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20th October – Latest News in Israel

A Muslim Woman Who Loves Her Country – Israel!

There are many Arab-Israeli citizens who love living and working in the State of Israel. Watch an inspiring, young Muslim share her love for her country – Israel!

Meet Kothar, a Muslim Arab woman who truly loves the experience of living and working in Israel.

Her inspirational story is just one of many that will be featured in an upcoming film series highlighting the experiences of Arabs living in Israel.

She proudly affirms that when people boycott Israel, “they are boycotting me!”

Israeli Bedouin identified as gunman in Beersheba shooting attack, Shin Bet says

The gunman who carried out Sunday’s deadly attack in Beersheba central bus station has been named by the Shin Bet intelligence agency as 21-year-old Arab Israeli citizen Muhand al-Okabi, from the Beduin Negev town of Hura.

Al-Okabi’s mother is from Gaza, and she arrived in Israel under the family reunification law.

Al-Okabi had no prior record of security offenses.

Security forces have placed a media ban on all other details of the investigation.

Armed with a pistol and a knife, al-Okabi is alleged to have stormed the Beersheba central bus station on Sunday night, killing IDF soldier Sergeant Omri Levy, snatching his rifle and shooting and wounding at least 10 Israelis before being shot dead by police.

During the attack, armed security personnel mistook an Eritrean man for a second gunman and opened fire, wounding him in the lower body. The man was then set upon by a mob that mistook him for an assailant, beating him severely and leaving him in serious condition.

Negev police said officers who arrived at the scene shortly after 7:30 p.m. shot one terrorist dead and then began sealing off the area and searching for other possible assailants.

Hours after the attack police said they still had not determined the identity of the attacker, or how exactly he arrived at the station or managed to get through security at the entrances. They also could not rule out whether he was helped by accomplices who have yet to be apprehended.

“Inside the station there were several wounded and laid out over an area of about 30 meters, all of them in their late 20s,” said Gadi Abuhatzeira, deputy manager of Magen David Adom’s Negev district, describing the scene.

Soroka University Medical Center said 10 shooting victims were brought for treatment Sunday night, including one who arrived showing no signs of life; two others who were seriously wounded; and the rest lightly-to-moderately wounded, mainly with injuries to their extremities. Several others were treated for shock and released.

Four of those wounded are police officers, Negev subdistrict police said Sunday night.

Head of the Negev subdistrict Dep.-Ch. Amnon Alkalai said police had no prior intelligence or warning of the attack, and that they are still checking the area for possible accomplices.

Southern District Commander Asst.-Ch. Yoram HaLevy said police responded “very well” to the incident, adding that it appears the Eritrean man was on the other side of the station at the time of the attack and that when security personnel spotted him they mistaken believed he was an attacker and opened fire.

A video shot by a bystander afterwards shows an angry mob surrounding the Eritrean man, with one kicking him with great force in the head, while others curse him and another kicks him in the head.

Earlier in the day, Palestinians clashed with the IDF near Bet Hagai in the Mount Hebron region of the West Bank, and two rioters sustained injuries from low-caliber rifle rounds fired by soldiers.

An army spokeswoman said some 200 Palestinians hurled rocks at the army in the area, and that soldiers responded with crowd-dispersal measures and by shooting low-caliber rifle rounds.

Elsewhere in the West Bank, 100 Palestinians hurled firebombs and rocks at soldiers at Tulkarm. Soldiers responded by firing tear-gas canisters and rubber bullets. Three rioters were wounded in the incident, apparently from tear-gas inhalation.

Elsewhere, the IDF and some 60 Palestinians clashed outside of Ramallah. Two Palestinians were wounded by rubber bullets, according to the IDF, and a third from a bullet fired by a low-caliber rifle.                                                                                                                     (Jerusalem Post)

Bedouin leaders condemn ‘despicable’ Beersheba attack

Israeli Bedouin leaders on Monday expressed shock, surprise and outrage at news that the perpetrator of Sunday’s deadly terrorist attack at the Beersheba central bus station was an Israeli Arab from a Bedouin village east of the city, in the country’s Negev region.

Muhanad Alukabi, 21, a resident of an unrecognized village near the Bedouin town of Hura, was shot dead at the scene after shooting and killing IDF soldier Omri Levi and wounding 11 other people. An Eritrean asylum seeker was shot during the incident, when security forces apparently mistook him for a second terrorist. The man, who later died in the hospital, was named as 29-year-old Haftom Zarhum.

“Following [Sunday’s] terrorist attack at the Beersheba central bus station in which two innocent people lost their lives, we utterly and unreservedly condemn this despicable act and reject violence of any sort,” Hura Mayor Mohammed Alnabari said in a statement as community leaders gathered for an urgent meeting.

“Although, contrary to reports in the media, the terrorist is not a resident of Hura, we condemn this act on behalf of the entire Bedouin society and wish to make clear that you cannot be both a terrorist and a citizen of the country; the two are inherently contradictory,” he continued.

Muhanad Alukabi, the 21-year-old Bedouin, who carried out the terror attack on the Beersheba bus station. (Shin Bet)

“We call upon all the residents of the Negev, Arabs and Jews, to preserve and protect the relations between the two peoples for the benefit of us all. We pray for better and quieter days in which all the citizens of the country live together in peace.”

