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Israel News for October 27, 2015

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Gaza Strike
The Israeli Air Force struck Hamas targets in Gaza last night in response to a rocket fired into an empty area of Southern Israel.

In Jerusalem, a third victim of the terror attack on bus #78 in Armon Hateziv died of his wounds. The man was 76 year old Richard Lakin, an educator and writer originally from Massachusetts.

Cameras Removed
In the wake of US Secretary of State John Kerry’s announcement that Jordan and Israel had agreed to install video surveillance cameras on the Temple Mount, Israeli police removed cameras installed by the Waqf, the Muslim religious trust that runs the site. The PM’s office issued a statement defending the move and confirmed that cameras would be installed by professional technicians approved by both Jordan and Israel.

Facebook vs. Hamas
Facebook has taken a stand against incitement to violence by Hamas and shut down numerous Hamas related pages and groups. According to a statement by Hamas, “Facebook has closed, over the past two days, a large number of pages run by and close to the Hamas movement’s media in the occupied West Bank…that played a key large role in supporting the Al-Quds intifada.”

The closures included pages based in Ramallah, Galilee, Nablus, Bethlehem, Qalqilya, Salfit, Tubas and Jenin, as well as the page of Muslim Youth League in the West Bank and some Palestinian university pages. Facebook also froze the accounts of dozens of publishers and administrators who run the pages. Hamas also announced that the page of its official spokesperson, Husam Badran, had been shut down.

Way to go Facebook! There’s no excuse for allowing pages that incite violence against anyone to continue. Let’s hope they keep up the good work.

For further reading click here.

Terror and Food
The recent terror wave has affected Israeli stomachs. According to figures just released, supermarket sales dropped by 7% in the first two weeks of October as more Israelis chose to stay home because of the security situation. Online sales increased by 30% in the same period, but the increase didn’t make up for the in-store sales drop.

Retail clothing stores have also been badly hit during the past two months. Jerusalem has taken the worst hit with significant sales drops in the city center, Mamilla and the Malcha Mall. Large malls in Tel Aviv, Petach Tikvah, Ashdod and Beersheba have all seen drops of around 40%.

Once this wave of terror is over, there might be a big surge of spending as Israelis who’ve lost weight by not eating as much are forced to buy new clothing that fits. Let’s hope.

For further reading click here.

Yigal Amir
Yigal Amir, the assassin who murdered Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin, is serving his life sentence in solitary confinement in the Rimonim Prison. According to the rules of his incarceration, he is permitted to walk in the prison yard and to study, as long as he is accompanied by another prisoner.

The prison authority has approved two prisoners to be allowed the “honor” of serving as Amir’s escorts. One is a convicted rapist and the other is a kidnapper. They’ll be accompanying him for an hour and half on his walk and for a two hour Talmud study session. That’s quite an image.

In a disturbing survey of 480 participants in the National Religious (Zionist) community, 55% believe that Yigal Amir did not kill Rabin while 68% think that his life sentence should be commuted.

This week marks the 20th anniversary of Yitchak Rabin’s assassination.

For further reading click here.

Prison Warden Fired
The Israel Prison Service (IPS) fired Colonel Shimon Bibas, the warden of the maximum security Nafha prison after terrorist prisoners were found with cell phones.

Dozens of prisoners managed to smuggle in the cell phones, which they allegedly used to help coordinate terror attacks. The IPS asserted that it is “waging an all-out war” on contraband cell phones, “through technological means, undercover agents,” and other measures.

For further reading click here.

The Flag
Knesset member Yoel Hason of the Zionist Union party is calling on the Prime Minister to fire Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely for stating in a recent interview that she believes that the Israeli flag should fly over the Temple Mount. He thinks that saying that in these tense times is wrong and dangerous. She obviously disagrees, but says that her personal opinions do not affect her commitment to carrying out government policy.

For further reading click here.

Haredim Demonstrate
The Haredi community is usually viewed as siding with the Right on the political spectrum. But not when it comes to the Temple Mount.

Haredi extremists (it’s all relative) held a demonstration in front of the home of Rabbi Yosef Elboim, a Belzer Hasid, after they discovered photos of him with a group of Jews on the Temple Mount. The photos were in an article by a Reuters correspondent who tweeted the link. Evidently some of the extremists are on Twitter.

The demonstrators called Elboim a “murderer” and held up signs publicizing the prohibitions issued by most Haredi rabbinic leaders prohibiting Jews from visiting the Temple Mount because of the fear that they might enter areas of the mount that are considered too holy to enter according to Jewish law.

Rabbi Elboim will apparently be curbing his Temple Mount visits until further notice.

On a related note, Shas MK Deputy Finance Minister Yitzhak Cohen attacked Deputy Foreign Minister Hotovely and other politicians who openly advocate Israeli sovereignty on the Temple Mount, claiming that they are “fanning the flames” of violence and endangering Jewish lives.

For further reading click here.

Israel News for October 23, 2015

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Another Mistake
A 28 yr. old Haredi man was arrested early this morning in Jerusalem for striking a security guard with an iron bar. He claimed that he thought the guard, who had a handgun in his belt, was a terrorist. A judge ruled leniently due the heightened tension and fear brought about by the wave of terror, and placed the assailant under house arrest.

Four men suspected of beating the Eritrean man in the Beersheva bus station “lynching” were released on bail yesterday.

Looks like a pattern here. If you’re not sure, shoot first, ask questions later, and pick up your “get out of jail free” card. The victims lose but hey, it’s an honest mistake due to the prevailing atmosphere of fear, so it’s all good.

For further reading click here.

Opinion: Troubling Case
The shooting to death of a Jewish man by soldiers in Jerusalem is still under investigation. The case is troubling. The victim, at least from his photos, clearly did not look Arab and, since he was religious, was probably wearing a kippah. Of course, none of that means he couldn’t have been a terrorist.

There was some sort of argument between him and two soldiers, which escalated into a physical scuffle. Witnesses testify that he tried to grab a soldier’s weapon. The bus driver stunned the man with a “shocker rod”. Then a civilian security guard saw the scuffle and shot the man. Then one (or both) of the soldiers shot him and killed him.

Some reports say that the man yelled, “I am Da’ash (ISIS)”. Was he saying that as a threat or maybe he was responding to the soldier’s demand that he identify himself in a sassy (and stupid, but typically Israeli) fashion? According to his former employer, he had a language problem and wasn’t totally fluent in Hebrew.

Does anyone else find this story troubling? Was the man on the ground as a result of the “shocking” when he was shot? Did the security guard have any right to shoot the man, who he couldn’t conclusively identify as a terrorist? Once the guard shot him, did the soldiers need to shoot him again? Did the soldiers feel that their lives were in danger from an unarmed, wounded man? Even if the guy was a nut case, was shooting him to death warranted? Should they have tried to shoot him in the legs?

The whole thing just doesn’t add up, but it’s unlikely that it ever will. The two soldiers will tell their side of the story in their own way, and they’ll probably be believed. In these difficult times, no one wants to accuse soldiers of anything that might make them hesitate in a real life threatening situation. So, just like the lynching of the Eritrean man, this killing will also be chalked up to mistaken identity, chaos and hysteria.

The problem now is that there are 300 soldiers patrolling the public transportation system who are not trained in police work, which is what this incident most likely was. Soldiers are trained to shoot to kill, and not ask questions. That could lead to more unfortunate incidents.

