On Monday, a rocket launched from Gaza struck a house in central Israel and injured seven people, including two children. As a result, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cut short his trip to the United States, where he was to speak at the AIPAC Policy Conference, and returned to Israel. After failed attempts by the Egyptian military to preemptively broker a ceasefire, the Israeli Air Force launched a large-scale retaliatory bombing campaign, and Gaza fired on Israel in return. Tuesday's unofficial ceasefire collapsed when Gaza militants fired a rocket at the Eshkol Regional Council, drawing retaliatory air strikes from the Israeli Air Force. As of today, Hamas has backed a new Egyptian proposal to foster calm on the Israel-Gaza border ahead of expected major protests on Saturday, marking the anniversary of the Palestinian Great March of Return. Israeli forces remain ready in their southern bases and on the Gaza border and through mass communication, the IDF has warned Palestinians in Gaza to not breach the border fence.
On Monday, United States President Donald Trump declared Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights. In response, the UN Security Council slammed the US. Trump's declaration overturned 52 years of US policy and flew in the face of international and UN opposition to the acquisition of the territory by force, even in a defensive war. Israel however has long argued that the Golan Heights are essential to its security. Some conclude that Syria's past geopolitical failures have had major implications on Golan Heights' sovereignty.
Israel carried out an airstrike on an Iranian ammunition depot near Aleppo airport in Syria on Wednesday night, causing damage only to materials. Opposition sources said the strikes hit Iranian ammunitions stores and a military airport used by Tehran's forces. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that seven people were killed. According to military experts, Iran, which Israel considers its biggest threat, has a large presence in the area.
Channel 13's recent poll for Israel's upcoming elections indicate that Blue and White and Likud are both tied for most Knesset seats, each with 30 votes. For the Prime Minister position, 56 percent of voters believe Netanyahu should hold the position, while only 36 percent voted for Benny Gantz. In a surprise, the poll showed Zehut is expected to receive seven Knesset seats. As in Israel’s previous elections, security continues to be a priority for the Israeli public. If you're interested in keeping up to date on the election, consider joining the community and Israeli Emissary (shaliach) Amnon Maggid for an Israeli Elections Primer this Sunday.
The Old City of Jerusalem just became the largest accessible historic city in the world. The newly inaugurated, 10-year, 20 million shekel (about $5.5 million) project, led by the East Jerusalem Development Company, has delivered accessibility to all three of the city’s holy sites—the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Temple Mount, and the Western Wall. The project included adjusting four kilometers of streets in the Armenian, Christian, and Muslim quarters; installing two kilometers of handrails along staircases; and providing a free, wheelchair-accessible shuttle from Jerusalem’s First Station to the Old City’s Dung Gate.
Jackie Congedo, Director, JCRC
Shep Englander, CEO, Jewish Federation of Cincinnati
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