According to the Shin Bet security service, Alukabi’s mother was originally from the Gaza Strip and was granted citizenship because she was married to an Israeli Arab. The terrorist had no previous criminal record.

Alkubi’s father, Khalil, also condemned his son’s attack and stressed that he deplored any form of violence.

“This is an individual act carried out by my son on his own accord,” Khalil Alkubi said, according to the Maariv news site. “We are against violence.”

Talal al-Krenawi, the mayor of Rahat, a large Bedouin city near Beersheba, said the shooting caught the community by surprise.

“His family is not known as a family that encourages acts of terrorism,” al-Krenawi told Channel 2. “The head of their family, Sheikh Alukabi, helped establish this state,” he added. “This is why we are even more shocked; we really cannot comprehend it.”

Al-Krenawi stressed that the Bedouin community at large was not supportive of terrorism, and expressed hope that no other members of the minority would take part in attacks against Israelis.

“Any harm to innocent civilians, both Arabs and Jews, is not acceptable to us,” he declared, according to Channel 2 television. “We live in the Negev, Bedouins and Jews, as brothers. Any attempt to damage our relationship will not be accepted. We are not part of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.”

Nuri Alukabi, a relative of the terrorist, said that while the family felt disrespected by Israeli authorities, those sentiments were under no circumstances an excuse for violence.

“Israel did not respect us even though we were one of the most respectable families in the Negev,” he told Channel 2. “They screwed us over and dispossessed us from everything, but that does not justify violence.”

Alukabi did not elaborate any further on the details of the dispute between his family and the state.

But Osama Alukabi, another one of the terrorist’s relatives, told the Maariv news site that it was violence and discrimination carried out by the state that ultimately led to acts such as the Beersheba attack.

“We are against violence in general; however, the authorities of the country which practice violence, discrimination and racism are leading some young people to employ desperate measures,” he said. “We are for peaceful protests and we do not think this is the way, although on this hard day we must say the truth, the racism of the government pushes young people to carry out such extreme measures.”

Earlier Monday, Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev called on the government to revoke the Israeli citizenship of the mother of the Bedouin terrorist.

“His mother is a resident of Gaza who came to Israel to marry an Israeli citizen,” Regev, a Likud party lawmaker, said. “Now we need to revoke her identity card and expel her and the entire family of the murderer back to Gaza.”

Other members of Alukabi’s family have been arrested by police on suspicion of aiding and abetting the terrorist, who had no prior security record.                      (The Times of Israel)

Netanyahu calls on Israelis not to pursue vigilante justice

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chastised the attackers of an Eritrean asylum seeker in the aftermath of a terror attack Sunday in Beersheba, in what has been described as a “lynching” by Israelis who believed the man was a terrorist.

“Someone who witnesses a [terror] attack needs to leave the scene and allow security and rescue forces to work,” Netanyahu said at the start of a Likud faction meeting in the Knesset on Monday. “We’re a nation of laws. No one may take the law into their hands. That’s the first rule.”

Eritrean national Haftom Zarhum, 29, died in Beersheba’s Soroka Hospital, where he was treated after being shot by a security guard who thought he was a terrorist, and then beaten by a mob. Videos from the incident showed him fleeing the scene, only to be gunned down and then kicked repeatedly in the head by a crowd in the bus station.

Officials at Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba said he died from a combination of the bullet wound and the subsequent beating by the mob.

At the faction meeting, Netanyahu also responded to the terror attack itself, in which an Israeli Arab man killed 19-year-old IDF soldier Sgt. Omri Levi and wounded several others, one of them seriously.

Netanyahu’s comments were focused on online incitement that he said was driving a rash of terror attacks in recent weeks.

“What we’re seeing now is a combination of [Osama] bin Laden and [Facebook founder Mark] Zuckerberg. The incitement on social networks motivates the murders, we’re seeing that clearly,” he claimed.

Security services have been collecting evidence of such incitement, he explained. “We’ve interrogated the attackers who survived the attacks, we looked at the Facebook accounts of those who died during their murder attempts, and we see clearly that there is very focused incitement that is activating [attackers] to commit these murders.

“We also know it isn’t a coincidence. The incitement comes from clear-cut sources. In the coming days we will announce steps we will be taking against the Islamic Movement [in Israel]. It is our duty to protect the citizens of the state, and we cannot accept that citizens of the state incite against its existence and urge actions that cost the lives of innocents,” he said.

Netanyahu’s criticism of the killing of Zarhum, the Eritrean man, followed harsher censure by Israeli media and the top police commander in Israel’s south.

“A line has been crossed where we went from a state of alert and responsiveness to a state where we lashed out — we can say lynched — and hurt someone who’s wounded,” said Southern District police chief Yoram Halevi. “Even if [the victim] is the attacker, there’s no right to hurt him.”

Police said in a statement that they viewed the incident as “very grave” and that they “will not allow [citizens] to take the law into their hands.”

Negev regional police chief Amnon Alkalai ordered that the civilians who beat Zarhum be located, and police promised to launch a full criminal investigation into the killing.

