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Could racing drones be the answer to the fire-kite threat?

(Photo: Abed Rahim Khatib/ Flash90)

(Photo: Abed Rahim Khatib/ Flash90)

By Brian Blum - August 21, 2019

One of the most out-of-the-box approaches proposed to stop the thousands of Gaza “fire kites” – the incendiary devices that have been sent over the border from the Gaza Strip into Israel on kites and balloons, setting fire to thousands of acres and landing occasionally in kindergarten playgrounds – was to shoot the kites out of the sky using remotely operated “racing drones.”

Drone racing has become a popular niche sport around the world. Participants build extremely fast and agile multi-rotor drones and race them against each other around a course. Serious drone pilots use FPV (first-person view) goggles to experience what the drone is seeing rather using a monitor and a joystick.

When a small team of drone enthusiasts gathered last year on the Gaza border, they demonstrated that they could effectively neutralize the fire-kite threat. But there are not enough skilled racing-drone pilots in the country for the army to recruit.

Read More: Israel21c

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IDF vets volunteer in distressed villages across the globe

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By Abigail Klein Leichman - August 6, 2019

Israelis call it the “big trip” – an extended trek to exotic destinations between completing military or national service and continuing with life. At any given time, thousands of young Israelis are traveling in remote locations, often in poor countries. So why not volunteer while there?

That was the concept that motivated three Israeli army officer veterans, fresh from a trip to Thailand, to establish Heroes for Life (in Hebrew, Fighters without Borders) in 2013 as a vehicle “to show the world the compassionate face of former IDF soldiers.”

When ISRAEL21c first wrote about this unique organizationin September 2016, its English name was Fighters for Life and it operated two-week volunteering gigs in Gondar, Ethiopia; Buenos Aires, Argentina; and Mumbai, India.

Less than three years later, the renamed Heroes for Life is sending about 5,000 volunteers each year on missions that have so far assisted some 4,100 children.

Read More: Israel21c

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Hebrew inscriptions exposed for the first time since historic synagogue was destroyed in the Holocaust

Photo: Jon Seligman, Israel Antiquities Authority

Photo: Jon Seligman, Israel Antiquities Authority

By James Rogers - July 23, 2019

Archaeologists have uncovered 200-year-old Hebrew inscriptions at the site of the Great Synagogue of Vilna (Vilnius) in Lithuania for the first time since its destruction during the Holocaust.

Constructed in the 17th century, the impressive Renaissance-Baroque-style Great Synagogue was razed during the Nazi occupation of Lithuania.

Lithuanian and Israeli researchers have found an inscription, dated to 1796, that was part of a stone Torah reading table in the synagogue. The table was used to read the Torah to the synagogue’s congregation until the building’s burning and final destruction by the Soviets 70 years ago.

Read More: Fox News

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Biblical Shikmona reveals its purple-dyed secrets

Photo: University of Haifa

Photo: University of Haifa

By Abigail Klein Leichman - July 15, 2019

The first biblical-era facility for producing prestigious purple-dyed textiles has been uncovered at Tel Shikmona, south of Haifa.

“Until now, there has not been any meaningful direct archeological evidence of workshops for the production of purple-colored textiles from the Iron Age – the biblical period – not even in Tyre and Sidon, which were the main Phoenician centers for the manufacture of purple dye,” said Prof. Ayelet Gilboa and PhD candidate Golan Shalvi from the University of Haifa.

They are studying the finds, which were uncovered between 1963 and 1977 by Dr. Yosef Elgavis on behalf of the Haifa Museum and were guarded in storerooms for the last half century.

“If we have identified our findings correctly, Tel Shikmona on the Carmel coast has just become one of the most unique archeological sites in the region.”

Tel Shikmona is situated on a small coastal promontory on the southern outskirts of Haifa. It’s part of a larger site that dates to the Iron Age biblical period of the judges, the United Monarchy (Saul, David and Solomon), and the kingdoms of Israel and Judea.

Read More: Israel21c

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First evidence of Crusader siege from July 15, 1099, uncovered at Old City walls

Photo: Regina Winters

Photo: Regina Winters

By Amanda Borschel-Dan - July 15, 2019

Archaeologists excavating just outside of Jerusalem’s Old City walls have discovered an 11th century moat, the first archaeological evidence of a historically chronicled Crusader siege conducted by Raymond of Saint-Gilles on the Fatimid-controlled city, which ended on July 15, 1099 — exactly 920 years ago today.

Although two contemporary 11th century historical texts refer to the moat, its discovery was only recently made at the Mount Zion Project excavations.

Prior to the moat’s discovery, “some scholars had even doubted its existence,” said excavation co-director Prof. Shimon Gibson, thinking it “a figment of 12th century chronicles… It’s a very exciting discovery.”

