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Israeli-Syrian Boarder view from the Golan Heights (photo credit: Sam Mugraby, Photos8.com)

TENSION RISING ALONG ISRAEL'S BORDERS WITH SYRIA & LEBANON

The civil war in Syria may be gradually cooling down but the Syrian and Lebanese borders are heating up. Is there a connection between these two developments?

Meanwhile, the US negotiating team, headed by Jared Kushner, has flown home to report to President Donald Trump after running into a hot reception from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

On the local political scene, a shake-up in the Zionist-Union (Labor) party may be in the offing as newcomer Avi Gabay gains momentum in the upcoming leadership race.

Saturday afternoon on the Golan Heights: Hundreds of Israeli visitors are enjoying the annual cherry picking festival. Suddenly, a barrage of ten mortar bombs rains down inside Israeli territory opposite the deserted Syrian town of Kuneitra. Just seven hundred yards away inside Syria, President Assad's army has been battling rebel forces. Israeli spotters identify the source of the mortar fire in a nearby Syrian army position. Israel's policy is to steer clear of the Syrian civil war that has raged for seven years. However, Jerusalem also holds Syrian President Assad responsible for any artillery fire from his territory into Israel, whether it is accidental or deliberate. And so within a very short time, Israeli aircraft rocket the Syrian position, hitting two tanks. The Syrians reported later that two of their soldiers were killed. Meanwhile, Israeli visitors in the immediate region were ordered to leave. It was the most serious Israeli-Syrian clash since February, and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman again clarified that Israel will not tolerate any spillover of shooting into Israeli territory. At the same time, it's Assad's call - if there is more Syrian shooting across the frontier, the IDF will hit back hard.

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Border Police officer Hadas Malka was killed on June 16, 2017, in a stabbing attack near Damascus Gate. (Courtesy)

Urgent Questions About Terror In Jerusalem & High-Rise Inferno In London

Friday evening 7:30 in Jerusalem: Most Israeli families were just finishing the traditional Sabbath Eve meal. A typical peaceful quiet had descended over the city. Suddenly on Saladin Street, the main thoroughfare in East Jerusalem, gunfire shattered the calm. Near Zedekiah's Cave, two Palestinians armed with knives and a modified Karl Gustav submachine gun attacked Israeli Border police who were patrolling in the area. The terrorists' submachine gun jammed quickly and the police officers shot dead the two attackers. Meanwhile, up the street near the Damascus Gate, a third terrorist surprised another team of Israeli Border Guards and stabbed twenty-three-year-old Sergeant Hadas Malka in the back. Although critically wounded, she tries to fight off her attacker before comrades shoot dead the terrorist.

Hadas was rushed by ambulance to Hadassah Hospital on nearby Mount Scopus. Doctors worked to try and save her life, but to no avail - she was fatally wounded in the neck and throat. Five hours later she was pronounced dead. A second Israeli Border Policeman was lightly wounded by ricochet fragments, as were two Palestinian bystanders who were not linked to the attack. 

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Scientists develop innovative way to remove viruses from drinking water

Israeli and American researchers develop novel membrane filtration methods to fill a critical need worldwide.

A team of Israeli, German and US researchers have developed novel ultrafiltration membranes that significantly improve the process of removing viruses from treated municipal wastewater used as drinking water by cities suffering water shortages.The new approach for virus pathogen removal was developed by a team from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU), University Duisburg-Essen, Germany, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC).

       “This is an urgent matter of public safety,” the researchers said. “Insufficient removal of human adenovirus in municipal wastewater, for example, has been detected as a contaminant in US drinking-water sources, including the Great Lakes and worldwide.”

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BIBI, ABBAS & ARAB STATES PLAY BALL WITH TRUMP

While the rest of the world was looking for the 'smoking gun' in James Comey's testimony against President Donald Trump in Washington, some intriguing developments were going on in the Middle East. After Trump's recent visit, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the Gulf States ganged up on Qatar for its support of Iran, the Muslim Brothers, and Hamas. It triggered a diplomatic and commercial earthquake throughout the region. It stands to reason that the Arab states would not have taken such drastic steps without the green light from the US President. Even though America maintains a big air base with 10,000 troops on Qatar, Trump has accused Qatar of backing Islamist terrorism.

