in the IAF of both men, saying, “The Air Force is the strategic arm that is the guarantor of the security of the State of Israel. The map of threats is expanding and changing at a rapid pace, which obligates us to adapt our capabilities to the modern battlefield.

“At our borders terrorist organizations are organizing and growing stronger. The IDF needs a very high level of preparedness against any threat.”  (Ynet News)

Children of terror victim attend special summer camp

Michal Salomon and her 3 elder children—whose father Elad, grandfather Yosef and aunt Haya were murdered by a Palestinian terrorist in Halamish last month—joined other kids who were hurt or lost loved ones in terror attacks for a fun activity organized by ZAKA Israel; ‘It’s a shame dad wasn’t with us, because he would have enjoyed it a lot,’ says 9-year-old Reut Salomon.

Some 150 children who are either hurt or lost loved ones in terror attacks arrived at the Ben Shemen Forest in central Israel on Sunday for a special summer camp.

Among the campers were three of the children of Elad Salomon, 35, who was murdered along with his father Yosef, 70, and sister Haya, 46, by a terrorist who infiltrated the family home in the settlement of Halamish last month.

“This summer, because of the attack, we haven’t done any activities,” said Elad’s widow Michal, who brought their three elder children to the camp—Avinoam, 10.5, Reut, 9, and Amitai, 5. “I’m glad this activity gave us the opportunity to break away from everyday routine.”

“It’s a miracle we’re alive,” she added. “It’s thanks to my late husband, who fought the terrorist with all of his strength, and I admire him for that.”

While the children enjoyed the drum circles and jeep tours led by the Jeep Unit of ZAKA Israel, they did miss their father dearly.

“It’s a shame dad wasn’t with us, because he would have enjoyed it a lot,” said nine-year-old Reut. “We think about him all the time. During today’s activity, we were able to forget about the attack for a little bit and managed to have some fun.”

Other campers include the children of the Shabo family from Itamar, which lost five of its members in 2002 when two Palestinian terrorists broke into their home, and Ayala Shapira, who suffered serious burns when a Molotov cocktail was thrown at the car she was traveling in.

Salomon children

Elad Salomon’s children with their cousins

Apart from the Salomon family, the rest of the campers headed at the end of the day to Eilat for three days.

“Families who experienced disasters, such as serious terror attacks, don’t forget the sights and feelings for the rest of their lives,” explained ZAKA CEO Israel Hezi Shavaks. “That is why we view it as very important to allow them to have experiences that could help them forget the difficult times, if only a little bit.” (Ynet News)

Israel opens 13 km. pipeline to alleviate West Bank water shortage

Water flowed for the first time through a new 13-km. pipeline in the Samaria region of the West Bank, inaugurated on Monday. It was put into place to alleviate water shortages in the settlements of Peduel, Alei-Zahav and Bruchin and in the surrounding Palestinian villages in Area C.

“The importance of laying this pipeline today can’t be overestimated,” Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan said, who inaugurated its opening with Infrastructure Minister Yuval Steinitz.

It will provide an additional 2,500 to 3,000 cu.m. of water daily, said Dagan. Unfortunately, he added, “it only solves 25% of the problem.”

There are still three water lines that need to be completed and portions of the project have not yet received final approvals, Dagan said.

Benny Elbaz of the Civil Administration said that an additional 7,500 cu.m. would be available next year when another section of the pipeline will be laid near the Ofarim settlement.

Water shortages chronically plague both Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank, where the infrastructure cannot keep pace with the demands of the growing population and the agricultural needs of the area.

The pipeline project, which began last year, has already increased water supplies by 5,000 cu.m. in the region, and is expected to also increase supply for Palestinians in the West Bank.

Part of the delay in renovating the outdated pipes was the inactivity of the Israeli-Palestinian Joint Water Committee, whose work was frozen for six years and which was only reactivated in January of this year.

The Water Authority and setters have also charged that Palestinian theft of water has depleted supplies.

