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Latest News in Israel – 4th March

14-year-old girl stabs cop in Jordan Valley terrorist attack

A police officer was stabbed and lightly injured in a terrorist stabbing attack on Thursday in the Jordan Valley according to police reports.

After receiving a phone call about a collapsed tree in the road, police officers were dispatched to just outside of the village of al-Auja in the Jordan Valley where they began directing traffic. A 14-year-old female terrorist, a resident of the village, approached the police officers and stabbed one of them in his upper body.

A second police officer chased after the terrorist on foot and managed to subdue her without firing his weapon.

MDA paramedics provided treatment on the scene for the officer who was listed in light condition with stab wounds to his shoulder. The officer was evacuated to the Emek Medical Center in Afula.

This attack comes following  a shooting attack that took place in the early hours of Thursday when a police officer was lightly injured while at the Rechalim Junction near the West Bank city of Nablus.

The police vehicle also sustained damages from the shooting.

Security forces are searching for the suspect.

Also early on Thursday, in a joint operation, IDF and Border Police forces arrested 11 wanted terror suspects in the West Bank according to the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit.

All suspects have been taken in for questioning by security forces.                                            (Jerusalem Post)

Terrorists open fire on police car in Samaria

Terrorists opened fire on Wednesday night towards a police car at the Rechelim junction, near the city of Ariel in Samaria.

There were no injuries but the vehicle sustained damage from the bullets. Police and IDF forces are searching the area in an attempt to locate the terrorists.

The attempted shooting attack comes hours after two terrorists approached a military post near the community of Har Bracha in Samaria, stabbing two IDF soldiers and fleeing the scene.

One soldier is moderately wounded, while the other suffered light injuries. A military helicopter was sent to bring them both to a hospital.

Early on Wednesday morning, two terrorists broke into the home of Roi Harel in the Binyamin region community of Eli.

The terrorists attacked Harel with knives and clubs, lightly wounding him. Harel heroically fought off the terrorists in order to prevent them from attacking his wife and five children.

The two 17-year-old attackers fled the scene but were later tracked down and killed by security forces.                   (Arutz Sheva)

Greens urge review of Australian support of Israel

The Greens have called on the government to review Australia’s “counterproductive” support for Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories.

The Senate shot down a motion by Greens senators Scott Ludlam and Lee Rhiannon on Wednesday, urging the Turnbull government to halt military trade and cooperation with Israel.

The motion sought to question the war record of former Israeli Defence Force chief of staff Benjamin Gantz who is in Australia as a keynote speaker and led a 2014 operation that the United Nations says killed 2000 Palestinians.             (AAP)

The Palestinian Authority Repudiates Oslo, and No One Reports or Cares

The Palestinian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Riyad al-Maliki, said during a press conference in Tokyo on February 15, that he would never directly negotiate with Israel. Maliki’s comments­ largely ignored by the US news media ­ violate the terms of the 1993 Oslo peace accords, under which the Palestinian Authority (PA) was created and funded.

In a September 9, 1993, letter from then-Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) head Yasser Arafat to Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Arafat promised: “The PLO commits itself to the Middle East peace process and to the peaceful resolution of the conflict between the two sides and declares that all outstanding issues relating to permanent status will be resolved by negotiation.”

As part of the 1995 Interim Agreement (Oslo II), PLO and Israeli representatives reaffirmed their desire “to achieve a just, lasting and comprehensive peace settlement and historic reconciliation through the agreed political process.”

As historian Efraim Karsh has noted, Oslo threw the moribund PLO a lifeline. In the preceding years, Arafat’s PLO had retreated from Lebanon and was a US-listed terror group with its headquarters in Tunis. Infighting had increased, and Arafat had alienated key Arab allies and donors by supporting Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait.

Oslo brought the PLO in from the cold ­ giving it a base for limited self-rule in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and Gaza Strip, much needed international donor funds, and the chance to establish a state through bilateral negotiations ­ provided that it renounce terrorism and incitement to violence, and agree to recognize Israel, among other conditions.

Arafat’s right-hand man during the Oslo negotiations was his successor, current PLO chairman and PA President Mahmoud Abbas ­ Maliki’s boss. If Abbas disapproved of his foreign minister’s remarks, he has yet to repudiate them.

