israelAM for August 10, 2015

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Swedish Hezbollah Spy

A Swedish national of Palestinian decent who was arrested back in July by The Shin Bet was charged by Israel with spying for Hezbollah. The Shin Bet claims that the suspect confessed under interrogation to working for Hezbollah and planned to collect and pass on information on military sites in Israel. (source)

In 2006 Hezbollah launched hundreds of missiles at towns and cities in the northern part of Israel, forcing Israel to invade southern Lebanon. Even though Israel thoroughly routed Hezbollah, the terrorist organization is believed to still posses thousands of rockets capable of hitting targets in Israel. And they are supported and financed by Iran.

If Iran doesn’t get their nuclear deal, or even if they do, they have an excellent proxy in Hezbollah to strike at Israel and cause tremendous damage. This Swedish spy is probably just one of many spies identifying targets for the Hezbollah missile launchers to use when they’re ready to strike. That’s trouble for Israel.

Fight Against Terrorism

The father of the Palestinian toddler killed in the arson attack in Duma died of his wounds yesterday. And Israeli police and Shin Bet forces arrested 9 more Jewish terror suspects in two raids on small West Bank outposts. While the police declined to connect the arrests to the Duma arson, it clearly is. One of the outposts, Adei Ad, is right near Duma.

The two Jewish suspects previously arrested in connection with the Duma attack were placed under a six month administrative detention by special order of Defense Minister Ya’alon.

Meanwhile, a Palestinian stabbed a Jewish man at a gas station on the heavily traveled 443 highway right near a security checkpoint. Soldiers shot and killed the attacker. Recounting the events of the attack in a press conference from his hospital bed, the wounded victim said that after he was stabbed he ran and called for help but the Arab workers in the station just watched and some even smiled.

The 443 is one of only two major highways that connect Jerusalem to the areas north and east of it and major cities including Tel Aviv and Modiin. The 443 partially runs through areas that are technically part of the West Bank.

Terror Warnings

Security officials are warning of the possibility of a major terror attack in the near future by an organized terror group.

In the week and a half following the Duma arson attack, which claimed the lives of a Palestinian toddler and his father, there have been 4 terrorist attacks against Israelis. The first was a shooting at an Israeli passenger car, which failed to cause any casualties. The second was the molotov cocktail thrown at a passenger car near in the northern part of Jerusalem, which severely wounded a woman and lightly injured two men. The third was the attack on three soldiers in the West Bank by a Palestinian driver who rammed his car into them. And the fourth was the stabbing of the man at the gas station yesterday.

While these all have been “lone wolf” attacks, official fear that, based on previous patterns, the next one could likely be carried out by an organized terror group, which could make it far more deadly.(source)

The “good news” is that officials believe that the Palestinian Authority is working to prevent another terror attack. The proof is that there have not been many violent protests in the territories, even during the funeral of the father who died of his wounds as a result of the Duma attack. Unfortunately, Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza aren’t controlled by the Palestinian Authority. Security officials are staying vigilant and expecting a tense few days ahead.

Crime and Punishment

Education Minister Naftali Bennet and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, of the right wing Bayit Yehudi party, both made statements in support of the death penalty for terrorist, be they Arab or Jewish. Israel currently doesn’t have a death penalty.

However, while Bennet also supports the use of administrative detention, Shaked is opposed to it — for Arabs or Jews. Holding someone in detention for up to 6 months without trial or legal proceedings is, “taking it too far,” she said. (source)

Administrative detention will probably continue and the death penalty will probably not be implemented.

New Life to Parents of Terror Victim

Less than a year after their 3 month old daughter was murdered in a terror attack by a Palestinian who rammed his car into a group of people, the Braun family announced the birth of a new baby girl.

A hospital announcement read, “The Braun couple thanks the Holy One Blessed be He for everything, and particularly for the birth of their sweet daughter this morning.”

The Bruans had waited many years before finally being blessed with the birth of their first daughter, which made the birth of their new daughter so much more special.

The terrorist who killed the baby was killed during the attack and his family home was slated for demolition by the IDF. According to Arutz Sheva, it seems like only the terrorist’s room in the house was demolished (instead of the entire house), making it easy for the family to rebuild — and much less of a deterrent for future acts of terror. (source)

Vatican vs. Israel

The Vatican’s Custody of the Holy Land, which is a Franciscan Order in charge of tending to Christian shrines in Israel and in the West Bank, wrote a letter demanding that Israel’s Attorney General and state prosecutor charge the leader of the far-right Israeli group Lehava, Benzi Gopstein, with incitement for calling for churches in Israel to be torched. Prior to the letter the heads of the Catholic Church in Israel filed a complaint against the Lehava leader with the police.

The complaint voiced deep concern over the recent increase in hate crime and attacks against Christian holy sites, and noted that while almost no arrests have been made, Gopstein was making public statements in favor of such acts. (source)

Gopstein made his remarks in a panel held for yeshiva students in Jerusalem last week. In response to a question as to whether he “is in favor of burning churches in the Land of Israel,” Gopstein answered, “Did the Rambam [Maimonides] rule to destroy [idol worship] or not? Idol worship must be destroyed. It’s simply yes – what’s the question?”

When the panel moderator warned him the panel was being filmed, and that if the recording should get to the police he would be arrested, Gopstein replied, “That’s the last thing that concerns me. If this is truth, I’m prepared to sit in jail 50 years for it.”

Gopstein claims that he made his statements in the context of analyzing a statement of Maimonedes, and criticized the Vatican from getting involved in halachic discussions. The Church isn’t buying his excuse, and wants him arrested and locked up. They might have a point.

Mikvah Building

The Jerusalem municipality approved the building of a new mikvah (ritual bath) in the Jewish enclave of Ma’ale Zeitim, which is located in the Arab neighborhood of Ras Al-Amud in East Jerusalem. There are approximately 100 Jewish families in the community. The council allocated 11 million shekels for the building project. That equals over 100 thousand shekels per family. It’s one of the most expensing mikvah projects in the country. The people and council think it’s well worth it. (source)