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Latest News in Israel – 1st July

“Simply Sing” Brings Jews and Arabs Together For Good Music and Good Food In Jerusalem

“Simply Sing” is a Jerusalem-based cross-cultural project that has Jews and Arabs meet every few weeks for an evening of musical performances and singing. The project has gained much popularity as well as opposition from both Arabs and Jews during its four and a half years of existence.

Facilitators taught songs and invited participants to sing along in both Hebrew and Arabic. The event was headlined by singer Lubna Salame and the Yemen Blues band, who together created a special joint performance for the event.

Yemen Blues is led by singer Ravid Kahalani, who combines the ancient Jewish melodies of his birthplace in Yemen with West African, funk and mambo influences. Time Out Chicago wrote that Yemen Blues is “one of the most exciting bands in world music right now.”

Lubna Salame, originally from Haifa, is a resident singer with the Nazareth Orchestra. She started her career as a child, singing classical Arabic songs with a church choir, and became an instant star after her first concert at the 2000 Israel Festival.

In addition to the music, poetry and dancing, food played a major role in the evening’s success. A food truck featured two chefs, one Arab-Israeli, the other Jewish-Israeli, who worked together to create fusion dishes that reflected both their cultures (gefilte fish with knafeh anyone?). Chef Elias Mattar from the northern Galilee region and Chef Marcus Gershkowitz, co-owner of Jerusalem’s famous Angelica restaurant, demonstrated cuisine from their kitchens.

Kiryat Arba attack: Palestinian terrorist stabs teen girl to death in her bedroom


Hallel Yaffa Ariel (L) was killed in a terrorist stabbing in Kiryat Arba, June 30, 2016.

A Palestinian terrorist stabbed a 13-year old to death in her bedroom on Thursday morning after he infiltrated the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba, which is located next to Hebron.

“My daughter was sleeping calmly when he [the terrorist] came into her bedroom,” Hallal’s mother Rina told Army Radio. “She was happy,’ she added.

A Magen David Adom paramedic said that when he arrived at the scene the teenage girl, Hallel Yaffa Ariel, was unconscious and was not breathing. They were able to resuscitate her at the scene, but it was touch-and-go during the whole journey to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, as they continuously fought to keep her alive.

She was pronounced dead shortly after her arrival, without ever regaining consciousness.

After the attack, the IDF and one of the Prime Minister Office’s spokesman tweeted a photograph of her blood-stained bedroom.

Hallel had been a member of a dance troop and had performed in Jerusalem the night before. Her step-father, Amihai, is a cousin of Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel, and runs a boutique winery. She will be buried in old Jewish cemetery in Hebron. The funeral procession will leave from Kiryat Arba at 6 p.m. The terrorist, Mohammad Tarairah, 17, breached the settlement’s fence and then entered the Ariel home that was located on a security road, near a yeshiva high school for boys.

The settlement’s security team responded to the incident. According to the IDF, the terrorist stabbed a member of that security team, before another member of the team shot and killed Tarairah.

Among the Magen David paramedics who responded to the scene, was the wife of the wounded member of the security team.

She went with her husband to the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem. Doctors there said that the wounded man, believed to be age 30, was suffering from gun shot wounds and that his injuries were not life threatening.

Residents of the settlement of some 8,000 people located right outside the Palestinian city of Hebron, were asked to remain in their homes for about half-an-hour until it was clear that there were no more attackers in Kiryat Arba. Since the wave of Palestinian violence against Israelis began in September 2015, there have been many attacks in and around Hebron, as well as on the outskirts of Kiryat Arba. But an infiltration into the settlement itself is rare.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman met and ordered the IDF to close off the Palestinian village of Bani Na’im, located near Kiryat Arba, where Tarairah lived. They also ordered the IDF to rescind work permits belonging to Tarairah’s immediate and extended family.

According to his Facebook posts Tarairah was partially inspired by a vehicular terror attack just outside of Kiryat Arba in which an Israeli couple was lightly insured. The IDF unit which responded to the attack shot and killed the Palestinian driver. (IDF sweeps Kiryat Arba after attack)

Tarairah mentioned her in his posts, under the hashtag “a sister to bravery”.

At the beginning of the week he wrote a post saying that “the death is a right and i am asking for my right.” His uncle, Yousuf Tarahirah, carried out a car-ramming attack in Hebron in March.                       (Jerusalem Post)

A terrorist murdered my daughter in her bed,’ tearful mother says

The mother of a 13-year-old girl murdered in her bedroom in a terror attack Thursday morning tearfully recalled her daughter’s last moments, as politicians and others expressed outrage over the stabbing attack inside a West Bank settlement home.

