+61 3 9272 5644

Latest News in Israel – 8th February

Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality: Nonstop live-streaming showcasing the beach and weather in Tel Aviv, the Nonstop City

For live view: https://www.tel-aviv.gov.il/en/visit/Pages/visit.aspx

The Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality launched a new website which features nonstop live-streaming of the Tel Aviv white sand and pristine beaches. Now anybody around the world is only a click away from experiencing the Tel Aviv Nonstop Summer with an average of 318 days of sunshine.

Tel Aviv is a beach city (the National Geographic recently named Tel Aviv one of the best beach cities) and the new camera page will enable residents and visitors to get in touch with the beach atmosphere by viewing the beach, knowing the current wave heights for surfers, learning about daily wind-direction for sailors, and deciding when it is the perfect time to catch a tan.

Jewish grandmother stabbed by terrorist in southern Bedouin town

A Jewish Israeli woman was stabbed and wounded Saturday evening in the Bedouin town of Rahat, in southern Israel. She sustained moderate injuries to her neck and was hospitalized for treatment, where her condition was later defined as lightly injured.

Security forces were treating the stabbing as a terror attack. The attack occurred as the woman, Shlomit Ganon, 65, a grandmother from nearby Kibbutz Mishmar Hanegev, was shopping with family members in the town’s open market.

Eyewitnesses said an Arab youth of about 20 years of age stabbed her before fleeing the scene. Large numbers of security forces were searching for the assailant, and set up roadblocks in the area.

Channel 2 said that the assailant was most likely a Palestinian in Israel illegally.

Local Rahat politicians condemned the killing, and urged the security forces to catch the terrorist as soon as possible.

An eyewitness to the attack identified only as Salam told Army Radio that “a youth in a red shirt and hat stabbed the woman and ran out of the market. The police arrived within 10 minutes and ambulances came even sooner.”

A Magen David Adom paramedic who treated the wounded woman said that she was fully conscious. “We placed her in the [ambulance] and administered first aid treatment en route to the hospital,” he said. The victim was taken to Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba.

The stabbing came during an upsurge in Palestinian attacks on Israeli targets, some deadly and many involving knives. On Thursday, two 13-year-old Arab Israeli girls stabbed and lightly wounded a security guard in their hometown of Ramle.                (The Times of Israel)

Soldier lightly hurt in attack by Sudanese national in Ashkelon

A soldier was stabbed and lightly wounded in a suspected terror attack in an Ashkelon residential neighborhood Sunday morning, by an assailant later identified as a Sudanese national.

The stabbing took place shortly after 8 p.m., when a soldier standing at a bus station near the entrance to the Neot Ashkelon neighborhood was stabbed by a man who fled the scene on foot.

Ashkelon Police Chief, Ch. Supt  Shimon Portal, said that a soldier who was on a bus pulling up at the station saw the attack take place and got off the bus to give chase. The soldier took the assault rifle of the wounded soldier and borrowed a clip from another soldier and he and two civilians began to give chase.

The three chased after the attacker for several blocks into Neot Ashkelon, with the soldier shooting the man once, and then a second time after he continued running, Portal said.

The civilians and the soldier then managed to apprehend the man, who was badly wounded from the two gunshots. Portal said police who then arrived at the scene managed to clear a crowd of irate locals before they could harm the man.

The assailant was later ruled dead by medical personnel at Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon.

He was later named as Sudanese national Kamel Hasan, aged 32.

Police initially said Sunday morning that the man – who was not carrying identification – appeared to be a foreign national, though they couldn’t rule out that he wasn’t an Ethiopian Israeli or a Beduin. Portal said that he did not cooperate with investigators, and other than mumbling a few words in Arabic, said nothing.

Portal added that he was identified at hospital by the wounded soldier, and that there is no question of mistaken identity.

In October, an Eritrean asylum seeker named Habtom Zerhom died after he was shot and beaten at the Be’ersheba bus station after he was mistaken for an attacker during an ongoing terror attack at the station.

Regarding the motive for the attack, Ch.-Supt. Doron Ben-Amo, the spokesman for the Southern District, said that the stabbing Sunday had all the hallmarks of a terror attack, in that there was no prior contact or interaction between the assailant and the victim, the victim was a uniformed soldier, and the assailant fled the scene. Witnesses also reported that he tried to steal the soldier’s weapon, Ben-Amor said.

The attack was the second in less than 24 hours in the southern district. On Saturday afternoon, a Jewish Israeli woman in her 60s was stabbed and moderately wounded while she was shopping in the Rahat market.

The assailant fled on foot, and as of Sunday afternoon, has not been caught. Residents have claimed that the attacker is most likely a Palestinian laborer from the West Bank living or working in the Beduin city, but police said they have not yet determined who he is.                   (Jerusalem Post)

Netanyahu Wants to Ban Arab Knesset Members Who Visit Terrorists’ Families

Several Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, are calling for punitive measures against Arab Members of Knesset who made a condolence visit to the families of terrorists on Tuesday.

Arab MKs of the Balad faction of the Joint List party visited families of terrorists whose bodies are being held by Israel. Among the MKs was Hanin Zoabi, whose many activities against the Jewish state include, for example, an interview she gave to a Hamas newspaper in October, calling upon Palestinians to rise up against Israel with a “true intifada.”

The other two Arab lawmakers who joined Zoabi in the visit were Jamal Zahalka and Basel Ghattas.

Ghattas, against Netanyahu’s orders, ascended the Temple Mount in October, stating that Israel has “no sovereignty over Jerusalem,” the Israeli capital. In late September, Zahalka was documented abusing Jewish visitors and security officials at the holy site.

Indeed, the current wave of Palestinian terror began on the eve of Jewish New Year in September, when Palestinians began rioting on the Temple Mount, protesting Jewish visitors the the site and falsely alleging that Israel had plans to destroy the Al Aqsa Mosque. To date, 130 Israelis have been killed and close to 300 wounded – 27 seriously.

“Members of Knesset who go to console the families of terrorists who murdered Israelis do not deserve to be in the Israeli Knesset. I have asked the Speaker of the Knesset to examine what measures can be taken against them,” Netanyahu stated.

The father of the dead terrorist, as recorded on video, acknowledged that the “Palestinian” Knesset members “listened to the suffering and pain of the shaheed‘s [martyr’s] families, whose bodies are held in Israel,” and that they promised to make every effort to pressure the Israeli government to return the bodies.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan called upon governmental legal advisers to examine whether the visit constituted a criminal offense by supporting acts of murder and terror. He also vowed that the bodies of the victims would not be released unconditionally.

