March 26, 2018

In News Surrounding Israel by The Friends of Israel

Israelis warned against travel to Sinai, N. Africa

The National Security Council’s Counter-terrorism Bureau cautioned Israelis against traveling to Sinai, Northern African countries, Turkey and south Thailand.

The warning was issued on Sunday (25th) ahead of the holiday of Passover, during which many Israelis and their families travel abroad.

Other countries deemed unsafe for Israelis by the bureau include Kenya, Senegal and Nigeria.

Israelis are legally prohibited from visiting countries such as Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.



Netanyahu slams UN Human Rights Council’s “circus of the absurd’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday (24th) slammed the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) after it passed five resolutions condemning Israel, calling them “detached from reality, adopted by the ‘circus of the absurd’ that is called the Human Rights Council.”

Netanyahu suggested that it was time for the UNHRC “to change the name to ‘The Council for resolutions against the only democracy in the Middle East.’”

Conversely, The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) welcomed the UNHRC anti-Israel resolutions on Saturday (24th).



Haley: US evaluating membership in UN Human Rights Council

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley slammed the UN Human Rights Council on Friday (23rd) after it approved a slew of anti-Israel decisions within the framework of the infamous “Agenda item 7.”

“Today, the UN Human Rights Council adopted five resolutions condemning Israel,” Haley said in a statement.  At the same time, the Council adopted only one resolution each against North Korea, Iran, and Syria.

“The United States continues to evaluate our membership in the Human Rights Council,” Haley said.  “Our patience is not unlimited. Today’s actions make clear that the organization lacks the credibility needed to be a true advocate for human rights.”



Israel bombs Hamas target, responding to cross-border provocation

Israel’s Air Force (IAF) on Saturday night (24th) targeted a Hamas terror target in a military compound in Rafah, southern Gaza, in response to a cross-border provocation earlier in the day.

Four Gazans cut through the security fence between Israel and Gaza in an attempt at damaging an engineering vehicle involved in the construction of the anti-terror tunnel underground barrier.

As IDF forces approached, they fled back into the Gaza Strip.  No significant damage was done to the equipment.

Palestinian sources said the bombing caused damage but no casualties.  The incident occurred as tensions on the border are high, just days before Hamas is to lead a mass march on Israel’s borders.



Hamas launches large-scale military exercise in Gaza

Hamas’ military wing,  the Izz ad-din al-Qassam Brigades, launched a large-scale exercise in the Gaza Strip on Sunday morning (25th).

The exercise, which is set to end Monday morning (26th), incorporates several replicas of the Israeli-made Merkava tanks to simulate IDF forces.

Eyewitnesses in Gaza said Hamas launched at least one rocket into the sea as part of the exercise.



Court convicts Palestinian terrorists who murdered Reuven Schmerling

The Lod District Court convicted two residents of the PA town of Qabatiya of the murder of Rabbi Reuven Schmerling, 70, who they stabbed to death in October 2017.

The two murdered Schmerling, who owned a coal warehouse where they worked, after deciding to carry out a terror attack, against a Jewish victim.



Palestinians call to put U.S. Ambassador Friedman on “Global Terror List” – Khaled Abu Toameh

The Palestinian Authority Ministry of Information in Ramallah on Thursday (22nd) called for US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman to be added to a “Global Terror List.”



Israel-bound plane flies over Saudi Arabia for first time – Oliver Holmes

Saudi Arabia has opened its airspace for the first time to an Israel-bound Air India passenger plane, breaking a 70-year ban on flying over the Arab kingdom.  “This is a historic evening. The Israeli skies are connecting with the Saudi Arabian skies in one direct flight,” said Israeli Transport minister Yisrael Katz.  “We are celebrating the strengthening relations with India and the first civilian connection with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States.”

There was no confirmation that the Israeli flagship El Al will be granted airspace access.  Avoiding Saudi Arabia typically adds hours to Israel-bound flights.



Netanyahu hopes Saudis will open airspace to other flights to Israel

Following the opening of Saudi airspace to direct Air India flights  from Delhi to Tel Aviv, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted at Sunday’s (25th) cabinet meeting that the next goal is to allow direct El Al flights over Saudi Arabia from Tel Aviv to Mumbai.

El Al currently has four direct flights from Tel Aviv to Mumbai, but it must take a circuitous path to skirt around Saudi Arabia, and a flight that should take just five hours, ends up taking about eight.

Netanyahu characterized Thursday’s (22nd) inaugural Air India flight as “historic.”



German foreign minister to take part in 70th birthday celebrations

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Sunday (25th), “I was very pleased to accept our embassy’s invitation to take part in Israel’s 70th anniversary celebrations.  Germany has a genuine desire to take part in and assist in all the major issues that plague the world, and part of the reason for my visit is the desire to know what is concerning the citizens of israel.”

The president and the foreign minister discussed at length the expansion of the Iranian threat in the region in all its aspects and the various possibilities available to the free world in its ability to respond to this threat.  Maas made it clear that Germany would not accept Iran’s position calling for the destruction of the State of Israel and that Germany would not accept the existence of a nuclear Iran. He stressed that the State of Israel’s concerns are taken with the seriousness and responsibility that is needed against the existing threats.