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Latest News in Israel – 2nd May



Updates from Israel and the Jewish World

Compiled by Dr Ron Wiseman

Israeli aircraft strike Hamas targets in Gaza after wave of fire balloons

Israeli aircraft bombed a Hamas base in the northern Gaza Strip early Thursday, the IDF said after a wave of fire balloons were launched into Israel from the Strip.

“Earlier today, explosive and arson balloons were launched from the Gaza Strip,” the army said. “In response, overnight, an IDF fighter jet and an IDF aircraft struck a number of terror targets in a Hamas military compound in the northern Gaza Strip.”

There were no immediate reports of injuries.

The strike came after a large brushfire broke out in the Eshkol region of southern Israel on Wednesday night, with suspicions that it was caused by a balloon-borne incendiary device from the nearby Gaza Strip, officials said.

The blaze began in a field between the Eshkol National Park and Kibbutz Urim, spreading throughout the grasslands and into a wooded area, according to Fire and Rescue Department Eli Cohen.

The IDF said it held Hamas responsible for all violence emanating from the Strip.

The fire came amid heightened tensions between Israel and terror groups in the Strip, after a rocket was launched from the coastal enclave, landing several kilometers off shore on Monday night.

Throughout the day, Palestinians launched dozens of incendiary devices, carried by balloons, into southern Israel from the Gaza Strip. However, it was not immediately clear if the Eshkol fire was sparked by one of these objects.

“At this point, the cause of the fire is not known. We will only know after a check by fire investigators,” a spokesperson for the Eshkol region said.

Three teams of firefighters were working to put out the fire. In addition to the Fire and Rescue Department, firefighters from the Jewish National Fund and from the Parks Service were involved in the effort, the fire department spokesman said.

“The teams are working together to get control over the fire and prevent it from spreading,” Cohen said.

Due to the blaze’s location, the firefighters were not able to bring their trucks into the area, requiring them to use smaller, hand-held equipment to battle the flames, the fire department spokesman said.

On Tuesday, a fire broke out near Kibbutz Nahal Oz in the Sha’ar Hanegev region. That blaze was caused by a balloon-borne incendiary device launched into Israel from Gaza. In recent weeks, such arson attacks have tapered off under the ceasefire brokered by Egypt last month.

That fire was quickly extinguished by a team of volunteers, the fire department said.

Also Tuesday, the Israeli military deployed Iron Dome missile defense batteries throughout the country, following a rocket attack from Gaza the previous night and ahead of what is expected to be a sensitive next few weeks.

The military expects the coming weeks to be particularly tense, as they will see the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the international Eurovision song competition in Tel Aviv, Israel’s Memorial and Independence days, and the first anniversary of the opening of the contentious US Embassy in Jerusalem.

Following Monday’s rocket launch, Israel scaled back the permitted Gaza fishing zone from 15 nautical miles to six until further notice. The fishing zone had previously been extended to 15 miles — a level that the coastal enclave has not seen in over a decade — as one of the first concessions by Jerusalem under an unofficial ceasefire agreement with terror groups in the Gaza Strip.

On Tuesday morning, the IDF said the Islamic Jihad intentionally fired the rocket from the northern Gaza Strip toward coastal Israel the day before in an effort to derail ongoing efforts to maintain the ceasefire.

While there has not been a complete cessation of violence along the Gaza border since the ceasefire went into effect last month, the situation there has been relatively calm.

Terror groups in the Strip have threatened to bring back regular border riots if Israel does not abide by its side of the deal. (the Times of Israel) Jacob Magid and Judah Ari Gross

In Holocaust memorial address, PM denounces ‘systematic vilification’ of Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday vowed that Israel “will not present its neck for the slaughter in the face of threats of destruction,” criticizing the Iranian regime and rising anti-Semitism — often dressed up as criticism of Israel — as the chief dangers to the Jews and the Jewish state today

Speaking at a state ceremony in Jerusalem marking Holocaust Remembrance Day, Netanyahu singled out a cartoon that appeared in The New York Times as part of “systematic, dishonest vilification” of Israel.

“In exile our abysmal weakness doomed us to our fate,” he said at the Yad Vashem memorial museum. “In our homeland the strength we’ve built has made us a rising world power. Many — a great many — desire closer relations with us.”

