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Latest Israel News – 22nd June

Media, Murder and Israel

On Friday terrorists shot and stabbed Israelis in Jerusalem, and managed to kill 23 year old police officer Hadas Malka before being shot by police. The headlines? “Palestinians killed.” Really?? Donald Trump Jr. and Prime Minister Netanyahu were furious. Everywhere in the world the media focus on the VICTIMS and CALL it TERROR. Why the double standard? Why only in Israel?

IDF: Attempted stabbing in West Bank, attacker shot dead

The IDF reported an attempted stabbing near the West Bank settlement of Adam, north of Jerusalem, on Tuesday afternoon.

According to reports, the attacker approached an army facility on the road between Kalkilya and Kikar Adam and attempted to stab a group of soldiers. The attacker was shot and neutralized. (Jerusalem Post)

Jerusalem police commissioner vows to return city to normalcy

Jerusalem will not become a militarized police state following a spate of jarring terrorist attacks in the Old City, Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh vowed on Monday.

During a tour of the site of Friday’s attacks at the Damascus Gate and in the Muslim Quarter, Alsheikh, accompanied by Yoram Halevy, commander of the Jerusalem District, said a return to normalcy will be difficult, but is imperative.

“The biggest challenge is to bring life back to normal as quickly as possible,” he said, before visiting a hospitalized officer who was wounded by shrapnel during the weekend’s bloody shooting and stabbing rampages that took the life of St.-Sgt-Maj. Hadas Malka, 23.

The three terrorists, who entered Jerusalem illegally from the West Bank, were shot and killed by police.

Despite claims of responsibility from Islamic State, Police say they acted independently.

Alsheikh visited the volatile area to oversee the recent deployment of special forces to prevent future attacks during the final week of Ramadan.

“As important as upgrading security is, it should be combined with the ability to maintain a regular life,” he said. “Our challenge is to provide service and security without creating a contradiction between them. There is no intention of turning Jerusalem into a military fortress that is not pleasant to enter and travel in, both for Israelis and for tourists from all over the world.”

Following the tour of the flashpoint area, Alsheikh and Halevy visited the unidentified Border Police officer at Hadassah University Medical Center.

After undergoing hours of surgery, the officer, whose eye was severely damaged by shrapnel during the shooting attack in Zedekiah’s Cave, is conscious and in stable condition, the hospital said.

Prof. Itai Chowers, head of the hospital’s Retinal Department, treated the officer during the delicate procedure.

“First, we removed the fragments [from the bullets] that penetrated deep into the retina, and then we performed surgery that lasted several hours,” Chowers said, adding that the officer’s improvement will be reviewed in the next few days.

“Our work, in conjunction with the Israel Police Forensics Department, was excellent and very effective, because we actually received the precise material components that penetrated his eye and were able to understand the damage we were dealing with,” he said.

During Alsheikh’s conversation with the recovering officer, whom he presented with gifts, the police commissioner noted the trauma of the attack, while praising the Border Police’s rapid response and heroism.

“We paid a heavy price, but I think the police functioned impressively, as our policemen know how to do in every situation,” he said. “Unfortunately, Jerusalem is a city saturated with friction where the Border Police are always on the front lines and there is a price for it.”

Alsheikh then told the officer: “I hope to see you return to duty soon.”  (Jerusalem Post)

Kushner, Greenblatt to visit Israel this week in pursuit of a peace deal

Top White House aides Jared Kushner (US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and a shadow diplomat in the current administration) and Jason Greenblatt, a special representative for international negotiations, will both travel to Israel this week in pursuit of a peace deal, the White House confirmed Monday morning. Greenblatt is set to arrive on Monday and Kushner on Wednesday.

The two are expected to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah in an effort to revive peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

“Excited to be traveling back to Israel and the Pal. Territories to continue the discussion about the possibility of peace,” Greenblatt wrote on Twitter.

