Israel News for May 8, 2017

Terror Attempt
A 16 year old female Palestinian terrorist, brandishing a knife, charged at security personnel at the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City last night while yelling, “Allahu akbar.” Security forces shot and killed the terrorist.

Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said a knife was recovered from the scene together with a farewell letter from the teenager to her family quoting a verse from the Koran that signed off with the word “shahida”—Arabic for “martyr.” Her wish was granted.

For further reading click here.

Hamas Lies
In response to a new charter document released by Hamas last week which implied that Hamas was willing to “agree to a state within the 1967 borders”, PM Netanyahu posted a short video on Twitter dismissing the document as “fake news”.

He said, “The new Hamas document says that Israel has no right to exist, it says every inch of our land belongs to the Palestinians, it says there is no acceptable solution other than to remove Israel… they want to use their state to destroy our state.”

Netanyahu concluded his clip by saying that, “Hamas murders women and children, it’s launched tens of thousands of missiles at our homes, it brainwashes Palestinian kids in suicide kindergarten camps.”

The PM then crumpled up the document and tossed it in a wastebasket.

To watch the video, click here.

Prisoner Snacking
Palestinian terror leader Marwan Barghouti has been leading a highly publicized hunger strike inside the Israeli prison where he is serving 5 life sentences for the murder of 5 Israelis. He launched his hunger strike 3 weeks ago with an op-ed in the NY Times. Hundreds of other Palestinian prisoners joined him. In a video released yesterday, taken by hidden prison cameras, Barghouti is seen eating in his cell.

Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan said in a statement, following the release of the video, “As I said from the very beginning, this hunger strike was never about the conditions of the convicted terrorists, which meet international standards. It is about advancing Marwan Barghouti’s political ambitions to replace Abu Mazen [Abbas].”

He added, “Barghouti is a murderer and hypocrite who urged his fellow prisoners to strike and suffer while he ate behind their back. Just like he lied to the world when he wrote in the New York Times that he decided to strike in order to protest ill-treatment, he lied to the Palestinian public when he claimed to be striking. Israel will not give in to extortion and pressure from terrorists.”

For further reading click here.

Lebanon Monument
A cornerstone has been laid for a new monument honoring the members of the South Lebanon Army (SLA) who operated in southern Lebanon in cooperation with the IDF until the IDF withdrew in 2000.

The monument will be erected next to a gate in “the Good Fence” through which IDF soldiers entered Lebanon. The SLA’s fallen will be memorialized there both with a monument and a heritage site with information about it and the cooperation between its members and the State of Israel. Many SLA fighters were given asylum in Israel after the SLA fell and Hezbollah took control of south Lebanon.

Deputy IDF Chief of Staff Yair Golan said that one of the reasons for the monument is “to learn that Jews and Arabs, out of a relationship of equality and dignity, can live together, participate in each other’s family events, and do it with friendship, fraternity and great love.”

The SLA was a Christian militia. That might explain the Jewish-Arab love.

For further reading click here.

yom hazikaron 2016

Israel News for May 1, 2017

Yom Hazikaron
Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s day of remembrance for its 23,544 fallen soldiers, members of security forces and victims of terror, began yesterday afternoon. Included in the total are over 3,000 civilians. According to the National Insurance Institute, there are a total of 9,157 bereaved parents in Israel, thousands of bereaved siblings, 4,881 widows and 1,843 orphans under the age of 30.

Places of entertainment are closed until tonight and TV and radio stations air war stories and melancholy music. At 8pm there was a one minute long siren, followed by a solemn ceremony at the Western Wall. The President and IDF Chief of Staff lit candles in memory of the fallen.

President Rivlin said, ““By this Wall of tears and of hopes, this evening, fifty years after the liberation of Jerusalem, we remember: our liberty is sacred, both sacred and hard. We know that there is a price to be paid for our existence here, for our liberty. There is a price, and we, in awe and terror, are willing to pay that price.”

He added, “For this, the IDF must be completely dedicated to the tasks before it. The IDF is all of us: it defends us, we defend it. Our defense and the defense of the IDF – its official national status – is defense of the most fundamental foundations of our national home. We must always remember: together we fall, and together we stand.”

At 9:15pm, the “Songs in Their Memory” began at the Knesset in Jerusalem, with the president, the prime minister, the Knesset speaker, the defense minister, Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh and Deputy IDF Chief Yair Golan in attendance.

