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Bolsonaro Joins Netanyahu for Innovation Exhibition Tour

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hosted Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro for a trip to the Israeli innovation exhibition at the David Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem on Tuesday. The two leaders were shown several recently developed pieces of technology promising improvements in various fields, with Netanyahu telling his guest that Israel is eager to partner with Brazil to produce and market such devices.

Here is a video about Bolsonaro's trip to Israel



 Later in the day, Netanyahu gave a speech to political supporters in which he urged them to work on increasing voter turnout in the upcoming elections. “The Right is complacent,” Netanyahu warned in his speech to supporters in Bat Yam. “When we look [at polls] on how many people plan to vote, we see a significant gap between Left and Right. People say ‘why bother, Bibi will win.’”

Israel Blesses the World
Professor Shulamit Levenberg, Dean of the Biomedical Engineering department at the Technion Institute of Technology in Haifa recently announced the launch of a 3-D Bio-Printing Center for Cell and Biomaterials Printing at the university. The new procedures being developed at the Center offer hope for more effective and cheaper medical treatments for a wide variety of illnesses. “The goal is to make tissue to repair or replace muscle, bone, heart tissue and ears,” Levenberg explained. “Unlike organ donations which can be rejected by the patient, the 3-D printer uses the patient's own cells.”

Nechama Rivlin in Stable Condition
Israeli resident Reuven Rivlin returned early from his trip to Canada on Wednesday to tend to his wife Nechama, who is being treated at Beilinson hospital in Petah Tikva following complications from a lung transplant surgery she underwent on 11 March. A statement from the President’s office late Wednesday morning said that she was in stable condition.

Today's video gives some analysis about Russia's position in the Middle East

Iran Blames US for Devastation Caused by Floods

Iranian officials lashed out at the US this week, blaming sanctions meant to deter the Islamic Republic from pursuing its renegade nuclear program for the country’s inability to deal with massive flooding which has killed at least 47 people and caused wide-spread devastation to cities and infrastructure in 25 of the Islamic Republic’s 31 provinces. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo retorted in a statement Tuesday that "The regime blames outside entities when, in fact, it is their mismanagement that has led to this disaster." The US State Department has also made a public offer to send humanitarian aid to the Iranian Red Crescent through its affiliated Red Cross organizations, but the clerical regime in Teheran has yet to respond to the offer.

However, Iranian aid agencies have long complained about their difficulty in receiving aid from outside the country due to financial sanctions, while the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) issued a statement late last month admitting that “challenges caused by unilateral sanctions will affect the UN response and the accountability of UN to deliver the appropriate support."

Here is a recent video about the flooding in Iran



Meanwhile, flooding has also affected other countries in the region, with the UN announcing on Tuesday hat over 40,000 people have been forced to evacuate refugee camps in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib over the last few days. 

Here is a video giving some analysis about Russia's position in the Middle East, including its ties with Iran

Bolsonaro Signals Support for Israeli Sovereignty in Jerusalem

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro sent a powerful signal of recognition for Israel’s political sovereignty in Jerusalem on Monday by joining Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for a visit to the Western Wall in the Old City. It was the first time a sitting major world leader has visited the site in the company of a sitting Israeli leader. In other diplomatic news, Monday also saw the opening of a new Israeli embassy in the Rwandan capital of Kigali. “I’m certain that the opening of an Israeli embassy in Rwanda will elevate, within a few years, our ties to Rwanda and the (African) continent as a whole to a much higher level,” Foreign Ministry Director-General Yuval Rotem said.

Here are the videos related to this story





Late-Season Rainfall Raises Level of Sea of Galilee
Rain and cold weather hit most of Israel over the weekend and into Monday, even as light snow continued to fall on some parts of Mount Hermon. The Sea of Galilee rose several more centimeters and now stands at -211 meters below sea level, 1.44 meters higher than the lower red line and higher than its been in many years.

Turkey In Danger of Losing Access to F-35
The US on Monday announced that it is ceasing deliveries of components for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft over Ankara’s insistence on moving ahead with plans to buy the S-400 air defense system from Russia. The move came after repeated complaints about the situation by several NATO allies, but Turkish officials issued angry statements denouncing it, saying that Turkey’s relations with Russia are no other country’s business.

Report; Hezbollah Building New Missile Factory in Beirut
Israeli TV News Channel 13 reported on Monday that the Iranian-backed Lebenese Shi’ite terror militia Hezbollah has launched a facility for constructing missiles in Beirut. An unnamed US source cited in the report said Washington has “made it clear to the Lebanese government that Hezbollah is doing something inside Lebanon and that the danger of an escalation with Israel as a result is real.”

