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Latest News in Israel – 24th February

Military Intelligence chief says without peace process, terror wave will grow

In the case where there is no peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, the current wave of terror will only increase, a Channel 10 report Monday cited the Chief of the Israeli Military Intelligence Directorate Maj.-Gen. Herzl “Herzi” Halevi as warning.

In an intelligence assessment presented in late January to the Security Cabinet, Halevi reportedly explained that the security establishment has already for the last five months dealt with terrorism that doesn’t appear to have an end or a clear definition.

In the event that the diplomacy and peace talks don’t begin to offset the efforts of security forces, there is a danger that others will join the wave of Palestinian terror,  senior military officials reportedly told the cabinet.

The full report is expected to be transferred to the  Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday, according to Channel 10.

In response, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot ordered on Monday that all soldiers serving in combat units will be required to carry their weapons while off duty.

The order comes as Israeli citizens are on increasingly high alert as a current wave of terror attacks, which began in September 2015, continues to plague the country.

Since October, stabbings, shootings and car ramming by Palestinians have killed 28 Israelis and a US citizens. Israeli security forces have killed at least 167 Palestinians, 110 of whom Israel says were assailants, while most others were shot dead during violent anti-Israeli protests.        (Jerusalem Post)

Shifting Middle East alliances could compromise Israel’s intelligence, officials warn

Israeli officials are concerned that information gathered by Israel and shared with its allies and friendly organizations could eventually end up in the hands of its enemies, including the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah. The reason is the rapidly shifting Middle East, which has given rise to new alliances and coalitions.

The political and defense leadership echelons in Israel are confronting the complex challenge of how to maintain full cooperation with allies while avoiding rewarding hostile groups or countries, like Hezbollah, which ultimately gain strength and victories from this kind of information.

A senior Israeli official remarked recently that this reality, in which Israel provides information to partners who share its values and interests, stems from the fact that all sides agree that Israel possesses regional and intelligence superiority.

Though the source of the information is never revealed, the concern in Israel is that methods will become exposed. Israel says there is currently unprecedented interest in the region, particularly because of the fighting in Syria and the activities of the Islamic State group. A wide range of players is showing interest in what is happening in the region: the United States, Russia, European forces, Iran, Turkey, Arab nations, and a long list of terrorist organizations.

On the one hand, Israel is protecting its own interests and trying to avoid involvement in the regional conflicts. But, on the other hand, the need for regional coordination makes it impossible for Israel to discontinue cooperation with its partners or to ignore Israeli allies’ cooperation with its enemies.                      (Israel Hayom)

IDF chief orders off-duty soldiers to leave base with guns following deadly stabbing

IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot ordered all soldiers on furlough to leave base with their firearms, overturning regulations to the contrary on Monday evening, following the deadly terrorist attack that claimed the life of an off-duty staff-sergeant on Thursday.

“We will refresh instructions to soldiers on how to secure their firearms during their breaks,” an IDF source said.

Also on Monday, Nahal Brigade Commander Col. Amos Hacohen launched an investigation into why the military did not permit St.- Sgt. Tuvia Yanai Weissman, a 21-year-old off duty soldier who was stabbed to death by two Palestinian terrorists in a Sha’ar Binyamin supermarket on February 18, to take leave with his firearm.

Protocols on not allowing soldiers to leave base with their firearms during regular leave, and the chain of events that led to Weissman’s murder, are to be examined.

Two Palestinian teenagers went on a stabbing spree in the Rami Levy supermarket in the Binyamin industrial zone on Thursday, killing one shopper – Weissman – and wounding another. (Jerusalem Post)

Ya’alon: Israel preparing for possibility of war with Hamas

Defense minister says despite ‘unprecedented quiet’ on Gaza border, IDF knows Hamas is growing in power and rebuilding its tunnels, and Israel’s security forces are readying to combat that.

“We’ve been enjoying unprecedented quiet, Hamas hasn’t fired one bullet,” Ya’alon said aboard the USS Carney, an American destroyer, which is currently docking in Haifa while taking part in the joint American-Israeli military exercise Juniper Cobra.