Today, a two minute long siren was sounded at 11am. It was followed by a state memorial service at the Mount Herzl cemetery, with the president, the prime minister and the IDF chief of staff in attendance. At the same time, a state memorial service was also held at the Kiryat Shaul cemetery in Tel Aviv, which was attended by the defense minister. A memorial service for terror victims was held on Mount Herzl at 1pm.

The Memorial Day events will end at 8pm in a torch-light ceremony on Mount Herzl that would also mark the beginning of Independence Day celebrations.

For further reading click here.

Final Thought
As a parent, the thought of losing a child is tragic and horrifying. Today is a time for us all to pay tribute to those men and women who gave their lives in the defense of Israel, and to give some measure of consolation to their parents whose pain and lose remains. We owe them a debt of gratitude we can never repay. All we can do is say thank you, honor the memories of the fallen, and appreciate the gift they have given us.

May Israel be blessed with peace and unity in the merit of those who gave their lives to ensure its survival.

NOTE: We will not be publishing a newsletter tomorrow.

Israel News for April 21, 2017

Mattis in Israel
US Secretary of Defense James Mattis arrived in Israel last night on his first official visit since taking office. Mattis met with Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman this morning. In a press conference following the meeting he said, “I’m honored to return to Israel once again to show my respect for this country and for the Israeli people. I am keenly aware that we stand together this morning, just a week before the Holocaust Remembrance Day, and we share a common determination to never allow such horrific event to reoccur.”

He added, “Cooperation between the countries continues. I came from Saudi Arabia and other visits in the region. In the meeting with Lieberman, we promised to establish the strong connection between Israel and the United States.”

Mattis also warned Syria against using chemical weapons and reiterated the need to confront Iran. Meanwhile, President Trump accused Iran of violating the spirit of the nuclear agreement.

Mattis also met with PM Netanyahu and President Rivlin.

Prior to his Israel visit, Mattis visited Egypt and Saudi Arabia. He will also visit Qatar and Djibouti.

For further reading click here.

Russian Conference
The Russians will be sponsoring an International Security Conference in Moscow next week. Countries set to attend include Iran, Iraq, UAE, Jordan, Indonesia, Cuba, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Brazil…and Israel. You heard right, Defense Minister Lieberman will attend the conference where he will meet privately with the Russian Foreign Minister. The US is expected to boycott the event.

For further reading click here.

Hezbollah Press Tour
Hezbollah’s information department gave journalists a tour of the border with Israel yesterday, highlighting new IDF fortifications, antennas, armored vehicles and watchtowers—defensive positions that Hezbollah guides claim will be overrun so that “resistance forces will penetrate their settlements.”

IDF engineering units have been constructing obstacles and fortifications along the northern border to prevent or impeded Hezbollah incursions. The IDF said that the press tour served as conclusive evidence that Hezbollah is violating Security Council Resolution 1701 by being deployed and armed south of the Litani River.

For further reading and to view images click here.

Sinai Reopens
The Taba border crossing between Israel and Egypt’s Sinai will re-open to Israelis that would like to travel to Egypt’s Sinai. The announcement was made today by Ofir Gendelman, the Prime Minister’s Arab media spokesman. However, Gendelman also tweeted that the terror threat remains and Israelis currently vacationing in the area should return.

The Taba border crossing was closed to Israelis before Passover.

For further reading click here.

Music and Peace
When musician Yoni Sharon, a resident of Kfar Eldad in Gush Etzion, heard music emanating from the nearby Arab village of Al-Fureidis, he drove his car into the village to investigate. He ended up taking patron an Arab wedding.

To watch the video click here.

Jewish Cemetery
Government officials in Vilna (Lithuania) have approved plans for the construction of a new National Convention Center on the site of the ancient Jewish cemetery in the city. The cemetery dates from the 15th century and contains thousands of bodies including many great sages.

To sign a petition to stop the proposed construction and desecration, click here.

Israel News for March 29, 2017

Soldier Attacked
On Monday an IDF soldier driving a water truck made a wrong turn while driving in the Gush Etzion area and ended up in the Arab village of Sa’ir, the home of many terrorists in the last two years. Palestinians began throwing stones at him. He was wounded. Local residents came to his aid and brought him into a nearby structure. Palestinian police were called to the scene and extracted the soldier from the village. He was then picked up by IDF forces and taken to Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem.

