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Israel News for 1-31-18

Cyber Attacks
According to Israel’s former national cyber chief Buki Carmeli, the number of cyberattacks on Israel increased significantly in response to the December announcement by U.S. President Trump to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

For further reading click here.

Border Fences
Over the past seven years, Israel has spent over 6 billion shekels on erecting border fences. This doesn’t include the 4 billion shekels spent on the barrier separating the West Bank from pre-1967 Israeli territory. Israel is currently building a high tech fence and underground barrier system on the Gaza border. Israel also constructed a fence all along the border with Egypt, as well as along the Syrian and Lebanese border. Israel is also building a fence along the southern part of its border with Jordan, to stem illegal migrants.

For further reading click here.

New Funding
The head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) said Tuesday that Russia, Kuwait and nine European countries have agreed to speed up their contributions to help fill a shortfall left by the Trump administration’s decision to greatly reduce crucial US funding.

Last year the US contributed $360 million, or one third of UNRWA’s $1 billion budget. This year the US has committed to giving only $60 million. At UNRWA’s urging, Switzerland, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Germany, Russia, Belgium, Kuwait, the Netherlands and Ireland have all taken on the east of filling the budget gap.

For further reading click here.

Rivlin in Greece
Israel’s President Rivlin is in Greece on an official state visit. Yesterday he, along with the Greek PM, laid the cornerstone for a Holocaust museum in the Greek city of Thessaloniki, which lost 97 percent of its Jewish community during the war. The museum will occupy a plot close to the former Jewish neighborhood of Baron Hirsch, turned by the Nazis into a ghetto and transit camp. There are currently 1,300 Jews living in the city.

To view a video of Rivlin reviewing the Greek honor guard and the playing of the Israeli and Greek national anthems, click here.

Enough Already
Israel’s Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Lau instructed the public to stop including the special prayer for rain in public prayers since, “Praise G-d, we were privileged and the heavens opened up.” People can still include the rain prayer in their own private prayers, since their is still a rainfall shortage in Israel.

Agriculture Minister Ariel attribute the recent rain storms that hit Israel to the prayers of the people. He said, “It’s thanks to all of our prayers—at the Western Wall, at synagogues, or any other place, spoken loudly or said in one’s heart, with a kippah and without.”

For further reading click here.

Tu Bishvat
Today is Tu Bishvat (the 15th day in the Hebrew month of Shvat), which marks the new year for trees. It marks the time when the earliest-blooming trees in the Land of Israel emerge from their winter sleep and begin a new fruit-bearing cycle. It also represents the idea that renewal and redemption begins even in the darkest times. Tu Bishvat is marked by eating fruit of the Land of Israel, such as dates, figs, pomegranates, grapes etc.

To read more about the holiday and the different ways to commemorate and celebrate the day, check out the tons of content offered by our partner The Israel Forever Foundation. Click here.

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Israel News for 1-29-18

Terror Attempt
A Palestinian wearing clothing resembling an IDF uniform was apprehended by IDF forces last night while he was on his way to infiltrate the settlement of Itamar in Samaria (West Bank). The terrorist had previously been arrested for terror related activities. The IDF then launched a manhunt for another terrorist who managed to flee the scene. As part of the manhunt, IDF forces entered the village of Furik, where several riots erupted.

For further reading click here.

Annexation Bill
Likud MKs are sponsoring a new bill to apply Israeli law to settlements in Judea and Samaria. The result of the bill will, in effect, be annexation of those areas. Similar bills in the past have not been passed, primarily because of the fear of international reaction. But given the new relationship with the US administration, will this time be different?

For further reading click here.

Tunnel Tour
After touring the Hamas terror tunnels recently uncovered by the IDF, US Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt tweeted, “Hamas wastes resources on tunnels & rockets to attack Israel, instead of helping the people of Gaza by getting the lights on, the water flowing & the economy growing. Hamas spews hateful rhetoric & foments a vicious cycle of violence. Gaza deserves better!”

For further reading click here.

