Israel News

News Digest — 8/16/22

In News Surrounding Israel by The Friends of Israel

Captain Who Stopped Syrian Forces In Yom Kippur War Dies At 71

Brigadier General Emi Plant, who received the Medal of Valor for his part in the Battle of Emek Habakah in the Golan Heights during the Yom Kippur War, under the command of Avigdor Kahalani, passed away on Monday at the age of 71. 

Plant’s funeral will be held on Tuesday evening (16th) at the moshav Magshimim cemetery in central Israel, where he lived.

In 1975, for his role in the battle of Emek Habakah, Plant received the Medal of Valor, awarded by the IDF, from the then Chief of Staff Muta Gor.

The “Be’oz Ruham” (in the strength of their spirit) website, which is run by the IDF to honor the memory of service medal recipients, states that Plant “bravely fought while performing combat tasks and risking his own life.”

The website further states that “Captain Plant’s company was one of the mainstays against the Syrian force in the northern sector.  While fighting, most of the tank commanders in his unit were killed, and the force dwindled.”

“Despite this, he and his men remained in their positions, encouraged those who remained and continued to fire back at the attacking enemy.  On October 9, 1973, at the end of the main attack of the enemy in the Hermonit sector, the battle took a turn in favor of the Syrians.”

“Captain Plant ordered the retreating tanks that were in his area to return to forward combat positions, thereby bringing the Syrian war effort to a halt, despite the fact that his unit had only six tanks left.  In his actions, he showed exemplary courage and leadership ability,” the website said.

Plant enlisted in the IDF in November 1969 and was assigned to the Armored Corps.  After completing the IDF’s officers’ course, he served as a platoon commander in the Sinai and as deputy commander of a Hermesh (mechanized infantry) company.

During the Yom Kippur War, Captain Plant was the commander of Company H in the 77th Battalion in the 7th Brigade which stopped Syrian army tanks during the Emek Habakah Battle, under the command of Kahalani.

A year after the Yom Kippur war, Plant was released from the IDF, but in 1977 he returned to service.  In the First Lebanon War, he served as Brigade Commander of the Kiryati Brigade, and in his last position in the army, he served as Chief Armor Officer until 1995.



When Threatened Or Attacked, Israel’s Disparate Parts Always Come Together – Herb Keinon

Last week, Israelis coped with three days of fighting in Gaza that left millions knowing that their cities may be targeted by indiscriminate missile fire by Islamic Jihad and Hamas.  Life went on, and the country rallied around the military, as well as those living closest to Gaza who were under the immediate threat of a rocket crashing into their children’s bedrooms.

One might think that rocket fire on population centers would stir panic.  But it didn’t, because we’ve been here so many times before, because we know what to expect, and because we generally have a pretty good idea about how it will all turn out in the end.

Israel has been involved in five major campaigns in Gaza since it withdrew in 2005.  There have also been about 10 other “minor” campaigns to retaliate against rocket fire or to strike at terrorist leaders.  Israelis know that every few months or years, there is going to be some kind of fight with Gaza that will lead to days of anxiety, and then relief when it finally ends.  The sheer volume of Gaza campaigns over the last 17 years has made them routine.  The upside is that they become easier on a national level to cope with.  The downside is that there is something deeply troubling about hundreds and thousands of rockets shot toward Israel’s population centers becoming routine.

Something else has become routine as well: Israel’s solidarity in the wake of these campaigns.  When Israel comes under attack or feels threatened, it comes together as one to deal with those threats.  This has been demonstrated time and time again going back to 1948, as the country displays amazing solidarity under fire.

While Israelis are not usually unified in thought or opinion even in times of war, the solidarity they demonstrate can be defined as a deep empathy one for another, mutual responsibility, a willingness of the individual to mobilize and even put himself at risk for the common good, and a belief in the rightness of the cause for which the country is fighting. 



IDF Neutralizes Hamas Attack-Tunnel From Gaza To Israel – Renders It Inoperable

The IDF has uncovered and irreparably damaged a tunnel that Hamas dug across the border from the Gaza Strip into Israel, the military revealed on Monday (15th).

The tunnel had been under development for “a long time” and the work was continuing up to recent days, outgoing commander of the Gaza Division Brig.-Gen. Nimrod Aloni told reporters.

The main part of the tunnel, Aloni said, had two branches from it that crossed the international border but did not cross the IDF border barrier.  The military launched an operation over the weekend, damaging the tunnel by inserting material into it that made it unusable.

The tunnel had a depth of dozens of meters and started in Gaza City, reaching the border not far from Kibbutz Alumim on the Israeli side.