“It’s growing in power, we didn’t think otherwise,” he added. “Hamas is trying to arm itself with rockets but it’s having difficulties importing (rockets) as it did before and it has to manufacture them. That is why they’re conducting all of the tests of firing rockets into the sea. There is also a shortage of materials to manufacture rockets with and they’re trying to improvise – and of course digging defensive and offensive tunnels, we are not fooling ourselves to think that they aren’t.”

“We’ve been preparing for the possibility that at some point a front will be opened in the south, and we’ll have to deal with it,” the defense minister continued. “We’re not stagnate and we operate both with defensive and offensive measures.”

US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, who hosted Ya’alon aboard the USS Carney, noted that Israel and the US have been “working together to develop technological measures to discover and destroy tunnels, and Congress has approved a special budget which led to progress in the development work.”

“The USS Carney’s participation in the drill is just another example for the very deep and very important ties between the United States and Israel. This is a drill dealing with defending the State of Israel from rockets and missiles,” Shapiro continued.

Ya’alon also talked about Israel’s freedom to act outside its borders, particularly in relation to the civil war raging in Syria. He stated Israel was only interested in defending itself. “We do not get involved in the conflicts in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen or other places, we just protect our interests. Both the US and Russia – who are both operating in Syria right now – know this, and our freedom of activity to protect our interests is being kept.”

A defense official said Monday that “when we find a tunnel that crosses into Israel, everyone will know, the Palestinians as well.”

He noted that the “level of preparedness of their tunnels is not like what it was before Protective Edge. They can’t smuggle (weapons), and the Iranian axis – which used to be their main source for contraband – has dried out. Since Klos C, there hasn’t been an attempt to smuggle arms from Iran.”                                     (Ynet News)

Ya’alon: Details of US defense package for Israel to be completed ‘within weeks’

The US-Israel Memorandum of Understanding, which will set out the American defense package for Israel during the next decade, will likely be complete “in the coming weeks,” Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said on Monday.

He spoke onboard the USS Carney, an American destroyer taking place in the Juniper Cobra 2016 joint ballistic missile defense drill at Haifa’s naval base, alongside US Ambassador Dan Shapiro.

During his visit to meet with US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter in October 2015, the two “summarized the capabilities that will be available to Israel to safeguard our qualitative edge, which is so important, as well as our deterrence and contribution to regional stability.”

Ya’alon expressed doubts regarding diplomatic efforts to reach a cease-fire in Syria.

“It is hard for me to see, in this reality, a stable cease-fire, in which all elements agree to hold their fire. ISIS is not part of this process. Jabhat Al-Nusra is not part of the process. And the Russians say, so long as these are active, we will attack them. If one or another element within the opposite agrees on the local level to a cease-fire, that’s one thing. I do not see a general cease-fire on the horizon.”

Ya’alon described the US-Israeli missile defense exercise as “another example of the very special, deep and important relations between the US, our great friend, and the State of Israel. Between the Sixth Fleet and the IDF.”

The drill, in addition to helping to secure Israel, also helps regional stability, he said.

“In the Middle East, everything chances. Every day, we see more people killed like yesterday in Syria, more wars between radical Islam and regimes.

Between elements activated by Iran and other elements, mainly Shi’ites against Sunnis.”

Israel-US defense ties contribute to regional stability, and Israel is trying to bring in other regional states to stabilizing efforts, like Greece and Cyprus, NATO, and Arab states “facing the same challenges that we are today.”                     (Jerusalem Post)

US spied on Bibi asking Italian PM to intervene with Obama

Obama’s NSA spy network tapped into phone calls between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and European leaders, Wikileaks reported on Tuesday.

A newly released batch of NSA reports uncovered by Wikileaks has revealed that Netanyahu appealed to Europe to intervene with President Barack Obama during their public 2010 spat over a Jerusalem building project.

The NSA caught wind of Netanyahu’s efforts when it intercepted a phone call between the Israeli Prime Minister and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in 2010.

Netanyahu asked the Italian leader to reason with President Obama, noting that the construction project in Jerusalem was consistent with long-standing Israeli policy since the 1960s.

At the heart of the dispute was a planned housing project for 1,600 units in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo.