The facts: unlike all the other Sunni Arab states, Qatar is on good terms with Shiite Iran. In addition, it supports the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt against President Al-Sisi while also backing Daesh, Al Qaida and Hamas in Gaza. (The IMF estimates that Qatar is the richest country in the world per capita with an average annual income of $127,000 compared to Israel with $35,000). As for the Jewish state, independent-minded Qatar maintains some informal ties, despite its support for Hamas. But Trump and the Shiite Arab states have concluded that Qatar has gotten too big for its britches, so to speak, and decided to take it down a peg or two. Its capital, Doha, is isolated in the Persian Gulf and will be forced to mend its ways.

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Israel and Nuclear Weapons Threats - Operation Opera

On the anniversary of Israel's air strike that destroyed Saddam Husein's nuclear reactor near Baghdad on June 7th, 1981 and against the background of former Mossad Chief Meir Dagen's warning that Israel should not attack Iran's nuclear weapons sites today, IsraCast presents a report broadcast shortly after the Israeli preventative attack on Iraq.

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What happened to the Jews of Iraq?

 A war-torn nation now split between the Iraqi government, ISIS controlled areas, and the Kurdish region of the north, Iraq is certainly no safe land for anyone, let alone the small ethno-religious minorities that once thrived there for centuries. It's hard to imagine now, but Iraq was once home to a large Jewish population of over 150,000 souls, one of the longest surviving and most historically significant of Jewish communities in the Diaspora. As of 2008, there were less than ten Jews counted still living in Iraq, and the number today may very well have dwindled to none.

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PRES. DONALD TRUMP = HOMO DEUS OR YERTLE THE TURTLE?

Does U.S. President Donald Trump perceive himself to be a first and only master of humankind; a Homo Deus, to pinch the title of Prof. Yuval Harari's intriguing book? Never mind that the preponderance of serious scientists in the world agree that there is an urgent need to also 'repeal and replace' the Paris accord on the emission of dangerous gases into the atmosphere - our very future is at stake. But Trump has signaled that America's coal miners come first. However, just as Trump struck out on rejecting Obamacare, he probably will also fail again. Even Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who opposed withdrawing from the Paris accord, was quick to play down the impact:

       “I think it's important everyone recognizes the U.S. has a terrific record of reducing our own greenhouse gas emissions. I don't think we are going to change our ongoing efforts to reduce these emissions in the future either. So, hopefully people can keep it in perspective.”

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The truth about the occupation

Op-ed: It’s been 50 years since Israel gained control of the territories, and figures show that the Palestinians have actually experienced a major improvement over that period. In most areas, their situation is much better than that of Arabs in neighboring countries. The lies about a genocide and destruction must therefore be shattered.

I doubt there is a more common phrase than “the occupation corrupts.” A large number of organizations, activists and writers go to the trouble of filling this slogan with content. Nobel Prize laureate José Saramago argued in the past that “what is happening in Palestine is a crime we can put on the same plane as what happened at Auschwitz.” Auschwitz of all places?

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Shavuot - the Feast of the Weeks

Shavuot, the Feast of the Weeks, is the Jewish holiday celebrating the giving of the Ten Commandments to Moses and the Israelites at Mount Sinai, and the harvest season in Israel. Listen to Rav Daniel Cohen, who comments on various aspects of The Feast of Shavuot being celebrated by Jews around the world.

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TRUMP RAISES MORE QUESTIONS THAN ANSWERS IN MIDDLE EAST

The only thing consistent about U.S. President Donald Trump is his frequent lack of consistency. He left Israel with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Right-wing camp jumping for joy: Trump had made no specific reference to the two-state solution! But on the other hand, he and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson declared Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was truly interested in making peace with Israel. Knesset Member Tzipi Livni, a former Likudnik who has switched to Labor, has more negotiating hours with Abbas than any other Israeli politician. Livni feels the question now is whether Trump will follow through on his declaration that both Bibi and Abbas are ready for a deal.

Livni is looking for Trump's Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt to start the ball rolling by putting something on the table. Greenblatt is Trump's longtime private lawyer with a reputation for resolving sticky issues. He will now have his work cut out for him. So far, he stage-managed a great Middle East tour for his boss that has left everybody singing the praises of Trump: Saudi Arabia's King Salman, Abbas, and Bibi.

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PRESIDENT TRUMP WILL HIGHTLIGHT HISTORIC OPPORTUNITY FOR ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN PEACE

IsraCast Forecast: A buoyant Donald Trump will fly into Israel and call on Israel and the Palestinians to exploit a historic chance for peace.

