+61 3 9272 5644

Latest News in Israel – 29th January

One Israeli in serious condition after terror stabbing in West Bank

A Palestinian assailant stabbed an Israeli at a gas station in the West Bank settlement of Givat Ze’ev, according to initial reports.

MDA paramedics arrived at the scene and treated a 36-year-old man with numerous wounds to his upper body. The victim was evacuated to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem in serious condition for further treatment.

The perpetrator in the incident was captured by police.

“When we reached the gas station, we saw a 36-year-old man lying on the floor fully conscious and suffering from multiple stab wounds to his upper body,” said Dudi Gur, an MDA paramedic. “We immediately put him into an ambulance and during the drive to the hospital we administered emergency first-aid treatment, which included attempts to stop the bleeding as well as pumping liquids into his body.”

“He is listed in moderate-to-serious condition,” the paramedic said.

The event follows an earlier incident Wednesday afternoon when a suspected assailant attempted a knife attack at the Kalandyia Checkpoint near Jerusalem. There were no injuries in the incident, the knife wielding perpetrator subsequently apprehended.

A bus carrying Palestinians with Israeli identification documents was stopped at the checkpoint for a security check. While sweeping the bus, a young man aroused the suspicion of the Israeli security personnel who was asked to present his identification document. When he failed to present his papers he was asked to disembark from the bus.

After the suspect exited the bus, he resisted being searched at which point he tried to pull a knife from his pocket, police said.

One of the security agents noticed that a knife fell off the suspect and immediately gained control of him.

Security forces were questioning the suspect, a seventeen-year-old from Nablus.     (Jerusalem Post)

Teen suspect arrested for stabbing attempt at West Bank checkpoint

A suspected assailant attempting a knife attack was arrested at the Kalandyia Checkpoint near Jerusalem on Wednesday afternoon. There were no injuries in the incident.

A bus carrying Palestinians with Israeli identification documents was stopped at the checkpoint for a security check. While sweeping the bus, a young man aroused the suspicion of the Israeli security personnel who was asked to present his identification document. When he failed to present his papers he was asked to disembark from the bus.

After the suspect exited the bus, he resisted being searched at which point he tried to pull a knife from his pocket, police said.

One of the security agents noticed that a knife fell off the suspect and immediately gained control of him.

Security forces were questioning the suspect, a seventeen-year-old from Nablus.                        (Jerusalem Post)

Julie Bishop calls for Bill Shorten to stop ALP ban on Israel visits

Julie Bishop has called on Bill Shorten to intervene to prevent NSW Labor barring party members visiting Israel.

NSW Labor Friends of Palestine intend to move a motion at next month’s state conference barring parliamentarians, officeholders and rank-and-file members­ from accepting sponsored travel to Israel while Benjamin Netanyahu’s government “continues­ settlements, refuses a Palestinian state (and) brutally mistreats Arab residents of the West Bank”.

The Foreign Minister was disappointed that some Labor Party members “prefer to hold their prejudices in ­ignorance rather than to travel to the region and learn the facts’’. “Bill Shorten should use his authority as leader to prevent this travel ban from being imposed,” she said.

The Opposition Leader has stopped short of rejecting the controversial proposal, which marks a new height in rising tensions within the Labor Party over Israel.

NSW Labor Opposition Leader Luke Foley said he did not support a ban on trips to Israel.

But last year he ordered state parliamentarians visiting the country on sponsored trips to spend an equal amount of time in Palestinian territory.

A spokesman for Mr Shorten said: “Mr Shorten does not agree with any attempt to remove the flexibility of members of parliament in the conduct of their duties while overseas.”

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies chief executive Vic Alhadeff stressed the broad nature of the visits to the region his group co-­ordinates.

“All our programs include the West Bank, where participants are briefed by senior Palestinian officials,” he said. “This gives Australian delegations an opportunity to see the situation first-hand and form their own conclusions.

“Clearly, a few ALP members are put out that an increasing number of their colleagues want to understand the reality on the ground for themselves.

