Omicron Wave Sets New Israeli Daily Covid Infection Record
(Israel Ministry of Health-Ha'aretz
The Israel Health Ministry reported 16,115 new Covid cases on Wednesday, with 7.9% of tests being positive. On Tuesday there were 11,978 new cases, with 6.7% positive.
The previous record set in September was 11,345 daily new cases.
As of Thursday morning, 307 people were hospitalized, including 134 people in serious condition, and the total number of active cases was 72,034.
Unvaccinated people account for 68% of all serious cases.
Israel this week became the first country to begin distributing a fourth vaccination to people over age 60 and health workers.
Israel Pledges to Inform U.S. on Major Deals with China
- Jonathan Lis (Ha'aretz
Israel informed the U.S. it will notify Washington about significant deals it strikes with China, and said it would reexamine these deals if opposition is raised.
U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan discussed the matter with Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid during his visit to Israel in December.
Netherlands Defunds Palestinian NGO Israel Declared a Terror Organization
- Lahav Harkov (Jerusalem Post
The Netherlands stopped funding the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), one of six Palestinian NGOs Israel banned last year due to ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorist organization.
The Dutch government had donated 21.5 million euros to UAWC, but suspended funding in 2020 after two senior UAWC officials were indicted for taking part in a bombing that killed Rina Shnerb, 17, in August 2019.
In a letter to the Dutch parliament released on Wednesday, two ministers wrote that an investigation found that 34 UAWC employees were active in the PFLP in 2007-2020, some holding leadership positions.
Palestinians March in West Bank with Guns, Models of Rockets
The Fatah movement marked its 57th anniversary with mass rallies glorifying the armed struggle against Israel, featuring armed, masked activists and models of rockets. Young children carrying weapons also participated.
At a December rally at the central Manara Square in Ramallah, Fatah deputy chairman Mahmoud Al-'Aaloul extended greetings to Palestinan prisoners serving sentences for murdering Israelis.
Arabic Is on the Rise in Israel
- Ron Gerlitz (Ha'aretz
In recent years, the presence of Arabic in the public sphere in Israel has been growing at a rapid pace.
Arabic is seen and heard on buses and in bus stations all over the country. The same is true of the physical and electronic signs at railway stations and the airport.
Arabic is constantly being added to signs, information pages and digital pages at national parks, as well as in cultural and artistic institutions and in government services.
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Report: Israel's Mossad Bombed German, Swiss Firms to Stop Pakistani Nukes
- Benjamin Weinthal (Jerusalem Post
The Mossad is suspected of detonating bombs and issuing threats to German and Swiss companies in the 1980s that worked to aid Pakistan in its nuclear weapons program, the Swiss daily Neue Zurcher Zeitung
Pakistan and Iran worked closely in the 1980s on the construction of nuclear weapons.
The paper reported:
"Unknown perpetrators carried out explosive attacks on three... [companies and engineers involved in aiding Pakistan]: on February 20, 1981, on the house of a leading employee of Cora Engineering in Chur; on May 18, 1981, on the factory building of the Walischmiller company in Markdorf; and finally, on November 6, 1981, on the engineering office of Heinz Mebus in Erlangen."
"All three attacks resulted in only property damage."
Israel, U.S. Sign Deal for 12 Helicopters and Refueling Aircraft
- Anna Ahronheim (Jerusalem Post
Israel's Defense Ministry on Thursday signed an agreement with the U.S. government to acquire 12 Lockheed Martin CH-53K heavy-lift helicopters and two additional Boeing KC-46 refueling aircraft.
The first helicopters are expected to arrive in Israel in 2026.
The two refueling aircraft are in addition to two already purchased.
Israeli System to Protect UAE Aircraft
- James Spiro (Calcalist
Israel's Elbit Systems announced Monday that its UAE-based subsidiary will supply aircraft security systems for the UAE Air Force under a $53 million contract.
It includes Direct Infrared Countermeasures (DIRCM) and airborne Electronic Warefare systems, as well as J-MUSIC Self-Protection Systems with multi-turret configurations and its Infra-Red-based Passive Airborne Warning System.
To date, Elbit's DIRCM systems are onboard 25 types of aircraft and protect against shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles.
