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Latest News in Israel – 5th August

Palestinian teen arrested for allegedly attempting knife attack on Jerusalem light rail

Two weeks after alert security guards prevented a West Bank Palestinian civil- engineering student from detonating three pipe bombs packed with nails and rat poison on the Jerusalem Light Rail, guards thwarted another attack on Thursday morning.

“A 17-year-old illegal Palestinian worker made his way into Jerusalem and was spotted acting suspiciously by security guards near the light rail stop at Mount Herzl,” said police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld.

“He was immediately approached by security personnel guarding the area, who questioned him. [The suspect] was found to be in possession of a knife, and indicated that he intended to board the tram to carry out an attack.”

It remains unclear where the suspect resides, Rosenfeld said.

The unidentified teen was promptly arrested and transferred to the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court for his arraignment, he said, noting that police and security guards are maintaining a heightened alert throughout the capital, with an emphasis on the Old City and public transportation routes.

“We’ve heightened patrols at the Central Bus Station and all public areas, including the Old City, and the entire light-rail route, as part of consistent security measures taking place,” said Rosenfeld.

“Special patrol and undercover units have made security assessments, emphasizing safety in all areas. We’ve also mapped out different locations, including Damascus and Jaffa Gates and bus routes, where increased security measures have been implemented.”

Moreover, Rosenfeld cited newly installed concrete barriers at several bus stops in the capital to prevent car-ramming attacks by terrorists.

“Standard security measures will continue to be implemented throughout the day as long as necessary,” he said.

“There is no concrete intelligence that we have received about any terrorist attacks planned in Jerusalem, but at the same time, the security that has been implemented is important and remains absolutely necessary.”

On the morning of July 17, Ali Abu Hassan, 21, from Beit Ila near Hebron, carried three pipe bombs in a bag to Jerusalem’s Jaffa Center light rail stop, which he intended to detonate during the rush-hour commute.

According to a joint police and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) investigation released this week, Abu Hassan, an engineering student at Hebron University, illegally entered Jerusalem to carry out a mass-casualty bombing attack to exact revenge for Jewish visitation to the Temple Mount.

Noting the suspect’s suspicious behavior, security guards stationed nearby questioned him and discovered the bombs in his bag.

Police sappers dismantled the bombs, which they found were packed with nails and screws saturated in rat poison. They also found two knives in his bag.

Police said that Abu Hassan planned the attack for several days.

The light rail was shut down for over an hour, until the bombs were neutralized and the area cleared.            (Jerusalem Post)

IDF attacked Hezbollah convoy in Syria

The IDF attacked a convoy of Hezbollah vehicles in Syria, Arab media reported Thursday.

The convoy was reported to be transferring weapons in the Damascus area.

In May, a top commander for Lebanese-based terror organization Hezbollah was reportedly killed in an IDF military operation in Syria, according to The Lebanese TV station al-Mayadeen.

Mustafa Amine Badreddine was reportedly killed near the Damascus airport. Badreddine was said to be the highest ranking official in the Shi’ite paramilitary group behind the organization’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah.                   (Jerusalem Post)

Hamas ‘infiltrated World Vision Gazan aid group,’ stole tens of millions of dollars

Hamas infiltrated a large international aid organization operating in Gaza and redirected tens of millions of dollars – 60 percent – of the organization’s budget to its “military” wing, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) announced on Thursday, following an investigation that lasted almost two months.

The World Vision organization, which operates in 100 countries and employs 46,000 people, fell victim to a complex Hamas takeover scheme, a senior Shin Bet source said, adding that Hamas’s armed wing stole $7.2 million a year from the budget, which was supposed to pay for food, humanitarian assistance, and aid programs for disabled children, and channeled the funds to buy weapons, build attack tunnels, and to other preparations for war with Israel.

World Vision said it was “shocked” by Israel’s allegations and that it had regular internal and independent audits and evaluations as well as a broad range of internal controls to ensure aid reached intended beneficiaries.

“Based on the information available to us at this time, we have no reason to believe that the allegations are true. We will carefully review any evidence presented to us and will take appropriate actions based on that evidence,” the charity’s statement said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s spokesman, David Keyes, said that “World Vision was hijacked and transformed from an NGO – a nongovernmental organization – into an NGW, a nongovernmental war organization.”

Hamas siphoned tens of millions of dollars intended for the poor and for injured Palestinian children, and used it instead “to build a war machine, and to dig tunnels to attack civilians,” Keyes said.