For further reading and to view a video click here.

Arab League
The annual Arab League Summit kicked off at a location near the Dead Sea in Jordan with an address by Jordan’s King Hussein. The king said, “Israel is continuing to expand settlements and wreck chances of peace … There is no peace or stability in the region without a just and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian cause through a two-state solution.”

This should be fun.

For further reading click here.

Haredi Protests
Around 10,000 Haredi (ultra-orthodox) protesters demonstrated in Jerusalem against the IDF drafting of yeshiva students. There have been numerous smaller demonstrations throughout Israel, organized by an organization called the Peleg Yerushalmi (Jerusalem Faction), headed by Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach.

The rabbi addressed the demonstration saying, “This is the uprooting of all that is sacred and holy. Our job is to stand guard and not be swayed by any compromises or offers of facilitation.” He added, “We cannot make peace with this reality.”

For further reading click here.

Minister’s Limitations
Following recent remarks by IDF Chief Rabbi Yigal Levinstein which were seen as disparaging of women serving in the IDF, Defense Minister Lieberman summoned him for a hearing and threatened to impose sanctions against the pre-army preparatory yeshiva that he heads. Not so fast.

The Attorney General has determined that the Defense Minister does not have the authority to cut funding or revoke official recognition of the yeshiva because that would fall under the authority of the Mistry of Education. He also can’t remove Rabbi Levinstein from his position as head of the yeshiva.

However, Lieberman can still use other means to make life tough for Levinstein and the yeshiva if he so decides.

For further reading click here.

Greece Exercise
Israeli air force pilots will be participating in a two week long joint military exercise along with pilots from Greece, the US and the United Arab Emirates. The UAE has no diplomatic relations with Israel.

For a video report click here.

Diplomatic Relations
Speaking at a memorial ceremony for former heads of state, PM Netanyahu said, “Today, we are blessed with excellent relations with more than 160 countries. That number is growing. Next week, another country will announce the establishment of relations with the State of Israel.” Sources predict that the country the PM was referring to is Nicaragua, which severed relations with Israel in 2010.

For further reading click here.

Court Strike
You’ve heard of teachers, bus drivers, pilots, garbage men and every other category of worker going on strike in Israel. Well, believe it or not, now Israel’s judges are threatening to go on strike and shut down the court system over demands for better retirement benefits. Will they be wearing their robes in the picket line?

For further reading click here.

Rabbinic Ruling
The rabbinical court of the Be’er Sheva region issued a monumental ruling. The case involved a woman who got married in Georgia (USSR) 60 year ago. Then, without divorcing her husband, she moved to Israel and registered as a widow. She then proceeded to have a daughter with another man. That gave the daughter the Jewish legal status of “mamzer”, which would prohibit her or any of her offspring from ever marrying another Jew. Since she did in fact marry and have children (before the mother’s marriage was revealed), they all would be prohibited from marrying.

After a thorough investigation including testifies from people who witnessed the wedding 60 years ago, the rabbinical court ruled that the original marriage was invalid because the witnesses were not kosher, there was no rabbi officiating and the ring might not even have belonged to the husband.

The court’s ruling, made by three respected senior rabbinical judges, retroactively removes the status of mamzer from all of the offspring and permits them to marry.

Mazal Tov!!

For further reading click here.

Israel News for March 24, 2017

Terror Attack
Three terrorists exited a vehicle and threw gasoline bombs at the Best El settlement near Ramallah. IDF soldiers fired at the terrorists, hitting them all. One of the terrorists, identified as Muhammed Hattab, 17, died of his wounds a short time later. A demonstration against Israel’s military rule took place in Ramallah’s Manara Square in the hours following the Hattab’s death.

For further reading click here.

Ambassador Confirmed
The US Senate voted 52 to 46 to confirm David Friedman as the new US Ambassador to Israel yesterday. Just two Democrats, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Bob Menendez of New Jersey, crossed party lines to vote in favor of confirmation.

PM Netanyahu tweeted, “New US ambassador to Israel David Friedman will be warmly welcomed as President Trump’s representative and as a close friend of Israel.”

Israel’s US Ambassador Ron Dermer tweeted, “Congratulations to David Friedman! Looking forward to working closely with you to make the US-Israel alliance stronger than ever.”

