Israel News for May 20, 2016

Terror Averted
A 16-year-old Arab resident of the Shuafat neighborhood of East Jerusalem was arrested Thursday afternoon for planning to carry out a stabbing attack at the Damascus Gate of the Old City.

Police and Border Guard officers noticed the suspicious youth near the light rail station in Beit Hanina. The young terrorist boarded the bus in Shuafat and made his way toward Damascus Gate. Security forces boarded the bus after him, and after searching him discovered a knife. He was arrested and taken in for questioning where he admitted his plan to carry out a stabbing attack against police officers.

For further reading click here.

Coalition Bargaining
Israel Beyteinu and government officials are hard at work finalizing the terms of the agreement that will bring the Russian immigrant based party into the government. As part of the agreement party leader Avigdor Liberman will become Defense Minister and the party will also get the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption and some other less major positions.

According to sources involved in the negotiations, there is no disagreement over the positions that were offered to Yisrael Beiteinu. What remains is to find the additional money to fund the line items that are part of the party’s conditions for joining the government and to draw up an agreement amenable to both sides. The main items that need funding  are the increased pensions for immigrants from the former Soviet Union and for mortgages for these immigrants that cover 90 percent of a home’s purchase price.

Yisrael Beyteinu will give the government a 67 seat majority in the Knesset, instead of the 61 seat majority the government currently holds. Sources are confident that the agreement will be finalized later today.

For further reading click here.

Ya’alon Resigns
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, deciding not to wait for the official agreement between Israel Beyteinu and the government to be finalized, announced today his resignation from his job as Defense Minister and from the Knesset. The PM offered Ya’alon the prestigious job of Foreign Minister, but Ya’alon declined.

Ya’alon wrote on Facebook, “I notified the prime minister this morning that following his conduct in the latest developments and in view of the lack of trust in him, I am resigning from the government and the Knesset and taking time out from political life.”

US State Department spokesperson John Kirby remarked,”We appreciate Mr. Ya’alon’s leadership and partnership as defense minister and we look forward to working with his successor. Our bonds of friendship are unbreakable, and commitment to the security of Israel remains absolute.”

But Ya’alon isn’t done with politics just yet. Speaking at a press conference a short time following his resignations, Ya’alon said, “I have no intention of leaving public and political life in the state, and in the future I will return to contend for the nationalist leadership of the State of Israel.”

Replacing Ya’alon in the Knesset will be the next person on the Likud party list, Rabbi Yehuda Glick, the prominent US born Temple Mount activist who survived an assassination attempt in 2014.

Speaking to Army Radio on Friday morning, Glick said that “I regret the departure of Ya’alon. He is a moral man and an asset to the people of Israel and the Likud.”

Regarding his new Knesset position click remarked, “I pray to God that He give me good counsel and accompany me as an emissary for the nation of Israel, to sanctify the name of Heaven and to increase peace and light in the world and work to unify the nation of Israel.”

For further reading click here.

To Life
If you’re looking to live longer, then you should seriously consider moving to Israel. According to a report on worldwide life expectancy recently released by the World Health Organization, Israel ranks number 8 on the list.

In 2015 the average world life expectancy was 71, which is 5 years linger than it was in 2000, when the report was last compiled.

Japan has the highest overall life expectancy, at 86.8 years, while Switzerland has the highest male life expectancy of 81.3 years.

The life expectancy in Israel is 80.6 for men and 84.3 for women. That’s ahead of the US, where life expectancy is 77 years for men and 81.6 for women. Israel is also ahead of Canada and most of Europe.

The shortest life expectancy in the world is in Sierra Leone, where women on average only live to about 51 years of age, and men to about 59.

L’chaim, to life!

To view the entire list, click here.

Israel News for February 4, 2016

Terror in Ramle
Early today, two 13 year old eighth graders from the Israeli Arab neighborhood of Jawarish in Ramle went to the central bus station in Ramle, a mixed Arab and Jewish city in central Israel. Sounds normal enough. But when the security guard asked them for their IDs, they pulled large kitchen knives from a school bag and stabbed him in the hand and leg. Other guards and civilians ran to help and subdued the girls. The security guard was lightly wounded in the attack.

Ramla Mayor Yoel Lavi said police was investigating the attack that “is uncharacteristic of the Arab sector in Ramla. Ramla is a multi-cultural city, in which people live in coexistence and in good neighborly relations, Jews alongside Arabs.”

