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Israel news roundup: Holocaust Memorial Day, Cyber Attacks and Iran on the move

Israel experiences a surge in cyberattacks on its banks, post office, and power company, while also commemorating Holocaust Memorial Day.

Meanwhile, Iranian earthquake relief flights to Syria have been reportedly used to smuggle weapons and military equipment to strengthen defenses against Israel, as tens of thousands of Iranians march in support of Palestinians on Jerusalem Day.

Your weekly news round-up of news from Israel.

Yom Hashoa—Remembering the Holocaust

Dear readers, on this year’s Yom Hashoa, let us all take the time to honor the victims of the Holocaust and remain conscious of the immeasurable hardships they faced. May peace be with us, and may we stay mindful so as to protect our people in the days to come.

Ahead of Annual Memorial Day, 147,199 Holocaust Survivors Living in Israel

There are 147,199 Holocaust survivors living in Israel, according to figures published Sunday, April 16, by the Holocaust Survivors’ Rights Authority ahead of the upcoming Holocaust Memorial Day.

Israel officially marks its annual Holocaust Memorial Day starting Monday evening. According to the authority, which is part of the Social Equality Ministry, the average age of Holocaust survivors is 85, with around 30,000 over the age of 90 and 462 who have lived for over a century. The youngest Holocaust survivors are aged 76.

Five hundred and twenty-one Holocaust survivors immigrated to Israel from Ukraine in the wake of the Russian invasion. Haifa is home to the largest number of Holocaust survivors in Israel, followed by Jerusalem and then Tel Aviv.

Of the Holocaust survivors living in Israel, 63 percent were born in Europe — 37% are from countries of the former Soviet Union, 11% from Romania, and 5% from Poland. An additional 2.7% are from Bulgaria, 1.4% from Hungary, 1.4% from Germany, and 1% from former Czechoslovakia and France.

An additional 27,765 survivors are from Morocco and Algeria, where they suffered discrimination and harassment under the Nazi-allied Vichy government.

A further 11% are from Iraq, survivors of the Nazi-inspired Farhud pogrom of June 1941. Seven percent are from Libya and Tunisia, countries that during the Holocaust passed racist laws against Jews and imprisoned their communities in labor camps. Some of the Jewish community were also sent to the Giado concentration camp in Libya. (TOI / VFI News)

“I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall.” - Lamentations 3:19

The articles included in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Vision for Israel. We try to provide accurate reporting on news pertinent to Israel, the Middle East, the diaspora, and Jewish issues around the world—and we hope that you find it both informative and useful for intercessory prayer.

Iran Sent Weapons to Strike Israel under Guise of Earthquake Aid to Syria

Iran has used earthquake relief flights to bring weapons and military equipment into its strategic ally Syria, nine Syrian, Iranian, Israeli, and Western sources said. The sources told British media that the goal was to buttress Iran's defenses against Israel in Syria and to strengthen Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

After the February 6 earthquake in northern Syria and Turkey, hundreds of flights from Iran began landing in Syria's Aleppo, Damascus, and Latakia airports bringing supplies, and this went on for seven weeks, the sources said.

The supplies included advanced communications equipment and radar batteries and spare parts required for a planned upgrade of Syria's Iran-provided air defense system in its civil war, said the sources, two regional sources, and a Western intelligence source.

The British media outlet spoke to Western intelligence officials, sources close to the Iranian and Israeli leadership as well as a Syrian military defector and a serving Syrian officer about the flights for this report.

Iran purposely moved the aid mainly via Aleppo International Airport. This is a new method of Iran, which previously would send munitions via Damascus, or to T-4 near Palmyra, or via other methods such as routing them through Iraq and then to Albukamal. Aleppo airport is near areas affected by the earthquake.

Israel quickly became aware of the flow of weapons into Syria and mounted an aggressive campaign to counter it. Aleppo's runway was hit by Israel just hours after two Iranian cargo planes had landed with arms shipments under the pretext of aid relief, said a regional source, information that was confirmed by two other Western intelligence sources. (JPost / VFI News)

“God, we thank You for alerting us about malevolent attacks that are planned against Israel. We are grateful for our efficient defense forces, but we also hope that the nations planning these attacks decide to stop the hostilities and focus on their respective countries.”

