“Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is with those who uphold my life.” Ps. 54:4
ISRAEL FACES THREE ATTACKS IN ONE DAY: In a pre-dawn assault on Thurs. 6 Feb. 2020, a Palestinian attacker rammed his car into a group of soldiers from Israel’s Golani Brigade. Twelve soldiers were injured, one seriously. The troops were visiting Jerusalem ahead of their planned swearing-in ceremony in the morning, which was delayed because of the attack but eventually went ahead that same evening. Several of the wounded soldiers, some of them on crutches, left the hospital to attend the event. Following emergency surgery, the severely wounded serviceman was said to be in stable but serious condition at Shaare Zedek Medical Center. In a second assault, just before noon on Thursday, a man walked up to police officers on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and opened fire, lightly wounding one of them. The attacker fled on foot but was soon shot and killed by pursuing officers. By the afternoon, a third assault targeted Israeli security forces, this time a drive-by shooting on a highway near the settlement of Dolev. The gunman fled the scene to a nearby village, with Israeli troops in pursuit. One of the bullets fired by the gunman struck the helmet of an IDF soldier, but the helmet absorbed the hit and the soldier was only lightly hurt. Two members of the Palestinian security services were also killed on Thurs. 6 Feb. 2020, at least one who was mistaken for a terrorist by an Israeli sniper, as violence soared amid Palestinian anger at the recently released Trump peace plan. Palestinian leaders said the violence was an inevitable result of the plan’s pro-Israel bias, while Israeli officials accused the Palestinian Authority of encouraging the attacks. The Israel Defense Forces have been on a heightened state of alert since the publication of the peace plan and have sent waves of reinforcements to Judea & Samaria. (VFI News)
ISRAELI SECURITY INTRODUCES ANTI-ARSON BALLOON SYSTEM: Explosive and incendiary devices tied to balloons have increasingly been launched over the border from Gaza in recent days. Late in January 2020, a senior Hamas official said the latest string of balloons was sent to remind Israel to ease the blockade on the territory. Hamas is a terror organization committed to the destruction of the Jewish state and has ruled Gaza since taking over the area in a bloody coup in 2007. It has since fired tens of thousands of projectiles at Israeli civilians and fought three wars with Israel. Announcing a major defensive upgrade on Thurs. 6 Feb. 2020, Israeli police released information on the first operation of the “Light Blade” laser system developed by Opti-defense and the security establishment to intercept incendiary balloons. The system was able to intercept over 90% of the balloons detected in its test. It operates day and night and aims to deal with the threat of explosives and incendiary balloons with a laser beam that is launched at the target and neutralizes it without jeopardizing other elements in the area. There has been a sharp increase in violence in Gaza and Judea & Samaria following the recent release of the US peace plan, which the Palestinians consider highly favors Israel. In an incident, last Friday afternoon, 7 Feb. 2020, the warhead of an RPG anti-tank missile connected to balloons landed in Kibbutz Ruhama, which is located near the border with Gaza. It was the sixth incendiary balloon to have landed in the Gaza envelope that same day. (VFI News)
TWO-STATE SOLUTION COULD PASS DUE TO RISING ANTI-SEMITISM: US national security adviser Robert O’Brien speculated last week that the Trump administration’s peace plan “could be the last opportunity for a two-state solution” because growing anti-Semitism around the world will bring more Jews to Israel and to Judea and Samaria. O’Brien made the remarks during a speech on Wed. 5 Feb. 2020 with foreign diplomats to the US. “The Israeli birthrate is strong and is growing because sadly anti-Semitism in Europe and other places around the world is encouraging more Jews to return to Israel. The settlements are going to continue to expand. If this freeze on settlements doesn’t hold, if this peace process doesn’t work, it may be physically impossible to have a two-state solution”, said O’Brien.