Steinitz said he has approved a master plan that would solve the water shortages for both Israelis and Palestinians, who have now relied on water tankers to get them through the summer months. (Jerusalem Post)

Chinese enrollment at Israeli universities skyrockets

The influx of Chinese students at Israeli universities has been growing steadily in recent years.

On the forefront of this enrollment boom is the University of Haifa, which currently boasts some 200 Chinese students among its student body, compared to 20 in 2013, representing a 1,000% increase.

A majority of these students come from the University of East China Normal University in Shanghai, which is a sister city of Haifa.

University of Haifa president Ron Robin welcomes the addition. “The cooperation with strategic partners from Chinese industry and academia serves the strategic goals of the university,” said Robin. “We have positioned ourselves as a leading international institution. As such, we welcome all the Chinese students to Israel, and intend to continue to deepen the ties and cooperation with the Chinese academy.”

These ties can result in profitable research and development in which millions of dollars are currently being invested in the hopes to further strengthen the bonds between the two countries.

This past March, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Economy Minister Eli Cohen were present when Robin, along with the Hangzhou Wahaha Group and the Institute of Automation at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, signed a $10-million deal that finalized the construction of three Israeli-Chinese artificial intelligence technology centers in Haifa, Hangzhou and Beijing.

According to the university, this deal “proved the growing strength of the relationship between the two countries.”

But the university insists that there’s a lot in it for the students as well, saying that “the Chinese love Haifa’s location that combines mountains and sea, and are very impressed by the city’s large high-tech complex.”

And it’s not just science-based courses that are attracting the students to Haifa, according to a statement released by the university. “In general, Chinese students are particularly interested in the disciplines for which the University of Haifa has developed unique programs: maritime studies, public health, medical clowning, art therapy, education, national security studies and the English-speaking Global Green MBA, focusing on sustainability and ecological- friendly development – two of the main economic challenges in China.”

Across town, the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology has also seen an influx of Chinese students in recent years. During the 2016-2017 academic year, the school had 117 full-time Chinese students, and 177 Chinese students enrolled in its summer school of engineering.

The Technion has been intensifying its academic cooperation with Chinese universities and students, and in 2013, together with Shantou University (STU), received a $130m. grant from the Li Ka Shing Foundation to establish a branch of the Technion in the Guangdong Province.

The Technion hailed the partnership as “a new era of research and innovation in science, engineering and life sciences, an unprecedented cooperation between the People’s Government of Guangdong Province and Shantou Municipal Government, Technion, and STU.”

The highly anticipated addition to the Technion is scheduled to open its doors in October. Some 240 students from several provinces in China have enrolled for study at the Technion branch, which offers three engineering programs: chemical, material science and biotechnology and food engineering. Preparatory studies begin this month and the first semester begins in October. (Jerusalem Post)

Israel to send aid to Sierra Leone after devastating landslide

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday instructed the Foreign Ministry to send aid to Sierra Leone, where hundreds of people were killed in a massive landslide in the capital.

At least 312 people were killed and more than 2,000 left homeless when heavy flooding hit Freetown, leaving excavators to pull bodies from rubble and overwhelming the city’s morgues.

“The prime minister has ordered the Foreign Ministry to extend aid to Sierra Leone in any way and as soon as possible,” his office said.

As there is no embassy in Sierra Leone, Netanyahu said Israel will send medicines, clean water, blankets and other needed items via the embassy in Senegal.

Sierra Leone’s President Ernest Bai Koroma visited Israel in January, and at that time Netanyahu discussed with him the possibility of sending a delegation to help the country’s development.

Sierra Leone is one of the poorest countries in the world, according to UN indicators.

Sierra Leone’s military, police and Red Cross volunteers were deployed in an all-out effort to locate and rescue citizens trapped in their homes or under rubble.

The Sierra Leone meteorological department did not issue any warning ahead of the torrential rains to hasten evacuation from the disaster zones, AFP’s correspondent based in Freetown said.