He characterized this as a “travesty for both Palestinians and Israelis.”

The Shin Bet source named Gazan civil engineer Muhammad Halabi, who has been heading World Vision’s Gaza branch, as the terrorist group’s operative who infiltrated the charity in 2005, rising through its ranks to become head of the branch in 2010.

“The scope of the infiltration by Hamas to this international organization is an unusual event,” the Shin Bet source said.

“It reveals a certain pattern.”

World Vision was unaware of the fact that it was being exploited to channel funds toward war, the Shin Bet source stressed.

Halabi was arrested while trying to enter Israel from the northern Gaza Strip via the Erez crossing in mid-June.

During subsequent interrogation, the Shin Bet learned that he had been recruited by Hamas’s armed wing in 2004, and received a “very focused mission, to penetrate an international aid organization and exploit its resources.”

Money stolen from World Vision was also used to build a military base in Gaza, and to pay the salaries of Izzadin Kassam Brigade “military” wing members.

Hamas used the millions to purchase what items needed to build and maintain its military facilities and tunnels, such as metal, fences, covers for greenhouses, and pipes, according to the investigation.

This came at the expense of food for the needy in Gaza, often literally. Packages of goods for poor Gazans were redirected to Hamas battalions in northern Gaza, the Shin Bet said, adding that 2,500 food packages, worth $100 each, were taken from the people of Gaza.

Some 3,300 packages containing cleaning liquids never reached Gazan civilians either, the source said.

Mental health aid funds were also stolen and sent to the armed wing. Some of the money went to buy weapons from arms traders in Sinai, according to the investigation.

Halabi “in most cases issued false documentation” to facilitate the scheme, the source said.

“This was an organized plan.

Halabi appointed people to the organization who enabled him to do as he pleased.”

World Vision’s east Jerusalem office was raided in recent days.

The organization’s representatives, who were unaware what had been taking place, were due to meet with Israeli security officials on Thursday evening.

“Hamas knew how to exploit a weakness in supervision,” the source said. “While we talk about the difficult economic situation in Gaza, Hamas is taking resources for its military operatives.”

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the group had “no connection to [Halabi] and therefore, all Israeli accusations are void and aim to suppress our people.” Hamas also denies any links to Sinai insurgents.

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said this affair revealed something Israel has known for a long time: “That Hamas is fed by money from ‘human rights organizations.’” It is critical to tighten supervision of the donations coming from these groups to ensure that the money is being used for the purposes for which it is earmarked, she said.

Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said Thursday the UN must carry out an “immediate examination” of all such groups to ensure they are not financing terrorism against Israel.

Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Avi Dichter said: “Once again it has become clear that international organizations operating in Gaza, whether under the patronage of the UN or of Western states, are exploited by a terrorist organization like Hamas to convert funds intended for humanitarian goals into building up terrorist capabilities.”

The “naiveté that characterizes organizations with good intentions to provide humanitarian assistance to Gazans is what enables sophisticated Hamas terrorists to convert the aid into building terrorist infrastructure and finance terrorists, whose only goal is to murder Jews and Palestinians who they disapprove of,” Dichter said.

“It is time these organizations and states finally wake up, and listen to official voices from the State of Israel who have warned time and again about the cynical use Hamas and other terrorist organizations make of these groups,” he continued.

Foreign Ministry director-general Dore Gold wrote a letter to his counterparts around the word stressing that Hamas is closely linked to Iran, “which is seeking to spread its military influence through its Middle Eastern surrogates from Syria to Yemen.” Moreover, he said, Hamas also works closely with Islamic State in northern Sinai.

“Thus,” he wrote, “the growing capabilities of Hamas that this aid channel promoted served the strategic interests of the most destabilizing forces operating today in the Middle East.” (Jerusalem Post)

(BREAKING NEWS: Australia has suspended aid to World Vision Gaza pending the outcome of Israeli investigations into the group           RW)

New underground concrete barrier to encircle Gaza, stop terror tunnels

An underground barrier to defend against Hamas attack tunnels is on the way following a call from the Defense Ministry for companies to bid to construct the new defensive line around the Gaza Strip.

The closed tender has been submitted to 20 Israeli contracting companies. The first part of the defensive underground barrier will go along 10 kilometers of the Strip, with plans to extend the barrier around the entirety of the 60 kilometer border with Israel – thereby completely encircling Gaza.