According to the NSA report, Israeli officials were skeptical of Europe’s ability to affect a rapprochement, arguing that the Obama administration represented “the lowest point in US- Israeli relations in memory”, and that Obama’s ire towards Israel goes “far beyond merely the question of the construction plans”.

The Wikileaks document is only the latest example of Obama’s clandestine surveillance operations monitoring the Israeli Prime Minister. Last December it was reported that the NSA had continued spying on Netanyahu despite a pledge by President Obama to halt wiretaps on friendly heads of state.        (Arutz Sheva)

Syrian Refugee’s Website Thanks Israel for Aid

Syrian refugee now living in Turkey has created a website to acknowledge the help that Israel, and Jews worldwide, have been providing to displaced residents of his native country.

39-year-old Aboud Dandachi, who worked in high-tech before the war, created a website called Thank you Am Israel, which links to stories documenting aid provided by Israel, as well as global Jewish organizations, given to his countrymen during the civil war that has killed over 250,000 and forced millions from their homes.

Dandachi told Ynet on Friday that he grew up being told that “the Jews are evil,” but over the past five years, he has seen that “the Jews are the most humane and generous people of this era. When I see that Hezbollah and the Iranians are coming to kill me and I’m forced from my home by Syrians, and then I hear that Israelis and Jews are helping Syrians, my view of the world changes.”

Dandachi suggested that when the civil war is over, Syria should make peace with Israel, as “there no reason for us to be in a conflict with Israelis.” He praised Israel for “doing exactly what it must do.”

It is not taking part in the war, but is helping wounded Syrians who need help. And it’s not only the government. Israelis are helping Syrian refugees in Jordan, in Greece, Serbia, North America. No one would have blamed the Jews and the Israelis if they had said it was not their problem. That is, by the way, what many Arabs and Arab countries did. The Gulf states, for example, shut their doors to Syrians – and these are the countries that call themselves friends of Syria….

At a time when Donald Trump is defaming us, when Denmark and Switzerland confiscate Syrian refugees’ belongings, when all these countries are against us – we have the Jews who even endanger themselves to help us. So why should I be an enemy of the Jews? They have proven that they want to be my friends. They held out their hand, so why should I turn against them?”

He noted that some of his expressions of gratitude towards Israel were erased from a Syrian opposition website, and that some opposition members objected to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Syrians being treated in Israeli hospitals as “propaganda.” His response to those attitudes was “Are you crazy? You can’t even say thank you?”

To do so, Dandachi created his website last December, because “we as Syrians cannot give back to Jews what they give to us, so we should at least thank them.”

Dandanchi admitted that he didn’t support the Syrian opposition, but had his mind changed after the forces of Iran-backed dictator Bashar al-Assad killed 100 protesters in a single night. He fled the country in September 2013 after Assad used chemical weapons in Damascus and ISIS simultaneously captured the city of Raqqa. He was the last of his family to leave.

Dandanchi explained the motivations behind his website on its “about” page:

It is said that one of the truest moral tests of a society is in how it treats those in need, and who have nothing to offer in return save for gratitude. It is a challenge that this generation of Israelis and Jews have met with exemplary generosity and charity, and it is that generosity that Thank You Am Israel was set up in acknowledgment and appreciation of.

Thank you to the people of Israel and the Jewish people the world over, for showing kindness and charity to Syrians, whether it is through your IDF medical teams, your aid workers in Greece and the Balkans, or your congregations in North America raising money to aid and sponsor Syrian refugees. God bless you and protect you.

In one of his recent posts, Dandanchi referred to a video produced by Vice News that showed the Israeli treatment of wounded Syrians. The video is embedded below.

In Humanitarian Heroes in a Wrathful World, which was published in the November 2015 issue of The Tower Magazine, Nathan Jeffay described the efforts of the Israel-based nonprofit IsraAID to rescue and rehabilitate Syrian refugees in Greece.

As boat after boat arrives at the Greek island of Lesbos, the refugees aboard are met by a cacophony of languages from aid workers offering help. But there is only one team of aid workers from the Middle East that can talk to these refugees from Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere in their own language. To their surprise, it is the Israeli team.