Palestinian Authority leaders have angrily rejected the long-awaited “Deal of the Century” plan. The proposal would create a demilitarized Palestinian state on less land than the Palestinians claim and allow Israel to annex all Jewish communities and the Jordan Valley, which Israel considers a security necessity. The fact that the proposal has been rejected by Palestinians is no surprise. Trump’s vision fell short of the Palestinian Authority’s demands for a sovereign state controlling all the territory in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, with a capital in East Jerusalem, and recognition of the “right of return” for millions of Palestinian refugees to Israel. But those demands were always unrealistic and posed unacceptable risks to Israeli security. The Palestinians’ “all or nothing” negotiating stance has left them with nothing that gives hope for a better future. Now they are turning their backs on Trump’s vision, despite the potential economic benefits it offers. Bahrain, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates sent their ambassadors to the White House rollout event and joined Egypt, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia in appealing to the Palestinians to consider the initiative as a framework for negotiations. (VFI News)
UK ANTI-SEMITIC INCIDENTS CONTINUE TO SPIRAL: A record 1,805 anti-Semitic acts were recorded in the UK in 2019, a 7% increase over 2018, the Community Security Trust (CST) reported on Thur. 6 Feb. 2020. 158 of the attacks were violent, representing a 25% increase over the previous year There were 88 recorded incidents of damage and desecration to Jewish property. Vice-chair of the all-party parliamentary group against anti-Semitism, Louise Hay, said: “It is shameful the Jewish community has been subjected to another year of racist abuse. We are beyond a stage of saying that more be must be done. Immediate action is required.” (VFI News)
REPORT: STRONG MAJORITY OF US JEWS REMAIN PRO-ISRAEL: American Jews are still standing strong with Israel. According to a new poll conducted for the Ruderman Family Foundation, 80% of American Jews describe themselves as pro-Israel and more than 70% say their personal attachment to Israel is as strong or stronger than it was five years ago. The survey was conducted recently on a sample of 2,500 US Jews. 67% said they were “attached” or “very attached” to Israel on an emotional level. At the same time, 57% identified as pro-Israel but also critical of Israeli policy. “It appears doomsday talks about an irreversible chasm between Israel and the American Jewish community were mistaken,” said Jay Ruderman, president of the Ruderman Family Foundation. (VFI News)
ISRAEL: NEW DATE PLANTS FROM ANCIENT SEEDS: Israeli researchers revealed last week that they successfully grew extinct date plants from ancient seeds found at archaeological sites in the Judean Desert. Six saplings grew from 32 seeds sown and the plants have been dubbed Adam, Jonah, Uriel, Boaz, Judith, and Hannah. Dozens of seeds were gleaned from archaeology collections gathered at locations in the Dead Sea area, including the Masada hilltop fortress built by King Herod the Great and the ancient site of Qumran, famous for the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the 1940s. “Germination of 2000-year-old seeds of Phoenix dactylifera from Judean desert archaeological sites provides a unique opportunity to study the Judean date palm, described in antiquity for the quality, size, and medicinal properties of its fruit, but lost for centuries,” said researchers. “The Kingdom of Judah (Judea) that arose in the southern part of the historic Land of Israel in the 11th century B.C. was particularly renowned for the quality and quantity of its dates,” the researchers noted. “These so-called ‘Judean dates’ grown in plantations around Jericho and the Dead Sea were recognized by classical writers for their large size, sweet taste, extended storage, and medicinal properties.” (Times of Israel/VFI News)
WINTER AND ROUGH WEATHER CONTINUES IN ISRAEL: Mount Hermon was closed to visitors on Saturday 8 Feb. 2020 in the face of snowstorms, which blanketed the area in 35-40 centimeters (13.5-16 inches) of snow at the base of the mountain. The water level at the Sea of Galilee, Israel’s largest water reservoir, rose five centimeters since late last week, the Water Authority said, and currently stands at 210.10 meters below sea level. As of now, the Kinneret is 1.30 meters below its full capacity. On Sunday 9 Feb. 2020 light snowfall continued at the Hermon and the mountains in the north, as well as the mountains in the center near Jerusalem. Very cold temperatures were expected throughout Israel on Monday night 10 Feb. 2020. (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