Tag Archives: IDF

11 Years Since the Start of the Second Lebanon War

This week marks 11 years since the start of the Second Lebanon War. The war took a large toll on northern Israel and its population, and still lives strong in the memories of many Israelis.

The war was sparked when Hezbollah terrorists fired rockets at an Israeli town near the Lebanese Border. At the same time, Hezbollah attacked an IDF Humvee, killing three soldiers and abducting two. The IDF then launched an operation to recover the abducted soldiers which included airstrikes on key Hezbollah infrastructure and the invasion of southern Lebanon.

The war lasted almost two months, with Hezbollah around 4,000 rockets at Israeli towns and cities, at a rate of over 100 per day. Over a million Israelis had to stay near or in bomb shelters throughout the duration of the war, with some 250,000 civilians evacuating northern Israel and relocating to other areas of the country.

In the 11 years since the war, Hezbollah has been significantly increasing its weapons stockpile, with the terror group now possessing 17 times the number of missiles it had at the end of the war.  The specific number of Hezbollah missiles stands at around 120,000, with many being placed in and around villages in southern Lebanon, within the vicinity of schools, mosques and hospitals.

Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s leader, has continued to threaten Israel regarding war, and there have been some worries that a ‘Third Lebanon War’ is on the horizon with the end of the Syrian Civil War seemingly in sight. Hezbollah has recently even erected billboards with the words “we are coming” facing the Israeli border.

Hezbollah Billboards on Israeli Border (Courtesy)

Despite this, Israeli intelligence officials have recently noticed some positive developments in regard to the Hezbollah threat. Iran is trying to establish a weapons factory in Lebanon, which in reality points to a failure for the Iranian regime and their proxy Hezbollah. This is because it indicates that all other ways by which Iran could transfer advanced weapons to the Shiite terrorist group through Syria have been blocked.

Additionally, the IDF believes its deterrence efforts regarding Hezbollah are going well. Israel has incredibly strong intelligence on the terror group, with one IDF official stating “If Nasrallah knew what we knew about him, he would give up any future intentions to start a war.” Israel’s striking power, which dealt large blows to Hezbollah during the Second Lebanon War, combined with a now superior intelligence, would give Israel a significant advantage if war were to break out.

Another deterrence from war, this time not from Israel, is the Syrian Civil War. Though some may argue the ending of the Syrian Civil War would make war between Hezbollah and Israel more likely, Hezbollah has lost over 1,800 operatives since it entered the fighting in Syria, hardly acting as an incentive to start a fresh campaign against Israel.

Therefore, though threats from Hezbollah are very real, so real that they are considered to be Israel’s biggest strategic threat, the circumstances around the Syrian Civil War, and the strong deterrence strategy from the IDF, means war, for now, seems unlikely. The sudden flare-up however of the Second Lebanon War shows the fragility of the situation on Israel’s northern border.

Contributed by Daniel Kosky, CAMERA Intern

Punitive Housing Demolitions: Why They Are Justified

Israel has suffered from various threats from the first few hours of its existence, and those threats still continue today. At first the Jewish State was under threat from invading Arab armies seeking to militarily destroy it, and now it is faced with Palestinian terrorism from within. In response to the recent wave of terror, under much international criticism, Israel has re-introduced its policy of punitively demolishing the homes of terrorists and their families.

The punitive housing demolition policy permits the IDF to demolish houses that were home to Palestinians suspected or convicted of involvement in terrorism against Israelis. These acts include suicide bombings, shootings, stabbings, as well as thwarted attacks against soldiers or civilians. The demolished houses belong not only to the terrorists, but also to suspects accused of involvement in an attack, such as planning, dispatching the terrorists, or assisting the responsible terror cell. The policy has received strong criticism in both the international press and on college campuses, with some claiming it violates international law.

IDF demolish house of Palestinian who stabbed and killed two Jews in Jerusalem’s Old City (Silman Khader/ Flash 90)

Israel has suffered from a wave of terror since September 2015, with 49 people being killed and 731 being injured in deliberate acts of violence aimed at killing Jews. These attacks have been in the form of 177 stabbing attacks, 117 attempted stabbings, 144 shootings, 58 vehicular (ramming) attacks; and one vehicular (bus) bombing. Israel, like every other state under threat, must protect its citizens, and the punitive house demolition policy has shown to be an effective way of doing so. An independent study of Israeli punitive home demolitions found that the demolitions led to a significant decrease in terror attacks of between 11.7% and 14.9%. Moreover, since the re-introduction of house demolitions, terror in Israel has significantly decreased, with the first half of 2017 marking the lowest number of terror attacks since early 2015. Therefore, to criticize the Israeli government for protecting its citizens and clearly saving lives is ludicrous and morally wrong.