Read More: Times of Israel

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Israeli tech supplies water to drought-stricken South Africa

(Photo: Ford Motor Company)

(Photo: Ford Motor Company)

By Naama Barak - July 1, 2019

srael is not a country known for its immense water resources. As such, the question of water supply and availability is never too far away in the minds of many Israelis, leading to plenty of technological innovations in the field.

One major innovation in recent years has been the technology created by Watergen, which produces clean drinking water from the air, greatly aiding areas struck by disasters and water pollution. It is now being harnessed in the South African province of Eastern Cape, which like much of the country has been suffering from severe drought in the last few years.

Watergen’s technology is being deployed by the World Vision South Africa aid organization in collaboration with the Ford Motor Company Fund to produce fresh and safe drinking water to thousands of residents in the province, servicing some 3,400 households as well as dozens of early childhood development centers and schools.

Read More: Israel21c

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The Israeli aid organization that saved a mountain village

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By 21see - June 25, 2019

When Hurricane Maria barreled into Puerto Rico in September 2017, the tiny mountain village of El Real was one of many left devastated by the deadly storm, one of the worst to ever hit the island.

Without power or clean water in an area that most local and international aid workers considered simply too dangerous to reach, things looked bleak for the 1,000 residents of this remote village who quickly began to succumb to waterborne diseases like Leptospirosis.

A week after the storm, however, a team of workers from Israeli humanitarian aid organization, IsraAID, arrived unexpectedly in the village bringing vital medical aid and water filters.

“They came like angels from the sky,” said Porfirio Fraticeli, a water operator in El Real.

Read More: Israel21c

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NFL quarterback Deshaun Watson says he’s wowed by Israel

(Photo: American Voices in Israel)

(Photo: American Voices in Israel)

By Paul Shindman - June 20, 2019

Houston Texans star quarterback Deshaun Watson toured Jerusalem Thursday and said that while he’d had no expectations before his first trip to Israel, after only a few days the visit already had a major impact on him.

“It’s definitely a life-changing experience for you to really feel the energy of Israel and especially Jerusalem,” Watson said during a stop at the Tower of David Museum in Jerusalem’s Old City. “It’s made my spiritual side a lot stronger.”

Asked if he might come back in the future to play football in Israel, Watson was affirmative. “I hope so, that’s the plan. Hopefully I can bring some type of football games over.”

Although he has been practicing for months, Watson took a break from football to make the trip before the Texans training camp opens on July 25. A devout Christian who wanted to see Israel first-hand, he arrived on Tuesday with a small entourage for a private tour co-sponsored by America’s Voices in Israel, a US group that organizes week-long missions to Israel for prominent Americans.

Read More: Times of Israel

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French Jews face trinity of hate from left, right, and Islamists, says author

(Photo: by Frederick Florin / Pool / AFP)

(Photo: by Frederick Florin / Pool / AFP)

By Robert Sarner - June 16, 2019

As the global pandemic of anti-Semitism worsens, its impact deepens. According to Paris writer Marc Weitzmann, such is the situation for Jews in France today that many play down, if not conceal, their Jewish identity in public. Weitzmann himself readily admits to not exhibiting outward signs of his Jewishness when circulating in the city.

Having just spent the past four years studying the resurgence of Jew-hatred in France for his new book, Weizmann is keenly aware of the potential, sometimes lethal, danger Jews face in his native country.

“I definitely take precautions,” Weitzmann says in fluent English during a recent interview with The Times of Israel. “For instance, when I’m in the subway or in a bar, I’m careful about what kind of book I carry. If it’s about a Jewish topic, I don’t show the cover too obviously. I wouldn’t wear a Star of David outside, and not just in Paris. Today, you can expose yourself to insults and worse pretty much anywhere in France. I first started having this concern about 15 years ago when things started to change for Jews.”

Read More: Times of Israel

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Archaeologists Identify City Gate From Time of King David

(Photo: Stephen G. Rosenberg)

(Photo: Stephen G. Rosenberg)

By Zachary Keyser - June 6, 2019

A city gate from the time of King David was discovered after 32 years of excavation in the ancient city of Bethsaida in the Golan Heights’ Jordan Park, opening up a world of new possibilities, opinions and theories about the ancient landscape of the Land of Israel.

According to Professor Rami Arav of the University of Nebraska, chief archaeologist overseeing the excavations, told the Jerusalem Post that the gate and further findings found within the ancient city give the notion that it was possible that Solomon and David might not have been the sole kings of the Israelite kingdom at their respective times, but instead chieftains of large tribes of Israelites.

The previously uncovered gate found in the area last year was cautiously identified to be a part of the biblical city of Zer, a name used during the First Temple period. However, the newly found gate dates back to the time and rule of King David, which is purportedly from the 11th to 10th centuries BCE.

