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Israel Marks Holocaust Memorial Day Sunday

Israeli officials and ordinary citizens took part in ceremonies across the Jewish State on Sunday to mark international Holocaust Memorial Day Sunday, which was the 74th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp. Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett presented a report at the weekly cabinet meeting Sunday morning showing statistics on anti-Semitic incidents worldwide and concluding that far-Right groups present the greatest threat to Diaspora communities.

The report also included statistics pointing to dangerous levels of anti-Semitism in online forums and commonly held anti-Semitic and anti-Israel attitudes among the general populations, and even in elite and government circles, of many Western countries. It also highlighted a growing alliance between Islamist groups and the Far-Left, which use the concept of “intersectionality” to condemn Israel for being part of the mechanism which oppresses the Palestinians and by extension all underprivileged peoples everywhere.

“The Ministry of Diaspora Affairs will continue to work to build bridges with Jews around the world, and to eradicate antisemitism through legal, diplomatic and public diplomacy channels,” Bennet said. “Especially this week, when the world marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day, I call on governments around the world to act: rid your societies of antisemitism, and take a harsh stance against the hatred of Jews.”

Here are some videos posted by the IDF and Israel's Foreign Ministry for Holocaust Memorial Day



Palestinian Riots on Gaza Border Precede Violent Weekend

The weekly “March of Return” riots on the border between Israel and the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip Friday afternoon were the most violent in several weeks, kicking off a weekend which saw several violent incidents between Palestinians and Israelis on the border region as well as in the West Bank. Several Palestinians were killed and wounded in the clashes, including 38-year-old Hamdi Taleb Na’san, who the IDF believes was shot by a Jewish settler amidst clashes between Palestinians and settlers following an attack on a Jewish hiker near the outpost of Adei Ad, near Shiloh north of Jerusalem.

UN Special Coordinator to the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov promptly tweeted that “#Israel must put an end to settler violence & bring those responsible to justice. My thoughts & prayers go out to the family of the #Palestinian man killed & those injured. All must condemn violence, stand up to terror.”

“I would not call it Jewish terror,” Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz told Army Radio in an interview Sunday morning. “Each incident has to be investigated. Unfortunately, today, there are incidents violence by Jews. But let’s not forget the general situation. There is a Palestinian Authority and terror organizations that are inciting terrible hatred against the State of Israel and against the Jewish people. There is Arab violence throughout the length and breadth of Judea and Samaria.”

In related news, the UN and Qatar signed a memorandum of understanding Sunday night for a one-time grant of $20 million for humanitarian projects in Gaza. This follows the rejection by Hamas of aid money from Qatar last week because they found the conditions attached to the grant unacceptable. Qatar also gave a direct cash grant of $10 million to be disbursed among thousands of families in Gaza.

Israeli Rescue Workers Land in Brazil
A team of 130 rescue workers and first responders from the IDF and the ZAKA civilian first-aid organization landed in Brazil Sunday morning to assist in rescue and recovery efforts following the collapse of a dam near the southeastern city of Belo Horizonte which so far has resulted in 58 deaths. "We will continue to act under the assumption that people can be rescued alive until we have recovered the last body," said Pedro Ihara, a spokesman for the Brazilian fire department. "However, given the nature of the event, it is clear that as time passes, the chances of finding survivors is going down."

Here is a video showing the IDF’s preparation for launching the operation



Iran Threatens EU Over Ballistic Missile Related Sanctions
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi issued a terse response Saturday to a statement by the French government that it is considering sanctions on the clerical regime in Tehran over its continued development of ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear payloads. “If further sanctions are imposed on Iran,” Qassemi said, “we will reconsider our relations with Europe and continue to advance our defense capabilities…Iran's missile capability is not negotiable, and this fact has been transferred to the French side in the dialogue between Iran and France.”

"The Islamic Republic of Iran has always sought peace and stability in the region and believes that the massive sales of sophisticated and aggressive weapons by the United States and several European countries, including France, have undermined the peace and quiet in the region," Qassemi added.

Here is a video giving some analysis of Iran's renegade ballistic Missile Program



Archeologists Unearth Second Temple Artifact Near Shiloh
Archeologists excavating near the ancient city of Shiloh, north of Jerusalem, unearthed a coin over the weekend which bears an inscription dating it to the reign of Herod Agrippa, who administered the region as an agent of the Roman Empire during the Second Temple Period. “This is a very meaningful find,” said Hananya Hizmi, an officer in the archaeological unit of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories COGAT. “Every archaeological find has a story that sheds more light on the history of the Land of Israel and the Jewish people. Finds like these complete another part of the historical puzzle of our people.”

