Israeli President Reuven Rivlin addresses a group of local residents in a protected space in the northern Negev city of Netivot on Nov. 13. (photo by Ashernet)
On a tour of the city, Netivot Mayor Yehiel Zohar told President Reuven Rivlin about how buildings there are protected and about the events of the previous 24 hours. Rivlin also heard details about the work of the psychological and mental support services in the city, and the help given to children and the population as a whole after Monday’s missile launches from Gaza. “We are all under attack, under fire, whose aim is to disrupt our daily life,” said Rivlin. “Your strength gives us all strength. I have said in the past and I will continue to say, the area around Gaza is part of Israel. When the sirens are screaming here, we hear them in our hearts in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and all over the country.” The president then visited one of the shelters in the town. In meeting local residents, he repeated appeals to follow the Israel Defence Forces’ orders.
Tanda, 25, with her as-yet-unnamed calf at Ramat Gan Safari Park. (photo from Ashernet)
Tanda’s new offspring – her fifth – weighed 50 kilograms at birth. The baby rhino’s horn will begin to grow in the coming weeks, but, in its first year, the horn will remain small and round. Due to poaching in other areas of the world – for the rhinos’ horns – several species of rhino have become endangered. In one case, the northern white rhino has been almost completely wiped out, with only five animals left in captivity. The safari park tries to encourage breeding programs, particularly of endangered species, and has seen some success.
Petach Tikvah’s Calatrava bridge. (photo from Ashernet)
Petach Tikvah’s Calatrava pedestrian bridge and glass walkway was designed by architect Santiago Calatrava, who also designed Chords Bridge at the western entrance to Jerusalem. The Petach Tikvah bridge, erected in 2005, connects the Beilinson hospital complex with a shopping mall and a central park. Situated some 11 kilometres east of Tel Aviv, Petach Tikvah continues to expand to accommodate its increasing population and its appeal to high-tech, pharmaceutical and distribution companies. Today, the city, with its population of more than 240,000 individuals, ranks as the fifth biggest city in Israel, and has one of the larger percentages of religious Jews in the country. However, while some 70,000 religious Jews are served by about 70 synagogues of various sizes, there are more than 300 schools in the city that serve children of all religious and non-religious affiliations.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu presents the nuclear secrets of Iran at a special press briefing in Jerusalem on April 30, 2018. (photo from IGPO courtesy Ashernet)
It has been a year of diplomatic success for Israel, as more countries upgraded their relations with the Jewish state. This took, in general, two forms: heads of government making an official visit to Israel or Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu visiting other countries; and the establishment of the embassies of the United States, Guatemala and Panama in Jerusalem, Israel’s capital.
In April, at a special press conference hosted by Netanyahu, the world learned of the secret storage facilities in Iran that housed Iran’s nuclear ambitions. It is not known exactly how Israel managed to find out the location of the files, or how they were copied and brought back to Israel, but the revelations served Israel well, and the files were instrumental in making the United States renege on the nuclear agreement that President Barack Obama had made with the Iranian regime.
It was a long, hot summer in more ways than one. The latest form of terrorist aggravation was for Gazans to assemble in the thousands along the Gaza-Israel border and launch kites and balloons to which were attached flaming torches that set fire to forests and agricultural fields in Israel, causing uncountable damage and destruction. A variation of this procedure was for terrorists to attach flaming torches to lines attached to the legs of kestrels who managed to survive long enough to set trees alight in Israeli forests near the border.
In better news, this year Israel became the focus of the world’s cycling fraternity. Due to the generosity of Israeli-Canadian billionaire Sylvan Adams, one of the three most important annual cycling races in the world, the Giro d’Italia, started in Jerusalem with a time trial and then took the cyclists from Haifa to Tel Aviv, with a third stage from Be’er Sheva to Eilat. All this was made possible by an $80 million donation to the federation organizing the event. It was one of the biggest sporting events ever staged in Israel and was seen by tens of thousands on television around the world.
The Jewish year opened with the announcement that one of the most outstanding mosaics ever found in Israel, from the Roman era, was going to be incorporated in a new museum in the city of Lod, where it had been found during preparations for building works. This beautiful mosaic was one of many important archeological finds in Israel in the past 12 months.
Also at the start of the Jewish year, tourism in Israel hit a new high, with the three millionth tourist of 2017 arriving at Ben-Gurion International Airport in November. And, this summer, Prince William made an official visit to Israel, where he was received by President Reuven Rivlin and Netanyahu. Members of the British Royal family have been to Israel before, but never on an official visit.
As always, Israeli technology, universities and medical prowess was remarkable over the year. And, when natural disasters occurred around the world, such as earthquakes and floods, Israel was among the first to send aid.
Not all the news was good for Netanyahu, who, for a major part of the year, was being investigated and questioned by Israel Police for allegedly obtaining inappropriate large-scale benefits from businessmen – charges Netanyahu strenuously denied. Ari Harrow, Netanyahu’s former chief of staff, signed a deal to become a state witness to testify against the prime minister.
