Israel News for August 26, 2015

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New Top Cop
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan has chosen a new police inspector-general to head up Israel’s national police force. The nominee, who still needs to be approved by a government committee, is 51 year old IDF Brigadier General (reserve) Gal Hirsch.

Hirsch, originally from Arad, had a distinguished military career, holding numerous commands in elite combat units. He resigned from the IDF in 2006 amid allegations of mishandling an incident during the second Lebanon war, but was exonerated by an investigative committee.

Hirsch is currently chairman of the Israel Leadership Institute, an educational NGO, and Defensive Shields Holdings, a security consulting company.

The new police chief will have his work cut out for him. Sex scandals that have forced out several senior police commanders and allegations of corruption in several recent high profile cases have further depleted the top echelons of command, which Hirsch will have to rebuild most likely by bringing in people from outside the force.
The scandals and corruption have eroded the respect people have for the police. Recent surveys show that 70% of Israelis do not have faith in their police force. This could be one reason why there are 1,000 job openings for police officers that the force is having a hard time filling.

Hirsch’s nomination ruffled lots of feathers among the top brass in the police force, who thought one of their own should get the top job. They’re hoping that that he doesn’t get approved by the committee. Some of them might quit if he does. Whoever ends up with the job will have a lot of hard work ahead of him.

Terror in Jerusalem
According to statistics compiled by the Ministry of Construction and Housing, there were 580 documented terror attacks against both civilian and security forces during June and July in the Jerusalem areas that include the old city, the Mount of Olives, the Silwan (Shiloah) neigborhood and the City of David. That’s an average of almost ten per day.

Arad Blocks Africans
As we reported in yesterday’s email, the government is set to release close to 1,500 asylum seekers being held at the Holot detainment center in the Negev. The African migrants, who entered Israel illegally, have been banned from living or working in Tel Aviv and Eilat. Most of them have worked in those cities for years. Yesterday, twenty Africans released from Holot were arrested by immigration officials for just being in Tel Aviv.

Not to be outdone, the mayor of Arad, a southern city assumed to be a prime destination for the released detainees, declared his intention to keep them out. He sent police and inspectors to set up checkpoints at the entrances to the city to turn back asylum seekers looking to make Arad their new home. There are currently already several hundred asylum seekers living in Arad.

So where should these asylum seekers go? The government and many Israelis hope they choose another country.

Vatican Opposes Palestinians
The Palestinian mission to the UN drafted a resolution that would allow non-member observer states to fly their flags alongside member states at the UN headquarters in New York City. There are only two non-member states at the UN: Palestine and the Vatican.

The Palestinians explicitly included the Vatican in their resolution draft, hoping that doing so would compel member nations to approve it, especially since Pope Francis is due to address the UN General Assembly next month.

The Vatican was not pleased. In a note circulated to some U.N. members, the Vatican made clear that while it did not object to the Palestinians proposing a resolution to fly their own flag, the Holy See had no plans to join the initiative – even though the Vatican formally recognized the State of Palestine earlier this year.

“The Holy See does not intend to co-sponsor a draft resolution that the State of Palestine may eventually present on the matter,” the note said. “The Holy See asks the Permanent Observer Mission of the State of Palestine to the United Nations kindly to remove in its draft resolution any reference to the ‘Holy See’ and any generic reference ‘on behalf of the Observer States’.”

The Palestinians have yet to respond.

Even though most member states are usually more than willing to vote against Israel’s interests, agreeing to fly the flag of a state that the US doesn’t recognize in the heart of US territory and in a heavily pro Israel city is going too far, even for them. Even the pope gets that.

Fined for Shabbat Observance
Many Israeli cities have regulations that impose fines on businesses that stay open on Shabbat. One establishment, called Henry’s, is being fined by its parent company for closing on Shabbat.

The shop, which has a kashrut certificate, is located in a new upscale shopping center in Tel Aviv. The owners of the center claim that the contracts they signed with their shops requires them to be open seven days a week. They’re fining the Shabbat observing store owners 3,500 Shekels per month for violating their contract. The Tel Aviv religious council is protesting.