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Israel News for November 30, 2016

Israel Attacks Syria
According to the Syrian government and Arab media sources, the Israeli airfare (IAF) reportedly attacked a Syrian army outpost and a Hezbollah arms convoy not far from the highway connecting Damascus and Beirut early Wednesday. Both attacks were reportedly carried out by aircraft flying over Lebanese airspace. No injuries were reported. The IAF neither confirmed nor denied the reports.

For further reading click here.

At the UN
On the 69th anniversary of the November 29, 1947 UN vote to partition Palestine into Jewish and Arab states, the UN’s Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP) held a special meeting to mark the “International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.” The President of the UN General Assembly, Peter Thomson, attended the meeting wearing a Palestinian flag scarf.

Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, reprimanded Thomson for his undiplomatic fashion statement saying, “It’s unacceptable for the president of the UN General Assembly, whose position is a symbol of neutrality and stateliness, to wrap himself in a Palestinian flag and participate in an event whose sole purpose is to attack and besmirch the State of Israel. This is living, unequivocal proof of the bias against Israel and the slander spread about us at the UN.”

Yesterday the UN General Assembly adopted six anti Israel resolutions including one about Jerusalem’s holy sites that ignores any Jewish connections and another ordering Israel to withdraw from all “occupied territories.

Business as usual at the UN.

For further reading click here.

Turkish Attacks
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday attacked Israel for attempting to pass a law to prohibit Muslim prayers from being broadcast through loudspeakers (at the crack of dawn). Erdogan also accused Israel of “policies of repression and discrimination against our Palestinian brothers” and proclaimed, “it is the common duty of all Muslims to embrace the Palestinian cause and protect Jerusalem.”

Israel and Turkey recently exchanged ambassadors as part of a reconciliation agreement signed by the two countries to normalize relations. Apparently, things are back to normal.

For further reading click here.

Hackers Strike
Major Israeli prime time TV news channels 2 and 10 were interrupted last night with images of Muslim holy sites and images from the recent fires along with the words “Allah is great” written in Hebrew. The interruptions lasted for about 30 seconds and were suspected to have caused by hackers who temporarily took control over the satellite carrying the broadcast. Pro-Palestinian hackers have interrupted broadcasts several times in the past. Police and security officials are investigating.

For further reading click here.

Storms Coming
Now that the fires have been extinguished, the rains are coming. Heavy rain is expected today and Thursday in the coastal regions and in the Haifa area. There is a threat of flooding in the Haifa area. Timing is everything.

For further reading click here.

Israel News for November 23, 2016

Fires Rage
Hundreds of firefighters continue to battle fires raging throughout Israel. The fires are difficult to control due to extremely dry and unseasonably warm conditions along with strong winds.

One of the most dangerous fires has been raging for several days in the city of Zichron Yaakov. Several neighborhoods in the city have been evacuated and homes and property have been damaged. People will not be able to return home until at least Friday. Fires also are burning in several others areas of the country including near Nahariya, Kiryat Gat and Jerusalem. Dozens of people have suffered from smoke inhalation.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan tweeted, “It’s beginning to appear—in light of the multiple fire locations—that arson could be the cause of some of the fires. The police and the Fire Department will investigate.” Erdan is deciding whether to ask Greece and Croatia, which whom Israel has cooperation agreements, to send firefighting planes to aid in battling the fires.

To see images of the firefighting and fire damage click here.

Noise Bill Lives
The proposed legislation to prohibit mosques from using loudspeakers to broadcast their calls to prayer looked like it would not receive the backing of the Haredi coalition parties because they feared that the new law would also end up banning the sirens used to announce the entrance of Shabbat on Friday afternoons. But a compromise has been reached to include a clause in the law stating that the law would apply only between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. and thus, would not effect the Shabbat sirens.

Based on the new clause, Health Minister Litzman of the UTJ removed his appeal, allowing the legislation to come to a Knesset vote this week.

However, a Shas MK has raised objections to the legislation, claiming that it just serves to alienate and annoy the Arab population. He believes that an agreement can be worked out with Arab leaders based on existing anti-noise laws.

Arab Knesset members have condemned the proposed bill and have called on the Arab population to disobey it if it passes. The PA, Jordan and Turkey have also attacked the law.

[Alarm clock manufacturers are expecting a huge boost in sales if the law passes.]

For further reading click here.

Israel Accuses Iran
In a letter to the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon accused Iran of using commercial airliners, including Mahan Air, to transfer weapons to Hezbollah. The United States has sanctioned the Iranian carrier for providing services to the Quds Force, a special forces unit of the Revolutionary Guard, as well as Hezbollah.

Danon claimed that the Iranians packed weapons into suitcases that went on commercial flights to Beirut and Damascus. He wrote, “It is clear that Iran is still the primary supplier of arms and related material to Hezbollah, in blatant violation of numerous Security Council resolutions. The Security Council must condemn Iran and Hezbollah for the violation of its resolutions.” Danon did not provide any evidence to back up his claim.

For further reading click here.
 

Long Term PM
According to the Israel Democracy Institute, PM Netanyahu has broken David Ben-Gurion’s record as the prime minister who served the longest consecutive term in Israel’s history. Ben-Gurion was Israel’s first PM.

