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Latest News in Israel – 20th June

Updates from Israel and the Jewish World

Compiled by Dr Ron Wiseman

Netanyahu to Israel’s enemies: We have the power to destroy, do not test us

Israel has tremendous destructive capabilities, and its enemies should not test it, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday after viewing a large IDF exercise in the north.

“I am very impressed by the improvement in the [IDF’s] readiness, in the spirit of the fighters and the commanders, and especially in the IDF’s destructive power,” said Netanyahu, who is also the country’s defense minister.

He viewed the mutli-pronged exercise with Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, and spoke with IDF officers and soldiers participating in the drill.

Netanyahu’s comments came amid an increase in regional tensions, including between the US and Iran in the Persian Gulf. The massive exercise incorporated all branches of the military, including the use of the F-35 stealth fighter recently acquired from the US. (Jerusalem Post) Herb Keinon

UN nuclear watchdog IAEA recognizes ‘State of Palestine’

The International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, took an additional step Tuesday in recognizing the Palestinian Authority (PA) as a state, according to the PA news agency WAFA.

“Palestine and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) signed today a safeguards agreement at its Vienna headquarters,” said the news agency on Tuesday.

“The signing of this agreement follows the accession of the State of Palestine as a State party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons at the beginning of 2015,” WAFA added.

A permanent Palestinian “observer to the United Nations and the international organizations in Vienna, Salah Abdul Shafi, signed the agreement on behalf of the State of Palestine along with IAEA director-general, Yukiya Amano,”  WAFA reports.

“Abdul Shafi said that the signing of this agreement is further proof that the State of Palestine shoulders its international responsibilities as an active member of the international community,” said the PA news agency.

“This is another attempt by the Palestinian Authority to join international organizations with the aim of exploiting them for political purposes,” said Israel’s Foreign Ministry in response.

“Israel does not recognize the PA’s attempts to join such organizations and such institutions in which only states are members. Israel views this as a violation of international agreements,” the Ministry said in a statement.

The Palestinian Authority is not a state, but a self-ruling body in Judea, Samaria, and the Gaza Strip. It was established in stages during the 1990s as part of the Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). The accords called for the future establishment of a Palestinian state but it never happened amid rampant Palestinian terror against Israel.

In 2005, the Hamas terror group overthrew the PA in the Gaza Strip and the Authority leadership has not been able to fully reestablish its control of Gaza since then. (WIN) Staff

Ancient observation tower discovered in present IDF paratrooper base

An ancient observation tower was discovered in southern Israel on Wednesday in an IDF paratrooper base. The tower dates back to the days of the King Hezekiah, who ruled the Kingdom of Judah almost 3,000 years ago, according to the Bible.

“The strategic location of the tower served as a lookout and warning point against the Philistine enemy, one of whose cities was Ashkelon,” according to Valdik Lifshitz and Sa’ar Ganor, directors of the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The tower was estimated to be about 16.4 x 11.5 feet.

“In the days of the First Temple, the Kingdom of Judah built a range of towers and fortresses as points of communication, warning and signaling, to transmit messages and field intelligence.”

Ancient tower discovered in IDF base 

The messages would be transmitted though smoke and fire, depending the time of the day.

The project was carried by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority in a joint effort with the IDF and the Ministry of Defense.

“To our delight, each project creates solidarity, strengthening the connection between the soldiers and their surroundings.The IDF, a melting pot of Israel’s diverse population, is a unique meeting place for people from all parts of the country, which, through environmental activities, creates between them a stronger awareness to the preservation of nature and the Israeli heritage,” IDF Defense Force project Guy Saly said.

Some 150 recruits and commanders from the Paratroopers Brigade participated in the excavation, according to Saly. Part of the IDF’s involvement in the project was to instill responsibility of Israel’s heritage, and natural landscape to IDF soldiers and commanders. The initiative, which began in 2014, included eight distinct projects.

“The archaeological excavation was a routine break from my point of view. I saw soldiers enjoying manual labor that has added value,” Lieutenant Colonel Roi Ofir, commander of recruits at the Paratroopers Brigade, said. “This is the first time I participated in excavations. The connection to the land, and the fact that there were Jewish fighters in the past, gave me a sense of mission. The fact that there was also a connection to the area where we carried out our own military maneuvers; left us with a feeling that we were giving back.” (Jerusalem Post) Staff

Jewish woman hit in head with metal ball outside of Paris synagogue

A 79-year-old Jewish woman was wounded outside a Paris synagogue when she was hit by a metal ball hurled at her head.

The victim was taken to the hospital with cranial damage and loss of blood. Her condition is stable, France Bleu reported Wednesday, a day after the attack in the French capital’s 11th District.

Witnesses outside the synagogue said they did not see from where the ball was hurled or by whom.

The World Jewish Congress said it viewed the incident as “part of a disturbing trend, not just in France but around the world.”

CRIF, the umbrella group of French Jewish communities, also condemned the “violent aggression.”

“We wish the victim a speedy recovery and call on the French authorities to do all in their power to bring the perpetrator to justice,” it said in a statement.

On Monday, a bowl full of water was hurled, possibly from an elevated residential apartment, at worshipers leaving the same synagogue. (the Times of Israel) Staff

In first, Israeli wins European fencing championship

Israeli fencer Yuval Freilich on Tuesday won the gold medal in the European Fencing Championships in Dusseldorf, Germany.

Freilich, ranked 40th in the world, managed to defeat Italian Andrea Santarelli, ranked 13th, in the contest’s final.

Israeli fencer Yuval Freilich is held aloft by his team after winning the gold at the European Fencing Championships in Dusseldorf

The two ended the first third of their fight in a tie at 3:3, but Freilich took the lead in the next two thirds and finished 15:9.

Freilich is the first Israeli fencer to win a European championship.

Freilich, 24, grew up in the settlement of Neve Daniel. He is the son of Australian immigrants and has been fencing since age 5. He won two gold medals in teen championships in 2014 and 2015 and a silver in the under-23 category in 2016.

“It’s the most incredible feeling,” he said in an interview posted to Facebook by the European Fencing Confederation.

“Really a fantastic day. Everything connected, the fencing, the energy, the feeling. It just all came together and this is what came out. Amazing, really unbelievable feeling.” (the Times of Israel) Staff

(He is the son of Gabby Freilich and nephew of Rabbi David Freilich     RW)