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Latest News in Israel – 16th December

PM orders barriers at bus stops across Jerusalem after attack

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday ordered the installation of concrete safety barriers at hundreds of Jerusalem’s bus stops to protect civilians from terror attacks. The move came hours after a car-ramming terror attack that injured 14 Israelis.

Netanyahu consulted with Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan.

The plan, proposed by Barkat, will see protective posts designed to prevent car-rammings temporarily installed at bus stops throughout the capital, focusing on areas where there is the greatest risk of attacks.

The mayor’s initiative is set to cost the municipality some NIS 2 million (over $500,000). Katz vowed to work with the municipality to secure the required budget from the Finance Ministry.

Barkat welcomed Netanyahu’s directive and thanked the prime minister for his swift response to the attack.

“I would like to thank Netanyahu for initiating the meeting and advancing the municipality’s plan for protecting bus stops, and Minister Katz for offering to help allocate the funds, even though its not his responsibility to do so,” the mayor said in a statement Monday evening.

Barkat, who arrived at the scene of the attack earlier on Monday, urged residents to be on the alert for further attacks, but also stressed the need to “go on with your daily routine, and not let the terrorists win.”

Abed el-Muhsen Hassuna, a 21-year-old man from East Jerusalem, plowed his car into a group of people waiting at a bus stop at the entrance to the city on Monday afternoon. Among the 14 people injured in the attack were a 15-month-old baby.

Jerusalem has been one of the two focal points of terror attacks since the latest wave of violence began in October, with the West Bank city of Hebron being the other. More than 20 Israelis have been killed since the start of the violence, and hundreds more have been wounded.                     (The Times of Israel)

Toddler terror victim still in serious condition

The condition of the 18-month-old baby whose leg was almost cut off during Monday night’s car attack in Jerusalem continues to be serious, Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center staff stated Tuesday morning.

The hospital’s medical staff continues to work to save the baby’s foot, they said.

“He’s still unconscious and on a respirator,” Dr. Asher Shalmon, Deputy Director of Hadassah, stated to Army Radio Tuesday morning. “I assume we are going to try to wake him today.”

“The situation is serious, but there is no danger to his life,” he clarified.

On Monday night, an Arab terrorist from Jerusalem’s Beit Hanina neighborhood wounded 14 people after he rammed his car into a bus stop near the iconic Chords Bridge.

Two others, including a 65-year-old woman, were moderately wounded and the rest were lightly wounded. The terrorist was shot dead after exiting the car armed with an ax.

Five people injured in the attack are still hospitalized at Shaare Zedek Hospital in the capital:

A woman suffering from moderate injuries, and was operated upon overnight; she is now sedated and in intensive care;

A man suffering from injuries to his nose, was operated upon and is now admitted to the Orthopedics ward;

A woman being treated in the Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) ward;

Two others, suffering from light injuries, who have remained in hospital for monitoring.                           (Arutz Sheva)

Hezbollah has lost 1/3 of its fighters in Syria

Hezbollah has lost more than one-third of its fighting forces in Syria, Israeli experts estimated Tuesday, including some 1,300-1,500 soldiers since the Syrian Civil War began nearly five years ago. 5,000 Hezbollah terrorists have been injured in the fighting as well, analysts say.

The group released statistics regarding its progress in the battle zone recently and has not tried to hide its losses, Walla! News reports – a stark contrast to the Shia Islamist terror group’s operating principles when the war began.

Photos of 14 Hezbollah terrorists killed fighting Islamic State (ISIS) near the Syria-Lebanon border were published in full in Lebanese media outlets over the weekend, for example, with images from their funerals showing bodies draped in the yellow and green Hezbollah flag. The same reports claim that Hezbollah caused dozens of casualties to ISIS.

Hezbollah’s campaign is spread along the Syrian-Lebanese border and the northwestern Syrian region near Latakia, a stronghold of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s Allawite sect.

For the past three months, Hezbollah has been fighting Sunni Muslim rebels alongside members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Assad’s forces, with help from the Russian Air Force.

