Newsletter : 19fx0228.txt
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IAF Strikes Hamas in Southern Gaza
By the Jerusalem Post & YnetNews.com
The Israeli Air Force attacked Hamas posts in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday night, according
to the IDF Spokesperson's Unit. Hamas evacuated its outposts according to a report by
Arab media sources.
"The IDF views with great severity any attempt to harm Israeli citizens and will continue
to act vigorously against these incidents," the IDF said after the attack. "The Hamas
terrorist organization bears responsibility for everything that is happening in and out of
the Gaza Strip that are consequences of terrorist activities originating in the Gaza
The attack was in response to an incendiary balloon attack where balloons that were
released from the south of Gaza, carrying an explosive device, detonated in mid-air
damaging a house near the border, the IDF reported on Wednesday.
The Israeli Air Forces launched an attack on Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday
night after a balloon tied to an explosive device caused damage to a house in southern
Israel earlier in the day. The IAF hit two Hamas positions in central and southern Gaza,
striking at least one position of the terror organization's military wing.
Earlier, an explosive device tied to a cluster of balloons landed in the Eshkol Regional
Council in southern Israel, causing damage to the windows of a house there. No casualties
were reported in the incident. The IDF Spokesperson's Unit said the balloons were
dispatched from southern Gaza and that it appears the device exploded in midair.
Following the incident, head of the Eshkol Regional Council Gadi Yarkoni said: "The
airborne incendiary and explosive devices tied to balloons are terrorism to all intents
and purposes, and today this terrorism is stepping up. Eshkol residents have shown
incredible patience, allowing the decision-makers and the Israel Defense Forces to exhaust
all options to eradicate the terror-striking our communities. But we won't accept this
reality and expect an immediate solution ensuring long-term calm."
Former head of the Eshkol Regional Council, Yesh Atid MK Haim Jelin, said that
consistently ignoring the devices sent from Gaza had led to intensified attacks,
culminating in explosive devices being tied to balloons. Lashing out at the prime minister
he said, "Netanyahu, you failed. Israeli communities near the Gaza border are not safe.
The only thing you have left is empty slogans. Explosive balloons should be viewed with
the same severity as Qassam missiles."
Who's Jew? Rabbinical Courts Demand DNA to Prove Judaism
By the Jerusalem Post
Couples from the Soviet Union are being asked by rabbinical courts to take DNA tests to
prove their Jewish heritage, an NGO who advocates for Jews within Israeli religious
bureaucratic systems claimed. "This is discrimination against immigrants from the former
Soviet Union - and a smokescreen," Rabbi Dr. Seth Farber, the founder of the non-profit
Itim, told the Hebrew website Ynet. Farber has threatened to petition the High Court of
Justice, according to the report.
Over the past year, almost 20 couples with at least one spouse from the former Soviet
Union were asked to carry out a DNA test to prove that they are Jewish if they wanted to
register their marriages in Israel, Ynet reported. According to one account, a couple was
legally married by the Rabbinate, but when they were looking to file for divorce, a DNA
test was demanded. Some 5,000 immigrants were asked to prove their Jewishness in recent
years, Farber said.
Rabbis Yitzhak Yosef and David Lau are promoting legislation that would allow the
rabbinical courts to challenge the Jewishness of a person - even if he was not even
registered for marriage, and did not apply for religious services, the report added.
In 2017, there was a rabbinic ruling that permitted a specific genetic test to be used as
proof of Jewish descent for certain Ashkenazi Jews, which was proposed by Rabbi Yosef
Carmel, who is both co-head of the Eretz Hemdah Institute for Advanced Jewish Studies and
a senior rabbinical judge on the private Eretz Hemdah rabbinical court in south Jerusalem.
According to the rabbi, experts in Jewish genealogy and history have determined that 40%
of all Ashkenazi Jews are descended from just four Jewish women who left the Middle East
more than 1,000 years ago and settled in Europe.