Polish Lies
The Polish parliament, the Sejm, passed a bill on Friday outlawing the use of the term “Polish death camps” and the blaming of Poles for crimes committed during the Holocaust. PM Netanyahu called the bill “baseless”.

In a statement, Yad Vashem said that, whereas “there is no doubt that the term ‘Polish death camps’ is a historical misrepresentation,” the intended law nonetheless is “liable to blur the historical truths regarding the assistance the Germans received from the Polish population during the Holocaust.”

Yeah Atid leader Yair Lapid wrote, “Hundreds of thousands of Jews were murdered without ever meeting a German. Poland was a partner in the Holocaust.”

Some Jewish historians corrected Lapid claiming that many thousands, not hundreds of thousands, of Jews were killed by Poles. They also point out that the death camps were not Polish, although they were on Polish soil.

Poland’s President promised yesterday to review the bill before deciding whether to approve it. PM Netanyahu spoke with the Polish PM last night and they agreed to open a dialogue to discuss the bill. The bill must be approved by the Polish Senate and the President before becoming law.

Meanwhile, Education Minister Naftali Bennett has instructed high schools to teach students about “the response of populations in countries occupied by the Nazis to the fate of the Jews during the Holocaust.”

For further reading click here.

School Drama
All kindergartens, elementary schools and junior high schools in Jerusalem went on strike for two hours Monday morning to protest the assault of a teacher by a student’s mother.

The incident occurred on Friday when a mother burst into a classroom where her son was studying and slapped the English teacher across the face, kicked her and pulled her wig off her head. Following the assault, classes were canceled in protest on Sunday for two hours.

For further reading click here.

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Israel News for 1-26-18

New Peace Plan
PM Netanyahu seems to be taking advantage of the US government’s favorable position towards Israel by offering a not so new idea of how a peace deal with the Palestinians should look.

Speaking at a discussion at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Thursday, Netanyahu declined to endorse a “two-state solution” favored by the Palestinians and most of the international community. He said the Palestinians can have “the whole trappings” of self-governance, while Israel should maintain responsibility for security in the region.

The Palestinians pretty much govern themselves already via the Palestinian Authority, while Israel maintains military control over the PA’s borders and can enter PA territory in pursuit of terrorists. So it’s unlikely that the Palestinians would see this situation as an acceptable peace deal. But Netanyahu could be betting that the US might support some form of his idea.

Meanwhile, speaking in Davos yesterday with PM Netanyahu, President Trump threatened to withhold aid money from the Palestinians until they return to peace talks with Israel.

For further reading click here.

Religious Freedom
The government is attempting to get the support needed to pass the Muezzin Bill, which restricts mosques from blasted their calls to prayer over loudspeakers at inappropriate hours. But the bill looks like it will not garner sufficient support from the coalition members to pass. The opposition to the bill from within the coalition is coming from an unlikely source: the Haredi parties.

Haredi MKs have promised Arab MKs that they will in no way support the bill. The reason for the unlikely alliance is that Haredi ministers fear that the law impinges on religious freedom and could at some point be extended to effect Jewish religious institutions or activities.

Even PM Netanyahu, who initially supported the bill, has not done anything to promote it as a result of the opposition from the religious sector.

Zionist Union Chairman and Opposition Coordinator MK Yoel Hasson wrote on his Twitter account, “We can save some precious parliamentary hours and radio and television airtime by announcing that the muezzin bill will not be going up to a vote for the simple reason there’s no majority for it.”

For further reading click here.

Croatia Deal
In a meeting in Davos yesterday, PM Netanyahu and Croatian PM Plenkovic agreed to move forward with a deal by which Israel will sell 16 of its F-16 fighter jets to Croatia for around $500 million. Not bad for used merchandise.

For further reading click here.

Arafat Kill
Remember Yasser Arafat, infamous leader of the PLO and terror godfather? There’s a new book about to be released called “Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel’s Targeted Assassinations,” that details some of Israel’s attempts to liquidate him. Unfortunately, Israel never did succeed at getting Arafat, who ended up dying of an illness at age 75. But they apparently tried quite a few times, which should provide an interesting read.