“There are not many gates from capital cities in this country from this period,” said Arav. “Bethsaida was the name of the city during the Second Temple period, but during the First Temple period it was the city of Zer.” Arav cited Joshua 19:35, which says: “The fortified towns were Ziddim, Zer, Hammath, Rakkath, Kinneret.”

Read More: Jerusalem Post

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Pope welcomes Israeli, Jordanian, Palestinian bird experts

(Photo: Vatican Media)

(Photo: Vatican Media)

By Abigail Klein Leichman - June 6, 2019

Israeli, Jordanian, Palestinian and Swiss bird experts recently traveled to the Vatican to discuss their successful cross-border project using barn owls for biological pest control.

The project eliminates the use of toxic pesticides in agriculture and has promoted cooperation among Jewish and Muslim farmers.

“The meeting with Pope Francis was an extraordinary experience,” reported Tel Aviv University Prof. Yossi Leshem, the Israeli ornithologist who spearheaded the project in 1983 at Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu, with the first installment of 14 nesting boxes.

“The Pope moved us with the simplicity of his manners, his informal communication, his intelligence, and his tremendous excitement for the protection of biodiversity and his interest in the protection of Earth, which he characterize as God’s creation and the duty of every believer to protect and save from extinction.”

In 2002, Leshem expanded the barn-owl project to farms in nearby Jordan and Palestinian Authority territories. It became a national initiative in 2008 in cooperation with the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel and the governmental ministries of Agriculture, Environmental Protection and Regional Cooperation.

Read More: Israel21c

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Israel to ally with Arab neighbors around Red Sea in bid to save world’s corals

(Photo: Maoz Fine)

(Photo: Maoz Fine)

By Melanie Lidman - June 7, 2019

In a race to save the colorful corals that dot the shores of the Red Sea, Israel has joined a unique regional collaboration along with seven other majority-Muslim countries, many of whom do not have diplomatic relations with the Jewish state.

The Red Sea Transnational Research Center, to be managed by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, will study the Red Sea’s vast coral reefs and how they have managed to resist bleaching effects that have led to the imminent collapse of other reefs around the world.

The alliance will include all the countries that border the Red Sea: Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Israel only has diplomatic relations with Jordan and Egypt.

Read More: Times of Israel

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Arab Israeli Women Joining The Labor Force In Large Numbers

(Photo: Aloni Mor)

(Photo: Aloni Mor)

By Linda Gradstein - June 3, 2019

Economists agree that there are two groups who are under-represented in the Israeli labor force and are dragging down the economy, namely Arab women and ultra-Orthodox men. In both cases there are educational, cultural and systemic barriers to their employment. The Israeli government is working hard to make the changes that will encourage more women to join the labor force.

A decade ago, only about 22% of Arab women were working outside the home. Today over 40% of them are part of the labor force.

“The major reason is the increase in the educational level of Arab women and internal changes within Arab society,” says Aiman Saif, director of the Authority for the Economic Development of the Minorities Sector and Senior Advisor at Portland Trust, in an interview. “There are more workplaces and more opportunities for women – therefore we see an increase.”

Read More: Jerusalem Post

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Israeli sailor, 15, makes history at European Championship

(Photo: Dean Bikel)

(Photo: Dean Bikel)

By Abigail Klein Leichman - June 5, 2019

Fifteen-year-old Yogev Alcalay of the Sdot Yam Sailing Club in Israel took home four gold medals and a trophy from the EurILCA (International Laser Class Association) 2019 Laser 4.7 Youth Europeans in Hyeres, France, concluded on May 25.

Yogev made history by besting male competitors not only in the under-16 category but also in the entire under-18 boys’ category in both the open and European divisions – meaning he was the top laser sailor among 270 male competitors. Altogether, the competition included 400 participants from 50 countries.

The ninth-grade honors student from Caesarea trains six times a week in the water and two in the gym at Sdot Yam Sailing Club, where he had his first sailing experience during a summer camp in 2012.

Read More: Israel21c

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Fourth-grader unearths 9th century gold coin during educational dig

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By TOI Staff - June 2, 2019

A ten-year-old girl experienced the thrill of being an archaeologist when she spotted something sparkling during an educational dig on Thursday and discovered a ninth century gold coin.

Shira Sofer, a fourth-grade student at the Bachar Rousseau school in Tzur Moshe, near Netanya in central Israel, is one of hundreds of children taking part in a Lev HaSharon Regional Council archaeology program.

They are working at a village from the Byzantine and Early Islamic periods (the Talmudic and Geonic period, 5th to 11th centuries CE), among excavations that have revealed dwellings along with the everyday objects owned by their ancient owners, such as pottery, glass, coins and weights.