“The bodies of the terrorists will not be released until their families meet the demands of the police that are intended to ensure that the funerals will not turn into demonstrations of incitement and support for terrorism. Arab MKs just did exactly the opposite,” Erdan declared.

Yesh Atid Party Chairman Yair Lapid also condemned the visit, arguing that it was an unprecedented show of solidarity by the Joint List with those who murder innocent people and that it reflected hatred and subversion against the State of Israel.

“We cannot meet such heinous acts with silence. We must condemn the MKs who met with the families of the despicable terrorists,” Lapid said.

Yisrael Beiteinu Party Chairman Avigdor Liberman, who has been leading the campaign to remove Zoabi from the Knesset, stated:

“There is no longer any need for proof that Joint List MKs are a party filled with representatives of terror in the Knesset. The visit to families of those who killed Jews is simply a reminder to those who still don’t get it that these terrorists must be removed from the Knesset as soon as possible and, ideally, from the State of Israel.”

Minister of Education Naftali Bennett said that the visit “is a black stain that will be recorded in the chronicles of the state.  “I am calling out to the Arab public: You are better than this. Cast these people out. We need to be a unified state, and there is not unity if Knesset members go and meet our enemies and killers.”

“The visit by Balad Knesset members to the terrorists’ families encourages continued terrorism and murder of innocent people,” the opposition Zionist Union party said in a statement.            (United with Israel)

Security establishment furious with minister after making Egypt-Israel cooperation public

The defense establishment is furious with Infrastructure, Energy and Water Minister Yuval Steinitz after learning of the comments he made on Saturday concerning security cooperation with Egypt.

Steinitz, speaking at a cultural event in Beersheba, said that Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ordered the flooding of several Hamas tunnels linking Egypt to the Gaza Strip, to a certain extent “due to Israel’s request.”

The minister affirmed that security cooperation with Egypt is “better than ever,” and asserted that “flooding is a good solution” for tackling Hamas’s intricate tunnel system used for smuggling and terrorism.

Defense cooperation is one of the most sensitive issues concerning both countries, and disclosures on the exact nature of Egyptian-Israeli security activities are confidential.

Highlighting that sensitivity is the Military Censor’s concern; heavy restrictions have been placed on what Israeli journalists can report on Egyptian- Israeli ties. The censor has even been known to reject Israeli coverage of the subject based on foreign media reports, at the behest of Cairo.

Security cooperation with Israel is highly unpopular among the Egyptian public.

Sisi, however, needs little prodding from Israel to destroy the Hamas tunnels linking Gaza to the Sinai Peninsula, viewing the Gaza-based terrorist organization as a dangerous security threat.

In the eyes of the Egyptian government, Hamas, the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, poses a threat to national security in much the same manner as the latter.

The Muslim Brotherhood has been outlawed and its leadership thrown in prison since Sisi came into power in 2014.

Furthermore, the Egyptian government routinely accuses Hamas of being in communication with terrorist elements in the Sinai, including Islamic State’s affiliate in the peninsula.

It was not the first time in which an Israeli official made known information that the security establishment would prefer to keep quiet. In September, at a similar cultural event in Beersheba, Amos Gilad, senior adviser to Defense Minister Moshe , told an audience that Russian jets periodically periodically violate Israeli airspace as they attack rebel targets in Syria.

Last year, Egyptian forces began to flood tunnels dug beneath the Gaza-Egypt border in an effort to curb the use of the passages used to bring in an estimated 30 percent of all goods that reach Gaza.

Overnight Friday, Egypt flooded 10 tunnels, using pipes to pump water from the Mediterranean Sea into them to bring about their collapse.

On Saturday night, Steinitz expressed regret for the “unintended impression” his words caused.                (Jerusalem Post)

Mother asks God to grant ‘long life’ to guard stabbed by her daughter

The mother of one of two 13-year-old Israeli Arab girls who on Thursday stabbed and lightly wounded a security guard issued an impassioned apology on Friday for her daughter’s actions, praised the guard for not opening fire on the girls, and said she hoped all of Israel would soon find peace.

The woman, who works for the Ramle municipality, said she’d had no idea her daughter was planning a terror attack, and did not know where she and the other 13-year-old got the long kitchen knives they used. The two girls, 8th graders at a school in the mixed Jewish-Arab town of Ramle, approached the bus station’s entrance on Thursday morning, where the guard asked them to identify themselves.

They pulled kitchen knives out of their clothing and stabbed him in the leg and hand. A soldier and an armed civilian quickly subdued them. They were detained and taken to Ramle Police headquarters for questioning, and held overnight. The guard was taken to the nearby Assaf Harofe Hospital with light injuries.

The teens told police the attack was “revenge for the situation in the Al-Aqsa Mosque,” and was in protest of Israel’s “killing of Palestinians.”

“We never thought we’d find ourselves in a situation like this,” the mother said Friday, in a Channel 2 interview in which she was not shown on screen or named. “I can’t believe it, honestly.”

The mother, who is raising six children by herself after her husband left for Gaza a few years ago, said that her daughter “told me a few weeks ago that she wanted to die,” because life was so hard and the family had no money. “I told her, ‘Don’t be depressed. Don’t take it to heart so.’”

She said her daughter never talked of hurting Jews — “heaven forbid” — and that her children had been raised to think of all Israelis as a “family” and that “there is no difference between Jews and Arabs.”

Talking of the guard who had subdued the girls without resorting to the use of his gun, she said, “May God grant him long life. I apologize to him… I’m sorry, to him, and to the mayor, and to all the people of Israel… May God grant all the people of Israel peace.”

The stabbing was the latest in a series of attacks — almost all of them carried out by Palestinians, and a handful by Israeli Arabs — that have roiled the country over the last several months, killing 31 Israelis. Several of the attackers have been young teens.

On Wednesday, three Palestinians opened fire on a group of policemen near Jerusalem’s Old City, killing Hadar Cohen, 19, and seriously wounding another policewoman.

(The Times of Israel)

Hotovely: IDF, Shin Bet wrong to say Palestinian terror caused by despair

Unbridled hatred, not frustration, is the cause of Palestinian terrorism, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said in an Al Jazeera interview on Friday.