The YESHA council, which represents the settlement movement, said in a statement, “The Yesha Council look forward to working together with him to build a brighter future for everyone in the region. The Israeli towns in Judea and Samaria are an integral piece in the puzzle for peace and can no longer be sidelined.”

Friedman has been an outspoken supporter of the settlement movement and a one-state solution.

J Street slammed Friedman’s appointment saying, “Almost half of the Senate voted to oppose this deeply unqualified and inappropriate nominee, whose predecessors had all been confirmed without a single vote cast against them. The strong opposition to Friedman made clear that his extreme views and rhetoric about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are firmly outside the mainstream of American policy making.”

Now the question is where will Friedman work — Tel aviv or Jerusalem?

For further reading click here.

Settlement Talks
The White House released a statement following talks between US and Israeli delegations in Washington this week. The talks followed a visit to Israel by US envoy Jason Greenblatt, who lead the US delegation in the discussions.

The White House statement said:

“A principal focus of the discussions was specific measures that could have a meaningful impact on the economic environment in the West Bank and Gaza, allowing the Palestinians to more fully realize their economic potential.

The two delegations also discussed Israeli settlement construction, following up on Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit to Washington and Mr. Greenblatt’s recent visit to Israel.

The United States delegation reiterated President Trump’s concerns regarding settlement activity in the context of moving towards a peace agreement. The Israeli delegation made clear that Israel’s intent going forward is to adopt a policy regarding settlement activity that takes those concerns into consideration.”

The Prime Minister’s Office released a statement denying that Greenblatt had demanded any form of settlement construction freeze, after that was reported in the Israeli media.

Netanyahu told reporters on Wednesday, before he left China, that “significant progress” had been made in the talks in Washington but gave no further information.

For further reading click here.

Caller Busted
The Israel Police announced yesterday the arrest of an 18 year old Israeli -American resident of Ashkelon, who called in dozens of bomb threats to JCCs and other public institutions in the US, Australia and New Zealand over the past few months. The arrest was the culmination of a joint investigation between the Israel Police and the FBI.

Police got their break when the suspect, on one occasion, neglected to mask the IP address he was using to make a call. The address led police to a public wifi spot near the suspect’s apartment, which had a large antenna extended out of the suspects window. Police said they found at least five computers, a number of network interface controllers, satellite and antenna equipment during the arrest raid.

The suspect’s lawyer said that her client suffered from a “very serious medical condition” which had prevented him from attending school or serving in the IDF.

For further reading click here.

Texas and Samaria
A special cooperation agreement was signed between the State of Texas and the Samaria Regional Council in the Knesset last week. The agreement will include the exchange of technologies and expertise in agriculture and water technologies.

Public Security Minister and Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan said, “The State of Israel and Texas share many common values, including the deep connection to the land and the importance of working and preserving it, and the potential for increasing economic cooperation between Israel and Texas is enormous. I thank the Texas government for its steadfast support for Israel and for promoting legislation against the BDS movement. I believe that legislation is an effective tool to combat the delegitimization campaign against Israel.”

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller said, “We want to re-establish the relations between Texas and Israel, and especially with Samaria, which is such a significant part of the Land of Israel, we want to be partners of Israel and Samaria to recreate the brotherhood that was lost in recent years.”

For further reading click here.

Israel News for March 23, 2017

Cop Gone Wild
On Tuesday afternoon an Arab truck driver in East Jerusalem hit the bumper of a parked car while attempting to back out of his space. He then left the scene. Unfortunately for him, a security camera caught the event on video and the car belonged to a police officer in a special patrol unit.

Early Thursday morning the police officer showed up at the man’s truck and demanded he get out. When he did, the officer beat the heck out of him. Unfortunately for the cop, there were witnesses (some of whom the cop also assaulted) and the beating was captured on video.

The police officer was suspended and the Police Investigation Unit launched a probe.
The Police statement said, “This behavior is grave, abnormal and is not in line with the kind of behavior expected of police officers. When we received the video, the police officer was immediately put on forced leave and will be summoned for a disciplinary hearing at a later stage. The Police Investigations Unit is examining the matter.”
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan praised the decision to suspend the officer, saying his behavior “was very grave and worthy of condemnation. This kind of behavior hurts the entire police force.”

To view the video click here.

Lebanese Threats
According to the Lebanese media, the speaker of the Lebanese parliament Nabih Berri said that Israel’s intentions to annex an 860 kilometer maritime area claimed by Lebanon could trigger a war between the two countries.