The visit to Israel will be Kushner’s second one in the past two months. In May, Kushner and his wife Ivanka joined Trump as the president paid an official visit to Israel on his maiden tour abroad. Kushner visited sites such as the Western Wall and Jerusalem’s Holocaust Museum Yad Vashem along with Trump.

A White House official told the Wall Street Journal, which reported the expected visit early Monday morning, that “it is important to remember that forging a historic peace agreement will take time and to the extent that there is progress, there are likely to be many visits by both Mr. Kushner and Mr. Greenblatt, sometimes together and sometimes separately, to the region and possibly many trips by Israeli and Palestinian negotiators to Washington, DC, or other locations as they pursue substantive talks.”

Many eyebrows were raised when Trump first appointed Kushner to attempt to broker a peace deal, seeing as the businessman had no previous diplomatic experience. However, Trump was steadfast in his decision and said at the time that he believed his son-in-law was perfect for the job because he “knows the region, knows the people, knows the players.”

Kushner, an Orthodox Jew, is currently embroiled in the controversial affair that links between top administration officials and Russian diplomats. Late last week it was announced that the senior adviser’s business dealings and finances are currently being investigated by special counsel Robert Mueller concerning possible illegal dealings with Russian officials. (Jerusalem Post)

Israeli bill proposed to strip terrorists of citizenship

A Yisrael Beytenu lawmaker has introduced a bill to the Knesset on Monday that would strip Palestinian or Arab terrorists of citizenship and residence.

The bill submitted by MK Robert Ilatov was previously proposed by the late Yisrael Beytenu MK David Rotem. Ilatov proposed it again with the encouragement of his party leader, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, in response to Friday’s murder of 23-year-old border police officer St.-Sgt.- Maj. Hadas Malka at Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate.

Ilatov said Israeli citizens and Jerusalem residency permit holders have become increasingly involved in recent terrorist attacks. He said holding such permits enabled the terrorists to reach their targets in a way that Palestinians could not. He expressed hope that what is being called the “Hadas Malka Bill” could deter similar attacks in the future.

“This bill is necessary for our security in order to prevent terrorists from being able to carry out their attacks,” Ilatov said.

Ilatov stressed that family members would be given an opportunity to prove to the Interior Ministry that they were not involved in the planning of attacks and be permitted to remain in the country. But he said if terrorists’ family members aided the attacks, there was no reason for Israel to give the socioeconomic benefits, such as welfare payments.

“We will no longer permit the absurd situation in which terrorists and their enablers enjoy the perks of being Israeli citizens while working to destroy the country,” Ilatov said.

The right-wing organization Im Tirtzu was involved in planning the legislation, which is similar to bills that have been presented in Europe.

In March 2016, then-French president François Hollande scrapped plans to strip convicted terrorists with dual nationality of their French passports and deport them. The controversial proposal was to be enshrined in France’s constitution but was opposed by his center-right opposition.  (Jerusalem Post)

Israel reportedly is secretly aiding Syrian rebels along Golan border

Israel has been secretly providing aid to Syrian rebels on the border in the Golan Heights for several years, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The aid includes cash, as well as food, fuel and medical supplies, the newspaper reported in an article that first appeared on its website Sunday night. The story cited interviews with about half a dozen Syrian fighters.

The Israeli army is in regular communication with rebel groups and its financial assistance helps pay the salaries of fighters and buy ammunition and weapons, according to the report. In addition, Israel has established a military unit that oversees the support in Syria.

Rebels and the military loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad have been fighting since 2011 in a civil war that at times has spilled over into Israeli territory with errant fire. The Israeli military has responded to the rocket and artillery fire that landed on Israel’s side of the Golan Heights.

Israel has acknowledged treating thousands of Syrians injured in the war, both on the border and in hospitals in the north of the country, as well as providing some humanitarian aid to civilians living near the border, including food and clothing.