As of Tuesday, Netanyahu had served 2,793 days or seven years and 236 days. That includes three terms in office starting in 2009. Netanyahu also served as PM from 1996 to 1999 (but that doesn’t count for the record). If Netanyahu makes it to the 2019 elections, he’ll be the longest serving Israeli PM ever.

Israel doesn’t have term limits.

For further reading click here.

Israel News for November 16, 2016

Unlikely Opposition
Arab ministers aren’t the only ones opposing the bill just approved by government ministers that would prohibit mosques from using loudspeakers to broadcast their call to prayer. Health Minister Yakov Litzman, of the Haredi UTJ party, filed an appeal yesterday to prevent the Knesset from voting on the Muezzin Bill, thereby sending it back to the government for further review. The move will force PM Netanyahu to take a public stance on the matter.

In his appeal, Litzman referred to the similarities between the muezzin calls and the call announcing the beginning of Shabbat. “For thousands of years, different instruments have been used for this purpose, including the shofar and trumpet. With the advancement of technology, loudspeakers are now used to announce the beginning of Shabbat while respecting the allowed volume and in accordance to the law. The bill in its current phrasing, and following the discussions that it will bring on, may harm the status quo, and so in accordance to governmental protocol, this appeal is hereby submitted for further review.”

In other words, Litzman is afraid that the same reasoning for banning the Moslem prayer calls will be applied to banning the pre-Shabbat sirens [ even though a weekly midday siren is quite different than a daily pre-dawn wakeup call ].

Shas (the sephardic haredi party) leader Aryeh Deri has also said that the new bill is unnecessary because there are already existing regulations to prevent excessive noise, which are simply not being enforced. He also brought up the Shabbat siren issue.

Without the full support of the coalition, it’s unlikely that the new Muezzin noise curbing legislation will pass.

For further reading click here.

Coalition Uncertainty
The bill that would allow the State to expropriate privately owned Palestinian land and, in effect, legalize the Amona settlement is due to come up for a preliminary vote in the Knesset, but it is unclear whether the coalition has enough votes to pass it.

Finance Minister Moshe Kahalon, head of the Kulanu party, has said that he will not support legislation that goes against the ruling of the Supreme Court. Haredi MKs have also indicated that they will only support the bill if they get concessions in other areas. If they don’t vote for the legislation, the opposition could very likely prevail.

The coalition chairman has suggested that the vote be postponed until he has sufficient time to assure that their are sufficient votes to pass the bill, but Naftali Bennet has demanded that the vote take place as scheduled. Bennet is also against any compromises or changes to the legislation. He has also threatened that his Bayit Yehudi party will not support subsequent government legislation if the bill is not fully supported.

PM Netanyahu will not attend the Knesset vote so as not to stir up international reaction. He also did not vote for the bill in the initial Ministerial Committee for Legislation vote. The Attorney General has also said that he will not defend the bill against the Supreme Court’s ruling and which he believes to be against international law.

For further reading click here.

Iran Sanctions
The US House of Representatives, with bipartison support, passed a bill to extend sanctions against Iran for an additional 10 years. The existing sanctions were due to expire on Dec. 31. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee urged the Senate to pass a companion bill. President Obama has said that he will not veto the sanctions extension.

With the sanctions extended, all Trump has to do as President is to stop waiving existing sanctions in order to pull the US out of the Iran deal. Simple.

The only problem is that the five other countries that signed the Iran deal along with the US have are unlikely to stop trading with Iran and impose new sanctions. That would put US companies at a disadvantage, something that doesn’t seem to sit well with Trump. It would also greatly reduce the effect of the US sanctions.

For further reading click here.

Ambassador Exchange
Israel and Turkey have finally exchanged ambassadors, five months after the countries signed their reconciliation agreement. The new Israeli ambassador is 53-year-old Eitan Na’eh, an experienced diplomat who served in Ankara in 1991 as a political affairs officer, as ambassador to Azerbaijan, and was currently serving as deputy ambassador to Great Britain. The new Turkish ambassador, Kemal Okem, is a foreign policy advisor and close confidant of Erdogan.

Israel and Turkey are currently involved in discussions to build a pipeline to transport natural gas from Israel to Turkey and Europe.

For further reading click here.

Israel and France
The Israeli Air Force and the French Air Force recently held two weeks of joint exercises over the skies of Corsica. It is the first time that Israeli pilots have joined their French counterparts in French airspace. The two countries also held joint exercises at the beginning of this year with search and rescue missions as well as a scenario of a naval attack on Israel.

For further reading click here.

Israel News for September 1, 2016

Bethlehem Hospital
Defense Minister Lieberman has approved plans for the construction of a Palestinian children’s hospital in Bethlehem, in an area fully controlled by Israel. The project still needs to go through the normal approval process from the relevant authorities, but Lieberman wanted to get the ball rolling in the right direction. In doing so he was attacked by right wing groups for helping the Palestinians take over Israeli land. He claims that he is simply implementing his “carrot and stick” policy, by which he will punish communities that aid or promote terror, and reward those that keep the peace.

