Arab Social Media Distorts Temple Mount Events
ARAB SOCIAL MEDIA SPREADING FALSE, INCITING INFORMATION: Israel Police on Thursday morning, April 21, released a statement correcting the misinformation regarding the events on the Temple Mount and providing full details on the events which occurred.
“At the end of the Fajr prayer on the Temple Mount Thursday morning, dozens of lawbreakers and masked men rioted and disturbed the peace with severe violence, as they have done in recent days,” the statement communicated by the Israel Police Spokesperson for the Jerusalem District said. “While the Israeli Police is doing everything in its power to enable the public to worship freely, once again, this morning, lawbreakers have again thrown fireworks and rocks, including from inside the mosque.” The police also emphasized that “Arab social media networks continue to spread false, inciting, and misleading information about events on the Temple Mount in an attempt to escalate the situation and misinform the public. It should be emphasized that many reports are out of touch with reality regarding events in the Temple Mount.” “The Israel Police will continue to allow freedom of worship and take resolute action against rioters and violent lawbreakers wherever they are.” (INN / VFI News)
FORMER IRAN MP SAYS IRAN ALWAYS WANTED TO BUILD A NUCLEAR BOMB: Despite Iran’s insistence that its nuclear activity is for peaceful purposes only, former Iranian MP Ali Motahari revealed on Sunday, April 24, that Iran “from the very beginning” aimed to make a nuclear bomb, in an interview with the Iran Student Correspondents Association (ISCA).
“From the very beginning, when we entered the nuclear activity, our goal was to build a bomb and strengthen the deterrent forces, but we could not maintain the secrecy of this issue, and the secret reports were revealed by a group of hypocrites,” he said. The former MP stressed that a country that wants to make peaceful use of nuclear power “never starts with enrichment,” but instead first builds a reactor and then enters the field of enrichment. “To do enrichment directly creates the illusion that we want to make a bomb.” “If we, like Pakistan, could secretly make and test bombs, it would be very deterrent,” Motahari told ISCA. “When we started something, we should have seen it to the end.” The former MP stressed, however, that Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei is now of the opinion that producing nuclear weapons is forbidden. The ISCA interviewer also referenced an earlier comment by Motahari that Tehran can still make a nuclear bomb, despite Khamenei’s fatwa (Islamic religious decree) against such weapons, because the fatwa only forbids the use of a bomb, not the creation of one. (JPost / VFI News)
ISRAEL, GERMANY TO EXPAND BILATERAL DEFENSE AND INDUSTRIAL COOPERATION: Defense Minister Benny Gantz discussed ways to expand bilateral ties with his German counterpart on Thursday, April 21.
Posting on Twitter, Gantz said that he spoke with German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht “about the international effort to support Ukraine and its citizens. We also discussed ways to expand bilateral defense and industrial cooperation and agreed to meet soon in Israel.” Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Germany increased its defense budget to two percent of the GDP and said it would set up a special fund of €100 billion ($108b.) in order to swiftly upgrade its armed forces. It is understood that Israel will play a key role in helping Germany’s force buildup. A leader in defense, the world has for many years looked to the Jewish state for security and intelligence. Israel’s defense industry has leading international companies exporting to countries across the globe. Israel’s military exports brought in $11.2b. last year, the largest distribution of Israeli defense exports being in Europe with 41%, up from 30% in 2020. (JPost / VFI News)
ISRAELI ENVOY TO RUSSIA: WOULD BE AN ‘HONOR’ TO HOST PUTIN-ZELENSKY TALKS IN JERUSALEM: Israel is willing to host talks between the leaders of Russia and Ukraine on ending the Russian invasion, Jerusalem’s envoy to Moscow said Thursday, April 21
Ambassador Alexander Ben Zvi told the Russian state news agency TASS that it would be “a great honor” for Israel if Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky meet in Jerusalem. He stressed, however, that it was up to them to agree to such a meeting. Ben Zvi floated the possibility that Israel could alternatively host delegations from Kyiv and Moscow that do not include their respective leaders. “What was done in Turkey can also be done in our country,” he said, noting talks that took place between representatives of the warring nations in Istanbul last month. The envoy also said that Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Putin are “in regular contact with each other.” Bennett traveled to Moscow to meet with Putin in early March, and the two have also spoken several times by phone as part of Israel’s efforts to mediate between Russia and Ukraine. The premier has also held a number of calls with Zelensky. Following Ben Zvi’s comments, Russian Ambassador to Israel Anatoly Viktorov played down the prospects of a meeting between Putin and Zelensky in Jerusalem, telling TASS that while Moscow welcomed the Israeli offer to host the sit-down, it was currently premature to hold face-to-face talks. (TOI / VFI News)
NUMBER OF UKRAINIAN REFUGEES TOPS FIVE MILLION AS CONFLICT RAGES: The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has released figures claiming that over five million Ukrainians have fled their country since the start of the Russian invasion in February.
