Jerusalem, Israel — June 26, 2021 … The Israel Defense Forces and the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs are sending a rescue and humanitarian aid team to Florida.
The Israel Defense Forces, which has extensive domestic and international experience with search and rescue efforts, is sending a delegation headed by the Commander of the National Rescue Unit in the IDF Home Front Command, Col. (res.) Golan Vach, and will include a representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Guy Giladi, the former Deputy Consul General in Miami.
In addition, the delegation consists of approximately 10 Israel Defense reserve officers from the Home Front Command, all top experts in engineering and social care efforts.
On Saturday evening a joint IDF and Ministry of Foreign Affairs aid delegation departed to assist at the destruction site in Miami, Florida, after the collapse of a residential building.
The delegation’s mission is to assist in the life-saving efforts by mapping out the destruction site, assisting the Jewish community in identifying victims and survivors, and supporting the local rescue forces generally. Preparations for the delegation were led by the Head of the Home Front Command, Brig. Gen. Itzik Bar.
The IDF and MFA delegation will be received by the staff of the Israeli Consulate General in Miami and the Consul General, Maor Elbaz-Starinsky, who have maintained a regular presence at the site since the tragic collapse and have provided assistance with clothing, medicine, food, emergency lighting and more. The consulate will connect the staff with the Miami District Emergency Services and the State of Florida.
Israel Defense Minister Benny Gantz said the move was approved in coordination with the Foreign Ministry.
“As with any national mission, the IDF and the defense establishment are ready to respond, act and assist. Every effort will be made to save lives, support the Jewish community and our friend the United States,” Gantz said.
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said the sending of the delegation demonstrated the depth of friendship between the two nations.
“The State of Israel has no better friend than the United States, and the United States has no better friend than Israel. In such difficult moments, we stand with our American friends and the Jewish community in Florida,” Lapid said.
Israel Prime Minister Naftali Bennett spoke with Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis this evening to express his condolences, and said Israel would assist in any way needed.
“The United States is our greatest friend, and we stand by your side during this difficult time. We all pray for the safety of the wounded. I instructed all authorities in the Israeli government to assist in any way that may be required,” Bennett told DeSantis.
Jerusalem, Israel — June 14, 2021 … Democracy in the Middle East was on full view as Israel’s new unity coalition government defeated Netanyahu’s Likud Party by a thin vote.The 36th government will serve under Naftali Bennett with Yair Lapid, who will serve as Foreign Minister, expected to take over as Prime Minister in August 2023.
Bennett addressed the Israeli Knesset with the following: “H.E. President Reuven Rivlin; President-elect Isaac Herzog; Mr. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; President of the Supreme Court, Justice Esther Hayut; Speaker of the Knesset Yariv Levin; my partner in forming the Unity Government, Member of Knesset Yair Lapid, and his wife Lihi; Ministers of the outgoing government; Ministers of the incoming government; Members of Knesset; honored guests.
I want to begin my words by saying, on my own behalf, and in the name of the members of the designated government, in the name
of this House, and in the name of all the citizens of Israel – thank you. Thank you to
the outgoing Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu,
for your many years of service, replete with achievements, for the sake of the
State of Israel. As Prime Minister you acted throughout many years to embolden Israel’s political, security, and economic strength. I saw you from
up-close, in extensive security deliberations, late into the night,
investigating, making inquiries and considerations out of a sense of grave responsibility.
Benjamin and Sara Netanyahu, over the years, we have not always agreed,
but we have both sacrificed much on a personal level in order to serve our people, the people of Israel. Expressing gratitude is a fundamental principle in Judaism. This is the time for the people to say to you, thank you.
I also want to take this opportunity to express my deep appreciation to
the Tenth President of the State of Israel, Reuven Rivlin, for his years as President, as Speaker of the Knesset, and as a public servant. And to congratulate President-elect, Isaac
Herzog, and wish him much success. God willing, we will work together very
Honored ladies and gentlemen, this is a special moment. The moment in which the baton of leading the
people and the country passes – as in a relay race – to the next generation. It a sacred endowment.
The State of Israel is not ‘just another country’. It is the dream of generations of Jews – from
Marrakesh to Budapest, from Bagdad to San Francisco – a dream we merited to see realized every day before our
very eyes. Each generation has its own challenges, and out of each generation
comes the leaders that can overcome them.
The external challenges we face are great: the Iranian nuclear project,
which is moving towards a crucial point; the
ongoing war on terror; Israel’s image in the world and the unfair treatment it
receives in international institutions – these are all sizable and complex
Dear friends, in the guests gallery today, sits Maya Moreno, widow of my friend,
Lieutenant Colonel Emmanuel Moreno, of blessed memory. At every important
juncture of my life, I think of Emmanuel. The intensity of his devotion and
sense of mission guides us.