Israeli Zaka volunteers carry a body following a shooting attack on a bus in Jerusalem in 2015. (Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images)

Contrary to claims made by Israel’s critics, the policy is legal under international law, with the Geneva Convention requiring an occupying army to keep in place the laws of the previous recognized governor, in this case the British Mandate.

Punitive home demolitions act as a strong counter to the benefits given out by the Palestinian Authority to convicted terrorists and their families. The Palestinian Authority incites violence against Israelis by paying convicted terrorists and their family a monthly salary, with the more Israelis killed, the higher the salary. The financial hardship burdened by the families of terrorists is arguably outweighs to the financial benefits of conducting an attack, thus at least partially removing the incentive to carry out terror attacks from the Palestinian Authority.

Further justification for the demolition policy can be found in that it focuses on the terrorist’s family’s complicity. Many relatives of future terrorists often encourage, help supply, or fail to report planned acts of terrorism to the relevant authorities. The re-implementation of house demolitions acts as a strong deterrent, not necessarily to the terrorist themselves, but to their family, who will know if they do not report their relatives to the authorities, will face losing their homes.

All governments, including the Israeli government, have a responsibility to protect their citizens from all threats, such as terrorism. And despite all the criticism surrounding Israel’s re-implementation of punitive housing demolitions, studies show that it clearly works as a strong deterrent to terrorists and their families, saving many innocent lives. To demand of Israel to stop its demolition of terrorist’s houses, is to demand the Israeli government fail to do all it can to stop the murdering of its citizens, and no government would, or should accept that.

Contributed by Daniel Kosky, CAMERA Intern

Campus Activist to Active Duty

 

Jason Frances, CAMERA Fellow

Jason Frances was a CAMERA Fellow at the University of Central Florida this year, as well as serving as vice president of CAMERA-supported group Knights for Israel. Next year, he takes the exciting step of moving to Israel and serving in the Israel Defense Forces. In his final Fellow article for CAMERA on Campus, Jason explains why he is making this decision.

As my time as a CAMERA on Campus Fellow comes to an end, I want to share my story about my experience as a university student and the decision to make Aliyah and join the Israeli Defense Forces.

When I first transferred to University of Central Florida in spring 2015, I had very little connection with Israel aside from the Birthright trip I took two years prior. I had no plans of getting involved and didn’t know that I even could. As soon as I arrived though, I began meeting other Jews and pro-Israel Students on campus, but never got too involved. By the summer though, I was given the opportunity to go on Onward Israel, a two-month internship program in Jerusalem.

That is where my journey really took off. When I got back to Israel I instantly fell in love with the country and began thinking about the possibility of moving there after college. I also decided that I wanted to become more involved with advocacy on campus to share Israel with every student at UCF.

As I came back to school for my junior year, I had a new passion and excitement for Israel that I never had before. I became heavily involved with Knights for Israel, UCF’s Israel group, and began educating myself on the conflict and the region. As Junior year ended, I was able to return to Israel on the Zionist Organization of America campus trip and used the rest of my summer in Israel to see if I could make Israel my home. That summer is also when I decided to join the IDF as well.

Jason is moving from College to serve as a soldier, protecting the State of Israel

Before then I had never really thought about joining, but as I became more connected with the land, I realized that the only way I could call Israel my home, is if I defended it first. For my senior year, I was appointed Vice President of Knights for Israel and was accepted as a Fellow with CAMERA on Campus. These opportunities gave me even more motivation and focus for life after graduation. By working with these organizations, I was able to directly impact pro-Israel activity on my campus and learn more about the place I will be living.

As I graduate and move to Israel, I am extremely excited for the next chapter in my journey. Life in the IDF will be extremely tough, but I know that my campus experience will motivate me on tough days and when I ask myself what I’m doing there, I will have an answer. I want to thank CAMERA on Campus, Knights for Israel and UCF for helping me complete my journey because without each and every person, I know that none of this would be possible.

CAMERA thanks Jason for his contribution to defending the Jewish state, on campus and in the IDF. We wish him Behatzlacha!

Israel Remembers the Fallen and Victims of Terror on Yom HaZikaron

This evening Yom HaZikaron begins, Israel’s national day of remembrance. The country comes to a halt to remember those who have been killed in Israel’s wars, and in terrorist attacks.

Unfortunately over the past year, Israel saw more Israelis killed in terrorist attacks. Last June, Hallel Yaffe Ariel z”l, a thirteen year old girl, was murdered in her sleep by a Palestinian terrorist, killing her in her own bedroom. As soon as her parents had finished the seven day “Shiva” mourning period, they went themselves to visit another group of mourners – ten orphans, whose father Rabbi Miki Mark z”l had been murdered by a Palestinian terrorist, in a drive-by shooting.

