Israel News for January 6, 2016

Tragic Accident
First-Lt. Yishai Rosales, 23, from Beit Meir, was killed by shrapnel when a mortar round was fired in the wrong direction at the Tze’elim IDF training base during a course for company and battalion commanders. Rosales was a platoon commander in the ultra-Orthodox Netzah Yehuda Battalion (Nahal Haredi).

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Spy Convicted
Corporal Elad Sela, who served in the Etzion Regional Brigade of the IDF, was convicted by a military court of passing secret information to right wing extremists. The court found him guilty of searching through classified computer files to look for information on “price tag” suspects from the Bat Ayin settlement in Gush Etzion, where he lives, and to alert them regarding planned raids against them by security forces.

The court sentenced Sela to 45 months in prison along with an additional suspended sentence and a demotion to the rank of private.

In a statement the IDF said, “Leaks such as this must be eradicated from the army and those who breach the trust given to them by the army and who harm security interests must be punished severely.”

Sela is married and the father of two.

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Israel Folds
Last week we reported that Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely was adamant that Israel would stand behind Dani Dayan, its appointed ambassador to Brazil, even though the Brazilian government refused to approve Dayan because of his history as a leader in the settlement movement.

Well, it looks like Hotovely has had second thoughts. Foreign Ministry officials are now advising the government to choose a different ambassador to Brazil. Next week Brazil’s ambassador to Israel will reportedly be summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for a discussion, during which the gravity with which Israel views the non-approval of Dayan’s appointment will be made clear to him. A senior Foreign Ministry official said that only after all options have been exhausted, including initiating a phone call between PM Netanyahu and Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff, will they “calculate a new move”.

One of the options being considered is to nominate Dayan as ambassador to another country and to send a new ambassador to Brazil. Dayan’s name has already been mentioned as a possible candidate for the position of Israel’s Consul General in New York or Los Angeles.

You can’t win ‘em all.

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Bad Facebook
Shurat HaDin, an Israeli based civil rights NGO, set out to test whether Facebook applies double standards when it comes to incitement. On December 29, 2015, the NGO launched “The Big Facebook Experiment” by publishing two nearly identical Facebook pages: “Stop Palestinians” and “Stop Israel.” Over the next few days they posted hateful content on both pages, and then reported the content to Facebook.

For example, the pro-Palestinian page promised to “demolish the Zionist invader,” and called for revenge against the “Zionist enemy that threatens Al-Aqsa.” A call to rise up against Israel was portrayed in a cartoon featuring a Star of David bearing crocodile with the Temple Mount compound perched beneath the roof of its mouth and a knife nested against its snout – an accompanying post to the illustration called for “death to all the Jews.”

Meanwhile, on the pro-Israel page, a post calling for war against the “Palestinian enemy” claimed that “more and more soldiers in the IDF know that there is a need to destroy the Arab enemy.” Another post featured a collage of a handful of so-called “price tag” attacks and an accompanying caption calling for “death to all the Arabs.”

The anti-Palestinian page was shut down by Facebook, on the same day that it was reported, for “containing credible threat of violence” which “violated our [Facebook’s] community standards.” The anti-Israeli page was not shut down, despite its identical hateful content. Facebook claimed that this page was “not in violation of Facebook’s rules.”

In October Shurat Hadin filed a lawsuit against Facebook on behalf of 20,000 Israelis to stop allowing Palestinian terrorists to incite violent attacks against Israeli citizens on the social network’s platform.

According to the NGO, “Facebook actively assists the inciters to find people who are interested in acting on their hateful messages by offering friend, group and event suggestions and targeting advertising based on people’s online ‘likes’ and internet browsing history.” Additionally, Facebook often gives incitement pages the freedom to operate and continue operation despite reports of hateful content, under the claim that they do not violate its “community standards.”

Druze News
Yesterday, Israel’s National Council for Building and Planning approved PM Netanyahu’s initiative to establish a new Druze town in the north of the country. The town, which will be located near Tiberias, will be the first new Druze town to be built by the state since 1948 and the first time in 130 years that a new Druze community will be established in the territory of what is now Israel.

The PM said, “I view the building of this new town as a very important initiative that will bring progress to the Druze sector.”

There are currently 18 Druze towns recognized by the state – four in the Golan and 14 in the Galilee. Except for those in Golan, the Druze serve in the IDF, primarily in combat units and with distinction.

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