Israel Arrests Several Hamas Leaders in West Bank

Israeli security forces carried out raids to arrest several leaders of the Islamist terror militia Hamas in the West Bank overnight Monday, with one Palestinian man killed as he participated in riots connected to the raids in the village of Kalandiya, north of Jerusalem. Meanwhile, Egyptian officials reported Tuesday that they will soon announce the results of their ongoing efforts to negotiate a long-term truce between Hamas and Israel, even as Hamas rejected a request from Israel to postpone further negotiations until after elections scheduled for 9 April.

Here are some videos about Hamas activities on the Gaza-Israel border





In related news, the Palestinian Authority has announced that they will halt a program which allowed sick Palestinians to receive treatment in Israeli hospitals, saying that a recent decision to not accept tax-revenues collected by Israel on the PA’s behalf due to Israel’s decision to garner amounts equal to the payments the PA makes to convicted terrorists either killed or imprisoned for killing Israeli civilians made it necessary to cut the PA’s budget. He added that the stipends to families of terrorists would continue and would be the last thing ever cut from the budget.

Brazilian President Bolsonaro in Israel for State Visit

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro landed in Israel for a four-day visit on Sunday morning and was greeted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other senior officials. Shortly after his arrival, Bolsonaro sat down with Netanyahu at the Prime Minister’s Office to sign bi-lateral cooperation agreements in a variety of fields, however, he did not, as was hoped, announce the move of Brazil’s Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, saying instead that a trade office will be opened in Jerusalem as an intermediary step.

Here is a video of President Bolsonaro's arrival in Israel



“I welcome your decision to open a trade, technology and innovation office, an official office of the Government of Brazil, in Jerusalem,” Netanyahu said in a joint press statement later in the day. “I hope that this is a first step toward the opening in time of the Brazilian Embassy in Jerusalem. I would like to welcome you my friend and say to you and to the entire wonderful delegation that you brought – Welcome to Jerusalem the capital of Israel!”

“I’ve always been asked: What can we learn from Israel?” said Bolsonaro in his own remarks. “I would tell them: We need to have the same faith as they [Israelis] have…People of Israel, together our nations can achieve great things.”

A large delegation of Brazilian officials, diplomats and business leaders are accompanying Bolsonaro on this trip to explore areas of cooperation with their Israeli counterparts.

Meanwhile, in response to the opening of a Brazilian trade mission in Jerusalem, the Palestinian Authority has recalled its ambassador to Brazil for consultations and issued a statement condemning the move “in the strongest terms" as a “flagrant violation of international legitimacy and its resolutions, and a direct assault on our people and their rights.” 

Fragile Calm on Gaza Border Follows Violent Weekend

A fragile calm had returned to the Gaza border region of southern Israel Monday morning following a weekend which saw smaller than expected riots to mark the one-year anniversary of the so-called “March of Return” by Palestinian residents of the Hamas-ruled territory. Rocket alerts were also heard in some Gaza-border communities but the rockets ended up landing in empty fields or inside Gaza territory with no reports of damage or casualties. Hamas issued a statement Sunday saying it was waiting to hear from Egyptian officials before making a decision about a long-term truce with Israel. Despite Hamas’ position, Israel reopened the Kerem Shalom crossing for commercial goods and the Erez crossing for pedestrian traffic on Sunday, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying, “I have ordered that IDF forces remain fully deployed around the Gaza Strip. This includes tanks, artillery, ground forces and air forces. We are prepared for any scenario and – if need be – an extensive campaign. We will do what needs to be done for the security of Israel.”

A Hamas spokesman said that weekly protests would continue despite a possible military truce. However, a statement by the Palestinian Authority was critical of Hamas for committing to a “truce agreement without national consensus” which the PA warned was setting the stage for further developments that the PA doesn’t believe would be beneficial to the Palestinian cause.

Here is a video about the recent developments in Gaza



Meanwhile, PA President Mahmoud Abbas addressed the Arab League Summit in Tunisia Sunday, telling the assembled delegates that "What is coming from the US is more dangerous and serious. The US will tell Israel, annex part of the Palestinian lands and grant self-rule to what's left of the land, and give the Gaza Strip a state so that Hamas can play there. The US administration's decision is to destroy the Arab Peace Plan and constitutes a dramatic change from the positions of previous US administrations.”

The Summit issued a statement on Sunday condemning the recognition by US President Donald Trump of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights and declared their intention to demand a UN Security Council resolution against it.

