+61 3 9272 5644

Latest Israel News – 14th March

Two police officers injured in Jerusalem stabbing attack

Two police officers were wounded early Monday morning after a Palestinian terrorist stabbed them at Jerusalem’s Lion’s Gate.

The assailant was shot and killed at the scene. The wounded officers were transported to Hadassah University Medical Center in the capital. The officers were moderately wounded yet in stable condition and fully conscious, according to Magen David Adom.

MDA paramedics David Dalfon and Tzvi Tavens said that “when we got to the scene we saw two youngsters in their 20’s sitting and conscious while injured in their upper body.”

The assailant has been identified as a 25 year-old man from the east Jerusalem neighborhood Jabel Mukaber.

The attack came as several thousand police officers from multiple units were actively patrolling the capital throughout the Purim festivities which began in Jerusalem on Sunday night, to ensure revelers remain safe until celebrations conclude on Monday evening.

According to police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, all public areas were being closely canvassed.

“There will be heightened security in and around the different public areas of the city where gatherings and events for the festival are taking place,” he said on Sunday.

“Multiple police units, including Border Police and undercover units, will ensure that fast responses are carried out if any incidents take place, with an extra emphasis on people traveling to and from the different areas of the city for celebrations.”

Rosenfeld noted that no threats have been received, adding that heightened security will remain in effect until the festival concludes Monday night.

“Patrols will also be heightened in Judea and Samaria and throughout Palestinian areas as part of standard security measures for this time of year,” Rosenfeld added.  (Jerusalem Post)

PM said to seek OK for new settlement from Trump envoy

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will reportedly try to seek approval to build a new West Bank settlement as compensation for the residents of the evacuated Amona outpost during meetings with a top adviser to US President Donald Trump.

According to a Channel 2 TV report, the prime minister will present Jason Greenblatt with plans for a new West Bank settlement, one that he promised the residents of Amona ahead of their court-ordered evacuation in exchange for a peaceful evacuation of the hilltop community.

Netanyahu intends to propose that the new West Bank community — to be named “Geulat Tzion” — be built between the settlements of Shiloh and Shvut Rachel in the central West Bank.

However, recognizing the sensitivity of establishing the first new settlement in over two decades, the prime minister will try and tell Greenblatt that Geulat Tzion will be a “replacement” settlement for Amona and not a “new” one, Channel 2 said.

Greenblatt, Trump’s special representative for international negotiations, is visiting the region this week for talks on West Bank settlement policy and the peace process with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

The goal of Greenblatt’s visit is reportedly to formulate the Trump administration’s position on settlements, including what the US will accept in terms of where and how much Israel can build, and to arrange Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s visit to Washington. Abbas was invited to the White House by Trump in a phone call on Friday.

It is unclear if Netanyahu’s technicalities will appease Trump, who publicly asked him last month to “hold back” on the settlements.

Both Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman have recently tried to curb the discussion of settlements, with the understanding that the issue could cause tension with Washington.

A month ago, Netanyahu promised residents of Amona that he would build them the first new West Bank settlement in 25 years, and vowed that construction would begin no later than the end of March.

However, later last month, after a meeting with Trump, Netanyahu reportedly told members of his security cabinet that the government may have to renege on his pledge.

Acting State Department spokesperson Mark Toner last week referred to Trump’s comment, saying Washington was “in discussions with Israel about how exactly that would look like. It’s under consideration.”

Since Trump’s election, some Likud and Jewish Home MKs have ramped up calls for the annexation of Ma’ale Adumim and other settlements, and recently, Likud MK Miki Zohar called for full Israeli annexation of the West Bank.

Last Monday, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman told the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that he had received a direct message from the US saying that “Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank means an immediate crisis with the new administration.”

Last week also saw the first phone conversation between Trump and Abbas. Trump invited Abbas to the White House for a visit and assured the Palestinian leader of his commitment to an “authentic” peace process.

Palestinian officials said that their talks with Greenblatt would focus on preparations for Abbas’s visit to Washington

Sources told the TV channel the “strategic location” for the replacement community was chosen in an effort to establish a continuity of Jewish settlements all along the section of Route 5, a major east-west highway that traverses the West Bank.

According to the report, the placement of Geulat Tzion indicates the settlement movement is willing to split the West Bank into a northern and southern blocs.  (the Times of Israel)

Shin Bet nabs 2 Palestinians allegedly planning shooting, bomb attacks

The Shin Bet security service arrested two Palestinian men suspected of planning to carry several attacks on behalf of Hamas, the agency announced on Sunday.

The arrests were made during a West Bank-wide crackdown, in which several other suspected Hamas members were detained, the Shin Bet said.

