Israel News for May 16, 2016

A terrorist stabbed a 26 year old Haredi man on Hanevi’im Street in Jerusalem this morning. The man was walking with his family near the Damascus gate of the Old City when he was attacked. He was wounded while attempting to fight off the attacker. The terrorist fled the scene but was pursued by police and arrested.

In an unrelated story, a 36 year old terrorist carrying Israeli police uniforms was arrested on Saturday at a checkpoint in the West Bank. Police received a tip off about the man, allowing them to prevent a likely terror attack.

For further reading click here.

In the wake of Israel’s Independence Day celebrations last Thursday, Arabs on both sides of the Green Line commemorated Nakba Day on Sunday. Nakba, which means catastrophe, refers to the Arab defeat during the 1948 war, during which hundreds of thousands of Arabs fled or were expelled from their homes, many with the intention of returning after an Arab victory. Every year on May 15th, Arabs in Israel and the West Bank commemorate their defeat and displacement, and mourn the creation of the State of Israel.

At 12pm, a 68-seconds-long siren sounded in Palestinian towns and villages, marking the 68 years that have passed. Cars stopped and pedestrians stood still in the cities of Ramallah and Bethlehem during the commemoration. Following that, Palestinians rioted in several locations with clashes breaking out near the checkpoint at Rachel’s Tomb.

Arab students (subsidized by Israeli tax payers) held a ceremony to commemorate Nakba Day at Tel Aviv University on Sunday afternoon. Activists from right-wing NGO Im Tirtzu protested nearby against the ceremony, waving Israeli flags.

There apparently were no concerts or barbecues.

For further reading click here.

Likud MK David Amsalem and Kulanu MK Eli Cohen are proposing a bill in the Knesset to give Israeli workers one long weekend per month. Israelis currently get Fridays and Saturdays off, but Sunday is a regular work day. The hours lost during the long weekend would be spread out over the rest of the month. The proposal calls for a three year trial period, during which time the possibility for a standard four day work week would be discussed.

The average working week in Israel is 43 hours, three hours more than the EU average, but productivity is 30% lower than in the EU. The hope is that more time off will increase productivity during working hours.

Manufacturers Association of Israel president Shraga Brosh told Galei Tzahal (Army Radio) that such a bill if enacted would cost the Israeli economy at least NIS 1.5 billion annually and should only be introduced as part of a comprehensive package to raise productivity in the economy. He didn’t say what that would look like.

Don’t forget, Israeli workers also get all of the Jewish holidays off — but another day off a month can’t hurt, can it?

For further reading click here.

Early this morning, souther Israel was struck by a a 4.9-magnitude earthquake. The quake was felt throughout the Negev region, with tremors detected from Eilat to Be’er Sheva. No injuries or property damages were reported.

For further reading click here.

The yeshiva student arrested two weeks ago while attempting to enter an Eilat night club, wearing secular clothing, was released from jail today. The man was arrested by military police for avoiding the draft by claiming a yeshiva exemption, which they claim is fraudulent given the man’s seemingly unorthodox behavior. But his behavior didn’t seem to phase extreme Haredi elements who launched protests and demonstrations on his behalf.

After he left jail, wearing the standard yeshiva uniform, he was warmly greeted by family and rabbis and proceeded to complete a tractate of the talmud (siyum). Has he repented, or will we be seeing him around Israel’s hot night spots in the near future? Doesn’t seem like it would make much of a difference anyway, at least regarding his army service.

For further reading click here.

The Supreme Rabbinical Court (Bet Din) in Jerusalem has taken another step towards helping women whose husbands are refusing to grant them divorces. The court ruled that rabbinical courts in Israel have the power to prevent non Israeli citizens from leaving the country if they are found guilty of refusing to grant a divorce.

Here’s the case: an American Haredi couple with three children were living in Lakewood. About a year ago the husband left his wife and moved to New York, while refusing to grant her a Get (divorce). The man recently took a short trip to Israel. While in Israel his wife (who apparently is living in Israel) brought a claim against him in the local rabbinical court in the city where he was staying. She also asked the court to prevent him from leaving the country. The man claimed that the court has no power to against a non citizen. The court agreed with the man that the rabbinical court doesn’t have the power to prevent a non Israeli citizen from leaving the country.

The decision was then appealed to the Supreme Rabbinical Court, which ruled that they do in fact have the power to prevent a non citizen from leaving the country. Now the court will continue proceedings against the man to “persuade” him to give his wife the divorce.

Don’t mess with the Bet Din.

For further reading click here.