In a statement, police called for “everyone to act with restraint and extra caution and allow the police to perform their duty.”

One of the people who took part in the beating of Zarhum, identified only as Dudu, told Army Radio in an interview Monday morning that “I saw people coming and crowding around him. I understood from them that this was the terrorist.

“If I had known that this wasn’t the terrorist I would have protected him like I protect myself,” Dudu said. “In a moment of fear and pressure, you do things you’re not conscious of whatsoever.”

He added, “I didn’t sleep well last night and I only thought about those things, I feel disgusting.”                                                              (The Times of Israel)

Temporary wall erected between flashpoint Jewish and Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem

Four days after two Palestinian terrorists from Jebl Mukaber murdered two Jewish men from neighboring Armon Hanatziv after storming an Egged bus where the neighborhoods intersect, police said Sunday a temporary concrete wall separating the communities is being erected.

The move comes less than 72 hours after the main entrances to the flashpoint Arab village – where several terrorists who have carried out recent attacks throughout the capital once resided – were ordered sealed following an emergency security cabinet meeting.

According to police, the five-meter high wall, which consists of six concrete slabs resembling Jerusalem stone, is intended to stymie the onslaught of firebombings and rock attacks carried out by Arab youths against residents of the abutting Jewish neighborhood.

A substantial portion of the wall was already built by Sunday night, police said, adding that the barrier likely will be completed by the end of the week.

Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said the wall would remain in place “for as long as necessary,” adding that if attacks against Jewish residents do not cease, it may be lengthened.

In a statement issued by the Jerusalem Municipality shortly after reports of the wall surfaced, city hall emphasized that the concrete barrier is a temporary security provision.

“The Jerusalem Municipality makes clear that this is not a perimeter wall, but a barrier to be placed temporarily by the police where there is a history of rock and Molotov cocktail throwing at Jewish homes and vehicles,” the statement said.

“This is being done in order to prevent more injuries and property damage.”


Temporary wall

Temporary wall between Armon Hanatziv and Jebl Mukaber in Jerusalem

In the last few days, several roadblocks accompanied by heavily armed checkpoints also have been erected in violent Arab neighborhoods in east Jerusalem, including Isawiya, Silwan and Shuafat.

In a statement issued Sunday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said the wall “has no political meaning.”

“It’s one more aspect of our security measures,” he said.

However, in response to the concrete wall, MK Itzik Shmuli (Zionist Union) issued a statement accusing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of dividing Jerusalem.

“It is unfortunate that the prime minister does not tell the truth to the public,” he said. “His conception regarding Jerusalem has failed completely.

We [the government] really don’t have any interest in Jebl Mukaber.”

Meanwhile, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel condemned the wall and multiple checkpoints in Palestinian neighborhoods as humanrights violations.

“Restricting the movement of 300,000 Palestinian residents of Jerusalem would be overwhelming and damaging to individual rights,” ACRI said.

“There is no doubt that dealing with the difficult security situation in recent days requires security forces to use different measures that might limit the freedoms of the individual, but collective punishment against an entire population is not legitimate under any circumstances.”                                                           (Jerusalem Post)

Shaked pushes to jail minors over age 12 involved in terror attacks

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked is pushing to amend the country’s criminal law to allow minors over the age of 12 to be jailed if they are involved in a terror attack.

The issue has taken on special importance because under the current law, Ahmed Manasra, 13, involved in the recent stabbing attack of a 13-year-old Jewish Israeli, cannot be sent to jail even if he is convicted of the multiple counts of attempted murder with which the state prosecution is expected to charge him.

Under current law, minors can only be charged at age 12 and can only be sent to prison at age 14, which could lead to the potential embarrassing and dangerous situation of Manasra escaping jail time for one of the most serious crimes.

Shaked would like to change the law quickly enough so that Manasra can be sent to jail.

Short of that, the prosecution could dry to extend the trial against him until January when he turns 14, or may send him to a closed rehabilitation facility until he is 20.

Shaked’s spokesman was not sure that the amendment would happen fast enough to apply to Manasra, but hoped that changing the law would solve the issue for future cases.

A Justice Ministry spokeswoman said a request had been received from Shaked to move forward on the issue, but that they were still in the early stages of exploring the legal implications of such a change.

Human rights groups already criticize Israel on a variety of fronts for treating minors harshly when security offenses come into play.                                   (Jerusalem Post)

Disappointed in ‘Failure’ of Stabbings, Hamas Calls on Palestinians to Drop Knives, Commit Car-Rammings for Higher Jewish Casualties

Following a string of stabbing attacks on Saturday that resulted in more harm to the terrorists than to their Jewish-Israeli targets, Hamas called on Palestinians to stop the stabbing attacks and aim for a far greater numbers of casualties, Israel’s Channel 2 reported on Sunday.

Six stabbing and attempted stabbing attacks committed by Palestinian residents of Hebron took place over the weekend — four of them in the West Bank city itself, and one at the Damascus Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem – which ended unsuccessfully where the perpetrators were concerned.

Hamas, the Palestinian terror organization that rules the Gaza Strip and has ambitions to take over the West Bank, as well, immediately bemoaned this “failure.” Via social media and sympathetic Arab TV stations, Hamas has begun a campaign to promote vehicular terrorism instead of stabbing as a preferred method to murder more Jews.

