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Israeli zoo welcomes newborn white rhino

Latest News in Israel – 26th August

Shots fired at Israeli Navy during arrest of Palestinian fishermen

Shots were fired from the shore of a Gaza beach toward an Israeli Navy ship on Thursday during proceedings to arrest a Palestinian fisherman who had breached waters deemed illegal by Israel.

The Israeli forces stopped a fishing boat that had exceeded the permitted area for fishing off the northern coast of the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli Navy ship was then fired upon from a beach in the Gaza Strip after the fishing boat was detained.

Naval security forces called for the suspects to return to the permitted waters and prepared to make arrests. During the arrest one suspect was lightly wounded from the fire emanating from the shore.

The suspect was taken for medical treatment and will be handed over to Israeli security forces for further questioning.

No one was injured and no damage was sustained. The Navy ship distanced itself from the scene.

The second Palestinian suspect returned to the permitted fishing territory with the fishing boat.

In April, the Navy allegedly sunk a Palestinian fishing boat of the coast of the Gaza strip. According to Palestinian reports, the ship was shot several times by an IDF ship, caught fire and sunk.               (Jerusalem Post)

Danon denies UN prisoner release demands, stating ‘Immunity is not given to terrorists’

Israel will not give immunity to those suspected of aiding and abetting terrorists, the Foreign Ministry said Thursday night in a sharply worded response to a UN demand that it release a UN Development Agency (UNDP) employee arrested last month.

“Israel rejects the claim that a person assisting a terrorist organization recognized by the international community, such as Hamas, could enjoy immunity,” the statement read. “Whoever assists a terrorist organization cannot hide behind a claim of immunity.”

Wahid Abdullah al-Bursh was indicted earlier this month in Beersheba District Court for abusing his position as a UN worker to aid Hamas, including the construction of a port for use by its naval commandos.

The UN’s legal office sent Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon a letter on Wednesday demanding the release of Bursh, claiming he should be granted diplomatic immunity.

The ministry’s reply came following a legal investigation of the matter inside the Foreign Ministry at the direction of director-general Dore Gold.

The statement said the UN, which until Wednesday said Bursh was a subcontractor, and that they trusted Israel to properly investigate the case, suddenly changed its mind and has determined he should receive immunity.

The statement said the claim was examined by jurists, and found to be “unsubstantiated.”

“In any case it is important to clarify that the immunity from which certain UN agencies employees benefit is related to the performance of their duties,” the statement said. “It is clear that immunity is not a license to commit acts of terrorism.

It is outrageous that a man assisting a terrorist organization could benefit from UN immunity.”

According to the UN’s claims, each employee in its organization should enjoy diplomatic immunity, and Bursh should therefore be released. It also demanded that a representative of the UN secretary-general be allowed to visit him in jail.

The UNDP in Gaza deals with the rehabilitation of homes damaged during fighting.

According to the Shin Bet, Bursh, a UNDP employee since 2003, was approached shortly after the 2014 Gaza war by Husseini Suleiman, a messenger for senior Hamas commander Abu Anas al-Andor, who asked him to use his position as an engineer to help the terrorist organization. In April and May 2015, he allegedly helped build a Hamas naval commando port in the northern Gaza Strip.

Bursh is also alleged to have used his authority to transfer to the site 300 tons of construction materials. He also convinced his manager at UNDP to give preference to rehabilitation projects in areas where Hamas agents were operating.

When weapons or tunnel openings were discovered in homes being worked on as part of UNDP projects, UN procedures for reporting such findings were not followed, a Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) investigation found.

Bursh’s interrogation uncovered Hamas operatives embedded in other aid organizations, the Shin Bet added. He also provided information on Hamas tunnels and weapons warehouses he encountered during his work.

Danon, in recent weeks, has been working with international aid organizations operating in the Gaza Strip to establish monitoring mechanisms for workers recruited to the organizations, and to prevent the streaming of funds to Hamas.

“We demand the UN and other organizations carry out a comprehensive reform of the mechanisms of humanitarian aid to Gaza,” Danon said . “Every dollar and every local employee of an international organization that enters the Gaza Strip must be supervised by independent bodies.”                  (Jerusalem Post)

Gaza war crimes report: Allegations of 49 illegal civilian deaths closed

The army on Wednesday closed four cases of allegations of killing large numbers of Palestinian civilians during the 2014 Gaza war.