To read more about this click here.

Rebbe Vacation
This week has been dubbed “Yeshiva Week” in the US, since yeshiva day schools and high schools have the week off and many families have headed to warmer locations. Well, it turns out that the Satmar Rebbe is doing the same. The rebbe is in Palm Springs, California, getting some much needed R&R. Believe it or not, he’s also taking advantage of the local Chabad house, where he goes for morning prayers. Who knew?

To view photos of some of the rebbe’s activities in Palm Springs click here.

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Israel News for 1-24-18

Terror Attempt
Two 15 year old Arab males from Nablus carrying knives were heading towards the bus stop at the Tapuach junction in Samaria. They were spotted by a Border Policeman who alerted soldiers. The soldiers ordered the youths to stop. When they ignored the order, a Border Policeman fired a warning shot into the air. That caused one of the terrorists to draw his knife and approach the soldiers. The soldiers responded by shooting both terrorists in the legs and then arresting them. The terrorists were given medical attention at the scene.

For further reading click here.

Pence in Israel
During his Israel trip US VP Mike Pence addressed the Knesset, visited Yad Vashem and prayed at the Western Wall. After his Kotel visit Pence tweeted, “A privilege to pray at the Western Wall. This is our 4th trip to the Holy Land, but Karen & I never fail to leave without a sense our faith has been renewed – our faith in God, but also our faith in the people of Israel & their commitment to freedom, security & peace.”

Regardless of your politics, we must recognize the genuine and heartfelt love and support Pence feels for the Jewish People and for Israel, which he expressed in his Knesset address as well as in all of his statements and actions. It’s a blessing to have the leaders of the most powerful and influential nation in the world expressing their wholehearted support for Israel, and something we should feel thankful for (for a change).

American Support
According to the latest national survey by the Pew Research Center, 79% of Republicans say they sympathize more with Israel than the Palestinians, compared with just 27% of Democrats. Since 2001, the share of Republicans sympathizing more with Israel than the Palestinians has increased 29 percentage points, from 50% to 79%. Over the same period, the share of Democrats saying this has declined 11 points, from 38% to 27%. Nearly three times as many Republicans (52%) as Democrats (18%) have favorable impressions of PM Netanyahu. Almost half of all Democrats say Trump favors Israel too much, while just 21% say he is striking the right balance.

The survey found that white evangelical Protestants continue to overwhelmingly sympathize with Israel: 78% say this, while just 5% sympathize more with the Palestinians. Religiously unaffiliated people are divided: 29% sympathize more with the Palestinians, 26% more with Israel and 24% say they side with both or neither.

For further reading click here.

Interactive Settlement Map
To get a better understanding of the geography and demographics of Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria (West Bank) you can use this incredible interactive map that shows both Israeli and Palestinian population centers there as well as in east Jerusalem. This is an amazing resource from the Washington Institute.

To see the interactive map click here.

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Israel News for 1-22-18

Pence Visit
US VP Mike Pence landed in Israel yesterday and was greeted at the airport by Israel’s Tourism Minister Yariv Levin and US Ambassador David Friedman.

Earlier in the day Pence met with Jordan’s King Abdullah in Amman. The king warned Pence that the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would destabilize the region, fuel radicalism and hurt chances for reaching a peace agreement. He said that the only viable solution was a two-state solution. Pence said, “the United States of America remains committed, if the parties agree, to a two state solution.”

Today, Pence met with PM Netanyahu in Jerusalem. Later today he will address the Knesset. Tomorrow Pence will meet with President Rivlin, and visit Yad Vashem and the Western Wall. In protest of Pence’s visit, the Palestinian Authority announced a general strike for Tuesday.

For further reading click here.

Abbas and EU
PA President Abbas will meet with EU ministers in Brussels today and urge them to recognize the state of Palestine as a way to respond to the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. But diplomats and officials in Brussels say recognition for Palestine is not likely.

For further reading click here.