“Visiting the region should ­almost be a prerequisite for debating the issues. It’s the best way to appreciate the complexities and we applaud Luke Foley for making it clear he is against a ban.”

Divisions within Labor over ­Israel have widened in ­recent years, with figures from the Right taking a tougher line.

Another leader of the NSW Right, federal finance spokesman Tony Burke, successfully moved a motion at Labor’s national conference last July committing the party to “discuss joining like-minded nations who have already recognised Pales­tine” if there were no progress on a two-state ­solution. The following month the Queensland ALP passed a motion demanding a future Labor federal government “immediately” recognise a Palestinian state.                               (The Australian)

Bill Shorten leaves Israel travel up to Labor MPs

Bill Shorten is at odds with the NSW Labor leader Luke Foley on whether ALP officials should spend equal time in Israel and the Palestinian territories on sponsored trips.

The issue is coming to a head as multiple branches submit 24 motions to next month’s NSW ALP annual conference seeking to ban sponsored trips to Israel by party officials, or put conditions on such visits.

Last year, under pressure from pro-Palestinian MPs, Mr Foley decided that if Labor MPs took sponsored trips to Israel, they should spend equal time in the Palestinian territories.

But the federal Opposition Leader said yesterday he wouldn’t impose such conditions on trips. “I trust Labor representatives. I don’t see the need to start giving them travel instructions,” Mr Shorten said.

Mr Foley said last night he stood by his policy.

Former foreign minister Bob Carr and NSW upper-house member Shaoquett Moselmane are among those pushing for a tougher stand on sponsored trips.

“If anyone wants to go to ­Israel, they should pay their own way,’’ Mr Moselmane said.

“I travelled to Armenia, Pakistan, China; I paid my own way. When the Australian Israel lobby pays for it, it wants something in ­return, and the return is the desire to be quiet when you need to be critical.

“People in decision-making positions should be open-minded and see with both eyes, rather than with one eye.”

He said that an outright ban on sponsored trips may be going too far, but praised Mr Foley’s policy of equal time as a balanced approach.

The federal Labor MP for Melbourne Ports, Michael Danby, asked why Israel was being singled­ out.

“If a Labor person takes a trip to the United States, do they have to spend the same time in Russia?

“I used to speak to Bob Carr 40 years ago when the Victorian Labor Party was similarly ­obsessed with Middle East issues.

“The difference is now that the Australian public wants people in the political mainstream to protect­ them from Islamist extrem­ism. Beating up on the region­’s only democracy will not instil confidence in the NSW public about the party’s priorities.”

Former senator Michael Forshaw, who is the chairman of the ALP’s international affairs policy committee, said equal time ­between Israel and the Palestinian territories was being pushed by some in the party in order to stop trips to Israel altogether.

Mr Forshaw said there were practical issues in the way of the equal-time policy, and there were security issues getting into the Palestinian territories.

“In my 40 years I have never ever seen the party try and prevent­ an MP or an official from ­visiting some part of the world in this manner,’’ he said.

“For years people from the Left travelled to Moscow or Cuba. They may not have liked it, but nobody ever tried to stop them through the party.’’

Mr Forshaw’s committee has proposed a compromise motion which merely “encourages” those on sponsored trips to visit the Palestinia­n territories.

The Labor conference’s ­foreign policy agenda is also dominat­ed by motions that are critical of ­Israel.                     (The Australian)

Gaza border residents renew complaints of underground tunnel digging

Residents of various Israeli communities along the southern border of the Gaza Strip have renewed complaints of reverberating, underground drilling sounds possibly linked to the construction of infiltration tunnels by Palestinian terrorists, Channel 10 reported Tuesday night.

The residents told the Israeli news channel that at first they believed the middle of the night excavation sounds were caused by rain storms that hit the country earlier this week, however when the sounds desisted at 4 a.m. they realized their source was not the precipitation.

One resident, Tzila Pitusi, said it felt as if someone was breaking into her home.