The highly combative tone of the interview was set at the outset when the interviewer, Mehdi Hasan, asked Hotovely whether Israel would apologize to UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon for saying “pretty outrageous” things about his recent comments interpreted in Israel as having provided a “tailwind” for terrorism.

“You need to first of all condemn terrorism, and tell Palestinians to stop using knives on a daily basis against Israeli citizens,” she said.

When Hasan presented selected quotes from Israeli defense officials and asked if they were “apologists” for terrorism as well, Hotovely said that in a democracy there were many different opinions, and that he had provided just “one side of the picture.”

“Of course there are many other people that are saying that the Palestinians choosing [to join] the extremists are under the influence of ISIS and the atmosphere of how the youngsters are raised, and under the hard incitement of the Palestinians Authority,” she said.

Hotovely said that the claim that the Palestinians terrorists were acting under the duress of frustration is “absolutely wrong,” and that the proof is the fact that during the heyday of the Oslo Accords in the 1990s, “when the Palestinians had the best hope for a Palestinian state,” the terrorism did not stop.

“It means that terrorism is the main issue, not frustration,” she said.

Hasan seemed to be shouting at Hotovely when he asked her time after time whether she personally supported a Palestinian state, to which she replied: “I’m representing a government that is declaring in a very clear way on a policy of a two-state solution… I am representing the policy of my government.”

Asked what she wanted to see happen to the Palestinians on the West Bank, she said, “Very simple, I want to see the Palestinians become my neighbors, not my enemies; right now they are choosing to be my enemies, not my neighbors.”

Asked if they would get the right to vote, she replied: “It depends what path they are going to choose.” The violence against Israel, she said, is something the country needs to fight.

“We need to live first of all the near future,” Hotovely said. “In the near future we have to fight terrorism no matter where it is coming from. You are asking me about future infrastructures? Well look at the Middle East, the Middle East is falling apart, you see countries don’t exist anymore, so we need to be very sure and clear that a Palestinian Authority can control the messaging and can control the youngsters when it comes to the coming future.”                (Jerusalem Post)

PM: Israel will bring to justice those who burned Torah scrolls

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed Saturday night that Israel would track down and bring to justice the suspected Palestinian arsonists who set fire to Torah scrolls at a West Bank outpost the night before.

“Last night a synagogue in Givat Sorek, in Gush Etzion, was set on fire by Palestinians. We will prosecute the perpetrators of this crime. I expect the international community to condemn the desecration of a synagogue, an act that is the result of incessant Palestinian incitement,” the prime minister said in a Facebook post that appeared in English and in Hebrew alongside an image of the burned Torah scrolls.

The suspected attackers set fire to the scrolls at an outpost next to the Karmei Tzur settlement in the West Bank. There were no injuries in the incident, but the scrolls were badly damaged.

According to Karmei Tzur residents, the suspected arsonists piled up the Torah scrolls and set them alight. Judea and Samaria police said that the footprints of the suspects were found leading to a Palestinian village near the town of Halhul, the Ynet news site reported.

The tent, which was not being used at the time, overlooks the site where the bodies of three Israeli teens, Eyal Yifrach, Gil-ad Shaar and Naftali Fraenkel, were found after they had been abducted and murdered by Hamas-affiliated Palestinian terrorists in June 2014.

“The sight of the burned Torah scrolls in Gush Etzion is heartrending,” President Reuven Rivlin said Saturday.

“The assault on our people’s sanctities hurts all the more when it is done at the place that commemorates Eyal, Gil-ad and Naftali, who were murdered by a cruel hand… I am certain and confident that the security forces will bring the perpetrators to justice swiftly,” Rivlin said.

Shaar’s mother, Bat Galim Shaar, took to Facebook after the arson attack.

“In a place where books are burnt, there in the end people will also be burned,” she said, quoting the German Jewish poet Heinrich Heine. “Attacking Torah scrolls is an attack on the soul of the Jewish people. Those who wish to harm our bodies do not flinch from attacking our spirit. We will continue to choose life — and to strengthen the spirit of the Jewish people, which is stronger than ever,” she wrote.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett, head of the Orthodox-nationalist Jewish Home party, said the pictures of the burned scrolls “recall the darkest days of our history.”

He urged security forces to quickly catch “the terrorists who did this,” saying “a red line has been crossed… and we will not allow this to go unpunished.”

In a statement, the media office of the Etzion regional council noted the short distance from the tent to the Karmei Tzur settlement.

“The vandals piled up the books and set them on fire. There is a great deal of frustration in Karmei Tzur. This isn’t the first time that terrorists burn the place…. We must not forget that fewer than 100 meters separate the hill [where the arson took place] and the homes [of Karmei Tzur]. The attack in the former is a dangerous prelude for the future,” the statement read.             (The Times of Israel)

Severe failures in preparedness for tunnel threat, State Comptroller finds

State Comptroller Joseph Shapira delivered the draft of a report to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and top defense officials on Thursday that charged there were “grave deficiencies” in preparedness for the Hamas attack-tunnel threat that presaged the 2014 Gaza war.

The criticism of how the issue was handled is part of a wider review of war-making decisions before and during Operation Protective Edge. The review started shortly after the 50-day conflict ended with a cease-fire in September 2014.

The comptroller plans to soon deliver the draft of a separate section of the report about the security cabinet’s decision- making and its coordination with the military echelons during the war.

The report followed the collapse of a Hamas attack tunnel in Gaza Zeitoun area on Wednesday, the third such incident in the past few weeks.

The full Comptroller’s Report was scheduled to include additional sections on the technical side of the response to the tunnel problem, preparedness to defend the home-front against rocket and missile threats and to what extent IDF targeting and war policy complied with international law.

Shapira said a year ago that the international law aspect of the report would be handled by three outside experts, Prof. Michael Newton, Prof. Moshe Halberthal and Prof. Miguel Deutsch.

In June 2015, the UNHRC report on Gaza said it awaited the comptroller’s version after several IDF reports addressed only individual cases, but not overall targeting policy.

Since July 2014, the IDF has been accused of being unprepared for the scope of the tunnel threat.

The criticism follows incidents in which surprise attacks emanating from tunnels led to some of the most deadly incidents for the IDF during the war.

Some politicians and military officials have tried to shift the blame to the intelligence sector, but a 2007 state comptroller report on the issues belies this argument.

