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Latest Israel News – 19th March

Updates from Israel and the Jewish World

Compiled by Dr Ron Wiseman

Heroic rabbi, father of 12, who turned back to shoot terrorist dies from his wounds

Rabbi Ahiad Ettinger is the second victim to die at the hands of the terrorist, who attacked IDF soldiers and civilians in Samaria on Sunday.

Ettinger, 47, who was in his car at the Ariel junction during the attack, drew his weapon and was about to fire at the terrorist when he was struck in the head by bullets.

In a heroic act, the rabbi apparently turned back to the site of the shooting to try and stop the terrorist but was killed in the attempt.

A close friend of Ettinger told Ynet news, “In a split moment’s decision, he decided to turn around and return to the scene of the incident, drew his weapon and tried to neutralize the enemy. Unfortunately, the terrorist shot him first. He saw that a Jew was about to be hurt and he went to help. That’s what he did all his life.”

Ettinger leaves behind a wife and 12 children, ages one to 22. One child serves in an elite IDF unit, according to reports.

The Ettinger family, in announcing his death, thanked the staff of Beilinson hospital, the security people of Samaria and “all the people of Israel who prayed for his healing.” They said they will donate his organs to help others.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “The people of Israel mourn today the murder of Rabbi Achad Ettinger, I wish to send condolences to his family at this difficult time.”

Rabbi Ettinger headed the “Oz and Emunah Yeshiva” in south Tel Aviv, an area facing distress due to the large number of African immigrants. His students gathered in the synagogue after the rabbi’s death and remembered him, Ynet reports.

“The rabbi gave his full attention to anyone who had a problem,” said one, according to Ynet. He “was modest and thoughtful, he wasn’t stubborn. He always knew how to hear other opinions, and he had the ability to strive for the truth.”

Rabbi Ettinger lived in the town of Eli in Samaria. (WIN) WIN staff

Hundreds mourn terror victim Rabbi Ahiad Ettinger in Eli

Hundreds of mourners attended the funeral of Rabbi Ahiad Ettinger in the settlement of Eli on Monday, as his family and friends tearfully eulogized and praised him for his life’s work and for having attacked the terrorist who killed IDF Staff Sgt. Gal Kaidan, 19, and ultimately the rabbi himself.

Ettinger, the father of 12 ranging in age from 1 to 22, died Monday after being shot in the head in a terrorist attack the day before as he stopped to shoot at the terrorist as he was carrying out his attack, who returned fire and mortally wounded the rabbi.

Ettinger, 47, succumbed to his wounds after doctors at Beilinson Hospital fought to save his life for almost 24 hours. He was the dean of the Oz V’Emunah hesder Yeshiva – which combines Torah study with military service for young men – in south Tel Aviv.

Eulogies were given in Eli where he lived, and from there the funeral procession went by Ariel Junction where the attack was carried out and where Ettinger was slain, and then to the Petah Tikva cemetery where the rabbi was buried.

Ettinger’s daughter Efrat struggled to speak through her tears as she eulogized her father.

“How is it that you, who brought so much life to the world, are no longer here to live with us?” she cried.

“This cursed terrorist thought he was stopping life, but he does not know how much life you left here, how much power you gave to us which will raise us together with the Jewish people.”

His daughter talked of how dedicated the rabbi had been to his yeshiva and to its surrounding run-down neighborhood in south Tel Aviv.

“My father, you are a hero, a true hero. Until death, you were there for everyone, you were strong in mind and body and you used this for everyone.”

A recording of two of Ettinger’s young children speaking about their father after his death was played at the funeral as well.

“Daddy, you were a hero. You shot the terrorist and you saved many people. You were a wonderful father. We really miss you,” said Hadas, his seven-year-old daughter.

“You very much loved helping people,” said his young son Ahiya.

Speaking at the funeral, Education Minister Naftali Bennett vowed to “cut off the evil” of terrorism, and said that the State of Israel needed to take action in order “to win” the battle against its enemies.

“This persistent evil, which has again and again robbed us of our dearest sons and daughters, our loved ones, must be brought to an end,” said Bennett in front of Ettinger’s family.

“Standing at your grave I say, Jewish blood will no longer be considered the cheapest commodity in the Middle East. We will be able to end terrorism only by removing the cognitive and legal restraints that prevent us from winning,” continued the minister.

Bennett described the rabbi as “a hero in life and hero in death,” and praised both his work in establishing the Oz V’Emunah Yeshiva in south Tel Aviv and his heroism in shooting at the terrorist after he himself was shot in his car.

