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Latest News in Israel – 6th April

Police seize knife on Palestinian headed towards Jerusalem with group of illegals

Police pulled over what it thought was a suspicious vehicle driving near Latrun towards Jerusalem on Monday morning. After ordering the car to pull over police discovered seven Arabs, residents of the West Bank some who were holding fake Israeli identity cards.

Upon searching the suspects’ possessions police found a small sharpened knife in the belongings of a 17-year-old youth. Police called for backup and arrested the suspects and their driver, a resident from southern Israel.

On their way to the police station police noticed another suspicious vehicle. The car was stopped following which an additional two Palestinians illegally in Israel were arrested. One of the suspects was holding a fake Israeli identity card.

The commanding officer of the Zion area praised the police response.

“The alertness of the officers and their ability to identify the unusual, improves security and saves lives,” he said.

On Sunday night, the IDF, in a joint operation with the Border Police and Civil Administration, destroyed the houses of three terrorists who carried out a shooting and stabbing attack at the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City in which one Border Police officer was killed in February.

Hadar Cohen, a 19-year-old border policewoman was killed and another female officer critically wounded in the attack carried out by three Arab terrorists wielding machine guns, pipe bombs and knives.  (Jerusalem Post)

Soldier stabbed at Tzur Yitzhak, IDF investigating if he made up story

On Monday morning it was reported that a soldier was stabbed at the village of Tzur Yitzhak near Kfar Saba. Later in the day, the IDF began investigating the possibility that the soldier invented the story of the stabbing.

Magen David Adom was treating a 20-year-old man at the scene who sustained a minor injury with a stab wound to his upper body. MDA evacuated the victim to hospital.

Police were searching the area for the suspect.

Earlier Monday, police pulled over what it thought was a suspicious vehicle driving near Latrun towards Jerusalem. After ordering the car to pull over, police discovered seven Arabs, residents of the West Bank, some who were holding fake Israeli identity cards.

Upon searching the suspects’ possessions, police found a small sharpened knife in the belongings of a 17-year-old youth. Police called for backup and arrested the suspects and their driver, a resident from southern Israel.                      (Jerusalem Post)

IDF: Enough evidence to charge Hebron soldier in killing

IDF prosecutors argued in a military court hearing Tuesday in favor of jailing an IDF soldier filmed shooting an incapacitated Palestinian terrorist last month, pointing out that the soldier didn’t warn anybody of a possible explosive charge, and showed no signs of distress afterwards.

Prosecutor Adoram Reigler told the court that the military had gathered enough evidence to move forward with a manslaughter charge, the Ynet news website reported.

The soldier under investigation, whose name has not been released, was filmed shooting 21-year-old Abdel Fattah al-Sharif through the head on March 24, minutes after Sharif and another assailant stabbed and moderately wounded a soldier in Tel Rumeida, an Israeli enclave of the West Bank city of Hebron. The two assailants were shot, with one was killed and Sharif wounded, by an army officer during the course of their attack.

The soldier, who shot and killed Sharif after he’d already been disabled, was arrested by military police, but since Friday has been out of jail and held in supervised detention on an army base, amid a roiling political scandal over his actions and the army’s response.

He said in his defense in court on Tuesday “I saw him move his hand and head. I didn’t shoot for no reason. I wouldn’t have fired if I didn’t feel I was in imminent danger.”

“If there had been an explosive belt, I’d be in the cemetery now, not in the court,” he said. “These Military Police investigators are in an office, not in the field where they can be shot at.”

“I was emotional, and in a split second I decided to shoot,” Ynet quoted the soldier saying.

The prosecution has sought to send him back to jail and said that the soldier was not cooperating with investigators, even though his lawyers initially said he had promised to reenact the shooting and confront the soldiers who testified against him, according to Ynet.

Prosecutors said they may file a manslaughter indictment against the soldier, who initially claimed he feared the stabber had a bomb, as soon as next week.

“A person who’s worried about a bomb, it would be expected that he would say so immediately after shooting,” chief military prosecutor Col. Sharon Zagagi Pinhas said. “Even if he was concerned, he acted against the guidelines he received concerning the operating procedures of a suspected bomb.”