Kerry and Netanyahu
PM Netanyahu met for four hours with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Berlin yesterday. They talked about ending the violence, restoring calm, Temple Mount, status quo, incitement, yeah, yada, yada…you know the drill. Nothing new to say here. But something tells me this isn’t going to bode favorably for Israel. Let’s hope I’m wrong.

Iran Nukes
PM Netanyahu and the Israeli Government have been arguably the greatest opponents of the recent Iran Nuclear deal. But Israel’s top nuclear experts see things differently.

According to a Haaretz report, Israel’s Atomic Energy Commission, which advises the government on nuclear issues, has endorsed the deal. It believes that the deal will prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, since any Iranian violation would be easily detected due to the outside surveillance and analysis methods put in place. In fact, a lot of the technology used to detect and analyze nuclear activity was developed by Israel.

The commission members believe that the 24 hour warning required to be given to the Iranians prior to inspection is irrelevant, since any illegal activity can be detected via technology.

According to the commission, even if the Iranians could somehow build a nuclear bomb, it would be too heavy to mount on a ballistic missile that could reach Israel.

This is all based on a Haaretz source. The commission declined to issue an official statement.

Upshot
Even if the commission is right, which is really good news, it doesn’t mean that the Iran deal was a good one. Lifting the sanctions against them gives Iran much freedom and money to finance and perpetrate lots of terror and other evil things. That’s not good for anyone, except the terrorists, and maybe Assad.

For further reading click here.

Israeli Weapons
All the wars and conflicts in the world don’t seem to be helping Israel’s military exports. According to defense experts this could be the worst year for Israeli defense companies in a decade. Israel’s own defense budget won’t be of much help.

It’s so bad that the heads of the leading defense firms in Israel have requested an urgent meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss “a significant crisis in the defense industries.”

In a letter to the PM the defense industry leaders point out that, “there have been major changes in the defense sector – smaller budgets, more competition, less desire for Israeli-made products, and the growing demands to transfer know-how and work abroad.”

I guess peace on earth would put these guys out of business. Unfortunately for the rest of us, they probably don’t have to worry that much.

For further reading click here.

ISIS in Hebrew
ISIS has released its first video in Hebrew, featuring a masked terrorist threatening Israel and the Jews with all sorts of evil tidings. The Hebrew is pretty good.

Watch it for yourself here.

Enough Talk
Despite the incitement that PA President Abbas has been delivering in speeches and statements, Abbas might have to give Israel a huge thank you. Well, at least he should.

It was just revealed that Israel allowed Abbas’s brother-in-law to receive an emergency life saving operation at the Assuta Medical Center hospital in Tel Aviv, where he is currently recovering. Security personnel are protecting him, probably from the other patients.

So, can Israel expect a big thank you and change of heart from Abbas? Ok, back to reality.

For further reading click here.

Drivers Rejoice
Good news for Israeli drivers. Gas prices are continuing to fall, due primarily to the dropping price of crude oil in international markets. A gallon of gas in November will cost around $5.60. That’s pretty darn good for Israel. You can’t really drive very far there anyway, so you can make a tank last a bit longer than in the US. Unless you’re driving to Eilat or the Golan.

For further reading click here.

Israel News for October 22, 2015

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Soldiers Kill Jewish Man
Last night, in another tragic case of mistaken identity, Israeli soldiers shot and killed a Jewish man at a bus stop in Jerusalem.

Background
According to police, two soldiers were waiting to get on the bus when a man getting off the bus asked them to show him their identification. They got suspicious and asked him for his ID. An argument ensued and he allegedly attacked them and tried to grab one of their guns. A civilian security guard in the area saw the scuffle, wrongly identified the man as a terrorist and shot at him. Then the soldiers opened fire, killing the man.

The victim was an immigrant from Russia who had served in the IDF in the Nahal Haredi (Ultra Orthodox) Brigade and had worked as a security guard in a school. He was currently studying at a yeshiva in Har Nof, Jerusalem. The rabbis at the yeshiva interviewed by Walla News couldn’t believe how something like this could have occurred. They all described the victim as a quiet, well mannered person who evidently made a bad mistake by arguing with the soldiers.

Police and IDF investigators are sorting through numerous testimonies that include very different facts. In one account the man shouted, “I am ISIS!” (could it have been like, “what, you think I’m ISIS?”). In another, a girl screamed, “Terrorist! Shoot him!”

Upshot
So many factors in this case point to a very tragic and deadly mistake. The soldiers were part of the reinforcements sent to bolster security on buses. They weren’t trained to do police work and handle this kind of situation. The security guard shot before positively identifying who he was shooting at. He probably should have let the soldiers handle the situation. Fear and hysteria took over. In a culture where arguing is commonplace and can often turn violent, this seems to be a case where mistakes were made and shots were fired when they shouldn’t have been. And a man is dead.

For further reading click here.

Terror Continues
This morning two terrorists tried to board a school bus in the Israeli city of Beit Shemesh. When people nearby shouted at them they got off. When police arrived they found them stabbing an 18 yr. old Haredi man. Police shot and killed one of terrorists and wounded the other. Both of the terrorists were 20 yr. olds from a village near Hebron who were working at a construction site in Beit Shemesh. They were wearing Hamas t-shirts beneath their clothing.The victim was “moderately” wounded.

A vehicle carrying five Israeli soldiers was stoned in Gush Etzion (West Bank) yesterday. When the soldiers got out they were hit by a Palestinian car. One of the soldiers was seriously wounded, 2 moderately and 2 lightly. The terrorist was shot and seriously wounded.

Earlier in the day a 20 yr. old female soldier was stabbed and seriously wounded, near the settlement of Adam. The terrorist then tried to stab another female soldier from the same unit, but she shot and killed him. Another terrorist who took part in the attack was arrested.

For further reading click here.

UNESCO Vote
We’ve got good news and bad news about yesterday’s UNESCO vote to declare Jewish holy sites to be Muslim holy sites. The good news is that the Western Wall was removed from the resolution after strong protests from UNESCO’s director general and many countries. They also removed the part about Jerusalem being the “occupied capital of Palestine.”

Here’s the bad news. They did vote to declare the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron (where Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca and Leah are buried) and Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem as being Muslim sites. They also condemned Israel for a bunch of things, as usual.

The resolution passed by 26 votes to 6, with 25 abstentions. The countries that voted against the resolution were the US, UK, Germany, Holland, Estonia and the Czech Republic. France was one of the countries that abstained. Hmm.

For further reading click here.

PM Backpedals
After making the outrageous statement in a speech on Tuesday that blamed the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem for giving Hitler the idea to exterminate the Jews, PM Netanyahu backpedaled, a little.

In a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the PM clarified that the mufti’s role during the Holocaust was to “call on the Nazis to prevent Jews from fleeing Europe and support the Final Solution.”

Even Merkel was taken aback by Netanyahu’s initial statement so much so that she felt compelled to place responsibility for the Holocaust squarely on Germany. She added, “We stand behind our responsibility and I don’t see any need to change our relation to history.”

So now we’re all clear on this. Hitler was responsible for killing the Jews but the Mufti certainly supported and encouraged his evil plans. Now what about all that Arab rhetoric about pushing us into the sea? Sounds like Jewish destruction to me.

For further reading click here.