However, the IRG has also suffered major losses, according to Iranian media reports, with over 80 soldiers killed and several taken prisoner by Syrian rebel groups.    (Arutz Sheva)

UN bashes Israel for ‘excessive force’ against terrorists

The UN voiced deep concern Tuesday over an “unacceptable” wave of Palestinian Arab terrorists attacking Israelis, but also slammed Israeli authorities’ “excessive use of force” in trying to defend civilians from certain death.

“We continue to be gravely concerned at the unrelenting violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and in Israel,” Cecile Pouilly, spokeswoman for the UN human rights office, told reporters.

“We call on both Israeli and Palestinian leaders to act decisively to de-escalate the situation,” she added.

Pouilly stressed that since October 1, 117 Palestinian Arabs have died in the almost daily Arab terror attacks, a figure that consists of terrorists shot in the act or rioting and attacking Israeli security forces. She said that 21 Israelis, an American Jewish teen and an Eritrean were killed in the attacks, and thousands more have been wounded.

She warned that although international attention appeared to be waning, “the level of killings, injuries and arrests has continued, with an average of one person dying every day.”

“The unacceptable wave of stabbings, shootings and car rammings continues to kill and injure Israelis,” she said, but added that “the response from Israeli security forces has resulted in alleged attackers, protesters and even bystanders being killed and injured.”

She pointed out that in the H2 area of Hevron in Judea alone, 16 of the 17 Palestinian terrorists involved in attacks against Israelis since October 1 were shot dead, while one had been injured and arrested.

“We again voice deep concern over reports of excessive use of force by Israeli forces,” Pouilly said, voicing Palestinian Authority (PA) claims attempting to delegitmize Israeli self-defense activities.

She insisted that “all instances of the use of force resulting in death or injury by law enforcement officers should be the subject of prompt, independent and impartial investigations.”

She also warned Israel that “punitive demolitions of Palestinian houses and the withholding of bodies of alleged attackers from their families can only aggravate this situation.”

Regarding the use of lethal force to neutralize attacking terrorists, video from last week revealed how a terrorist in Hevron continued repeatedly stabbing an IDF soldier on the ground even while being shot repeatedly, showing how a more muted response could easily allow Israeli victims to be murdered instead of seriously wounded.

As for demolishing terrorist houses or withholding the bodies of terrorists, Israel has at times taken the steps explaining they are meant as a deterrent measure.        (Arutz Sheva)

Netanyahu: Given Abbas’ incitement, no surprise majority of Palestinians support stabbing attacks

Polls showing that some 80% of the Palestinians support current stabbing attacks on Israelis should come as no surprise, given Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ continued incitement, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday.

Netanyahu, at a visit at the IDF’s southern command headquarters with Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, said that poll after poll in the PA shows that the Palestinians support the current terrorism and are opposed to a two-state solution.

The Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research released a poll on Monday showing that two-thirds of the Palestinians support the current violence, and another two-thirds said that a two state solution is no longer viable.

“This is not surprising because Abu Mazen [Abbas] continues to incite with lying propaganda about Al-Aksa, lying propaganda about [Israeli] executions, and by rejecting all true efforts to come to negotiations,” the prime minister said.

Netanyahu said it was time for the international community to understand that “the reason there are no negotiations and no progress toward peace is not to be found on the Israeli side, but on the Palestinian one.”

In a related development, Israel Radio reported Tuesday that Netanyahu promised tens of millions of shekels to enhance security in Judea and Samaria, hit hard by the current wave of terrorism.

According to the report, Netanyahu made the promise in a meeting on Monday with Yossi Dagan, head of the Samaria Regional Council. The money is to go for lighting, improved cellular phone reception in certain areas, and the protection of bus stops and hitchhiking posts.          (Jerusalem Post)

Ya’alon bans ‘malicious’ NGO Breaking The Silence from IDF events

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon has banned the Breaking the Silence Group from taking part in any IDF activities, describing the organization as having malicious motives.

