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Latest Israel News – 3rd March

Israeli shoots, kills terrorist during attack in family home

A Palestinian terrorist was killed after he infiltrated the caravan home of an Israeli family in a West Bank outpost in the South Hebron Hills.

The homeowner, Shabtai Koshobalski, opened his door Tuesday afternoon after hearing a suspicious noise outside.

Standing in the doorway was a Palestinian man armed with two knives, according to a spokesman for the South Hebron Hills Regional Council.

Koshobalski stepped back inside to get his gun from his living room and the terrorist followed him inside, the spokesman said.

The terrorist stabbed Koshobalski, lightly wounding him, an army spokeswoman said.

Koshobalski’s dog, Sophie, intervened and was able to keep the terrorist at bay for the few moments needs for the homeowner to grab his gun, the South Hebron Hills spokesman said.

At that point, Koshobalski shot and killed the terrorist, Saad Muhammad Ali Qaisiya, from the nearby village of Dhahiriya.

During the incident, Koshobalski’s wife and baby were in the home, the spokesman said, adding that Koshobalski did not want to be interviewed.

According to the spokesman, Koshobalski’s farm is located about a kilometer away from the Tene Omarim settlement, and there are only a few other single people who live there.

Earlier in the day, Koshobalski had called in an army patrol, after a Palestinian herder had brought his sheep too close to Mor Farm, the South Hebron Hills spokesman said.

The IDF asked the herder to distance himself, and Koshobalski then filed a formal complaint with the police. The spokesman said he did not know if the two incidents were connected.

The South Hebron Hills region has suffered three fatal terrorist attacks in the last few years. In January 2016, Dafna Meir, 38, a mother of six, was stabbed to death by a teenage Palestinian terrorist just inside the doorway of her home in the Otniel settlement.

In November 2015, Rabbi Yaakov Litman, 40, and his son Netanel, 18, were killed in a shooting attack as they drove on Route 60. Rabbi Michael “Miki” Mark, 48, a father of 10 and the director-general of the Otniel Yeshiva, was similarly killed in July 2016 by Palestinian gunmen, as he drove on Route 60 in the South Hebron Hills.   (Jerusalem Post)

IDF chief: Army improved since Gaza war, but not ‘immune to criticism’

IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot on Tuesday said the army was “not immune to criticism,” after the release of a scathing state comptroller report on the military’s conduct during the 2014 Gaza war.

Eisenkot maintained the military had improved in the two and a half years since the 50-day conflict with Hamas.

The army drew considerable criticism in the State Comptroller’s Office report, published on Tuesday afternoon, for not adequately preparing to face the threat of Hamas tunnels.

Since 2014, “the IDF learned its lessons and put together work plans, and has been constantly working to improve its operational capabilities on the Gaza Strip front,” Eisenkot said

He said any mistakes by the Israeli leadership should not detract from the accomplishments and sacrifice of the soldiers, commanders and leaders involved in the military operation, known in Israel as Operation Protective Edge.

“We must remember that these are incredible people who dedicated their lives to the security of Israel and contributed to a better future for the citizens of the country and its residents,” he said.

It was Eisenkot’s first public response to the document, though the army released a statement to coincide with the publication of the comptroller report. He spoke at an event honoring civilian employees of the military at an army base north of Tel Aviv.

Eisenkot served as deputy chief of staff under Lt. Gen. (res.) Benny Gantz during the 2014 war.

From that vantage point he “saw up close IDF soldiers and officers in the ground, air and sea… with Benny Gantz leading them, working day and night to achieve combat goals and bring security back to our country,” he said.

While Eisenkot appeared to concede some of the army’s apparent shortcomings during the operation, the military’s official response rebuffed many of the charges.

The IDF took issue with State Comptroller Yosef Shapira for focusing on the tunnel threat to the exclusion of other issues “that existed and remain on the agenda.”

Regarding allegations in the report that the IDF had gaps in its intelligence, the military said it “had substantial information regarding the majority of Hamas’s terror tunnels and the nature of its underground terror network,” which “enabled infantry forces to locate the majority of the tunnels and reveal their routes.”

The security cabinet was also said to have been poorly informed of the threat posed by this subterranean attack infrastructure. The military contradicted that point as well.

“The IDF reflected to the Israeli political leadership the tunnel network as a serious threat, analyzed, and assessed and determined its operational ramifications. Additionally, in the cabinet meetings, the IDF defined the tunnel threat as one of the five primary threats facing the State of Israel,” the military said.

