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Latest News in Israel – 17th November

Israel turns to UN over Red Crescent failure to treat Israeli terror victims

Israel has turned to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon over charges that a Palestinian Red Crescent Society ambulance failed to respond to Friday’s shooting attack on the Litman family, in which Palestinian gunmen killed Yaakov, 40, and his son Netanel, 18.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday asked Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon to raise the matter with Ban, even though the secretary-general has no oversight with regard to the PRCS.

Netanyahu instructed the Foreign Ministry to register a sharp protest with the International Committee of the Red Cross, under whose auspices the PRCS operates.

In addition, he asked the PRCS to investigate the matter.

On Saturday night, Netanyahu stated that the PRCS’s actions were against “human and civilized norms.”

“If things are indeed as they seem to me today, the State of Israel will take appropriate steps against the Red Crescent,” the prime minister said.

Yaakov’s wife, Noa, who was lightly wounded in Friday’s attack, brought the matter up personally with Netanyahu, when he called her on Saturday to offer his condolences.

Noa told Netanyahu that an ambulance from the Palestinian Red Crescent Society was the first responder to the scene of the attack, but that it had left without offering them assistance.

Her son, Dvir, 16, who was lightly wounded by the Palestinian gunmen, had complained about the ambulance’s actions in an emergency call he made to Magen David Adom to report the attack just after it occurred.

“We’re about a kilometer past Otniel. They shot at our car,” the panicked teen told the MDA dispatcher.

“There’s a Red Crescent ambulance here,” he said. “There are two wounded. At least two. We were seven in the car. One of the wounded was in the middle of calling. We had a Red Crescent ambulance here. The Red Crescent left us. I don’t know why,” Dvir said.

On its webpage the Palestinian Red Crescent Society denied all the accusations against it.

“A PRCS team arrived at the scene and started providing first aid to the wounded.

A few minutes later, two Israeli ambulances, one belonging to the Israeli army and another from Magen David Adom, arrived at the scene. The ambulances’ teams headed towards the wounded people, bandaging their weapons. Given that Israeli paramedics had arrived and were providing medical care to casualties, PRCS’s team left the scene which they felt had become unsafe,” the PRCS wrote on its website.

It charged that since October 1 the IDF has consistently attacked its teams in the field, by shooting and firing tear gas canisters or by beating and pepper spraying them.

Some “125 PRCS emergency medical technicians have been wounded and 67 ambulances damaged as a result of these systematic practices, which go against international human law provisions,” it said.

In addition, PRCS claimed that on 66 occasions during that same time period Israel has prevented Red Crescent teams from reaching Palestinians who were sick or wounded.

“The humanitarian principles and values and professionalism of PRCS’s teams are indisputable. PRCS has over the years provided first aid to hundreds of Israelis present in the occupied Palestinian territories, as was the case in mid-October when its teams provided Israeli citizens with medical assistance near Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus,” it said.

Israel “should put an end to this information war and to the falsification of facts aimed at spreading misinformation and Israeli propaganda,” it said.   (Jerusalem Post)

IDF troops kill three gunmen after coming under fire during home demolition

IDF troops shot and killed three Palestinian gunmen in the West Bank on Monday morning, after they came under fire while carrying out the demolition of a terrorist’s home in Kalandiya, the IDF spokesperson said.

According to the IDF, after the gunfight, clashes broke out in the village, with rioters throwing rocks, firebombs, and using explosive devices against the soldiers, who escaped without injury.

The soldiers from the combat engineering corps and special forces units were carrying out the demolition of the home of Muhammed Abu Shaheen, who the Shin Bet says was the trigger man in the murder of Israeli Danny Gonen in June.

Gonen was killed near the settlement of Dolev after he was flagged down by a Palestinian man on the side of the road – believed to be Abu Shaheen – who fired at Gonen at point blank range with a 9mm handgun.

Abu Shaheen was indicted in August along with six other Palestinians, who security forces say formed a cell that carried out a series of attacks, including the murders of Malachi Rosenfeld and Danny Gonen.

Abu Shaheen is also suspected of other failed attempts to murder Jews and to have fired on soldiers in Kalandiya on a number of occasions.

The demolition on Monday follows the demolition by the IDF Engineering Corps on Saturday of the homes of four terrorists responsible for killing Israelis during the recent wave of terror attacks.

They include the Kfar Silwad house of Maad Hamed, one of the men responsible for the shooting death of Malachi Rosenfeld, 27, of Kochav  HaShahar, who was killed near Shvut Rachel in June. The three other houses belonged to members of the cell that murdered Naama and Eitam Henkin in a shooting attack in October on the road between Elon Moreh and Itamar in the West Bank.

The demolitions were approved by the High Court of Justice on Thursday. The court also rejected the demolition of an additional terrorists’ house.

On Sunday night, the Shin Bet announced that they had arrested the chief suspect in the murder of a Rabbi Ya’akov Litman, 40, and his son Netanel, 18, who were shot dead outside of Otniel in the West Bank on Friday, while en route to a pre-wedding celebration for one of the Litman daughters.