Read More: Times of Israel

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US Army Veterans Find Comfort in Israel

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By Alan Rosenbaum - May 27, 2019

I struggled for years trying to find healing from the moral injury of war and was overwhelmed by the impact that Jewish National Fund-USA (JNF-USA) had on my experience with Heroes to Heroes in Israel. Everywhere we went, JNF-USA was there!” said Joe Walters, 71, from Suffolk, Virginia.

A Vietnam War veteran, Walters is one of 277 US Army veterans who has traveled to Israel with Jewish National Fund-USA partner Heroes to Heroes, a US-based organization that provides spiritual healing and peer support for American combat veterans who have attempted suicide or are on a path to self-destruction. In partnership with JNF-USA, American and Israeli military veterans are also able to meet and bond during a 10-day journey to Israel, where teams of 12 to 14 US vets are led by program alumni. While in Israel, the vets are joined by their Israeli counterparts and visit various sites important to Israel’s path to independence.

Read More: Jerusalem Post

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South Koreans are flocking to Israel for Bible study… why?

(Photo: Avital Turel)

(Photo: Avital Turel)

By Naama Barak - May 26, 2019

Studying ancient texts is fascinating. But it’s one thing to examine them in a stuffy classroom, and quite another to immerse yourself in the world from which they originated. Just ask the South Korean students studying the Hebrew Bible bang in the middle of the Holy Land.

You won’t have much difficulty finding them. Over the past few years, the Bible department at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan has hosted numerous students from South Korea who have traveled across the world to study sacred texts in their original language and setting.

One such student is Kim Kyoungsik, a 38-year-old Christian pastor from Seoul.

“As a Christian, we know the Hebrew Bible; we call it the Old Testament,” he tells ISRAEL21c. “I was born as a Christian, so since I was very young I read the Bible and I heard the message of the Bible from parents and church, and naturally I wanted to learn Hebrew to understand the Hebrew Bible in its original language.”

In Korea he could not learn the Hebrew language at a deep level, he adds. “I also have a great interest in the Holy Land itself, so I also wanted to experience the geography of Israel.”

Kyoungsik is now completing his doctoral dissertation on plot conventions in the Scroll of Esther, and recently returned home after studying in Israel for almost eight years.

“I could experience the Bible and Israel through the physical geography. I traveled a lot during my studies and that kind of experience cannot be done in other countries,” he notes. His favorite discovery was the Judean desert.

Read More: Israel21c

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Israelis rush to aid Venezuelan refugees in Colombia

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By Abigail Klein Leichman - May 21, 2019

Israeli humanitarian aid agency IsraAID reports that it has dispatched an emergency response team to the city of Cúcuta, on Colombia’s border with Venezuela, which is a flashpoint in the ongoing Venezuelan displacement crisis.

Thousands cross the Simon Bolivar Bridge from Venezuela into Cúcuta every day seeking relief from the continued economic and political crisis in the country.

On May 17, IsraAID’s team distributed relief materials and conducted hygiene-promotion activities for 500 newly arrived Venezuelans at the border crossing, in partnership with Fundacion Venezolanos en Cúcuta, an organization of Venezuelans who provide support to new arrivals entering Colombia.

Read More: Israel21c

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Ben-Gurion University researchers create hybrid flying/driving robot

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By Shoshanna Solomon - May 20, 2019

Researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev said they have developed a “groundbreaking” hybrid robot that can both fly and drive, as well as squeeze into tight spaces, all while using the same motor.

The square, four-wheeled, winged machine can fly up stairs, roll over rough terrain, flatten itself or raise its body, and quickly move from driving mode into flying mode. It can adjust its width to crawl or run on flat surfaces, climb over large obstacles and up walls, or squeeze through a tunnel, pipe or narrow gap. The robot can move on the ground at a speed of up to eight feet per second (2.6 m/s) and uses low energy to operate.

Read More: Times of Israel

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How Tel Aviv’s Levant Fair came to host Eurovision

(Photo: Iris Mazel)

(Photo: Iris Mazel)

By Rachel Neiman - May 6, 2019

This week, Tel Aviv welcomed the first of the contestants in the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest, here to rehearse in preparation for the competition which commences on May 14.

They may not be aware that their venue – the Expo Tel Aviv, formerly called the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds – has a history that stretches back almost to the city’s founding, with a symbol that has become wholly identified with the “nonstop city.”

Since the mid-19th century, expositions and fairs have been an engine for trade and relations between countries. As early as 1898, an “International Scientific, Industrial and Philanthropic Fair” was planned as part of the celebration of the German Kaiser’s visit to Ottoman Empire-era Jerusalem, according to philatelic historian Dr. Arthur Groten.

While that fair never took place, agricultural exhibitions in the Yishuv (the early modern Jewish settlement) were held on a regional basis. After World War I, under the British Mandate, regional fairs were held throughout the Near East.

Read More: Israel21c

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