But the premier also warned that side-by-side with such great admiration for Israel was “a rising hatred of Jews in certain circles.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a ceremony held at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem, as Israel marks annual Holocaust Remembrance Day, May 1, 2019

“The extreme right, the extreme left and extremist Islam agree on one thing only: on hatred of the Jews,” he said. “This hatred is expressed in despicable attacks on worshipers at synagogues, as took place a few days ago in San Diego and before that in Pittsburgh; in the desecration of Jewish cemeteries and in the publication of caricatures and article dripping with hate, even in newspapers considered respectable.”

In the latter comment Netanyahu was referring to The New York Times’ publication of a cartoon which the paper has since acknowledged was anti-Semitic and has apologized repeatedly for. The cartoon featured Netanyahu as a dog and wearing a Star of David pendant leading a blind US President Donald Trump, dressed as an Orthodox Jew.

“We are not speaking of legitimate criticism of Israel, I wouldn’t linger on it if it were that,” he said, “But systematic, lying vilification that incessantly undermines the legitimacy of the Jewish nation state, and it alone. It’s an insufferable hypocrisy and cannot be accepted.”

As he has often done in recent years in his speeches marking Holocaust remembrance, Netanyahu framed Iran as the greatest current threat to the Jewish people.

“Iran sends threats of destruction our way day and night. We do not ignore these threats but we are not cowed by them,” he stated. “In the face of Iran our policy is clear. On the military front: resolutely blocking Iran’s attempts to entrench itself militarily near our border. On the political front: pressure, pressure and more pressure.”

He thanked Trump for his policies vis-à-vis Tehran, for quitting the “dangerous” nuclear deal, renewing sanctions and for most recently proclaiming Iran’s Revolutionary Guards a terror organization.

“Contrary to what occurred during the Holocaust, we are capable and intent on protecting ourselves, by ourselves,” he said. “Contrary to what occurred during the Holocaust we are building alliances against the dictatorial regime that is threatening us, many nations in our region, international shipping lanes and the security of the entire world.

“To those who wish us ill I say in this of all places, we have returned to the historical stage, to the forefront of the stage. We’ve defeated our enemies before and God willing we’ll beat you too,” he said.

Speaking before him, President Reuven Rivlin seemed to chide Netanyahu for being willing to forge alliances with European governments that have refused to fully account for their crimes during the Holocaust.

No interest and no consideration of realpolitik can justify a dishonorable alliance with racist groups or elements who do not acknowledge their past and their responsibility for the crimes of the Holocaust,” he said.

But Netanyahu appeared to push back, touting “unprecedented appreciation [for Israel] in those very same nations whose soil is soaked with the blood of our brothers and sisters.”

Recounting his visits to Holocaust memorials around the world, said he had felt “tremendous pain for the terrible disaster that came upon us” but at the same time “enormous pride to represent our people, which rose from the ashes in our independent nation.”  (the Times of Israel) Staff

PM Netanyahu  reveals the simple answer to defeating terrorism

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not afraid to say it like it is. He does not waste time beating around the bush. If the truth needs to be said, he will say it. And that is what he does in this video. When it comes to terrorism, Bibi does not want to appease the terrorists or the Leftists. He wants them to know that evil WILL be defeated – it is just a matter of time.

Defeating terrorism must be done on the ground, not only with ideology. True, the ideology of Muslim extremists must be defeated and replaced. But terrorism will not be beaten if the Western world does not fight it physically as well. That seems obvious, but many do not believe that is true. But it is. And these Islamists must be fought and beaten soon before more lives are taken.

People look to Israel for help with security. And Bibi is telling them what to do. He said, “I actually think that sometimes in these kinds of battles, it’s first of all important to win physically. Win. Fight…combatting Nazism first involved beating Nazism…you had de-nazification after you won. You have to win.” The Western world must take this message, and like Bibi said, (WIN). Staff

Watch the video:

13% increase in violent anti-Semitic attacks worldwide in 2018

Dr. Moshe Kantor, President of the European Jewish Congress (EJC), spoke about the rise in all forms of antisemitism at the release of the 2018 Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide at the Kantor Center at Tel Aviv University.