This comes not only in response to the weekend’s violence, but following several weeks of knife attacks carried out by Palestinians and Israeli Arabs, mostly from Jerusalem. Vehicular attacks have been less prevalent during the current terror wave, something that Hamas would like to rectify.                                                     (The Algemeiner)

Ya’alon to visiting US military chief: Israel will defeat wave of terrorism

In talks with the visiting chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff on Sunday Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon accused Iran of financing terrorist activities in an attempt to spark wider conflict, and vowed Israel would defeat the effort.

Gen. Joseph Dunford arrived in Israel on Saturday in his first official trip outside of the US since taking up his position on October 1, and met with Ya’alon and IDF Chief of Staff Maj.-Gen.

Gadi Eisenkot at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv for discussions about strengthening bilateral ties and strategic regional issues.

“We very much value your commitment to Israeli security.

The US and Israel share many common values and interests. We view our relationship as strategic, and I would say, as a cornerstone of our national security,” Ya’alon said.

Ya’alon praised the close cooperation between Israel’s Defense Ministry and the Pentagon, the two militaries, and ties between the intelligence agencies of both countries.

“We believe we must be on the same page regarding all developments in the Middle East,” he said. “The only set thing in the current situation of the Middle East is change, and the only thing that is stable is instability,” the defense minister said.

Ya’alon said that as nation states in the region collapse, Israel is witnessing a range of threats linked to the global jihad, like ISIS and Jabhat Al-Nusra, on its doorstep, as well as organizations supported by Iran.

“Iran, unfortunately, is the instigator and contributor of instability in the Middle East. We do not have a border or a territorial dispute with Iran, but the Iranian regime subverts us and does not intend to change its spots. It will continue being the chief instigator of terrorism in the region.”

Ya’alon said Iran has sought to set up terrorist bases against Israel from the Syrian Golan and was striving for regional hegemony and to export their revolution.

Commenting on the latest wave of violence with Palestinians, Ya’alon said “as we have done in the past… I believe that we will win.”

Gen. Dunford acknowledged the diplomatic ups and downs in “the family” between Washington and Jerusalem.

But military ties remain strong and will continue to be close, Dunford said.

Dunford said Ya’alon’s familiarity with regional challenges were better than his own. He said one of the reasons he came to Israel was “to listen to the [IDF] chief of staff, to you, and to the IDF commanders, because I know that you have the perspective that is very important to us. It will help us ensure that what are acting in the most effective manner.”

Meanwhile, Israel’s Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer said on Sunday Israel and the United States have resumed talks on future defense aid that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suspended in protest at the Iran nuclear deal.

The allies had been looking to agree on a 10-year aid package to extend the current US grants to Israel worth $3 billion annually,which are due to expire in 2017.

“With the nuclear deal now moving ahead, Israel is also moving ahead, hoping to forge a common policy with the United States to address the continuing dangers posed by Iran,” Dermer wrote in a post on Facebook.

“Discussions over a new Memorandum of Understanding between Israel and the United States, which had been on hold for some time, resumed this past week in Washington,” he said.

“Israel hopes that the discussions we are now engaged in will culminate in a longterm agreement that will dramatically upgrade Israel’s ability to defend itself by itself against any threat and enable Israel to address the enormous challenges we now face in the region,” Dermer also wrote.

Ya’alon, visiting Washington later this month, was also expected to pursue those talks, as would Netanyahu when he meets President Barack Obama in the White House on November 9.                                                            (Jerusalem Post)

Steinitz: Abbas’ anti-Jewish incitement reaches Hitler’s level

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ incitement against Israel is on the same level as Adolf Hitler’s anti-Jewish propaganda, Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said.

“The level and intensity of the incitement and the level of anti-Semitism is the same level as Hitler,” Steinitz said Sunday, speaking with reporters in Washington, where he was addressing the annual conference of the Israeli American Council.

“I see Abu Mazen as principally responsible for the wave of terrorism,” Steinitz said, using Abbas’ by-name and referring to the recent spate of Palestinian stabbing attacks on Israelis.

Steinitz said Abbas’ Palestinian Authority peddles propaganda to children that champions Israel’s removal and dehumanizes Jews. He said also that Abbas’ accusations that Israel plans to alter the Temple Mount, the Jerusalem site holy to Muslims and Jews, are lies and have spurred the recent deadly violence.

“Abu Mazen is not a partner for peace as long as he does not stop, completely, the incitement toward destroying Israel,” he said.

Abbas has accused Israel of wanting to usurp Muslim claims to the Temple Mount, also known as Haram al-Sharif, and has said Israelis wrongfully killed Palestinian assailants, including a boy who turned out to be alive and cared for in an Israeli hospital. He has also condemned last week’s arson attack on a Jewish holy site in Nablus.

Steinitz said he was speaking out because it was his “responsibility” to do so as a member both of the Israeli cabinet and the smaller security cabinet, but made clear his views were his own and not those of the government.

Other Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have also said Abbas has peddled incitement against Israel, but have at the same time maintained security cooperation with Abbas’ security forces.