One of the prosecutors noted that in a film of the incident the soldier can be seen immediately after discharging his weapon and “doesn’t look particularly stressed. He approaches two civilians at the scene, shakes their hands, and smiles as well.”

One of the men the soldier shook hands with is far right-wing activist Baruch Marzel.

“You can see that he isn’t pressured or in a tempest of emotions, despite the fact that he claims that at the time he was giving out high-fives, he was still wracked with emotions,” Cpt. Avishai Kaplan said.

Prosecutors also mentioned a conversation the soldier had with a paramedic who arrived at the scene. When she asked if he shot Sharif, the soldier replied that he didn’t remember, and when she pressed him, he admitted that he saw the Palestinian move and feared he had a knife.

“The bottom line of the autopsy findings is that the deadly shooting for the terrorist was the bullet in the head from the soldier” despite the fact that he had been previously wounded, Pinhas said.

The March 24 incident sparked a national controversy, with some politicians and others accusing the army of selling out the soldier by arresting him and putting him under investigation. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and army brass have all defended the investigation.  (The Times of Israel)

Erekat: ‘We’re reporting to the ICC’ on Israeli home demolitions

The Palestinians are reporting to the International Criminal Court on the Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes and structures, including those in the past 24 hours, PLO Secretary General Saeb Erekat said on Monday.

He spoke in the aftermath of Civil Administration demolitions of seven illegally built Palestinians structures in Area C of the West Bank on Monday. The IDF had also razed early in the morning the family homes of the three terrorists who killed policewoman Hadar Cohen in a terror attack outside the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem, February.

“Each and every crime Israel commits in violation of our rights are documented, reported, and presented to the relevant international bodies, including the International Criminal Court,” Erekat said.

“Granting impunity for continued and systematic Israeli crimes will not achieve a resumption of negotiations, rather, it is killing any realistic political horizon to end the Israeli occupation of the State of Palestine,” Erekat said.

The Civil Administration said it had demolished seven illegal Palestinian structures on Monday, three of which were built on the archeological site of Hirbet Marjameh, near the Kochav Yaakov settlement. It added that the structures had damaged the site.

Separately, it said, it destroyed two structures and two pens for animals that were illegally built in the Wadi Qelt nature reserve.

According to the Jerusalem Periphery Forum, the structures that were demolished in the Wadi Qelt area were built with funding by the European Union.

The non-governmental Jerusalem Periphery Forum which is made up of residents from West Bank settlements outside of Jerusalem, said it welcomed the Civil Administration’s actions.

Unfortunately, the forum said, the Civil Administration had only taken down what amounted to a drop in the bucket given the large number of illegal Palestinian structures in Area C of the West Bank, many of which are funded by the European Union.

It has been particularly concerned about the illegal Palestinian and Beduin structures along Route 1 as it stretches from Jerusalem down to the Dead Sea.

It charged that the EU was ignoring Israeli law to help the Palestinian claim the territory along that main artery for what would become a Palestinian “terror state.”

The forum called on the Civil Administration and the Defense Ministry to take additional action against that illegal building.

The EU on Monday had no response to the demolition of the structures. In the past it has explained that it believes that the funding of such structures fell into the category of humanitarian aid that was permissible under international law.

This is not the first time the IDF has removed EU-funded structures in Area C, and Israel and the EU have a constant dialogue on the matter.

At a meeting of EU leaders last January, a resolution on the Middle East Peace Process was passed that reiterated the EU’s “strong opposition to Israel’s settlement policy and actions taken in this context, such as building the separation barrier beyond the 1967 line, demolitions and confiscation – including of EU funded projects – evictions, forced transfers including of Bedouins, illegal outposts and restrictions of movement and access.”

It is not expected that the EU will release a statement that varies widely from this last one.   (Jerusalem Post)

 

Israel suspends cement deliveries to Gaza’s private sector

Israel this week temporarily suspended the delivery of cement to Gaza’s private sector after it discovered that Hamas was siphoning the material, which is intended to rebuild destroyed houses.