Berri said, “This is a new assault by Israel on Lebanese sovereignty. What has been revealed by Israeli media was not arbitrary, but rather reveals a path taken by Israel in a bid to control Lebanon’s gas and oil wealth within Lebanese economic borders. Anyway, if the Israeli disposition is correct, which I tend to believe, it is tantamount to a war sparked by Israel. It is another maritime Shebaa Farms Conflict which opens the situation to many dangerous possibilities.”

For further reading click here.

Men Only
In light of the move by the IDF to integrate women into combat units, the IDF told a group of religious-zionist rabbis that it will create gender separate officer training courses starting this summer. Religious soldiers who wish to will be able to serve in the all men companies while others will be able to remain in co-ed units.

The change is expected to be minor. The IDF’s co-ed battalions— Caracal, the Lions of Jordan, Bardelas and the new 47th Battalion—only have a handful of religious soldiers, while there are also very few female cadets in the co-ed companies at the IDF officers’ training course.

For further reading click here.

Coke Fined
The Israel Antitrust Authority slapped a NIS 62.7 million on the Central Bottling Company Group, which manufactures Coca Cola in Israel. In addition to owning the Coca Cola brand in Israel, the company also owns brands like Kinley, Fanta and Sprite as well as full ownership of the Tara dairy, Neviot mineral waters, Prigat fresh juices and the license to brew the Tuborg, Carlsberg, Stella Artois, Guinness and other beer brands in Israel.

The company allegedly offered discounts on its monopoly soft drink products like Coca Cola to retail chains, institutional customers and cafes prepared to buy Tara dairy products. At the same time, the company allegedly threatened institutional customers that if they did not buy Tara dairy products, they would not receive discounts on Coca Cola products. Such cross-marketing involving a monopoly product is a criminal offense.

For further reading click here.

Yemenite Images
New photos have been released of Yemenite immigrants to Israel in the 1950’s. See view some of the photos click here.

Israel News for March 14, 2017

PM Meets Greenblatt
PM Netanyahu met with US envoy Jason Greenblatt for over five hours in Jerusalem yesterday. The men discussed settlement construction and the peace process.

According to the PM’s Bureau’s statement, Netanyahu and Greenblatt reiterated both countries’ “commitment to promoting real and viable peace between Israel and Palestinians, which will strengthen Israel’s security and regional stability.”

Netanyahu told Greenblatt that he believes that under Trump’s leadership, peace between Israel and all of its neighbors, including the Palestinians, could be advanced, and that he is looking forward to working closely with the U.S. president to achieve that end. 

Greenblatt reiterated Trump’s commitment to Israel’s security and to aiding Israel and the Palestinians in reaching a peace treaty through direct negotiations. 

According to the statement, “The prime minister promised Mr. Greenblatt that he is totally committed to fostering prosperity in Palestinian economy and sees it as a way to improve the possibility of reaching peace.”

Today Greenblatt is scheduled to go to Ramallah to meet with PA President Abbas and other senior Palestinian officials. On Thursday Greenblatt will meet with opposition leader Isaac Herzog.

Accompanying Greenblatt on his trip is Yael Lempert, who held the Israel portfolio for the National Security Council at the White House during the Obama administration and has remained in the position under President Trump.

For further reading click here.

PA Office Shut
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan has ordered the closure of a Palestinian Authority agency office that was carrying out surveillance and registering of Arabs who sold land to Jews. The agency was operating in the Best Hanina neighborhood of Jerusalem and was recording the names of Arabs wishing to sell homes and land to Jews and passing them to PA security services in Ramallah.

Erdan said, “The activities of this Palestinian Authority agency are part of a plan to undermine our sovereignty in Jerusalem and terrorize Arabs who sell real estate to Jews. We will continue to act with determination to prevent any Palestinian government foothold in Jerusalem.”

For further reading click here.

Huge Purchase
The U.S. chipmaker Intel will pay $14.7 billion to acquire the driverless technology firm Mobileye in what reportedly is the largest-ever purchase of an Israeli high-tech company.

In a joint announcement Monday, the companies said the combination “is expected to accelerate innovation for the automotive industry and position Intel as a leading technology provider in the fast-growing market for highly and fully autonomous vehicles.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel called Mobileye CEO Ziv Aviram to congratulate him, calling the deal in a tweet a source of “Israeli pride.” Aviram reportedly told Netanyahu that the company and its research would remain based in Israel.

