Israel news summary

Israel News for 5-6-2019

Gaza Update
An Egyptian-mediated ceasefire agreement has apparently taken hold between Israel and the Gaza terror groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad, after 3 days of fighting. The fighting began on Friday, when terrorists fired at IDF troops from Gaza, wounded 2 soldiers. The IDF retaliated with airstrikes at Gaza terror targets that killed 2 terrorists.

Since then, over 700 rockets and missiles were fired from Gaza into Gaza, killing 4 Israelis. Israeli forces hit over 350 targets in Gaza, killing 23, including a high ranking Hamas commander (in a targeted strike). IDF troops continue to mass at the Gaza border in preparation of a continuation of the fighting.

The Israeli killed were:

Pinchas Menachem Prezuazman, 21, was killed by shrapnel when a rocket fired from Gaza struck a building in Ashdod Sunday evening. He leaves behind a wife and a 1.5-year-old infant. He was a member of the Gur hasidic community. Three others were also injured by the shrapnel.

Moshe Feder, 68, father of 2, from Kfar Saba was killed when his vehicle was struck by an anti-tank rocket fired from Gaza that was aimed at a busload of soldiers. Moshe Agadi, 58, the father of 4, was killed in a rocket strike in Ashkelon and Ziad Alhamamda was killed when a rocket struck a factory in Ashkelon.

Scores of Israelis were injured in the rocket barrages.

US President Trump tweeted, “Once again, Israel faces a barrage of deadly rocket attacks by terrorist groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad. We support Israel 100% in its defense of its citizens…To the Gazan people — these terrorist acts against Israel will bring you nothing but more misery. END the violence and work towards peace – it can happen!”

The EU condemned the rocket attacks against Israel.

[Today’s summary was taken from a variety of news sources including YNET, Israel National News, and Globes]

Israel news summary

Yom Hashoah

Yom Hashoah
Today is Yom Hashoah, when we remember and honor the memories of the 6 million Jewish men, women and children who were murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators. On the Hebrew calendar it marks the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising (although not the exact date).

Stores in Israel were closed last night. This morning a siren was heard throughout the country during which traffic stopped and Israelis stood for two minutes of silence. Names of Holocaust victims are read in the Knesset and memorial services are held throughout the country. The radio and television run holocaust programming and survivor testimonies throughout the day. In the afternoon, the 31st the March of the Living will begin in Poland, where participants, including survivors and dignitaries, will march three kilometers from Auschwitz concentration camp to the Birkenau death camp.

Yom Hashoah is also commemorated in Jewish communities throughout the world.

As the years pass and the survivors of the Holocaust grow fewer, it gets harder to remember and even harder to relate to this most horrific episode in human history. Six million is such an overwhelming number that it can make us forget that it consists of individual people, each with a story of living, happiness, love, suffering, survival and yes, death.

How can we relate to the tragedy of the Holocaust?

Perhaps one way is to take a moment during our normal course of life to try and imagine how it would feel. When you’re outside in the bitter cold, imagine how you would feel if instead of your warm coat and boots, you were barefoot and naked. When you’re sitting at the dinner table with your family, imagine how it would feel to know that you all could be arrested and put on a train to Auschwitz at any moment. When you’re looking at your young children, imagine how it would feel to hold their hands as you walk together to a pit to be shot, or to the gas chamber.

A million and a half children were murdered in the Holocaust. Many of them were accompanied by at least one parent who would never leave them, even if that meant giving up an opportunity to save themselves. What did fathers and mothers, who gave up the chance to escape in order to stay with their children, tell them in those final moments? How did they muster the courage?

Another way to relate to the Holocaust is to read the first hand testimonies of survivors. Sometimes the testimonies of the murderers and collaborators is even more effective — and the only ones we have. [yes, the “neighbors” their share of the killing. Sorry, but it’s true.]

