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29th October – Latest News in Israel

Sara Zoabi speaks in the Knesset

Sara Zoabi in the Knesset speaking about Muslim Zionism.

Terrorist attempts to stab soldier in Hebron

One soldier was stabbed and his two assailants killed in a terrorist attack at the Gush Etzion junction Tuesday evening in another day of violence in the West Bank.

Later, in a separate incident, soldiers killed a Palestinian assailant who pulled a knife on them at a checkpoint near the Tel Rumeida neighborhood of Hebron, in a section of the city under Israeli military and civil control.

Earlier in the day, some 1,000 Palestinians rallied in Hebron to demand that Israel return the bodies of 11 assailants killed by its security forces this month. The cabinet decided to delay the return of the bodies until calm is restored in the West Bank amid fears the massive funerals for the attackers, who the Palestinians view as martyrs, would incite further attacks against Israel.

The IDF said the rally turned violent, with Palestinians burning tires and throwing stones and bottles at the soldiers.

Photos showed masked Palestinians with slingshots and fire shooting out from stacks of tires.

Video footage posted on YouTube showed what looked like thousands of protesters waving Palestinians flags and photos of the Palestinians killed by the IDF and Border Police in recent violence.

Protesters filled the streets near the Policeman’s checkpoint, on the side of the city under the control of the Palestinian Authority, chanting “Palestine,” “Al-Aksa” and “Allahu Akbar,” as IDF soldiers looked on warily.

The IDF broke up the rally in a massive barrage of tear gas and stun grenades, as well as rubber and .22 caliber bullets. Video footage showed protesters fleeing in all directions with in seconds.

According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, some 87 Palestinian were wounded from tear gas inhalation; 44 from rubber bullets; and 20 from live ammunition.

Hebron and Gush Etzion have been the scene of numerous violent Palestinian attacks and riots in the last few days.

On Tuesday evening, soldiers stopped two suspicious looking Palestinians at the busy Gush Etzion junction, and one of whom stabbed a 19-year-old soldier of the Shimshon unit, who was guarding the area. Other soldiers from the unit opened fire and killed the two attackers; Palestinian social media showed the bodies of the two young men lying in pools of blood by the bus stop.

Jabar Assat, a Magen David Adom paramedic, said the soldier had facial wounds and was transported to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem.

“When we arrived, he was conscious and standing,” said Assat, who added that an IDF medical team treated the soldier at the scene, before he was placed in an ambulance.

Sections of Route 60 were temporarily shut down as a result of the incident.

Gush Etzion Regional Council head Davidi Perl, who arrived at the scene, said the attack would not deter area residents from continuing with their normal lives.

“We will continue to live here and fight terrorism. We will not give up,” Perl said.

This was the second such incident on Route 60 this week. On Monday, closer to Hebron near the entrance to the Palestinian village of Beit Einun, a Palestinian stabbed and seriously injured a soldier.

In the Gush Etzion region on Sunday, a Palestinian stabbed and moderately wounded an Israeli civilian near the settlement of Metzad after he exited his vehicle because Palestinians had thrown rocks at it.                     (The Jerusalem Post)

Kerry: Palestinian leaders must stop incitement

The Palestinian leadership must cease inciting to violence and offer something concrete to the Israelis, US Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday.

Kerry, at a speech in Washington to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said it was “absolutely vital” for Israel to take steps “that empower Palestinian leaders to improve economic opportunity and the quality of their lives on a day to day basis.”

It is “equally important,” he said “for Palestinian leaders to cease the incitement of violence and offer something more than rhetoric.”

Instead, he added, the Palestinians needed to “propose solutions that will contribute in a real way to the improvement of life, to the reduction of violence and to the safety and security of Israelis.”

His speech came the same day that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, speaking to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, said that “Israel is systematically violating the principles of international law and acting as a state above the law,” and called for International “protection” for the Palestinians.