Mobileye and Intel already are collaborating with BMW on a project that will see the production of 40 self-driving test cars. They are scheduled to hit the road later this year. The sale is expected to close in nine months, according to the companies.

For further reading click here.

Kipa Tailor
Have you heard the one about the Gaza tailor who makes Kipot (skullcaps) and exports them to Israel. It’s no joke. Abu Shanab, a 61 year old Gaza resident, has added an additional production line in his clothing factory to satisfy increased demand from Israel. The labor costs in Gaza are quite a bit cheaper than in Israel.

Abu Shanab said, “We make all kinds of clothes and recently began making the skull caps worn by Israeli rabbis and Christian priests.” He added, “In the foundation of our religion, we believe in Christianity and Judaism, we believe in the prophets Musa (Moses) and Issa (Jesus), so we have no problem making headwear even if they are for Jews or Christians.”

Abu Shanab said he is also in talks with an Israeli buyer to produce the long coats worn by ultra-Orthodox Jews.

For further reading click here.

Government Dressup
To celebrate the Purim holiday, many government officials and members of Knesset dressed up in costume. To see a few of them, click here.

The Brigade
If you need some inspiration along with the history of the beginnings of the IDF, then you must read The Brigade by Howard Blum, which tells the story of the Jewish brigade that served in the British army during WWII. Many of the future leaders of the IDF got their training and first combat experience in the brigade. The Jewish soldiers of the brigade did a lot more than fight the Nazis. Click here to read more and by the book.

If you’re searching for any book on Israel, Click here. We get a small commission for anything you buy on Amazon for a full 24 hours after you use the link. In other words, if you end up buying a computer and lawnmower, we get the commission on that too. It’s a great way to support us while getting great deals on your shopping. And it doesn’t cost you a cent! So please use this link for all your Amazon shopping.

IDF women combat

Israel News for March 8, 2017

Defense Meetup
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman met on Tuesday in Washington with U.S. Secretary of Defense Gen. James Mattis. The two discussed security issues shared by Israel and the US including Iran, Syria and Lebanon. They agreed on the need to act to strengthen the moderate forces in the region and create a coalition to fight terrorism.

Lieberman told Mattis, “We need an active America in the region.” He also said, “The strategic cooperation between Israel and the U.S. is vital and crucial not only for the security of Israel, but for security and stability throughout the Middle East and this also has implications on global security.”

Lieberman also met with US Vice President Mike Pence. According to a White House statement, the vice president underscored the “unbreakable bond between the United States and Israel and reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to upholding Israel’s qualitative military edge.” The two agreed on the need to “counter threats posed by Iran and its proxies as well as terrorist organizations,” and discussed ways in which the American and Israeli militaries could cooperate to address threats. Syria and other issues in the Middle East were also discussed.

Lieberman thanked Pence for his condemnation of recent antisemitic incidents in the United States.

According to a statement by the defense minister’s office, Lieberman told Pence that he expects to see the US embassy move to a new site in Jerusalem soon.

For further reading click here.

UN Discussions
US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley met for the first time with Palestinian UN envoy Ambassador Riyad Mansour. After the meeting Haley tweeted that the Palestinians should “meet with Israel in direct negotiations rather than looking to the UN to deliver results that can only be achieved through the two parties.”

Mansour said that Haley “raised the desire to see the two parties engaging in negotiations” and indicated that the United States was considering a fresh bid to revive talks. He added, “I don’t know at what level they want to do that, but once we receive a request to that effect, we will respond to it accordingly.”

For further reading click here.

Women in IDF
IDF Chief Rabbi Yigal Levinstein condemned the idea of women serving in combat positions in the IDF, during a speech at the Bnei David pre-army preparatory yeshiva in Eli. He called the idea “insane” and questioned the femininity of women who serve in combat. He said that religious women must, under no circumstances, serve in combat roles.

Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman responded to Levinstein’s comments Tuesday, saying, “Since the founding of the state, women have served in the IDF and made a tremendous contribution to the security of Israel. Rabbi Levinstein’s tirade is not only an insult to Israeli women, but also to the IDF and its heritage and to the basic values of the State of Israel. When I return from the United States, I will reconsider the position of Rabbi Levinstein in preparing our young men for IDF service.”
Speaking at a meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Wednesday, Netanyahu said Israel was “proud” of its history of integrating females into its fighting forces, going back to biblical times.