In Tokyo, Maliki went back on his government’s commitments, unequivocally stating, “We will never go back and sit again in a direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.”

Yet major US news outlets have failed to devote so much as a single sentence to Maliki, despite their previous adoration of the Oslo accords.

Further, Maliki’s renouncing Oslo confirms a pattern by PA officials. As CAMERA has noted, in a September 30, 2015, speech to the UN General Assembly, Abbas said the PA was no longer bound by the accords.

Karsh has pointed out that as early as May 10, 1994, Arafat told South African Muslim leaders that the Oslo accords “fell into the same category as the Treaty of Hudaibiya that was signed by the Prophet Muhammed with the people of Mecca in 628, only to be reneged on a couple of years later when the situation titled in Muhammad’s favor.” Arafat’s words were recorded by a member of the Jewish community who had infiltrated the meeting posing as a Muslim ­ provoking demands from Israeli officials that he repudiate them. Arafat never did. Instead, he reiterated the Hudaibiya comparison on several occasions, including in his August 21, 1995, remarks at al-Azhar University in Gaza.

That Maliki’s sentiments are not unique should make them all the more newsworthy. Speaking at the 1993 Oslo signing ceremony, President Clinton remarked, “Every peace has its enemies, those who still prefer the easy habits of hatred to the hard labors of reconciliation.” The late Middle East analyst Barry Rubin noted that Arafat had to be talked out of bringing his gun to that ceremony. The PA foreign minister may not carry a gun, but he reinforces Palestinian repudiation of the “peace process.” The news media, their Oslo hoopla long gone, does not notice.     (the Algemeiner)

Fear of anti-Semitism rising among EU Jewish leaders, poll shows

In a survey among leaders of European Jewish communities, 40 percent of respondents said anti-Semitism is the most serious threat to the future of Jewish life in their country.

The result appeared in the Third Survey of European Jewish Leaders and Opinion Formers, which was published Monday by the International Centre for Community Development of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. The survey is based on replies gathered last year from 314 respondents.

The figure is the highest recorded by JDC since it launched its first survey of this kind in 2008. That year, only 10 percent of respondents ranked the phenomenon as the most serious threat facing their communities. In the following survey, conducted in 2011, the figure rose to 26 percent.

The results match other surveys that show increasing concern among Jews over anti-Semitism following the increase in hate crimes in Western Europe after 2000 in connection with Israel and jihadist attacks on Jewish targets, beginning with the 2012 slaying of three children and a rabbi at a Jewish school in Toulouse, France.

In 2013, nearly one-third of 5,847 European Jewish respondents to an EU survey said they “seriously considered emigrating” because of anti-Semitism.

Still, in all three JDC surveys among leaders of European Jewry, a majority of respondents ranked internal problems as the most serious threat facing their communities.

In 2011 and 2015, the problem of “alienation of Jews from the Jewish community life” was ranked as most serious by more than half the respondents. In 2008, 38 percent of respondents named the “increasing rate of mixed marriages” as their communities’ No. 1 threat.                   (Ha’aretz)

‘No education toward 2 states in Palestinian textbooks,’ report finds

Israel is routinely left off maps, Israeli cities are said to be in Palestine, martyrdom is celebrated, and there is not a single mention of the Holocaust in more than 70 official Palestinian Authority textbooks, Israel Radio reported Tuesday.

The state radio’s Palestinian affairs correspondent, Gal Berger, said he looked over textbooks for grades 1-12 with a diverse range of subjects, including history, geography and Islamic studies, and found what he indicated was a systematic blurring out of Israel’s existence.

“In the textbooks of the Palestinian Authority,” he said, “there is no education towards two states or a Palestinian state [alongside Israel] within ’67 lines.”

In the Palestinian history books for grades 10-12, there are full chapters dedicated to World War II but no mention of the Holocaust, Berger reported. “For a student in this [Palestinian education] system,” said Berger, “it is as if the Holocaust never happened.”

In his examination of the Islamic studies textbooks, Berger found excerpts that celebrated martyrdom, including a fourth grade textbook that invites the children to write about a Palestinian martyr of their choice.