Roseanne Barr Visits Israel
American actress Roseanne Barr was in Israel over the weekend, visiting Jerusalem's Western Wall and other landmarks and giving interviews to local media. She is scheduled to address the Knesset plenum on Thursday.

Malaysia Loses Paralympic Championships Over Israeli Ban
 The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) announced on Sunday that it was taking away Malaysia’s opportunity to host the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships, scheduled to take place in July, because it banned Israeli athletes from participating. Pointing out that Malaysia was in breach of the legal contract which it signed upon receiving the priviledge of hosting the competition, the IPC added “Politics and sport are never a good mix and we are disappointed that Israeli athletes would not have been allowed to compete in Malaysia.”

Nazareth Hit by Powerful Earthquake

The city of Nazareth, famous for being the childhood home of Jesus Christ, was the epicentre of a powerful earthquake late Thursday evening which was felt all over the Galilee region and as far south as Jerusalem. Residents of Nazareth and surrounding communities reported hearing loud explosions during the tremors which lasted for several seconds. It was the latest seismic event in the north of Israel following a series of similar sized quakes in recent months.

Israel and UK Sign ‘Post-Brexit’ Free Trade Deal
In another defeat for the movement to Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) Israel, British diplomats attending the World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland announced on Thursday that they had finalized their first post-Brexit deal free trade deal with the Jewish State. “I’m delighted that as Britain prepares to leave the European Union and to ensure continuity for our businesses in both directions, we’ve reached agreement in principle today with our colleagues in Israel,” Britain’s Secretary for International Trade Liam Fox as he stood next to Israel’s Economy Minister Eli Cohen.

“Israel has been one of the most cooperative and productive partners in this relationship where our trade is already strong and set to go further,” Fox added. “For us, the continuity as we leave the European Union will be a precursor to an even more ambitious agreement in the future.”

In another defeat for the BDS movement, the Hebrew University in Jerusalem announced this week that it will be opening three centers at universities in the US city of Chicago, the Chinese city of Shenzhen and the Paraguayan city of Asunción to marker technological solutions developed at Hebrew University in these strategic markets.

Irish BDS Bill Draws Sharp Rebukes
Ireland’s parliament advanced legislation on Thursday which would criminalize the sale of goods or services originating beyond the borders Israel had previous to the 1967 Six Day War. In a letter to politicians, Paul Coulter of the ICEJ said, “As an Irish citizen who loves Israel and the Jewish people, I am both appalled and ashamed at this measure. Appalled at the bill’s thinly veiled antisemitism, and ashamed of my fellow countrymen who are promoting it. Criticism of Israel is not automatically antisemitic, but to uniquely single out Israel for criticism and boycott is.”

“It is disturbing and disappointing that the initiators of the law are focusing on a hypocritical attack on Israel, rather than on dictatorships that slaughter their citizens,” Israel’s Foreign Ministry said. “This is a clear expression of obsessive discrimination that should be rejected with disgust.”

Trump’s ‘Deal of the Century’ Coming After Israeli Elections
Senior officials in the Trump Administration in the US spoke on condition of anonymity to the Jerusalem Post this week, saying that the Administration’s so-called “Deal of the Century” plan for resolving the decades old conflict between Israel and the Palestinians shortly after Israel’s upcoming election on 9 April. “Longer is not our friend,” one official said. “It is hard for us to imagine a set of circumstances where the plan is never released. We have every intention of releasing it.”

Today’s video shows a panel discussion of the US role in the Middle East in light of recent events

Iranian Officials Denounce Russian Allies

Official media outlets in Iran carried statements by senior officials on Thursday denouncing their Russian allies for failing to use the S-300 air defence system during last Sunday’s round of Israeli airstrikes on Iranian and Assad regime military targets in Syria, despite statements from the Kremlin insisting that the systems deployed in Syria are not yet operational.

Here is a video giving some analysis of the Israeli strikes on Syria



In related news, Head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi told local media this week that the Islamic Republic, despite declaring that it is in compliance with the 2015 JCPOA nuclear agreement, is proceeding with its renegade nuclear program. Explaining that his agency has purchased spare parts to replace and repair all the equipment de-activated as demanded by the JCPOA so that the program can be quickly reconstituted in a few years when the deal’s sunset clauses are activated, he said "when our team was in the midst of the negotiations, we knew that [the Westerners] would ultimately renege on their promises…I will be going to Ardakan. From there, we will transfer 30 tons of yellow cake to Isfahan. Ardakan has become operational."