The concrete barriers will extend several stories underground and will include above ground sections as well. Besides being used as a physical barrier against terror tunnels which cross into Israel, the sophisticated barrier will also be able to detect tunnel digging close to it, something which will enable the IDF to destroy these terror tunnels before they pose a threat.

Due to the sophistication of the project and the depth to which they will have to dig, Israeli contractors will require assistance from foreign corporations with experience in erecting underground barriers.

Several international companies have already refused to work with the Israeli companies due to political issues. A representative of one of these companies who even took part in a tour of the area said that his company decided at the last minute not to cooperate on the project due to political sensitivities. The ministry of defense meanwhile announced that it doesn’t know of any instances of companies refusing to work with Israel due to political considerations on this manner.

Work is set to begin on these underground barriers in October 2016. The work will be divided between four Israeli companies, including Solel Boneh.

The new defensive line will cost more that NIS two billion, and the first tenders which are to be issued will be worth several million shekels.

The barrier is supposed to end the tunnel threat once and for all, much like how Iron Dome has helped significantly reduce the number of rockets being shot by Hamas at the Israeli home front.

Other companied who have issued tenders are Rafael, Israel Aerospace Industries, Elta, and Ampers.   (Ynet News)

Israel to fly alongside Pakistan, UAE in US Air Force drill

Israeli aircraft will fly alongside Pakistani and United Arab Emirates planes in the United States Air Force’s Red Flag exercise in the Nevada desert later this month.

Red Flag is considered the US military’s “premier air-to-air combat training exercise,” in which participating countries are divided into two teams and simulate dog fights to improve both their aviation skills and their military’s international connections, according to the US Air Force.

Last year, Israeli pilots took part in the Red Flag exercise for the first time in six years. During the aerial simulation, Israeli Air Force planes flew with — and reportedly refueled — Jordanian fighter jets.

In 2016, there will be four Red Flag exercises at the Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. The first ran from January to February, the second from February to March and the third in July, while the final exercise will be conducted August 15-26, according to the US Air Force.

Israel will take part in the August exercise, sending both fighter jets and cargo planes to Nellis Air Force Base, an IDF spokesperson said.

Those planes will apparently be joined by two Muslim countries, according to the US Air Force.

“For the second and fourth Red Flag, we will be including foreign players which include the United Kingdom, Australia, Turkey, Italy, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, and Spain,” Col. Jeffrey Weed, a Combat Training Squadron commander in the US Air Force, announced after the 2015 Red Flag exercise.

The Aviationist, a website dedicated to aviation news and analysis, reported that Pakistani F16 fighter jets were seen en route to the Nevada desert, refueling at the US Air Force Lajes Field base in the Azores, Portugal.

The Israeli military would not officially comment on the presence of Pakistani and United Arab Emirates pilots at the Red Flag exercise, other than to say that the drill was being run by the Americans and Israel sees itself as a “guest” of the country.

However, earlier this year a senior IAF official stressed that, in addition to their benefits for training, international military exercises can be seen as a form of “roundabout” diplomatic strategy.

“Flying outside of Israel is very different from flying out of Ramat David,” the official told The Times of Israel, referring to an air base in northern Israel.

“You don’t know the area, you’re speaking in a different language. It lets you put a mirror up to yourself, and you learn a lot from that,” he said.

And there are other benefits to training with foreign armies, he added.

“[International exercises] are not just military, but strategic in nature,” the officer said. “And the strategic benefits are not always direct; they can also be roundabout.”

While they are not considered “enemy nations,” Israel does not have formal ties with Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates.

Though Pakistan has indicated it would be prepared to formalize its relationship with the Jewish state once there is a peace agreement with the Palestinians, ties between the two countries are often complicated.

There have been reports of covert contacts between Israeli and Pakistani officials, including a WikiLeaks document that indicated that a high-ranking official in the Pakistani army met directly with the Israeli Mossad.

Publicly, however, the two nations have little to do with one another. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly canceled a dinner reservation at a New York restaurant to avoid eating at the same time as Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Though there are still no formal ties with the United Arab Emirates, there has recently been a thaw in Israel’s relationship with the Gulf state. In November, Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold visited Bahrain in order to open its first diplomatic mission in Abu Dhabi, which is part of the United Arab Emirates.  (the Times of Israel)

Abbas interfered in Israeli election

PA President Mahmoud Abbas interfered in Israel’s last election, in March 2015, asking an Arab-Israeli mayor to increase votes for the Joint List, official sources in Jerusalem told Israel Radio.