Friends, as the Jewish people tend to be people with opinions… and as we see here, the Parliament of the Jewish state, is a parliament
of opinions, and anyone who has ever seen a pair of students studying Talmud together,
or a heated debate about a product in the office corridors of an Israeli start-up, understands the force for good of “disputes for the sake of Heaven”. But there are points in Jewish history in which the disagreements between us have
gone out of control, in which they were no longer “disputes for the sake of
Heaven”, times in which they threatened us, and all that we have built with our
sweat and blood.
Twice in history, we have lost our national home precisely because the leaders of the generation were not able to sit with one and another and compromise. Each was right, yet with all their being right, they burnt the house
down on top of us. I am proud of the ability to sit together with people with very
different views from my own.
This time, at the decisive moment, we have taken responsibility. We understood that we have to safeguard our home. To continue on in this way – more elections,
more hatred, more vitriolic posts on Facebook – is just not an option. Therefore, we stopped the train, a moment before it barreled into the abyss. And I want to thank my friend, Foreign Minister-designate, MK Yair Lapid, who
showed national responsibility, political generosity, and without whom we
would not be here today.
The time has come for different leaders, from all parts of the people,
to stop, to stop this madness.
The government that will be formed represents many of Israel’s citizens: from Ofra to Tel Aviv, from
Rahat to Kiryat Shmona. Precisely here lies the opportunity. Our principle is, we will sit together, and we will forge forward on that which we agree – and there is much we agree on,
transport, education and so on, and what separates us we will leave to the side.
To the citizens of Israel I say: this is a sensitive moment, of political change. I call on all, to
demonstrate maturity and restraint.
The new government will be a government which strives for real,
practical solutions, to the problems faced by the country and its citizens. The work-plan which we are presenting today is the most detailed in
years. We have come to work. To remove the barriers, to free up the jams, and
to turn our country into what it can be.
From here, I turn to the ultra-Orthodox community. Although the ultra-Orthodox
parties chose not to join the coalition, that does not mean you are not
represented – I will represent you, we will represent you. The new government will respect the study of Torah, the Torah which kept us safe for so many
years in exile, and at the same time will work to remove the barriers which prevent
the ultra-Orthodox community’s integration into the employment market, and Israeli society. Instead of perpetuating the same methods, we will have the opportunity to address the deep problems which
burden ultra-Orthodox society: key amongst them the housing crisis.
The pace of construction of apartments, neighborhoods, and cities
simply does not keep up with natural growth, and there is room for the establishment of new ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods
and even a new city in Israel.
I was asked by the father of Eliyahu Shmuel, of blessed memory – a 16
year old ultra-Orthodox boy, who was killed in the Meron Disaster – to remember
him in my swearing in address. Eli was a sweet
child. He always helped his friends, and saw the good in everyone. We will not forget Eli, and we will not ignore his death. A State
Commission of Inquiry will be set up.
Honored ladies and gentlemen. The government is setting out on its
path, as the greatest threat to Israel, the Iranian nuclear project, is reaching a critical point. The Middle East is still yet to recover from
the effects of the first nuclear deal, which emboldened Iran to the tune of billions of dollars, and with international
Iran, through its Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guard, has
established terrorist outposts – from Syria, through Gaza and Lebanon, and to
Yemen. Renewing the nuclear deal with Iran is a mistake that will once again lend
legitimacy to one of the most discriminatory and violent regimes in the world.
Israel will not allow Iran to be equipped with nuclear weapons. Israel is not party to the agreement, and will maintain full freedom to act.
Last month, we received a reminder that the conflict with the
Palestinians is still here. We must remember, and remind the world, that our
enemies deny our very existence in the Land of Israel, and that this is not a dispute over
We need military strength, civil resilience, and a belief in the
justness of our path at times when the conflict raises its head.
I hope the ceasefire in the south is maintained. But if Hamas
again chooses the path of violence against Israeli civilians, it will encounter a wall of iron.
Violence and terrorism are not a natural phenomenon or destiny with
which we are supposed to just come to terms. The Palestinians must take
responsibility for their actions, and understand
that violence will be met with a firm response.
That said, security calm will lead to economic moves, which will lead to reducing friction and the conflict.
To the Goldin, Shaul, Mengistu, and Sayed families. The government led by me will work to bring home
the IDF’s fallen, and the Israeli citizens held in Gaza by
Hamas. We see in their return a sacred duty, which should be undertaken out of
The government will work to establish and expand peace agreements with the Arab states, to increase regional economic, entrepreneurial, and cultural
cooperation, and to deepen the direct connection between the peoples of the region, such as the connection between the citizens of Israel and the citizens
of the United Arab Emirates.