Drug Battle
Israeli and Egyptian forces engaged in a large gun battle last night with around 30 smugglers attempting to move a large quantity of drugs across the border into Israel from Sinai. At least one Israeli smuggler was killed and a large quantity of drugs was confiscated. The smugglers used high caliber machine guns. Most of the smugglers escaped.

For further reading click here.

Rabbi Banned
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has instructed the IDF not to invite Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef to IDF events and ceremonies because of his support of comments against the army made by Rabbi Shlomo Aviner and Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu last week (check out Friday’s email).

For further reading click here.

Tax Cuts
Minister of Finance Moshe Kahlon today signed the orders for the abolition of customs duties on a range of imported products. The measure will come into effect over the next few days, under a temporary order valid until December 31, 2018. It will cover selected items of clothing and textiles, light fittings, home electrical products and their parts, refrigerators, freezers, heating and cooking stoves, food mixers, and more. Duty will also be abolished on perfumes and cosmetics, toys, and sports accessories.

The Ministry of Finance estimates the loss of revenue as a result of the abolition of customs duties at NIS 543 million, which is in addition to the loss of NIS 245 million resulting from the abolition of purchase tax on electronic products announced last month.

For further reading click here.

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Israel News for 1-19-18

Terrorist Hunt
Two members of the Border Police’s Yamam anti-terror unit were wounded yesterday during a raid in Jenin to apprehend the terror cell behind the fatal drive-by shooting of Rabbi Raziel Shevah. Both were taken for medical treatment. One was seriously wounded and the other lightly wounded. One terrorist was killed in the fighting and another arrested. Several other suspects were detained for questioning.

Israeli forces continued operating in Jenin throughout the night. They encountered violent rioting, with hundreds of Palestinians hurling stones at the troops. Palestinians also fired at the soldiers, and threw explosives, rocks and cement blocks at them. In response, IDF and Border Police forces fired tear gas, rubber bullets and live fire. The Palestinians reported three wounded in the clashes. Israeli forces demolished several homes belonging to terrorists before leaving Jenin yesterday afternoon.

Prime Minister Netanyahu praised the Border Police and Yamam forces for the raid, saying, “We will get to anyone who tries to hurt the citizens of Israel, the State of Israel will bring them to justice.” The PM also sent get well wishes to the wounded troops.

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman also praised the troops, saying “Security forces carried out a complex and successful operation last night to capture the killers of Rabbi Raziel Shevah. I congratulate the Yamam fighters for their bravery and send get well wishes to the wounded.” He added, “Terrorists will have nowhere to hide. We’ll get to the terrorists anywhere.”

President Reuven Rivlin added his praise saying, “I’m proud of, and appreciate, our best sons who are still carrying out their relentless pursuit of the murderers of Rabbi Raziel Shevah, may his memory be blessed. We are grateful to them and to all security forces who take on their part with courage and heroism. We are praying for the wounded soldiers and we send them our love.”

Yael Shevah, the widow of the murdered rabbi, said, “I am grateful to the security forces for their determined action in capturing the terrorists and I send my wishes for a speedy recovery to those wounded and who acted heroically and with determination. We are consoled not by revenge but by building in the Land of Israel.” She then added, “I appeal to the prime minister: Break your silence and adopt the recommendation by the defense minister to approve Havat Gilad and bring it for governmental approval on Sunday.”

Unfortunately, the IDF determined today that the murderer of Rabbi Shevah was not in fact killed during the raid and that he apparently managed to escape. So the search for the terrorist continues.

For further reading click here.

Rabbis vs IDF

Two prominent religious zionist rabbinic leaders have made statements against the IDF because of what they believe is an IDF initiative to integrate women into all combat roles, which they claim goes against Jewish law.

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, the head of the Ateret Cohanim yeshiva in Jerusalem, remarked, “until there is complete separation between men and women in the IDF—it is forbidden to enlist.” Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, the Chief Rabbi of Safed, backed Rabbi Aviner’s comments and called on IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot to resign.

