Israel News for October 19, 2016

Terrorist Shot
A female Palestinian attempted to stab Border Police officers stationed at the Tapuach Junction checkpoint in Samaria (West Bank) today. She was shot and killed by the officers before she could cause any harm.

IDF Review
A military committee has released its report on Operation Protective Edge (the last Gaza war), in which it found that the IDF was not adequately prepared to handle Hamas tunnels. The report claims that the IDF did not have plans and procedures in place as to how to neutralize tunnels and that the destruction of tunnels was done in an improvised fashion by battalion and company commanders.

The committee also found that Hamas succeeded in effectively commanding its forces throughout the course of the war despite hundreds of daily, accurate IDF attacks.

The committee is now deliberating whether to release the report to the public. Some fear that the government will attempt to prevent this from happening.

Education Minister and Bayit Yehudi Leader Naftali Bennett praised the report, calling it “a testament to transparency.” He added,”The political echelon should act like the army. This is exactly how you should investigate, and I’m proud of the IDF for being able to examine itself.”

For further reading click here.

Kotel Prayer
Tens of thousands of Jews flocked to the Kotel this morning to attend the bi-annual mass Birkat Cohanim (Priestly Blessing). A fitting response to the recent UNESCO resolution denying any jewish connection to the Western Wall and Temple Mount. Both of Israel’s Chief Rabbis and the Chief Rabbi of the Kotel were there to meet worshippers in a large succah.

To see photos of the event click here.

Brotherly Love
A young soldier stationed in Jerusalem was trying to get home to Nahariya for Yom Kippur when he found himself stranded in the Haifa bus terminal just a few hours before the start of the fast. All public transportation had already been halted for the holiday and he only had around 100 shekels in his pocket, not nearly enough for a cab. Then another young man ran into him in the station, took him to the taxi stand outside the terminal, put him in a cab and paid for his trip to Nahariya. The “good samaritan” remained anonymous.

When the soldier arrived home and told his parents his story, his father was so overwhelmed with gratitude that he decided to find the young man who had so kindly helped his son. So after the holiday he posted the story on Facebook and asked if anyone could identify the man. After thousands of “likes” he succeeded. He then called the man and thanked him for being an “angel” and helping his son. He then called on everyone to help soldiers in need and for all Jews to help each other.

For further reading click here.

Israel News for August 11, 2016

Tunnel Correction
Yesterday we mistakenly reported that 10 terrorists were killed when the terror tunnel that they were digging collapsed. According to press reports the ten were injured, not killed. It was just a case of wishful thinking on our part, and we apologize for the mistake (although perhaps some of them subsequently died??).

In any case some people have commented that the people digging the tunnels are not really terrorists, but rather they are innocent civilians forced to dig the tunnels by Hamas thugs who threaten to kill their families if they don’t comply. If that’s true, it’s certainly unfortunate and it’s even more of a reason for the UN and EU to stop propping up the Hamas government and immediately cutt off all aid, including the humanitarian aid that either directly or indirectly results in the strengthening of the terror organization.

In fact, the nations of the free world should form a military coalition and depose the Hamas government, like they did in Libya and Iraq and are currently trying to do against ISIS. Are Hamas terrorists that much different than ISIS terrorists?

But wait, Hamas confines their terror to Israel, so the world either doesn’t care or it expects Israel to take care of herself. Which brings us back to the tunnels. They need to be destroyed, regardless of who digs them. And when they do collapse, we’ll give a cheer, because it means that Israel has just become a bit safer.

Palestinian Tours
The US-based Jewish organization T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights and the controversial left wing have announced that they will begin offering Jewish groups organized day trips to the West Bank to meet with Palestinians and IDF veterans who will share with them their perspectives on issues relating to Israeli-Palestinian relations.

The objective of the new trip initiative is to “empower more American Jews to meet both Palestinians and IDF veterans who have served in the territories, to listen deeply to their narratives, and to bring these perspectives into working toward a better future for Israelis and Palestinians.”

