News Digest — 5/29/19

In News Surrounding Israel by The Friends of Israel

Israel Reduces Gaza Fishing Zone Again In Response To Balloon Attacks

Israel’s military liaison to the Palestinians announced Wednesday (29th) that Israel was reducing the fishing zone off the coast of the Gaza Strip by a third, to just 10 nautical miles, in response to a rash of balloons carrying incendiary devices from the Palestinian enclave that have caused fires in border areas.

Israel has adjusted the size of the fishing zone several times recently, rewarding calm along the border by expanding the fishing zone, then reducing following balloon attacks – apparently under the terms of an unacknowledged ceasefire agreement with the Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group.

Wednesday’s announcement by the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories said the restriction would remain in place until further notice.

On Tuesday (28th) there were two fires in the Be’eri Forest due to balloons, Ynet news site reported.  There were no injuries in the blazes.  Since last March, airbourne incendiaries from Gaza have caused fires that burned thousands of acres of Israeli farmland and nature reserves, causing millions of shekels’ worth of damage.

The fishing clampdown came just three days after Israel increased the fishing zone to 15 miles, in what COGAT said at the same time was “part of the civil policy of preventing humanitarian deterioration in the Gaza Strip.”

Recent weeks have seen tensions in the Gaza Strip soar, following a massive two-day flareup earlier this month between Israel and terror groups there.

Since March 30, 2018, Palestinians in Gaza have participated in regular protests along the border, demanding Israel lift its restrictions on the movement of people and goods into and out of Gaza,and calling for the return of Palestinian ‘refugees’ and their descendants to the Jewish state.



SodaStream Hosts Thousands For Iftar Feast In Southern Israeli Bedouin Town

SodaStream hosted nearly 2,000 Israelis and Palestinians for a Ramadan fast-ending meal at its factory in the southern Israel town of Rahat, Monday night (27th).

Bedouins, Jews and some Palestinians attended the Iftar feast along with U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.

Friedman wrote on Twitter that he had “the pure joy” to attend, and touted SodaStream as a paragon of peace: “Muslims, Druze, Christians and Jews working together, each making the other better, happier and more prosperous.”

SodaStream, the Israeli-based manufacturer of home soda-making machines, shut its West Bank factory in 2015 amid boycott calls and opened a new facility in the predominantly Bedouin town of Rahat.

PepsiCo bought SodaStream from Israel last year for $3.2 billion.



Iran To Transfer $500,000 To Families Of Gaza Terrorists

A-Risalah Net, a site affiliated with the Hamas terror organization, on Tuesday morning (28th) said Iran has agreed to pay Gazan “martyrs’” families a total of half a million dollars.

The 1,700 families will receive a one-time grant through Iran’s “Palestinian Martyr” fund, intended to compensate for the cuts in their salaries.

Though the Palestinian Authority pays its own terrorists full salaries, it cut the salaries of 1,700 terrorists’ families and 2,000 prisoners wounded from Gaza.

The sources told A-Risalah that the move included additional things, but did not explain.

According to the report, sources in the Organization’s Committee for the Iftar-Meal (at the conclusion of Ramadan) told the International Conference for Aiding the Intifada, that Iran on Thursday (30th) will announce aid for the families.



Why Iran’s Cash Crunch Isn’t Disabling Hezbollah Yet – Todd Bensman

Iran’s global battering ram, the U.S.-designated terrorist group Lebanese Hezbollah, has entered such dire financial straits that it can no longer supply free groceries to its employees and beseeches people to fill donation boxes.  So said The Washington Post and The New York Times last week.

However, Hezbollah is not on the ropes.  As Iran’s global tool of retribution and coercion, and battle-hardened from years of fighting in Syria, it remains a highly dangerous threat to the United States and its allies.

Left unsaid by both the Post and the Times is that Hezbollah achieved significant financial autonomy from Iran more than a decade ago.  How? Starting in about 2006, it moved into Latin America and hit it big in the international cocaine trafficking industry.

Experts point out that while Iran was providing Hezbollah up to $200 million per year, our own Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and Treasury Department said just one Hezbollah smuggling ring in Central America generated more than $200 million every month.

Hezbollah’s trafficking and globally circuitous money-laundering operations are extensive now, well-reported and notorious in 10 countries across Latin America.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Jeffrey Feltman, in an analysis for Brookings, noted that Hezbollah is Iran’s “force-multiplier” to carry out its coercive diplomatic agenda.  Late salaries to social service employees and delayed payments to suppliers may be interpreted as signs that U.S. sanctions are taking a toll. But, he writes, the organization remains “revolutionary Iran’s most successful export and one of its primary tools for deadly mischief regionally and internationally.”



U.S. To Deal With UNRWA At Bahrain Conference

Nearly a year after announcing it was stopping aid to UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the Trump administration reportedly intends to try to close the agency once and for all.

UNRWA was created in December 1949 to assist Arabs who fled or voluntarily left territory that became part of the State of Israel, many of whom were displaced at the behest of Arab leaders who assured them they could return to their homes in short order once Israel was defeated in what later became known as the Jewish State’s War of Independence.

Through the decades, Israel has accused UNRWA of perpetuating the refugee problem, instead of alleviating it by improving the socio-economic development of the population it serves and securing citizenship for it in a host country.

On August 31, 2018, the U.S. announced that it would no longer spend money on this “irredeemably-flawed operation.”

This June, Washington will co-chair an economic conference with Bahrain to persuade Palestinian Arabs that Trump’s “deal of the century” Mideast peace plan will lead to a brighter future.

At the core of this effort, reported the Israel Hayom daily, is the U.S. intention to “replace” UNRWA.

“We need to engage with host governments to start a conversation about planning the transition of UNRWA services to host governments, or to other international or local non-government organizations, as appropriate,” said Trump advisor Jason Greenblatt last Wednesday (22nd) at the UN.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) says it will boycott the Bahrain conference.



The Old Scourge Of Anti-Semitism Rises Anew In Europe – Editorial

→For years, Europe maintained the comforting notion that it was earnestly confronting anti-Semitism after the horrors of the Holocaust.  It now faces the alarming reality that anti-Semitism is sharply on the rise, often from the sadly familiar direction of the far right, but also from Islamists and the far left.

→The worrisome trend was underscored by a report issued by the German government this month showing that anti-semitic incidents in Germany had increased by almost 20% in 2018 from the previous year, to 1,799, with 69 classified as acts of violence.

→Anti-Semitism is on the rise all across Europe, as well as in the United States.  France reported an increase of 74% in anti-Semitic acts in a single year, with 541 incidents reported in 2018.  In the United States, attacks on synagogues by white-supremacist gunmen have led the growing list of assaults on Jews.  The Anti-Defamation League reported that these attacks more than doubled from 2017-2018, to 39, part of a total of 1,879 anti-Semitic incidents.

→What is clear is that these strains of anti-Semitism – from the right, from the left and from radical Muslims – have morphed into a resurgence of a blight that should have been eradicated long ago, and that is causing serious anxiety among Europe’s Jews.

→More than a third of Europe’s Jews said in a poll last year they had considered emigrating in the five years preceding the survey.

→As appalling as these statistics should be to every European, they should also ring a loud alarm for every American leader of conscience.  Speak up, now, when you glimpse evidence of anti-Semitism, particularly within your own ranks, or risk enabling the spread of this deadly virus.