IDF Gears Up for Heightened Alert
IDF CHIEF TELLS COMMANDERS TO READY FOR MONTH OR MORE OF HEIGHTENED ALERT: IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi reportedly told commanders on Sunday, April 3, that the military is gearing up to be on heightened alert for a month or more, following several recent attacks and the start of Ramadan.
Kohavi made the remarks in Tel Aviv, where he was visiting soldiers sent to reinforce police. Kohavi told the commanders they should be ready for a second “Operation Guardian of the Walls,” referring to the 11 days of fighting last year between Israel and the Hamas terror group, and accompanying violence in ethnically mixed Israeli cities. He also reportedly said that Palestinian Islamic Jihad could fire rockets from the Gaza Strip, after three of the terror group’s operatives were killed in a shootout with security forces in the West Bank, while allegedly headed to carry out an attack in Israel, in the predawn hours of Saturday. A series of recent terror attacks killed 11 people in Israel, putting security forces on heightened alert. The escalation has come as the Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins — often a period of high tension in Israel and the West Bank. Israel has ramped up security measures in response to the attacks and deployed additional forces to the West Bank, Gaza border, and major cities such as Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. (TOI / VFI News)
AMID TERROR WAVE, APPLICATIONS FOR FIREARM LICENSES JUMP BY 2,500%: Since a string of deadly terror attacks in Israel, there has been a near-2,500% rise in applications for a firearms license, Channel 12 news reports, citing Public Security Ministry data.
The network says yesterday alone saw over 1,500 applications for a license, compared to some 60 applications ordinarily. The data also shows some 2,980 calls were made to the ministry by citizens inquiring about a firearms license, compared to some 600 ordinarily. Officials say the last time such an increase was observed was during last year’s 11-day war with terror groups in the Gaza Strip and related sectarian violence in Israel.
IRAN’S REGIME CONTINUES ITS EXECUTION WAVE IN RESTIVE ISFAHAN PROVINCE: The Islamic Republic of Iran is slated to hang two men accused of killing a security official in the province of Isfahan, sparking outrage from Iranian dissidents about the theocratic state’s credibility in bringing charges against opponents of the regime in Tehran.
“The Islamic Republic’s forces kill the people but there’s no justice for them, neither in Iran nor in the international society. Sure any criminal must face justice but the fact is no one believes the Islamic Republic when they execute people with such charges,” Sheina Vojoudi, an Iranian dissident who fled to Germany to escape persecution, told The Jerusalem Post on Monday. The first branch of the Revolutionary Court of Isfahan and branch one of the criminal court of the province convicted the 25-year-old Sadegh M. and the 38-year-old Mohammad G. of murdering Ehsan Nasiriduring clashes with security forces according to reports on Sunday in the regime-controlled media. It is unclear from the Iranian regime news reports if the protest was against the clerical state. The opaque nature of the Iranian regime’s widely criticized judicial system makes it difficult to understand execution cases. The clerical regime frequently engages in mass murder of Iranians who protest economic and political corruption in the country and question the legitimacy of the theocratic state. Dr. Kazem Moussavi, a German-Iranian dissident, tweeted on Monday that the regime in Isfahan seeks “to intimidate society and opponents of the regime” by executing the two men. Vojoudi added that “The Islamic Republic took people’s life and joy away. There’s no hope for the people in Iran. There’s absolute political suffocation in Iran. You have no right and freedom to express your opinion and to criticize the Islamic Republic’s officials, especially Ali Khamenei. The political activists, environmentalists, social activists, human rights activists, and women’s rights activists all end up in the Islamic Republic’s prisons. The Islamic Republic charges them with espionage, acting against national security, and spreading propaganda against the system. Even if the normal civilians go to the streets and protest for their rights, the Islamic Republic will label them as thugs and all the charges that I mentioned above.” This month, the UN special rapporteur on Iran, Javaid Rehman said Iran executed “In 2021, at least 280 individuals, including at least 10 women, were executed.” He noted that minority communities in the Islamic Republic experienced an increase in executions, with over 40 Baluch and over 50 Kurds killed. (JPost / VFI News)
US ENVOY SAYS ISRAEL’S ‘HANDS NOT TIED’ ON IRAN, EVEN IF NUKE DEAL SIGNED: US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides said on Thursday, March 31, Israel won’t be faced with any American restrictions if it wishes to act against Iran, whether or not a nuclear deal is signed between Tehran and world powers.
Asked in an interview if the US expects Israel to “sit quietly and not do anything” if a deal is signed, Nides replied: “Absolutely not. We’ve been very clear about this. If we have a deal, the Israelis’ hands are not tied. If we don’t have a deal, the Israelis’ hands are certainly not tied.”
“Israel can do and take whatever actions they need to take to protect the state of Israel,” he added. “The president,” he stressed, “will do whatever he can do to make sure that Iran does not have a nuclear weapon… It’s clear we’d like to do it through a diplomatic channel.”