Israel News for May 13, 2016

Hezbollah Leader Killed
One of Hezbollah’s highest ranking commanders, Mustafa Badreddine, has been killed in an attack in Syria. Badreddine was responsible for all of Hezbollahs military operations in Syria, where it is fighting along with Iranian and Russian forces to protect the Assad government.

Hezbollah said Badreddine had been killed in a big explosion targeting one of its bases near Damascus airport, and an investigation was underway into whether it was caused by an air strike, a missile attack, or artillery bombardment. Several other Hezbollah men have reportedly been wounded in the explosion.

Hezbollah leaders accused Israel for the attack. Israel declined to comment.

Thanks to however pulled the trigger.

For further reading click here.

Herzog Confirms Talks
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog confirmed for the first time last night that there have been talks about his party joining a unity government. He wrote on his Facebook page, “Over the past year, I’ve received daily requests to join the government. I answered all of them by saying that I was not interested in sitting in the government without ‘taking the wheel.'”

Herzog added that if he received the mandate to “stop the next round of funerals, block the threat of international boycott, bring the US and Europe closer again as allies, launch a negotiation with countries in the region, and separate from the Palestinians to stop the continuous terror attacks – then I’ll know my hands were on the wheel.”

Likud officials said that as far as Netanyahu is concerned, the negotiations have ended. “The ball is now in Bougie’s court,” Netanyahu reportedly told them, using Herzog’s nickname. The PM, they said, has set a deadline for Herzog, who will have to make a decision on whether or not to join the government by the middle of next week.

For further reading click here.

Sneaker Scam
Last week reports about a special edition sneaker made by Reebok to commemorate Israel’s 68th birthday stirred excitement on social media and the press. Pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel websites and social media pages launched furious attacks against the company, accusing Reebok of supporting the oppression of the Palestinians.

It turns out that Reebok really had nothing to do with the commemorative sneaker, which apparently was just a single pair of specially made sneakers privately designed in order to raise money for charity.

In an official statement Reebok said, “Reebok would like to distance itself from the shoe. The shoe was a one-off initiative from one of our partners. We do not support this initiative. Our partner has withdrawn its plans to auction off this shoe. Reebok believes in the unifying power of sport. Our main focus and priority is to inspire people everywhere to be their absolute best—physically, mentally and socially.”

The CEO of Reebok Israel, Moshe Sinai, explained, “On Reebok’s website, there’s the option to design a Reebok shoe, color it in the way you want, and add writing. An Israeli guy designed the shoe for Independence Day intending to sell the shoe in an auction and donate the proceeds to charity. Our public relations thought that it would be a good idea to promote this. They made a mistake. Now the whole world is angry with us on both sides of the argument. On one hand, why are we getting into politics; on the other hand, I’m getting requests from all over the world to buy the shoe. We’re apolitical. We treat everybody equally, and from our standpoint, we encourage athletes from all over the world.”

One Russian news site pointed out that while Reebok claims “that it doesn’t allow the politicization of its sportswear and refrains from tying their products to national emblems or countries,” it does have American and British flags on many of its sneakers.

So why not let subsidiaries in other countries put their own flags on their sneakers? It seems like it’s great for business.

For further reading click here.

Aliyah Cities
The Ministry of Immigrant Absorption has released data that shows how new immigrants are dispersed throughout the country, and which cities attract olim from specific countries.

According to the data, Jerusalem is in first place, with 34,000 new olim settling there since 2001. About half of them came from the US and France. Tel Aviv was in second place with 27,000 immigrants, of which 8,800 came from former Soviet Union, 5,200 from France, and 4,400 from the US.

Netanya came in third with around 20,000, evenly split between France and the former USSR.

Haifa, Ashdod, Bat Yam, Petah Tikvah, Be’er Sheva, Ashkelon, and Rishon LeZion all have high percentages of immigrants from the former USSR. There has also been a sharp increase in new olim from France going to Ashdod, almost 1,000 Argentines moving to Be’er Sheva, and a large number of Ethiopians moving to Petah Tikvah and Rishon LeZion.

Raanana is, of course, popular with Americans, French and South Africans. Surprisingly, Eilat has absorbed around 3,200 olim, most of whom are from France. There’s also a sizable population of people from Argentina and North America who live in the city.

So, where are you moving to?

For further reading click here.

Top Veggie
In honor of Israel’s 68th birthday, the Volcan Agricultural Research Center took a poll to see what vegetable is most popular with Israelis. The winner: the tomato. And of course, most people like to eat them in Israeli salads. Can you guess what the favorite fruit of Israelis is?

For further reading click here.

