- The Trump Administration cut $65 million from funds intended for Palestinian refugees, demanding that the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the agency responsible for administration of those funds, “undertake a fundamental re-examination,” the State Department said. Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, said that UNRWA was misusing humanitarian aid to support propaganda against Israel and “perpetuate the plight of the Palestinians.”
- An Iranian drone entered Israeli airspace and was shot down. Soon afterward, an Israeli F-16 fighter jet crashed, apparently shot down. Israel immediately launched a series of air strikes that the ministry of defense later claimed had “taken out nearly half of Assad’s air defenses.” According to reports, at least eight Israeli F-16s and probably more, as well as several formations of F-15s, were involved in attacks on Iranian targets in Syria. The brief, but violent confrontation with Syria and Iran ended with Israel clearly in control of the air space in the region.
- An estimated 30,000 Palestinians, hurling rocks and Molotov cocktails, descended on the fence separating Israel and Gaza as part of the “March of Return” demonstrations, which were organized by Hamas. Several days later, in response to the heightened tensions, then IDF chief Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, warned that “the likelihood of war has increased substantially.”
- Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said in an interview with The Atlantic that “Israelis are entitled to live peacefully in their own land,” a remarkable statement to make in public from a high Saudi Arabian official, especially one who is the heir apparent to the Saudi throne. While bin Salman’s concern for the rights of Israelis to live where they choose to are certainly appreciated, he may have been motivated by a greater concern, one he shares with Israel: an interest in thwarting Iranian aggression in the region. In the same interview with The Atlantic, bin Salman called Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei “the new Hitler.”
- The US moved its embassy to Jerusalem and officially opened it on May 14, the 70th birthday of the modern State of Israel. President Trump said that his administration’s recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, America’s closest ally, had “taken Jerusalem, the toughest part of (peace) negotiations, off the table.”
- The move of the US embassy there set off intense rioting in Gaza, which continued for several weeks. Nevertheless, two days later, Guatemala followed America’s lead and moved its embassy to Jerusalem. This set the stage for other countries to do the same.
- Israel discovered top secret Iranian nuclear weapons files stored in a highly secret location in Tehran and brought those back to Israel. Prime Minister Netanyahu displayed those to prove that Iran had been lying about its covert atomic weapons program. Netanyahu gave very few details about this mission, but said that it was one of the greatest accomplishments in the history of Israeli intelligence.
- Palestinians discover a new way to unleash terror: fire kites. These airborne devices use the breezes coming off of the Mediterranean to fly into Israel, where they landed and often started fires. Although this tactic had been discovered several weeks before, when terrorists realized its effectiveness it quickly became a weapon of choice. By early June, seven square miles in Israeli territory were burned by at least 250 fires, more than half of those in nature reserves.
- A nonprofit Israeli company called SpaceIL announced that it would send an unmanned spacecraft into orbit and make a lunar landing in February. When the rocket lands, Israel will become part of a very small group of nations that will have accomplished this feat: the United States, Russia, and China. The Israeli rocket will conduct a variety of experiments and the results of those will be analyzed by the Weizmann Institute of Science-UCLA.
- Tensions between Israel and Gaza increased again when Hamas fired a barrage of 70 rockets into Israel. The majority of those landed in open areas, and the Iron Dome defense system intercepted 11 more of them. Nevertheless, several Israelis in Sderot were injured by the rockets and a dozen Israelis suffered from shock.
- Ari Fuld, a Queens native who moved to the West Bank settlement Efrat, was stabbed to death by a Palestinian terrorist. Despite his wounds, Fuld chased and shot his attacker before collapsing and dying. The terrorist, who was shot by Fuld and another armed civilian, was in moderate condition at Hadassah Hospital. Fuld, who had volunteered to serve in a combat role in the Israeli infantry, worked at an organization that provided support for Israeli soldiers. Ari Fuld’s service to his country, in life and in death, brought praise from Israeli politicians: He literally used his last strength to shoot the terrorist, saving the lives of many other Israelis.
- October was the best month for the Israeli tourism industry. More than 486,000 people visited Israel, an all-time record, and boosted the economy to the tune of more than $676 million, according to the Tourism Ministry. The Tourism Ministry said it expected the increased level of tourism to continue, and added that they expected another record to be set by the end of the year. Hungary produced the most significant percentage increase in tourists, at about 65 percent, followed by Italy, Poland, Romania, and Holland, each with about a 40-percent increase. The increase in tourism from the US was 13 percent.
- There were serious clashes with Gaza after an Israeli covert operation left seven terrorists and one Israeli soldier dead. The clashes lasted for several days until a cease fire was reached through Egyptian mediation. Shooting and protests in Gaza lasted for several more weeks, but with decreasing intensity.
- Early in the month, Israel discovered a tunnel that stretched from a home in Lebanon hundreds of feet into Israel. The tunnel could not only have been used by terrorists to infiltrate Israel but was wide enough for a vehicle to pass through. In the following days, additional tunnels were discovered, and all were destroyed. It’s been reported that Israel is aware of many more tunnels but chose not to destroy all of them at once so as not to inflame tensions that could lead to a war with Hezbollah.