“Rabbi Ahiad breathed the spirit of hope, with his strong spirit and by his own hands, he changed the reality of life in south Tel Aviv. How important was Rabbi Ahiad for the residents of south Tel Aviv, how much Torah and light he brought there,” said Bennett.

“Rabbi Ahiad, even in the last seconds of his great life, strived to do good. Instead of fleeing, he sprang into action, and paid with his life. He gave his life as a hero of Israel.”

Rabbi Avraham Shiller, the municipal chief rabbi of Eli, described Ettinger as “a hero in the fight against Ishmael,” meaning the Palestinians, and said that everyone would learn from his example.

“You are a hero in the might of Torah and your work to establish a yeshiva and disseminate Torah. You are a hero of the Jewish people because of your help for Jews in south Tel Aviv to strengthen them,” said Shiller.

“We will not fall. We will not bow down. We will not be broken,” he continued. “God has restored His divine presence to Zion and nothing will stop it. We will continue to flourish in all parts and corners of the Land of Israel, our holy land which God sent us to build and to make blossom, and strengthen. I say to the Ishmaelites, we never took control of the Land of Israel from you.”

The other victim of the attack, Staff Sgt. Gal Keidan, was also buried on Monday morning in his hometown of Beersheba. Keidan was guarding the Ariel Junction where he was killed.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered his condolences to the families of the two men slain in the attack, describing them as “wonderful people,” and saying that “The hearts of the entire people are with their families.”

The prime minister said that the IDF, Shin Bet (Israel security agency) and other security forces are in pursuit of the terrorists, and said in addition that he has already given instructions to begin destroying their homes.

As well as killing Keidan and Ettinger, the terrorist also severely wounded IDF soldier Alexander Dvorsky, 19, an immigrant from Moldova, who is currently in critical condition in Beilinson Hospital.

Dvorsky underwent surgery and is intubated and in a medically induced coma. A Beilinson Hospital spokesman said his life is still in danger but his condition is stable. (Jerusalem Post)

Netanyahu vows to build new West Bank housing following terror attack

Israel will begin building 840 housing units in the city of Ariel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday in the aftermath of the terrorist attack near the West Bank center the day before.

Speaking Monday during a visit to the Ariel Junction where two people were killed, the prime minister insisted that terrorist attacks would not persuade Israel to withdraw from the region, but would rather lead to increased settlement activity.

“Tomorrow, we will begin building 840 housing units in Ariel in a new neighborhood as was approved two years ago,” said Netanyahu, who was accompanied by Ariel Mayor Eli Shaviro and the commander of IDF Central

“These terrorists will not uproot us from here, the total opposite will happen. The more they afflict us, the more we will grow and flourish,” Netanyahu said. “Our power is tremendous.”

Shaviro thanked Netanyahu for his visit and for his statement about construction.

The project had been given a green light before Sunday’s attack, and the infrastructure work had been scheduled to begin on Tuesday.

The city plans to hold a cornerstone-laying ceremony on Tuesday with former Housing and Construction Minister Yoav Gallant.

Hagit Ofran of the Left-wing group Peace Now, which monitors such construction and often opposes it, noted on Twitter that the project was not new and could not be seen as a response to the terrorist attack.

The project and the tenders were approved two years ago, and it was scheduled to be built now, “but it is a shame” the building is happening, she said.

The city of some 20,000 residents is the fourth largest settlement in the West Bank and is within commuting distance to the Center.

The project, called “Ariel South,” expands the city and had been delayed until this year.

It is also part of the government’s affordable housing program and the units constructed there will be available to young couples at reasonable prices.  (Jerusalem Post)

Israeli Doctor’s Online Campaign Against Hate and Racism Goes Viral

An Israeli doctor’s campaign against intolerance and hate in Israel has gone viral, prompting people across the country to post images of Jews and Arabs together.

The phenomenon began after a very public spat between Israeli model and actress Rotem Sela and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Incensed by what she saw as anti-Arab rhetoric in this year’s election campaign, Sela wrote, “When will anyone in this government tell the public that this is a country of all its citizens, and all people are born equal.”

“The Arabs are also human beings. And also the Druze, and the gays, and the lesbians, and… gasp… leftists,” she added.

Netanyahu wrote back that he and his party had no problem with Arabs, and added, “Israel is not a state of all its citizens,” but rather the nation-state of the Jews.

“Wonder Woman” actress Gal Gadot then came out in support of Sela, saying, “This isn’t a matter of right or left. Jew or Arab. Secular or religious. It’s a matter of dialogue, of dialogue for peace and equality and of our tolerance of one towards the other.”

“Love your neighbor as yourself,” she added.

