With return of Syrian regime, IDF ends humanitarian mission to Syria
After several years of being a “good neighbor” the Israeli army has announced that it is ending its humanitarian mission of supplying food and other goods to Syria during its civil war.
“After two years of complex, wide ranging and extensive humanitarian aid, which has helped thousands of Syrian civilians, the ‘Good Neighbor’ Command has ended its activities,” the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said in a statement. “The large and long-running humanitarian effort has come to an end with the return of the Syrian regime to southern Syria.”
The decision to shutter the Good Neighbor mission comes as Syrian President Bashar Assad’s troops regain control in certain regions. Israel and Syria consider each other enemy states and do not have diplomatic relations.
But since the outbreak of civil war the IDF has also allowed Syrians seeking medical attention into Israel either treating them at the border or transporting them to one of the hospitals in the north. Israel also began facilitating the delivery of humanitarian aid across the border during the seven-year civil war.
“The command provided humanitarian and medical assistance to the citizens of Syria out of the importance of human life and as a gesture of good will and is part of the extensive humanitarian aid that was provided by the IDF over the past five years,” the IDF statement said.
“Operation Good Neighbor” was established in 2016. According to the IDF, since 2013 more than 4,900 Syrians were brought into Israeli hospitals for medical treatment, including 1,300 children plus another 7,000 treated at the border. According to an IDF infographic, Israel transported 1,700 tons of food, 1.1 million liters of fuel, 26,000 cases of medical equipment and medication, 20 generators, 40 vehicles, 630 tents, 350 tons of clothing, 8,200 packages of diapers and 49,000 cases of baby food.
The IDF also released a number of testimonials from Syrians who were treated by Israelis.
“I wish you the best and want to thank you greatly for the help and for standing beside us. God willing, this thing will not be forgotten and we will tell our sons what you did,” one man said.
Several believing organizations teamed up with the IDF to transport much needed humanitarian aid across the border including the Joseph Project, Evangelical Christian Ministries of Frontier Alliance International and Friend Ships, Camp Ichay.
As KNI reported, the Joseph Project donated a container of valuable medical supplies and equipment during a medical emergency in Aleppo. The Joseph Project – the largest importer of humanitarian aid in Israel – joined with Israeli Flying Aid to reallocate a container to Israel’s neighbors during the crisis.
“We made a decision during the catastrophe in Aleppo to divert the shipment because this was an emergency,” Jim Schutz, director of The Joseph Project, told KNI. “When you’re hearing of hospitals getting bombed and you receive the kind of aid that can really make a difference and save innocent lives, you want to do whatever you can.”
One Syrian who was shot in the face during a battle in his country sought help in Israel when a Syrian doctor told him there was nothing he could do. Months and several plastic surgeries later, Hani, 28, told reporters he was thankful to his Israeli doctors and hosts.
“All of the Arab countries closed the border with Israel and wouldn’t let us in,” he said. “The Israelis are the only ones who didn’t close the border. I am so grateful to all of the doctors who helped me.”
From a military and political perspective, Israel has largely remained on the sidelines during the civil war, but insists that it will work to prevent Hezbollah or Iran to maintain a military presence on the border with Israel. However, Israeli civilians and the military have taken a progressive role in providing humanitarian relief to victims of the civil war.
“The extensive aid activities led by the IDF in the Syrian Golan Heights is further expression of the values which guide its conduct, including supporting civilians in need of assistance, even beyond the borders of Israel,” the statement said.
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Israel advocate, father killed in terror attack
Just two days ago Ari Fuld posted a live video on Facebook on the weekly Torah portion and asked a chilling question: Did Moses give Joshua the worst or best advice for a leader who was taking his place?
Now many are wondering, who will fill Fuld’s shoes?
Two days after this Facebook post, the Israeli-American and Israel advocate was stabbed to death in a terror attack outside a mall in Gush Etzion on Sunday.
A 17-year-old Palestinian from a town near Hebron stabbed Fuld in the back then fled. Fuld chased his assailant and opened fire before succumbing to his wounds. The attacker was taken to the hospital with multiple gunshot wounds.
The teenager’s family warned Israeli police ahead of the attack. The mother of Halil Yousef Ali Jabarin told soldiers she was worried her son may carry out an attack but didn’t know where, according to Channel 10 news. Jabarin’s grandfather said the family warned Palestinian forces as well after the teenager did not show up to school this morning.
Fuld, 40, was well-known among Jewish communities around the world and was even planning a speaking tour in November in the United States to “reclaim the narrative.”
“I am coming to infuse some serious motivation to step up the advocacy game,” he wrote on social media. “No more apologies, the truth is on our side and it’s time to be clear!”
The father of four was assistant director of Standing Together, an organization that supports Israeli soldiers, according to his website. He was considered an icon and a hero in Israeli advocacy.
“Living the dream! I have a love for the Nation of Israel, Land of Israel and Torah of Israel,” Fuld’s Facebook page says.