Israel On Air
If you want to view some amazing photos taken from a helicopter by award winning photographer Israel Bardugo, check out the Israelonair Facebook page by clicking here.

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Yom Ha’atzmaut – May 11, 2016

Yom Ha’atzmaut
Today is Israel Independence Day, marking the 68th year since the Jewish State declared its independence in 1948. The day is filled with celebrations, ceremonies, parties and, of course, barbecues. And there’s certainly a lot to celebrate and be thankful for. How could anyone imagine that after nearly 2,000 years of exile and persecution, culminating in a holocaust that destroyed one third of our people, the Jewish people would once again live as a sovereign nation in their homeland? But this is exactly what happened, and continues to happen, through a combination of hard work, ingenuity, sacrifice and Divine intervention.

In the Diaspora, it’s not always easy to appreciate the miracle of the State of Israel. Today is a day pretty much like any other day for most of us, with the exception of a brief ceremony at a synagogue or school, if we can find the time to attend. We’ve grown to take the existence of the Jewish State for granted, probably because Israel has become such a strong and stable country. We know it’s there (just in case) but we don’t always feel so connected to it.  One of the reasons we started IsraelAM is to help people connect with Israel each day, simply by staying informed about the latest news in the country. We hope it’s working.

Let’s all take some time out of our busy day today to appreciate and celebrate the miracle of Israel on its 68th birthday.

May Israel and the entire Jewish nation be blessed with peace, prosperity and unity.

yom hazikaron 2016

Israel News for May 11, 2016

Officer Wounded
An IDF officer was wounded by an explosive device when he attempted to investigate a suspicious object at the West Bank checkpoint of Hizme, north of Jerusalem. After the blast, five other explosive were found at the scene and safely detonated. The IDF is investigating the possibility the explosive was detonated remotely with a mobile phone.

For further reading click here.

Hunt Continues
The manhunt continues for the two terrorists who stabbed two elderly women in Jerusalem yesterday. The police arrested two Arab youths, but released them after determining that they were not involved in the attack. The two terror victims are currently hospitalized in stable condition.

For further reading click here.

Unity Government
The Prime Minister is hard at work trying to form a unity government by including the opposition Zionist Union party, which holds 24 Knesset seats and is led by Isaac Herzog.

Sources close to the PM say Herzog has been offered at least nine ministries and an unspecified number of Knesset Committee chairmanships and deputy ministries in return for bringing his party into the government.

Currently the government’s coalition holds a narrow majority of 61 out of the 120 member Knesset. Eight of those 61 are held by Bayit Yehudi, the religious nationalist right-wing party led by Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who has threatened to pull out of the government if the Zionist Union is given too much power. Bennett has specifically mentioned the Justice Ministry, headed by Bayit Yehudi’s Ayelet Shaked, as a deal-breaker that would compel him to leave the government.

Sources within the Zionist Union say that party leaders, other than Herzog, are not keen about joining the government unless major policy changes are implemented, which doesn’t seem likely to happen. If a unity government were formed, Herzog would most likely become Foreign Minister, a post currently held by the PM, and be in charge of negotiations with the Palestinians and the “peace process”.

It’s also possible for Herzog to join a unity government with only a portion of his faction’s Knesset seats. Ten or more seats would work for the Likud headed government.

For now, the talking continues.

For further reading click here.

Yom Hazikaron
Today is Yom Hazikaron, the day of remembrance for Israel’s fallen soldiers and victims of terror. The day was marked by a two minute nationwide siren and moments of silence at 11am, in memory of the 23,477 men and women who have fallen in defense of Israel since 1860.

Those who died in the service of the country include IDF soldiers, members of the Shin Bet security service, the Mossad, the Israel Police, the Prisons Service and those who died while serving in the pre-state underground militias and the Jewish Brigade in the British Army. Included in the count are 535 women.

To read more about Israel’s female fallen warriors, click here.

During Yom Hazikaron, cafes and places of entertainment are closed and radio and television programming features sad songs. The names of all fallen are read over the course of the day on special television and radio programs. At sunset the day transitions into Yom Haatzmaut, Israel Independence Day, with a ceremony at the national military cemetery on Mount Herzl, Jerusalem, where the national flag is returned to full staff.

Speaking at the Western Wall Yom Hazikaron ceremony, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot stressed the importance of unity, saying that soldiers and officers “leave what separates them and the differences between them behind, and are ready to give their lives for the people and the land and for their comrades.”

May Israel be blessed with peace and unity in the merit of those who gave their lives to ensure its survival.

For further reading click here.