He posted a picture on his Twitter account from a page of a ninth grade textbook of Islamic studies, which he said constituted praise for martyrdom. The page begins with a Quranic verse which instructs Muslims to kill or imprison nonbelievers. If a Muslim should die in the process, the verse says, “God will not send away their works and (will) admit them into paradise.” The textbook’s interpretation of the verse, Berger said, states that the martyrs “will be given the highest place in paradise with the prophets and messengers.”

The issue of paradise and the division between believers (Muslims) and nonbelievers permeates the textbooks, according to Berger. For example, in one textbook, it is written that Palestine will be the frontline between Muslims and infidels.

The erasure of Israel’s physical existence begins early, with cartoons in first grade textbooks showing stores in Palestine ­ among them a pharmacy in Safed, a supermarket in Haifa and a candy store in Beersheba, Berger reported. (All three cities are in Israel.) It “continues like this through the different grades,” Berger noted.

Berger also cited a reading comprehension article in a seventh grade geography textbook, in which such Israeli cities as Haifa, Beersheba, Jaffa, Safed, Ashdod and Ashkelon are said to be famous cities of Palestine.

In a picture from textbook on his Twitter feed, Berger also showed a true-or-false question which stated: “The surface area of Palestine is 27,027 square kilometers.” The answer, “true,” has Palestine subsuming Israel completely.

Incitement from within the Palestinian Authority education system is often cited, notably by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as a cause for the current wave of Palestinian terror and violence against Israel. Berger said Tuesday he checked the books to see if there was a basis to this claim. “It’s important how you define what you mean by incitement,” he said, in presenting his findings on Israel Radio on Tuesday. “Do the textbooks openly call for attacks against Israelis or Jews? You won’t find that,” he said. However, Berger said, the textbooks lay an ideological foundation that can lead a young Palestinian to carry out an attack.

Quoting possibly incendiary Quranic verses verbatim is not the problem, he argued. Rather, he said, the incitement originates in the state-sanctioned interpretation of the verse in which martyrs are told they will go to paradise.

Ashraf al-Ajami, a political commentator and former Palestinian minister for prisoner affairs, countered that maps in Israel do not designate the borders of the state, or mark a distinction between sovereign Israeli territory and areas captured in the 1967 war.

“If you ask any kid in the West Bank what Palestine is, he will say the West Bank and the Gaza Strip” ­ not Israel ­ Ajami said in an Israel Radio interview.

Ajami also said that all the textbooks are read over by representatives of the European Union who look for any signs of incitement.

Likud Minister without Portfolio Ofir Akunis told Israel Radio that he was “absolutely certain” of a link between PA education and the current wave of attacks, and that “not a day goes by” without the Palestinian Authority inciting against Israel.                   (The Times of Israel)

In rare move, IDF returns over 1,700 dunams to Palestinian landowners in Area C

The IDF this week returned 1,700 dunams (420 acres) to Palestinian landowners by rescinding military seizure orders from the 1970s and 1980s.

The land was taken on the basis of four different seizure orders – two in 1978, one in 1980 and another in 1984.

But the military never used the land, except for two small bases that were built on the property. Those bases were abandoned in the 1990s.

The Palestinians, however, were not allowed to use the land, which belongs to the Palestinian villages of Jalud, Duma, Kusra, Mikhmas and Deir Dobwan, all located in Area C of the West Bank, which is under Israeli military and civilian rule.

OC Central Command revoked the seizure orders in response to two separate petitions to the High Court of Justice. The Israeli nongovernmental organization Yesh Din filed the petitions last year on behalf of Palestinians in the villages who argued that the imperative to hold onto the land no longer existed.

The attorney for Yesh Din, Shlomy Zachary, called on the IDF to rescind all other land seizure orders relating to Palestinian property that similarly had never been used.

“The IDF must review all cases of seized land immediately and return any land seized for no real reason, as both law and common sense dictate,” he said.

“Sadly, a High Court petition was necessary before the state agreed to return private land to its owners. Using territories under military occupation is permitted only for imperative military purposes and is the exception to the obligation of upholding the right to property. As such, this measure should be used sparingly, in order to prevent damaging land belonging to protected persons under military occupation. There has obviously not been such need for the land in question for quite some time, if ever,” he said.

After the IDF captured the West Bank from Jordan in the Six Day War in 1967, land seizure orders were acceptable practice for the creation of military bases on private Palestinian property, which in many cases became settlements.

