QATAR OBJECTS TO UN VOTE TO FREE IDF RESERVISTS
Following objections from Qatar, the United Nations Security Council decided recently to delay the publication of a statement by the U.N. president calling for Hizbullah to release captive IDF reservists Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev immediately and without preconditions, Israel Radio reported.
The statement, which was approved unanimously by 15 nations, also expressed concern that Hizbullah had not thus far released any information regarding the soldiers’ condition.
President Shimon Peres said that Israel’s position was that Goldwasser and Regev were still alive. Peres was responding to a report in the Lebanese newspaper An Nahar that one of reservists was dead. “The position of Israel and the IDF is that the reservists are alive and it won’t change because of a publication in this or any other Arab newspaper,” Peres told new IDF tank recruits. Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah has consistently refused to confirm whether Goldwasser and Regev are alive.
In response to a statement by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner that he “understood” the soldiers were alive after talks with Hizbullah officials in Paris, Nasrallah said in an interview to Al Jazeera: “The French foreign minister understood that they are alive, but our people do not tend to answer questions of this kind.” Nasrallah claimed that he was the sole official authorized to give details in the matter and added that “for every utterance such as this we can receive human compensation, and therefore there is no reason that we would give information for free.”
ISRAEL SATISFIED WITH UN STATEMENT ON LEBANON
Israel expressed satisfaction at a recent UN Security Council statement that voiced grave concern at persistent reports that the arms embargo along the Lebanese-Syrian border had been breached and that militias in Lebanon were re-arming. The statement, which also took Israel to task for over flights in Lebanon and called for the immediate return of the kidnapped IDF soldiers, came two weeks before the Security Council was set to extend the mandate of the UNIFIL force there. The statement reiterated the UN’s commitment to the terms of the original mandate, something that Israel viewed positively on the eve of renewing UNIFIL’S mandate. Overall, Israel is pleased with the presence of UNIFIL in southern Lebanon, and is expected to back renewing the forces’ mandate for another year.
ISRAEL FOCUSING ON MISSILE DEFENSE
Israel’s new defense minister, Ehud Barak, expects the country to be able to defend its skies against most enemy missiles within three to five years. A Defense Ministry statement said that a multi-layer active defense system to intercept rockets and missiles could ensure “that an absolute majority” of missiles will not reach their targets. Israel’s vulnerability to such weapons was exposed during last year’s Lebanon war when Hezbollah fired thousands of rockets and when Palestinian militants continued firing Qassam rockets from the Gaza Strip. Israeli military analysts have concluded that Syria learned the lesson of the Lebanon war and would focus on such strikes in case of a new war. Israel already has an operational system, called Arrow, against long-range ballistic missiles, including Iranian missiles that might be armed with nuclear warheads.
Israel is developing another rocket interceptor, in a project called Kipat Barzel (Hebrew for Iron Dome), against Qassams and Katyusha rockets. Ha’aretz has reported the system will become operational in 18 months. Iron Dome locates the speeding rocket through a dedicated radar and, once acquired as a target, in about a second it launches a rocket of its own to intercept the hostile missile mid-flight. A single Iron Dome launch costs between $30,000 and $40,000, reported Ha’aretz.
A third system that the government-owned Rafael has been developing with the U.S. firm Raytheon is called “Sharvit Kesamim,” or magic wand, which is supposed to intercept medium range rockets such as the Iranian Zelzal. Israel’s Channel 2 TV reported that a project for melting rockets with laser beams is also on the table, after it had been shelved in the past.
The United States has agreed to increase its military aid to Israel to $3 billion a year over the coming 10 years.
Tourism is Israel’s Most Important Industry!
Support Israel by Visiting Israel!
During July, the second group from Temple Beth Sholom toured Israel. Rabbi Scolnic described the trip this way: “Forty people experienced Israel, many for the first time. This was a family trip that included a number of young men and women and children. It was physically strenuous and it was hot but the group did very well. We floated down the Jordan River on kayaks and some of us climbed Masada in extreme heat. Seven of us had a Bat Mitzvah ceremony on Masada. We return to America renewed in our support for Israel and revitalized in our Jewishness. It was a great trip!”
You Can Help Israel By Knowing The Facts About Israel!
- Despite the second Lebanon war, the divestments, and the boycotts, Israel’s economy enjoyed the largest growth in its GNP of any Western country at 8% for the last quarter of 2006. Foreign investment hit a high of over US$13 billion and the budget deficit was under 1%. Industrial exports, excluding diamonds, rose 11% to $29.3 billion in 2006 with the hi-tech sector leading the surge, according to the Manufacturers Association of Israel. Israel’s hi-tech industry exported $14.1 billion in goods last year, growing 20% from 2005.
- The international team of scientists that uncovered a new planet outside our solar system included two Israeli researchers from Tel Aviv University.
- Beating cardiac tissue has been created in a lab from human embryonic stem cells by researchers at the Rappaport Medical Faculty and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology’s biomedical engineering faculty. The work of Dr. Shulamit Levenberg and Prof. Lior Gepstein has also led to the creation of tiny blood vessels within the tissue, making possible its implantation in a human heart.
- One year after Norway’s Socialist Left Party launched its boycott of Israel, the importing of Israeli goods has increased by 15%, the strongest increase in many years, Statistics Norway reports.
LINKS . . .
Taglit- Birthright Israel – http://www.birthrightisrael.com/ – An innovative partnership between the people of Israel through their government, local Jewish communities, and leading Jewish philanthropists provides the gift of first time, peer group, educational trips to Israel for Jewish young adults ages 18 to 26. The program was created to send thousands of young Jewish adults from all over the world to Israel as a gift to diminish the growing division between Israel and Jewish communities around the world; to strengthen the sense of solidarity between Israeli youth and Jewish communities around the world, and to promote the role of Israel as a powerful resource in Jewish learning.
Jewish Agency For Israel – http://www.jewishagency.org/ – A global partnership committed to the Jewish future that stands on a history-making track record. Together with the United Jewish Communities (UJC) in North America and Hayesod – United Israel Appeal around the world, partnership has brought 3 million people to Israel. The Jewish Agency believes that Israel stands at the heart of the Jewish future.
From The Chair . . .
We hope you continue to enjoy reading Israel Matters! Please let us know if there are any issues involving Israel that you would like to see addressed and we will try to accommodate your requests. As always, we look forward to your comments about Israel Matters! Send them by email to Ed and Randy Berns, Co-chairs of the TBS Israel Affairs Committee, at: IsraelAffairs@tbshamden.com