For further reading click here.

Settlement Expansion
The Ministry of Interior’s Settlements Subcommittee yesterday approved the construction of 120 units in the West Bank and retroactively approved several new neighborhoods that have already been constructed. The new units will be built in Efrat, Givat Ze’ev, Beit Aryeh, Nofim. An additional 234 apartments were approved in a senior citizens’ home in Elkana.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said, “This significant expansion of the settlement activity poses a serious and growing threat to the viability of a two state solution. We are particularly troubled by the policy of retroactively approving illegal outposts and unauthorized settlements.”

For further reading click here.

New Ambassador
As an Egyptian military band played Hatikva, Israel’s new ambassador to Egypt, David Govrin, officially presented his credentials to Egyptian President al-Sisi in Cairo yesterday.

Govrin said, “I feel very proud to be appointed to this position in Egypt, the mother of the world, a land of cultures and ancient history. I have no doubt that the relations between Egypt and Israel are vital and central to achieve the long-awaited peace and stability in the region in general.”

For further reading click here.

Turkish Handshake
Turkey’s President Erdogan shook the hand of Israel’s interim ambassador to Ankara, Shani Cooper. During the president’s traditional handshake with the diplomatic corps to celebrate the country’s Victory Day on August 30, Erdoğan asked to welcome Cooper. She presented herself and expressed her nation’s support for the Turkish president and republic. Erdogan spoke positively about the newly reinstated diplomatic relations between the two countries, and wished Cooper good in her new position. Israel and Turkey will soon both appoint permanent ambassadors to represent them respectively.

Erdogan yesterday formally approved the agreement reached with Israel.

For further reading click here.

Helping Survivors
Aviva Silverman, CEO of Aviv (“Spring”) for Holocaust Survivors, recently launched a new website to help inform the 180,000 holocaust survivors living in Israel and elsewhere of the benefits that they are entitled to.

Silverman founded the organization in 2007 to address the overwhelming lack of public awareness of what Israeli law provides for holocaust survivors. According to Silverman, around 25% of holocaust survivors in Israel live in poverty. Aviv for Holocaust Survivors has already helped about 50,000 survivors get over 200 million shekels in government assistance that they were entitled to.

According to the mission statement on the new website, “Our vision is that all Holocaust survivors living in Israel should live their lives with the dignity and comfort they deserve, and that they receive respect and proper treatment from the various agencies assisting them. Thousands of them do not take advantage of all their rights, whether granted to them by law or under various programs.”

Silverman said, “The new site is intended to aid all segments of the population – survivors and their families and offers easily accessible information about the rights and benefits offered to survivors from different countries around the world.”

We applaud your important work.

To check out the website go to avivshoa.co.il

School Days
About 2.2 million Israeli students started the new school year today. If you’re wondering what the average class size is in an Israeli school, Education minister Naftali Bennett explained, “Since the state was founded, the standard has been to have 40 students per class. We then set an upper limit whereby there would be up to 34 students per class, and 32 in weaker communities.”

Around 180,000 work in the Israeli school system, with 9,000 of them starting their first year.

In his opening statement to kick off the new school year Bennett said, “we’ve worked hard over the last summer and we’re well prepared. Starting last year, we’ve made a sharp turn to try to make the education system more personalized via smaller class sizes, teachers’ aides, a revolution in teaching math, and with national programs in English language instruction. We did all of this in conjunction with the Biton Commission to connect the different sectors of Israeli nation, and in conjunction with the Year of Jerusalem, which will begin soon.”

For further reading click here.

Holy City
When you think of holy city, Jerusalem comes to mind. Tel Aviv, not so much. But the new Chabad emissary in Tel Aviv, Rabbi Eli Naiditch, decided to change that perception and prove that Tel Aviv is, indeed, a holy city. So he set representatives up in four city locations who would offer men the opportunity to put on teffilin. They worked from 9am until 7pm and succeeded in enabling 262 men to put on tefillin. He reported his success to the Guinness Book of World Records. Rabbi Neiditch won’t know if he set a world record for a few months, but didn’t seem to care when he said, “This is the greatest proof that Tel Aviv is absolutely a holy city, filled with holy people.”

For further reading click here.

Survey Says
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This issue of israelAM is sponsored by us in honor of our wedding anniversary!!

Israel News for July 25, 2016

Olympic Shabbat
The opening ceremonies of the Summer Olympics in Rio will take place on Friday evening, August 5th, and Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev has announced that she will not be attending because of Shabbat. Regev tried to get housing for herself and her staff within walking distance of the ceremonies, but her security detail could not guarantee her security if she walked back. So the minister, who is not personally religiously observant, decided to put Shabbat before the Olympic ceremonies, explaining, “Shabbat our national day of rest is one of the most important gifts that Jewish people have given to the culture of humanity. As the representative to the state of Israel, the sole Jewish state on the planet, I unfortunately cannot take part in the opening ceremony of the Olympics because it would require me to break the holy Shabbat.”

Regev’s decision was praised by United Torah Judaism MK Yaakov Asher, who said she deserves a medal for keeping the tradition. “Regev’s actions should set an example for other ministers for how to behave when they represent the Jewish people.”