Google Buys Israeli Security Startup Siemplify for $500 Million
- Krystal Hu (Reuters
Google said on Tuesday its cloud division had acquired Israeli cybersecurity startup Siemplify for $500 million.
Siemplify provides security orchestration, automation and response solutions that will be integrated into Google's cloud.
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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
- Military Bases Housing U.S. Forces Attacked in Syria and Iraq - Jared Malsin
Rockets and indirect fire struck bases hosting U.S.-led military coalition forces in Iraq and Syria in at least three separate attacks Wednesday, the third day in a row that Iran-aligned paramilitary groups have targeted America and its partners. A small military base in northeastern Syria known as Green Village, hosting U.S.-backed Syrian and coalition forces, came under eight rounds of indirect fire, causing minor damage.
In Iraq early Wednesday, a rocket struck an Iraqi military base used by U.S. forces near Baghdad's international airport. Later on Wednesday, five rockets were fired near Ayn al-Assad, an Iraqi military base that hosts U.S. forces, but landed far from the base. The Saraya Qasem al-Jabarin militia claimed responsibility for the attack.
The U.S. has about 2,500 soldiers stationed in Iraq and 900 in Syria working with local forces in the continuing fight to suppress Islamic State.
(Wall Street Journal)
See also Drone Attack on U.S. Forces in Iraq Foiled
Two explosive-laden drones were shot down on Tuesday by Iraq's air defenses as they approached the Ain al-Asad air base, which hosts U.S. forces, west of Baghdad. A similar attack was foiled on Monday near Baghdad's international airport.
See also U.S. Coalition in Syria Takes Out Rocket Launch Sites - Robert Burns
The U.S.-led coalition in Syria struck several launch sites for short-range rockets intended for attacks on an installation used by U.S. troops in eastern Syria just east of the Euphrates River, officials said Tuesday.
- How Iran Smuggles Fuel with Secret Nighttime Transfers - Katie McQue
The secret transfers usually take place at night to evade detection. Tankers anchor in the Persian Gulf just outside the territorial limits of the United Arab Emirates, and then small fishing boats carrying smuggled Iranian diesel shift their loads to the waiting vessels over four to five days, said an Indian seafarer employed by a Dubai-based shipping company that smuggled Iranian fuel to Somalia. In addition, tankers set sail from Iran with the origin of the shipment forged to make it look as though it came from Iraq or the UAE.
The smuggling involves Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and private shipping companies based in Persian Gulf countries.
At times, the IRGC seeks to interdict those who try to secure a piece of its action without the group's permission. "If we look at the quantities that are being smuggled each year from Iran, we're talking millions of barrels," said Andreas Krieg, a senior lecturer at the School of Security Studies at King's College London. "A lot of people are being paid off. The IRGC is a highly corrupt institution." (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
- Two Israel Air Force Pilots Killed in Helicopter Crash
Two Israel Air Force pilots were killed Monday night in a helicopter crash off Haifa during a training flight. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said, "The air force pilots who fell in the accident were among the best of our sons. The people of Israel will not forget their contribution, night and day, to national security." (Ha'aretz)
- IDF Downs Hizbullah Drone that Crossed into Israel - Yaniv Kubovich
The IDF shot down a small Hizbullah quadcopter that crossed into Israel on Tuesday. The IDF said the drone was monitored the entire time.
- Palestinian Gunman Killed in West Bank
A Palestinian gunman, Bachar Hashash, opened fire early Thursday on IDF soldiers during an operation to arrest a wanted man in Nablus. The soldiers returned fire, killed the gunman, and later captured the wanted man.
- Israeli Tanks Fire Warning Shots near Israel-Syria Border - Emanuel Fabian
Israeli tanks opened fire toward a number of suspects manning "military posts" in Israeli territory beyond the border fence with Syria on Wednesday evening, causing the suspects to return to Syrian territory. A Syrian journalist from the area claimed the sites belonged to Iran or Iran-backed groups.
(Times of Israel)
- Palestinian Throws Firebombs at Israeli Community in West Bank
A Palestinian threw firebombs at the fence surrounding the Israeli community of Migdal Oz in the Gush Etzion region of the West Bank on Wednesday evening, Israel's Channel 11 reported. Surveillance footage showed one of the Palestinians exiting a vehicle and throwing a number of firebombs, with one bursting into flames while still in his hands.
