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Latest News in Israel – 6th July

Border police say Jerusalem terror attack foiled at West Bank checkpoint

Border police said they foiled a terror attack Tuesday after finding a bag of knives, stun grenades and Molotov cocktail materials during the search of a Palestinian vehicle at a checkpoint near East Jerusalem.

The car was heading into the Jerusalem side of the Mizmoriya checkpoint, outside Bethlehem, when it was stopped after security forces noticed that its front and back license plates did not match.

The officers ordered the six riders, who also lacked entry permits, to exit the vehicle for it to be examined.

Upon discovering the various weapons, the suspects were detained, the vehicle was seized and the checkpoint was temporarily closed.

According to the police spokesperson, the suspects admitted during initial questioning to planning to carry out a terror attack in Jerusalem.

Last week, a Palestinian woman was detained while trying to cross a different West Bank checkpoint outside Bethlehem with a knife, apparently while on her way to carry out a stabbing attack in Jerusalem.

Border police officers who searched the 36-year-old at the crossing near the city of Bethlehem found the weapon during a search, police said. The woman, from the town of Yatta, near Hebron, was taken for questioning, where she reportedly told investigators she wanted to carry out a stabbing attack in Jerusalem.

Nobody was injured during the incident, which came less than two weeks after three Palestinian men carried out an attack in the Old City of Jerusalem that killed a Border Police officer, 23-year-old Hadas Malka.

Since September 2015, some 43 Israelis, two visiting Americans, an Eritrean national, a Palestinian man and a British student have been killed in stabbing, shooting and vehicular attacks by Palestinian assailants. In that time, more than 270 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire, a majority of them attackers, according to authorities.

The spate of Palestinian attacks that began in October 2015 was dubbed the “lone wolf” intifada, as many of the attacks were carried out by individuals who were not connected to any terror group. Israeli security officials say that many of the attacks, particularly those that are carried out by women, were attempts at suicide by soldier. (the Times of Israel)

Indian PM affirms ‘kinship’ with Israel, where he feels ‘at home’

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke on Wednesday morning of the “kinship” he feels with Israel, hailing the rapidly improving relations between the two countries, and especially the burgeoning trade ties.

Modi arrived Tuesday, making him the first-ever head of India’s government to visit the Jewish state.

“Israel is a real friend and I have really felt that feeling of kinship. I feel absolutely at home here,” Modi said during a meeting with President Reuven Rivlin in Jerusalem. “Your Excellency, you yourself broke protocol and stepped onto the road [at the President’s Residence] to receive me, and this is a mark of respect to the entire Indian nation comprising 1.25 billion people,” he added.

“You have expressed your love and your sentiments for our country. For that, I would especially like to thank you and express my gratitude.”

Rivlin heartily welcomed the prime minister to his residence.

“We have a lot in common, we are doing a lot in common,” he said, praising Modi for understanding the need of fostering both government-to-government and business-to-government relations. “It’s really a pleasure to have as a guest one of the greatest leaders in the world today. Prime Minister, welcome,” Rivlin concluded.

Modi, dressed all in black, recalled Rivlin’s visit to India eight months ago, praising the president for making an effort to visit several cities to get a full picture of the the country. At the time, Rivlin said he wanted to turn Modi’s dictum “Make in India” to “Make with India,” seeking to promote the joint flourishing of both economies.

Modi on Wednesday endorsed Rivlin’s idea. “In your introductory words, you used all sorts of phrases used in the world of trade and commerce, such as G2G and B2B et cetera, but in the real world what we see today is ‘I for I,’ and ‘I with I.’ And when I say ‘I for I’ I don’t mean the popular saying, what I mean is India with Israel and India for Israel,” he said.

Later on Wednesday, Modi will meet again with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for lunch and attend an event during which several bilateral agreements will be signed.

Modi is also scheduled to meet Moshe Holtzberg, the now 12-year-old son of two Chabad emissaries, Rabbi Gavriel and Rivkah Holtzberg, who were killed in a November 2008 terror attack in Mumbai. He is also expected to meet with Sandra Samuel, Moshe’s nanny at the time, who rescued the boy on the day of the attack.