In a statement posted on the defense minister’s official Facebook page Sunday night, Ya’alon said Israel “supports the combat soldiers and commanders who go out and fight for it, and we will know how to protect every soldier if any element persecutes or tries them harms them during visits abroad.”

Ya’alon said he was aware of the “foolish attempts by various organizations to slander us and slander IDF soldier around the world. This is a struggle that obligates us to expose the truce face of those people,” adding that, “I myself have experienced personal persecution of this type in various countries in the world.

“This is hypocrisy and false propaganda against IDF soldiers and the state of Israel, and it is a part of the deligitimization against us. Hence, I have banned the involvement of Breaking the Silence members in any IDF activities,” Ya’alon stated.

Had the organization been motivated by a genuine concern about “our morality, as we are and we strive to safeguard our values, they would operate vis-a-vis the IDF directly and they would not tar our soldiers abroad. In the past, there were attempts to clarify incidents and cases that Breaking the Silence members pointed to and they were unsuccessful. As time went by, it became clear that this is an organization with malicious motivations,” Ya’alon said.

According to Army Radio, Breaking the Silence responding to the statement on Monday, saying Ya’alon “crossed a red line when he chose to lash out at IDF soldiers, male and female, who served in the territories.”

The group accused the defense minister of “appointing himself as the minister of silence and fear, when he joined the campaign of incitement being waged by extreme right-wing organizations against democracy in Israel.”

Breaking the Silence describes itself on its website as “an organization of veteran combatants who have served in the Israeli military since the start of the Second Intifada and have taken it upon themselves to expose the Israeli public to the reality of everyday life in the occupied territories. We endeavor to stimulate public debate about the price paid for a reality in which young soldiers face a civilian population on a daily basis, and are engaged in the control of that population’s everyday life.”                  (Jerusalem Post)

Israeli and Palestinian hurt by hammer-wielding attacker in Modiin

An Israeli Jew and a Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem were wounded when a coworker at a construction site attacked them in the central Israeli city of Modiin Tuesday afternoon.

The attacker, identified as a Palestinian man, beat the two with a hammer in two separate attacks, moderately to seriously injuring them, according to police and rescue officials.

After interrogating the suspect, police said the attack was nationalistically motivated.

One of the injured was a 28-year-old Palestinian resident of the Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya. The other victim was identified as a 50-year-old Jewish man. Both were evacuated to the Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, near Tel Aviv, with injuries to their upper body, according to medics.

The Jewish man was the attacker’s boss at a construction site where all three worked.

The 39-year-old Palestinian assailant escaped the scene of the first attack and beat the second victim before being tackled by other workers at the site, police said.

The attacker, a resident of Beit Sira, a Palestinian village just across the Green Line from Modiin, has a work permit that allows him to work in Israel, according to the Ynet news site.  (The Times of Israel)

Broad consensus on terrorism, BDS at Australia, Israel UK event

Two Jews, three opinions goes the old Jewish adage. However, when it comes to terrorism and Boycott Divestment and Sanctions, differences of opinion are minimal and the overall attitude is one of consensus.

This was the case Monday when Likud, Labor, Kulanu and Yesh Atid members of Knesset, Israeli academics and security experts met in the Knesset with counterparts from Australia and the United Kingdom in a day-long conference that took place within the framework of the Australia, Israel UK Leadership Dialogue.

An initiative of Moroccan born Australian businessman, jazz musician and patron of the arts Albert Dadon who spent part of his youth in Dimona and Paris before moving to Australia, this year’s dialogue was the seventh in the series since 2002, and the fourth trilateral dialogue.

The group, which included former ambassadors, was welcomed by Yesh Atid MK Yaakov Perry, chairman of the Israel Australia Parliamentary Friendship Group, who warned against the global threat of radical Islam and emphasized the need for western democracies to join forces against those who seek to destroy democracy, freedom, equality and human rights.