Kerry, in his comments, said the current spasm of violence “hurts everyone” and is an indication of what what things will look like if there is not a two-state solution.

“The current situation is simply not sustainable,” he said. “Firm and creative leadership on both sides is absolutely essential. A two state solution with strong security protection remains the only viable alternative.” He added that the US “absolutely remains prepared” to do what it can to bring about this solution.

Meanwhile Abbas, speaking in Geneva, charged that the “status of human rights” in the territories and east Jerusalem “is the worst and most critical since 1948.” This, he said, called for “strong and decisive intervention” by the UN “to set up a special regime for international protection for the Palestinian people, immediately and urgently.”

An Israeli government official responded to this by saying that Abbas was ignoring the “fundamental truth” that the current violence “has been launched by Palestinians against Israelis, and not the other way around.”

According to the official, “demonizing Israel is unfortunately par for the course when it comes to Abbas’ speeches in international forums.”

The Palestinian leader, he said, “refuses to take responsibility for his own behavior: running away from negotiations, fomenting incitement, and even refusing to condemn terrorism.”

Abbas said it was time for Israeli leaders to have the courage to take sincere and real decisions to make the two-state solution a tangible reality before it’s too late. He said that the current wave of violence was “an inevitable outcome of Israeli violations and crimes that we had previously warned against.”

Abbas said that peace and stability could not be achieved unless “occupation ended and Palestinians achieved independence.”

He said that for years he had warned against Israeli measures in Jerusalem. He claimed that since 2000 successive Israeli governments have been working to alter the identity and history and demography of Jerusalem.

“I have repeatedly cautioned that the pressure would lead to an explosion,” Abbas said. He also accused Israel of seeking to change the status quo at the Temple Mount, saying this would transform the conflict from a political to a religious conflict.

Abbas also accused the Israeli government of backing settlers who perpetrate crimes against Palestinians and their properties and holy sites.

He said that the absence of hope, lack of security and Israeli pressure were driving Palestinians towards despair.

Abbas repeated his charge that Israel was carrying out summary executions of “innocent” Palestinians and imposing collective punishment on entire Palestinian communities.

He also repeated his warning that Israel’s failure to honor signed agreements with the Palestinians would prompt the Palestinians to revise their commitment to these accords.

Israeli officials, meanwhile, declined to comment on a new UN Security Resolution that New Zealand is preparing aimed at tamping down the violence and kick-starting negotiations.

According to a report in Haaretz, the draft resolution calls for Israel to freeze settlement expansion and home demolition, and for the Palestinians to cease lodging complaints against Israel at the International Court in the Hague. It also said that a durable peace “based on a two-state solution can only be achieved if the two sides engage in serious negotiations.”

The Israeli Foreign Ministry declined comment on the proposal, and one government official said it was too early for Israel to take a position on the matter because it was not clear “how serious it is.”

In the meantime, however, the New Zealand proposal has eclipsed an idea bandied about informally by the French – and then apparently buried following opposition by Israel, the US and Jordan – to bring a resolution to the Security Council calling for the placement of international observers on the Temple Mount. New Zealand is currently one of the 10 temporary members of the 15-member Security Council, and its Foreign Minister Murray McCully was in Israel earlier this year.

During his visit, one Israeli official said, Israel made the case that the job of the international community should be to encourage resumption of the negotiations, and “not to give the Palestinians as excuse not to negotiate.”

In response to a query about the New Zealand proposal, Israel’s envoy to the UN Danny Danon said “the only way to achieve peace is through direct talks between the parties. The best way to reduce tensions in the region is to urge President Abbas to accept Prime Minister Netanyahu’s call to meet with him.”                   (The Jerusalem Post)

Police: Jerusalem terrorism wave largely curbed

Following three weeks of heightened security – including numerous roadblocks placed at violent Arab neighborhoods, an extra 1,200 Border Police officers, and coordination with the IDF and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) – police on Monday said Jerusalem’s terrorism wave has largely been contained.