Israel News for May 10, 2016

Jerusalem Terror
Earlier today, two women in their eighties were attacked from behind and stabbed by two masked Palestinian terrorists as they were walking along the Golden Promenade in the Armon Hanatziv neighborhood in Jerusalem along with three other friends. The terrorists fled to the nearby Jabel Mukaber neighborhood in East Jerusalem. Police have launched a manhunt and have already arrested two suspects.

The head of Shaare Tsedek’s trauma unit said that one of the victims was an 86 year old who was stabbed in the back, but there her life is not in danger. The other victim is 80 years old in moderate condition.

For further reading click here.

US Gaza Aid
Yesterday, the US announced a $50 million humanitarian aid program for the Gaza Strip. The money will be used over five years to provide basic humanitarian assistance and create jobs and will be distributed by the US Agency for International Development in partnership with Catholic Relief Services.

The aid will be provided despite the fact that the US considers Hamas to be a terrorist organization and has no official relations with the Gaza regime.

Does aiding the population of a terrorist state inadvertently help strengthen that state and enable it to continue its terror activities?

For further reading click here.

Memorial Day
Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day will begin tonight. The day will be used to remember the 23,477 who have fallen in defense of Israel since 1860 (the date when the Jewish community in the Land of Israel first moved outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem). The number of those who died includes IDF soldiers, members of the Shin Bet security service, Mossad, Israel Police, Prisons Service and those who died while serving in the pre-state underground militias and the Jewish Brigade in the British Army.

According to the National Insurance Institute, the number of civilians who have been killed in “hostile acts” since the end of the War of Independence is 2,576.

Included in the official Defense Ministry count are those who died as a result of accidents or disease while serving as well as wounded veterans who later died of their injuries.

Since last Yom Hazikaron, 69 military personnel and 31 civilians have been added to the lists of fallen.

The opening ceremony for the Yom Hazikaron events will be held at the Yad Lebanim memorial in Jerusalem, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, Defense Ministry Director General Dan Harel and the chief rabbis in attendance.

A one-minute siren will be sounded at 8 P.M., followed by the lighting of a memorial candle at the Western Wall, in the presence of President Reuven Rivlin and IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot.

Memorial ceremonies will begin at the same time all over the country. At 9:15 P.M. the “Singing to Their Remembrance” event will be held in the Knesset, with Rivlin, Netanyahu, Edelstein, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Yair Golan and Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich in attendance.

Tomorrow, a second siren will sound for two minutes starting at 11 A.M. After the siren, the official Memorial Day ceremony will be held on Mount Herzl, with Rivlin, Netanyahu and Eisenkot in attendance.

Other ceremonies will be held simultaneously in military cemeteries all over the country. Ya’alon will speak at the ceremony in the Kiryat Shaul military cemetery in Tel Aviv.

The official ceremony in honor of civilians killed in terrorist attacks will be held at 1 P.M. tomorrow on Mount Herzl. The torch-lighting ceremony will be held there in the evening, marking the end of Memorial Day and the start of Independence Day.

For further reading click here.

New Life
During Operation Protective Edge (Gaza War) in 2014, sergeant Ben Vanunu was killed in an attack on the armored vehicle he was in along with six other soldiers. Today, on the eve of Israel’s Memorial Day, his mother gave birth to a new baby daughter. His father said, “I have no explanation as to how this happened on Memorial Day. God works in strange ways. We remember our son today as we do every day, and we really wish we could have told him that he has a new baby sister. Ben is with us and always will be.”

For further reading click here.

Israel News for May 9, 2016

Iranian Missile Test
The Iranian news agency Tansim reported that Iran has successfully tested a medium range ballistic missile with a range of over 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles). That puts Israel well within striking distance. According to the Iranian military, the missile was fully accurate.

For further reading click here.

Trial Begins
The trial of Elor Azaria, the soldier charged with manslaughter for shooting an incapacitated terrorist in the head in Hebron, began today in the Jaffa military court. According to the indictment filed against him, Azaria shot terrorist Abdel Fattah al-Sharif contrary to the rules of engagement and with no operative justification, when Sharif was lying wounded on the ground and did not pose a clear and immediate danger. The prosecution is also charging Azaria with inappropriate conduct.
The judges have denied a request for Azaria to be granted leave for Israel Independence Day.

For further reading click here.

Israeli Flag Flying
Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev is drafting a proposal to require all State funded institutions or facilities built by the State to fly the Israeli flag. The proposal would include sports centers, soccer fields, cultural institutions and theaters in both Jewish and Arab municipalities.

Regev said, “It is unfathomable that flying the flag in cultural institutions and in sports arenas that were built by the state be left to the discretion of one person or the other. The institutions that Israel builds should wave the flag with pride.”