“If I have to summarize in one sentence the situation concerning antisemitism in 2018 and the beginning of 2019, I would say it is the increasing sense of emergency among Jews in many countries around the world,” Dr. Kantor said.

“Anti-Semitism has recently progressed to the point of calling into question the very continuation of Jewish life in many parts of the world. As we saw with the second mass shooting of a synagogue in the US, many parts of the world that were previously regarded as safe no longer are.”

“Additionally, as we recently witnessed with the disgraceful cartoon in The New York Times, anti-Semitism has entered gradually into the public discourse. Threats, harassment, and insults have become more violent, inciting to even more physical violence against Jews. It feels like almost every taboo relating to Jews, Judaism and Jewish life has been broken.”

In 2018, we witnessed the largest number of Jews murdered in a single year in decades.

The number of the most severe and violent incidents monitored worldwide by the Kantor Center was close to 400 – representing a 13 % increase from last year.

In Western European countries, the situation is the worst – specifically in Germany where there was a 70 percent increase in violent anti-Semitism.

The countries with the highest number of major violent cases are the US with over 100 cases, the UK with 68 cases, France and Germany with 35 cases each and Canada with 20 reported cases involving violence against Jews.

“It is now clear that anti-Semitism is no longer limited to the far-Left, far-Right and radical Islamist’s triangle – it has become mainstream and often accepted by civil society,” Dr. Kantor continued. “It represents a clear danger not only to Jews but to society as a whole. Anti-Semitism is the common denominator that unites extremists on the political spectrum, as part of their politics of intolerance that puts us all in danger.”

With the political center becoming more fragile, these extremist movements and groups seek to gain political power by attacking the foundations of democratic societies,” Dr. Kantor concluded.  (Arutz Sheva) Staff

Researchers at Tel Aviv University discover potential new treatment for epilepsy

Researchers at Tel Aviv University have discovered that a drug used to treat multiple sclerosis may help epilepsy patients.

Published in the scientific journal Neuron, the findings of Professor Inna Slutsky of the university’s faculty of medicine and school of neuroscience centre around the mechanism that regulates neural activity.

The team found that the DHODH gene is key to triggering neural activity, and that the drug Terflunomide—used to treat multiple sclerosis—inhibited such activity. The reduction in neural activity became permanent when brain cells were exposed to the drug for long periods of time.

Now, researchers say they believe that their findings will help develop drugs focusing on neural stability.

“We discovered a new mechanism responsible for regulating brain activity in the hippocampus, which may serve as a basis for the future development of effective drugs for epilepsy,” said Slutsky.

The discovery is particularly encouraging for those suffering from Dravet syndrome, an epileptic condition with a 15 per cent to 20 per cent mortality rate that causes frequent and prolonged seizures, and has thus far been resistant to pharmaceutical treatment. (J Wire) JNS

With Shoah speech attacking Iran and NY Times, PM displays post-election resolve

Three weeks after he won new term, prime minister’s blistering Holocaust memorial address underlines his personal conviction that he is uniquely capable of leading Israel

by David Horovitz                     The Times of Israel


In a fiery, spellbinding speech of less than 20 minutes on Wednesday night, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu showcased the oratorial mastery that helped him win reelection just three weeks ago, and showcased, too, his personal conviction that he is uniquely qualified to lead the Jewish state.

Addressing the nation at the start of the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day, Netanyahu delivered an address that built from astonishing stories of Holocaust suffering and heroism, as told to him by a group of survivors with whom he had met on Tuesday, to a resounding assertion of Israel’s legitimacy and denunciation of its critics.

Speaking at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem to a large audience that heard him in absolute silence, and to a nation watching on TV, the prime minister hailed survivors such as Fanny Ben-Ami, who as a 13-year-old led a group of children to safety in Switzerland from France but who turned back when she realized that a three-year-old girl in their group had been left behind in the demilitarized zone. “Fanny went back to get her,” the prime minister marveled; she “zig-zagged under gunfire” to bring the toddler to safety: “An angel of salvation, aged 13.”