Biblical-Era Seal Discovered in City of David
The City of David archaeological park in Jerusalem announced on Sunday that a 2,600-year-old seal from the Kingdom of Judah bearing the inscription “(belonging) to Nathan-Melech, Servant of the King” was recently unearthed at the site. “Although it is not possible to determine with complete certainty that the Nathan-Melech who is mentioned in the Bible was in fact the owner of the stamp, it is impossible to ignore some of the details that link them together,” said Dr. Anat Mendel-Geberovich of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who deciphered the inscription on the seal.

Here is a video about the seal



Elections in Turkey Deal Defeat to Erdogan
Municipal elections in Turkey on Sunday have apparently dealt a serious defeat to the ruling AKP faction led by President Reccep Tayyip Erdogan. Analysts blamed a slumping economy for the result while Erdogan’s political opponents blamed his increasingly autocratic rule for turning off voters. 

Iran Declares National Emergency Amidst Epic Flooding
Iran’s military has declared a national emergency in the country following a week of devastating floods which have affected 25 of the Islamic Republic’s 31 provinces, causing multiple deaths and injuries and hundreds of millions of dollars in damage. Forecasts are projecting more rain this week in some of the worst hit areas, with little hope of relief before next week. Meanwhile, widespread anger at the government’s response to the disaster has left some analysts warning of a new wave of protests and unrest once the floodwaters have receded.

US and Israel Wrap Up Joint Defence Drills
The IDF announced on Monday that it has wrapped up a month of joint exercises with US troops to test procedures for a deployment and use of the Terminal High-Altitude Air Defence (THAAD) system. "The IDF cooperates with American forces in order to enable coordination and improve the operational capabilities necessary for defending the skies of Israel,” the IDF said. “The deployment is another step in strengthening the long-term relationship between the two countries and strengthens the close cooperation between them.”

‘Gift’ of the Golan?

Israelis received very heartening news last week when US President Donald Trump announced his official recognition of the Golan Heights as part of Israel. Many called it a surprise “gift” for Purim. But it would be amiss to claim that Trump just “gave” the Golan to Israel, because God already did that long ago. And besides, Israel has been in possession of the Golan fair-and-square for decades and the Israeli public will never give it back to Syria, as the rest of the world so maddeningly demands.

Now the powers that be will tell you Israel has illegally “occupied” the Golan Heights ever since it captured the area from Syria during the Six-Day War of June 1967. This makes it sound like it was always Syrian territory.

In fact, the Golan is included within the boundaries of the land divinely promised to Abraham and his descendants in Genesis 15:18-21 and elsewhere in Scripture. Also known by its biblical name “Bashan,” it was conquered under Moses and Joshua when the Israelites entered the land some 3500 years ago (Deuteronomy chapters 3 & 4), and was allotted to the tribe of Manasseh. There is ample evidence of a continuing Jewish presence there over the ensuing centuries.

In modern times, the Golan became a bone of contention between France and Great Britain as they sorted out how to divide the Ottoman territories about to fall into their hands during World War One. An elevated plateau, it was valued more at that time for its water resources, as water was a scarce commodity in the region. In the secret Sykes-Picot agreement of 1916, Britain caved to French demands that the Golan be included in its mandate for Syria, arguing that they needed the water more than Mandatory Palestine. This was despite the fact that Jewish benefactors, acting mainly through the Jewish National Fund, had already purchased large tracts of land on the Golan in anticipation of settling Jews there, since they considered it historically part of biblical Israel.

But Syria wound up with the Golan, and when it gained independence the rulers of Damascus turned it into one massive military base, brimming with bunkers, trenches and artillery positions all facing down on northern Israel. The Syrian regime did not permit civilians to live there, save for the three ancient Druze villages at the foot of Mt. Hermon. From their fortified positions with commanding views of Israeli towns and villages below, Syrian gunners routinely took target practice at Jewish farmers in their fields and fisherman on the Kinneret. This constant harassment fire tested Israeli resolve throughout the 1950s and early 60s, but tensions ratcheted up to a new level in 1964 when the Syrians started digging channels along the western slopes of the Golan to divert the headwaters of the Jordan River. Some historians say this actually was the original spark of the 1967 conflict.

