Newsletter : 20fx0923.txt
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Massive Explosion Rocks `Stronghold' of Israel's Nemesis, Hizbullah
By United with Israel, Israel Hayom, VOA News, Reuters & YnetNews
According to the Lebanese media, a huge blast tore through a building in a key
Hizbullah-controlled town called Ain Qana, near the port of Sidon about 30 miles south of
Beirut, an area in which the Lebanese military claimed Israeli aircraft had been operating
since early on Tuesday.
In a report on the explosion, the Associated Press referred to Ain Qana as a "stronghold"
of Hizbullah, an Iran-backed Islamic terror group that is sworn to Israel's destruction.
It has successfully hijacked large portions of the Lebanese government.
According to the AP report, the cause of the explosion in Ain Qana remains unclear. A
Lebanese security official quoted by the AP said the explosion took place in a Hizbullah
arms depot. Israel has pounded Iranian positions in Syria with airstrikes in addition to
assassinating Hizbullah terrorists operating there, but the IDF rarely confirms or denies
The blast in Ain Qana arrives on the heels of an August explosion in Beirut that killed
200 and wounded 6,500, as well as damaging thousands of Beirut buildings While no credible
sources pointed fingers at Israel over that disaster, evidence continues to mount pointing
to Hizbullah's role in the negligent handling of extremely volatile material that caused
the near-nuclear level blast.
Hizbullah operatives "imposed a security cordon around the blast area Tuesday," the AP
reported, "barring journalists from reaching it." A security source said several people
were injured and that the blast in the arms depot was caused by a "technical error."
A witness near the village said they felt the ground shake. Footage from the area
broadcast by Al-Jadeed showed men walking over scorched ground littered with debris.
Damage was shown in an adjacent house where the floor was covered in glass and what
appeared to be a pool of blood. At least one fire was still burning in the location, the
Footage broadcast by the local Al-Jadeed station showed men walking over scorched ground
littered with debris. Damage was shown in an adjacent house where the floor was covered in
glass and what appeared to be a pool of blood. At least one fire was still burning in the
location, the footage showed.
Since the Beirut blast on August 4, subsequent fires at the port and elsewhere in the
capital have caused panic in Beirut and the country, whose economy is in meltdown.
Tougher COVID Restrictions Stalled by Tussle over Protest Demonstrations
The coronavirus cabinet ministers' discussion of tougher lockdown measures boiled down
on Tuesday, Sept. 22, to a debate over a demand to ban the mass anti-government
demonstrations taking place weekly outside the prime minister's Jerusalem residence.
They all acknowledged that there is no option but to impose tougher sanctions since the
current lockdown imposed last Friday is inadequate and far from comprehensively upheld by
the public. The hospitals are warning that if the number of seriously ill patients tops
900-100 by next week, as predicted by health experts, medical staffs will be unable to
maintain their current excellence of treatment in any of the hospital departments.
However, the plan for the next stage of the lockdown presented to the ministers by the
Coronavirus Director Ronni Gamzu stands or falls over a major debate. His recommendations
to close the synagogues or hold Yom Kippur prayers outdoors drew an angry ultimatum from
the religious ministers and the rabbis: So long as thousands of protesters are allowed to
rally at close quarters without masks week after week in Jerusalem, no limits on religious
ritual will be accepted, they insisted.
It was also argued that the demonstrations make a mockery of the health restrictions and
are the root of widespread public disobedience. The Kahol Lavon ministers, backed by the
attorney general, were equally adamant about keeping the demonstrations going at all costs
in accordance with democratic principles. After long hours of debate, the ministers
decided to reconvene on Wednesday to seek a format for demonstrations that meet health
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who stayed out of the argument until now, stepped in
with these remarks: "We all understand, including the left that we are in a state of
emergency. After hearing the experts expand on the immense danger presented by crowded
gatherings, I must point out that the entire nation is being forced to accept hard
restraints, excepting only a group of protesters who demand special privileges."
