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Latest News in Israel – 24th December

Two Israelis wounded in Jerusalem terror attack die of injuries

Both assailants shot and killed by 2 female Border Police officers; Police heighten security for thousands of Christian tourists expected in Old City for Christmas.

Two Israeli men are dead, one after being accidentally shot by Border Police officers who killed two knife-wielding Palestinian terrorists that stabbed two Jewish civilians near Jerusalem’s Jaffa Gate on Wednesday afternoon.

Jerusalem resident Ofer Ben-Ari, 40, a married father of two children, was pronounced dead by a Sha’are Zedek Medical Center official at roughly 7 p.m., following emergency surgery for a bullet wound to his abdomen.

“Despite vigorous efforts to save him, the wounded man has passed away,” Shaare Zedek said in a statement.

The second unidentified man died of multiple stab wounds to the upper torso later on Wednesday night.

The terrorists, identified as Anan Hamad, 20, and Issa Asaf, 21, are both convicted felons from the West Bank’s Qalandiyah refugee camp. Hamad was imprisoned in 2010 after entering the Qalandiyah checkpoint with a knife to attack security personnel; Asaf was incarcerated this year for participating in unspecified terrorist activity.

The attack took place in a highly-populated area outside the Old City’s iconic walls, nearby holy Christian heritage sites, where in roughly 24 hours tens of thousands of tourists from around the globe are expected to convene to celebrate Christmas.

As dozens of concerned passersby and members of the media took in the chaotic scene behind police lines, approximately 100 meters from Jaffa Gate, Magen David Adom and ZAKA paramedics placed one of the dead terrorist’s corpses into a black plastic body bag.

“Just after 12:30 p.m., two Palestinians carried out a stabbing attack here,” said Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld shortly after the assault.

“As a result, three Israelis were injured; two of them seriously, one of them moderately-to-seriously. Two female Border Police officers that were in the area responded, ran to the scene, spotted the terrorists and shot them. One was killed and one was taken to the hospital.”

The second terrorist, who was treated at the scene and rushed to an area hospital, later died of his wounds.

While Rosenfeld said he could not confirm that the third Israeli victim was shot by police, he noted that officers are “looking to see if one of the people taken to the hospital was injured by a stray bullet.”

However, Sha’are Zedek Medical Center spokeswoman Shoham Ruvio said Ben-Ari indeed died of a bullet wound several hours after the attack, while a 24-year-old man who was stabbed in the chest and back is in stable condition and resting in the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit.

The second unidentified stabbing casualty died after being taken to Hadassah University Medical Center in Ein Kerem in critical condition.

Rosenfeld said that police are investigating if the two assailants acted independently, or were part of an organized terrorist cell.

“We can see that this was an organized attack by two terrorists that coordinated together, but we don’t see at this moment in time any connections between any organized terrorist cell,” he said.

“But that’s something that we continue to look into, both the Israeli National Police and internal security. We’re still looking into exactly how they got to the Jaffa Gate area.”

ZAKA volunteer and first responder Shimi Grossman described the attack as very serious.

Indeed, as ZAKA and Magen David Adom personnel helped clean blood off the stone pavement and place one of the terrorist’s lifeless body’s onto a gurney, a police forensics team gathered evidence, as dozens of heavily-armed officers secured the scene.

Rosenfeld said that heightened security will continue across the city, with a special emphasis on the Old City, in anticipation of the thousands of Christian tourists who will make a pilgrimage there on Thursday.

“There are going to be thousands of tourists that are going to be visiting in and around different areas of Jerusalem, including the Old City, and therefore it’s vital that we make sure that heightened security continues and no further terrorist attacks take place,” he said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the terrorist attack at an event at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem – not far from the scene of the attack – marking Moshe Arens’ 90th birthday.

“We are under continuous terrorist attacks,” he said. “The entire world is being washed over by wild terrorism, and we are fighting it and will overcome it.”

Netanyahu, after extending condolences to the family of the terror victims, praised the two Border Police officers for acting swiftly under difficult conditions.

As Devorah, a middle-aged Orthodox woman, waited for police to allow pedestrians to walk past the crime scene to enter Jaffa Gate, she said she was shaken that the attack struck so close to home.