For further reading click here.

Olympic Team
Israel will be sending its largest team ever to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil next week. The 51 qualifiers will compete in 17 sport categories, including Israel’s first Olympic competitors in golf, triathlon and mountain biking. The delegation also includes 34 coaches and about 25 support staff.

Rhythmic gymnast Neta Rivkin will lead the Israeli delegation and carry the flag in the opening ceremony. She just won a bronze medal at the International Federation of Gymnastics (FIG) World Cup Final in Rhythmic Gymnastics in Baku, Azerbaijan on Sunday. The Israeli team won the gold medal at the ribbons event, narrowly beating out the Russians.

Rivkin, along with her fellow gymnasts and the rest of the Israeli team, are hoping to bring home some Olympic medals. Go Israel!

To read more about the Israeli olympic team, click here.

Saudi Visit
A Saudi delegation led by retired general Anwar Eshki met with foreign ministry director Dore Gold at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem yesterday. During the official visit, Eshki also met with Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, head of the COGAT, the military body that coordinates Israeli activities in the West Bank and Gaza, and spoke to a group of Israeli opposition MKs in the West Bank on Friday.

While Israel and Saudi Arabia have never had diplomatic relations, there have been reports that the two countries have shared intelligence related to fighting terrorism in the region. But Eshki, who is the chairman of the Jeddah-based Middle East Center for Strategic and Legal Studies, denied that there was any security cooperation between his country and Israel.

The Saudis are the primary sponsors of a 2002 Arab peace plan that calls for Israel to withdraw from territories captured in 1967 and to resolve the Palestinian refugee issue in exchange for peace with the Arab nations.

For further reading click here.

Cyprus Worries
The recent reconciliation in relations between Israel and Turkey have raised worries in Cyprus, which has been in conflict with Turkey for decades, since Turkey invaded Cyprus and occupied the northern third of the island (which they continue to occupy – apparently they don’t feel the need to withdraw from their occupied territories. Hey, aren’t they in NATO??).

Yesterday, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, along with his energy minister and foreign minister, paid a quick visit to Jerusalem to meet with PM Netanyahu and other government officials.

Netanyahu apparently allayed the Cypriots’ fears by committing to protecting Israeli-Cypriot interests and coordinating policies with them.

Israel will be exporting natural gas to Turkey through a pipeline that will run through Cypriot waters.

For further reading click here.

Haredi Education
The government yesterday voted to cancel the requirement for Haredi (ultra-orthodox) schools to teach core subjects such as English, math and science, in order for them to receive government funding. So now these schools will be able to receive government funding without having to teach the core subjects. The vote was the result of the coalition agreement that brought the Haredi parties into the government.

Around 430,000 pupils are currently studying in ultra-Orthodox education institutions. The new change of regulations will directly affect around 30,000 students.

The core studies requirement was meant to help prepare students for eventually getting jobs in the mainstream economy.

For further reading click here.

Israel News for June 29, 2016

Cabinet Meeting
The Security Cabinet has approved the reconciliation agreement signed by the PM with Turkey yesterday. Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked opposed the agreement, while six other ministers voted to approve it despite concern about the political repercussions of doing so, given that polls have shown that the majority of Israelis oppose the agreement.

Opponents of the agreement believe that Israel should not pay the $20 million of reparations to the families of those killed in the IDF raid on the Marmara, because they view that as rewarding terrorism. They also want the return of the bodies of Israeli soldiers being held by Hamas in Gaza to be included in the agreement.

Let’s hope that the new agreement with Turkey brings Israel many economic, security and diplomatic benefits, and that the Turks fulfill their promise (not included in the agreement) to help bring the remains of the Israeli soldiers being held by Hamas back to their families.

For further reading click here.

UN Chief
The families of the IDF soldiers whose remains are being held by Hamas in Gaza met with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon yesterday to ask him to intervene on their behalf. The meeting took place in the PM’s office in the presence of Netanyahu and Israel’s UN Ambassador Danny Danon.

The families told the UN Chief, “You initiated the ceasefire that was exploited by Hamas to kidnap Hadar Goldin. Now we seek your involvement. Just as Gaza deserves humanitarian assistance, we also deserve humanitarian assistance.”

Ban Ki-Moon sympathized with the families, calling the situation “unjustified” and promised to appoint an official representative to handle the matter and promised that he would immediately look into how assistance could be provided upon his return to New York.

The families, however, expressed disappointment with the results of the meeting saying, “We entered the meeting with hope and left it disappointed. The UN secretary-general said that the matter was a humanitarian one. We therefore ask that the (Turkey) agreement not be signed.” They pledge to lobby ministers to vote against the agreement, which does not include a commitment by Turkey to facilitate the return of the bodies.

For further reading click here.

Differential Policy
After touring the IDF Central Command, which is responsible for Judea and Samaria, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman recommended that the IDF implement a “differential” security policy that would increase pressure in Palestinian areas that serve as a source for violence and terror activities, while easing restrictions in areas that are peaceful. He said, “This way, everyone will know that there are consequences for both directions.”