Several other prominent religious zionist rabbis, including the heads of major yeshivot, denounced the two rabbis for their statements against the IDF and chief of staff. The Prime Minister and Defense Minister, along with other ministers and Knesset members, did the same and took pride in the IDF’s integration of women.

For further reading click here.

Not So Fast

Earlier in the week PM Netanyahu remarked that the US would most likely relocate its embassy to Jerusalem by next year. But when asked about the timetable for the move, US President Trump said there was no way the embassy move would be accomplish in less than a few years at best.

When told about Trump’s statement, the PM’s office responded that the PM was aware that construction of the new embassy would take several years but that he was referring to interim measures that were being considered which could enable the establishment of a functioning embassy within a year. To sum it up, an Israeli official said, “The president and the prime minister are not saying anything different”.

According to a NYTimes report, the State Department has accepted a plan to convert the existing US consulate building in the Arnona neighborhood of Jerusalem instead of constructing a new building. That should enable US Ambassador David Friedman and his team to begin operating there by 2019.
For further reading click here.

VP Visit

US Vice President Mike Pence is set to arrive at Ben Gurion Airport Sunday evening. He will visit the Kotel and Yad Vashem, and deliver a speech in the Knesset. Pence will not visit Ramallah or meet with Palestinian Authority officials. Before heading to Israel, Pence will visit Egypt and Jordan.

For further reading click here.

PM in India

The PM visited a Jewish Center in Mumbai where he dedicated a memorial 166 people who were killed by terrorists who rampaged through the Indian city in a three-day siege in 2008. He was accompanied by Moshe Holtzberg, the boy whose parents (the Chabad emissaries) were among six people killed at the Chabad Center during the attack.

The PM said, “This place symbolizes both hatred for Israel and love for Israel—hatred of Israel by the terrorists, against tireless love for Israel by the Chabaniks who spread light around the world.”

For further reading click here.

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Israel News for 1-17-18

US Aid Cut
A US official has revealed that the US will give United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, $60 million in aid but will withhold a further $65 million “for future consideration.”

The US official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said UNRWA needed to be fundamentally reevaluated “in the way it operates and the way it is funded.” In 2016, the USA gave $368,429,712 to UNRWA. “It is time other countries, some of them quite wealthy, step in and do their part to advance regional security and stability,” the official said.

UN Secretary General Guterres remarked that the services provided by UNRWA were “of extreme importance, not only for the wellbeing of these populations … but also in my opinion and an opinion that is shared by most international observers, including some Israeli ones, it is an important factor of stability. So if UNRWA will not be in a position to provide the vital services and the emergency forms of support that UNRWA has been providing this will create a very, very serious problem and we will do everything we can to avoid this situation,”

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon commented on the American decision saying: “It is time to end the absurdity of UNRWA. It has been exposed as an organization that takes advantage of funds by the international community for anti-Israel propaganda, eternalizing the Palestinian refugee’s status and spreading hate.”

He added, “It was revealed this last year that senior members of the organization were selected to lead Hamas in Gaza. UNRWA schools deny the existence of Israel and terror tunnels were discovered below the organization’s institutions… It is time that the humanitarian assistance funds are directed strictly towards that cause.”

For further reading click here.

PLO Vote
The Palestinian Central Council, part of the PLO, voted this week to order the PLO to withdraw its recognition of Israel. It’s unclear whether the vote is binding. In 2015 the council voted to suspend security cooperation with Israel, but that was never implemented.

In any case, the vote expressed the Palestinian anger over Trump’s Jerusalem declaration. As he opened the meeting, PA president Mahmud Abbas called Trump’s peace efforts the “slap of the century.” Abbas also said that Trump had accused them of refusing to engage in peace negotiations, to which he responded in Arabic, “May God demolish your house. When did we refuse?”

The PLO is considered the official representative of the Palestinians internationally and formalized its recognition of Israel in 1993.

For further reading click here.

Embassy Move
Speaking to reporters during his India trip regarding the US embassy move, PM Netanyahu said, “My assessment is that the embassy will be moved much faster than you think, certainly within a year.” He also praised US President Trump for cutting funding to UNRWA and for moving to reevaluate the Iran nuclear deal.

