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Latest News in Israel – 7th January

IDF officer killed by mortar shell in training accident

Yishai Rosales

Yishai Rosales, 23, a company commander in the Kfir Infantry Brigade, was killed when a mortar shell exploded during a combat drill.

An IDF officer was killed in a training accident at the Tze’elim base in the Negev on Tuesday.

Lt. Yishai Rosales, 23, a company commander in the Kfir Infantry Brigade, was named as the soldier killed when a mortar shell exploded during a combat drill. He was posthumously promoted to captain.

The IDF released initial details of the incident after Rosales’s family was notified.

Maj.-Gen. Guy Tzur, head of the IDF Ground Forces Command, ordered all ground training to cease until an initial investigation of the accident is completed. He appointed an investigative committee made up of experts led by Col. Ofir Levi, head of the IDF’s Armored Corps.

The IDF has set itself stringent guidelines in an effort to reduce training accidents.

The last major accident occurred in May. A reservist was seriously injured, and three others were lightly hurt, when their armored personnel carrier overturned during training on the Golan Heights.

There were two major fatal training accidents in the early 1990s at the Tze’elim base.                    (Jerusalem Post)

Israeli security forces arrest east Jerusalem suspect on the run in Herzliya

Security forces on Tuesday located and arrested an Arab Israeli motorist in Herzliya after he ran through a checkpoint in Jerusalem and drove to the city north of Tel Aviv.

Before police apprehended the suspect, authorities had located the motorist’s vehicle in the center of the city.

Meanwhile, the Herzliya Municipality bolstered security amid fears that the 20-year-old driver from east Jerusalem intended to carry out a terrorist attack.

Police named the suspect as 20-year-old east Jerusalem resident Ahmed Hatib, who was known to authorities for a previous incident involving a knife.

Members of the driver’s family had expresses worry that the suspect was planning to carry out a terrorist attack.

In light of the reports of a feared attack, Herzliya Mayor Moshe Padlon ordered a massive security reinforcement at the city’s educational institutions and population centers.

The suspect’s motives for running the blockade remained unclear.

During the event, Herzliya Municipality urged residents to remain vigilant and inform police at the 100 hotline of any unusual activity or suspicion figures.

Channel 10 reported  that there was likely no connection between this incident and the gunman still at large following Friday’s deadly shooting at a bar in central Tel Aviv.

In and around Tel Aviv meanwhile, security remained high as well as the search for the fugitive suspect from the Dizengoff Street attack stretched into a fourth day, with police seeming no closer to finding the suspect.

Tel Aviv City Hall said municipal security services had stepped up patrols, with an emphasis on schools and daycare centers.

Security was enhanced at creches, nursery schools and educational institutions across the city, including police and private security officers posted outside these buildings throughout the day.

The heightened alert was most pronounced in north Tel Aviv, especially in Ramat Aviv, where a cellphone belonging to the shooter was found on Friday not long after the attack.  (Jerusalem Post)

IDF to deploy neck armor as answer to stabbing attacks

In the coming weeks, the IDF will distribute a newly designed neck guard to better protect soldiers serving in the West Bank against the threat of knife attacks, an army official said Monday.

Stabbings have become a method of choice for Palestinians in the latest round of violence against Israeli civilians and soldiers that has swept the country since mid-September. Though IDF soldiers are mostly protected from attacks with helmets and ceramic bulletproof vests, one sensitive area remains exposed: the neck.

This type of attack is relatively new to the IDF. In the beginning of November, the IDF’s Central Command, which is responsible for the West Bank, contacted the army’s Logistics and Technology Directorate to request new equipment that could protect the soldiers serving there from the kind of attack they were liable to face, Lt. Col. Liron Segel, who runs the directorate’s Personal Protection and Equipment Department, said Tuesday.

Segel’s unit set out to create such a device, one that would “strike a balance between the amount of area protected and comfort of the soldier,” he said.

The new neck protector does just that, Segel boasted. “I’ve given them a solution to the threat of stabbing attacks.”

Segel’s unit worked together with the IDF Chief Medical Officer to develop the new neck guard.

Even with the new armor, “there’s no such thing as 100 percent protection,” Segel acknowledged.

The neck guard, which has already been through field tests and will be sent out to forces in the most dangerous areas of the West Bank shortly, slips on beneath the soldier’s regular protective vest. It is constructed of a special kind of fabric and “special materials” that Segel would not divulge.

‘I’ve given them a solution to the threat of stabbing attacks.’

“On the one hand we put an emphasis on materials that are very durable in order to protect against a penetrating wound, while on the other hand we worried about comfort,” he said. “We have managed to make a product that is flexible, thin and even its weight on your neck is not comparatively that heavy.”