“It feels like I dreamed it,” said a bemused 26-year-old man from Damascus. “I never thought an Israeli would treat me.” His wife had just received medical help from IsraAID, a humanitarian aid agency that started working on the European refugee crisis in September. It currently has a team in Lesbos and another on the Serbia-Croatia border.

The Israeli team checked his wife, who is nine months pregnant, as she stepped off the boat, and took her to the hospital for emergency treatment. “I wouldn’t have known that she was not okay, and because of them I knew to get her attention,” he said.

Lesbos lies on a stretch of Greek coastline that faces Turkey. And it is from Turkey that the refugee boats are dispatched by cynical human traffickers. They will pack 50 people into a boat meant for 20 and take U.S. $1,700 from each. Then they designate a driver from among the refugees, and take no further interest in whether they survive or sink. Piles of abandoned boats and lifejackets give a sense of just how many thousands of refugees have passed through here in recent weeks.

Two members of the IsraAID team—a nurse and a doctor—are stationed on the shore night and day, and race to meet every boat that arrives. If the weather is bad and the boats stop 10 to 20 meters from shore, they wade out to carry children and help the elderly. If the weather is good, they wait on shore with blankets and food. Then they give IV drips to the dehydrated and treatment to the injured. The refugees are usually relieved to find aid workers who speak Arabic, and bombard them with questions about the Greek bureaucracy’s procedures for refugees.               (United with Israel)

Sex-case headmistress Malka Leifer to face psychiatric tests

Fugitive Jewish school principal Malka Leifer will be called to account for apparent discrepancies in her psychiatric record used to justify controversial absences from extradition proceedings in Israel.

The psychiatric re-evaluation ordered by the Jerusalem District Court on Sunday shapes as make or break — both for state prosecutors, who are trying to get Ms Leifer on a plane back to Australia to face child sex abuse charges, and for her defence fighting hard to keep her in Israel.

The former headmistress of Melbourne’s Adass Israel School, a strictly religious Jewish college for ultra-orthodox children, failed to attend the hearing on Sunday, citing stress-induced psychosis that allegedly incapacitates her before court dates.

The pattern has been entrenched since Ms Leifer was arrested 18 months ago by Israeli police on an extradition request from Australia on 74 counts of child sexual abuse alleged to have been committed while she was at Adass between 2000 and 2008.

In Melbourne, families of her alleged victims have accused Ms Leifer of exploiting loopholes in Israeli law to avoid being extradited. Her Israeli lawyers have produced medical reports from a battery of psychiatrists to show her panic attacks and psychosis are genuine, induced by the stress of having to face court.

They are pressing for the proceedings to be stayed or abandoned.

However, judge Amnon Cohen’s latest ruling has tasked a senior state psychiatrist to focus on two aspects of her behaviour when she was checked in to hospital on January 3, two days before she was to report for her second-to-last court appearance.

Her letter of referral to the hospital had recommended she go in on December 30, and the judge said it was unclear why the admission was delayed. She checked herself out soon after the court date passed.

Judge Cohen asked for the admission delay to be explained.

He also noted a “discrepancy” between Ms Leifer’s behaviour on the ward in groups and in phone conversations with her family, compared to how she responded during formal sessions with psychiatric staff.

The judge noted a prosecution submission, made on Sunday, that Ms Leifer had “no interest” in recuperating when the status quo stopped her being extradited.

In his written decision, Judge Cohen said Ms Leifer’s lawyers had opposed the prosecution’s application for the re-evaluation, saying the medical material was copious and should be relied upon.

The judge said he had full confidence in the District Psychiatrist, a state doctor who had evaluated Ms Leifer and who would carry out the court-ordered review. If necessary, Ms Leifer would be committed to state care for this.

But he said he made the order “not without reservation”, and the examination should take place as soon as possible so a report could be presented on March 20.

“I think it’s a minor victory,” said Manny Waks, a 39-year-old survivor of sexual abuse at another Melbourne Jewish orthodox school who was in the court on Sunday.

“The judge could have decided to have dismissed the case … the tension builds as the final decision is in the hands of the psychiatrist’s report.”