For further reading click here.

Female Commander
The Israeli Air Force has appointed its first female squadron commander. The woman, a transport pilot, was promoted from the rank of Major to Lieutenant Colonel.

For further reading click here.

Women Drivers
The Rebbe of the Belz Hassidic sect, one of the largest in Israel with branches in several major cities throughout the world, reiterated his position that female members of the sect are prohibited from driving. The question was asked recently by the Belz community in London. Women in other Hassidic sects do drive.

For further reading click here.

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Israel News for 1-15-18

Tunnel Destroyed
On Saturday night Israeli fighter jets attacked a Hamas terror tunnel near the Gaza-Egyptian border. The IDF completed the destruction of the tunnel early Sunday. The tunnel stretched 1.5 kilometers, from Rafah, in southern Gaza, into Egypt and 180 kilometers into Israel.

IDF Spokesperson Brigadier-General Ronen Manelis denied claims made by Hamas that the tunnel was merely intended for smuggling. He said, “This is the first terror tunnel of its kind that has been dug over the last year and was still being worked on. It’s possible that the it was dug on the Egyptian side to stage a combined attack in the future on the Kerem Shalom crossing from the Egyptian side too and to transport activists or weapons to the Sinai. It is a significant asset for Hamas. We will continue to act rigorously against the terror tunnels and we are not interested in an escalation of the situation.”

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said, “The destruction of the attack tunnels is an essential component of the policy of systematically striking Hamas’s strategic capabilities. The message to Gaza’s leadership ad residents is clear: Invest in the sanctity of life, no in burial tunnels.”

For further reading click here.

India Trip
PM Netanyahu, along with his wife and a large business delegation, landed in India yesterday to kick off a 6 day official trip. The Netanyahus were met at the airport by Indian PM Modi, even though the Foreign Minister usually meets and greets foreign dignitaries. Modi also tweeted in Hebrew, “Welcome to India, my friend the prime minister. Your visit is an historic and special one, and will strengthen the strong ties between our countries.”

During his six-day stay Israel and India are expected to sign agreements on cybersecurity, energy and space cooperation and film production. They’re also expected to review progress in implementing agreements on cooperation in technology, water and agriculture that were signed during Modi’s visit to Israel last year.

Today, Netanyahu will have formal discussions with Modi and visit President Ram Nath Kovind, as well as attend an India-Israel CEO Forum Meeting. In Mumbai, Netanyahu will meet with Jewish community leaders, Indian business leaders and representatives of the Bollywood film industry. Netanyahu will also visit Modi’s home state of Gujarat in western India.

For further reading click here.

Reform Petition
The Reform Movement and the Women of the Wall group petitioned the Supreme Court yesterday to order the state to implement the compromise agreement reached last year to build an egalitarian prayer area at the southern end of the Western Wall (Kotel). The government decided to freeze the implementation of the agreement in June after facing pressure from the ultra-Orthodox parties.

For further reading click here.

Shabbat Protests
More than a thousand Ashdod residents carrying signs “against religious coercion” protested Saturday evening in front of the local municipality against the city’s increasingly stringent policy of enforcement towards businesses operating on Shabbat. Over the last few weeks, ahead of the Knesset approval of the supermarkets Bill, the Ashdod municipality, pressured by ultra-orthodox elements, decided to increase the enforcement against businesses operating on Shabbat. Protesters are demanding that the mayor cease the enforcement.

For further reading click here.

Shopping Spree
Israelis averaged two online orders per second during 2017, buying a record-breaking 61 million packages, 15 percent more than in 2016. Clothing and shoes, homeware, accessories, gadgets, vitamins and cosmetics topped the Israeli shopping list. The most popular sites, as in previous years, were China’s Ali Express, Asus, eBay, Next and Amazon, with Ali Express taking half of all Israeli orders.

The data relates solely to orders which entered Israel via the Israeli postal system. The data does not include deliveries by courier companies such as DHL-I, GCX and UPS. GCX reported a 50% increase in Israeli online orders in 2017.