Executive director of T’ruah Rabbi Jill Jacobs hopes that the trips will help the Jewish participants understand that “the current situation of occupation is having a deadly effect on both Israelis and Palestinians. It’s literally killing us. It’s killing us both physically and it’s killing us morally. It’s threatening Israel’s ability to survive, it’s violating the human rights of Palestinians every single day.”

No doubt about where she stands on the issue.

For further reading click here.

Doctors Strike
Today is not a good day to get sick in Israel. Doctors at state hospitals have called a 24 hour strike. They’re demanding a significant increase to their budget for the implementation of a program that would shorten waiting periods at public hospitals, additional interns to allow the doctors to rest during their shifts, and the scrapping of plans to discipline hospital administrators who exceed their set budget.

State hospitals will work according to Shabbat protocols, wherein all nonessential treatments and surgeries will be postponed. The strike is expected to increase the workload in hospitals and thus extend already prolonged waiting periods. Patients who do not require urgent care are advised to postpone their visit, or alternatively go to an HMO clinic instead.

Stay well!

For further reading click here.

Tehina Danger
About 200 tons of tehina salads made by “Shamir Salads” are being recalled from store shelves due a salmonella contamination discovered at a manufacturing plant.

For more details about the recall, click here.

PM Stuff
The Prime Minister is expecting a new residence and a new “Air Force 1”, which will end up costing around 650 million shekels. The finance Ministry feels it’s too expensive. But the PM wants it. So now they’ll fight it out.

By the way, President Rivlin, who would also use the aircraft, has stated that he doesn’t really need it and is fine flying commercial. The Prime Minister doesn’t agree.

For further reading click here.

Summer Lag
You might have noticed that August is a very slow time for Israel news. The Knesset is on vacation, as is most of the country. We’re trying our best to find stories that we think you’d like to read. But as they say, no news is good news, especially in Israel.

Israel News for August 4, 2016

Fireworks Attack
Violence has drastically decreased in East Jerusalem, but it hasn’t disappeared. Last night policemen in Ma’ale ha-Zeitim had fireworks launched directly at them from the Arab neighborhood of Ras al-Amud. This isn’t an isolated incident. Residents of the Jewish Ma’ale ha-Zeitim have been suffering fireworks attacks for years. The police is working on arresting the offenders and confiscating fireworks stocks. According to Joshua Wander, a member of the Ma’ale ha-Zeitim security committee, “There has been a significant drop in the number of attacks compared to last year, but there are still stone-throwing and attacks on the residents.”

To watch a video of the attack, click here.

Homes Demolished
IDF forces destroyed the homes of the two terrorists who committed the Tel Aviv Sarona Market attack, in the village of Yatta near Hebron.

To see images of the demolition, click here.

Hamas Strike
About 100 Hamas prisoners in the Israeli Nafcha prison have started a hunger strike to protest the transfer of several units of prisoners to different prisons. The reason for the transfer was to make it difficult for the terrorists to communicate which each other and with Hamas leaders outside the prisons. Several Hamas leaders were involved in the prisoner shuffle.

The prison authority is constantly confiscating mobile phones thrown in from across the prison fences or smuggling in by visiting relatives.

Hamas prisoners are threatening other forms of disorder in addition to the hunger strike. There are currently 1,700 Hamas prisoners in Israeli jails.

For further reading click here.

Tunnel Barrier
The Defense Department is accepting bids from companies to build an underground concrete barrier around Gaza to block tunnels from entering Israel. The Gaza border with Israel is 60 kilometers.

The concrete barriers will extend several stories underground and will include above ground sections as well. Besides being used as a physical barrier against terror tunnels which cross into Israel, the sophisticated barrier will also be able to detect tunnel digging close to it, something which will enable the IDF to destroy these terror tunnels before they pose a threat.

Work is set to begin in October and will be divided among four Israeli companies. The project is estimated to cost over 2 billion shekels. Gaza will not be paying for the wall.

For further reading click here.