View Video of Palestinian Firebomb Attack (Twitter)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
- Dore Gold: Senior PA Officials Who Received Medical Treatment in Israel Know It Is Not an "Apartheid State" - Ariel Kahana
Israel Foreign Minister Yair Lapid on Monday cited concerns Israel will soon be designated an apartheid state by international organizations. Dr. Dore Gold, president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and a former Foreign Ministry director-general and Israeli envoy to the UN, responded: "The foreign minister must call on the head of the PA, Mahmoud Abbas, to cease his international efforts in violation of the Oslo Accords the PA is a signatory to and prevent him from acting against Israel in UN institutions."
"Abbas, his senior ministers, and relatives have greatly enjoyed the past medical treatment they needed in Israel and received without prejudice, without regard to differences in religion, race or sex. So Israel, to their mind, was not an apartheid state."
Gold added that Israel's top diplomat should also call on various organizations operating inside Israel that call for Israel to be designated an apartheid state to immediately halt activities the government has designated as hostile.
- Gaza Workers Let Back in Israel after 15 Years - Ksenia Svetlova
Recently, Israel increased the number of Gazans allowed to work in Israel under "merchant permits" to 10,000, although 90% of them are not engaged in trade.
Issam Ghazaleh, a resident of Gaza City, said thousands of desperate men have applied for "merchant permits." "This is the only way to...have an opportunity to earn some money and provide for your family." Ghazaleh used to work in Israel until the Second Intifada broke out in 2000.
Fayyez, a Palestinian who currently works in Ashkelon, said, "We want to work; we don't want to depend on food cards or charity packages. Palestinians from Gaza always worked in Israel, and both sides benefited." He and his brothers and sons worked for many years in Kibbutz Kerem Shalom.
The unemployment rate in Gaza exceeded 50% in 2021, which is why many Gazans equate an Israeli work permit to a winning lottery ticket.
IDF Maj.-Gen. (res.) Kamil Abu Rukun, former Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, said 10,000 work permits will inject $323 million into the Gazan economy. (Media Line)
- Palestinian Leaders Are Burying Their Own Dream - Prof. Eyal Zisser
The Palestinian Authority lacks the ability to govern or influence, and apparently any real support from the Palestinians, as well. In any case, it apparently has no desire to serve as a real partner for Israel in finding a solution that would end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The failure of Palestinian nationalism is to a large extent the doing of the Palestinians themselves, who throughout the years have refused any compromise and stuck to the idea of "the whole of Palestine," which includes no room for a Jewish state.
The writer is a lecturer in the Middle East History Department at Tel Aviv University.
- On Fatah's Anniversary, Not Much to Celebrate - Col. (res.) Dr. Moshe Elad
On Fatah Day, celebrated on Jan. 1, the Palestinian issue is no longer of great concern in the Arab world. Saudi, Moroccan, Emirati and even Palestinian yuppies have had enough of the empty "Palestine First" slogan. In recent years, their outlook has become one of contempt for the Palestinian leadership, which is perceived as corrupt, anemic, and whose time is up.
The writer, a former Israeli chief liaison officer with the Palestinians, is a lecturer at Western Galilee College.
- The Other (Ugly) Face of Lebanon - Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah
Lebanon, formerly the "Switzerland of the Middle East," has been revealed since 2019 as a corrupt state in which politicians and laypeople have plundered the national treasury, while its sectarian regime has led to political paralysis.
Rivers of garbage flood the cities. 40% of Lebanese physicians have left the country. Druze politician Walid Jumblatt admitted transferring $500 million out of the country. The value of the Lebanese currency has fallen in 2021 from 8,400/$1 to 30,000/$1. Almost a quarter of a million Lebanese left the country in the first quarter of 2021.
Funds transferred to Lebanon after the port explosion in Beirut, which devastated a third of the city, have disappeared. Lebanese citizens are forbidden to withdraw their money from the national banks. This did not stop the outflow of $6 billion in less than three months.
Hizbullah behaves in Beirut as if it was the second capital of Iran, with banners bearing the portrait of Qassem Suleimani decorating the main arteries leading to Beirut international airport.
The writer, a Middle East analyst at the Jerusalem Center, was former Deputy Head for Assessment of Israeli Military Intelligence.