Many of the Palestinian terrorists who have carried out attacks on Israeli civilians and soldiers in recent months have come from specific areas of east Jerusalem and the West Bank. The Hebron region, and the village of Yatta in particular, have become hot spots for violence and the source of attackers traveling to other areas to perpetrate attacks.

The new policy would crack down on those areas without punishing Palestinians in other areas who are keeping the peace.

Sounds logical.

For further reading click here.

Israel News for June 28, 2016

Jews Banned
Yesterday we reported the Muslim extremist attacks against security forces on the Temple Mount, whose goal was to prevent Jews and other non-Muslims from visiting the Mount. Early today the police banned all non-Muslims from visiting the Temple Mount for the duration of Ramadan.

For the past few years the policy has been to prevent non-Muslims from visiting the Temple Mount during the final few days of Ramadan, but the policy was changed this year. Now it’s been changed back. A win for terror?

But the ban didn’t stop Arabs from attacking Jews praying at the Kotel. Early today a 73 year old woman praying at the Western Wall was hit by rocks thrown from the Temple Mount. She was lightly wounded.

Police arrested 11 masked terrorists they said were involved in the Temple Mount violence and the Kotel rock throwing.

To watch a video of the violence click here.

Turkish Challenge
PM Netanyahu signed the official reconciliation deal with Turkey, which grants over $20 million in reparations to the families of those killed in the Marmara raid and releases all IDF personnel from the threat of prosecution in Turkey or The Hague. But he didn’t bother to present it to his cabinet for approval first. Problem?

Defense Minister Avigdor Leiberman, Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked have all announced their opposition to the agreement. The two dealbreakers for them are the reparations and the fact that Turkey has not committed to facilitating the return of the bodies of IDF soldiers being held by Hamas.

Bennett said, “The state cannot pay compensation to terrorists who tried to harm the IDF. Reconciliation with Turkey is important for this time and is in the interest of the State of Israel, but compensation to the perpetrators of terrorism is a dangerous precedent that the State of Israel will regret in the future.” He also said, “If Turkey has control over Hamas, they had better do all within their ability to ensure that Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin’s bodies are returned to Israel.”

Although the Turks did sign a letter indicating their commitment to try and facilitate the return of the bodies, it was not included in the official agreement.

Other Likud ministers, as well as members of the opposition, have also criticized the reparation payments as being a sign of weakness and a victory for terrorists. Some cabinet ministers resent the PM’s signing of the agreement without presenting it to them first for approval.

According to a recent poll, 65% of Jewish Israelis oppose the agreement, with 72% stating that the agreement should have been contingent on the return of the soldiers’ bodies.

But despite the protests and critiques, it looks like the PM has enough cabinet votes to “rubber stamp” the agreement after all. The cabinet will vote tomorrow.

For further reading click here.

UN Visit
During an official visit to Gaza, Israel and PA, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon condemned Israel’s blockade of Gaza, calling it “collective punishment.” But Israel intends to continue the blockade and rejected demands by Turkey to include the lifting of the blockade in the reconciliation agreement. Turkish aid to Gaza will go through the Port of Ashdod.

PM Netanyahu asked Ki-Moon to use his position to gain the release of the bodies of the IDF soldiers being held by Hamas.

For further reading click here.

Terrorist Dad
On October 13, 2015 two terrorists boarded a Jerusalem bus with guns and axes and murdered three Israelis and wounded several others. The father of one of the terrorists (who was killed during the attack) was arrested yesterday for incitement and being affiliated with terror organizations. He had been giving talks and lectures at educational institutions, including elementary schools and Al-Quds University, in which he expressed support for his son’s terror attack and other terrorist activities.

For further reading click here.

Hannibal Revoked
IDF Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot has issued an order revoking the Hannibal Protocol, which requires the use any force necessary to prevent the abduction of a soldier, even if it endangers the soldier’s life.

The protocol drew mass criticism when it was implemented during the 2014 Gaza after the abduction of Lt. Hadar Goldin. After Goldin was captured by Hamas during a battle in the town of Rafah, IDF commanders ordered a massive barrage of firepower to attempt to stop the abduction. Dozens of Palestinians, including some civilians, were killed as a result. Goldin was later declared dead, but Hamas still holds his remains.

For further reading click here.

Bad Eggs
Israeli authorities seized around 40,000 eggs stored in a warehouse in the Galilee village of Tamra. The eggs were smuggled into Israel from the Palestinian Authority and were suspected of being unfit for human consumption. The owner of the warehouse and his son were arrested. The eggs were destroyed. Was this a deliberate attempt at sabotaging Israeli breakfasts, or just some bad egg handling?

For further reading click here.

Israel News for May 4, 2016

Terror Attack
Three IDF soldiers were hit and wounded by a terrorist driving a van at a checkpoint near the settlement of Dolev and the Arab village of Ein el-Arik, in the West Bank’s Binyamin region. One of the soldiers suffered life threatening injuries. The terrorist was shot and killed.

For further reading click here.

PA Arrests
The IDF has released data indicating that the Palestinian Authority’s security services have been responsible for about 40 percent of all arrests of suspected terrorists in the West Bank in recent months. Until about three months ago, they were responsible for only some 10 percent of such arrests. As a result of the increased PA security activity, the IDF has reduced its operations in Area A of the West Bank, which is where the PA is in full control.