While the army rejected some of the report’s criticisms, it said that the recommendations made were being reviewed and some had already been put in place.

In the two and a half years since Operation Protective Edge, the “IDF has worked consistently and has invested more than NIS 2 billion ($547 million) to address the underground terror network threat and to find a technological solution,” the military said.

However, Hamas is suspected of having restored its arsenals and rebuilding much of its infrastructure back to pre-Operation Protective Edge levels.

The Gaza-based terror group is believed to possess at least 15 attack tunnels that reach into Israeli territory. Its weapons stores are also said to be replenished, though with more locally produced missiles, as the Egyptian and Israeli blockades make imported rockets more difficult to obtain.

For now, the IDF believes war is inevitable, but not likely in the near future.

“I don’t see a willingness in Gaza to launch a campaign against us,” Eisenkot told the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee last week.  (the Times of Israel)

Israeli jets, tanks strike Hamas targets in response to cross-border fire

The IDF carried out an airstrike and artillery shelling against two Hamas targets in Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip following gunfire towards IDF troops, the army stated on Thursday.

IDF troops carrying out routine security activities near the security fence along the Gaza border had come under fire, and while no injuries were reported, a military tractor suffered light damage.

Moira Dror from the border community of Netiv Ha’asara told The Jerusalem Post that despite the shelling by the IDF “the outpost is still standing.” Dror, who can see the outpost from her kitchen window, said that even the antenna of the post was still there, adding “perhaps this is a warning to them.”

According to Dror, it’s been really quiet since the end of Operation Protective Edge, “we’ve been living a normal life not thinking about where and when the next rocket will come. But recently things have been heating up,” referring to a rocket that was launched from the Gaza Strip towards Israel on Wednesday night.

No incoming rocket siren sounded as the projectile was headed towards open territory, landing in an open area near the Ashkelon coastline. There were no reports or injuries or damage from the rocket which was reportedly fired from Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip.

The rocket was found on Thursday by security forces who had been sweeping the area.

The United Nations’ special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, Nickolay Mladenov, condemned the attack, saying that “such provocation seek only to undermine peace.”

“This is the third such incident in the past 30 days after a period of almost four months of quiet,” he said, calling on both sides to restrain in order to avoid escalations “that jeopardize the lives of Palestinians and Israelis.”

While there were around 20 rockets launched in 2016 towards Israel from the Gaza Strip, Wednesday evening’s  incident marks the fifth rocket to have been launched at Israel within the last month, including two incidents by the Islamic State Group in Sinai.

Most of them have been claimed by small jihadist groups, many times as a means for pressuring Hamas by raising tensions between the terror organization and Israel. Hamas has cracked down on these small groups, recently carrying out a wave of arrests among Salafi, jihadist, pro-Islamic State organizations.

There has been no official claim of responsibility for the launching of Wednesday’s projectile, but Israel holds Hamas responsible for all fire coming from the Strip.

On Monday IDF jets struck 5 Hamas terror targets in the Gaza Strip in retaliation for a rocket which had launched from the Gaza Strip.

Following last week’s strikes, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that  “We are not ready to accept any drizzle of rockets. We will respond to every firing to our territory. That is what we did today and that is what we will also do in the future.”

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman stated that while Israel has no intention to initiate any military action in Gaza, “we have no intention to continue to absorb drippings (of rockets out of the strip). Hamas must take responsibility and relax.”

Hamas, on their official Twitter account denied responsibility for the rocket and stated that “we place full responsibility for the continuation of this dangerous escalation in Gaza on the Israeli entity, which is targeting the Palestinian resistance and the people of Gaza.”  (Jerusalerm Post)

Rocket lands in open area near Ashkelon coast, no injuries

A rocket exploded in an open area near the southern Ashkelon coastline Wednesday evening. There were no initial reports or injuries or damage.

Security forces were sweeping the area. Red alert sirens were not sounded as the rocket fell in an open area.

There has been no official claim of responsibility for the projectile’s launch, but Israel holds Hamas responsible for all fire coming from the Gaza Strip.

The incident comes just days after IDF jets struck five Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip earlier this week in retaliation for a rocket that landed in southern Israel overnight Sunday, the army confirmed on Monday.

