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Latest Israel News – 7th September

PM Netanyahu:  Children should be taught to love and respect, not to hate and kill.

https://youtu.be/MycZvBawgGc                                                                (Prime Ministers Media Advisor)

Great new Jewish Music Video

‘Foreign entities give millions to groups aiding infiltrators in Israel’

Between 2012 and 2017, European governments and U.N. agencies gave a total of $13 million in aid to Israeli organizations helping illegal aliens, a new report by the right-wing organization Im Tirtzu revealed Sunday.

As Europe deals with the worst wave of immigration ever known to the continent, EU-affiliated institutes rank first with the most aid given to these organizations, which over the past four years came to $4.7 million, followed by U.N.-affiliated institutions, which donated $2.8 million, the report said.

Germany donated the largest sum for a European country with $1.9 million, followed by Norway ($1.3 million), Sweden ($600,000), Switzerland ($490,000), England ($260,000) and the Netherlands ($120,000).

Foundations whose affiliation is split between Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark and the Netherlands donated $580,000, while the U.S. gave $180,000 and Thailand donated $26,000. As such, the report reveals that since 2008, the left-wing New Israel Fund also funded organizations supporting illegal migrants to the tune of $12.5 million.

Im Tirtzu’s reports investigated various petitions filed with the High Court of Justice by the Israeli aid groups, discovering clear efforts to circumvent the various solutions suggested by authorities, thereby hurting both the population of migrants who are in Israel illegally as well as residents of the neighborhoods in south Tel Aviv, who are struggling to deal with the phenomenon.

“It seems that donor countries and organizations have three hidden goals,” the Im Tirtzu report claimed. “First, attempting to obtain citizenship for thousands of infiltrators; second, changing the Jewish-majority demographic, therefore changing the Jewish and democratic character of the country; and third, striving to label Israel as a racist country.”

Im Tirtzu chairman Matan Peleg decried what he called the fact that the rights of the residents of south Tel Aviv were being “trampled upon again and again by those claiming to stand for human rights. The infiltrator aid groups, which are funded by the U.N., foreign governments and the New Israel Fund, do everything in their power to secure citizenship for the infiltrators who took over the neighborhoods and turned the lives of the residents into a perpetual nightmare.

“It’s sad to see how the High Court of Justice goes from bad to worse and collaborates [with the aid groups] instead of being concerned with the safety of the residents themselves. … It seems the High Court is at the service of the infiltrators and not at the service of Israeli citizens.”

Peleg further urged the government “to work to halt the High Court’s exaggerated involvement, unconditionally expel tens of thousands of illegal infiltrators from the country and stymie the power of the infiltrator aid groups, which for all intents and purposes are … trying to destroy Israel from within.”

The New Israel Fund issued a statement in response, saying that “the Im Tirtzu report is the definition of fake news. This ‘report’ is based on distortions and irrelevant links between organizations that have nothing to do with this field in an attempt to augment the support received by organizations helping refugees. This is meant to serve the prime minister’s campaign of incitement. As the Jewish people we have the moral obligation to protect refugees of war, without discriminating between skin color, race or religion. We can never allow for what was done to us over the course of history to be inflicted on someone else.” (Israel Hayom)

Military launches massive exercise near northern border

The IDF on Tuesday launched a wide-scale military drill in northern Israel, the first exercise in 19 years to involve the entire Northern Corps. Military officials stressed the drill has been in the works for a while, saying it has nothing to do with recent developments in Syria and Lebanon, Israel’s neighbors to the north.

The 11-day drill will follow a scenario by which the cabinet orders the IDF to decisively defeat Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based Shiite terrorist group. Tens of thousands of military personnel, including thousands of reservists, will participate in the drill, which will include extensive ground, logistics, engineering and homefront forces and drone units, as well as the Israeli Air Force, Israeli Navy, Military Intelligence and the General Staff.

As part of the drill, the IDF will use Galilee areas to simulate southern Lebanese territory. Battle scenarios will include a simulated infiltration by Hezbollah terrorists to a border-adjacent community and an emergency evacuation of said community on the cabinet’s orders, as well as a variety of defense and counteroffensive scenarios.

One of the issues to be closely reviewed during the drill is the collaboration between the Homefront and Northern commands.

Next week, the military will hold wide-scale ground maneuvers in the northern sector, drilling various scenarios including changing missions mid-battle.

A defense official told Israel Hayom that the theme of the drill is “war in northern Israel,” as opposed to previous exercises which entailed scenarios of a potential war with Lebanon. This reflects military assessments that a future war in the sector may include multiple fronts.

As part of the military’s attempt to maintain information security throughout the exercise, the IDF has temporarily revived the legendary “Eit” (eagle) unit for the purpose of the drill. The unit will monitor unencrypted communications networks to ensure that no classified information leaks.

Beyond the military’s clear interest in holding a pan-Northern Corps exercise for the first time in nearly two decades, the military also wants to underscore the psychological effects, as it aims to bolster its position and generate deterrence vis-a-vis Hezbollah.

Defense officials stressed Monday that the exercise was scheduled in advance and had nothing to do with recent security developments in the northern sector, but one cannot ignore the frequent warnings issued by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and senior IDF officials over Iran’s efforts to build weapons production facilities in Lebanon and Syria.

