News Roundup for June 29, 2018

June 29, 2018

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Top News and Analysis

Israel Boosting Defense of Nuclear Reactors Fearing Iranian Missile Attack, Haaretz

Chaim Levinson reports, “The Israel Atomic Energy Commission has been taking numerous steps to protect the nuclear reactors in Dimona and Nahal Sorek in light of assessments that Iran and Hezbollah see the reactors as preferred targets for missile attacks. Commission members have said that such a scenario is the greatest danger related to the reactors today….A missile strike that hits a nuclear reactor would be a major propaganda achievement for Iran or Hezbollah, say commission members. But it would not endanger Israelis.”

An anguished cadre of Israeli playwrights looks to America to stage its work, Washington Post

Peter Marks writes, “Although representatives of first-rank Israeli companies, such as the Cameri Theatre of Tel Aviv, argue that their organizations do not shy away from controversial work, American artistic directors whose companies have become havens for marginalized Israeli playwrights say otherwise. Groups such as Israeli Stage and, even more prominently, Mosaic Theater Company in Washington consider themselves outposts for Israeli dramatists who  find it increasingly hard to get a hearing in Israel for their most political works.”



Activists: Airstrike on shelter kills 17 in southwest Syria, Associated Press

A barrage of airstrikes hit rebel-held areas in southwestern Syria on Thursday, killing at least 17 civilians hiding in an underground shelter and triggering a new wave of displacement as government forces pressed their offensive to reclaim a region that was until recently part of a U.S.-backed and negotiated truce, activists and officials said. The strategic southwestern corner of Syria extends from the border with Jordan in the south to the western frontier with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

Philippines President Duterte, Who Compared Himself to Hitler, in Talks for Israel Visit in September, Haaretz

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte is planning a visit to Israel in September, with talks to coordinate the meeting taking place between the two countries. Duterte is considered one of the world’s most controversial leaders, his presidency marred by accusations of slaughtering citizens [and] comparing himself to Adolf Hitler.

Citing her conscience, Regev seeks to block Western Wall egalitarian section, Times of Israel

Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev on Wednesday announced that she would not approve work on the long-delayed pluralistic prayer pavilion at Jerusalem’s Western Wall, citing her conscience and “Jewish tradition.”…As a result, Regev said in a radio interview Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would take authority over the matter into his own hands in order to advance the work.

Israel’s AG Says He Won’t Delay Netanyahu Probe Even if Elections Called, Haaretz

Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit does not intend to delay the investigation into the corruption cases against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, even if early elections are called.

Birthright Participants Publicly Walk Off Trip To Visit West Bank, Forward

Five participants on a Birthright Israel program left early Thursday in public protest of its education curriculum, which they say didn’t touch on the occupation of the West Bank.

Opinion and Analysis

Congress seeks to hand off Israel boycott fight to Trump, Al-Monitor

Bryant Harris writes, “Faced with months of backlash from civil liberties advocates, Congress is making a third attempt at passing legislation that has stalled for more than a year despite an aggressive push by pro-Israel lobbyists. The House Foreign Affairs Committee is set to advance the controversial Israel Anti-Boycott Act on Thursday. Like past efforts, the new version seeks to stop US businesses and their employees from complying with United Nations efforts to gather information on companies affiliated with Israeli settlements in the West Bank. However, the latest version of the bill under consideration makes a major change by directing the Donald Trump administration to implement anti-boycott regulations. That’s doing little to allay concerns of the original bill’s critics.”

Israel Transferred Aid to Syrians Seeking Refuge Near Border in Overnight Mission, Haaretz

Noa Shpigel, Yaniv Kubovich and Jack Khoury report, “The Israeli army said on Friday that it transferred overnight humanitarian aid to Syrians fleeing fighting in Syria and to those currently living in makeshift encampments not far from the border with Israel. The shipment was made to camps in the south and center of the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement. These camps, the army said, are located along the border and are currently housing a few thousand Syrians fleeing fighting in the Daraa region. According to the UN, over 120,000 Syrians have fled the area in recent days.”

Many Gazan Women Are No Longer Able to Enter Israel for Cancer Treatment, New Yorker

Ruth Margalit reports, “In 2012, Israel approved ninety-two per cent of medical permits for Gazans. In 2014, a year of deadly conflict, eighty-two per cent of patients were allowed in. But, since the beginning of 2018, with no announcement of a change in policy, more than half of applications for medical permits from Gaza have been turned down or left unanswered, according to Physicians for Human Rights – Israel, or P.H.R.I., a nonprofit organization that represents many of these patients.”