The 2007 report mentioned the necessity of oversight and even intervention by the political leadership.

Among those mentioned as being involved in the tunnel effort at the time were then-IDF chief and current Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, then deputy IDF chief Dan Halutz, then head of Ground Forces Command Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yiftach Ron-Tal and the head of the IDF’s Engineering Corps at the time, Brig.- Gen. (res.) Shimon Daniel.

The 2007 report was issued after several incidents in which soldiers were killed or kidnapped, most notably Gilad Schalit, in a 2006 surprise Hamas attack via a tunnel.   (Jerusalem Post)

Melbourne Age chief: Israeli deaths don’t sell papers

More than 100 members of the community, flocked to the JCCV plenum in Melbourne on Monday night as Age editor Andrew Holden sought to defend his paper’s coverage of Israel.

LIKE a cautious tourist on safari, Andrew Holden, editor-in-chief of The Age, initially kept his distance from the elephant in the room – in a 16-minute address to the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) plenum on Monday night, he avoided all mention of Jews and Israel.

Perhaps anticipating his audience’s inevitable questions on a widely perceived anti-Israel bias at The Age, he deliberately focused his speech on social issues important to his readers – same-sex marriage, end-of-life ethics and homelessness.

But then came the questions from members of the community – and the elephant lumbered in for a close-up. For the next 40 minutes, Holden responded to stiff questioning from more than 100 attendees over his newspaper’s treatment of Israel.

The editor batted away an opener by J-Air radio commentator Michael Burd – whether he thought Jews were “naive” enough to believe The Age is objective on Israel while it has, according to Burd, pro-Palestinian activists on its editorial staff. “There is no group-think or mindset within The Age or The Sydney Morning Herald that says we are anti-Israel,” declared Holden. “Let me say categorically The Age has never doubted Israel’s right to exist.”

But Mount Scopus Memorial College principal Rabbi James Kennard accused Holden of “a straw-man argument … I don’t think the suggestion or concern is that you or The Age deny Israel’s right to exist …  What is concerning is what most people would call bias … Of course you’re entitled to hold Mr [Benjamin] Netanyahu to account, most of us do as well, but where is the similar … investigation into … Hamas and the Palestinian Authority?”

Holden countered: “If you were the ambassador of Mexico, you would excoriate me for the fact that the only stories I ever run about Mexico are drug lords killing people … it’s the nature of news … that we do focus on the negative and ­critical.”

But despite his dictum that, in his words, “bad news sells”, Holden claimed Israelis dying at the hands of Palestinians is not the news his readers think important.

When a questioner said “there’s plenty of bad news happening in Israel where mothers are being murdered by terrorists”, the editor expounded: “In two pages of [world news] print each day, to cover everything that’s happening across the world, those stories matter to this [Jewish] community … but to the broader community of Melbourne, it’s not one of the major stories of the world.”

Pressed by another questioner whether the terrorist murder of an Israeli woman “would not be horrible enough to sell”, Holden said that as potential front-page material, it was down the scale from “terrorist attacks in Europe … mass shootings in America … Boko Haram in Africa … Sadly it’s a scale, I know that sounds appalling.”

Appearing uneasy, Holden admitted “my mind’s gone blank” as he tried to answer former Executive Council of Australian Jewry president Grahame Leonard’s accusation that the paper’s opinion pieces champion “the pro-Palestinian cause” over “the democracy of Israel”.

And Holden was criticised when he confessed he could not recall a piece in The Age by Dr Bruce Hearn Mackinnon after November’s Paris massacres, in which the Deakin University lecturer linked the ISIS atrocities to “resentment, frustration and anger” at Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.

Holden promised to take a closer look at editorial “language” and selection of op-eds on Israel. But for the veteran journalist and editor who was on the ground in Christchurch, New Zealand, covering the earthquake of 2010, his JCCV appearance seemed, in many ways, to be another seismic encounter for him.      (Jewish News….Melbourne)

Fatah: Three murderers of policewoman in terror attack are “role models”

Father of one of the terrorists expressed joy over his son’s “death as a Martyr”

Text: “Martyr” Ahmad Zakarneh,”Martyr” Muhammad Kmeil, and “Martyr” Ahmad Abu Al-Rub

The Fatah movement praised the three terrorists who murdered policewoman Hadar Cohen in yesterday’s terror attack at the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem. Fatah published the above picture of the three terrorists on its official Facebook page, calling them “role models”:

“Those who carried out the self-sacrifice operation in occupied Jerusalem are Ahmad Abu Al-Rub, Ahmad Zakarneh, and Muhammad Kmeil from the village of Qabatiya in the Jenin district.

They were three men who competed with each other for [Martyrdom] death

Their feet were raised above the hangman’s neck

They became role models

Across the length and breadth of the homeland.”

[Official Facebook page of the Fatah Movement, Feb. 3, 2016]

The father of one of the murderous terrorists spoke in a news report on official PA TV and praised his son’s death as a “Martyr”:

Father: “We received the news with joy, a Martyr, our Lord chose him from among the people to be a Martyr, Allah will pardon him, and we hope he will be among the people of Paradise, Allah willing. Praise Allah in any case.”

[Official PA TV, Feb. 3, 2016]

Click to view

http://palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=585&fld_id=635&doc_id=17152

The news broadcast on official PA TV last night opened with the newscaster’s report of the “death as Martyrs” of three young Palestinians from “the occupation’s bullets at the Damascus Gate.” The newscaster emphasized that the young Palestinians died as “Martyrs,” without mentioning that they set out to perpetrate a murderous attack against Israelis. Only later in the broadcast did the reporter note a “shooting and stabbing operation… that caused the death of one soldier.”

A Fatah activist from the town of Qabatiya, from where the terrorists set out, said in the same report that the three were “executed in cold blood.”

The following is a transcript of what was said in the news report last night (Feb. 3, 2016) on official PA TV:

Official PA TV newscaster: “Three young people died as Martyrs (Shahids) from the occupation’s bullets; an Israeli soldier was killed in occupied Jerusalem…

Three young people died as Martyrs from the occupation’s bullets at Damascus Gate in the center of occupied Jerusalem; At the same time, an Israeli soldier was killed and four additional [people] were injured by gunfire and an attempted stabbing. Our reporter said that the three Martyrs are from the town of Qabatiya, south of Jenin.”