“The strikes occurred in response to high-trajectory rocket attacks on the Western Negev in the morning,” the statement said. “The firing of rockets constitutes a threat to the security of Israeli citizens and harms the sovereignty of the State of Israel.”

According to Palestinian reports, at least eight air strikes hit Hamas positions in the Gaza Strip, including in Beit Lahiya. According to Ashraf al-Qidra, spokesman for the Health Ministry in Gaza, four men were “moderately wounded east of Rafah during the Israeli bombardment.”

According to Palestinian news agency Ma’an, two strikes targeted the Shuhada Hamas military site in the central Gaza Strip, west of the Nuseirat refugee camp.

Following the strikes, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “We are not ready to accept any drizzle of rockets. We will respond to every [rocket] fired into our territory. That is what we did today and that is what we will also do in the future.”

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman stated that while Israel has no intention of initiating military action in Gaza, “we have no intention of continuing to absorb sporadic fire [from the Gaza Strip]. Hamas must take responsibility and relax.”

Hamas, on their official Twitter account, blamed Israel for the escalation: “We place full responsibility for the continuation of this dangerous escalation in Gaza on the Israeli entity, which is targeting the Palestinian resistance and the people of Gaza. The continued targeting of the resistance’s locations, the purposeful explosion of the situation in Gaza and the imposition of new formulas on the resistance can not be permitted, irregardless of the price.”      (Jerusalem Post)

Netanyahu Lauds Trump’s ‘Strong Stance in Condemning anti-Semitism’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lauded U.S. President Donald Trump’s “strong stance in condemning anti-Semitism” on Wednesday and said a similar response must be demanded from all world leaders “because Jews around the world should not live in fear.”

Trump began his first speech before a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night by condeming the recent waves of anti-Semitic incidents across the U.S., saying the threats are a reminder that America “stands united in condemning hate.”

Speaking to a conference of the Jewish People Policy Institute on Wednesday, Netanyahu said: “World leaders need to unequivocally condemn anti-Semitism wherever it is found. And I appreciate the fact that in the last few weeks and days, President Trump and Vice President Pence have taken a strong stance in condemning anti-Semitism.”

Netanyahu praised Trump’s first public condemnation of anti-Semitic acts after bomb threats to U.S. Jewish centers and vandalism in a Jewish cemetery. “It’s very important that President Trump took a strong stand against anti-Semitism and it’s important that we all continue to do so in the years ahead,” Netanyahu said in Sydney’s Central Synagogue on an official visit to Australia.

Some Israeli media commentators had pressed Netanyahu to speak out more strongly against anti-Semitism, in light of what they described as Trump’s reluctance to do so. The omission of Jews or anti-Semitism in a White House Statement on International Holocaust Day was mentioned as an example of this reluctance.    (Haáretz)

Intel chief said to tell MKs war with Hamas, Hezbollah likely not on horizon

The head of Military Intelligence told a Knesset committee on Wednesday that the Hamas and Hezbollah terrorist groups were not inclined to launch military actions against the State of Israel in the near future, echoing statements made by army chief Gadi Eisenkot last month.

However, intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Herzl Halevi also warned the powerful Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that Israel should be concerned about cooperation between the Gaza-based Hamas and the Lebanese Hezbollah.

His comments, which were reported by Haaretz, came a day after the release of a biting state comptroller report that criticized, among many other things, the efforts of Military Intelligence going into the 2014 Gaza war.

State Comptroller Yosef Shapira’s office found that there were gaps in the information collected by the army about Hamas’s tunnel network and that military officials were not sufficiently forthright about what they did not know going into the war.

Halevi reportedly told the committee that the army’s Intelligence Directorate had internalized the report’s criticism, but said the threat posed by Hamas tunnels has been exaggerated.

The intelligence commander also said the cooperation between the United States and Russia, which has clout with Iran, might have a moderating effect on the Islamic republic, according to the report.

Halevi was said to note that Russia does not consider its relationship with Iran and Hezbollah as particularly close, but as a marriage of convenience.

Hezbollah, the general reportedly said, has been suffering from manpower issues as it struggles to replace some of its aging members.

The group’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, made a number of combative statements against Israel, including a threat that the group won’t have any “red lines” in a future war with the Jewish state.

“In the face of Israel’s threats to destroy Lebanon’s infrastructure, we will not abide by red lines, especially regarding Haifa’s ammonia and the nuclear reactor in Dimona. Hezbollah possesses the full courage for this,” he said, according to an English translation of his comments reported by the Naharnet website.

