Hezbollah Ups Border Presence
HEZBOLLAH RAMPING UP PRESENCE ON ISRAELI BORDER: The Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah has dramatically increased its presence on Israel’s northern border, according to a report by Israeli media Monday, January 23.
Over the past year, Hezbollah has reportedly built at least 20 new observation and guard posts adjacent to the Israeli border, despite the terms of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701, which bars the terrorist group from operating near Israel’s border fence. The increase in Hezbollah activity on the border coincides with an IDF project to build a fortified border fence spanning the Israel-Lebanon border. The new terrorist observation posts have been built parallel to the fortified fence, which is still under construction. Ori Eliyahu, a resident of Moshav Shtula near the Lebanese border, said he is not concerned by the new Hezbollah towers. “A few days ago, we saw a large truck unloading the top part of the watchtower.” “The outposts don’t concern me, because I know that Hezbollah is deterred by Israel. They are establishing the watchtowers as a miserable response to the work Israel is conducting along the border.” (INN / VFI News)
US, ISRAEL LAUNCH MAJOR AIR FORCE EXERCISE IN MESSAGE TO IRAN: The US and the IDF on Monday, January 23, launched what has been described by both some Israeli and US officials as the most significant large-scale joint exercise to date, in a not-so-veiled message to Iran and other adversaries.
Though an Israeli media outlet was informed by multiple senior officials of the exercise weeks ago as being extremely significant, it was under the condition of not publicizing it until it was officially announced. The exercise, known as “the Juniper Oak” drills, will involve thousands of forces, a dozen ships, significant numbers of attack and intelligence collection drones and 142 aircraft, including nuclear-capable bombers, and runs through this entire week. These drills are meant to demonstrate and deepen integration between the US and Israeli militaries, a senior US defense official said, and come at a time of growing tension over Iran’s nuclear program. Critical for any potential strike on the Islamic Republic, the exercise will involve midair refueling aircraft, including the IDF said, the KC-46 aircraft which Israel will eventually receive from the US. Although the drills will likely draw interest from Tehran, the US official said there would be no mockups of Iranian targets and that the exercises weren’t oriented around any particular adversary. “I do think that the scale of the exercise is relevant to a whole range of scenarios, and Iran may draw certain inferences from that,” the official acknowledged. “It’s really meant mostly to kick the tires on our ability to do things at this scale with the Israelis against a whole range of different threats.” (JPost / VFI News)
PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU MEETS WITH KING ABDULLAH II: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flew to Jordan on Tuesday, January 24, to meet with King Abdullah II.
The two leaders discussed regional issues, especially strategic, security and economic cooperation between Israel and Jordan, which contributes to regional stability. They also praised the long-standing friendship and partnership between Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom. The head of the ISA, the head of the National Security Council, the military secretary to the Prime Minister, and the Minister of strategic affairs Ron Dermer took part in the meeting as well. Netanyahu assured King Abdullah that the status quo on the Temple Mount would be maintained. According to a Jordanian press release, the King of Jordan stressed to Netanyahu that “the historical and legal status quo at the Al-Aqsa Mosque must be respected.” This is Netanyahu’s first public visit to Jordan since June 2018. The visit comes amid tensions between Jordan and Israel surrounding the visit by National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir to the Temple Mount about two weeks ago, and the incident that occurred last week when the Jordanian ambassador was detained at the entrance to the Temple Mount. The Israel police said that “contrary to erroneous publications, the ambassador’s entry was not prevented. He was the one who decided at a certain point to leave the place on his own initiative, while the policeman was updating his commander and receiving appropriate instructions. If he had waited a few more seconds, he would have been permitted entry to the Temple Mount.” (INN / VFI News)
HOLOCAUST ‘BOOK OF NAMES’ TO BE UNVEILED AT THE UN: When Yad Vashem was created in 1953 on the slopes of Jerusalem’s Mount of Remembrance to commemorate the Holocaust, its founders understood that one of the central functions of the institution would be to document the names of the 6 million Jewish victims.
Now, to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27, Yad Vashem is inaugurating its Book of Names — a monumental installation containing the names of 4,800,000 victims of the Shoah — at the United Nations headquarters in New York. Afterward it will be transferred to its permanent location at Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, in Jerusalem, where it will be open to public viewing in time for Yom HaShoah, the Israeli and Jewish Holocaust remembrance day, in April. The installation is an updated version of the Yad Vashem Book of Names that has been on permanent display at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Poland since 2017. The new version, which contains 500,000 additional names, stands 6.5 feet high and approximately 3.3 feet wide. Its total length is 26.5 feet. The massive volume lists the names of the victims in alphabetical order and, where the information is known, includes their birth dates, hometowns and places of death. The book has blank pages at the end symbolizing the approximately 1 million victims whose names are not yet recorded. The special team that finds the names and archives them in Yad Vashem’s names database is challenged by the fact that the Nazis either tried to eliminate traces of their crimes against humanity by destroying records, or never registered Jews’ names in the first place — especially in Eastern Europe. (INN / VFI News)
AJC SURVEY: HALF OF AMERICANS DON’T KNOW HOW MANY JEWS WERE KILLED IN HOLOCAUST: Most American adults know when the Holocaust happened and are familiar with Auschwitz, but fewer are knowledgeable about the number of Jews murdered and how Hitler came to power in Germany, according to a new American Jewish Committee (AJC) public opinion survey.