Abbas called Nazareth Mayor Ali Salam on Election Day and urged him to push residents to vote for the Arab-dominated Joint List. The official sources said they have information that confirms this.

However, PA official Muhammad al-Madani, who organizes meetings with Israeli society, denied the claim by the Nazareth mayor that a conversation took place between him and Abbas. The PA accuses Salam of inventing the story for political motives, according to the Israel Radio report aired on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released YouTube videos in Hebrew and English with Arabic subtitles last week addressing the country’s Arab citizens, and apologizing for controversial remarks made during the 2015 election when he called for right-wing voters to turn out by warning that Arabs were “going en masse to the polls.”

“I said Arab voters were going to the polls in droves,” he said in Monday’s video. “I was referring to a specific political party, but many people were understandably offended.”

In light of the new report, it seems that Netanyahu was correct in noting that Arab voters were “going to the polls in droves.”

The Nazareth mayor told Israel Radio on Tuesday that because of his enlistment efforts, turnout jumped from 20 percent at midday to 90 percent by the evening.

Salam has a history of tension with the Joint List.

In October, Salam shouted at Joint List head Ayman Odeh one night to leave his city, as the MK was about to be interviewed live on Channel 2.

“Ayman, you need to go elsewhere, you’ve destroyed our city!” Salam yelled at Odeh from his car, which pulled up next to Odeh standing on the sidewalk in front of the television camera.

“Get out of here. Enough with the interviews!” shouted Salam. “You all have destroyed everything! Go back to Haifa!… What are you being interviewed about? What are you doing to us? You are doing nothing!” shouted Salam.

Odeh, for his part, remained quiet but appeared to be greatly irritated.

The sharp confrontation followed accusations by Salam earlier that day in an interview on Army Radio in which he said Joint List MKs were “ruining coexistence.”  (Jerusalem Post)

Fatah brags it killed 11,000 Israelis

Official Fatah Facebook page boasts about leading Palestinians in terror

Fatah yesterday posted a list of Fatah’s achievements on behalf of Palestinians. Significantly, Fatah did not cite even one peace-seeking or peace-promoting achievement, but only listed Fatah acts of violence and terror. Fatah even boasted that its attacks have killed 11,000 Israelis. While Fatah and the PLO have been killing Israelis since 1965, this number is a gross exaggeration.

One of the acts it bragged about was being the “first Palestinian faction to reach the [Israeli] nuclear reactor.” This is a reference to Fatah’s bus hijacking and murder of three Israeli civilians on their way to work at the Dimona nuclear plant in 1988.

The following is yesterday’s Fatah post celebrating and bragging about Fatah’s murder of Israeli civilians:

“To those who argue [with Fatah], to the boors, and to those who do not know history:

  • Fatah has killed 11,000 Israelis
  • Fatah has sacrificed 170,000 Martyrs (Shahids)…
  • Fatah was the first to carry out operations (i.e., terror attacks) during the first Intifada (i.e., Palestinian violence and terror against Israel, 1988-1993), and it was the first Palestinian faction to reach the nuclear reactor in Dimona (i.e., 1988 murder of 3 working mothers on way to the Dimona plant)
  • Fatah was the first to fight in the second Intifada (i.e., PA terror campaign 2000-2005) (Baha Al-Sa’id, an officer in the Preventive Security Forces, infiltrated an Israeli settlement on the border with Gaza)
  • Fatah was the first to defeat the Zionist enemy (Battle of El-Karameh)
  • Fatah led the Palestinian attack on Israel in the UN.”       (Palestinian Media Watch)

Spanish Israel lobby group deals triple blow to BDS movement in Spain

ACOM, an Israel lobby group working to combat BDS in Spain, won legal victories against three municipalities this week.

The group claimed its first victory after a court ruling suspended the effects of a local boycott against Israel in the Olesa Municipality on the outskirts of Barcelona.

The court acknowledged that local boycott agreements against Israel may be brought before Spanish courts, thereby rebutting points contained in a report being disseminated among city halls, commissioned by the Solidarity Network Against the Occupation of Palestine, an umbrella group of pro-BDS supporters.

The judge stated that a local boycott agreement produced legal effects, even if no measures are actually taken and if there is only the potential for such actions.

