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Amid Tensions, Israel Set to Manufacture Helmets Domestically in Move Away From US Dependence

US President Joe Biden, left, meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, to discuss the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Oct. 18, 2023. Photo: Miriam Alster/Pool via REUTERS

Israel’s military and Defense Ministry are set to open solicitations for Israeli-made military helmets and uniforms in a move towards manufacturing independence, Israeli media reported on Thursday.

The decision comes as the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) seeks to limit its dependence on the United States for vital military equipment.

The Defense Ministry’s Procurement Department is in the process of drafting a request for information (RFI) for Israeli-based manufacturers to describe their ability to develop helmet and uniform manufacturing facilities. In general government contracts, the RFI stage is then followed by a request for proposals (RFP), whereby prospective vendors would submit their bid to build the factory and manufacture the helmets and uniforms.

IDF helmets and uniforms are largely imported from US manufacturers, which has caused problems for the military during the ongoing war against the Hamas terror group in Gaza.

The outbreak of the war led to the call up of more than 360,000 reservists, causing a massive shortage of helmets. IDF guidelines prescribe specific helmets for different units, such as stronger ballistic protection, flashlights, cameras, and other specifications.

According to the Procurement Department, the sudden need for such large quantities of helmets led to a delay in delivery, the need to source from multiple parties, and an increase in price. This was the case for other essential gear, including weapons systems and ammunition that comes from the United States.

The push for domestic production comes amid rising tensions between the US and Israel over the war in Gaza. Washington has increasingly pressured Jerusalem, which launched the Israeli military offensive in Gaza following Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel, to agree to a ceasefire with the terror group, scale back its operations, and allow more humanitarian aid despite concerns that Hamas leadership will steal it from civilians.

US President Joe Biden, who has supported Israel’s right to defend itself following the Oct. 7 atrocities, has adopted an apparent shift in his approach to the Gaza war in recent weeks. Amid growing pressure from Democrats in Congress to be tougher on Israel, the Biden administration has come out in support of a ceasefire in Gaza after previously opposing one. Israel has argued that a ceasefire without the release of its hostages in Gaza would allow Hamas to strengthen its position.

The White House also reportedly asked the State Department and the Pentagon for a list of all weapons the US is planning to send the Jewish state over the next few weeks. Other reports indicate Biden may consider conditioning aid to Israel if the Jewish state launches a military operation in Rafah, the last Hamas stronghold in Gaza and where most of the Palestinian enclave’s civilians are located.

Meanwhile, US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Thursday called for new elections in Israel, lambasting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as an obstacle to peace. The comments came after a group of eight liberal and progressive US senators demanded Biden stop military assistance to Israel. Schumer did not sign the letter.

A separate letter from Democratic members of the US House of Representatives argued an Israeli invasion of Rafah “should not be supported by US taxpayer-funded assistance” if it “runs counter to the specific principles outlined” by the Biden administration on necessary conditions to give aid — a situation they considered “likely.”

The IDF has been in urgent need of resupplies of ammunition. According to reports from December, more than 240 US transport planes and 20 military ships have brought over 10,000 tons of ammunition since the onset of the war, including those needed for tanks, missile defense, artillery shells, bombs for the air force, and handheld weapons for civilians.

Israel has made strides since the war to prop up its local defense manufacturing capabilities. Netanyahu said in January at a press conference that the country “is preparing the defense industries to disconnect from dependency on the rest of the world,” including investment into a “multi-year plan to free Israel from dependence on external purchases. We’ll need to equip locally, with a local manufacturing capability.”

Defense Ministry Director-General Eyal Samir added, “One of the lessons we’ve learned during the war is our need to boost our independence and industry. This is Defense Minister Yoav Gallant’s policy, and we are working on it.”

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Assault charge laid, arrest made related to incident near the University of Toronto encampment—while its president speaks in Ottawa on antisemitism, and the school seeks a removal injunction

Toronto Police have arrested and charged a man for assault over an incident May 9 near the protest encampment at the University of Toronto’s King’s College Circle on its downtown campus.  Toronto Police Services (TPS) say they responded at 3:45 p.m. that day to a call for assault in the area of the road around […]

The post Assault charge laid, arrest made related to incident near the University of Toronto encampment—while its president speaks in Ottawa on antisemitism, and the school seeks a removal injunction appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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‘Any Chance the Media Would Cover This?’ New Video Shows Terrorists in Gaza Using Humanitarian Aid to Help Prepare Rockets

Terrorists in Gaza using humanitarian aid bags to prop up rockets. Photo: Screenshot

Terrorists in Gaza have been using humanitarian aid bags to prop up rockets they were preparing to shoot at Israelis, new video circulating on social media reveals, underscoring the challenges of delivering aid to Palestinian civilians in the Hamas-ruled enclave without it being stolen.

The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade — which is the armed wing of Fatah, the political party of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbasused bags from Turkey and UNRWA — the UN agency responsible for the Palestinians — to prop up the rockets, according to the video.

At least three of the bags say they contain “wheat flour,” and the bag from Turkey specifically says it is supposed to go “to the Palestinian people.” It is unclear whether the bags had previously been opened to extract the food and then refilled with sand, for example, or if it still contained the food that was intended to feed Palestinian civilians.