Friends of Hallel at her funeral

As well as the victims of terrorist attacks, we remember the soldiers who have died in Israel’s many wars. One of the most famous of Israel’s soldiers is Michael Levin z”l, a lone soldier from Philadelphia, whose story captured the hearts of Jews around the world. He was killed on August 1st 2006. He was 22 when he was killed in combat.

 

There are a number of ceremonies that take place around the country to mark the day. In the evening, the President and Chief of Staff of the IDF attend a central ceremony at the Western Wall. At 8pm, the siren sounds, and the country pauses for a minute’s silence, and then the ceremony begins. Then, in the day, the siren sounds once again at 11am, and the country once again pauses. There is then a ceremony at Har Herzl, Israel’s military cemetery in Jerusalem, at which the Prime Minister speaks.

Over 23,000 Israelis have been killed in wars and terror attacks. As we pay tribute to them each year, the wish we have is the same, and it is simple – that next year, we should not have to add any names to the list, and that the families of those who have died should find some comfort, as the Jewish people unites to remember their loved ones.

May their memories be a blessing.

To be a Druze Commander in a Jewish Army

The actions of the IDF are frequently in the news, but nothing compares to being able to actually hear firsthand from IDF soldiers themselves. CAMERA on Campus brought Major Abdallah (whose full name cannot be revealed for security reasons) to speak to American audiences – and he brought a unique story.

Major Abdallah with students at University of Central Florida

Despite the fact that Major Abdallah is a senior officer in the IDF, the army of the Jewish State, he is not himself Jewish, but is Druze. There are over 100,000 Druze in Israel, and they have full rights, and are represented in all areas of Israeli life. Major Abdallah has played a major role in fighting the terror tunnels that threaten Israel, and that led to the 2014 Gaza War. At his event at the University of Alaska, hosted by CAMERA-supported group UAA Students United, he described how he has been in involved in the destruction of nineteen terror tunnels. (That event was covered by the campus newspaper at the university, The Northern Light)

Major Abdallah’s tour also featured an exciting milestone, when Major Abdallah spoke at University of South Florida, marking the first event for our new CAMERA-supported group, Bulls for Israel.

Major Abdallah with the student leaders of Bulls for Israel

Major Abdallah spoke on numerous campuses across the country during his tour with CAMERA, and the message he conveys is a powerful one. In other countries in the Middle East, sectarian tensions mean that members of different religions or sects are fighting against each other. Hearing from a Druze member of the Jewish army is a powerful message about the tolerance and diversity of Israel, something that is a model for the whole Middle East.

Major Abdallah with students at SUNY Buffalo

Contributed by Aron White, CAMERA intern

Overcoming Disability to Serve in the IDF

Many Americans have served in the IDF, making an important contribution to Israel’s security. Even though every soldier has a story, the story of Izzy Ezagui is especially inspiring, and CAMERA-supported group Realize Israel hosted Izzy at New York University last month and heard his story first hand.

Izzy was born in New York and was raised in Miami, and he enlisted in the IDF at 18. He fought during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, and during the operation he was seriously injured. As a result of his injury, he had to have his arm amputated below the elbow. While understandably many would be broken by losing a limb, Izzy was determined to return and continue serving in his combat unit, despite the fact he only had one fully functioning arm. He managed to get accepted back into his unit and returned to full IDF service; running, crawling, jumping and shooting a gun, despite his disability.

Izzy talking to students at NYU.

Izzy’s story of determination, courage, and dedication to the Jewish State is inspiring to Israel’s supporters, but is also inspiring to people with disabilities, as he demonstrates how one can overcome adversity and continue to live and thrive. For this reason, Realize Israel partnered with the Disabilities Student Union to host this event, and members of the union were also inspired by Izzy’s incredible story.

Izzy with students who attended the event

Izzy has now completed his IDF service, finishing with a rank of First Sergeant, and has returned to live in the US. But his work for Israel continues on campuses, as he shares the story of Israel, and of one Israeli soldier, inspiring students around the country.

Contributed by Aron White, CAMERA intern.

 

US Campuses Learn About IDF Ethics

In recent months, CAMERA has hosted numerous events featuring senior Israel Defense Forces (IDF) personnel, who shared their experiences of the ethical challenges they face during their service.