Ms Leifer remains in home detention in the orthodox enclave of Bnei Brak in central Israel.                         (The Australian)

Storms, heavy rains hit Israel from north to south

Stormy weather hit the country Monday morning from north to south, with significant flooding in the Ein Gedi region as well as in Safed.

The rainfall in Safed broke all records with 18 hours of non-stop rain and no less than 70 mm of rain – about a fifth of the total amount that has fallen from the beginning of winter.

As flooding occurred in much of the country, one resident of Kmehin in the Negev was filmed being swept along a river on top of his jeep. He was rescued unharmed with a rope moments before disaster.

Following floods in the Dead Sea area, the entrances and exits to Kibbutz Ein Gedi were closed to traffic. Classes in the Tamar Regional Council, on the south and western edges of the Dead Sea, were canceled Monday.


Flooding in Sderot

In Be’er Sheva, the ceiling of a store in a shopping mall collapsed from the heavy rain.

Sderot saw major flooding due to the heavy rainfall. The city’s drainage system collapsed and huge puddles were seen throughout the city. Roads and sidewalks were flooded to such an extent that residents on their way to work or to the city center found themselves barricaded.

The Sea of Galilee’s water level rose by 1.5 centimeters and stabilized Monday morning at -212.65 meters. 3.85 meters are missing in order to reach the red line, meaning a full Sea of Galilee.

Mount Hermon will remain closed to visitors following a day of snow, strong winds and fog.

Negev Mountain rescue volunteers rescued four hikers stranded in Nahal Hava due to the rains. Two all-terrain vehicles of the rescue unit reached the wet hikers and spotted other travelers stranded there.             (Ynet News)

Israeli-developed ‘nano-nose’ can sniff out bombs, drugs

An Israeli-developed “nano-nose” could help homeland security officers sniff out explosives — as well as drugs, large amounts of cash, and even small metal items that are banned from planes. “And we do it with far less false positives than dogs or other technologies that are being used now to analyze the odor of explosives and other items,” said Matan Barami, chief chemist at Israeli nanotech start-up Tracense.

Barami was speaking Monday at this year’s edition of NanoIsrael, a biennial event on the burgeoning Israeli nanotechnology industry. Over the past nine years, Israeli nanotechnology researchers have filed 1,590 patents (769 granted so far), published 12,392 scholarly articles on the subject, and had 129 nano-success stories, which include establishing start-ups, selling ideas or technology to multinationals, licensing a patent, etc., according to Rafi Koriat, chairman of the event at Tel Aviv University.

The conference, Koriat said, is a place for top researchers and leaders from Israel and abroad to meet and discuss the latest developments in nanotechnology, “and provides visitors with a first look at cutting-edge technologies, leading scientific achievements and unique business and investment opportunities.”

Tracense, which developed the world’s first nanotech-based “electronic nose” to sniff out security threats, including bombs, biological warfare agents, and toxic liquids and materials, could be included in that “latest developments” category. “We use nanotechnology to treat electronic wires that respond to the ‘smell’ of objects, comparing them to very specific odor profiles we equip our Tracense device with. Sensors detect an odor and send its profile to the wires, which respond when a substance that shouldn’t be there shows up.”

Although most people don’t realize it, “smell” is just a manifestation of specific molecules, with each smell giving off its own specific chemical qualities. Detecting an odor, thus, is just a matter of figuring out which molecules are being “smelled” — no biggie for modern science, with several systems in use to do just that, using analytical chemistry-based equipment.

While there are such systems on the market, said Barami, they do not use nanotechnology, and thus are not accurate enough to use in “live” situations at airports, bus stations, and shopping centers. “Most systems, for example, will detect whether there are traces of fertilizers — which can be used to manufacture bombs — on a person. But what if he or she is a farmer?” That’s one reason similar systems are not widely used — and why Tracense will be when it hits the market, “because our system can distinguish between the chemical composition of fertilizer when it is used for farming, and the changes it undergoes when it’s used for bombs,” added Barami.