Israel’s military neither confirmed nor denied The Wall Street Journal report, telling the newspaper that the Israel Defense Forces is “committed to securing the borders of Israel and preventing the establishment of terror cells and hostile forces … in addition to providing humanitarian aid to the Syrians living in the area.”

The fighters interviewed for the story told Journal reporters that the Quneitra-based group Fursan al-Joulan, which means Knights of the Golan, is the main rebel group coordinating with Israel, which first made contact with the Israeli military in 2013 when Israel cared for some of its fighters. Its spokesman told the Journal that “Israel stood by our side in a heroic way,” and “We wouldn’t have survived without Israel’s assistance.”

Israel, which captured and annexed the Golan Heights in 1967, reportedly is concerned about a permanent Iranian and Hezbollah presence at its border under Assad, and that Iran would transport weapons to be used against Israel to Hezbollah military bases in southern Lebanon and the Syrian side of the Golan. Israel in recent years has bombed such arms shipments, leading to accusations that it was involving itself in the civil war. (JTA)

Gaza’s Humanitarian Crisis Is Fake News

By Prof. Hillel Frisch             BESA Center  (Begin Sadat Center for Strategic Affairs)

Gaza’s Humanitarian Crisis Is Fake News

Surfers in Gaza

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: One of the most widespread myths about Gaza is that it is wallowing in poverty and forever on the verge of a humanitarian crisis as a result of the Israeli and Egyptian blockade. But indicators such as life expectancy, growth in imports, and electricity demand suggest that the Gazan standard of living is rising, not declining. If a genuine humanitarian crisis were to loom, the solution would be simple: disarm Hamas and divert its considerable expenditures on terrorism to the improvement of the welfare of Gaza’s inhabitants.

The internet and social media have made the creation, rapid dissemination, and perpetuation of myths a feature of political life. One of the most widespread is the myth that Gaza is wallowing in poverty and forever on the verge of a humanitarian crisis as a result of the Israeli and Egyptian blockade.

There is no shortage of compelling evidence to dispel this myth. Life expectancy, for example, is highly correlated with the good life. Japan, Singapore, and Norway lead the world in life expectancy. The bottom of the list contains countries in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia, for example Bangladesh.

The myth-makers would like you to think Gaza is also towards the bottom of the list, but it isn’t. Quite the opposite, in fact. Gaza’s life expectancy of 74 is above both the world average (68 in 2010) and the average in the Arab states. This means that more than 3.8 billion people are living shorter, and probably harsher, lives than Gazans.

The difference in life expectancy between Gaza and those at the bottom of the list is in fact quite staggering. Life expectancy in Angola, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Cote D’Ivoire, and other countries ranges from 50.1 to 55 years, according to the World Health Organization.

Were Gaza on the list, it would rank 86th out of 189 countries. That would place it alongside Paraguay and Samoa, hardly states that conjure images of abject poverty. But why resort to facts?

Perhaps, one might argue, life expectancy in Gaza is a quirk of fate. Or perhaps it is declining because of the blockade imposed on Gaza. The blockade was put in place because Hamas, the murderous terrorist organization that took over Gaza ten years ago, specializes in bombing buses full of Israeli citizens, fires missiles from hospitals (as the United Arab Emirates Red Crescent Society accused Hamas of doing), and launches assaults against Israeli civilian neighborhoods.

Reality check: life expectancy in Gaza has not declined, and the blockade no longer exists. Before the brief curtailment of goods into Gaza from Israel in 2007, 10,400 trucks laden with goods entered Gaza monthly from Israel (these figures are from OCHA, the bitterly anti-Israeli UN agency). In 2016, 14,460 trucks of produce crossed from Israel into Gaza per month, a 34.6% increase from before the imposition of the so-called blockade. This means the purchasing power of Gazans has not declined (taking into account demographic growth).