Neck Armour[1]

New neck protection created for IDF soldiers serving in the West Bank.

The guard is designed to fit under different types of protective vests so every soldier will be able to use it, Segel said.

The new device will be handed out to soldiers in flashpoint sites such as Hebron, the Gush Etzion Junction, Hawara and Tapuah, which have been the most frequent sites of stabbing attacks against soldiers. The final deployment is up to the Central Command, Segel said.

Segel would not say which of the companies that produce body armor for the IDF received the contract for the new piece of neck protection.

“But what I can say is that it’s made in Israel,” he said.                  (The Times of Israel)

Arab-Israeli businessman offers $10K reward to find alleged Tel Aviv gunman

An Arab-Israeli merchant is offering a $10,000 cash reward for information that helps in the capture of an Arab-Israeli fugitive suspected of killing three people in two Tel Aviv shooting attacks.

Mazen Qaq, head of the merchants’ committee in Jerusalem’s Old City and a resident of eastern Jerusalem, announced the reward on Tuesday for information leading to the arrest of Nashat Melhem, Ynet reported.

“This is someone who acted against Israeli citizens, and I won’t allow someone like him to destroy trust and security,” Qaq told Ynet.

Melhem is believed to be the gunman who shot up a central Tel Aviv bar, killing two, and later murdering a cab driver.

Qaq also told Ynet that business in the Old City has dropped by 70 percent in the past few months as a result of the surge of stabbings and other attacks by Palestinian assailants against Jews.

READ: Responding to Tel Aviv shooting, Netanyahu blames familiar foe

“We’re cousins. We need to forget this nonsense about Arabs and Jews,” he said, according to Ynet. “We are all human beings, no matter what your religion is, we are one people. We give you a hand, you help us and we help you.”

According to the Times of Israel, Melhem is believed to be hiding somewhere in northern Israel. However, Melhem’s father, who was arrested Tuesday as a suspected accomplice, has said he believes Melhem is hiding in the West Bank.                   (JTA)

Netanyahu: UN anti-Israel bias hasn’t changed since ‘Zionism is racism’ libel

The UN ignores tyranny while condemning democratic Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during a special Knesset session Monday marking the 40th anniversary of former ambassador to the UN Chaim Herzog’s speech decrying Resolution 3379, which declared that “Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination.”

Herzog famously tore up the resolution at the General Assembly podium, calling it “based on falsehood, hatred and arrogance, is devoid of any moral or legal value. For us, the Jewish people, this is nothing more than a piece of paper, and we will treat it as such.”

Netanyahu, who is also a former ambassador to the UN, called Resolution 3379 an “unprecedented moral nadir” for the organization, which “provided the platform for the libel of racism, turning into an organization that perpetuates the lines of division between states.

“Not only did it not help find solutions, it deepened the conflicts and stood on the side of tyranny against democracy,” he said.

The prime minister said the “Zionism is racism” resolution was a watershed moment in the history of anti-Semitism, in that previously, hatred of Jews arose in one country or another, but this was the first time an international institution was used to that end.

In the 40 years since Herzog’s speech, Netanyahu said, “the impression of deep polarity that was inherent on that day has not been dulled.”

Netanyahu posited that, though the resolution was revoked in 1991, “the trend of hostility to Israel in UN institutions continues to this day. The pattern of automatic votes against Israel continues. There are elements in the UN that seek to condemn us at every opportunity.”

In the past year, the General Assembly passed 20 resolutions against Israel and one against Iran, Netanyahu pointed out.

“This twisted reality will not weaken us,” he stated. “Our roots are stronger than any libel and lying incitement.”

Netanyahu expressed optimism that many countries understand the UN’s bias.

“They want to be closer to us and cooperate with us…and I say to their leaders: The time has come for the good relations between us be reflected in the UN arena as well,” he said.

According to Netanyahu, this message has been received and is reflected in important votes, such as an anti-Israel resolution in the International Atomic Energy Agency, which was voted down by a large majority.

“But when it comes to the UN, there is still a long way to go,” he added.

Similarly, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said, “the UN proves years later that it is deeply disconnected from what is happening in our region and has a one-sided stance about the conflict here.

“Today, 27 years after the UN canceled its miserable decision to compare Zionism to racism, the UN leads a clear anti-Israel line, which sometimes is almost as bad as that decision about Zionism,” Edelstein stated. “In some ways, nothing has changed in 40 years.”

However, Edelstein added that, like then, Israel does not intend to stand silent while the Jewish people and State of Israel are defamed, and will not stop fighting for justice, morality and its rights, as Herzog did.

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union) said his father’s speech defended Israel’s values as a democracy.

“Forty years later,” he said, “the State of Israel is fighting for its existence and international standing. To this day, there are still some around the world who seek to destroy us and our spectacular project…To this day, our enemies doubt the justice of our existence and our natural and historic right to self-determination.”