The Office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) monitors the flow of cement into Gaza to ensure that Hamas has not used it to construct tunnels to attack Israel. On Friday COGAT posted on its Arabic Facebook page that it suspended the transfer of cement to Gaza because some deliveries had been diverted by Imad Elbaz, the deputy director-general for Hamas’s economics office.

“This is a blatant violation of agreements for the rehabilitation mechanism,” COGAT said in its Facebook post.

COGAT head Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai temporarily halted the shipments until the matter is fully investigated, COGAT said. adding that it regretted that Hamas continues to pursue its own personal agenda at the expense of Gaza’s residents.

The UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, issued an unusually sharp response on Monday, accusing Hamas of theft.

“Those who seek to gain through the deviation of materials are stealing from their own people and adding to the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza,” Mladenov said.

“The reconstruction of Gaza remains critical to ensuring its stability and I urge a rapid resolution of this matter,” he added, stating that Israel alleged that “a substantial amount [of cement bound for the private sector] had been diverted from its intended legitimate beneficiaries.

The UN is working with the Palestinians and the Israelis to resolve the situation, he said.

“The people of Gaza depend on the entry of construction material to repair and reconstruct their damaged and destroyed houses following the 2014 conflict and to enable much needed infrastructure and development projects,” Mladenov said.                        (Jerusalem Post)

Israeli Beduins call on Hamas to release mentally disabled prisoner

The community of Israeli Beduins has demanded that Hamas release a mentally disabled prisoner it has been holding for a year together with the Ethiopian-Israeli prisoner, Avera Mengistu.

The Beduin prisoner, whose name remains under gag order in Israel, is a resident of the Negev town of Hura. He crossed the border to Gaza in April 2015, when he was captured by Hamas’ military wing, al-Kassam Brigades. In February 2010, he previously crossed the border to Gaza, but was arrested by local police who noticed that he was mentally disabled and returned him to his hometown.

On Monday, a letter written by “the community of Israeli Beduins” and addressed to the Kassam Brigades was spread on Palestinian social media networks.

The letter’s authors state that one of the Israeli prisoners whose image was recently presented by Hamas along with three other Israeli hostages is a mentally disabled person who has previously infiltrated into the Gaza Strip.

“By holding a mentally disabled Muslim person, the Kassam Brigades are acting immorally. They infringe on this man’s liberty and hurt his family,” the letter read.

“Ethiopians Falash Mura, who are Jews, are discriminated by the Israeli establishment. Hence, those who think that this establishment will have any interest in an Arab guy are wrong,” the Beduins stated.

Reacting to the letter, Muhannad Alawi, a Hamas supporter, wrote on Twitter: “If the man would have been a Palestinian who does not serve the occupation in any form, we would have told the Kassam Brigades to release him. But he has Israeli citizenship.”

“I do not believe that the Kassam Brigades hold an Arab for no reason. Perhaps he is a soldier and Israel is attempting to deceive the resistance by painting him as a crazy Arab,” Alawi added.   (Jerusalem Post)

Police bust Israeli-Palestinian meat smuggling ring passing off non kosher meat as kosher

Nine Israelis and Palestinians have been arrested on suspicion of smuggling meat into Israel from the West Bank and selling it — with forged kosher certifications and expiration dates — to top Israeli restaurants.

According to police, the meat originated in South America and was sent through the port of Haifa to a Palestinian importer, ostensibly for use in areas of the West Bank governed by the Palestinian Authority. Instead, the meat was stored in a Palestinian town northeast of Jerusalem and smuggled back into Israel under conditions that violated health regulations.

After the meat was repackaged with fake kosher certifications, as well as fraudulent expiration dates and veterinary permits, it was distributed to “leading and renowned restaurants” and stores, police said in a statement, adding that the meat was “inedible.”

The arrests Monday followed an investigation by the Israel Police, Agriculture Ministry, and Health Ministry. Additional arrests were expected.

Officials Monday confiscated 30 tons of meat, thousands of dollars in cash, and vehicles with secret compartments used in the scheme, which involved the cooperative efforts of Palestinian and Israeli smugglers.

