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Latest News in Israel – 19th November

IAF responds to earlier rocket fire by hitting two terrorist targets in Gaza

Israel struck two Hamas terrorist infrastructure sites Wednesday morning in response to an earlier rocket attack that targeted the country’s South.

“The IDF will not tolerate terrorists opening fire onto Israeli territory and will continue to act severely against any attempt to disturb the peace of communities in the South,” an IDF statement said. “Hamas is the address and the responsibility is on it,” it added.


On Tuesday, residents in the south were on edge after the Iron Dome missile system fired an interceptor missile at what it thought was an incoming rocket.

Apparently there was no rocket however, although residents of the south did hear an explosion, which is believed to have been the interceptor.

The IDF confirmed that the rocket sirens that sounded in the Shaar Hanegev council were a false alarm, but added that it is too early to say what triggered the mistake.

No injuries or damages have been reported, and Southern District police said they received no calls about rocket “landings” in the district after the sirens were sounded earlier in the day.                         (Jerusalem Post)

Police arrest 16-year-old in attempted stabbing attack near Hebron

Border police forces arrested a 16-year-old boy near the Cave of the Patriarchs on Wednesday morning in an attempted stabbing attack, according to the Police spokespersons unit.

The suspect suspiciously approached the security forces who noticed a knife in his hand. The officers called to the suspect to stop. Security forced subdued the suspect without incident.

The suspect, a resident of Hebron, has been taken in for questioning.  There were no injuries reported in the incident.

The Hebron area has been a repeated scene of attempted attacks against Israeli security forces and civilians over the last few weeks.

Last week Rabbi Ya’akov Litman, 40, and his son Netanel, 18, were shot to death by Palestinian terrorists outside Otniel south of Hebron on Friday afternoon.

Five other family members – Litman’s wife, three daughters aged 5, 9, and 11, and a 16-year-old son – suffered minor wounds. The family was driving to a Shabbat pre-celebration of a fourth daughter’s wedding when the gunmen opened fire on their vehicle. All five were lightly wounded by shrapnel and the resulting crash, but were not shot.

Following the attack, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to hunt down the killers and bring them to justice.

“We will find these lowlife murderers and we will prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law, just as we have done in the past,” Netanyahu said, adding that Israel will continue to fight terrorism “wherever it strikes.”              (Jerusalem Post)

ISIS terror cell uncovered in northern Israel

Shin Bet internal security forces in a joint operation with Israeli police have broken up an ISIS (Islamic State) terror cell in northern Israel.

The six cell members were all based in the Arab town of Jaljulya, near Kfar Saba, and had planned to travel to Syria to join the jihadists’ ranks there.

The group was revealed after another Jaljulya resident, 23-year-old Nedal Ahmed Salah Salah paraglided across Israel’s northern border with Syria in October to join jihadists there.

Following his escapade intelligence services mobilized to identify him and possible associates, and quickly zoomed in on his hometown.

That very night two brothers from Jaljulya were arrested under suspicion they had helped Nadel to cross the border. They have been identified as Jihad Nadel (26) and Ahab Nadel Yusuf Hagla (22).

Both were quickly identified as ISIS supporters; the elder brother Jihad had even traveled to Syria in 2013 and fought among ISIS’s ranks for half a year before returning to Israel, where he was jailed until November 2014.

The pair admitted under interrogation to having helped Nadel cross the border, and even revealed they had joined him for paragliding sessions beforehand.

The unusual mode of transport was selected by Jihad, who feared they would be prevented from leaving the country by security at Ben Gurion Airport due to his security background if they opted for a more conventional route into Syria via Turkey.

The suspects also revealed the names of four other individuals involved in the plot, all of whom are also residents of Jaljulya: Anas Nadel Yousef Hagla (19) – Jihad and Ahab’s younger brother; Mohammed Amin Odeh (28); Mohammed Jameel Sa’ada Zaqaki (22); and Adnan Ismail Othman Einas (21).