“Like all adolescents during summer vacation, my daughter was asleep — tranquil, calm — and a terrorist came and murdered her in her bed,” Rina Ariel, the mother of Hallel Yaffa Ariel, told reporters outside Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem where the teenager was taken after sustaining critical injuries in the attack earlier Thursday.

She arrived with multiple stab wounds to her upper body and was pronounced dead shortly after.

Ariel was stabbed to death in her room on Thursday morning when a Palestinian teen, identified as Muhammad Nasser Tarayrah, 17, from Bani Na’im, jumped the fence into the settlement, broke into her house and stabbed her to death, before also stabbing a civilian security guard who arrived at the scene. Tarayrah was shot and killed by other guards.

father, Avichai, described her as “an amazing girl who hadn’t done a thing to anyone.”

Rina Ariel called on Israelis to attend her daughter’s funeral, scheduled for 6 p.m. later Thursday in Hebron.

“I ask that everyone look at the pain, come to comfort [us], come to strengthen [us], come tell us that our Kiryat Arba is still a place to live in and not die. Hallel, may her memory be a blessing,” she said.

The girl’s aunt said her niece was “the most amazing girl in the world” and that he family was “mourning a big loss.”

The aunt said the girl had a dance performance Wednesday night and slept in on Thursday when a “despised terrorist came and murdered a sleeping little girl in her bed.”

The terror attack was condemned by Israeli politicians across the political spectrum.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the terror attack demonstrated the “bloodlust and inhumanity of incitement-driven terrorists against whom we stand.”

Netanyahu called on the world to condemn the “shocking” attack as it did the terror attacks at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, earlier this month — in which 49 people were killed in the worst shooting attack in modern US history — and the shooting and suicide bombings at the airport and a metro station in the Belgian capital in March which claimed the lives of 32 people.

“The whole world must condemn this terror attack like the terror attacks in Orlando and Brussels were condemned,” he said.

Netanyahu said he expected the Palestinian Authority to denounce the attack “clearly and unequivocally” and “take immediate steps to stop the incitement.”

“Enlightened nations must join in this demand. They must pressure the one who heads the network of incitement that leads to the murder of children in their beds and not the State of Israel, which is working to protect its children and its citizens,” he said.

Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman announced a series of responses to the attack, including a lockdown of the Palestinian village from which the assailant hailed and the revocation of his relatives’ work permits.

Netanyahu’s office said approval to demolish the terrorist’s home was underway.

Israel has repeatedly accused the Palestinian Authority of inciting against Israel, leading to the wave of terror attacks against Israeli civilians and security forces over the past nine months.

Thursday’s murder of the teenager brings the death toll of Israelis killed in the spate of Palestinian terror attacks since October 1 to 34, with four other foreign nationals also killed in the series of stabbing, shooting, car-ramming and suicide attacks. Over 200 Palestinians have also been killed over that same time frame, the majority of them while carrying out terror attacks, according to Israeli authorities.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry fired off a harsh tweet following the terror attack, also blaming the incident on Palestinian incitement.

A spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, Emmanuel Nahshon, wrote that he hopes all European Parliament members who applauded Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas last week in Brussels “finally understand that Palestinian incitement leads to murder.”

Abbas made inflammatory remarks last week at the European Union, urging that the Israeli presence in the West Bank was the root of terrorism worldwide, and repeating an anti-Semitic blood libel about Jews poisoning wells, later retracted.

Some of his remarks were applauded by European lawmakers.

The head of the left-wing Meretz party said the murder of the young girl was “heartbreaking.”

“It’s impossible to imagine the amount of hatred needed to stab a 13-year-old girl in her bed, but it’s clear that too many children have died in this conflict,” Zehava Galon wrote on Facebook.

Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) said the terrorist’s family should be deported to Syria or Gaza immediately.

“Only the deportation of the families of terrorists can be a deterrent against [Palestinian] youths raised to hate and kill Jews,’ he said.

Minister of Culture and Sport Miri Regev (Likud) said the home of the terrorist’s family should be demolished right away, and called on Liberman to fulfill his promise to fast-track home demolitions of convicted terrorists.

“Destroy the home of this satan’s family,” she said, adding that “the heart breaks over this girl killed in her sleep. May God avenge her blood.”                (the Times of Israel)

PA and Fatah quick to honor murderer who killed 13-year-old girl in her sleep

This morning, a 17-year-old Palestinian terrorist stabbed and murdered a 13-year-old Israeli girl, Hallel Yaffa Ariel, while she slept in her bed. The Palestinian terrorist Muhammad Taraireh, who entered the girl’s home in Kiryat Arba near Hebron, also injured an Israeli security official before he was shot and killed.