“We started hearing things like concrete cracking, we felt that the concrete was rising up. We heard booms and bangs from the kitchen,” another local, Esther Naim, told Channel 10.

In light of the reported issue, the southern Eshkol Regional Council head Gadi Yarkoni called on the government to act quickly to remove the threat that could lead to the possible infiltration into Israel by Gazan terrorists.

“Nowadays, the IDF knows exactly what it wants and the prime minister, defense minister and finance minister have to pass a budget to build a barrier,” Channel 10 quoted him as saying. “Let’s do this early, so that afterward we don’t say ‘why didn’t we do this.'”

According to the report, an IDF official responded to the complaints, saying that after examination it was determined that no underground tunnels existed in Israeli territory.

Meanwhile, an overnight report by Israel Radio citing Palestinian sources said at least eight Hamas militants were killed digging underground tunnels after heavy rains northeast of Gaza City caused the tunnel to collapse.

According to the media reports, the militants were killed during the tunnel’s collapse and were buried alive.

The Ministry of Health in Gaza spokesman denied the reports, claiming no bodies were brought to the hospital from the tunnel collapse. On Saturday, the ministry reported that a Hamas militant was killed in a tunnel collapse in Khan Yunis.

It has been estimated that Hamas has been steadily rebuilding its military terrorist infrastructure since Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014, including the restocking of its rocket arsenal and the digging of attack tunnels.                                     (Jerusalem Post)

Netanyahu: Where’s Europe when Iran, ISIS, Hamas call for another Holocaust?

The Jewish people is no longer powerless, but the international community needs to stand up against calls from Iran, Islamic State and Hamas to destroy the Jews, “not for our sake, but for theirs,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday.

Netanyahu, in a taped message marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day, said that anti-Semitism – “the oldest and most enduring hatred” – has not died.

“Unfortunately in Europe and elsewhere, Jews are once again being targeted just for being Jews,” he said. “Around the world Jewish communities are increasingly living in fear as we see anti-Semitism directed against individual Jews, and we also see this hatred directed against the collective Jew, against the Jewish state,” he said.

Netanyahu said that today Israel is targeted with the same slurs and libels that “were leveled against the Jewish people since time immemorial.” Not only is “the most outrageous anti-Semitism” finding its way into the doctrines of the extremist Islamic movements, but “even respected Western opinion leaders become afflicted with hatred for the Jewish people and the Jewish state.”

Netanyahu said that “the obsession with the Jews, the fixation on the Jewish state” defies any rational explanation. For instance, he said, while Islamic militants are brutalizing entire populations across the region, raping and enslaving women and murdering Christians and gays, the UN Human Rights Council condemns Israel more than North Korea, Iran and Syria combined.

It is the Jews, however, who have changed, Netanyahu said, adding that Jews no longer need to beg for a safe haven or for protection.

“Today we are an independent and sovereign people in our own homeland,” he said. “Today we can speak out against the voices of hared, and those seeking our destruction. Today we can protect ourselves and defend our homeland. We have changed. We stand up and speak out, we defend ourselves.”

But, he asked, “Where is Europe, where is the rest of civilization? A state like Iran, movements like Daesh and Hamas openly declare their goal of committing another Holocaust. We will not let it happen. But Europe and the rest of the world must stand up together with us, not for our sake, but for theirs.”                   (Jerusalem Post)

MDA pledges to deal with sexual harassment and rape allegations

In the wake of recent exposés on Channel 1 of reported sexual harassment and rapes of teenage girl volunteers working in Magen David Adom ambulances and other facilities, MDA director-general Eli Bin on Wednesday promised to appoint an employee in each of its 10 regions to accept and deal with such complaints.

The 85-year-old first aid, ambulance and blood-supply organization currently has only one such official in the whole country.

“I have asked for the name of the manager who allegedly raped a girl, and if it’s true, he will not work here anymore,” Bin told the Knesset Committee for the Advancement of Women on Wednesday, saying he is responsible for the safety of the girls and boys volunteering for the organization and will take responsibility for dealing with the matter.