Yitzhak Herzog, the leader of the opposition Zionist Union party, said at the same conference that government attacks on Abbas, whom he described as a flawed but viable peace partner, were bluster, and that little scared Netanyahu’s government more than the prospect of Abbas’ removal.

“Let’s not be hypocritical,” Herzog told the plenum, saying Abbas’ absence would lead to more chaos.

Steinitz will also meet with his US counterpart, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, while he is in Washington to advance the US-Israel dialogue on energy.

Steinitz noted that this is the first time that the dialogue has taken place on a ministerial level, and attributed the elevation of the talks to an effort by both the US and Israeli governments to improve ties after a year of tensions arising from the Iran nuclear deal.

He said a central focus would be Israel’s experience in defending its facilities from cyber attack.                                                                  (jerusalem Post)

Netanyahu to offer Kerry no concessions for Abbas

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will not offer any concessions to the Palestinians during his scheduled meeting in Berlin later this week with US Secretary of State John Kerry, a senior official in the Prime Minister’s Office said Sunday night.

Rather, the official said, he will demand that the Palestinians stop the incitement that is fueling the terrorism.

Kerry confirmed Sunday that he is scheduled to meet Netanyahu later this week in Berlin, and then Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan’s King Abdullah II in the region. The meeting with Netanyahu is slated for Thursday, if the security situation allows the premier and some of his top ministers to travel to Berlin on Wednesday for an already once-postponed government-to-government German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

There are unconfirmed reports that Kerry’s meeting with Abbas will take place on Saturday in Amman.

Israel is not the problem at the Temple Mount, but rather the solution, Netanyahu said at Sunday morning’s cabinet meeting, rebuffing a French proposal to place international observers on the holy site.

“We are preserving the status quo,” he said. “We are the only ones doing that, and will continue to do this responsibly and seriously.

He reiterated what he has been saying for weeks, that there has not been any change in the orders of prayer or the visiting rights on the Temple Mount. The only change in the status quo has been efforts organized by the Islamic Movement in Israel and other “outside forces” to bring explosives into the mosques on the site and “attack Jews from them,” he said.

This is the change in the status quo that has caused all the events there over the last year, he added.

Netanyahu said that Israel rejects the French proposal put forward at the UN Security Council, and pointed out that it did not mention Palestinian incitement or terrorism.

There is, however, a call in the proposal to “internationalize the holy sites.”

Netanyahu said that everyone has seen what happens to holy sites in the Middle East, “what happened in Palmyra [Syria], what happened in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere where Muslim extremists destroy each other’s mosques, to say nothing about Christian, Jewish and heritage sites.”

The prime minister said that Israel is acting in an aggressive and systematic manner against the wave of terrorism through the reinforcement of security forces, and taking both deterrent and punitive steps.

“Today we will begin taking steps against incitement, including against the Islamic Movement, which is the foremost inciter,” he said, adding that Israel will take action against that group’s source of funding.

The security cabinet met Sunday afternoon to discuss this matter, but announced no decisions afterward.

The Palestinian Authority, meanwhile, launched a scathing attack on Israel, accusing Netanyahu of authorizing “summary executions” of Palestinian civilians.

PA officials said no date has been set for a meeting between Abbas and Kerry.

The PA Foreign Ministry said that the “summary executions” were a sign of “growing terrorism, racism and extremism” among IDF soldiers and settlers.

The ministry said that the Palestinians have begun documenting Israeli “summary executions” and “incitement” in order to file a complaint against Israel with the International Criminal Court.

It repeated the call for an international commission of inquiry into Israeli “crimes” against Palestinians.

The ministry claimed that 18-year-old Fadel al-Qawasmeh, who was killed in Hebron on Saturday after he tried to stab a settler, was an innocent man who had been “executed in cold blood.” It accused IDF soldiers of placing a knife near the body of Qawasmeh after he was shot to make it look as if this “crime” was an “act of self-defense.”

One Israeli government official ridiculed the Palestinian claims of “executions,” saying that the 13-year-old Palestinian boy whom Abbas last week accused Israel of “executing” has “proven to be very much alive.”

That boy, the official said, “is neither innocent nor dead, and is recovering in the hospital after going on a murderous knife attack.”

If the Palestinians think they have a legal case against Israel at the ICC, he said, “they are deluding themselves.”

The official added that Israeli police officers are subject to strict rules governing their use of force, which is permitted only in life-threatening situations.

“Confronting an attack by a gun or a knife wielding terrorist certain qualifies in international law as legitimate self defense,” he said.

In a related development, Netanyahu met Sunday with US Gen. Joseph Dunford, the visiting chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The Prime Minister’s Office said the two men “discussed strategic cooperation between the two countries and the strategic challenges that we face.”

Netanyahu was joined in the meeting by Chief of Staff Lt.- Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, National Security Adviser Yossi Cohen and the prime minister’s military secretary, Brig.-Gen.

Eliezer Toledano.                                                                                (Jerusalem Post)

Israeli Economy Slated to Grow 2.5% in 2015

Israel’s economy is on track to grow by 2.5% this year, the Central Bureau of Statistics said Sunday, marking the second consecutive year of sub-3% expansion in more than a decade after a 2.6% pace last year.