The High Court of Justice in 1979 banned the creation of West Bank settlements on land that had been seized by the military from private Palestinians in a famous case that involved the community of Elon Moreh.

Since then, such land has been used only for a “military necessity.” Still, the IDF has rarely returned the land, even when the military necessity no longer existed.

As part of its work for these villages, Yesh Din found that the IDF had revoked a military seizure order for 3 hectares in 2012, but the IDF never informed the Palestinian owners that they could now use the property, Yesh Din spokesman Gilad Grossman said.

In June 2013, also as a result of a Yesh Din petition, the state canceled a 1978 military land seizure order in which 70 hectares of land was taken from the Palestinian village of Burka. Within two years the settlement of Homesh was built on that property.

Homesh was one of four Northern Samaria communities that the government evacuated in 2005 as part of the disengagement plan under which Israel withdrew from Gaza.   (Jerusalem Post)

Netanyahu endorses deportation of terrorists’ families, asks for A-G’s opinion

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked Attorney- General Avichai Mandelblit for his legal opinion regarding deportation of the families of terrorists, just days after Mandelblit was quoted as opposing such measures.

In an unusual move and a clear indication of how politically charged this issue has become, with some of Netanyahu’s challengers on his Right supporting the idea, the Prime Minister’s Office released the premier’s letter to Mandelblit that included an endorsement of such sanctions.

“Many of the terrorist acts over the past few months were carried out by those who fit the profile of ‘lone attackers,’” Netanyahu wrote.

“These attackers sometimes come from families who encourage and support their actions.”

The prime minister said he was asking for Mandelblit’s “legal opinion” regarding the possibility of deporting these families to the Gaza Strip.

“I think that the use of this tool will significantly decrease terrorist attacks against Israel and its residents,” he said.

Army Radio reported on Sunday that Mandelblit has come out against deportation of terrorists’ families, saying that it violates both Israeli and international law. He also was cited as saying it could play into the hands of Israeli adversaries who would use it to bring war crimes charges against Israel in the International Criminal Court.

Netanyahu has reportedly expressed support in internal Likud meetings for the sanction.

Mandelblit’s office said in response to Netanyahu’s letter that an update on the matter would be provided when there is an official answer. The Jerusalem Post has learned, however, that the attorney-general does not intend to change his position.

Intelligence Services Minister Israel Katz, who initiated the debate on expelling terrorists’ families when he called for the move on Saturday, praised Netanyahu for adopting his initiative. Katz said he would propose a bill on Monday, sponsored by both coalition and opposition MKs, that would change the law and permit the deportations.

“With the government’s support, we can change the law quickly,” Katz wrote on his Facebook page. “Then we will be able to handle the international pressure.”

The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel nongovernmental organization released a statement explaining why it is already legally possible to expel the family members of terrorists.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan also endorsed the initiative. If legal authorities permit it, law enforcement authorities and intelligence agencies will be able to carry it out, he said.

“We are doing everything possible to stop the terrorist attacks,” Erdan told Army Radio. “We have taken many steps, and this is one more we would like to take. Knowing family members will be harmed when there is proof that they supported the attacks could decrease the chance that more such attacks will be carried out in the future.”

But former defense minister MK Amir Peretz (Zionist Union) criticized the idea and said that to end terrorism, diplomatic steps were required.

“This is a populist move among Likudniks competing over who could be more extreme,” Peretz said. “It may satisfy the public but it won’t help the fight against terrorism.” (Jerusalem Post)

Hamas preparing Iranian-style swarm boat attacks for future clash

Hamas in Gaza has received Iranian operational instructions on how to prepare swarm-like boat attacks, and is preparing such capabilities for future clashes with Israel, according to a senior naval source.

The Israel Navy’s Squadron 916 of fast patrol boats, tasked with securing the coastline from northern Israel to southern Gaza, is training and preparing itself for combat with Hamas, while keeping a close eye on sea movements around the Strip. “Hamas is building up its ability to cause much damage from sea-based attacks,” the navy source told The Jerusalem Post this week.

“It is improving its diving commando units, and creating sea forces that are much more capable than they were before. Hamas has received battle doctrines from Iran – which is also building up its sea capabilities – on how to deliver ‘stings’ through swarms,” the source said. “They will try to attack our vessels with swarms.” Hamas’s aim in any future conflict is to cause heavy damage in the opening stage, and achieve a “victory picture, even if all Hamas attackers are killed in the process. From their perspective, if the attack succeeds, they won,” the source said.