Australian Attorney-General senator George Brandis QC, who is also national security minister, commented that: “Domestic terrorism has seldom been part of Australian life. For Australia this is something new.”

While appropriate measures must be taken to defend citizens, he added, this must be done without compromising ethical values.

Addressing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, Kulanu MK Michael Oren queried why Israel was singled by the EU for labeling of products from the West Bank and the Golan Heights when this regulation has not been applied to products from other countries in which there are territorial disputes.

Joan Ryan, who chairs the British Labor Friends of Israel and was participating in the dialogue for the first time, said all those who had come from Australia and the UK had done so in solidarity with the Israeli people in the face of violence and the international campaign to delegitimize Israel.

“It is important not to allow the actions of a noisy minority to detract from the strength of our two countries’ relationship,” she insisted.

Deputy Speaker of the Knesset and secretary-general of the Labor Party, Hilik Bar, who also heads the Knesset Caucus to fight BDS said BDS activists do not work for the benefit of the Palestinian people but for the destruction of Israel and the best way to fight the movement was with legislation.

Another method of fighting BDS came from Australian Labor Party MP Michael Danby who described sit-ins organized by prominent politicians and members of the Jewish community at a Max Brenner chocolate shop in Melbourne where they drank hot chocolate after the store was subjected to protest demonstrations and calls for boycott. The protesters realized they had lost the battle, he said.

Meanwhile, David Suissa, president of Tribe Media Corp., proposed a branding campaign whereby the word boycott would be replaced by “emulate.”

He launched the campaign on social media Monday, saying all the positive things about Israel are on the Internet, and easy to find.

“We’re not creating new information. We’re just packaging it into Emulate Israel,” he said, stressing that the idea is to make people realize that Israel is indispensable.

That was a thought shared by Sir Eric Pickles, chairman of the British Conservative Friends of Israel.

“A world without Israel would be incomplete,” said Pickles, who noted that Israel is not just the home of the Jewish people but through its innovation has contributed to the whole world.          (Jerusalem Post)

IDF Home Front Command acquires upgraded incident training system from Elbit

The IDF Home Front Command has received an upgraded training and simulation system from Elbit Systems, the defense company announced Monday.

The Defense Ministry will transfer the Incident Command Team Training System to the Home Front Command, which will use it to prepare for mass casualty and emergency incidents together with civil emergency responders and municipalities.

“Newly introduced features allow the integration of military and other organizations into a joint-control tactical training arena, as well as a higher level of performance in preparing for current and future risks,” Elbit said.


IDF Home Front Command training on new Elbit Systems program.

The training system, which has multiple stations that simulate a wide range of emergency scenarios, is controlled by a command post and can train hundreds of security responders simultaneously, each playing different roles in managing incidents.

The latest version of the simulator incorporates civil and municipal security forces into training programs.

At the end of each training program, participants are presented with a complete performance review report based on their actions and visual representations of the scenario, which allows them to evaluate, learn from and significantly improve their decision-making processes, according to Elbit.              (Jerusalem Post)

Abbas: The terror attacks are because of ‘despair’

Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Monday justified the current wave of terrorist attacks against Israelis, claiming the young Palestinian Arabs who have been carrying out the attacks are doing so out of “frustration”.

Speaking at an anti-corruption conference held in Ramallah, Abbas claimed that the young terrorists are not sent by him or by other Palestinian groups to carry out attacks, but that the “popular uprising”, as he put it, derives from a sense of despair that characterizes the younger generation.

He added that “the younger generation who gave up on the two-state solution is forced to deal with checkpoints, settlements and settler attacks – as was reflected in the murder of Mohammed Abu-Khder, the torching of the Dawabshe family home and the aggression against the Al-Aqsa Mosque.”

The comments came as a new poll found that two-thirds of Palestinian Arabs support the ongoing wave of terror attacks against Israelis, with the same percentage backing a larger “armed uprising” with more shooting attacks.

A full 67% back the use of knives, while 66% of those asked said an armed intifada with guns would “serve Palestinian national interests in ways that negotiations could not.”