Dogs have a much better record than most “artificial noses,” but deploying them on a wide basis makes people uncomfortable, “and you can’t have a dog sniff every person or every piece of luggage.” With a Tracense device unobtrusively stationed at the appropriate place in the airport, people won’t even know they are being inspected, Barami continued.

The Tracense system uses an electric sensor to detect molecules, with the information passed on to wires equipped with nano-sensors. Each sensor stores a smell profile, so when an odor is detected, the system provides a very specific reaction. In numerous beta tests, the Tracense system has been able to detect ultra-low concentrations of explosives, including improvised explosive devices and home-made explosives from solid particles, gaseous streams and liquid samples, the company said.

Technically, the Tracense system could be programmed to detect any odor on earth, and it may just be deployed in other areas, such as in medicine. “The system could certainly detect bacteria, insulin, sugar and other things,” added Barami, but for now the company is concentrating on the homeland security market.

The system should be available commercially “soon,” said Barami. “We are putting the finishing touches on our odor profile library, and I imagine it will be very popular, considering that we are able to do something that no one else can.”                       (The Times of Israel)

Meet 5 Israeli companies driving disability tech

By Ben Sales                     JTA


Augmented Wheelchair[1]

Augmented Wheelchair

The Israeli startup Paratrek created an augmented wheelchair that allows people with paraplegia to go on hikes.

After a missile strike during the 1973 Yom Kippur War left Omer Zur’s father paralyzed from the chest down, his dad vowed to continue life as normal. But there was one Israeli pastime he couldn’t enjoy: hiking.

“He’d say, ‘I’ll go in the car and meet you on the other side,’” said Zur, a certified Israeli tour guide. “I said, ‘Why can’t he do this with us?’”

In 2008, Zur decided that he and his wheelchair-user father would complete a 300-mile trek in southern Turkey. With the help of dozens of friends who joined them on segments of the hike, Zur and his father were able to complete the trail, sleep in tents and cook meals over an open fire.

The hike sparked Paratrek, a startup Zur founded in 2014 that aims to make hiking accessible to people with paraplegia by outfitting wheelchairs with accessories that enable them to travel over rough terrain.

The company is one of several startups focused on improving the lives of the nearly 1 million Israelis with disabilities.

A3I, a startup accelerator housed at Beit Issie Shapiro, an Israeli advocacy organization for people with disabilities, has helped launch 22 disability projects in the past two years. Tikkun Olam Makers, a three-day competition where tech entrepreneurs design projects for people with disabilities, had three events in Israel in 2014 and 2015.

“We very much think one of the missing approaches in the world of disability is the entrepreneurial approach,” said Shira Ruderman, director of the Ruderman Family Foundation, which supports A3I. “We wanted to work with organizations that are not disability oriented.”

Here are five Israeli companies helped by A3I that are making the world more accessible to people with disabilities.


Zur and his co-founder, Ziv Demeter, saw no reason why people in wheelchairs should not enjoy a hike. So they outfitted a chair with oversize wheels, mountain bike-style tires and a wide rod in back for easier pushing. A U-shaped harness attached to the front allows it to be pulled like a rickshaw.

Zur and Demeter also act as hiking consultants for would-be hikers. Understanding their clients’ physical limits and where they want to hike, the company can set up a trek and even join in to make sure all goes smoothly.

The pair have set up hikes across Israel, as well as in France and, later this year, in Switzerland. They’re also looking into using rescue equipment to help people with disabilities climb mountainsides.

IC Touch

A pair of glasses normally would be useless to a blind person. But Zeev Zalevsky’s glasses don’t help you see what’s in front of you — they help you feel it.

Zalevsky’s startup, IC Touch, makes glasses that take and process a picture before sending a signal to a set of tiny mirrors that are millimeters from the wearer’s eyes. The mirrors then send a set of vibrations to the cornea that make the cornea “feel” objects in the space around it.

Instead of guiding themselves with a stick or a dog, Zalevsky says, blind people can feel their surroundings with the glasses, even identifying objects up to a half-mile away.

“It’s like if you close your eyes and feel your surroundings with your fingertips, you can imagine what’s in front of you,” said Zalevsky, an engineering professor at Bar-Ilan University. “Instead of reaching out in front of you, the picture comes to your head.”