Investigators revealed that the cell had been active for several months, headed by Jihad Hagla, and would meet regularly at his home for religion lessons, where Jihad would preach about ISIS’s ideology and methods and the need to support the “jihad” in Syria.

After several months of indoctrination the group decided to travel to Syria to actively support ISIS there, and drew up an extensive plan for doing so without detection.

Jihad and Nadel were to paraglide into Syria – as mentioned, due to concerns over Jihad’s terrorism record – while the remaining four would fly to Turkey, where they would cross over into Syria with the help of smugglers.

Ahab Hagla even took on the role of logistics manager to ensure the six would be able to reunite once in Syria; the group went so far as to organize secret online communication methods to evade detection.

Their plan began to unravel however, due to a mixture of incompetence and cold feet.

At the last moment two of the cell members – Adnan Einas and Mohammed Zaqaki – dropped out, fearing both the volatile situation in Syria and that their parents would not allow them to take part.

However, in October Anas Hagla and Mouhammed Odeh traveled to Turkey with the intention of joining ISIS, but returned to Israel when they failed to properly coordinate their passage into Syria with the jihadists.

At the same time as they were in Turkey, and around a week prior to Nedal Salah’s successful cross-border escape, brothers Jihad and Ahab Nadel traveled to the Golan Heights and attempted to paraglide across the border themselves – but were prevented from doing so by a technical problem with Jihad’s paraglider.

Terrorism charges have been filed against all six at Lod Magistrates Court.

In recent months Israeli security forces have broken up several similar ISIS cells in both northern and southern Israel. The Shin Bet security service has warned such activities pose a real risk to Israel’s own security, as at least some of those who travel to Syria eventually return to Israel – equipped with training, indoctrination and combat experience they could utilize to conduct attacks within Israel’s borders.                            (Arutz Sheva)

IAF commander: Israel will continue to eliminate regional threats

The Israeli Air Force will continue to eliminate threats as it sees fit, Major General Amir Eshel, Israel Air Force Commander, said during The Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference on Wednesday.

Eshel was referring in his speech to “the whole spectrum of regional threats and organizations along Israel’s border”. He explained that the main instability in the region is caused by Shiites organizations. “They may have global aspirations, but for now they are primarily a regional issue, even though event like the attack in Paris shows they want to operate word wide”.

Eshel stated that the IAF is focused on three P’s: Protect – the state of Israel; Prepare – for a whole spectrum of scenarios, i.e. terror, war, missile attack; Prevent – a war, or escalation that can lead to war. “Of those three we focus on the third, prevention”, he said. “One single terrorist action can escalate into something big, and drag in many players, even without them wishing to be part of the action. One single rocket sent at Israel may cause a real turmoil. Our job is to contain the event and decrease the chance of major issues.”

Eshel also said that one of the strategies the IAF is using is to state clear red lines, to prevent escalation. “The IAF is in like a game of signaling, sending messages to the other side to not cross red lines. That way there is less chance of miscalculation by the enemy. So if they are tempted to act a certain way, they think again.”        (Jerusalem Post)

In Wake of Paris Attacks, Ex-Mossad Chief Says Time for America, Europe to Adopt Israeli Security Model

As New York City ramped up security in the wake of last Friday’s deadly assault by ISIS in Paris, a former Mossad chief told conservative site Breitbart that deploying armed guards at cafes, theaters and shops, as is done in Israel, would be advisable for the US and European coutries.

Stationing guards at these types of soft targets — including public transportation as well — is part of what Shabtai Shavit called Israel’s three-pronged approach to combating terrorism.

The other two are intelligence-gathering and an offensive strategy, which in this case would involve targeting ISIS strongholds like Raqqa in Syria, the group’s self-declared capital that France has been bombarding since Friday’s attacks.

Still, Shavit was adamant that good intelligence-gathering was the first and most important step, because “the more intelligence you have, the smaller the threat you will have to face.” Next, it is necessary to find the right balance between offensive and defensive measures.