He went on to say: "We are obliged to stay a kilometer from the Western Wall, but people
from all over the country may gather close to the Balfour residence." Netanyahu stressed:
"There must be one law for all prayers and protests alike, otherwise the public
will pay no heed to health directives and we'll see coronavirus infection spreading on a
Ministry of Health figures for Tuesday night: a total of 193,374 infections including
3,858 new cases; 51,338 active cases, of which a rising 668 are active. Altogether 1,285
victims have lost their lives since the outbreak in March.
US, UAE Reportedly Finalizing Deal for Downgraded F-35 Aircraft
By Reuters and Israel Hayom
The United States and the United Arab Emirates hope to have an initial agreement on the
sale of F-35 stealth fighter jets to the Gulf state in place by December, as the Trump
administration studies how to structure a deal without running afoul of Israel. Sources
close to the negotiations said the goal is to have a letter of agreement in place in time
for UAE National Day celebrated on Dec. 2.
Any deal must satisfy decades of agreement with Israel that states any US weapons sold to
the region must not impair Israel's "qualitative military edge," guaranteeing US weapons
furnished to Israel are "superior in capability" to those sold to its neighbors.
With that in mind Washington is studying ways to make the Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 more
visible to Israeli radar systems, two sources said. Reuters could not determine if this
would be done by changing the jet or providing Israel with better radar, among other
The UAE embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The
White House declined to comment. A Pentagon spokeswoman told Reuters, "As a matter of
policy, the United States does not confirm or comment on proposed defense sales or
transfers until they are formally notified to Congress."
Once a letter of agreement is signed, a fine may be levied against any party that
terminates the deal. Several political and regulatory hurdles must be cleared before the
sale may be completed and Capitol Hill aides cautioned a deal may not be possible this
year. Ellen Lord, the Pentagon's chief weapons buyer, told reporters in August that in
general, the United States aims to complete a letter of agreement for new F-35 sales in
about six months.
Because of the qualitative military edge restriction, the Lockheed Martin-made F-35 has
been denied to Arab states, while Israel has about 24 jets. The United Arab Emirates, one
of Washington's closest Middle East allies, has long expressed interest in acquiring the
stealthy jets and was promised a chance to buy them in a side deal made when they agreed
to normalize relations with Israel. Sources familiar with the negotiations said a working
idea was for Israeli air defenses to be able to detect the UAE F-35s with technology that
effectively defeats the stealth capabilities of the jets.
F-35 fighter jets sold to the United Arab Emirates could also be built in a way that
ensures the same planes owned by Israel outperform any others sold in the region, defense
experts say. Washington already demands that any F-35 sold to foreign governments cannot
match the performance of US jets, said both a congressional staffer and a source familiar
with past sales.
The F-35's technical sophistication is tied to its mission systems and processing power
and "it's the computing power that allows you to sell a higher-tech jet to Israel than to
the UAE," said Doug Birkey, executive director of the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace
Studies in Washington . said: "When foreign pilots are in training in the US they type a
code into a user interface as they board the jet, the code will pull a different jet for
each pilot based on legal permissions."
Either way, actual delivery of new jets is years away. Poland, the most recent F-35
customer, purchased 32 of the jets in January, but will not receive its first delivery
'I am a Pakistani Zionist,' Member of Tiny Jewish Community says in Rare
By Israel Hayom
The Jewish community on the Indian subcontinent dates back many years, long before the
Muslims in the former British colony sought independence. But only a small part of that
relatively prosperous community lived in the five districts that in August 1947 became
Pakistan. At the time, they numbered fewer than 3,000, and most of the community lived in
Karachi, with a few dozen more in Peshawar.
When Israel was founded, many members of the Jewish community left Pakistan, the
second-largest Muslim country in the world, leaving only 200-300 members who remain
despite growing anti-Semitism. They live in Karachi and Lahore.