According to Israeli news site Mako, inspired by Sela’s post and the controversy surrounding it, Dr. Nadav Grant, who works at a hospital in Petah Tikva, wrote online, “For a long time, I have been frustrated by the racism, the hatred, the delegitimization that is spreading toward entire groups and communities in this country in general, and toward the Arab public in particular.”

Israeli doctor Nadav Grant poses with an Arab colleague as part of an online anti-racism campaign

“I was not educated in these values in my parent’s home or the institutions where I studied,” he continued. “Happily, I was allowed in my work at the hospital to acquire new friends, dear to my heart, from the Arab public. Among them is Dr. Rafah Mahajna, a very special person, pleasant, good-hearted, and an exemplary doctor from his head to his toes. Over the years we have had many conversations about life and the racist discourse toward the Arab population in Israel.”

Referring to a statement made by Netanyahu in the last election that Arabs were “flocking to the polls in droves,” Grant said, “I especially remember our conversation on the day of the last elections, when I felt ashamed of the statement of our prime minister — ‘The Arabs are flocking to the polls.’ I pictured in my mind’s eye the humiliation that Dr. Rafa experiences after being implied to be an enemy and a dangerous person, together with a large group of many good citizens of our country.”

“Until now, I have been silent, or rather, I spoke only with my family and friends about this painful subject,” he added. “Not until a few weeks ago, when the delegitimization of the Arab public and its elected representatives around the election heated up, I decided — no more.”

Mentioning a series of Arab colleagues and friends, Grant declared, “I live and work with Sawat, Fahdi, Said, Maksim, Muhammad, Anan, Amir, and many more. … I trust them with my eyes closed. … These are not ‘Arabs flocking,’ they are my friends with names and faces, flocking together with me in day-to-day life.”

Grant said of Sela’s message, “I was so happy with its content and timing. I identified so much. In the same breath, I felt deep alienation and opposition to the opponents and those who came out against her, and also the silent ones and those who looked on.”

In response to what he saw as a rise in hate, Grant posted photos of himself with his Arab colleagues online, and encouraged others to do the same. Over 4,000 people have done so, and his original post received more than 8,000 likes using the hashtag shavim, Hebrew for “equals.” (the Algemeiner)

New Zealand mosque shooting suspect reportedly visited Israel in 2016

A right-wing extremist who went on a shooting rampage that left 50 mosque-goers dead in New Zealand on Friday reportedly visited Israel in 2016.

A senior Israeli immigration official said Brenton Tarrant arrived in the country from Turkey on October 25 using his Australian passport, Channel 13 reported.

Tarrant was granted a 90-day tourist visa, and left the country nine days later.

According to the official, there were no red flags during the suspected killer’s security checks. (the Times of Israel)

For Israeli security forces, the ongoing battle against two types of terror

The terror attack outside of Ariel is a reminder of the constant threat of unorganized terrorism—a threat that has not at all vanished, despite a major drop in such attacks since 2015.

by Yaacov Lappin         JNS

https://www.jns.org/for-israeli-security-forces-the-ongoing-battle-against-two-types-of-terror/

Israel’s security forces are in the middle of an intensive manhunt for the Palestinian terrorist who killed an Israeli Defense Forces’ soldier and an Israeli civilian in the West Bank outside of Ariel on Sunday, and wounded another soldier before fleeing into a Palestinian village, ditching a stolen vehicle and disappearing.

As time goes by, intelligence will be playing an increasingly crucial role in hunting down the attacker, who has been named as Amar Abu Lila, 20, from the village of Zawiya, which is near Ariel.

According to defense sources, there is no indication so far that Abu Lila acted as part of a terrorist organization; all signs at this stage suggest at this point that he is a lone attacker.

“We will not leave a stone unturned,” a senior security source told JNS on Sunday, hours into the search. Judging by the past record of Israel’s security forces, it’s only a matter of time until they catch up with him.

The attack is a reminder of the constant threat of unorganized terrorism—a threat that has not at all vanished, despite a major drop in such attacks since 2015.

In 2018 alone, Israel’s defense establishment prevented around 400 suspected lone-wolf attacks, due in part to breakthrough technology involving the collection and analysis of big data. Many suspects were arrested, while others received warnings to let them know they are being monitored.

What was once a form of terrorism thought to be almost impossible to prevent became a phenomenon that dropped significantly with time, and Israel has become a world leader in dealing with unorganized terror, which, unlike its organized variant, leaves far fewer clues behind for intelligence agencies to pick up on.

Still, as Sundays attack shows, the calm was always deceptive, and no security net can stop every attack.

Additional catalysts for violence, like the heightened religious tensions around the Temple Mount in recent days, and demonstrations in Gaza, can also serve as triggers for West Bank violence, “activating’ lone-wolf terrorists.

