Protestors in Iran refused to trample an Israeli flag during anti-government demonstrations, Netanyahu is debating his immunity plea if he doesn’t win the next election, torrential rain douses Israel and damages fighter jets, and Israel’s economic rise slows down.
Iranian Protestors Respect Israeli Flag
After the accidental downing of a civilian airliner in Iran, thousands of protestors in Tehran turned on their government and, in a remarkable display, refused to trample an Israeli flag placed under their feet.
Captured on video and circulated on social media, a large group of protestors, mostlcollege-aged, are seen creating an opening on the street to prevent walking on top of a large Israeli flag in addition to a U.S. flag. The Jerusalem Post reports that the few who did walk on the flags were shamed by other protesters in the area with chants of "Shame on you."
The unprecedented statement being made by these protesters indicates a major shift in the internal attitude of many Iranians toward their own government, a sworn enemy of Israel. Iran has historically called for obliteration of Israel and the U.S., but the downing of a Ukrainian civilian jetliner killing all 176 people aboard is just the latest atrocity committed by the regime against its own people inside state borders.
Iranian security forces have cracked down on the protests in Iran, but increased international attention and warnings on the treatment of protestors from world leaders are putting a bright spotlight on the state’s reaction. But not every Iranian is on the same page. The image of Iranians respecting the Israeli and U.S. flags is a stark contrast to those same flags being burned just several days prior. Tens of thousands of anti-U.S. and anti-Israel protestors demonstrated after the assassination of Iranian Commander Qasem Soleimani.
The fallout of that assassination has not only created an internal crisis for Iran’s leadership, but triggered a reevaluation of the threat posed by Iran to Israel. Iran announced this week that it would return to processing nuclear fuel and completely drop remaining conditions from the Obama administration’s nuclear deal. If Iran follows this path, Israel will once again have to evaluate how best to deal with Iran’s nuclear capabilities.
Netanyahu May Drop Immunity Plea if Defeated
Senior officials in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party are cited saying that Netanyahu could rescind his request for parliamentary immunity if he is unlikely to receive it after the election.
In the event of an electoral loss, pulling the request would prevent handing rival party Blue and White party a “victory photo-op,” according to the officials cited in the Times of Israel. Regardless of who wins the election, the Knesset is taking Netanyahu’s request seriously. Last week lawmakers voted 16 to 5 in favor of establishing and staffing the key House Committee that will debate Netanyahu’s immunity request.
Netenyahu is requesting immunity on a variety of corruption charges in three cases that have haunted his multiple attempts to garner enough support to form a ruling coalition for months. The resolution of those charges, whatever they may be, are unlikely to come swiftly. Netanyahu’s opponents in the Knesset are expected to reject his plea for immunity if given the opportunity, but that will most likely result in a legal challenge that deigns to tie up the entire proceeding in the courts for months.
Meanwhile, Israel hurtles toward its third election in less than a year.
Torrential Rain Breaks 51-year Record
Drenching rain in Israel over a two-week period broke a 51-year record for rainfall totals resulting in major flooding and dramatic events.
The Israel Meteorological Service said that the Western and Upper Galilee had seen more than 15.7 inches in two weeks, some spots recording nearly 18 inches. Similar numbers have been recorded only twice in history in December 1951 and in January 1969, according to the Times of Israel. While the extremely torrential rainfall does help the country recover from a prolonged drought that causes irreparable ecological damage, the intensity of it led to major flooding that caused its own damage.
The Jerusalem Post reports that “eight F-16 Sufa fighter jets were damaged by the rain—five of them with minor damage and three with significant damage.” One picture released shows a jet submerge up to its wings.
Several mechanics also needed rescue, and the Israeli Air Force admitted that they should have evacuated the hangers before the sudden downpour.
“At 5:00 a.m. on Thursday the base was dry, but within half an hour the base was flooded with 50 million liters of water,” the officer said. “The water was causing even concrete walls to crumble.”
All the damaged planes are expected to be repaired and operation by next week, and an officer said their absence does not impact Israel’s air capabilities.
The recent extreme weather resulted in the deaths of at least seven people across Israel, including a young couple who drowned in a short-circuited elevator in Tel Aviv. Israeli leadership has asked the public to listen to safety instructions from authorities as they would if the country were under rocket attack.
Israel’s Economic Rise Slows
Israel’s annual economic report revealed a 3.3 percent economic growth in 2019, the slowest pace since 2015, and below the 2018 rate of 3.4 percent.
Despite the slowdown, Israel’s growth is still the highest among Western countries and nearly double the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development average of 1.7 percent. Reuters reports that last year’s growth was decelerated by near-zero growth in investment in fixed assets and weaker exports.
Near future growth is speculated to remain around 3 percent. But the additional complication of a state without a government about to head into its third election in less than a year is giving policymakers pause in their economic forecasts given the restrictions on implementing economic policy.
In the prior three years, Israel’s economy grew 3.4 percent to 4 after expanding 2.3 percent in 2015.