Fatah’s official Facebook page immediately posted his picture, declaring him a Martyr – “Shahid,” the highest honor achievable in Islam according to the Palestinian Authority.

WAFA, the official PA news agency, likewise honored the terrorist, referring to him as a Martyr – “Shahid.”

According to Palestinian Authority law, the family of today’s murderer will immediately start receiving a monthly PA stipend that the PA pays to the families of all the “Martyrs.”

The mother of the terrorist told a local Hebron news network that her son was “a hero” who made her “proud”:

Mother of terrorist Muhammad Taraireh: “My son is a hero. He made me proud. My son died as a Martyr defending Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds, he [my son] has joined the Martyrs before him, and he is not better than them. Allah willing, all of them will follow this path, all the youth of Palestine. Allah be praised.”

[Local Hebron News Network http://alkhalil.ps/, June 30, 2016]

Earlier this week Palestinian Media Watch reported that Abbas’ advisor Sultan Abu Al-Einein said:

“Every place you find an Israeli cut off his head.”

[Donia Al-Watan (independent Palestinian news agency), June 27, 2016]

Posted text: “Martyr (Shahid) Muhammad Taraireh, who carried out today’s operation in which one female settler was killed, and a male settler was injured”

[Official Fatah Facebook page, June 30, 2016]                  (PMW)

Terror attack in Netanya: Palestinian wounds two, killed by civilian

A Palestinian terror attack on Israeli civilians, the second of the day, was carried out in the vicinity of Netanya’s central market, on the corner of Milkhemet Sheshet ha-Yamim Street (Six Day War Street) and Shoham Street.

The assailant, a 40-year old Palestinian male, stabbed and wounded two Israelis before being shot and killed by an armed civilian present at the scene, with security forces arriving in the minutes following the attack.

Initial investigations have revealed that the terrorist was a resident of the Tulkarem region. Tulkarem is a Palestinian town on the other side of the Green Line from Netanya, around 16km east of the coastal city. Police were reportedly searching for an accomplice who transported the man into Israel.

Magen David Adom reported that two Israelis: a 40-year old man, apparently Haredi, and a 30-year old woman, had been stabbed in their chest and back, respectively.

Both were taken to Laniado Hospital, and were fully conscious according to medics. Their conditions have been described as stable; the male victim was last updated as being in a moderate condition, while the woman was less severely wounded.                             (Jerusalem Post)

Defense Ministry seeks to end years of uncertainty over Israel’s war preparedness

After many years of uncertainty over who has jurisdiction in the home front during times of war, the Defense Ministry submitted a draft bill seeking to create order out of the chaos.

The bill, for the first time, would “regulate the division of labor and missions” between state institutions, local government, emergency services, and economic bodies, the Defense Ministry said on Tuesday.

It would stipulate who is responsible for the strategic stockpiling of goods or resources for wartime, and name those tasked with maintaining services and daily life during national emergencies.

The bill comes in response to growing attempts by terrorist organizations to disrupt and paralyze the home front, as the wars of the past decade have demonstrated, the Defense Ministry said.

“This reality, in which terrorists focus their war efforts against the national home front, obligates us to prepare the civilian front accordingly for the possibility of future war events,” the ministry said.

According to the bill, the defense minister will lead preparations for emergency situations, and will be a “senior partner” in running the economy during the outbreak of hostilities.

According to the latest IDF assessments, any future largescale conflict would likely involve multiple fronts, and would see many thousands of rockets fired into the country.

The National Emergency Authority will coordinate activities among all bodies dealing with emergencies, and define their respective jurisdiction. The NEA will create a “national master plan for the next 10 years” that will form the basis or emergency preparations, including the need for local authorities and emergency services to prepare. The NEA will also prepare a budget for its decade long plan, before the cabinet votes on it.

Government ministries, local authorities, rescue services, and infrastructure providers will be responsible for preparing themselves under the plan, and ensure they are properly stocked with emergency reserves. The defense minister will be authorized to instruct factories vital to the economy to ensure the have sufficient emergency reserves, like fuel, and electric generators.

The IDF Home Front Command works with local authorities to prepare them for emergencies, and maintains its own search and rescue battalions that specialize in getting trapped civilians out of rubble.

On Sunday, the head of air defenses in the IAF warned that in any future war, Israel will be hit with the largest rocket salvos in its history.