In related news, the US announced new sanctions on Thursday aimed at two Iranian-backed terror militias currently operating in Syria and two Iranian airlines that are used to smuggle weapons and other contraband around the world in support of Iran’s terrorist operations, especially in Syria.

"Treasury’s targeting of Iran-backed militias and other foreign proxies is part of our ongoing pressure campaign to shut down the illicit networks the regime uses to export terrorism and unrest across the globe," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.
 
Finally, the self-described “human rights organization” Amnesty International took a break from its usual routine of narrowly focusing on problems with Israel to issue a statement denouncing Iran’s theocratic regime for the arrests of over 7,000 political opponents in 2018.

"2018 will go down in history as a 'year of shame' for Iran," said Philip Luther, Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa research and advocacy director. "Iran's authorities sought to stifle any sign of dissent by stepping up their crackdown on the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly and carrying out mass arrests of protesters."

Here is a video about conditions inside Iran

Jewish Minor Indicted in Death of Palestinian Woman

A Jewish minor was indicted in Lod District Court on Thursday on a charge of manslaughter for the individual’s role in the death of a Palestinian woman, Aysha Rabi, last October. During the incident, rocks were thrown at a vehicle Rabi was riding in, including one which caused a fatal wound when it hit her on the head. Police revealed in the indictment that the rock which struck the fatal blow had DNA evidence on it linked to the suspect. In related news, the Israeli research institute Palestinian Media Watch published a report on Thursday indicating that the Palestinian Authority made payments totaling NIS 502 million to prisoners being held by Israel for carrying out terrorist attacks against Israelis. The report, based on the PA’s own budget figures and information from the Israeli Prisons system, is intended to be used by the government for the purposes of deducting taxes and duties collected by Israel on behalf of the PA.

"The law that imposes monetary sanctions on the PA because of its payments to terrorists is one of the most important laws passed in Israel in recent years, because it sends a clear message to the Palestinian Authority that Israel will by no means accept its support for terrorism,” said PMW director Itamar Marcus.

Here is a video giving some analysis of the situation

Iron Dome Deployed Near Tel Aviv Amidst Tensions

Reports emerged on Thursday that the IDF has deployed a battery of the Iron Dome air defense system to the Gush Dan region which includes Tel Aviv following an incident overnight in which IDF forces near the border with Syria were fired upon from inside territory controlled by forces loyal to the Assad regime. In a related development, Russia issued a statement on Wednesday evening denouncing Israel’s practice of launching strikes on targets inside Syrian territory.

“The practice of arbitrary strikes on the territory of a sovereign state – in this case, we are talking about Syria – should be ruled out,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said. “We should never allow Syria, which has suffered years of armed conflict, to be turned into an arena where geopolitical scores are settled.”

Russian Ambassador to Israel Anatoly Viktorov added during an interview with i24 News on Wednesday that "Russia does not want an escalation [of tensions] between Iran and Israel…the Israeli Ministry of Defense now issues immediate messages for each strike [in Syria] from the highest officials, we think it is totally related to the elections campaign here in this country.”

Yad Vashem Launches New Project in Partnership with Facebook
The Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem announced a partnership this week with Facebook on Thursday to help preserve the memory of those killed in the Holocaust. The announcement included an invitation for people to join the “IRemember Wall” which will match them with the name of a Holocaust victim for a variety of interactive educational activities.

Rivlin in France Ahead of Holocaust Remembrance Day
French President Emmanuel Macron hosted Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in Paris on Wednesday, saying among other things that “We will never accept any violence or intimidation in our country. We will do everything we can to ensure that antisemitism is eliminated.” Meetings between the two leaders also focused on the battle against terrorism and the threat posed to Israel and the entire world from Iran. “So long as Iran and its proxies continue to establish their presence (in Syria) Israel will act to defend its security, including acting against the transfer of advanced armaments from Iran via Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon,” Rivlin said.

Israel Joins Innovation Network
In another defeat for the movement to Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) Israel, Dr. Ami Appelbaum, Chief Scientist for Israel’s Ministry of Economics and Industry signed a memorandum at the World Economic Forum conference in Davos Switzerland on Wednesday cementing Israel’s participation in the C4IR-Centers for the Fourth Industrial Revolution network. "The goal of joining the network is to create a shared global infrastructure and to unite international forces in dealing with these rapid technological changes," Appelbaum said. "Israel's participation in the network will enable Israeli regulators to align with the world's leading regulation in the most advanced technological fields."