He went on to detail visits he has made in recent years to European countries “whose land is soaked with the blood of our brothers and sisters, and where we were turned into human dust,” but that have today become some of Israel’s greatest admirers and supporters. In these lands, he said, “I felt terrible pain at the disaster that befell us,” but simultaneously “immense pride to represent our people, that rose from the ashes in our independent state.”

Unable to protect themselves, millions of Jews in the Diaspora were condemned to their deaths, he recalled bitterly. “In exile, our abysmal weakness doomed us to our fate.” But now, restored to their homeland, the Jews have achieved “a miracle of revival” and their country has become a rising world power.

For all of Israel’s achievements, Netanyahu said, it dare not be complacent in the face of its enemies. This assertion, he insisted, preempting critics who accuse him of whipping up fear among Israelis, was not a case of “artificial scaremongering.” Even the greatest world powers must always be aware of the dangers they face, he noted. Indeed, “awareness of danger is a condition for living.”

The “paradox” of Israel’s revival, he said, was that it has been accompanied by an ongoing rise in anti-Semitism. “The extreme right, the extreme left and extremist Islam,” he said, “agree on only one thing: hatred of the Jews.”

“This hatred is expressed in despicable attacks on worshipers at synagogues, as took place a few days ago in San Diego and before that in Pittsburgh; in the desecration of Jewish cemeteries and in the publication of caricatures and article dripping with hate, even in newspapers considered respectable ” — a reference to last week’s anti-Semitic cartoon in the New York showing Israeli guide-dog Netanyahu leading a blind US President Donald Trump.

Such material was not legitimate criticism, he argued, but “hatred — systematic, poisonous, false — aiming relentlessly to undermine the legitimacy of the Jewish nation state.”

As he has done year after year in these annual Holocaust Day speeches, Netanyahu cited Iran as the latest entity seeking to eliminate the Jewish nation, and declared that “Israel will not present its neck for the slaughter.” Rather, it would defend itself, with one of the world’s strongest armies, he said. “To those who seek to wipe us out, I say, precisely from this place: We have returned to the stage of history, to the front of the stage… We have beaten our enemies in the past, and with God’s help we will beat you.”

Netanyahu also hailed Trump for standing with Israel in this battle. Now that the US had withdrawn from the Obama-era 2015 nuclear accord, was sanctioning Iran, and had branded Iran’s Revolutionary Guards a terror group, Israel was no longer alone.

Finally, Netanyahu recalled his late father, the historian Benzion, who he said had bequeathed him the imperative to repel existential threats to the Jewish people. The obligation he had received from his father, said the prime minister, was summed up in the command: “Never again.”

Netanyahu spoke not merely with his trademark assurance, but with ferocity. Three weeks ago, he was standing on Netanya beach, wiping away sweat, as he implored Israelis enjoying a day off work for the elections to shake off the sand and go vote for him. His election victory — against the most significant political threat he has faced for years in the shape of ex-IDF chief-of-staff Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party — was a triumph of personal will. He threw himself utterly into the campaign, using means fair and sometimes foul, tirelessly pitching for every conceivable vote.

It is not cynical to suggest that he believed he had to win in order to bolster his prospects of escaping the allegations of corruption that threaten him. But Netanyahu also believes he had to win because he is certain that he, and only he, can keep this country safe and thriving in the face of its enemies. Wednesday night’s speech was almost incandescent proof of that.

