israel air force

Israel News for February 22, 2017

Israel Attacks
According to Lebanese and Syrian media reports, Israeli aircraft carried out several airstrikes against outposts of the Syrian army’s third division near the Lebanese-Syrian border, destroying weapons cache and vehicles belonging to Hezbollah. Hezbollah denied the reports. The IDF had no comment.

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Holy War
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei yesterday called on Palestinians to pursue a holy war against Israel, calling the Israeli government a “cancerous tumor” that should be confronted until Palestinians were completely liberated.

“The Palestinian intifada continues to gallop forward in a thunderous manner so that it can achieve its other goals until the complete liberation of Palestine,” Khamenei said.

Khamenei did not mention any Iranian military attack against Israel in his comments and was focused on gains that Palestinians could make in any confrontation with Israel.

The Supreme Leader’s comments were made during a two-day pro-Palestinian conference in Tehran.

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Australian Support
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull defended Israel and criticized the United Nations, vowing never to support “one-sided resolutions” calling for an end to Israeli settlement building on occupied land.

Turnbull wrote, “My government will not support one-sided resolutions criticizing Israel of the kind recently adopted by the UN Security Council and we deplore the boycott campaigns designed to delegitimize the Jewish state.”

He also told reporters, “We support an outcome which has two states where Israelis, the Israeli people, the Palestinian people live side-by-side as a result of direct negotiations between them.”

Turnbull welcomed Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday as the first Israeli prime minister to visit Australia and reiterated Australia’s support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian crisis. While in Australia, Netanyahu is scheduled to sign agreements fostering closer economic and defense cooperation.

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Reactions to Sentence
The military court’s decision to sentence Sgt. Elor Azaria to 18 months in prison for shooting Abdel Fattah al-Sharif, the neutralized terrorist who carried out a stabbing attack in Hebron last year, was met by a significant public outcry to pardon him, most notably from several senior political figures.

Bayit Yehudi leader and Education Minister Naftali Bennett tweeted,
“The security of the Israeli people demands the immediate pardon of Azaria who was sent to protect us. The process (Azaria’s trial) was tainted from its base.” He added, “Elor must not be imprisoned, or we will all pay the price.”

Minister of Construction Yoav Galant also called on Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and IDF Chief of General Staff Gadi Eisenkot to take measures to pardon Azaria.
Galant said, “The whole Azaria affair has taken a toll on the army and the Israeli people. In light of the punishment he received during his remand and for the purpose of healing the cracks within the public, we must show a measure of sense and compassion. I call the Defense Minister and the IDF Chief of General Staff to pardon Azaria, even today.”
Minister of Transport Yisrael Katz also joined the call to pardon Azaria, tweeting, “the court has said its piece, the legal proceedings are over. It is now time for pardon. Bring Elor back home.”

Commenting on the court’s verdict on his Facebook page, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman indicated that no pardon would be forthcoming, and that the court’s ruling would be upheld.

The family of Abdel Fattah al-Sharif expressed anger over the sentencing. Sharif’s father said that Azaria’s punishment “of a year and a half is a slap on the wrist. They’re laughing in our face. It’s all a show.” Sharif’s uncle added “If he was Palestinian, they would have thrown him in jail for the rest of his life like a dog.”

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Nursing Reform
Health Minister Yaakov Litzman is demanding reforms in elderly care following reports of violence towards senior citizens in nursing homes, which shocked the country. Litzman contacted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon on Monday in a request to step in, in what he calls “a national crisis.”

Litzman suggested installing cameras in the nursing departments, reinforcing the workforce by 2,400 foreign workers and adding 95 supervisors, all of which requires immediate funding estimated at around a quarter of a billion shekels.

The proposed reforms include incentive packages to the community clinics for them to make house calls and visit elderly patients, and by doing so, perhaps prevent their deterioration.

In order to fund the reforms, Litzman suggested a 0.6 percent raise in health taxes, according to income. The Finance Ministry is against this and one of the proposed solutions is that in the first two years, the state would finance the reform and if it proves successful, the tax will be raised.

In Israel, there are currently 21,000 geriatric beds in 800 departments spread out over 300 nursing home facilities across the country. This population is currently treated by approximately 8,800 nursing staff—too small a number for a developed western country.

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