“I was really kind of shocked that this actually happened right in my backyard,” she said, requesting that her last name not be published.

Nonetheless, Devorah said her faith in God gives her hope that she will not be harmed in future attacks.

“I feel that the light of God is always down on the people here, and we go back and forth through the shuk, down Jaffa Road and to the Kotel every single day, many times a day, and I’m happy to say there are no incidents in the Jewish Quarter that I’m aware of, and we feel very safe,” she said.

“I come home from a show or some kind of event at 11:30 at night sometimes, and I don’t feel like my husband has to come and meet me.”

And despite the volatile and brutal nature of the ongoing knife attacks fueling the capital’s nearly 3-month-long terror wave, Devorah said she remains unafraid.

“I don’t like it, but I feel like I’m in the holiest place in the world,” she said. “I feel that I’m all taken care of. I will continue to walk through Jaffa Gate without fear.”

Meanwhile, after the police removed their barrier, a dozen or so young Israeli men wearing skullcaps and t-shirts loudly sang “Ahm Yisrael Chai” (Israeli Lives) as they walked past the scene of the attack, en route to pass through Jaffa Gate.                        (Jerusalem Post)

Hamas terror cell planning suicide bombings busted

The Israeli Security Agency (ISA) cleared for publication on Wednesday that it has nabbed a Hamas terror cell located in Abu Dis, just adjacent to Jerusalem to the east, that was planning to launch suicide and car bombing attacks.

The arrests took place in recent weeks, and saw a wide terror infrastructure that was directed by Hamas terrorists in Gaza exposed.

Up to now a full 25 Hamas activists in the terror cell have been arrested, most of them students of Abu Dis University. From the investigation it has been learned the leader of the cell was 24-year-old Ahmed Gamal Mussa Azzam, a resident of Kalkilya in northern Jerusalem.

Azzam was recruited by Hamas in Gaza several months ago, and enlisted to establish a terror cell to conduct bombings against Israeli targets.

The cell leader was in ongoing contact with the terrorists in Gaza and was trained to create bomb belts and explosives. He was ordered to recruit several other activists who studied with him at the university so as to obtain materials to build bombs, to rent apartments and recruit suicide bombers.

During the investigation the ISA located an explosives lab in an apartment rented by Azzam in Abu Dis. Several of the materials to produce large-scale bombs were purchased in sovereign Israeli territory and others in Ramallah, and an investigation of the sources behind the materials led to additional arrests.

Two Arab citizens of Israel were among the students drafted to the terror cell, and Azzam intended to use their freedom of movement to launch attacks. One of them, a resident of the Old City in Jerusalem, gathered information about potential targets, and was also to help smuggle attackers over the 1949 Armistice lines.

The other citizen, a 19-year-old Bedouin from the Negev, admitted to joining the cell in October to help smuggle bomb belts or bomb-rigged cars into sovereign Israeli territory.

It was found that the two citizens are also supporters of Islamic State (ISIS) and likewise were active in local Salafist groups.

Another branch of the Hamas terror cell was discovered in the Bethlehem region of Judea, and its members included Abu Dis University students recruited to act as suicide bombers.

(Arutz Sheva)

Putin, Netanyahu agree to coordinate efforts against terrorism

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed in a phone conversation on Tuesday to continue their dialogue regarding the situation in Syria and other regional issues, the Prime Minister’s Office said Tuesday,.

According to a PMO statement, the two leaders – who last met on the sidelines of the Paris climate conference at the end of last month—also discussed the war on terror, including on the Syrian front.

Reuters quoted a Kremlin source as saying that Putin stressed that “there is no alternative to the launch of intra-Syrian negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations, as well as to the continued and uncompromising fight against Islamic State and other extremist groups acting in Syria.”

Netanyahu flew to Moscow in September, soon after Russia’s military engagement in Syria, to set up a mechanism to prevent the accidental confrontation of Russian and Israeli fighter-planes over Syria.                    (Jerusalem Post)

Israel Military  Intensifies CI Training

Israel’s military has intensified counter-insurgency training. The military said the army’s Central Command has drafted a course to rapidly train officers and soldiers to foil mass-casualty as well as lone-wolf attacks.

