Israel News

News Digest — 7/16/21

In News Surrounding Israel by The Friends of Israel

Intense Heatwave To Hit Israel Over The Weekend, Peaking On Sunday’s Tisha B’Av Fast

Israel is set to be blanketed by a heatwave over the weekend, with health authorities on Thursday (15th) issuing advisories in light of the expected extreme weather.

Temperatures are forecast to peak on Sunday (18th) with 95 degrees Fahrenheit in Jerusalem, 90 in Tel Aviv, and 109 in Eilat during the Jewish fast of Tisha B’Av, which mourns the destruction of the Jewish Temples.  

On Tisha B’Av, Jews fast and mourn for about 25 hours.  The Book of Lamentations, in which the prophet Jeremiah laments the destruction of Jerusalem and the subsequent exile is read as well.

Tisha B’Av marks a number of other calamities throughout Jewish history, including the day that the 10 spies gave a slanderous report about the Land of Israel to the Jews in the desert, leading to that generation being forbidden from entering the land – traditionally believed to have occurred around Tisha B’Av.  A number of other calamities occurred on or near the Ninth of Av, including the expulsion of the Jews from England, France and Spain, the formal approval during World War II of the Nazi’s Final Solution, the massive deportation of the Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto to concentration camps and the First Crusade.  

The fast begins on Saturday evening (17th) and ends on Sunday evening (18th).

The Magen David Adom ambulance service called on those fasting to drink large quantities of water beforehand, and said that the sick and elderly should consult with their doctors before deciding to fast.

The Health Ministry urged people, in particular the elderly and those with preexisting conditions, to stay out of the sun, stay hydrated and avoid unnecessary physical exertion during the “extreme” heat.

“The Israeli summer has many pleasant sides to it, but now we are entering a more difficult period in terms of heat and humidity,” Israel Meteorological Service forecaster Oren Davidoff told the Walla news site.

The intense heat will be felt in most parts of the country and is not expected to drop until the middle of next week.



‘May God Help The Country:’ Lebanon PM-Designate Abandons Attempt To Form Government

Lebanon’s political and economic crisis continues after the head of the country’s Future Movement Party, Saad al-Hariri, announced Thursday (15th) that he was abandoning his efforts to form a new government.

Hariri made the announcement after a brief meeting with Lebanese President Michel Aoun, to whom he presented a possible new cabinet.

Hariri said Aoun had demanded fundamental changes to his proposed cabinet, underscoring the political squabbling that has blocked the formation of a cabinet even as Lebanon sinks deeper into crisis.

“It is clear we will not be able to agree with his excellency the President,” Hariri said after meeting Aoun for barely 20 minutes.  “That is why I excuse myself from government formation and God help the country.”

Hariri, a former prime minister and Lebanon’s leading Sunni Muslim politician, was designated in October to assemble a government following the resignation of Prime Minister Hassan Diab’s cabinet in the wake of the Beirut port explosion.

The World Bank has described Lebanon’s depression as one of the sharpest in modern history.  The currency has lost more than 90% of its value in two years, poverty has spread, and there have been crippling fuel shortages, promoting growing fears of social unrest.

Western governments have been piling pressure on Lebanese politicians to form a government that can set about reforming the corrupt state, threatening sanctions and saying financial support will not flow before reforms begin.

But barring a dramatic shift in the political landscape, politicians and analysts say it now seems very difficult for a government to be formed before parliamentary elections next year.



IDF Detains Dozens Of Hamas Affiliated Operatives In Joint Operation

Dozens of terror operatives were arrested in a village north of Ramallah in the West Bank on Wednesday night (14th) in a joint operation by the IDF, the Shin Bet, and the Border Police.

The arrests of the terror operatives, reported to belong to the Hamas student cell at Birzeit University, were made in Turmus Ava, and took place following extensive intelligence and operational efforts by all three security organizations.

“Some of the apprehended Hamas operatives were directly involved in terror activities, including money transfers, incitement, and the organization of Hamas activities in Judea and Samaria,” stated a report released by the IDF.

The operatives were transferred to security forces for further questioning.

The group of activists were apprehended after visiting the destroyed home of Muntasir Shalabi, which was razed by the IDF last week.  Shalabi, a US citizen, was charged for the May 2021 murder of Yehuda Guetta, a 19-year-old Yeshiva student.

The IDF added that “security forces will continue operating to thwart terror activities in Judea and Samaria.”