Squadron 916 has been training various techniques to prevent this.

According to the source, Hamas is also expanding its underwater diving commando unit. The navy has responded by planting more underwater sonar sensors, and practicing a set of fast responses when suspicious activity has been detected under the waves. A range of new underwater explosive fuses have been amassed on board Navy fast patrol boats in Squadron 916. The squadron is made up Super Dvora MK 3 fast patrol boats (made by IAI-Ramta), older Dvora boats, Shaldag-type boats (made by Israel Shipyards), and the light Tzar’a (Wasp) Safe Boats, used mainly for port and coastal defenses.

According to naval assessments, Hamas will probably soon resume its attempts to smuggle rocket-building materials from Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula to Gaza via boats, after a break in such attempts, “The sea is one big blue tunnel,” he said. “As Egypt continues demolishing tunnels between Sinai and Gaza, we expect an increase in sea smuggling attempts,” he added. Last year, Squadron 916 foiled a number of such attempts. When smuggling attempts are intercepted, the navy makes every effort to avoid harming the smugglers, out of an understanding that they are often civilians exploited by Hamas, the source said. “We fire in way that will not kill or wound the smugglers. Often they are fishermen used by Hamas,” the source said.

The Squadron’s fastest boat is the Super Dvora MK 3, which can travel at nearly 90 kilometers an hour, and possesses a turning angle comparable to a ski jet. The vessel has Typhoon precision cannon on its bow, an M2 Browning machine gun at its stern, and two MAG machine guns on the decks, as well as Rafael Spike MR fire and forget guided missiles.

Ten to 12 sailors and technicians are usually on board; with half resting, while the other half is on active duty. In emergencies, they all must reach battle stations in seconds. The squadron’s vessels are linked in to the Ground Forces command and control systems, meaning that they can work closely with ground units to strike enemy targets and share intelligence. The squadron secures two offshore gas rigs, with the help of the recently arrived Rafael Protector unmanned sea vehicle.

The Protector vehicle, with its water cannon, is also used to help enforce the six nautical mile fishing zone.

“The future is here. The Protector can fire, it can monitor,” the source said. “If you had asked me years ago if I thought this would be plausible, I probably would not have believed it.” In between training for battle with Hamas, the squadron’ main task continues to be to prevent terrorist infiltrations from Gaza into Israel. To that end, buffer zones exist around Gaza’s north and south coasts. The squadron closely monitors these areas. “On average, Gaza coastal patrols last 48 hours, though we can stay at sea 96 hours if necessary. We distill seawater, turning it into drinking water. We have plenty of combat food portion storages, and a lot of fuel,” he added.

“The sailors here are under orders to be patient and civil to Palestinian fishermen who stray from 6-mile zone,” the source said.

“Most fishermen want to feed their families,” he added. But some are terrorists disguised as fishermen, he added. “We must be aware that every so often there are Hamas operatives, enemies, that are here, disguised as fishermen. This is how they gather intelligence on us.”                      (Jerusalem Post)

Biden to visit Israel and Palestinian territories next week

US Vice President Joe Biden will arrive in Israel for a two-day visit next week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office confirmed Wednesday. He will also visit Ramallah, the White House said.

Talks between Biden and Israeli officials are expected to include further negotiations over a defense aid package and Israeli-Palestinian violence.

Other regional issues, such as fighting in neighboring Syria and including Turkey in a regional Mediterranean bloc, are also expected to be on the agenda.

In a statement, the Government Press Office said Biden’s arrival would not include any fanfare. “His arrival will include leaving the plane, a red carpet and handshakes. There will be no welcoming ceremony and no speeches,” the statement read.

The White House said Biden’s Israel visit will be part of a broader Middle East swing. Traveling with his wife Jill, he will fly to Abu Dhabi and Dubai on March 5, and then to Jerusalem and Ramallah on March 8. On March 10, he will complete the trip in Amman, Jordan.

In Israel, Biden will meet with Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin, and in Ramallah with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. In Amman, he he will meet with King Abdullah II “to discuss our joint efforts to defeat ISIL and bring about a resolution to the Syria conflict,” the White House said. “The Vice President will also visit US and Jordanian troops training together as part of our ongoing joint military cooperation.”