He said the Israeli defense strategy “consists of guards at each and every mall, train station, and so on and so forth,” though occasional Israeli reports have indicated that this is not always followed. Israel stepped up security at soft targets, especially in response to their particular vulnerability to suicide bombers during the Second Intifada.

Shavit also told Breitbart that the West has not done enough to arm the Kurds, whose people inhabit an arc of land from Iran through Iraq, into Turkey and down through Syria. He said they could serve as the boots on the ground willing and able to confront ISIS.           (the Algemeiner)

Shin Bet Says October Was Worst Month for Terrorism in Jerusalem, West Bank in Last 9 Years

Last October saw the greatest number of terrorist attacks in Jerusalem and the West Bank of any other month over the last nine years, Israel’s domestic intelligence agency announced on Monday according to Channel 10 news.

According to the Shin Bet figures, some 602 terrorist attacks were committed in October, more than in the months around the last three Israeli Defense Forces operations in the Gaza Strip against Hamas: Protective Edge, Pillar of Defense and Cast Lead.

At the same time, the number of Israeli casualties has also been higher than in previous years: 11 Israelis were killed in Palestinian terrorist attacks in October, as opposed to five people in all of 2013.

Also, more Israelis – civilian and security personnel – were wounded in October than in entire previous years: 80 individuals suffered moderate or serious injuries in terrorist attacks throughout October of this year, while the number was 63 in 2014, and 42 in 2013.

The report noted that this represented the most serious month, in casualties from terrorist attacks against Israelis, since the building of the so-called security barrier separating Israel and much of the West Bank.

Most of the attacks against Israelis since the start of the latest wave of violence that began during the Jewish high holidays have been committed by individuals ostensibly acting on their own. Most of the attacks have been concentrated in the Jerusalem area and the West Bank, but major cities in Israel have also faced such lone-wolf attacks.       (the Algemeiner)

New Report Shows Dramatic Birth-Rate Shift in Israel: Arab, Jewish Fertility Rates Now Practically Equal

The gap between Jewish and Arab birthrates in Israel has significantly declined over the last decade, Israeli daily nrg reported on Tuesday, citing new data released by Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics

According to the CBS report, in the year 2014, the average lifetime fertility rate of Arab women was 3.17 children, while that of Jewish women stood at 3.11. The new numbers stand in stark contrast to those published in the early 2000s, when the average fertility rate for Arab women stood at 4.3 children, and for Jewish women at 2.6 children.

The report indicated that at the end of 2014, there were 2.74 million children (ages 0-17) in Israel, making up 33% of the population. 71%, or 1.945 million, of them were Jewish children, 26% or 713,000 of them were Arab, and 3% or 82,000 were listed as “other.”                       (the Algemeiner)

Poll: Majority of Palestinians support third intifada against Israel

More than half of the Palestinians support a third intifada against Israel, according to a public opinion poll published on Monday.

The poll, which was conducted by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion, also found that 48 percent of respondents would like to see Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas quit.

The poll, conducted between November 12 and 18, covered some 1,000 Palestinians.

About 50% of respondents said that the current wave of violence paves the way for a third intifada.

Thirty-two percent described that violence as an intifada.

Forty-two percent of respondents support an armed intifada, as opposed to 30% who want it to be “peaceful.” Another 29% said they were completely opposed to any intifada against Israel.

More than half of the respondents said that they were in favor of a third intifada – an increase of 20 percentage points from a previous poll conducted by the same center.

A large majority of 62% of respondents said they were opposed to the resumption of peace talks with Israel.

Fifty-nine percent of respondents were unhappy with Abbas’s performance, while only 30% expressed satisfaction with him. Previous polls had shown that more than half of the Palestinians were satisfied with the way Abbas was running their affairs.                               (Jerusalem Post)

Pollard offers to renounce US citizenship if allowed to go to Israel

Jonathan Pollard is ready to renounce his US citizenship, running the risk of never returning, should the Justice Department allow him to leave for Israel upon his release.