Police praised the security guards for exercising restraint and subduing the girls without using their firearms. During the police interrogation, one of the girls said, “we came to kill Jews.”

For further reading click here.

Jerusalem Terror
Near the Damascus Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem yesterday, a Border Police patrol, consisting of one male officer and two female recruits still in training, noticed two suspicious looking Arab males sitting on a bench. They approached and asked the men for identification. One of the men stood up, drew a gun from his coat and struck the officer’s head.

In the words of the Border Police officer, “I took a step back, saw he was aiming at me and was going to pull the trigger. I took two steps back, cocked my revolver and fired a bullet at him. Then I turned and saw someone with a knife stabbing [the border policewoman who survived] and I shot him. Then I heard shots, turned around and saw another terrorist shooting.” A policeman then arrived on the scene and shot the other terrorist.

Hagar Cohen, 19, one of the recruits in training, was killed in the attack. The other trainee was seriously wounded. All three terrorists were killed. They had submachine guns and explosives. Luckily, the explosives failed to detonate.

Cohen was recruited just two months ago and was sworn in last Thursday. Some of Cohen’s relatives criticized the fact that the Border Police would deploy inexperienced recruits in such a volatile area.

Police commanders praised the actions of the Border Police patrol and said that they, in all likelihood, prevented a much larger terror attack by confronting the terrorists before they had a chance to act.

Israeli forces have blockaded and sealed off the Qabatiya, near Jenin, which is the hometown of the terrorists. A large number of reinforcements have arrived in the area. Several terror suspects have been arrested and the homes of the three terrorists have been prepared for demolition.

For further reading click here.

Abbas Strikes Again
Just hours after the terror attack in Jerusalem that claimed the life of a Border Police recruit, PA President Abbas met with the families of eleven terrorists at his office in Ramallah.

The terrorists, all from the Jerusalem, committed their deadly and destructive attacks during the last four months. Their families want Abbas to get Israel to return their bodies for burial. Abbas told the families that he is making efforts to get the bodies returned, calling the terrorists martyrs.

Surprised by any of this?

For further reading click here.

Youths Sentenced
The Jerusalem District Court has sentenced the two minors convicted of the July 2014 murder of Palestinian teen Mohammed Abu Khdeir, who burned to death in an apparent revenge attack for the murder of the three Jewish teens near Hebron. One received a life sentence and the other, 21 years in prison. Each minor will also be forced to pay the Abu Khdeir family 30,000 shekels (about $7,700) in compensation (not sure how they came up with that number).

The minor sentenced to 21 years was not sentenced to life because the court determined he didn’t take part in the actual murder, only the actions that preceded it. “He is the youngest of the bunch, with potential for rehabilitation,” the judgement read.

The court is expected rule in the case of the main defendant, Yosef Chaim Ben David, after he undergoes a final psychiatric evaluation (since he pleaded insanity just before sentencing).

The parents of the victim aren’t happy with the verdict, claiming that justice was not done. But the sentences seem to be in line with what Palestinian terrorists receive, and there’s no chance that the Jewish convicts will ever be released in a prisoner exchange. So I’d say justice has indeed been served.

For further reading click here.

Tokyo Tel Aviv
Israelis have become a common site in India and Thailand. Their next popular distention might be Japan. Japanese airline All Nippon Airways (ANA) launched flights from Tel Aviv to Tokyo via Europe six weeks ago, and the airline is satisfied, to say the least. ANA senior VP Yutaka Ito, who is visiting Israeli, said, “The Israeli market is important to us. We recognize its great and growing potential, and are interested in the passenger traffic between the two countries.”

An estimated 20,000 Israelis flew to Japan last year, half of them business passengers and half vacationers. Ito says this number has been growing yearly, thereby paving the way for the establishment of a local ANA office and investment in the business, which for now is focusing mainly on Israeli tourists, rather than bringing tourists from Japan to Israel.

And most importantly, sushi in Japan is about half the price of what it is in Tel Aviv. So the sushi savings might be enough to pay for your next flight. It’s worth a try.

For further reading click here.

Israel News for September 21, 2015

< back to sign up

Stones and Punishments
There’s no question that there will soon be a mandatory minimum sentence for stone throwers. The only questions are how long will the regulation last for and how long will the sentences be.

The PM and the Justice Minister want the mandatory minimum sentence regulation to be in force for at least 3 years and sentences to be set at 5 years. The Attorney General wants the regulation to be in place for a temporary one year trial period and the actual sentences to be set at 2.5 years.

