Israel Roundup: Heavy Rains, Big Discussions

  • The opponents of Netanyahu are pressuring to complete his immunity proceeding after his indictment.
  • Trump is cautious about expanding the confrontation with Iran to involve also Israel.
  • France advised its citizens living in Haifa to exercise caution.

Israel has seen its heaviest rainfall over the last two weeks since 1969. Fierce storms and heavy rain pounded central and northern Israel, causing massive flooding in cities, and rivers causing major damage to homes, vehicles, and infrastructure. The northern city of Nahariya suffered besieged by floods suffered the most damage from the abnormal inclement weather.

Yuli Edelstein is an Israeli politician. One of the most prominent refuseniks in the Soviet Union, he has been Speaker of the Knesset since 2013.

The rains fell in Northern and Central Israel, but cities like Ashkelon, and the northern Negev did not see any exceptional accumulation of rain. So far, it is even less than last year. The rain caused the death of two people who were stuck in an elevator shaft in Tel Aviv. Two other people died in Northern Israel when they were caught in a flash flood while they were working in the fields.

The Blue & White party, led by Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid, is applying pressure on Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein to install the Knesset committee to debate prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s request for parliamentary immunity.  Netanyahu has already been indicted for bribery, breach of trust, and fraud. “The Knesset speaker represents all parties and not just the ruling Likud,” Gantz said. Since it was the Prime Minister who requested immunity, he added, it was inconceivable to think Edelstein would stop the Knesset debating the matter. They are threatening to oust the Speaker if he would block a debate on immunity for the Prime Minister.

Netanyahu and US. President Donald Trump discussed new developments in the Middle East after the assassination of Qassem Soleimani.  The Prime Minister congratulated President Trump for acting swiftly and resolutely against the Iranian terrorist.  Netanyahu referred to Soleimani as the “terrorist in chief who was the architect and driver of Iran’s campaign of carnage and terror throughout the Middle East and throughout the world.”

After the Iranian response to the assassination of their leader, Trump said he would not retaliate militarily, only to increase economic pressure on them. There were no causalities to American or Coalition armed forces. In fact, they were notified earlier that the response from Iran was coming and they had time to evacuate the bases.

Israel also has tried to avoid a full scale military confrontation with Iran and Hezbollah, only responding to their terrorism with periodic bombing and closing of tunnels built by Hezbollah in the north. Israel intercepted missiles shot from Syria at the Golan Heights, and made a mild response to this attack, not causing an all-out war. On one occasion, Israel disguised that soldiers were wounded when Hezbollah shot a missile at an army base on the border of Lebanon. In this way, they were able to avoid a full military confrontation with Hezbollah which could last several weeks like the second Lebanon war.

Haifa is the third-largest city in Israel – after Jerusalem and Tel Aviv – with a population of 283,640 in 2018. The city of Haifa forms part of the Haifa metropolitan area, the second- or third-most populous metropolitan area in Israel.

Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, the son of the former Chief Rabbi, made a statement about the tensions created by the assassination of Soleimani and the retaliation.  He said if America would follow this retaliation with a military response, it would cause 200 missiles to be shot at Israel. By not responding, America is considering the vulnerability of Israel, a small nation, to aggression from its enemies, Hezbollah, Iran, Syria, and Hamas. Rabbi Eliyahu is respected throughout Israel, not only as a Rabbi, but also in politics. He still feels that there will be a full confrontation someday.

France advised its citizens living in Haifa to exercise caution after a representative of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps specifically mentioned Haifa in reference to retaliation. Haifa is a major strategic target the largest city in the north. There are also two natural gas resources, Tamar and Leviathan, in the Mediterranean Sea outside Haifa. Both are a great source of income for Israel. From these locations, Israel is supplying natural gas to Egypt and Jordan, and has recently signed a contract with Greece and Cyprus. There were demonstrations this week in Jordan against the trade agreement between their two countries.  

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David Wexelman

Author of 5 books on the internet on topics of Jewish mysticism, managing two websites.

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