Dear friends, on behalf of us all, I want to thank the President of the
United States of America, Joe Biden, for standing alongside Israel during the
last operation in Gaza, “Guardian of the Walls”, and for his longstanding
commitment to the security of Israel.
President Biden said during the operation, “Until the region says,
unequivocally, they acknowledge the right of Israel to exist as an independent
Jewish state, there will be no peace”.
With God’s help, we will do and we will succeed. Amen.”
Prime Minister Bennett and US President Joe Biden spoke by telephone following the swearing in ceremony.
The new Prime Minister thanked President Biden for his warm wishes on the inauguration of the new government, and for his long-standing commitment to the State of Israel and its security.
Bennett noted his appreciation for the President, and for his support for Israel during the recent operation in Gaza (Guardian of the Walls), and noted that he considers him a great friend of the State of Israel.
In their conversation, the leaders emphasized the importance of the alliance between Israel and the United States, as well as their commitment to strengthening relations between the two countries, and maintaining the security of the State of Israel.
Wasting no time, Bennett this morning took up office at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem. He toured the various wings of the office, met with the employees and inquired after their wellbeing, and wished everyone continued productivity.
The Prime Minister’s Military Secretary and the head of the Israel National Security Council also briefed Prime Minister Bennett on security matters.
A peaceful transition of power is one of the hallmarks of democracies.
It is a sign of stability in the system of government, and trust in that government’s institutions. What happened on January 6 with the storming of the US Capitol was an attempt to stop Joe Biden from becoming president; and what Benjamin Netanyahu did on Sunday was his attempt to stop Naftali Bennett from becoming prime minister.
Listening to Netanyahu speak on Sunday to his Likud faction should raise concern among all Israelis. While he did not openly call for people to storm the Knesset, he did everything he could to delegitimize the government that Bennett and Yair Lapid plan to form this week. This new government, he said, is a case of the “biggest election fraud in the history of the country”; that people “feel cheated”; and it is everyone’s right to take action and protest against the formation of the government.
“We are talking about parties that talk Right and act Left and cheated their voters,” Netanyahu told his fellow Likud members. “I want to say the simple truth that everyone understands: you don’t need to be afraid to attack the media commentators and TV studios and the propaganda machine that is working for them. This is part of the deception. Don’t be afraid to tell the truth.
”On its own this talk might not sound incendiary, but it comes as almost every member of the Yamina Party is under 24/7 security detail due to the surge in threats against them and their families. Bennett is being protected by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), Ayelet Shaked by the Knesset Guard, and as of Sunday, MKs Idit Silman and Nir Orbach are also flanked with armed guards.
Netanyahu’s comments came less than a day after the head of the Shin Bet issued a rare public warning, sounding the alarm that the level of incitement in Israel today could end in bloodshed. Did that stop Netanyahu from delegitimizing the new government, or calling on his followers to attack (in a legal way, he stressed) the media and members of Knesset? Sadly, no.
It is true that Netanyahu paid lip service to the Shin Bet chief’s call to denounce incitement, but he quickly went on the attack, adding fuel to the fire. For his followers, there was one takeaway from his speech, and that was to continue to fight, to attack, and to resist the establishment of the so-called change coalition. If, God forbid, violence should occur, Netanyahu will do what he does best: wash his hands of any responsibility and replay his call for the resistance to be within the boundaries of the law. While that might be what he said, there is also the music in the way he said it. Calling something a fraud, and for people to stand up and resist can be interpreted in many different ways.
When your head of internal security warns of bloodshed and you ignore that call and speak the way Netanyahu spoke, you are responsible for what happens next. Sometimes, it is that simple. This is dangerous territory for Israel, reminiscent of the way Donald Trump fought to overturn and delegitimize the November 4 election.
Will this end in the storming of the Knesset, of Bennett’s home, or a physical attack against a Knesset member? We do not know. Netanyahu doesn’t want his followers to be upset; he wants them to feel cheated. That way he can keep them on his side if and when the Bennett-Lapid government is formed. He will play the victim card, and he wants his followers to feel like victims as well. He doesn’t want to give even a single moment of grace to the new government to succeed where he has failed. He wants everyone on edge all the time.
There is an alternative: recognizing that a new government has been established and conceding gracefully. It would mean inviting Bennett and Lapid for a meeting, having top staff meet with top staff on the other side, and ensuring that the transition is done in the smoothest and most responsible way possible. That is not what Netanyahu is doing. He wants to go down fighting since holding a meeting like that would be giving the new government legitimacy – and that is something Netanyahu will refuse to do.
Israelis need to remain vigilant, because what we heard on Sunday is not simply the talk of a politician who lost an election. It is the talk of someone determined to do everything he can to stop the transfer of power to another prime minister and a new government meant to replace him. If that means further weakening state institutions and democratic values, then so be it.