“They didn’t know what BDS was then, but it was the same,” Herzog quipped. “Israel is dealing with terrorism and orchestrated international delegitimization.”

The efforts to fight terrorism cannot allow Israel to change its character and its Jewish and democratic values, he added.

“There are values that cannot be disputed, no matter what attack we are under. We must remember each day what are the values on which the State of Israel was established and by which it acts,” Herzog said, calling Israel’s Declaration of Independence “not only our founding document, but our defensive shield.”

Herzog spoke out against populist and violent discourse, saying it is “making us sometimes forget that Left and Right, religious and secular, we are all Israelis. We all love this country the same amount, we all defend it together and are willing to give our lives for it.

“As my father, may he rest in peace, said in that speech 40 years ago, words that are reinforced today: ‘We will stand as a united front against those who seek to destroy us, and remind all those who seek to boycott us, isolate us and destroy us, that we will not stand idly by in the face of those heinous attempts.”            (Jerusalem Post)

MK Oren calls for ‘Hasbara Iron Dome’ against boycotts

MK Michael Oren (Kulanu) called for the government to intensify the fight against the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign, ahead of a Knesset Caucus to Fight Delegitimization of Israel conference on the topic on Wednesday.

Oren described BDS as part of a new stage in Arab attempts to destroy Israel through delegitimization.

“The goal of BDS is not a two-state solution or the end of the occupation. Their occupation is 1948,” Oren said, referring to the year of Israel’s establishment. “They are well-funded, highly organized and very sophisticated.”

The way to fight the boycott campaign is “to go on the offensive, and bring the battle to BDS,” Oren said, admitting: “We haven’t come up with an answer [to BDS]. We need a legal and hasbara Iron Dome.”

Oren, chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Subcommittee on Foreign Affairs and Public Diplomacy, cited a Knesset Research and Information Center report he ordered, which said that Israel spent NIS 103.6m on hasbara or public diplomacy in 2014 (not including spending on foreign aid, which also contributes to Israel’s image), and the spending is divided between five agencies under three ministries – the Prime Minister’s Office, Foreign Ministry and Strategic Affairs Ministry. The report called efforts to fight delegitimization and boycotts “unfocused.”

The Kulanu MK expressed concern that Israeli officials are not sufficiently aware of the boycott problem. Oren said he became familiar with the BDS movement and its tactics while serving as ambassador to the US, and when he returned to Israel in late 2013, he was surprised by senior Israeli officials’ ignorance of it.

The turning point, he said, was this year, when BDS targeted “two things that are important to Israelis – cellphones and soccer,” when Orange’s CEO said he sought to cut ties with Israel and when the Palestine Football Association tried to ban Israel from FIFA.

The 2016 budget, the government dedicated an NIS 100m. budget to the matter, under the Strategic Affairs Ministry, which says it is currently building a comprehensive team meant to coordinate and lead efforts.

However, Oren explained that throwing money at the problem is not enough.

“Questions remain. What will be the role of the IDF, foreign ministry and intelligence services? Coordination is needed. We need resources and personnel. The fight can’t just be sending pro-Israel speakers to campuses,” he said.

Oren hopes to use his subcommittee to examine how the funds are being used and what can be done to “make the hasbara machinery work better.”

One way Israel can improve its public diplomacy is by having better control over its message, Oren said, recounting that, during his time in Washington D.C., he was impressed by how well White House and State Department officials at all levels stuck to their message.

Oren pointed out that hasbara means “explaining,” but that good public diplomacy is not just talking about Israel.

“Hasbara is also explaining the other guy: Where they’re getting funding, their means of operation, their goals. BDS is an international operation designed to take us down, period. That’s how we have to respond to it; the problem isn’t getting any smaller,” he stated.

Wednesday’s conference is meant to raise awareness of BDS and talk about solutions, Oren said.

Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan, who is responsible for the government’s policies against boycotts, is supposed to speak at the event, as are former Canadian justice minister Irwin Cotler, Pierre Rehov, director of Beyond Deception Strategy, a documentary exposing the BDS movement as seeking to destroy Israel, and others.

Oren is co-chairman of the Caucus to Fight Delegitimization of Israel, along with MKs Anat Berko (Likud), Nachman Shai (Zionist Union), Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid) and Robert Ilatov (Yisrael Beytenu).                                     (Jerusalem Post)

Soldier jailed for information leak

An IDF soldier found guilty of leaking classified data to far-right activists received a heavy prison sentence on Tuesday.

Cpl. Elad Sela, who served in the Etzion territorial Brigade, was convicted by a military court of giving away secret data to price tag activists aimed at thwarting attempts by security forces to stop their activity, and their attacks on Palestinian civilians.