Official PA TV reporter: “In the stabbing and shooting operation at Damascus Gate carried out by 3 young people from the town of Qabatiya, which caused the death of one soldier and serious injury of another, the three who carried it out, whose names are Ahmad Abu Al-Rub, Ahmad Zakarneh, and Muhammad Kmeil, died as Martyrs from the occupation soldiers’ shooting at them. [The occupation soldiers] turned the site into a military zone after the event, and shot in every direction.”

Terrorist Muhammad Kmeil’s father: “We received the news with joy, a Martyr, our Lord chose him from among the people to be a Martyr, Allah will pardon him, and we hope he will be among the people of Paradise, Allah willing. Praise Allah in any case.”

Muhammad Abu Ju’ab, Fatah ‘activist’ in the Qabatiya area: “A cold blooded execution by the occupation. It is all a result of the occupation sitting on ‘our chests’ and a response by our young people – Qabatiya is familiar with sacrifice, we have 10 Martyrs in the town. Praise Allah, Master of the World, the whole town eulogizes them, in the name of all of Palestine, in the name of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and in the name of Jerusalem.”

[Official PA TV, Feb. 3, 2016]                          (PMW Bulletin)

Israeli teen sentenced to life for Palestinian youth’s murder

The Jerusalem District Court on Thursday sentenced two Israeli minors for the murder of 16-year-old Muhammad Abu Khdeir‎ in 2014, sending one to life in prison and the other to 21 years in prison. The defendants were 17 and 16 at the time of the murder.

The court is waiting for the psychiatric evaluation of 31-year-old Yosef Haim Ben-David, the only adult defendant in the case, before rending a verdict in his case.

The court said the 16-year-old defendant was sentenced to 21 years in prison, and not life like his co-conspirator, over the fact he was not involved in the other defendant’s attempts to abduct other boys before Abu Khdeir, nor did he take part in the actual act of murder. He was also ordered to pay Abu Khdeir’s family 30,000 shekels ($7,700) in restitution.

“The defendants’ actions were extremely reprehensible. Two teens, abducting a younger boy, and suffocating him. … They could see the life draining out of him … before beating and burning him to death,” the court said.

“The sentence imposed on the defendants reflects what we asked for, and the gravity of their barbaric and atrocious act,” prosecutor Uri Korb said, the state. He said the murder marked a “moral nadir.”

Suha Abu Khdeir, Mohammed’s mother, said the family planned to appeal the shorter sentence to the Israeli Supreme Court.

“What kind of justice is this? I’m a mother who lost her son forever while I’m sure they will be released in 10 years or less. Why? This isn’t justice, this is unfair,” she said. “I won’t accept such a ruling.”

Abu Khdeir’s murder was roundly condemned across Israel’s political spectrum and shocked many Israelis.

Speaking to reporters at the courthouse, Abu Khdeir’s father, Hussein, demanded that the court order the defendants’ homes to be demolished and that “anything less won’t be enough.”

“If there is no apartheid or racism, you will have to do this,” he said, adding that authorities had been easy on the teenager because he was a Jew, not an Arab.

Avi Himi, the younger defendant’s attorney, said he would advise his client to appeal. “I believe the minor did take part in the incident but not in the actual murder and should therefore have been acquitted of the murder charge,” he said.

A lawyer for the older youth did not immediately comment on his client’s sentence. Life terms in Israel have often been commuted to 25 years’ imprisonment, with reductions of terms possible under individual parole considerations or clemency.                  (Israel Hayom)

Israeli Scientists Discover Early Detection Method for Lung Cancer

Scientists at Tel Aviv University and Rabin Medical Center have discovered they can detect lung cancer early in smokers by performing a CT scan at the time they are admitted as pneumonia patients. Often, the pneumonia is caused by young cancer cells blocking air pathways.

The most important risk factor for lung cancer is smoking, which causes approximately 85% of all lung cancer cases. Only 15% of patients are diagnosed at an early stage.

The National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) demonstrated that screening heavy smokers with low-dose computed tomography reduces mortality from lung cancer.

Following the NLST, the United States Preventive Services Task Force and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recommend annual screening for lung cancer with low-dose computed tomography in adults who have a 30 pack-year smoking history and currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years, ages 55-80 (US Preventive Services Task Force) or 55-77 years (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services).

However, there are numerous controversies about this broad recommendation, regarding both medical and cost-effective issues.             (United with Israel)

Jerusalem terror attack stands out from the others

The attack on Border Police officers in the capital’s Old City is the act of a daring, methodical local terror cell, even if it is not part of a known organization.

By Amos Harel             Ha’aretz

http://www.haaretz.com/misc/article-print-page/.premium-1.701246

Wednesday’s fatal shooting of a border policewoman in Jerusalem was one of the first attempts by Palestinian terrorists in the current confrontation to carry out a complex, sophisticated attack.

Instead of targeting the nearby Jalameh checkpoint on the Green Line, the three youngsters from the West Bank township of Qabatiya chose a target in the capital’s Old City, probably assuming it would resonate more strongly. They were armed with submachine guns and improvised explosives, in addition to knives.

Only the swift response by a Border Police detail, which thought the three looked suspicious, prevented more casualties at Damascus Gate, as the incident ended with the death of Hadar Cohen and moderate injuries to her colleague.

Like most terrorists in the past four months, these three apparently didn’t belong to any organization. But in their case it was no longer a “lone wolf” attack – not only because it involved three men but because of the planning required. They acquired weapons, drove all the way from the north of the West Bank to Jerusalem and succeeded somehow to cross the separation fence without being detected.

This is the act of a local terror cell, even if it is not part of a known organization. It attests to a certain degree of daring and of learning from previous attacks. Setting out as a group and carrying firearms indicate that the assailants meant to attack more people, unlike in the recent stabling attacks. Apparently the explosives were also meant for this purpose, but the trio didn’t get a chance to use them.

The Shin Bet security service must now work to reenact the cell’s route and find out how they entered Jerusalem. If they came in armed, they must have used a breach in the security system around the separation fence. If they received the weapons in Jerusalem, their allies must be located. In any case, at this stage it’s hard to rule out the possibility that they received assistance.

The Shin Bet will also have to determine if the assailants’ preparations should have set off an early alarm among the Israeli intelligence branches. Israel has been trying for months to work out a system to intercept a lone terrorist, the kind who leaves at most a vague message on his Facebook page and sets out with a kitchen knife in his hand. But this time the attack appears to have been carried out by a somewhat more organized cell, which may have left signs signaling its intentions.