Making its forecast on the basis of figures for the first seven to nine months of the year, the statistics agency said the economy this year was being boosted by a forecast 4.1% increase in consumer spending. Although a fall in investment in fixed assets was less than in 2014, the economy was hit by a decline in exports that the bureau said will fall 2.1% this year, reversing an increase the year before.

In its third estimate of second-quarter gross domestic product, the bureau left the figure unchanged at an annualized 0.1%, but it did revise first-quarter GDP growth to an annualized 2% from 1.8%.

The full-year growth estimate means that GDP per capita this year will work out to 134,000 shekels ($34,940 at current exchange rates), an increase of just 0.4%.

The paltry growth figures have got the government worried, even though they haven’t translated into a decline in its tax collections or high unemployment.  But the upsurge in Palestinian attacks in the last two weeks has depressed retail sales and could have a wider effect if they continue, while slowing world trade is weighing on Israel’s key export sector.

Meanwhile, the Bank of Israel and the Finance Ministry have both cut their 2015 growth estimates to 2.6% from 2.9%-3%. They expect growth to pick up to a rate of 3.3-3.7% in 2016.

The statistics bureau said imports of goods and services would likely decline 4.1% in 2015, after growing 3.7% in 2014. Investments in fixed assets will decline 0.8%, slowing from a 2% drop in 2014.

On Friday, Fitch Ratings affirmed Israel’s long-term foreign and local currency ratings at A and A-plus respectively, with a Stable outlooks.

Fitch said Israel remains vulnerable to geopolitical tensions, but appeared to give more weighting to economic data, in particular to the fact that natural gas production will ensure current account surpluses of more than 5% in 2015-17 and large inflows of foreign direct investment. The credit rating agency said it too early to assess wave of terror attacks on the economy.

“An improving external economic environment, investment and tax cuts are forecast to lift real growth back over 3% in 2016 and 2017,” Fitch said. Earlier this month, another rating agency, Moody’s, affirmed Israel’s A-1 credit rating                                                                      (Ha’aretz)

The Knives of Jerusalem

The cause and meaning of the new wave of Palestinian terror.

Wall Street Journal Editorial


For every chapter in the history of Palestinian violence against Israelis, there has been an emblematic image. For the 1972 massacre of Israeli Olympians in Munich, the masked gunman on the balcony. In the first intifada of the late 1980s, the boys hurling rocks. In the second intifada of the early 2000s, the suicide bomber.

It’s too soon to say whether the current wave of Palestinian attacks amounts to a third intifada, or uprising. But the defining picture has already been set: the terrorist brandishing a knife. In the past two weeks Palestinian assailants have attacked more than 50 Jews, killing eight. Among the wounded: a 2-year-old toddler, a 13-year-old boy riding his bike, a 70-year-old woman boarding a bus.

This is terrorism in its most exact and repulsive form, a potential danger for anyone who steps out the front door. It also poses extraordinary challenges for the Israeli government, which must deploy thousands of security personnel, each on hair-trigger alert, while trying to minimize mistakes, prevent Israeli vigilantism and not resort to collective forms of punishment. If Israel’s perennial critics in the West think they could do better under similar circumstances, they ought to explain how.

Unlike previous rounds of terror, the current wave seems to have little formal organization. There are no terror cells for Israeli intelligence to monitor and apprehend, no shipments of weapons to seize on the high seas. There are only young (and relatively secular) Palestinian men and women who, as if on the spur of the moment, take a kitchen knife or meat cleaver and try to stick it into a Jewish neck.

More clear is that the taste for violence emerges from a deep-seated culture of hate, nurtured by Palestinian leaders over many years in mosques, schools, newspapers, TV channels and social media. The most vivid current example is a video clip, translated by Memri, of Gaza cleric  Abu Rajab wielding a knife and urging Palestinians in the West Bank to “stab the myth about the Temple in [Jews’] hearts.” He doesn’t mean that allegorically.

Equally to blame is Palestinian Authority President  Mahmoud Abbas, who has been spreading the rumor that Israel would soon change the religious status quo atop Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, site of the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa Mosque, despite adamant Israeli denials. Mr. Abbas has also been peddling the lie that Israelis “execute our children in cold blood,” citing a boy named  Ahmed Mansara. Young Ahmed, who was wounded after stabbing an Israeli child, is alive and being treated in an Israeli hospital.

Such reckless talk should end Western illusions that Mr. Abbas is a reliable peace partner for Israel. It wouldn’t hurt if the  Obama Administration, which for fiscal year 2015 appropriated $441 million in economic assistance to the Palestinian Authority, spoke up about it. Instead, Secretary of State  John Kerry insisted he is “not going to point fingers [at the culprits] from afar,” reminding Israelis that this Administration’s moral abdications in the Middle East match its strategic ones.

That abdication won’t be lost on Palestinians, and it could induce them to encourage attacks in hopes of scoring propaganda victories. In the same sermon in which Abu Rajab called for more stabbings, he also laid out a strategy. “The first phase of the operation,” he said, “requires stabbing in order to bring about a curfew.” In other words, goad Israelis into an overreaction that will be condemned internationally and further radicalize Palestinians.