Defense officials said that from Israel’s perspective, Iran’s weapons factories and deepening foothold in Syria “cross a red line.”

The defense establishment believes that while the Iranian facilities are not operational at this time, they will become operational in the foreseeable future — unless something is done to prevent it.

Israel believes that Hezbollah, whose operatives have been fighting alongside Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces in the six-year civil war raging in Syria, may feel emboldened, but it is plagued by financial difficulties and the undermining of leader Hassan Nasrallah’s internal status over the 2016 assassination of top Hezbollah official Mustafa Badreddine, allegedly on Nasrallah’s orders. (Israel Hayom)

Hezbollah reacts to IDF drill: We are ready for any act of Israeli stupidity

Lebanon did not remain silent following the start of a massive IDF drill simulating a war, with a Hezbollah official threatening that “the Israelis won’t succeed in surprising us.”

A senior Hezbollah official taunted Israel on Tuesday, saying that “we are ready for any attack or Israeli stupidity.”

The official, who was quoted by several Lebanese media sources but was left unnamed, spoke in reaction to the IDF’s announcement on Monday that it had begun its biggest drill in 20 years, in preparation for a possible war against the terrorist organization.

“We [Hezbollah] are fully alert and ready at any time for any possible scenario,” the official was quoted as saying. He continued, “The Israelis won’t succeed in surprising us, because Israel knows full well [what] Hezbollah’s capabilities are after the loss it suffered in 2006 [in the Second Lebanon War], which deterred the IDF.”

The official had also said that the IDF was carrying out “the large military drill” due to “Hezbollah’s military capabilities.”

Other Hezbollah associates, who were also unidentified by Lebanese media, were quoted as speculating that Israel is carrying out the exercise in order to prepare to face a renewed battle. The Jewish state is going to be forced to confront an entirely different and strengthened entity than the one it faced a little over a decade ago during the Second Lebanon War, they threatened.

IDF commanders have repeatedly affirmed this claim in recent years, saying that Israel has indeed been preparing to contend with an enemy that no longer fights in guerrilla-style groups and has amassed a significant arsenal of weapons as well as knowledge and training.

According to the military, the exercise is set to last two weeks and will focus on countering Hezbollah’s increased capabilities. Thousands of soldiers and reservists from all different branches of the IDF (cyber, intelligence, ground forces, the air force and the navy) are going to coordinate their operations as during wartime, simulating an attack by Hezbollah.

The terrorist organization’s leader Hassan Nasrallah has made numerous threats in the past few years, promising that Hezbollah has at least 100,000 rockets pointed at “the Zionist entity” and ready to strike at any time.

Following the IDF’s announcement about the exercise, Lebanese media discussing it at length. The Al-Manar website, which is affiliated with the terrorist group, described the drill on Tuesday as “huge maneuvers by the Israeli Army simulating an infiltration of Hezbollah [into Israeli territory].”

Al-Akhbar, a Beirut-based daily, used similar words, saying that Israel is preparing to face “the second largest military in the Middle East.”

A centerfold analysis piece described the drill at length, quoting an anonymous Israeli official and mocking Israel for what it deemed “its obvious pressure,” which supposedly showed Israel was “clearly worried about its massive failure in 2006.”

But Israeli officials and security analysts seem to remain unfazed by Hezbollah’s verbal attacks, stating that the terrorist group is embroiled in other conflicts, in particular the Syrian civil war, and is unlikely to make good on its threats anytime soon.

IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot has said that while Hezbollah will probably continue to lash out with various threats, it isn’t ready for war with Israel yet. Hezbollah is going through “an internal crisis,” he said in 2016. “[They are going through] an economic crisis and a leadership crisis,” he pointed out and promised that Israel, in the meantime, is training and is ready should it be faced with an escalation. (Jerusalem Post)

Days after Netanyahu-Putin meeting, Russia threatened to veto anti-Hezbollah move led by Israel and U.S. at UN

Russia worked behind the scenes to protect Hezbollah during last week’s discussions in the UN Security Council on a resolution to renew the mandate of the UN peacekeeping forces (UNIFIL) in southern Lebanon, talks with Israeli officials indicated. A classified cable sent from the Israeli UN delegation to Foreign Ministry headquarters in Jerusalem reinforces that view.

Unlike in previous years, last week’s decision to renew UNIFIL’s mandate was not just a technical matter. Under American and Israeli pressure, several paragraphs were added to the text saying that the UN forces must increase their presence in the area south of the Litani River in southern Lebanon, and explicitly stating that UNIFIL forces have full authority to act to prevent violations of UN Resolution 1701, which ended the Second Lebanon War.

However, during the negotiations over the wording of the resolution, significant portions endorsed sought by the United States and Israel were removed, chiefly the direct reference to Hezbollah as conducting prohibited military activity in southern Lebanon that is in violation of Resolution 1701. It was Russia that ensured all mention of Hezbollah was omitted.

Two Israeli officials said that during the talks over the wording of the decision, the American delegation inserted several paragraphs relating to Hezbollah’s illicit activity in southern Lebanon. One referred to the press tour that several armed Hezbollah men conducted along the Israeli border – an action that violated Resolution 1701.

The Israeli officials say the Russian diplomats who took part in the discussions about the wording of the decision opposed the American version and said that if the final version included any mention of Hezbollah, Russia would exercise its veto. Israel’s UN delegation described the Russians’ stance in a cable sent to the Foreign Ministry last Friday. “The Russians watched from the side and their red line was that they would not consent to Hezbollah being named in the resolution,” said the cable.

One Israeli official said the Russians’ conduct attests to the closeness between Russia and Hezbollah as a result of the coalition they formed with Iran to help Bashar Assad’s regime survive in Syria. The official also said that because of Russian interests in Syria and its joint military activity with Hezbollah against ISIS and Syrian rebels, the Russians gave Hezbollah diplomatic cover in the UN.

Move followed Putin meeting with Netanyahu

The Russian demand to omit all mention of Hezbollah in the UN resolution came just days after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Black Sea resort of Sochi. Iran and Hezbollah’s activity in Syria and Lebanon, especially once the Syrian civil war ends, was one of the main topics of discussion that Netanyahu raised with the Russian leader. At the same meeting, Netanyahu also brought up Israel’s concerns that sophisticated weaponry, some of it Russian-made, is being transferred from Iran and Syria to the Shi’ite organization.

In addition to the Russian move in the Security Council on Hezbollah’s behalf, statements by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov last Thursday reflected some of the areas of dispute that remain between Israel and Russia concerning the Iranian presence in Syria. At a press conference with the Qatari foreign minister, Lavrov rejected Netanyahu’s assertion that an Iranian presence in Syria after the civil war could lead to a military confrontation. “We have no information that anyone [of the warring factions in Syria] is planning to attack Israel,” Lavrov said.

The next day, at a meeting with students in Moscow, Lavrov again rejected Israel’s claims that its security interests were not taken into account in the contacts between Russia and the U.S. regarding the cease-fire in southern Syria, as part of which buffer zones were set up on the Syria-Jordan border and Syria-Israel border.

“We did not ignore Israel’s security interests,” said Lavrov. “The Israelis were kept informed about the direction in which the contacts were progressing During the meeting between Netanyahu and President Putin, we heard that the Israelis are still concerned about their security. We completely understand this. We told the Israelis that if they have any worries about their security being impacted, there is no reason to worry, since we are committed to ensuring that this doesn’t happen.”

Israeli officials familiar with the details of the Putin-Netanyahu meeting say the atmosphere was positive, but stress that further diplomatic efforts are needed vis-à-vis the Kremlin as well as the Russian defense and intelligence establishments to convince Moscow to accept, at least in part, the Israeli position regarding the accord in Syria.

Ksenia Svetlova, a Zionist Union lawmaker and member of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, released a statement criticizing Russia. “Russia’s decision to threaten a veto when a UN Security Council resolution needs to be passed condemning the Hezbollah terrorist organization unequivocally indicates very serious differences of opinion between Jerusalem and Moscow on security matters,” the statement reads in part. “The personal, good relations with Putin of which Netanyahu boasts are not being translated into political reality.” (Ha’aretz)

Netanyahu: Israel’s cooperation with Arab states has never been greater

Israel is enjoying a greater level of cooperation today with the Arab world than it has ever had in its history, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a pre-Rosh Hashana toast in the Foreign Ministry on Wednesday.

Netanyahu said the cooperation today with countries in the Arab world is actually greater than it was when Jerusalem signed agreements with Egypt and Jordan.

In practice, he said, there is cooperation in “different ways” and “at different levels,” though it is not public. And even though it is not public, “it is much larger than any other period in Israel’s history. It’s a huge change.”

Netanyahu, who also serves as the country’s foreign minister, advanced the annual toast because he will be traveling to Latin America and New York next week, and returning just prior to the beginning of Rosh Hashana on September 20.

Netanyahu, who was particularly sanguine about Israel’s standing in the world, said that Israel today is “in a different place” than before. He said that the alliance with the United States is “stronger than ever” and that – in addition – there are strong ties with Europe, with openings being made in Eastern Europe.

“There are great breakthroughs on all the continents; our return to Africa and the expansion of our technical assistance there is leading to a great deal of interest on the continent,” he said. He added that important breakthroughs were made this past year in Asia as well – China, India and Japan – as well as with the Muslim countries there, especially Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, which he visited in December.

Netanyahu also praised a “great change” with Russia, which he said was of great importance in terms of connecting economic and cultural interests, and also – referring to the situation in Syria – because of the strategic importance of coordinating with Moscow.

Referring to his upcoming trip to Argentina, Colombia and Mexico, before going to the UN General Assembly in New York, Netanyahu said that Latin America was a “huge market in a large bloc of important countries.”

This breakthrough, he said, was made possible because a basic assumption – that the world will open to Israel only if there is an agreement with the Palestinians – has proven false. Such an agreement, which Netanyahu said Israel wants, will help Israel’s standing in the world, “but the world opens without it.”

He said this is happening because Israel is developing two strengths, which are leading to a third. It is cultivating its economic-technological power, which enables it to nurture unique military-intelligence capabilities, and that combination leads to diplomatic strength.

“The whole world is changing,” he said. “This does not mean that it is changing in international forums, at the UN, or UNESCO. But what we have here is a tremendous change that is happening despite, unfortunately, the Palestinians still not having changed their conditions for a diplomatic arrangement that are unacceptable to a large part of the public. ( Jerusalem Post)

PM to board first El Al flight to Argentina since Eichmann’s 1960 kidnapping

When an El Al plane flies Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Argentina next Monday it will be the first plane of the national airline to touch down on Argentinian soil since Holocaust mastermind Adolf Eichmann was spirited out of the country on an El Al jet in 1960.

On May 20, 1960, Eichmann – who was kidnapped nine days earlier in a daring Mossad operation – was smuggled out of the country on the El Al plane that flew especially to Buenos Aires, the first ever Israel-Argentina direct flight, to bring a delegation to participate in events to commemorate 150 years of Argentinean independence. Abba Eban, then a minister-without-portfolio, was on the flight, and did not know that plane would bring back to Israel a principal architect of the Final Solution.

The kidnapping of Eichmann strained relations between the two countries, a relationship that has known peaks and valleys – more valleys than peaks in recent years – since then. Netanyahu’s visit, however, signals that ties are on a definite upswing.

The prime minister’s flight, moreover, is expected to be the first of many direct flights between Tel Aviv and Buenos Aires, as El AL and Argentina’s national carrier, Aerolineas Argentinas, signed a codeshare agreement two weeks ago to open a direct air link between the cities.

In an interview from Buenos Aires on Tuesday, Ambassador to Argentina Ilan Sztulman told The Jerusalem Post that since the 2015 election of President Mauricio Macri, there has been a shift in the country’s attitude toward Israel, reflected in the number of official visits, in Argentina’s changing voting pattern toward Israel in international forums, and in a strong personal relationship that has developed between Macri and Netanyahu.

Netanyahu’s decision to visit Argentina is a way of “celebrating” that change and showing Israel’s appreciation, Sztulman said.

Netanyahu is also scheduled to meet with Paraguay’s president, Horacio Cartes, in Buenos Aires.

Both Argentina’s and Paraguay’s presidents are opening the door for Israel in Latin America, Sztulman said. He stressed that Netanyahu’s trip to Argentina – the first ever visit to Latin America by a sitting Israeli prime minister – had a “great deal of diplomatic significance” for Israel’s standing in South and Central America.

Netanyahu is scheduled to arrive in Argentina on Monday. He will spend about a day and a half in Buenos Aires, where he will meet with Macri and hold two memorial ceremonies for the victims of the 1992 blast at the Israeli Embassy and the 1994 attack at the AMIA Jewish community center building. Netanyahu, who will be accompanied on his trip by some 30 Israeli businessmen, will also hold a large event with the Jewish community, the largest in Latin America.

Contrary to press reports, which said part of the cost of Netanyahu’s trip to Argentina was being picked up by the local Jewish community, the community – as is the case whenever Netanyahu meets Jewish communities abroad – is covering only the cost of that event, said Modi Ephraim, the Foreign Ministry’s deputy director-general for Central and South America.

From Buenos Aires, Netanyahu will then travel to Bogota for a few hours, where he will meet with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, who has long been a staunch friend of Israel.

Asked about the short duration of the stay in Colombia, Ephraim told a press briefing at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem that Israel’s relationship with Colombia was a “strategic friendship,” and that it was important to “encourage friends.”

Ephraim said Colombia and Santos – in the past as his country’s defense minister and minister of trade, and now as its prime minister – have exhibited “unconditional friendship” toward Israel over the years, and that Netanyahu thought it important to acknowledge this by stopping there, if only for a few hours.

From there Netanyahu will fly to Mexico City for a day of meetings which includes meeting with President Enrique Pena Nieto. He will also participate in a large event with the Jewish community.

Ephraim characterized Israel’s relations with Mexico as “excellent,” adding that the incident where Netanyahu posted a tweet in January, which was interpreted as support for US President Donald Trump’s controversial decision to build a wall with Mexico and infuriated the Mexican government and Jewish community, was a “misunderstanding” “that is behind us.”

From Mexico City Netanyahu will fly on September 15 to New York to address the UN General Assembly and hold an expected meeting with Trump. (Jerusalem Post)

Reform Jews ‘worse than Holocaust deniers’ — former chief rabbi

Jerusalem’s chief rabbi on Tuesday lashed out at Reform Jews, saying they were worse than Holocaust deniers for defying Orthodox Jewish law on gender separation and insisting on the right to mixed-gender prayer at the Western Wall in the city.

His comments, delivered in a weekly sermon and reported by the ultra-Orthodox website Kikar Hashabbat, followed Thursday’s High Court response to petitions filed by five liberal Jewish organizations, including the Women of the Wall and the Israeli Reform and Conservative movements, to force the government to implement its pledge to build a mixed-gender prayer site.

The justices ordered the government to let the court know by September 14 if it is willing to reconsider implementing its January pledge — a decision that it put on ice in June, amid opposition by ultra-Orthodox politicians and religious leaders.

“They’re trying to throw dust in the eyes [of the public] and say that the Orthodox extremist Jews invented [the separation of sexes],” Shlomo Amar, a former Sephardic chief rabbi of Israel, said. “It’s like Holocaust deniers, it’s the same thing. They shout about Holocaust deniers in Iran, [but] they deny more than Holocaust deniers.”

The rabbi — who stoked controversy late last year when he called homosexuality an “abomination” and noted that the Torah mandates a death penalty for those who engage in gay sex — said that gender separation dated back to Temple times and was clearly required by Jewish religious law.

Petitions to the Supreme Court to allow mixed-gender prayer came from “wicked” people who committed “every injustice in the world against the Torah, ” he went on. “They even marry Jews to non-Jews, they have neither Yom Kippur nor Shabbat, but they want prayer… and nobody should believe that they want to pray — they want to desecrate what’s holy.”

In other comments, Amar attacked the Supreme Court for focusing on equality, which he said was positive in principle, but had “destroyed” many countries.

When it came to the Western Wall, nobody but God had authority; neither the Supreme Court, nor the government, nor the rabbi of the Wall, he said. “This is holy to God.”

In an interview Wednesday morning on Israel Radio, Amar would not take back his comments calling members of liberal Jewish denominations worse than Holocaust deniers, insisting that the point he wanted to make was that Jewish law on gender separation was so clear and fundamental that denying it was like denying that the earth was round, that the Jewish Temple once stood on the Temple Mount, or that Shabbat exists.

Asked about photographs showing mixed-gender prayer at the wall before Israel’s Independence in 1948, Amar said that at that time, the area was not under Jewish sovereignty.

Responding to Amar’s comments, Rabbi Gilad Kariv, executive director of the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism, told Israel Radio that it was unacceptable that Jerusalemite Holocaust survivors were among those helping to pay Amar’s salary. He called on the city’s mayor, Nir Barkat, to stop inviting the rabbi to official events.

Yisrael Eichler, an Orthodox lawmaker for the United Torah Judaism party, told Israel Radio Wednesday that Kariv was inciting millions of American Jews to believe that Israel was excluding them, just as Sheikh Raed Salah — the leader of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, indicted in August for incitement to terror —  had incited Israeli Muslims to believe that the Jewish state was endangering the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third-holiest site.

He dubbed liberal Jews campaigning for a mixed gender prayer site a “small mafia” and “enemies of the Jewish religion,” who, with their feminist agenda, were intent on fomenting civil war in Israel, in the service of the Supreme Court.  (the Times of Israel)

Unmanned subs, sniper drones, gun that won’t miss: Israel unveils future weapons

The Defense Ministry’s weapons development department on Tuesday unveiled nine pieces of technology, including two unmanned submarines and a hybrid gas-electric powerful tank, that are due to enter service in the IDF in the coming years.

Some of these technologies are already in the advanced stages of development and have been presented to the military for consideration, while others are still in the planning phase and will need years before they will be combat ready. None of the technologies presented by the ministry has yet been declared operational by the IDF.

They were developed by the ministry’s Weapons Development Administration, in collaboration with foreign and domestic companies, and in one case with a public university.

The Weapons Development Administration, known in Hebrew by its acronym Mafat, is made up of thousands of workers, hundreds of soldiers. It manages some 1,500 defense projects at a given time.

Brig. Gen. (res.) Daniel Gold, who leads the department, said on Tuesday that he and his employees “try not to limit ourselves with the classic methodologies that are prevalent around the world,” which are typically top-down efforts.

Instead, he said, Mafat tries to connect with soldiers on the ground, determine what they need and then work to make them something that will fulfill that gap.

In addition, the department “tries to predict what the future battlefield will look like, in terms of both threats and technologies,” Gold said.

One of the more significant pieces of technology presented Tuesday was the Carmel armored vehicle, which is set to eventually replace the army’s current Merkava tank, in use for some 40 years.

In addition to its role as the military’s main battle tank, the Merkava is also the basis for the Namer armored personnel carrier and various combat engineering vehicles. According to the ministry, the Carmel is set to preform a similar function and can be outfitted with everything from howitzers to mine-clearing plows. And unlike the Merkava, which requires a four-person crew, the Carmel needs only two soldiers to operate it.

The new tank, which will feature a hybrid gas-electric motor, powered by a bank of batteries, is being developed by the Weapons Development Administration and the ministry’s Merkava Administration, along with various defense companies.

According to the ministry, the Carmel will be “light, small, fast, deadly, durable, easy to operate and comparatively cheap.”

The Weapons Development Administration also unveiled two unmanned submarines, one of them big and the other small.

The larger submersible, known as the Caesaron, can be equipped with a variety of sensors and payloads. It is specifically designed for intelligence gathering, the ministry said.

In addition to the larger Caesaron, the ministry also unveiled a small, as-yet-unnamed submarine that it is currently developing with the help of Bar Ilan University.

The small submersible drone is aimed at “searching and mapping missions,” the ministry said.

“It costs a third the amount of similar submarines in the world and surpasses them in its ability to float and move in every direction,” the ministry added.

The administration also unveiled three new types of drones. Two of them are transport unmanned aerial vehicles, while the third is an attack drone, capable of firing an attached assault rifle.

The two transport drones were developed for an open competition among defense contractors, called the “Green Yasuron.”

The ministry said the requirements for the competition were “deliberately very general: develop a small UAV or drone that will be able to fly autonomously to a distance of eight kilometers with a carrying capacity of 150 liters that weighs at least 60 kilograms.”

The drone would have to carry that package to a predetermined location, drop the package and return to its base.

Two very different UAVs completed the competition, one developed by the state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries, the other by the private Aeronautics Defense Systems Ltd.

The IAI drone is essentially a remote-controlled helicopter. It has one main rotor to keep it aloft and a second rear rotor to steer. The UAV is able to lift nearly 400 pounds (180 kilograms) and has a top speed of 93 miles per hour (150 kilometers per hour).

The Aeronautics UAV, on the other hand, has multiple rotors that get it in the air. The drone is much smaller and much less powerful, capable of carrying half the weight as IAI’s aircraft and flying half as fast.

As both completed the competition, there was no clear winner. The Defense Ministry said it was still considering how to proceed and use the two drones.

In addition, the Weapons Development Administration unveiled an attack drone produced by a US-based company called Duke Robotics, Inc.

The TIKAD, as the drone is known, is capable of carrying and accurately firing an assault rifle. The drone is already in advanced stages of developing and has been presented to the IDF for consideration.

“Its operability will be considered in the coming year,” the Defense Ministry said.

It would be used to “carry out sniper fire, create surprises on the field of battle and prevent risks to our troops,” the ministry said.

The Weapons Development Administration also presented a number of unmanned vehicles that the army is considering for use. This included pre-existing vehicles — trucks, D-9 bulldozers and front-loaders — that are modified to allow them to be controlled from afar or travel autonomously, as well as specially made ones.

The ministry said it expected that these autonomous vehicles will be able to replace some manned ones in areas like combat engineering and logistics.

The IDF already has a number of autonomous patrol cars and trucks in service.

Finally, the ministry unveiled a new gun system that is supposed to ensure that soldiers only hit their targets and not any innocent bystanders.

The soldier uses an electro-optical aiming system to lock on to a target and can then set the gun to not fire at anything else with the push of a button.

“Tests that have been carried out until now found that use of the system significantly increased the percentage of hits on target and lessened the percentage of hits on ‘bystanders,’” the ministry said.

The SMASH system is expected to go into service with the IDF’s Ground Forces soon, the ministry said.      (the Times of Israel)

Dozens of pre-Babylonian exile seals unearthed in Jerusalem

A collection of dozens of seals, mentioning the names of officials dated to the days of the Judean kingdom prior to the Babylonian destruction, was unearthed during excavations by the Israel Antiquities Authority in the City of David National Park in the area of the walls of Jerusalem, funded by the Ir David Foundation.

The seals (bullae, from which the Hebrew word for stamp, “bul,” is derived) are small pieces of clay which served as seals for letters in ancient times. A letter that arrived with its seal broken was a sign that the letter had been opened before reaching its destination. Although no letters survived the fire that had consumed Jerusalem at its destruction, the seals, which were made of claylike material, benefited from the heat of the fire.

One of the First Temple-era clay seals discovered at the City of David excavation in Jerusalem

Dr. Joe Uziel and Ortal Chalaf, who are heading the excavation for the IAA, explained that the City of David dig had turned up “dozens” of such seals that testified to the highly developed administration of Jerusalem in the First Temple period.

The earliest seals bear the pictures denoting the sender, rather than names. In the latter First Temple period (from about 700 BCE to the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BCE) the seals bore names inscribed in early Hebrew script, Uziel and Chalaf explained.

One particularly interesting seal mentions a man by the name of “Achiav ben Menachem.” There was a king named Menachem, and while the name “Achiav” does not appear in the Bible, the moniker resembles “Achav” (Ahab) — the infamous king of Israel from the tales of the Prophet Elijah. Despite the difference in spelling, the name appears to be the same  (Israel Hayom)

Israel Is Real

By Jose V. Ciprut                            BESA Center (Begin Sadat Center for Strategic Affairs)

Israel Is Real

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The democratic Jewish state of Israel defies revisionist historicism. It looks Muslim hate in the eye and although stirred, remains unshaken: Israel is here to stay.

In October 1999, intent on “Deconstructing the Walls of Jericho,” archaeologist Ze’ev Herzog declared that, after 70 years of digging across the Land of Israel, his field had developed knowledge enough to conclude that the Israelites were never in Egypt, had not wandered in the desert, and did not conquer the land in a military campaign to pass it on to the 12 tribes of Israel. The “united” monarchy of David and Solomon, described by the Bible as a regional power, was a small tribal kingdom at most. And YHWH, the God of Israel, had Asherah, his very own female consort. The early Israelite religion adopted monotheism not upon receiving it on Mount Sinai, but by adhering to it during the period of decline of the monarchy.

If true, does any of this adversely affect the legitimacy of the democratic Jewish state of Israel? Not in the least.

In May 2015, an independent scholar named Noah Kennedy, in a piece entitled “Ze’ev Herzog and the Historicity of the Bible,” reported that religious Jews’ reactions to Herzog’s piece had not been “bitter”; and that even many intensely engaged nationalist/religious-leaning Jews had been perfectly “civil” in their search for discussion and debate (with a “maybe you just haven’t found the evidence yet” rebuff, at most). The few reactions from devout Muslims might be paraphrased as, “I don’t care if the Bible is historically accurate or not; my beliefs come from the Quran, so they have to be true.” Only one non-believer expressed disappointment that archaeology seemed at times to support the Biblical narrative. The only indignant personal responses reportedly came from American Christians, who sent the archeologist many “angry letters warning him of the divine retribution headed his way.”

Israel is a country where every topic can and, indeed, incessantly continues to be thoroughly debated.

What has made Israel so resilient for so long despite the challenges to which it is daily exposed, from both within and without? Steadfastness of purpose; self-reliance through hard work; pride through self-fulfillment; and hard-earned skills conducive to a sense of earned freedom sustained through continual self-reappraisal, among other qualities of valor.

Neither the revelations of the “New Historians,” nor the questions and doubts of Jewish voices from both left and right, could thwart Israel from affirming its existence and excelling, despite its inimical surroundings and circumstances.

Second to none in such contests, a chorus of dissonant Muslim and Christian Arab “Palestinian” voices coming from all directions, and in this instance correctly conflating the typifying attributes “Israeli” and “Jew” the better to keep protesting the right to exist of either, continue making life difficult.  Techniques used include:

Denial by appropriation:  ([Imran 3.67]: “Ibrahim was no Jew, no Christian – but an upright – a Muslim.”)

Accusation by hearsay: ([Tossavainen, 2005]: “Although Radio Islam has Sweden’s most aggressively and systematically anti-Semitic Muslim website, it is not the only one. Other sites run by Swedish Muslims…disseminate anti-Semitism…less relentlessly… [but] the content of their anti-Semitism is little different. The idea that Jews…behave in a certain way…have specific character traits is common…Jews [are] portrayed as cruel…bloodthirsty, greedy and cheap, power-hungry…arrogant, cowardly…duplicitous…[They are] regularly accused of sexual perversion…[O]ne site… describes “Jewish capital” as controlling pedophilia and child pornography, Jews are charged with sexual misconduct and racism toward Gentiles.”)

Deprecation by self-arrogating competitive advantage: ([Tafsir Ibn Kathir, 2000]: “The Muslim Ummah is more respected and honored before God….has a more perfect legislative code and system of life…has the most honorable Prophet, the larger kingdom, more provisions, wealth and children, a larger domain and more lasting glory than the children of Israel.”)

Immunity via self-righteousness: ([Pew Research 2006]: Majorities in Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, and Turkey, each a Muslim country with ties to the US, said they did not believe Arabs carried out the September 11 attacks in the US. Muslim respondents in several surveys even said they could conceive the hand of Jews in such evil.)

Acquired visceral dislike of Jews, disseminated via disinformation ([Pew Research 2006]: Unfavorable Muslim views of Jews were 100% in Jordan; 98% in Egypt; 99% in Lebanon; 88% in Morocco; 76% in Indonesia, 74% in Pakistan; and 60% in Turkey.)

Bans and boycotts: (In addition to Islam’s financing anti-Israeli “Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions” in the West, the following Muslim countries still ban Israeli Jews from entry: Algeria, Bangladesh, Brunei, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, the UAE, and Yemen.)

Step-by-step annihilation: ([Sari Nusseibeh/Al Quds, 2011]: “We offer the suggestion that Israeli leaders ask instead that Palestinians recognize Israel (proper) as a civil, democratic, and pluralistic state whose official religion is Judaism, and whose majority is Jewish…there is no reason why Israeli Jews should not want the religion of their state to be officially Jewish. This…reasonable demand…may allay the fears of Jewish Israelis…becoming a minority in Israel, and…not arouse fears among Palestinians and Arabs about being ethnically cleansed in Palestine…recognition of Israel’s official religion as Judaism, rather than…recognition of Israel as a “Jewish State”, would…mean Israel continuing to be a democracy.”) Not a word on dhimmitude, demographics, citizenship, allegiance in officially religious democracies, etc…

And the odd if incomplete sound of serenity: ([Supreme Justice Aharon Barak, 2005] “[The] Jewish State is the state of the Jewish people…it is a state in which every Jew has…[the] right to return…[the] Jewish state derives its values from its religious heritage, the Bible is the basis of its books…Israel’s prophets are the basis of its morality…[the] Jewish state is a state in which the values of Israel, Torah, Jewish heritage and the values of the Jewish halacha [Jewish religious law] are the bases of its values.”)

What next? Rome was not built in one day; but it could have been destroyed in less than one, had today’s technology been around then. Israel must continue to be vigilant.

Why Israel needs to prepare America for the upcoming conflict in Syria

By    Eric R. Mandel               Jerusalem Post


For the next 10 days Israel will be simulating war conditions with Hezbollah, in its largest military exercise in over 20 years. Although the exercise is based upon a Lebanese battlefield, the Syrian frontier is equally problematic, with Hezbollah and Iran embedded within Syrian regime positions.

After listening and speaking to some of Israel’s most trusted analysts on security and intelligence, visiting the Lebanese and Syrian borders, and speaking with active and reserve officers in the field, I am confident that Israel is deadly serious about challenging a permanent Iranian presence in Syria, Hezbollah aggression, and Iranian missile bases in Russian-protected areas.

Israel’s tacit agreement with Russia to avoid misunderstandings over Israeli military actions in Syria targeting weapons shipments bound for Hezbollah is now in jeopardy, in part because the Syrian situation has evolved in favor of Assad, Russia and most significantly Iran. Consideration for Israel’s security challenges doesn’t hold much weight anymore for the Russians.