The command’s training center has offered instruction in such skills as martial arts, combat skills, anti-riot and counter-fire.

“Terrorists hide inside the mob and try to attack soldiers that approach,” an instructor, identified only as 1st Lt. Or, said. Officers said the training center incorporated lessons and experiences from previous attacks by such groups as Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

They said the facility was equipped with a range of simulators, some of them designed to measure the reaction of soldiers. “Then, they enter a screening room where they take part in simulations testing their ability to stop stabbings as well as attempted abductions,” the military said.

The military said Central Command was ordered to accelerate training amid the Palestinian attack campaign in Israel and the West Bank. Over the last two months, the army has expanded deployment in the West Bank as well as support for police in Jerusalem. “Two of the biggest threats we now face are attackers attempting to steal weapons and stab IDF soldiers and civilians,” the military said.               (IMRA)

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat announces he’s joining Likud

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat announced Tuesday that he was officially joining the Likud party, adding to speculation that he plans to challenge Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the future for leadership of the party. The announcement came two days after Netanyahu was reported to be mooting early primaries for the party in the coming months.

Barkat announced his move in a tweet and a video posted to his Facebook page, mentioning his service in the last seven years as mayor of Jerusalem and explaining his reasons for broadening his perspective.

“Fifteen years ago, I left my businesses in order to serve Jerusalem, for one shekel per year,” Barkat, a former high-tech entrepreneur, said. “Out of that same feeling of mission and responsibility for the future of the country, I am joining Likud.”

Outlining his core beliefs in “the Land of Israel and a united Jerusalem, strengthening security and minimizing social inequality,” Barkat said that he “cannot stand by as an observer.”

To allay suspicions that he will vie for the party leadership in the next primaries, Barkat said that he plans to continue to serve as mayor of Jerusalem, “at least until the end of the current term” in 2018.

Barkat urged his supporters to also join the party, to “bring new blood and new spirit” and “strengthen the leadership that has come to serve the public.”

In an interview with Army Radio, Barkat linked his experience in Jerusalem to the broader national context. “I feel that we have succeeded and are succeeding in making a change in Jerusalem,” he said. “The things that we succeeded in changing in Jerusalem are relevant to the entire country, and I therefore want to join the national effort.”

Barkat, who has publicly endorsed Netanyahu a number of times in national elections, has been making hints at a possible Knesset run for months. In a November interview with Army Radio, he said that a “position in Likud will unequivocally help me to serve as mayor of Jerusalem.”

A major in the IDF reserves who earned a fortune at the start of the Israeli high-tech boom in the 1990s, Barkat initially entered politics in a failed bid for Jerusalem mayor against ultra-Orthodox candidate Uri Lupoliansky in 2003. After serving as head of the opposition during Lupoliansky’s term, Barkat again ran as the secular candidate in the 2008 municipal elections, beating out ultra-Orthodox candidate Meir Porush. Barkat was reelected in 2013.

Barkat has retained relative popularity in a city often considered widely divided between religious, ultra-Orthodox and secular Jews, as well as Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem. Secular residents are seen to have made some recent gains in the ongoing culture war over the city’s identity.

Barkat also gained notoriety during the ongoing terror wave, in which Jerusalem has been a prime target for attacks. In October, he called on residents to carry guns for self defense and to foil attacks.

In February, he made headlines when he neutralized a Palestinian attacker who had stabbed an Israeli man near city hall. A video of the incident, in which Barkat and his security guard can be seen confronting the attacker and pinning him down, was widely circulated on the Internet.          (The Times of Israel)

US congresswoman: Jerusalem’s archaeological discoveries prove historic Jewish ties

King Hezekiah[1]

The seal impression of King Hezekiah unearthed during the Ophel excavations at the foot of the southern wall of the Temple Mount.

Challenges about the inexorable connection of Jews to Jerusalem have been unequivocally disproven by archaeological discoveries, the chairwoman of the US’s House Subcommittee on the Middle East & North Africa said on the floor of the US House of Representatives last Friday.

The comments, made by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), represented a sharp rebuke to increasing international efforts to delegitimize Israel’s connection to Jerusalem, despite numerous relics recently unearthed proving an ancient Jewish presence there.

