israel news

Israel News for December 21, 2015

Shalom Resigns
Interior Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom has resigned following several allegations of sexual assault. The allegations by a former employee at Shalom’s office first came to light in a Haaretz report last week. Since then, several other women have also alleged that the minister sexually assaulted them.

Shalom denies the allegations. He said in a statement, “For some 23 years I have been faithfully serving the public as a MK and minister in different ministries, out of a sense of purpose and a drive to promote very important social and public goals. I had enough of the torments that befell me and my family, my wife, kids, and my elderly mother. My family completely supports me, but there is no reason for the price they are forced to pay. Under these circumstances, I decided to resign from my position as a minister and a member of parliament.”

Channel 10 News broadcasted the testimony of one of Shalom’s former bodyguards last night. He told of two incidents that he witnessed Shalom having intimate relations with women in toilet stalls. In one of the two cases he recognized one of the women as an employee in the minister’s office.

After meeting with the head of Police investigations last night, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein has decided to order the police to investigate the allegations.

Attorney Amir Ohana, head of the Likud’s LGBT caucus, will take Shalom’s place in the Knesset and will be the first openly gay MK from Likud.

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Israeli Payback
An Israeli airstrike near Damascus on Saturday night killed Samir Kuntar, a Hezbollah terrorist leader who had been working to set up Syrian resistance groups to “liberate” the Golan Heights. Seven other terrorists were killed along with Kuntar in the airstrike, including senior Hezbollah field commanders. The Syrian government has not blamed Israel for the airstrike, probably out of a desire to avoid a conflict with Israel. Israel has not claimed responsibility for the airstrike.

Kuntar spent 30 years in an Israeli prison for one of the most heinous crimes in Israeli history. Kuntar was 16 and a member of the Palestinian Liberation Front when he killed a policeman and kidnapped and murdered Danny Haran and beat his 4 year old daughter to death with a rifle butt. During the attack, the girl’s mother hid in a crawl space inside their home and accidentally smothered their crying two year old daughter, fearing Kuntar would find them.

In 2008 Kuntar was released as part of a prisoner exchange with Hezbollah. He received a hero’s welcome in Lebanon and was awarded Syria’s highest medal by Syrian President Bashar Assad.

In an apparent revenge attack, three rockets were fired into northern Israel from Lebanon yesterday. Lebanese sources said that the rockets were fired from a location south of Tyre.

The IDF responded to the rocket attack with “targeted artillery fire.” Let’s hope there are no more revenge attacks so that this doesn’t escalate into a full blown conflict.

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Duma Suspects
Hundreds of protesters attempted to block the entrance to Jerusalem at the Chords Bridge yesterday. Six people were arrested in disturbances that erupted during the protests.

The demonstrators were protesting the treatment of the three Jewish suspects being held in the Duma arson case. They claim that the Shin Bet has tortured the men during its month long investigation and interrogation.

One suspect reportedly told his attorney that interrogators were bending his back, holding him upside down for extended periods of time, and other forms of torture. He supposedly told the lawyer that he had begged interrogators for poison so his suffering would end. Another of the suspects, who is a minor, is reported to have attempted suicide by slitting his wrists.

Since the Duma case is still under gag order, the details of the investigation and treatment of the suspects has not been released by the press.

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Shabbat Fines
The Knesset’s ministerial legislative committee approved a bill prohibiting businesses from operating on Shabbat. The proposed bill would fine violators three times their revenue earned for the day. The businesses would also be liable to be sued by competitors claiming damages due to the Shabbat violation.

The bill is meant to replace local municipal Shabbat by-laws and will give the Economy Minister authority to appoint inspectors to enforce the law and to issue exemptions. The bill would not apply to restaurants, gas stations, hotels or places of entertainment. It would apply to food stores, retail stores and shopping malls.

The bill was proposed after the High Court of Justice found that the Tel Aviv municipality was not enforcing its Shabbat laws. If passed, it will take Shabbat regulations out of the hands of local government and make it a national matter. The Knesset has also appointed a committee to investigate the possibility of making Sunday into a national day of rest.

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Doll Policy
A few weeks ago we reported that a shipment of 4,000 terrorist dolls were confiscated at the Port of Haifa, on their way to the West Bank. Each of the 4,000 stuffed children’s dolls seized wears a keffiyeh, holds a rock in its hand, and bears the slogans ‘Jerusalem is ours’ or ‘Jerusalem, we are coming!’

Instead of just destroying them, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely decided to use them to show the world how the Palestinians incite violence, even using toys. So she ordered samples of the dolls distributed to all Israeli embassies. The Foreign Ministry sent the dolls via diplomatic mail, accompanied by instructions for demonstrating them.

At least one ambassador is not pleased with the decision. Dan Ashbel, the Israeli Ambassador to Finland wrote that, “sending more than 100 such dolls to our embassies abroad could expose us to demands for payment from the importers. Pictures of the dolls are sufficient as is the dismaying fact that there are people producing, selling and buying such dolls. Please refrain from using these dolls for demonstration purposes.”

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