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WORLD NEWSBRIEFS September 15, 2016

Former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres Suffers Stroke, Hospitalized

(JNS.org) Former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres suffered a stroke on Tuesday and was taken to the Sheba Medical Center outside of Tel Aviv after telling his doctor that he felt weak.

The 93-year-old veteran statesman is in serious condition and has been sedated and placed on a respirator, according to Israel’s Channels 1 and 10.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was updated on the medical condition of Peres by the director of the medical center at Tel Hashomer.

“The Prime Minister conveyed the prayers of the entire nation for a quick recovery,” Netanyahu’s media adviser wrote.

President Reuven Rivlin said he’s “following with concern the updates from the hospital, and pray together with the entire people for my friend Shimon’s recovery.”

A week ago, Peres received a pacemaker after being diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat. Earlier this year, in January, he underwent surgery to open a blocked artery following a mild heart attack.

Peres served twice as prime minister of Israel and was the ninth president from 2007 to 2014. He shared the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize with then-prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for negotiating the 1993 Oslo peace accords.


Ofek-11 Surveillance Satellite Successfully Launched Into Space

(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) Israel on Tuesday successfully launched the Ofek-11 surveillance satellite into space, mere weeks after the Amos-6 satellite, carrying state-of-the-art communications technology, was destroyed in a static test malfunction, just two days before it was scheduled to be launched into orbit.

The launch of the Ofek-11 satellite on Tuesday. (credit: Israeli Defense Ministry’s Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure)

While Ofek-11 entered orbit as planned, it began experiencing technical issues that interrupted its steady communications with its control station, at the Palmachim Air Base in central Israel, almost immediately.

“It is going to be a while before we can assess if this launch was fully successful; there are some issues that we are still concerned about,” an Israeli defense official said Tuesday night. “We can’t be 100 percent optimistic, but we are not 100 percent pessimistic either.”

Another official noted that “some things appear to be out of the ordinary, but we have yet to complete our assessment; we are trying to stabilize its systems.”

The Israel Aerospace Industries designed Ofek-11 as an all-weather radar imaging satellite that can provide imagery at all hours of the day. It was fitted with more sophisticated systems than the Ofek-10, which was launched from the same launch site in 2014.

The first Israeli satellite, Ofek-1, was launched into space in 1988. At the time, Israel was the eighth country to have successfully developed and launched a satellite into space. Today, 12 countries have this capability.


Hamas Rejects Prisoner Swap Deal for IDF Soldiers’ Remains

(JNS.org) The Hamas terror group has rejected Israel’s proposals for a prisoner exchange deal that would return the remains of Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers as well as missing Israeli citizens, a senior Israeli official said on Tuesday, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Hamas is responsible for preventing a deal requesting the return of the bodies of Lt. Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul to their families, according to IDF Col. (res.) Lior Lotan, who spoke at the Institute for Policies Against Terror.

“It is internationally accepted, even in the worst confrontations, that both sides exchange soldiers and the dead at the end of the conflict,” Lotan said.

Lotan, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s liaison for prisoners and missing persons, said that Hamas refused a deal that would return 19 Hamas prisoners arrested by the IDF in 2014 and the bodies of 19 operatives in exchange for the Israeli soldiers’ remains.

“In an unprecedented manner, Hamas responded negatively and placed preconditions, a solution calling for other prisoners not from the Gaza Strip and not connected to Operation Protective Edge,” he said.

Goldin and Shaul’s bodies have been held by Hamas in Gaza for the last two years, after they were abducted and killed during Operation Protective Edge in July 2014.


IDF Strikes Syrian Targets After Errant Mortar Fire Hits Golan Heights 

(JNS.org) The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) struck targets in Syria on Tuesday in response to Syrian mortar fire that hit the Israeli part of the Golan Heights.

This was the fifth time errant Syrian projectiles stemming from the fighting in the Syrian Civil War hit Israeli territory in the past 10 days. No injuries or damage have been reported, Israel Hayom reported.

“The IDF holds the Syrian regime responsible for events on its soil. We will not tolerate any attempt to undermine Israeli sovereignty or compromise the Israeli public’s safety,” the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said in a statement.

The IDF also denied reports by Syrian media that an Israeli fighter jet and drone that entered Syrian airspace had been shot down.

“Overnight, two surface-to-air missiles were launched from Syria after the mission to target Syrian artillery positions. At no point was the safety of [Israeli] aircraft compromised,” the IDF spokesman said.

The Syrians “aimed for the Israeli jet, they didn’t even come close,” said a senior Israeli defense official.

The Israeli strike inside Syria came just hours after the U.S. and Russia brokered a nationwide ceasefire in Syria in the second attempt by the two world powers to halt the ongoing conflict.


Israeli Religious High Schools Get Marriage-Prep Course

(JNS.org) A marriage-preparation class for religious high school students will be offered this year by Israel’s Ministry of Education, Haaretz reported on Tuesday.

At the schools, counselors will be given 30 to 60 hours of training to help graduates choose a future spouse by lending advice on how to meet each other. A database of potential partner names will also be created and used in the program.

“Because single people are an inseparable and beloved part of us, there is a great need to embark on a new and unique enterprise,” wrote Dr. Avraham Lifshitz, the head of the ministry’s religious education administration.

If successful, the program will be adopted in other Israeli school systems, Lifshitz said.

One unnamed educator told Haaretz that matchmaking has no place in the schools.

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