Today's media is a podcast analyzing the rising threat of Anti-Semitism

Hamas Sniper Shoots at IDF Troops, Prompting Retaliation

Following a sniper attack on IDF troops patrolling the border with the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, the IDF launched strikes on Hamas’ terror infrastructure in the Strip which, according to Palestinian media, resulted in the death of one Hamas operative and the wounding of at least four others. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also directed that the third tranche of Qatari funds into Gaza be halted in retaliation for the sniper attack. In related news, Hamas issued a statement via Iran’s PressTV on Tuesday denouncing the government of Chad for establishing diplomatic relations with Israel, calling it a “a stab in the back of the Palestinian people and their just cause” and denouncing what it described as a “dangerous wave of normalization with the Israeli occupation.”

Israel Moves Up in Innovation Ranking
In the latest defeat for the movement to Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) Israel, the prestigious Bloomberg Innovation Index for 2019 has listed the Jewish State as the world’s fifth most innovative economy, jumping up five places from its ranking on the list in 2018. South Korea retained its spot at the top of the list for the sixth year in a row while Germany moved to number 2 followed by Finland and Switzerland before Israel rounded out the top five.

Excavations Continue to Recover Dead Sea Scrolls
Excavations in the caves around Qumran, south of Jerusalem, are ongoing in early 2019 as archeologists continue to explore the area where the famous Dead Sea Scrolls were first re-discovered in 1947, trying to recover artifacts before they are found and looted by criminals. "In the last few years we noticed new pieces of scrolls and parchments arrive on the black market," said Oren Gutfeld, an archaeologist at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. "It drove us to return to the caves."

Today’s video shows yet another way Israel is blessing the world

Assad Regime Threatens to Strike Ben Gurion Airport

The rhetorical war of words between Israel and its enemies got sharper on Tuesday when Syria’s Assad regime threatened to strike Ben-Gurion Airport in retaliation for Israel’s recent strikes on regime and Iranian military infrastructure in and around Damascus International Airport earlier this week. The threats came from the regime’s ambassador to the UN, Bashar Ja’afari, who told the Security Council that if it wouldn’t move to condemn Israel the regime would act on the threat, as well as attempting to re-conquer the parts of the Golan Heights it lost to Israel in the 1967 Six Day War.

Also on Tuesday, reports emerged in Arab media outlets that Iran has increased its own rhetorical threats to retaliate directly against Israel for the strikes on its forces in Syria.

"Quds Force commander Maj.-Gen. Qasem Soleimani visited southern Syria and that was the trigger to the Israeli-Iranian conflict," said a report in the Kuwaiti paper Al-Jarida.. "Soleimani's visit violated the American-Russian-Israeli agreement, arriving at a Syrian own located less than 40 km. from the ceasefire line in the Golan Heights."

The report also claimed that Iran was able to minimize the damage from Israel’s strikes because they received advanced warning about them from the Russians.

In related news, the UN observer force in southern Lebanon had a request to inspect the entry point of a tunnel being built by the Iranian-backed Lebanese terror militia Hezbollah for the purpose of attacking Israel denied recently. The UN’s Special Coordinator to the Middle East Peace Process told the UN Security Council in New York on Tuesday that “To date, UNIFIL has not been granted access to the confirmed entry points of a tunnel near Kfar Kila on the Lebanese side…UNIFIL was able to confirm that two of the tunnels discovered by the Israel Defence Forces crossed the Blue Line and thereby constituted violations of Security Council resolution 1701.”

At the same UNSC meeting, Israel’s ambassador to the UN Danny Danon presented evidence that the clerical regime in Teheran spends around $7 billion dollars every year promoting terrorist activity around the Middle East, much of it directed towards efforts to destroy Israel.

Also on Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the Israel Aerospace Industries division that manufactures and develops the Arrow missile on Tuesday where he told reporters “Let our enemies who seek to destroy us know that Israel's crushing fist will reach all those who seek our harm, and we will hold them accountable.”

The remarks came following a fiery speech by Brig. Gen. Aziz Nasirzadeh, commander of Iran’s Air Force, who declared that his troops were “prepared for a war that will bring the crushing destruction of Israel. We are ready for the day when we will see the end of Israel."

