News Digest — 5/10/19

In News Surrounding Israel by The Friends of Israel

Police On High-Alert In Jerusalem’s Old City On First Friday Of Ramadan

Police took security measures and precautions, remaining on high-alert over Friday (10th) in and around the Old City of Jerusalem as visitors arrived and prayers commenced on the Temple Mount for the first Friday of Ramadan.

“Police units and Border Police have been mobilized in different parts of the Old City to allow thousands of people to make the area accessible, while preventing any incidents,” Israeli Police said in a media statement.  “Buses will transport thousands of people from the checkpoints around Jerusalem to the Old City. Roads in and around the Old City were closed to allow thousands of people to enter the area on foot,” the statement continued.

It added that police measures would continue into late afternoon.

In the past, Ramadan has been marred with violent riots on the Temple Mount, the West Bank and Gaza.

In 2018, thousands of Palestinians rioted on the Gaza border as part of the March of Return, which intensified on the first Friday of Ramadan.

Several hundred Palestinians also rioted at checkpoints in the West Bank that same Friday in response to Israel’s forces on the Gaza border.  

In 2017, several terrorist attacks took place in the Old City during Ramadan in which a policewoman was stabbed to death, and four other officers were wounded.  In 2016 violent protests broke out on the Temple Mount over the fact that both Jews and Muslins had entered the site.



Islamic Jihad Says War With Israel Coming This Summer

Leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group believes the recent deadly flare-up between Israel and Gaza militants was a “military exercise” ahead of a large-scale war in the coming sumer months, according to a report by Beirut-based pan-Arab TV channel Al-Mayadeen, this week.

In the latest round of cross-border fighting, which erupted last weekend, Palestinian militants fired more than 700 rockets into Israel, killing four Israeli civilians, the first Israeli fatalities from rocket fire since the 50-day war in 2014, known as Operation Protective Edge.  On Monday (6th), an Egyptian-mediated ceasefire was reached between Palestinian factions and Israeli officials.

“I anticipate a war to erupt in the summer, following Israel’s attempts to disarm the Palestinian factions in Gaza,” the terror group’s leader Ziad al-Nakhala said in an interview with Al-Mayadeen, adding, the ceasefire was reached “just hours before the militants in the Hamas-ruled enclave planned to launch rockets at Tel Aviv.”

Nakhala also said the IDF’s recently adopted policy of bombing multi-story buildings and homes of faction leaders in the Strip, would not remain unanswered.



Postcard Written By Ben-Gurion, Declaring Israel’s Independence in 1948, going Up For Auction  

A postcard written and signed by Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion, just one day after officially declaring the State of Israel’s independence, was recently discovered.  Dated May 15th, 1948, it was sent to the founding-father of the kibbutz movement, Shlomo Lavi.

In a letter inscribed on the back of the postcard, Ben-Gurion wrote: “The people of Israel have attained the pinnacle of their existence – the State of Israel has been born.”

The postcard, which was discovered right before Israel’s Independence day, will be put up for public auction next week at the Kedem Auction House in Jerusalem.

In the letter, Ben-Gurion compares the contrasting realities on the ground between the time he immigrated and the day after the establishment of the State of Israel.

“When we arrived in this land, we encountered the malaria of the swamps and the corruption of the Ottoman regime.  Now, despite the fact that the roar of the cannons has not ceased and our sons are fighting on all fronts, my heart is joyous upon witnessing this great event.”

Meron Eren, co-owner of the Kedem Auction House, said: “This postcard is a very special find that emcompasses a supreme historic value.  Above all, it carries with it nostalgia for the early days of the country, sentiments of renewal, excitement upon a state in the making, and the exhilaration and joy of a generation that took nothing for granted.”

The revelation of the postcard also overlapped with the discovery of a collection of 26 photographs that captured scenes that transpired among Arab belligerent forces during Israel’s War of Independence.  The photos will likewise be put up for public auction next week at the Kedem Auction House.