Epic Irony
In an epic case of irony, it turns out that Israel has been purchasing gas masks, since 1967, from two German companies who supplied the Nazis with gas masks to protect them at the gas chambers in Auschwitz. The two companies have a lock on the Israeli market, and supply the Defense Ministry, the Firefighting and Rescue Commission, Israel Railways, the Israel Police and the Israel Prison Service.

One of the companies, MSA, responded to comments about its past saying, “As a company whose foundations are based in ethics, decency and the commitment to protect people, MSA strongly condemns the horrors Nazi Germany committed against humanity. For over 100 years, our sole mission has been to protect the well-being and safety of people worldwide. MSA’s masks helped in keeping firefighters, police officers, emergency teams, industrial workers and soldiers—including in the Israeli army—from harm.”

The Israeli government isn’t bothered by the history of the companies either. But not everyone is happy with the arrangement. Likud MK Oren Hazan is currently working on a bill to prevent in the future the purchase and use of equipment from companies that worked with the Nazis.

For further reading click here.

Jaffa Protest
Leaders of the elected Islamic Council in Jaffa have erected a protest tent to demonstrate their opposition to Jews moving in to predominantly Arab neighborhoods of the city, calling the Jews “settlers”.

Jewish groups have been purchasing property and moving into Arab neighborhoods in the Jaffa in an organized fashion, in an attempt to strengthen the Jewish character and presence in the city. Does living in Jaffa (which is technically part of Tel Aviv) make a Jew a settler?

For further reading click here.

Israel News for April 18, 2016

Golan Message
The Israeli government held a special cabinet meeting in the Golan, as a message to the world that the area will remain as part of Israel forever. The PM declared, “The time has come for the international community to recognize reality. Whatever happens on the other side of the border, the line is not going to change. The time has come after 50 years for the international community to acknowledge that the Golan Heights will permanently remain under Israeli sovereignty.” Netanyahu said that he conveyed the same message to US Secretary of State John Kerry by phone yesterday.

Syria’s Foreign Minister, Faisal al-Miqdad, responded to the PM’s message saying that, “the Syrian Golan is an occupied Arab land according to the UN Security Council’s resolutions, and the presence of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Forces proves this. We have never renounced the resistance and we are ready to recapture the Golan in all possible ways, including military ways. Israel wants to provoke us, but we will never surrender.”

For further reading click here.

Tunnel Discovered
The IDF has discovered a Hamas tunnel that crossed the border fence a few dozen meters into Israel from Gaza. It seems that Hamas knew that the IDF had discovered their tunnel, and yet they did not mount a last ditch attempt to use it for an attack. No weapons were found in the tunnel.

The IDF located the tunnel using a newly developed tunnel busting technology system, which is now being used throughout the Gaza border area. This new system could actually trigger an escalation in the conflict. A senior IDF officer explained, “We have defined the mission as being the destruction of all attack tunnels without reaching an escalation, but an escalation will not deter us. Hamas knows we’ve strengthened our defenses and that it will have a hard time surprising us. If we end up in a war over this – then so be it. This is a long, protracted struggle. Hamas is a sophisticated enemy. It learns lessons and implements them fast. Each one of these tunnels that we foil is a loss for it. Hamas will have to contend with the dilemma of whether or not to act if it sees itself losing other attack tunnels.”

For current reading click here.

Singapore and Israel
The Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong, will arrive in Israel today for a four day official visit. He will be accompanied by his wife, the foreign minister, the environment and water resources minister and the home affairs minister.

Israel and Singapore have a long history of close relations. The IDF helped Singapore establish their army and wrote its military doctrine. Singapore is currently one of Israel’s biggest clients in military hardware and Israeli military companies have permanent representatives in the country.

For further reading click here.

New Library
The cornerstone of the new National Library of Israel was laid last week in a ceremony attended by President Rivlin and PM Netanyahu. The National Library of Israel was founded in Jerusalem in 1892 by the B’nai Brith organization. Since 1925 it has been housed inside the Givat Ram campus of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, but the size of the collection and contemporary needs have outgrown the Library’s old building and dated infrastructure. The new building will be located next to the Knesset and is set to open to the public in 2020.

For further reading click here.