Yeshiva University’s Israel Club, a CAMERA-supported group, hosted Colonel Benzi Gruber (res.), a vice commander of an IDF division. He is involved in the training of soldiers, which includes discussions and sessions about how to deal with complex moral situations.  The IDF has a detailed Code of Ethics which guides the conduct of their soldiers, both in regular service, as well as during wartime. Colonel Gruber showed clips depicting various situations soldiers find themselves in, in order to demonstrate just how difficult some of the situations are, and how little time there is to make decisions. Colonel Gruber is the founder of the organization “Ethics in the Field,” which educates about this topic, and he personally lectures frequently in Israel and around the world about IDF ethics. He has also appeared on major US television networks to defend IDF conduct during military operations.

Colonel Benzi Gruber speaking at Yeshiva University

On the same day, the Friends of Israel Club at Rockland Community College, another CAMERA-supported group, hosted Sergeant Benjamin Anthony.  Sergeant Anthony founded “Our Soldiers Speak,” which brings the stories of Israeli soldiers to student and military audiences in the USA. In a powerful address, Sergeant Anthony, who was heavily involved in the Second Lebanon War in 2006, described some of the situations IDF soldiers find themselves in. Both events gave students, sitting in their classrooms, first hand accounts of the high ethical standards that the IDF sets for itself in the complicated battlegrounds of the Middle East.

Sergeant Benjamin Anthony at Rockland County College

Emet Israel Hosts Annual BBQ

On Monday, September 12th, CAMERA-supported group Emet Israel had their first event, their annual BBQ.  At the event, Emet Israel gave away free tshirts, served kosher food, and took the opportunity to speak about upcoming programs and events, including Israeli-Arab diplomat George Deek’s tour, Canes Night Live, and Israel Day.  

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Emet Israel met their goals, with a large turnout of people who were genuinely interested in learning about the group, and signed up for their fellowship program. A lot of the students who asked questions were not affiliated with Israel or of Jewish decent; they were intrigued by the amount of activities and educational aspects Emet Israel holds. Numerous students applied for the fellowship program following the event. Many freshmen attended the BBQ, and following the event, “What Exactly is EMET?” emails were sent to the attendees. Every student that attended the event was so happy to receive an IDF-Emet shirt. Since the event, students wearing Emet shirts can be seen all over campus.

Celebrating bipartisanship in a partisan time

CAMERA Fellow Hayley Nagelberg.

CAMERA Fellow Hayley Nagelberg.

Last week, as I have so often, I got into a political conversation with some friends.  The topic at hand was if, judging by what we can see today, there will be a physical split down the road between the main political parties we know, or if they will remain unified for generations to come.

Not everyone agreed, as is the case in most discussions of the sort, but the conversation boiled down to one question: are people capable of being unified around specific topics? In other words, does bipartisanship exist at all?

The answer is without a doubt yes.  While there are extremists, it is pretty safe to say we can all agree on big ideas like freedom of speech and support of medical research. The path that leads to implementing these truths may not be clear, but we can all agree those should be givens.

Despite what many might think, the United States’ relationship with Israel is one of those issues that garners support from both sides of the aisle.

Source: www.centerforsecuritypolicy.org

Source: www.centerforsecuritypolicy.org

America sends billions of dollars every year to Israel in military aid, yet Israel is required to spend roughly three-fourths of that money on goods produced in America.  This money aids in strengthening tens of thousands of Americans’ jobs.

Through the United States’ Aid to Israel program, over one thousand American companies have signed contracts.  There are also joint research products between the United States and Israel including binational science, industry and agriculture foundations.

The bipartisan support for this alliance was overwhelmingly evident Monday, May 2, when student leaders gathered at the Illini Union to look back on a year of bipartisan cooperation on campus and beyond.  Students of all faiths and political positions were united in attendance.

The students watched as Illinois congressmen and senators — from both the Democratic and Republican parties — congratulated them on their cooperation and sincere bipartisan efforts. Mark Kirk, Randy Hultgren, Daniel Lapinski, Bob Dold, Peter Roskam, Tammy Duckworth and Rodney Davis all shared messages reiterating this point.

Congressman Randy Hultgren stands up for Israel in a speech on the House floor back in 2011 as well. Source: RepHultgren's video of the speech.

Congressman Randy Hultgren stands up for Israel in a speech on the House floor back in 2011 as well. Source: RepHultgren’s video of the speech.

“Within every generation there are individuals who stand up for what they believe in and become champions of causes that promote peace and solidarity and respect,” said Randy Hultgren, the Republican Congressman from the 14th district. “I’m glad many of you understand the importance of promoting and strengthening the close relationship between the U.S. and Israel. Israel is the lone democracy in the Middle East and shares our democratic institutions and values.”