On Israel’s Independence Day, Blind IDF Soldier Receives Presidential Medal Of Excellence

On Independence Day (9th), a blind IDF soldier received Israel’s Presidential Medal of Excellence.

Sergeant Ori Salmon was part of an IDF project called Special in Uniform, which seeks to integrate special needs and disabled Israelis into the army.

A non-commissioned educational officer, Salmon was born blind and volunteered for the IDF despite her disability.

“Both my elder brothers, parents, and extended family all proudly served in the IDF and they all recall this period as a very special and wonderful time in their lives,” she told a group of Special in Uniform IDF volunteers.

“I never perceived my blindness as an obstacle to joining the IDF.  I never imagined that I wouldn’t be able to give what I yearned to share with my country and people,” Salmon said.

“Today, after a year and a half of military service, I can say with confidence that it is not only an excellent opportunity to contribute one’s utmost to society, but also an opportunity for personal growth,” she said  “I was accepted on base with open arms, and I really enjoy the service and opportunity to meet people. I’m gaining incredible life experiences, and I hope you all enjoy the same comfortable acclimation and meaningful service.”

“When people see me acting normal instead of pitying myself, they also treat me as an equal,” Salmon recounted.

“There are always challenges and hardships, life isn’t a piece of cake, but we need to be optimistic and look ahead,” she asserted.  “If there is ever something that frustrates or aggravates me, I still do my best not to reach the point of self-pity. It’ll be hard – that’s for sure.  But it’s still possible, as with any challenge.”

Lt. Col. Tiran Attia, who heads the Special in Uniform program said that the special needs and disabled volunteers are “strongly motivated to serve, and they invest their maximum capabilities to the army.  A significant number eventually enter the army as full-fledged soldiers, as well, which is a magnificent achievement both for them and for Israeli society.”



South Florida Community Celebrates Israel’s Independence Day

Miami Marlins Park in South Florida Thursday (9th) held a gathering of unity and solidarity for Israel.  For the second time in the region, the community mobilized to create an event with over 17 schools and students from 1st to 12th grade, along with many organizations.

The milestone occasion is an opportunity for youth and adults to show their connection to Israel.  Nearly 5,000 convened at Miami Marlins Park and participated in a school parade, with music performances and special effects.  Of the 17 schools in attendance, 15 were Jewish and two were Evangelical.

Many local elected officials joined the festivities including  Mayor of Miami-Dade, Carlos Gimenez, Mayor of the city of Miami, Francis Suarez, and Mayor of Bal Harbour, Gabriel Groisman.  Video messages were played on a large screen, including one from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.  

Bal Harbour Mayor, Gabriel Groisman said, “This enormous gathering to celebrate Israel’s Independence is unprecedented.  Together the students and guests expressed a palpable love for Israel. This should serve as an example to Jewish unity, Jewish pride, and Zionism.  On a personal note, I congratulate my wife Lisa and her sisters Tila and Shena – who volunteered their time and energy to organize this spectacular event.”

“We’re making history right here in South Florida.  We’re lucky to be living during these incredible times and in a time where Israel has full support of the United States under President Trump.  As he said, ‘If the world knows nothing else, the world will know America stands with Israel,’” said Tila Falic-Levi, event organizer.

“Israel beats strong in the hearts of thousands of Floridians.  They are committed to uphold Israel, and what it stands for – a beacon of light, freedom and democracy,” said Lior Haiat Consul General of Israel in Miami.



Australian School Makes World’s Largest Human Menorah

A Jewish school in Australia celebrated Israel’s Independence Day by creating the world’s largest human menorah.

A total of 1,048 students and staff from Bialik College in Melbourne gathered to form the shape of the emblem of the State of Israel on Thursday (9th).

The seven-branched candelabrum was 137.8 feet wide and 137.8 feet tall.

To meet the conditions set by Guinness World Records, two official counters with clickers recorded the number of people involved.

The previous record was set in 2017 by over 500 students from Ben Porat Yosef, a day school in Paramus, New Jersey.