Jewishupdates's Blog

January 7, 2010

A7News: ‘Iron Dome’ Anti-Missile System Ready for Deployment

Filed under: Uncategorized — jewishupdates @ 1:19 pm

logo.jpgTevet 21, 5770 / Thursday, Jan. 07 ’10

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Headlines

  1. ‘Iron Dome’ Anti-Missile System Ready for Deployment
  2. Al Qaeda in Gaza Teaching Terrorism?
  3. Volley of Mortar Attacks on Western Negev
  4. Ketzaleh: Radical Left is a Terminal Patient
  5. Egypt, Arab Countries Sign Massive Arms Deals With U.S.
  6. Golani Regiment Goes Religious
  7. Rabbis, MKs Seek to Block Court Intervention in Kashrut
  8. YU Missions in Israel: Healthcare, Sabbath/Modernity

1. ‘Iron Dome’ Anti-Missile System Ready for Deployment

by Nissan Ratzlav-Katz

The newest Israeli mobile missile and artillery defense system, dubbed Iron Dome, will soon be deployed in the field, according to an IDF announcement on Wednesday. The system successfully intercepted and eliminated multi-pronged simulated attacks during a battery of tests this week.

The IDF Spokesperson’s Office said that Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and the Defense Ministry completed the Iron Dome tests over the course of the last 48 hours. The system was able to handle a multitude of attacks simultaneously, taking down multiple incoming rockets and mortar shells in mid-air.

Iron Dome, developed by Rafael, is designed to defend Israeli towns and cities against short-range missiles, rockets and artillery. In recent years, such attacks have primarily come from the Palestinian Authority in Gaza and from Hizbullah terrorists in Lebanon.

With the conclusion of the research and development stages of the Iron Dome project, the system is slated to be deployed soon. An Israel Air Force artillery battalion has been assigned and dedicated to operate the Iron Dome in the field.

At the conclusion of the tests, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that the Iron Dome system is intended to improve the defense of the residents of southern Israel from the PA’s rocket threat.
Firing the Iron Dome anti-rocket missile (IDF Spokesperson’s Office)

Iron Dome anti-rocket missile on its way to the target (IDF Spokesperson’s Office)


…And destroying the target (IDF Spokesperson’s Office)

Defense Ministry Director Pinchas Bukhris said that Iron Dome "will alter the political and security situation of Israel on the northern and southern fronts." He went on to praise Rafael and his Ministry for their "impressive accomplishment. This is an Israeli technological accomplishment that was developed in an unmatched amount of time in terms of technological systems development."

Iron Dome Part of a Larger Network of Missile Defenses
The Iron Dome system, the IDF Spokesperson’s Office emphasized, is one part of an all-enveloping missile defense network. While Iron Dome is effective against short-range threats, the Israeli systems known as the Magic Wand and Arrow are designed to counter other missile attacks.

Magic Wand, also known as David’s Sling, is an anti-missile system for medium-to-long-range threats. Also developed by Rafael, in conjunction with the American defense contractor Raytheon, the system is slated to be deployed in coming years.

The Arrow 3 missile defense system was developed by Israel Aerospace Industries and the American Boeing aerospace company. It is designed to intercept and destroy long-range ballistic missiles. The Arrow 3 system is also in its advanced testing stages. Previous versions of the Arrow anti-ballistic system have already been deployed and components have been sold to other countries.

According to the IDF Spokesperson’s Office, with its multiple systems, Israel is currently one of the world leaders in anti-missile defense technologies.

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2. Al Qaeda in Gaza Teaching Terrorism?

by Hana Levi Julian

Gaza’s ruling Hamas regime issued an official statement on Wednesday that there are no Al Qaeda operatives in the region. A spokesman for the Hamas-run Interior Ministry expressed fury at rumors making the rounds in Israel of a gradual takeover in Gaza by the international Al Qaeda terrorist organization.

Yahav al Yussein exclaimed, “These stories are lies. There is absolutely no Al Qaeda organization here.” Al Yussein added that the rumors were spread in order to “provide an excuse for Israel to carry out new military offensives” against the region. He acknowledged, however, that there are some people in the region who have “adopted an extremist ideology,” but said, “the Gaza government is dealing with them in a firm manner, as it did during the events in Rafiah. This phenomenon does not exist today in Gaza.”

