israelam news

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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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