Either way, it’s bad news for stone throwers and hopefully good news for the general public, if the mandatory sentences succeed in dissuading people from their deadly stone throwing activities.

We can live with name calling, but the sticks and stones need to go.

Dirty Cop
The Israeli Police force has suffered from a multitude of scandals that have tarnished its reputation and eroded the public’s trust in it. Now there’s more.

Eran Malka, a former top officer in the Israel Police’s anti-corruption investigation unit, Lahav 433, was sentenced yesterday to eight years in prison, after admitting to passing on sensitive information about investigations to attorney Ronel Fisher in return for bribes.

According to the plea bargain signed by the police investigations unit with Malka’s defense attorneys, Malka will hand over all the information he has and testify against former commander of the police’s Central District, Bruno Stein, and the former head of the Tel Aviv State Attorney’s office, Ruth David, who were allegedly involved in the bribery scheme. (More scandals anyone?) In return, Malka will get to keep his pension.

Malka expressed regret and noted that he had been captivated by Fisher’s charm. He said that he had considered suicide and asked for mercy for himself and his wife and children.

The Judge said, “The damage he caused is twofold: both direct damage to specific investigations, some of which have been postponed, but mainly to public confidence in the purity of the investigation and the investigative process. There is both immediate damage and future damage.”

Chinese are Coming
PM Netanyahu has announced plans to bring in 20,000 Chinese construction workers to help build new housing, as part of his effort to reduce housing prices by increasing supply.

Israel’s construction sector currently employs 216,000 workers, including 37,000 Palestinians and 6,000 foreigners, 3,700 of whom are Chinese. The Chinese workers are currently brought into Israel under private contracts between Israeli and Chinese companies. Now the two governments are working on creating an official agreement to regulate the rights, employment conditions and compensation of the Chinese. The agreement hasn’t yet been completed, but the workers will still be brought in.

According the Finance Ministry, the work pace of Chinese workers currently building high-rises in Israel is 50% faster than that of Israelis and Palestinians.

The question here is whether the presence of 20,000 Chinese males will affect the social structure in Israel. The country already has thousands of African foreign workers living primarily in Tel Aviv, and that experience hasn’t been positive for the Israelis in the Tel Aviv neighborhood where most of them are concentrated. Will the Chinese experience be different? The government seems to think so. Or maybe the need and increased productivity is enough to trump the social consequences? The desire of Israelis for more affordable housing is probably the overriding factor in getting the PM the support he needs to bring over the Chinese workers.

On the bright side, the quality of Chinese food in the country is bound to improve, big time.

Startup nation
Looking to invest in a startup? International accounting and consulting firm Delloite just released their annual survey ranking the countries whose startups investors prefer to invest in. Guess who ranked first? The US. Ok, guess who ranked second? Israel!

Commenting on the results, Deloitte’s Technology, Media & Telecommunications Industry leader Tal Chen said, “This is the fourth straight year that Israel is rated in second place after the US in the level of confidence among foreign investors, compared with investments elsewhere in the world. Not only is the level of confidence in Israel higher than in other countries examined, other than the US, but if the investors’ level of confidence is examined in comparison with the major US markets (Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, New York, and Silicon Valley), Israel comes second only to Silicon Valley.”

Asian investors, headed by those from Japan and China, have recently been increasing their interest and their investments in Israeli startups, and that is expected to continue and grow.

The Startup Nation continues to thrive.

Sodas for Syrians
Israeli company Sodastream International Ltd. (Nasdaq: SODA) has been under constant pressure from the BDS movement for having had their major manufacturing plant located in Ma’aleh Adumim (West Bank). The public relations effect of the pressure forced Sodastream to relocate their plant to the Negev, near the Bedouin town for Rahat, which resulted in many Palestinians losing their well paying jobs. Not a great outcome for BDS.

Now the company announced that it would be willing to help absorb up to 1,000 Syrian refugees by giving them jobs at the plant and helping them settle in Rahat.

Rahat has a population of 55,000 and is the largest Bedouin town in the world. At present, 30% of the 1,100 workers in SodaStream’s nearby factory are residents of Rahat.

The PM has repeatedly said that Israel will not allow Syrian refugees into Israel, so Sodastream’s offer isn’t really practical, but it does make for some nice PR and a slap in the face of their BDS opponents. Maybe.