In the Six Day War, Israel indeed captured the Golan Heights from Syria, as well as the West Bank from Jordan and the Sinai and Gaza from Egypt. But they did so only after Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser blockaded the Straits of Tiran, kicked the UN observer forces out of the Sinai Peninsula and flooded it with Egyptian troops – thus creating a casus belli, an act provoking war. With Egypt and Syria unifying under Nasser’s command and openly threatening a war of extermination, Israeli prime minister Levi Eshkol spent several tense weeks exhausting all avenues of diplomacy to avert war, before ordering a pre-emptive strike. It is still a highly disputed matter, but Israel has every right and reason to contend they took the Golan in a war of self-defense and thus are entitled to keep it.

After gallantly holding onto the Heights in the Yom Kippur War of October 1973, Israel has transformed the Golan into a peaceful, prosperous agricultural region and popular tourist destination. Israelis, left and right, are proud of what they have made of the Golan, with its vineyards, wineries, fruit orchards, dairy farms and wind turbines. In winter, Israeli families flock to the Golan’s log cabins and Hermon ski resort. They repel and hang glide off its cliffs, hike its scenic trails, and soak in its warm sulfur springs. And they camp, swim and jet ski under its shadow on the tranquil Sea of Galilee.

The vast majority of Israelis also know the Golan has tremendous strategic value due to its commanding terrain, and that this advantage should never be voluntarily surrendered. Imagine if Syria were still ensconced on the Golan over the past eight years of the Syrian civil war. No doubt Assad’s troops, rebel forces, Sunni jihadists and even Hezbollah would all have fought each other for the chance to fire away at Israel from the lofty heights above. Israel’s ability to strike Iranian positions inside Syria also would have been greatly compromised.

The Israeli public also knows that, unlike the West Bank, there are no Arab refugees waiting to return to their homes on the Golan, because the Assad regime made sure those homes never existed in the first place.

So whether the rest of the world agrees with Trump’s decision or not, the consensus in Israel is that the Golan always has and always will belong to them.

Tensions High On Northern Border Following Aleppo Strike

Tensions were running high on Israel’s northern border Thursday following what Iran and the Assad regime are saying was an Israeli air strike in Syria’s Aleppo province which killed seven fighters from Iranian-backed terror militias and caused a total power outage in Aleppo, Syria’s second largest city. Israeli officials declined to comment on the accusations, but IDF units deployed on the northern border remained on high alert amidst threats by Iranian leaders to “respond” to such strikes. In related news, the US and Israel were subjected to withering rhetoric at a late-night emergency meeting of the UN Security Council Wednesday which was called to discuss the recent recognition of Israeli sovereignty in the Golan Heights by US President Donald Trump. Reports of the alleged Israeli strike near Aleppo trickled in during the discussions, which did not result in a formal vote.

“Israel must ensure that this territory will never again be used to target our people,” Israeli Ambassador to the UN Dani Danon said during his own testimony before the Council. “Without the Golan Heights, Israel will find Iranian soldiers on the tip of the Sea of Galilee. We will never let that happen.”

All 28 governments of the European Union also issued a statement on Wednesday declaring that they do not agree with the US recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan. Several Israeli political leaders spoke out against the EU statement, characterizing it as cynical and unhelpful. The US move has also been condemned by Turkey, Iran, several Arab governments and the Lebanese Shi’ite terror militia Hezbollah, which Israel has accused of using the civil war in Syria as a pretext to deploy its forces in Syrian territory in an effort to menace Israel.

Iranian Government Under Intense Pressure Due to Flooding
Iranian President Hassan Rohani was forced to make a nationally televised address promising material compensation for damage incurred by citizens by massive flooding which has now affected 25 of Iran’s 31 provinces. The death toll from the floods has reached 37, with many more injured and estimates of property damages already reaching billions of dollars. Meanwhile, some analysts were warning that the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps could be preparing for a ‘soft coup’ to take control of the country in the wake of the failure by the civilian government to respond adequately to the disaster.

Here are two videos giving a closer look at the floods in Iran and related issues





French Frigate Docks in Haifa
Efforts to Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) Israel and isolate it diplomatically suffered yet another defeat this week when the French Navy sent the Languedoc, one of its most technologically advanced surface combatants, to dock in Haifa. The frigate is in the region as part of France’s mission to fight the Islamic State (IS) terror militia, while the French Embassy in Tel Aviv issued a statement saying the visit was meant to be a friendly gesture towards a valued military ally as well as an opportunity for extend the already close anti-terror cooperation between Israel and France.

Salt Cave Near Dead Sea Sets New Record
The Hebrew University in Jerusalem issued a statement Thursday announcing that a team of geologists exploring the Dead Sea region have discovered that the Malham Cave in the Dead Sea’s Mount Sedom, first explored by HU in the 1980s, is a little over 10 km. long, making it the longest such structure ever found in Israel. “Thirty years ago, when we surveyed Malham, we used tape measures and compasses,” explained Prof. Amos Frumkin, director of the Cave Research Center at HU’s Institute of Earth Sciences. “Now we have laser technology that beams measurements right to our iPhones.”