“On November 20, 2015, after serving 30 years in prison, it is Mr. Pollard’s wish to move to Israel with his family so he can resume his life there,” US Reps. Jerry Nadler and Eliot Engel, both New York Democrats, wrote Monday in a letter to Loretta Lynch, the US attorney general. “We write today to ask that DOJ give Mr. Pollard’s request the fair consideration it deserves.”

Pollard, a former Navy analyst who sold secrets to Israel, is being released on parole from a life sentence for espionage. The Justice Department has not yet revealed the terms of his release; Pollard’s lawyers have suggested terms will be negotiated up to the eve of his release.

However, it is believed that he will be required to stay in the United States for at least a year, and his lawyers have already secured a residence and work for him in the New York area.

“Mr. Pollard understands that, as a condition of being permitted to move to Israel, he may need to renounce his American citizenship,” the letter said. “Despite the serious consequences that may follow such a decision, including being permanently barred from returning to the United States, he is willing to undertake this extraordinary measure.”

Engel and Nadler cite as a precedent the case of Rene Gonzalez, a member of the “Cuban 5” spy ring. After serving a prison sentence and while on probation, Gonzalez asked for and received permission in 2013 to go to Cuba to attend his father’s funeral. While there, he asked to stay on condition he renounce his US citizenship and never return. The Justice Department granted permission.

The three members of the Cuban 5 who were still in prison were released nearly a year ago at the same time that Cuba released Alan Gross, a Jewish-American contractor who had been imprisoned for activities including connecting the island’s small Jewish community to the Internet.   (Jerusalem Post)

The world can’t choose which terrorists it gets to support

The entire world has condemned the acts of terror committed in Paris. Is there a reason why nobody outside Israel has condemned the murder of Rabbi Litman and his son in the West Bank the same day?

By Moshe Arens                     Ha’aretz


There are no good terrorists. The Hamas terrorists who killed Rabbi Ya’akov Litman and his son Natanel last Friday, near Otniel in the Hebron Hills, are bad terrorists. They’re just as bad as the Islamic State terrorists responsible for the carnage in Paris later the same day.

The terrorists who killed dozens in a Hezbollah stronghold in southern Beirut last week are bad terrorists, as are the Hezbollah terrorists who blew up the Argentine-Israeli Community Center (AMIA) in Buenos Aires back in 1994. All terrorists are bad and must be fought, in order to stop the trail of blood of innocent victims which they leave behind.

With all current attention focused on the terror acts committed by ISIS in Paris last Friday, one can tend to forget – or maybe even wish to forget – that not only is this not the first act of terrorism committed in recent years, and that ISIS is not the only terrorist organization engaged in killing innocent civilians.

We have to remind ourselves that there are not good terrorists and bad terrorists – all terrorists are bad, there is no excuse for terrorism, and all terrorist organizations need to be fought tooth and nail if this bloodletting is to be stopped.

All terrorists are venting a grudge they have against the society in which they live – against the West, against Israel, against Jews and Christians. It is important to understand what lies behind their grudges, but under no circumstances to excuse their murderous acts. Understanding must not mean forgiving.

Israel knows this only too well. Israeli civilians have been the victims of terror committed by Sunni terrorists and Shia terrorists. By the Palestine Liberation Organization, Hamas and Hezbollah, and Israel is threatened by Islamic State.

When acts of terror are committed against Israel, they are often glossed over in the world. Excuses are often sought for their cause, it being suggested that possibly Israeli policy toward the Palestinians may justify these acts.

The entire world has condemned the acts of terror committed in Paris. Is there a reason why nobody outside Israel has condemned the murder of Rabbi Litman and his son? Does anyone really think they was murdered by “good” terrorists?

The terrorist organizations, like Hamas and Hezbollah, who direct their activities primarily against Israelis or Jewish targets outside Israel seem to be granted a certain amount of license for their activities by many in the world.

