News Digest — 2/15/19

In News Surrounding Israel by The Friends of Israel

Israel, Arab States Come Together At Conference Against Iran

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in Poland early Wednesday (13th) to join senior officials from 60 nations at the Warsaw Summit on Peace and Security in the Middle East, which is organized by the United States and Poland in an effort to ratchet up pressure against Iran.

“I think that holding this conference in which Israel, the US, various countries around the world and from the region sit down in one place…and discuss one topic – which, in my opinion, is the most important for our national security – is a very important achievement.  I very much appreciate the American initiative, which I have been associated with and party to for many months,” he said before boarding his flight to the Polish capital.

While in Warsaw, Netanyahu is expected to meet with US Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, as well as Polish Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.

This would be the first regional conference since the 1991 Madrid Conference in which the prime minister of Israel will be present alongside representatives of almost all the Arab nations.  It remains to be seen, however, whether Arab officials will make any public overtures to Netanyahu without a major concession to the Palestinian cause, which still stirs up the Arab public.



Signs Mocking IDF Put Up Along Lebanese Border In Apparent Bid To Scare Troops

A number of signs mocking the Israel Defense Forces were placed on the Lebanese border on Tuesday (12th), in the latest provocative move that appeared to have been carried out by the Hizbullah terrorist group along the volatile frontier.

The signs, written in Arabic and Hebrew, referred to the recent criticism heard in Israel concerning the IDF Ground Forces’ readiness for war, or alleged lack thereof.

“If you don’t trust your ground forces, who were beaten in Lebanon, you need to send them to your search-and-rescue-forces.  You’ll need them,” the signs read.

The signs also featured photographs of Israeli soldiers crying and a tank on fire.

They were placed along the security fence where IDF troops regularly patrol and where construction of a new concrete border wall was underway.

The signs, which were reportedly placed along the border by Hizbullah, appeared to be part of a psychological warfare effort by the terror group to shake soldiers’ belief in the military.  Photographs of the billboards were also shared by media outlets affiliated with the Iran-backed group.

Tensions along the Lebanese border have increased in recent months, first as Israel began the construction of a new border wall and then rising further in December, as the IDF launched an effort to find and destroy attack tunnels dug by Hizbullah into Israel from southern Lebanon.



Hizbullah Can Keep All Weapons, Rules New Lebanese Government

Prime Minister Saad Hariri began a parliamentary meeting in Lebanon on Tuesday (12th) by declaring that Lebanese citizens have the right to “resist Israeli occupation and repel its aggression,” which represents an official green light for the Hizbullah terror group with regard to retaining its massive stockpile of conventional weapons, rockets, and missiles.

Hizbullah receives massive amounts of aid each year from Iran, which is used to purchase weapons and train a terror army that is one of the most powerful militaries in the region.  Hizbullah also operates a vast international narcotics trafficking and money laundering operation to finance its terror activities.

In violation of the terms that ended the Israel-Lebanon war of 2006, the terror group has amassed around 150,000 rockets and missiles and was recently caught building a network of cross-border attack tunnels that infiltrated Israeli territory.

After the new government was announced in Lebanon late last month, breaking a nine-month deadlock that had deepened Lebanon’s economic woes, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commented to a group of visiting UN diplomats,”Iran has proxies.  One of them is Hizbullah. Hizbullah just joined the government of Lebanon. That’s a misnomer; they actually control the government of Lebanon. It means that Iran controls the government of Lebanon.”



Palestinians Get More Medical Treatment Permits In Israel In 2018 – Report

More than 20,000 permits were granted to Palestinians living in the West Bank to enter Israel and receive treatment or support a patient who was receiving treatment in the Jewish state, according to numbers released to the media by the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories Unit (COGAT).  That number us up by nearly 3,000 from the year before.

Medical coordination between Israel and the Palestinian Authority has been ongoing since 1995 and continues to increase each year, despite ebbs and flows on the security and diplomatic fronts.

As one representative from the program, who asked to remain anonymous explained, “Treatment must go on even in times of high tension, including during each of the two intifadas and the more recent uptick of violence in the West Bank.”

The Israeli health coordinator trains Palestinian doctors in Israel, helping to improve their capacity to treat patients in the West Bank.  Palestinian doctors are paired with professionals from Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem and they become colleagues and friends.

When doctors in the West Bank don’t have the skills or the facilities to provide needed care, Palestinian patients are taken for treatment in Israel, especially to Augusta Victoria Compound, a church-hospital complex located on the southern side of the Mount of Olives in east Jerusalem.

Treatments vary, but cancer is among the most frequently treated diseases.  1,200 Palestinian cancer patients from the West Bank and east Jerusalem were treated in a hospital In Israel in 2018, according to COGAT.

The medical program is not only about health.  The program has also built invaluable ties between Israelis and Palestinians that are often not reported by the media.  Doctors become friends and colleagues and consult with one another often. The program is first about health, but also about cooperation.



Germany Foreign Ministry Celebrates Iran’s Islamic Revolution In Berlin

The German Foreign Affairs Ministry sent representatives to Iran’s embassy in Berlin to celebrate the 40-year anniversary of the Islamic Republic of Iran – a regime in Tehran that frequently urges the destruction of the Jewish state and spreads Holocaust denial.

The German mass-circulation daily Bild reported on Tuesday (12th) that Foreign Ministry State Secretary Niels Annen, from the Social Democratic party, and an official from the Iran desk at the ministry attended the pro-mullah regime event.

Bild wrote: “The foreign ministry said it sent officials to the Iranian embassy to keep dialogue channels open.  Germany has long-been Iran’s most important trade partner within the EU.”

The foreign policy spokesman of the Free Democratic Party in the Bundestag, Bijan Djir-Sarai told the Bild, “The fact that a representative of the Federal Government participates in celebrations of the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution at the Iranian embassy is embarrassing.”  He added, “A certain distance would have been helpful here. It is a mystery to me which message the Federal Government wanted to set with this performance.”

Iran’s regime is the international state-sponsor of terrorism, according to the US State Department.  Chancellor Angela Merkel’s administration, which has declared Israel’s security to be “non-negotiable,” refuses to join US sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

The timing of Annen’s visit coincides with Iranian Brig. Gen Yadollah Javani saying to Iran’s state-controlled IRNA  news agency regarding an American attack on iran: “If they attack us, we will raze Tel Aviv and Haifa to the ground.”