He said, “Female Jewish fighters, from the time of Yael the heroine to the present — with Hannah Senesh and the fighters in the Etzel, the Palmach and the Lehi and the IDF, heroic warriors in the police and Border Police that we see here on the streets — are an active, and sometimes very senior, part of our national defense. We are proud of it, and will will further it. It’s important to say this in the most clear fashion.”

For further reading click here.

Eilat Expansion
Under a new agreement signed between the government and Eilat, nine new neighborhoods with a total of 18,372 housing units, 6,930 new hotel rooms and additional industrial zones will be built in the city. The agreement also budgets funds for transportation and other infrastructure, development of the town’s coastal strip, an international sports center, municipal parks, and a waste facility.

Eilat Mayor Meir Yitzhak Halevi commented, “The agreement, which was reached after lengthy negotiations, will cause a dramatic turnaround in construction of major infrastructure. In a city like Eilat, bypass roads, parks, beaches, and so forth will put it on the road to economic independence, and turn it into a metropolis. This is big news for Eilat residents.”

For further reading click here.

PM Smoking
One of the allegations that the Israel Police is investigating the Prime Minister for is that Netanyahu allegedly received pink champagne for his wife and cigars worth hundreds of thousands of shekels from Hollywood mogul Arnon Milchan. But the PM has announced that the cigar accusation cannot be true because he could not possibly have smoked such large quantities of cigars “due to a problem in his nasal cavity.” Apparently, there are several months a year when he cannot smoke at all. Netanyahu has referred the investigators to his personal physician for confirmation.

[If there’s no smoke, there’s no fire, right?]

For further reading click here.

Israel News for February 27, 2017

Rockets Strike
A rocket apparently fired from Gaza exploded in an open area in southern Israel last night. There were no physical injuries or damages. No one claimed responsibility for the attack yet.

Today the IDF attacked five Hamas military outposts and infrastructure targets, including a concrete factory, in Gaza in response to the attack.

Hamas said in response that it “won’t stand by in the face of continued Israeli aggression against the forces of the resistance and the intentional escalation on Israel’s part.”

Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activity in the Territories, Major-General Yoav Mordechai, said in a Facebook post that “Israel isn’t interested in escalation, but cannot ignore rockets fired toward its sovereign territory. This is why the IDF retaliated.”

Also over the weekend, Egyptian forces detonated a Hamas tunnel under the Rafah border killing three and injuring five. In its condemnation of Saturday’s anti-tunneling operation, Hamas renewed its call to permanently open the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt, portraying Cairo as complicit with “Israel’s unfair siege on Gaza Strip.” The Egyptians are looking to Hamas for help in dealing with the Islamist terror groups in the Sinai Peninsula.

Israeli government sources have reported that there are currently at least 15 Hamas terror tunnels that cross the Gaza border into Israel.

For further reading click here.

Ofra Evictions
Security forces have begun evicting residents from nine homes in Ofra (Samaria – West Bank). The Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that the homes were built without the proper construction permits, on privately owned Palestinian land.

For further reading click here.

Israeli Stabber
A Jewish Israeli, Shlomo Pinto, was convicted for attempted murder and sentenced to 11 years for stabbing a Jewish supermarket worker who he thought was an Arab.

The attack took place in October 2015 during the height of a wave of stabbing terror attacks that swept the country. Pinto entered a supermarket in Kiryat Ata armed with two knives. After observing Uri Rizken, a worker at the supermarket, Pinto concluded he was Arab and stabbed him several times in the back and waist before chasing him through the store and seriously wounding him.

In their ruling, the Haifa District Court judges said that the perpetrator, Shlomo Pinto, “acted out of a sense of revenge and ideology in order to inspire people to act like he did, when the only goal is to kill an Arab victim.” The 11 year sentence was in line with that given to terrorists convicted of attempted murder.

For further reading click here.

IDF Integration
The IDF is integrating women into many IDF units and making certain bases “egalitarian”. Not everyone is happy about that. A group of senior religious Zionist rabbinic leaders have criticized IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot over the policy, claiming that it changes the spirit of the IDF, which agreed to conditions for the service of religious soldiers (that includes separation of the genders).