More than four youngsters from Qabatiya have been killed in recent months while carrying out stabbing attacks at the Jalameh checkpoint. The defense establishment has found in the past that militants from Qabatiya came from the same social circle, and that their chief motives were apparently to imitate their predecessors and avenge their deaths.

These same motivations may well have been behind Wednesday’s attack. Similar ties were found among five terrorists from the same clan in Sair village north of Hebron, and who were killed one after another while carrying out attacks in the region. It was also discovered that one of these assailants had left Sair for an attack after being a pallbearer at the funeral of his friend, who had been killed a day earlier.

Qabatiya has a long history in the Palestinian struggle. In 1988, not long after the start of the first intifada, the townspeople lynched a resident who had collaborated with Israel. This was followed by the murder of hundreds of West Bank Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel. The IDF blockaded the township for weeks.

In the second intifada dozens of Qabatiya residents, mainly Fatah and Islamic Jihad activists, took part in attacks against Israel.

Wednesday’s terror returned to Jerusalem after a few relatively quiet weeks. This will require police to continue beefing up their forces in the capital and along the separation barrier. The current, massive police presence has proved itself in the rapid response to attacks, like the one that took place on Wednesday.

However, despite the swift response, it was of questionable judgment to dispatch two new Border Police recruits to the Damascus Gate patrol, which runs near the sites of some 10 terror attacks of recent months. The two policewomen joined the army only about two months ago and hadn’t completed their combat training.

The IDF generally avoids posting novices in the territories at such an early stage of their training. Now it appears the police and Border Police will have to reexamine their policy in this matter.

Protesters silencing speakers like me won’t solve the Israeli-Palestinian problem

by  Ami Ayalon             The Guardian (UK)

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/feb/05/protesters-silencing-speakers-israeli-palestinian-problem-extremists-kings-college-london

I came to the UK two weeks ago, at the invitation of the British Jewish organisation Yachad, to present my ideas for how Israel and Palestinian people might create a step-change that may bring about the forging of a political agreement. There is nothing more urgent than finding a way to end occupation and create two states, both for the sake of the Palestinian people and Israel. Both peoples deserve to live in secure, democratic, independent states, and I wish to see the Israel that my parents built remain true to its Jewish and democratic values.

Having spent my career serving in Israel’s navy and security establishment, having been present at numerous peace negotiations, and served as an Israeli cabinet member, I believe I have some ideas as to how this might be achieved.

I spoke to more than 1,000 people over the course of the week. But it was only at King’s College London, where I was speaking at an event jointly hosted by the KCL and LSE Israel societies along with Yachad, was I met with violence. A window was smashed, students were pushed and the event was cut short due to the disruption.

It is worth noting that in comparison to the audience inside the room, who came from a wide variety of backgrounds, and listened and engaged with what I had to say, those responsible for the chaos outside were small in number. Nonetheless, their behaviour has no place at a London university that is committed to free speech. In a democratic society, unless someone is guilty of hate speech or inciting violence, you have a right to express any opinion you want and people have a right to disagree with it, but not through violent means.

It is the slogan of the protesters that bothered me most: “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”. Perhaps they do not know to which river or sea their chant refers, or what the consequences would be were this to become a reality. But to clear up any misunderstanding, it means an end to a state of Israel, which also exists between the river Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea, and consigning both the Israeli and Palestinian peoples to perpetual civil warfare in what would likely be one failed state.

This is an extremist position and not shared by the majority of Palestinians or Israelis, nor the international community, which is committed to a two-state solution. However, it is the people who hold these extreme positions that came to define the narrative of my experience at KCL, and sadly, the same can be said of the region today. It is the small minority of extremists – and both sides of this conflict are afflicted with extremists – that, for the past 20 years, have come to define the reality and future of the Middle East.

There are also places in Israel where I have tried to speak and have been prevented from doing so because people do not want to listen to another perspective. This is an unfortunate reflection of a growing anti-democratic trend within Israeli society. Each time this happens, our democracy narrows further, and our ability to tolerate others’ opinions is diminished.

Palestinians and Israelis must speak with one voice: this is no way for us to live

Had the protesters engaged with me, they would have heard me say that negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians have become the endgame itself rather than a solution, and that to achieve progress the architecture of the process needs to change, without giving up on two states. I would have told them about the vision of Blue White Future, the organisation I founded which advocates for independent constructive action, allowing both sides to take steps towards an agreement without requiring both sides to sit down and negotiate. For Israel this would include inviting settlers to return home to Israel and freezing settlement construction completely on the eastern side of the separation barrier.

I speak as an Israeli, and it is not for me to tell Palestinians what to do. But if their leadership will accept the concept of two states, 1967 borders with territorial exchange based on parameters of security, demography and contiguity, we should negotiate. In the meantime, both parties should move forward and create a reality of two states independently.

If the protesters at King’s College really wanted to help end occupation, they would listen and engage with new ideas as to how this might happen. They might not have agreed with my suggestions; that is their right. But we could have had a robust exchange of views and perhaps new ideas would have been formed – surely the very purpose of an academic institution?

I am sure that if King’s College London is committed to free speech they will invite me back to address an audience where we can have this discussion. In the meantime, I will do everything in my power in order to prevent extremists on both sides shaping our future, for the sake of Palestinians and Israelis and for the sake of democracy and free speech.

Those nice Israel-bashers’ Achilles’ heel

by Melanie Phillips              The Jerusalem Post

http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/As-I-see-it-Those-nice-Israel-bashers-Achilles-heel-443934?

The Canadian foreign minister Stéphane Dion, describing himself as a “steadfast ally and friend to Israel,” criticized both the Palestinians’ unilateral pursuit of statehood.

Why can’t Israel’s self-styled friends understand that the things they say about Israel are not in fact the sentiments of friends but of enemies? Whenever someone says “As a friend/candid friend/staunch ally of Israel…,” you know that what’s coming is a vicious kick to the head. Delivered, of course, purely in a spirit of friendship.

The Canadian foreign minister Stéphane Dion, describing himself as a “steadfast ally and friend to Israel,” criticized both the Palestinians’ unilateral pursuit of statehood and the Israelis’ settlement construction. “Canada is concerned by the continued violence in Israel and the West Bank,” he said.