He was extremely influential in Judea, where he lived. A fourth level black belt in karate, when stabbings became the new go-to form of terrorism, Fuld set up self-defense classes for women.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu eulogized Fuld and sent his condolences to his family.
“With his last strength, Ari fought heroically against the terrorist and prevented a greater tragedy,” Netanyahu said. “Ari was a wonderful father to four children. He was an advocate for Israel who fought to spread the truth about Israel. May his memory be a blessing.”
U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman also expressed condolences on Twitter, saying that “America grieves as one of its citizens was brutally murdered by a Palestinian terrorist.”
“He was a passionate defender of Israel & an American patriot. He represented the best of both countries & will be deeply missed. May his family be comforted & his memory be blessed.”
In his commentary on the weekly Torah portion posted on Sept. 14 on Facebook, Fuld spoke about Moses’ last words to the people of Israel. Ironically he interrupted himself to report that a terrorist broke into Israel from the Gaza Strip, but was captured by Israeli forces before killing anyone.
He also pauses his teaching and blesses his daughter in the video before she goes away for Shabbat.
Moses didn’t give Joshua any advice on leading the people of Israel, he told him to be strong and courageous, Fuld said.
“It is important for a leader to understand that their effort is very important, but success and failure is not necessarily up to you,” Fuld said. At the end of the day, God determines success and failure, he said.
“God will not abandon the people of Israel,” Fuld said.
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Israel welcomes US move to close PLO’s DC office
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ended the two-day Rosh Hashanah holiday Tuesday night by praising the “correct decision” made by the United States earlier in the week to shut down the offices of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) in Washington.
“The U.S. made the correct decision regarding the PLO mission in Washington,” the prime minister said. “Israel supports American actions that are designed to make it clear to the Palestinians that refusing to negotiate and attempts to attack Israel in international forums will not advance peace.”
The U.S. State Department announced the official decision on Monday and gave the Palestinian office a month to pack up.
“We have permitted the PLO office to conduct operations that support the objective of achieving a lasting, comprehensive peace between Israelis and the Palestinians since the expiration of a previous waiver in November 2017,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said. “However, the PLO has not taken steps to advance the start of direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel… To the contrary, PLO leadership has condemned a U.S. peace plan they have not yet seen and refused to engage with the U.S. government with respect to peace efforts and otherwise. As such, and reflecting congressional concerns, the administration has decided that the PLO office in Washington will close at this point.”
U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton said the shuttering of PLO offices in Washington was also prompted by Palestinian attempts to instigate an investigation of Israel by the International Criminal Court.
“The United States supports a direct and robust peace process, and we will not allow the ICC, or any other organization, to constrain Israel’s right to self-defense,” Bolton was quoted as saying in a draft of his speech.
In a 2017 address to the United Nations General Assembly, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called on the International Criminal Court, “to open an investigation and to prosecute Israeli officials” over Israeli settlement activity, he said.
Israel and the U.S. believe the ICC has no jurisdiction over matters related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Palestinians called the U.S. decision “bullying.”
“This dangerous escalation shows that the U.S. is willing to disband the international system in order to protect Israeli crimes and attacks against the land and people of Palestine as well as against peace and security in the rest of our region,” said Saeb Erekat, who vowed the Palestinians would not “succumb to U.S. threats and bullying.”
“Lowering the flag of Palestine in Washington D.C. means much more than a new slap by the Trump administration against peace and justice,” Erekat said. “It symbolizes the U.S. attacks against the international system as a whole, including the Paris Convention, UNESCO and the Human Rights Council among others.”
The head of the PLO mission in Washington, Husam Zomlot, denounced the closure as a way “to protect Israel from war crimes, crimes against humanity that Israel is committing in the occupied Palestinian territories.”
“Part of it is bullying,” Zomlot said. “But the main part of it is just going ahead and implementing the grocery list that was submitted to them by Netanyahu.”
The decision comes after three consecutive weeks of U.S. funding cuts to the Palestinians. In recent weeks U.S. President Donald Trump canceled $300 million in aid money for United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) and $200 million in humanitarian aid earmarked for the Gaza Strip and the West Bank in recent weeks. The U.S. had been UNRWA’s largest contributor donating around $350 million.
This week, the U.S. also stopped financial aid to six hospitals in East Jerusalem — a decision made under the Taylor Force Act, which intends to halt economic aid to the Palestinian Authority until it ceases to pay stipends to terrorists and to the families of deceased terrorists.
Trump said recently that the cuts have been made in order to push the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table with Israel.
Last week Trump, speaking to leaders of the Jewish community in America, said that he plans to “stop the transferring of large funds to the Palestinians” and blamed them for disrespecting the America’s generosity.
“I say this: you will get the money, but not before we sign a deal with Israel. No deal—no money,” said a transcript of a White House conversation. “I don’t think that sanctions are unrespectable. When you refuse to sit for negotiations—that isn’t respectable to me.”