“It is no longer a threat to Israel,” Aloni said.

Part of the tunnel was attacked during Operation Guardian of the Walls in May 2021 and the new part of the tunnel – including renovations to the parts that were damaged – could not have been attacked kinetically, so the IDF decided to pour material into the tunnel that would make it unusable in the future.

News of the tunnel came just a week after the IDF completed Operation Breaking Dawn against Islamic Jihad.  The army refrained from attacking Hamas targets during the operation.

Aloni said the IDF believes that Hamas has additional tunnels along the border, some of which it plans to use in future operations against it.  Dozens of tunnels, he said, were neutralized by the IDF during his two-year tenure as commander of the Gaza Division.



Hamas Keeping Quiet Over Misfired PIJ Rocket Killing One Of Its Men

Hamas is keeping mum about an errant rocket fired by Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) during Operation Breaking Dawn that killed one of its men, Israeli media reported Monday (15th).

The accident occurred on August 7, the last day of the three-day skirmish, when a projectile hit a house in Bureij in the Gaza Strip.  The death of three boys, twin 13-year-olds and their 9-year-old brother, was reported immediately.

Not long afterwards, the Palestinian Shehab News Agency reported that the father, Nasser Nimr al-Nabahin, had succumbed to his injuries in the blast.

Hamas immediately claimed al-Nabahin as one of its own, describing him as a “warrior” who belonged to its Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades.  Some reports described al-Nabahin as a high-ranking policeman.  Israel does not differentiate between the terrorist organization’s security figures, saying the supposedly civilian police force also fights against the IDF.

Arab media such as Al Jazeera  freely reported that he and his children were “martyred” in an Israeli bombing.  At their funeral, the Qatar-based news broadcaster said, hundreds “chanted angry slogans against the occupation and in support of the Palestinian resistance.”

No one at the funeral or afterward said what had really happened.  The IDF had already investigated the incident on the same day it happened, and confirmed that it had not acted in the area on Sunday (7th) and that the hit on Bureij came from a misfired PIJ rocket.

There is no love lost between Hamas and PIJ.  Hamas considers the smaller group, a direct Iranian proxy, as a rival trying to loosen its grip on the Gaza Strip.  Hamas did not participate in the fighting, but it did issue statements of solidarity praising the “resistance” to Israeli forces.

This incident was similar to another errant strike the night before, when a misfired PIJ rocket struck the Jabaliya refugee camp, killing four children.  Then too, Arab media blamed Israel, but the IDF supplied video evidence to disprove the false claim of a “massacre.”

The IDF said that some 200 of the PIJ’s 1,100 rockets launched at Israel during the 66-hour conflict landed inside Gaza.



Israeli Universities Among Top-Ranked Globally

Three universities in Israel were listed in a prominent global-ranking of the world’s most prestigious educational institutions, with all three ranking higher on the 2022 list than they did in past years.

The Shanghai Ranking of World Universities, a well-regarded publication of universities leading research, development, and academic achievement, released its annual list on Monday (15th), which included the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Technion -Israel Institute of Technology, and the Weizmann Institute of Science.

The Shanghai Ranking breaks down universities by disciplines, such as the sciences, medicine, and liberal arts, as well as gives institutions an overall score.

Hebrew University was ranked in 77th place overall, and the Technion and Weizmann Institute of Science were tied in 83rd place overall.

Specifically in the field of mathematics, Hebrew University was ranked in 17th place in the world.

“The Hebrew University’s success in this year’s rankings is a testament to our ongoing academic and research excellence,” said the school’s president, Professor Asher Cohen in a statement.

“To date, we’ve made notable achievements in a variety of disciplines, have developed life saving medicines and established influential companies in cutting-edge industries, placing Israel at the forefront of science worldwide.”  

The Technion was ranked 22nd in the world specifically in the field of aerospace engineering.  Its overall score rose to 83rd from 94th place in 2021.

Professor Uri Sivan, the president of the Technion, hailed the institution’s improved ranking in a statement, saying the listing showed “a significant and important achievement.”

Sivan credited the university’s success to “our excellent human capital, which spearheads the numerous achievements and breakthroughs in research and teaching.”

He added that more government support is needed for Israel to continue making an impact on global research and advance its reputation for academic excellence.

The government “must significantly increase its financial investment in research and teaching and adopt a softer approach towards admitting foreign students and faculty members,” Silvan said.  

“It’s important to remember that without government support and globalization of research institutes, it will be hard for us to remain on the list.”