The decision was issued in the IDF legal division’s fifth report on war crimes probes since Operation Protective Edge ended two years ago.

The IDF, the UN Human Rights Council, the International Criminal Court and others have been investigating war crimes allegations related to the killing of around 2,100 Palestinians – including an unclear number of civilians – during the 2014 war in which 73 people were also killed in Israel and Gaza rocket fire made hundreds of thousands flee their homes.

The report found that, in four cases of allegations of killing large numbers of civilians – adding up to a total of 49 people – the IDF strikes were legal due to either mistakes, Hamas being responsible or an attack not happening at all.

Out of 360 incidents the IDF has reviewed, 31 have led to full criminal investigations, 13 have been closed and one, a case of theft, has led to an indictment.

On July 20, 2014, it was alleged that seven civilians were killed in an attack on a structure in al-Bourj. The IDF explained that the target had been a Hamas site and that one Hamas agent and two Hamas senior agents were killed in the strike.

It did not dispute that the other four persons killed were civilians. Rather, it said that precautions had been taken to limit the collateral damage to civilians and that the military situation under the circumstances validly outweighed the harm to civilians.

Regarding a July 21, 2014, attack that allegedly killed 12 from the Chiam family in Rafah, the IDF said that it had no record of carrying out any attacks in that area at the time.

In addition, the report noted that pictures of the damage allegedly caused by the attack received by investigators did not support the allegations that the IDF was responsible.

Finally, it added that there was evidence Hamas had fired rockets and mortars from the surrounding area at the time, that some of its rockets had misfired and this meant it was possible Hamas had killed the civilians with its own shells or rockets.

Next, there were allegations the IDF had killed 15 civilians from the Zuarov family on August 1 in Rafah.

The IDF said the attack did occur and that one senior Hamas official, Nazmi Zuarov, and some other Hamas agents were killed. It did admit, however, in this case that civilians were killed due to faulty intelligence that indicated there were no civilians in the area.

Based on the intelligence available to the IDF’s attacking forces at the time, which indicated no civilians were present, they could not be prosecuted, said the report.

Further, the IDF legal division decided that commanders had acted correctly in choosing a less powerful explosive than they might have. Also, it added that no warning could be given in this case to potential civilians in the area as that would have allowed the Hamas target to escape.

The IDF explicitly denied this attack was connected with attempting to stop the abduction of the body of Lt.

Hadar Goldin, noting that this merely happened to occur the same day and in the same general area.

The report also addressed another attack on three Hamas operatives on motorcycles on August 3 next to a UNRWA facility in Rafah, in which 15 civilians were killed. It indicated that they were a legitimate target, but that as they drove, they moved toward a nearby UNRWA school.

Explaining that the operations personnel in real-time did not notice civilians in the courtyard outside the school, the report said the attack was legal and the IDF could not be prosecuted for harming innocents whom they did not see. It also noted that by the time the IDF noticed the civilians, the missile had already been fired.

The report also included some important new and more detailed information about the previously announced closing of the case against Lt.-Col. Neria Yeshurun for allegedly ordering tank fire on a pharmacy out of revenge for a soldier killed by fire from the location the day before.

Additional details included that Yeshurun presented intelligence indicating that the pharmacy location, even if not being used by Hamas at that moment, was still a threat and that higher ranking uninvolved officers supported his view of the intelligence.

The IDF legal division still recommended Yeshurun be censured, since he mentioned, on his units’ communications, revenge as an additional reason for attack, but that the additional details provided further support for avoiding criminal charges.

Two years later, there is still no decision on whether to criminally investigate the two other cases from the war, the Hannibal Protocol incident and the Shejaia incidents.

The fact there are still no decisions means IDF Military Advocate-General Brig.-Gen. Sharon Afek has decided not to follow the 2015 Ciechanover Commission recommendation to make an initial decision even in the most complex case within 21 months of its occurrence – the deadline which passed several months ago.