Although Hezbollah’s responsibility for the bombing of the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires and the AMIA bombing two years later is well known, no steps have been taken by countries other than Israel against this organization. The European Union has refused to outlaw Hezbollah, and the European parliament maintains contact with that terrorist organization.

If terrorism is to be fought, all terrorist organizations must be fought. That may be difficult, but there is no other way. It is not an impossible task for nations who understand they are under attack from them.

Neither ISIS, Hezbollah nor Hamas have significant military capabilities compared to the nations they attack. The idea that some terrorist organizations should be used as allies in the fight against other terrorist organizations is absurd and will lead nowhere. And yet the United States, the EU and Russia are presently attempting to build an anti-ISIS alliance that will include Iran – a terrorist state and the sponsor of Hezbollah.

It is true that Hezbollah, which supports President Bashar Assad’s regime in Damascus, hates Islamic State – and that that sentiment is reciprocated by ISIS – but Hezbollah can contribute nothing to the war against ISIS. Giving it the stamp of approval by co-opting it into an anti-terrorist alliance simply makes that alliance a laughingstock and can only encourage it to engage in further terrorist activity.

That the EU’s approach to the danger of terrorism is totally unfocused was proven yet again by its recent decision to label products produced in Judea and Samaria and the Golan Heights that are exported to Europe. Is this part of the EU’s war against terrorism? How does it believe that Islamic State, Hamas and Hezbollah understand this senseless decision, which it claims is purely “technical”?

Can Israel sue the European Union before the World Trade Organization over the labeling crisis?

Whereas the European Union sees the labeling as a way to press Israel to make concessions to the Palestinians regarding the settlements, Israel views the move as unfairly taking sides.

by Yonah Jeremy Bob                 The Jerusalem Post


The Kohelet Policy Forum last week pushed for Israel to sue the EU before the World Trade Organization for discrimination in the settlements labeling crisis.

Earlier last week, on Wednesday, the EU finally published its long-expected guidelines for the labeling of imports from the West Bank, Golan Heights and east Jerusalem as from the Israeli settlements instead of as made in Israel, causing one of the biggest diplomatic fall-outs in years between the EU and Israel.

Whereas the EU sees the labeling as a way to press Israel to make concessions to the Palestinians regarding the settlements, Israel views the move as unfairly taking sides and Kohelet put forth the idea of suing the EU before the WTO as a concrete legal tactic to block the new policy.

So is suing the EU before the WTO a realistic option? What would be the basis under relevant WTO law? Even if it is legally possible, doesn’t it seem a long-shot that a small country like Israel could beat the powerhouse EU in an international forum – the kind normally dominated by the EU? The WTO is the umbrella organization that sets the legal framework for international trade, and it can also provide binding arbitration proceedings to resolve international trade disputes.

According to one of the authors of the Kohelet position paper, Prof. Eugene Kontorovich, the new EU policy carves out a special legal rule for Israel that contradicts the EU’s official positions, goes against rulings of European national courts, and violates the WTO’s basic tenets opposing discriminatory trade rules.

He notes that the WTO has a non discrimination requirement making it impermissible to apply trade rules and restrictions to some member countries and not to others.

Further, Kontorovich contends that the WTO’s non discrimination restrictions apply not just to a state’s sovereign territory, but also to areas of its “international responsibility,” such as occupied territories.

For example, Kontorovich explains that the US, with international approval, received the benefit of its international trade treaties even in territories it occupied in World War II, as well as in the Panama Canal Zone, despite making no claim of sovereignty.

Accordingly, argues Kontorovich, it would not be new for Israel to receive full trade rights for non-sovereign areas that it is administering.

Confronting head-on some of the practical concerns with their idea, Kontorovich and co-author Prof. Avi Bell write that the WTO is “a relatively attractive forum to challenge the European restrictions.”