Here are a few:

Testimony of Ukrainian women – witnesses to murder of Jewish population of Sataniv:

“The Jews were walled up under the marketplace in a cellar. The Germans had burned some straw to make smoke and smother them. Then, after closing the door, they had piled 2 meters of earth on top. For four days afterwards the Jews had tried to get out. People saw the ground of the marketplace moving. On the fifth day the silence was total.”

Testimony from the village of Berniki:
“We are going to tell the truth. You see the house down there on the left, the modern house? Well, down there he hid Jews during the war. He hid a lot. And each time he killed them during the night. He smothered them with quilts. When they were dead, he stripped them and took their bodies to the quarry to get rid of them.“

Source – “The Holocaust by Bullets” by Father Patrick Desbois

From the testimony of Joseph F., a German soldier stationed in Kerch, Crimea, who witnessed the mass execution of hundreds of Jews.

“I climbed up onto the embankment I have already mentioned and saw a heap of clothes, children’s shoes and hats lying right there. I also saw piles of watches. Trucks full of men, women and children were arriving. The trucks arrived at the road and after they stopped, the people were pulled out by Russian civilians overseen by an SS guard. If they didn’t go fast enough, they were hurried along with sticks until they were all assembled on the embankment.

On the other side of the embankment, the Jews had to take off their clothes. If they didn’t do this fast enough, their clothes were ripped off by the Russians and two or three SS guards. If the Jews hadn’t known before, now they discovered what was to become of them. Some moan too loud, but most of the older Jews clasp their hands and look toward the sky. It was always the same image; they clasp their hands the way we do at home to ask for something and looked up at the sky.

When the children had nice shoes, they were pulled off by the Russians and the SS. The firing squad was composed of five or six SS. Once they were in front of the shooters, the Jews had to jump into the anti-tank ditch and stand against the straight wall. From there, it all went very fast. As soon as they were all inside, there was firing and the people slid to the ground.

I noticed among the women a man who was obviously paralyzed. He was big and fat. He was dragged to the execution spots by two 12 to 14 year old boys. The two boys took him by the shoulders but had to keep putting him down because he was so heavy. When they put him down, another Russian would hit and push them.

Then I noticed a very handsome couple with two small children. The husband and wife were very well-dressed. You could see right away that they were fine people. This couple was in one of the groups that the Russian civilian was bringing toward the firing squad. The woman had a child of about one in her arms, and the couple was leading another child of three or four by the hand. Once they were facing the firing squad, I saw the man ask for something. He had probably asked for permission to hold his family in his arms one last time, because I saw him embrace his wife and the child she was holding. But at the same moment, the shots were fired and everyone fell to the ground. I watched those people all the way to the firing squad because they were such a handsome couple and they had two children.”

The soldier then continues to describe the murder of Jewish children.

“Most of the time the children knocked over by their falling mother’s sat on the ground or on their mothers bodies without really understanding what had just happened. I saw how they climbed on their mothers among the dead women. They looked around and definitely did not understand what was going on. I still have the image very clearly before my eyes; they looked up with their big eyes and scared expressions at the shooters. They were too terrified to cry.

Twice I saw an SS go down into the ditch with a rifle and kill the children, who were sitting on the dead or on their own mothers, with one shot to the nape of the neck. As I’ve said, they weren’t crying, but looking around in shock. I think he was aiming for the head with his gun. At least, he held the barrel not far from the head, because I noticed almost no space between the head and the barrel. The children I saw struggling to move here and there range from babies to children of two or three years.”

Source – “The Holocaust by Bullets” by Father Patrick Desbois

Testimony from the book, “The Death Brigade” by Leon W. Wells
“I worked at the firm of Feder and Daumen at 5 Zrodlanej street with my two daughters. One was 17, the other 15. After the liquidation of the ghetto we were hidden in the company’s building. The director of this firm took everything away from us. Then the gestapo came and brought us here; my two children and I. This was a few days ago. Today they took us, together with you, to the sands, and I was separated from my two daughters. I, as everyone else, went down to the ravine. After a long time, about 15 people were selected and taken to the place where we left the women and children in the morning. And they were all, and my two daughters among them, lying dead … shot. What girls, beautiful, intelligent, what I wouldn’t have done for them… they told us to make a fire, and we threw all the bodies into it, my children, too.”