In a statement on the arrest, the Shin Bet said that the alleged trigger man, Shadi Ahmed Matawa, a 28-year-old father of two from Hebron, was turned in by his father and brother. The Shin Bet said that the two men decided to turn him in because they feared that their house would be demolished and that cooperating with authorities could prevent the possible demolition.                   (Jerusalem Post)

After Paris, Netanyahu demands world also condemn attacks against Israelis

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday drew parallels between the massive terror rampage that rocked Paris Friday and attacks against Israelis, saying the world that had rallied to condemn bloodshed in France must do so for Israel as well.

“It is time for states to condemn terrorism against us like they condemn terrorism anywhere else in the world. It is appropriate that [Palestinian Authority President] Mahmoud Abbas, who condemned the attack in France yesterday, will condemn the cruel terrorism against innocents in Israel and fight the incitement fueling it,” Netanyahu told his cabinet meeting.

Referring to a Friday shooting attack that left a rabbi and son dead in the West Bank, Netanyahu said the perpetrators had been the same.

“Hours after the murder in Otniel, terrorists went on a ruthless terror attack in Paris and murdered innocents,” he said. “In Israel, as in France, terrorism is terrorism, and the force standing behind it is radical Islam and its wish to destroy its victims.”

At least 129 people died in the attack in Paris and more than 300 were wounded in a large, coordinated shooting and bombing attack claimed by the Islamic State, the worst violence to hit the country since World War II.

There was no claim of responsibility for the Otniel shooting, which came amid a wave of stabbings and other attacks that have left 15 Israelis dead in two months.

The prime minister has compared Palestinian terrorists to the Islamic State group in the past, with critics responding that he was oversimplifying a complicated threat.

Netanyahu also rejected claims that terror against Israel was linked to policies in the West Bank.

“We are not at fault for the terrorism turned toward us just as the French are not at fault for the terrorism turned toward them. Those to blame for terrorism are terrorists. Not the [disputed West Bank] territories, not the settlements nor any other factor – it is the will to destroy us that keeps the conflict alive and motivates murderous aggression against us,” he said.

He said Israel’s “resolute policy,” including “controlling territory, entering villages, demolishing terrorists’ homes, disrupting terror networks,” were the reasons Israel “many times succeeds in intercepting and preventing more severe disasters.”

Other Israelis have also drawn parallels between the terrorism in France and Israel.

“The whole world now understands what we experience in Israel and Jerusalem – murderous terrorism motivated by the same hatred and a mission of death against innocents in the West,” Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat wrote late Saturday, after attending the funeral for West Bank victims Yaakov and Netanel Litman.

Jewish Home leader and Education Minister Naftali Bennett seemed to say that Europe had received its comeuppance for taking anti-Israel stances.

“I said that if they wouldn’t stand with us it will eventually reach them – and now this happened,” Bennett told Army Radio.                   (The Times of Israel)

Ya’alon: Israel has deterrence in Golan, eyes on Islamic State

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon told Israel Radio Monday that Israel is succeeding in deterring Islamic State (IS) from attacking the country from Syria.

The former IDF Chief of Staff claimed Israel follows IS activity and support in Gaza and the West Bank, on top of Syria.

Ya’alon also stated that Iran had similar aspirations. “The Iranians have tried to open up a front against Israel from Syria, but the initiative failed,” he said.

The Iranian “initiative” dates back to the beginning of the year, at least.

In January this year, an air strike attributed to Israel killed Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) General Mohammed Allahdadi, along with a number of IRGC and Hezbollah operatives near the Israeli-Syrian border.

The strike didn’t immediately deter Iranian efforts, however.

Later in January, Hezbollah fired two Kornet missiles at an IDF convoy on the Israeli side of the border, killing two and injuring seven soldiers and officers.

In April and May, Ya’alon and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that Iran’s objectives in the area had failed. However in August it was reported that Iran, through Hezbollah, was continuing to attempt to establish terrorist cells and a “forward command” of the IRGC’s Al-Quds Force in the Golan Heights.

In September, cabinet minister Yuval Steinitz publicly voiced his concerns over Iranian activity in the Golan.                                   (Jerusalem Post)

Jewish institutional activities grind to halt in grieving Paris

Institutional Jewish activities ground to halt in Paris for safety reasons and out of respect for the 129 people who died in several terrorist attacks that rocked the French capital on Friday.

Among the events cancelled was a protest rally that CRIF, the umbrella group of French Jewish communities, had planned for Sunday against the arrival to France of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani – who also postponed his visit, the Actualite Juive weekly reported.

The cancellation of these events was announced as French and Belgian authorities were conducting arrests and searches for suspects tied to the attacks, which French President Francois Hollande said were an act of war against France by the Islamic State terrorist group.

Earlier this year, a deadly attack on the offices of the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine was followed two days later by the slaying of four Jews at a kosher supermarket.

The Jewish Federation of France, or FSJU, postponed the launch of its National Appeal for Tzedakah, an initiative that brings in some $3.5 million for charitable causes each November. Due to kick off Sunday, the tzedakah telethon, in which Jewish and non-Jewish celebrities sing in a special radio appeal, was postponed to Nov. 29 because Sunday was declared a national day of mourning in France.

The Maccabi Center in Paris’ 10th arrondissement, or district, cancelled a martial arts program due to take place today. A soccer match and a dancing contest were also scrapped. Synagogues remained open throughout Paris on Sunday.