In September, the Israel Postal Company opened a special center for online trade in the city of Modiin, between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, hoping to reduce the percentage of justified customer service complaints, which in 2016 stood at 72.5%, according to the ombudsman’s office. Israel Postal Company CEO Danny Goldstein told The Marker that the new center would be able to sort more than 100 million items annually.

Online prices are usually less expensive than prices consumers pay in Israel, but delivery costs and taxes increase those prices. Israelis are exempt from Value Added Tax (VAT) for imports that cost up to $75 dollars, and from custom taxes for acquisitions up to $500. Local consumer groups, the Israel Postal Company and foreign online stores have been recently lobbying the government to raise the exemption ceiling to lower the cost of living locally.

Israel currently has one of the highest price levels among developed countries. Only Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Australia and New Zealand had higher price indices.

For further reading click here.

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Israel News for 1-12-18

Terror Averted
Border Police arrested three Palestinian women who were carrying concealed knives near the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. The Border Police noted that “all three raised the suspicion of the soldiers in their behavior, which led to a search during which a knife was found on one of them. A quick preliminary investigation revealed that the three of them had come to carry out a stabbing attack and that the two additional suspects had thrown the knives before they arrived at the checkpoint from what appeared to be last moment regret. A search conducted by the forces under the direction of the suspects revealed that one knife was indeed thrown away, while the third knife was apparently taken by local residents.”

The women, three sisters aged 15, 18 and 23, were from the Palestinian refugee camp of Al-Arroub.

For further reading click here.

Violent Clashes
Two Palestinians were killed and six others were wounded in clashes with IDF forces that broke out Thursday afternoon near the Gaza security barrier and in the West Bank. The IDF reported they opened fire against three main instigators. As a result of the shooting, one 16-year-old youth from the al-Bureij refugee camp was shot dead, while two others were wounded. Another Palestinian youth was shot dead in clashes between IDF forces and local residents of Palestinian villages near Nablus.

For further reading click here.

Shabbat Law
In an exclusive interview with Yediot Ahronot, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri explained that he has no intention of, or the authority to, enforce the recently passed Supermarket Law, even though the law seems to give the Interior Minister the power to override local bylaws and force businesses to close on Shabbat.

Deri said, “The interior minister has no powers of enforcement. I cannot close down shops on Shabbat. I cannot not and do not intend to enforce this law. Every citizen or resident should deal with this law in his city. If none of the residents of Givatayim are bothered about the supermarkets, then fine. I don’t intend to interfere.”

He specifically hit back at the mayor of Eilat, who vehemently opposed the law, saying, “The Eilat Municipality forbids commerce on Shabbat and despite that fact, everything remains open there. Did anyone enforce the law? No one did, and everything is open. Nothing has changed regarding Eilat. The mayor of Eilat doesn’t understand this law because of the incitement in the media.”

He added, “Every morning the Eilat mayor opens the newspaper and is bombarded with a plethora of headlines such as ‘Aryeh Deri is coming with the keys to close everything, Aryeh Deri is going to shut down the supermarkets or The Haredim have taken control of you.’”

For further reading click here.

Budget Approved
After an all night debate, the government unanimously approved the 2019 state budget this morning. To read about the budget details click here.

India Business
PM Netanyahu will head to India next week for six days of trade talks. He’ll bring 130 businessman along with him. The Foreign Ministry said, “The prime minister will be talking on the whole range of issues which make up relations between Israel and India: water, agriculture, energy, culture, innovation, also defense.”

India’s defense ministry announced last week that it would buy 131 surface-to-air missiles from Israel. But they also cancelled a $500 million deal to purchase Spike anti-tank guided missiles.

For further reading click here.

New Hotel
Israeli income producing property developer Azrieli Group Ltd. (TASE: AZRG) has won an Israel Land Authority and Ministry of Tourism tender for land on which to build Modi’in’s first hotel. Azrieli will pay NIS 101 million for the 5,300 square meter lot. The plan calls for construction of a 50-room hotel, 80 apartments and commercial and office space in the city’s planned major business center. The land is in the city center close to the railway station, Anava Park and the Azrieli shopping mall.