“Canada calls for all efforts to be made to reduce violence and incitement and to help build the conditions for a return to the negotiating table.”

Dion seemed to be suggesting that Israeli terrorism victims were somehow asking for it and that Palestinian murder attacks were to be equated with Israeli self-defense.

Doubtless he thought he was being studiously even-handed and therefore fair, wise and just. But in the battle between victim and aggressor, legality and illegality, truth and falsehood, even-handedness inescapably entails blaming the victim and tacitly endorsing illegality and lies.

A few days later the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon did something similar. While condemning the current wave of Palestinian stabbings and other attacks upon Israelis, he claimed the perpetrators were driven by “alienation and despair.”

“It is human nature to react to occupation, which often serves as a potent incubator of hate and extremism,” he said.

When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed outrage at such an apparent justification for Palestinian violence, Ban appeared genuinely affronted. His words, he said, had been twisted. Palestinian attacks and incitement were reprehensible and he condemned them.

Yet having stated, “Nothing excuses terrorism,” he then repeated the excuse for Palestinian terrorism. “No one can deny that the everyday reality of occupation provokes anger and despair, which are major drivers of violence and extremism and undermine any hope of a negotiated two-state solution.”

Well actually, no one who pays the slightest regard to reality could maintain such a thing. Whatever the provocation, it is not “human nature” to set out to murder as many innocents as possible, including women and children.

Ban’s apparently real bewilderment that anyone could possibly think he supports terrorism arises from two things. The first is his fundamentally false view of the Arab war against Israel. The “occupation” does not cause Palestinian violence. It is unending Palestinian violence that prolongs the “occupation.”

The Palestinians aren’t driven by despair at the absence of their state. How can this be so, when they have turned down repeated offers of such a state since the 1930s? Isn’t it more logical to assume that the relentless incitement – to which Ban himself alluded – which tells them falsely that Israel plans to destroy al-Aksa and that their highest calling is to kill Jews and conquer the whole of Israel has rather more to do with it? Moreover, this is not an occupation in the normally accepted understanding of the word. Israel has not occupied another people’s land, because the disputed territories never belonged to another people.

Nor is Israel there out of an aggressive colonial impulse. The Jews are entitled to hold and settle the territories under international law several times over, both as a legally permitted defense against continuous belligerence and from their never-abrogated entitlement to do so – as the only people for whom this was ever their national homeland – under the terms of the Palestine Mandate.

These false premises about Israel’s “occupation,” however, are widespread.

This helps explain the distressing fact that most of the almost daily Palestinian terrorist attacks on Israelis aren’t noted at all in the Western media.

Few realize that Israelis going about their everyday lives are routinely being murdered or wounded by stabbing, shooting, rock-throwing or cars driven into bus queues.

This onslaught is not being reported because, to the Western media, it is the understandable response to occupation. The settlers have chosen to put themselves in harm’s way, goes the thinking, and other Israelis have also brought this upon themselves merely by being Israelis.

So to the West, these Jewish victims of terrorism just don’t exist. At the same time, the Western media never reports the near-daily Palestinian incitement of the mass murder of Israeli Jews. That doesn’t fit the narrative of Palestinian victims of Israel.

For identical reasons, the media also ignores the victimization of Palestinians by other Palestinians. According to Palestinian Media Watch, last year the Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights received 292 complaints of torture, maltreatment and physical assault in the West Bank and 928 in the Gaza Strip.

The West remains almost totally ignorant of the tyrannical abuse Palestinians inflict upon one another. But why is its Palestinian narrative thus hermetically sealed against the truth? Here’s the second reason for Ban’s bewilderment. Progressives subscribe to universalizing agendas. These by definition deny any hierarchy of cultures or moral values. So Palestinian society cannot be held to be innately hostile to human rights, and Palestinian terrorism is equated (at best) with Israeli defense against such attacks.

Thus on Holocaust Remembrance Day, of all things, Ban equated anti-Semitism with anti-Muslim bigotry. But the two are not remotely comparable.

Of course there are some who are irrationally bigoted against Muslims.

But most anti-Islamic feeling is a rational response to Islamic violence and aggression. By contrast, anti-Jewish hatred is true bigotry as it is based entirely on lies, myths, and paranoid and deranged beliefs about Jews who have never posed an aggressive threat to anyone.

Ban and others committed to universalism think this equation is fair. In fact, it diminishes Jew-hatred and sanitizes Islamic aggression. Which is why progressives who think they are pure because their hearts so conspicuously bleed for the oppressed are not pure at all. They are morally corrupt.

They aren’t driven by compassion for any kind of victim. What drives them instead is hatred of supposed victimizers in the “powerful” West.

Their purported even-handedness thus camouflages a moral degeneracy.

For while denouncing Israel, they support Palestinians who throw gays from the top of tall buildings, who abuse women and children, who jail, torture and kill dissidents. They support the racist ethnic cleansing of Jews from a future state of Palestine. They help incite false grievances that kill.

They have the blood of innocents on their own hands.

But they think of themselves as fair, decent, progressive. This is where they are vulnerable. For like Ban, they also tend to be remarkably thin skinned.

That’s because their image of themselves really is all that matters to them. They don’t care about the world’s victims. They care about being seen to care.

They think of themselves as nice people. We have to show them that they are not. Self-regard is everything to them. It is therefore their Achilles’ heel.

We should puncture it.

Abbas signals solidarity for terrorism, as Gaza talks of war again

PA chief, like Arafat before him, seems to be riding terrorist tiger; meanwhile, Hamas getting its tunnels ready for possible pre-emptive strike

By Avi Issacharoff             The Times of Israel

http://www.timesofisrael.com/abbas-signals-solidarity-for-terrorism-as-gaza-talks-of-war-again/

About two weeks ago, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) met with a group of Israeli journalists, myself included, in the Muqata in Ramallah. The rais made firm statements against violence and terrorism and repeated his call for the resumption of peace talks.

On Wednesday afternoon, just hours after three Palestinian youths from Qabatiya carried out a horrific terror attack at Damascus Gate in which Border Police officer Hadar Cohen, 19, was killed, Abbas met in the same office with parents of several young Palestinian terrorists who had murdered Israelis — terrorists whose bodies had not been returned. He promised to rebuild the families’ homes, which Israeli security troops had demolished.