Halevi, however, repeated the prevailing belief that the Iran-backed terrorist group is currently too occupied fighting in Syria to be interested in opening a second front with Israel.

He also reportedly warned that waves of attacks by Palestinians may return, if residents of the West Bank feel they have no hope.

The Haaretz article was based off leaks from those present at the general’s presentation, a fact that drew considerable ire from the head of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Likud MK Avi Dichter.

“The committee chairman is fuming over the leaks of what was apparently said by the head of Military Intelligence,” Dichter said in a statement on Wednesday night.

“All the Knesset members knew that this was a classified discussion, and whoever thought it right to leak from the meeting, whether accurately or tendentiously, disrespected the Knesset,” he said.

Dichter added that he was looking into different ways of sniffing out the leaker.

Last month, Eisenkot told the committee that “Hezbollah’s [military] operations in Syria have brought about a morale and financial crisis within its ranks.”

At the February 22 meeting, he also addressed the threat posed by Hamas on Israel’s southern border, saying he does not believe the terror group has any “willingness” to launch an offensive against Israel at the current time.

“The separation of the political and military leadership in Hamas is blurred to the point of being eliminated altogether,” the IDF chief of staff said. “I don’t see a willingness in Gaza to launch a campaign against us.”

Since Yahya Sinwar was selected as Hamas leader in Gaza in secret internal elections earlier this month, there has been speculation that the terror group may become more unrestrained in its approach toward Israel militarily, as even by the standards of the Islamist organization he is considered an extremist.

However, senior Hamas official Mousa Abu Marzouk told the pan-Arab news channel al-Araby that despite the election of Sinwar, the policies of Hamas will not undergo any “radical change.”  (the Times of Israel)

Zambian president joins parade of African leaders visiting Israel

Bibi and Lungu

Israel Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President of Zambia Edgar Chagwa Lungu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday asked visiting Zambian leader Edgar Lungu to help Israel regain its observer status at the African Union, a position it lost in 2002 and has had trouble regaining, primarily because of the objection of South Africa and the North African Muslim states.

The Palestinian Authority enjoys this status in the pan-African body, and as a result Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is able each year to address the annual summit, something denied to Israel.

Lungu, one of the seven African leaders Netanyahu met at a three-hour summit in Uganda in July, arrived on Monday for a five-day visit. He arrived here with a bevy of government ministers, including his ministers for foreign affairs, agriculture, trade, energy, tourism, water development and environment, transportation, health, and industry and employment.

In an interview with The Zambia Daily Mail, he said that Zambia stands to reap substantial benefits from the visit.

“Israel is a pace-setter in survival instinct, because it has a desert; but they have a thriving education, agriculture and information and communication technology sectors and we can explore and learn from them. A lot of benefits are expected out of this trip,” he said.

Zambia is one of the few African countries with a military attache in Israel. It opened an embassy here in 2015. Israel does not have an embassy in Zambia.

Netanyahu said after meeting Lungu that his country “has undergone an amazing and admirable change in a transition to democracy since the ‘90s.”

He said that Israel hopes to “deepen its cooperation with the country, which I think is important for both our countries and both our peoples. I know that you’re opening a Jewish history museum in Zambia and soon a synagogue in the capital city. I hope one day I have the opportunity to visit those institutions and to visit Zambia.”

At its peak, some 1,000 Jews lived in Zambia, though that number has dwindled to only about 30 today. There are three Jewish cemeteries in the country.

Lungu is the latest in a long list of African leaders who have visited Israel over the past year, including the presidents of Kenya, Sierra Leone and Togo, the prime minister of Swaziland, the deputy prime minister of Ethiopia, and the foreign ministers of Rwanda, Ghana and the Ivory Coast. In addition, Netanyahu met representatives of some 15 African states on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting in September.

Netanyahu is scheduled to attend a summit with the leaders of more than a dozen African states in Togo in the Fall.  (Jerusalem Post)

Israel’s Amos-7 communications satellite goes online

Amos 7

The Amos-7 communications satellite

Israel’s Space Communications began operating the Amos-7 communications satellite this week, the company said Monday, a major milestone after it lost two satellites in the past two years.