“The SS shot a woman. The woman’s child is sitting next to her in a puddle of blood with her head on her dead mother’s breast, sleeping. An SS man wakes the child by whipping her. She must go with the other children to the sands. The child screams in terror, “mother, it hurts!” the child gets up and starts to run, and the SS man goes after her. The child yells, and the murderer decides to shoot her on the spot. He reaches for his pistol, and shoots.”

If you’ve read this far, you understand why the Jewish People must have their own country with a powerful army to defend it, and why compromising its security is simply not an option.

You understand that when the Iranians threaten to annihilate us, and the Arabs (and Palestinians) threaten to push us into the sea — we take those threats seriously, because we’ve experience what happens when those threats are ignored.

You understand why we must always control our destiny in Israel and why we can never allow an armed Palestinian state to exist in our land. Doing so would be like walking to the execution pits or the gas chambers, and we will never again do that.

Finally, you understand why we must always remain vigilant to stamp out any trace of violence or persecution based on race, religion or personal beliefs and orientations.

The Holocaust has taught us what unspeakable horrors man is capable of, and it is a lesson that we must never forget, so that it never is allowed to happen again, to anyone, anywhere.

[Note: If you have problems with what I’ve written here, there’s an unsubscribe link at the bottom of this email.]

Israel news summary

Israel News for 5-1-19

New Knesset
Israel’s 21st Knesset was officially sworn in yesterday in opening day ceremonies. There are 49 new Knesset members, out of 120.

President Reuven Rivlin addressed the Knesset members saying, “We’ve been through a rough campaign season. We’ve slammed others and got slammed ourselves. Enough now. We must rise above, put our swords aside and clean the dirt. Political strategy can no longer be the only the sole compass.”

After all 120 MKs stood up and declared their commitment to serve, they all sang Hatikvah. The MK’s from the Arab parties refused to sing and left the room instead.

[ Can you imagine members of the US Congress refusing to sing the national anthem? What do you think would happen to them? ]

For further reading click here.

Switching Teams
The Likud is reportedly trying to convince several Blue and White Knesset members to switch over to Likud. One of the top targets is freshman MK Omer Yankelevich, the only female ultra-Orthodox lawmaker in the Knesset.

The Likud is hoping to recruit at least one Blue and White MK, thus enabling PM Netanyahu to form a narrow 61-MK coalition without former Defense Minister Avidgor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu party.

For further reading click here.

Rocket Fired
A long-range rocket was fired from Gaza on Monday. It fell into the sea off the Israeli coast. The IDF blamed the Islamic Jihad commander in Gaza for the rocket attack, indicating the threat of possible action against him.

In response to the attack, the IDF restricted Gaza fishermen to a 6 nautical mile area until further notice.

For further reading click here.

EU Support
In response to a request by Israel, the EU has decided to increase its financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority by 22 million Euros.

The European Union’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said that the EU accepted Israel’s request, noting that “the European Union is and will remain the biggest and the most reliable donor to the Palestinians. European Union assistance to Palestinians has been more than €300 million every year for the last 15 years. This support will continue, because Palestinians have the right to live in dignity and because we Europeans know very well that this money is an investment in security for the Palestinians, for the Israelis, for the region and for ourselves.”

Israel made the request after the PA rejected hundreds of millions of shekels offered by Israel. The money was a portion of the tax revenues that Israel is withholding because the Palestinians are using the money to pay salaries to terrorists and their families.

For further reading click here.

Holocaust Stories
During the official Holocaust Memorial ceremony which will take place Wednesday evening at Yad Vashem, six Holocaust survivors will light six torches. The survivors are Bela Eizenman, Shaul Lubovitz, Fanny Ben-Ami, Menachem Haberman, Sara Shapira and Yehuda Mimon. Holocaust survivor Zipora (Feiga) Granat (née Gershenfish) will speak on behalf of the survivors.

To read their stories click here.