An IDF source said Wednesday that army officials do not attribute much importance to the information published by Hamas about the presence of Al Qaeda in Gaza. A senior security official knowledgeable about what is happening in the region told the Arutz Sheva Hebrew news service that if the international terrorist group has infiltrated Gaza, “they came to teach, not learn.”

The Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) noted in its annual report last week that operatives from a broad range of groups in the “global jihad” movement have appeared in the region over the past year. Dozens of terrorists have joined various military groups popping up in Gaza, said the agency, such as the Jaljalat, the Jund Ansrallah, and other organizations.

“During the past year, operatives from these groups have attempted to carry out bombings inside Israeli territory and along the border fence,” the agency reported. “For instance, [global jihad] operatives took responsibility for an attack on January 27 (2009) in which an IDF soldier was killed by an explosive device near southern Gaza. Another attack was foiled in June.” Terrorists mounted on horseback were thwarted in an attempt to kidnap and kill Israeli soldiers patrolling along the security fence.

The attempted terror attacks by rival operatives have caught the attention of Hamas, inasmuch as they signal a threat to the organization and its control over the region. The activity has also raised tensions between Hamas and groups affiliated with the Global Jihad movement that have not accepted the authority of the ruling faction.

Tensions climaxed in July when Hamas terrorists clashed with Global Jihad operatives who had been using a mosque in the area of Rafiah. During the battle, many of the Global Jihad commanders were killed and wounded, and a number of others associated with the movement were arrested and taken prisoner. Several Hamas terrorists were also killed, including a number of top officials. Nevertheless, the clash did not prevent the various Global Jihad groups from continuing their activities, and the movement has slowly begun to take hold in the region.

Al Qaeda Infiltration Not New
Terrorists from the Al Qaeda organization have been seen in Gaza for several years already. PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas accused Hamas in 2008 of allying itself with the group and helping its operatives to infiltrate Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

In a February 2008 interview with the London-based Arabic newspaper al-Hayat, Abbas declared, “I can say without doubt that Al Qaeda is present in the Palestinian territories and that this presence, especially in Gaza, is facilitated by Hamas.”

IDF military intelligence officials said at the time that Al Qaeda terrorists were among the hundreds of other terrorists who infiltrated the region after Hamas blew up the security barrier on the Egyptian-Gaza border in January 2008.

Shalit’s Kidnappers Linked to Al Qaeda?
One of the three terrorist groups that participated in the June 2006 kidnapping of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, the “Army of Islam” (Jaysh al-Islam), run by the Doghmush clan, has been linked to Al Qaeda. It is also known as “the organization of Al Qaeda in Palestine.”

Although the Doghmush group originally was close to Hamas, the relationship eventually fell apart. At present, the Army of Islam is shunned by both the Hamas and Fatah factions of the Palestinian Authority. Based in the Zabra neighborhood in central Gaza, the group was also responsible for the 2007 kidnapping of BBC bureau chief Alan Johnston, who was held hostage for 114 days. Johnston was eventually freed after Hamas officials arrested several Army of Islam members, including the group’s spokesman.

Shalit remains a prisoner and his condition and whereabouts are unknown.

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3. Volley of Mortar Attacks on Western Negev

by Hana Levi Julian

Gaza terrorists fired a series of ten mortar shells at the western Negev on Thursday in an escalation of terrorist violence aimed at southern Israel. At least three of the shells exploded next to a kibbutz located in the Shaar HaNegev Regional Council area. However, the residents were not forewarned, because the Color Red incoming missile alert system failed to activate.

Three other shells landed near the Kerem Shalom crossing with Gaza, through which humanitarian supplies are shipped almost daily into the region. Trucks waiting at the terminal to deliver supplies when the shells struck the area have been turned back, and the Defense Ministry has closed the crossing until further notice. In addition, one mortar shell exploded in the coastal region, according to local sources. No one was injured and no damage was reported in any of the attacks.

The Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) terrorist organization has claimed responsibility for the attacks. The group said it fired the barrage in retaliation for an IAF air strike several days ago that killed two of its operatives in the area of Khan Yunis, near the site of destroyed Jewish communities in Gush Katif. The IAF on Tuesday bombed a rocket launching cell that was preparing to launch a missile at southern Israel, following a Kassam rocket attack fired several hours earlier. Two other operatives were wounded in the strike.

IAF Dropped Flyers in Gaza Thursday Morning
According to PA sources, the Israel Air Force dropped two different types of flyers in Gaza Thursday morning, warning local residents not to approach the security barrier and not to enter the smuggling tunnels.

One of the flyers featured a map which showed residents exactly where not to go, and a specific warning that anyone who came within 300 meters of the security barrier would do so at his own peril.

A second flyer called on Gaza residents to report smugglers and provide information on the tunnels being dug in the area, saying the smugglers are endangering the community. An email address and phone was provided for the purpose.

The Home Front Command tested the air raid alert system in the north of the country on Thursday morning, with sirens sounding in several dozen towns in the central and northern Galilee. In addition, Israel Military Industries announced it would conduct tests Thursday in the Ramat Beka area, near Be’er Sheva. Explosions are to be expected in the area throughout the afternoon, ending at approximately 4:00 p.m.

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4. Ketzaleh: Radical Left is a Terminal Patient

by Gil Ronen

The Left in Israel is “a terminal patient and there is nothing left of it,” National Union Chairman MK Yaakov (Ketzaleh) Katz said Wednesday. The letter threatening Defense Minister Ehud Barak with death, which made recent headlines, was sent by a Shabak (Secret Service) provocateur, he claimed, dismissing it.

In a particularly fiery interview with Arutz Sheva‘s Hebrew news magazine, Katz said that the Left has “a regular ritual of defaming the religious, hareidi and settler public whenever it wants to prepare the public for expulsions.” The post Zionist Left, he said, is alarmed by the fact that the religious public is growing in its influence in all walks of life, in the military, in education, and even inside the Shabak itself, “but this will not help them, because we will grow, and we will flourish, we will make Aliyah and we will give birth and we will educate and eventually we will run the country, and the first thing we will do is to cancel the Jewish Department of the Shabak [dep’t. that infiltrates Jewish communities].”

"I hope that with the help of G-d there will be no more expulsions,” Katz said. “They can hurt us in specific places but they cannot uproot the greater historical process of the ascent to Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem, which is growing tremendously fast at a 10% annual growth rate. If there are 650,000 Jews today – 300,000 of them in eastern Jerusalem and another 350,000 in Judea and Samaria, in a few years’ time they will reach a million and 1.5 million, and that is irreversible.”

"All the anti Zionists can do is scream and sting us with pinpoint operations… they have nothing left except for a few people behind the microphones, people who use drugs and alcohol, and a few more people in the Supreme Court, whose course of action is to justify all the bad things that are done to Jews in the Land of Israel.”

“But the People of Israel are a strong nation, and we have survived hatred from without and hatred from within, and as for the Shabak agent from the Jewish Department who sent the letter [to Barak] – this, too, will pass.”

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5. Egypt, Arab Countries Sign Massive Arms Deals With U.S.

by Malkah Fleisher

US airplane manufacturer Lockheed Martin has been given permission by the US government to sell 24 F-16 jet fighters to Egypt in a $3.2 billion deal. Congress was notified of the deal in October, according to a spokesperson for Lockheed Martin.

A Pentagon report released by Haaretz newspaper says the Egyptian F-16 deal is aimed at making Egypt a "more valuable partner in the Middle East" in addition to supporting "Egypt’s own self-defense needs," according to the UPI news agency. Additionally, Israel’s neighbor will receive four batteries of highly advanced Harpoon Block II anti-ship cruise missiles, four fast missile boats, 450 Hellfire anti-tank missiles (to be sold with restrictions on use and transfer, according to the Pentagon), and 156 jet engines for F-16 aircraft.

Relations between Egypt and the United States have strengthened since US President Barack Hussein Obama assumed power. President Hosni Mubarak has already met with Obama in Washington, having avoided the Oval Office for 5 years due to differences with former President George W. Bush.