“Any chance the media would cover this, yet another violation of international humanitarian law?” pro-Israel commentator Hen Mazzig wrote on X/Twitter while sharing the video.

Rafah, Gaza: Hamas is using UN humanitarian aid bags as rocket launchers today.

Any chance the media would cover this, yet another, violation of International Humanitarian Law?

— Hen Mazzig (@HenMazzig) May 29, 2024

Almost every day for the past seven months, Hamas and other Gaza-based terrorist organizations have been shooting rockets into Israel from civilian areas, which is a war crime. Tens of thousands of Israelis are internally displaced and unable to return to their homes as a result.

There is mounting evidence that Hamas has also operated in civilian clothing and in civilian infrastructure such as hospitals. However, these violations of international law are rarely noted by much of the media.

The latest video of terrorists using humanitarian aid for military purposes underscores the issue of making sure such aid gets to Palestinian civilians. 

The US built a pier to deliver 2,000,000 meals daily to Palestinian civilians, but after a few weeks of operation, the Pentagon said none of the aid unloaded from the pier had made it to those who needed it. On one occasion, about 70 percent of the aid has been stolen while en route to a UN warehouse. In other cases, it just never showed up.

Israeli estimates suggest approximately 60 percent of the aid that has gone into Gaza has been stolen — either by Hamas or other groups and individuals. Oftentimes, that aid is then sold to the population at high prices, making it difficult to impossible for most Gazans to gain access to it. 

According to Ehud Yaari, an expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Hamas has made more than $500 million in profit from selling humanitarian aid since Oct. 7.

The terror group began the war last October by massacring 1,200 people in Israel and taking more than 250 people hostage, about half of whom have still not been released.

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Columbia University Anti-Zionist Group Endorses Hamas

Demonstrators take part in an anti-Israel demonstration at the Columbia University campus, in New York City, US, Feb. 2, 2024. REUTERS/David Dee Delgado

Columbia University’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) has endorsed Hamas, a US-designated terrorist organization, the latest sign of its growing extremism and willingness to embrace antisemitic violence.

“The Palestinian resistance is the only force materially fighting back against isr*el [sic],” the group said in a series of posts shared by Documenting Jew Hatred on Campus, a social media account which exposes antisemitism on college campuses. “There is no way to eliminate the resistance without ending the occupation. When you see a video of a young palestinian [sic] boy traumatized in a hospital talking about how iof [the Israel Defense Forces, or IDF] shot his pregnant mother in cold blood in front of his own eyes, do not question how he chooses to resist years later.”

.@Columbia and @BarnardCollege, @ColumbiaSJP is actively promoting terrorism and anti-Israel rhetoric on their social media channels. They are sounding more and more like Hamas spokespeople every day. When is the university going to permanently ban this “student group”?

— Documenting Jew Hatred on Campus (@CampusJewHate) May 26, 2024

Campus Reform, a higher education watchdog which first reported Documenting Jew Hatred on Campus’ posts, noted that Columbia SJP has added an “inverted red triangle” to its social media biography, further indicating its support for Hamas. The Palestinian terrorist group has used an inverted red triangle in its propaganda videos to indicate an Israeli target about to be attacked, and anti-Israel protesters on university campuses have been using the symbol in their demonstrations.

Columbia SJP, a group that has reformed under multiple organizations since being suspended by school administrators during the fall semester, has been central in staging a slew of riotous demonstrations in which anti-Zionist activists verbally assaulted Jewish students with antisemitic epithets, clamorously expressed support for terrorism and Hamas, and caused thousands of dollars in damages to school property.

The group’s behavior after Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel is the subject of a lawsuit filed by the StandWithUs Center for League Justice (SCLJ).

The complaint alleges that after bullying Jewish students and rubbing their noses in the carnage Hamas wrought on their people, the pro-Hamas students were still unsatisfied and resulted to violence. They beat up five Jewish students in Columbia’s Butler Library, according to the lawsuit. Another attacked a Jewish students with a stick, lacerating his head and breaking his finger, after being asked to return missing persons posters she had stolen.

Following the incidents, pleas for help allegedly went unanswered and administrators told Jewish students they could not guarantee their safety while SJP held its demonstrations. The school’s apparent powerlessness to prevent anti-Jewish violence was cited as the reason why Students Supporting Israel (SSI), a recognized school club, was denied permission to hold an event on self-defense. Events with “buzzwords” such as “Israel” and “Palestine” were forbidden, administrators allegedly said, but SJP continued to host events while no one explained the inconsistency.

The explosion of end-of-year protests held by the group forced Columbia officials to shutter the campus in April and institute virtual learning. Later, the group occupied Hamilton Hall, forcing President Minouche Shafik to call on the New York City Police Department (NYPD) for help, a decision she hesitated to make. According to The Columbia Spectator, over 108 arrests were made.

“Yes, we’re all Hamas, pig!” one protester was filmed screaming during the fracas, which saw some verbal skirmishes between pro-Zionist and anti-Zionist partisans. “Long live Hamas!” said others who filmed themselves dancing and praising the al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Hamas terrorist organization. “Kill another solider!”

Amid the chaos, a prominent rabbi at the school urged Jewish students to leave the campus for the sake of their safety. Ultimately, the university cancelled its main commencement ceremony.

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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