Bike Laws
The Tel Aviv municipality has announced that starting on May 1, police will begin enforcing a law banning bicycle riding on sidewalks. The municipality will educate the public about the new law through billboards, video clips and green graffiti on sidewalks.

The law will include electric bikes and will also cover violations such as going through a red light, riding in the wrong direction, using a mobile phone while riding, and disturbing pedestrians in crosswalks. Punitive measures will include fines, taking the air out of bicycle tires, and confiscation of batteries.

Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai said, “In recent years, we have been active and striving to encourage bicycle riding in the city as an alternative to the use of cars. This welcome change in travel culture has been accompanied by a new situation and insufferable phenomena, such as undisciplined riding of electric bicycles that endangers pedestrians, and it is therefore very important to deal with this and ensure the safety of pedestrians on sidewalks.”

Ride safely!

For further reading click here.

Only in Israel
In an “only in Israel” moment, National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Minister Yuval Steinitz has caused a stir by publicly stating that, “I’m not religious, I like tradition but I don’t avoid eating bread on Passover.” Apparently Steinitz will not be spending his Pesach in the tearoom of one of the deluxe kosher of Passover hotels in Orlando, Miami, Puerto Rico, etc. Instead, he might be sneaking over to Jaffa for some fresh Arab pita, or maybe just defrosting a bagel at home.

In any case, the fact that he doesn’t observe the Peach laws isn’t what’s making waves. It’s the fact that he announced it publicly. As a senior official from the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party put it, “it would be best that the honorable minister keep his comments and actions to himself in an issue that is so important and sensitive to more than 80 percent of the Israeli public.”

On a related note (sort of), the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of the Conservative Movement has permitted the eating of Kitniyot (legumes) on Pesach for their members of Ashkenazic decent. With all due respect, didn’t they also permit driving and using electricity on Shabbat and a whole bunch of other prohibitions? So is permitting legumes (which is only a custom) really surprising?

For further reading click here.

Matzah Record
An attempt was made in Jerusalem to make the largest matzah on record. To see photos of how they did it, click here.

Israel News for March 15, 2016

Terror Averted
Earlier today an Arab man drove up to the entrance of the Sdeh Dov airport near Tel Aviv and attempted to stab a soldier. The soldier managed to get away and the attacker fled.

Also today, Border Police at the Tapuach junction in Samaria arrested a 17 year old Palestinian woman after finding a large butcher’s knife in her possession. The police had previously received intelligence of an Arab teenage girl who had left her home with the intention of carrying out a terror attack.

For further reading click here.

Widow Victorious
Last week we told you about how the widow of First Sergeant Tuvia Yanai Weissman, the soldier killed while trying to prevent a terror attack in a supermarket, was fighting to get the army to inscribe the words “killed in battle” on her husband’s tombstone. The army claimed that they could only use the words “killed in a terror attack”.

Yesterday, army Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot declared that Weissman did in fact fall in battle. The words will be added to his tombstone. Yael Weissman has succeeded in defending her late husband’s honor. May his memory be a blessing.

For further reading click here.

Divorce Case
In a groundbreaking move, the Tel Aviv Rabbinical Court has ordered the imprisonment of the father of a husband who has refused to grant his wife a divorce for more than 11 years. The husband abandoned his wife in Israel in 2005 after she suffered a stroke during a family visit, and fled to the US. He is being protected by his wealthy family and has refused several rabbinic court rulings ordering him to divorce his wife.
The man’s father, who is a big donor to ultra-Orthodox causes, was slapped with a restraining order prohibiting him from leaving the country and was sentence to 30 days in jail. The court ruled that the father is a major factor behind his son’s refusal to grant his wife a divorce. The court is hoping that the jail term will persuade both father and son to change their ways.

Rabbinical Courts director Rabbi Shimon Yaakobi said, “The decision by the court – like others in the recent past – expresses the deep and unequivocal commitment of the rabbinical courts to assist agunot [women denied divorces] and to prevent recalcitrance… The court has made worthy use of the halachic [Jewish legal] and [secular] legal tools at its disposal to expose the help the parents are giving to the recalcitrant husband.”