In recent years, the town of Turmus Ava has made headlines due to the number of incidents and tensions between the PA village and the nearby settlements of Shiloh and Shvut Rahel. 



Not A Drop To Drink: Water Shortages In Iran Cause Wave Of Protests

Street protests broke out during the night over severe water shortages in Iran’s oil-rich southwest, according to Iranian news outlets and videos posted on social media on Friday (16th), as the country faces its worst drought in 50 years.

Videos showed protesters setting fire to tires to block a road, and security forces were seen trying to disperse the crowds as some shots were heard.

“State television should report what we are saying and show the image of the buffaloes that perished from lack of water,” an elderly protester said on a video carried by the regional Asrejonoob news website.

In May, Iranian Energy Minister Reza Ardakanian warned of water shortages in the summer, saying this year was “one of the driest in 50 years.”

The water shortages have led to power blackouts and there were protest marches in several cities last week.  During some protests people vented their anger with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, chanting “Death to the dictator” and “Death to Khamenei.”

In recent weeks thousands of workers in Iran’s key energy sector held protests, seeking better wages and working conditions in southern gas fields and some refineries in big cities.

Iran’s economy has tanked due, in part, to the impact of US sanctions and the COVID-19 pandemic.  Nowhere in the Middle East has been hit harder by the virus than Iran.

Protests by workers and pensioners have been unrelenting for months, with discontent growing over an economy that is suffering inflation of more than 50%, high unemployment, and some workers claiming that their wages are not being paid. 



FC Barcelona Caves Under Palestinian Pressure, Cancels Game In Jerusalem

The owner of the Beitar Jerusalem soccer team, entrepreneur Moshe Hogeg, announced Thursday (15th) that a much-anticipated friendly match between the team and FC Barcelona was cancelled due to pressure from Palestinian lawmakers and activists.

“After receiving the contract to sign and [learning of] the unequivocal demand that the game not take place in the capital Jerusalem…I slept with a heavy heart, thought a lot, and decided that, before everything else, I am a proud Jew and Israeli,” Hogeg wrote on Facebook.

“A game against Beitar Jerusalem should take place in Jerusalem, and if the motive for its [relocation] is political, and I surrender to that, I won’t be able to live with myself…I can’t betray Jerusalem.”

“This is a very difficult decision but after consulting with Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Leon, I believe it is the right one.”

After news broke that the friendly match between the two teams was scheduled to take place in the first week of August, the Spanish team has been the target of an intense social media campaign to prevent the team from playing in Israel’s capital city.

Last week, Joint List MK Sami Abou Shenadeh, who recently encouraged Arab rioting in Jaffa, wrote a letter to FC Barcelona’s president to encourage him to cancel the match.

He argued that because of its history of anti-Arab chants from fans, Beitar Jerusalem symbolizes the “most extreme, racist and fascist segments of Israeli society.”

He added that Teddy Stadium was “built on the remains of the ethnically cleansed and destroyed village of Al Malha,” a factually incorrect statement.

A spokesperson from the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement declared victory on Twitter after the cancellation announcement, brushing away criticism that the organization was unnecessarily politicizing a friendly soccer match.

The spokesperson wrote that a soccer game occurring in the capital of Israel is inherently political because of alleged Israeli war crimes in Jerusalem.

“Beitar Jerusalem demonstrated just how politicized this match was by refusing FC Barcelona’s condition that it not be held in Jerusalem, where Israel continues its gradual ethnic cleansing of indigenous Palestinians,” read the Twitter statement. 



Yale Professor: Attack On Israel For Apartheid Not Supported By Fact – Evan Morris

In Israel, Jews and Arabs sit together in the waiting room of Hadassah Hospital waiting to receive the same care.  I know, I have worked there.  Jewish and Arab students doing top-flight research at Hebrew University and the Technion present their work side by side at major scientific conferences.  I know, I have been there.  Jews and Arabs begin restaurants and other businesses together.  I have seen it.  

Any claims of apartheid are fallacious.  Given what I know, I was dismayed to learn of the Yale College Council (YCC) vote to condemn Israel and equate her with apartheid South Africa.  The invalidity of this analogy is evident to any thinking student of history.  I am frankly disappointed that the Yale administration has been embarrassingly silent in response to statements like that of the YCC.  But I am doubly disappointed that Yale students, scholars-in-training, would so readily swallow the false claims underlying the YCC action.

The writer is a professor of radiology and biomedical imaging at Yale.