Israel News for August 28, 2015

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Hamas Tales
One year after the end of operation Defensive Shield (Gaza war), the Arab news station Al Jazeera has released a documentary called “black box” that’s generating some buzz in Israel. The film presents the Hamas version of the events of Friday Aug. 1, 2014 in Rafiah, when Lt. Hadar Goldin was kidnapped and killed and Major Benaya Sarel and Staff Sergeant Liel Gidoni were killed.

According to the Israeli version, an IDF unit that was on patrol was attacked by a suicide bomber who detonated near the soldiers. Heavy exchanges of fire ensued and one of the soldiers, Lt. Hadar Goldin, was captured by Hamas terrorists and taken deep into a tunnel. Another officer chased them into the tunnel but was unable to rescue Goldin who was already dead. The officer was able to retrieve conclusive evidence of Goldin’s death, which was used by the IDF rabbinate to officially declare that Goldin was killed in action.

In the documentary, a Hamas operative tells the Al-Jazeera interviewer that IDF troops collected the body of a Hamas fighter, Walid Tufik Massoud, who was dressed in an IDF uniform believing it was Lt. Hadar Goldin and did not chase after him and his kidnappers into the tunnels. The Hamas operative claims that the IDF only noticed Goldin was missing two hours after the incident. By that time they had withdrawn all their troops from the area and Rafah was a black box, which they had no access to, so the IDF began bombing the area indiscriminately under the Hannibal Directive.

The IDF claims that it knew Massoud was a terrorist.

In a press release the Goldin family rejected the claims in the documentary and reiterated their full faith in the IDF, the defense establishment and the State of Israel. They see them as the only source of trustworthy information. They called for increased pressure on Hamas to return the bodies of Hadar Goldin and Sergeant Oron Shaul, so that they can receive a Jewish burial.

The IDF did not comment on the film.

The documentary also features new footage of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, during his captivity, with the Hamas commander of southern Gaza, Muhammad Abu Shamala, who was later killed in operation Defensive Shield. Shalit was captured in 2006 during a cross-border attack by Hamas militants. He was released as part of a 2011 hostage deal in which the Israeli government released 1,027 prisoners.

Who do you believe: Hamas or the IDF? Seriously.

New Warships
Now that Israel has valuable offshore gas developments, they need to be sure that they can defend them. The Israeli Navy currently has eleven warships and its decided to add another four. The ships will be built in Germany and will be delivered in five years. Israel was prepared to pay a maximum of $100 million per ship, but the Germans offered to do it for $90 million (pangs of guilt?).

Israel will be giving Germany the plans for the hull and electrical system. They’ll be installing the combat systems themselves in Israel, so that they won’t be caught unarmed in the event of a future anti-Israel boycott.

So, Germany will be helping protect Israeli gas.

New Charedi Minister
Earlier this week the High Court ruled that Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman of UTJ must either become the Health Minister or resign. That’s because Litzman currently performs all the functions of a minister, but since his Ultra Orthodox party has ideological issues with being part of a secular government, they traditionally do not accept ministerial posts. The court, ruling on an appeal filed by Yesh Atid, said that this situation could no longer continue. If you act like a minister, then you’re a minister (not a deputy).

The council of Torah Sages of Agudas Yisrael, which is part of UTJ, met yesterday and decided to give Litzman the green light to become Health Minister.

It’s unclear whether this decision marks a shift in fundamental Charedi ideology and its view of the secular State of Israel, or whether it’s just an acknowledgement of the benefits of keeping Litzman in the cabinet. It’s probably the latter.

Charedim vs. IDF
There have recently been a surge of threats and harassment against Charedi soldiers and recruiters. Recruiters are being hit especially hard. As an example, in a phone call to a recruiter the caller was recorded as saying,, “Let us live as Jews – do not dare to recruit men to the IDF. Shame on you. You’re a disgrace. Don’t you dare touch the soul of a Jew. You’re causing the masses to sin.”

These harassers aren’t just isolated extremists. They are reflecting a widely held attitude in the charedi community, which believes that their young men should not serve in the IDF because if they do they will lose their religious identity and become non observant. They also believe that their time is better spent studying torah rather than being soldiers.

A few weeks ago the spiritual leader of Shas, the sephardic-charedi party, announced publicly that young men should under no circumstances enlist in the IDF. He also railed against charedi IDF recruiters in very harsh terms.

Defense Minister Ya’alon was clear in his stance saying, “in the face of violence against haredi conscripts who serve in the IDF and their recruiters, Israel has an obligation to act with zero tolerance. I call on the leaders of the haredi community to condemn unacceptable phenomena such as these and to throw out violent elements.”

High Court freeze IDF beard ban
The IDF recently issued an order banning beards in order to maintain uniformity and a sense of professionalism. Some religious soldiers aren’t very happy with the new order. One of them appealed to the High Court claiming religious discrimination.

The High Court of Justice yesterday issued a temporary order to freeze the anti-beard regulation. But while the court was deliberating his case, the soldier was forced to shave despite his request to wait for the High Court’s decision.

In any case, the army regulation doesn’t include the “three weeks” or other religiously mandated periods of mourning during which Jews traditionally do not shave.

Canine Security Breach
In an embarrassing security breach, PM Netanyahu’s son Avner’s private details including his cellphone number and home phone number were published on the Agriculture Ministry’s dog database. The details have since been removed.

The Netanyahu’s recently adopted a female dog named Kaya,saving her from being put to sleep. Last week the PM posted a moving post with a picture of him with Kaya, writing “she has brought so much light into our home. I call on anyone who wants to adopt a dog, save an adult dog and bring them into your home.”