Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman called for the immediate closure of the Israeli embassy in Dublin after the upper house of parliament in Ireland voted to ban the import of goods produced in Israeli settlements. Lieberman tweeted that “there is no point in summoning the Ambassador of Ireland for a ‘reprimand’. We don’t turn the other cheek to those who boycott us.” The Irish bill, referred to as the Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018, passed in the upper house with a 25-20 vote on July 11.
Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon, on July 12 urged Amina Mohammed, deputy secretary-general of the United Nations, to condemn Hamas for its ongoing arson campaign against Israel on July 12. For over 100 days, Hamas terrorists have launched incendiary kites and balloons that have started almost 700 fires and torched thousands of acres of residential and commercial land.
Israeli Military Technology
SpaceIL released a statement on July 10 noting that it hopes to become the first non-government affiliated organization to land a spacecraft on the moon. The NGO and the state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) plan to launch their collaborative unmanned spacecraft from Cape Canaveral, Florida in December 2019. South African-Israeli billionaire, Morris Kahn, and other donors largely funded the $95 million project. If the mission is successful, Israel will be the fourth country to land a spacecraft on the moon, following the United States, the Soviet Union, and China.
Elbit announced the production of a 1.6-ton unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) on July 12 designed to fly in airspace currently dedicated to piloted civilian planes. Due to changing security threats following the dismantling of the Islamic State and increasing geopolitical tensions, European countries have started to shift defense efforts away from distant conflicts to homeland security, resulting in an increased demand for drones that can safely fly in civilian airspace, for example, to monitor border crossings. The Hermes’ 900 StarLine is currently under production for the Swiss armed forces, with delivery scheduled for 2019.
Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is upgrading its naval capabilities through the development of the Remotely Piloted Air Systems (RPAS). The new technology comes as a response to the discontinuation of the Israeli owned Shahaf manned sea scanning maritime plane. The new RPAS has two payloads dedicated to submarine detection, the Sonobuoy (acoustic detector) and the MAD (magnetic detector).
Rafael’s Spice 250 electro-optical and infrared guided bomb is scheduled to achieve initial operational capability for the IDF in 2019. The announcement followed a third successful weapons campaign earlier this year in which the new Israeli smart bomb successfully engaged a moving maritime target. The Spice 250 is the latest guided bomb that uses onboard navigational sensors to detect the weapon’s movement and compare it to stored terrain data, rendering the device immune to GPS jamming. The weapon displayed at the Farnborough 2018 Airshow is compatible with both the Eurofighter Typhoon and the Saab Gripen.
Sierra Nevada Corporations (SNC), a United States electronic systems provider, signed a strategic deal with IAI to develop new drones capable of vertical takeoff. The vertical takeoff feature will allow army units in forward positions to gain intelligence in hostile environments without needing a runway. The latest of the joint developments between IAI and SNC will be manufactured, maintained, and operated in the United States.
Foreign Military Sales
Rafael started providing the Israeli Defense Forces, and other European armies, with the new version of the Israeli anti-tank Gil 2 missile. According to one of the missile’s operators, one of the most notable advantages of the new rocket is the ability to strike a target without a direct line of sight. The missile has a increased fire range of approximately 4 miles.
At the Farnborough Airshow, the Czech company Aero Vodochody launched its concept for the new version of the L-159 light-attack trainer aircraft, the F/A-259 Striker. The novel Striker is part of a joint modernization effort with IAI that has resulted in new avionics for the F/A-259. Aero hopes that its collaboration with IAI will result in better marketing outreach, specifically in the United States where both IAI and Aero hope to be contenders for the United States Air Force’s OA-X light-attack aircraft competition.
IAI entered an agreement with the firm KSU of India to operate TaxiBot vehicles at the New Delhi and Mumbai airports. The TaxiBot connects to aircrafts and allows pilots to taxi planes from the jet bridge to the runway without using of the aircrafts’ main engines. The novel technology enables a plane to save 85 percent of the fuel consumed during standard taxi procedures. The deal between KSU and IAI is to be implemented in two parts. Initially, the TaxiBot vehicles will be delivered to the airports and run in controlled trials until 2018. Following the initial tests, the 38 additional vehicles will be delivered to the airports over the next four years as India’s aviation market continues to grow.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu communicated to Moscow on July 11 that Israel does not intend to threaten Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s rule. Moreover, the Israeli prime minister requested that Russia continue working on removing Iranian forces from Syria.
A U.S.House of Representatives national security subcommittee committee heard arguments for and against recognizing Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights in a hearing on July 17. The Netanyahu administration has reportedly pressured the White House to recognize the annexation, contending that the breakdown of order in Syria bolstered Israel’s claims the territory is crucial to maintaining security in the region. Generally, Democrats on the committee opposed recognizing the annexation, while Republicans supported it.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and United States President Donald Trump met on July 16 at the Helsinki summit to discuss significant global issues. Following the summit, President Trump stated that he and Putin reached a “really good conclusion” for Israel in regards to Syria. Moreover, the Russian president stated that he paid “special attention” to the Jewish state during the talks. While President Trump’s support for Israel has remained strong, Putin’s new-found support is unexpected due to his historical support of the Assad regime in Syria.
JPC intern Brandon Becker compiled this report.