It is remarkable and inspiring that what unites our two nations is our shared democratic values.  In a region like the Middle East, where instability is found around every corner, having a stable ally that shares our values is so necessary.  This is an important alliance, and it is not only important to learn what unites our two countries, but to understand what our role is in promoting the relationship, no matter your political leaning.

They discussed understanding the mutually beneficial relationship in terms of ethics, security and economics.  And they reinforced the notion of America being a mediator in negotiations of the conflict, but not actually solving the conflict ourselves.

Daniel Lapinski, the Democratic Congressman from the 3rd district, recognized the value in universities being a place to debate national and international topics.  Furthermore, he reiterated the important notion that no nation is perfect, but what is notable in Israel, and makes it such a strong ally of America, is that people there, of all faiths, can express their disagreements with their governments in the press and the courts.

Everything they said was true, but the bipartisan relationship goes so far beyond that. It goes, as one student speaker put it, to a nonpartisan relationship.  Facts, statistics and talking points aside, there is something remarkable about this conflict — the conversation is not about parties, it is about people.

University campuses today seem to constantly be accused of being home to apathetic and lethargic millennials.  Maybe it’s the presidential race, but I see no apathy on this campus.  Instead, I see zealous debate doing exactly what Lapinski described, expressing disagreement through any means available.

In no way am I suggesting the conflict itself is beneficial, but the debate that stems from it is exactly what is needed as we look at the arguably growing political divide in this country.  We argue over statistics without taking the time to recognize the real life applications.  We, as students, are constantly told we are the leaders of tomorrow, but we don’t need to wait until tomorrow to express how the decisions being made today will affect us.

It may be hard to believe given everything that appears in the mainstream media, and even everything that you have witnessed around campus this year, but the U.S.-Israel relationship is one of the ties that truly binds our country, and one that benefits us all in more ways than we can count.

And it is a tie that no matter where we lie politically, has, can, should and will unite us.

This article was originally published in The Daily Illini.

Contributed by CAMERA Fellow at the University of Illinois, Hayley Nagelberg.

For Israel, every day is World Humanitarian Day

Today is World Humanitarian Day. On a day like today, Israel can be extra proud of its impressive contributions to populations around the world.

In 1958, only ten years after the State of Israel was established and was struggling to build itself up, the state created an official humanitarian aid agenda. Since then, through various organizations, Israel has been dedicated to serving international humanitarian needs.

As the #IDFWithoutBorders map shows, the Israel Defense Forces have sent countless aid missions across the globe. Sent by the IDF to help the Philippines recover from a typhoon, one doctor explains that “This sort of mission allows you to be a real doctor, this is what medicine is all about.” Medical resources should be used for good, for treating people and saving lives and that is exactly what the IDF strives to do by bringing top medical care and support resources to places in need. With the IDF’s C4I BranchIsrael’s advanced military technology even allows doctors and nurses to create an internal digital medical file for every patient while abroad.

Hundreds of casualties were tended at the IDF field hospital in Kathmandu, Nepal, after the earthquake earlier this year. Photo by IDF Spokesperson via FLASH90 and Israel21c

Hundreds of casualties were tended at the IDF field hospital in Kathmandu, Nepal, after the earthquake earlier this year. Photo by IDF Spokesperson via FLASH90 and Israel21c

IDF delegations are often the first to set up field hospitals and provide help at post-disaster scenes. The IDF will carefully help in areas that could potentially put Israel in danger as well. The IDF recently began helping Syrians by allowing for the delivery of medical, educational, and food supplies into Syria.

Non-profit humanitarian aid organization, IsraAID's chief operating officer Navonel Glick. Source: CIJA

Non-profit humanitarian aid organization, IsraAID’s chief operating officer Navonel Glick. Source: CIJA

Aside from the IDF’s incredible aid work, IsraAID, a non-profit, apolitical organization, has provided aid relief to 37 countries and and reached over one million people in need. The organization works tirelessly to help reconstruct and rehabilitate populations recovering from crises, providing rapid response humanitarian aid as well as long term support programs.

Source: www.bicom.org.uk

Source: www.bicom.org.uk

Just days ago, IsraAID’s chief operating officer Navonel Glick was awarded with the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award for his dedication and leadership. Based out of the Tel Aviv headquarters, Glick manages this incredible organization. Glick feels very honored by this award and is pleased that it is bringing attention to the need to further expand international humanitarian aid.

Israel continues to develop internally, and with all its advancements, becomes even more dedicated to helping populations in need abroad.

Happy World Humanitarian Day from Israel!

To learn more about IsraAID, visit their website and check out their accomplishments from 2015:

Contributed by CAMERA Intern Penina Simkovitz.