For further reading click here.

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Israel News for 1-10-18

Terror Attack
Rabbi Raziel Shevah, 35, was killed last night when terrorist opened fire at his car from another vehicle near Havat Gilad in the West Bank. Shevah, a father of 6, including an 8-month old baby, worked as a shohet (ritual slaughterer) and as a mohel (one who performs circumcisions) and also volunteered for Magen David Adom paramedics. Before dying, he managed to call his wife to tell her he had been shot.

IDF forces launched a massive manhunt for the terrorists, in the area around the shooting scene. The IDF has also sent reinforcements to the area.

PM Netanyahu said, “My deepest sympathy and condolences go out to the family of Raziel Shevah, who was murdered by a lowly terrorist. Security forces will do everything in their power to locate the heinous killer and the State of Israel will bring him to justice.” Hamas praised the attack.

US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, tweeted, “An Israeli father of six was killed last night in cold blood by Palestinian terrorists. Hamas praises the killers and PA laws will provide them financial rewards. Look no further to why there is no peace. Praying for the bereaved Shevah family.”

Rabbi Shevah was laid to rest in Havat Gilad, which is currently considered to be an illegal outpost. Settler leaders are calling on the government to approve the construction of hundreds of housing units in Havat Gilad.

For further reading and to see a photo of the Shevah family click here.

IDF Attacks
The Syrian army claims that Israel attacked Syrian territory three times early on Tuesday, with jets and ground-to-ground missiles.

The statement said, “At around 2:40 am, the Israeli air force fired a number of missiles over Lebanese territory at the Al-Qutayfah in the suburbs of the capital of Damascus. Our air defense systems responded and hit one of the planes.”

The statement added that, “two ground-to-ground missiles fired once again from the occupied Golan territory at 3:04 am were intercepted by our air defense system. At 4:15 am, the enemy fired four missiles from Tiberias, which were also intercepted by our air defense system. Some property was damaged as a result of the interception of one of the missiles near one of the military posts.”

Israeli sources say that the target of the strikes were most likely Russian made precision missiles being transferred to Hezbollah.

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Hole in the Head
A senior Hamas official was shot in the head yesterday in Gaza. The circumstances behind the injury are still unclear. It is possible he tried to take his own life after being diagnosed with cancer a year ago, or that he was hurt in an assassination attempt. A third option is that his handgun accidentally discharged. A Gaza source said al-Alami was likely dead, even though an official announcement has not yet been made.

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African Migrants
William Spindler, of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told a Geneva briefing, “We are again appealing to Israel to halt its policy of relocating Eritreans and Sudanese to sub-Saharan Africa,” referring to a new Israeli initiative to offer African migrants a $3,500 payment and a free air ticket to return home or go to “third countries”, which rights groups identified as Rwanda and Uganda.

Spindler said, “What we would like to see in Israel—and we are willing to help in that respect—is to find legal alternatives for these people, through resettlement in other countries.” If he can make that happen, that works just fine.

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Shabbat Bill
The Knesset approved the contentious Supermarkets Bill early Tuesday morning, making it into law. The legislation, which gives the Interior Minister authority to strike down municipal bylaws—including those permitting some businesses to open on Shabbat—was passed with a narrow majority of 58 in favor and 57 opposed. Several MK’s from the coalition either voted against the bill or were absent from the vote.

Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, who sponsored the bill, tweeted, “The approval of the Supermarkets Law this morning is not a ‘Haredi victory.’ It is the protection of the status quo and the victory of the silent majority in the State of Israel that wishes to safeguard the country’s Jewish character and to rest on the day of rest.”

Defense Minister and Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Lieberman, who apposed the law, tweeted: “Religious coercion has no place in Judaism or in Jewish tradition. This type of law distances, rather than bring closer, people to Judaism.”

Several municipalities recently passed bylaws to permit businesses to operate on Shabbat, but these will now be able to be overturned by the Interior Minister.

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