 “The Malham Salt Cave is a river cave,” he continued. “Water from a surface stream flowed underground and dissolved the salt, creating caves – a process that is still going on when there is heavy rain over Mount Sedom about once a year.”

Today's video celebrates Israel's Special Olympians

Efforts Underway for Long Term Cease-Fire in Gaza

An effort by Egyptian intelligence officials to broker a long-term cease-fire between Israel and the Islamist terror militia Hamas was reportedly underway Thursday morning even as preparations appear to be underway for a mass demonstration on the border by Palestinian factions on Saturday to mark “Land Day” and the one year anniversary of the so-called ‘March of Return’ riots which have been held nearly every Friday afternoon for the last 52 weeks. Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh issued a statement while touring the wreckage of what used to be his office in Gaza City on Wednesday, saying among other things that his forces had “said its word, and the occupation has understood the message.”

"I bless all the sides that helped to end the Zionist arrogance against the Gaza Strip…I call on all the Palestinian people, inside, outside, and in the West Bank to go out on Land Day and to join in the million man march [March of Return]."

“Haniyeh should find a new office before he starts bragging,” one Israeli official told Ynet news in response to the statement.

Here is a video about recent events on the Gaza-Israel border



Meanwhile, riots broke out at several locations in the West Bank on Wednesday, including near Bethlehem where a rioter was shot dead. There were scattered reports of injuries and damage to persons and property on both sides at various other locations.

French Hero of Entebbe Hostage Crisis Dies

Michal Bacos, the captain of Air France flight 139 from Tel Aviv to Paris which was hijacked on 27 June, 1976 and brought to Entebbe Uganda, died on Tuesday at the age of 95. He was eulogized by Christian Estrosi, the mayor of Nice, where he has lived for the last several years. "He refused to abandon his passengers, who were taken hostage because they were Israeli or of Jewish origin, risking his own life," Estrosi wrote. "Michel bravely refused to surrender to antisemitism and barbarism and brought honor to France." Tributes to Bacos were posted by several French, Jewish and Israeli organizations, including the Israeli Airline Pilots Association who wrote that "this dear man passed away today after a long life. The pilots of the State of Israel salute Captain Bacos."

BDS Campaign Suffers Embarrassing Defeat in Holland
An attempt by Mieke Zagt, a political activist in Holland and a supporter of the movement to Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) Israel to shame the Hema supermarket chain for stocking Israeli wine backfired this week, resulting in a massive increase in the purchases of the wine. Zagt tweeted a picture of wine produced in Efrat, an Israeli community just south of Jerusalem in the Judean Hills, on a shelf at Hema, proclaiming it to be from “an illegal Israeli colony” but the Tweet provoked a highly successful social media counter-campaign by Israeli-supporters. “It’s hilarious,” Esther Voet, the editor-in-chief of the NIW Dutch Jewish weekly told JTA. “Everybody started to buy Israeli wine.”

Iran Suffering Massive Flooding
The massive flooding affecting regions of both northern and southern Iran was threatening to reach the capital of Teheran on Tuesday, with President Hassan Rhouhani issuing a public plea for the military to step up its efforts to assist the civilian disaster response agencies which have been completely overwhelmed by the scope of the disaster. Recriminations have flared among Iran’s various governmental agencies even as tens of thousands of people have been displaced and at least 23 people have been confirmed dead as a result of the flooding.

Yad Vashem Announces New Campus
Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem Holocoust Memorial and Remembrance museum announced this week that it has finalized plans to build a new “Shoah Heritage Campus” on the Mount of Remembrance, adjacent to its existing facilities. The campus will house the new Shoah Heritage Collections Center for the large number of documents and other pieces of historical evidence for the Holocaust, and other educational facilities. The project is estimated to cost $50 million and be completed by the end of 2021.

Storks Take a Rest in Israel on Their Way North
Tel Aviv University Scientist Daniel Berkovitch is among many observers currently watching and documenting the behavior of the hundreds of thousands of storks camping out in Dudaim park in the northern Negev, a stop on the migration routes north from Africa to Europe. “A stork arrived to the land of Israel with an African spear stuck in it in the 19th century, which is the first time it became apparent they fly here from Africa,” he explained recently to a group of fellow observers.

Today's video shows a recent panel discussion on Israel's relationship with Europe

 

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