In the afternoon, he is set to meet opposition leader Isaac Herzog and members of the Indian community. He will then head to the Israel Museum, where together with Netanyahu he will walk through the Synagogue Route and gaze at a reconstruction of the Kadavumbagam synagogue from the town of Cochin in southern India.

On Wednesday evening, at around 8, the two prime ministers are scheduled to address a major rally at the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds, which is expected to draw some 4,000 participants. Before the two leaders make their speeches, the crowd will be entertained by a cultural program, including a performance by popular Bollywood playback singer Sukhwinder Singh.

About 12,000 non-Jewish Indian nationals currently live and work in Israel, as well as some 80,000 Israeli Jews with at least one parent of Indian origin. Only 5,000 Jews remain in India today.

On Thursday morning, Modi and Netanyahu will take a helicopter ride to Haifa, where they will visit a cemetery where Indian soldiers who fought in World War I are buried. Modi is expected to lay two wreaths — one for Hindu and one for Muslims soldiers who perished “during the liberation of Haifa in 1918,” as Modi put it in a recent Facebook post.

On their way back to Tel Aviv, Modi and Netanyahu will visit a water desalination unit before having lunch with Indian and Israeli executives. They will then attend a large innovation conference, during which five Israeli companies and four Indian companies will make presentations.

In 1992, when diplomatic ties were established, bilateral trade was at about $200 million. Today, it reaches $5 billion, one-fifth of which is in Israeli defense exports.

After a short meeting with Indian students late Thursday afternoon, Modi will head to the airport, where Netanyahu will bid him goodbye during an official ceremony.  (the Times of Israel)

IDF soldier killed during training exercise in Hebron

An IDF officer was killed on Tuesday night during a training exercise in Hebron, the army reported.

A stray bullet discharged from a weapon during the exercise, fatally injuring the officer.

The victim was named by the IDF as David Golovanchic, 22, from Efrat. He was posthumously promoted to the rank of lieutenant.

OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Roni Numa has appointed a committee to investigate the incident. In addition military police have opened their own investigation.

Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen.Gadi Eisenkot announced that there will be a moratorium on training exercises on Thursday and the IDF will conduct a safety awareness day for all soldiers.  (Jerusalem Post)

Israeli politicians tear into UNESCO Jerusalem vote

Twenty two countries voted in favor of a UNESCO decision labeling Israel an “occupying power” in Jerusalem and criticizing archeological excavations in the city on Tuesday.

Israeli leaders were quick to react, condemning the decision by UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee .

“Nothing is more disgraceful than UNESCO declaring the world’s only Jewish state the ‘occupier’ of the Western Wall and Jerusalem’s Old City,” said Israeli UN Ambassador Danny Danon, “No faux ‘heritage committee’ can sever the bonds between our people and Jerusalem.”

Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett stated that “UNESCO’s repeated fake claims do not change the Jewish connection to Jerusalem or reality on the ground.”

Also serving as the head of the Israeli UNESCO Committee, Bennett refereed to an earlier decision he made to cut Israel’s professional ties to UNESCO and to maintain just diplomatic relations.

“Instead of protecting hundreds of sites destroyed by radical Islam,” said Bennett, “including the al-Nuri mosque in Mosul, UNESCO is acting against the only middle-eastern country safeguarding all holy sites and granting worshipers religious freedom.”

The Islamic State blew up the 12 Century al-Nuri mosque in October during the still ongoing battle of Mosul.  (Jerusalem Post)

Hamas Chief Haniyeh: Prisoner swap around the corner

Newly elected Hamas politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh on Wednesday suggested that Hamas is close to reaching a prisoner swap deal with Israel, in his first major speech since assuming the position.

“Their [Palestinian prisoners] liberation has become closer than any time in the past,” said Haniyeh, who resides in the Gaza Strip’s Shati refugee camp, speaking before a number of Gaza-based Hamas leaders.

Channel 11 reported last week that Hamas and Israel are negotiating a prisoner swap through an unnamed third party.

Hamas and Israel carried out a prisoner swap in 2011, in which Israel freed some 1,200 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for former IDF tankgunner Gilad Schalit, who had been in Hamas’s captivity.