On Sunday, the office of the chief rabbi of France, Haim Korsia, announced a memorial ceremony for the victims will take place that evening at the Synagogue de la Victoire.

The Cultural and University Jewish Space of Europe, or ECUJE, however, suspended all activities until further notice, including Hebrew-language courses, synagogue services and an event honoring Jewish veterans of France’s war in Algeria.

“In full solidarity with the grieving families and in accordance with the state of emergency declared by the government, we hereby inform you of the suspension of all of our activities,” the center’s administrative office wrote in a letter to its members.

Stopping short of announcing a lockdown, SPCJ, the French Jewish community’s security service, urged community leaders to make sure all their congregants were aware of any suspension of activities at synagogues and other centers.

Otherwise, SPCJ wrote in a public security notice that is unusual for its level of detail, congregants might stand together in front of closed synagogues or walk together to open ones – a behavior SPCJ wrote may be more dangerous than holding activities as planned. SPCJ asked the community leaders to “break up routines.”

Some 350,000 Jews live in Paris.                         (JTA)

Israeli Defense Minister: Europe Must Place Security Needs Over Human Rights

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Sunday that he expects a shift in policy in Europe when it comes to the balance between security concerns and protecting human rights following the wave of terrorist attacks in Paris over the weekend. European countries, including France, will need to carry out wiretapping of civilians, tighten passport controls and post guards at the entrances to public places, he added.

“In the United States until the events of September 11, [2001], the balance between security and human rights favored human rights on the issue, for example of eavesdropping on potential terrorists,” he said on Army Radio. “In France and other countries in Europe, that hasn’t yet happened,” he said. “Countries fighting terrorism have no alternative in this other than shifting in the direction of security. I assume that we will see a large number of steps [to carry out] inspections: passport inspections, inspections at the entrance to public places.”

Up to now, France has not carried out wiretapping of telephone conversations of its citizens, Ya’alon said, but he predicted that is likely to change there and elsewhere in Europe. “We as a democracy are experienced in fighting terrorism, used to it. The Western democracies in Europe will apparently need to include such steps in their countries too to defend themselves.”

France might also pass a law similar to the Patriot Act in the United States, the defense minister said, in order to more effectively fight terrorism, legislation that would allow wiretaps, monitoring of potential lone wolf terrorist suspects and searches of business records. “I’ve already heard French President [Francois Hollande] comment on the matter,” said Ya’alon, whose own comments on Army Radio have also been picked up by the French media.

“They have understood that there is a danger, but there are have been steps that they should have taken previously that have not been taken,” he said, in veiled criticism of European policy. And when it comes to European attitudes toward to Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he said when European defense ministers visit Israel, there is discussion of ISIS, the Islamic State organization, but “when foreign ministers come, they speak with us about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as if that is the source of all the world’s problems.” (Ha’aretz)

Op-ed in official PA daily: Israel carried out Paris attacks

A Sunday opinion piece in the official Palestinian Authority daily al-Hayat al-Jadida blamed Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency for Friday’s deadly terror attacks in Paris, suggesting they were orchestrated in order to undermine new European moves promoting a two-state solution and providing for the clear labeling of produce from Israeli West Bank settlements.

The op-ed was translated by Palestinian Media Watch, a media monitoring group.

“It is not a coincidence that human blood was exploded in Paris at the same time that certain European sanctions are beginning to be implemented against settlement products, and while France leads Europe in advising the [UN] Security Council that will implement the two-state solution, Palestine and Israel — which the Israelis see as a warning of sudden danger coming from the direction of Europe, where the Zionist, occupying, settling endeavor was born…” the piece states.

“The wise and correct thing is to look for who benefits,” the op-ed continues. “In short: They need to search the last place reached by the octopus arms of the Mossad… It is clear that its ‘Mossad’ will burn Beirut and Paris in order to achieve [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s goals. He, who challenged the master of the White House, hides in his soul enough evil to burn the world.”

At least 132 people were killed in Paris in the coordinated attacks last Friday, the worst in France in decades.

French officials said at least eight terrorists were involved in the attacks, six of whom blew themselves up, one who was shot by police, and one who was still at large Sunday and considered armed and dangerous.

The Islamic State terror group claimed responsibility for the attacks.     (The Times of Israel)

Israeli Foreign Ministry: Sweden ‘justifying Palestinian terror’

Foreign Ministry Director General Dr. Dore Gold summoned Swedish ambassador Carl Magnus-Nesser Monday, to give him a reprimand following Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom’s blaming the Paris terror attacks on Israel.

“Any connection between ISIS terrorism and the Palestinian issue is baseless, and the words might be interpreted as a justification for Palestinian terrorism,” Gold fired, in a conversation with Magnus-Nesser.

He also noted that Sweden was one of the leading nations who called to label products made in Judea, Samaria, Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights, and to single out Israel in that controversial EU decision.

Gold added that the labeling move does not promote peace and may actually harm Palestinians working in Israeli industrial plants in those areas.

Wallstrom provoked a firestorm of criticism Monday, when she appeared to blaming the attacks on “Palestinian frustration” with Israel.