He also committed to carrying out the changes within two months and to sending a report on those changes within 90 days to the committee.

The Channel 1 investigation by reporter Yifat Glick, highlighted a rape victim who had not previously told her story, as one of numerous instances of abuse.

“I volunteered in the Carmel region of MDA when I was 15. What I went through was shown in the broadcast. The director of the region forced me to sign a letter with falsehoods.

Until now, MDA has ignored most of the cases and I have no doubt you know about many cases of harassment and covered it up to protect the employees. But today, you’ll have no choice and won’t be able to ignore them anymore,” the victim told Bin and the others present at the meeting.

Zionist Union MK Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin said that, four years ago, MDA decided to make changes in its constitution to prevent such things, but that they were not approved by the Health Ministry.

“The fact that sexual harassment is a growing issue shows that there is a change in society and the sense of justice. It doesn’t matter how high the official is in an organization,” she said.

“MDA is a vital organization, but it cannot ignore the shocking expose on TV, especially when it involved mostly minors. We did not come to besmirch it but only to expose what is happening and, if it occurs, how to treat the problem and fix it so that every volunteer and worker will feel she is safe and can contribute without fear,” Nahmias-Verbin added.

Committee chairwoman MK Aida Touma-Sliman (United List) called it “sad” that they were only just now hearing that directives to make the changes had been signed by the Health Ministry four years ago that could have prevented these occurrences.

MDA has many teenage girl volunteers, some of them religious, who work in close quarters, under pressure, taking instructions from professionals.

Glick told the committee that she had heard of MDA reporting 20 complaints, but that after the broadcast, she herself received complaints at various levels of severity from 25 victims.

“Volunteers have made contact with the MDA woman in charge of dealing with complaints, but they didn’t always meet her face to face, apparently due to her workload,” the reporter said.

Another volunteer, Billie Piltz, told the committee she felt all her training at MDA and experience weren’t worth much if “in the organization they don’t see women as professionals and what interests others is my backside and [thinking about] sex acts. A few months ago, a closed Facebook forum of MDA volunteers was set up, and every day they told shocking stories on what it’s like to be a teenage girl or woman in MDA.”                                   (Jerusalem Post)

UN gives ZAKA official consultant status

Israel’s ZAKA rescue and recovery volunteer organization was granted the status of consultant NGO to the United Nations on Wednesday.

The UN’s Nongovernmental Organization Committee meets twice each year to approve organizations for consultative status. ZAKA, which is a Hebrew acronym of Disaster Victim Identification, and which includes some 2,600 volunteers on call 24/7 to respond to terrorist attacks, accidents or disasters, was granted the status after three years of failed attempts.

The Israeli mission to the UN explained the failure due to anti-Israel officials who had vetoed the organization’s candidacy.

Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon called the move “a great victory for Israeli diplomacy” and explained it was achieved following extensive diplomatic efforts by the Israeli delegation with the help of US Ambassador Samantha Power.

“ZAKA is an organization representing the moral values of the State of Israel and its acceptance at the United Nations proves this to the whole world,” Danon said.

“ZAKA has received the status it deserves at the parliament of nations.”

Being an official UN consultant gives the NGO the right to participate in formal UN deliberations of all institutions of the body as a consultant. ZAKA has joined a short list of other Israeli organizations that have received the status in the past such, as AlManarah, Beit Issie Shapiro and Alut.                   (Jerusalem Post)

1,700-year-old rabbis’ tombstones reflect Jewish life in Galilean city

Three 1,700-year-old funerary inscriptions written in Aramaic and Greek bearing the names of rabbis were recently uncovered near the ancient Galilean city of Tzippori, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced Tuesday.

Tzippori, also known by its Greek name Sepphoris, was a major town in the western Galilee during Roman times. After Rome quelled the Jewish Revolt and destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 CE, it rose to prominence as a major center of Jewish literature and culture. It was there, in the third century CE, that Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi began compiling Jewish wisdom into the text known as the Mishnah.