Prof. Aviad Hacohen, who has represented the woman together with the Yad L’isha organization, said the ruling was “a true revolution. Dayan Shatsman (the chief judge of the rabbinical court) deserves praise for his courage, determination, and willingness to overturn every stone for a woman refused a divorce.”

For further reading click here.

Rabbinic Tunnel Buster
Yesterday another Hamas tunnel collapsed in Gaza, killing a senior Hamas military commander. Since the start of this year 17 Hamas terrorists have been killed in nine tunnel collapses. While the unusually heavy rains have been assumed to be the cause of the collapses, many in Hamas blame the Israelis. Maybe they’re right.

According to the students of Rabbi Netanel Shriki, a 36 year old kabbalist living in Netivot (near the Gaza border), the rabbi began praying for the destruction of the tunnels about two months ago. On five separate occasions since then, the rabbi has gone out to the border and prayed for the destruction of the tunnels and each time his prayers have been answered.

Soldiered stationed in the area have requested to join the rabbi in his prayers, but the army denied their request, leaving the rabbi to beat Hamas on his own.

There doesn’t seem like there’s much Hamas can do to stop the tunnel busting rabbi. Let’s hope his prayers continue to be answered.

For further reading click here.

Another Angel Strikes
A while back we told you about the man who grabbed the phone from a young soldier in tears and paid her electric bill. He was called an “angel”. Well, he’s not the only angel prowling the Israeli trains.

According to a recent Facebook post by another young soldier, he was on the train and talking with a young man he had just met when he received a call from his cellphone company regarding a long overdue bill of 1,500 shekels that he had been unable to pay. A heated argument ensued. Suddenly, the man grabbed the phone and paid the entire bill.

The angel’s name was Samuel Levi, a French Jew. When the soldier asked how he could thank him, Samuel replied, “continue serving your country, put on Tefillin and honor your parents. I love all of you soldiers, and I want to thank you for protecting us.”

Amen to that!

To see a photo of the two men, click here.

Israel News for February 3, 2016

PM Defends Jews
PM Netanyahu firmly rejected derogatory statements against non-Orthodox Jews made by government ministers and members of the Knesset in the wake of this week’s approval of the opening of a new section of the Western Wall for non-Orthodox worship.

He said, “I reject the recent disparaging and divisive remarks by ministers and members of Knesset about Reform Jews. Reform and Conservative Jews are part and parcel of the Jewish people and should be treated with respect.”

Netanyahu called the agreement, “a historic compromise that ensures that the Western Wall will continue to be a source of unity and inspiration for the entire Jewish people. This is the government’s policy. This is my policy.”

For further reading click here.

Herzog and Kerry
MK Isaac Herzog, the leader of the opposition, met with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Rome today. This was the fourth time the men have met in the last six months.

Herzog spoke to Kerry about his plan to unilaterally separate Israel from the Palestinians by basically building a barrier between Israel proper and the West Bank. The barrier would encompass the large Jewish settlement blocks along the new border. Herzog’s plan dismisses the two-state solution based on mutual negotiation and agreement, which has been the cornerstone of recent U.S. foreign policy related to Israel.

Herzog told Kerry, “Israel cannot wait for long negotiations. Our citizens are murdered and we must make a process of separating (from the Palestinians) which will be the realistic basis for the vision of two states which I believe in with all my heart as the only solution to the conflict.”

Herzog’s plan also calls for the formation of a regional security committee consisting of Egypt, Jordan and Israel, along with other Arab states, that would jointly fight radical Islamic terror. He pressed Kerry to advance the establishment of the committee before President Obama leaves office.

Kerry seemed to express interest in Herzog’s ideas. Will the U.S. administration do anything to rock the boat during an election year? Not a chance.

For further reading click here.

Annexing Territories
A new poll conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute has found that 45% of Jewish Israelis are in favor of annexing the entire West Bank (Judea and Samaria), as opposed to implementing a two-state solution proposed by most Israeli politicians including PM Netanyahu (sometimes).