Some Jews in Pakistan converted to Islam, such as deputy head of Pakistan's mission to the
UN in the 1950s, Mohammad Assad. But the ones who adhered to their original faith were
forced to make due without a functioning synagogue.
One of the remaining few Pakistani Jews is Fishel Khalid, 32, from Karachi. In a special
interview to Israel Hayom in honor of Rosh Hashanah, Khaled discusses personal challenges
and challenges facing the community; local anti-Semitism; and his historic visit to
Khalid, a civil engineer by training and profession, says he also works as a kashruth
supervisor for Pakistani food manufacturers and exporters.
Q: Are you scared to live in Pakistan? "I don't disclose my identity to 99% of the people
with whom I interact. And when I wear a kippah, I hide it under a baseball cap. But in
general, I'm not that concerned, as long as I'm not open about being Jewish. Pakistan has
its share of varying degrees of anti-Semitism," Khalid adds, noting that the synagogue in
Karachi was burned down during riots that erupted after Israel was established in 1948.
Karachi is the capital city of the Sindh province, considered the most demographically
diverse in Pakistan. Some 94.8% of the population are Muslims, another 5% are Hindis, and
0.2% of the population belong to other groups, including Jews. "The culture of the Sindh
province is a second mother to me and other minorities. People here are much more tolerant
than in other provinces of Pakistan," he says.
His attempts to keep his Jewish identity under wraps notwithstanding, all of Pakistan
heard Khalid's story. He is the son of a Muslim father and a Jewish mother. He has four
siblings, all of whom are Muslim. How did his story become common knowledge? The
government allowed him to visit Israel. This was no minor gesture, as Pakistani passports
are labeled valid anywhere in the world, "except for Israel."
How did he find his way to Judaism? "It's complicated, but there was something that made
it happen. I wanted spirituality and I found it in Judaism. I thank God for the good
things that happen to me," Khalid tells Israel Hayom. "I'm openly a Zionist and a
supporter of Israel. Most importantly, I love Pakistan, which is why as a Pakistani
Zionist I want good relations between these sister countries," he says.
There's an 18-Mile-Long Wire Above Manhattan
By Mental Floss
It's hard to imagine that anything literally hanging from utility poles across Manhattan
could be considered "hidden," but throughout the borough, about 18 miles of translucent
wire stretches around the skyline, and most people have likely never noticed. It's called
an eruv (plural eruvin), and its existence is thanks to the Jewish Sabbath.
On the Sabbath, which is viewed as a day of rest, observant Jewish people aren't allowed
to carry anythingbooks, groceries, even childrenin public places (doing so is
considered "work"). The eruv encircles much of Manhattan, acting as a symbolic boundary
that turns the very public streets of the city into a private space, much like one's own
home. This allows people to freely communicate and socialize on the Sabbathand carry
whatever they pleasewithout having to worry about breaking Jewish law.
Along with everything else in New York City, the eruv isn't cheap. It costs a group of
Orthodox synagogues $100,000 a year to maintain the wires, which are inspected by a rabbi
every Thursday before dawn to confirm they are all still attached. While wires do
occasionally fall, the overall eruv has survived events such as the Macy's Thanksgiving
Day Parade and Hurricane Sandy. When eruv wires do break, it can cause enough of a stir to
make news. Most notably, in 2011 a wire broke near the United Nations building, which
caused a problem when repair crews couldn't get past security to fix it. The issue was
eventually resolved, but not before a good deal of panic set in.
Manhattan has had an eruv in one form or another since the early 20th century, but the
present-day incarnation began on the Upper West Side in 1994. It has since expanded from
126th Street to Houston Street, and its exact locations can now be viewed on Google Maps
(and an intermittently updated Twitter feed). The city does have some rules in place
regarding the eruv: The wires can only be a quarter-inch thick, and they must be hung at
least 15 feet off the ground.
(All material on these web pages is © 2001-2012
by Electronic World Communications, Inc.)