The survey was conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR).

Abbas has consistently refused to condemn terrorist attacks against Israelis. In fact, he recently said that the murder of dozens of Israelis and the wounding of hundreds others is part of a “peaceful uprising.”

Last month, the PA chairman claimed that the Palestinian people are living under unacceptable difficult conditions “as a result of the continued Israeli occupation and the escalation of settler attacks against Palestinian property and their holy places, which bring them to a state of despair and pressure.”                      (Arutz Sheva)

Ukrainian city to rename street after the Lubavitcher Rebbe

The Ukrainian city where the Lubavitcher Rebbe grew up announced that it will soon name a street in his honor.

The name of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, who led the Chabad- Lubavitch hassidic movement from his home in Brooklyn for the second half of the 20th century, was included on a list of streets soon to be renamed that was released recently by the Dnepropetrovsk municipality.

Dnepropetrovsk is home to the world’s largest Jewish center and has a vibrant Jewish community.

While several pro-western figures will also have streets named after them, the renaming scheme also will honor controversial historical figures such as Roman Shukhevych, who was linked to the murder of Jews during the Holocaust by Yad Vashem.

As the commander of the Nightingale Battalion, Shukhevych was responsible for the murder of thousands of Jews from the city of Lviv during a notorious 1941 pogrom.

Since the 2014 Maidan revolution, which ousted pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych, Ukrainians have sought to erase symbols of the communist regime, knocking down statues of Lenin and renaming streets.                                         (Jerusalem Post)

Uniting Church in Australia faces backlash on anti-Israel boycott

The Uniting Church in Australia has opened the way for members to embrace the anti-Israeli boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, prompting an angry response from Jewish community leaders and caution from political ranks.

The UCA, Australia’s third largest Christian denomination, has stopped short of fully embracing the BDS movement, which compares the Jewish state with apartheid-era South Africa.

Instead, in the wake of debate on the Middle East at its national assembly, UCA president Stuart McMillan said the church had “encouraged members to be ­informed and to consider personally boycotting” goods produced “within the occupied territories”.

The Presbyterian Church and the United Church of Christ in the United State both back the BDS movement. There has been debate within the Episcopalian Church to follow their lead but the head of the worldwide Anglican communion, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, has expressed his opposition to an ­Israeli boycott.

Victorian state Liberal member for Caulfield David Southwick, who raised the matter with Mr McMillan, told The Australian: “In a time of escalated tensions in the Middle East and those affected communities around the world, it is more ­important than ever to ensure interfaith dialogue is ­focused on promoting harmony.”

Mr McMillan said the UCA had approached the issue with caution. He told The Australian that he did not believe boycotts would be widely taken up by members of the church, who were more interested in seeing progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Mr McMillan emphasised that the assembly motion dealt with the occupied territories.

However, Dvir Abramovich, chairman of the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission, described the UCA’s action as “greatly disappointing and saddening”, adding that it was “the wrong way to promote greater respect and understanding between Christians and Jews”.

“At a time when Christians are beheaded, forcibly converted, expelled and persecuted in the Middle East and around the world, the Uniting Church in Australia has chosen to single out the only democracy in the ­region which provides a safe haven and freedom of worship for Christians,” he said.

Dr Abramovich called on the UCA leadership to withdraw support for what he called an “unfair” resolution.

“This vote sends a very hurtful message to Australian Jews and foments an atmosphere of hostility,” he said.

Mr McMillan said the church had kept relations with the Jewish community in mind when ­debating the matter.

“At this particular time of great concern for peace in the Holy Land, indeed in the Middle East, we must all make every ­effort to build upon the good ­relations we have in Australia between people of faith, ­acknowledging we will see some things differently and act ­accordingly, but always with peace for the people of the region in mind,” he said.        (The Australian)

Turkey’s Israel charm offensive is all about Russia

by Ariel Ben Solomon                  The Jerusalem Post


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s latest charm offensive toward Israel and his country’s Jews seems to show how a crisis over its downing of a Russian aircraft last month may help improve Istanbul’s dragging rapprochement efforts with the Jewish state.

