Israel News for January 26, 2016

Terror Attack
Yesterday two Palestinian terrorists jumped over the security fence of the settlement of Beit Horon, which is located just off of Highway 443 in between Modiin and Jerusalem, and stabbed two women near a grocery store. They also threw three pipe bombs that failed to explode. When they attempted to enter the grocery store to stab more women and children, the cashier, Motti Shalem, blocked them using a large metal shopping cart.

Salem recounted, “the two terrorists came from the direction of the fence, and must’ve breached it and got in. Then they stabbed a woman on the sidewalk, and another at the parking lot, and then tried to enter the store. Me and another guy pushed them back with a supermarket cart, and then they ran, and were shot by the security guard.”

One of the women stabbed, Shlomit Krigman, died of her wounds today. Krigman, 23, was from Shadmot Mehola in the Jordan Valley and lived with her grandparents in Beit Horon. She was laid to rest today in Jerusalem, near the resting place of Dafna Meir, who was murdered by a terrorist last week in Otniel. The other victim, a 58 year old woman, remains hospitalized with moderate wounds.

The attackers were later identified as Ibrahim Alan, from the adjacent West Bank village of Beit Ur al-Tahta, and Hussein Abu Ro’ash, from the Qalandiyah refugee camp, north of Jerusalem. One of them had posted on his Facebook page last Thursday that he planned on committing an attack the following week.

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New Homes
Israeli planning authorities approved the construction of 153 new apartments in West Bank settlements last week, effectively putting an end to an informal construction freeze that has lasted about 18 months. This comes after Jerusalem’s local planning and building commission gave final approval last month for the construction of 891 units in the Gilo neighborhood of East Jerusalem.

Perhaps the Israeli government feels that the U.S. Administration is unlikely to protest during an election year?

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Misplaced Rain
Israel has been hit with some massive rain storms this year, which should be a good thing for the country’s water supply. Unfortunately, according to The Hydrological Service of the Israel Water Authority, the level of the Kinneret, Israel’s main reservoir, has risen just 21 centimeters, a worrying figure as far as the Water Authority is concerned, especially given data from previous years, in some of which the level of the lake rose about 20 centimeters in just one rainy day.

A senior Water Authority official said,”We are already at the end of January, and the level is only 17 centimeters above the lower red line. That is not good, and it’s concerning. This year, as in the past few years, the main rain systems have been in the center and the south, and the north has simply not had enough rainfall.”

Unless February and March bring lots of rain to Northern Israel, officials say that this will be the third consecutive year that they will declare the Kinneret and the northern region dry.

But don’t get too alarmed just yet. Most of the water that is used in Israeli homes comes from five desalination plants. But still…

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Uber Israel
Want to try using Uber in Israel? Forget about it, at least for now. But if PM Netanyahu gets his way, you might be able to Uber after all. The PM and Minister of Transport Yisrael Katz are fighting it out about letting the company operate in Israel.

Katz is adamantly against it, claiming that doing so would oblige the government to pay between 8 and 9 million shekels to taxi drivers. He said, “I don’t know where the myth of the strength of the taxi drivers comes from; they are not a strong group. With all due respect, we’re not talking about the vehicle importers. These are people who work, who have to cope with reality, and my job is to enable them to do so on equal terms. Whoever pays for a taxi license can’t have someone coming with their private vehicle to compete with them.”

The PM met with the Uber CEO during World Economic Forum in Davos, and the CEO expressed his criticism of Katz’s position. Netanyahu believes that letting Uber operate in Israel will lower transportation costs for Israeli consumers. He also feels that security concerns related to the possibility of terrorists using Uber as a means of luring victims into their cars are manageable.

The fight continues, while taxi cabs rule…for the time being.

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Israel Investing
If you’ve always wanted to invest in an Israeli startup but never thought you’d have the means or the opportunity, your prayers might just have been answered. A new crowdfunding site called crowdmii (mii = made in Israel) is making it possible for supporters of Israel to invest in “Startup nation” companies seeking funding.

Crowdmii CEO Assaf Luxembourg said, “Israel-supporting organizations and communities around the world praise Israeli innovation and entrepreneurship, and are looking for ways to integrate them in their advocacy and Israel-support efforts. We call on them to embrace our campaigns and show not only how Israel helps the world, but also how the crowd can take an active part.”

Check out the site to see the companies and the innovative products and services they’re developing. Be a part of the startup nation!