Hamas is believed to be holding the remains of two Israeli soldiers in addition to three living civilians.

Haniyeh also said that the West Bank will remain a main arena of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“We say very clearly that the West Bank will remain a center of the conflict and an address for uprising and resistance in all of its forms.”

He added that Hamas is committed to “supporting the steadfastness of [the Palestinian] people in confronting the enemy’s plans… and resistance that makes the enemy pay a high price for its occupation.”

Hamas operates in the West Bank, but the Palestinian Authority and Israel undermine much of its activities, especially in terms of violence. Many of Hamas’s operatives and leaders sit in PA and Israeli jails.

 

Turning to the situation in the Gaza Strip, Haniyeh confirmed that Hamas Gaza chief Yahiya Sinwar had successful meetings with other Palestinian leaders in Egypt at the beginning of June, likely referring to self-exiled Fatah leader Muhammad Dahlan.

“He [Sinwar] held Palestinian-Palestinian meetings, which yielded understandings that will have a positive impact on the lives of our people in Gaza,” said Haniyeh.

Sinwar and Dahlan met in Cairo a number of times in the first half of June, according to multiple Hamas and Dahlan-related officials.

While Haniyeh did not clarify which understandings were reached, Dahlan confidante Sufian Abu Zaida said last Thursday that the leaders agreed to address the humanitarian situation in Gaza.

Hamas leader Ahmad Yousif on Monday told the Jordanian daily al-Ghad that it was agreed to form an “administrative committee” in Gaza comprised of Hamas officials, Dahlanists and other Palestinian factions.

Over the past several days, Fatah officials have expressed disbelief about reports and statements that Egypt allowed Hamas and Dahlan to reach understandings on its soil.

Fatah Central Committee member Jamal Muhaisen told The Jerusalem Post that PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi would discuss the issue in a meeting in Cairo on Sunday.

“We are not going to trust media reports,” Muhaisen said. “We want to hear directly from the Egyptian president.”

Abbas considers Dahlan a rival and has made multiple attempts to isolate him from the Palestinian political scene over the past several years. In 2016, Arab states, which maintain close ties with Dahlan, tried to force Abbas to reconcile with Dahlan, but the PA president rebuffed the attempts.

In the latter half of his speech, which lasted well over an hour, Haniyeh called on the Gulf states to resolve their differences.

“We call on the brothers in the Gulf states… to deal with their disputes in dialogue,” Haniyeh said. “We, Hamas, support all the efforts to end the tension.”

A coalition of Arab states led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have been at loggerheads with Qatar over the past month. The coalition has accused Qatar of maintaining close ties with Iran and funding extremist groups.

Hamas, which relies heavily on Qatar’s financial and logistical support, is concerned that the coalition of Arab states could pressure the small Gulf state to reduce or cut off the assistance.

Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir told reporters in Paris in June that Qatar needs to stop supporting “extremist groups” like Hamas. However, a list of demands presented to Qatar did not explicitly reference the group. (Jerusalem Post)

20th Maccabiah Games to open with record 10,000 athletes

The 20th Maccabiah Games, known as the “Jewish Olympics,” will open with a record 10,000 athletes.

The start of the games will be marked on Thursday with an opening ceremony at Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem. Some 30,000 people are expected for the opening, and it will be nationally televised on Israel’s Channel 2.

It is the third largest sporting event in the world, according to organizers.

The athletes competing in the 43 sports represented at this year’s games come from 80 countries. The largest delegations are from Israel and the United States. Over 1,000 athletes will represent the United States in the competitions, according to Maccabi USA.

In addition to the dozens of events taking place in the host city of Jerusalem, competitions will be held at 68 sports complexes throughout the country.

Soccer is the largest sport at the games, with more than 1,400 athletes from 20 countries participating in the competitions.

The competition categories are: Youth, Open, Masters and Paralympics.

The Maccabiah Games were the launching pad for many international Jewish sports stars. Many return to play or coach in the games.  (the Times of Israel)

Recognising Palestine ignores need for peace

by Colin Rubenstein                     The Australian Financial Review

http://www.afr.com/news/world/middle-east/recognising-palestine-ignores-need-for-peace-20170704-gx450n

Those supporting a motion at the upcoming ALP NSW State Conference calling for recognising a Palestinian state argue they are aiming to advance prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace. Yet an informed look at the current situation would make it clear that premature recognition of “Palestine” as a state would actually have the opposite effect.

