Israel News for March 31, 2016

More Corruption?
The Attorney General has opened an investigation into corruption allegations against Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, head of the Shas party. There are also corruption allegations and investigations against opposition leader Herzog and the mayor of Nazareth Ilit.

Frankly, I’m sick and tired of writing about political corruption in Israel and you’re probably sick of reading about it. Seriously, what’s the point of going into a whole long report of what they think he did and what he says he didn’t do — and keep repeating that for the next 18 months until it either goes to trial or doesn’t?

To be totally honest, one of the reasons this newsletter didn’t go out yesterday was because these corruption stories were basically the only major items in all of the Israeli media outlets, and I just didn’t have the stomach to write about it. The other reason was because my internet went down in the morning (it happens to the best of us).

So here’s the deal: if any of these finally do go to trial and there’s an actual conviction, I’ll let you know and give you all the gory details. Well, nobody really cares about the mayor of Nazareth Ilit, so I won’t even bother with that one.

If you really need to know more about this now, click here.

Senator vs Israel
Senior Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy, along with 10 Democratic Congressmen, sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry asking him to investigate the alleged involvement of the Israel Defense Forces and Israeli police forces in carrying out extrajudicial killings of Palestinian terrorists. The letter comes in light of the military aid agreement being negotiated between the US and Israel.

Leahy, head of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee of Defense, is considered one of the most senior senators in Congress. The Leahy Law, enacted in 1997, prohibits U.S. funding from equipping or training foreign military forces suspected of human rights abuses or war crimes. As a result, the U.S. Department of Defense – among other things – filters foreign officers and soldiers who come to the U.S. for training.

The letter says, “There have been a disturbing number of reports of possible gross violations of human rights by security forces in Israel and Egypt. [These] incidents that may have involved recipients, or potential recipients, of U.S. military assistance. We urge you to determine if these reports are credible and to inform us on your findings.”

The letter also lists several incidents reported by Amnesty International in which Israeli security forces killed terrorists and concludes with, “In light of these reports we request that you act promptly to determine their credibility and whether they trigger the Leahy Law and, if so, take appropriate action called for under the law.”

To read the entire letter click here.

US Condemns UN
The US yesterday condemned a United Nations Human Rights Council resolution that calls for setting up a database of businesses operating in the occupied West Bank. The resolution was adopted by a 32 to 0 vote, with 15 mostly European nations, abstaining.

U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby accused the UN council of bias against Israel and criticized the motion at his daily briefing saying, “We continue to unequivocally oppose the very existence of that agenda item and therefore any resolutions … that come from it.”

For further reading click here.

Land Day
On March 30, 1976, Israeli Arabs declared a general strike in protest of government decisions to expropriate Arab lands in the Galilee. A day before the strike, violent clashes broke out between security forces and residents of the villages Deir Hanna, Arraba and Sakhnin in the Galilee, in which six protesters were killed and 38 wounded.

On the annual anniversary of that day, called Land Day, Israeli Arabs in the Galilee and Negev hold a general strike and protest demonstrations. This year was no different.

Businesses, public institutions, and medical centers in the Arab sector were closed Wednesday, while protests organized by the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel were held in the Galilee and the Negev in the afternoon.

Thousands of people protested in the villages of Arraba and Sakhnin in the Western Galilee and the village of Umm al-Hiran in the Negev. Protesters called to continue the fight against home demolitions and land expropriation. They waved Palestinian flags and banners that said: “Give me land or give me death.”

To be fair, many (probably the vast majority of) Israeli Arabs don’t think the strike is effective and don’t consider the High Follow Up Committee to be their representative. That’s good news, right?

For further reading click here.

Another Tunnel
While a Hamas delegation met with Egyptian officials in Cairo regarding the border between Gaza and Egypt and the smuggling tunnels there, the Egyptian military located and destroyed the longest smuggling tunnel found to date.

The tunnel’s opening point, located in the house of an Egyptian smuggler from the Al Barazeel neighborhood in Rafah, Egypt is made out of concrete and steel. In addition to high quality engineering equipment, lighting, generators, communications devices and mortars were found. The tunnel was 3 kilometers long.

Nice to know Israel isn’t alone in its tunnel busting efforts against Hamas.

For further reading click here.