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Double Crossed, Woe in Joburg, Birkat HaLevana

Israel Shuts Gaza Crossings to Pressure Hamas Over Fire Kites, Border Violence

Raoul Wootliff and Judah Ari Gross, Times of Israel, July 9th 2018


Israel will close the Kerem Shalom border crossing that serves as the main entry point for commercial goods and humanitarian aid into Gaza. Israel hopes the move will pressure Hamas to stop launching incendiary kites that have burned more than 6,400 acres of Israeli forest and farmland [1]. Israeli opposition leaders have criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for taking so long “to provide security to the people of Israel.”

The Context:

  • Over the past three months, Gazan’s have launched airborne incendiary devices toward Israeli territory, sparking hundreds of fires in southern Israel and causing millions of shekels in estimated damages. The violence is a continuation of the March of Return, a protest commemorating 70 years since Israel’s founding, a date Palestinians refer to as the Nakba, or catastrophe.

  • Israel began blockading the strip upon Hamas’ ascension to power in 2007 to stem the flow of weapons to the terrorist organization. Humanitarian aid, medical supplies and food will continue flowing into Gaza via the Israeli crossing [2]. Egypt once maintained a crossing into Gaza although it remains completely closed.

  • Hamas and Islamic Jihad threatened retaliation, calling the closure “a crime against ‎humanity”‎ [3] and the United Nations (UN) criticized Israel [4] saying “Gaza businessmen have no influence over Hamas [5].”

  • In the first six months of 2018, 48,424 truckloads of goods were imported into Gaza via Israel [6]. Israel will also suspend the extended Gaza fishing zone that allows fisherman to sail up to nine miles from the coast in order to take advantage of the summer fishing season.

Conversation Points:

  • What other non-military mechanisms does Israel have at its disposal to stop the violence originating in Gaza?

  • Should Israel be responsible for supporting Gaza, an enclave led by a terror organization sworn to its destruction?

  • Why doesn’t the UN (or Hamas) criticize Egypt for its complete closure of the Rafah crossing?

Head of Likud South Africa Gunned Down in Johannesburg

Jewish Telegraphic Agency, July 6th 2018


An outspoken Jewish advocate of Israel was gunned down in Johannesburg by unidentified assailants, who left behind his car, wallet and cellular phone. The Johannesburg Jewish community, South Africa’s largest, numbers 50,000 [7].

The Context:

  • Sergio Kowensky, the chairman of Likud South Africa, was responsible for overseeing the group’s activities in both Johannesburg and Cape Town. World Likud is the Israeli Likud party’s “wing for global communication and networking,” which “aims to increase support for Zionism using its global branches [8].” Benjamin Netanyahu leads the Likud party today.

  • The incident closely followed warnings by South Africa’s Jewish community who have noticed an uptick in “viciously anti-Semitic attacks made against South African Jews, both on social media and in direct face-to-face encounters [9].” Another Jewish South African was stabbed to death last month on his strawberry farm.

  • Israel’s relationship with South Africa is tense. South Africa will not reinstate its Israeli ambassador following his withdrawal in May and in December, the South African ruling party voted to downgrade its embassy in Tel Aviv to a liaison office [10].

Conversation Points:

  • Is South Africa’s ambassador withdrawal a double-standard against the Jewish state?

  • By withdrawing its ambassador, is South Africa limiting its ability to play a meaningful role in a conflict it claims to care deeply about?

  • Is South Africa’s Israel policy affecting its citizen’s sentiments towards Jews?

  • The Context:

  • The 1,289-pound landing craft will utilize Elon Musk’s SpaceX Falcon rocket to enter Earth’s orbit, then slingshot around the planet several times to reach the moon. Upon landing, the craft will relay photographs and collect data about the moon’s magnetism.

  • The $95 million craft, which is largely funded by South African-Israeli billionaire Morris Kahn, aims to reach the moon by February. Only three countries have landed craft on the moon — Russia, the US, and China. Only the US has landed people on the moon [12].

  • SpaceIL has 50 employees and 200 volunteers who lecture about the project in schools throughout Israel [13].

Conversation Points:

  • What is the value of investing in space exploration today?


  • Israel closes main Gaza goods crossing in response to arson attacks, BBC July 10th 2018

  • Israel closure of vital Gaza commercial border takes effect, Harry Fawcett, Al Jazeera, July 10th 2018

  • Cracking down on arson terrorism, Israel shutters ‎Gaza's main cargo crossing, Mati Tuchfeld, Lilach Shoval, Nikki Guttman, News Agencies, Israel Hayom, July 10th 2018

  • Israel closure of vital Gaza commercial border takes effect, Harry Fawcett, Al Jazeera, July 10th 2018

  • 'Israel's Closure of Gaza Crossing Is Like Shooting a Dying Man', Haaretz, July 10th 2018

  • Unable to Stop Flaming Kites, Israel Moves to Choke Off Gaza, David M. Halbfinger, New York Times, July 9th 2018

  • Slain Likud South Africa head remembered as ‘true Zionist’, Raoul Wootliff, Times of Israel, July 8th 2018

  • Ibid.

  • South African Zionist activist shot dead in Johannesburg, World Israel News, July 8th 2018

  • SOUTH AFRICA WILL NOT REINSTATE ISRAEL ENVOY FOR TIME BEING, Ilanit Chernick, Jerusalem Post, July 10th 2018

  • Israeli spacecraft aims for historic moon landing… within months, STUART WINER and SHOSHANNA SOLOMON, Times of Israel, July 10th 2018

  • Ibid.

  • First Israeli Spacecraft to Head to Moon on Back of Elon Musk's SpaceX Rocket, Asaf Ronel, Haaretz, July 10th 2018

Israeli Company Plans Lunar Landing Next Year

Washington Post, July 10th 2018


SpaceIL plans to launch an unmanned spacecraft in December and land an “Israeli flag on the moon” by February [11].

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