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Report: Israel, Saudi Arabia Inks Iron Dome Sale but Israel Denies the Sale

By Israel Hayom & DEBKAfile

Saudi Arabia has procured an Israeli-made Iron Dome defense system, the Persian Gulf-based Alkhaleej Online website reported Thursday, saying ""the deal marks another step in the warming ties" between Jerusalem and Riyadh.

Israel's Defense Ministry denied the news report that Iron Dome anti-rocket systems had been sold by Israel to Saudi Arabia at America's request, and were posted on the southern Saudi border with Yemen. The reports claimed that the Israeli air defense batteries were deployed to protect the kingdom against further ballistic missile attacks by Iranian-backed Yemeni Houthi rebels on Saudi cities, including the capital Riyadh, and military facilities.

Iron Dome is designed to intercept and destroy short-range rockets and artillery shells fired from distances of 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) to 70 kilometers (43 miles). The system was developed by Rafael Advanced Defense ?Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries and has been sold to several other countries, including Azerbaijan, India and Romania.

Israel and Saudi Arabia do not maintain formal diplomatic ties, and the Saudis have so far refrained from pursuing arms deals with Israel to avoid criticism in the Arab world. According to the report, the deal was brokered by a third party, most likely the United States, to spare Saudi Arabia such criticism. Washington played a key role in mediating the sale with a series of secret meetings, overcoming Israel's initial objections, the report said.

Saudi sources told the website that the sale was the result of understandings reached between it and Israel and that their clandestine ties have fostered sufficient trust to pursue an arms deal of this kind. Alkhaleej Online reported that initially, Israel had refused to sell Iron Dome to the Saudis, saying that any such sale to an Arab nation would "seriously compromise Israel's security and regional interests." According to the report, the deal is expected to be finalized by December.

"If Iron Dome succeeds in intercepting the rockets that pose a threat to the kingdom, there will be talks with Israel to acquire additional military systems, and this will open the door to military agreements between the two nations," a diplomatic source said.


UN Says Gaza Could Become Uninhabitable by 2020

By VOA News

A UN report finds Israel's decade-long blockade of the Gaza Strip is making it impossible for the Palestinians in the enclave to develop their economy. The UN Conference on Trade and Development warns this tiny territory could soon become unfit for humans to live in by 2020 if current trends are not reversed. UNCTAD has released its annual report on its assistance to the Palestinian people.

The report finds unemployment in territory stands at 27%, the highest in the world. It says women and young people are most severely affected. UNCTAD Coordinator of the Assistance to the Palestinian People, Mahmoud Elkhafif, said the deteriorating economic situation hardest hits the agricultural sector.

"There is a study indicating that the Gaza sector lost between 35% and 45% of the productivity in the agricultural sector," said Elkhafif. "And as we know, the agricultural sector is the cushion for the economy, which basically absorbs the unemployed. And, you can imagine the impact."

The report blames declining economic prospects in Gaza and the West Bank largely on Israeli restrictions on movement, which make it extremely difficult for Palestinians to work in Israel and on the steep drop in donor support. The report warns living conditions in Gaza to continue to worsen. It says the territory's longstanding electricity crisis has deepened, with households receiving only two hours of electricity a day. It says only 10% of the population has access to adequate drinking water.

UNCTAD Deputy Secretary-General, Isabelle Durant calls the situation unsustainable. "It is unsustainable because electricity, because water, because poverty, because young people and women are completely forgotten in this social development process, even cultural development process," said Durant. "So, I am not so optimistic, even if I know that it is not new. Of course, it is not new. But, it is every year a little bit more difficult."

To ensure a sustainable recovery, authors of the report say Israel must lift its blockade completely and the economies of Gaza and the West Bank must be reunified. UNCTAD says the economy of the territory could grow by up to 10% simply by removing Israeli restrictions on Palestinian trade and investment.


House Supports $38 Billion Aid Package for Israel

By Reuters

The US House of Representatives passed a measure that would codify into law the $38 billion defense aid package for Israel over 10 years that was negotiated in the final days of the Obama administration, JTA reported on Thursday.

The US-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act of 2018, which was approved on Wednesday, gives the defense package the imprimatur of Congress, which would keep any future president from reneging. The $38 billion deal negotiated in 2016 is the most generous ever to Israel. The Senate approved the act in early August. In the House, the measure was introduced by two Florida representatives — Ted Deutch, a Democrat, and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican.

AIPAC said in a statement that the legislation "seeks to ensure that Israel has the means to defend itself, by itself, against growing threats — most significantly Iran's presence on its northern border." In December of 2016, the US Senate voted in favor of a defense policy bill which includes more than $600 million for missile defense cooperation with Israel.

This aid is separate from the memorandum of understanding signed between Israel and the US in September of that year, and which grants Israel $3.8 billion annually beginning in 2018 and through 2028. After the memorandum of understanding was signed, Republican senators said they would seek to overturn part of it so that Israel can receive even more aid.


Rabbi: Anorexics Must Eat on Yom Kippur

By Israel News Faxx

Anorexia patients must eat on Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), even if they are in advanced stages of treatment, Schneider Hospital's Rabbi Dr. Tomer Mevorach said. In an article published by the Zomet Institute, Mevorach explained that anorexia is actually a psychological disorder which reduces food intake, influences body weight, and is characterized by a fear of gaining weight and an obsession with body weight. Anorexia typically influences teenage girls. It can be difficult to treat, and if left untreated can be fatal.