The Israel Democracy Institute (IDI‎), established in 1991, is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit think tank in Jerusalem. Its goals are to formulate policies and initiate reforms to strengthen democratic values in Israel, and it is nonpartisan and generally liberal.

Yehudit Katsover and Nadia Matar, directors of Women in Green (WiG), which works for the application of Israeli sovereignty in the region, warmly welcomed the poll results, saying, “The conclusions arising from the results of the poll are that the People of Israel have stopped apologizing, giving in and dancing to the music and tune of Israel’s and the world’s leftists. The People of Israel say clearly: the Land of Israel belongs to the People of Israel.”

On the other hand, apparently 55% of Jewish Israelis aren’t in favor of annexing the territories, or at least not all of them. So when the ballots are counted, that potential two-state solution might very well become a reality.

For further reading click here.

Tunnel Collapse
If anyone doubted that Hamas was back in the business of building terror tunnels in preparation for attacks on Israel, the events of the past couple of weeks should clarify the facts for them.

Yesterday, two Hamas terrorists, including a field commander, were killed when the tunnel they were working on collapsed. Last week, seven Hamas members were killed in another tunnel collapse caused by intense rain. Today Hamas stated that such incidents would not deter them from continued work on, and use of, the tunnels.

Still skeptical?

For further reading click here.

Holy Tax
The Israel Tax Authority recently released a document which defines the taxation of income received for services provided by rabbis, kabbalists, circumcisers, cantors, and rabbinical courts, such as conducting weddings, performing circumcisions, conducting prayers, kabbalistic gatherings, giving blessings, consultations, distribution or sales of talismans, holy water and various other items of religious significance, and kashrut services.

Just because you didn’t ask for the payment, but got it as a show of appreciation for your service (basically a tip), doesn’t mean it’s not income. The regulation states that it is sufficient that money was received in exchange for a service to make it liable to tax, even if the service provider did not demand payment and even if there is no social norm of payment for the service in question. Giving money as an expression of gratitude on an emotional level or as charity, as long as it is not connected with provision of a service, will be considered a gift that is not liable to tax.

So from now on religious functionaries will have to keep accounts, file returns, declare assets, and all that fun stuff that ordinary folks do. Bummer.

For further reading click here.

Israel News for September 1, 2015

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Fighting in Jenin
IDF, Shin Bet and Police counterterrorism forces entered the West Bank Arab town of Jenin last night to arrest Ba’saam Alsaudi, a senior Islamic Jihad commander. Palestinian sources say that the forces surrounded his house and destroyed it. They were fired upon and there was a shootout. Hamas claims that two of its operatives were arrested. One Israeli soldier was wounded in the shootout. At least four terrorists were killed.

Increased Security
PM Netanyahu told ministers in a weekly cabinet meeting that the IDF and police force will increase security in the wake of an escalation in terror attacks in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria. He said, “We will augment our forces and expand our fortification of vehicles in order to preserve the security of Israel’s citizens.”

On the subject of police, the PM also expressed his support for Gal Hirsch, the Public Security Minister’s nominee to head up the Israel National Police. Netanyahu said, “Gal Hirsch is the right person at the right time. He was a moral and ethical officer, he has great abilities to make change and contribute to the strengthening of the Israel police and the strengthening of law and order in the state.”

Hirsch is being investigated by the attorney general for alleged money laundering and other business improprieties. No evidence has so far been found against him.

Egypt, Fish and Tunnels
Israel isn’t the only country bent on destroying Hamas tunnels coming out of Gaza. This week the Egyptian army began a project to construct 18 fisheries along their 9 mile border with Gaza. The fisheries will grow mullet fish and shrimp. More importantly, the water will make digging tunnels impossible and cause the existing ones to flood.

Some Gazan smugglers are already installing water pumps to suck the water out and keep their tunnels operating. But it seems like just a matter of time before the twenty tunnels currently in operation get shut down, putting an end to smuggling and terrorist movement across the border.

Maybe Israel should consider creating fish farms along its border with Gaza? Salmon and whitefish might just solve Israel’s Gaza border problems.