According to the scientific report commissioned by Eretz Hemdah for its ruling, there is a
certainty of at least 90% and up to 99% that someone bearing specific genetic markers in
their mitochondrial DNA is descended from one of these women. This study and many like it
have been a contentious topic within the scientific community.
Farber expressed his worries to The Jerusalem Post in 2017 that using scientific means to
determine Jewishness could lead rabbinical judges to reject less precise but totally valid
tools in Jewish law to establish someone's Jewish status.
"In recent months, studies have been published clarifying that the examination is not
unequivocal," Farber further explains in the report. "In addition, these rabbis are
contemptuous of Halakha - for there are Halakhic tools for solving these problems. I do
not understand why the rabbinical courts are suddenly ready to throw the halakha into the
garbage and rely on science. Finally, it is clear that if we use the DNA test, we will
create a split the Jewish people."
"This is outrageous discrimination and racist," former minister of defense Avigdor
Liberman said, adding that "no immigrant from another country was asked to do similar
tests. Liberman is himself a Jewish immigrant from the former Soviet Union.
UN Agency Warns: Locusts, the 8th Plague, to Strike Egypt in Time for Passover
By World Israel News
According to the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), a massive
locust infestation is spreading along the Red Sea coast, starting in East Africa but
heading north toward Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
The locust infestation is set to migrate around the time of the Jewish festival of
Passover, which celebrates the nation of Israel's liberation from slavery in Egypt during
biblical times and includes an infamous episode in which the Egyptian ruler is punished
with a plague of locusts.
Meanwhile, the modern-day plague already hit countries like Sudan and Eritrea during
December, with a second generation of locust breeding continuing on the coast in southeast
Egypt and on the central and northern coast of Saudi Arabia. According to the FAO, the
locust population is increasing along both sides of the Red Sea.
During February, there has been an "escalation in second-generation hatching and hopper
band formation," with new swarms "likely to start forming at the end of the month in some
places," the FAO warned.
With moderate rains and plentiful green vegetation, locust breeding will continue until
the plant life in affected areas dries out, after which locust swarms generally move on.
Currently, mature adult locusts are laying eggs throughout the Red Sea region, and control
operations are in full swing in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Eritrea and Sudan.
Whether or not these nations can get a handle on infestation before they experience a
modern version of the biblical plague of locusts remains to be seen.
GPS Kits Transform Hizbullah Rockets into Deadly Precision-Guided Missiles
By World Israel News
Israeli military sources recently expressed alarm over Hizbullah's plan to retrofit
conventional rockets with global positioning system (GPS) kits, turning the terror group's
massive collection of around 150,000 projectiles into a deadly arsenal of precision-guided
Senior Israeli officers spoke about the threat during recent interviews with The Daily
Beast, discussing the Iranian-backed Hizbullah threat, which spans Syrian and Lebanese
territory. While Iran has transferred advanced weapons to Hizbullah throughout Syria's
bloody civil war, the IDF has continued to pound Iranian positions near its border,
carrying out over 200 strikes in the last two years alone.
Notwithstanding Israel's attempts to beat back the Islamic Republic and its terror
proxies, the Iranian presence still looms in Syria and Lebanon, with the introduction of
Hizbullah's GPS "suitcase" missiles ramping up the threat level.
According to the Daily Beast report, Iran has been forced to stop transporting heavy
weapons due to Israeli strikes, with the Jewish state's air force now focused on cutting
off the flow of GPS components, which appear to be the key to Hizbullah's ability to
strike precise targets deep within Israel.
The unidentified officials who spoke to The Daily Beast warned that Hizbullah's "dumb
unguided rockets" are being transformed into "smart precision-guided missiles" with
daunting accuracy. Unlike heavy weaponry, GPS components can even be smuggled into Lebanon
via civilian flight routes, a phenomenon Fox News exposed last year.