In addition, the Israel Defense Forces must be on high alert to the threat of “copy-cat” terrorism, in which lone attackers receive “inspiration” from previous incidents and try to imitate them.

The second type of terrorism—the organized form, which is tool of choice for Hamas and other armed factions—remains a constant threat, despite the fact that the Shin Bet has become extraordinarily effective in preventing it.

Last year, security forces prevented 480 organized plots, including hundreds of shootings and bombings, some planned for Israeli cities. The IDF and Shin Bet broke up some 220 Hamas cells, according to official Israeli figures, avoiding large-scale death and destruction on Israel’s streets and in the West Bank.

A glance at February’s terrorism figures for the area is also a reminder of the constant level of violence in the West Bank. According to the Shin Bet, last month saw 89 Palestinian attacks in the area, including dozens of fire-bombings and pipe bombs, although this number is down compared to January’s figure of 116 attacks.

For Hamas, the timing of the Ariel terror attack could not be better, and its propaganda branches were quick to seize on the incident.

Hamas is desperate to divert attention to the economic protests that have rocked Gaza in recent days, which have seen Palestinians direct their growing frustration against their own Islamist regime.

Demonstrators protested Gaza’s sky-high unemployment rate, Hamas taxes, the increased cost of living and the more prosperous conditions of Hamas’s senior members in contrast to the dire conditions of many Gazans. Held under the “We want to live” slogan, the demonstrations have quickly spread quickly, to Gaza City, with Hamas police units responding to them brutally, trying to repress them using extreme violence.

Many protesters have been detained, and Hamas accused its arch internal rival, the Palestinian Authority, of being behind the rallies and Gaza’s economic woes due to P.A. sanctions.

Hamas would like nothing more than to set the West Bank on fire, and to burn both the P.A. and Israel with the flames, while dousing the smoking ashes of internal Gazan dissatisfaction, which could yet threaten the regime in the future.

What they don’t want is a repeat of a wave of rallies akin to the “Arab Spring” in 2011, a series of anti-government protests, uprisings and armed rebellions that spread across the Middle East, causing turmoil in country after Arab country.

If Hamas becomes convinced that the protests will escalate into a rebellion, it will not hesitate to use its armed wing to spark an armed conflict with Israel from Gaza, preferring to take the risk of facing Israel’s firepower instead of the wrath of its own people.

Hamas War Crimes against Israel, Palestinians

by Bassam Tawil                The Gatestone Institute

https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/13910/hamas-war-crimes-against-israel-palestinians

  • Suddenly, everyone was talking only about the rocket attacks on Tel Aviv, and Hamas seemed to have gotten away with its beating and shooting at peaceful protesters. It is also worth noting that many of the Palestinians who were brutally beaten by Hamas were children. In the view of many Palestinians, what Hamas is doing in the Gaza Strip is tantamount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.
  • Recently, in a grotesque allegation, UN human rights “experts” claimed that Israel may have committed war crimes by shooting at Palestinian demonstrators who tried to breach the Gaza-Israel border fence and infiltrate into Israel. The demonstrators who were shot were mostly Hamas and Islamic Jihad members, as both organizations have openly admitted. In other words, Israel is being accused of war crimes for defending its border against terrorists attempting to infiltrate it in order to murder or kidnap Israelis.
  • Perhaps a small step, such as viewing easily available material, would set the record straight. These UN human rights “experts” might, for a change, glance at the videos and photos coming out of the Gaza Strip to see who is really responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity: Hamas. Its members are opening fire at peaceful protesters, who are taking their lives in their hands to end the harsh economic conditions created by their rulers’ catastrophic policies in the Gaza Strip. It is the leaders of Hamas, and only Hamas, who are committing war crimes in and around Gaza. They are committing war crimes against Jews and they are committing war crimes against their own people.

Hamas has again proved that it really is a terrorist group that oppresses its people and prevents them from expressing their opinions. It has also shown that when it is in trouble, it will do its utmost to divert attention from the problems it is facing at home.

As far as Hamas is concerned, one of the best ways to divert attention from the growing frustration with its rule is by attacking Israel and Jews. Then, Israel is forced to respond to defend itself. That will allow Hamas to tell its people that there is no room for internal fighting and disputes “because we are under attack by the Jews.” No Palestinian would dare to criticize Hamas while Israel is supposedly “attacking” Hamas. Anyone who did so would be accused of being a “traitor” and “collaborator” with the “Zionist enemy.”

