Israel News for August 17, 2015

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More Protests in Ashkelon
Violence broke out between police and hundreds of demonstrators close to Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon where Mohammad Allaan, a suspected Islamic Jihad member in administrative detention, is currently hospitalized 61 days into a hunger strike. He has been in an induced coma since Friday, and is being given fluids and vitamins intravenously.

About 200 Arab protesters attempted to block the main junction leading into Ashkelon and attacked police with stones and pepper spray, but were dispersed by water cannons.

Outside the hospital police controlled dozens of Arab protestors demonstrating in support of Allaan and right wing Israeli demonstrators protesting against him.

In total, 15 demonstrators were arrested from both sides.

Yesterday, Allaan’s lawyer petitioned the High Court for his release on grounds of his poor health. The government responded by telling the court that it would be willing to release Allan on the condition that he leaves the country for 4 years and does not return to the region. The High Court are due to reach a decision today.

A ruling of the High Court to release Allan could trigger a wave of hunger strikes by security prisoners in an attempt to gain their freedom. That would create an untenable situation, for obvious reasons.

More Terrorism
The string of Palestinian terror attacks in the two weeks following the Duma arson attack continued with three new stabbing attacks.

Early this morning a Palestinian approached a border policeman at the Tapuach junction in Samaria saying that he wasn’t feeling well. Then he stabbed the policeman, lightly wounded him. The attacker was shot and seriously wounded by officers.

There were two stabbings on Saturday.

The first incident occurred at around 11:30 a.m. at a checkpoint in Samaria near Route 443. A Palestinian male approached an IDF soldier and asked for water. When the soldier turned to get the water, the Palestinian stabbed him in the upper back. Another soldier at the scene opened fire and wounded the attacker.

The second incident occurred at around 6:15 p.m. at the Tapuach Junction in Samaria. A Palestinian 21-year-old male, Rafiq Kamel Rafiq, approached Border Police officers conducting a routine security check and plunged a knife into one of their backs. Another officer opened fire and killed the attacker.

In an official statement, Palestinian Authority President Abbas blamed Israel for the killing of the attacker. “The crime was a continuation of the daily killing which no one can be silent at” the statement said.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said, “Anyone that tries to harm IDF soldiers, Border Police officers or Israeli civilians should know that they are taking their lives into their own hands. The fight against Palestinian terrorism, both of the organized and ‘lone wolf’ nature, is complex and requires an iron hand, patience and judgment, and this is how we act.”

Protests Against Cinemaplex
Last week a new cinemaplex called Yes Planet opened in the Talpiot neighborhood of Jerusalem, bordering on the Arab neighborhood of Abu Tor. It’s the only cinemaplex in Jerusalem that’s open on Shabbat.

The fact that it’s located nowhere near any of the city’s predominantly religious neighborhoods didn’t stop groups of Charedi men from protesting, in two of their own neighborhoods. The protests resulted in some scuffles with police, several closed off streets, minor damage to a few cars and buildings — but at the cinemaplex, it was business as usual.

In a statement, the leader of the protesters said, “this is just the beginning of the protests.”  Meanwhile, the cinemaplex goers are excited about their new weekend entertainment venue. The cinemaplex management has no intention of closing on Shabbat.

So, It looks like both the protests and the movies will continue.

Threats Against Rabbi
Rabbi David Stav, the Chief Rabbi of Shoham, the head of the Tzohar Rabbinic Organization and one of the founders of the new conversion court that is operating outside of the Chief Rabbinate’s authority, is now under police protection due to threats against him. His photo appeared in the Charedi press with a big caption in red letters saying, “this man is dangerous”.

Rabbi Stav doesn’t seem too worried, but he is avoiding certain places and changing up his regular schedule a bit, just to be safe. The conversion court is proceeding as planned.

Women in Knesset
When Minister and Knesset Member Danny Danon officially becomes Israel’s UN Ambassador, he will vacate his Knesset seat, which will be filled by fellow Likud member Sharren Haskel. The Canadian born 31 year old Haskel is known for her advocacy related to environmental issues. When she’s sworn in, Haskel will bring the number of female Knesset members currently serving to 30, which is a record.

Danon will also be giving up his cabinet post as Minister of Science and Technology and Space as well as his position as chairman of the Likud Central Committee.

Maybe there was an ulterior motive for the PM to give Danon his new position?

Cabinet Approves Gas Deal
The cabinet approved an agreement that will allow three major gas companies to develop the Leviathan natural gas fields, located off the coast of Haifa. PM Netanyahu said that the agreement will, “earn the people of the country and the state treasury hundreds of millions of shekels. This money will go for education, health, welfare, and other national needs.” The revenue to the state in the next few decades is estimated to be $100 billion, about 20 to 30 billion less than originally expected.

Huckabee Heading to Israel
Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee heads to Israel this week to raise money and meet “with a number of officials” to discuss the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran.

“The Iranian government is not to be trusted,” Huckabee said, “We’re being pushed to get into a deal that gives us nothing, but gives the Iranians the capacity to ultimately end up with a nuclear weapon, and that’s just insane.”

Huckabee, an ordained Southern Baptist minister, enjoys a large base of supporters in the Christian Evangelical community, which strongly supports Israel. He’s noted that he’s been to Israel “dozens and dozens of times” since his first trip in 1973.