Deputy Information Minister Cornelius Deveaux confirmed Koroma had called a national emergency, and said his own boss, Information Minister Mohamed Bangura, was in the hospital after being injured in the flooding.

The scale of the human cost of the floods was only becoming clear on Monday afternoon, as images of battered corpses piled on top of each other circulated and residents spoke of their struggles to cope with the destruction and find their loved ones.

Meanwhile disaster management official Vandy Rogers said that “over 2,000 people are homeless,” hinting at the huge humanitarian effort that will be required to deal with the fallout of the flooding.

Freetown, an overcrowded coastal city of 1.2 million, is hit each year by flooding during several months of rain that destroys makeshift settlements and raises the risk of waterborne diseases such as cholera. (the Times of Israel)

The Potentially Existential Threat to Israel from “Palestine”

By Prof . Louis René Beres                    BESA   (Begin Sadat Center for Strategic Affairs)

The Potentially Existential Threat to Israel from “Palestine”

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: “Palestine” could present a far greater threat to Israel than a third intifada or persistent terrorism. This threat, which would further exacerbate the area’s correlation of forces, is potentially existential. Under certain circumstances, Palestinian statehood could meaningfully enlarge the prospects of both mega-terror attacks and regional nuclear war.

The measure of danger posed to Israel by a future Palestinian state is not subject to casual reflection. It can be ascertained only through the disciplined examination of proper hypotheses – conceptually, systematically, and deductively, in the manner of a scientific investigation.

An application of this process shows the threat to Israel of “Palestine” to be much greater than is typically alleged. The threat is so great, in fact, that it could ultimately prove existential.

This is the case, moreover, despite the fact that the tangible threat posed by Palestine to Israel’s survival would be indirect. It’s a bit like the case of a person who won’t die as a direct result of some insignificant illness, but who will be sufficiently weakened by it to become susceptible to more terminal pathologies.

It also remains conceivable, if unlikely, that the Palestinian state per se would pose lethal hazards to the Jewish state. These hazards would appear in increments, rather than in “bolt from the blue” military strikes.

By definition, a state of Palestine – no matter how it is constituted – would be carved from the still-living body of Israel.

It is similarly incontestable that Arab terror against the Jewish State would not subside following Palestinian statehood. This is because the leaders of any future Palestinian state – one with more formal juridical status than the current UN “nonmember observer state” designation – would continue to regard the now-diminished and more vulnerable Israel as “Occupied Palestine.” Why would they revise their original concept of “the Zionist enemy,” especially after they had become irrefutably more powerful?

There is no way for analysts to assign a numerical probability to this prospect, but no other conclusion can plausibly be extrapolated from Palestinian platforms, maps, charters, and policy positions.

Of further significance, especially as US President Donald Trump clings to the cliché of the “two-state solution”, Arab terror would likely expand even more quickly than if there had been no Palestinian state. This forecast also follows directly from all we know about Palestinian positions. A shallow political mantra, no matter how often it is repeated in Washington, London, Gaza, or Ramallah, is no substitute for reality.

Should anyone still believe the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas would be content with a new state carved entirely from “Israeli occupied territory,” they need only be reminded that the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was founded in 1964, three years before there were any “Israeli occupied territories.” Moreover, the State of Israel as it exists today is smaller than Lake Michigan. Even before the creation of Palestine, the Arab world of 22 states is 672 times the size of Israel.

Much concern is being expressed at the possibility of a third intifada. For Israel, the rational remedy for such a prospect is not to encourage its adversaries to morph into a more organized and structured state enemy. Any juridically enhanced State of Palestine could magnify its cumulative adversarial capacity to inflict great harm on Israel. It is possible that such harm, imposed with a margin of collective impunity, could eventually involve weapons of mass destruction, including chemical, biological, or even nuclear agents.

Palestine, after achieving statehood, could be in an optimal position to assault Israel’s Dimona reactor. This nuclear facility was attacked in 1991 and again in 2014. Those earlier missile and rocket barrages, which produced no serious damage to the reactor core, originated with Iraqi and Hamas aggressions, respectively.