Israeli Tunnel
Speaking of tunnels, Jerusalem police have uncovered the entrance to a 30 meter long tunnel in the yard of an East Jerusalem house adjacent to the Rockefeller Museum, just outside the Old City. The museum contains a major collection of artifacts from archaeological digs conducted during the British Mandate period.

Museum officials don’t seem to think that the purpose of the tunnel was to steal artifacts, but the police are investigating the possibility. They’ll keep digging until they figure it out (sorry for the tunnel humor).

Where there’s Smoke
Smoking seems to be on the rise in the Palestinian Authority, but PA tax coffers aren’t benefitting. Neither is the Palestinian run Jerusalem Cigarette Company. That’s because huge quantities of cigarettes are being smuggled in from Jordan every day, bypassing PA customs officials.

Most of the cigarettes are smuggled in by women, who strap them to their bodies, and delivered by Israeli taxis, which can’t be searched by PA authorities.

The Jordanian made cigarettes cost half as much as those made in the PA. According to one report, the smuggling is costing the PA over $100 million in lost revenue. Sales at the Jerusalem Cigarette Company have dropped significantly too. The instances of lung cancer can’t be too good either, but that’s just our guess.

Charedim Must Not Discriminate
One of the most prestigious charedi girls seminary will need to be a bit less discriminatory in their acceptance practices. The Jerusalem district court has ordered the seminary, Hayashan, to accept 21 girls into its ninth grade class that they had previously rejected. Most of the girls are from Sephardic families.

The story began when the 21 girls were rejected from enrolling in the school, even after the Jerusalem Municipality insisted that they be accepted. The school’s headmaster, Rabbi Levin, denies allegations of discrimination against Sephardim and claims that the girls just do not have the qualifications required by the school.

Aryeh Deri, the head of the Shas Sephardic-Charedi party, warned against a repeat of the discrimination case in the charedi town of Emanuel. In that case there were two girls schools, one primarily for Ashkenazim and one for Sephardim. Some Sephardic parents sued because their girls were denied acceptance to the Ashkenazic school. The case caused lots of strife and infighting within the charedi community. No one in the community wants that to happen again.

Rabbi Levin says that he will fight the court’s ruling claiming that it has no right to meddle in the affairs of the charedi education system.

Israel News for August 12, 2015

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High Court vs. Africans
Israel’s High Court of Justice, the equivalent of the US Supreme Court, struck down part of the Anti-Infiltration law passed by the Knesset that allowed illegal immigrants to be held in detention for up to 20 months. The court ruled that they can be only be held for a maximum of 12 month and ordered the release of some 1,200 of the 1,700 asylum-seekers being held for over a year at the open detention facility in Holot.

There are currently more than 45,000 Africans in Israel who infiltrated into the country, primarily via the Egyptian border. Most are from Eritrea and Sudan. Since they are fleeing from war-torn countries where their lives are in danger, they are considered asylum seekers and cannot, according to Israeli law, be deported back to their home countries unless they pose a clear security threat (which they don’t). International law requires asylum seekers to immediately report their arrival to the authorities in order to be protected from deportation. The Africans skip that step and go directly to the find work stage.

In order to control this influx of African asylum seekers, which poses a demographic threat to the stability of the country, the Knesset passed the Anti Infiltration law allowing the government to imprison the illegals for up to 3 months and then detain them for up to 20 months. These measures are meant to persuade the migrants to leave the country. Approximately 9,000 have already left.

Just hours before the court’s ruling, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked warned the court against overturning the law, saying that it would be a “declaration that south Tel Aviv (where many of the Africans reside) is the official facility for accommodating infiltrators.” Some Jewish residents of south Tel Aviv echoed her warning with a small demonstration.

The High Court reduced the 20 month detention term to 12 and kept the rest of the law in tact. In other words they basically agreed with the government’s position of trying to force the asylum seekers to leave voluntarily and issued a clear message that the borders of Israel are not free to be infiltrated.