The new flag proposal comes on the heels of Regev’s controversial “Loyalty in Culture” bill, proposed earlier this year, which would give the Culture Minister the authority to withhold state monies from cultural institutions that incite to racism, violence or terrorism, or support armed conflict against Israel. That bill has been widely criticized by opposition MKs, Israeli artists and foreign governments including the EU and the US.

For further reading click here.

Get Ruling
The Jerusalem rabbinical court recently ordered the father of a husband who is refusing to give his wife a Get (Jewish divorce), to pay child support for his grandchildren. The husband is currently hiding in Uman, Ukraine, near the tomb of Rabi Nachman of Breslov. The man’s father appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, which yesterday rejected his appeal and ordered him to pay.

The Supreme Court judges have made it clear that they would rather not be involved in cases under the jurisdiction of the rabbinical courts (as all divorce cases are), but will rule if presented with these cases. The Supreme Court is currently reviewing another similar case, where the Tel Aviv Rabbinical Court ordered the father of a “refusing” husband to be jailed for 30 days to “persuade” his son to give his wife a Get, which he has withheld for over a decade. The husband is currently living in the US.

For further reading click here.

Jerusalem from Home
Thanks to a new Panomex device recently installed on the rooftop of the Inbal Jerusalem Hotel, you can now view real time video of Jerusalem and interact with the video and photos in many different ways.

To check it out for yourself, click here.

Israel News for May 6, 2016

Gaza Fighting
Early this morning the IAF launched airstrikes against Hamas military targets in Gaza in response to mortars fired at IDF soldiers operating near the border fence. The airstrikes followed several strikes yesterday, which in turn were in response to mortar fire from Gaza. No IDF casualties or damage were reported.

On a visit to Gaza division headquarters, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said, “We will not be deterred by these threats by Hamas and will continue operations in light of the violation of our sovereignty, until we find and expose every last tunnel.”

The Prime Minister called a meeting of the security cabinet this morning to discuss the recent escalation of violence on the Gaza border.

For further reading click here.

Terrorist Corpses
Israel’s Supreme Court called on the government yesterday to return the corpses of terrorists to their families. The court’s decision is only a recommendation, not a ruling, so the government can choose to reject it.

Supreme Court Vice President Elyakim Rubinstein urged “the police to coordinate with the families and return the bodies of their sons before Ramadan,” the holy Muslim fasting month that begins in early June.

The court also called for the bodies of the dead to be removed from mortuary freezers 48 hours before they are handed over so they are not delivered frozen. Previously families have complained of having to wait for their sons’ bodies to thaw before being able to bury them.

Arab civil rights groups had petitioned the court on behalf of nine families of terrorists whose bodies have not been returned by security forces, some for more than six months.

The chief proponent of the policy to not return terrorist corpses is Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, who says that it prevents funerals for terrorists turning into political demonstrations and acts as a deterrent. However, many senior IDF officials believe that the policy serves to enflame tensions with the Palestinians and leads to increased violence.

For further reading click here.

Job Drop
Israel’s employment market is not looking as rosy as you might expect, for the “startup nation”.

According to figures published by the Manufacturers Association, 2,225 industrial workers have been laid off since the beginning of 2015, amounting to 0.5% of the total industrial labor force. These layoffs were mostly in the high tech sectors, such as electronic components (1,205 workers laid off), electronic equipment for consumption and communications (865 layoffs), electrical equipment (835 layoffs) and machinery and equipment (785 layoffs).

According to an analysis by the Manufacturers Association, had the public sector not hired many new workers and expanded disproportionately to the population, unemployment in Israel would have reached 8%.

Ironically, one of the major reasons for the drop in jobs is because other countries are embracing Israeli companies and offering them attractive conditions to set up production facilities there. So love of Israel is causing the loss of Israeli jobs.

For further reading click here.

Yeshiva Demonstrations
Hundreds of haredi yeshiva students and supporters launched demonstrations to free a yeshiva student arrested by military police because he allegedly failed to report to an army enlistment center to arrange an exemption from military service.

This doesn’t sound like news, except for the fact that the student, Moshe Hazan, was arrested in Eilat, attempting to enter a nightclub while dressed in secular clothing. Oy. It seems that Hazan wasn’t reporting to his yeshiva in the town of Elad either. Oy Oy.

But the demonstrations went on in any case. Protesters tried to block a number of major highways, which led to confrontations between yeshiva students and police. In Beit Shemesh, a policeman sustained head injuries from a rock thrown at him. A number of people were arrested in the demonstrations, including at least 13 in Bnei Brak and six at the Nitzanim junction. In Jerusalem, protesters impeded traffic in the area of Shabbat Square, and police reported that 10 people were arrested for disturbing of the peace.