Two of the tombstones, found near the modern community of Tzippori adjacent to the archaeological site, bear inscriptions in Aramaic referring to rabbis, the IAA said. They also end in the Hebrew word shalom –peace. The third is in Greek and mentions the name Jose, a common Jewish name during the period.

They were uncovered in a cooperative effort by researchers from Kinneret College on the Sea of Galilee and the IAA.

“The importance of the epitaphs lies in the fact that these reflect the everyday life of the Jews of Zippori and their cultural world,” Mordechai Aviam of Kinneret College said in a statement.

The wealth of inscriptions from the cemeteries attests to the strong Jewish presence and the city’s social elite in the Late Roman period.


Cleaning one of the Aramaic inscriptions

Thus far, seventeen funerary inscriptions have been documented over the course of the survey of the Tzippori cemetery, most of which were written in Aramaic, the everyday language of Jews in Israel at that time.

The inscriptions will be studied by a team of researchers from the Kinneret Institute for Galilean Archaeology and the Israel Antiquities Authority

Upon completion of their research the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Kinneret Academic College will display the inscriptions to the general public.    (The Times of Israel)

Is It ‘Human Nature’ to Kill Jews?

by Jonathan S. Tobin           Commentary Magazine


On Tuesday, the United Nations Security Council met to discuss “The Situation in the Middle East.” The situation in question wasn’t a war in Syria that has taken hundreds of thousands of lives or the rise of ISIS. Instead of tackling the difficult problem of how to end that civil war, which has drawn in forces from around the region and created millions of refugees, the UN preferred to devote its time and energy to a more familiar and, therefore, safer topic: Israel’s continued presence in the West Bank. What followed was a dreary and all too familiar debate in which Israeli settlement policies were slammed and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon rationalized Palestinian terror by declaring, “it is human nature to react to occupation, which often serves as an incubator of hate and extremism.”

Ban’s comments provoked a furious and justified response from Israel. But what is remarkable about a debate that focused almost exclusively on the Israeli presence in the West Bank and gave short shrift to the current Palestinian terror campaign known as the “stabbing intifada,” is that so much of what was said about the policies of the Jewish state were uttered as if the history of the 22 years of efforts to end the conflict had never occurred.

It is a fact that the troubles of the Palestinians are considered uniquely important and worthy of more attention than the greater sufferings of other peoples at the UN. But the corollary to the world body’s obsession with the alleged crimes of Israel is that terrorism committed by the Palestinians is also treated differently.

The question of the disposition of the West Bank is a thorny one and the wisdom of continued building of Jewish homes in the territories is one that has long divided Israelis. Even if we were to set aside the fact that Jews can assert a legal right to live in what is the heart of their ancient homeland that is guaranteed by the League of Nations Mandate, which served as the foundation for international law on the subject, the assumptions behind Ban’s comments are fallacious.

When Ban speaks of nearly 50 years of Israeli occupation, he ignores the fact that Israel has repeatedly offered the Palestinian Authority statehood and withdrawal from almost all of the West Bank. If the goal of the Palestinians were truly statehood, they would have jumped on the deals put on the table in 2000, 2001, and 2008, all of which would have granted them sovereignty over this territory as well as a share of Jerusalem. Even the Netanyahu government, which is widely derided as intransigent by its critics, offered to withdraw from much of the West Bank and accepted a two-state solution. But Palestinian leaders have never been willing to accept the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders might be drawn. That’s why all discussion of Palestinian “frustration” is deeply misleading.

Whatever one may think should be the ultimate disposition of the West Bank, the Palestinian refusal to negotiate peace has made it obvious that the widespread belief that the settlements are the obstacles to peace is absurd. Moreover, Israel has already demonstrated what happens when it does what the international community wants and uproots settlements and hands territory to the Palestinians. The withdrawal of every single settler and solider from Gaza in 2005 led to the establishment of a Hamas-run terrorist enclave which effectively functions as an independent Palestinians state in all but name.

