IDF TO RESPOND STRONGLY IF GAZA ROCKETS CONTINUE: The IDF will respond powerfully if rocket fire from Gaza continues, the security cabinet decided on this week after an hours-long debate.
The cabinet authorized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz to instruct the IDF to react strongly if Gazan terrorist groups launch more rockets on the heels of a weekend that saw more than 40 rockets launched into southern Israel. The ministers also voted in favor of an operational plan to strike Hamas. UN Special Envoy Tor Wennesland and Egypt said Hamas does not want an escalation, Maj.-Gen. Ghassan Alian, the coordinator of government activities in the territories (COGAT), told the security cabinet. (JPost / VFI News)
ABBAS DELAYS FIRST PALESTINIAN ELECTIONS IN 15 YEARS, BLAMES ISRAEL: On Thursday night, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced that the first Palestinian national elections in 15 years would be indefinitely delayed.
The vote would be postponed until Israel agreed to allow East Jerusalem Palestinians to participate, Abbas told a conference of senior Palestinian officials. The decision was widely interpreted to mean the elections will not be held at all in the foreseeable future. “We have decided to delay the legislative elections until the participation of Jerusalem [residents] is ensured,” Abbas said in a statement following the meeting. (TOI / VFI News)
EU MOVES TO STOP FUNDING PALESTINIAN TERRORISTS: The European Parliament Wednesday reaffirmed its commitment to ensuring EU funds do not reach anyone affiliated with terrorists. It also rapped UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, for inciting hate and violence in its textbooks.
The legislature’s annual budgetary report says the EU must “thoroughly verify” that its funds are not “allocated or linked to any cause or form of terrorism and/or religious and political radicalization.” Any funds that did go to any person or organization with terrorist ties must be “proactively recovered, and recipients involved are excluded from future union funding.” The article in the report came following an ongoing dispute between Palestinian NGOs and the EU over the affiliations of some of the organizations’ leadership and employees. (JPost / VFI News)
IDF DOWNS DRONE FROM LEBANON: On Tuesday, the Israeli Defense Forces said that it shot down a Hezbollah drone that had crossed into Israeli airspace.
“Our troops downed a Hezbollah drone that crossed from Lebanon into Israel today. In addition, we located another Hezbollah drone that we downed a few weeks ago,” the IDF posted on Twitter. The drone was closely surveilled the entire time, it said, and there were no reports of injuries or damage. “We will continue to operate in order to prevent any attempt to violate Israeli sovereignty,” stated the IDF. It specified that the drones were most likely gathering intelligence, and were taken down using electric pulses and not gunfire. The Israeli military had announced in November that it downed a Hezbollah drone that crossed into Israeli airspace.
IRAN STILL SEEKS MASS DESTRUCTION WEAPONS: The German intelligence agency for the state of Bavaria said last week in its new report that the Islamic Republic of Iran has not ceased its drive to obtain weapons of mass destruction during 2020.
“Proliferation-relevant states like Iran, North Korea, Syria, and Pakistan are making efforts to expand their conventional arsenal of weapons through the production or constant modernization of weapons of mass destruction,” wrote the Bavarian Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the formal name for the domestic intelligence agency. “In order to obtain the necessary know-how and corresponding components, these states are trying to establish business contacts to companies in high-technology countries like Germany,” said the Bavarian intelligence report in its section on weapons of mass destruction. (JPost / VFI News)
ISRAEL TO DEMAND MORE SEA TERRITORY IN LEBANON BORDER TALKS: Israel prepared to respond to increased demands from Lebanon by claiming more than double the area of the Mediterranean Sea that is currently in dispute, according to a map obtained on Monday.
The map shows what the Energy Ministry has called “Line 310,” or the red line, which extends significantly farther north than Israel’s starting negotiating position, the blue line on the map. Israel and Lebanon began US-mediated negotiations on their maritime border in October, which were the first talks between the countries in 30 years. The countries hope that settling the border would encourage further gas exploration in the area. Israel already pumps significant amounts of gas from the Mediterranean, but Lebanon has yet to do so. (JPost / VFI News)
EU LIKELY TO OPEN TO ISRAELI TRAVELERS: On Sunday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that vaccinated Americans will soon travel freely to EU countries. Does this mean that Israelis will be able to do the same? Likely, the answer is yes.
“The Americans, as far as I can see, use European Medicines Agency-approved vaccines,” von der Leyen pointed out while speaking with The New York Times. “This will enable free movement and the travel to the European Union.” “Because one thing is clear: All 27 member states will accept, unconditionally, all those who are vaccinated with vaccines that are approved by EMA,” the president added. Von der Leyen did not provide any details regarding a specific timeline but did highlight that the development will be influenced by the epidemiological situation. (JPost / VFI News)
IRAN GETS FOUR-YEAR JUDO BAN FOR ORDERING ATHLETES TO AVOID ISRAELIS: Judo’s world body issued a four-year ban against the Iranian Judo Federation over Tehran’s demands that its athletes refuse to face Israeli opponents.
The ban was backdated to begin in September 2019, when Iranian judoka and former world champion Saeid Mollaei left the Iranian team during the World Championship in Tokyo, saying he was ordered to throw matches and withdraw from competitions to avoid facing Israeli competitors. The International Judo Federation initially responded to the Iranian order with an open-ended ban on Iran’s team participating in international judo competitions. That initial ban was overturned in March by the Court of Arbitration for Sport. (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