In addition to the lengthy prison service, which is almost four-years-long, a military court sentenced to him a suspended sentence, and demoted him to the rank of private.

The court found Sela guilty of searching through classified computer systems to look for information on price tag suspects from the West Bank settlement of Bat Ein, where he lives, and to locate planned activities against them by security forces.

The IDF said his passing on of information went on for a lengthy period, right up until his arrest, helping price tag activists prepare for raids by security forces “and continue their hostile activities against the Palestinian population.” The court found that Sela’s actions “harmed state security.” The sentence expresses the military prosecution’s severe view of the crimes, the IDF said. “Such activities have to be ejected from the military and punished severely,” the military added.             (Jerusalem Post)

PA and Fatah: Israel steals organs of dead terrorists

Head of Palestinian UN delegation: Israel is “harvesting organs”

Palestinian ambassador to Bahrain: Israel “steals the Martyrs’ organs, and sells them”

Fatah Central Committee member: Israel steals organs from “young Martyrs” and return bodies “with conditions” forbidding Palestinians to autopsy them

PA Members of Parliament demand autopsy of “Martyrs'” bodies “to know if the Martyrs’ organs have been stolen”

As the Palestinian wave of terror attacks against Israelis continues and more terrorists are killed while attempting to murder Israelis, the PA and Fatah have revived an old libel, often documented by Palestinian Media Watch, which claims that Israel steals body parts from the dead terrorists before handing them over to the PA.

Fatah Central Committee member Jamal Muhaisen stated on PA TV that Israel’s takes whatever organs it needs:

“There are Israeli testimonies acknowledging that organs are being taken from the bodies of young Martyrs. While the body is with the Israelis, organs are taken according to Israel’s needs, and afterwards they hand over the body [to the PA] with conditions… including not allowing the body to be autopsied, in order to cover it up.” [Official PA TV, Dec. 27, 2015]

Click to view http://palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=1098&fld_id=473&doc_id=16846

The Palestinian ambassador to Bahrain Khaled Aref added to the allegations, saying Israel trades in the stolen organs: Israel “steals the Martyrs’ organs, and sells them,” he said. [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Nov. 17, 2015]

Palestinian Members of Parliament have lately disseminated the libel as well and “demanded a clear decision be publicized” regarding the need to autopsy “Martyrs'” bodies when receiving them from Israel “in order to know if the Martyrs’ organs have been stolen [by Israel] and to legally prosecute the occupation.” [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Dec. 24, 2015]

The head of the Palestinian delegation to the UN, Riyad Mansour, sent a letter to President of the UN Security Council, British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft, accusing Israel of “harvesting organs” from the bodies of “Martyrs” who have been killed while perpetrating terror attacks. He claimed that their “bodies were returned without corneas and other organs.” [Donia Al-Watan (independent Palestinian news agency), Nov. 5, 2015]

A mother of a terrorist who was killed when he tried to stab an Israeli soldier near the Lions’ Gate of the Old City of Jerusalem, expressed her belief in the organ theft libel. WAFA, the official Palestinian news agency, reported that “Martyr Al-Khatib’s mother fears that her son’s organs have been stolen, especially since he was executed and quickly transferred, and that they will be implanted in [another] body after his life was stolen from him.” She had told the news agency that “the family intends to autopsy the body after its transfer.” [WAFA (the official Palestinian news agency), Nov. 11, 2014]

There has been one case of organ theft in Israel’s history. In 2001, an Israeli investigative journalist exposed that from the years 1988 to 2000, doctors under the chief pathologist at the Abu Kabir Institute of Forensic Medicine at times took body parts without permission from relatives, for research and transplants of skin and corneas. Most body parts were taken from Israeli Jews, but the theft also included body parts from Israeli Arabs, Israeli soldiers and Palestinian terrorists. There has been no documented case since then.

The following are longer excerpts of the libelous statements regarding Israel’s alleged organ theft:

Headline: “When a son’s burial becomes his parents’ goal” “My last request is to know the burial place of my son, so that I can bury him and read the [Quranic Sura of] Al-Fatiha for his soul, and so that he will be buried according to Islamic Shari’ah law. These are the words of Maisa, mother of Martyr Mustafa Al-Khatib, 17, from Jerusalem, who was executed by the occupation forces next to the Lions’ Gate cemetery in occupied Jerusalem last Oct. 12 [2015], while on his way to school in the city. Martyr Al-Khatib’s mother fears that her son’s organs have been stolen, especially since he was executed and quickly transferred, and that they will be implanted in [another] body after his life was stolen from him. Likewise, she emphasized that the family intends to autopsy the body after its transfer, but Israel refuses [to transfer it], as in similar cases of Martyrs from occupied Jerusalem. Media spokesperson for the National Campaign to Return the Bodies of the Martyrs, Salwa Hammad, stated… that it has been proven that some of the bodies recently transferred had signs of bruises and injuries, but it cannot be determined if they occurred before or after they died as Martyrs. Likewise, it cannot be determined whether organ theft occurred, except by autopsy of the Martyrs’ bodies, which the Martyrs’ families oppose for religious reasons.” [WAFA (the official Palestinian news agency), Nov. 11, 2014]