(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
See also Lebanon Faces Dim Future as Hizbullah Holds the Country Hostage - Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah interviewed by Israel Kasnett (JNS)
- Israel Working towards Normalization with Indonesia, Saudi Arabia
Israel and Indonesia are working behind the scenes towards normalizing relations, with the U.S. acting as a mediator, a senior Israel Foreign Ministry official said Monday. "The goal is to normalize relations with Indonesia and Saudi Arabia." There are other talks with additional Muslim countries to normalize relations, the official added, citing the Comoros Islands and the Maldives.
See also Will the Next Abraham Accords Be with Indonesia? - Amotz Asa-El
While Indonesia remains formally anti-Israel, the two countries began military cooperation in 1967. What started with a shipment of military uniforms became by the 1980s a shipment of Skyhawk fighter jets, which were later followed by Israel Aerospace Industries drones. In other fields, Israeli telecoms arrived in Indonesia, and Indonesian textiles, diamonds and coconuts arrived in Israel.
In 2005, an El Al plane landed in Aceh, Sumatra, with 75 tons of emergency aid for tsunami victims. In 2008, Magen David Adom signed a deal to train paramedics in Indonesia. Then Indonesian pilgrims began arriving in Israel, growing to an annual 30,000. Trade is believed to have already exceeded an annual half a billion dollars. (Jerusalem Post)
- The New York Times' Distorted Coverage of Israel Is Getting Worse - Adi Schwartz
In November 2021, the New York Times published a magazine piece about American Jews who have stopped supporting Israel; a complimentary profile of Refaat Alareer, a literature teacher at the Islamic University of Gaza, who in the last two years has compared Israel and Israelis to the Nazis and to Adolf Hitler 115 times on social media; an online documentary film produced by the newspaper featuring former IDF soldiers from Breaking the Silence; an article about American laws that aimed at defending Israel from BDS; and an article accusing Israel of silencing Palestinian civil society because of the decision to designate a number of Palestinian NGOs as terrorist groups. Not a single article appeared supporting Israel or its policies.
During the May 2021 war against Hamas, the newspaper published pictures of Palestinian children who had been killed during the war on its front page. Concern for children's lives is heartwarming, but when tens of thousands of children have been killed during the war in Afghanistan and in Iraq by the American army, they didn't do the same thing.
According to Prof. Eytan Gilboa, an expert on America, and founder and director of the Center for International Communication at Bar-Ilan University, "The newspaper is extreme in its attitude towards Israel, even in relation to other newspapers who are identified with the left in the United States, like the Washington Post or the Boston Globe. Their hostile treatment of Israel stands out on its own. Today, the New York Times sees itself as a flag-bearer of anti-Israeliness and anti-Zionism."
Ashley Rindsberg last year published The Gray Lady Winked: How the New York Times's Misreporting, Distortions and Fabrications Radically Alter History. Rindsberg told Israel Hayom, "Anti-Zionism, which was always part of the newspaper's DNA, allows the newspaper to present the Jews as villains, who exploit and enslave the Palestinians. There's no more nuance. It's not that the separation fence was designed to stop terror, rather Israel installed it in order to oppress the Palestinians. The assumption that Israel is the villain in the story precedes any other logical explanation." (Israel Hayom)
See also CBS Alters Headline to Blame Israel - Emanuel Miller
On Jan. 1, the Associated Press titled a story: "Israeli Jets Hit Militant Targets in Gaza after Rocket Fire." While the article was republished verbatim on the CBS website, the editors changed the headline to: "Israel Hits Gaza with Airstrikes." (HonestReporting)
- I Quit the BBC after 30 Years Because of Anti-Semitism - Rabbi YY Rubinstein
On Jan. 3, 2022, I resigned from the BBC, where I have been a freelance broadcaster for over 30 years. I made many friends at the BBC and they were among the most gifted and kind people I ever worked with. But all that time I was aware of a culture of low-grade anti-Semitism that is present throughout the entire organization.
On Nov. 29, 2021, on Hanukkah, at London's busiest shopping center, Oxford Street, a group of Chabad-affiliated teenagers left their tour bus and danced on the sidewalk in celebration of the holiday. They were quickly surrounded by a group of men who threatened them, screaming anti-Semitic abuse at them and giving Nazi salutes. The kids fled back inside the bus, terrified.