That’s an argument for Israel to be prudent about how it meets the terror challenge—though it will have to consider how to deal with preachers of hate. Promoting mass murder in the age of social-media jihad is more than a thought crime. Recall that President Obama ordered a strike on terrorist-inciting  Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen in 2011.

Israelis should also beware of arguments calling for “an end to the occupation,” as its critics (and some of its friends) endlessly preach. The last time Israelis tried that, with the complete withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, the result was more Palestinian terrorism. Israel doesn’t need a replay of that fiasco in the West Bank, especially when it already has to contend with Islamic State on its Syrian border and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

So Israelis will have to ride out another storm of terror. There isn’t an endless supply of Palestinians willing to meet a quick death in order to stab Israelis, and most Arab residents or citizens of Israel would rather live in a 21st-century startup nation run by Israelis than a 12th-century theocracy run by Hamas.

Israelis have proved before that they have the tactical ingenuity and moral will to defeat their enemies. The sooner they impress on Palestinians that they will never bow to knives or bend to terror, the sooner the stabbings will end.

Wave of Palestinian violence shatters myth of ‘united Jerusalem’

When the distance between a Jewish neighborhood and a Palestinian area is just a matter of a few meters, only a fence or a wall could provide security.


By Alon Ben David                     The Jerusalem Post

The final vestiges of the “united Jerusalem” delusion are fading away. Jerusalem has become the focal point of the latest wave of terrorism, and the lack of separation between the Israeli and Palestinian populations in the capital will continue to make it easier for the next crop of terrorists.

Since Thursday, the police have instituted a kind of closure on the Arab neighborhoods in east Jerusalem. Those who remember the second intifada, however, know very well that closures are simply insufficient without a physical barrier in place. Those who are not involved in violence will simply pass through checkpoints, while the terrorists can simply choose the countless number of ways to sneak into the western part of the city.

Yes, it’s true – 99 percent of the Palestinian population is not participating in the current round of fighting. All that are needed, however, are a few dozens of assailants to destroy the last remnants of the illusion of co-existence. Earlier this week, we saw an employee of the Bezeq phone company attack innocent Jews. We also saw a terrorist carry out an attack, even though he was an employee of the Beit Loewenstein rehabilitation hospital in Ra’anana.

The tens of thousands of east Jerusalemites who will commute to work in Israeli hospital, pharmacies, and construction sites will be met with suspicious gazes from their colleagues. Their bosses will wonder whether it is worth the security risk to keep them in their employ.

When the Israeli government drew up the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem after the 1967 war – and after the construction of the separation fence 10 years ago – it essentially annexed a quarter of a million Palestinians, granting them the status of permanent residents. Today, east Jerusalemites make up one-fifth of the Muslim population of Israel even though they do not identify emotionally with the Jewish state.

Israel could place police officers wherever needed. It could erect concrete barricades and checkpoints at the entry points to every Palestinian village in Jerusalem. But when the distance between a Jewish neighborhood and a Palestinian area is just a matter of a few meters, only a fence or a wall could provide security.

There is no chance that a government headed by Benjamin Netanyahu would dare place a physical barrier in Jerusalem that would effectively divide the city, which means that the Palestinian knife-wielding assailants could continue to wander around the city as freely as they wish. Nonetheless, it is strange that this government, with all its bluster and bravado, doesn’t adopt tougher measures to serve as a deterrent.

The demolition of homes, which is carried out after a long, drawn-out legal process that could take up to 18 months, loses its effect. Home demolitions on their own, however, is not enough. Israel needs to punish the families of terrorists, even if it means expelling them to the Gaza Strip. Every terrorist should know that the moment he brandishes a knife, he is condemning his family to a life of misery.

What is being referred to here as a “wave of terrorism” (a more fitting name has yet to be agreed upon) will apparently continue into the foreseeable future. It’s important to keep Hamas in Gaza, the armed rejectionist groups in Judea and Samaria, and the Arabs of Israel out of this current round of clashes. Israel should instead focus on the heart of the problem, which is Jerusalem.

There are no absolute solutions. It is quite obvious that a better diplomatic atmosphere would calm tensions on the ground, but it is simply impossible to create such an atmosphere given the current Israeli and Palestinian leadership. That is why Israel must continue to fight this form of terrorism with whatever means are available with the understanding that it will not go away anytime soon.

The writer is Channel 10’s chief military correspondent.

A New Palestinian Poster Child

by Jonathan S. Tobin           Commentary Magazine


The poster child of the second intifada was Muhammad al-Dura, a young boy who was supposedly gunned down by Israeli army fire and died in the arms of his father during a firefight near the border between Israel and Gaza. That moment was caught in an iconic photograph and film footage taken by French TV. As it turned out, the claim that Israelis killed the boy was false as every serious investigation of the incident concluded. The film footage was highly edited. We don’t know much about what really happened with some even claiming the child never died. Yet the incident — which took placed in the context of an armed attack on an Israeli position by Palestinians — was widely publicized, leading people around the world to see the boy as a Palestinian martyr who had been murdered by heartless Israelis. That was an image that no amount of debunking or investigative reporting could ever undo, and al-Dura became the misleading symbol of a terrorist war of attrition that was misperceived as a story of Israeli oppression. As it happens, the third intifada, if indeed the current surge of bloody Palestinian violence comes to be known by that name, will also have an icon. But the true story of 13-year-old Ahmed Manasra won’t take years to unravel because the tale of the boy that Palestinian Authority leader said on Wednesday had been “executed” in “cold blood” by the Israeli army had collapsed even before those falsehoods passed his lips.