Should yeshiva students who don’t attend yeshiva and go to nightclubs be exempt from military service? Hmm.

To view a photo gallery of the demonstrations and arrests, click here.

No Nitrates
Israelis are taking seriously the warning issued by the World Health Organization that the nitrates used in processed meats as a preservative can cause cancer.

Sales of hot dogs and deli meats have plunged over 30% this year resulting in a 90 million shekel loss by manufacturers. Producers will have to make fundamental changes in their businesses in order to survive. One major producer has already released a line of nitrate free products.

Good news for Israeli health. Bad news for hot dog and cold cut makers. You choose.

For further reading click here.

Israel News for May 5, 2016

Gaza Strikes
In response to six mortar shells that were fired at Israeli soldiers from Gaza yesterday, the Israeli Air Force launched several airstrikes against Hamas targets in the Strip. An IDF statement said, “The IDF sees terrorist activities conducted above or below the ground as a violation of Israel’s sovereignty, and sees the Hamas terrorist organization as solely responsible for this terrorist activity.”

Both Hamas and IDF sources confirmed that Egyptian officials were mediating a cease fire to restore calm in the area.

The IDF revealed today that it had uncovered another Hamas tunnel that reached as deep as 30 meters below ground.

For further reading click here.

Holocaust Commemoration
Today Israel is observing Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom Hashoah). The official commemorations began with a siren throughout the country that marked two minutes of silence during which all pedestrian and vehicular traffic came to halt and people stood silently, in place.

Following the two minutes of silence, a wreath-laying ceremony commenced at Warsaw Ghetto Square at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum. President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Supreme Court President Miriam Naor, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, Police Commisioner Roni Alsheikh and delegations from Israel and abroad were all in attendance.

During the ceremony, six Holocaust survivors told their stories in a prerecorded video before they lit the six torches representing the 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust.

Commemoration events will be held throughout the day. Television and radio programming is also dedicated to remembering the Holocaust, particularly through the broadcasting of testimonies of survivors.

In Poland, over 10,000 Jewish students will take part in the March of the Living, from Aushwitz to the gas chambers in Birkenau, where they will hold a commemoration ceremony.

This year, the march will be led by Israel’s Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, former Chief Rabbi of Israel and current Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv Yisrael Meir Lau, and a delegation of five Knesset members and international law experts who participated in a conference organized by the March of Living Foundation on Wednesday to mark 80 years to the establishment of the Nuremberg Laws and 70 years to the Nuremberg Trials.

For further reading click here.

To watch videos of the six survivor testimonies, click here.

Survivor Stories
As part of Holocaust Remembrance Day I’d like to share the story of my own family.

My father’s family lived in a small town called Mosciska in Eastern Poland, which is today part of the Ukraine. The town had around 2,500 hundred Jews, about half of the entire population, included scores of our relatives.

Not long after the Nazis occupied Mosciska in the summer of 1941, they launched an aktzia to roundup the Jews, most of whom were deported or murdered. My father, who was then 8 yrs old, hid in the fields along with his older sister and mother. My grandfather hid in the forest, but was captured by a farmer and taken to the train station. Luckily, the train had already left and he ended up being released. The family moved into the ghetto along with all of the remaining Jews.

At that point my grandparents decided to send my father away to hide with a Christian woman in a city in central Poland. There he posed as her nephew for over two years. Meanwhile, my grandmother’s uncle and his son had gone into hiding (after his wife and other children were murdered) with a Polish farmer in the area. He arranged for another farmer, who had been employed by our family, to hide them.

To make a very long story very short, for the next two years my grandmother and grandfather, along with their daughter (my aunt), and my grandfather’s two single brothers, hid in a barn behind a secret wall they constructed. Unlike most Jews who attempted to hide in Poland and the Ukraine, they survived.

After liberation they picked up my father and went on to build a new life in America. Other than one of my grandmother’s sisters who survived in a labor camp with her husband, where she gave birth to her first child, and my grandmother’s uncle and his son, the rest of our very large family perished in the Holocaust.

My mother was just 2 yrs old when the Nazis attacked Warsaw in 1939. My grandparents decided to flee the city. They ended up in Uzbekistan with thousands of other Jewish refugees. My grandfather joined the Polish People’s Army (communist). He fought on the front lines to help drive the Nazis out of Poland. After the war they returned to Poland where they lived for over 10 years until immigrating to Canada. Other than one of my grandfather’s six brothers and one of my grandmothers sisters, their entire families perished in the Holocaust.