Amos-7 will replace the aging Amos-2 communications satellite, and will service clients in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

That task had been designated for the Amos-6 satellite, which was destroyed last September when an explosion engulfed the Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket that was carrying it during a routine test at Cape Canaveral Airbase in Florida. The explosion occurred two days before the satellite was scheduled to be launched into orbit.

Spacecom lost contact with the Amos-5 communications satellite in 2015.

Amos-7 is the first addition to Spacecom’s fleet since the Florida explosion. In orbit since 2014, the satellite was procured from Asia Satellite Telecommunications Holdings for $22 million per year for four years, with an option to extend for an additional year.

“The satellite is a key element in expanding our multi-regional growth patterns and enhancing the array of communications — broadcast, broadband and data — that we can provide,” said Spacecom’s senior vice president of sales, Jacob Keret.

Spacecom has also announced it is buying a satellite from Boeing Satellite Systems International for $161 million.  (Israel Hayom)

Myth: American Ties to Israel Harm US Interests in the Muslim Middle East

By Prof. Hillel Frisch     BESA Center Perspectives           (Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies)

https://besacenter.org/perspectives-papers/myth-american-ties-israel-harm-us-interests-muslim-middle-east/

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Many believe that US financial and military support for Israel harms the interests of the US, especially in the Middle East and North Africa. One way to test this assumption is to explore whether US support for Israel has a negative effect on exports of the US to the countries of the region. It doesn’t. US exports to the region have grown. Fluctuations within that overall growth trend are easily explained by oil prices, the chief source of income of many of the consumer states – not by Israel’s “offenses” against Hezbollah and Hamas.

Modern advanced states and their citizens pride themselves on being scientific and rational, with opinions and convictions that are tested against facts. One widespread conviction among many State Department officials, academics, think tank professionals, and members of the informed public is that US financial and military support for Israel at the UN harms American interests, especially in the Middle East and North Africa. In this region, the majority of states take a dim if not openly hostile view towards Israel.

This is a hypothesis that can be tested. One avenue among many is to see if US support for Israel, which is certainly powerful at the UN and in other international fora, has a negative effect on exports of the US to the countries of the region.

This is a good test, because most states demand that imported goods identify their country of origin on the packaging. This means the purchaser – be it a government or a public or private consumer – has a clear choice whether or not to buy the product. The degree of choice involved is amplified by the fact that there are similar products available for almost all goods exported from the US to the Middle East. These alternative products are produced by other states, some of which vote the same way predominantly Muslim states do at the UN.

One would expect that US exports to the region would be adversely affected in the long run, and especially so during eras of conflagration between Israel and its enemies. These eras are easy to identify. They include the height of the second intifada (2001-04); the month-long Israel-Hezbollah confrontation in June 2006, better known as the second Lebanese War; and the three rounds of hostilities between Israel and Hamas: in December 2008-09, in October 2012, and in July-August 2014 (the longest “war” in the history of Israeli-Arab wars). All these rounds of conflict were extensively reported by the media, the last four by new media as well. Since most exports from the US to MENA are relatively sophisticated, one can safely assume that the buyers of these products form the media-attentive public in their respective countries. In other words, their purchasing choices cannot be said to have reflected their ignorance during and after these bouts of violence.

Surprisingly, it is not easy to chalk up the data. This is because, contrary to popular perception, the Middle East and North Africa is a small consumer market for products made in the US or indeed the rest of the world. Only 5% of total US exports are purchased by this vast region of 21 states. The leading regional importers of US products are Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Israel.

Only 1% of investments in the US economy are made by Middle East investors (mostly the sovereign funds of the oil- and gas-producing Arab states). Investors in the US are not particularly keen on investing in the Middle East, which attracts only 1% of their investments. The two leading beneficiaries are Egypt and Israel, the former because it is a relatively large, albeit poor, consumer market; the latter because it is attractive as a high-tech nation.

To investigate whether or not the US suffers by supporting Israel, let us look at the data for exports to OPEC (which includes a minority of non-Muslim countries) and for Saudi Arabia. In neither case is there any indication that US support for Israel has had any effect on Muslim and Arab consumers.

For starters, growth in US exports to the region has characterized the last sixteen years for which there are data. Exports to Saudi Arabia between 1999 and 2015 more than doubled, from US$8.3 billion to US$19.6 billion, and for all OPEC countries, it more than tripled (from US$20.6 billion to US$72.3 billion). The growth rate for both was greater than in other regions except for East Asia (mainly China), where exponential economic growth took place that brought with it a growing ability to buy American products (and of course imports from other countries).