Chanting ‘Death to Israel,’ Tens of Thousands March in Tehran for ‘Jerusalem Day’

Tens of thousands of Iranians, some chanting “death to America” and “death to Israel,” marched in the capital of Tehran on Friday, April 14, to mark “Jerusalem Day,” an annual show of support for the Palestinians.

Banners raised by demonstrators read “the destruction of Israel is near” and “Palestine is the axis of unity of the Muslim world.” Senior Iranian officials attended the rally, including President Ebrahim Raisi.

Parliament Speaker Mohammad Qalibaf told demonstrators that Israel is the “root” of problems in the region and that the Palestinians are hindering Israel’s plans.

“The Palestinians are actively confronting Israeli aggression from Gaza to the heart of Tel Aviv,” he added, alluding to a surge in violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since the start of the year.

“Yesterday they (Palestinians) were fighting with stones, and now they hit (Israel) with rockets,” Qalibaf said.

The rally was the first al-Quds Day demonstration after the country was shaken by months of anti-government protests.

Al-Quds is the Arabic name for Jerusalem, the contested city at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel captured East Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War and annexed it as its capital. The Palestinians seek the eastern part of Jerusalem as their future capital. Jerusalem is the home of the Temple Mount, the most sacred site in Judaism, which also houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest shrine in Islam. (TOI / VFI News)

“Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse, who have left the straight paths to walk in dark ways” - Proverbs 2:12-13

Quds Day Cyberattack Strikes Israeli Banks, Red Alert App

The websites of Israel's banks, the post office, the electricity company, and the RedAlert warning app were struck by a cyberattack Friday, April 14, with some of the sites going offline, Israeli media reported.

The hacker group known as "Anonymous Sudan" has taken responsibility, claiming the targets are Israel Post as well as Bank Leumi, Discount Bank, Mizrahi-Tefahot, Bank Mercantile, Bank Benleumi (First International Bank of Israel) and its subsidiaries Bank Otzar Ha-hayal and Bank Massad.

An Israeli news outlet said their site was the victim of a Denial of Service (DoS) attack, which temporarily cut off access to the site, media reported.

Around 5 p.m., the hackers attacked the websites of Israeli phone providers after writing "we still have two hours before the sunset prayer, during which we will attack everything in Israel," on their Telegram account.

The attempted cyberattacks on Israeli bank websites were identified and stopped, the National Cyber Directorate said. "Thanks to the banks' strong cyber defenses, the websites continue to be live and operational, barring the occasional interruptions," the Cyber Directorate said in a statement, noting that the cyberattacks are limited to the banks' marketing pages and aren't related to their internal systems. (JPost / VFI News)

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” - Genesis 50:20

WATCH: Escape from the Holocaust: Pessy's Story

Pessy grew up in Leipzig and quickly bore witness to unspeakable atrocities acted upon her family and the other Jews of Europe. Her harrowing tale of escape, heroism, and redemption serves as an example—both of the inhuman treatment inflicted by the Nazis and the powerful perseverance of the faithful.

Israel Must Prepare for War with Iran without US Help, Former NSA Chief Says

Former national security adviser Yaakov Amidror said Thursday, April 13, that war with Iran is increasingly likely and Israel needs to gear up to attack without US assistance.

“We need to prepare for war. It’s possible that we will reach a point where we have to attack Iran even without American assistance,” Amidror, a hawkish former general who served as Nation Security Council chief under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from 2011-2013, said in an interview.

Amidror was discussing a flare-up over the Passover holiday that saw rockets fired at Israel from Gaza, Lebanon, and Syria by groups largely seen as Iranian proxies. “Iran is more sure of itself. It has managed to sign a number of agreements with Arab states. The world is starting to look different,” he said, referring to the recent agreements by the UAE and Saudi Arabia to restore diplomatic ties with Tehran.

He also questioned the US commitment to Israel’s security. “America is not the same America in terms of its presence, and the Iranians see that. The US has much greater problems than the Middle East. The world looks at Israel differently,” he said.

Amidror’s statements come despite repeated US declarations it is committed to Israel’s security and a recent show of force two weeks ago when it broke protocol and announced that it had dispatched a nuclear-powered guided-missile submarine to the Middle East to “help ensure regional maritime security and stability” amid increasing tensions with Iran. (TOI / VFI News)

“God, we ask for the protection of Your people, as well as for long-term safety in the Middle East. We pray that we will not need to resort to war to defend our country and that no Israeli will die because of others’ territorial expansion plans and need for control.”