Regarding expected Palestinian state intentions, there is little mystery to fathom. Palestine could and would provide a ready platform for launching endlessly renewable war and terror attacks against Israel. Significantly, not a single warring Palestinian faction has ever bothered to deny this. On the contrary: aggression has always been openly embraced and cheered as a sacred “national” incantation.

A September 2015 poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, the leading social research organization in the Palestinian territories, found that a majority of Palestinians reject a two-state solution. When asked about their preferred alternate ways to establish an independent Palestinian state, 42% called for “armed action.” Only 29% favored “negotiation” or some sort of peaceful resolution.

On all official Hamas and Palestinian Authority (PA) maps of “Palestine,” Israel has either been removed altogether or identified as “occupied Palestine.” In this way, Israel has already been subjected to “cartographic genocide.” From the standpoint of prospective Palestinian state policies toward Israel, such maps express intent.

It is insufficiently recognized that a Palestinian state could play a role (if indirect) in bringing nuclear conflict to the Middle East. Palestine itself would be non-nuclear, but such renunciation is hardly exculpatory. There would remain other ways in which the new state’s infringements of Israeli security could render the Jewish state more vulnerable to a nuclear attack from Iran, or, in the more distant future, from a newly nuclear Arab state.

This second prospect would likely have its core origins in Sunni Arab state reactions to the Vienna pact with Shiite Iran. Following the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), several Sunni states in the region, most plausibly Egypt and/or Saudi Arabia, will likely feel increasingly compelled to “go nuclear.”

In essence, any such Sunni Arab nuclear proliferation would represent a more-or-less coherent “self-defense” response to escalating perils issuing forth from the reciprocally fearful Shiite world.

More could be expected from the Sunni side. ISIS or some subsidiary incarnation could begin a destructive march westward, across Jordan, perhaps all the way to the borders of the West Bank. Should a Palestinian state already be established, Sunni terrorist cadres would pose a serious threat to any deployed “Palestinian army.” In the event that Palestine had not yet been officially declared (i.e., in a fashion consistent with the Montevideo Convention), invading ISIS/ISIS-type forces –not Israel – will have become the principal impediment to Palestinian independence.

ISIS has been expanding beyond Iraq and Syria, notably into Yemen, Libya, Egypt, and Somalia. Although Hamas leaders deny any ISIS presence in Gaza, the group’s black flag is now seen more regularly there.

In principle, at least, Israel could find itself forced to cooperate with Hamas against ISIS – but any reciprocal willingness from the Islamic Resistance Movement, whether visible or below the radar, is implausible. Additionally, Egypt regards Hamas as part of the Muslim Brotherhood and considers it as dangerous as ISIS.

In any event, after Palestine, and in the absence of any takeover of the new Arab state by ISIS-type forces, Israel’s physical survival would require increasing self-reliance in existential military matters. This would demand 1) a revised nuclear strategy involving enhanced deterrence, defense, preemption, and warfighting capabilities; and 2) a corollary conventional strategy.

The official birth of Palestine could affect these strategies in several disruptive ways. Most ominously, a Palestinian state could render most of Israel’s conventional capabilities much more problematic. Ultimately, therefore, it could heighten the chances of regional nuclear war.

A nuclear war in the Middle East is by no means out of the question. At some point, such a conflict could reach Israel not only as a missile attack, but also as an intended or inadvertent result of escalation.

If, for example, enemy states were to begin “only” with conventional and/or biological attacks on Israel, Jerusalem might respond, sooner or later, with nuclear reprisals. Or if these enemy states were to begin hostilities with conventional attacks on Israel, Jerusalem’s conventional reprisals might then be met with enemy nuclear counterstrikes.

For now, the second scenario will become possible only if Iran continues its advance toward an independent nuclear capability. It follows that a persuasive Israeli conventional deterrent, at least to the extent that it could prevent enemy state conventional and/or biological attacks, would substantially reduce Israel’s risk of exposure through escalation to a nuclear war. Israel will always need to maintain and refine its capacity for “escalation dominance,” but Palestinian statehood, on its face, could impair this strategic obligation.

