Gaza Militants Float Model Airplane With Bomb Attached Into Israel
Gaza militants used a cluster of balloons to fly a model airplane carrying an explosive device into southern Israel Sunday (6th). The plane landed in a field in the Sdot Negev Regional Council, near the Gaza border, and was neutralized by police sappers. The process caused the device to explode, but no damages or injuries were reported.
In retaliation, Israeli Air Force helicopters struck two Hamas positions east of the city of Khan Younis, according to the IDF.
Palestinian media reported that Israel also attacked near Jabalia, in northern Gaza, and in the Zeitoun area of Gaza City, in the center of the Strip.
About 10 days ago, a cluster of balloons with an explosive device attached landed at a Moshav in the Sdot Negev Regional Council, near a kindergarten fence. Police were called to neutralize the device.
The police are calling on members of the public to exercise extreme caution if they come across suspicious airborne objects, which may contain explosives or flammable materials that could endanger life.
Gaza border community residents are told to call police immediately to report any suspicious devices, then leave the area at once to allow sappers to neutralize any dangerous objects, to ensure the public’s safety.
Netanyahu To Bolton: Time For U.S. To Recognize Golan Heights In Israel
With the U.S. on the verge of withdrawing its troops from Syria, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made his first public appeal Sunday (6th) alongside a senior U.S. official for recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
“The Golan Heights is tremendously important for our security,” Netanyahu said Sunday evening alongside U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton following a meeting between them in his residence.
The premier said that, weather permitting, he hoped to helicopter to the strategic plateau on Monday (7th) with Bolton so that “he will be able to understand perfectly why we will never leave the Golan Heights, and why it is important that all countries recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.”
Netanyahu said that he has discussed the matter with U.S. President Donald Trump.
Bolton, who arrived Saturday (5th) for talks aimed at reassuring Israel following Trump’s decision last month to withdraw 2,000 U.S. troops from northeast Syria, said that the withdrawal will be done in a way to ensure that Islamic State is defeated and unable to “revive itself,” that Israel’s defense and that of “our other friends in the region is absolutely assured,” and that those who fought with the U.S. against Islamic State are “taken care of.”
Bolton added that under Netanyahu and Trump “we have the best Israel-U.S. relationship in our history, and on our side we are certainly determined to continue that.”
Malaysia Denies Entry To Israeli Swimmers For World Championship
Malaysia will not allow Israel’s Paralympics swimming team to enter its country to participate in the World Para Swimming Championship in July, despite two months of efforts by the Israel Paralympics Committee.
The event, set to be held in the Malaysian city of Kuching, is a critical one since the results will affect the formulation of 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo. The city will play host to more than 600 swimmers from 70 countries. The fact that there are no diplomatic relations between the Jewish state and the Muslim nation is making it hard for the Israeli team to obtain visas.
The directors of the Israel Paralympics Committee have tried to involve the Sports and Culture Ministry as well as Alex Gilady, an Israeli member of the International Olympic Committee, in an effort to obtain visas, but have yet to receive a response.
In 2010, a special visa was issued for the Israeli boxer Ilya Grad to participate in the AXN Asia reality show, making him the first person to enter Malaysia on an Israeli passport.
Recently, there have been a number of incidents in which countries refused to allow participation, or make entry difficult, for Israelis in sport competitions. In 2015, Maayan Davidovich entered Oman on an Austrian passport to participate in the Wind Surfing Championships without displaying the Israeli flag or performing the Israeli national anthem. That same year, Misha Zilberman received a last minute visa for a Badminton game in Indonesia.
Just last year, for the first time, the Israeli Judo team in Abu Dhabi was allowed to displayed the Israeli flag and play the national anthem. Next month, Israeli weightlifting and fencing teams will compete in the UAE after being issued visas by the Gulf emirate.
‘This Is My Country, I serve In The IDF,’ Says Muslim IDF Soldier
After a year volunteering with an Israeli youth movement, Bilal Taha is proud to be in a combat unit, even if it means guarding settlements, and believes more Arabs will soon join the IDF.
Before leaving his IDF base, 21-year-old Corporal Bilal Taha removes his military uniform and changes into civilian clothing; only then does he board the bus home to his Galilee village of Deir al-Asad, where service in the IDF is unusual, to say the least. Taha is a rare phenomenon, an Israeli Arab who chose to serve in the army.
“There are many who are not happy with my being a soldier,” he says, “and I don’t know what their reaction would be if I entered the town in uniform.”
His first position in the IDF was in the department that encourages minorities to enlist and supports them throughout their service. After a short while, however, he sought a more active role as a combat soldier.
Bilal now serves in the Tavor Battalion of the Home Front Command. Sometimes he finds himself in the midst of complicated situations. Currently he is stationed in the northern West Bank where his unit guards Jewish settlements.
All his fellow service members are Jewish and he is considerate of their customs. He doesn’t eat cheese and schnitzel in their presence (Jews are not allowed to eat meat and dairy products together) in the dining room and he stands during Shabbat ceremonies.
Bilal conducts his Islamic prayers at a discreet location on the base so as not to attract attention.
Bilal said he wants to “serve his country,” which is why he joined the IDF. He believes there is an increasing number of Israeli Arabs who feels as he does, and expects that soon more will join him in serving Israel as IDF soldiers.
Egyptian Explosive Expert Killed Defusing Bomb Near Coptic Church In Cairo
An Egyptian police officer was killed on Saturday (5th) while attempting to defuse a bomb found near a church in an eastern Cairo suburb, state television reported, less than two days before Egypt’s Christians celebrate the Coptic Christmas.
The device was one of two found inside a bag on a nearby rooftop, three security sources and state media said.
Two policemen and an onlooker were also injured when the device exploded, according to the sources.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Egyptian security forces have for years battled Islamist insurgents who have attacked Coptic Christians, tourists and security personnel.
Security forces stepped up their presence outside churches and other places of worship ahead of New Year’s Eve and the Coptic Christmas which is celebrated Monday (7th).
The Copts, who make up around 10% of the Egyptian population, have long-complained of discrimination. Authorities have placed armed guards outside churches and monasteries in an attempt to protect them from jihadist attacks.
In November, militants killed seven people returning from baptizing a child at a Coptic monastery about 160 miles up the Nile River from Cairo.