Israeli players Omri Casspi of the Houston Rockets and Gal Mekel of the Dallas Mavericks will be in the NBA playoffs
Globetrotters win over crowds in Israel
The Harlem Globetrotters have not lost in eight years and have only been defeated 345 times in more than 22,000 games, so to say that they won their game against the World All-Stars Friday at Romema Arena in Haifa would not be news.
But the Globetrotters won over their Israeli audience while emerging victorious 112-108 in a game that became close after a basket scored by a child from the crowd awarded 19 points to the challengers and tied the game with less than a minute left to play.
The Globetrotters took advantage of the innovations that are part of their games, including four-point shot circles 35-feet away from the basket to rack up points. Scoring with the help of teammates lifting players on their shoulders and standing on the rim were additional ideas that have not been adopted by the NBA but added to the entertainment of the game.
The star of the show for the Globetrotters was Ant Atkinson, who interacted with the crowd in Hebrew, played tricks on a referee he affectionately called Shrek and scored a shot with his feet. Several children from the crowd were brought into the game, including a girl named Noa, who allowed a ball to be spun on her head in typical Globetrotters style.
Updating the game for the social media era, the 88-year-old Globetrotters team introduced voting by Twitter for special rules that would be used in each quarter. In the first quarter, trick shots were awarded five points.
The second quarter started with two players. One was added whenever a shot was made and one removed when shots were missed. After halftime, players wearing orange jerseys were given twice as many points for their baskets before the trick shot five-point rule was added for the final quarter.
Players named Firely, Flip, Moose, and a 7-4 (2 meters, 20 cm) center named Stretch entertained the crowd. But a woman player named Sweet J stole the show with her antics.
A highlight of the game came when the referee’s call was challenged with a slow-motion rewind and replay that the players reenacted in entertaining fashion. Floating beach balls that replaced the game ball gave new meaning to the term air-ball.
The game ended in dramatic fashion, with Israelis shoving each other in makeshift lines for autographs that provided real tension on the parquet floor. No one was injured.
Two rematches of the two teams were set for Saturday at Tel Aviv’s Nokia Arena. The Globetrotters were heavily favored to win both games.
Israel: Iron Dome To Receive Numerous Improvements
The Haifa-based defense company Rafael is planning several enhancements to its Iron Dome missile defense system.
A company official identified only as Gil S told IHS Jane’s in early April that the enhancements would include various improvements, but that details and timelines are largely classified at the moment.
"There is something in the pipeline, both in terms of hardware and software improvements. I can’t say exactly what these are or when, but we are in a kind of race (with rocket terror attacks) and we always need to update to increase the probability of a kill," remarked Gil S.
Iron Dome has taken out over 700 enemy rockets since first being used in combat in April 2011. The system boasts an official success rate over 80%, with some sources estimating that number at 89%.
"In the beginning, the IAF fired two missiles against every inbound target, but now the confidence of the decision-maker has changed and they no longer need to do that," added Gil S.
The official noted that the November 2012 counter-terror Operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza “was very important, as the co-operation between the different (batteries) was so tight - all sharing their efforts to defeat the threat.”
During Pillar of Defense, the IDF reports that Iron Dome destroyed 426 rockets out of a total of roughly 1,500 fired by Gaza terrorists. In the operation the system recorded a successful interception rate of 84%.
While the workings of Iron Dome remain a well-guarded secret, Rafael has revealed that the missile’s guidance system uses a “radar seeker,” and that it carries a “special warhead.”
Greater funding, greater need
In early March, The US Defense Department announced it was providing $429 million to Israel for further development of its aerial defenses, specifically the Iron Dome system.
Additionally, Chief Deputy Whip Peter Roskam (R-IL) and Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-NY), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East, pushed for increased funding for Israel’s Iron Dome, Arrow, Arrow 3, and David’s Sling missile defense systems two weeks ago.
Specifically, they called for an increase of $175.9 million over the President’s budget and $130.9 million above fiscal year 2014 funding for the Iron Dome system. If adopted, that would bring the total US funding for the program to $350.9 million in 2014.
The great calls for funding and developments for the Iron Dome system come amid a greater need, as terrorists in the Hamas enclave of Gaza have stepped up their rocket attacks in recent months.
Gaza terrorists showered a barrage of missiles on Israel in early March, raining down roughly 100 missiles on the Jewish state in the course of three days.
Thousands congregate for Priestly Blessing at the Kotel
Tens of thousands of men and women visited the Western Wall on Thursday morning for the mass Priestly Blessing (Birkat Kohanim) ceremony, which takes place each year during the intermediate days of both Passover and Succot.
Chief Rabbis David Lau and Yitzhak Yosef was in attendance. The prayer area for women at the Western Wall has been expanded to include a roofed section, the Western Wall Heritage Foundation announced on Wednesday.
Two new spaces have been created inside the women’s section providing for a covered prayer space for the first time. Halls at the northern end of the current Western Wall plaza have been available for men for many years. The current roofed spaces for women are temporary arrangements but will be made into permanent structures in the future, the foundation said.