Temple Mount Visits
Yesterday Walla News reported from Arab sources that Israeli diplomats told Jordan’s King Abdullah that Israel would reduce the number of Jewish and non-Muslim visitors to the Temple Mount. Both the King and PA President Abbas rejected the offer, claiming that it was insufficient.

They weren’t the only ones unsatisfied with the proposal. Knesset members from the Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) party called on the PM to clarify whether he instructed the diplomats to make the offer.

Education Minister and head of the Bayit Yehudi party Naftali Bennett said, “I don’t believe that the PM would offer such a proposal.” He added that if the terrorists gain concessions from their terror, then their next wave of terror will be even worse, and that in the Middle East, displays of weakness are not effective diplomacy.

The PM’s office responded that no such proposal ever existed. Good to know.

For further reading click here.

Kurdistan and Jews
Sherzad Omer Mamsani was recently appointed Jewish affairs representative for the government of the semi autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq. It shouldn’t be a very taxing job, since there are no Jews in the region (also known as Kurdistan). Mamsani’s main role will be to foster relations with the 200,000 to 300,000 Kurdish Jews, most of whom live in Israel.

Kurdish officials say that there are some 200 to 300 families in Iraqi Kurdistan who outwardly converted to Islam over the last decades but who continue to secretly observe certain Jewish traditions. Mamsani is one of those who claim to have Jewish roots. He’s visited Israel several times and has written about Kurdish – Israeli ties. That cost him a hand, lost in a bombing attack against him by Muslim radicals.

His goal is to reconnect Iraqi Kurds to Jewish culture and to relatives they may have abroad. “We work with the government to reunite families, and to help those Kurds who want to find out about their Jewish roots.” Another longer term goal is to rebuild destroyed synagogues in the region.

Upshot
The Kurds seem to really like Israel. Could be because Israel reportedly purchased a large portion of Kurdish oil exports and because they’ve supplied the Kurds with military assistance, secretly of course. Maybe it’s also because there are no Jews in the country, which makes it a lot easier to be a Jew lover (although it didn’t seem to have worked in Poland).

Hey, anyone fighting ISIS is a friend.

For further reading click here.

High Rent
If you think New York City rents are high, wait until you hear what they’re charging in Tel Aviv. According to the Israeli branch of Sotheby’s International Realty, a Russian (non Israeli) just rented an apartment for $45,000 per month (that’s US dollars, not shekels).

The 3,444 sq.ft. apartment takes up a full floor at the top of the Remez Tower, a high end building in the city’s popular “old north” neighborhood. The rent doesn’t include the $1,000 per month management fee.

According to Isidora Fridman, an executive director at Sotheby’s Israel, a similar sized apartment on Fifth Avenue in New York City rents for $50,000 per month. But why would you want to live on Fifth Avenue if you could live in Tel Aviv?

For further reading click here.

Israel News for October 20, 2015

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Breaking News
A masked Palestinian stabbed an Israeli officer in the face during a violent demonstration near the Jewish settlement of Negohot near Hebron. The officer, a captain in the tank corps, suffered light wounds. The terrorist, 24 year old Mohammed Masalma from the nearby village of Kfar Ava, was shot and killed.

For further reading click here.

In another incident, Palestinians threw rocks at an Israeli car near the Palestinian refugee camp of Al-Fawar south of Hebron. The 50 yr. old driver got out of his vehicle and was hit by a car and killed. It’s still unclear who hit him and whether it was intentional.

For further reading click here.

Israeli forces arrested 35 Palestinian terror suspects in the West Bank last night, including a top Hamas official, Hassan Yousef.

For further reading click here.

A Tragic Case
The tragic death of an Eritrean man who was mistakenly identified as a terrorist and shot by a security guard and beaten by a mob of bystanders is raising condemnation and calls for action by Israeli government officials. The Prime Minister condemned the vigilante violence and sent his condolences to Zerhom’s family.

The victim, Habtom Zerhom, a 20 something Eritrean migrant ran into the bus station to seek cover from the terrorist attack when he was shot by the security guard, who yelled, “terrorist!” Security cameras captured footage of Zerhom laying on the ground in a pool of his own blood while Israeli bystanders kicked him in the head and rammed him with a wooden bench. A police officer and some bystanders tried to protect him from the mob, even though they too believed that he was a terrorist.

Members of the mob who were interviewed said that had they known that Zerhom was not a terrorist they would also have protected him, but they trusted the call of the security officer. One man said, “If I would have known he wasn’t a terrorist, believe me, I would have protected him like I protect myself. I didn’t sleep well at night. I feel disgusted.” Police are reviewing the security video to identify the members of the mob, and have begun calling in witnesses and suspects for questioning.

Upshot
Some are blaming Jerusalem Mayor Barkat and other officials who have urged civilians to carry weapons and help the security forces. More likely, Zerhom’s death was the result of a tragic case of mistaken identity combined with people furious from constantly living in fear of unexpected terror attacks.

Citizens should obviously be allowed, and encouraged, to defend themselves, but lynching anyone, even a terrorist, doesn’t seem very kosher. As the PM said, “People at the scene of these incidents should evacuate the area and allow security and rescue services to work.We are a law-abiding country. No one should take the law into their own hands.”

For further reading click here.

Bedouin Security Guards
The fact that the Beersheva terrorist was an Israeli Bedouin is impacting other Bedouin, in a bad way. It seems that a large number of Bedouin work as security guards throughout the city, including at the central bus station where the attack occurred. At least one private security company has dismissed Bedouin guards who work in schools. Other security companies are feeling uneasy and might also decide to dismiss workers. For the guards that are still on duty, the suspicious looks thrown their way are not making for a pleasant work environment.

For further reading click here.

ISIS Rallies Palestinians
ISIS is trying to get involved in the wave of terror in Israel. The group released a series of videos urging Palestinians to carry out attacks against the “Jews” using every means at their disposal, including knives, vehicles, poison and explosives.

In a video titled “Return Terror to the Jews,” a masked fighter praised Arabs who are attacking Israelis, describing them as “lone wolves who refuse to be subdued and who spread fear among the sons of Zion.”

ISIS has also published several articles by prominent writers in the group to incite more anti Jewish terror. It looks like they’ve launched a full blown content marketing campaign that, combined with all the social media incitement, is turning this terror wave into a digital marketing driven horror show. Blocking their Facebook and Twitter access and jamming their internet connections might be more effective than concrete barriers and assault rifles. It’s certainly worth a try.

For further reading click here.

Are You Kidding?
Unfortunately, this is no joke. If you had any doubts about the UN being anti Israel, this should pretty much make up your mind. UNESCO, the U.N.’s cultural body, is scheduled to vote Tuesday on a proposal to declare the Western Wall (Kotel) a Muslim holy site. Yup. Six Muslim Arab countries submitted the UNESCO proposal on behalf of the Palestinians, referring to Jerusalem as, “the occupied capital of Palestine.”

Israel’s deputy foreign minister, Tzipi Hotovely, condemned the proposal, saying, “This shameful and deceitful Palestinian attempt to rewrite history will fail the test of reality.” But when did “reality” ever play a role at the UN? If Saudi Arabia can chair the UN Human Rights committee, is anything real?

For further reading click here.

Scandinavian Airlines
Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) has announced that they will be canceling their four weekly flights between Tel Aviv and Copenhagen due to “political instability”. They’re also canceling their flights to Moscow and Ankara. The airline did state that it would resume flights to Israel in the winter of 2016. Who wants to go to Scandinavia in the winter anyway?

For further reading click here.