According to the Agence France Presse, Egypt receives approximately $1.5 billion in US aid annually, half of what Israel receives. Much of the aid given to countries by the United States must be used to buy American-made products and arms.

Until June 2009, the United States repeatedly denied Egyptian requests to purchase arms because of Egypt’s record on human rights and democracy, according to website F-16.net. That policy has changed under President Obama.

More deals worry Israel
Yet the Egyptian arsenal is not the only military deal okayed by the Obama administration which is worrying Israel. Saudia Arabia, Jordan, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates also have new military acquisition contracts with the United States. The Pentagon has released the details to Congress.

Some of the purchases will include 2,742 anti-tank missiles for Saudia Arabia, 1,808 anti-tank missiles and 162 launchers with night vision systems for Jordan, 1,600 laser-guided "smart bombs and 800 one-ton and 400 bunker buster bombs for the UAE, and 24 additional F-16s for Morocco, the first owned by that country’s air force," according to UPI.

The Department of Defense presentation to Congress stated that the military balance of power would not be impacted in the region as a result of the sale, although no arms deals have been made with Israel since the inception of the Obama administration.

American military officials say the arms deals were justified as a means of deterring Iran.

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6. Golani Regiment Goes Religious

by Gil Ronen

As of the summer of 2010, the IDF’s Golani Regiment – one of the leading infantry regiments – will have a clear majority of commanders who are Torah-observant, daily paper Yisrael Hayom reported. This is the first time that a regiment in the IDF is led by such a clearly religious cadre, and it marks the growing centrality of religious soldiers in the IDF.

The most senior kippah-donning officer will be the Regimental Commander, Col. Ofek Buchris, who is a graduate of Ateret Kohanim Yeshiva. He will be replacing Col. Avi Peled.

Buchris’s intended deputy, Lt.-Col. Dudi Obermann, who was Aide-de-Camp to the IDF Chief of Staff until recently, is also a kippah-wearer. The commander of Golani’s regimental training base will be Lt.-Col. Eyal Asraf, also an Ateret Kohanim graduate. The commander of the 12th Battalion will be Lt.-Col. Udi Ben-Chamo, a graduate of Eli Yeshiva and son-in-law of Rabbi Eli Sadan, an influential religious-Zionist rabbi.

Additional religious appointments will be 51st Battalion Commander Lt.-Col. Shai Kelfer, a graduate of Shavei Hevron Yeshiva, and Lt.-Col. Avinoam Stolovich, a graduate of Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva, who has already been appointed as the commander of the 13th Battalion.

The only top positions that will not be held by openly religious Jews will be the commander of the elite Egoz unit and the commander of the Reconnaissance Battalion.

The kippahs worn by all of these commanders are of the knit variety favored by the religious-Zionists.

In other infantry regiments, too, the religious are “taking over”: planned appointments in Givati include religious officers who will serve as Shaked Battalion Commander, Commander of the Regimental Training Base, Commander of the Reconnaissance Battalion and at least four of the senior officers in the Kfir Regiment.

"The religious education places great emphasis on love of the people and the land, and this makes itself apparent in volunteerism for the combat units,” a military source told Yisrael Hayom, adding: “I do not know if this should be seen as a badge of honor for the religious sector or a badge of shame for the secular sector.”

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7. Rabbis, MKs Seek to Block Court Intervention in Kashrut

by Hillel Fendel

Chief Rabbis and Knesset Members join forces to promote legislation that will allow the Rabbinate to withhold kosher status from missionary eateries.

Last month, the Supreme Court ruled that the Chief Rabbinate must issue a kashrut certificate to a restaurant run by missionaries. Ever since, Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar and others have been searching for ways to restore the Rabbinate’s exclusive authority in determining the criteria used to render a restaurant fit for a religious Jew to patronize.

The five Shas Party government ministers, plus MKs Yaakov (Ketzaleh) Katz, Uri Orbach, Uri Maklev, and Menachem Moses, took part in a Thursday morning meeting in Rabbi Amar’s office. Rabbi Yona Metzger, Israel’s Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi, revealed at the meeting that the woman who runs the eatery in question “prays to Jesus while ritually separating the challah.”