Military prosecutors are expected to file indictments against all of the suspects in the coming days.

The two men — Muhammad A’azi from Jama’in in the northern West Bank and Noor Aldin Ghaith from Hebron — allegedly planned to lay down nails along a roadway in order to force cars to stop and then open fire, making their attack more lethal, the Shin Bet said.

The two had reportedly scouted out different roads ahead of their attack. After his arrest, A’azi also handed over a weapon to the Shin Bet, which they said he planned to use in the attack.

The pair is also suspected of creating improvised explosive devices and testing them out ahead of a potential attack.

“They planned to put a propane tank rigged to explode at the entrance to a village and detonate it on a military vehicle,” the Shin Bet said.

‘They planned to place a propane tank rigged to explode at the entrance to a village and detonate it on a military vehicle’

The security service also picked up a group of alleged Hamas members from Biddu, in the central West Bank, who are suspected of carrying out a number of attacks near the Jerusalem suburbs of Har Adar and Ma’ale Hahamisha.

The Shin Bet did not respond to a Times of Israel’s request for an exact number of people arrested in the crackdowns.

The suspects are believed to have thrown improvised explosive devices and Molotov cocktails at the two communities, as well as carrying out one shooting at Har Adar and planning a second. There were no injuries reported in the incidents.

In recent weeks, the security service has also arrested several students from Birzeit University in the West Bank, members of the Hamas-affiliated Kutla Islamiyah, believed to be helping the terrorist group strengthen its grip on the campus, the Shin Bet said.

“[The group’s] activities included rallies, recruiting new members and raising funds,” the agency said.

Last week, the Shin Bet arrested a number of high-ranking Hamas members, including three members of the Palestinian parliament.

In January, the Shin Bet also exposed an alleged “hearts and minds” effort by Hamas to win over local Palestinian support for the terrorist organization.

This Hamas operation, which included dozens of operatives, was geared toward winning over the Palestinian population through social outreach projects and financial assistance.

“The discovery of this infrastructure teaches us about the ongoing strategic intentions of Hamas to operate and set itself up in the field, as it tries to undermine the local authority. And this is done alongside its attempts to carry out vicious terror attacks,” the Shin Bet said in a statement at the time.  (the Times of Israel)

Jordanian who killed Israeli girls says Israeli ‘human waste’ must be eradicated

Hours after his release from 20 years in jail for gunning down seven Israeli schoolgirls, ex-Jordanian solider Ahmed Daqamseh declared on Sunday that Israelis are “human waste” that must be eradicated.

Daqamseh made his remarks to al-Jazeera TV station, shortly after returning from jail to his home village of Ibdir to cheering friends and family.

“The Israelis are the human waste of people, that the rest of the world has vomited up at our feet,” he told the TV station. “We must eliminate them by fire or by burial. If this is not done by our hands, the task will fall on the future generations to do.”

In remarks directed to the Jordanian people, Daqamseh urged: “Do not believe the lie that is normalization with the Zionist entity. Do not believe the lie that is the two-state solution. Palestine is one land from the river to the sea, there is no state called ‘Israel.’”

In a later interview with Jordan’s “Al-Rad” newspaper, Daqamseh said that he did not want to cause political instability in Jordan, and indicated he was not planning to carry out future attacks.

“My position regarding Zionists is known. I did what I did 20 years ago and that’s it,” he said.

This file photo taken on June 25, 1997 shows Jordanian soldier Ahmed Daqamseh, waving to his family from behind bars, during his hearing at a Amman military court. (AFP/Jamal Nasrallah)

In March 1997, Daqamseh opened fire with an automatic weapon at Israeli schoolgirls on a trip to the Jordan-Israel border, killing seven of them and wounding five others and a teacher. A Jordanian court later deemed Daqamseh mentally unstable and sentenced him to life in prison, rather than imposing the death penalty.

Jordan’s then ruler King Hussein condemned the attack and later traveled to Israel to offer his condolences to the families of the murdered schoolgirls. Amman also paid compensation.

Early on Sunday morning, Daqamseh was released from the Bab al-Hawa prison in Irbid, 90 kilometers (60 miles) north of the capital Amman after serving the mandatory 20 years.

Daqamseh was driven home in a convoy of dozens of cars whose drivers were honking their horns, a video shared on social media showed.

His brother Bassem said the family home was full of well-wishers.

“He is in good health, wearing a black suit among his relatives and close family including his 78-year-old mother,” his brother said.

Videos circulated on social media showed Daqamseh greeting relatives and posing for selfies with visitors.