While emphasizing that the city remains at its highest state of alert, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the capital’s far-reaching emergency security plan has prevented another terrorist attack from taking place for roughly one week.

“With police across the country drafted to Jerusalem, as well as 16 extra Border Police units, and rotating roadblocks and checkpoints as a strategic maneuver, police have been able to stop another threat of a terrorist attack,” Rosenfeld said.

However, he noted that the frequency of attacks over the last week against IDF soldiers has increased in the West Bank, where over 10 knife attacks have taken place and at least five terrorists have been shot dead.

“We can see a change in the geography in the wave of terrorist attacks from Jerusalem and different districts throughout the country, which are now unfortunately taking place in Judea and Samaria against IDF personnel,” he said.

“The situation in Jerusalem has changed after heightened security, so now there are less here and more in places like Hebron.

There are more attacks against IDF personnel and less against Jerusalemites and police officers.”

Rosenfeld said more than 500 Palestinian suspects have been arrested in east Jerusalem since October 3 for rioting and attacking police with rocks and firebombs. He estimated that roughly one dozen suspected terrorists have also been arrested before carrying out imminent attacks.

Still, he said ground operations in Jerusalem are far from over, noting that the police continues to operate on high alert.

“Police units and security forces have contained the wave of attacks over the last few days, although heightened security remains in place in all public areas, with an emphasis on the Old City,” he said                                               (Jerusalem Post)

Undercover unit arrests Hamas, Islamic Jihad operatives in Jenin raid

Security forces led by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and the Border Police’s undercover unit in the West Bank arrested two wanted terrorist operatives in the Jenin refugee camp early on Tuesday, on suspicion of planning attacks on the IDF.

Kais Sa’adi, 24, a well-known Hamas operative, has carried out shooting attacks on the IDF, manufactured and planted explosives, and trafficked weapons, the Shin Bet said. He was arrested in the counter-terrorist operation. Islamic Jihad operative Tair Jaradat, 29, was also arrested.

Security forces seized large quantities of arms during the Jenin raid, including an M16 assault rifle, ammunition clips, a handgun, a stun grenade, night-vision goggles, and military vests.

In a separate raid, the Kfir infantry brigade’s Duchifat Battalion seized an M16, a handgun, hunting rifles, knives, ammunition, and propaganda material in the village of Talat, southeast of Kalkilya.

The IDF, Judea and Samaria District Police, and Border Police arrested a total of 44 suspects in overnight raids. Forty of them are suspected of taking part in unorganized terrorism and violent disturbances.

Two Hamas members were arrested in Bet Eiba, northwest of Nablus.

A third Hamas member was arrested in Mizra Al-Kabaliya, southwest of Ramallah.

(The Jerusalem Post)

Former defense minister Ben-Eliezer to face criminal charges

Former defense minister Binyamin “Fuad” Ben-Eliezer will face charges in a series of cases against him, after Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein decided to dismiss the objections of Ben-Eliezer’s attorneys in a pre-indictment hearing, the Justice Ministry announced Tuesday night.

The charges – which span 5 different cases – include bribery, money laundering, fraud, breach of trust, and tax crimes.

In a statement Tuesday night, Ben-Eliezer’s attorneys said that they have full confidence in the courts, and that “despite the grave medical condition of Fuad, we will fight to clear his name.”

In June, Weinstein said he likely will file an indictment against Ben-Eliezer for bribery, money- laundering, fraud, breach of public trust and tax offenses. He added that his decision was subject to a pre-indictment hearing he would grant Ben-Eliezer on the charges, a last chance for Ben-Eliezer to convince him to drop the charges.

In January, police said there was evidence not only against Ben-Eliezer but also a number of other suspects in the case, including Jacky Ben-Zaken, businessman Avraham Nanikashvili and Ben-Eliezer’s former bureau chief Ayelet Azoulay.

