Israel News for August 30, 2016

Home Demolition
Early today IDF forces destroyed the house of Mohammad Amairah, one of the terrorists responsible for the murder of Rabbi Micky Mark in an attack two months ago that also severely injured his wife and daughter. The house was located in the village of Dura, near Hebron. Amairah was a member of the Palestinian Security Forces in the West Bank.

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Human Rights
The international human rights group Human Rights Watch has declared that the Palestinian Authority and Hamas are “arresting, abusing, and criminally charging journalists and activists who express peaceful criticism of the authorities.” The group added that “activists and journalists said that security officers beat or kicked them, deprived them of sleep and proper food, hosed them with cold and then hot water, and made them maintain uncomfortable positions for long hours.”

A spokesman for the PA denied the allegations saying, “The government is working on creating a better environment for press freedom. We believe in and support the freedom of speech and the right for journalists to operate freely in Palestine.” Hamas officials declined to comment.

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Earthquake Aid and Risk
The first foreign aid organization to arrive on the scene in Italy after the major earthquake that his the region last week was from…you guessed it…Israel. IsraAID’s team of professional trauma therapists worked alongside Italian medical and rescue teams to assist families throughout the process, from the identification of bodies to decisions about the burial and funeral arrangements. The Israeli team included Italian born volunteer professionals.

What would happen if a similar earthquake hit Israel (which is quite possible, since Israel lies on a major rift)? According to experts the results would be devastating, since about 99% of all older buildings in the country are not fortified to withstand a quake. This is despite a law passed over a decade ago calling for fortifying these buildings.

Approximately half of all the older buildings in Israel are three stories high or more, and many of them would completely collapse in the event of an earthquake, due to proximity to the Great Rift Valley that runs from Africa to Syria. Tiberias, Safed, Kiryat Shmona, Beit She’an and Eilat are all quite close to this potential earthquake focal point.

According to a government created disaster scenario simulating a powerful earthquake (7.5) centered around Beit She’an, over 16,000 people would be killed and 6,000 injured. In addition, 377,000 people would be displaced from their homes, 10,000 buildings would be destroyed and 20,000 damaged.

The Israel Engineers Association for Construction and Infrastructure sent a letter to the government last week, stating, “It is only a matter of time until the earth will shake in Israel, as well.”

Let’s pray that it never happens.

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National Service
Thousands of volunteers will begin their National Service (Sherut Leumi) this week. The service is in lieu of military service for people who are unable to serve in the army due to medical or religious reasons. The volunteers usually serve in educational social welfare or medical programs or frameworks. In recent years some volunteers have apparently begun working for NGOs (non governmental agencies) which receive most of their funding from foreign countries. Some of these organizations are viewed as being critical of the IDF or Israeli government, or even outright pro-Palestinian.

MK Amir Ohana (Likud) has proposed a bill in the Knesset that would prohibit any organization that gets more than 50% of its funding from foreign countries from being able to participate in the National Service program.

Ohana said, “Something is rotten in the immunity system of the State of Israel. It is unthinkable that we ourselves should provide subsidized manpower to organizations that work in the interests of foreign governments to portray Israel as a war criminal, as well as defending the biggest terrorists and slandering IDF soldiers who are protecting us day and night. I tried to bring a stop to this absurd situation by presenting a query to the Agriculture minister responsible for the National Service but unfortunately we saw no chance in the policies. There is no other option available besides bringing a proposal to change the law.”

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Arms to Lithuania
The state owned arms manufacturer Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. has signed a deal worth 100 million euros to supply the Lithuanian army with advanced, remote-controlled, Samson Mk2 weapon stations enabling the launch of accurate Spike missiles, also produced by Rafael.

Just over 70 years ago Lithuanian soldiers, along with the Nazis, perpetrated the mass murder of close to 200,000 Jews in Lithuania. Now they’ll be using Jewish weapons made in Israel. Go figure.

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