Regarding the progress of the negotiations on a deal, he said: “The Israelis know very clearly exactly what is going on. I’m not suggesting they necessarily like it always, but there are no secrets here.” Tehran has said that taking the IRGC off a US terror list is a condition for restoring the 2015 agreement. Israeli officials have openly expressed their concerns over this possibility, including during US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to Israel earlier this week for the Negev Summit. (TOI / VFI News)
50,000 TONS OF ISRAELI PRODUCE MAY BE DESTROYED DUE TO UKRAINE WAR: Israeli farmers are destroying thousands of tons of fresh vegetables as produce exports to Russia and Ukraine have ground to a halt due to the ongoing war.
Carrots, celery, potatoes, radishes, and more: Up to 50,000 tons of agricultural products are rotting in warehouses or facing certain destruction. Payments for goods have also stopped on account of the plummeting value of the ruble and sanctions in response to the brutal Russian invasion of Ukraine. The situation has resulted in a crisis for hundreds of Israeli farmers, with some having been forced to destroy entire crops after finding no alternative places to sell their produce. Ofir Trabelsi heads Yeron Agricultural Works, a vegetable wholesaler located in the southern town of Sharsheret. Trabelsi, who sells 95% of his crops to Russia, told The Media Line that so far, they had had to destroy 60 dunams (15 acres) of radishes, and 50 dunams (12 acres) of celery. “We’ve destroyed fields and what I have here in cold storage will also likely be destroyed,” Trabelsi said. “We don’t know what’s going to happen and have had no response from any government body. We’re searching for other markets, which is not so simple because it’s all last minute.” Trabelsi added that he had been trying to find alternatives to Russia for years, even before the war started, but had not been successful because of the strong shekel. Many European markets already have their own produce suppliers. (JPost / VFI News)
‘A HISTORIC MILESTONE’: ISRAEL AND UAE SIGN FREE TRADE AGREEMENT: After five months of negotiations, Israel and the United Arab Emirates signed a free trade agreement on Friday, April 1, hailed as a “significant and historic milestone.”
On Tuesday, Economy Minister Orna Barbivai met in Jerusalem with Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade, for the fourth and final round of talks.
The two signed the agreement at the David Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem on Friday. “Since the establishment of the Abraham Accords, the Economy and Industry Ministry has been working to expand economic relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and to realize its economic potential,” said Barbivai. “The finalization of the negotiations is a significant and historic milestone in the relationship between the countries and we will continue to assist the Israeli business community in establishing trade relations in the United Arab Emirates,” she added. The agreement will officially take effect following a ratification process in both countries. Government lawyers are currently drawing up the detailed documents needed to put the agreements into practice. The “comprehensive” agreement covers regulation, customs, services, government procurement, e-commerce, and protection of intellectual property rights, the Economy Ministry said in a statement. Some 95% of products traded between the countries, including food, agriculture, cosmetics, medical equipment, and medication, will be exempt from customs duty, according to the statement. A number of products will be exempt immediately, while others will gradually be granted exemptions. (TOI / VFI News)
ISLAMIZED HAGIA SOPHIA HOLDS FIRST RAMADAN PRAYERS FOR 88 YEARS: The Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, formerly Constantinople, held its first Ramadan prayers in 88 years on Friday, April 1, to mark the start of the Islamic month of fasting, after being converted into a mosque in 2020.
The Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque — once the Church of the Holy Wisdom, before the Turks’ violent conquest of its city — held its first tarawih prayer since 1934, when the cathedral-turned-mosque was converted into a museum by the secularizing government of Kemal Atatürk. Due to the Wuhan virus pandemic, Ramadan prayers did not take place in the Hagia Sophia in 2021, according to a report from the Andalou news agency. According to the Turkish outlet, due to a number of factors including high vaccination rates and relatively low numbers of cases and deaths, the government decided to allow Muslims to attend the Hagia Sophia to mark the start of Ramadan and prayers will be held throughout the month. (BB / VFI News)
TEL AVIV LEADS LIST OF CITIES IN ISRAEL WITH THE MOST DIVERSE CUISINE: A study by food delivery company found that Tel Aviv was the most diverse city in Israel in regards to dining options.
10bis discovered which city had the largest variety of culinary options within their most populous 5km radius, finding that Tel Aviv had 58 different cuisine options – compared to 43 for Haifa, 41 for Jerusalem, and 32 for fourth-place Netanya. While Tel Aviv had the most options within a 5km radius, they also had by far the most restaurants – nearly 1,400, compared to 647 in Jerusalem and 374 in Haifa. While Mediterranean and Middle Eastern restaurants were the most common in Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Jerusalem, many cities had stunningly different results. For instance, the most common cuisine type in Netanya was Italian, while in Bat Yam, the most common type of restaurant served Japanese food. In Israel overall, the most common type of cuisine was Mediterranean and the second most common cuisine in Tel Aviv is Middle Eastern while ranking third was American, fourth Italian, and fifth was Japanese.
In regards to global rankings, New York and Paris tied for the most culinary-diverse cities, with 82 unique cuisines in a 5km radius. Barcelona, London, Moscow, and San Francisco rounded out the top five list, while the least diverse cities were Kuwait with just two types of cuisine within a 5km radius, Porto-Novo in Benin (3), and Pakistan’s capital of Islamabad (3). The most commonly-served cuisine globally was Italian. 10bis analyzed a total of 4 million restaurants around the world while conducting this study. (JPost / 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