Israel and the United States have been seeking to move past deep disagreement over the Iran nuclear accord, which Netanyahu strongly opposed, and work out a new 10-year defense aid package for Israel.

The package is expected to be finalized when Netanyahu visits the US later this month, according to Israeli reports.

Last month, Biden met Netanyahu in Davos, Switzerland, shortly after the US lifted sanctions on Iran as part of a nuclear deal.

The US has sought to allay Israel’s concerns regarding the deal through discussions about a new long-term agreement on US military aid for Israel.

According to Netanyahu’s office, the two discussed security and strategic interests in the Middle East as well as energy.

“The meeting was friendly and warm and took place in an excellent atmosphere,” a Prime Minister’s Office official said at the time.

Biden last visited for the funeral of former prime minister Ariel Sharon in January 2014.

Biden’s visit to Israel in 2010 sparked a diplomatic spat with Washington when then-Interior Minister Eli Yishai announced housing plans in East Jerusalem.

According to a diplomatic cable leaked last month, the episode sparked a rift between Jerusalem and Washington, with Netanyahu then asking European leaders to help patch up ties with US President Barack Obama.                (the Times of Israel )

Congress: Israel-Arab peace deal must include Jewish refugees

A bipartisan coalition of 14 congressional lawmakers have cosponsored a bill intended to rectify the losses suffered by Jewish refugees who fled their homes across the Middle East following the establishment of the State of Israel.

According to a statement released on Wednesday by the office of New York Democratic congressman Eliot Engel, the Displaced Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries and Iran Act would require the President “to ensure resolution for Jewish refugees displaced from Arab countries and Iran.”

The President would be required to include provisions for Jewish Middle East refugees in any future Arab-Israeli negotiated settlement.

A joint statement released by the bill’s sponsors recognized the hardships faced by the ancient Jewish communities across the Middle East and North Africa, and the oppression they suffered under local Arab governments.

“The Arab governments subjected hundreds of thousands of Jews to displacement, political marginalization, or property confiscation with no compensation.”

“The Displaced Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries and Iran Act ensures that the interests of all refugees displaced as a result of the Arab-Israeli conflict are fairly considered in any final settlement of Arab-Israeli peace.”

Close to one million Jews were forced to leave their homes across the Middle East and North Africa following the establishment of Israel in 1948. More than 600,000 settled in Israel, where they and their descendants now make up a majority of Israel’s Jewish population.

In most cases, Jewish refugees lost their homes and valuables as they were forced out, and have since been largely unable to either receive compensation or reclaim their property.

While Arabs who fled Israel in 1948 have received widespread international recognition, the plight of Jewish refugees from Arab countries is largely unknown outside of Israel. (Arutz Sheva)

One dead, 18 hurt as bus overturns in northern Israel

One person was killed and at least 18 others were injured when a bus overturned near the village of Zarzir in northern Israel on Wednesday evening.

There were 35 passengers on the vehicle, all of them Dan company bus drivers being shuttled home from central Israel, when it flipped over, Ynet reported.

An initial investigation of the incident indicated the driver of the bus made a right turn at excessive speed.

Magen David Adom paramedics arrived at the scene and helped evacuate trapped passengers. According to Channel 10, most of the passengers could independently walk.

One passenger, a 50-year-old man, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Two passengers were moderately injured and 16 others suffered minor injuries.

“When we got there we saw a bus lying on its side in the middle of the road and there was lot of commotion,” a medic told the Haaretz daily soon after the accident. “People were stopping on the side of the roads and others came from nearby villages to help. Some of the injured passengers were lying on the road, others were trapped in the bus. We arrived in large force and with the help of firefighters are extracting the injured and giving them medical treatment.”         (The Times of Israel)

Well-preserved 1,600-year-old winery and a Roman bathhouse unearthed in Jerusalem


An aerial view of the unearthed winery and bathhouse found in Jerusalem’s historic Schneller Compound

Archeologists from the Antiquities Authority have unearthed a rare and well-preserved 1,600-yearold winery and Roman bathhouse in Jerusalem’s historic Schneller Compound, which once served as an orphanage, and later as an IDF base.

The discovery, announced by the authority on Wednesday, was financed by the Merom Yerushalayim Company and carried out with the authority before the construction of residential buildings for ultra-Orthodox residents of the capital.

