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Latest News in Israel – 4th April

Updates from Israel and the Jewish World

compiled by Dr Ron Wiseman

Terrorist shot and killed by Israeli civilian after trying to stab his daughter in car

A pair of Israeli civilians neutralized a terrorist who attempted to attack people in their cars as they drove near the Hawara checkpoint south of Shechem/Nablus in Samaria on Wednesday morning, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

At approximately 8:30 a.m., an Arab male carrying a knife opened the door of a private Israeli vehicle and attempted to stab a young female passenger, but was shot and neutralized by the driver, who was from Elon Moreh, with the help of a commuter behind him from Itamar.

The terrorist’s target was reported to be the daughter of the driver, who was nearly stabbed as her father drove her to high school.

The terrorist was seriously wounded in the altercation and later died of his wounds at Beilinson Hospital. No Israeli civilians or security personnel were injured in the attack.

“I was on my way to work at the party office and was driving from Elon Moreh towards Tapuah,” said Yehoshua Sherman, an activist for the Union of Right Wing Parties Knesset lists. “At Beytot Junction, a terrorist carrying a knife jumped on my car, and tried to open one of the doors. I got out, and while the terrorist was trying to go around the car to approach me, I shot and neutralized him with the help of a Yitzhar resident who had been driving his truck behind me.”

Samaria Regional Council chief Yossi Dagan praised Sherman for his successful prevention of a terror attack and urged the prime minister to finish construction of a bypass road that would enable Jewish residents to circumvent the Arab area of Hawara.

The terror attack occurred on Route 60, the main road from north to south in Judea and Samaria. Residents who use the road have reported frequent rock-throwing and firebombing attacks on the route, particularly near Hawara. (JNS) Staff

Body of Israeli soldier killed in Lebanon War returned to Israel 37 years later

The body of an Israeli soldier killed in Lebanon War has been returned to Israel 37 years later, announced the Israel Defense Forces on Wednesday.

Zachary Baumel was one of three Israeli soldiers whose remains were never found in the aftermath of the Battle of Sultan Yacoub between Israel and Syria in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley during the First Lebanon War in 1982 in which 21 Israeli soldiers were killed and 30 more were injured.

His remains were flown back on an El Al airplane, IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus told reporters.

“His body is in Israel. The body has been identified. It has been verified,” said Conricus.

Miriam and Yoni Baumel hold a picture of their son Zachary Baumel, who went missing in 1982.

(this photo was taken in 2003)

“The IDF has undertaken significant intelligence and operational efforts to find the remains and bring them back,” Conricus said. “Our efforts to locate the other missing-in-action soldiers continue,” he added.

The body was identified at the Institute of Forensic Medicine and by the IDF’s chief rabbi. Conricus said that Baumel’s family has been informed of the development.

Commenting on the return of Baumel, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that it was “one of the most moving moments in all my years as prime minister.”

He added that it was a “repayment of a moral debt to the fallen soldiers of the IDF, a repayment of a moral debt to their families.”

While it was not confirmed by Israeli officials, it is widely believe that Russia was involved in helping Israel search for the remains of missing soldiers in Syria.

Baumel’s body will be buried in the coming days. (JNS) Staff

IDF shoots three Gazans sneaking into Israel with knives

Israeli forces opened fire and wounded three Palestinians who entered Israel from the Gaza Strip and were carrying knives, the army said Wednesday.

“(Israeli) troops spotted three suspects crossing the security fence and infiltrating into Israel from the southern Gaza Strip,” it said.

“In response, the troops fired at the suspects. Knives were found in their possession.”

The three were transferred to an Israeli hospital, a spokesperson told AFP.

The incident came amid days of relative quiet on the Gaza-Israel border, as  regional states worked to broker a truce between Israel and Hamas after a flareup in violence last week.

Egypt, the United Nations and Qatar have recently worked to broker ceasefire understandings between Israel and Hamas, which, if finalized, would likely see an end to violence emanating from the Strip in exchange for the Jewish state easing some of its restrictions on the movement of people and goods into and out of the coastal enclave.

Israeli officials have long held that the Jewish state’s limitations on movement aim to prevent Hamas and other terror groups from transferring weapons into Gaza.

There appeared to be a breakthrough in the ceasefire efforts over the weekend, when Palestinians in Gaza maintained relative calm along the border during large protests on Saturday.

Israel, in turn, reopened its two crossings with Gaza on Sunday, having closed them last week after a rocket attack struck a home in central Israel and injured seven people, and significantly expanded the permitted fishing area on Monday around the coastal enclave.

On Wednesday, Palestinian factions in Gaza reportedly agreed to stop launching balloons with incendiary devices into Israel.   (the Times of Israel) AFP and Staff

Abusive husband grants divorce after being fired as Egged bus driver

A physically abusive husband who refused to grant his wife a divorce, tried to extort money from her in the divorce proceedings and absconded from legal proceedings, has finally agreed to the divorce, after being fired from his job and arrested for failing to appear before a rabbinical court.

The husband had refused for several years to accede to divorce proceedings and defied a rabbinical court ruling obligating him to grant his wife a divorce.

