Israel News for October 6, 2016

Airstrikes Hit Gaza
Israel launched five separate airstrikes against Hamas targets in Gaza in retaliation for yesterdays rocket attack on Sderot. One airstrike hit a Hamas outpost in the southern city of Khan Yunis while another three hit Gaza City. The last one hit Hamas in the northern part of the Strip. IDF artillery also hit targets in Gaza.

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Israeli Pilot Killed
Israeli Air Force F-16I pilot Capt. Ohad Cohen Nov was killed today while attempting to eject from his plane shortly before landing at the Ramon Airbase in the Negev. His navigator managed to eject and was lightly wounded. The aircraft was returning from a reprisal raid in Gaza.

According to the preliminary investigation, the aircraft began experiencing technical difficulties upon its return, leading the pilot to fly another circle above the base prior to landing in an effort to remedy the problem. After it became clear that his efforts were insufficient, he decides to abandon the plane.

In accordance with the standard procedure and the automatic mechanisms in the ejection system, the navigator managed to eject from the plane, sustaining light injuries. The pilot’s ejection was supposed to occur seconds later but, for reasons which are yet to be fully determined, he did not manage to implement the ejection and at a critical moment the jet crashed and burst into flames.

Investigators believe that the plane experienced a weight imbalance prior to landing, which caused the malfunction.

Capt. Ohad, 34, had become deputy commanded of his F-16I squadron, known as the Bat Squadron, just last week. He is survived by his pregnant wife, Shahar, and a young daughter.

One of his fellow pilots said, “He was a person of gold. He was happy, funny, and had a good heart. He was always nice and courteous and smiling. He loved challenges and was an excellent pilot. He had everything.”

Capt. Ohad Cohen Nov’s funeral will be held on Friday at Mazor, the moshav in central Israel where he lived.

May his memory serve as a blessing for us all.

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Israel and US Clash
Last week Israel approved the construction of 98 new housing units and up to 200 additional units in the settlement of Shvut Rachel near Shilo (Samaria-West Bank) to provide housing for the residents of the Amona outpost which is due to be dismantled. The settlement of Shvut Rachel has a population of around 100 families and was founded in 1991 in memory of the victims of a terrorist attack on a bus.

Yesterday the US State Department and the White House lashed out harshly against the decision. The State Department statement, signed by deputy spokesman Mark Toner, stressed that the U.S. views advancement of the plan as a violation of a commitment by Netanyahu’s government not to establish any new settlements in the West Bank.

The statement said, “Proceeding with this new settlement is another step towards cementing a one-state reality of perpetual occupation that is fundamentally inconsistent with Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state. Such moves will only draw condemnation from the international community, distance Israel from many of its partners, and further call into question Israel’s commitment to achieving a negotiated peace.”

The statement also connected the issue to the new military aid package recently agreed upon and the death of Shimon Peres saying, “It is deeply troubling, in the wake of Israel and the US concluding an unprecedented agreement on military assistance designed to further strengthen Israel’s security, that Israel would take a decision so contrary to its long term security interest in a peaceful resolution of its conflict with the Palestinians. Furthermore, it is disheartening that while Israel and the world mourned the passing of President Shimon Peres, and leaders from the US and other nations prepared to honor one of the great champions of peace, plans were advanced that would seriously undermine the prospects for the two-state solution that he so passionately supported.”

Later in the day White House spokesman Josh Earnest said, “We had public assurances from the Israeli government that contradict this new announcement – so when you talk about how friends treat each other – this is also a source of concern. There is a lot of disappointment and great concern here at the White House.”

The Israeli Foreign Ministry issued a statement defending the decision to construct the new housing units, saying, “This housing will be built on state land in the existing settlement of Shilo and will not change its municipal boundary or geographic footprint. The units are intended to provide a housing solution for the residents of Amona who must leave their homes in accordance with the demolition order issued by Israel’s High Court of Justice.”

The Foreign Ministry added that Israel remains committed to the two-state solution, “in which a demilitarized Palestinian state recognizes the Jewish state of Israel. The real obstacle to peace is not the settlements – a final status issue that can and must be resolved in negotiations between the parties – but the persistent Palestinian rejection of a Jewish state in any boundaries.”

A spokesman for the residents of Amona has rejected the new construction plan and any attempt to transfer the outpost’s residents under any circumstances.

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To read about the reaction of the Amona residents, click here.

Navy Boards Boat
A boat carrying 13 female activists that set sail from Barcelona last week in an attempt to break the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza was stopped and boarded by the Israeli navy around 35 miles off the coast. There was no resistance or injuries reported, and the boat was escorted to the Port of Ashdod.

The boat was sponsored by the Freedom Flotilla Coalition, a group of pro-Palestinian groups based mostly in Europe. The Dutch-flagged boat was carrying 13 female activists from different countries headed by Mairead Maguire, an Irish Nobel Peace Prize laureate. A retired US colonel and former South African Olympic athlete were also on board, along with women from the United Kingdom, Sweden, Russia and Malaysia.

Zaher Darwish, one of the coordinators of the flotilla, said the boat not carrying any aid and that the goal was purely “symbolic” — to call attention to the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza, which he called illegal.

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Medical Breakthrough
Researchers at Tel Aviv University have developed a new form of treatment that fixes the impaired gene that causes Alzheimers. Trials performed on mice were successful. The treatment takes a new approach; targeting the APOE gene. The gene has two forms: a healthy form called APOE3 and a disease-related pathological form called APOE4. The researchers at TAU have developed an approach that will convert the bad form into the good form.

According to research team leader Professor Daniel M. Michaelson, Director of the Eichenbaum Laboratory of Alzheimer’s Disease Research and incumbent of the Myriam Lebach Chair in Molecular Neurodegeneration at TAU’s Faculty of Life Sciences, “APOE4 is a very important and understudied target. It is expressed in more than 60 percent of Alzheimer’s patients. Anti-APOE4 treatments are thus expected to have a major impact on the patient population.”

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