Independence Day: 71 + 1 new reasons I love Israel

by Barbara Sofer         The Jerusalem Post


  1. Israel’s Watergen machine that pulls water out of thin air was sent to California firefighters at the 2018 Camp Fire, the state’s most destructive wildfire ever.
  2. Families from the Hadar Ganim neighborhood of Petah Tikva went south to Moshav Shuba to plant trees and set up a communal public garden after the fire damage caused by kites from Gaza.
  3. The American Theater Wing’s Tony Award for best musical went to The Band’s Visit, based on a funky Israeli movie.
  4. The original plot of The Band’s Visit hinges on a bus information clerk who misunderstands the Egyptian visitor’s pronunciation of “Petah Tikva.”
  5. Petah Tikva, the “mother of all settlements,” is Israel’s leading city in terms of positive migration and the most in demand measured by mortgage requests.
  6. The Jerusalem YMCA has a kosher certificate.
  7. The Israeli television series On the Spectrum won the top prize at the Series Mania Festival in Lille, France.
  8. The Israel TV series Shtisel, about a religious family in the Geula neighborhood in Jerusalem, has become a cult favorite on Netflix.
  9. In 1882, Baron Edmond (Benjamin) de Rothschild sent French experts to survey the land, and sent his own viticulturists to plant vineyards. Today new wineries are being opened by French immigrants.
  10. An IDF soldier who found the afikomen at his army base’s Passover Seder was rewarded with a day’s leave/freedom.
  11. The IDF distributed 10 tons of dried fruit to its soldiers on Tu B’shvat.
  12. In a $7 billion exit, Flavors and Fragrances of New York bought Frutarom, founded in 1933 in Haifa, providing flavor and scents to food. One of its specialties is “savory.”
  13. Tel Aviv start-up Tastewise tracks the latest culinary trends by monitoring social media chatter, recipe requests and feedback from restaurants. Says CEO Alon Chen: Watch Yemenite zhug become the new sriracha.
  14. Golan Heights Distillery makes Brewer’s whiskey in “Spicy with humus flavor.”
  15. Visitors to Israel can taste authentic home-cooked Israeli meals though a website called Betzavta, which means “together.”
  16. The Lancet medical journal: Israel is the country with the lowest rate of diet-rated deaths.
  17. The parent company for Oreos, Cadbury and Toblerone is teaming up with the Israeli food tech incubator the Kitchen to develop new opportunities for snacking.
  18. The classic Israeli Bamba peanut snack had to go in high production to help babies abroad avoid allergies – up to a million bags a day.
  19. Ice cream flavors in Israel include Bamba, arak, watermelon and Bulgarian cheese, labane and zaatar.
  20. Israeli’s sweetest tomatoes are watered with salty water in the Negev.
  21. The world’s largest salt cave was discovered near the Dead Sea where the biblical Mrs. Lot was turned into a pillar of salt.
  22. Israeli Agrotop is supplying insulated prefabricated housing for the Clean Chicken Egg Production Factory in Phu Tho, Vietnam.
  23. Netta Barzilai reportedly felt no connection to her Eurovision winning song Toy until she added the chicken sounds.
  24. Netta Barzilai became a hero to girls and women around the world with her song and performance.
  25. Prince William reportedly wanted to meet Netta Barzilai.
  26. The Shalva Band, eight talented musicians with disabilities, were finalists in this year’s Rising Star competition for Eurovision.
  27. The Shalva Band won the hearts of the nation, endorsing inclusivity.
  28. Whether the Shalva Band could perform on Shabbat became a subject of national news in a country with no shortage of news.
  29. Despite their celebrity, Shalva Band drummer is back working at the trendy Café Shalva, called A Taste of Harmony.
  30. Israelis invented a drone that delivers medical supplies in Rwanda.
  31. A sign in my super-kosher supermarket in Jerusalem: “Dear customers. We may be out of poultry products because of the holiday of Eid al-Fitr.”
  32. American fighter pilots are using Israeli helmets that let them lock a missile onto a target aircraft by looking at it. The US Army will be equipping its M1 Abrams battle tanks with Israel’s WindGuard Active Protection System.
  33. Israelis flew to Thailand with secret technology in their suitcases to rescue 12 boys lost in a cave for two weeks.
  34. Israelis were responsible for broad acceptance of the penalty kick tactic for breaking ties in the World Cup, like last year’s.
  35. The 2018 World Lacrosse Championship took place in Netanya.
  36. A higher percentage of children in Israel are born to older parents and more-educated parents compared to any other OECD country.
  37. In Israel, pregnant women go to the head of the line in supermarkets, shops and banks.
  38. New research: Israeli couples have more intimate relations than couples in most of the Western world.