A senior religious Zionist rabbi told Arutz Sheva: “Eizenkot has been deceiving the IDF chaplains and the religious Zionist rabbis for a long time. In closed discussions, Eizenkot has said that he is very afraid that religious soldiers seek to change the spirit of the IDF, and he has therefore decided to respond to this phenomenon and try to put a stop to it now.”

The rabbi added: “The Chief of Staff has declared war on the world of Torah. We will sit together and decide how to deal with this new conduct of Eizenkot, which threatens to harm thousands of religious and traditional soldiers.”

An IDF Spokesperson replied: “These are fake arguments which seek to divide the army and belittle women who serve in it. The quotes attributed to the Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, are without any foundation.”

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Knesset Unit
The elite Knesset security unit conducted an anti terror training exercise yesterday.To see photos click here.

Israel News for February 21, 2017

Tough Talk
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah is talking tough about Israel, again. In an interview with Iranian television, Nasrallah warned that Hezbollah will have “no red lines in the next war with Israel.” He said, “Israel should think a million times before it goes to war with Lebanon. Hezbollah is ready for any threat.” He added that Hezbollah was ready and willing to attack Israel’s nuclear facilities in Dimona.

Regarding his view on peace between Israel and the Palestinians saying, “Even if there is a peace deal with Israel, it won’t remove the terror label and the occupation from it [Israel],” and that, “Israel is lying when it comes to the two-state solution, and will be deceiving the Palestinians if they agree to it.”

Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman responded to Nasrallah’s threats saying, “a dog that barks doesn’t bite,” and that, “I advise him to continue sitting there in his bunker, making these small cameos. I don’t intend to have any kind of public argument with him.”

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Rocket Attack
Yesterday morning two rockets fired from Sinai landed in an open area in Israel near the Gaza border causing no damage. The rocket attack came the day after Islamic State-linked media claimed that an unmanned Israeli drone had bombed and killed five members of ISIS in Egypt in the northern Sinai. There was no comment or response from the IDF.

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Soldier Sentenced
Sgt. Elon Azaria, the soldier convicted of manslaughter for shooting a neutralized terrorist in the head in Hebron, was sentenced by a military court to to a year and a half in prison. The prosecution had originally asked for a sentence of between three and five years, while the defense demanded that Azaria not spend a single day behind bars.

In reading the sentence the presiding judge, Col. Maya Heller, said, “The defendant shot a terrorist without any justification. The only value that was harmed by the defendant’s actions was the value of life. Azaria also defiled the purity of arms which is upheld by the IDF.”
The defense is planning on filing an appeal, based on information that one of the trial’s central witnesses has recanted their testimony. In addition, the defense is also filing a request for a postponement of incarceration until such a time as the appeal is ruled upon.

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IDF Rabbi
The new IDF Chief Rabbi, Col. Eyal Karim, declared his allegiance at the President’s Residence on Sunday, thus joining the Chief Rabbinate Council, which examines Jewish law and modern-day halachic decrees.

In his address Karim said, “In Israel, there’s a freedom of speech. The problem is that only few are willing to hear and listen,” adding, “As I join the Chief Rabbinate Council as a member, I wish that we all be wise enough to know not just how to talk, but also how to listen, understand, and learn so we can fix what needs to be fixed.”

President Rivlin told the new IDF chief rabbi that his job is “the mission of your life—to serve as a link between the Torah and the army; between the places of Torah study and the training bases; between the desire in the IDF and among many in the Israeli society to integrate as many different sectors in the military in an appropriate manner.”

After the ceremony Rivlin said that, “The job of unification is no less complicated than that of Moses. This is because Moses didn’t have to contend with the IDF chief of staff, the government, chief rabbis and the heads of yeshivas and counselors. Nor did he have the media waiting to shine a light on every chasm and crevice.”

Rivlin added that, on the other hand, “Moses also didn’t have the IDF chief of staff on his side, or the chief rabbis for any problem, the heads of yeshivas and counselors to ask for advice and the media to communicate messages of true dialogue and a desire to listen to each and every soldier, male of female. You have all of these tools.”

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Singapore Visit
PM Netanyahu visited Singapore yesterday where he held talks with government officials. It is the first visit of an Israeli Prime Minister to Singapore in 30 years. The PM also visited and addressed the Jewish community in the Magen Avot Synagogue.

To watch a video of Netanyahu visiting the synagogue click here.