Updates from Israel and the Jewish World
Compiled by Dr Ron Wiseman
YOM HAÁTZMAUT: CELEBRATING ISRAEL’S 71st YEAR OF INDEPENDENCE
Fireworks in Tel Aviv
PM Netanyahu: Israel a ‘Hope Among the Nations and a Hope for the Nations’
The Jewish people have achieved something that no other people have achieved, says Israeli PM Netanyahu in his Independence Day greeting.
Yom Ha’atzmaut – Israel’s Independence Day, is a remarkable day of celebration.
After two-thousand years of exile, the Jewish people returned to its ancient homeland, the Land of Israel, 71 years ago.
Notwithstanding profound trials and tribulations, the modern Jewish state boasts a thriving economy, remarkable innovation, and a democratic, free society in the heart of the Middle East.
Yes, there are challenges, but there is success and hope, Prime Minister Netanyahu says.
Happy Independence Day from the Prime Minister of Israel! Chag Atzmaut Sameach! (United with Israel)
Watch his Yom Haátzmaut message
71st Independence Day ceremony celebrates Israel’s spirit
With great fanfare and excitement, Israel opened celebrations of its 71st Independence Day.
The traditional torch-lighting ceremony included all the beloved performances and speeches that Israelis and Diaspora Jews wait for all year, under the slogan “Because of the spirit – the spirit of the People of Israel.”
“Against all odds we returned to our homeland,” Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein proclaimed at the opening of the ceremony on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem, attended by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara, members of Knesset and hundreds of others.
“Continue to believe in yourself, continue going forward against all odds. You will one day stand here and light a torch for the glory of Israel,” he told children from all over the country who tuned in for the celebration.
Twelve torches were lit by Jews from Israel and the Diaspora, including a resident of the South, the head of the Pittsburgh Jewish Federation, the mothers of the three kidnapped and killed boys that led to Operation
The honorees represented a variety of fields, many epitomizing Israelis who turned their personal struggles into inspirational life stories.
Morris Kahn, who funded the spacecraft Beresheet that nearly reached the moon in April but crash-landed minutes before it was supposed to touch down, provided an amusing moment when he went completely off-script of the prepared speech instead of praising the SpaceIL engineers and Israel’s spirit. He eventually promised to be involved in Beresheet 2.0. An entertained audience and a smiling Netanyahu thanked him with laughs and standing ovations.
Musical renditions of Israeli classics and fireworks entertained an excited audience who made it to Israel’s capital. The ceremony concluded with a traditional flag-dance, performed by soldiers who trained for months to perfect the symbols and messages they formed.
Hundreds of celebrations are planned across the country on Wednesday night, with Israel greatest artists set perform their best songs. On Thursday most Israelis will flock to nature parks, beaches and other destinations to enjoy BBQs. (Jerusalem Post)
Netanyahu: Israel won’t allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon
Responding to the latest threats from Tehran that it will resume higher enrichment of uranium in 60 days if world powers fail to negotiate new terms for its 2015 nuclear deal, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu renewed his vow not to allow Iran to attain a nuclear bomb.
In a televised address, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani also said that Iran would stop exporting excess uranium and heavy water from its nuclear program, two requirements of the deal.
“This morning, on my way here, I heard that Iran intends to continue its nuclear program and we will not allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons,” said Prime Minister Netanyahu at a ceremony for Israel’s Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers at the Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem.
Iran notified Britain, Russia, China, the European Union, France, and Germany of its decision earlier Wednesday. All were signatories to the nuclear deal and continue to support it. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met Wednesday in Moscow with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov.
Mr. Lavrov said the situation surrounding the fate of the Iran nuclear accord has been complicated by “irresponsible behavior” from Washington, a reference to U.S. President Donald Trump’s pullout from the deal exactly a year ago and the imposition of American sanctions on Tehran.
For his part, Netanyahu said Israel “will continue to fight those who seek to take our lives, and we will thrust our roots even deeper into the soil of our homeland.”
In addition to the nuclear threat, Iran also backs terror groups in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon that do not recognize Israel’s right to exist.