Chief Inspector Shmuel Jerbi, who was overseeing the investigation, told the Ynet news website that the restaurant owners are also being investigated. The restaurants and stores that received the meat were not immediately identified.                   ( JTA & the Times of Israel)

Israel hopes to renew ties with Havana following US-Cuba thaw

Israel looks favorably on the recent US-Cuba reconciliation and hopes that in the future it too will re-establish ties with that Caribbean country, Modi Ephraim, the head of the Foreign Ministry’s Latin America and Caribbean division, said on Monday.

At the same time, he said there is currently no discussion underway with the Cubans to re-establish ties. He said that Jerusalem was carefully watching the development of the ties with the US, and its goal – “when it is possible” – is to improve relations as well with Cuba.

Cuba is one of the four Latin American countries with whom Israel does not have formal diplomatic relations, along with Nicaragua, Venezuela and Bolivia. Israel had diplomatic relations with Cuba until 1973, when Fidel Castro broke them off as he was running for president of the Non Aligned Movement. Since that time Havana has been a constant and bitter critic of Israel.

Despite the lack formal relations, Ephraim said the people-to-people contacts between the two countries have continued, especially in the health, culture, and agricultural fields. In addition, it is a destination for Israeli tourists.

Despite its size and difficult economic situation, Cuba – Ephraim said – has influence on South American countries because of the country’s revolutionary elan. He pointed out that the rapprochement with the US has improved relations between the US and South America.

Although there is no immediate sign of an improvement of ties with Cuba, Ephraim said that the election in December of Argentinean President Mauricio Macri  has already significantly improved the atmosphere between the two countries, and a visit by the country’s vice president is expected in the coming months,

While numerous Latin American leaders have visited Israel over the years, no sitting Israeli prime minister has ever visited the continent. A planned visit by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2014 never materialized, but Ephraim said that a visit to at least Mexico and Colombia, two of Israel’s closest friends in Latin America, is being planned either for 2016 or 2017.

Asked whether the lack of a prime ministerial visit to Latin America matters to the countries there, Ephraim said that one of the most important things in diplomacy is reciprocity. At the same time, he added while the prime minister  has never visited there, numerous ministers do visit, and that Diaspora Affairs and Education Minister Naftali Bennett was just in Argentina last month.                (Jerusalem Post)

Civilians hand over missile launcher, assault rifles, and grenades to IDF

A weapons amnesty program launched by the IDF last month has seen civilians deposit an arsenal of arms at IDF bases around the country, an army officer in charge of the collection told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.

Civilians responding to the IDF’s call to hand over military and other types of equipment have, over the past three weeks, turned over more than 160 weapons, and hundreds of thousands of rounds of ammunition, according to Col. Meirav Brikman, commander of the IDF’s Equipment Center, a part of the Technology and Logistics Branch.

“We received hundreds of grenades, explosive bricks, assault rifles and hand guns.

A missile launcher from the 1980s, and land mines,” Brikman said.

Some of the returned items were very old, having originated from past wars, she said.

“Sometimes, we were surprised by what we saw. We do not ask people why they had them, in line with the terms of our campaign,” she added.

Older weaponry included Kalashnikov rifles, whose origins are unknown; weapons from a War of Independence stash found on a kibbutz; and even a 19th century British rifle that has been given to a historian for analysis.

Mortar shells also were part of the war gear received by the IDF, and non-combat equipment, such as vests and boots, also piled up at the collection points.

“Many of these items form active explosive risks. They could fall into criminal or terrorist hands if left in homes,” Brikman warned. “We are currently examining the option of sending police cars, in conjunction with local authorities, to pick up weapons [if requested to by civilians].”

Last month, Brig.-Gen.Yoram Azulai, head of the IDF Technological and Logistics Directorate, announced the start of the drive, calling on civilians to return all military equipment, from firearms and ammunition to flares and stun grenades.

Collection points include IDF bases and police stations and are listed on the website www.mahzirim.co.il or can be identified on the *2972 hotline. The program runs until April 15.

The last such drive, which took place in 2008, saw some NIS 7 million worth of equipment returned, Azulai said in announcing the drive, promising that anyone can return equipment anonymously during the program but that after “it is over, we will increase enforcement.”

