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Syria: Another Israeli Air Strike Near Damascus

By DEBKAfile &

Foreign media report that Monday night, Dec. 4, Israeli aircraft attacked a "scientific research center" in Jamraya on the outskirts of Damascus. Lebanese sources say Israel fired six missiles, three of which were intercepted by Syria's air defense system. This would be the second Israeli air raid in three days of a military target in the Damascus area.

Last Saturday, Israeli aircraft attacked a secret conference of pro-Iranian Shiite militia chiefs outside Al-Kiswah, 14km southwest of Damascus and 50km from Israel's Golan border. Some Iranian and Hizbullah officers were killed in that attack as well. Hizbullah's Al Mayadeen network reports that Israel attacked the same "scientific research center" four years ago in May 2013. Witnesses attested to loud explosions and dense smoke rising from this military facility.

Israel's ambassador to Washington Ron Lauder commented Monday, "The chances of military confrontation are growing." Speaking in an interview with the local Politico, the ambassador said: "I can't tell you by the year or by the month. I'd say even by the week. Because the more they push, we have to enforce our red lines… So, in taking action to defend ourselves, you don't know what could happen." Lauder concluded: "But I think it's higher than people think."

According to Al Mayadeen, Israel fired six missiles, with three of them intercepted by Syria's aerial defense systems. So far, there have been no reports of casualties or damage. Meanwhile, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported "violent explosions" shaking Damascus and its surrounding area caused by missiles fired by Israeli warplane and targeting places near Jamraya.

The Observatory, which cited unidentified sources, said there were also "flashes in the shelling area believed to be caused regime's air defense launching its missiles to intercept." The Jamraya area contains many military facilities as well as what is likely a chemical weapons production and storage site.

NY Times: New Pro-Israeli Saudi Peace Plan

By DEBKAfile

The New York Times reported Monday that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman presented a plan to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas that would be more tilted toward the Israelis than any ever embraced by the American government

The Palestinians would get a state – but only on noncontiguous parts of the West Bank and only limited sovereignty over their own territory. The vast majority of Israeli settlements in the West Bank would remain. The Palestinians would not be given East Jerusalem as their capital, only Abu Dis, and there would be no right of return for Palestinian refugees and their descendants. The White House and Saudi government before denied owning this plan, but it has gained enough currency in the Middle East to deeply alarm the Palestinians.

Trump Delays Decision on Embassy Move


President Donald Trump's decision on whether to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem will not come by a Monday deadline, the White House said, according to AFP. "The president has been clear on this issue from the get-go: It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when," said White House spokesman Hogan Gidley hours before the administration's decision was due.

Trump had been due to decide on Monday whether to sign a legal waiver delaying by six months plans to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem – as successive administrations have done at regular intervals for more than two decades. "No action though will be taken on the waiver today and we will declare a decision on the waiver in the coming days," Gidley said.

In 2016, then-candidate Trump vowed to implement the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act, which calls for the relocation of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Israel's capital city, Jerusalem. Nevertheless, in June of 2017, Trump signed a six-month waiver allowing the embassy to remain in Tel Aviv which was due to expire on Monday.

Sources in Washington and Jerusalem have claimed in recent weeks that the Trump administration is preparing for a major change in American policy vis-à-vis the Israeli capital city, with either an announcement on the relocation of the embassy planned this week, or formal recognition of the city as Israel's capital.

While reports said that Trump could recognize Jerusalem as soon as Wednesday, his son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner said on Sunday that the president has yet to reach a final decision.

That 50-Shekel Bill with the Intermarried Poet's Picture? Don't Look at It, An Israeli Rabbi Rules.


A prominent Haredi Orthodox Sephardi rabbi in Israel ruled that religious people should not look at the 50-shekel banknote because the poet featured on its front was married to a Christian woman.

Rabbi Benzion Mutzafi reportedly made the ruling over the weekend concerning the bill showing Shaul Tchernichovsky, a renowned Hebrew poet who was married to a non-Jewish Russian woman named Melania Karlova. The ruling was first reported on the Haredi Orthodox news website Kikar Hashabbat. The bill was unveiled in 2014.

"They say that at the time, (then-chief rabbi) Rabbi Avraham Kook begged, implored and asked him to try to convince her to convert to Judaism. And he refused," Mutzafi reportedly said of Tchernichovsky. The rabbi also said: "In our tradition, there are grave things written about whoever (lives) with a Christian. Tied to him like a dog. (They) are called apostates."

Mutzafi reportedly took out a 50-shekel banknote and told one of his students that he was forbidden from looking at it. The rabbi said he keeps such banknotes folded with the portrait on the inside, so he does not have to look at it.

London Orthodox Teacher Fired for Living with Her Boyfriend Wins Discrimination Case


A teacher at a Jewish nursery school in suburban London who said she was fired for living with her boyfriend won her case of religious and sexual discrimination. Zelda de Groen, 24, sued the Gan Menachem Nursery in Hendon after losing her job in July 2016. She had worked there for four years.

On Friday, the Watford Employment Tribunal said that de Groen's experience with the school was "undoubtedly humiliating, degrading and offensive." It dismissed the school's claims that it was justified in firing her. The tribunal will hold an additional hearing at an undetermined date to discuss compensation. In her lawsuit, de Groen had asked for more than $26,000. The nursery for children under the age of 8 was described as "ultra-Orthodox" in court.