“To counteract the radicalization we must go back to the situation such as the one in the Middle East of which not the least the Palestinians see that there is no future: we must either accept a desperate situation or resort to violence,” she stated in a Swedish-language TV interview.

In an official statement the Israeli foreign ministry reacted by branding her comments “impudent.”

“The Swedish foreign minister’s statements are appallingly impudent. The Swedish foreign minister has consistently demonstrated bias against Israel and exhibits genuine hostility when she indicates a connection of any kind between the terrorist attacks in Paris and the complex situation between Israel and the Palestinians.

“Whoever fatuously attempts to create a link between radical Islamist attacks and the current problems between Israel and the Palestinians is fooling himself, his people and international public opinion.”

It was not the first time that Wallstrom has drawn a parallel between the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the bolstering of radical movements in the Middle East.

Last year, after Sweden’s recognition of the PA as the “state of Palestine” infuriated Israel, Wallstrom said: “We want to contribute to creating more hope and belief in the future among young Palestinians and Israelis who might otherwise run the risk of radicalization in the belief that there is no alternative to the current situation.”             (Arutz Sheva)

Israeli Spy Jonathan Pollard to Be Released From Prison This Week

Jonathan Pollard, the Navy intelligence analyst whose 1985 arrest for selling secrets to Israel set off a sensational spy saga, is scheduled to be released from federal prison this week, marking the end of a three-decade diplomatic burr in the relationship between the two allies.

Pollard, 61, had been serving a life sentence, but was granted parole this year under sentencing rules in place at the time of his prosecution that made him presumptively eligible for release this month.

Although the decision from the U.S. Parole Commission came around the same time as a sharp disagreement between the U.S. and the Israeli governments over a nuclear deal with Iran, officials from both countries have denied the release was in any way tied to that arrangement, or was intended as a concession to Israel.

The release, scheduled for Friday, caps a case that divided public opinion in Israel and America and has been a periodic source of legal and diplomatic wrangling between the two countries.

“In terms of the quantity of stuff he gave away and the classification and the damage to relations, it certainly was a significant case,” said Jeffrey Richelson, a senior fellow at the National Security Archive at George Washington University who has written on Pollard.

Pollard’s plans aren’t immediately clear. His lawyers said after the parole decision in July that he had lined up a job and housing in the New York area. His lawyers have said that he will be required to remain in the United States for five years, though they called on President Barack Obama to grant him clemency and permit him to move to Israel immediately.

But the White House quickly shot down that prospect, saying Pollard had committed “very serious crimes” and the president had “no intention of altering the terms of Mr. Pollard’s parole.”

One of his lawyers, Eliot Lauer, did not respond this week to questions about Pollard’s future and said his client would not be available for an interview.

The real question, said Washington national security lawyer Mark Zaid, is “not about releasing him, because he’s going to be released. He’s served his time and his sentence is up. … It’s more about, ‘OK, where does he go?'”

The case attracted international attention when Pollard was arrested on Nov. 21, 1985, after trying unsuccessfully to gain asylum at the Israeli Embassy in Washington. He pleaded guilty a year later to conspiracy to commit espionage and was sentenced in 1987 to life in prison. He has argued that his guilty plea was coerced and that his sentence was excessive.

Justice Department lawyers did not object to Pollard’s release during a hearing this year that took into account Pollard’s behaviour in prison and whether he was likely to commit new crimes if released. Under sentencing rules, he was eligible for parole after spending 30 years in custody.

Though next Saturday marks the 30th anniversary of his arrest, Pollard is actually due out Friday from the Butner, N.C., prison because releases aren’t scheduled on weekends or holidays, said Bureau of Prisons spokesman Ed Ross.

The case has long been a source of tension between the two countries.

American presidents have repeatedly denied Pollard’s release even as the Israeli government, which granted Pollard citizenship in the 1990s and recognized him as an Israeli agent, has for years sought his freedom. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in July that he had “consistently raised the issue of (Pollard’s) release in my meetings and conversations with the leadership of successive U.S. administrations.”

The U.S. last year dangled the prospect of freeing Pollard early as part of a package of incentives to keep Israel at the negotiating table during talks with the Palestinians. But the peace effort collapsed and Pollard remained in prison. He came up for parole last year but was denied.                      (Ha’aretz)

Hungary says no to settlement labeling

Hungary will not place special labeling on products from the West Bank and the Golan Heights, Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó told a breakfast meeting of the Israel Council on Foreign Relations on Monday.

The minister characterized the European Union’s decision to affix special labels on such products as “irrational,” saying that it will not contribute to a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and it could cause more problems and damage.

Szijjártó, 37, began his political career in 1998 and has been a member of the National Assembly of Hungary since 2002. He was in Israel on a lightning 24 hour visit.

Disarmingly candid, he said at the outset of his address that he was going to “honest and frank” something that Hungary has been noted for in Europe, as a result of which it has been under attack and has faced a barrage of criticism.  “We have to tell things as they are, especially in a time of crisis, otherwise we can’t come up with a solution,” said Szijjártó.

“Political correctness prevents the addressing of situations as they should be,” he declared, emphasizing that political correctness and hypocrisy are undermining Europe which, “has not faced so many challenges since World War Two.”

In addition to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, he said, there are numerous frozen territorial conflicts in Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia and Moldova. In this cluster of countries, the only stable state with no territorial frozen conflict is Belarus, said Szijjártó.