Manasra became famous this week as millions viewed a video clip on Facebook and other social media that showed him lying in the street bleeding, setting off outrage among Palestinians. Abbas mentioned the boy in his speech to the Palestinian people on Wednesday night and cited his fate as an of how Israel was “executing our boys in cold blood, as they did with the boy Ahmed Manasra and other children in Jerusalem and other places.”

The only problem was that Manasra wasn’t dead but was, in fact, resting comfortably in an Israeli hospital being spoon fed by nurses.

Nor was Manasra the innocent child victim that Abbas said he was or a martyr in the mold of al-Dura. Other video showed how he and his 15-year-old cousin Hassan stabbed two Israelis, a 25-year-old man and a 13-year-old boy, in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Pisgat Zeev. They are both seen carrying knives chasing a potential victim down a street. The boy was seriously injured. When Israeli police responded, Hassan Manasra charged at them with a knife and was killed. Ahmed attempted to flee but was hit by a car as he ran across a street.

While Palestinians said the two were innocent victims who had been unjustly targeted by police, later in his bed at Jerusalem’s Hadassah Hospital, Manasra confessed that he carried out the attacks shown in the video. He said he had done so because he had heard that Israel was seeking, as Abbas had falsely claimed, to attack the mosques on the Temple Mount. So when his cousin procured the knives, “I went there to kill Jews.”

That gave the lie to Abbas’s claims as well as to the entire myth the Palestinians were trying to propagate about the current violence. Far from an explosion produced by frustration over Israeli settlements or the failure of peace talks to produce a two-state solution, the attacks are an outbreak of religious fanaticism ginned up by Abbas’s incitement.

Nevertheless, that didn’t stop Palestinian officials like Saeb Erekat from continuing to spew lies to the New York Times:

Erekat, the secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization and a close aide to Mr. Abbas, said “Mr. Netanyahu’s attack on President Abbas is a failed attempt to distract from the fact that Palestinian civilians, including children, are being systematically targeted for extrajudicial executions by Israel.”

“The picture of Ahmad Manasra, the Palestinian child who was left to bleed on the street, clearly shows Israel’s disregard to human life,” he added in a statement.

Later the Palestinians tried to backtrack a bit after being confronted with a live Ahmed Manasra who had confessed to an act of terrorism. But, undaunted, they continued to claim that Israeli police were targeting Palestinian children instead of, as the facts indicate, that those “children” are attacking and in some instances killing Israeli civilians in acts of wanton murder.

But what is truly remarkable is the way that the distorted lens of media bias against Israel can mangle even the most straightforward stories about terrorism. The New York Times story on the incident bore the misleading headline “Conflicting accounts of Jerusalem strife surround a wounded Arab boy.” There are “conflicting accounts” but the video evidence of the attack makes it clear that any conflict is merely the product of Palestinian attempts to deny the truth. The “boy” is guilty of attempted murder and not, as the headline seems to indicate, a helpless victim of the conflict. More to the point, the story showed no interest in the plight of the real victims, the people Manasra attacked. Like last week’s astonishing Times feature that sort to cast doubt on the fact that the biblical Jewish Temples stood on the Temple Mount where mosques are located today, the story seemed to treat a cut and dried story of criminal behavior into a Rashomon tale in which a narrative of Palestinian martyrdom is as legitimate as an Israeli one about terror.

But the real story of Ahmed Manasra doesn’t tell us much about the issues that separate Israel and the Palestinians. What it does portray is a Palestinian society that has gone mad. Betrayed by corrupt leaders like Abbas who cynically hype lies about Israeli desecration of holy sites (when the real desecration is being done by Palestinians), Palestinians send their children and young people into the streets to commit murder in acts of suicidal violence. Seen in that context, Abbas isn’t merely a liar but a war criminal that is guilty of both inciting terror and abusing children.

Outside the southeastern corner of Jerusalem’s Old City walls is the valley of Hinnom. It is the place called Gehenna where the Bible tells us, apostate Jews and followers of pagan cults worshipped their false gods by sacrificing their children by fire. Jewish tradition considers it to be the destination of wicked souls and is usually translated into English as “Hell.”

But Palestinians are replicating that gruesome story today. By sending their children out to kill and be killed in the name of a politically motivated lie, they are committing a modern form of child sacrifice. Abbas, who has been touted by President Obama into a courageous man of peace, is sacrificing his people’s children on the altar of an endless war against the Jewish presence in the country that he cannot win. Though diplomats may continue to fawn on him, this week he was again exposed as the crudest kind of abuser of children. Like the new Palestinian poster child, those willing to believe any libel against Israel may still spread Abbas’s lies. But this time, the truth has caught up to the liars.

This information is compiled by Dr Ron Wiseman, Board Member of the Zionist Council of NSW