The screen looks a little like the classic 1980s arcade game Frogger, in which an amphibian tries to cross a busy street. In this version, a red car has to maneuver through blue cars to reach an open lane — but instead of using buttons and a joystick, players move the car by raising a pole from one notch to the next. Sensors in each notch capture the motion and project the car’s progress on an iPad.

The game, the initial offering from the startup Gemon, helps strengthen the upper back of people with disabilities or those recovering from an injury. The company aims to “game-ify” rehabilitation to relieve the tedium of staring at an exercise machine all day. Co-founders Tomer Yannay and Ohad Doron are also creating a sensor that can be attached to any workout machine to transform the exercise into a game. Eventually, Yannay says, the games could even appear in health clubs.

Easy Stroll

Adira was eight months pregnant and about to become a single mother, but she had a problem: She couldn’t take her baby for a walk.

Adira is in a wheelchair and can’t push a stroller. So she contacted Dana Yichye-Shwachman, a designer with Jonathan Bar-Or Industrial Design. Yichye-Shwachman responded with Easy Stroll, an aluminum attachment to the wheelchair’s footboard that latches on to a stroller.

Yichye-Shwachman posted a video of the product online and received 30 emails for new orders. She is now creating a prototype that will fit a variety of wheelchairs and strollers.

Siman Shenagish

Few children have to accompany their parents to the bank and explain to them that their account is in overdraft. But for Tal Bousidan, days like that were routine.

Bousidan was born to two deaf parents. With sign-language interpreters in short supply in Israel, he would fill the role for his parents, explaining to them what bank tellers and shop clerks were unable to communicate on their own.

Now a professional sign-language interpreter, Bousidan has created a startup that provides instantaneous Hebrew sign-language translation via tablet computers.

The startup, Siman Shenagish — Hebrew for “accessible sign” — has a pilot running at a health clinic in the southern city of Ashkelon. Deaf patients tap on the iPad, and a full-time translator appears on the screen ready to translate for the doctor. The startup has plans to expand to Tel Aviv, and Bousidan hopes to provide translation in other languages in the future.

Why Israeli Rule of Golan Heights Is Lawful – and Wise – Peter Berkowitz (RealClearPolitics)

Until the Six-Day War, Syria used the heavily fortified Golan Heights as a platform to fire at Israeli villages below. In exercising its right of self-defense, Israel seized the Golan, a strategically important plateau that looms over northeastern Israel, rising sharply from the eastern bank of the Sea of Galilee to a height of more than 3,000 feet. Since June 1967 a powerful consensus has prevailed in the international community, including the U.S., that the Golan is occupied territory.

But the chaos in Syria has weighty legal and political ramifications that should impel the international community to revise its understanding of the Golan’s status. Modern Syria has ceased to exist, while Assad’s quest to retain power has produced carnage of epic proportions. Few informed observers think that a functioning nation-state can be reconstructed. In these dramatically transformed circumstances, Israel has the strongest legal claim to the Golan Heights.

Since 1992, four Israeli prime ministers have sought to achieve peace with Syria in exchange for withdrawing from parts or all of the Golan Heights. All initiatives proved futile. Israelis across the political spectrum today realize that had a return of the Golan been negotiated, Islamic State jihadists would now control the plateau.

In the meantime, the Golan has become a thriving site of agriculture, industry, and tourism. In addition to 20,000 Jewish Israelis, the Golan is home to about 20,000 Druze who reside in four towns. Israel does not face a large, restive population, as it does in the West Bank, but a small minority community pleased with their condition.

Under international law, Israel’s territorial claim arises in part from the principle of “effective occupation,” which provides that territory can be acquired through the exercise of sovereign power on a peaceful and extended basis. Moreover, public international law favors stability, order, and peace; it aims to avoid resolutions that expose individuals to death or injury.

The international consensus that the Golan belongs to Syria no longer fits the facts and the law. Nor does it coincide with America’s interest in checking the spread of Islamist violence throughout the Middle East. The U.S. should affirm Israel’s lawful and just exercise of sovereignty over the Golan Heights and urge the international community to do the same.

The writer is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.