Speaking at the Israel Air Missile Defense Conference at Rishon Lezion, which was organized by the iHLS website, Brig.-Gen. Zvika Haimovich said that Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas were carrying out joint research and development of rockets, adding, “We can see a lot of live tests in Gaza with Hamas, and with Iran and Hezbollah [in Lebanon]. They have put in a lot of effort into increasing and improving their skills.”

Hostile entities will seek to overwhelm air defenses with heavy salvos, Haimovich said. “In the future, we will meet and engage much bigger salvos,” he said. They will come from multiple directions, and a “regional war” is a more realistic scenario than a single- front escalation.                   (Jerusalem Post)

US Official in Testimony to Senate Committee: Facing Territorial Losses, Weakened Morale, ISIS Setting Sights on Israel

With the Islamic State (ISIS) incurring territorial losses in Syria and Iraq — and suffering weakened morale as a result — the jihadist terror group is now setting its sights on Israel, a US official said on Tuesday.

In testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about global efforts to defeat ISIS, Brett McGurk — US Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL (the acronym used by the White House) — warned that as coalition forces “root out an ISIL presence in the SW tri-border region of Syria adjacent to Jordan and the Golan Heights…[ISIL has] focused on Israel as a target.”

McGurk said this change in strategy — which is partially driven by heavy “losses on the battlefield” — is a result of the terror group’s “hop[e] to generate international headlines to compensate for its defeats.”

McGurk said, the US must not allow ISIS to try to bolster its position and put Israel in its crosshairs.

“Last week, I stood at the border, where ISIL positions and training facilities were visible in the distance…We cannot permit ISIL to re-establish a presence anywhere in Syria, let alone on the borders of our closest friends,” he told the committee.

Along Israel’s southern border with Egypt, McGurk said, the ISIS branch operating in the Sinai — which has close ties to Hamas in the Gaza Strip — is a cause for “concern.” ISIS’ Egyptian affiliate is believed to be responsible for the October 2015 downing of a Russian jet that had 224 people on board.

“The Sinai branch is comprised from a pre-existing violent extremist group, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis. We estimate its manpower to be from several hundred up to 1,000,” he said.

McGurk added that the US “strongly supports” Egypt’s efforts to cut off resources to ISIS in the Sinai — efforts which include “increased combat operations” by its army and a directive that “closed almost all the tunnels that facilitated arms smuggling along the Gaza border.”

However, at the annual Institute for National Security Studies conference in January, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin warned, “The Islamic State is already here; that is no longer a secret. I am not speaking about territories bordering the state of Israel, but within the state itself.”

(the Algemeiner)

‘Muslims killing Muslims in droves, but Israel the one being condemned’

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid said Wednesday after the terror attack in Istanbul that killed 41 people that it was time for the world to “wake up.”

“Twelve million Muslims have been killed by other Muslims since 1948,” Lapid said. “The number of people killed during the Arab-Israeli conflict is 0.3 percent of this.”

Lapid said that while even this number is too high, most of those killed were part of Arab armies that tried to invade Israeli territory, or terrorists who tried to harm innocent Israeli citizens.

“However, still, the UN, international organizations and the world continue to unhaltingly condemn Israel and are extra careful about any condemnation of Islamic violence,” he added. “They are careful like it’s fire, until the fire burns them.”

Lapid sent his condolences to the families of those killed.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for a united front by “civilized nations” to fight against “the scourge of terrorism.”

Additionally, President Reuven Rivlin extended his condolences to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan following the deadly attack.

“This cowardly, murderous act is an example of the most vitriolic hatred the like of which we are sadly seeing across our region and the entire world today,” Rivlin said in a letter to Erdogan.

“I take this opportunity to welcome the chance to renew our good relationship especially because our strengthened dialogue will greatly aid in our joint efforts against this threat,” Rivlin added the day after Israel and Turkey signed a deal to reconcile ties.

In addition, former president Shimon Peres condemned the attack in Turkey, saying that his heart is with the Turkish people.

“Those who stand up to terror must know that there are difficult consequences,” Peres stated.

“I call on all of the leaders of the world to join hands in an uncompromising war against terror and destroy the forces of murder and hatred,” he added.

The European Jewish Congress condemned the triple suicide attack, saying that “this is another attack by radical Islamist terrorists on innocent civilians demonstrating the true barbarity of a murderous ideology which respects no borders and no morality,” EJC President Moshe Kantor said.

“We need a strong unified and global response to this latest attack which follows Paris, Brussels, Tel Aviv, Orlando and Mogadishu, among others, to rid us of this threat,” he added.