Mustafa Al-Khatib – 18-year-old Palestinian terrorist who tried to stab a soldier near the Lions’ Gate of the Old City of Jerusalem on Oct. 12, 2015 and was shot and killed by Israeli police.

Headline: “The Palestinian embassy in Bahrain marked the anniversary of the [declaration of] independence and Arafat’s death as a Martyr.” “The Palestinian embassy in Bahrain marked the 27th anniversary of the declaration of independence and the 11th anniversary of President Yasser Arafat’s Martyrdom in a large reception at its headquarters… [Palestinian] Ambassador [Khaled] Aref referred to the popular [Palestinian] uprising in his speech and said: ‘Our people, who every day accompanies Martyrs to burial who died while defending the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the holy sites during the present popular uprising, sacrificed so far 99 young people, children, and women as Martyrs, most of them murdered by gunfire with no reason or justification. Likewise, the occupation is holding 26 of their bodies, steals the Martyrs’ organs, and sells them. Ambassador Aref made a connection between the last two acts of terror which struck in France and Lebanon, and the Israeli acts of terror against our Palestinian people, and called to come out against this terror through a unified international standpoint, and especially against the organized Israeli terror against our people.” [Official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Nov. 17, 2015]

Headline: “Ramallah: Agreement over a number of decisions regarding getting the Martyrs’ bodies back” “The families of the Martyrs (Shahids) whose bodies are being held by the occupation and a number of members of the [PA] Parliament (i.e., Legislative Council) demanded that a clear decision be publicized, which determines that the Martyrs’ bodies must be autopsied and this right must be adhered to, in order to know if the Martyrs’ organs have been stolen [by Israel] and to legally prosecute the occupation.” [Official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Dec. 24, 2015]

Official PA TV program Topic of the Day, hosting Fatah Central Committee member Jamal Muhaisen and political science lecturer Mukheimar Abu Sa’ada

Fatah Central Committee member Jamal Muhaisen: “There are Israeli testimonies acknowledging that organs are being taken from the bodies of young Martyrs. While the body is with the Israelis, organs are taken according to Israel’s needs, and afterwards they hand over the body [to the PA] with conditions… including not allowing the body to be autopsied, in order to cover it up.” [Official PA TV, Dec. 27, 2015]

Headline: “Mansour accuses Israel of stealing the Martyrs’ organs during the current intifada” “Head of the Palestinian delegation to the UN, Riyad Mansour, sent a letter to the current president of the security council, British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft, in which he accused Israel of stealing the organs from the bodies of Martyrs (Shahids) who have died during the current intifada. Mansour wrote in his letter to Rycroft: ‘After [Israel] held onto the bodies of those killed by the occupation forces in October, and after medical examination, it turned out that the bodies were returned without corneas and other organs.’ He added: This verifies previous reports regarding the harvesting of organs.'” [Donia Al-Watan (independent Palestinian news agency), Nov. 5, 2015]               (PMW)

University students to be able to study English online for free

University students will now have the option to take required English courses online for free, the Council for Higher Education announced on Tuesday.

“Today we are taking a small step which will save thousands of shekels for students in Israel. In 2016 it is possible to reduce the cost of living for students in creative ways, and this is certainly one of them,” said Education Minister and head of the CHE Naftali Bennett.

“From today, English courses, which cost students a lot of time and money, can be studied from home and for free, at the cost of the exam only,” he said.

As part of the new initiative students will be able to take online courses offered by the Open University in accordance with the level of English required by the academic institution – from a pre-basic level to an advanced level course.

Students will be able to sign up for courses and access them online for free.

“In order to facilitate the students’ English language proficiency preparation for undergraduate studies in higher education institutions, we are helping them to study for free, wherever and whenever they choose, as an additional option to the options available to them today at the various institutions,” said Prof. Yaffa Zilbershats, chairwoman of the Planning and Budgeting Committee of the CHE.

“The courses have been developed by the Open University and provide the best response to the different levels of knowledge, with the exception of the requirement for the highest level, that of an exemption,” she added.

The courses were developed to include both video lectures and basic exercises as well as provide interactive assessment and feedback through the use of advanced technological tools.

The CHE noted that the new initiative provides an additional option for students and academic institutions will continue to offer traditional classroom English courses.