“The sheer existence of a local agreement of this nature implies the possibility of denying participation to any entity or person of Israeli nationality or origin in any contract or activity sponsored by the city council,” the judge stated.

A few days later, a Madrid Court suspended boycott agreements against Israel adopted by the Rivas Vaciamadrid City Council.

The agreements were incorporated into a motion of adherence to the BDS movement proposed by Izquierda Unida, the Communist Party and the extreme left-wing Podemos, a rising political party.

The motion had called to “not establish any political, trading, agricultural, educational, cultural, sporting or security deal, contract or agreement with Israeli institutions, companies or organizations.”

The city council had further committed not to establish any ties with organizations “deriving economic benefit from violations of international law and human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory or the Golan.”

In addition, a boycott motion against Israel was defeated in a plenary session in La Guardia, a town of 11,000 inhabitants in northern Spain this past week.

Once again the proposal for the boycott was proposed by the extreme left-wing party Podemos and BNG, a separatist far-left group.

According to ACOM, in the days prior to the voting session, the group contacted local political groups and provided them with factual information on Israel and the goals of the BDS movement.

In June, ACOM chairman Angel Mas told The Jerusalem Post that a growing number of cities across Spain have passed declarations in favor of BDS over the past year, as farleft political parties, such as Podemos, have gained access to public institutions and local government.

Mas revealed that Podemos had been under scrutiny in the Spanish media after police revealed the party is financed by the Venezuelan and the Iranian regimes.

He said this external funding has allowed the Podemos Party to rise to power, gaining control over some 40 localities, including Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia, Spain’s three largest cities.

“This means access to even more public resources and at that point what we noticed was that the strategy of the BDS campaign changed and stepped up,” he said. “This is something we haven’t seen anywhere else. It is a deliberate and well planned campaign for cities to create an area with ‘Israel Free Apartheid.’” This past week’s victories were in a long line of lawsuits. ACOM has responded aggressively by presenting lawsuits against every single city council or public institution that has declared a boycott against Israel.                      (Jerusalem Post)

US police chiefs visit Israel to learn counter-terrorism techniques

Citing Israel’s preeminence in counter-terrorism operations, US police chiefs are visiting the country as part of an ADL delegation to learn advanced training techniques from Israel Police. Among the delegation are chiefs of the Orlando, Florida and San Bernadino, California, police departments, who recently witnessed unprecedented terrorist attacks in their cities.

Oren Segal, director of the ADL’s Center on Extremism, said approximately a dozen senior law enforcement officers from across the US are participating in the National Counter- Terrorism Seminar, an annual one-week event which the organization hosts.

“We bring top-level law enforcement from the States to Israel to learn about civil society here, the role that law enforcement plays in terms of protecting communities with regard to terrorism, and to provide a better sense to American law enforcement about Israel,” Segal said on Tuesday.

The seminar was created to show that “people here are like people everywhere,” Segal said, noting that the portrayal of Israel in the news is overwhelmingly negative and frequently focuses on conflict and terrorist attacks.

“Like many people in the States, law enforcement officials who have not visited have a perception of Israel that they get from the media,” he said. “To actually bring people here to experience the day-to-day and learn from academics and Israeli police officials… makes the State of Israel a little more real to them, and they get a better sense of what life is really like here.”

THE ADL delegation of senior US law enforcement officials poses with Israel Police officers in Jerusalem.THE ADL delegation of senior US law enforcement officials poses with Israel Police officers in Jerusalem.

Equally important, Segal said, is that “US law enforcement officials can learn some lessons about what it’s like to be in law enforcement here in Israel, and the unique threats and unique experience” that it entails.

Orlando Police Chief John Mina – who led the investigation into the largest mass shooting in modern US history last June, in which 49 people were killed at a gay night club – said the massacre committed by a lone gunman profoundly scarred the city.

“The attack was devastating,” Mina said, “and we were devastated. But we knew we had to come together as a community, and we’re going through that process now.”

Mina, who arrived on Sunday with the other US participants, said he felt compelled to join the delegation when he was invited following the attack.

“After what happened, it made me want to come to Israel even more, just to learn more from the Israeli Police to see how they deal with terrorism, how they respond to it, and see what their training is like,” he said.

The delegation will attend several seminars daily as well as training exercises.

During one lecture, Mina, whose Lebanese father was born in Haifa, said he was impressed with how Israeli Police utilize heavily-armed pairs of officers on motorcycles to deal rapidly with potential threats.

