Israel to deploy advanced missile defense system; US military chief meets with Ya’alon


Israel and the U.S. are currently conducting a joint exercise that “represents a final test before Israel begins to deploy one of the most sophisticated missile defense systems in the world,” according to The Washington Post on Thursday. The current exercise under way, named Juniper Cobra 16, involves more than 1,700 U.S. soldiers and 1,500 Israeli soldiers from Israel’s Air Defense Command. The purpose is to conduct defense drills to exercise “ballistic missile defense capabilities.”

The advanced missile system is a “coordinated system of radars, launchers and interceptors.” It includes the Iron Dome, which protects Israel from short-range rockets, like those launched by Hamas in the Gaza Strip; David’s Sling, which intercepts short-and-medium range missiles; Arrow-3, which is designed to “repel” long-range missiles; and the X-band radar system. David’s Sling, according to The Post, will be delivered over the next several weeks and is designed to handle the missiles built by Iran and Russia that have been given to Hezbollah. The X-band radar system will allow Israel to “detect incoming missiles 500 or 600 miles out, vs. 100 miles, the current limit of their radar tracking systems.”

The defense system will be “far superior” to anything in the Middle East and could surpass those used in the United States and Europe. The United States has contributed $3.3 billion to the project over the past ten years, and to complete the development, Israel’s defense establishment has partnered with U.S. firms, including Raytheon, Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr. met with Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon on Thursday and both said a strong U.S.-Israel relationship is needed to combat the “instability in the region.” In a statement made to reporters, Gen. Dunford recalled his trip to Israel in October and reiterated his statement that “[t]he relationship between our two countries is about much more than just the military to military relationship, but I believe that’s one of the foundational elements.”


An openly gay Iranian poet who is seeking asylum in Israel has received an eight-month visa extension from the country’s interior ministry.

Payam Feili, whose native Iran considers homosexuality to be a crime punishable by death, was granted a tourist visa to visit Israel in December and applied for asylum in the Jewish state last month.

A soft-spoken 30-year-old with a Star of David tattooed on his neck, Feili says he wishes to continue his life in Israel, which he calls an “interesting, beautiful and amazing” place.

“For me, it’s not just another country,” he told Time on Wednesday. “For me it’s like a fairytale place.”

Feili has authored nine books, though only a censored edition his first work, a collection of poetry written when he was 19, was published in Iran. His subsequent works were barred by Iran’s Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, and were instead published abroad. Feili, however, had never left Iran until two years ago.

“Actually, I didn’t live in Iran,” he reflected. “I lived my life inside my room. That’s where life would happen.” Feili was detained several times over the years due to his sexuality and public admiration for Israel, and decided to flee to Turkey in 2014, after Iranian agents tortured and confined him to a shipping container for 44 days.

In Istanbul, Feili finally had the opportunity to meet some of the Israelis with whom he had been corresponding online for years. After expressing his wish to travel to Israel in 2015, an Israeli friend offered to stage Feili’s latest published work—I Will Grow, I Will Bear Fruit… Figs, a novella narrated by a homosexual boy. Feili later obtained a tourist visa to see the Hebrew translation of the play with the assistance of Israel’s Ministry of Culture.

Feili currently resides on Tel Aviv’s trendy Lilienblum Street, which is dotted with dance clubs and bars, and has been embraced by the city’s gay community, according to The New York Times.

He said that he developed an interest in Israel after watching films about the Holocaust at a young age, and found the country to be “exactly as I expected and even better and more beautiful.”

“Long before I left Iran,” he said during a Jerusalem press conference earlier this week, “I thought that the only other place in the world I could live was Israel.”

Artists and intellectuals routinely face persecution in Iran. Officers from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps detained poet and songwriter Yaghma Golrouee in December for filming a video criticizing the regime’s treatment of women. Golrouee, whose work features social commentary and reflections on love, had criticized authorities for barring his books from publication.

The Associated Press reported in October that the regime arrested and sentenced two Iranian poets to 99 lashes each “for shaking hands with members of the opposite sex.” The AP added that at least 30 journalists were imprisoned in Iran at the end of 2014. In November, after the regime’s arrest of five Iranian journalists, United Nations officials warned that Iran “should not silence critical or dissenting voices under the guise of vague and unsubstantiated national security concerns.” (via


United Overseas Bank Limited (UOB) today announced Asia’s first strategic partnership with OurCrowd’s global equity crowdfunding platform. The collaboration will see UOB making a $10 million investment in OurCrowd. And the accredited investors among UOB’s clients will now have an opportunity to broaden their investments into OurCrowd’s portfolio companies. “UOB has partnered with OurCrowd, to connect smart ideas with smart money,” said Janet Young, Head of Group Channels and Digitalization, UOB. “The UOB OurCrowd partnership represents a huge step forward for OurCrowd and the Asian tech ecosystem. Together, we will empower scores of new entrepreneurs and match them with global investors and mentor networks. The beauty of crowdfunding OurCrowd style is that the investor in Asia can now access quality deal flow in Israel, Silicon Valley, and beyond, while a Singapore entrepreneur can easily gain top notch global backing,” said OurCrowd Founder and CEO Jon Medved. Meanwhile, cybersecurity startup enSilo, the leading provider of a real-time data protection platform focusing on preventing data tampering and exfiltration, has announced the closing of a $9 million second tranche of its Series A financing. The funding was led by Rembrandt Venture Partners with previous investors Carmel Ventures and Lightspeed Venture Partners participating. enSilo has raised $21 million in total funding. (via Israel21c)

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