Gilad Arditi, head of the National Union of Israeli Students said the students had insisted on a “meaningful resolution” regarding the costs of learning English and praised the new decision.

“There is recognition by the State of the importance of reducing the cost of living among students and of the state responsibility in improving access to the system.  Along with this this there is an opening for the future for a more meaningful use of technology for various [fields of] study,” he said.                (Jerusalem Post)

How to Block the Ongoing Palestinian Terror Wave

by Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser                    Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs


The Palestinian terror wave is not letting up, and fighting it more effectively requires a close examination of its roots and its objectives.  While not baseless, the explanation that it is a spontaneous outbreak stemming from continued Israeli control of the territories, building in the settlements, the horrendous Jewish terror attack in Duma, economic hardship, or the lack of a political horizon, does not suffice.


If any or all that were true, then the Palestinians could have accepted far-reaching offers to establish a Palestinian state, or, at least, to return to the negotiating table; alternatively, the terror wave would already have erupted much earlier than it did.

In reality, the Palestinian leadership with Mahmoud Abbas at the helm, which rejects negotiations and now admits that it spurned the offers of statehood, stands unequivocally behind the ongoing stabbing and car-ramming attacks, which have been added to the stone-throwing and hurling of firebombs which characterized the problematic security situation until October 2015. With the support of a large majority of the Palestinian population, this leadership encourages the continued attacks and does not hide its satisfaction with them. On December 27 in Al-Ayyam, senior publicist Hamada Farawne lavished praised on the terror wave, calling it a further stage of the unending struggle of all the Palestinians – including the Israeli Arabs – against Zionism, which will culminate in the Palestinians’ return to their homes in pre-1967 Israel and the regaining of their property.  After the January 1, 2016, attack on a Tel Aviv pub in Tel Aviv, Fatah – headed by Abbas – tweeted, “Settler (sic) killed, 4 injured on Dizengoff St. in Tel Aviv.”

What is occurring resembles the cooking of soup. First one has to heat the soup to the point that any slight increase in the heat will bring it to a boil. Likewise, in a gradual process, the basic elements of the Palestinian identity – as the leadership views them – are instilled in the psychic infrastructure of the Palestinian population as a whole, and particularly of the young people. According to these principles, the mission of the Palestinians is to hasten Israel’s inevitable disappearance through a constant struggle in which all means are permissible.

The Palestinian leadership’s ceaseless incitement guarantees that the heat will always be very high. How, though, does one bring things to a boil and at the same time make sure the soup does not burn? The tried-and-true way to reach a boiling point is the Al-Aqsa issue. It worked in September 2000. It worked in 2014 (when the spate of car-ramming and stabbing attacks reached its apex with the synagogue massacre of four rabbis in Har Nof) when Abbas, stressing to Fatah members in Jerusalem the need to prevent “herds of settlers” from contaminating the holy site,  invoked a Koran verse that is interpreted as sanctioning jihad. And it worked in September 2015, when Abbas again spoke of preventing settlers from defiling Al-Aqsa.

The Palestinians continue to argue about what level of heat will ensure a quality soup. Unlike Hamas, which wants to stoke a general conflagration with terror attacks using firearms launched from the areas under Fatah control (see the recent arrests in Abu Dis, etc.), Abbas favors a calibrated bubbling that will not boil over. He fears that all-out terror will make it hard to retain Western support, undermine his rule, and strengthen Hamas.

The intra-Palestinian code Abbas uses to ensure the right level of heat is “popular (peaceful) uprising.” Every Palestinian understands that this code, which was espoused at the Sixth Fatah Congress in 2009, refers to terror without firearms – that is exactly what has been happening over the past three months. So far Abbas has rightly assessed that this relatively low flame will not diminish Western support for him and for the Palestinian issue in general (see recent statements by Secretary of State Kerry and the resolutions of the Greek parliament). On the contrary, it revives interest in the Palestinian issue; enables progress on the unilateral path; does not disrupt the ongoing security cooperation with Israel, which is key to constraining Hamas; and, moreover, does not shake the Israeli center-left’s commitment to a solution that is generous to the Palestinians.

Even if the Israeli center grasps more and more that there is no partner for an agreement, it will view Abbas as a positive symbol; avoid stating the bitter truth about his role in encouraging the terror; cling to ideas that lack all feasibility, like unilateral separation, as an alternative to an agreement; keep pointlessly scaring itself about a need to decide between a Jewish state and a democratic one (the Oslo agreement created a political framework for the Palestinians while leaving responsibility for Israeli security in Israel’s hands); and divert attention to escapist subjects such the ardent interest in the faulty Miss Universe declaration and  other matters – just not Palestinian terror.