“We’re not used to that in the United States, so it was kind of interesting to see,” he said.

“Also [Police spokesman] Micky Rosenfeld gave an excellent presentation on dealing with terrorism and the importance of getting information out quickly, which we think is very important as well in the US.”

Asked his opinion of Israeli counter-terrorism, Mina said it serves as a model for US law enforcement.

“We have great respect for the way things are done over here by the Israeli police,” he said. “Unfortunately, it seems like there are so many attacks that they have a clear sense of what they’re dealing with. We have great respect for how they approach terrorism, and how they train and respond to it.”

Mina also cited the careful monitoring of social media by Israeli Police as “extremely important” in preventing attacks.

“People in the States are using social media and getting this idea in their heads to carry out their own attacks,” he said.

“That is one of our greatest threats right now, and Israel is excellent at dealing with that.

“I like the way the Israeli Police pretty much go right after the threat, and in the US we are heading in the same direction, especially with our situation. Also, over here they don’t negotiate [with terrorists], and I think that’s the way to go.”

After Mina met with the survivor of a terrorist attack, he said the average Israeli citizen’s preparedness and response to terrorism is noteworthy.

In applying lessons he learned from the Orlando massacre, Mina stressed the importance of dealing effectively with a barricaded active shooter holding multiple hostages.

“It was a very unique situation, because in the US shootings typically end in a few seconds, and the [suspect] kills himself,” he said.

“For us, this went from an active-shooter situation to a barricaded gunman holding hostages to a terrorist situation within the first hour. From my perspective, I think our police response was good and we saved many, many people from inside the Pulse Night Club. But there will always be situations where, as we compile more information, we will certainly share it [with the public].”

While Mina stopped short of deeming the violence in the US a turning point, he emphasized that attacks there required police and citizens to become “super vigilant.”

“It is different times,” he conceded.

“People need to be aware of their surroundings at all times. Officers in uniform are being targeted as well. I believe that it starts over here [in the Middle East] and kind of carries over to the United States.”

John McMahon, sheriff of San Bernardino County, California, echoed Mina’s sentiments.

McMahon oversaw a December terrorist attack in which a married Arab couple killed 14 people and wounded 22, before being shot dead by police.

“It was a tragic event, and not only was it a terrorist attack… it included county employees in a building used by multiple groups, including us,” he said. “That we never expected. I guess we expect the unexpected, because you never know where they are going to occur.”

McMahon, who has previously worked with the ADL at the Holocaust Museum in Los Angeles, said he was offered to attend the seminar previously, but only decided to join this year.

“The ADL does an incredible job educating law enforcement officials on terrorism, hate, and a variety of other things,” he said.

“To come over and interact with the Israeli National Police to see how they deal with the multiple cultures, the extremism, and terrorism, is an opportunity of a lifetime for us.”

Adding that terrorist attacks in the US are becoming increasingly prevalent, McMahon said American law enforcement is entering a world which Israel knows well.

“We’re very good with intelligence and the things that we’re used to,” he said, “This is a new world for us, and so we can learn a lot from the Israel Police, and the folks in Israel, because this is something they’ve been dealing with for a number of years, and they have a lot of experience to share.”

Indeed, Police spokesman Rosenfeld, who is helping host the delegation, said that as more brazen terrorist attacks unfold across the globe, international law enforcement officials increasingly seek Israel’s advice on how to deal with the growing epidemic.

“As part of ongoing coordination and sharing of intelligence, knowledge and experience in the field of terrorism, the Israel Police will continue to work with law enforcement officials throughout the world,” Rosenfeld said.     (Jerusalem Post)

First official IOC ceremony in memory of Munich victims

After 44 years, the memory of the 11 Israeli victims of the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre was commemorated on Wednesday in an official ceremony organized by the International Olympic Committee.

The ceremony was held in the Place of Mourning, a memorial set up in the Olympic Village in Rio, two days prior to the opening ceremony of the 2016 Games.

A “moment of reflection” will also be held during the closing ceremony.

The Place of Mourning was built to honor the memory of 15 people killed during Olympic Games. Besides the 11 Israelis, it also commemorates the German policeman who was killed in the failed rescue attempt in Munich, two victims of a bomb attack at the 1996 Atlanta Games and Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili, who died in an accident at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

A long campaign led by Ankie Spitzer and Ilana Romano, widows of two of the murdered Israeli athletes, demanded that the IOC commemorate the Israelis in the opening or closing ceremony, but their pleas had fallen on deaf ears until the appointment of German Thomas Bach as IOC President in September 2013.