Indications are there will not be decisions on these two complex incidents in the coming months.   (Jerusalem Post)

Netanyahu admits he can’t fire Bennet, Liberman due to ‘Israel’s system of government’

Prime Minister Benjaminm Netanyahu on Wednesday said it would be “very difficult to fire” coalition partners due to “Israel’s system of government” after addressing repeated criticisms from two top ministers concerning his handling of 2014’s Operation Protective Edge, according to Channel 2.

Netanyahu made the remarks at a press conference on Wednesday in response to repeated attacks over the last two years leveled by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and Education Minister Naftali Bennett, key allies in the ruling collation, saying that their dismissal would lead to a collapse in the current government.

“With a system of government like ours, the government could fall,” Netanyahu told members of the press, adding “This is not a presidential system, I can’t fire them.”

Both Bennett and Liberman have routinely slammed the prime minister for his alleged mismanagement of 2014’s summer battle with Hamas, specifically for not holding in-depth discussions and preparing adequately for attack tunnels that emerged as a deadly threat during the war.

To be sure, Bennett told reporters late last month Israel had sent its soldiers into the Gaza Strip two years ago to destroy the tunnels, but “mistakes were made and the operation lasted longer than necessary.”

“We don’t need 51 days to beat Hamas,” he added.

Liberman for his part has repeatedly urged the prime minister to take a stronger posture against the Gaza based terror organization, urging Netanyahu to ““go all the way” and “eradicate the Hamas regime.”

“After Operation Cast Lead and Operation Pillar of Defense, we can’t have a situation where we don’t finish the job because that will only lead to a countdown before the next operation,” Liberman, serving as foreign minister at the time, told Channel 2 during the height of the conflict in July 2014.

Netanyahu had called the press conference shortly after the IDF issued its fifth report on war crimes allegations related to the killing of around 2,100 Palestinians (with an ongoing debate about how many were civilians) during the 2014 Gaza war.                              (Jerusalem Post)

Netanyahu warns Haredim they must compromise on Western Wall

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned on Tuesday that if the haredi political parties do not compromise on the pluralist prayer section at the Western Wall the High Court of Justice was likely to impose a solution.

The prime minister made his comments in a lengthy meeting with journalists from the haredi print and online news media The Jerusalem Post has learned.

Netanyahu reportedly stated that on issues such as Shabbat in the public realm, the status of the progressive Jewish streams, and prayer rights at the Western Wall, the haredi political leadership would need to reach certain compromises.

The prime minister said the agreement proposed by Attorney General Avihai Mandelblit after three years of negotiations was a reasonable agreement, that it should be implemented, and that it would be preferable for the issue not to be decided by the High Court.

The meeting lasted some six hours during which many of the major issues concerning defense policy, economics, and matters connected to religion and state and the haredi community.

Yisroel Cohen, a senior journalist with Kikar Shabbat, the most widely read haredi news website, said that the prime minister had impressed the haredi journalists and had spoken candidly with them, even though there had been disagreements between them.

Cohen added that Netanyahu had demonstrated empathy for the haredi world view.

“On the one hand, he was attentive and understood the haredi position, and on the other he made it understood that there are things that must be compromised on and that it is not good for the haredi community to come into conflict with the broader Israeli public,” said Cohen.

In his meeting with the haredi reporters, Netanyahu also blasted former prime minister Ehud Barak, calling him “the worst prime minister in Israel’s history.” Netanyahu responded to Barak’s attack on him last Wednesday at an event of the anti-Netanyahu organization Darkenu in Rishon Lezion.

At the event, Barak accused Netanyahu of being a weak and paranoid leader of a government that harms the security of the state. Barak said Netanyahu made decisions based on his own personal considerations, rather than the good of the country and his continued rule was the “sparks of Fascism.”

“The countdown to the end of Netanyahu’s tenure has begun, and I think he understands that,” Barak told the crowd.

Netanyahu said Barak’s attack was an attempt at a political comeback.

Regarding the allegation that he had exposed Israel to a security challenge, Netanyahu said that if it was true, Barak would not have declined to reveal the information to Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Avi Dichter.

“If he had what to say, he would have told me or Dichter, and we would have dealt with it, he said. “No one knows what he is talking about. I asked my security advisers. No one has a clue.”

Netanyahu denied reports that he met last Thursday with Zionist Union head Isaac Herzog at the home of a neighbor in Caesarea.