“For quite some time, there has been an effort at the United Nations to delegitimize the Jewish State of Israel, and to try to whitewash the Jewish peoples’ historical and Biblical connection to Israel,” said Ros-Lehtinen.

“Denying the historic connection of the Jewish people to Jerusalem is false. Amazing archaeological discoveries are frequently made that prove the roots of the Jewish people are in Israel.”

The impetus for her address reportedly stemmed from the announcement earlier this month of the discovery of an unprecedented impression of the royal seal of King Hezekiah from the First Temple period, dating back to 727–698 BCE.

The antiquity was unearthed during the capital’s noted Ophel excavations, at the foot of the southern wall of the Temple Mount, under the direction of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Dr. Eilat Mazar.

“This marks the first time that a seal impression of an Israelite or Judean king has ever been discovered within the context of an archaeological excavation,” Lehtinen said on the House floor.

“It proves that not only is Israel the religious center for Jews, it is their ancestral and historic homeland.”

Moreover, Ros-Lehtinen said that the recent archaeological find, among many others which have illustrated Jewish heritage in the capital, led the congresswoman to plan an upcoming visit to see the discoveries for herself.

“I look forward to visiting the City of David in the near future to see firsthand the rich history of the Jewish people,” said Ros-Lehtinen, who formerly served as chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.    (Jerusalem Post)

Hezbollah’s 100,000 rockets and Israel’s new missile defense system

by Yossi Melman                         The Jerusalem Post


It was coincidence that Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah gave his usual “threatening speech” on Monday night after the Defense Ministry announced its successful trial of the David’s Sling missile defense system. However, there is a connection between the two events. David’s Sling is a system for intercepting  medium-range missiles which was developed in answer to the threat posed by the missiles and rockets in the hands of the Shi’ite Lebanese organization.

Nasrallah said in his speech that his organization sees Israel as being responsible for the assassination of Hezbollah operative Samir Kuntar, vowing to avenge the attack at the time of his choosing. It is likely that because of Hezbollah’s involvement in the civil war in Syria, which exacts a high price from the group, the retaliation is not a top priority for the organization. However, there is no doubt that the group will try to take revenge with terror attacks abroad against Israeli targets and also with attacks on the Golan Heights from Syria.

On Monday, the Defense Ministry’s Israel Missile Defense Organization announced that it had successfully completed the last phase of trials for the David’s Sling, concluding the five-year long development of the system. The system is now scheduled to be delivered to the Air Force, which has already begun training the first crews to operate it, and it will likely be operational by the end of 2016, but not before its interception accuracy is tested thoroughly. According to the defense establishment’s plan, the system’s batteries will be deployed at four sites throughout the country.

The system, developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and the US defense company Raytheon, was partially funded by the US government. Originally, the David’s Sling was intended to intercept rockets with a range up to 200km. and to serve as a second layer of defense between the Iron Dome (which had its interception range increased from 40km. to 70km.) and the Arrow, which is intended to shoot down ballistic missiles outside of the atmosphere. However, since then, the David’s Sling has been equipped with additions and technological advancements that will enable it to intercept missiles carrying warheads with dozens of kilograms of explosive materials at greater ranges and even higher altitude.

The head of the program at Rafael, whose name is kept secret, said Monday that the idea behind the system is “to enable interceptions, even of precise missiles, at a great altitude of hundreds of kilometers, far from the area being shielded.” The system was developed to intercept drones as well.

With all of the praise for the technological breakthroughs, it is impossible to ignore the problems and challenges the system presents, if and when it faces the real test – missiles being fired at Israel. Among the massive stockpile of more than 100,000 rockets and missiles at Hezbollah’s disposal, there are a few thousand missiles that fit the definition “medium-range.” Even if most of them are destroyed by the Israel Air Force before they have a chance to be fired when a potential war starts, the organization will still be left with enough missiles to launch at multiple targets in Israel at ranges reaching as far as the nuclear reactor in Dimona.

The big challenge for David’s Sling will be to intercept barrages of rockets with maneuvering capabilities, and that’s before taking into account the cost. The system is a very expensive one. While one Iron Dome interceptor missile costs some $70,000, the estimated cost of a David’s Sling interceptor missile is approximately a million dollars. Therefore, if the issue of cost vs. cost effectiveness is important, but not critical in the case of Iron Dome, when it comes to the David’s Sling, the issue of cost will play a considerable part in deciding when to operate the system.