That is exactly what happened this week, when two rockets were fired at the Israeli city of Tel Aviv. The rocket attack came shortly after thousands of Palestinians had taken to the streets of the Gaza Strip to protest the horrific economic situation there — that funds intended for them had apparently been diverted to finance terrorism — and demand an end to Hamas’s repressive measures against its people.

The leaders of Hamas were apparently disturbed by the large protests that took place in the Gaza Strip. Hamas leaders also seemed disturbed by the photos and videos showing Hamas members beating, shooting at and arresting hundreds of peaceful Palestinian protesters whose only “crime” was to demand a dignified life, jobs and a better future for their children.

Hamas leaders would probably love to see Israel retaliate in the Gaza Strip for rockets launched at Tel Aviv: such a move by Israel would silence the growing anger among Palestinians towards the Hamas terrorist organization that has been ruling them since the summer of 2007.

The rockets that were fired at Tel Aviv, and the ensuing Israeli military strikes against Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets in the Gaza Strip, have indeed eclipsed the news about the clashes between Hamas and Palestinian protesters. Suddenly, everyone was talking only about the rocket attacks on Tel Aviv, and Hamas seemed to have gotten away with its beating and shooting at peaceful protesters.

In the past few days, thousands of Palestinians had taken to the streets of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip to protest the wretched economic situation, exacerbated by a Hamas decision to impose new taxes on them. The unprecedented protests, which were carried out under the banner “We Want to Live!,” apparently caught the Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip by surprise.

The leaders of Hamas apparently had not foreseen the mass protests. Hamas leaders seem to have reckoned that their repressive measures against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip were so harsh that no one would dare publicly protest against the deteriorating economic and humanitarian situation there.

That may explain Hamas’s response to the mass protests, which by all accounts, was hysterical and extremely violent. Within 24 hours, Hamas militiamen and security officers opened fire on hundreds of Palestinian protesters, who chanted: “We are hungry!” and “Save Gaza from starvation!”

Palestinian eyewitnesses said that Hamas used hundreds of militiamen from its military wing, Ezaddin Al-Qassam, as well as security officers to crush the demonstrations. “Al-Qassam fighters assault, arrest, threaten, suppress, besiege and impose resections on freedoms,” reported Mohammed Bassouni, a resident of the Gaza Strip.

Photos of wounded Palestinians (broken arms, bruises all over the body) have surfaced on some social media sites, showing the brutality of the violence that Hamas used to disperse the protesters. It is also worth noting that many of the Palestinians who were brutally beaten by Hamas were children.

The violence on the streets of the Gaza Strip is probably the worst since Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip 12 years ago. Since then, Hamas has been holding nearly two million Palestinians living there hostage to its oppressive regime. Hamas has turned the Gaza Strip into a dictatorship where public freedoms are assaulted on a daily basis. Hamas has dragged the Palestinians there into a number of wars with Israel that have destroyed the lives of countless residents of Gaza.

In the view of many Palestinians, what Hamas is doing in the Gaza Strip is tantamount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Meanwhile, the international community, specifically the United Nations, continues to allow itself to be deceived. Instead of calling out Hamas for its war crimes against its own people, the hypocrites at the UN, the international media and other international forums are continuing to point an accusatory finger towards Israel for simply defending itself against rockets and missiles that are fired towards Israeli civilian centers on an almost daily basis.

Recently, in a grotesque allegation, UN human rights “experts” claimed that Israel may have committed war crimes by shooting at Palestinian demonstrators who tried to breach the Gaza-Israel border fence and infiltrate into Israel. The demonstrators who were shot were mostly Hamas and Islamic Jihad members, as both organizations have openly admitted. In other words, Israel is being accused of war crimes for defending its border against terrorists attempting to infiltrate it in order to murder or kidnap Israelis.

Perhaps a small step, such as viewing easily available material, would set the record straight. These UN human rights “experts” might, for a change, glance at the videos and photos coming out of the Gaza Strip to see who is really responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity: Hamas. Its members are opening fire at peaceful protesters, who are taking their lives in their hands to end the harsh economic conditions created by their rulers’ catastrophic policies in the Gaza Strip.

It is the leaders of Hamas, and only Hamas, who are committing war crimes in and around Gaza. They are committing war crimes against Jews, and they are committing war crimes against their own people. It is time for the human rights “experts” and foreign media to wake up to facts.

Hamas is now trying to cover up its crimes against its people by firing rockets at Israel. Instead of denouncing Israel for defending itself, the UN should immediately send a commission of inquiry to investigate Hamas for its war crimes. If the UN chooses not to do so, it, too, might benefit from taking a small step and viewing easily available material, such as the definition of “aiding and abetting” the commission of a crime.