Szijjártó, who is also Hungary’s Minister for Trade, said that while Israel is on the verge of an energy boom which may change its role in the world energy market, Europe is defenseless and a great deal of its demand is dependant on Russia.

A couple of years back, when Europe looked at what was happening in the Middle East, there was an awareness of a threat that might extend to Europe, but nothing to worry about. Now, he said, “instead of the threat of terror, we have terror in Europe.”

Yet notwithstanding the gravity of all the aforementioned challenges, Szijjártó singled out mass migration as “the greatest challenge that the EU has had to face since its foundation.”

In Europe, whoever speaks about mass migration rather than refugee migration is instantly attacked and charged with being fascist, xenophobic or belonging to a dictatorship, said Szijjártó.

He opined that due to political correctness and hypocrisy in European politics there is no consensus, and the situation cannot be properly addressed.

“This is not a refugee crisis,” he insisted, “this is mass immigration.” He argued that people going from safe countries like Hungary, Croatia and Macedonia to other safe countries are not fleeing for their lives, but seeking better lives and better economic circumstances.

There is a difference between how to treat true refugees and how to treat economic migrants, he said. “This is mass migration with an unlimited supply.” In Syria, he continued, there are 12 million people, of which 7.6 million are internally displaced persons (IDPs). Iraq has 4 million IDPs, and there are yet more in countries such as Libya, Yemen, Afghanistan and Pakistan. All in all, he said there are between 30 to 35 million people living in war-torn areas, in poverty and under dictatorships “who could suddenly hit the road.”

Inability to reach a consensus on the migrant issue causes tension and conflict among the EU’s 28 member states, he said.

So far, 391,000 irregular immigrants have entered Hungarian territory and 6,000 to 10,000 are entering Greece on a daily basis.

Hungary has been under attack in Europe for building fences on its borders with Croatia and Serbia, but this does not mean that Hungary absolutely refuses to accept immigrants.  In fact, people who want to enter Hungary have to enter the country through the proper legal channels and go through passport control. “The ability to protect our borders is our number one priority,” said Szijjártó.  “If you cannot protect your borders,” you cannot protect your territory and you cannot protect your citizens.”

Hungary believes that mass migration is a security issue, he said.  Many young men among the migrants he noted, have been involved in armed conflict and sometimes in conflict against European combatants.

Szijjártó suggested that European leaders do not necessarily represent the people in their respective countries.  “There is a distance between the political will and the will of the people,” he said.

Hungary is also opposed to obligatory immigrant quotas, currently standing at 120,000.  It is the only country in Europe which controls the influx of immigrants, Szijjártó boasted.  “We have solved our southern border issues,” he said commenting that 28 EU countries should be able to put together an EU (military) force to defend the southern borders of Greece from illegal immigration.

“What happened in Paris last Friday is a strong wake-up call for European politicians,” said Szijjártó. “We must make serious decisions to protect our people, because we are currently defenseless.  We must get back the ability to control our borders.  We should not be speaking about how to manage migration, but how to help these people to stay at home.”

He also said that the EU must strengthen its cooperation with Israel in fighting terrorism, due to Israel’s experience, knowledge and technology in fighting terrorism. Cooperation with Israel in anti-terrorist activities is very important he stressed, and it is also important for all superpowers to be involved in the fight against ISIS “which is an everyday threat in Europe.”

Critical of the EU on almost every issue, even though he knew that Lars Faaborg Andersen, the head of the EU delegation in Israel was sitting with other EU ambassadors around the table at the King David hotel, Szijjártó charged Syria with being the root cause for terrorism and argued that the most urgent question is not to decide who will be involved in Syria’s future leadership, but how to create peace and stability in Syria. Only afterwards should there be discussion on who should be involved in the Syrian leadership. “We need a very inclusive political dialogue,” he said, adding that the fight against ISIS should be continuous and independent of any negotiations.                            (Jerusalem Post)

Israel to allow in 9,000 more Ethiopian immigrants

The Israeli government on Sunday approved a proposal to allow the immigration of thousands of Ethiopians claiming Jewish descent, two years after saying that none remained there.

“Today we’ve made an important decision, to bring here the last descendants of the communities with an affinity to Israel,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement.

Israel brought the bulk of Ethiopia’s Jewish community to the country between 1984 and 1991 under the Law of Return guaranteeing citizenship to all Jews.

Sunday’s decision refers to the group known as Falashmura, descendants of Ethiopian Jews who converted to Christianity, many under duress, in the 18th and 19th centuries.

They are not considered Jewish and are therefore not eligible for citizenship, but many have relatives among Ethiopian Jews already living in Israel.

An Interior Ministry statement said the “last members of the community” would be allowed in over a period of five years, and would undergo conversion under the auspices of the ultra-Orthodox Chief Rabbinate.

A ministry spokeswoman told AFP there were approximately 9,100 such people awaiting permission to come, most in camps in the Ethiopian cities of Addis Ababa and Gondar.

One is Kase Tesfa, 30, who lives with her husband and children near Gondar.

Her mother and seven siblings were allowed into Israel in 2004, with officials saying at the time she would be brought “a few weeks” later since as an “adult” over 18 her status was different, her brother Argawi Tesfa told AFP.