The case against Ben-Eliezer deals with allegations from 2007-2013, including a period of time when he was national infrastructure minister, and allegedly accepted large bribes from a number of associates in order to advance their business interests.

Before the case against Ben-Eliezer broke in June 2014, he was expected to be a front-runner in the elections that same month for the presidency.                (The Jerusalem Post)

Captain on Israel-bound flight from Spain announced ‘landing in Palestine’

The captain of a flight from Spain enraged Israeli passengers Wednesday after announcing that a plane approaching Ben-Gurion Airport “would be landing shortly in Palestine,” Channel 2 reported.

According to the report, the captain first made the overhead announcement in Spanish and afterward stated in English that in a few minutes the plane would descend into Tel Aviv.

Passengers traveling on the aircraft operated by Spanish airline Iberia said that the captain never mentioned the word “Israel” during his in-flight updates.

One passenger, Lior, told Channel 2 that he was “somewhat overwhelmed” by the incident.

“Everyone started whispering, we were just in shock, I don’t understand why he said that,” he added. “We live in the State of Israel and he should have said ‘Israel,’ he didn’t absentmindedly say it in English, it was intentional – and even more so in this tense time.”

Another passenger told the Israeli news channel that the captain’s choice of words “was unacceptable, we all noticed it.”

Meanwhile, another passenger reportedly sent a letter of complaint to the airline.

“My family and I were incredibly offended, it was completely inappropriate and it does not do service to your company,” Channel 2 quoted the letter as saying.         (Jerusalem Post)

J.K. Rowling defends decision to oppose cultural boycott of Israel

J.K. Rowling has defended her decision to oppose a cultural boycott of Israel in a post on her Twitter account.

The Harry Potter author was criticized by a number of her fans on social media after she was announced as one of the 150 British artists who signed an open letter, published by The Guardian last week, espousing the value of cultural engagement with the Jewish state over a cultural boycott.

On Monday, Rowling addressed “a number of readers asking for more information about why I am not joining a cultural boycott of Israel,” stating that she had “never heard of a cultural boycott ending a bloody and prolonged conflict.”

Rowling argued on Twitter that the impact of a cultural boycott would be felt predominantly by ordinary Israelis and not by the Israeli administration who would be able to affect change, writing that she has “deplored most of Mr Netanyahu’s actions in office,” referring to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“The sharing of art and literature across borders constitutes an immense power for good in this world,” Rowling concluded. “At a time when the stigmatisation of religions and ethnicities seems to be on the rise, I believe strongly that cultural dialogue and collaboration is more important than ever before and that cultural boycotts are divisive, discriminatory and counter-productive.”

A week after Rowling joined another 150 people from the British arts world in signing a letter published in The Guardian that condemned the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, more than 300 scholars affiliated with British academic institutions signed a letter in the same publication pledging not to cooperate with Israeli academic institutions.

(Jerusalem Post)

Ancient winery discovered in central Israel region during storm

A large, well-preserved 1,500-year-old winery has been exposed during a violent storm in the Sharon Plain region, located between the Mediterranean Sea and Samarian Hills, the Antiquities Authority announced Monday.

According to IAA archeologist Alla Nagorski, the discovery was made off the Eyal Interchange several weeks ago when flooding and hail disrupted an excavation at the site, where natural gas lines are scheduled to be embedded.

The northern part of the Sharon Plain is considered the most historical wine region in Israel, and is where the first roots of Israeli wine were planted in modern times.

When water was pumped from the site, Nagorski said the well-preserved winery was found. She described it as impressive and rare.

“It is evident that great thought was invested in the engineering and construction,” she said. “The wine press is huge – 3 meters in diameter and 2 meters deep, and could accommodate 20 cubic meters of wine.”


Nagorski said numerous other wine presses have been exposed in Sharon, where the wine industry once thrived. In addition a warehouse was discovered housing jars.