Schneller Orphanage, which operated in Jerusalem from 1860 until the Second World War, has a rich history.

Built by Johann Ludwig Schneller in 1855-56, its German inhabitants were expelled during the British Mandate, and a British Army base was established there. After the British withdrawal in 1948, the compound was turned over to the Hagana, and became an IDF base until 2008.

In 2012, it was purchased to be transformed into residential apartments for the capital’s haredi population.

According to the Antiquities Authority, the complex – which includes a grape pressing surface paved with a white mosaic – dates back to the Roman or Byzantine periods.

“In the center of it is a pit in which a press screw was anchored that aided in extracting the maximum amount of must from the grapes,” the authority said on Wednesday.

“Eight cells were installed around the pressing surface. These were used for storing the grapes, and possibly also for blending the must with other ingredients, thereby producing different flavors of wine.”

The archeologists believe the winery served the residents of a large manor house, whose inhabitants made their living by, among other things, viticulture and wine production.

Moreover, evidence was unearthed next to the impressive wine press, indicating the presence of a Roman bathhouse, the Antiquities Authority said.

“These findings included terra cotta pipes used to heat the bathhouse and several clay bricks, some of which were stamped with the name of the Tenth Roman Legion,” it said. “This legion was one of four Roman Legions that participated in the conquest of Jewish Jerusalem, and its units remained garrisoned in the city until c. 300 CE.”

Among the Roman Legion’s main centers, the authority added, was one in the vicinity of the Jerusalem International Convention Center (Binyenei Ha’uma), located just 800 meters from the current excavation, where a large pottery and brick-production center was situated.

The archeologists suggest that the Schneller site, in the form of a manor house, constituted an auxiliary settlement to the main site that was previously exposed at Binyenei Ha’uma.

“As was customary in the Roman world, here too in the Schneller Compound, a private bathhouse was incorporated in the plan of the estate,” they said.

“The current archeological exposure is actually a continuation of the salvage excavations that were carried out at the site half a year ago, when evidence was uncovered there of a Jewish settlement that dated to the Late Second Temple period.”

Alex Wiegmann, excavation director on behalf of the authority, said the findings reinforce the capital’s storied history.

“Once again, Jerusalem demonstrates that wherever one turns over a stone, ancient artifacts will be found related to the city’s glorious past,” said Wiegmann.

“The archeological finds discovered here help paint a living, vibrant and dynamic picture of Jerusalem as it was in ancient times, up until the modern era.”

Jerusalem District Archeologist Amit Re’em described the excavation as “an excellent example of many years of cooperation and deep and close ties with the haredi community.”

“The general public is used to hearing of the clashes between the archeologists and the Orthodox community around the issue of the graves, but is unaware of the joint work done on a daily basis, and the interest expressed by the ultra-Orthodox sector,” said Re’em.

“The Israel Antiquities Authority is working to instill our ancient cultural heritage in this population, as it does with other sectors.”       (Jerusalem Post)

No longer ‘lone wolves,’ Palestinian attackers pair up

Wednesday morning’s terror attack in Eli highlights a new pattern of ‘cooperative’ strikes in twos and even threes

By Avi Issacharoff       The Times of Israel


The terror attack Wednesday morning in Eli, in which local resident Roee Harel was injured and the two terrorists killed, highlights the shift in recent weeks in the modus operandi of Palestinian attackers, away from the hitherto lone-wolf style of the current wave of violence.

The attackers are now setting out in pairs, sometimes even in threes, to kill Israelis. Palestinian youths who decide to carry out an attack seem to understand that doing so with a partner or two at their side offers the possibility of causing far greater harm.

Acting in a “cell” or group can also help keep morale high, particularly when the members are friends who support and encourage each other, helping to sustain the motivation to attack until the moment of action.

The Eli attack was carried out by two 17-year-old Palestinians from the village of Qaryut, Labib Azzam and Mohammed Zaghlwan. They went to high school together, and according to family members in the village, attended evening prayers at the village mosque together the night before the attack, prior to disappearing from the village.

It’s reasonable to assume that the two planned the attack ahead of time and did not decide impulsively to carry it out early Wednesday morning. It’s also safe to assume that the simple fact that they acted together helped them pass the long hours of the night in anticipation of the attack.