For years, he has been trying to sway the government to allow the immigration of relatives, and his efforts took greater urgency in 2013 when Israel announced it had completed bringing in Ethiopians of Jewish descent.

Such efforts, alongside those in parliament by Avraham Neguise, a lawmaker of Ethiopian origin from Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party, helped sway Interior Minister Silvan Shalom.

He reversed official policy and presented Sunday’s decision, Tesfa said, giving new hope to families like his.

“I’m very optimistic now,” he said.

Israel has some 135,500 Jewish Israelis of Ethiopian descent, more than 92,000 of whom had been brought to the country, according to the Jewish Agency.

“Our professionals have developed a comprehensive plan to bring the remainder of the families currently awaiting immigration to Israel,” Jewish Agency spokesman Avi Mayer said on Sunday.

“The plan is expected to be approved in the coming days and will be set in motion as soon as possible.”

Problems faced by Ethiopian Jews in Israel include alleged police brutality and racism, and thousands took to the streets this year to express their anger.

Netanyahu has pledged to tackle the problem.

Many Ethiopian-Israeli families live in the poorest quarters of major cities, with more than a third below the poverty line and many in menial jobs.                  (The Times of Israel)

Beautiful ancient mosaic found in Lod

A breathtaking ancient mosaic in Lod – unearthed by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) while building a visitor center for another famous mosaic – will be opened to the public for the first time this week.

The find came during an excavation from June to November 2014, when IAA archaeologists worked in the Neve Yarak neighborhood of Lod where the previously discovered mosaic was found. That earlier mosaic was the living room floor of a villa some 1,700 years ago, and is being exhibited in museums around the world.

The new excavation was meant to prepare a visitor center to house the mosaic when it returns from its tour of world museums – but during the new excavation, another colorful mosaic 11 x 13 meters in dimension was found, which served as the courtyard pavement of the same villa.

“The villa we found was part of a neighborhood of affluent houses that stood here during the Roman and Byzantine periods,” explained Dr. Amir Gorzalczany, excavation director on behalf of the IAA.

“At that time Lod was called Diospolis and was the district capital, until it was replaced by Ramla after the Muslim conquest. The building was used for a very long time.”

Lod[1]

The previously discovered mosaic in the northern part of the complex, where the “Shelby White and Leon Levy Lod Mosaic Center” will be constructed, was exposed when the IAA was inspecting development work being carried out in the early 1990s prior to the construction of Highway 90.

That mosaic, which was discovered and excavated in the 1990s by the late Miriam Avissar, is among the most beautiful in the country, and has been exhibited in recent years in some of the world’s leading museums, including the Metropolitan, the Louvre and the State Hermitage. It is currently on display at the Cini Gallery in Venice, Italy, and in the future it will be housed in the main building to be erected in Lod.

As for the southern part of the complex where the new mosaic was found, it includes a large magnificent courtyard that is paved with the mosaic and surrounded by porticos (stoas – covered galleries open to the courtyard) whose ceiling was supported by columns.

“The eastern part of the complex could not be completely exposed because it extends beneath modern buildings in the neighborhood,” said Gorzalczany.

Scenes in the mosaic depict hunting as well as hunted animals, fish, flowers in baskets, vases and birds. Gorzalczany noted that, “the quality of the images portrayed in the mosaic indicates a highly developed artistic ability.”

Numerous fragments of frescoes (wall paintings prepared on wet plaster) reflect the decoration and the meticulous and luxurious design, which are in the best tradition of the well-born of the period. In light of the new discoveries, this part of the villa will also be incorporated in the visitor center.                                                  (Arutz Sheva)

Welcome to World War Three

The Paris attack is directly tied to events in Syria and Iraq; this was not an intelligence failure but rather the failure of the West to see itself as in a total war vs. radical Islam.

by  Ron Ben-Yishai            Ynet News

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4725484,00.html

It is time that we came to the realization: we are in the midst of World War III. A war that will differ from the others but will take place all over the globe, on land, air and sea. This is a war between jihadist Islam and Western civilization; a war between radical Islam and all those who refuse to surrender to its values and political demands.

This war will, of course, have to be fought on the ground – with American, British and French divisions and tanks that will fight in Syria and Iraq, but also with security measures taken at border crossings and by special forces and intelligence agencies in Belgium, France and Germany as well as in the Philippines, China and Russia. This war will be conducted on the Mediterranean Sea as well as in the air with combat aircraft bombarding concentrations of ISIS and al-Qaeda fighters across Asia and Africa and security measures taken at airports and passenger aircraft worldwide. This is what the third world war will look like, which Israel has been a part of for a while now.

Indications from the Paris attack immediately pointed to Islamic State, and after they took responsibility for it – it is possible to discern the strategy set forth by the organization: Painful blows of terror at targets easy for them to operate in and which allow them to claim a mental victory with minimal effort and risk.

One can identify the beginning of the current offensive with the Russian plane explosion over Sinai three weeks ago. The Paris attack was directed according to the same strategy. It is likely that the attack had been planned over many months, but the background is the same as that of the plane attack: ISIS is now taking heavy blows in Syria and Iraq and is losing several of its important outposts in the heart of the Islamic caliphate it wants to establish.