One IDF reservist, who is in possession of non-combat gear from his reserves duty, said that although he had heard of the campaign, he is waiting to return the equipment by sending them back with friends who will do their reserve duty.

The reservist, who has an army snowsuit and other items of army clothing, is representative of many reserve soldiers who take such items home after completing their service. He said the “equipment is sitting in a bag at home. My wife has been telling me to return it. I would have returned it anyway, irrespective of the campaign. I’m waiting for someone to go to reserves, to take it with them.”

A second reservist, who had been keeping a double magazine clip for an M-16 rifle, filled with dozens of ammunition rounds, took advantage of the campaign to drop off the gear at the Sde Dov collection point.

“I took this home from my conscripted service, on purpose, because I wanted a double, not a single clip for my reserves. When you shoot the gun and run out of bullets, you need to put in another magazine. If you don’t have a double clip, you have to look in your pouch for the replacement. The double allows you to immediately replace the first clip,” the reservist said.

“It has been sitting in my cupboard for 20 years. I did not know how I would ever give it back.

When I saw the ad on Facebook, I thought, this is my opportunity.

The clips were in a big duffle bag, taking up space, I knew I would never use them again. I also had uniforms from my reserves,” he said.

The process of returning the gear was smooth and efficient, and “no questions were asked,” the reservist said, noting that two soldiers collected the items.

“They did not ask for my name or anything. It could not have been more efficient. This is what the army does best. I’m never going to have an M-16. You don’t want this stuff in the house. I was happy to get rid of it,” he said.

Shula Braun from Ma’aleh Adumim returned a sack full of winter coats and other clothing to the local police station that her three children had accumulated during their service. But in the middle of the sack she inserted a bag of about 50 bullets that been sitting on a shelf for years.

“Even though they said there would be no questions asked, I didn’t really want to have to explain why we had a bag of bullets in the house,” said Braun.

“Sure enough, when I dropped off the equipment, a police officer asked me if there was any ammunition in the sack. I couldn’t lie, but I told him, ‘I thought there were no questions asked.’”        (Jerusalem Post)

Weizmann institute develops ground breaking prostate cancer treatment

The incidence of prostate cancer, especially among men, in Israel has increased in the past two decades. However, Professor Avigdor Scherz and Professor Yoram Salomon of the Weizmann Institute have developed a groundbreaking treatment, bearing good news for the patients diagnosed with the deadly disease.

Prostate cancer patients face a dilemma today: Undergoing prostate surgery and radiation, which often causes erectile dysfunction and urinary retention, or staying under “active surveillance,” which could allow the cancer to metastasize. Most prostate cancer patients choose the latter.

However, the two professors’ treatment does not require cancer patients to choose either. In fact, it narrowly targets tumors on the prostate without damaging genitalia, urinary tract, or general quality of lifeThe treatment is injected intravenously for 10 minutes and does not harm the healthy tissue surrounding the tumor. Immediately after the injection, the malignant tissue is exposed to light for 22 minutes via tiny optical fibers.

Shining a light on the tumor causes a chain reaction, destroying tumor without damaging healthy internal tissue such as the urinary tract or genitalia. The procedure last an hour and a half and the drugs administered leave the patient’s system after about two-to-three hours.

Scherz and Salomon based the treatment on 20 years of research in their in the departments of plant sciences and biological regulation, respectively.

“We did not ask ourselves, ‘how can we treat prostate cancer,'” said Prof. Scherz. “We were curious about the possibility of developing a treatment that integrates the principles of photosynthesis and our understanding of cancer to narrowly destroy carcinogenic tissue without harming healthy tissue.”

80 Mexicans prostate cancer patients underwent the treatment and have not seen a resurgence of the cancer, erectile dysfunction, or urinary complications. Moreover, 400 prostate cancer patients from 11 European states also participated in a clinical test in Europe and have also experienced positive results.

The Ministry of Health approved the treatment for 50 prostate cancer patients and just last week it was administered for the first time in Israel by Prof. Jack Baniel, head of the Section of Urology at Beilinson Hospital.                 (Ynet News)

Yerushalayim Shel Zahav  sung by a young Avraham Fried

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A View of Israel: The Golan Heights

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