The main obstacle to peace over the past two decades has been the Palestinian inability to take yes for an answer, as exemplified by the failure to accept generous Israeli offers of statehood in 2000, 2001 and 2008, and by the terrorism that erupted after Israel withdrew completely from Gaza in 2005.

In 2009, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu instituted a 10-month near total moratorium on building of houses in settlements as a confidence-building measure to encourage negotiations. However, Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas refused to talk for the first nine months, and then only wanted to talk about extending the moratorium.

In 2013-14, Netanyahu tried again. This time, as a confidence-building measure, he agreed to progressively release groups of Palestinians imprisoned for murdering Israelis. Unfortunately, the talks did not prove fruitful. US mediator Martin Indyk, has said of Netanyahu, “I saw him sweating bullets to find a way to reach an agreement”. He added: “We tried to get [Abbas] to the zone of possible agreement but we were surprised to learn he had shut down. We were ready to go beyond policy positions the US had taken on the core issues to bridge the gaps … and he didn’t answer us.”

Since his re-election in 2015 Netanyahu has on several occasions reaffirmed his support for a Palestinian state and offered to meet and negotiate anywhere, at any time, without preconditions. Abbas has failed to take up this offer.

This Palestinian intransigence appears to be based on an unwillingness to offer a genuine acceptance of Israel’s right to exist – which any peace deal would and should require. This would include an undertaking that there would be no further claims against Israel, and that there would be no “right of return” for Palestinian refugees and their millions of descendants to Israel. Flooding Israel with 5 million hostile descendants of refugees is simply incompatible with a genuine two-state peace.

Since 2014, the Palestinians have pursued a strategy of using various international organisations from the UN down to gain recognition of their state from as many governments and bodies as possible. In this way, they hope to avoid having to make the compromises necessary for genuine peace, and to be awarded their state in a way that enables them to continue their conflict with Israel, including demanding the “right of return”. This is a recipe not for peace, but for worsening conflict.

Meanwhile the PA has continued to incite and encourage terrorism against Israel – through overt calls for violence, leading to the spate of car and knife attacks that have seen more than 40 Israelis killed since late 2015 and hundreds of others wounded – by awarding generous lifetime pensions to terrorists and their families, and by naming streets, facilities and even children’s soccer tournaments after terrorists.

Supporting unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state just rewards and encourages these destructive Palestinian tactics. As long as they believe they just need to keep doing more of the same to achieve a state without any concessions to Israel’s right to exist in peace, they will continue to do so. Peace requires the international community to make it very clear to the Palestinian leadership that they must cease their intransigence and support for terrorism if they wish to advance their cause (if that is indeed a state alongside, rather than one instead of Israel) – while also making it clear to Israel that it will be supported as long as it continues to offer a genuine two-state resolution.

Those favouring recognition of “Palestine” often cite Israeli settlements as the reason, claiming Palestine must be recognised now because continued settlement expansion will soon make a Palestinian state impossible to achieve. While settlements are certainly an important issue, this claim is just not true.

 

Since 2003, no new settlements have been established and existing settlements have not been permitted to expand their current geographic boundaries. Even Palestinian leaders admit settlements take up less than 2 per cent of the West Bank – and again, that proportion is not growing. Furthermore, most population growth has been within settlements it is generally accepted Israel will keep in exchange for land swaps in any peace agreement. Settlements certainly did not prevent generous Israeli offers of Palestinian statehood in 2000-01 and 2008, which involved evacuating many outlying settlements.

Those who genuinely have the best interests of the Palestinians at heart should be urging them to negotiate in good faith with Israel, and to genuinely accept Israel’s right to exist – which is the only way they can achieve their state – not rewarding then for doing the opposite.