Why Palestinian terrorism is never a ‘justified popular uprising’

by Louis Rene Beres          The Jerusalem Post


In law, in all law, such evident expressions of pure criminality can never be reconciled with any form of permissible “uprising.”

Terror Israel

Israeli soldiers secure the area after a stabbing attack by two Palestinian teenage girls took place in central Jerusalem on November 23. (photo credit:REUTERS)

On December 18, 2015, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas defended the latest wave of bombings and stabbings of Jews by Palestinians as a “justified popular uprising.” Jurisprudentially, at least, he was mistaken. In law, in all law, such evident expressions of pure criminality can never be reconciled with any form of permissible “uprising.” There is no cause that can ever warrant the intentional mutilation or murder of civilians.

This remains the case, moreover, even if the cause involved is allegedly just.

Still, many observers are oblivious to both facts and law. Even now, supporters of Palestinian violence against Israeli noncombatants ritualistically claim that the Arab force is somehow being directed solely against an “occupation,” and thus warrants “any means necessary.” In discernible law, however, this claim is conspicuously baseless and incorrect. Even where the use of violence may be justified – and this is arguably not the case with Palestinian terrorism, where Israel left Gaza more than 10 years ago and has tried for much longer to negotiate a plausibly secure settlement for the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) – any deliberate attacks upon noncombatants are always illegal.

“One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” – although repeated again and again, this appealing mantra has no authentic grounding in law.

On the contrary, there already exist very explicit, precise and settled legal criteria to distinguish terrorists from freedom fighters. Furthermore, according to international law, any politically- motivated insurgent who willfully attacks a civilian with a knife or scissors, or tries to run him or her down with an automobile, is a terrorist.


It is true, of course, that certain insurgencies can be judged lawful. Yet, even these insurgencies must first conform to the binding norms of humanitarian international law, or the law of armed conflict. In law, the ends can never justify the means. Wherever an insurgent individual or group chooses to resort to unjust means, his or its actions are prima facie impermissible.

How shall we judge precisely when insurgent force is just or unjust? The determinable standards that must be applied here are known in law as just cause and just means. These two standards, and these two standards alone, allow us to differentiate a lawful insurgency from terrorism.

Under law, “popular uprising movements” that fail to meet the test of just means are never protected as legitimate.

Leaving aside the unsupportable argument that Palestinian organizations may inherently satisfy certain identifiable legal standards of a “popular uprising movement,” it is still clear that they routinely fail to meet the authoritative just means standards of discrimination (sometimes also called “distinction”), proportionality and military necessity.

These critical formal criteria, long applicable under the Laws of War, have been expressly applied to all insurgent organizations by the common Article 3 of the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and also by the two Protocols to these Conventions of 1977.

They are now directly binding upon all combatants by virtue of both customary and conventional international law, and – according to Article 38 of the Statute of the International Court of Justice – by “the general principles of law recognized by civilized nations.”

Under law, at least, it is all rather simple: The ends can never justify the means. As in the case of war between states, every use of force by insurgents must be judged twice, once with regard to the justness of the objective (the avowed Hamas/PA objective is a Palestinian state, to be built upon the antecedent ruins of Israel; in other words, a manifestly “one state solution”), and once with regard to the justness of the adopted means. It follows that any Palestinian person or organization that deliberately targets Israeli civilians with the express intent to maximize pain and suffering can never claim to be a “freedom fighter.”

Significantly, as a non-legal aside, it also turns out that several recent Palestinian attacks have unwittingly wounded or killed other Arabs, Palestinians who had been mistakenly identified by the terrorists as Jews.

Always, terrorist crimes, as part of a far broader category of harms called crimen contra omnes (crimes against all), mandate universal cooperation in apprehension and punishment. As punishers of “grave breaches” under international law, all states are expected to search out and prosecute, or extradite, individual terrorist perpetrators. In no circumstances are states permitted to benignly characterize terrorists as being part of some “justified popular uprising.”