Humus Peace
Is Humus the secret weapon in the search for Arab-Israeli peace? A restaurant in Kfar Vitkin, near Netanya, is testing it out by offering a 50% discount on Hummus served to mixed tables of Arabs and Jews. Management says that several tables have already taken advantage of the offer. Perhaps this test just shows how far both Arabs and Jews are willing to go to get a discount? Maybe we’re not that different after all.

For further reading click here.

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Israel News for October 16, 2015

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Joseph’s Tomb Attacked
About 150 Palestinians set fire to Joseph’s Tomb in Shechem (Nablus) yesterday. The tomb of the Jewish biblical figure contains a synagogue where Jews regularly come to pray. The fire caused extensive damage to part of the synagogue and the surrounding area. Palestinian security forces who arrived at the scene pushed back the mob and put out the fire. Thankfully, no Jews were present.

During the second intifada in 2000, Palestinians drove IDF troops from the tomb, ransacked it, painted the dome green and dedicated it as a mosque. Israel subsequently took back the tomb and renovated it.

PA President Abbas condemned the attack on the tomb calling it “irresponsible”. Israeli ministers and Knesset members across the political spectrum decried the attack. The IDF will begin repairs on the tomb immediately.

Jewish holy places under Arab rule don’t have a history of benevolent treatment (remember the Jewish Quarter under Jordanian rule?). Looks like things haven’t changed.

For further reading click here.

Terror vs. Economy
The current wave of terror could have a strong negative impact on the already fragile Israeli economy.

According to a study conducted by the Makor Rishon newspaper, the recent wave of terror attacks could cost Israel 10.5 billion shekels if it lasts for two months. If it transforms into a long term intifada or an escalation on the Gaza border the cost will run much higher.

The economic hit will be most felt in tourism and foreign investments, which are most susceptible to the security situation. Domestic spending in Jerusalem and other large cities has already dropped, as it has in Arab towns across the country as Jewish visitors stay away.

Economists fear there could be an economic chain reaction with an increase in defense spending combined with a decrease in income from taxes that could lead to an increased deficit and government debt.

Government spending on welfare and education will be drastically cut as the defense budget is increased. Unemployment could also rise.

So far the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) remains relatively unaffected by the recent wave of terror. Whether it will stay that way could depend on the duration of the current spate of violence. The index rose in both Operation Protective Edge (2014) and Operation Cast Lead (2008-2009), both of which lasted under two months, whereas it fell 200 points during the two years of the second Intifada (2000-2002).

On Tuesday, when there were three deaths, share prices fell drastically, but that was due at least as much to declines in Europe as to the attacks that day

Many TASE companies, including the bluest of its blue chips, are little affected by what happens in Israel because most their business is done overseas.

Upshot
If worrying about their safety wasn’t enough, now Israelis need to worry about how this terror spree might harm their economic future.

For further reading click here.

Excessive Force
At a daily press briefing on Wednesday, U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said Israel has a right and responsibility to protect its citizens.

He added: “Now, we have seen some – I wouldn’t call the checkpoints this – but we’ve certainly seen some reports of what many would consider excessive use of force. Obviously, we don’t like to see that, and we want to see restrictions that are elevated in this time of violence to be as temporary as possible if they have to be enacted.”

His comment about “excessive use of force” raised an uproar of protests from the PM, Defense Minister and other government officials and ministers. The PM remarked, “What do you think would happen in New York if you saw people rushing into crowds trying to murder people? What do you think they would do? Do you think they would do anything differently than we are doing?”

Yesterday, Kirby clarified his remarks saying, “I want to be very clear that we have never accused Israeli security forces of excessive force with respect to these terrorist attacks.” So what then was he referring to when he clearly indicated that Israel was using “excessive force”?

Upshot
Based on videos and photos of recent incidents, it looks like the police have been careful to protect neutralized terrorists from any bystanders. But when an attacker is brandishing a weapon and is in the midst of an attack, or is deemed to be a clear danger to civilians, the police have a duty to stop them without endangering their own lives.

Compared to law enforcement standards in other countries, including the US, it seems like the performance of the Israeli has been equal or better.

For further reading click here.

Terrorist Bodies
As part of a slew of new security measures in response to the ongoing wave of terror, the Security Cabinet approved Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan’s proposal not to return the bodies of Arab terrorists killed while conducting attacks.

The decision was applauded by Simcha Goldin, father of Hadar Goldin, the soldier who was killed in Gaza during Operation Protective Shield and whose body is believed to be help by Hamas as a bargaining chip.

He said, “For too many years the State of Israel has enabled the moral injustice which allows the bodies of terrorists killed during attacks to be returned to their families who bury them as heroes in glorious funeral processions.” He added, “We must remember that Hadar and Oron [Shaul] remain captive in Gaza, and their bodies have not been brought to Israel for burial.”

The Cabinet is also considering Erdan’s suggestion to bury terrorists at cemeteries belonging to the IDF that are located at the extreme edges of the country, where terrorists have in past been buried.

Will these measures stop potential terrorists from carrying out attacks? If there’s a chance that they will, then it’s worth trying.

For further reading click here.

Home Destruction
The families of seven terrorists involved in attacks over the last few months received notice from the IDF that their homes would be demolished.

Background
The process of destroying the homes of terrorists as a punitive measure could take months to implement. On Wednesday the security cabinet shortened the process significantly.

Ten days ago homes were destroyed in East Jerusalem belonging to the terrorists who attacked the synagogue in Har Nof and the terrorist who killed using an excavator.

Homes set for destruction include those belonging to the Henkin murderers and the terrorist who murdered R. Nehemiah Lavi and Ahron Bennet in the Old City.

Upshot
This could be what pushes parents to keep a tighter watch over their children and dissuade them from carrying out acts that would put their family homes at risk. It might even make the young people themselves think twice before making their families homeless.

For further reading click here.

Lapid Blasts Left
Yair Lapid, head of the Yesh Atid party, blasted the Left for remaining silent in the face of PA President Abbas’ lies regarding the 13 year old terrorist who is recovering in Hadassah Hospital but who Abbas claimed was killed by Israeli police.

Lapid echoed PM Netanyahu’s response to Abbas’ statements, calling them incitement and lies. He added that because of their silence, the Left has shown that they have “lost their way”. He added that, “Jewish blood will not be Hefker (free for the taking)”

There might be hope for a unity government after all.

For further reading click here.

rabbi murdered in jerusalem

Israel News for October 13, 2015

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Breaking News
A Total of 3 Israelis were killed and 24 wounded in 4 terror attacks today.

In Jerusalem two terrorists boarded the number 78 bus in Armon Hanetziv, shooting and stabbing. Two Israelis were killed and 16 wounded. Police shot and killed one of the terrorists and injured the other.

Also in Jerusalem, an Arab employee of Bezeq (Israeli phone company) rammed his Bezeq vehicle into a crowd of people at a bus stop on Malchei Yisrael street. He then got out of his car and stabbed people. One Israeli man was killed. Three more Israelis were injured.The terrorist was killed by police. He was related to the terrorists who attacked the shul in Har Nof last year.

In Raanana a resident of East Jerusalem stabbed a man before being subdued by people at the scene. Later, another East Jerusalem resident stabbed four Israelis. People chased down the terrorist and subdued him until police arrived.

These stories are still unfolding.

Terror Youth
There were four terrorist attacks in Jerusalem yesterday.