Hamas Hard at Work
The Shin Bet announced the arrest of a Hamas terrorist, Ibrahim Adel Shahadeh Sha’er, early last month. On July 31 Sha’er was charged with attempted murder, contact with a foreign agent, forbidden military training, various weapons offenses and membership and activity in an illegal organization. He provided interrogators with a treasure trove of information on Hamas activities.

What He Spilled
Sha’er provided interrogators with immense detail regarding Hamas activity and plans, including the construction of a tunnel from the Rafah area in Gaza to just beyond the Kerem Shalom crossing in Israel. He also revealed Hamas plans to use a new road that they had paved near the border in a surprise attack against Israel, using vehicles that would race to the border from the road.

The Shin Bet also said that Sha’er gave them extensive information on the tunnels near Rafah, including the location of the entrances and exits, where the tunnels were being dug, and their routes.

Sha’er revealed information on the activities of the Hamas elite Nukhba forces, and changes in their military tactics and structure following Operation Protective Edge last summer. He explained how Iran provides funds, advanced weaponry and electronic equipment to Hamas and that they have trained Gaza fighters in the use of hang gliders to penetrate into Israel. He said Hamas has observation points that provide it with a view of up to three kilometers into Israel.

The IDF claims to have further intelligence on a significant number of additional tunnels that have been built and are currently ready for use.

Clearly Hamas hasn’t given up and is hard at work preparing for their next war with Israel. The IDF knows this, but is reluctant to enter into another round of violence by destroying tunnels, as long as Hamas doesn’t seem interested in war either, at least for now.

IDF Modifies Shooting Rules
The IDF has issued a temporary change in their rules of engagement for dealing with violent Palestinian protesters in the West Bank. The standard procedure has been that when a protestor throws a rock or other weapon at soldiers and then runs away, the soldiers can pursue the attacker and stop him by firing warning shots into the air or, as a last resort, firing at his legs. The reasoning is that if someone attacks soldiers once, he will try again. Therefore, stopping him is a matter of self defense for the soldiers.

According to the new rule, soldiers are not permitted to shoot at attackers who throw and run unless they determine that they are in immediate, life threatening danger at that moment. They can, however, still use other means to apprehend the attackers.

The new rule is meant to prevent violent escalations and increased unrest as a result of the heightened tensions in the wake of the Duma arson attack two weeks ago that killed a Palestinian toddler and his father.

Pro Rabbinate Group
In response to the establishment of an independent conversion outside of the jurisdiction of the Chief Rabbinate, a group of senior rabbis has formed an organization to strengthen the Rabbinate’s prestige and influence.

The new organization, Noam, is lead and manned primarily by religious zionist rabbis, not very different than the ones who started the break-away court. Some of the prominent rabbinic leaders of Noam include the head of the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva, which is the flagship institution of religious zionism, and the head of the Tzomet Institute, which is at the forefront of applying modern technology within the framework of traditional Jewish law (halacha).

According to a statement made by the new group, the purpose of Noam is not to blindly support all the actions of the Chief Rabbinate. Rather, it’s goal is to “create a platform” to enable better dialogue and communication between the Chief Rabbinate and the rabbis of the country to discuss contentious issues and find amicable solutions.

The charedi rabbinical establishment that heavily influences the actions of the Chief Rabbinate have, for the most part, remained silent on the establishment of the independent conversion court. They seem to be satisfied to let the religious zionist rabbis fight it out amongst themselves.

In any case, the charedim already operate their own independent courts and kosher supervisors outside of the Chief Rabbinate’s jurisdiction, so they can’t really dispute the fundamental basis for an independent court.

New Jerusalem Cinemaplex
The Yes Planet theater chain opened a new NIS 200 million entertainment complex in Jerusalem today. The six story, 28,500 sq. meter complex contains a 16 screen cinema, auditoriums, exhibition space and room for coffee shops, restaurants and stores. It’s located in a bustling area between the Old City and Talpiot.

Unlike rivaling center Cinema City, which sits at the western entrance to the capital, the Yes Planet will operate on Shabbat. Since it’s built on private property, the city council can’t prevent that. It doesn’t look like the religious elements in the city will actively protest it either.