This prohibition is especially pertinent for the United States, which incorporates all treaty law as the “supreme law of the land” at Article 6 of the Constitution, and which was explicitly formed by the Founding Fathers according to the timeless and universal principles of Natural Law. Further incorporations of international law into US law can be found at such Supreme Court decisions as the Paquete Habana (1900), and Tel-Oren vs. Libyan Arab Republic (1984).

Palestinian terrorists are not “freedom fighters.” They are not engaged in any “justified popular uprising.” They are, instead, “common enemies of mankind,” major criminals who exceed all moral and legal authority by their persistently cruel and random attacks.

History adds a useful dimension. Until July 7, 2005, British newspapers had always referred to Palestinian murderers as “militants,” but when the al-Qaida allies of Islamic Jihad and Hamas launched suicide attacks in London in that year, the media in Great Britain abruptly changed its vocabulary. Once the victims were Londoners, it seemed, the perpetrators quickly became “terrorists.”

Similar linguistic transformations may be detected in France, especially after the more recent Paris attacks.

Although obvious enough to anyone familiar with relevant law, many international observers of Palestinian terrorism in Israel still find it convenient or reassuring to conflate terrorist attackers with freedom fighters. Nonetheless, however these observers may choose to craft their particular arguments, truth is ultimately exculpatory, at least under law. In essence, this means that there can remain no defensible legal position for the intentional murdering or wounding of Israeli civilians, or of any other civilians for that matter.

Never can such violence be correctly excused as an example of “justified popular uprising.”

The author (PhD, Princeton, 1971) is emeritus professor of International Law at Purdue University. His tenth book, Surviving amid Chaos: Israel’s Nuclear Strategy, will be published later this year by Rowman and Littlefield.

How Israel can help Australia transform its economy

by Colin Rubenstein            The Canberra Times


To much acclaim, the Turnbull government recently announced its National Innovation and Science Agenda is to invest over $1 billion to encourage a changing Australian economy to grow future prosperity. One of the new initiatives as part of its “Global Innovation Strategy” is to enable Australian start-ups to have access to innovation hubs called “Landing Pads” in key international markets, with the first ones significantly being established in Tel Aviv and the Silicon Valley.

The idea of the “landing pad” is to establish a “home away from home”, a physical space to help Australians navigate the local business scene. In an interview with Israeli media, Australia’s Ambassador to Israel David Sharma said of the hub in Tel Aviv, “We’ll put them [Australians] in touch with venture capitalists, people to collaborate with, tech conferences to attend, as well as hold pitch nights and social events.” Adding, “It’s a big vote of confidence in Tel Aviv and Israel. I think that reflects the fact that we see Israel as a startup capital alongside Silicon Valley. We think a bigger Australian presence here, more Australian interaction with the ecosystem here will help inject that spark that we need in Australia.” The budget for the Tel Aviv hub will reportedly be $2.5 million over four years.

It is not surprising that Tel Aviv was announced as one of the first Australian innovation hubs, as Australian political and business leaders have shown great interest in learning from Israel’s experience, and the way it was able to transform its economy to become the “Start up nation”. While Israeli innovation has been held in high regard, the past few months have seen the establishment of concrete initiatives designed to enhance both Australia’s and Israel’s mutual interests.

Significant Australian delegations have recently visited Israel, including this week a delegation including Attorney-General George Brandis and also Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Christopher Pyne who met with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss innovation. Minister Pyne also announced on December 16 that Australia has signed a Statement on Innovation Cooperation with Israel, commenting, “This statement signals our two countries’ intention to continue to negotiate on two treaties � one on furthering our relationships in Industrial Research and Development, and one on collaboration in Science and Technology.”

Another Australian delegation in November was co-led by Assistant Minister for Innovation Wyatt Roy. Meanwhile, also in November, Israel’s Chief Scientist made his first visit to Australia, where he met with politicians and business leaders, signed an agreement with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, and relaunched VISTECH, an R&D cooperation program between Victoria and Israel that will fund joint projects.

Why the Australian interest in Israel? After all Israel is a small country of around 8 million people, surrounded by many hostile actors, and until its recent natural gas finds, largely without natural resources. And yet in the past two decades Israel has transformed its economy to become an innovation powerhouse it has per capita the largest number of start-up companies in the world; it is ranked number two in the world for venture capital funds behind the US; it has 89 Israel-based companies listed on the NASDAQ exchange (compared with Australia’s 17).