May the memories of the millions of martyrs be blessed and remain with us forever.

Israel News for May 4, 2016

Terror Attack
Three IDF soldiers were hit and wounded by a terrorist driving a van at a checkpoint near the settlement of Dolev and the Arab village of Ein el-Arik, in the West Bank’s Binyamin region. One of the soldiers suffered life threatening injuries. The terrorist was shot and killed.

For further reading click here.

PA Arrests
The IDF has released data indicating that the Palestinian Authority’s security services have been responsible for about 40 percent of all arrests of suspected terrorists in the West Bank in recent months. Until about three months ago, they were responsible for only some 10 percent of such arrests. As a result of the increased PA security activity, the IDF has reduced its operations in Area A of the West Bank, which is where the PA is in full control.

About three weeks ago, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said the extent of the IDF’s activity in Palestinian cities would depend on how much the PA security services were doing. Ya’alon said, “This isn’t something diplomatic – it’s about security. If they’ll do the work, why not? What they don’t do, we’ll have to do, but there’s no situation in which we’ll completely refrain from entering Area A. Such incursions will depend on their activity. If they do less, we’ll do more; if they do more, we’ll do less.”

For further reading click here.

Gaza Visit
On Tuesday the Prime Minister, accompanied by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, GOC Southern Command Eyal Zamir, and the Gaza Division commander, toured the Gaza border and visited the massive tunnel recently discovered by Israeli forces. The PM also met with soldiers from the 51st Battalion and with IDF lookouts serving on the border. He told the soldiers that the past two years have been the calmest the area has known in many years.

Earlier today a mortar shell was fired at IDF troops doing engineering work near the Gaza border fence. Yesterday a sniper fired shots at IDF soldiers near the fence. The IDF responded by shelling a Hamas military observation post in the area.

The attacks from Gaza are thought to be the work of rebel groups who are trying to provoke Israel into military action. Hamas is fighting to stop the rebel groups, to avoid starting another war with Israel — at least until they decide they’re ready for one.

So for now, while Hamas continues to dig tunnels into Israel in preparation of war, it is working on preventing other terror groups from attacking Israel. Go figure.

For further reading click here.

Chemicals Discovered
Israeli Customs officials discovered and confiscated four tons of ammonium chloride while inspecting a shipment of 40 tons of salt bound for the Gaza Strip. The chemical could be used by terrorists to produce propellant for hundreds of long range rockets. The Shin Bet tipped off the customs officials to the massive salt shipment, since salt is commonly used to hide chemicals being smuggled into Gaza.

Cooperation between customs authorities and the Shin Bet has led to the foiling of dozens of attempts to smuggle large quantities of banned substances that would have been used by terrorists to produce weapons.

Keep up the good work!

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NATO Office
Israel has been trying for years to open offices in NATO headquarters in Brussels, but it has been blocked in its efforts by Turkey, which has consistently exercised its veto power. According to NATO’s rules for collaborating with unaffiliated countries, unanimous consent of its member nations is necessary.

Yesterday, Turkey removed its veto. The decision is being interpreted as another gesture in Turkey’s move towards reconciliation with Israel after years of sanctions and opposition since the Gaza flotilla incident in 2010. Heavy pressure from the US and other countries probably helped Turkey soften its position as well.

Israel will now be allowed to strengthen ties with NATO as well as participate in joint projects and military exercises.

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Trump Wins
With his victory in Indiana yesterday and the exiting of Ted Cruz from the race, it looks like Donald Trump will be the Republican Presidential nominee. Based on his recent statements relating to Israel, that seems to be good news for Israel.

In a recent interview with the British Daily Mail, Trump supported continued settlement expansion and expressed his firm belief in Israel’s right to protect itself from its enemies however it sees fit to do so. Trump also called Netanyahu “a very good guy” and said, “I don’t know him that well, but I think I’d have a very good relationship with him.” He added, “I think that President Obama has been extremely bad to Israel. And I don’t even understand where – I have Jewish friends that support Obama. I tell them all the time, I say, ‘What are you doing? The Iran deal is a disaster for Israel’.”

So if you’re in favor of the current Israeli government and its Right leaning philosophy and policies, and if you are planning to base your decision primarily on the candidate’s policy relating to Israel … hey, it’s your choice.

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Israel News for May 3, 2016

Terror Roundup
An 18 year old Arab terrorist stabbed a 60 year old Jewish man leaving a yeshiva in the Muslim quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City last night. The man suffered wounds to his upper body but was able to run to a police post near the Lion’s Gate. The terrorist was captured.