Putting a stop to the terror wave requires making clear to Abbas and the Palestinians in general that the benefit of sustaining it is declining and the cost is rising. Destroying the homes of terrorists and beefing up the Israeli security forces’ presence is not enough. It is also vital, for example, to clamp down on Palestinians entering Israel illegally, cut back the number of Palestinian workers in Israel, and intensify surveillance of those exiting the problematic Jerusalem neighborhoods as well as inspections of Palestinian vehicles entering jointly used roads. Such measures are not pleasant nor photogenic, but they are essential to enhancing security. In parallel, Israel must clarify to the Palestinians’ Western supporters the role that the Palestinian leadership has played in encouraging the wave of attacks and demand that they stop supporting the phenomenon. Last week it was difficult to watch the State Department spokeswoman reject 30 senators’ request to close the PLO office in Washington by claiming that its presence is requisite to promoting the two-state solution (not for two peoples),  while totally ignoring the senators’ assertions about the PLO’s incitement and payment of salaries to Palestinian terrorists and their families. The exchange was not covered in the Israeli media.

Iran, Saudi Arabia and the Israeli angle

Former head of Military Intelligence says the reverberations from the diplomatic crisis will be felt around the region.

by Herb Keinon                  The Jerusalem Post


Jerusalem on Monday was closely monitoring the rapid breakdown in relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia, knowing full well that ripples from that crisis will surely be felt in Israel.

Yaakov Amidror, the former head of the National Security Council and, before that, of Military Intelligence, said there could be two immediate ramifications for Israel.

The first, he said, is that the crisis will prolong the Syrian civil war, in which Iran and Saudi Arabia are backing different forces, and the second is that the crisis with Riyadh will mean Tehran will have an additional front and point of friction to keep in mind when making decisions, including those having to do with Israel.

Referring to attempts to negotiate an end to the Syrian crisis, Amidror, who is now a senior fellow at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University, said: “Anyone who thinks he will be able to bring about calm here does not know where they are living. It is clear that so much oil has been poured on the flames now that I don’t know how long it will take to put them out.”

He sidestepped the question as to whether a continuation of the war in Syria was good or bad for Israel, saying that depended on how one looked at the situation on Israel’s northern border.

There are some who believe the current situation is bad for Israel since chaos in Syria provides an opening for various elements hostile to Israel to operate directly on the country’s borders.

Others, however, maintain that having Hezbollah and Iran embroiled in Syria’s conflict not only weakens them, but also keeps them from focusing on Israel. This school of thought maintains that the war has removed Syria as a conventional threat to Israel for the foreseeable future.

The second immediate fallout from the diplomatic crisis between Iran and Saudi Arabia is that the Iranians will now have to factor in another point of friction in their decision making, he said.

No country has infinite energy, he said, and Iran – when making its decisions – will now have to take into consideration their considerable conflict with Saudi Arabia.

“They will be busy with other things,” he said.

“That doesn’t meant they won’t do anything [toward Israel]. This doesn’t mean, for instance, that this will influence Hezbollah [backed by Iran] not to carry out revenge attacks against Israel. But it means that whenever there is something, there will be someone in Iran who will say that they have other problems to think about; we will not be the only issue they will be focusing on.

“The very fact that they have another source of friction is not bad for Israel,” Amidror said, adding that there were parallels between how this crisis may affect Israel, and how the crisis between Moscow and Ankara stemming from Turkey’s downing of a Russian fighter-plane impacted on Israel.

While stopping short of saying that the crisis with Moscow is what has led to a recent softening of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s position toward Israel, he said it was one of the elements leading to a change of tone because Turkey had to consider other sources of friction.

The same thing is likely to happen with the Iranians, he said.

Amidror added that another likely result of the current conflict will be that “when Saudi Arabia looks around and asks who their allies are, they will not find too long a list.”

Asked whether as a result of this he could imagine a scenario in which Saudi Arabia would turn to Israel for intelligence or logistical help in dealing with the Iranian threat, Amidror said he had “nothing intelligent” to say on that matter.

He did say, however, that he did not see how the current Iranian-Saudi crisis could have any impact on the diplomatic process with the Palestinians.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said in the past that a confluence of interests between Israel and the moderate Sunni states in the region could – by getting them to press the Palestinians into taking more flexible positions – have a positive impact on peace efforts with the Palestinians.

“There is a big gap between the sentiments in the [Arab] street [about the Palestinian issue] and the understanding of the [Arab] leaders [of the issue]. The understanding of the leaders, in all the Arab countries, is that the Palestinian issue does not impact at all on the real situation in the Middle East and all the countries in the Middle East, except perhaps for Jordan, where there are more Palestinians,” he said.