“There have been no talks recently,” Netanyahu said. ” But I have kept the Foreign Affairs portfolion for Buji [Herzog’s nickname]. I have told him I want a wide government.”  (Jerusalem Post)

Israeli zoo welcomes newborn white rhino

A wildlife park in Israel is celebrating a new arrival for one of its species – a baby white rhino.

Female Tanda this week gave birth to a male calf at the Ramat Gan safari park zoo near Tel Aviv.

Israeli zoo welcomes newborn white rhino

Israeli zoo welcomes newborn white rhino

“She is nursing him and taking very good care of him,” said Gali Berkovich, an enrichment coordinator and animal trainer at the park.

“Rhinos are highly endangered animals … so this is why every birth is very important not just to us but for the entire species.”           (Jerusalem Post)

Are Jews Who Refuse to Renounce Israel Being Excluded From ‘Progressive’ Groups?

by Alan Dershowitz                  The Algemeiner


Last year, Rabbi Susan Talve, a longtime activist on race issues in the St. Louis area was told that her advocacy for Israel was incompatible with the objectives of Black Lives Matter: “Solidarity from Ferguson to Palestine has become a central tenet of the movement,” she was informed, because “Israeli and U.S. state oppression are deeply interconnected.” Similarly, a student who attended a Black Lives Matter rally at Northwestern University last year was told, “you support Israel, so you cannot also support us.”

Recently, that seems to be the response of many of the hard Left activists who dominate so-called “progressive” social justice movements.

Over the past several years, progressive Jews and supporters of Israel have had to come to terms with the reality that those who do not reject Israel and accept the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement’s unique brand of bigotry are no longer welcome in some progressive circles. And while both the Democratic and Republican parties have embraced the importance of the U.S. alliance with Israel, that dynamic is under threat more so than at any point in my lifetime.

The self-described “progressive wing” of the Democratic Party — represented by radical and often repressive organizations such as MoveOn, CodePink, Occupy Wall Street, and Black Lives Matter (BLM) — has become openly opposed to the nation state of the Jewish people. Increasingly, these organizations demand that their members and “allies” renounce support for Israel and for Zionism in order to belong. Using the pretext of intersectionality — a pseudo-academic theory which insists that all social justice movements, except those supportive of Jews or Israel, are inexorably linked — anti-Israel activists have successfully made opposition to Israel and support for BDS a litmus test, especially for Jews, to belong to “progressive” movements focused on a wide range of issues.

Earlier this year, supporters of the LGBTQ community in Israel learned this lesson the hard way. BDS activists together with a local Black Lives Matter chapter broke up a gay pride event, because it featured a presentation by an Israeli group. The protestors claimed that the event organizers had engaged in “pinkwashing” the Israeli occupation by showing solidarity with the Israeli LGBTQ community.

Members of the National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA) who also support Israel have been similarly excluded. Last year, that organization voted to endorse BDS, and as one pro-BDS activist explained: “What is significant about this particular resolution is the rationale; the fact that the resolution makes it explicit that BDS is a feminist issue… that one cannot call themselves a feminist… without taking a stand on what is happening in Palestine.” (Apparently, one can call oneself a feminist without taking a stand on Syria, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and other nations that grossly violate human rights).

This type of repressive ideological packaging has left progressive Jews, and liberal supporters of Israel in an increasingly uncomfortable position. On the one hand, they care deeply about causes such as women’s rights, criminal justice reform, income inequality, environmental protection, and LGBTQ rights. On the other, they find themselves excluded from the groups that advance those very causes, because — while they are often critical of specific Israeli policies regarding settlements and the occupation — they refuse to renounce Israel as a national liberation movement of the Jewish People.

For hard Left activists, this sort of nuanced position is impossible to accept. Their hostility towards Israel does not stem from any particular Israeli actions or policies. Even if Israel were to withdraw from the West Bank, destroy the security barrier, and recognize Hamas as a legitimate political organization, it would still not be enough. For these radicals, it is not what Israel does; it is about what Israel is: the nation state of the Jewish people. Or, to use hard Left terminology: Israel is an imperialistic, apartheid, genocidal, and colonialist enterprise. The recently released Black Lives Matter policy platform offers a perfect example of such extreme rhetoric. It states that U.S. military and economic support for Israel makes American citizens complicit in “the genocide taking place against the Palestinian people.”