‘Children’s blood not worthless’

There was no immediate official reaction from neighboring Israel, but relatives of the slain schoolgirls slammed Daqamseh’s release.

“This morning takes us back 20 years, to that horrible day,” said Hezi Cohen, whose daughter Nirit was shot dead in the 1997 attack.

“I’d like to tell the (Israeli) prime minister and defense minister: Our children’s blood should not be worthless,” he told Israeli news website Ynet.

“You should have acted vis-à-vis Jordan to prevent this release at any cost.”

Orit Cohen, whose sister Keren was killed, said: “Who says that tomorrow he (Daqamseh) won’t carry out another attack and murder more Israelis?”

Israel Fatihi, whose daughter Sivan was killed in the attack, said the Israeli ambassador to Jordan had warned them of the Jordanian’s release.

Daqamseh “was called a hero in the Jordanian parliament at the time of the murder. If that’s what they said in parliament, what can we expect from the family?”

Israel’s “peace with Jordan is between us (Israelis) and the royal family — not the people or the parliament,” he said.

Jordan is the only Arab nation besides Egypt to have signed a peace treaty with the Jewish state.

Fatihi recalled King Hussein’s condolence visit, saying he and his family had been sitting on the floor in mourning at the time and that the monarch knelt down next to them. “We told him we really appreciated his visit,” Fatihi said.

Nurit, his wife, said their daughter Sivan was a “very happy” child who “took everything easily.” She said she misses “her laughter, her smile, her joy of life.”

“Despite the murder we are for peace,” she said.

Keren Ofri Mizrachi, one of the girls Daqamseh shot and wounded in the attack, said his release from prison was a difficult day for her. She told Israel’s Channel 10 TV how he shot her four times from close range while she was trying to escape the carnage. Her twin sister was also shot and wounded in the attack.

“I saw the look of murder in his eyes,” she said, adding that his release had brought memories flooding back. It feels like being “wounded again.” But, she added, “I have chosen to live. I won’t allow anybody or anything in the world break me. I am strong, I am a proud Jew. I have a family and children, they are my strength.”  (the Times of Israel)

Report: 24 Palestinian Authority Schools Funded by UK, EU Ignore Aid Conditions, Continue to Indoctrinate Students to Commit Violence Against Israelis

As part of an ongoing investigation, a British daily revealed on Sunday that 24 Palestinian Authority schools are openly ignoring Western demands to cease encouraging violence against Israelis — or else forfeit foreign aid.

According to the Daily Mail, despite public outrage over the UK government’s payments to the PA as part of a commitment to spend £12 billion on foreign aid – following an expose by the paper last year about how taxpayers’ money was going toward paying salaries to convicted terrorists and families of suicide bombers — the schools in question have been continuing to incite students to terrorism through text books and classroom indoctrination.

The Mail on Sunday said that MP Joan Ryan, chair of Labour Friends of Israel – for which a report was prepared by Jerusalem-based research organization Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) — said that though she supports sending aid to the Palestinians, “We cannot stand idly by while the Palestinian Authority sanctions antisemitic incitement which poisons young minds and makes a two-state solution ever more difficult to achieve.”

According to the report, the EU, which gets one-tenth of its aid budget from Britain, is donating £272 million to the PA this year. Both claim that the process of earmarking and monitoring the money is carefully vetted.

One spokesperson claimed: “All funds the EU allocates to the PA for salaries, pensions and social allocations go through an elaborate system of rigorous verification procedures.”

But the new PMW report shows otherwise, the Daily Mail said.

Among the 24 schools in question, all dedicated to prominent Palestinian terrorists, are four named after the mastermind of the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics, one after the founder of Hamas and one after Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem who backed Hitler during WWII and helped recruit for the SS.

Another of the schools on the list, in Hebron, is one of three named after Dalal Mughrabi, the woman behind the deadliest terrorist attack in Israel’s history — the 1978 Coastal Road Massacre, which left 37 people dead, among them 12 children.

“Britain and the European Union bear responsibility for this terror when they are funding a school system that is actively promoting, and thereby creating, terrorism,” PMW head Itamar Marcus told the Daily Mail. “This is simply child abuse, encouraging kids to die in armed struggle. It is a terrible message for the next generation. Children are the key to peace, but look at what they are being exposed to from a young age, growing up in an environment of terror and told the killing of Israelis is a heroic action.”

An education official in Hebron told the Daily Mail, “We do not consider [Mughrabi] a child killer,” because of the Israeli occupation. “Where is the problem in calling schools after such martyrs?”