De Groen grew up in a Haredi Orthodox home in Stamford Hill in London, but left "after many years of significant discontent." She moved in with her boyfriend in April 2016. The couple married in July.

In May 2016, they were guests at a barbecue along with some school trustees and parents of pupils. During the event, it became known that the unmarried couple was living together. Some parents spoke to the school about their objections to de Groen's living situation afterward, the Jewish Chronicle reported.

De Groen told the tribunal that school managers subjected her to a "humiliating" hourlong interview in which they said it was time for her to get married. She also described their tone as "threatening. I was told that having kids outside of marriage is wrong and will not be tolerated. Their comments, and the personal nature of the meeting, were humiliating," she said.

De Groen told the tribunal that the nursery told her one solution to the issue would be for her to lie about her living situation. Two days after the meeting, de Groen asked her managers for an apology but instead was given a letter notifying her of disciplinary proceedings. She was fired a month later.

Magen David Adom Prepares to Establish Mother's Milk Bank


In April of 2018 the first national Mother's Milk Bank is set to open in Israel. The service will be established by Magen David Adom in collaboration with the Association for Mother's Milk Donation. The organization will allow nursing women to donate excess mother's milk to babies whose mothers are not available or able to nurse. The Bank will be established in the MDA Jerusalem station, and the facility's operation will be funded mostly by MDA and partially by the Health Ministry.

Mother's milk offers many benefits, including providing antibodies that defend babies against diseases and enable immune development, a process of utmost importance among premature and sick babies. Baby food formulas and substitutes do not offer the same advantages.

Breast milk, like blood units, is a human secretion containing stem cells and white blood cells – an irreplaceable composition. Research conducted in the field by Dr. Sharon Bransburg Zabary has affirmed this unique benefit. Bransburg Zabary is a member of the establishing committee of the Association of Mother's Milk Donation and was one of the activists who spearheaded this initiative to which MDA and relevant government offices enlisted.

According to medical statistics, only 30% of women nurse without using any substitutes or formula, and could act as potential donors to the Mother's Milk Bank. The average donation volume ranges from 100-200 cc per day during a period ranging from 3-9 months post-partum. The expected demand for mother's milk is estimated to be hundreds of liters a month.

Potential donors include healthy nursing mothers with excess milk who fulfill Health Ministry requirements, live a healthy lifestyle and can provide a donation without hindering their ability to nurse their own babies. There are two types of milk: Milk for premature babies from a mother who gave birth between the 34th week and through six weeks post-partum. Milk from a mother who gave birth on her planned due date.

The donation process ensures milk quality. Women who nurse and are interested in donating should approach the Mother's Milk Bank and will be invited for a medical interview, as well as undergo a set of tests to ensure safety and quality of the milk.

Women who are found to be healthy and eligible will pump excess milk using a personal pump authorized according to global standards. They may do so either at home or at a hospital. The milk will be kept in a special bag at a cold temperature until it is collected by MDA. The donor will state the volume of each donation as appears on the pump, her name, date, and whether anything unusual occurred during pumping. MDA will then coordinate a convenient time to collect the donation.

Dr. Asher Moser, Deputy Director of MDA Blood Services and Expert in Pediatric Hemato-Oncology said: "As part of the process, the units will be stored in the Milk Bank, and will undergo additional tests for monitoring and elimination of infectious diseases, nutritional analysis, processing, rapid freezing, etc. Units will be stored at a temperature of minus-20 degrees Celsius and will be transferred to babies in need. According to Health Ministry policy, the milk will be distributed according to medical prioritization – firstly, to premature babies or other hospitalized babies. If there are any leftovers, they will be distributed to any babies in need."

VP Director of MDA Blood Services, Professor Eilat Shinar said: "Establishing the National Mother's Milk Bank will significantly enhance the resources required to treat premature babies and other newborns. This blessed collaboration between MDA, the Association for Mother's Milk Donation, and the Health Ministry enables unification of the experienced knowledge of each one of the bodies leading up to the establishment of this important project, to a single goal: Increasing the chances of survival and health of premature babies and newborns in Israel."

The new Mother's Milk Bank at MDA will be managed by Dr. Sharon Bransburg Zabary, a member of the establishing committee of the "Association for Mother's Milk Donation", established in 2015. She stated: "It is a natural connection to establish a project like this with the organization that operates the blood services of the State and is skilled at the required procedures."

Dr. Bransburg Zabari emphasized that in cases of premature and sick babies who suffer from a premature immune system, the requirement for mother's milk is a matter of life or death. "The immune system of a premature baby isn't developed and is vulnerable. Only breast milk provides all vital components – as opposed to substitute formulas that are costly and could hurt the intestine and cause severe infections in premature babies." It should also be noted that one of the risks of the current situation is that mothers of premature babies go through extreme lengths to acquire mother's milk, including doing so privately and without necessary medical inspection."

MDA Director General, Eli Bin said: "To this day, the need for a national mother's milk bank has been widely talked about in Israel and I am happy that the Health Ministry approached MDA to establish the first of a kind bank that would provide this milk in high quality and safety. We operate to ensure the safety and needs of all civilians of Israel with an emphasis on saving the lives of babies requiring mother's milk. I commend this new initiative and would like to thank everyone involved. I am proud that MDA, an organization that is based on donations and isn't funded by the government, is able to establish projects to the benefit and welfare of all residents of Israel."

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