The fact that the Black Lives Matter platform reads like it was lifted from a BDS screed is hardly coincidence. The two groups enjoy a longstanding relationship, and a prominent BDS activist apparently helped draft elements of the BLM declaration. But Black Lives Matter is far from the only hard Left organization that has been infected by BDS vitriol. In fact, BDS has pressured a wide range of progressive organizations into assuming an anti-Israel posture. The American Green Party, for example — which has become a haven for disaffected progressive activists this election cycle — recently came out in support of BDS and called for the U.S. to end its support for “the Israeli apartheid regime”.

This trend has been particularly pronounced on college campuses, where a host of academic groups — perhaps most absurdly, the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA) and the American Studies Association — have passed resolutions in favor of BDS. Many of these organizations have also endorsed the Palestinian Academic and Cultural Boycott (PACBI), which encourages participants to engage in McCarthyite blacklisting of Israeli academic institutions, as well as groups and individuals who promote “Brand Israel.” This category apparently includes artists like Matisyahu, and academics like me, as I found out last year when a prominent BDS advocate refused to debate me at the Oxford Student Union.

The PACBI also explicitly denounces “normalization projects”— programs or events aimed at Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation that do not sufficiently emphasize the colonialist nature of the state of Israel. These are exactly the types of initiatives widely supported and promoted by progressives who are critical of settlements, but remain supportive of Israel and of a two state solution. It is no coincidence that BDS has singled them out for special treatment. BDS campaigners want to force any supporters of Israel — no matter their stances on other political issues — outside of the progressive tent.

This effort has proved alarmingly successful thus far, but despite the pressure from the hard Left, liberals and progressives who support Israel must continue to carve out a political space for themselves. In doing so, they can follow the example of the Jewish Community Relations Council, which dissociated itself “from the Black Lives Matter platform and those BLM organizations that embrace[d] it” but committed itself “unequivocally to the pursuit of justice for all Americans, and to working together with our friends and neighbors in the African-American community, whose experience of the criminal justice system is, far too often, determined by race.” Such efforts are critical to ensure that it is not supporters of Israel, but rather those repressive bigots who falsely claim the mantle of progressivism and who subscribe to the identity politics practiced by BDS that are delegitimated by mainstream progressives and liberals.

Alan M. Dershowitz is professor emeritus of law at Harvard University and author of “Taking the Stand: My Life in the Law.’’

Exposing the criminal society and the culture of death

by Isi Leibler                                 The Jerusalem Post


We are losing the battle in the war of ideas for the simple reason that we are continuously on the defensive while those seeking our destruction actively and relentlessly demonize us.

Ever since the Oslo Accords, successive Israeli governments have felt obliged to understate and even dismiss Palestinian terrorism and hatred in order to maintain domestic public support for policies that, with the benefit of hindsight, were doomed to fail.

In the very early stages, Palestinian Authority president Yasser Arafat told his people that the ultimate goal was the end of Jewish sovereignty – and we dismissed such outbursts as empty words designed merely to placate his radical domestic opponents.

But as the government falsely praised our peace partner, many Israelis deluded themselves into believing that the terrorism we faced was an extremist aberration and that the Palestinians were committed to ending the conflict on the basis of a two-state solution. Likewise, most of the world accepted at face value our repeated praise of Arafat and his successor, Mahmoud Abbas, as moderates and genuine peace partners.

This suited the long-term Palestinian policy of destroying us in stages. They readily accepted concessions and withdrawals but without compromising one iota, and they continue to demonize us and challenge our legitimacy.

But the worst aspect was our failure to highlight the poisonous brainwashing the PA had inflicted on its population. While Arab hostility to Jews prevailed even during the British Mandate period, it was not comparable to the culture of death and evil that today saturates every aspect of Palestinian life.

The Palestinians have stated explicitly that their state would be Judenrein and that Jews would never be permitted to live in their ancestral home even if they were willing to accept Palestinian jurisdiction.

Indeed, Palestinians were brutally executed when they were deemed to have sold land to a Jew.