Today, Australia is looking to transform its economy, an apparent necessity as the mining boom of the last 15 years has run out of steam, while the combination of science, technology, innovation and entrepreneurialism are today recognised as key ingredients to grow prosperity for all developed economies. As Minister Pyne has stated, “As Australia seeks to build a new economy based on innovation, ties with technologically advanced nations like Israel have never been more important.”

The possibilities for Australian-Israeli collaboration are endless, but they may also yield benefits for tapping into Asian markets. Business collaborations between Australia and Israel should not be strictly bilateral they should also be strongly focussed on leveraging the enormous opportunities in the rapidly growing and modernising economies of the Asia/ Pacific region.

Israel has already pivoted​ towards Asia, with that trading arena now its second largest after Europe, and expanding rapidly. Israeli companies have a significant presence throughout that region, including even in countries like Indonesia that have no diplomatic relations with Israel. Enterprising and alert Australian companies should be looking for ways to leverage Israel’s economic presence in Asia while Israeli entrepreneurs could also benefit from Australia’s own contacts and local knowledge to help jointly fulfil regional needs in hi-tech, water and agricultural technology, software, biomed and many other fields. This is especially true in light of recent free-trade agreements, particularly with China, that enable Australians to broaden their markets to reach billions from Asia’s emerging middle class.

We are already 15 years into the prophesied “Pacific Century”, with the centre of the world’s economy moving rapidly east. Being fully part of that century means not only fostering an innovative and entrepreneurial culture, but leveraging the sorts of economic and technological synergies that Israel and Australia do have to ensure our full participation in the amazing economic rise of Asia.

Dr. Colin Rubenstein is executive director of the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council.

Why Palestinians Love Baby-Killers

by Bassam Tawil         The Gatestone Institute


Samir Kuntar murdered four Israelis. One of his victims was a four-year-old girl, Einat Haran. Kuntar smashed her skull. Kuntar was killed this week in Syria while helping President Bashar Assad commit war crimes against his own citizens.

Senior Palestinian official Sultan Abu Al-Einein evidently believes that murdering Jews is not a “despicable crime,” but killing an arch-terrorist such as Kuntar is a “despicable crime.”

When the Western-backed Palestinian Authority openly endorses terrorists and names streets, squares and schools after them, Palestinian leaders are sending a message to their people that murdering Jews is a noble and dignified act. This show of solidarity with a baby-killer is the direct result of ongoing incitement against Israel and Jews in mosques, the press and social media in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

In this sick, twisted society that the Europeans have bought and paid for, anyone who murders Jews is considered a role model. Anyone who supports peace with Israel is denounced as a “traitor.”

Samir Kuntar was a terrorist who committed one of the most brutal terrorist attacks one can imagine. On April 22, 1979, Kuntar, who was then 16 years old, murdered four Israelis in the Israeli city of Nahariya. One of his victims was a four-year-old girl, Einat Haran. Kuntar smashed her skull after murdering her 31-year-old father, Danny.

This week, Kuntar was killed in an explosion that destroyed his apartment south of the Syrian capital, Damascus. He had been in Syria helping President Bashar Assad commit war crimes against his own Syrian citizens. Kuntar had been sent to Syria also as part of the Iranian-backed Lebanese Hezbollah terror group, to plan major terror attacks against Israel from Syria.

Kuntar was not a Palestinian. He was Lebanese Druze. This irregularity still has not stopped Palestinians from adoring him for murdering Jews. Palestinians will worship anyone who carries out a terror attack against Israel or Jews — such as the Japanese terrorist, Kozo Okamoto, who led the 1972 massacre at Israel’s Lod Airport, in which 24 people were murdered and more than 70 wounded.

In the eyes of many Palestinians, Kuntar’s murderous résumé, like Okamoto’s, has turned him into a “martyr” and a “hero.” The arch-terrorist is now being mourned in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as a “national hero and fighter” who sacrificed his life for the sake of the Palestinians. This is who many Palestinians consider their role model: the only requirement is that they try to destroy Israel and murder Jews. It is as if all the Muslims in France idolized the men who committed the November 13 massacres at Paris’s football stadium and the Bataclan Theater, and committed themselves to being just like them.