Nagorski said the IAA would share its findings with the Saslove Winery and Visitor Center at Kibbutz Eyal.

While Israel’s winery industry was built on coastal vineyards, most of which were in the Mount Carmel or Shefela regions, in the last 20 years the northern region of the Golan and Galilee have become the largest wine regions by number of vineyards.

More recently, wineries from the Judean Hills have become increasingly popular. According to the late Daniel Rogov’s last Israel Wine Guide, half of the wineries listed in the “Top 12 Israeli Wineries” were from the Judean Hills region.                             (Jerusalem Post)

For Hamas, current terror wave is opportunity not to be missed

by    Nidal Al-Mughrabi        Reuters/The Jerusalem Post


The studio of Hamas-run Al-Aqsa TV is decorated with slogans praising the “knife intifada” against Israel. Video clips and rousing songs glorify the daily attacks, while the presenters all wear black-and-white Keffiyeh scarves.

If this message wasn’t clear enough, Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas leader in Gaza, visited the studio recently and added his own slogan to the wall, scrawling “The Al-Quds Intifada” – the Jerusalem Uprising – in spray paint.

For Hamas, the Islamist group that has controlled Gaza since 2007, this month’s surge in violence across Israel, Jerusalem and the West Bank is an opportunity not to be missed.

While most of the stabbings and other attacks that have killed 11 Israelis were carried out by Palestinians acting on their own accord, rather than with political backing, Hamas wants to tap into the popular anger to bolster its cause.

Its rival political movement, Fatah, based in the West Bank and headed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, has quietly accepted the violence and used traditional language to praise the 55 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces as “martyrs.”

But Hamas has been far more explicit in its call for a new intifada like those of the past. Its aim, analysts say, is a mass uprising across the West Bank that strengthens its foothold there and leaves it as the dominant Palestinian political force.

That, they say, in turn might force the collapse of the Palestinian Authority, the quasi-governmental body headed by Abbas, and put an end to the 1990s interim peace accords, which have not led to a negotiated accord on Palestinian statehood.

“Hamas’s strategy is to spark an intifada in the West Bank and it has sought to do so by every possible means,” said Hamza Abu Shanab, an expert on the group. “It has pumped money in and restructured its ranks there to prepare for an uprising.”

A survey last month showed nearly two-thirds of Palestinians want Abbas, who has been in power for 10 years, to resign. It also pointed to rising support for armed resistance against Israel over negotiations, and that Hamas was gaining on Fatah, with voters evenly split over who to back.

After a month of violence, and few signs of it dying down, Hamas is hoping to tip the balance decisively in its favor.

Hani Habib, a writer and analyst in Gaza, sees Hamas trying to use the violence to undermine the Palestinian Authority and end the internal division that began in 2007 by “spreading their control all over the West Bank and Gaza.”

For Abbas and Fatah, the challenge is to show solidarity with youth spontaneously spearheading the violence while not letting it spill over into something they cannot control or that prompts Israel to further tighten its grip on the West Bank.

“We want an objective popular resistance that is connected to political goals,” said Fatah spokesman Osama al-Qawasme.

The aim, he said, was to end Israel’s 48-year occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which Palestinians seek for an independent state together with Gaza, from where Israel withdrew settlers and soldiers in 2005.

If the violence worsens, said Hani al-Masri, a political analyst based in the West Bank city of Ramallah, “Hamas will be the biggest beneficiary.”

For Abbas, the hope is that international engagement – there were visits to the region by the UN secretary general and the US secretary of state last week – will bolster his standing and show Palestinians he can deliver some measure of progress, even more than 18 months after the last talks on Palestinian statehood collapsed.

“(If) the current wave of (violence) begins to shrink, that would achieve for the president and Fatah what they wanted,” said Masri, emphasizing that the outcome remained unclear.