With regard to the specific missiles Hizbullah plans to upgrade first, a report by the
British Israel Communication and Research Centre (BICOM) identified a stockpile of around
14,000 long-range Zelzal-2 rockets. Due to the size of the equipment needed to carry out
the conversions, the terror group is able to use smaller, nondescript locations as
To that end, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu pointed to three underground
locations next to Beirut International Airport that he alleged were workspaces for
converting rockets into guided missiles, making the accusations at a U.N. General Assembly
meeting in New York.
While Hizbullah shuttered the locations quickly, the Israeli official who spoke with The
Daily Beast warned, "[It's] always a cat and mouse game with them they do a good
job of covering their tracks. They can open in another place tomorrow." Right now, Israel
is "running after suitcases," the senior officer said.
Bulletproof Backpacks: Israeli Firm's Answer to School Shootings
In 2018, 114 people were killed or injured in school shootings in the U.S., according
to Education Week, a non-profit journal covering education-related topics in the United
States. To address the issue, Israeli company ArmorMe has developed a normal-looking
backpack with not-so-normal capabilities: it comes with one or two kevlar panels, making
it bulletproof on one or two sides.
A single paneled backpack provides coverage from neck to knee when worn in front, while
the double-paneled backpack provides coverage for both sides of the torso. It also comes
in five colors.
Ret. Israeli Defense Forces Colonel Gabi Siboni co-founded ArmorMe following the Las Vegas
massacre in 2017 and started developing the backpacks in early 2018, around the time of
the Parkland school shooting which killed 17 people in Florida.
While ArmorMe understands that this may only be a Band-Aid solution to gun violence issues
as a whole, Siboni said that the company is currently in the final stages of a partnership
with a school safety non-profit organization, and proceeds from each backpack will go to
the organization. "We didn't create the reality of mass shootings, but we are reacting to
it," Siboni said in a Wednesday interview with Calcalist.
Since the Columbine shooting in 1999, 187,000 students attending at least 193 elementary
or secondary schools have experienced an on-campus shooting during school hours in the
U.S., according to a Washington Post report updated in March. At least 113 of these
incidents involved only a pistol, according to the report.
Besides its bulletproof capabilities, the backpack comes with a computer compartment for a
15-inch laptop, side pockets on each side, and weighs between 1.4 kilograms to 2.2,
depending on the number of kevlar panels, Siboni said. While the backpacks offer official
protection against bullets fired by handguns, in the event of a more serious weapon, full
protection "can't be guaranteed, but still dramatically increases the survival rate,"
However, ArmorMe developed the backpacks as an accessory that offers protection, not
just as a bulletproof vest with straps. In fact, when the panels are opened in to fit like
a vest, "the contents inside the backpack won't spill," Siboni explained.
There are other companies selling bulletproof backpacks, including BulletBlocker, though
ArmorMe's backpacks are slightly more affordable: ArmorMe's backpack retails at $160, for
the single-paneled knapsack. The company is currently working on more designs, patterns
and computer bags, which Siboni expects to hit the market sometime over the next three
Tel Aviv Recruiting Volunteers to Assist Eurovision Tourists
The 2019 Eurovision Song Contest to is approaching and is expected to attract over
10,000 tourists from around the world. Ahead of the event, the Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality
is working in order to create a positive experience for tourists and has issued a call for
volunteers to assist tourists and journalists during their stay in Tel Aviv. The call was
issued earlier this week and over 1,500 potential volunteers have so far sent in
The Mayor of Tel Aviv-Yafo, Ron Huldai, said: "The Eurovision Song Contest is an
unprecedented and unique opportunity to show the beauty of Israel to the world. All the
polls we do show that one of our greatest assets is that we are friendly, warm and
welcoming and these are the assets we want to leverage in service of the thousands of
tourists who will enjoy the best possible Eurovision experience."
In 2016, 1.14 million international overnight tourists visited Tel Aviv. In 2018 that
number rose to 1.85 million and in 2019 the number of international overnight tourists is
expected to cross the 2 million mark and reach an overall new record.
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