A subsidiary question comes to mind. Why should Israel need a conventional deterrent at all?  Israel, after all, seemingly maintains a nuclear arsenal and corollary doctrine, though both remain deliberately ambiguous.

There arises a further query. Even after Palestine comes into being, wouldn’t enemy states desist from launching conventional and/or biological attacks on Israel out of fear of suffering a nuclear retaliation?

Not necessarily. Aware as they are that Israel would cross the nuclear threshold only in extraordinary circumstances, these enemy states could be convinced – rightly or wrongly – that so long as their attacks remain non-nuclear, Israel will respond only in kind. Faced with such calculations, Israel’s ordinary security still needs to be sustained by conventional deterrent threats.

A strong conventional capability will be needed by Israel to deter or preempt conventional attacks that could lead quickly, via escalation, to unconventional war.

Palestine could have further deleterious effects on power and peace in the Middle East. As the creation of yet another enemy Arab state would arise from Israel’s dismemberment, the Jewish State’s already minimal strategic depth would be further diminished. Over time, Israel’s conventional capacity to ward off enemy attacks could be correspondingly reduced.

Paradoxically, if enemy states were to perceive Israel’s sense of growing weakness, it could strengthen Israel’s nuclear deterrent.  If, however, enemy states did not perceive such a sense among Israel’s decision-makers (a more likely scenario), these states, now animated by Israel’s conventional force deterioration, could be tempted to attack. The cumulative result, spawned by Israel’s post-Palestine incapacity to maintain strong conventional deterrence, could become: 1) defeat of Israel in a conventional war; 2) defeat of Israel in an unconventional chemical/biological/nuclear war; 3) defeat of Israel in a combined conventional/unconventional war; or 4) defeat of Arab/Islamic state enemies by Israel in an unconventional war.

For Israel, even the “successful” fourth possibility could prove intolerable. The consequences of nuclear war, or even “merely” chemical/biological war, could be calamitous for the victor as well as the vanquished. Moreover, under such exceptional conditions of belligerency, traditional notions of victory and defeat would lose all serious meaning.

Although a meaningful risk of regional nuclear war in the Middle East exists independently of any Palestinian state, this threat would be even greater if a new Arab (terror) state were declared.

There is another worrisome possibility. Palestine could become vulnerable to overthrow by even more militant jihadist forces, a violent transfer of power that could then confront Israel. ISIS, for example, could find itself at the gates of Palestine. In such a scenario, it is conceivable that ISIS fighters would overwhelm any residual Palestinian defense force, PA and/or Hamas, and then absorb Palestine itself into its Islamic “caliphate.”

Should the endlessly fratricidal Palestinian territories be transformed and institutionalized into yet another corrupt Arab state, Palestine, either itself or as a newly incorporated element of a metastasizing “caliphate,” would likely become another Syria. Even more ominously, Palestine could indirectly bring the nuclear menace to the wider neighborhood.

As we have learned from Syria, an entire region can find itself facing a uniquely injurious form of chaos, one that is primal, visceral, and self-propelled. To better visualize this form of civilizational breakdown, consider the near-total “state of nature” described in William Golding’s novel, Lord of the Flies. Moreover, long before Golding, Thomas Hobbes warned of lawless circumstances wherein humans must coexist “without any authority above them.” The 17th-century English philosopher described dire circumstances of rampant chaos in which prevails a suffocating pall of “continual fear, and danger of violent death”.

As for the “life of man” in these dark circumstances, Hobbes’s Leviathan foresaw it as inevitably “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.”  It is just such an intolerably corrosive life that we must expect for Israelis and others in the aftermath of “Palestine.” This conclusion emerges not from conventional wisdom or “common sense”, which remains the unsteady basis of presidential policy judgments in Washington, but from the imperatives of a disciplined scientific examination.