The military court in Judea and Samaria has convicted a Palestinian of murdering Dafna Meir, who was stabbed in her Otniel home in January. The terrorist, who was a minor at the time, confessed to the murder.

IDF forces destroyed the home of the terrorist Zir Ziad Jamal Amar, who took part in murdering Eitam and Na’ama Henkin last October. The home of the other terrorist has already been destroyed.

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PM Term Limit
The Zionist Union opposition party recently submitted a bill in the Knesset that calls for imposing a two term limit for the office of Prime Minister. The bill is to be called up for discussion and voting in the upcoming Knesset summer session.

PM Netanyahu, who is currently serving his third term and will most likely continue into a fourth, is obviously against the bill and feels that it is directed at him personally. But sources in his own Likud party are saying that many party members are in favor of the term limits. The only Likud member who has openly endorsed the bill is MK Oren Hazan, who is considered a controversial figure in the party who routinely misses votes and was recently ordered to pay thousands of shekels worth of parking fines by a Tel Aviv court. He then pleaded with the court, claiming that he is broke. Oh well.

Even if the bill passes in its current form, Netanyahu will be allowed to serve six terms. Nevertheless, he is committed to defeating it. Democracy in action.

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Bennett Threat
Yesterday we told you about the possibility of a unity government with the Zionist Union and that members of the party would probably be offered cabinet positions in the new government. Yesterday, Education Minister and head of the Bayit Yehudi party Naftali Bennett warned that his party would leave the government if the Justice Ministry was given to the Zionist Union.

Bennett was quote as saying, “If they take the justice portfolio away, we’re out. We see the justice portfolio as a significant issue that parallels changing the government guidelines, and not just a job. It’s not a personal issue. If they take justice away from us, we won’t sit in the coalition.”

Who said a unity government was going to be easy?

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Rabbinic Court
Yesterday we reported that Israel’s Supreme Court ordered the Supreme Rabbinical Court to shutdown until seven permanent judges are appointed. Yesterday, the appointment committee succeeded in appointing one judge, Rabbi Eliezer Igra, who identifies with the National Religious movement. In other words, he is not haredi.

Although Igra was previously appointed as a temporary judge by Sephardic Chief Rabbi and head of the court R. Yitzhak Yosef, Rabbi Yosef opposed his current appointment to the permanent position. As the committee currently has a non haredi majority, it was able to push through the appointment, but only with the help of Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau, who voted for R.Igra. The committee suggested a number of additional candidates, which were all rejected.

Igra, the rabbi of Moshav Kfar Maimon in the Negev, ran for the office of Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi three years ago.

Don’t get your hopes up for a quick resolution to this issue. According to the Supreme Court ruling, the committee must appoint seven judges by Thursday in order for the rabbinical court to reopen. One down, six to go.

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Gaza Crossing
Israel has announced that it will reopen the Erez crossing, which connects Gaza and Israel, to commercial traffic. There is currently only one crossing point, the Shalom crossing, into Gaza for trucks. The Erez crossing has been closed to commercial traffic since 2000. The reopening is meant to reduce the traffic at the Shalom crossing, which is currently at around 600 trucks per day. Whether it also means that Israel will allow more banned goods into Gaza, including building materials and cement, which is what the Gaza’s claim that they need for an economic recovery, is yet to be seen.

Stopping the use of those materials for tunnel construction would probably be a good start in convincing Israel to lift the ban.

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Survivor Aid
In the lead up to Holocaust Remembrance Day (this Thursday), Finance Minister Moshe Kahalon has announced plans to increase annual financial support for Holocaust survivors and elderly welfare recipients by a half-billion shekels. The new plans will benefit 60,000 survivors living below the poverty line and will add NIS350 million earmarked for elderly welfare recipients.

The median age of Holocaust survivors in Israel is 82. One of the major problems in getting them the funds that they deserve is that many of them are simply unaware of the benefits they are entitled to and therefore do not collect them. An organization called Aviv for Holocaust Survivors has been established to keep survivors informed about changes that effect their benefits and to help them collect what they are entitled to.

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New Photos
The Israeli Government Press Office has released hundreds of thousands of photos taken since the founding of the state and posted them on its website for all to view. Additional photographers contributed to the collection as well, some of which took pictures from before the founding of the state.

To give you an idea of the uniqueness of this amazing historical resource, you can find rare pictures of men and women praying together at the Western Wall in 1910; a rare photo of the Mosque of Omar on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem from 1920; and a picture of 13-year-old Shimon Peres before he immigrated to Israel.

To see the site for yourself, click here.