After his 'tremendous talks' in Riyadh with Arab leaders, the U.S. President is convinced that he can help Netanyahu and Abbas close the deal. Fresh from his diplomatic success in Saudi Arabia, Trump will offer to act as a facilitator and instruct his administration to work overtime to aid Bibi and Abbas in forging peace. In Riyadh, he had heard that Muslim leaders world-wide would make peace with Israel the day after Bibi and Abbas hammered out an agreement. They already have signed on to the Saudi peace initiative for Israel. The first step was to return to the table with both sides making some good-will gestures to get the ball rolling.

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ISRAEL SUCCEEDS IN BLOCKING CYBER ATTACKS

So far so good. As of this moment Israel's cyber defenses have prevented any major cyber break-in. After some one hundred countries have reported a major cyber offensive around the globe, Prime Minister Netanyahu told the regular cabinet session today that Israel's cyber wall had stood the test. The country was waiting for Sunday when Israel goes back to work after the Sabbath when everything shuts down. The PM reported only 'very minor' cyber attempts were detected and there had been no penetration of vital strategic networks. He also disclosed that several years ago Israel had established a 'Governmental Authority' to protect Israel's vital institutions. This obviously referred to the IDF and a vast array of other potential military and civilian targets. Netanyahu did not reveal details, but it's a safe bet that Iran poses the greatest cyber threat to Israel.

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THE ISRAEL YOU DON'T SEE ON THE NEWS

 Amidst the whirlwind of tensions that monopolizes much of Israel's airtime attention, it does appear to be a wonder sometimes that anyone would choose to live in such a tumultuous and threatened nation, let alone vacation here. Indeed, it is not unusual for outsiders to shake their heads dismally at the newest sensationalized upheaval, wondering, 'when will those hot-heads in the Middle East get their act together?' And this languid desire for peace and quiet is not unfounded; in point of fact, the state of Israel has been in a perpetual state of war with its neighboring countries since it's Declaration of Statehood in 1948, which was marked by Transjordan, Egypt, Syria, and Iraq launching a joint attack on the infant nation meant to 'drive the Jews into the sea'. The truth is Israel itself would like some peace and quiet more than anyone. And yet, despite the troubling realities of a nation living under the constant shadow of war, Israel has miraculously thrived in almost every way imaginable! 

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An Evening of Songs for Danny - ערב שירים לדני

 אחרי מלחמת ששת הימים, משנת 1969 התקיימו כל שנה במערה הקסומה, שבקיבוץ בית-גוברין, ערבי שירה עם מיטב הלהקות והזמר העברי. הערב נקרא: "ערב שירים לדני", לזכרו של דני ורדון מגבעת ברנר, אשר נפל באל-עריש במלחמת ששת הימים.


 Following the Six Day War (the War of Independence), starting in 1969, performances took place every year at the enchanting cave of Kibbutz Beit-Guvrin providing evenings of song by the best of Hebrew singers and bands.  This evening was called: "An Evening of Songs for Danny", in remembrance of Danny Verdon of Kibbutz Givat Brenner, who fell in Al-Arish during the Six Day War.

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Sabena Flight 707

On May 8, 1972 a Boeing 707 passenger aircraft of the Belgian airline company, Sabena, that was in flight from Vienna to Tel Aviv, was hijacked by four terrorists from the Palestinian terrorist organization, Black September, and landed at the Tel Aviv airport near Lod.


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ARE NETANYAHU'S DAYS NUMBERED OR WILL HE SURVIVE INVESTIGATION?

The chief Israeli prosecutor investigating Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu on suspicion of graft has indicated there are grounds for indicting Israel's leader. If so, this could now start the dominoes falling leading to Netanyahu's eventual resignation. However, the final say on charging Bibi is up to her boss, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, a former close aid of the Prime Minister. But let's not put the cart before the horse.

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Ben-Zion Netanyahu (1910-2012)

Prof. Ben-Zion Netanyahu passed away at his Jerusalem home, at the age of 102. Ben-Zion Netanyahu and his late wife Tzila, who passed away in 2000, had three sons – Lieutenant Colonel Yonatan (Yoni) Netanyahu, who was killed during Operation Yonatan in Entebbe; Benjamin, the Prime Minister of Israel; and Ido, a doctor, writer and playwright. Read More...

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