terror Jaffa gate

Israel News for December 23, 2015

Breaking News
Two people were seriously wounded and one lightly wounded in a terror stabbing attack at the Jaffa Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem this afternoon. The two terrorists were shot by Border Police. One was killed and the other wounded.

The location of the attack is a major thoroughfare where people, including most tourists, enter the Old City on their way to the Kotel and the Jewish Quarter.

This story is still developing.

For further reading click here.

Defending Shin Bet
PM Netanyahu issued a statement of his support for the Shin Bet security agency amid accusations from right wing activists that the Shin Bet tortured Jewish suspects being interrogated for allegedly participating in the Duma arson attack.

The PM said that he found the attacks against the security agency to be unacceptable. He added that, “There is Arab terrorism that we deal with and combat day and night in every arena, but unfortunately from time to time there are also acts of terror committed by Jews. We will not accept terror from any side.”

Defense Minister Ya’alon also defended the Shin Bet saying, “The attempts to harm the Shin Bet and its people are based on lies, deception of the general public, and dangerous and irresponsible manipulations by lawyers and, unfortunately, also from ministers, MKs and other public officials.”

Education Minister Naftali Bennett, leader of the Bayit Yehudi party, also added his support for the Shin Bet, telling Army Radio that the, “Shin Bet protects us every day from the Palestinians, and we have to rely on the same Shin Bet now.”

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked joined in the defense of the Shin Bet claiming that, “The process is being conducted and scrutinized by the judicial authorities and in accordance with the legal guidelines.” She also rebuffed the reports that one of the suspects in custody, a minor, tried to commit suicide.

Shaked added that, “It is important for the public to know that the three suspects who were arrested have already seen a lawyer and that their medical state is in perfect condition. I have been informed that they are checked routinely by doctors.”

Meanwhile, protests against the Shin Bet continue.

For further reading click here.

No Strike
A massive general strike that was planned for today will not be happening. The strike was averted when the Histadrut, Israel’s primary labor union, and the Finance Ministry reached a last minute agreement granting the 700,000 civil servants a NIS 7.5 billion pay raise over 5 years. That was less than the NIS 11.5 billion that the Histadrut initially demanded.
So, Israel is open for business today, as usual.

For further reading click here.

Special Thanks
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Holiday Cheer
Around this time every year the Israeli embassy in Washington sends out holiday gifts. This year Ambassador Ron Dermer used the gifts to make a statement by including products made in Israeli West Bank settlements.

In a letter sent with the gift he wrote, “I decided to send a gift that would also help combat the latest efforts by Israel’s enemies to destroy the one and only Jewish state. That effort is called the BDS movement.”

“The main forces behind this movement are fanatics who actively seek to eliminate Israel. Unfortunately, they are occasionally joined by fools who naively believe that in promoting BDS, they are advancing peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”

“Regardless of why they support BDS, the fanatics and the fools are simply promoting a new anti-Semitism. Once Jews were singled out and held to a different standard than other peoples. Today, the Jewish state is singled out and held to a different standard than other countries.”

Dermer also blasted the EU for its discriminatory labeling regulations that single out Israeli products made in the West Bank and Golan.

He concluded his letter by saying, “In response to this effort to cast a beacon of freedom, tolerance and decency as a pariah state, I have decided this holiday season to send you products that were made in Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights. I hope you will enjoy them.”

Happy Holidays!

To see the full letter click here.

Turkey Expels
Last week we reported that Israel and Turkey had reached an “understanding” that appeared to pave the way to normalized relations between the two countries that were ruptured after Israel’s naval raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla that killed nine Turkish citizens in 2010.

Things seem to be progressing in the right direction…sort of. On Monday Turkey expelled Saleh al-Arouri, Hamas’ senior representative in Istanbul, as agreed upon in the “understanding”. Al-Arouri, one of the founders of Hamas’ military wing, sat in Israeli jails for 15 years before being expelled to Syria. In 2012, when Hamas’ offices in Syria were closed down, he fled to Turkey. From Turkey he was involved in orchestrating the kidnapping and murder of the three Israeli teenagers in Gush Etzion in June 2014.

As positive as the expulsion may seem, the Turks are claiming that Al Arouri left the country voluntarily. Turkish President Erdogan made it clear that he will not close down Hamas offices in the country or cut off funding to the terrorist group. Erdogan also continues to insist that Israel remove its blockade from Gaza as a condition for normal relations.

So are Turkey and Israel moving towards resuming normal relations? Hard to tell.

For further reading click here.

Phone Chat
Three days after the alleged Israeli airstrike near Damascus that killed the Hezbollah affiliated terrorist Samir Kuntar, Russian President Putin called PM Netanyahu on the phone.

The leaders discussed the situation in Syria and agreed to continue dialogue at various levels, including coordination in the war against terror and in other regional matters. Israel and Russia currently have a system in place to coordinate military movements in Syria so as not to get in each other’s way.

During a meeting with Konstantin Kosachev, the chairman of the international committee of Russia’s Federation Council upper house of parliament on Tuesday, Zvi Heifetz, Israel’s ambassador to Moscow, said that Israel acknowledges Russia’s interests in the region and supports it in its fight against global terrorism.

Given that Russia is expanding its influence and footprint in the Middle East, it looks like Israel is doing its best to make friends and stay on good terms. Can you think of a reason why Israel shouldn’t?

For further reading click here.

Officer Fired
A Colonel in the IDF’s Northern Command was thrown out of the army after he left classified documents in his car, which was then stolen. According the IDF regulations, keeping classified documents in your car is a big no no. Makes sense.

For further reading click here.