The legal representatives of the wife, Ilana – whose full name and the name of her husband cannot be disclosed – requested that the Jerusalem Rabbinical Court, which was handling the case, order the Egged bus company where the husband worked as a driver to fire him from his job, in accordance with legislation that revokes a person’s rights to be employed in a state-funded company, such as Egged.

Egged fired him last month, and after he failed to appear at a rabbinical court hearing a warrant was issued for his arrest.

He was eventually located by a private investigation firm hired by the wife’s legal representatives from the Yad La’isha Legal Aid Center and Hotline, and was subsequently arrested earlier this week by the police and put into detention.

On Tuesday, he was brought before the rabbinical court and finally agreed to give grant the divorce.

The couple in question, whose names cannot be disclosed, immigrated to Israel from India several years ago with their only child.

Even before they arrived, the husband had been violent towards his wife, and he continued his physical attacks on her and their child once they had immigrated as well, leading to police intervention on at least one occasion.

The woman filed for divorce three years ago, but her husband wanted to reconcile, so an agreement was reached to try this process – including a commitment by the husband to cease being violent toward his wife and child.

He failed to stand by this commitment. After another year of violent assaults by her husband, the woman left home and requested that divorce proceedings continue, proceedings which finally culminated on Tuesday.

“I can’t put my excitement in words. I’ve been emancipated, thanks to Yad La’isha – and today, I’m a free woman,” said the wife in a statement to the press.

“Without this support, I don’t know if I would have ever been free. You saved me from the life I was living, and thanks to you, I’m leaving this place with the belief that God will be with me.”

Rabbi Dr. Kenneth Brander, president and educational head of the Ohr Torah Stone network of institutions to which Yad La’isha belongs, said that: “We are thrilled with the outcome in this case and delighted by Ilana’s happiness. We will continue to help other women like Ilana, while proactively seeking ways to prevent the agunah [‘chained’ woman] phenomenon.”  (Jerusalem Post) Jeremy Sharon

Russia positions itself as ‘final judge’ in Syria amid escalating Israeli-Iranian tensions

Moscow has also attempted to play the role of mediator between Israel and Iran, seeking to douse the shadow war raging between them on Syrian soil. Israel, for its part, is determined to disrupt Iran’s plan to turn Syria into a war front against it.

by Yaacov Lappin    JNS

https://www.jns.org/russia-positions-itself-as-final-judge-in-syria-amid-high-israeli-iranian-tensions/

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin have been engaged in a flurry of discussions recently, at least some of which are likely tied to Iranian activities in Syria.

The meetings come in the shadow of recent reports of a major Israeli airstrike on March 28, targeting an Iranian weapons’ warehouse near the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, which reportedly resulted in large blasts and casualties.

Russia leads a pro-Assad military coalition in Syria, of which Iranian forces are a central part of. Yet it also maintains a deconfliction channel with Israel to avoid unintended clashes between its air force and the Israeli Air Force, both of which are active in the Syrian arena.

Putin has also attempted to play the role of mediator between Israel and Iran, seeking to douse the shadow war raging between them on Syrian soil. Israel, for its part, is determined to disrupt Iran’s plan to turn Syria into a war front against it.

Netanyahu will fly to Moscow on Thursday for a meeting with Putin, just five days before Israel’s April 9 elections. The meeting may be tied to Russia’s assistance in retrieving an Israeli soldier who went MIA in 1982, but may not be limited to that topic. On April 1, Netanyahu and Putin held a phone conversation to talk about “military cooperation issues,” according to the Kremlin, as well as “pressing bilateral issue,” and “the situation in the Middle East region.”

On Feb. 27, the two leaders met in Moscow to discuss Syria. Netanyahu said during that meeting, the two sides reached an agreement on how to coordinate between the militaries. They also apparently agreed on a goal of getting “foreign troops” to leave Syria, according to Netanyahu.

While Russia will not be able to satisfy everyone, it does understand that it will need to leave each side with “half of its desires,” Professor Uzi Rabi, director of the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University, told JNS.

To achieve this, Moscow gets every actor to spell out “what is really important to it, and here, Israel has an opportunity to define the range and perimeter of Iran’s actions in Syria,” he added. “In general, this is a new situation that the region is not used to. The Russians are managing this game with many bargaining chips, and Israel will have to adapt itself to the new rules of the game.”

Iran’s activities in Syria tied to internal power struggles

Doron Itzchakov, a research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, and at the Alliance Center for Iranian Studies at Tel Aviv University, agreed that the current situation is good for Moscow.

“The Russian interest is to position itself as the ‘final judge’ in Syria, and this situation, in which Netanyahu runs to Putin and the Iranian side runs to him, is comfortable for them. They are comfortable with being the balancing scales,” he said.

Iran, for its part, will be closely monitoring Israel’s contacts with Russia and adapt its policies in Syria accordingly. “The Iranians will be watching out for Russia’s policy in Syria, to see how they need to change their tactics. Iran has no plan of releasing its grip on Syria, but it changes tactics so as not to lose momentum,” stated Itzchakov.

On recent example of how Iran has adapted its takeover efforts in Syria is by embedding its military personnel and weaponry into sites run by the official Syrian Arab Army. However, that didn’t stop Israel from reportedly striking such targets when it detects them.