  39. Fill up your car on Friday and get a free newspaper and a discounted challah from the attendant.
  40. All this year: Israel’s men’s gymnastics team won a gold medal in the World Championship in Antwerp, defeating China and Russia. Israeli gymnast Linoy Ashram won her second gold medal at the Rhythmic Gymnastics World Cup in Minsk. Three Israeli teens came home with medals from the 2018 Youth Olympic Games held in Buenos Aires. Israel won the silver medal for artistic swimming competition in Budapest.
  41. Contestants in the Special Olympics are invited to the President’s House to cheer them on.
  42. Popular bakery chain in Ashdod: Boutique haPita.
  43. A kosher food truck provides summer picnic food in Jerusalem’s delightful Hinnom Valley.
  44. There’s an app for Mahaneh Yehudah shoppers.
  45. The otherwise grim parking garage of my supermarket features a large Biblical wall mural.
  46. The audience at the Jerusalem Cinematheque applauded while watching a documentary in which the first hassidic woman won an election as a judge in Brooklyn.
  47. Brooklyn Bridge is piloting the use of a Tel Aviv-start-up’s eco-friendly concrete developed by Israeli marine biologists.
  48. Israel has a bobsled team and it wants to compete in the Olympics.
  49. The Foreign Affairs Ministry joked on April 1 that Israeli technology had created cars fueled with hummus.
  50. Refundit, Israel-developed app to get your VAT back by mobile device, wins Travel Tech Start-Up at the United Nations.
  51. Sharp-eyed teens found a 1,600-year-old gold coin while hiking in the Galilee and turned it over to the Israel Antiquities Authority, (IAA).
  52. A sharp-eyed woman walking in Beit She’an found a partly buried Roman bust. She also called the IAA, and together they found a second bust (late Roman, 3rd-4th century).
  53. Religious Aliza Bloch became the first woman mayor of Beit Shemesh, winning with the support of her former students now serving in the IDF.
  54. Four women became IDF Tank Commanders.
  55. Drones plagued London’s Gatwick Airport; the Israelis were called in for help.
  56. Israeli judoka Sagi Muki, with an Israeli flag on his uniform, won a gold medal in the 81-kilo weight class at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam. “Hatikva” was played for the first time in the United Arab Emirates.
  57. Tel Avivian Tom Oren, 24, won the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz International Piano Competition – one of jazz’s highest honors.
  58. Long-distance 1: Israel’s TytoCare digital stethoscope, which diagnoses a patient and sends the data electronically to a remote physician, has received European, Canadian and US approval.
  59. Long-distance 2: A Hadassah ER doc daily diagnoses cases in Syria and Iraq on WhatsApp.
  60. Israel’s moon spacecraft contained a disk with the whole Bible, pictures by Israeli kids, and the travelers’ prayer.
  61. McDonald’s Corporation made its biggest-ever acquisition: Israeli AI startup Dynamic Yield, which develops personalization and decision logic technology.
  62. Swedish connection: Ikea teams up with Israeli innovators to make furniture for people with disabilities. Sweden’s first electric road, led by a Swedish subsidiary of Israeli Electreon Wireless, recharges electric trucks and buses while they are driving.
  63. Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Israel, Russia, United States and Ukraine are using Israel’s Taranis high-precision aerial surveillance imagery to protect crops from insects, disease and bad nutrition. Taranis founder Ofir Schlam is a fourth-generation farmer who would wake up at 5 a.m. to search through his family crops for caterpillars. His keen eyes made him a surveillance image detector in the IDF.
  64. The Kotel is cleaned before Passover.
  65. Skyline Robotics developed OZMO robots to clean windows in skyscrapers.
  66. Toy giants LEGO and Kinder (inside the eggs) are both seeking new toy ideas from students Jerusalem’s Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design. When President Reuven Rivlin visits leaders abroad, he gives them Bezalel-designed glass shofars.
  67. Leave your wallet home but bring your phone to Tel Aviv’s Link Hotel. No cash or reception. You let yourself into your room and turn on your own air conditioning. It doesn’t, however, turn down the beds.
  68. Israel’s rocket to the moon was listed among the impending landings on the board at Ben-Gurion Airport.
  69. Thousands of Israelis turn up for funerals of Holocaust survivors and lone soldiers they never met.
  70. We celebrate democracy with a day off from work.
  71. In international business courses, Israeli chutzpah is touted as a major value for star-up entrepreneurs. It helps overcome fear of failure.
  72. Next year in Jerusalem: Jerusalem is the world’s fastest-growing tourism destination. Make your reservation now!

Hag Ha’atzmaut Sameah! Happy Independence Day!