Teachers told the publication that PA leaders agree to British and EU demands to cease incitement in order to pass the vetting process, knowing that any restrictions they agree to will be ignored by school principals and teachers.  (the Algemeiner)

Netanyahu: As in Purim story, modern-day Persia will not succeed

Attempts in modern-day Persia to destroy the Jewish state of Israel will not succeed, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the children at the central synagogue in Caesarea on Saturday night during festivities on the Purim holiday.

Purim, observed by Jews worldwide on Sunday and exclusively in Jerusalem on Monday, celebrates the reversal of a decree by a Persian Empire official, Haman, who received approval from the Persian King Achashverosh, to annihilate the Jewish people.

Bibi @ Central

Before the synagogue recitation of the Book of Esther, detailing the entire Purim story, Netanyahu, asked the children, “What is the holiday about? What do we celebrate? Why do we remember? What did they try to do to us then?”

“To kill us,” one of the children replied.

“Where?” Netanyahu asked.

“In Persia,” they answered.

“Did they succeed?” the Prime Minister continued.

“No. The opposite happened,” answered one child.

“And today in Persia they also want to destroy us,” Netanyahu added. “And also today they won’t succeed.”

Netanyahu also touched on the Purim holiday during his meeting on Thursday in Moscow with President Vladimir Putin, urging the Russian leader to prevent the creation of an Iranian front against Israel in Syria. (WIN)

German newspapers: Netanyahu is a mad dictator like Khamenei

Two German tabloids in Hamburg and Berlin wrote on Friday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is one of the world’s seven most insane dictators, prompting the Israeli Embassy to slam the report as antisemitic.

In unsigned articles titled “The seven looniest leaders of the world,” the papers included Netanyahu on a list with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Syria’s Bashar Assad, North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, the Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte, and Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe.

The headline used the word “Führer” to label Netanyahu; a term routinely reserved for Adolf Hitler.

The article listed the initials of the author as MKR.

The Hamburger Morgenpost and Berliner Kurier, part of the same publishing house, wrote under a picture of Netanyahu that he “long refuses to agree to a two-state solution. He continues to carry out construction of settlements and thereby provokes his Palestinian neighbors. In the long-running troubles with Iran, he tried without success to pressure Barack Obama to launch an air attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. With Trump that could turn out differently.”

Israel’s Foreign Ministry and the embassy immediately responded to a Post query on Saturday.

The Israeli Embassy in Berlin told The Jerusalem Post: “The fact that the elected prime minister of a Western democracy – that has been struggling for its life ever since it was founded – is placed in the same category as some of the worst dictatorships in the world, bears witness more than anything to the newspaper’s level of understanding about what is happening in the world today or about something much worse, that should have disappeared from the world long ago: antisemitism.”

Volker Beck, a Green Party deputy in the Bundestag, wrote to his more than 73,400 Twitter followers that the articles are “simply outrageous.” One can criticize Netanyahu but whoever prepared the list “lost all sense of proportion.”

The Morgenpost has a daily circulation of nearly 73,000 in the northern city of Hamburg. The paper also criticized Israel as a travel destination, writing, “Israel brutally represses the Palestinians in occupied West Jordan [sic]. Vacation in Israel is an experience, but a matter of taste for critical travelers.”

Carsten Ovens, the scientific spokesman of the Christian Democratic Union in Hamburg, told the Post that “Israel is, in fact, a great travel country. How one can as the editorial department of a German daily paper combine an unreflective and one-sided criticism of the only democracy in the Middle East with a negative travel recommendation is highly questionable. I will on Monday invite the editorial management of the Mopo [Morgenpost] to a personal conversation.” Ovens is a politician in the Hamburg legislature who has led the fight against boycotts of Israel in the city.

Claudio Casula, the author of the popular pro-Israel blog Spirit of Entebbe, was one of the first to draw attention to the article, on Twitter. He told the Post that “it is a joke to include the elected prime minister of Israel on the list of the seven insane dictators.” He said Israel’s democracy is ranked at 36th of 167 countries in the world, according to the Democracy Index.

Casula, a longtime observer of German media coverage of Israel, added that the list failed to include Sudan President Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir, who is wanted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

The Mopo tweeted on Saturday evening: “The classification of Netanyahu in the list was incorrect. We apologize for that.”

The Morgenpost and the Kurier did not immediately respond to Post inquires.  (Jerusalem Post)

Trump kicks the ball to Abbas’s court

In his belated first phone call with the Palestinian leader, the new US president sent out a clear message: If you really are committed to peace, stop running around international institutions, do your part, and I’ll handle Netanyahu.

by Smadar Perry                     Ynet News


Here are two quick conclusions drawn from the first phone call between US President Donald Trump and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

The first conclusion: The new US administration managed to exasperate Abbas. The Palestinian Authority insisted on keeping score: 49 days since entering the White House, Trump has called Netanyahu twice and warmly welcomed him to Washington, with the two of them looking like a couple of lovebirds. Trump has also called all of the other players in the region, who are keeping the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at arm’s length: Jordan’s King Abdullah II, with whom the American president also met, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Saudi King Salman and the three rulers of the Persian Gulf kingdoms. Abbas found himself last on the list.