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August sets new record at Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport
JERUSALEM, Israel – Israel set another 70th anniversary record in August with 2.7 million arrivals and departures at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport. It’s the airport’s biggest month in its history and a 10 percent increase from August 2017, Globes reported.
July statistics were also up 10.6 percent from the previous year and authorities are anticipating a record-breaking September.
With the Jewish high holy days (Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot) falling earlier this year on the Gregorian calendar, Israeli authorities are predicting a 17 percent increase from last September.
In addition to families coming to Israel during this season, many Israelis travel abroad for the holidays. Favorite destinations include the US, Greece, Italy and Russia.
Before Rosh Hashanah, which this year begins Sunday evening, September 9, 30,000 ultra-Orthodox Hassidic Jews will make their annual pilgrimage to Uman in Ukraine. They come to visit the grave of Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav, the 18th century founder of Hassidic Judaism.
For the first time this year, Israel is setting up a temporary consulate in Uman to assist the travelers if necessary.
On Tuesday evening, police had to remove eight passengers from a flight to Uman who arrived intoxicated, causing a three-hour delay, YNet news reported. The annual pilgrimage poses challenges for airport staff, which according to the report includes intoxication, arriving late for the flight, and some arriving without tickets.
On erev Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, which this year begins Tuesday evening, September 18, Ben Gurion closes down, with the last takeoff and landing in the afternoon, at 1:55 and 1:40 pm, respectively.
The airport reopens Wednesday evening, September 19, with the first landing at 9:30 pm and the first departure at 11:30.
This article originally appeared on CBN News, August 31, 2018, and reposted with permission.
Tzippe Barrow is the CBN News Internet Producer - Jerusalem. She and her husband made aliyah (immigrated to Israel) nearly two decades ago. Barrow hopes that providing a biblical perspective of today’s events in Israel will help people in the nations to better understand the centrality of this state and the Jewish people to God’s unfolding plan of redemption for all mankind.
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Israel praises US decision to cut aid to Palestinian refugee organisation
Israel praised and welcomed the United States’ decision to cut off funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA).
“UNRWA perpetuates the myth of the eternal ‘refugee’ status of the Palestinians,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “The sole purpose is sustaining an illegitimate instrument aimed at the destruction of the State of Israel. UNRWA is part of the problem, not of the solution.”
The U.S. State Department announced on Friday that America will no longer be making contributions to UNRWA, an “irredeemably flawed operation.” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said that UNRWA is providing aid to an “expanding community of entitled beneficiaries.”
The U.S. had been the largest contributor to UNRWA donating around $350 million annually – nearly 30 percent of UNRWA’s total budget. The relief agency provides healthcare, education and social services to Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. Without U.S. support, these countries – which collectively house 60 percent of UNWRA refugees – will be under pressure to integrate the refugees, providing them with possibly citizenship and jobs.
This news dovetails with a report last week that U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said the Palestinian claims to a “right of return” should be off the negotiating table. The right of return is a key issue in a final peace agreement, along with the status of Jerusalem, which both Israelis and Palestinians claim as their capital city.
Nevertheless, the decision to cut aid to UNRWA is another example of the general pro-Israel tone set by President Donald Trump’s administration including recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the U.S. decision on UNRWA is a “very welcome and important change.” Netanyahu noted that Israel absorbed and included thousands of refugees — Jewish Holocaust survivors and Jews who fled Arab countries — when they sought refuge here.
“We didn’t keep them as refugees. We made them equal and contributing citizens in our state,” he said. “That isn’t what’s happening with the Palestinians, where 70 years ago they created a special institution: not absorbing refugees, and instead perpetuating refugees.”
UNWRA had been accused of implementing an educational curriculum that teaches children to hate Israel and radicalizing young people.
Needless to say, the United Nations and Palestinian Authority officials were disappointed with the U.S. decision.
Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, called the move a “flagrant assault against the Palestinian people and a defiance of UN resolutions.”
António Guterres, secretary-general of the United Nations Guterres, called on other nations to fill in the financial gap, according to his spokesman Stephane Dujarric.
“We regret the United States’ decision to provide no further funding to UNRWA, which provides essential services to Palestine refugees and contributes to stability in the region,” Dujarric said. “UNRWA has a strong record of providing high-quality education, health and other essential services, often in extremely difficult circumstances, to Palestine refugees who are in great need. The Secretary-General calls on other countries to help fill the remaining financial gap, so that UNRWA can continue to provide this vital assistance, as well as a sense of hope this vulnerable population.”
UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness expressed the Agency’s “deep regret and disappointment.”
“We reject in the strongest possible terms the criticism that UNRWA’s schools, health centers, and emergency assistance programs are ‘irredeemably flawed’. These very programs have a proven track record in creating one of the most successful human development processes and results in the Middle East,” he said in a tweet.