Israel News for August 25, 2015

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Terror Cell Arrested
Security forces arrested a four man terrorist cell that was planning to shoot Jews praying at Joseph’s Tomb in Shechem (Nablus). The four were being trained and armed by an Islamic Jihad operative from Gaza. They were gathering intelligence on the daily routine of the prayer goers at the Tomb in preparation for their attack. Thankfully, that’s as far as they got.

President Rivlin Speaks
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin met yesterday at his residence with elected leaders of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. Rivlin expressed his full support for the settlements in the territories saying, “Our right to this land is not a matter of political debate. It is a basic fact of modern Zionism. We must not give anyone the sense that we are in any doubt about our right to our land. For me, the settlement of the land of Israel is an expression of that right, our historical right, our national right, stemming from a love for the land of Israel, [and] from a recognition of our roots, which come together here.”

He sympathized with the settlers who are facing increased violence in the aftermath of the Duma attack that killed a Palestinian toddler and his father, but emphasized the need for restraint. He said, “Our sovereignty in this land means responsibility for all those who live here, and obliges all of us to uphold the strictest of moral codes, which is inherent in each and every one of us.”

Asylum Seekers Released
In compliance with a High Court ruling ordering the release of asylum seekers being held for longer than 12 months in the Holot facility in the Negev, the government will release 1,500 Sudanese and Eritrean asylum seekers by Wednesday.

There are over 45,000 asylum seekers, primarily from Sudan and Eritrea, who almost all entered the country illegally, usually by infiltrating through Israel’s southern border with Sinai.

Since they are fleeing from war-torn countries where their lives are in danger, they are considered asylum seekers and cannot, according to Israeli law, be deported back to their home countries unless they pose a clear security threat (which they don’t).

In order to control this influx of African asylum seekers, which poses a demographic threat to the stability of the country, the Knesset passed the Anti-Infiltration law allowing the government to imprison the illegals for up to 3 months and then detain them for up to 20 months. These measures are meant to persuade the migrants to leave the country. The High Court reduced the 20 month detention term to 12 months, but kept the rest of the law in tact.

In anticipation of the release of the 1,500 Holot detainees, the government issued regulations forbidding them from returning to Tel Aviv and Eilat, which is where most of the asylum seekers in Israel live.

Representatives from hotels in the Dead Sea came to Holot to recruit close to 200 workers. Many of the others are heading to Arad and Beersheva.

Both the Israeli government and the High Court have made it pretty clear that they do not want asylum seekers, primarily from Sudan and Eritrea, to remain in the country. But since they can’t simply deport them, their objective is to make life so difficult for them that they agree to voluntarily leave. Approximately 9,000 have already left. But life has got to be pretty bad for anyone to want to return to Sudan or Eritrea. So the government will keep tightening the screws and the Africans will keep fighting for survival until…well, we’ll have to wait and see how this ends.

Assad Speaks Out
In an interview with Hezbollah television, President Assad of Syria addressed Israel’s attack on Syrian government targets, which was in response to a rocket attack on Israel from territory under his control. In that attack Israel hit numerous government and pro government military targets and killed the four terrorists believed responsible for firing the rockets. Assad said that, at this time, defeating the anti government rebels in Syria takes priority over fighting with Israel. He also claimed that Israel was supporting the rebel groups and using them as proxies to fight Syria. So really, by fighting the rebel groups he’s fighting Israel. Interesting logic.

Gay Pride Murderer indicted
The Jerusalem District Court indicted Yishai Schlissel, the Gay Pride Parade attacker, for one count of murder and six counts of attempted murder.

A document was recently uncovered that has put the police in a tight spot. The document was presented at a special meeting of the Jerusalem police district ten days before the gay pride parade and specifically identified Schlissel as being a threat of the highest degree. That means the police should have been keeping an eye on him. They obviously didn’t. An investigative committee examining possible police negligence is hard at work to find out what went wrong.

Hasidic Crowd Control
Tomorrow the Gerrer Hasidim will celebrate the wedding of their Rebbe’s grandson in Jerusalem. But unlike the standard large charedi gathering, which often includes lots of pushing and jostling for good viewing positions, this event will hopefully be different.

The Rebbe’s gabbai (sort of like the chief of staff and personal secretary) released a letter ordering all Hassidim planning to attend the wedding to pick a spot and stay in it for the duration. That means no moving around, pushing or positioning. In other words, just be a mentch (ask your grandma what that means). And in case you think you can do as you please, the letter says that the venue will be recorded with cameras, so don’t even think about it.

The goal here is to avoid the kind of tragedy that occurred at the funeral of a prominent rabbi some months ago where a young man was trampled to death in the pushing during the funeral procession. Hopefully, the new Gerrer rules will do the trick.