It may be that Abbas sees such a promise as a humanitarian gesture, perhaps an act of mercy, toward the families. But he must know how his words and deeds would be interpreted in Palestinian and Israeli society: as an act of solidarity and support for terrorists’ actions in a week that those three young men, from families that are strong supporters of Fatah, went on a killing spree outside Jerusalem’s Old City, and a Palestinian Authority police officer tried to kill three young soldiers. Plainly, this is no way to build peace; nor is it any way to convey a message against violence and terrorism.

It is true that the Palestinian Authority acts against terrorism, prevents terror attacks and arrests people suspected of planning terror attacks. Still, when the entire official and unofficial Palestinian media conveys the message that the terrorists are “heroes” and Abbas embraces the families of these “martyrs,” the impression that comes across in Israel and in the territories alike is that, just as in Yasser Arafat’s time, Abbas tries every so often to ride the tiger rather than get rid of it.

Tunnel vision

Reports came from the Gaza Strip that same Wednesday evening about the collapse of yet another tunnel in the Zeitun neighborhood. A day before, another attack tunnel that Hamas operatives had dug near the former community of Netzarim, quite close to Kissufim and Nahal Oz, had collapsed. The new collapse killed two members of Hamas, and the incident made headlines in Israeli and Palestinian media.

The tunnels themselves, and what leaders on both sides are saying about them, make for big news at present. Hamas’s media outlets publish videos almost daily showing — essentially mocking — Israeli engineering equipment digging on the border in an effort to locate tunnels. Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas chief in Gaza, bragged last Friday that his movement was digging tunnels toward Israel and testing rockets.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded by threatening that Hamas would pay dearly if it used a tunnel to attack Israel. In turn, on Wednesday, Mahmoud al-Zahar, the former Hamas foreign minister, scoffed to reporters: “The tunnels have already reached… beyond Gaza. That means that land that was occupied in 1948 is not safe [for Israelis]. The fact that you found one tunnel doesn’t mean that you found others.” He added: “Now, thank God, I inform you that we are in better shape than we were in the last war.”

This is unlikely. Eighteen months after the last war, Hamas has not regained all of its abilities, certainly not as far as rockets are concerned. Which may be why, later in the day, al-Zahar tried to say that “the statements he was quoted as saying were not exact.” In addition, Hamas also conveyed explicitly calming messages to Israel.

In a conversation I had that evening with a senior member of Hamas, I asked him a simple question: Was Hamas planning to start a war with Israel?

His response was unequivocal: Hamas had no intention of going on the offensive or starting a war. “Our position is clear,” he said. “We do not want escalation, nor do we want war. We have no intention, at the present time or in the future, of starting a war, and as far as we are concerned, that option is not on the table.”

He told me that Hamas officials had said the same thing to high-ranking Turkish and Qatari officials and also to UN envoy Nikolay Mladenov, who met with Hamas’s upper echelon in the Gaza Strip. Still, he warned that the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip could lead to severe consequences.

One of the main reasons for the last war was the economic situation in Gaza, and Israel knows it,” he said. “The situation is difficult now too, maybe even more so. Look what is happening with unemployment and poverty. It’s true that Israel continues to allow goods to be brought in and is making sure that rebuilding continues, but the pace of the rebuilding is very slow and we are under a great deal of pressure to do something. The people in Gaza demand that we act to bring about change in their situation. There are many people here who have no homes, and they cannot tolerate the situation any longer. And again, I emphasize: We do not want war. And we realize that most of the people want only to rebuild Gaza, and that is what we want — to continue the reconstruction.”

So which Hamas should we believe? The bragging, aggressive Haniyeh and Zahar? Or the senior Hamas member? And what about Hamas’s military wing, which has not been heard from at all?

The prevailing assumption in Gaza and Israel alike is that Hamas does not want an escalation… at present. Still, before the summer 2014 war, there were those in the Hamas military wing who pushed for a “pre-emptive strike” via the tunnels; the leadership abroad, headed by Khaled Mashaal, stopped them. Mashaal and his colleagues probably lack the authority nowadays to stop the military wing, which has Mohammed Deif at the helm together with Yahya Sinwar, the meteor in Hamas’s skies.

If Deif and Sinwar should decide to act against Israel, contrary to Hamas’s political interests or the will of the public in Gaza, Israel could find itself once again in a long war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Not ice cream, water

We can agree with the senior Hamas member about one thing. Public opinion in Gaza, which has strongly opposed resuming combat with Israel since 2004’s Operation Protective Edge, is already starting to show signs of the despair and hardship that led to wars with Hamas in the past. The Israeli public may not realize just how bad things are in Gaza.

“We have electricity for six hours a day,” A. tells me by telephone from Gaza. “And things in our area are relatively good. We also have two extra hours because we took power from another line. But our neighborhood is considered an ‘important’ one. My sister, who lives in a different neighborhood, gets only three hours a day.”

‘I know somebody who does not belong to any political group, but he wants to make a living, so he went to work digging tunnels’

He tells me that most of the public in Gaza lives on assistance from the various aid organizations. “Unemployment is at about 45 percent,” he says. “Those who don’t work, live on UNRWA assistance, and of course some receive salaries from the Palestinian Authority or aid from charitable organizations. The ‘employees’ do not receive high salaries either. You can find many Gazans who work as street sweepers for 20 to 30 shekels a day ($5-7). And even if you work for the Hamas government, they cannot pay a full salary. There are more than 100,000 university graduates who have nowhere to work.

There are also people who completed their matriculation examinations, but their parents cannot pay for academic studies, so they sit at home. People want to live. I know somebody who does not belong to any political group, but he wants to make a living, so he went to work digging tunnels.”

He continued, “The vast majority here has no way to buy a home or build one. So almost everyone lives with their parents. Ninety percent of people live with their parents. Few can get married, because people have no money for weddings. There are offices that rent out halls and organize receptions and food for weddings by extending special loans, and the groom has to pay back $100 to $150 dollars a month. So the number of weddings is small. The number of couples that have divorced has also gone up because the men cannot make a living.”

I ask: What about water? “No one drinks water from the tap. Every home has a big drum that holds about 500 liters. Trucks come with large containers, playing special music, and that’s how I know that the water man is here. I live on an upper floor, so I throw down the rope and he connects the pipe. I tug on the rope and he turns on the spigot, and that’s how I get water at home. We’re not supposed to drink the water here, but the poor people do.”

Welcome to Gaza’s version of Somalia.