The next Middle East war

By Clifford D. May                The Washington Times

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/jul/4/hezbollah-will-start-a-conflict-backed-by-iran/

Eleven years ago this month, Israel went to war with Hezbollah, Iran’s Lebanon-based Shi’a proxy militia. The fighting began when Hezbollah fired rockets at Israeli villages and missiles at Israeli armored vehicles patrolling the border. Three Israeli soldiers were killed. Two were kidnapped and taken into Lebanon.

They would be among the more than a thousand people killed during the 34 days that followed. Hundreds of thousands, in both countries, would be displaced.

The passage of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701 on August 11 marked a halt to the conflict. The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was expanded and granted the authority to use force to ensure that southern Lebanon became free of “any armed personnel, assets and weapons” not under the direct control of the Lebanese government or UNIFIL.

It soon became apparent that UNIFIL would fail to accomplish that mission. Today, Hezbollah has an estimated 150,000 missiles of varying ranges and accuracy pointing at Israeli villages and cities — about 10 times what it had in 2006. UNIFIL sees nothing, knows nothing and, of course, does nothing.

There has been one restraint on Hezbollah’s rearmament: Israeli intelligence sometimes learns of Iranian shipments of advanced missiles. Airstrikes have destroyed at least some of these shipments en route.

Now, however, Iran has a new plan: Over recent months, its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has been building fortified, underground missile production factories in Lebanon.

“We are fully aware” of the factories, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman told military correspondents in a briefing in Tel Aviv on Sunday. “We know what needs to be done . We won’t ignore the establishment of Iranian weapons factories in Lebanon.”

For the moment, the Israelis are giving diplomacy a chance, for example by briefing members of the U.N. Security Council, warming that the next war is bound to be more destructive and bloodier than the last.

Among the reasons: Hezbollah’s presence now extends well beyond southern Lebanon. It has taken control of Beirut’s port and airfields. It is the most powerful faction in Lebanon’s government. To fight Hezbollah while sparing Lebanon is no longer possible.

In addition, Hezbollah’s leaders have installed their missiles in (and under) homes, schools, hospitals and mosques. Their use of “human shields” ensures a high civilian death toll and, incidentally, blatantly violates international law. But they are confident that many journalists, U.N. officials and “human rights” groups will reflexively blame Israel, not them and certainly not Iran for the carnage.

Another indication that Hezbollah may be preparing for a new conflict: It has set up observation posts along the Israeli border, claiming these are part of an environmental effort called “Green Without Borders.” Yes, that’s right: We’re to believe that Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah worries about climate change. We’re not to notice that he has specifically mentioned that a leafier Lebanon will provide better cover to his fighters should Israelis return.

A complaint Israel filed at the U.N. was rejected last week. Spokeswoman Eri Kaneko said the lookout stations and “tree-planting activities” raise no suspicions. “UNIFIL remains vigilant,” she asserted.

It seems odd that Mr. Nasrallah should be eager for renewed hostilities with Israel now, a time when he is deploying fighters in neighboring Syria defending the Assad regime. He may believe that in Lebanon, as in Syria, Hezbollah can be reinforced by foreign fighters. In a speech last month, he threatened to open Lebanon’s borders to tens of thousands of Shia fighters from Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan and Pakistan. That, too, would be a clear violation of UNSCR 1701 but don’t expect UNIFIL to respond.

The smart money says Hezbollah will do as the rulers of the Islamic Republic of Iran instruct. Their priority is to establish a Shia Crescent — an arc extending from Tehran to the Mediterranean, with Iran controlling Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Gaza as well.

They also are establishing a foothold in Afghanistan and attempting to spread their Islamic Revolution into the Gulf States. Tehran’s theocrats view Kuwait and Bahrain as lost provinces that, in time, must be reclaimed. They view the Saudis and the Emiratis as heretics and enemies.

Iran has begun to establish a version of Hezbollah in Syria as well. Foreign Shia fighters already are being imported for this purpose.

Tough decisions lie ahead. Israelis know that if they strike first, they will be accused of aggression. But if they wait, they may have to absorb more — and more lethal — blows. Their missile defense system is high-tech and robust but it can be overwhelmed. Through intermediaries, the Israelis have reportedly warned Iran’s rulers not to expect to sit safely on the sidelines should a new war erupt.