“We were very impressed with the design of the Place of Mourning. This is an historic moment,” said Romano. “This is an extremely emotional moment for us, one we have been waiting for since 1972. Our patience finally paid off. The memory of the 11 Munich victims has finally been acknowledged by the IOC.”

Bach participated in Wednesday’s ceremony and spoke of the importance of remembering “those who are no longer with us” before the Olympic festivities begin. Bach said the memorial was erected in the Olympic Village as that is where athletes from across the world live harmoniously.

Olympic Widows[1]

Olympic Widows

Ilana Romano(left) and Ankie Spitzer – widows of two of the murdered Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics – attend yesterday’s memorial in Rio

Meanwhile, Israel’s representatives are continuing to make their way to Rio, with rhythmic gymnast Neta Rivken, runner Donald Sanford and Badminton player Misha Zilberman all departing from Ben-Gurion Airport on Wednesday.

Rivkin, who will be participating in her third Olympics at the age of 25, will be the delegation’s flag bearer at Friday’s opening ceremony and is looking forward to the occasion.

“It is always exciting to take part in the Olympics because this is an awesome event and the dream of every athlete,” said Rivkin. “Being the flag bearer is a huge responsibility and honor. Knowing that I’ve got the entire country behind me is amazing. I have to admit that I found it hard to sleep over recent days, but I’m remaining positive and the most important thing is to enjoy the experience.”

Sanford is hoping to make up for his frustrating memories from London 2012, when he had his shoes stolen shortly before his 400-meter heat.

“I’ve got a lot of shoes with me this time thanks to my sponsor,” he said. “These are my second Olympics and I’m excited I’m healthy and ready to run.”        (Jerusalem Post)

Foot patrol pilot program seeks to build confidence in south Tel Aviv

Police are hoping to take control of south Tel Aviv and increase residents’ sense of security with a new foot patrol pilot program consisting of 24 officers, who will concentrate efforts around the crime-ridden central bus station and the surrounding neighborhoods.

The unit has been in operation since April, but the program was officially launched on Tuesday in the nearby Levinsky Park.

Police said that the purpose of the foot patrol is “situational prevention [preventing incidents of crime by creating effective deterrence], increasing residents’ sense of security, and improved accessibility of police services in the region.”

Foot Patrol[1]

Foot Patrol

Two officers patrol the streets of Tel Aviv as part of the police department’s foot patrol program

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said at the inauguration that there is no alternative to foot patrols.

“There is still no substitute for the direct contact of a citizen with a police officer on the street,” he said. “I have no doubt police on the beat will greatly increase the public’s confidence and trust.”

Mayor Ron Huldai, who was present at the ceremony agreed that the foot patrol is an important part of policing south Tel Aviv. “The presence of a beat cop who knows the area and the local residents is the cornerstone of police work, and I am very happy to adopt it,” he said.

South Tel Aviv has long been synonymous with crime.

According to a 2014 report by Calcalist, Tel Aviv is Israel’s most dangerous city, with a high concentration of crime in south Tel Aviv.

In the mid-2000s Israel experienced an influx of around 50,000 African asylum-seekers, who have concentrated in Tel Aviv’s southern neighborhoods causing tension with Israeli residents and even riots with anti-immigration protesters in 2012. Sigal Rosen, the public policy coordinator of the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants, an NGO which advocates on the behalf of refugees and migrant workers, praised the new police effort.

“It is good to improve to the feeling of security for the residents of south Tel Aviv,” she told the Post. “This is good not just for the Israelis but also the Africans, asylum-seekers are also afraid of the area’s drug dealers and high crime.”

May Golan, a right-wing activist and head of Hebrew City, an organization that seeks to remove asylum-seekers from Israel, told the Post the foot patrol unit was a positive step.

“I am very happy about the new police foot patrol that is going to start in the neighborhoods around south Tel Aviv,” she remarked.

Nevertheless according to Golan, south Tel Aviv residents will not be secure until asylum- seekers are made to leave.

“Obviously the problem will not be solved until a real solution will take those illegal infiltrators from Eritrea out of our city and out of this country.”

Since the unit’s establishment in April, many incidents of robbery, theft, drug dealing, and prostitution have been prevented, according to police.

Rosen believes this program may lead to a better future for the south Tel Aviv community.