According to the UNHCR, a total of 5,034,439 Ukrainians have fled their country since the start of the Russian invasion, while the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) claims that around 7.1 million people have been forced to leave their homes in Ukraine due to the conflict. Kelly Clements, Deputy High Commissioner of the UNHCR, commented on the new figures this week saying, “After eight weeks of conflict, we are at five million, and it’s not over,” the European Union-funded website InfoMigrants reports. Many of the foreign nationals, who were either students or workers, have returned to their own countries according to InfoMigrants, while the vast majority of Ukrainian refugees have been welcomed in neighboring countries like Poland, which has taken in six out of every ten Ukrainians fleeing the conflict. The UNHCR also states that nearly 600,000 Ukrainians have fled the conflict to Russia and Belarus. While refugees continue to enter European Union countries from Ukraine, a spokesman for the Ukrainian Border Security claimed last week that around 870,000 Ukrainians have already returned to their home country and estimated that between 25,000 and 30,000 return each day. (BB / VFI News)
ISRAEL’S INDOOR MASK MANDATE ENDS AFTER TWO YEARS: Israel’s indoor mask mandate, one of the few remaining coronavirus restrictions still in place, was lifted at 8 p.m. on Saturday, April 23.
Early last week, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz had agreed that the widely flouted masking requirement will be scrapped, citing the decline in morbidity. The mandate had officially been set to expire on May 1. The Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement that masking will still be required “at places with high contagion potential,” among which it listed hospitals, senior living facilities, and during air travel. “This year — Mimouna without masks,” Bennett later tweeted, referring to the popular Jewish Moroccan celebration that follows Passover. Mimouna celebrations, where people host large gatherings and travel from home to home, were expected nationwide Saturday evening. Bennett set to attend one such event in Shilat, a moshav near Modiin, later Saturday. Since masking rules were first imposed in April 2020, Israelis have been required to wear face coverings indoors for all but 10 days in June last year, when the mandate was briefly lifted before being swiftly brought back amid surging cases at the time. The announcement Wednesday, April 20, by Bennett’s office came two days after a US judge struck down the federal masking requirements on public transportation, with numerous companies and government agencies subsequently announcing they would no longer enforce the mandate. (TOI / VFI News)
BIDEN TO VISIT ISRAEL IN THE NEXT FEW MONTHS: US President Joe Biden will make his first visit to Israel as president in the coming months, the White House said, following a call with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Sunday evening, April 24.
It was the second phone conversation between the pair in less than a month. Bennett used the opportunity to update Biden on Israel’s efforts “to stop the violence and incitement in Jerusalem,” the Prime Minister’s Office said. The two also discussed the Iranian nuclear threat, with the Israeli premier reiterating Jerusalem’s stance against the US heeding Iran’s demand to remove its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from an American terror blacklist as part of ongoing negotiations between Tehran and world powers in Vienna to return to a nuclear deal under which Iran would at least temporarily halt its nuclear development in exchange for sanctions relief. “I am sure that President Biden, who is a true friend of Israel and cares about its security will not remove the Revolutionary Guards from the [State Department’s] list of [Foreign] Terrorist Organizations,” Bennett told Biden. “The president took note of ongoing efforts between Israeli and Palestinian officials to lower tensions and ensure a peaceful conclusion to the holy season of Ramadan,” the White House said. “The president also accepted an invitation to visit Israel over the coming months.” (TOI / VFI News)
AFTER SEVERAL DAYS OF DELAYS, SECOND ISRAELI IN SPACE BEGINS JOURNEY BACK TO EARTH: Israeli astronaut Eytan Stibbe and the rest of the crew of the Axiom-1 departed the International Space Station (ISS) on Sunday evening, April 24, after several days of delay.
The SpaceX capsule began undocking from the ISS at 8:55 p.m. (0055 GMT Monday) for the return trip and is expected to land in the ocean off the coast of Florida on Monday around 1 p.m. (1700 GMT). Stibbe and his three crewmates — the first-ever all-private mission to the ISS — had originally been set to come back on Wednesday, but unfavorable weather conditions for a splashdown in the ocean led to the capsule’s return being repeatedly put off. Stibbe, a businessman, and former fighter pilot was one of four astronauts who took off earlier this month for the privately funded mission that successfully docked at the ISS the next day. During their stay on the space station, the group stuck to a regimented schedule, which included about 14 hours per day of activities, including scientific research. (TOI / VFI News)
The suggestions, opinions and scripture references made by VFI writers and editors are based on the best information received.
Blessings from Jerusalem,
Barry Segal with the Editorial Staff