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Israeli President, IDF Chief Hold Passover Meal with 400 Lone Soldiers

April 21, 2019 Special Feature

President Rivlin celebrating Pesach Seder with lone soldiers. Photo courtesy of Tzalamim Be’Klik

It’s always challenging to celebrate holidays without any family, and when one is serving in the military as well, that can make it even more so. In response to that, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and leader of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi on Friday celebrated the traditional Passover meal—known in Hebrew as a Seder—with 400 “lone” soldiers, or IDF troops who do not have family in Israel to support them.

“Despite the difficulties of being a soldier, and even more so of being a lone soldier, you chose to serve the state in order to protect us all,” Rivlin told the event per an Israeli press release. “You are brave and wonderful people. It is a great honor to sit with you here tonight… It is an opportunity for us to give something back to you.”

The Passover meal marks the Israelite’s freedom from slavery in Egypt as described in the Biblical book of Exodus and involves multiple special foods to recall that experience. Rivlin highlighted those themes as important to today’s times as well—especially for the military. … Continue Reading

How He Became the Unbeatable Bibi Netanyahu

April 11, 2019 Special Feature

PM Netanyahu oppose. Photo courtesy of Haim Zach (GPO)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—known also by his nickname “Bibi”—is expected to be named as Israel’s leader for the fifth time, extending his record-setting run as prime minister to well into it’s eighth straight year. It will also give him a chance to catch Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, for the longest total time serving as Israel’s leader at a little over 13 years, thanks to Netanyahu’s earlier 3-year run in the 1990s. But how did he do it? How did Netanyahu not only manage to return to power, but stay there longer than anyone else in Israeli history? … Continue Reading

US Sanctions Iran Nuclear Group after Threat ‘Highlighted’ by Israeli Intelligence

Israel and the US are working hard to counter Iran’s nuclear threat. Illustrative photo of Netanyahu discussing Iran’s “secret nuclear files”. Photo courtesy of: Amos Ben-Gershom (GPO)

The United States last week levied sanctions on a total of 31 persons and entities for their connections to an Iranian group believed to be a threat capable of re-launching Iran’s nuclear weapons program when the timing was right—and Israeli spycraft helped showcase that risk. The sanctions target those affiliated with Iran’s Organization for Defense Innovation and Research, known in Farsi by the acronym “SPND.” That entity, according to a background briefing from two US Senior Administration Officials published by the State Department, is headed by the founder of Iran’s nuclear weapons program, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, and controls groups specializing in radiation, explosives, and missiles.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in comments released from his office on Saturday, congratulated US President Donald Trump and other key figures in the US Administration for the sanctions moves, which his office said came in the “wake” of Israel unveiling an Iranian nuclear program archive in 2018.

“Iran continues to deceive the international community and lie to the world about its military nuclear program,” said Netanyahu. “The Iranian regime continues to conceal its capabilities and to strive for nuclear weapons. Iran endangers the peace of the Middle East and the entire world and must be blocked.” … Continue Reading

Israel Strikes Weapons Storage Day after US Espouses Support of anti-Iran Action in Syria

January 13, 2019 Special Feature, Syria

PM Netanyahu & US Secy. of State Pompeo. Illustrative. Photo courtesy of: Haim Zach / Israeli GPO

United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday last week provided American backing for Israel’s efforts to prevent Iran from setting up a new base of operations in Syria. One day later, Israeli warplanes struck weapons storage facilities belonging to Iran, including a target at an international airport in Syria’s capital of Damascus. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took the unusual position of claiming credit for the attack on Sunday.

“Israel attacked an Iranian weapons warehouse at the international airport in Damascus,” said Netanyahu in comments released by his office. “This reflects our consistent policy and strong determination to prevent Iran from entrenching itself militarily in Syria. If necessary, we will step up these attacks.”

The Israeli strike follows Pompeo’s speech backing such action at the American University in Cairo, Egypt, which was republished by the State Department. Pompeo told the audience, “We strongly support Israel’s efforts to stop Tehran from turning Syria into the next Lebanon.” … Continue Reading

2018 Sets Record for Tourism to Israel as More than 4 Million Visit

January 6, 2019 Special Feature

Jerusalem tourism information center. Illustrative. By Joshua Spurlock

It took Israel 69 years to reach 3 million tourists visiting in one year. It took just one year to reach 4 million tourists in a year. 2018 set a record for the number of tourists to visit Israel in one year, with more than 4.1 million arriving in the Holy Land. “This is the second consecutive record-breaking year in incoming tourism to Israel and this year we have crossed the threshold of 4 million tourists in a year,” Tourism Ministry Director-General Amir Halevi said in a Sunday press release from the Tourism Ministry. “…What was considered a fantasy a few years ago is today a reality: Israel is a preferred tourist destination among tourism destinations around the world.”

In 2017, around 3.6 million tourists visited Israel, which was itself a record at the time according to a prior press release from the Tourism Ministry. Sunday’s press release noted that it took 30 years—from 1948 to 1978—for Israel to finally have 1 million tourists in one year. 40 years later and the United States alone sent almost a million tourists to Israel, with 897,100 Americans visiting in 2018. France and Russia were next on the list with more than 300,000 visitors each. … Continue Reading

Israeli Civilian Discovers Ancient Roman Busts While Just Taking a Walk

December 30, 2018 Special Feature

The uncovered Roman busts. Photo courtesy of Eitan Klein, Israel Antiquities Authority

It’s not every day that the average person finds 1,700-year-old sculptures, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen during an everyday activity in Israel. A local resident recently discovered two “impressive” Roman busts near the city of Beit She’an in northern Israel while just taking a walk, according to a press release from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA).

The top of one of the two sculptures was poking out of the ground and seen by the woman, who along with her husband contacted the IAA Theft Prevention Unit. Inspectors sent to the site were able to find the antiquities, which are believed to be from the Late Roman period (3rd–4th centuries CE).

Nir Distelfeld, IAA Theft Prevention Unit inspector, said in the press release, “It seems that the busts were exposed following the recent heavy rainfall in the area. These are very important finds, which tell us a great deal about the inhabitants of the Beth She’an area in antiquity. We thank the Beit She’an resident for her alertness and good citizenship and she will receive a certificate of appreciation.” … Continue Reading

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