Here is a video in which Netanyahu speaks to the issue of Iran’s support for terrorism

Israel Tests Ballistic Missile Defense System Amidst Tensions

Reports from opposition groups in Syria early Tuesday estimated that as many as 12 Iranian Revolutionary Guards troops were killed by Israeli air strikes on targets in and around Damascus international airport earlier this week. A handful of troops serving in other Iranian-allied factions were also killed in the strikes, with many more wounded. In related news, the IDF and US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) carried out a successful test Tuesday morning of the Arrow-3 air defense system, which forms a crucial part of Israel’s plans to defend itself against attacks by long-range ballistic missiles.

In related news, the German government on Monday evening revoked the license of Mahan Air, an Iranian airline partially owned by the state which is widely suspected of being a front for the transport of weapons and equipment for various Iranian-backed terror groups around the world.

"It cannot be ruled out that this airline could also transport cargo to Germany that threatens our security,” German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said. “This is based on knowledge of past terrorist activities by Iran in Europe."

Israel Celebrates Opening of Ramon Airport
Israelis were heartened on Monday at the inauguration of the new Ramon Airport in the Timna Valley north of Eilat, named for Ilan Ramon and his son Assaf, who both served in the Israeli Air Force and died in accidents while serving their country. “The Zionist vision is being realized here, from the foundations up to the rafters: planting a root into the earth of the homeland – and at the same time taking off to the peak of success, on the wings of great imagination,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the inauguration ceremony.

“Here, in Timna, we are fulfilling three key national goals: first, the advancement of national aviation; second, the blooming of the Negev and Arava; and third, adding layers to the building of our relations with the countries of the world.”

Israel Blesses the World
A study was recently published by researchers at Tel Aviv University giving hope to millions of people around the world who suffer or are at risk from various forms of cancer and other health problems. The research shows a connection between levels of the protein ubiquilin - 4 can have a destabilizing effect on the human genome, which can cause various health issues including cancer but also genetic disorders and chronic diseases. Health professionals can use the new research to develop more effective treatments and prevention programs for patients.

EU Issues Rare Rebuke of Palestinian Authority
The heads of European Union diplomatic missions in Ramallah took a highly unusual step on Monday, calling on the Palestinian Authority to conduct free and fair elections in the near future and expressing concerns over various irregularities in the PA’s administration of the Palestinian population in the West Bank. The statement noted that election are “crucial” to the “establishment of a viable and sovereign Palestinian state.”

Today’s video tells the story of an Israeli rescue at sea

Netanyahu Returns from Diplomatic Mission in Chad

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in N’Djamena, capital of the central African country of Chad, over the weekend to sign an agreement of mutual formal diplomatic recognition between the two countries. Netanyahu told reporters that the move had come with the encouragement of Arab governments, despite efforts by Iran and Palestinian factions to derail it. “The breakthroughs with the Arab world help us in the Muslim world,” he said. “And also, the Muslims want our help in dealing with the Arab states.”

“We are making history,” Netanyahu said. “We are turning Israel into a rising world power. There are those who tried to prevent this, but without success…it is significant for us that Chad is a country with a Muslim majority that seeks friendship with Israel. There are other such countries, but in Africa this is particularly significant.”

On the way back to Israel Sunday morning, Netanyahu made another symbolic breath through when his aircraft was allowed to fly through the airspace of South Sudan, despite being controlled by the regime in Khartoum which has traditionally been very unfriendly towards the Jewish State.

Palestinian Authority Renounces Financial Aid from US
In a dramatic move, Palestinian Authority Rami Hamdallah sent a diplomatic letter to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over the weekend informing him that the PA formally renounced all financial aid from the US, including for security, so as to avoid liability for US court decisions holding the PA financially liable for terrorist attacks committed by its subjects against US citizens. The decision by the PA came following the passage of the 2018 Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act (ACTA, P.L. 115-253) last October and its going into effect at the end of January.

Ukrainian President Visiting Israel
In yet another defeat for the effort to Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) Israel, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko landed in Israel this week along with his Economy Minister Stefan Kubiv to sign a Free Trade Agreement with the Jewish State. The first official meeting was with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, who thanked him for Ukraine’s support of Israel in various international forums.

Israel Blesses the World
Researchers at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University and their colleagues at Harvard Medical School announced a breakthrough this week in their efforts to identify a mechanism that the human body uses to attack cancer cells. A recent study published in the medical journal Nature gave details of their findings, which give hope to millions of people around the world who suffer or are at risk for a variety of illnesses, including lung and skin cancer.

Today’s video shows how Tu Bishvat is celebrated in Israel

 

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