About three weeks ago, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said the extent of the IDF’s activity in Palestinian cities would depend on how much the PA security services were doing. Ya’alon said, “This isn’t something diplomatic – it’s about security. If they’ll do the work, why not? What they don’t do, we’ll have to do, but there’s no situation in which we’ll completely refrain from entering Area A. Such incursions will depend on their activity. If they do less, we’ll do more; if they do more, we’ll do less.”

For further reading click here.

Gaza Visit
On Tuesday the Prime Minister, accompanied by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, GOC Southern Command Eyal Zamir, and the Gaza Division commander, toured the Gaza border and visited the massive tunnel recently discovered by Israeli forces. The PM also met with soldiers from the 51st Battalion and with IDF lookouts serving on the border. He told the soldiers that the past two years have been the calmest the area has known in many years.

Earlier today a mortar shell was fired at IDF troops doing engineering work near the Gaza border fence. Yesterday a sniper fired shots at IDF soldiers near the fence. The IDF responded by shelling a Hamas military observation post in the area.

The attacks from Gaza are thought to be the work of rebel groups who are trying to provoke Israel into military action. Hamas is fighting to stop the rebel groups, to avoid starting another war with Israel — at least until they decide they’re ready for one.

So for now, while Hamas continues to dig tunnels into Israel in preparation of war, it is working on preventing other terror groups from attacking Israel. Go figure.

For further reading click here.

Chemicals Discovered
Israeli Customs officials discovered and confiscated four tons of ammonium chloride while inspecting a shipment of 40 tons of salt bound for the Gaza Strip. The chemical could be used by terrorists to produce propellant for hundreds of long range rockets. The Shin Bet tipped off the customs officials to the massive salt shipment, since salt is commonly used to hide chemicals being smuggled into Gaza.

Cooperation between customs authorities and the Shin Bet has led to the foiling of dozens of attempts to smuggle large quantities of banned substances that would have been used by terrorists to produce weapons.

Keep up the good work!

For further reading click here.

NATO Office
Israel has been trying for years to open offices in NATO headquarters in Brussels, but it has been blocked in its efforts by Turkey, which has consistently exercised its veto power. According to NATO’s rules for collaborating with unaffiliated countries, unanimous consent of its member nations is necessary.

Yesterday, Turkey removed its veto. The decision is being interpreted as another gesture in Turkey’s move towards reconciliation with Israel after years of sanctions and opposition since the Gaza flotilla incident in 2010. Heavy pressure from the US and other countries probably helped Turkey soften its position as well.

Israel will now be allowed to strengthen ties with NATO as well as participate in joint projects and military exercises.

For further reading click here.

Trump Wins
With his victory in Indiana yesterday and the exiting of Ted Cruz from the race, it looks like Donald Trump will be the Republican Presidential nominee. Based on his recent statements relating to Israel, that seems to be good news for Israel.

In a recent interview with the British Daily Mail, Trump supported continued settlement expansion and expressed his firm belief in Israel’s right to protect itself from its enemies however it sees fit to do so. Trump also called Netanyahu “a very good guy” and said, “I don’t know him that well, but I think I’d have a very good relationship with him.” He added, “I think that President Obama has been extremely bad to Israel. And I don’t even understand where – I have Jewish friends that support Obama. I tell them all the time, I say, ‘What are you doing? The Iran deal is a disaster for Israel’.”

So if you’re in favor of the current Israeli government and its Right leaning philosophy and policies, and if you are planning to base your decision primarily on the candidate’s policy relating to Israel … hey, it’s your choice.

For further reading click here.

Israel News for April 8, 2016

Sanders Clarifies
After a phone conversation with Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt on Thursday, Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders clarified his statements about Palestinian casualties during the 2014 war in Gaza.

The ADL had blasted Sanders for saying, “over 10,000 innocent people were killed in Gaza.” According to the ADL, “even the highest number of casualties claimed by Palestinian sources that include Hamas members engaged in attacking Israel is five times less than the number cited by Bernie Sanders”. It added that, “accuracy and accountability are essential for the voting public, but also for U.S. credibility in the international community.”

In his clarification, Sanders said his recollection was indeed inaccurate and that the interviewer corrected him in the course of the conversation – a correction that he said he accepted. Sanders promised that he would make every effort to set the record straight.

We’re waiting.

For further reading click here.

Iranian Missiles
The US-Iran nuclear deal might slow down Iran’s race to develop a nuclear weapon, but it doesn’t seem to have done much to stop Iranian aggression in other forms. Want proof? The US is building a secret army base in central Israel that is designed to withstand ballistic missile attacks. The purpose of the base is to protect American assets in the area, specifically the US army’s radar facility in Dimona.

Iran’s ballistic missiles, which are capable of reaching Israel and can be fitted with nuclear warheads, have prompted partial American sanctions, with some American lawmakers calling for harsher measures to punish the Iranian regime.

The US army isn’t putting its trust in any agreement with the Iranians. Neither should anyone else.

For further reading click here.