Itzchakov stressed that Iran’s decisions in Syria cannot be disconnected from Tehran’s wider, geo-political ambitions or from internal power struggles that are raging inside the Islamic Republic.

He cited a visit in March by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to neighboring Iraq as an example of this linkage. The goal of that visit was to develop an economic corridor to bypass biting American sanctions, said Itzchakov.

Yet the visit also boosted the prestige of Rouhani, who is facing major criticism at home from the rival conservative bloc and the Islamic Republican Guards Corps (IRGC).

“The economic corridor Iran wants in Iraq is tied to its desire for an economic corridor to Lebanon and its ties to Syria. One cannot separate these things,” said Itzchakov.

In addition, Iran has been able to build up armed forces in all of these countries—Iraq, Syria and Lebanon—and has turned them into deeply influential political forces in Iraq and Lebanon. Iran plans to do the same in Syria.

But the element responsible for this activity is mainly the IRGC and General Qasem Soleimani, commander of the overseas Iranian Quds Force unit, which is competing with Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Zarif, for control of Iran’s regional policies, said Itzchakov.

Out of this internal rivalry emerges the story of Iranian activities in Syria, he added. “The IRGC’s power as a decision maker in geo-political, economic and diplomatic areas is rising,” he said.

The internal power struggle is making “Iran more sensitive to Syria,” said Itzchakov. “Even when done in opposition to the popular wishes of the Iranian people, the IRGC makes its own decisions, including in Syria. The IRGC wants to set the agenda.” JNS Yaakov Lappin

The day after the election

For the sake of the country and of the greater Middle East, Israel needs a wide-reaching coalition government that will embrace the Trump administration’s peace efforts and tackle the security challenges facing the Jewish state.

by  Arsen Ostrovsky and Joshua Karsh                   Israel Hayom

https://www.israelhayom.com/opinions/the-day-after-the-election/

We are less than a week before the Israeli election and all indications point to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Likud party being in the best position to form a government. For the sake of the country and of the greater Middle East, Israel needs a wide-reaching coalition government that will embrace the Trump administration’s peace efforts and tackle the security challenges facing the Jewish state.

In welcoming Netanyahu to the White House last week, U.S. President Donald Trump reiterated, “My administration will always stand in solidarity with our Jewish brothers and sisters, and will always stand strong with our cherished friend and partner, the State of Israel.”

This sentiment was echoed at the AIPAC Policy Conference held last week in Washington, D.C.  Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman all made compelling cases as to why the Trump administration is the most pro-Israel administration in the history of the United States.

True to his pre-election promises, Trump has withdrawn from the disastrous Iran nuclear deal and moved the United States Embassy to Jerusalem. This administration has also shown unwavering support for Israel at the United Nations and has held the Palestinian leadership accountable for its incitement and funding of terror. The recent recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights further underscored the Trump administration’s unparalleled support for the safety and security of Israel.

As Netanyahu noted during his Oval Office meeting with Trump during the Golan Heights signing proclamation, “I’ve met many friends of Israel in this office but we have never had a greater friend than President Trump.” The president’s actions in support of Israel has translated to overwhelmingly positive feelings among the Israeli public toward the American president and his administration.

Following the Israeli election, the U.S. will reveal its vision for an all-encompassing peace between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as a broader regional peace with the Arab states.

The Palestinian Authority leadership, headed by President Mahmoud Abbas, has already indicted it would dismiss the Trump peace plan out of hand, without having even seen it.

While the details of the plan remain a well-guarded secret, the Israeli public should feel confident in the proposal that will ultimately be presented, given that this administration has demonstrated beyond a doubt its unequivocal solidarity with the State of Israel and understanding of the Jewish state’s security concerns.

Despite the virulent political rhetoric and personal attacks that have punctuated this electoral cycle, the policy differences between Likud and Blue and White on issues of national security are largely superficial. Blue and White co-leaders Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid deserve praise for showing that candidates from diverse and opposing political backgrounds can come together for the betterment of the nation.

The wider Israeli leadership should embrace this truly unique moment to join forces for the future of their country. Immediately after the election, they must put aside the bruised egos and petty differences, to create a stable and lasting coalition government from across the political spectrum that will embrace the Trump administration’s vision for safer, more secure and more prosperous Middle East.

As Pence said at the AIPAC Policy Conference: “Israel and the United States will always stand together because America and Israel are more than friends. We’re more than partners or allies. We are a family, descended from a common tradition of faith. We’re a family that upholds common values. And together, we share a common destiny.”

From day one, the Trump administration has shown its support for Israel has been not only by word, but also deed and action. Therefore, when this administration says it “has Israel’s back,” Israelis overwhelmingly believe it.

The Israeli public, the most pro-American population in the world, can accordingly rest assured that any future peace agreement led by the Trump administration will have the Jewish state’s security interests foremost at heart.

As such, the upcoming peace plan will present a unique occasion for Israel that will require of its leadership courage, commitment and most of all, unity, to seize this unprecedented opportunity by coming together to embrace the vision our American family is creating for a stronger and safer Israel and Middle East.