“But except for Jordan, there is not a state that thinks that what we do with the Palestinians will influence their fate, situation, problems, solutions and the sentiments on the street,” he said. “As a result, there will always be a gap between what the leaders can do in public, and what they can do [with Israel] under the radar.”

Charlie and the Jews One Year Later

by Jonathan S. Tobin          Commentary Magazine


This week is the anniversary of the attack on the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo  as well as of the assault on a Parisian kosher market by members of the same group of Islamist terrorists. The publication is marking the occasion by issuing a special edition that is reportedly full of its trademark profanity and blasphemy mocking religion in general, and the faith of those who slaughtered 11 of the magazine’s staffers on January 7, 2015, in particular. But one doesn’t have to agree with everything in the 32-page cartoon-filled polemic to accept that two assertions it makes are absolutely true. One is that, as its cover states, “the assassin is still out there.” The other is that, as its editor writes, the world is still waiting for an explanation from its leaders as to why a run-of-the-mill Jewish target ­ the Hyper Cacher supermarket ­ was singled out along with the Hebdo staff.

The assassin in question doesn’t refer to the Islamist cell that carried out the attacks since all of them were eventually killed. Rather it refers to the threat of radical Islamist terrorism, which is still flourishing in the form of an ISIS caliphate that controls much of Syria and Iraq as well as the Hamas and Hezbollah groups in Gaza and Lebanon, not to mention their Iranian sponsors. The Paris attacks in November carried out by ISIS and the mass shooting in San Bernardino last month illustrated that the Charlie Hebdo massacre wasn’t a singular event but a warning that a war on the West was just beginning.

But the article by editor Gerard Biard in which he mentions the question about the Jews highlights another key element of the story. By refusing to call the enemy by its right name and pretending that religion doesn’t play a key role in the threat, the United States is undermining the effort to roll back the Islamist tide. But by refusing to understand that the Jews are the canary in the coalmine, the Obama administration is also signaling to the world that it isn’t serious about fighting the terrorists and what they stand for. Far from being tangential to the question of how to beat Islamist terror, the fate of the Jews is integral to the outcome.

It’s worth recalling that in his initial reaction to the Hebdo attacks and in subsequent comments about the killings at the Hyper Cacher, President Obama demonstrated his unwillingness to address the issue of anti-Semitism. By first ignoring the anti-Semitic nature of the assault and then later still referring to the terrorists’ decision to target the market as “random,” the president showed that he had a blind spot when it came to Jew hatred.

This is critical since, as Biard notes, the Islamist war against the Jews isn’t so much symbolic as it is part of the worldview that Jews represent the West. But since, as Biard writes, Westerners are so used to Jews being killed, they don’t stop and think about why it was important that a run-of-the-mill kosher market would be singled out along with a magazine that specifically sought to offend Muslims.

A rising tide of anti-Semitism has made life difficult for Jews even in the capitals of Europe. But while elites and leftists have formed a strange alliance with Muslim immigrants to try to isolate Israel and stigmatize its Jewish supporters, they fail to understand that Islamist killers get to decide who is and is not a Jew. As Biard notes, the November mass attacks in Paris demonstrated that “the executioner had showed us that he had decided we were all Jewish.”

That’s an astute observation that most Europeans and even many Americans still haven’t absorbed. They continue to treat the daily terrorism against Jews in Israel such as the New Year’s Day shooting in Tel Aviv as somehow separate from the war against the West that we observed in Paris and San Bernardino. They think that if Islamists slaughter Jews it has no meaning for the West’s own battle for survival against a fanatic foe. That’s a critical mistake.

One year after Charlie Hebdo, France is fighting back against the enemy within its own borders. The French government has initiated extraordinary measures aimed at cracking down on Islamist targets to the point where liberals, like those that write the New York Times editorial page, are crying foul. But this determination not to be caught napping again is admirable and ought to be applauded by Americans.

A willingness to address the core element of Islamist theology and its relative popularity across the Muslim world doesn’t require the West to wage war on all Muslims. It’s worth noting again that a Muslim policeman was killed along with the Hebdo editors and it was a Muslim who helped save some Jewish shoppers at the Hyper Cacher. But neither can we ignore the power of Islamist ideology or fail to understand that its popularity is driven by a sense that it is winning rather than as a reaction to Western counterattacks, let alone the blasphemy of Charlie Hebdo or the utterances of Donald Trump.

But so long as the West thinks that the Islamist war on Israel and Jews is separate from the one they seek to wage against American and Europe it will fail to adequately defend itself. An America that believes it can insulate itself from more attacks by making deals with a terror-supporting Iranian regime or by “leading from behind” against ISIS while ignoring the anti-Semitism at the heart of its enemy’s faith isn’t one that can defeat the forces of terror that threatens the liberties of Americans, Christian, Jew or Muslim.

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