We’ve seen this pattern in several recent incidents. We saw it in the January attack in Beit Horon, for example, in which the two terrorists who killed Shlomit Krigman, were relatives Ibrahim Al’an and Hassin Abu Ghosh — the former from the Qalandiya refugee camp and the latter from the village of Beit Ur al-Tahta — though they didn’t live in the same place or attend the same school.

They connected over Facebook, which has become a key platform for young Palestinian terrorists to incite one another to new attacks. Before leaving their homes for the attack, Al’an and Abu Ghosh posted on the social network that they were “going out to hunt porcupines.”

In the attack two weeks ago at the Rami Levy supermarket in Sha’ar Binyamin, in which Tuvia Yanai Weissman was killed, too, three terrorists acted together: one from Beitunia near Ramallah and the other two from the Jalazoun refugee camp. They were well known to the guard at the supermarket because they had shopped there in the past, and one was once caught trying to steal from the store.

In the February 3 attack at Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City, in which Border Police officer Hadar Cohen was killed, three terrorists from the town of Qabatiya in the northern West Bank acted together: Ahmed Abou Al-Roub, Ahmad Zakarneh and Mohammed Kameel. They first met at the school they all attended. The three spent the night before the attack in al-Ram, north of Jerusalem, and the following morning set out to the capital together.

These are just a few examples of the new pattern.

The situation has been repeated in the spate of recent shooting attacks in the Ramallah area, which have been traced to three distinct cells – not individuals working alone.

We will likely see more of this new type of cooperative terror attack in the coming weeks.

But this is not the only pattern discernible in the latest wave of attacks. We can learn something important about the fact that most attacks now take place only on particular days and hours. The number of attacks spikes from Thursday to Sunday, and drops precipitously during the rest of the week.

For example, in Silwad northeast of Ramallah, a village with a mixed population of wealthy families and loyal Hamas supporters, nearly every Friday afternoon for weeks has seen an attempted car-ramming attack. The attackers are in no rush to attack after midday prayers, the most important prayer time in the Muslim week, but rather wait until after the afternoon prayers before getting into their cars and attempting to kill soldiers and others on nearby roads.

Throughout the West Bank, the most popular time for a shooting attack has been Sunday evening.

These patterns seem immune to the changing weather. In the past, blustery conditions would keep the terrorists home, with few attacks launched during cold, rainy nights. This new batch does not seem to care much about the weather.

A case in point is the Beit Horon attackers, Al’an and Abu Ghosh, who were on the verge of hypothermia by the time they arrived at the settlement and set about killing 23-year-old Krigman.

The Delusion of Separation from the Palestinians – Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser

The Palestinians have no interest in “separation” because their struggle is being waged against Zionism, not just the occupation of the 1967 territories. Their objective is the 1948 territories, which is why, even after the separation from Gaza, the terror from Gaza continued.

If, in line with the idea of separation, the building of the fence is completed and a few Jerusalem neighborhoods are transferred to the Palestinians’ rule, will their goals change? And if some of the settlements are moved to blocs, while the IDF keeps operating in all of the territories, will these steps bring an end to the terror? The terror will only intensify, both because it will get a tailwind and because it will be easier to mount attacks.

Most Jews hope for a real peace based on the principle of dividing the homeland into two national states with mutual recognition and appropriate security arrangements. Yet most of the Palestinians, who reject the existence of the Jewish people and of a Jewish historical bond to the Land of Israel, see their aim as the defeat of Zionism.

After the first stage, with the creation of an independent Palestinian state on the 1967 lines with Jerusalem as its capital, this state will keep working for Palestinian sovereignty in Haifa and Jaffa.

The writer was formerly Director General of the Israel Ministry of Strategic Affairs and head of the Research Division of IDF Military Intelligence. (Ha’aretz)

Nature paints the Negev bright red

The Darom Adom festival is a potent reminder that southern Israel is one of the most beautiful places to visit.

Carpets of red anemones (known as kalanyot in Hebrew) cover the Negev desert of Israel every spring.

To celebrate this breathtaking sight, the annual “Darom Adom” (The Red South) Festival takes place during the months of January/February.

Now in its 11th year, the festival is a potent reminder that southern Israel is one of the most beautiful places to visit.       (MFA)