This past weekend, hundreds of rockets were fired on Israel from Gaza, killing four Israelis.
In addition to soldiers killed, Wednesday’s memorial day commemorations in Israel also mourn the murder of terror victims. (WIN)
PA admits all Palestinian terrorists ‘receive orders from us’
As Israel mourned its fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism, top Palestinian Authority officials explained that the PA is “obligated” to pay salaries to 6,000 imprisoned Palestinian terrorists, and to the families of suicide bombers and other so-called “martyrs,” because they were “soldiers” who had been “sent” by the PA and acted out of “national interest, and not for personal reasons.” Most significantly, they “received orders” from the Authority.
PA leader Mahmoud Abbas’ spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina admitted: “It is impossible to send a soldier to war and then not take care of his family.”
Speaking about the P.A.’s difficult financial situation, Rudeina told Israel’s Kan TV on April 16 that “Israel needs to understand this. It is impossible to send a soldier to war and then not take care of his family. We are talking about someone who acts on our behalf and receives orders from us.”
Similarly, Abbas himself stressed the PA’s “obligation” to pay terrorists and their families, calling them “the martyrs, the prisoners, and the wounded.”
Speaking at the Arab League conference in Cairo in April, Abbas said: “We have been paying salaries to the families of the martyrs, to the prisoners, and to the wounded since 1965. This is because they were killed, imprisoned, or wounded because of a national interest and for the sake of a national interest, and not for personal reasons. It is our obligation to take care of their relatives,” he said, according to official PA television.
These two statements echo Abbas’ 2005 demand that Israel release all prisoners because the P.A. “ordered them to do” what they did.
Abbas said at the time: “I demand [the release of] prisoners because they are human beings, who did what we, we ordered them to do, we – the [Palestinian] Authority. They should not be punished while we sit at one table negotiating,” he argued.
Discussing the term “blood-stained hands,” Abbas said: “This is war. One [i.e., Israel] ordered a soldier to kill, and I ordered my son, brother, or others, to carry out the duty of resistance [a euphemism for terrorism]. He is a fighter just like any other fighter,” he declared in comments aired by official P.A. television.
Itamar Marcus, founder and director of Palestinian Media Watch NGO, said: “The PA has finally admitted what PMW has claimed for years – that due to the P.A.’s overall promotion of terrorism and rewarding of terrorism, the PA recognizes that every Palestinian who commits an act of terrorism against Israelis and Jews is acting under the umbrella of the PA.
“This is an important and long-overdue admission of guilt by Abbas and the PA. Although seen by the international community as an honest peace partner, the PA has reiterated its responsibility for all Palestinian terrorism. We call on the international community to hold the PA and its leaders accountable for their actions.” (JNS)
Defensive wall being built near Gaza to protect from Cornet missiles
A defensive wall aimed at preventing direct hits by missiles on vehicles traveling near the Gaza Strip is now being built in the area near the road where Moshe Feder was killed on Sunday when a Cornet missile hit his car, according to Channel 13 news.
On Monday, the commander of the Gaza Division, the Director General of the Prime Minister’s Office, the heads of the local regional councils in the Gaza area and Security Officer of the Shaar Hanegev Regional Council Eyal Hajbi came to the area and decided to build the wall.
Until the wall is finished, the main route to Kibbutz Erez which goes through the area where the missile was fired will be closed by military police. An alternate route will be opened to allow entry and exit from the kibbutz.
Hamas’s military arm, the al-Qassam Brigades, stated that they were responsible for the attack which killed Feder.
The latest round of fighting ended with a ceasefire on Monday morning after over 700 rockets were fired into Israel. Four Israeli civilians were killed in the fighting.
“It is clear that this is not the end of the campaign, and I therefore gave instructions to prepare for what will come next, and gave directives to leave armored and artillery forces around the Gaza Strip,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday. (Jerusalem Post)
An Assessment of the Latest Fighting in Gaza – Amos Harel
After the two days of fighting ended, IDF officials stressed the need for an accompanying diplomatic effort in Gaza to ensure longer-term quiet. They estimated that the extensive air strikes against Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets in Gaza would only yield a few weeks of calm. Moreover, Islamic Jihad, as a result of Iranian instigation, is liable to try to reignite the situation sooner rather than later.