At around 8:30pm a Palestinian, screaming Allah Ahkbar, tried to grab a soldier’s gun on a bus. When he failed he stabbed the soldier in the head. A border policeman who was also on the bus tried to stop the terrorist and was also stabbed. A passerby with a pair of nunchucks noticed the commotion, hopped on the bus and hit the terrorist. Then police officers boarded the bus. There was a struggle. They shot and killed him.

Earlier in the day two Palestinians stabbed a 21 year old man and a 13 year old boy who was riding his bike, in the Pisgat Zeev neighborhood of Jerusalem. The terrorists were 15 and 13 years of age, from East Jerusalem. One was run down by a car and injured. The other was shot to death by border police when he refused to drop his knife. The Israeli victims are in serious condition.

Shortly before that, on Ammunition Hill, a 16 year old girl from East Jerusalem stabbed a border policeman in the back. He then shot and wounded her.

In the morning, an 18 year old Palestinian stabbed a border policeman in his flak jacket at the Lion’s Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem. The terrorist was shot and killed. The border policeman was not injured.

Upshot
One of the striking and most disturbing common denominators of the recent terror spree is the young age of the terrorists. Almost all of them are teenagers, most attending high school. They seem to be getting their inspiration via social media, which is where they are usually posting warning signs of their impending attacks.

The real battle to stop these attacks might have to be fought in the classrooms and on Facebook and Twitter, to change their way of thinking before they have a chance to act on their impulses. Unfortunately, it might be too late for this generation of Palestinian youth. That leaves heightened security, intelligence and aggressive prevention as Israel’s only options — which in turn fuels Palestinian hatred. And so, round and round it goes — where (or how) it stops, nobody knows.

For further reading: http://news.walla.co.il/item/2896727

Guns for Terrorists
The nightmare scenario of Arab terrorists trading in their knives for automatic weapons could be getting closer to fruition.

A few days ago there was a burglary at Kibbutz Naot Mordechai in the Galilee. Six M16 assault rifles were stolen from the kibbutz armory. It’s unclear whether the robbers had nationalistic motives, but the threat of these and other weapons ending up in the hands of Arab terrorists is very real.

The money to be made from selling weapons is substantial. An M16 goes for 55,000 shekels on the black market, a handgun 25,000 and a grenade 2,500. A bullet for a handgun runs 8 shekels.

Special police units have been operating in Nazareth, Karmiel and Shafram for past four years to investigate and combat illegal arms in the Israeli Arab population. In that time period they have confiscated 133 handguns, 146 rifles and 186 grenades. And there’s a lot more where that came from.

Analysts believe that the weapons are primarily being used for criminal purposes and are unlikely to be used for terror. In fact, local Arab leaders are happy that the police is cracking down on illegal weapons and hope that it will help reduce crime in Arab areas.
But the possibility of these weapons getting into the hands of terrorists exists, and is scary as hell.

For further reading: http://news.walla.co.il/item/2896706

India Goes Both Ways
In a speech at the University of Jordan in Amman on Sunday, India’s president Pranab Mukherjee declared his support for both Israel and an independent Palestinian state. “India’s traditional support to the Palestinian cause remains steadfast and unwavering while we pursue strong relations with Israel.”

He also quoted a statement made by modern India’s founder Mahatma Ghandi in 1938 where he said, “Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English and France to the French,” and that it would be “a crime against humanity to reduce the proud Arabs so that Palestine can be restored to the Jews partly or wholly as their national home.”

Mukherjee is scheduled to visit Israel today for a three day visit. He will meet with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, and opposition leader Isaac Herzog. He’ll visit Yad Vashem and the grave of Theodore Hertzl. He’ll also lay a wreath at the grave of former Palestinian Authority chair Yasser Arafat before meeting with current president Mahmoud Abbas.

In July, India abstained in a vote on a UN Human Rights Council resolution that backed a report critical of Israel’s behavior during last summer’s war in Gaza. That shocked the Palestinians and put a huge smile on the Israelis.

Upshot
India is traditionally known for its lack of anti-semitism. They seem to earnestly want to be friends with both sides, and particularly reap the benefits of Israeli military and weapons technology. But they also have a population of over 130 million muslims to placate. Will they be able to be BFF’s with everyone? With all the Israelis trekking through India, they just might.

For further reading: http://www.timesofisrael.com/indian-president-declares-support-for-palestinians-ahead-of-israel-trip/

Salad Crisis
In a previous issue we reported that prices of tomatoes and cucumbers, the mainstay of Israeli salad, were going through the roof. One of the primary reasons for the veggie inflation was the severe summer heat wave. Well, the director general of the Ministry of Agriculture, Shlomo Ben-Eliyahu, told the Knesset Economics Committee yesterday that, “the shortage in tomatoes will continue until the beginning of December,” and that, “farmers can only produce about 50% of demand,” of fruits and vegetable in general.

What happened to all that amazing Israeli agro-technology that can turn sand dunes into Whole Foods suppliers? It could be that Israeli brains are focusing more on cyber security, biotech and other successful venture capital type startup ventures and less on the less sexy world of farming.

Could this be the end of Israeli salad for the masses who can’t afford to pay the price of a local tomato? Let’s pray for the health of Israeli salad. Without it, what would an Israeli breakfast (or lunch) be?

For further reading: http://www.globes.co.il/en/article-israels-tomato-shortage-to-continue-until-december-1001072977

terror in israel

Israel News for October 12, 2015

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The Terror Continues
This morning a terrorist stabbed a border policeman in his flack jacket at the Lion’s Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem. The terrorist was killed. The border policeman was not injured.

Last night a 22 year old Israeli-Arab rammed his car into people waiting at a bus stop and then jumped out his car and proceeded to stab them. The attack occurred near Kibbutz Gan Shmuel north of Hadera. A 19 year old female soldier was seriously wounded, a fifteen year old girl was moderately wounded and two others were lightly wounded. It was the fifteen year old girl’s birthday. The terrorist tried to escape but was apprehended shortly after. Shin Bet identified him as Alaa Raed Ahmad Ziwad of the Israeli-Arab town of Umm al-Fahm. he was originally from near Jenin in the West Bank, but received Israeli citizenship through his father’s family unification.

Israeli Arab Knesset members condemned the attack saying the terrorist was not the norm and that Israeli Arabs support a non violent struggle. “Violence is not our path and it never has been,” said Aiman Uda, chairman of the Joint Arab list. He then blamed Netanyahu and the government for the violence.

Yesterday morning a Palestinian woman detonated an explosive device in her car while being stopped for driving violations at the A-Zaim checkpoint near Ma’aleh Adumim, just outside of Jerusalem. The 45-year-old male police officer who stopped her was lightly wounded as a result of the explosion. The terrorist suffered moderate wounds.

Early Sunday morning the IAF struck Hamas weapons manufacturing sites in Gaza. This was in response to rocket fire from Gaza after two Palestinians were killed in a demonstration near the border fence. The rocket was intercepted by the Iron Dome over the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council. More rockets were fired late last night from Gaza. There were no injuries or damages caused by any of the rockets. A pregnant woman and her two year old baby died after their house collapsed as a result of the Israeli airstrike.

Yesterday evening there were demonstrations in Israeli-Arab towns across northern Israel. There were also several demonstrations in the West Bank and near the border fence in Gaza. Shots fired from Gaza hit a vehicle near a kibbutz in the Eshkol Regional Council in the afternoon.