On Europe, terrorism and demonizing Israel: Time for a reset

by Gerald M. Steinberg                         The Times of Israel


If nothing else, European officials at least get credit for consistency. For decades, in war and peace, terror and calm, they have not flagged in the belief that they can engineer their vision of peace for Israel.

Having failed in so many previous attempts, the European move is another step in the effort to impose its preferred policies, via the labeling of products from the post-1967 “occupied territories” in order to create economic pressure on Israel. The next step would be to ban these products, and then to single out all Israeli items. (As perpetual victims, Palestinians are deemed to be exempt from contributing to peace, real or imagined.)

In this context, the claim by the European Union’s ambassador in Tel Aviv that labeling Israeli goods from beyond the Green Line isn’t a big deal was disingenuous. “You seem to be very proud of your own settlement enterprise,” Lars Faaborg-Anderson said in an interview with journalist Raphael Ahrens, “so why is this such a big problem?” His condescension was, to put it mildly, out of line.

The marking of products from beyond the 1949 armistice lines goes far beyond another awkward EU attempt to impose its ideas on Israeli democracy. Product labeling is the embodiment of a strategy to delegitimize Israel and the right of the Jewish people to sovereign equality. It is central to the political war embodied in BDS — boycott, divestment and sanctions — whose stated objective is not peace, but rather “the complete international isolation of Israel.”

To answer Faaborg-Andersen’s sarcastic question, this is the reason that EU product labeling “is this such a big problem.” Behind the facade of promoting peace, demonization is used to justify terror, including false war crimes accusations and BDS campaigns.

Although those promoting this agenda use different methods than the terrorists stabbing Israelis in Jerusalem, Petah Tikvah and Tel Aviv, they have the same goals.

This campaign is conducted through false-flag human rights and humanitarian groups, many of which are also funded generously by the EU and its member states. In addition to the echo-chamber of anti-Israel slogans, these organizations lobby the EU to adopt their anti-Israel agenda, for which they then get more taxpayer money to continue the cycle.

In a 2012 report entitled Trading Away Peace, 22 NGOs launched product labeling as the first step towards BDS. They called on the EU “governments [to] consider banning imports” of such products entirely. The “aid” organizations behind the report included Cordaid (Holland), Trocaire (Ireland), DanChurchAid (Denmark), MEDICO International (Germany), Christian Aid (UK) and FIDH (France) — all of which receive millions of euros annually from the EU.

Other EU-funded partner organizations have reinforced this efforts. The Coalition of Women for Peace, a leading BDS campaigner, continuously issuing statements supporting “the call for cultural and economic boycott, divestment and international sanctions to increase pressure on Israel from the international community.” CWP uses EU money to lobby the EU to cancel its trade agreements with Israel. For this, this organization received €247,668 from the EU in 2013 alone, through the EIDHR (democracy and human rights) program.

All of this is missing from Ambassador Faaborg-Andersen’s interviews and speeches. Indeed, in the face of the evidence, he continues to claim that the EU condemns any connection between the labeling of products and antisemitism, calling BDS “a repulsive, absolutely condemnable phenomenon.”

But the facts paint a different picture. While all European officials denounce antisemitism, the EU does not have a working definition to apply, including with regard to NGO funding. There is no comprehensive understanding of Jew hatred, or the use of the rhetoric of attacking “occupation” and Israeli “war crimes” as thin covers for hate.

In other words, while invoking the rhetoric of peace, the EU and its spokesperson in Israel, Ambassador Faaborg-Andersen, continue to promote policies and organizations that reinforce the conflict. Product labeling, which promotes boycotts and other actions that single-out and demonize Israel, is the facade for this process.

In the midst of another wave of brutal terror, this is certainly not the time for European political posturing. Taking at face value its claims to support the right of the Jewish people to sovereign equality, and to oppose antisemitism, the European Union is well advised to drop product labeling. At the same time, a full and independent investigation of their relationships with fringe groups that fuel the conflict is long overdue.

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