Trump administration strategists in the National Security Council and Pentagon are not oblivious to the storm clouds gathering on this particular horizon. Among the tools they are considering: Designating the IRGC a terrorist organization and imposing tough new sanctions on Iran — linked to its support of terrorism and ballistic missile development, not the Iran nuclear deal. That would at least send a shot across the Islamic Republic’s bow.

Also worth considering: Insisting that whatever independent actors remain in the Lebanese government stand up to Hezbollah and replace its armed forces in the south as required under UNSCR 1701. If the Lebanese government isn’t up to the task U.S. assistance should end.

Finally, why not give UNIFIL, which is funded largely by the U.S., new leadership and a reinforced mandate to do the work it hasn’t done over the past 11 years? An effective U.N. peacekeeping effort is not easy to imagine. But what’s the harm in one more try?

How UK police are turning to Israel for help stopping ‘lone wolf’ terror attacks

by Kim Sengupta                          The Independent (UK)

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/uk-anti-terror-israel-lone-wolf-attacks-help-islamists-advise-westminster-palestinians-london-bridge-a7817286.html

“Eight minutes would be too long, we cannot afford eight minutes” Chief Inspector Micky Rosenfeld of Israel shook his head. “Too many could be killed and injured in that time, I am afraid, we need to move and counter attacks here much faster.”

The terrorist atrocity at London Bridge, using a van and knives, ended after eight minutes when the three killers were shot dead by police. There would, undoubtedly, have been more casualties than the eight killed and 48 injured, had the vicious assault continued longer, and the prompt action of the armed officers was widely lauded.

But in Israel, where there has been an upsurge of such attacks for more than two years, with 45 killed, a time gap of eight minutes before those responsible were “neutralised” would not be acceptable, stressed Chief Inspector Rosenfeld as well as a number of other security officials. The reaction to an attack, they stated, must be quick as well as decisive.

The rise in the number of Islamist attacks by “lone wolves” in Europe has led to increased liaison on the issue between a number of foreign security agencies and the Israelis. A British team, according to Whitehall sources, is due to travel to Israel to look at the methods used there in the near future.

There are, of course, significant differences between political violence in the UK and Israel. The murders and maiming in the streets of Britain are in pursuit of a murderous Islamist jihad with a variety of justifications offered including retaliation for the war against Isis in Iraq and Syria. In Israel and the occupied territories it is justified as part of the struggle for Palestinian nationhood against Israel.

There is also a key difference when it comes to responding to attacks in the two countries. Unlike Israel, Britain’s unarmed police force with a small number of specialised firearms units.

This week in London, PC Wayne Marques, of British Transport Police, described how he had fought off the three London Bridge terrorists, Khuram Shazad Butt, Rachid Redouane and Youssef Raghba, slashing with butchers’ knives  with just a baton. The 38-year-old officer was blinded, temporarily, by a blade thrust close to his eye and suffered injuries to his hands and leg.

Chief Inspector Rosenfeld, who was born in North London, at Finchley, before his family emigrated to Israel reflected “I must admit that if I was walking around as a police officer in London at a time like this, with just a baton for protection, then I would be worried.

“I know, of course, the arguments why the police are traditionally unarmed in Britain and this is obviously the policy governments have decided to follow. But having armed officers mean that not only can they protect themselves better, they are in a better position to protect the public.”

Speaking at Damascus Gate in Jerusalem, where there have been a dozen attacks in the last 18 months, he continued: “Of course when it comes to timing of response, we need to take into account how big a city London is, and how shorter the distances are here in Israel. You can cross central Jerusalem by motorbike in around ten minutes. But we have mobile armed patrols , including on motorbike, here 24/7, extensive surveillance and intelligence, and the ability to get to scenes of emergencies very quickly.”

There is another important difference in the circumstances in the two countries. Civilians can keep firearms in Israel, something they are permitted to do after national service. There has been a number of cases where those taking part attacks have been shot dead by passers-by carrying guns.

The Israeli Defence Force’s Counter Terrorism Training Centre have numerous recordings of this type of lethal public intervention. The Centre’s commander, who did not want his identity publicised, was also of the view that eight minutes was too long a time before an attack is stopped.

