Netanyahu Unveils Missile Shield, Issues Warning

Today’s Top Stories

1. During a ceremony unveiling Israel’s new integrated missile defense system, Israel PM Netanyahu issued a warning to countries that wish for Israel’s destruction:

Whoever tries to strike us will be hit, those that threaten our existence put themselves in existential danger.

The new missile systems are operating on Israel’s northern borders against attacks from Lebanese terrorist organization Hezbollah and Syrian rebel groups such as Islamic State. Called “David’s Sling,” it is a combination of missile defense systems that include the Arrow, designed to intercept long-range ballistic missiles in the stratosphere with an eye on Iran, and Iron Dome, which defends against short-range rockets, such as from the Gaza Strip.

2. The NGO  Human Rights Watch (HRW) demanded on Monday that Israel allow its investigators into Gaza if it wants the International Criminal Court “to take seriously” Israel’s own war crimes investigations. HRW accuses Israel in a 47 page report of preventing its researchers from accessing Gaza. It has also accused Egypt of preventing HRW visits and makes minor mention of Hamas in that regard as well. Israel has not yet issued a response, but the report itself does include statements from Israel’s Military Advocate General’s office (MAG) saying that it attributes “great importance” to its “extensive and daily dialogue” with human rights organizations but also that documentation by human rights organizations suffer from “methodological, factual and legal flaws” and, in some cases, “a clear bias.” MAG referred the travel restrictions issued against human rights workers as “unavoidable … due to weighty security and political considerations,” according to HRW.

3. Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi apparently is set to present Trump with a Mideast peace plan. Based on a two-state solution, the framework aims to establish a basis for fresh peace talks between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority, according to Israel Radio citing a Gulf media outlet on Monday.

4. Only days after making an identical error, US News and World Report claims (once again!) that Tel Aviv is Israel’s “current capital.”

5. 2017 is the 50th Anniversary of 1967: the reunification of Jerusalem and Israel’s remarkable survival against attack. For this very reason, anti-Israel organizations are raising huge amounts to deligitamize Israel this year, and the media are buying their message. As we discuss in this short video, we are already working to combat the onslaught, but we need your help. Please click to donate as part of our 2017 Pesach fundraiser. And thank you.

 

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Israel and the Palestinians

• It’s that time of year again: the annual attempt to engage in the traditional Passover offering by sacrificing a sheep or goat on the Temple Mount has been barred by Israeli judges, as usual, for fear of fomenting unrest. For over a decade a group called the Temple Mount Institute has requested permission to hold their sacrifice on the Temple Mount, and upon being denied have instead moved the demonstration sacrifice to an alternate location.

• The assassination of senior Hamas official Mazen Fuqha at close range in the heart of Gaza City on March 24 was a serious blow to the prestige of Hamas.  If it was carried out by Israel it is something of an embarrassment for Hamas, but if it was carried out by a rival faction within Gaza (as Israel’s Minister of Defense Avigdor Liberman claims), then the implication is significantly more dire for Hamas’s reputation as the preeminent power in the area. We have already seen border closures, manhunts and can probably expect real or fabricated confessions by collaborators who will say they were sent by Israel to kill Fuqha. These messages from Hamas will be aimed to cover up its security failure and restore its image as being powerful and in control within the Gaza Strip.

• Former IDF chiefs of staff Gabi Ashkenazi and Benny Gantz announced the formation of a non-political movement Monday at a press conference in Lod. The movement is called Pnima (Inward), and it deals with internal issues inside Israeli society and uniting Israel’s different sectors. The movement was founded more than a year ago and was profiled in The Jerusalem Post last June, but as one of its founders said, it is only “coming out of the closet” now.

Mideast Matters

Independence for Kuridstan? The independence referendum in Kurdistan Region will be held this year and the United Nations (UN) and the US will have a supporting role in the move, said Muhammed Haji Mahmud, Secretary General of Kurdistan Socialist Democratic Party. The Kurdish people, who have had positive, though secretive, relations with Israel, have longed for independence for centuries. Despite national aspirations, the Kurds have remained a minority group within Iraq, often under difficult conditions, and have more often than not been neglected by the international community.

• Israeli NGO IsraAID is helping teachers in Peru prepare to reopen their schools after more than two weeks of flooding and mudslides that have devastated areas of the country. Not long ago, HonestReporting did a video review of Israeli aid to countries around the world, and the contradictory UN reaction:


• According to the Egypt Independent, the Egyptian Armed Forces has declared its complete control over al-Halal mountain after purging all the caves, killing several extremists, arresting others and confiscating huge amounts of ammunition. Al-Halal mountain is one of these areas where extremists took shelter, but the armed forces were able to gain full control. Egypt has had an ongoing problem controlling the Sinai as a variety of terror organizations, including Islamic State and Hamas, function there while evading the Egyptian military.

Commentary/Analysis

• South Africa’s Benjamin Pogrund’s reevaluates the misconception of the South African apartheid being synonymous to Israeli occupation of the Palestinian West Bank. Israelis have taken safety precautions to secure their borders from would be suicide bombers and missile threats. In this article Porgrund reveals the easily spotted difference between racial discrimination and necessary security.

• In an article about collector Tom Topol (creator of the website Passport-collector.com) the Daily Mail provides a fascinating look at a collection of passports to countries that no longer exist. Of particular interest is this passport from British Mandate Palestine. You’ll notice that the writing is in English, Arabic and Hebrew, and that the nationality connected to the passport is British, as Palestine was not actually a country.

This is a 1939 passport from what was once British Palestine. This man, who is Jewish, was originally from Leova in what is now Moldova. The then-Soviet-run country was invaded by Nazis in 1941 despite a 1939 non-aggression pact

• Here’s what else I’m reading today . . .

–  Maria Abi-Habib: Syria’s Civil War Produces a Clear Winner: Hizbullah
– Ira Stoll: Knesset Members from Across the Spectrum View the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
– Amram Sherby: A Glimpse Into the Palestinian Authority

 

Featured image: CC0 PublicDomainPictures;

 

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