“There were ups and downs with police relations with the African community; this is a very blessed move by the police,” she said.                (Jerusalem Post)

Number of female combat soldiers highest ever

Since the IDF opened up combat roles to women, the number of female combat soldiers has been steadily increasing. The number rose from 435 female combat soldiers in 2005 to 547 by 2012. The women were only in one battalion: Caracal.

However, 2013 saw an explosion in women combat volunteers with 898 joining combat units. With the opening of another mixed-gender battalion—Lions of Jordan—the number jumped to 1,365 women in combat roles. Finally, 2015 saw the opening of the third mixed-gender battalion—Bardelas—and the number increased to 2,047 female combat soldiers, a number which is expected to increase all the way to 2,100 women in combat roles.

This constitutes a 400 percent increase in female fighters in a single decade. As if that weren’t enough, the IDF is planning on opening up a fourth mixed gender battalion in the near future.

Eventually, the IDF plans on these battalions being the first lines of defense on the borders of Israel.

The reason for this drastic increase in female combat soldiers is due to the elimination of the strenuous selection process before the draft day in exchange for a personal interview, followed by a two-week trial period for the women to see if they are the right fit for the job.

Another reason is because the conditions for the fighters have improved across the board, from officer’s benefits to living quarters.

A host of new positions are available to female soldiers this draft cycle as well, positions which require women to serve the same 32-month service as men. This includes intelligence analysts, operational intelligence analysists, special operations lookouts, various cyber positions, and positions in the Lotar anti-terror unit.                    (Ynet News)

Three killed in traffic accident

A heavy truck struck a family car late Sunday night near the Fureidis junction, near Haifa, killing two women, Olga Ashkar, 38, and Angelique Naim, 32, and the latter’s two-year-old daughter, Chloe Naim. Police said it appears the truck driver ran a red light.

Truck driver Kamal Diab, 62, from Haifa, is also suspected of driving under the influence of drugs. According to police, Diab attempted to flee the scene after the crash.

Under questioning from police, Diab stated that a technical failure caused his vehicle to continue traveling some 300 meters past the scene of the crash. Diab also accused the driver of the car of running the light.

The truck was heading north on Route 4 when the car, which was traveling west on Route 70, at an intersection near the town of Fureidis, near Haifa.

Olga Ashkar was pronounced dead at the scene, while Angelique Naim and her daughter, Chloe, were evacuated to Hillel Yaffe Hospital in critical condition and later died. The women’s husbands were also injured in the crash, one critically and one moderately.

At police request, the Hadera Magistrate’s Court remanded Diab in custody until Friday.   (Jerusalem Post)

The Fraying Palestinian Political Entity in the West Bank

by Pinhas Inbari     Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

http://jcpa.org/the-fraying-palestinian-political-entity-in-the-west-bank/

The Palestinian Authority is failing to control extensive parts of the West Bank. Some districts are developing in different directions, thereby accelerating the process of the PA’s disintegration.

In Hebron, the large clans of Mount Hebron have linked up with each other, reestablished the Tribal Council of Mount Hebron, and sent a delegation to Amman to express loyalty to the king of Jordan.

Nablus has gone into a tailspin of total anarchy, under the rule of gangs, with exchanges of gunfire in the heart of the city and attempts at political assassinations. Local Fatah strongman Ghassan Shak’a, who resigned as head of the Nablus municipality in August 2015, announced that he will run in the next municipal elections with his own list of candidates against the Fatah slate. On June 1, 2016, unknown persons in Nablus fired at his house. On July 24, bullets struck the home of Muhammad Jihad Dwekat just days after he announced his intention to run for Nablus mayor as an independent non-Fatah candidate.

In Ramallah, seat of the Palestinian Authority, a dense network of Palestinian nongovernmental organizations (PNGOs) that relies on European aid is leading a growing opposition to the PA. Europe believes that the successor to Mahmoud Abbas will emerge from this network – from the local Palestinians that the Oslo agreements disinherited when the PLO leadership in Tunis was brought in to rule. However, the PLO is not prepared to agree to any power sharing with the PNGOs. It wants to take measures against them, but is encountering problems with Europe.

The PA’s loss of control in the West Bank raises questions about its ability to run a state. The fragmented West Bank will be a weaker entity than the weak states that collapsed in the Arab Spring. When the Palestinian entity collapses, the vacuum will be filled by the negative forces that have become the nightmare of the world.