When the BBC first reported the story, they alleged that the Jewish kids had shouted an anti-Muslim slur at their attackers, attempting to paint the victims as perpetrators. Numerous forensic experts who listened to the recording said that this claim was a complete lie. But even after this had been widely refuted, the BBC still refused to back down.
The writer was the official campus rabbi for the 14 universities of the Northwest of England for 23 years.
- U.S. Synagogues Ramp Up Security amid Increasing Anti-Semitic Attacks - Dan Lavie
Attempted arson attacks, vandalism, the dissemination of anti-Semitic materials, and packages containing potential toxic materials are just some of the threats Jews in North America have recently had to face. In response, the Jewish Federations of North America have established the nationally funded "LiveSecure" program in partnership with the U.S. Homeland Security Department to allow communities to be connected to a special surveillance and security network.
Synagogues will receive closed-circuit security cameras, have secure doors installed, and community members will be trained for potential terrorist threats. Private security guards will also be hired for special events. According to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, the number of anti-Semitic incidents reported in the first half of 2021 was double that reported in the same period the previous year.
- Arab Israelis Speak on Why They Choose to Serve in the IDF - Yoseph Haddad
For many Arabs serving in the IDF, the decision to enlist is driven by shared concerns regarding the threats facing their home country - Israel. "When a rocket comes from Gaza or from Lebanon, it doesn't distinguish between an Arab, a Jew, or any other," said an Arab Israeli officer who served for nine years.
He explained that in 2006 two rockets fell on an area where he lives, killing two children. (i24News)
See also Video: Young Israeli Arabs Who Have Chosen to Volunteer for the Israeli Army - Yoseph Haddad (i24News)
- Romania's Homegrown Holocaust: The Bogdanovka Massacre - Matt Lebovic
In Romania, Hitler's ally, Marshal Ion Antonescu, expanded his borders after Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. An estimated 420,000 Jews under Antonescu's control were murdered relatively early in the war by the Romanian army.
When typhus broke out at a Romanian concentration camp, authorities at Bogdanovka in Romanian-occupied Ukraine decided to murder 40,000 Jewish inmates and burn down the camp. On Dec. 21, 1941, Romanian soldiers and collaborators - including local ethnic Germans under Ukrainian police command - forced thousands of disabled and elderly Jews into two locked stables. The structures were doused with kerosene and set on fire, killing everyone inside.
After that, groups of 300 to 400 Jews were led into the forest where they were shot in the neck. "The rest [of Bogdanovka's Jews] were left freezing in the cold, waiting on the banks of the river....Thousands of them froze to death," according to Yad Vashem.
In Iasi, a university city near the border with Moldova, in June 1941 Romanian soldiers partnered with police and local mobs to murder 13,266 Jews. Iasi's residents helped arrest Jews and loot their homes.
(Times of Israel)
- Iranian General Qassem Soleimani built Iran's Quds Force into a kind of NATO for terrorists, connecting militias in Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen into a strategic alliance.
- The assassination of Soleimani was a response to a series of escalations. In 2019, Iran launched missiles and drones at Saudi oil fields, attacked ships in the Persian Gulf and stepped up militia attacks against U.S. positions in Iraq. The final straw came at the end of that year, when a coordinated mob nearly overran the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.
- When President Biden took office, Iran's escalations became more brazen. Even though Biden offered to lift the economic sanctions imposed by Trump if Iran returned to the enrichment limits of the 2015 nuclear deal, Iran is now enriching uranium to 40% purity, very close to the level needed for a weapon.
- The U.S. has continued to hold out hope for diplomacy even though Iran's diplomats in Vienna will no longer meet with the U.S. envoy. The U.S. has also relaxed enforcement of some sanctions, leading to an increase in Iranian oil exports. In October, Iranian proxies launched a drone attack on a U.S. base on the Syrian-Iraqi border.
- Most troubling, however, is that the U.S. has let it be known that it does not approve of Israeli intelligence operations against Iran's nuclear infrastructure.
- This is the wrong message. It risks more provocations from Iran. If the regime's leaders believe they face only economic consequences for their predations, then they will continue to test America's resolve.
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