After years of harsh rhetoric and actions against Israel, suddenly the ruling Islamist AK Party has allowed the first ever public Hanukkah event to take place on Sunday.

Erdogan followed that up on Monday by speaking positively of normalizing relations with Israel.

Israeli, Turkish relations soured after a deadly 2010 incident, in which 10 Turkish citizens were killed as Israel enforced a maritime blockade on Gaza. The sides have held contacts to overcome that rift, and now these rather slow moving efforts may have been boosted indirectly by Istanbul’s crisis with Moscow.

More than half of Turkey’s gas and 10 percent of its oil come from Russia, the British Telegraph reported this month.

Perhaps Erdogan is thinking about offsetting the potential loss of Russian energy by rekindling a past proposal to house a pipeline though which it would help export Israel’s offshore natural gas to Europe, experts say.

Erdogan has set the bar high, though, demanding that Israel curtail a years old embargo on Hamas-ruled Gaza, in which Israel closely controls the territory’s imports and exports in a measure aimed at preventing weapons smuggling.

Some experts were also skeptical about whether Erdogan wanted a rapprochement with Israel at a time when Iran has been boosting its standing in the region.

“It remains to be seen if a pragmatic streak is left in Erdogan who is increasingly motivated by Islamist and neo-Ottoman impulses,” Prof. Efraim Inbar, director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University, told The Jerusalem Post.

Erdogan’s campaign against Syrian President Bashar Assad is not going well, and “Iran is becoming stronger in the region, and he opened a new front with Russia,” Inbar said.

Still Inbar feels: “Israel has many things to offer: its gas fields could become a new source of energy; its clout in Washington could reduce some of the criticism against Erdogan’s erratic behavior versus Russia; and it could become a powerful regional balance against a rising Iran – something all other Sunni powers fear.”

Selin Nasi, a columnist for the Jewish Turkish weekly Salom, and contributor to Hurriyet Daily News told the Post the public Hanukka ceremonies had local Jews “feeling euphoric, notwithstanding the foreign policy agenda attached to it.”

Nasi saw the gesture as “a perfect move to polish the country’s image abroad amid mounting criticism regarding human rights, and to calm world markets all at once.”

“Erdogan adopted a rather soft rhetoric on Israel and avoided political bickering” during the campaign for the general election this past summer despite the tensions on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and in the West Bank, the Jewish Turkish intellectual said.

Nasi sees the crisis over the downing of the Russian aircraft as “without a doubt” a key impetus behind Turkey’s moves toward Israel though she does not see Israel meeting Turkey’s condition of lifting the restricted access to Gaza, especially during the current wave of violence between Israelis and Palestinians.

But, she asserted, Turkey has an interest in balancing the axis of Russia, Cyprus, and Egypt in the Mediterranean. “A thaw between Turkey and Israel will help Ankara overcome its regional isolation,” Nasi said.

While Israeli, Turkish relations don’t seem likely to speedily return to the warmth or closeness of a decade or so ago, steps may be taken to normalize relations at the diplomatic level, beginning with an exchange of ambassadors, Nasi said.

Nasi added, though, that “we all know that as long as the ideological Islamist conservative core persists at the government level, Turkey-Israel ties will remain vulnerable to crisis, arising out of tensions between Israel and Palestine.”




Australian Ambassador to Israel, Dave Sharma, Australian Attorney General George Brandis,

PM Benyamin Netanyahu and Australian Innovation Minister Christopher Pyne discussing joint venture for a high technology Israeli-Australian hub

1,200 schoolgirls sing for Pollard to come to Israel

At the religious middle school Ulpanit Yeshurun in Petah Tikva, 1,200 young female students sang in honor of Jonathan Pollard, calling for him to be allowed to make aliyah and immigrate to Israel after being freed from 30 years behind bars in the US last month.