But he acknowledged “We have more than 30,000 members of the public who can carry firearms, they are trained during national service, and obviously that is a very useful resource to have when dealing with street attacks since we have started facing this threat.”

Isis claimed ‘credit’ for its first operation in Israel two weeks ago after a policewoman was stabbed to death in east Jerusalem. Hamas has also been accused of being behind some of the attacks, but, according to security officials, most have been carried out, as in the West, by individuals, or small groups, often accessing jihadist material on the Internet.

The security apparatus of Fatah provides valuable information which has led to assaults being prevented and suspects arrested, say security officials. Israeli security agencies have persuaded prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to carry out sweeping punitive action in the occupied territories in retaliation for the attacks – something advocated by hardline members of his cabinet. But talks towards a Palestinian state have stalled: Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas has received little leeway from the Netanyahu government and cooperation with Israel may become more unpopular.

But even if human intelligence begins to dry up, Israeli officials point out that they built up wide ranging communication and surveillance system. In addition, no fewer than a thousand members of the police force 29,000 strong are involved in monitoring the Internet and social media sites.

Israel has rapidly expanding export sales in surveillance. The country’s leading defence electronic contractor, Elbit, showcases a nationwide database system called “WIT” (Wise Intelligence Technology) which can be used  in conjunction with cameras, “Skyeye”, mounted on drones or helicopters. It draws in information from signals intelligence as well as open sources such as Facebook and Twitter and can automatically alert emergency services if a terrorist attack is underway. It offers technology which can integrate multiple communications channels to smartphones and walkie-talkies of security officials.

Nir Mariash, Elbit’s director of homeland security unit, a former police brigadier, promotes WIT as “a system of systems. It is an end-to-end solution to counter terrorism which can also be used to combat crime, it is something which can obviously be used abroad.”

The UK, however, does not have some of the basic tools needed for the system, such as identity cards. Parts of it may also fall foul of privacy and data protection laws. “The system can be adjusted for different needs,” said Mr Mariash, “the security agencies need to be agile, to adjust:  after all that is what the terrorists are doing. The problem of terrorism, as we know, isn’t going to go away.”

National Identity Theft at UNESCO – Yishai Fleisher (Jerusalem Post)

In the ancient city of Hebron stands a colossal, 2,000-year-old burial monument built by the Jewish king Herod the Great atop the 3,800-year-old tombs of Abraham, his wife Sarah, and most of the founding family of the Jewish People. The last person to be buried there was the Jewish forefather Jacob, also known as Israel. It is this structure, known as the Tomb of the Patriarchs or the Cave of Machpela in Hebron, which the PA is audaciously trying to claim as its own at UNESCO.

The Book of Genesis records Abraham’s negotiation and purchase of the Machpela cave in Hebron for a family burial plot. Archaeological remains attest to Jewish life in Hebron during the First and Second Temple periods. Throughout the Middle Ages, Jewish and Christian travelers noted the presence of a Jewish community living in Hebron and worshiping at the Tomb of the Patriarchs.

In 637 CE, during the early Muslim conquest, Muslims and Jews coexisted in Hebron. But in 1267 CE, the Mamluks, a Muslim military caste from Egypt, captured Hebron and the Tomb of the Patriarchs and rebranded it the Mosque of Ibrahim. They imposed a jihadist policy of banning Jews, Christians and all non-Muslims from entering the building.

Yet even under Mamluk rule, Jews stubbornly held prayer services at the outside wall of the building for the next 700 years. So things went until 1929 when a horrific pogrom ended in the murder of 67 Jews. The community’s survivors were then evicted by the occupying British.

In the Six-Day War, Israel regained control of Hebron and the tombs, and Jews flocked to the site. Since then, secure passage, freedom of access, and freedom of worship for all faiths has been ensured at the Tomb of the Patriarchs, while 700,000 pilgrims and tourists visit the site yearly.

If the UN and UNESCO cannot uphold the values and principles necessary to protect world cultures and heritage sites, let its validity be brought to question – not that of the Jewish People.

PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at 4th of July Celebration

What Are Defensible Borders and Why Are They Important for Israel?

IDF Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Uzi Dayan           Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)