Perhaps the Saudi public reduced its demand for US goods during Israel’s bouts with the Palestinians during the second intifada, or during its clashes with Hezbollah and Hamas? Again, there is little evidence that this occurred. In 2001, US exports slightly increased after a sharp fall in 2000, slightly decreased in 2009 after the first round between Israel and Hamas, increased greatly during the 2012 bout, and decreased again in 2014. The same lack of a political pattern holds true for the OPEC countries as a whole.

It is not politics but world oil prices that explain these yearly fluctuations. When oil prices dropped, so did demand for American products. In 2000, the world economic crisis and low oil prices brought about the drop. An increase in US exports took place the following year, when the world economy and oil prices made a comeback. In 2009, it was the world recession – not the Israel-Hamas standoff – that influenced energy prices and demand for US products. The sharp drop in oil prices from US$110 a barrel to half that in 2014 saw the purchase of American goods tumble by a hefty 25% in Saudi Arabia. The similarity in trends between Saudi Arabia and the OPEC countries, albeit of different magnitude, demonstrates that it was the wiles of the world economy and subsequent fluctuations in oil income that explain the demand for American goods, not politics, and certainly not the Israeli-US relationship.

The widely held conviction that the US’s relationship to Israel harms its interests is a myth. Its persistence relies on premises that no rational educated person should harbor.

This Arab teacher’s catchy attempt to teach Hebrew has become an online sensation in Israel

By Ruth Eglash                   The Washington Post

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/03/01/this-arab-teachers-catchy-attempt-to-teach-hebrew-has-become-an-online-sensation-in-israel/?utm_term=.37feb0d17b5e

Jehan Jaber is an unlikely star. An elementary school teacher from a small Arab town in central Israel, Jaber uses a darbuka (Arab drum) and a simple chant to teach her students the Hebrew language.

And, it has caught on. In a big way.

Little more than a week after a crudely made video filmed by one of her young students was uploaded to YouTube, the Hebrew teacher of 17 years has become something of a social media sensation.

Her tune “Geshem Geshem Mitaftef” (translated as “rain, rain, dripping”), which repeats itself allowing the children to sing along, is now the third most popular clip in Israel on the video sharing site. It has nearly a million views.

And, it has drawn not a few copycats: From some of Israel’s popular musicians and comedians to a battalion of Israeli soldiers and even wedding party guests, people can’t stop humming “Geshem Geshem Mitaftef.”

Arabs make up roughly 20 percent of Israel’s overall population and Arabic is the main language of instruction in Arab schools. While the language is one of Israel’s official tongues, to manage day-to-day one needs to also know Hebrew. Arab-Israeli children learn the Hebrew language starting in grade school.

In Jewish schools, Arabic is also taught but is not compulsory. And while Arab culture — music, food and dance — is embraced in Israel, it is unusual for a small piece of Arabic culture to go viral in this way.

The video of Jaber singing her tune, which celebrates rainfall in the arid Middle East, was uploaded to YouTube on Feb. 22. She quickly garnered a wide following. A few days later, she was interviewed by Israel’s Channel Two News and ever since Israelis can’t get the song out of their heads.

In the television interview, Jaber tells host Oded Ben-Ami that she came up with the idea for the song after looking for new, fun ways to teach Hebrew to her students. She had to get approval from her school’s principal to bring the darbuka into the classroom.

“I did not put the video on the Web. I just filmed myself to see how I could improve my teaching methods. I sent it to a friend, and then suddenly it went viral,” Jaber said.

It has become so popular that in the 10 days since, Jaber has shown up as a character on the wildly popular satire show Eretz Nehaderet, with a well-known comedian imitating her and tapping out the simple song — as well as a few insulting words aimed at Israeli politicians.

The song has also been adopted by professional singers, with one artist chanting “Geshem Geshem Mitaftef” to a crowd of adoring fans at a show.

Israeli children are humming it in school nonstop and a popular children’s toy store just announced dress-up costumes of the teacher for the forthcoming Jewish festival of Purim.

A unit of Israeli army soldiers even filmed themselves singing along to the song — using table tops and desks to bang out the beat — during one of their breaks. Watch below:

https://youtu.be/xaDVetDFPKI

Rabbi Jonathon Sacks on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign