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Latest News in Israel – 17th November

When an earthquake struck Israel’s greatest enemy, she couldn’t stand by and do nothing

Is this an example of a Jew with a bleeding heart?

Exactly the opposite.

This is a perfect example of Jewish values stretching way beyond the borders of the Jewish State.

This is not about good PR – even though it is great PR. This is not about anything but simple Jewish values that we can all be proud of.

Thank you Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for this excellent effort and short speech that sums up Jewish values at their ultimate level – compassion, caring, and kind.

The ideas expressed in this video hearken back to the Talmud which is seen in the background of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office.

The Talmud explains that if one is unsure if a person is Jewish or not, the best way to “know” for sure if the person is Jewish or not is whether or not they possess the character traits of compassion, bashfulness, and kindness.

Two out of the three attributes are exact replicas. If bashfulness and caring can be considered similar enough to each other, then we have a solid match.

Israel on the cutting edge. (Israel Video Network)

IDF Chief of Staff: Israel willing to share intelligence with Saudis

IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot has offered to share Israeli intelligence about Iran with Saudi Arabia, in remarks published in a rare interview with a Saudi newspaper published in London.

“We are ready to exchange experiences with Saudi Arabia and other moderate Arab countries and exchange intelligence information confront Iran,” Eisenkot told the Elaph newspaper, adding that “there are many shared interests between us and Saudi Arabia.”

“Under US President Donald Trump there is an opportunity to form a new international alliance in the region. We need to carry out a large, comprehensive strategic plan to stop the Iranian threat,” Eisenkot said.

According to the chief of staff, the expansion of Iranian influence across the Middle East is a major concern to both Israel and Saudi Arabia.

“The Iranian plan is to control the Middle East by means of two Shi’ite crescents,” Eisenkot told Elaph, “the first being from Iran through Iraq to Syria and Lebanon and the second across the Gulf from Bahrain to Yemen to the Red Sea. We must stop that from happening.”

Eisenkot, who met with military leaders from around the globe in Washington at the second annual conference of chiefs of staff in October, told Elaph that what he heard from the Saudi representative about Iranian expansion was “identical” to Israeli concerns.

“This is what should be prevented in the region,” he said, adding that “in this matter there is complete agreement between us and Saudi Arabia.”

While Tehran’s nuclear program has been temporarily frozen there is no doubt about the country’s intention to acquire nuclear capabilities. Tehran is not only providing arms to terror groups such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen and Islamic Jihad in Gaza, but is also transferring expertise, building weapons factories, supplying advanced weapons and investing huge sums in the various militias.

In September a senior IDF officer stated that the Islamic Republic provides some $60-70 million to Hamas in the Gaza Strip,as well as hundreds of millions of dollars more for their militias in Syria and Iraq and Houthi rebels in Yemen fighting pro-government forces backed by a Saudi-led coalition.

Tehran has also increased its financial support for its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah to $800 million a year, a dramatic boost from the $200 million it used to provide the group.

According to IDF assessments, while Hezbollah has increased its military capabilities due to its fighting in Syria, the group has spread its troops across the entire Middle East and is hurting financially.

“I see Hezbollah beginning to feel financial pressure. We are also seeing a drop in support for Hezbollah and that is reverberating on the streets where we have seen demonstrations in Dahiya. That’s something we have not seen before,” Eisenkot said, referring to Hezbollah’s stronghold in southern Beirut.

Hezbollah, one of the most prominent terror organizations in the world, has become bogged down fighting in Syria for President Bashar al-Assad. Of its approximately 22,000 fighters, about 7,000 are fighting for the Assad regime and some 2,000 have been killed in the four years the group has been in Syria.

Last week Hezbollah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah accused Saudi Arabia of having appealed to Israel to launch an attack against the group in Lebanon, offering the Jewish state “billions of dollars” to do so.

On Wednesday Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was quoted by Press TV as saying that “It is very reprehensible and shameful for a Muslim country in the region to beg the Zionist regime [of Israel] to bomb the people of Lebanon.”

“It is unprecedented in history for a Muslim country to take such measures, and this indicates the immaturity of the individuals who have come to power in those countries,” Rouhani added.

Eisenkot told Elaph that while Israel has no intention of initiating a war with Hezbollah in Lebanon, Jerusalem will not accept any strategic threats that the Iranian-backed terror group might pose to it.

On Friday, the BBC news agency reported that Iran had established a military base at a Syrian army site south of the capital of Damascus. According to the report, which is based on a western intelligence source, the Iranian base is about 50 kilometers north of Israel’s Golan Heights and has several buildings which likely house soldiers and military vehicles.

Following the report an Israeli the Eros-B satellite photographed the region, outside the town of Al-Kiswah and found that recent renovations to the facility, which is close to an old Syrian regime army base, showed new buildings which could be suitable for mosques and barracks.

The chief of staff stated that he was hopeful regarding Trump’s declarations about the need to stop Iran’s missile program and the entrenchment of its troops and militias in Syria and Iraq.

“Our demand is that Iran, Hezbollah and other Iranian militias leave Syria. We have said it publicly that we will not accept the Iranian position in Syria in general, and especially their position west of the Damascus-Suwayda road. We will not allow any Iranian presence.”  (Jerusalem Post)

Liberman: We will not allow Syria to become an Iranian outpost

Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman responded Wednesday to comments made by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that Iran’s presence in Syria was legitimate, warning that the Jewish State maintains freedom of action in Syria and will not allow Iranian entrenchment in the war-torn country.

“We maintain absolute freedom of action and the only considerations that guide us are the security considerations of Israel,” he said at the end of a two-day tour in northern Israel.

“With regards to Iran, we will simply not allow for Shi’ite consolidation and Iranian entrenchment in Syria nor will we allow Syria to become a forward operating base against the State of Israel.  Anyone who has yet to understand that is advised to do so.”

Liberman was responding to comments made by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov who said that Iranian presence in Syria was “legitimate.” Lavrov was quoted by RIA as saying that Russia never promised the United States that Iran and Iranian-backed forces would withdraw from Syria.

As an ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad, Moscow finds itself as part of an alliance between Damascus and Tehran, the patron of Hezbollah. Russia, which views Iran as a key player in resolving the crisis in Syria, has repeatedly emphasized the importance of the role that the Islamic Republic plays in the war-torn country.

Liberman visited the northern border Wednesday accompanied by IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, Deputy Chief of Staff Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, Northern Command Chief Maj.-Gen.Yoel Strick and the commanders of the Bashan and Galilee Division.

On Tuesday Liberman accused the Ministry of Finance of stalling to fund the implementation of a 2014 government decision to increase protection for the Homefront, especially for communities in the north, which he said were severely lacking compared to southern Israel.

“We are dealing with a matter that is ‘net life’” the defense minister said, urging local authorities to demand that the government implement decisions taken in 2014 to allocate NIS 150 million annually for 10 years in order close the protection gaps throughout the country.

The border area with Lebanon has been flagged by the IDF as vulnerable to enemy infiltrations has seen 9 infiltrations since since 2009, including one in April where a man was able to cross into Israel from Lebanon and walked to the central bus station of Kiryat Shmona, about 10 kilometers from the border fence.

The IDF believes that during the next war with Hezbollah, it will see the terror group try to bring the fight to the home front by infiltrating Israeli communities to inflict significant civilian and military casualties.

The border fence with Lebanon has been upgraded several times since it was originally built in the 1980s, including in October when a 29 kilometers stretch was upgraded with engineered barriers, including reinforced concrete panels of several feet high, concrete blocks and fortified watchtowers. The IDF has also created obstacles such as a man-made cliff and high concrete barriers to help prevent any attacks by Hezbollah.

Along with a new six meter high steel and barbed wire “smart fence” stretching several kilometers with information collection centers and warning systems being built along two stretches of the Lebanese border and new fortified shelters including bus stops have been constructed along the Lebanese and Syrian borders.  (Jerusalem Post)

US security officials arrive in Israel to discuss Syria border deal

US National Security Council officials arrived in Israel for talks with their Israeli counterparts.

Representatives of other security agencies are also participating Tuesday in the discussions, which are focused on the recent US-Russia cease-fire agreement for Syria as well as on Iran.

The agreement, announced in a joint US-Russian statement Saturday, calls for “the reduction and ultimate elimination” of foreign fighters from southern Syria, including Iranian troops and proxies. However, it does not set a timetable.

According to an Israeli official, militias would be allowed to maintain positions as close as 3 to 4 miles to some parts of the border while being pushed up to around 19 miles away in others, Reuters reported Monday.

However, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Tuesday that the agreement does not include a Russian commitment to ensure Iran-linked militias are pulled out of the country. Lavrov said Iran’s presence in Syria is “legitimate,” according to the Interfax news agency.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Monday that Israel will not be bound by the deal.

“I have clarified to our friends in Washington and our friends in Moscow that we will operate in Syria, including southern Syria, in accordance with our understanding and in accordance with our security needs,” Netanyahu said, describing Israel’s security policy as “the right combination of firmness and responsibility.”

On Friday, a Western security official told the BBC that Iran was setting up a permanent base on a site used by the Syrian army near el-Kiswah, 8 miles south of Damascus and 30 miles from the Israeli border.

Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Eisenkot reportedly flew secretly to Brussels on Thursday to meet with Gen. Curtiss Scaparrotti, head of the US Army’s European Command, and discuss Iranian moves in Syria.

Israel has lobbied against allowing Iran to maintain any presence in Syria. In September, Haaretz reported that Israel asked the United States and Russia to keep Iran and its proxies at least 30 miles away from the border, but the Russians agreed to only 3 miles.

Netanyahu has warned that Iran plans to create a permanent presence in the country, including with naval and air force bases, and that Israel will not allow it to happen.  (Jerusalem Post)

Israel unprepared for terror, domestic drone threats

Israel is extremely unprepared to address the multiple threats presented by drones, either from cross-border terrorism or from unregulated and dangerous domestic use, the State Comptroller reported on Wednesday.

Regarding cross-border terrorism-style drone threats, Joseph Shapira said that the IDF “has not developed a complete response” and “needs to immediately carry out more preparatory work” to address the issue.

Shapira also wrote that “gaps exist in regulating drone use” domestically and that his report is highlighting those gaps “in order to improve the response to the threat and to reduce the danger” posed by that threat.

According to estimates from the Civil Aviation Authority, by the end of 2017 there will be a staggering 20,000 drones being operated domestically for a variety of business and recreational use. That number is expected to grow to many tens of thousands in only a few years. Globally, around one million drones are bought per year.

Drone use has expanded at a stunning rate as drones have become cheaper, easier to use and more widely available in local stores.

The comptroller jumped on this issue quickly, having noted that the state often lags behind in addressing developing threats stimulated by new technologies and concepts – such as its slow response to the Hamas tunnel threat.

The report covers the period from September 2016 to September 2017.

It noted that some of its sections have been kept secret by the Knesset State Control subcommittee on classified materials, but that there was more than sufficient unclassified material in the report to make it clear to the public what the overriding issues were.

It appeared that the IDF’s current and experimental responses to defending against drones were part of the censored draft, or at least are not mentioned in the public draft – even as the IDF is criticized for not being ready.

Two Israeli defense industry businesses have developed anti-drone measures since 2016, mostly using jamming technologies to disrupt enemy drones’ ability to continue receiving instructions from their operators.

In November 2016, Elbit unveiled its Redrone system for defending against some enemy drones.

Elbit has said that the new system is designed to identify, track and jam unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that enter restricted and sensitive airspace.

In April 2016 and June 2017, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems announced its development of a Drone Dome system. The system uses a directed-energy and hard-kill intercept capability to detect and neutralize UAVs used by terrorists to perform aerial attacks, collect intelligence and other intimidating activities.

But some of these systems have known holes and others are still relatively untested.

Israel has also used fighter jets and surface-to-air missiles as critical aspects of the drone-fighting picture.

On Saturday, an IDF patriot missile intercepted a drone that approached the Golan Heights border from Syria, believed to have been gathering intelligence for the Assad regime.

However, in other instances, drones have successfully penetrated Israeli territory from Gaza and Lebanon and the IDF’s patriot missiles missed. It is also unclear how well the above solutions would fair if dealing with a combination of simultaneous multiple rocket and drone attacks.

On a related issue, Shapira slammed the National Security Council, the IDF and the police force for a failure to delineate responsibility for the drone threat between them, despite 2.5 years of work on the issue.

He said that “the security cabinet must review this report and act without delay to fix the deficiencies noted in it.”

Though deputy chiefs of the IDF and the police and multiple NSC chiefs have all agreed that the drone issue is a major and escalating threat, none of them have succeeded at bridging the gap between the IDF and the police over who must face down the drone issue.

The report said that both the IDF and the police agree that the IDF is responsible for cross-border drone terror. But whereas the IDF is adamant that the police are responsible for the domestic drone threat, especially drones which disrupt public order but are not aimed at using violence, the police say they are not equipped and that the IDF must handle all drone-related issues.

From an economic perspective, the report said it was critical for the IDF to engage the Shin Bet and the police as part of its preparations so that all agencies can advance their readiness. In this way, the state would not be funding parallel overlapping efforts.

On the domestic threat side, the report said that current aviation laws stemming from a 2011 law do not comprehensively address the problem, leading to a 70% jump in dangerous accidents caused by drones from 14 in 2015 to 24 in 2016.

According to the report, the fines the Civil Aviation Authority, which is part of the Transportation Ministry, can impose on persons using drones on an unregulated basis or for causing accidents or danger are limited.

It said that new legislation must be passed to authorize the authority to impose much larger fines to deter unregulated and irresponsible use of drones.

In addition, the report said that there are only two members of the authority assigned to oversight of drones and that even they are not working full time.

The report noted that the authority responded to criticism of the small number of inspectors, saying that even 100 inspectors could not possibly effectively oversee the massive number of drones in the country.

Shapira said that the Transportation Ministry must devise a more effective mechanism for oversight, though he did not offer alternate suggestions. (Jerusalem Post)

Israel Co-Sponsors Saudi Resolution Against Syria at UN

In an unprecedented move, Israel on Tuesday co-sponsored a draft resolution against Syria that was submitted by Saudi Arabia at the United Nations Human Rights Council.

The resolution, which was also backed by the US, France and Germany, passed with an overwhelming majority of 108 countries voting in favor, 17 voting against and 58 abstaining.

Although Israel has previously supported resolutions submitted by Saudi Arabia at the UN, it has never signed on as a co-sponsor.

In a statement delivered prior to the vote, Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the UN Abdallah Al-Mouallimi slammed the “the grave deterioration in the state of human rights in Syria.”

When the list of the resolution’s co-sponsors was read aloud, Syria’s UN envoy, Bashar al-Jaafari, mockingly congratulated Riyadh for Israel’s direct involvement, stating that it served as evidence of a secret Israeli-Saudi alliance. The Syrian ambassador also accused all of the resolution’s co-sponsors of supporting terrorism.

“The Assad regime, with full support from Iran, has been slaughtering its people mercilessly and with incomprehensible cruelty for years,” Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon responded. “Israel, which for years has been providing humanitarian aid to Syrian civilians hurt by these atrocities, stands together with the international community against this murderous regime.”

Israel’s co-sponsoring of the Saudi resolution came a week after the Israeli Foreign Ministry reportedly instructed its envoys to launch a global diplomatic campaign against Iran and the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, and in support of Saudi Arabia and its allies.  (JNS/the Algemeiner)

Hamas: Mossad behind elimination of drone expert in Tunisia

Hamas  placed on Israel responsibility for the killing of Muhammad Zuari, the organization’s drone specialist, at the end of last year in Tunisia, according to senior Hamas official Muhammad Nazzal and reported by Kan Reshet Bet. The investigation conducted by the organization allegedly revealed that the Mossad had planned and carried out the assassination.

At a press conference held by Nazzal in Beirut, he claimed that Israel had liquidated Zuari “with the assistance of other security forces,” without elaborating. He also said that according to a Hamas internal investigation, planning of the drone expert’s assassination began a year-and-a-half before it was carried out.

Zuari, a member of Hamas’s military wing, was responsible for developing unmanned aerial vehicles and training in their use. He was killed on December 15, 2016, when he was reportedly shot by two unknown persons who blocked his route in Sfax, Tunisia.  (Arutz Sheva)

Ex Shin Bet Head: I considered killing myself

The head of the Shin Bet at the time of Yitzhak Rabin’s murder, Carmi Gillon, admitted in an interview to Channel 10’s “Intimate” program that he had considered committing suicide following the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and the failure of the Shin Bet security service.

“On a personal level, I wanted to quit everything, I went around with a mark of Cain on my forehead, I could not bear the distress. Everyone looked at me – as the man responsible for the Rabin assassination. On the other hand you have responsibility for your nuclear family, a wife and three girls, one of them only six years old.”

Gilon also said, “I did not share my suicidal thoughts with my wife, but it shocks me more that it took them years to tell what they went through because they did not want to share with me, and protected me. They went through tough times at school.”

Gilon refused to reveal how he planned to end his life. “I thought about how to do it, a gun was out of the question even though it was the most available at home, but I did not want fingerprints and I thought about the family. I suggest that I don’t provide details so as not to give people ideas.”

He said that he was very disappointed with his friends who abandoned him after Rabin’s murder: “My good friends are gone. I was personally disappointed with Yaakov Peri [who headed the Shin Bet before Gillon], who said in the media that I should resign. It was said behind my back… That was after I had resigned. Pick up your phone, your successor needs your help, but he had disappeared. ”

At the time of the Rabin assassination, on Saturday night, Gillon was in Paris and received the news from his office manager on the way to the airport: “I did not recover from Rabin’s murder and I can not recover. I can not explain the colossal failure. To this day, I can not understand how Yigal Amir could shoot three shots. I was educated as a security guard that it is reasonable to believe that the attacker could fire a first bullet, but woe if he shoots a second bullet. ”

In the interview, he regretted that he did not go to psychological treatment after Rabin’s assassination, but received medical treatments that gave him prescriptions for pills to treat his mental state. (Arutz Sheva)

New system provides response to drone threat

A day after the State Comptroller report on the drone threat, the defense establishment has offered a number of solutions.

One of them which has already been proven in the field is “Red Sky” developed by IMI Systems, a short-range air defense system that uses shoulder missiles (in the customer’s possession) and is designed to intercept aerial targets mechanically, using autonomous scanning, tracing, and dispatch capabilities .

The system is lightweight, portable, and provides an effective defensive response against a variety of low-altitude aerial threats.

Recently, the system’s capabilities were extended to deal effectively with the growing drone threat for protecting strategic sites, protecting borders, and protecting facilities in urban areas.

Red Sky provides a comprehensive response against the drone threat, from detection, threat identification, target lockout, automatic tracking, jamming, and neutralization before the drone carries out its mission.

The system is integrated with advanced radar detectors for drones within ranges of a few kilometers, is equipped with an advanced thermal camera for investigating and identifying the threat, as well as ability to lock on the target, After locking the system tracks the target and enables the operator to disrupt or neutralize it in an effective range from the protected site.

The jamming impedes the communication between operator and drone over several broadcast frequencies, and also disrupts navigation abilities, thus precluding continuation of the mission.

The system can be integrated into a defense system for sensitive installations, in urban and/or other areas. In addition, the system can be installed on a vehicle and protect maneuvering forces against aircraft and drones.

In recent months the system underwent a series of trials and demonstrations under difficult weather conditions in day and night with great success with one of the most advanced Western armies in the world. (Arutz Sheva)