Therefore ISIS is attacking its enemies’ rear and Europe, as usual, is the first to get hit. ISIS and al-Qaeda prefer striking in Europe because it is considered the cradle of Christianity and Islamic fundamentalist organizations still see it as the homeland of the Crusaders, who just as in the past, are at present waging a religious and cultural war on Islam. France and Paris were chosen as a target as France stood at the forefront of the cultural and religious struggle against radical Islam. It is also the easiest target to attack.

Why France?

France was the target of a combined assault of radical Islam not just because it has a tradition of human rights and freedom of movement, but because France and French culture symbolize everything that radical Islam is afraid of and is in an all-out war against. France enacted a ban on women to wear the hijab in public places, the Supreme Court allowed the magazine Charlie Hebdo to publish caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad and President Francois Hollande recently refused Iranian President Rouhani’s request to not have alcohol served at a dinner in his honor. All these are challenges to the jihadists that no one else in the West have yet dared emulate. So that is the primary reason that France mourns the murder of at least 129 people.

The second reason is that France has the biggest and most established Muslim population in Europe that lives in large urban concentrations, mostly poor neighborhoods. These are ideal soil for the preaching of radical Islam in neighborhood mosques. The terrorists yesterday spoke French fluently and one can assume that at least some were French citizens of North African descent and other Muslim countries in Africa and Asia. They could thus assimilate into the population to choose destinations, collect information about them and flee from them after their attack.

It was not clear if all the terrorists were suicide bombers or whether some of them escaped. That is why the French government imposed a partial curfew and ordered troops into the streets in many cities, the same measures taken by Israel when the current wave of terrorism began. The aim is that the very presence of many security personnel can deter copycat attacks or the continuation of ongoing attacks.

The third reason is the fact that France is in the heart of Western Europe and it is surrounded by states with large Muslim immigrant communities. The freedom of movement between European countries as per the Schengen Agreement allows the jihadists to utilize these communities to both find terrorist fighters who have been through the baptism of fire in the Middle East and to smuggle weapons required to perform attacks.

Huge quantities of arms and ammunition arrive in Europe from Libya via Sicily, Malta, Greece and many other places. These Libyan weapons move like a deadly wave through Europe, are available to anyone interested in them and can be moved about without any difficulty, as we have seen in previous attacks, from state to state. The same is true with explosives, although terrorists are able to manufacture explosives from local products – acetone and hydrogen peroxide, for example. The information is available to everyone, and Hamas had already shown during the second intifada how to equip a terrorist with an explosive belt containing homemade explosives which are no less deadly. A similar process took place in Iraq, and now France is taking a hit from it.

Another reason for choosing France is that it is considered the center of and the pinnacle of European culture and it is to a great extent a world city of the first order. Therefore the attack there has the greatest effect on people’s consciousness. Horror is effectively spread. It appears that the attackers were equipped with the pages of messages that declared so that those victims who survive would be able to cite to a media thirsty for every detail. “You bomb us in Syria and we bomb you in Paris,” was heard.

They also were dressed in frightening clothing, right out of a Hollywood horror movie, but the weapons and explosives were real. ISIS mixes the virtual world with the real world fluidly and this is the secret of its success and its appeal to young Muslims in the West.

A change of perception needed

To carry out terrorist attacks in seven different locations requires lots of time and elaborate organization. One has to plan, to stockpile weapons and explosives, choose targets, collect information about the targets ahead of the attack, recruit attackers some of whom are willing to die in suicide attacks and tour the scene of the attack and prepare nearby before the actual attack. Therefore, it is reasonable to estimate that the attack was planned and prepared months ago and was kept on hold for a strategically opportune moment.

We need to prepare for further attacks not only in France, but throughout Europe. To this end, Europe will need to resume full control its borders and will having to boldly deal with the dilemma of protecting human and individual rights versus the need to provide security. So far EU countries have preferred, and they can’t be condemned for it, the individual liberty of citizens over the defense against terrorism. Now Europe and especially France will have to reach the conclusion that the most important individual right is the right to life.

There’s no specific intelligence failure here but rather a total failure of perception that requires rethinking. The West will have to establish a joint intelligence apparatus that will perform assessments and issue immediate alerts – and this concerns not only France and Western Europe but also Russia, China and other countries. European countries will have to establish special forces and station them in large, as well as medium and small, urban concentrations to be able to react quickly to any warning or intelligence information.

The way Israel manages to gather intelligence and act on it quickly with the Border Police counter-terrorism unit and Shin Bet’s operational unit must serve as a model. It is clear that European bureaucrats, EU officials, will at first oppose the adoption of this model – but reality will probably force it upon them. They also will have to enact legislation to enable the mechanisms set up for intelligence gathering and rapid reaction to decisively prevent attacks before they occur and handle them quickly if they have already started to take place.

The world war between murderous fundamentalist Islam and Western civilization – and basically anyone and anything not Muslim – will have to be waged without compromise and without half-steps on land, air and sea. Brussels may not like it – but we’re all in the same boat. And no, the current wave of terrorism has nothing to do with the “occupation of Palestine”.