The indirect arrangement that was ultimately reached with Hamas appears to be another return to the understandings reached at the end of the 2014 war. The idea is to keep a regular cash flow going into Gaza, to ease movement at the border crossings and to finally get infrastructure repair projects going. In return, the Palestinians are supposed to ensure total quiet on the border: no rockets, no sniper attacks, no incendiary balloons.
The IDF did operate somewhat differently than in previous rounds of fighting. It responded with greater force, resumed targeted killings after a nearly five-year-long hiatus, struck a large number of targets, including some high-rise buildings, and managed to thwart several Palestinian attempts at surprise attacks – including bombings via drone aircraft.
The Palestinians showed their ability to produce intensive and continuous fire. In addition to the 700 rockets that flew over the border fence into Israel, about 200 more apparently fell inside Gaza. This attests to a poor level of maintenance, but also to a nearly endless supply of rockets. Both Islamic Jihad and Hamas operate underground production lines, which can replenish the stock in a short time. (Ha’aretz)
I am an Israeli-Arab and this is my Memorial Day too
Today isn’t a Jewish occasion, it belongs to us all; we face the enemy’s rockets together and defend our country together, and extremists in the Arab sector who wish to deepen the rift between us don’t represent our public
by Yoseph Haddad Ynet News
On Memorial Day eve, at 8pm, during the siren in honor of fallen soldiers, fireworks lit up the sky in the Arab-Jewish city of Lod. Naturally, this despicable event made headlines and was criticized through and through, and rightfully so.
An Arab man was behind this provocation, but he got what he deserved and was arrested soon after. An Israeli, a Lod resident, who wanted to harm the relationship between Jews and Arabs, stained our public — the whole Arab Israeli public.
Many in the Arab sector spoke against him, but unfortunately, there are others like him in our society — extreme individuals who don’t represent us, who wish to deepen the rift within Israeli society and use every opportunity to do so.
Years come and go, but this year, it’s especially important that the Arab public shares Israeli grief. Memorial Day isn’t a Jewish event. It’s an Israeli event, and as such, it also belongs to us.
I’m not naïve. Reality is complex, and the different sectors of our society face badges. Our sector also faces many challenges, like the challenge of becoming an integral part of Israeli society.
There are things we will probably never agree on. However, the fact that we can argue about it is only because our security forces work days and nights to protect us, and because of the sacrifices that IDF fallen soldiers made for our security. The IDF is the Israel Defense Force, its isn’t here only to protect Jews.
Especially this week, when non-Jewish residents faced rocket barrages in the Bedouin cities of the Negev — Lakiya, Tel Sheva and Rahat. Some got hurt and one man died. It’s clear that the enemy’s weapons don’t distinguish Jews from Arabs. The only things that stands in their way is our security forces.
This isn’t new. During the Second Lebanon War, Hezbollah rockets hit Nazareth, the biggest Arab city in Israel. Back then, I had the privilege of being part of the IDF and fighting alongside my brothers in arms. Some of them I lost in that war. Both Jews and Arabs. I was wounded myself. Despite the fact all of us came from different backgrounds, we had one shared target — to defend our country at any cost.
Memorial Day is the time to put all our baggage aside. All of us, no matter who we are, we must honor IDF soldiers who died defending Israel. That’s because first and foremost, we’re all Israeli citizens.
It’s important that on this day, we focus on our sense of belonging and our sense of mutual respect. There will be plenty of time to argue later.
I hope that this year, extreme individuals from the Arab sector don’t use Memorial Day to make provocations. I hope that the sane majority in Israel will be able to commemorate fallen soldiers — and not only the Jewish ones — who all died to protect us all.
Memorial Day also belongs to us, Arab Israelis. We’re also Israeli, and we have to remember that.