According to Mevorach, anorexic patients fall into the category of "mentally ill for one issue," and their therapy includes both the physical and mental aspects. Initial therapy includes physical treatment to reverse the life-threatening malnutrition. Therefore, patients in this stage are considered "ill and in danger of their lives" and there is no question they should eat.

Eating "not via mouth" is not forbidden on Yom Kippur, but it is also not required unless there is a medical reason for it. Eating small amounts at a time should be seriously considered, since there may be physical and mental consequences to such a decision.

Patients in later stages of treatment, during which the focus is on the psychological aspects and creating healthy habits, present a greater challenge regarding Jewish law, especially when it is no longer clear that there is a risk to the patient's life or that there may be such a risk.

However, Mevorach suggests several solutions to allow these patients to eat as well, since the price of not eating may come at a high psychological price. He also warns of situations in which the patients believe their situation is better than it is, especially if they are eating due to external pressure and not an internal desire to eat.


Was Beer Invented in Israel? World's Oldest Brewery Found in Northern Israel

By AFP

Archaeologists have found what they believe is the world's oldest site for alcohol production, a study said Thursday, adding the beer-like beverage may have been served in ceremonies some 13,000 years ago. The site is located in the Raqefet cave south of Haifa in today's northern Israel that also served as a burial site for the Natufian people.

"If we're right, this is the earliest testament in the world to alcohol production of any kind," Dani Nadel, an archaeology professor at the University of Haifa and one of the authors of the article published in the "Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports," told AFP. "We know what the Natufians did in the cave. They buried some of their dead on a platform of flowers and plants, and apparently also produced a soup-like liquid, an alcoholic drink."

According to Nadel, the liquid was "different than today's beer" and probably much weaker, "but fermented." Three small pits, or mortars, were discovered that had been carved into the surface of the Raqefet cave. Two of the small stone mortars were for storing grains, and the third for pounding and brewing grains ahead of fermentation, the study found. The mortars were some 40-60 centimeters (16-24 inches) deep.

The location of the mortars in the burial caves implies the drink was "apparently connected to the ceremonies or some social event," Nadel said. According to the article, published with researchers from Stanford University in the United States, the beer-making innovations "predated the appearance of domesticated cereals by several millennia in the Near East."

The Natufians were hunter-gatherers who lived in the eastern Mediterranean region 15,000 to 11,500 years ago, and began settling down rather than moving from place to place. They were "the last in the region who lived differently than the villages we're familiar with," Nadel said. The efforts put into producing the alcoholic beverage showed the importance of the drink in the Natufian culture, he noted.


Man That Refused to Grant Divorce for 29 years to Stand Trial

By Israel Hayom

An Israeli man who has refused to grant his wife a divorce for the past 29 years was indicted on Wednesday over his refusal. It is the first time the state has launched a criminal prosecution against a man for refusing to grant his wife a divorce under Jewish law.

In what is considered one of the most severe divorce disputes in Israel's history, Meir Gorodetsky has already been in jail for the past 17 years on orders of the rabbinate for refusing to grant a gett – a Jewish divorce bill – to his wife, Tzviah Gorodetsky, who as a result has been an agunah, or "chained woman," for 29 years.

In an unprecedented move, the Center for Women's Justice, which aims to "end injustices perpetrated against women in the name of religion," established its own private court in June to annul the marriage and free Tzviah Gorodetsky. But the Chief Rabbinate, which controls Jewish marriages and divorces in Israel, does not recognize private marriage annulments and therefore Grodetsky is still considered married.

Last week, Israel Hayom learned that the High Rabbinical Court was insisting on criminally indicting Meir Gorodetsky, even though Tzviah Gorodetsky has said she wants the case closed and would not oppose his release from prison, simply to put the entire matter behind her. According to the rabbinical court, the significance of the criminal proceedings would be to label divorce refusers as criminal offenders who were violating the public's interests and principles, and that bringing an offender to justice would serve both as a deterrent and as retribution.

However, the Center for Women's Justice was outraged by the indictment, saying the rabbinical court had recommended the measure "for the wrong reasons, and only to counter the private court's ruling to annul the marriage…. The rabbinical court decided to do everything besides accept the private court's ruling," the center said in a statement.


Nasrallah Bursts into Tears in Front of Thousands

By YnetNews.com

Hizbullah's Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah burst into tears in front of thousands of people on Tuesday while delivering a speech during an annual Ashura ceremony. The speech, which was given by the terror movement's leader in the Dahieh suburb south of Beirut, criticized the custom among Shi'ite believers of cutting the faces of children during mourning services.

Nasrallah's remarks were made about the practice among Shi'ite Muslims to self-harm until drawing blood as a way of repentance and showing remorse for their sins. "The whole world sees what is happening here today and I ask you all to restrain yourselves and to distance yourselves from anyone who seeks to create a negative impression about us," he said before breaking down into tears.

For Shi'ite Muslims, Ashura is a day of mourning commemorating the death of Husayn ibn Ali, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad at the Battle of Karbala. During the mourning period, many zealous Muslims engage in self-harm, and it has become a commonly adopted custom to whip each other and inflict other damage on each other's bodies for their sins.

Nasrallah also spoke about the ISIS terror movement in his speech, condemning their actions and accusing them of harming the Islamic religion. "ISIS leaves an impression that causes the most harm to us. Islamic scholars condemn them," he said. "We say to Husayn, peace be upon him, as our imams and sages have said throughout history: `To the small trifles of the world, all in the hands of Allah."


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