Israel News for January 13, 2016

Gaza Airstrike
According to an IDF spokesperson, the Israel Air Force launched an airstrike today against a terror cell that was planting a bomb and preparing to attack Israeli troops near Gaza border fence. The operation was carried out in coordination with the Shin Bet. Officials in Gaza reported that one person was killed and three were wounded in the attack. Hamas has threatened to retaliate for the attack.

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Methodist Divestment
The United Methodist Church, the largest Protestant denomination in the US with 13 million members, has banned five Israeli banks from its pension fund in what it claims is a broad review meant to weed out companies that profit from abuse of human rights.

According to its website the fund, called the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits, excluded Bank Hapoalim, Bank Leumi, First International Bank of Israel, Israel Discount Bank, and Mizrahi Tefahot Bank.

The pension board identified Israel and the Palestinian territories among more than a dozen “high risk” countries or regions with “a prolonged and systematic pattern of human rights abuses.” Other countries on the list include Saudi Arabia, the Central African Republic and North Korea.

The banks had been among several companies targeted by United Methodist Kairos Response, a coalition of church members who advocate for divestment from companies with business in what they consider to be the Israeli occupied territories.

The pension board’s decision came at a time when divestment is gaining momentum among liberal Protestants as a tool to pressure Israel over its policies toward Palestinians. Last year, the United Church of Christ voted to divest from companies with business in the Israeli-occupied territories. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.) took a similar vote in 2014.

On the “bright side”, the fund remains invested in 18 Israeli companies, and the total divestment from the banks equals only a few million dollars in a fund worth over 20 billion. But it’s the thought that counts, and the direction the Methodists are taking is not a positive one for Israel.

Senior officials in Israel’s Foreign Ministry said they are still examining the decision, but added that Israel will make quiet efforts to convince the leaders of the church to change or soften the measure ahead of the Methodist General Conference in May.

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Swedes Again
Looks like the Swedes are at it again. Yesterday, Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom called for an investigation to determine if Israel was guilty of unlawful killings of Palestinians during recent violence there.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry called the statements “irresponsible and delusional,” adding that Wallstrom is, “giving support to terror and thus encouraging violence.”

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog also blasted the Swedish foreign minister, accusing her of supporting terror. He wrote on his Facebook page, “It’s interesting that Sweden didn’t respond likely when Paris police killed the terrorists as needed. And it would be interesting to know if she would respond likely when the terrorists commit appalling attacks in her country. Would she demand, even then, to pet them on the head because they had a difficult childhood?”

This isn’t the first time Wallstrom has castigated Israel. After the Paris terror attack she told a TV interviewer that Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians was to blame for Islamic radicalization.

With all the refugees pouring into Sweden, perhaps she’ll get some first hand insight into the true causes of Islamic radicalization and terror, real soon.

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Terrorist Buried
The body of Tel Aviv terrorist Nashat Milhelm was finally released by police to his family, who pledged to hold a quiet funeral. Forty people attended his funeral last night in his hometown of Arara. May he receive the Divine punishment he deserves.

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Suspects Indicted
In October an Eritrean migrant worker was mistaken for a terrorist and lynched in the Beersheba central bus station, during a terror attack. Yesterday, four men were indicted on charges of aggravated assault, an offense punishable by up to 20 years in prison. The men are: IDF soldlier Yaakov Shamba, Israel Prison Service officer Ronen Cohen, Eviatar Damari and David Moyal.

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Gaza Suit
Three U.S. citizens and one Belgian national filed suit against Israel in U.S. federal court in Washington on Monday. The plaintiffs are seeking compensation from Israel for injuries they sustained during the Israeli commando raid on the “Gaza Flotilla”. The flotilla unsuccessfully attempted to break Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza in May of 2010. Nine Turks and one American of Turkish descent were killed in the raid.

The plaintiffs were aboard the U.S.-flagged Challenger 1, which was carrying media equipment and 17 passengers and crew members. According to their attorneys, American plaintiffs David Schermerhorn, Mary Ann Wright, Huwaida Arraf, a dual U.S.-
Israeli citizen, and Belgian national Margriet Deknopper suffered injuries that included partial loss of sight when a stun grenade exploded inches from one of them and a broken nose when another was hit by a rubber bullet.

The lawsuit is unlikely to turn out successfully for the plaintiffs. Under U.S. law, the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act generally bars lawsuits against foreign governments, except for certain circumstances, including terrorist acts against Americans by U.S.-designated state sponsors of terrorism. The plaintiffs are claiming that Israel breached US territory, and therefore is liable.

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Jewish Apple
Israelis just got another reason to own an iPhone, and her name is Siri. Despite the Hebrew sounding name, Apple’s iPhone female voice assistant couldn’t speak Hebrew. But that’s gonna change. Siri will soon be fluent in the holy tongue. She probably won’t be considered Jewish by the rabbinical courts, but she’ll be able to help you through those tough, hands-free moments…in Hebrew. Maybe she’ll convert?