Most significantly, the Trump administration has agreed to leave it to Russia to enforce a Syrian de-escalation agreement, which legitimizes a permanent Iranian presence in Syria.

According to the London-based Arab newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat, the United States acquiesced to an Iranian presence less than10 kilometers from the Israeli border in the Golan. This is a game changer. This will allow Iran and Hezbollah to strike Israel from Syria, while avoiding Israeli retaliation in Lebanon.

Gen. (ret.) Yossi Kuperwasser, former head of research in the IDF Military Intelligence division and director general of the Strategic Affairs Ministry wrote, “Iran almost assuredly wants to turn Syria into an Iranian military base… so that instead of threatening Israel from 1,300 kilometers away, the Iranian forces could sit on Israel’s doorstep. This would bring about a dramatic change in the nature of the threat Israel is facing.”

He also believes that Iran may also be considering moving nuclear development into the unmonitored Syrian frontier to avoid IAEA detection of violations in Iran.

Ten years ago Israel successfully destroyed a Syrian nuclear facility, so it is no stretch of the imagination to believe Israel would act again if its intelligence detected Iranian nuclear development in Syria.

An Israeli tipping point may have been reached, forcing Israel to either be resigned to a permanent Iranian presence in Syria or significantly increase its operations in Syria, potentially escalating into a wider regional war.

According to Yediot Aharonot, “Russia has reportedly stationed its advanced S-400 anti-missile defense system near an Iranian arms factory in Syria, which allegedly manufactures long-range guided missiles for Hezbollah.”

When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu complained to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Pravda reported that Putin’s response to Netanyahu’s complaints was “Iran is Russia’s strategic ally in the Middle East.”

So will Russia use its S-400 anti-aircraft system against an IAF attack on its Shi’ite allies? A successful Israeli attack would require Israel to knock out any S-400 system defending the target.

How would the Russians respond to the deaths of Russian soldiers manning the S-400? Can anyone predict how Trump and co. would respond to an Israeli attack killing Russian soldiers? A regional conflict now becomes a possibility.

As former head of the National Security Council Yaakov Amidror said, “At the end of the day it is our responsibility, not the responsibility of the Americans, or the Russians, to guarantee ourselves, and we will take all the measures that are needed for that.”

There is no doubt the Iranians will be testing Israel very soon, feeling secure that no one including the US will come to their aid. American resolve to stand by an essential ally will be severely tested, as many US allies will not choose Israel’s side if Israel acts.

The West mistakenly believes the imminent defeat of Islamic State (ISIS) will stabilize Syria and the surrounding region, but nothing could be further from the truth. ISIS with its offshoots will turn back to insurgency, while the Islamist Iranian victors solidify their land corridor to the Mediterranean.

The region could be ignited with a single match. That light could be a significant Israeli attack in Syria in response to the increased military transfers facilitated by a permanent Iranian presence, starting the engine toward a wider regional conflagration.

This is why Israel must prepare its American ally sooner rather than later to know that Israel may not be able to sit idly by while Iran’s uses its new base to transfer more and more powerful weaponry to Hezbollah.

Serious questions need to be asked and debated in Jerusalem and Washington.

  • How will Jordan and the more moderate Sunni States be affected by the permanent Iranian presence in Syria? • How will Israeli actions affect US-Israeli relations? • To what extent will Russia actively participate beyond coordinating with Syria and Iran? • Would a third recertification of the JCPOA in October increase Iranian adventurism in Lebanon and Syria? The Iranian hegemonic expansion is not a new phenomenon, but a long and wellplanned one, as it tries to reproduce the glory days of the ancient Persian empires. Today’s territorial gains in Syria should be considered phase two, with phase one beginning 30 years ago when Iran sponsored Hezbollah.

Phase two began during the 2011 “Arab Winter” with US president Barack Obama’s withdrawal from the region creating the opportunity for Iran to move into both Syria and Iraq.

In the past few years, Hezbollah has grown from a formidable terrorist entity to effectively controlling all of the Lebanese government with terrorist proxies throughout the Middle East and South America, all under Iranian control.

What we do know is that Iran and Hezbollah’s permanent presence in Syria is dangerous for Israel, America and the West.

It is not too late for American diplomatic leadership to balance interests and turn down the heat, but that would mean America challenging Russian authority to make the rules in Syria and renegotiating the deal in Amman.

If the administration fails to act, Congress should take the lead, speaking clearly to the American people about how Iran’s newfound dominance in the region undermines American national security interests.

Expect the EU to be completely unhelpful, as it is blinded by the economic benefits of the JCPOA. It will bend over backwards to be on the side of Iran.

Which brings us back to Israel. It has already sent high-level security and intelligence teams to speak to the Trump administration warning it about the evolving danger in Syria.

An American commitment to back up Israel if Iran does not decrease its presence in Syria would actually decrease the chance for conflict, as knowing the red lines might make Iran think twice before challenging Israel or expanding further into the Golan.

The Trump Middle East Israeli-Palestinian peace team should also refocus their efforts away from the improbable quest for conflict resolution and get their head into the real game in the Middle East, Iranian control of Syria, one that could set the region on fire.