For further reading: http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-4709573,00.html

PM vs. Zoabi
PM Netanyahu has asked Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein to open a criminal investigation against Knesset member Haneen Zoabi of the Joint Arab List for incitement to violence.

Background
This isn’t the first time that the Attorney General is investigating Zoabi, the first and only female Arab Israeli Knesset member, because of her anti-Israel statements and actions.

In 2010 Zoabi participated in the Gaza flotilla and was on the ship when Israeli commandos boarded it under attack, killing nine and wounding dozens. In the Knesset Zoabi called the raid a “pirate military operation” and asked for an international investigation. She was stripped of the right to participate in Knesset discussions and to vote in parliamentary committees.

In 2012 she was almost banned from running for election in the 2013 elections for Knesset, but the rulings against her were overturned by the High Court of Justice.

In 2013, five days after the kidnapping of three Israeli teens, Zoabi said, “Is it strange that people living under occupation and living impossible lives, in a situation where Israel kidnaps new prisoners every day, is it strange that they kidnap? They are not terrorists. Even if I do not agree with them, they are people who do not see any way to change their reality, and they are compelled to use means like these.”

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein ordered an investigation of Zoabi on charges of incitement and public disgrace. She was suspended from the Knesset plenum for a duration of six months.

The PM’s current case against Zoabi is based primarily on this statement made by her that was quoted in the Hamas newspaper over the weekend:
“Hundreds of thousands of worshipers must ascend to Al-Aqsa to stand against the Israeli plot to allow the blood of East Jerusalem residents to be spilled,” one of the quotes said. Another quote stated that if “thousands of [our] people turn out, these incidents will turn into a real intifada.”

Upshot
For the sake of democracy, Israel has accepted the presence of Arab Knesset members who seem to act against the best interests of the State. But inciting violence against Israelis is unacceptable. It might also be criminal.

For further reading: http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.679817

New Top Cop
The cabinet unanimously approved the appointment of Roni Alsheich as the new Commisioner of Israel’s national police. Alsheich, 52, has been the deputy director of the Shin Bet and will begin his new position as top cop on November 11. Alscheich wears a kippah, is the father of seven and lived for many years on a settlement in the West Bank. Will any of that make a difference in how he carries out his police duties?

For Further reading: http://www.jta.org/2015/10/11/news-opinion/israel-middle-east/shin-bet-no-2-approved-as-head-of-israel-police

Arab Mayor Blasts MKs
Israelis aren’t the only ones upset about the role that Arab Knesset members have been playing in inciting the recent Arab unrest in Israel. The Arab mayor of Nazareth, Ali Salam, is mad as hell.

According to Salam around 20,000 to 30,000 Jews visit Nazareth every weekend, spending approximately 10 million shekels. This past weekend, no Jews came.

Salam directs most of his anger at the Arab MKs. “They staged a parade, and after the parade they left the young people, who started throwing stones and burning things. Yesterday, it was the Hadash Party’s parade. Before that, it was the parade by Shabaab members. Each time, somebody else is responsible for the destruction. We can’t have everyone coming to make a parade in Nazareth. The business owners want to demonstrate against what’s happening.”

“Most of the MKs want to come for the publicity, to be seen and photographed. I’m sick and tired of them. Let them do something for the benefit of the people who voted for them. I asked the MKs to get out of town – to leave us in peace. I told Aiman Udeh, ‘Get out of here. I don’t want you to come to Nazareth. You’ve destroyed my city.’

Salam summed up his feelings like this: “I want to tell all the people who call themselves leaders: we have no other way. The only way is to live together. What I’m afraid of now is another intifada. If that happens, it will be different than anything we’ve been through before. It will be worse.”

For Further reading: http://www.globes.co.il/en/article-nazareth-mayor-the-situation-is-ruining-our-businesses-1001072714

Jordan Says No Tefillin
According a report on Israel radio, a Jordanian security official at the border crossing prohibited a group of religious Israeli tourists from bringing their tefillin into the country.

The Jordanian official said that Jordan did not allow ritual objects into the country for fear of provoking Muslims and endangering the safety of the tourists.

It seems that Israeli travel agents are aware of the regulation but choose not to inform Israeli tourists because enforcement is at the discretion of the border officials and can vary depending on the specific situation.

Upshot
Maybe this isn’t the best time for Israeli tourists to be traveling to an Arab country, with or without tefillin?

For Further reading: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/201725#.VhsH1RNVikp

Israel News for October 9, 2015

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BREAKING NEWS
Following a quiet morning in Israel a 16 year old religious youth was stabbed on Shmuel Hanavi street in Jerusalem. The attacker was apprehended shortly after by a fireman who was driving by. This was the same road as the tractor terrorist attack in 2014 and close to the location of yesterday’s stabbing.

Shortly after a 47 year old policeman was stabbed in Kiryat Arba close to Hebron. Patrol policeman had stopped the suspect for questioning when he drew his knife, stabbed the policeman and tried the grab his gun. Police shot the terrorist and he is in a critical condition.

These were the ninth and tenth Israelis to be wounded in stabbing attacks in the last 24 hours.

In Afula a female terrorist tried to stab a security guard and passersby at the entrance to the central bus station. She was shot and wounded.

There were also riots in the Shuafat refugee camp earlier this morning following the funeral of the youth killed in yesterdays violence.

Earlier today, an Israeli stabbed three Palestinians and one Bedouin man in Dimona, in a revenge attack. The prime minister strongly condemned the attack, saying violence against innocent Arabs is unacceptable.

For further reading: http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-4708932,00.html

Terror Continues
The terror spree continued yesterday.

As we reported yesterday, a Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem stabbed and seriously wounded a 25 year old ultra orthodox yeshiva student near the light rail on French Hill in Jerusalem. He then tried to grab the gun from a security guard nearby, but following a scuffle fled the scene. Members of the Yasam anti-terrorist police unit apprehended the terrorist.

Police forces entered the Shoafat refugee camp in East Jerusalem to search the home of the attacker. They were attacked by a mob of thousands of young Palestinians throwing rocks and firebombs. Nine police officers were wounded, but the police was able to gain control of the area and complete their search. During the violence police shot and killed a 20 year old Palestinian man and wounded six others.

Later in the afternoon, a 19 year old Palestinian man from East Jerusalem stabbed five Israelis with a screwdriver near the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv. The terrorist tried to flee but was shot and killed by an IAF officer.

Then a Palestinian stabbed a 25 year old Israeli man near Kiryat Arba. The man was seriously wounded. Security forces are searching for the attacker.

Finally, last night a 20 year old Palestinian man repeatedly stabbed a 21 year old soldier in Afula. The terrorist was subdued by citizens and police. Bystanders tried to attack the terrorist. Three police officers were injured protecting him.

PM Netanyahu called for a unity government, but opposition leader Isaac Herzog rejected his offer and called for him to resign.

Let’s all pray for the terror victims and for the terror to end.

Jews Demonstrate
Hundreds of right wing Jewish activists demonstrated in Gan Sacher park in Jerusalem against the recent wave of Arab terror. Four men were arrested including Bentzi Gopstein, the leader of the extreme right wing Lehava group.

The demonstrators were permitted to march to the Kotel via the Zion Gate. They chanted slogans including, “Kahana Chai”, “Mohammed is dead” and “Death to the Arabs”. Some tried to attack Arab taxis. Several men were arrested along the way for disorderly conduct.