The love affair between Kuntar and the Palestinians began many years ago, while the terrorist was serving time in Israeli prison. Palestinian prisoners such as Fatah’s Marwan Barghouti and Ahmed Sa’dat, Secretary-General of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), proudly posted photos of themselves posing with Kuntar. Barghouti is now serving five life sentences for his role in deadly terror attacks against Jews between 2000 and 2006. Sa’dat is in prison for his role in gunning down Israel’s Minister of Tourism, Rehavam Ze’evi, in a hotel in 2001.

Upon learning of Kuntar’s death, Barghouti, who is a senior official with the “moderate” and Western-backed Fatah faction, published the following eulogy: “One thousand greetings to your soul. We shall meet.”

Although the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority has so far refrained from commenting on the assassination of the Lebanese Druze terrorist, Fatah websites have been mourning and praising Kuntar as a “hero” and “martyr.”

Sultan Abu Al-Einein, a senior Fatah official who is close to President Mahmoud Abbas, and apparently does not favor terrorists being killed, denounced the assassination as a “despicable Israeli crime.” Abu Al-Einein went on to praise Kuntar as a “martyr” who had contributed to the Palestinian cause from the age of 16. Not surprisingly, the Fatah official failed to mention that Kuntar had brutally murdered four Israelis, including a little girl. Evidently, Abu Al-Einein believes that murdering Jews is not a “despicable crime,” but killing an arch-terrorist is a “despicable crime” — one that requires the entire international community to punish those responsible!

In the Gaza Strip, only hours after the terrorist was killed in Syria, a Palestinian father, Maher Huthut, announced that he has named his newborn baby after Samir Kuntar. The announcement was presumably meant to express Palestinian “gratitude” for Kuntar’s “sacrifices” on behalf of the Palestinians. In yet another sign of affection for Kuntar, various Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip set up a large tent to receive condolences over his death. Hundreds of Palestinians visited the tent to express their deep condolences over his death, and many pledged to follow in Kuntar’s footsteps.

Palestinian factions are now planning a similar move in Ramallah, only a few hundred meters away from the office and residence of President Mahmoud Abbas.


Einat, Danny and Yael Haran were murdered by Samir Kuntar in 1979.

This outpouring of sympathy and affection from the Palestinians for Kuntar should not surprise anyone. Palestinians have long been glorifying terrorists and jihadis who attack and kill any Jew, whether soldier or civilian. When Palestinian leaders — the Western-backed Palestinian Authority, not even Hamas — openly endorse terrorists and name streets, squares and schools after them, they are sending a message to their people that murdering Jews is a noble and dignified undertaking, and that it is virtuous to do more of it!

It is frankly disgusting, even as a Palestinian, to see so many of my countrymen mourning and heaping praise on a man who murders babies. This show of solidarity with a baby-killer and arch-terrorist is the direct result of the ongoing incitement against Israel and Jews that takes place each day in mosques, the press and social media in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It is precisely this non-stop incitement and indoctrination that is driving young Palestinians to take knives, run out, and stab the first Jew they meet.

Despite what the European politicians funding them wish to think, Palestinian leaders are not educating their people for tolerance, non-violence and peace. Instead, with the money they are given by these dreamy northerners who seem to imagine the world is one big loving day-care center, they continue to poison the hearts and minds of their people through incendiary lies and the most bigoted rhetoric.

The Europeans, who are largely bankrolling this venom, should be made to know that this is what their generosity is used for. And that this is precisely why no peace process with Israel will ever work. Thanks mainly to the largesse of European funding that keeps most Palestinians from thinking of other ways to earn a living, Palestinian terrorism is now a big business! The gullible Europeans have enabled an entire generation to be raised on the glorification of terrorists such as Kuntar. I do hope this makes the Europeans feel very good about themselves.

In this sick, twisted society that the Europeans have bought and paid for, anyone who murders Jews is considered a role model. But anyone who supports peace with Israel is instantly denounced as a “traitor.” It is high time for the Europeans and others in the West to wake up.