Only 53 percent of Americans over the age of 18 answered correctly that approximately six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust, while 20 percent replied they were not sure, 13 percent chose approximately three million, and 11 percent chose more than 12 million. The survey, released ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27, was based on questions asked of a sample of 1,004 adults from the general population, and was included as part of a larger national AJC survey of the general U.S. population on anti-Semitism. “Lacking knowledge can open pathways to trivialization and denial of the Holocaust that also contribute to rising anti-Semitism,” said AJC CEO Ted Deutch. “As we mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day, 78 years after the liberation of Auschwitz, it is imperative that Americans continue to learn about the most documented, planned genocide in modern history – the Nazi extermination of one-third of the Jewish people.” (INN / VFI News)
90 SECONDS TO MIDNIGHT: WORLD CLOSER TO DOOMSDAY THAN EVER – DOOMSDAY CLOCK: The Doomsday Clock was first created in 1947 as a metaphorical countdown to the end of the world as we know it. Specifically, it refers to the impending global disaster that is solely caused by human hands, and it is adjusted every January upon review by scientists from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.
Upon its unveiling in 1947, the clock was seven minutes to midnight. Since that time, it has moved back and forth a total of 24 different times. In 2023 though, earth is closer to a catastrophic global demise than ever before, with the famous Doomsday Clock of the Bulletin being at 90 seconds to midnight, thanks in large part to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This is the closest the clock has ever been to reaching the dreaded midnight. This marks a 10-second change compared to 2022 when the Doomsday Clock was set at 100 seconds to midnight. “We are living in a time of unprecedented danger, and the Doomsday Clock time reflects that reality,” Bulletin president and CEO Rachel Bronson said, adding that “90 seconds to midnight is the closest the Clock has ever been set to midnight, and it’s a decision our experts do not take lightly.” “The US government, its NATO allies and Ukraine have a multitude of channels for dialogue; we urge leaders to explore all of them to their fullest ability to turn back the Clock.” The change was largely due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the subsequently increased possibility of nuclear war, especially with the nuclear rhetoric espoused by officials in Moscow. However, there were other factors at play too, such as the ongoing climate crisis. (JPost / VFI News)
ISRAEL PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA DEBUTS IN ABU DHABI, FIRST TIME IN ARAB COUNTRY SINCE 1945: The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra made its debut in Abu Dhabi during the last week of 2022, marking the first time that it performed in an Arab country since 1945.
The orchestra was invited to participate in the prestigious Abu Dhabi Classics Festival by the Ministry of Culture of the United Arab Emirates, and played at the Emirates Palace. Conductor Lahav Shani led the orchestra in an epic work befitting the grand occasion, Gustav Mahler’s powerful “Titan” Symphony No. 1. The Tel Aviv-based ensemble also performed Wolfang Amadeus Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23. Israel and the UAE normalized their relations with the Abraham Accords in 2020. Since then, the cooperation between the two countries has grown stronger both in the political and economical fields, and in the cultural one. The performance of Israel’s national anthem Hatikva at the beginning of the concert embodied the new era of friendship between the nations. Founded in 1936 by Polish violinist Bronislaw Huberman, the orchestra included dozens of Jewish musicians fleeing anti-Semitism and persecution in Europe. In the following years, world-acclaimed conductor Arturo Toscani led the ensemble twice. In 1945, the orchestra went on tour in Egypt and performed at the Cairo Opera House. Seventy-seven years later, it played again in an Arab country. “Our performance in an Arab country is perhaps a small step on the way to what we all wish for – peace,” Shani said according to Israeli media. (JPost / VFI News)
ISRAEL SEES DRIEST WINTER SEASON IN ABOUT 60 YEARS: Israel is experiencing its driest winter so far in about 60 years, with significantly less rainfall than the corresponding period last year, according to new rainfall figures by the Israel Meteorological Service cited by Hebrew-language media on Thursday, January 19.
According to the findings, the rainfall this winter season raised the water levels of the Sea of Galilee by just 2 cm (about 0.8 inches) so far, down significantly from the corresponding periods between the start of the winter season in December and January 19, where water levels rose by dozens of centimeters and up to a meter in recent years. Israel’s largest freshwater lake, though no longer used as the main source of drinking water, is still seen as a popular gauge of seasonal rainfall. An average Israeli winter that runs from December to March yields an increase of about 1.6 meters (3.2 feet) in the lake’s water levels, Israeli media reported. Israel’s water authorities said the long periods between rainfalls in this first half of the winter season have led to slower flows from streams and run-offs from hills in northern regions, and have thus limited the amount by which the water levels could rise. Eyal Wiesel, a director at the hydrological service of the government’s Government Water and Sewage Authority, told Haaretz that 2 cm was the most modest rise since 1964, when national rainfall measurements began. (TOI / VFI News)
The suggestions, opinions and scripture references made by VFI writers and editors are based on the best information received.
Blessings from Jerusalem,
Barry Segal with the Editorial Staff