For further reading: http://news.walla.co.il/item/2895745

Clarification on Temple Mount
Yesterday we reported that the PM had banned government ministers and Knesset members from visiting the Temple Mount, but that the ban did not apply to Arab officials. That caused a storm of protest from right wing ministers including Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel.

Well, the PM’s office issued a clarification saying that the ban applied to both Jewish and Arab ministers and Knesset members. In fact, a senior Israeli official said Thursday that Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah had planned on visiting the Temple Mount, but Netanyahu ordered the police to prevent him from arriving at the site out of a concern that his visit could fan the flames.

The Joint Arab List responded that party members would ignore Netanyahu’s announcement and continue visiting the Al-Aqsa mosque as individuals and in groups.
So now, everyone’s upset. Business as usual.

For further reading: http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.679335

PM Halts Construction
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided to withdraw his plan to build 538 housing units in Itamar, a community in Northern Samaria (West Bank), due to intense international pressure. Instead, the prime minister will promote a master plan for Itamar that retroactively approves existing buildings, but does not allow for the construction of new ones.

Background
Itamar was established in 1984 without a municipal plan that would allow construction. So basically, all the construction in the community for the last twenty years is technically illegal. It was only after the horrific murder of the Fogel family by terrorists in 2011 that the government finally decided to work on advancing a proposal for a municipal plan.

In the initial plan presented to planning agencies three years ago, the state sought retroactive approval for 137 existing homes as well as an expansion of the settlement by thousands of dunams through the construction of 537 new housing units, to be built with Defense Ministry approval.

A year and a half ago, Netanyahu ordered a general suspension of the planning process and of approval of new homes in West Bank settlements over his concern that the United States would decide not to exercise its veto power on resolutions aimed at Israel in the UN Security Council. As a result, the plan for Itamar also stalled.

After the murder of the Henkins last week and protests by settlers, the PM decided to push the municipal plan through, but not the part about the new 538 homes.

Upshot
Even though the settlers are not happy with the shelved construction plans, the legalization of the existing homes is still a statement of support for the settlement movement by the PM. So basically, neither the right nor the left is happy.

For further reading: http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.679325

Tables Turned
The High Court of Justice approved sanctions placed on a woman who refused to accept a Get (Jewish divorce) from her husband.

Background
According to Jewish law, in order to be considered divorced and permitted to remarry, a husband must willingly give his wife a divorce document called a Get. If he fails to do so, the woman may not remarry. A woman whose husband refuses to give her a Get is called an Agunah (chained).

The Israeli rabbinical courts, which have jurisdiction over all marriage and divorce cases, have the power to impose financial sanctions and other punitive measures, including incarceration, against the uncooperative husband. In most cases monetary sanctions are enough to persuade him to give the Get. Unfortunately, not always.

There’s another requirement for the divorce to be “kosher”: the wife must willingly accept the Get from her husband. Since polygamy in Judaism was banned over 1000 years ago (at least for Ashkenazim. The Sephardic ban took effect with the establishment of the State of Israel), until the wife accepts the Get, the husband cannot remarry.

A 2008 case brought before the rabbinical court revolved around a wife who refused to accept the Get from her husband. The court imposed monetary sanctions against her in the amount of 2,000 shekels per week (to the state) to persuade her to reconsider. She didn’t. The husband then took her before the secular court, which upheld the decision of the rabbinical court and placed a judgement against her.

The woman refused to pay the sanctions and brought her case before the High Court, claiming that the Rabbinical Court had no authority to sanction her.

Yesterday, High Court justice Miriam Naor said she disagreed – confirming the Rabbinical Court decision and imposing the NIS 2,000 weekly fine on the woman.

Hopefully this will finally get her to accept the Get and allow her husband to remarry.

For further reading: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/201586#.VhbFnRNViko

Oil’s Well that Ends Well
If you’re one of those cynics who likes to wonder why God told Moses to lead the Jews to Israel instead of to one of the oil rich Arab lands, you’re time might be up. It looks like there’s oil in the rocky earth of the Golan. Lot’s of it.

Afek Oil and Gas, an Israeli subsidiary of the U.S. company Genie Energy, recently confirmed the find but won’t be sure exactly how much oil is there until they actually extract it.

According to a September 2014 Times of Israel report on the Golan exploration, Genie Energy is chaired by Howard Jonas and counts among its more notable investors the “former US Vice President Dick Cheney, Michael Steinhardt, Jacob Rothschild, and Rupert Murdoch.”

The reserves could potentially produce billions of barrels, which would far exceed Israel’s annual oil consumption of 240,000 barrels.

The only problem is that with oil prices at a low, the cost of extracting the oil from the rocky soil might make it economically unprofitable. Also, the oil fields proximity to the Syrian border might make create an “explosive” situation.

But let’s stop being so negative. Between the offshore gas and the Golan oil, Israel might be a natural resource rich destination after all. So, looks like Moses didn’t take a wrong turn after all.

For further reading: http://www.globes.co.il/en/article-huge-oil-discovery-on-golan-heights-1001071698

Israel News for October 8, 2015

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Breaking News
This morning a Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem stabbed and seriously wounded a 25 year old ultra orthodox yeshiva student near the light rail on French Hill in Jerusalem. He then tried to grab the gun from a security guard nearby, but following a scuffle fled the scene. Members of the Yasam anti-terrorist police unit apprehended the terrorist. The story is still unfolding.

Female Stabber
The 18 year old Arab woman who stabbed a 36 year old Israeli man near the Lion’s Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem on Wednesday had aspirations of becoming a martyr. At least that’s what she wrote on her Facebook page hours before her attack. She wrote, “where am I going? I’m going to become a shaheed (martyr). I want to ask you one thing — not to cry for me when I become a martyr. My greatest desire is to be a martyr for Allah.”

Unfortunately for her, she failed in her mission. She also failed to become a murderer, through no fault of her own. She tried her best but she ended up stabbing a reserve paratroop officer. After being stabbed in the head and back he turned to face her, drew his weapon and shot her. She was seriously injured.

The woman was studying to be a history and geography teacher at the University of Bethlehem. We can only hope that she’ll never get the chance to become a martyr or teach children to follow in her evil ways.

For further reading: http://news.walla.co.il/item/2895431

Terror Spree
There were several separate terror attacks in Israel yesterday.

In the southern town of Kiryat Gat, an Arab man stabbed a soldier in a public bus and stole his rifle. The attacker fled into a residential building. Unfortunately for him, anti-terrorist police happened to be around and saw him. They put a quick end to his life of terror and sent him directly to “paradise”. The Palestinian press identified the terrorist as a 17 year old from the Hebron area. The Israeli soldier was lightly wounded and taken to Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon.

In Petach Tikva, an Arab got off a bus at the entrance to a large mall and stabbed a 25 year old Israeli man. Passersby chased the terrorist, disarmed him and subdued him until police arrived. The victim was taken to the hospital with moderate wounds. The attacker was identified as Tamer Yunis Ahmed Vareidat, 25, from Daheira, near Hebron.

In the Jerusalem neighborhood of Abu Tur, police stopped a 15 year old Arab for questioning. The teen pulled a knife and tried to stab them. The officers subdued him.

Israeli forces at the Al Zaim checkpoint near Mount Scopus in Jerusalem opened fire at an Arab driver when he tried to run them over with his vehicle. The driver was moderately wounded.