UN Called on to Fire Envoy for Questioning Israel's Right to Defense

An open letter calling for the dismissal of Francesca Albanese, the UN Special Rapporteur for Palestinian territories, was sent to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Tuerk on Tuesday, April 11.

The reason for the demand is recent comments made by Albanese on Twitter, in which she claimed that Israel can't claim its right to defend itself against "the people it oppresses/whose lands it colonizes."

The authors of the letter expressed "utter dismay and outrage at the abhorrent statements" made by Albanese, adding that it is "unfathomable that such a statement would ever be made by a UN representative."

The letter was sent on behalf of the International Legal Forum, a global network of lawyers and activists, aiming to combat antisemitism, advance human rights and promote peace in the Middle East, and the Solomon-Observatory on Discrimination, an Italian-based NGO combating antisemitism.

Albanese's statements were made following terror attacks in which sisters Rina and Maia and their mother Lucy Dee, as well as an Italian citizen, were murdered.

The letter goes on to stress that Albanese's recent comments are only the latest examples of biased statements by the UN envoy. (JPost / VFI News)

“Too long have I lived among those who hate peace.” - Psalm 120:6

Israeli Basketball Fans Attacked at Hapoel Jerusalem-Athens Game

Chaos erupted at a basketball game between the Hapoel Jerusalem team and A.A.K. Athens Wednesday, April 12, when Greek fans burned an Israeli flag and threw firecrackers at fans of the Israeli team. Several Palestinian Authority flags were seen during the violent incident as well.

The game had to be suspended due to the violence and was resumed after security forces intervened. The Israeli team said in a statement following the incident: "Hapoel sees the difficult events in Athens as nothing less than a terrorist attack on Israeli fans, who came en masse to support their team, as they have been doing for years."

"In view of the events, in the half of the game, we checked all the methods of operation. Taking out the Hapoel fans was an option that was rejected outright due to the fact that Greek fans surrounded the hall, and there was a real danger of a serious attack outside the hall. "

Hapoel Jerusalem said that the team would file a complaint over the incident. Culture and Sports Minister Miki Zohar on Thursday denounced the violent incident by Greek basketball fans as “an antisemitic attack against Jews,” as the international basketball federation FIBA announced the opening of disciplinary proceedings.

In a statement, Zohar demanded action against AEK Athens and said he spoke with the head of FIBA, members of Hapoel Jerusalem, and Greece’s deputy sports minister, Eleftherios Avgenakis. The statement said Avgenakis relayed a message from the Greek Prime Minister expressing sadness over the incident, adding that a suspect was arrested and that more arrests were possible. (INN / VFI News)

“Those who hate me without reason outnumber the hairs of my head; many are my enemies without cause, those who seek to destroy me. I am forced to restore what I did not steal.” - Psalm 69:4

Israel, China Team Hopes to Crack Cure for Advanced-Stage Solid Tumors

Israel’s Enlivex Therapeutics announced a clinical collaboration with China’s BeiGene to evaluate the safety and efficacy of combining macrophage reprogramming and an anti-PD-1 immune checkpoint inhibitor to improve the treatment of patients with advanced-stage solid tumors.

PD1 stands for “programmed cell death protein 1” and is found in T cells. The protein helps keep immune cells from killing others, including cancer cells.

Enlivex’s Allocetra is based on technology discovered by Hadassah-University Medical Center’s Prof. Dror Mevorah. It is designed to reprogram macrophages, a type of white blood cell that has an anti-cancer role, into their homeostatic state – meaning stronger anti-cancer activity.

BeiGene is considered one of the leading companies in the world in the area of cancer immunotherapies, trades on NASDAQ, and has a current market capitalization of $25 billion. The company developed Tislelizumab, an anti-PD-1 immune checkpoint inhibitor.

The drug is approved for various cancer indications in China, and Novartis, a large pharmaceutical company, partnered with BeiGene to market the product in the United States and Europe.

According to the BeiGene investor presentation, Novartis/BeiGene expects to receive marketing approval in Europe this year and submit a request for approval from the US Food & Drug Administration, for various indications. Tislelizumab generated more than $400 million in revenues for BeiGene in 2022. (JPost / VFI News)

“God, we thank You for allowing us to make significant contributions to science and potentially saving millions of lives. We are extremely thankful for our hard-working professionals that are continually making us proud with their accomplishments.”

The suggestions, opinions, and scripture references made by VFI News writers and editors are based on the best information received.

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