Moreover, the recent upsurge in Palestinian wasn’’t the “natural” reaction to Palestinian frustration about the failure to bring about a two-state solution that the majority of them continue to oppose. The spark was the lies told by PA leader Mahmoud Abbas and the rest of the Palestinian leadership about alleged Israeli plans to harm the mosques on the Temple Mount. The driving force since then has been the same spirit of rejectionism that has animated the Palestinian national movement since its inception. Palestinian public opinion continues to view the Jewish presence in any part of the country as unacceptable. Whether Jews are sitting in a café in Tel Aviv or in a West Bank settlement, Palestinians think they deserve death.

It is not “human nature” ­ normal instincts that are presumed to exist in all people ­ that drives Palestinians to seek out random Israelis, whether they are young or old, male or female, or even pregnant, and to stab or shoot them. In this case, the “incubator” of hatred and extremism is not the Israeli refusal to give up land they know will be used as a launching pad for more terrorism but rather a Palestinian ideology that views territorial compromise as treason.

Nevertheless, it must be admitted that “human nature” does actually play a part in this discussion. Sadly, the willingness to treat Jews differently from that of every other people and nation on the planet is rooted in a virus of hate that seems impervious to efforts to eradicate it. Whatever the rights and wrongs of various aspects of a complex dispute between two peoples over one piece of land, it is clear that the indiscriminate killing of Jews remains the sort of thing that much of the world is prepared to tolerate. Comments such as those of Ban, even if they are accompanied by boilerplate rhetoric about terrorism being deplorable, serve only to further encourage the Palestinians to persist in their intransigence.

The only way to resolve the question of the West Bank is to persuade Palestinians to give up their quest to destroy Israel. But until a sea change in their political culture permits them to embrace reason, comments such as those of Ban have the destructive effect of encouraging them to believe the world shares their belief that murdering Jews is a laudable endeavor.

On the eve of the day that the international community uses to commemorate the Holocaust, there is something profoundly disturbing about the way Ban and the rest of the world body chose to rationalize the irrational hate that drives the Palestinians to kill Jews. The UN’s treatment of Israel is proof that the indifference to anti-Semitism that allowed the Holocaust to happen is yet with us. If this is “human nature,” it is proof that the vile hate that led the mass slaughter of European Jewry seven decades ago is still alive and well.

International Holocaust Remembrance Day: Jews Are Once Again Being Targeted Just for Being Jews – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Prime Minister’s Office)

Preserving the memory of the Holocaust is more important today than ever, for in this period of resurgent and sometimes violent anti-Semitism, it is commemorations like this that remind us all where the oldest and most enduring hatred can lead.

Unfortunately, in Europe and elsewhere, Jews are once again being targeted just for being Jews. Around the world, Jewish communities are increasingly living in fear. We see anti-Semitism directed against individual Jews, and we also see this hatred directed against the collective Jew, against the Jewish state. Israel is targeted with the same slurs and the same libels that were leveled against the Jewish people since time immemorial.

Islamic extremists incorporate the most outrageous anti-Semitism into their murderous doctrines. We see this in Gaza; we see it in Raqqa; we see it in Tehran. And even respected Western opinion leaders have become afflicted with hatred for the Jewish people and the Jewish state.

The obsession with the Jews – the fixation on the Jewish state – defies any rational explanation. While across the region, Islamist militants brutalize entire populations, enslave and rape women, murder Christians and gays, the UN Human Rights Council repeatedly condemns Israel.

But one thing has changed. The Jews have changed. We are no longer a stateless people endlessly searching for a safe haven. We are no longer a powerless people begging others to offer us protection. Today we are an independent and sovereign people in our own homeland.

Today we can speak out against the voices of hatred and those seeking our destruction. Today we can protect ourselves and defend our freedom. But where is the rest of civilization?

When a state like Iran and movements like Daesh [ISIS] and Hamas openly declare their goal of committing another Holocaust, we will not let it happen. But Europe and the rest of the world must stand up together with us. Not for our sake; for theirs.