Armor or Miracle
Last week we told you about an Israeli tank that suffered a direct hit during a training exercise, but non of the tank’s crew was hurt. Some called it a miracle. Others attributed it to powerful Israeli armor. Earlier today, an IDF bulldozer drove over an explosive planted by terrorists near the Gaza border fence. No one was injured and no damage was caused by the explosion. Good armor or miracle?

For further reading click here.

Terror Cell Busted
IDF, Shin Bet and police forces have busted a twelve member terror cell in Samaria responsible for carrying out at least six attacks against civilian vehicles traveling on Route 443 and Israeli security forces stationed near their village.

Driving on the 443, one of the two main highways connecting Jerusalem with the center of the country, just got safer.

For further reading click here.

Ethiopian Aliya
The government has agreed to increase the number of Falashmura that will be brought to Israel from Ethiopia this year from 500 to 1,300. There are currently around 9,000 Falshmura waiting to immigrate to Israel, but Israel has been stalling bringing them over. Budgetary reasons have been given for the delay, but some claim that racism might be the real reason.

The government agreed to increase the quota in response to MKs Avraham Neguise and David Amsalem (Likud), who refused to take part in any Knesset votes until the issue was resolved. With a narrow coalition majority, the votes of the two MKs are in many cases crucial to passing government sponsored legislation and preventing the government’s collapse.

Neguise, an Israeli of Ethiopian origin, and Amsalem, both accepted punitive measures for their having violated coalition discipline by failng to vote. Both lawmakers’ duties will be restricted until August. Neither will be permitted to propose legislation or agenda items, nor will they be permitted to address the plenum until August.

The Falashmura are descendants of Ethiopian Jews who converted to Christianity under duress. They are required to convert to Judaism in Israel. The government has pledged to bring the rest of the community to Israel within the next 5 years.

For further reading click here.

Turkish Potential
Here’s another sign that relations between Israel and Turkey might be on the mend. At least 15 Turkish energy companies are considering forming a consortium to promote a natural gas import deal from Israel. They could potential import 8 billion cubic meters (BCM) of Israeli gas.

Turkey consumes 50 BCM of gas annually and wants to reduce its dependency on Russian gas, which supplies about 55-60% of the country’s needs. About 30% of the gas consumed in Europe comes from Russia, and Europe too is seeking to diversify its sources. So there’s plenty of potential for Israel.

But there are some challenges. Before a gas export deal can go ahead, Israel and Turkey must sign a reconciliation agreement. That has yet to happen.

Other complications include: Egypt, which would likely gain preferential treatment should it want to import Israeli gas; and Cyprus, which would have to approve any Israel-Turkey pipeline, which would have to pass through its territorial waters.

Let’s be optimistic.

For further reading click here.

Sanders Clarifies
After a phone conversation with Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt on Thursday, Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders clarified his statements about Palestinian casualties during the 2014 war in Gaza.

The ADL had blasted Sanders for saying, “over 10,000 innocent people were killed in Gaza.” According to the ADL, “even the highest number of casualties claimed by Palestinian sources that include Hamas members engaged in attacking Israel is five times less than the number cited by Bernie Sanders”. It added that, “accuracy and accountability are essential for the voting public, but also for U.S. credibility in the international community.”

In his clarification, Sanders said his recollection was indeed inaccurate and that the interviewer corrected him in the course of the conversation – a correction that he said he accepted. Sanders promised that he would make every effort to set the record straight.

We’re waiting.

For further reading click here.

Iranian Missiles
The US-Iran nuclear deal might slow down Iran’s race to develop a nuclear weapon, but it doesn’t seem to have done much to stop Iranian aggression in other forms. Want proof? The US is building a secret army base in central Israel that is designed to withstand ballistic missile attacks. The purpose of the base is to protect American assets in the area, specifically the US army’s radar facility in Dimona.

Iran’s ballistic missiles, which are capable of reaching Israel and can be fitted with nuclear warheads, have prompted partial American sanctions, with some American lawmakers calling for harsher measures to punish the Iranian regime.

The US army isn’t putting its trust in any agreement with the Iranians. Neither should anyone else.

For further reading click here.

Armor or Miracle
Last week we told you about an Israeli tank that suffered a direct hit during a training exercise, but non of the tank’s crew was hurt. Some called it a miracle. Others attributed it to powerful Israeli armor. Earlier today, an IDF bulldozer drove over an explosive planted by terrorists near the Gaza border fence. No one was injured and no damage was caused by the explosion. Good armor or miracle?

For further reading click here.

Terror Cell Busted
IDF, Shin Bet and police forces have busted a twelve member terror cell in Samaria responsible for carrying out at least six attacks against civilian vehicles traveling on Route 443 and Israeli security forces stationed near their village.

Driving on the 443, one of the two main highways connecting Jerusalem with the center of the country, just got safer.

For further reading click here.

Ethiopian Aliya
The government has agreed to increase the number of Falashmura that will be brought to Israel from Ethiopia this year from 500 to 1,300. There are currently around 9,000 Falshmura waiting to immigrate to Israel, but Israel has been stalling bringing them over. Budgetary reasons have been given for the delay, but some claim that racism might be the real reason.