Trump also made sure to declare that he didn’t care if the Palestinian issue would be resolved with one state or two states, but warned Netanyahu—in a message received by Lieberman as well—to calm down with settlement construction. And if that wasn’t enough, Trump insisted on appointing the hawkish ambassador David Friedman, but did—for now—drop his plans to move the American Embassy to Jerusalem.

The second conclusion: Until further notice, we can expect only meaningless platitudes. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer confirmed reports that Trump invited Abbas to Washington very soon. Meanwhile Palestinian officials described the phone call as “excellent” and “serious and pleasant,” while the Palestinian leader said he was looking forward to work with the new president.

This was only a short phone call, with both sides saying only what is expected of them: Trump claims he made a decision to restart the talks without trying to impose solutions, while Abbas stressed he would be committed to any effort that would lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside the State of Israel.

In other words: Trump kicked the ball to Ramallah’s court. Abbas wants a Palestinian state? Ahlan Wasahlan, no problem. Come to Washington, you’ll be welcomed with a red carpet, and we’ll think together how to restart the process. This, on the condition you realize in advance that not all of your demands will be met. Just don’t try to sell me tales about the Palestinian public opinion.

We must not forget that Trump is coming into this with insights from the business world. He has been warned that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a quagmire, that his predecessors invested precious efforts and time in finding a creative solution by forming work teams and spending dozens of millions and dollars. We also must not forget that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not at the top of Trump’s priorities when it comes to our neighborhood. It’s much more important to him to catch ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and get rid of ISIS in general.

So when Trump informs Abbas that it is time to end 70 years of suffering for the Palestinians, he means: If you really are committed, stop running around international institutions, do your part, and I’ll handle Netanyahu.

The statements coming out of Washington and Ramallah show Trump’s advisors have done their homework. From Abbas’s point of view, the White House’s treatment of Netanyahu appears too friendly, done at his expense. Trump’s team advised the president to have Abbas in Washington even before the Arab League’s summit convenes in Jordan at the end of the month to give him support.

From Abbas’s point of view, a lot is riding on his meeting with Trump at the White House. It would be a rare opportunity for him to give Trump the Palestinian version, the facts and data the American president did not get from Netanyahu.

He has already started laying the groundwork with the new American administration by sending the head of the Palestinian intelligence service, Majid Faraj, to brief his counterparts in Washington on just how deep the PA’s security cooperation with Israel is, as proof Ramallah wasn’t encouraging terror attacks.

Now, it is Trump envoy Jason Greenblatt’s turn to skip between Jerusalem and Ramallah.

After all, the mystery of what Trump really wants, what his goals

Trump’s Middle East Diplomacy Is Complicated by Palestinian Terror Incitement – Josh Rogin (Washington Post)

The Trump administration’s budding efforts to establish a new Middle East diplomatic process are about to run into calls in Congress to cancel U.S. aid to the Palestinians because of payments made to militants who attack Israelis.

On the agenda of White House Israel affairs adviser Jason Greenblatt, who is headed to the region this week, is whether the U.S. and Israeli governments should raise the pressure on the Palestinian Authority to stop paying the families of Palestinians imprisoned or killed after attacking Israeli or American civilians, a practice both governments believe incentivizes violence.

Lawmakers in both chambers of Congress are pushing legislation that would cut off all U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority, more than $300 million in fiscal year 2016, unless the PLO ceases rewarding the families of attackers. The bill is named after Taylor Force, a former Army officer who was stabbed to death last year by a Palestinian attacker while on a student trip to Israel.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), chairman of the Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee for foreign operations, argues that withholding U.S. assistance to the Palestinian Authority is the only way to get Abbas’ attention and pressure him to dismantle a sprawling bureaucracy dedicated to compensating families of Palestinians involved in attacks.

Even some longtime advocates of Palestinian institution-building are now on board with defunding. “We have been doing the same thing for decades, and it isn’t working to change Palestinian political culture, and that political culture has to change if we want peace,” said Elliott Abrams, a former White House and State Department official.

An Israeli embassy official told me that the government thinks it very important to shine a spotlight on the issue, especially as the peace process gets going again. “You can’t pay terrorists and support peace.”