The No-Fraud Kashrut Law currently states that the Chief Rabbinate must determine whether a restaurant is to receive kosher authorization based “solely” on the Jewish laws of kashrut. Four MKs, three of whom are religious, have proposed the following amendment: Instead of the world “solely,” the law will state that the decision will be based on “criteria determined by the Chief Rabbinate Council in accordance with Jewish Law.”

The amendment is being sponsored by MKs Katz and Orbach, as well as MKs David Azulai (Shas) and Aryeh Bibi (Likud). It will be presented to the ministerial committee on legislation this coming Sunday, where the government’s position on the change will be determined.

“We must stand guard and make sure that the Supreme Court does not intervene in matters that it does not understand,” Rabbi Amar has said. “In the end, the ones who will suffer will be the public.”

The change in legislation, the sponsors say, is designed to solve three problems caused by the current situation in which the final kashrut-determining authority is not defined:
1. The kashrut market is not sufficiently organized, and is given to intervention by private elements, often misleading the consumer as to the level of kashrut of a given product.
2. Many sectors do not trust the Chief Rabbinate’s kashrut framework, locally or nationally, and therefore seeks out more expensive products authorized by private kashrut bodies.
3. Many eatery-owners pay good money to receive kashrut authorization from private bodies.

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8. YU Missions in Israel: Healthcare, Sabbath/Modernity

by Hillel Fendel

Dozens of YU students are taking part in two unique “Agents of Change” intersession missions in Israel – one on Jewish Sabbath in the modern world, and another on the question of whether healthcare is a personal, communal or governmental responsibility.

“Shabbat 2010” is a 10-day experiential education program exploring the roots of Shabbat observance and analyzing the effects of Shabbat on contemporary Israeli society and the global Jewish community.

At the same time, a service learning program called Operation Healthcare will examine the healthcare systems of the United States and Israel; 31 students are taking part.

Both groups arrive in Israel on Thursday, January 7, and will remain for 8-11 days.

The Shabbat program is two separate groups of 20 men and 20 women. Each one will spend a Shabbat in Jerusalem and in Kibbutz Lavi, and will be treated to meetings with leaders in various fields and discussions on significant topics. They will visit the Zula Center for Youth at Risk, participate in a seminar on whether Shabbat and the economy can sustain each other, tour the Zomet Institute for Jewish Law and Technology, discuss Jewish-legal questions at the religious Shaare Zedek hospital in Jerusalem, tour IDF operations HQs and observe how religious and non-religious soldier/officers interact, discuss social tensions in Israel concerning Shabbat, watch how a religiously-owned world-class furniture factory is run, and more.

They will also hear Rabbi Sharon Shalom, the first Ethiopian Jew to receive rabbinic ordination by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, speak of his personal and Halakhic (Jewish legal) experiences regarding “Mixed Marriages and the Shabbat Experience.”

Agents of change
Operation Healthcare has already begun with meetings on Capitol Hill and elsewhere in Washington, D.C. The 31 participants, all with pre-med and political science educational backgrounds, are scheduled to arrive in Israel on Thursday, and will hear lectures on medical ethics and medicine in Jewish Law. They will volunteer in local hospitals, medical centers, and the like; visit the Fertility Clinic at the Shaare Zedek hospital; spend a day of fun with the children of the Shalva Association for Mentally and Physically Challenged Children in Israel; hear about Aliyah opportunities for doctors, and listen to lectures on “Policies of Healthcare in Israel,” “The Emotional Power of Bikur Cholim [the mitzvah of visiting the ill — ed.],” and more.

“The primary goal of these and all CJF programs is to inspire our students to become agents of change in their communities and the world-at-large,” said Rabbi Kenneth Brander, the David Mitzner Dean of the CJF, who will accompany all three groups. “It is important to us that these future leaders have experiences that encourage them to thoroughly examine our traditions, as well as form opinions about current hot-button issues so that they can broaden their world-view and deepen their commitment to Torah Judaism.”

In addition to its Israel missions, the CJF will be running two other winter break service learning programs: “Jewish Life Coast to Coast,” visiting four Jewish communities in central United States, and a humanitarian mission in the Central American country of El Salvador.

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