There were also stoning incidents near Gush Etzion and Bet El.

Upshot
Doesn’t look like Abbas’s call for calm has been too effective. He might have already lost any control he had to stop the violence. Is this the beginning of a new intifada?

For further reading: http://news.walla.co.il/item/2895353

Barkat Packing
Jerusalem’s mayor Nir Barkat is not afraid to get his hands dirty when it comes to security issues in the city. Back in February he tackled a knife-wielding attacker outside the municipality building.

Barkat was recently photographed carrying an assault rifle during a visit to the Arab neighborhood of Beit Hanina in east Jerusalem.

The mayor’s office remarked that the mayor is a “licensed and trained gun owner” and was carrying his weapon with him during a visit with Israeli security forces. The statement added that “many terror attacks in Jerusalem have been prevented or neutralized due to the quick actions and response of responsible bystanders.”

So it seems that Vladimir Putin isn’t the only leader ready to get physical. Let this be a warning to the terrorists: beware of Barkat.

PM Bans Ministers
There’s a reason why there haven’t been any recent visits by government ministers to the Temple Mount. That’s because prior to leaving on his trip the New York to address the UN, the PM issued an order prohibiting ministers and Knesset members from visiting the site. The order doesn’t apply to Arab Knesset members.

New PM Diggs
Plans have been submitted to the Jerusalem municipal planning committee for the construction of a new residence and office for the Prime Minister in the Givat Ram neighborhood of Jerusalem. The area already houses other government buildings including the Knesset and the Foreign Ministry as well as many national museums and one of the campuses of Hebrew University.

The two buildings will be built on an empty 7.4 acre plot and will cost around 650 million shekels ($169 million).

It’s about time they moved the PM from his current location in the crowded Rehavia neighborhood, where the residents will most likely be thankful for the traffic relief, demonstrations and official activity. On the other hand, the security in the neighborhood was pretty darn good. But it must have been a logistics nightmare for the PM’s security detail.

Best of luck on the project!

For further reading: http://www.haaretz.com/business/.premium-1.679266

Prayers Answered
On the holiday of Shmini Atzeret, which was just celebrated on Monday, Jews say a special series of prayers for rain. Well, what do you know? It looks like our prayers were especially effective this year. There has been a significant amount of rainfall throughout Israel in the last few days, which is very unusual. The rain is expected to continue until the weekend. The usual pattern is for the rains to come in the second half of the month, so if that holds true, this could be a truly blessed year for Israel — at least in the rain department.

For further reading: http://www.nrg.co.il/online/1/ART2/729/615.html

Israel News for September 25, 2015

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Security Cabinet
The PM’s office announced that the security cabinet has decided in favor of setting a four year minimum sentence for stone and firebomb throwers. The new regulation will be in place for three years.

The Attorney General, Yehuda Weinstein, recommended issuing the order for one year, but the cabinet sided with Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked’s three year proposal.

The minimum sentence will only apply to adult suspects. Judges will also have the latitude to deviate from the minimum sentence. Currently, the maximum sentence for stone and firebomb throwers is 20 years.

The cabinet also took measures against the parents of stone throwers who are minors. The measures include revoking stipends of parents whose children are sentenced to prison. The cabinet will examine the legality of fining parents of minors aged 12-14, and imposing bail on parents of minors under the age of 12.

Regarding rules of engagement for police, security cabinet rules that police officers can open fire whenever their lives or the lives of civilians are in danger.

“Until recently, police officers would open fire when their own lives were at risk,” Netanyahu said. “From now on, they will be allowed to open fire – and they will know they have a right to do so – when anyone’s life is in danger.”

Further Reading: http://news.walla.co.il/item/2892455

No Calls Taken
Don’t you hate it when you know someone is not taking your calls? Well, that seems to be what’s happening when PM Netanyahu calls Jordan’s King Abdullah to discuss ways of defusing tensions on the Temple Mount.

According to Haaretz sources, the King has told guests in recent days that he refuses to take phone calls from Netanyahu, to prevent Israel from using them to give the impression that the two nations are coordinating their reactions to the ongoing violence on the Temple Mount (he didn’t say Temple Mount). The London-based Rai al Youm newspaper quoted sources from within Jordan’s royal palace who confirmed the phone snubbing.

The King recently hosted Arab Israeli Knesset members to discuss the Temple Mount violence and the claims that Israel has been coordinating with the Hashemite kingdom. During the meeting, Abdullah said that Al-Aqsa Mosque was open for Muslims only and cannot be shared. “I’ll say once and for all, there is no partnership, no division, Al-Aqsa is a Muslim place of worship.

The king also spoke with US Vice President Biden and asked him to act against “the ongoing Israeli policies at the Al-Aqsa Mosque and end the aggression.”

Upshot
Although traditionally viewed as the protector of the Jerusalem holy places, Abdullah doesn’t really have any power to pressure Israel or the Palestinians to do anything. But having him on their side would be a huge PR victory for Israel, which is probably why Netanyahu keeps dialing his number. Will he ever answer? The chances of him choosing to partner with Israel in anything related to Al Aqsa and be seen as a traitor by the entire Muslim world are about as good as … fill in your own scenario.

Maybe the PM has the wrong number?

Further Reading: http://news.walla.co.il/item/2892395

No Refugees
PM Netanyahu’s policy of not accepting any Syrian refugees into Israel has some unlikely fans. The Druze living in the Israeli Golan, who used to be Syrian citizens and who never really made their peace with Israeli rule, are totally against Syrians leaving their homeland.

To quote Salah Abu Salah, 62, a Golan Druze elder whose words echo the sentiments of many here, “Anyone who abandons his land is not worth a cent in my eyes. Where you are born is where you should die. That is something I learned from my grandfather, who learned it from his grandfather. We must fight until our last breath for our land.”
So wherever they are, the Druze are there to stay.

Further Reading: http://www.haaretz.com/news/israel/.premium-1.677332

Pride Labels
While the European Union decides how to implement a policy of requiring Israeli products from East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Golan to be labeled as such, one Israeli winemaker is proudly getting a head start.

Bazelet Hagolan, a boutique winery in the Golan Heights, recently unveiled new labels bearing the Israeli flag for its bottles for export. “I’m proud of this flag, and I’m Israeli and I’m not ashamed,” said winery owner Yoav Levy, calling on other Israeli wineries to follow suit.

Levy’s winery manufactures 80,000 bottles a year, of which 20% is exported to North America and Europe. He says he’s been getting lots of positive feedback from customers and that business is looking up.

Is this a pro Israel message, or is the wine just too good to pass up? There’s only one way to find out.

Further Reading: http://www.haaretz.com/life/food-wine/1.677315

Happy Birthday Mossad
Yesterday the Mossad celebrated its 65th birthday with a good ol’ fashioned birthday bash. For some reason most of the attendants were kept anonymous, but we do know that Prime Minister Netanyahu, Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz and the Mossad Chief Tamir Pardu were there to celebrate.

Pardu revealed that the Mossad has more female employees than ever. Women comprise 40% of the agency, 24% of whom are in key positions. He also said that the Mossad employees are younger than ever, with 23% between the ages of 22-32.

In his speech the PM thanked the Mossad agents saying, “what has occurred over the past 100 years is nothing short of a miracle. But we know that miracles have their limits. God and history do not hand them out freely. We need to play our part in them time after time. And I trust in you to continue this work.”

Further Reading: http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-4703846,00.html