Even the electricity crisis in Gaza points to a high, and rising, standard of living. The crisis is partly the result of the gap between supply and increasing demand. According to Muhammad Abu Amarayn, the spokesperson of the Gaza Energy Commission, there is a need for 450 MW of electricity – way above the maximum of 280 MW that Israel, a local energy supply station, and Egypt collectively supply.

OCHA estimated peak demand in Gaza in 2010 at 280 MW. This means that if Abu Amarayn is correct, demand for electricity in Gaza has increased by 60% in six years. Economists often use energy demand as a proxy for economic growth in the absence of accurate macroeconomic data, as in the case of Gaza. Increasing demand for electricity suggests prosperity, not a humanitarian crisis.

So why is this myth so widespread? The answer lies with those who have a vested interest in perpetuating it. By far the most important of these is Hamas. The terrorist group taxes all incoming goods to pay the salaries of its 30,000 terrorists and the bureaucracy that feeds them, as well as for training, missile production, and the digging of tunnels into Israel.  The budget supports 20,000 more on the public payroll whom Hamas has hired since 2007 – mostly teachers who preach jihadism in Gaza’s public schools. Hamas hopes that claims of a humanitarian crisis will bring in more aid, more demand for goods, and a greater flow of goods, all of which it will tax for its own benefit.

Hamas is not the only culprit. The international “humanitarian” relief industry has an obvious stake in perpetuating the myth. In few places in the world can relief agency workers live in a cosmopolitan hive such as Tel Aviv, enjoy a world class symphony, museums, and night life, and commute to the allegedly stricken areas. In Zimbabwe, you’re stuck in Zimbabwe. Championing the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is to champion a personal lifestyle at the expense of East African countries that need the aid much more desperately than Gaza.

Even if the purported humanitarian crisis were in fact to loom, the solution is simple. According to the budget and expenditures for the 2013 fiscal year released by the last official Hamas government in 2014, a mere 2% of total expenditures of $348 million went to development and only 11.2% to social welfare transfers (compared to 25% in Egypt, which has a similar socio-economic profile). The rival PA estimates that over two-thirds of Hamas expenditures went to the production of terror.

The answer to any humanitarian crisis would be for the world community to join forces with the Palestinian Authority, Israel, and by now most of the Gaza inhabitants to force Hamas to dismantle its military infrastructure and spend its money on human welfare rather than terrorism.

The worst thing that can be done is to increase humanitarian aid before the disarming of Hamas, as many Israeli officials and politicians foolishly suggest. Putting the cart before the horse will backfire. It will result in more terrorism, more missiles, and more tunnels into Israel, which will in turn result in a massive Israeli response that will be borne by Gaza’s population, as were the last three bouts of conflict in the past decade.

To be humanitarian means disarming Hamas, pure and simple.

Is Europe More Desperate for a Palestinian State than the Palestinians? – Bjorn Brenner

Year after year, the EU channels millions of euros from European taxpayers into various projects in the Palestinian territories focusing on building the institutions of a future state.

But the establishment of an independent Palestinian state no longer constitutes either a realistic alternative, or the most effective way of helping the Palestinians improve their lives – if this is really what the Europeans are seeking to do. The current situation is the way it is, and any serious policy-making must be adapted to what is realistic and feasible here and now.

Today, seemingly abyssal rifts run between the Palestinian people and its leaders, between the Islamist and secularist blocs, between the old and young generations and between the scattered pieces of land that were once intended to make up the State of Palestine. Policy-makers in Brussels need to face the painful understanding that Palestine today is a project primarily advocated by the EU itself (together with the old guard in Ramallah).

According to recent opinion polls, the majority of Palestinians believe that the (EU-funded) institutions in Ramallah are malfunctioning and corrupt. Evidently, public opinion in the Palestinian territories runs in the opposite direction to the EU’s ongoing state-building efforts.

The writer is a lecturer at the Swedish Defence University in Stockholm and a visiting fellow at Institut Francais du Proche-Orient in Amman, Jordan. (Ha’aretz)