The Jewish year also saw Netanyahu’s wife Sara receiving a lot of negative press. In the previous year, the Jerusalem Labour Court awarded an employee of Sara Netanyahu’s the sum of $46,000 as he claimed that she had been abusive towards him and withheld wages at times. While she appealed the ruling, it was turned down. She is now being investigated for allegedly ordering expensive meals at the prime minister’s official Jerusalem residence at government expense, despite the fact that the prime minister’s official residence employed a cook. She refutes the accusations.
Despite these problems, Binyamin Netanyahu maintains a high international profile – he has the ear of presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, for example.
As 5778 closes, Israel has the pleasurable problem of deciding how best to market the huge natural gas finds that are presently churning about below the waves of the Mediterranean Sea, well within Israel’s exclusive continental shelf.
Uri Geller holds a water or oil jug that was found during the construction of a new museum dedicated to his activities. (photo by Dilila Bar-Ratson courtesy Ashernet)
During the construction of a new museum in the Old City of Jaffa, dedicated to the activities of Uri Geller, an illusionist, magician, television personality and self-proclaimed psychic, a 19th-century Ottoman-era soap manufacturing factory was discovered. The museum will go ahead as planned, with the addition of the newly discovered factory.
The site was well-preserved and comprised troughs for mixing raw material, cauldrons, storage facilities and water cisterns. It was of particular interest because soap made from olive oil was recorded as having been produced in Israel for more than a thousand years. Making olive oil-based soap took just over a week to prepare in large vats. The contents would then be poured onto lime-covered trays to cool and solidify for about another week before being cut into bars. It would take another two months approximately for the soap to completely harden before being wrapped in paper and offered for sale.
A Hellenistic-era golden earring, discovered in the Givati Parking Lot in the City of David National Park. (photo from IAA courtesy Ashernet)
A Hellenistic-era golden earring, featuring ornamentation of a horned animal, was discovered in the Givati Parking Lot in the City of David National Park encircling the Old City walls. The discovery was made during archeological digs carried out by the Israel Antiquities Authority and Tel Aviv University. According to the researchers, “It is unclear whether the gold earring was worn by a man or a woman, nor do we know their cultural or religious identity, but we can say for certain that whoever wore this earring definitely belonged to Jerusalem’s upper class. This can be determined by the proximity to the Temple Mount and the Temple, which was functional at the time, as well as the quality of the gold piece of jewelry.”
Dr. Yinon Shivtiel, left, and Dr. Danny Syon inside the cave where large wine jars, a cooking pot and other pottery more than 2,000 years old were salvaged two weeks ago in a joint operation of the Sefad Academic College, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), the Israel Cave Research Centre and the Israel Cave Explorers Club. (photo by IAA from Ashernet)
In 2017, Dr. Yinon Shivtiel, a speleologist and senior lecturer at Sefad, conducted a survey in Western Galilee, aided by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, to locate caves that served as shelters and hiding places. He discovered a cave high on a sheer cliff, under an overhang, which contained ancient pottery vessels. “As a first impression,” said Dr. Danny Syon, senior archeologist with the IAA, “the finds seem to date to the Hellenistic period: between the third and first centuries BCE…. We assume that whoever hid here escaped some violent event that occurred in the area. Perhaps by dating the vessels more closely, we shall be able to tie them to a known historic event. It is mind-boggling how the vessels were carried to the cave, which is extremely difficult to access. Maybe an easier way that once existed disappeared over time?”
Feeding time for the giraffes in Ramat Gan Safari Park on June 21, which was World Giraffe Day. (photo from Ashernet)
It is no coincidence that the day to raise public awareness of the tallest animal on earth takes place on the longest day of the year, at least in the northern hemisphere. In the world, there are nine sub-species of giraffes, all of which are categorized as endangered. Seven giraffes live in the Safari Park: Denisa, Daniela, Dikla, Diana, Dedi, Anton and Dadon. This year, Denisa, the Dutch-born giraffe who came to the safari when she was just 2 years old, broke a record when she passed the age of 28, becoming the oldest giraffe in any zoo.
Some of the terror weapons found by Israel Security Agency (ISA) personnel. (photos by ISA via Ashernet)
In recent months, the ISA, Israel Defence Forces and Israel Police have uncovered a large and active terrorist infrastructure that operated in the Nablus area on the West Bank from October 2017 until late April 2018, when more than 20 members of the group were detained by Israeli security forces. Most of the group’s members belonged to Hamas; some had extensive experience in terrorist operations, including the production of explosives. ISA investigations found that the group intended to carry out several attacks in various Israeli cities. Among the items seized were improvised explosive devices, including one weighing 10 kilograms; materials for the production of explosives; weapons; and instructions for the manufacture of bombs and explosive materials.