The government agreed to increase the quota in response to MKs Avraham Neguise and David Amsalem (Likud), who refused to take part in any Knesset votes until the issue was resolved. With a narrow coalition majority, the votes of the two MKs are in many cases crucial to passing government sponsored legislation and preventing the government’s collapse.

Neguise, an Israeli of Ethiopian origin, and Amsalem, both accepted punitive measures for their having violated coalition discipline by failng to vote. Both lawmakers’ duties will be restricted until August. Neither will be permitted to propose legislation or agenda items, nor will they be permitted to address the plenum until August.

The Falashmura are descendants of Ethiopian Jews who converted to Christianity under duress. They are required to convert to Judaism in Israel. The government has pledged to bring the rest of the community to Israel within the next 5 years.

For further reading click here.

Turkish Potential
Here’s another sign that relations between Israel and Turkey might be on the mend. At least 15 Turkish energy companies are considering forming a consortium to promote a natural gas import deal from Israel. They could potential import 8 billion cubic meters (BCM) of Israeli gas.

Turkey consumes 50 BCM of gas annually and wants to reduce its dependency on Russian gas, which supplies about 55-60% of the country’s needs. About 30% of the gas consumed in Europe comes from Russia, and Europe too is seeking to diversify its sources. So there’s plenty of potential for Israel.

But there are some challenges. Before a gas export deal can go ahead, Israel and Turkey must sign a reconciliation agreement. That has yet to happen.

Other complications include: Egypt, which would likely gain preferential treatment should it want to import Israeli gas; and Cyprus, which would have to approve any Israel-Turkey pipeline, which would have to pass through its territorial waters.

Let’s be optimistic.

For further reading click here.

Israel News for February 24, 2016

Terror Attack
According to an IDF spokesman, a Palestinian man attempted to stab Israelis at a hitchhiking stop at the Gush Etzion junction. The terrorist was shot and wounded by an Israeli civilian. An Israeli man was also accidentally hit by the gunfire and seriously wounded. Both he and the terrorist were evacuated to hospitals in Jerusalem. The wounded Israeli man is in his early 20’s.
Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel from Bayit Yehudi asked Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon to close the roads in the area to Palestinian traffic.

In Jerusalem’s Old City today, police arrested two Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem after discovering two pipe bombs and ammunition in their food stand near Herod’s Gate. The bombs were diffused.

For further reading click here.

Gaza Port
With talks between Israel and Turkey to restore their broken relationship continuing, the issue of a seaport in Gaza has resurfaced. Turkey plans to invest $5 billion in rebuilding Gaza, and wants to include a seaport as a central component.

Israel has consistently refused demands to permit a seaport in Gaza due to the obvious security concerns of the possibility (or probability) of Hamas importing weapons via the port.

Senior IDF officers are in favor, in principle, of a Gaza seaport, especially if it comes with a Hamas pledge for a long-term cease-fire. Some government ministers also support the idea, including Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel from the right wing Bayit Yehudi party. They believe that the seaport will drastically improve economic conditions in Gaza, which will lead to a drop in violence.

PM Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yaalon are opposed to any seaport in Gaza. Ya’alon is, however, willing to examine two alternatives, including opening a special quay in the Port of Ashdod for Gaza shipments or establishing a port in Al Arish, across the border in Egypt, where Egyptian security officials would check merchandise first, after which it would be taken overland to the Nitzana crossing and from there through the Kerem Shalom crossing into the Gaza Strip after examination by Israel. Both of these alternatives are currently deemed unacceptable to the Palestinians.

Another possibility that is supported by Yaalon is to build an artificial island off the Gaza coast that would have a seaport and airport. Israel would have security oversight over the island.

Anyone have any other ideas?

For further reading click here.

Leaving Jerusalem
Central Bureau of Statistics figures published yesterday show that in 2014, Jerusalem led the country in negative migration, which means more residents moved out than moved in. The numbers don’t reflect the recent terror wave that has hit Jerusalem particularly hard. They also don’t reflect a surge in aliyah from France.

According to the figures, 10,351 new residents moved to the city while 17,091 residents left. Most of those leaving were young, with 6,421 of them aged between 15-29. Only 4,393 of the new incoming residents were in that young age range, while 2,917 of the new residents were aged 30-64. The high cost of housing is assumed to be one of the main reasons why younger people leave the city.

Despite the outflow, the Jewish population is still growing in Jerusalem due to higher birthrates in the religious and Haredi communities.

Some of the cities showing positive migration include Petach Tikva, Netanya, Ashkelon and Rehovot.

For further reading click here.

No News
Everyone knows the old saying, “no news is good news.” That seems to apply really well to Israel. While we try very hard to include positive and “feel good” stories when possible, most of the news that we end up writing about isn’t so happy, to say the least. But unfortunately, that’s just the reality so there’s not much we can do but tell it to you as straight as we can. We hope you appreciate that.

On the flip side, sometimes there just isn’t much news to report on at all. As much as we search, we’re sometimes left without anything more to say. So we don’t. Today is one of those days. So remember that, “no news is good news”, and please share our newsletter with anyone you know who might be interested. See you tomorrow.