Justifying Paris

by  David Metzler                   The Times of Israel

http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/justifying-paris/

The Foreign Minister of Sweden has offered an explanation to the terrorist attacks in Paris and in doing so she justifies and inadvertently plays into the hands of the killers.

ISIS has claimed responsibility. Survivors of the attacks have testified to hearing their murderous attackers shouting “Allah Akbar” as they slaughtered their victims. One of the suicide bombers in Friday’s attacks has been identified as Ismael Omar Mostefai. To once again ignore the obvious will have continued disastrous results. This has everything to do with radical Islam. It needs to be said. It needs to be understood. No longer can any of us, especially our friends in Europe, go beating around the bush not even daring to speak of ‘he-who-must-not-be-named’, let alone mentioning ‘Voldemort’.

Yet, with stunning blindness, there are people, leaders in fact, who manage to explain attacks such as the terror unleashed on Paris, with a mind-boggling approach. Take Swedens Minister of Foreign Affiars, Margot Wallström, appearing on Swedish television SVT2 no less than 12 hours after the Paris massacres.

To counteract the radicalization we must go back to the situation such as the one in the Middle East in which not at the least the Palestinians sees that there is no future; we must either accept a desperate situation or resort to violence.

And there you have it. A Foreign Minister within the European Union who has managed to internalize the analysis of the situation as seen by the Islamists themselves and consequently turning it into a Swedish foreign policy approach.

This statement is severe, and it demands to be taken with utmost seriousness. Wallström identifies the cause, as she perceives it, which motivated the attackers, hence she has honed in on the problem. And the problem as Wallström sees it is the desperate situation of the Palestinians. Now translate this into Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs logic and there is only one deduction that can me made; Israel is at fault as the sole source for Palestinian desperation, hence also the root for the radicalization of Muslims. Voilà!

Additionally, the Swedish Foreign Minister made an official statement issued through her ministry; “Sweden condemns yesterday’s despicable terrorist attacks in Paris We also need to tackle the underlying causes of terrorism, taking a long-term approach, and to strengthen our efforts against extremism and fanaticism ”

The frightening part about this seemingly appropriate statement is that she in her television interview explained and justified where she believes the underlying cause lay. Let’s put my argument to the test.

Here we have jihadist terrorists murdering people in Paris. Why would they be doing that? A possible explanation is that the attackers have a murderous hatred for democracy because they believe it is evil, and thus wish to destroy it. They have been persuaded to believe the superstitious falsehood that the most efficient way to destroy democracy is to attack innocent civilians and slaughter them. And this is what they did Friday night.

We ask what reasons, if any, there are for the radical Islamists to act as they did? The most natural answer is that there are no reasons for them to be doing so. There is no story to be told to make good normative sense of what they did in France; because what they did makes no normative sense whatsoever. Moreover, it has absolutely nothing – nada, zero, zilch – to do with the plight of the Palestinians. The terrorists were, quite evidently, engaged in a wholly pointless activity which they mistakenly saw as an effective means to their indefensible ends.

We might say then, that there were no reasons that justify what the Paris terrorists did. We have explained it by giving the reasons they took themselves to have, but this was no good as a justification as it was based on false beliefs and crazy desires. So we can explain the Muslim extremists actions by adducing their reasons for doing it, the reasons that furnish their motivation, but, if we look for reasons that would justify what they did, we can find none.

Astonishingly though, Margot Wallström offers a reason which justifies what the ISIS attackers in France did. She does so by rationalizing their acts, as per her statement quoted above.

Wallströms rationalization, like all rationalization, is a defense mechanism in which controversial behaviors are justified and explained in a seemingly rational or logical manner to avoid the true explanation, and are made consciously tolerable ­ or even admirable and superior – by plausible means. Rationalization encourages irrational or unacceptable behavior, motives, or feelings.

Of course, the double standards applied by Sweden and much of the world vis-a-vis Israel become painfully illuminated in the aftermath of the Paris terror as well. In reflection to French president Francois Holland statement following the horrific attacks in Paris yesterday ­ “This is an act of war. Our response will be merciless” ­ a friend of mine posted the following poignant words on Facebook:

“I can’t have heard that right What I should have heard was: ‘Our response will be measured’, or ‘Our response will be proportionate’, or ‘Our response will show restraint and show regard for innocent Caliphate lives while at the same time acknowledging that the Islamic State may have some legitimate concerns that will need to be addressed’. But I didn’t hear that I didn’t hear John Kerry calling for both France and ISIS to lay down their weapons and go to the negotiating table ­ as if they are equals. I didn’t hear the UN Security Council calling for an emergency session to pass a resolution condemning France for its planned ‘merciless’ response. And the reason I did not hear any of that is because such a scenario would be absurd and irrational.”

Wallströms comment on SVT2 is foolish and irresponsible at best. At worst it lets the terrorists off the hook as she completely fails to identify the driving source of the perpetrators and their continued and increased threat to Western society. To quote myself from my previous post: We must not hesitate to clearly acknowledge the evil force currently faced by Israel, and the rest of the world for that matter. This is the force of Islamic fundamentalism; be it in the shape of Hamas, ISIS, Hezbollah or others. This force is a fanatic and determined danger to democracy. It resembles Nazism as it longs for global rule and the destruction of our value system.

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