The PA has become a criminal society and can be compared to prewar Germany, when the Nazis transformed their population into genocidal barbarians by depicting Jews as subhuman. The Palestinians depict Jews as “the offspring of apes and pigs” and call for their extermination. This is not even done subtly but with blatant statements to this effect emanating daily from religious and political leaders and accessible from vast documentary sources compiled by Palestinian Media Watch, MEMRI and others.

A society in which children from kindergarten are brainwashed into believing that the highest goal in Islam is to achieve martyrdom in the course of killing Jews can only be described as criminal.

The demonization of Israel and manifestations of the culture of death are promoted without inhibition by the leadership, the mullahs in the mosques and the state-controlled media. They amount to direct incitement for individuals to strike out and kill Jews in concert or randomly. The “heroic” scenes of youngsters stabbing Jews, the praise by Abbas himself of martyrs “with holy blood” and the totally contrived religious frenzy over accusations of Israelis planning to destroy al-Aksa mosque, coalesce into a witch’s brew of primeval rage and hatred.

The PA provides generous state salaries to terrorists apprehended by Israelis, and if they are killed, their families are remunerated – from funds provided by Western countries. Religious and political leadership at all levels sanctifies terrorists as heroes and national martyrs. City squares, schools and even football clubs are named in their honor.

The barbarism imbibed by the Palestinians is reflected in the street celebrations that erupt spontaneously with every murder of an Israeli. Even more nauseating are the repeated displays on TV of mothers expressing pride at their children becoming martyrs, and expressing hope that their other children will follow the example.

Under these circumstances, it is no wonder that Palestinian opinion polls reflect public support for terrorist attacks against Israel and opposition to a two-state solution. The Arafat/Abbas indoctrination process has radicalized successive generations into believing that the only solution to the conflict is the permanent termination of Jewish sovereignty in the area.

There is irrefutable evidence of the barbaric and genocidal nature of Palestinian society. Indeed, the reality is that, despite maintaining a “moderate” stance to the outside world, internally the Palestinians and ISIS are birds of a feather – although the Palestinians are probably more corrupt.

Alongside the turbulence in the region and the threat from Iran and ISIS, could one envisage any country agreeing to accept statehood for what will inevitably be a neighboring criminal state pledged to its destruction or a candidate for an ISIS or Iranian takeover? This would be utterly inconceivable.

Yet most of the international community, including the United States, regards this as an issue of two nations arguing over real estate. Were that the case, the Palestinians would not have dismissed the offers by prime ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert, who were willing to concede up to 97 percent of the territories formerly controlled by the Jordanians.

Israel has been the target of repeated defamation and delegitimization yet has basically only been on the defensive, seeking to refute the lies being disseminated against it. But as Joseph Goebbels said, if one repeats a lie continuously, people begin believing it. This dictum has now been realized; many in the Western world have absorbed the distorted Palestinian narrative of Israel being an apartheid state, an occupier and a nation born in sin.

Ironically, the weakness of our position lies in the fact that, until recently, in order to appease our allies and “protect” Israelis from being confronted with the stark reality, we deliberately held back from telling the truth and failed to highlight the barbaric and criminal nature of our purported peace partner.

Had we mounted campaigns at the outset, exposing the horrors perpetrated by our neighbors, it may not have influenced anti-Semites and the delusional Left but it would have made a significant impact on the open-minded.

But even now, belatedly exposing the barbarity of our neighbors should be made the top priority in our foreign relations efforts rather than the endless disputes over whether the minuscule 2% of territory comprising settlements (which are not being expanded) is justified.

The recent initiative by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman to establish relations with independent Palestinians, aside from not having cabinet approval, is bound to fail because any Palestinian engaged in such negotiations will immediately be assassinated.

Pressure must be exerted to encourage rank-and-file Palestinians that their best interests will be served when they appoint leaders who genuinely support the peace process. Alas, for the time being, that is not even on the horizon.

Today, we must move forward and promote a focused effort to document and expose the evil nature of Palestinian society, which will make it far more difficult and embarrassing for the Americans and Europeans to continue pressuring Israel to accept the creation of what will invariably be a criminal state – particularly in the context of the mayhem prevailing in the region and the terrorist threats now impacting the heartland of Europe.