This is because it does not require intervention from “a permanent international court likely to be influenced by hostile attitudes toward Israel.”

Next, Kontovorich addressed whether a smaller country such as Israel could beat a powerhouse like the EU on the high-profile stage of the WTO.

He cited as proof the Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda’s successful slam-dunk win over the US, winning a $150 million judgment in WTO arbitration for discrimination regarding online gambling.

In 2003, Antigua and Barbuda sued the US at the WTO, protesting new US restrictions on online gambling trade that contradicted agreements the US committed to in the mid and late 1990s.

The US subsequently claimed that it “made a mistake” in including online gambling in the GATS trade agreement schedule of approved trade categories, and tried to back out of the WTO case at one point by claiming the agreement was invalid on moral grounds.

This is significant because it raises a case where the US lost to a small nation even though it was claiming that the case raised deeper moral issues and was more than just an economic dispute – a defense the EU would likely raise in any Israel suit over the labeling dispute.

But the WTO scoffed at the US’s morality claims, noting the widespread gambling opportunities available throughout the US.

Kontorovich says that Israel could note the EU does not have restrictions on trade or special labeling for Morocco, Turkey and other countries that for decades have occupied territories of other states that do not belong to them under international law.

This would make the labeling restrictions discriminatory and inconsistent just as the US’s restrictions on Antigua were discriminatory and inconsistent.

In another dispute, several small and less powerful Latin American countries, such as Guatemala, beat the EU at the WTO in a trade dispute over quotas and the amount of tariff the EU imposed on bananas in the 1990s, eventually leading to the EU revising its policies in 2009 and 2012.

There are more instances where the WTO ruled against a country that claimed as a defense that the issue was not commercial, but a moral issue related to the environment, public health or protecting human rights.

Further, Kontorovich suggests that filing a WTO suit is often a way to create more favorable conditions for settling a dispute without ever getting to the judgment stage.

But even if this is possible, will Israel decide to do it? Kohelet’s initiative got quick support from Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, although his public statements in favor stopped just short of formally committing to sue the EU.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nachshon was more noncommittal regarding the idea, stating, “Our jurists are aware of and are studying these options and will formulate an agreed upon opinion.”

Further, despite all of the above, The Jerusalem Post has learned that there are likely strong voices within the government that view the WTO idea as counterproductive, with a softer power behind-the scenes approach being more effective for resolving the issue.

In other words, Israel has been willing to push back at the EU with softer measures such as temporarily suspending diplomatic dialogue and summoning the EU ambassador, but some would view suing before the WTO as too blunt an instrument and one that would not produce results anyway.

Further, the issue has only arisen publicly as an option very recently, so there has not been much time for contrary academic opinions to form.

For now, though, suing before the WTO is another idea on the public agenda that is likely to be debated in terms of how to address the EU settlement labeling dispute.

If the Israeli Foreign Ministry reacted to the Paris terrorist killings in the same manner as the European Nations do, when there is a terrorist attack in Israel

The Foreign Ministry of Israel strongly condemns the latest attacks in Paris, and stands with the French people during this difficult time. We call on both sides of the conflict to show restraint, and urge the French government not to respond in a disproportionate manner or take steps which could cause escalation. While it is important that those responsible for such criminal acts be brought to justice, the State of Israel calls on the French government to investigate the plight of its Moslem citizens and the discriminatory practices of French society which can cause young Moslems, through frustration and despair, to be drawn into doing such criminal acts.  Additionally, the State of Israel believes that true peace can only be brought about through negotiations towards full autonomy for the Moslem regions around Paris and France as a whole. Furthermore we call on the French government to investigate the killing of an alleged participant in the recent alleged attacks, Mr. Abu Mohammed who was killed by French policeman after his alleged ammunition had already run out, and no longer posed any threat to bystanders.  We believe that it is crucial to stop such senseless killings by French policemen in order to end the cycle of violence. These steps need to be taken because of our deep regard for the safety and welfare of the French People.

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