“These murderers wish to bring our way of life to its heels, but they will not succeed. The European Jewish community stands with the people of Turkey in this difficult time and we send our condolences to those who have lost loved ones and wishes of a speedy recovery to the injured.”                                                      (Jerusalem Post)

Was the Istanbul attack an act of retaliation for Turkey-Israel accord?

Tuesday’s suspected ISIS attack on the Atatürk Airport was likely preplanned and unrelated to the rapprochement between Turkey and Israel and Russia, a senior Turkish official and other terrorism experts told The Jerusalem Post Wednesday.

However, there is evidence Islamic State was angry about the repairing of relations between Turkey, Israel and Russia, publishing a statement in the latest edition of its official newsletter.

A senior Turkish official said that “the main reason behind the Islamic State attacks is Turkey’s role in the international coalition [against the group].”

Asked if the attack could be meant as a response to Turkey’s diplomatic moves to repair relations with Israel and Russia, he responded, “An attack of this scale takes planning. But we are not ruling out the fact that the terrorists may have picked this date to challenge Turkey’s diplomatic efforts.”

Rafael Green, director of the Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor of MEMRI (the Middle East Media Research Institute), told the Post, “It is very unlikely the deal with Israel had anything to do with it.”

“As in the past, Islamic State does not claim responsibility for attacks in Turkey,” he added.

Islamic State criticism of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which is similar criticism that came from al-Qaida and others, may point to a motive being Turkey’s support for Free Syrian Army and other Islamist factions in Syria.

The Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor found a statement in Islamic State’s official newsletter Al-Naba published on Tuesday saying that “The tyrant Erdogan renews ties with the Jews’ state and begs for Putin’s favor…”

Ege Seckin, senior analyst at IHS Jane’s Country Risk, said that the attack most likely sought “to undermine the Turkish economy by attacking the airport ahead of the summer months, when tourism peaks.”

“The capability of the Islamic State and similar Sunni militant groups in Turkey is likely to continue to expand so long as Turkey permits domestic political Islamism to grow unchecked.

“Turkey’s reconciliation with Israel, announced on 27 June, will help reinforce the Islamic State’s narrative that ‘apostate’ governments of Muslim majority countries are aligned with ‘Jews, Crusaders and unbelievers’ against the true Islam it claims to represent,” said Seckin.

Dina Lisnyansky, an Islamic terrorism expert and consultant from Bar-Ilan University, said that Islamic State has been using Turkey airports as one of the main ways of ferrying fighters and personnel to and from Syria and Iraq.

“Turkey is unable to control” the flow of Islamic State personnel through the country, she asserted.

Lisnyansky does not see the motive of the attack as specifically targeting Turkey, but against the third busiest airport in Europe as a kind of “showoff” attention seeking attack.

She ruled out Kurdish responsibility since they favor targeting government facilities or members of the security forces.

“The attack could have occurred anywhere, but it happened in the Turkish airport because it was possible. Islamic State doesn’t see anyone as ideological allies and views anyone who is not an Islamic State member as a target.”

“It is part of the group’s radical division of the world into “righteous and Islamic” and to “the others” who are heretics and infidels, and therefore can be targeted during terror attacks, which Islamic State regards as rightful jihadi actions.”

Lisnyansky also teaches at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and is a co-founder of the Petah Tikva-based Israeli Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies. She has been consulted by French officials.

ISIS is being slowly rolled back on the battlefield and is losing territory, which is pushing the group to focus more on terrorist attacks abroad.

“The irony is that the more the organization becomes weaker in its home base, the more they try to export terror,” said the terrorism expert.

Remarking on the lack of security at Istanbul Atatürk Airport, she said she has frequently flown there, adding that once she had a connecting flight and they did not check any of her hand baggage.

After the ISIS attack in the Brussels airport in March, Lisnyansky had told the Post she had visited “the Brussels airport many times in the past year, and it lacks security just like most other European airports.”

“Nothing has changed since the Paris attack, and Brussels airport is just as insecure as Charles de Gaulle,” she had said.                           (Jerusalem Post)

PM seeks A-G’s aid to oust Arab MK who called IDF troops ‘murderers’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has turned to Israel’s top law enforcement official in a bid to oust controversial Joint (Arab) List MK Hanin Zoabi from the Knesset.

“I spoke with the attorney general [Avichai Mandelblit] this evening in order to explore ways to expel Hanin Zoabi from the Knesset,” Netanyahu said in a statement Wednesday night.

Zoabi caused a firestorm earlier Wednesday after she branded IDF soldiers involved in a May 2010 raid on a Gaza-bound Turkish flotilla “murderers,” and demanded they apologize.

Her comments in the Knesset plenum led to angry shouts from other lawmakers, who attempted to approach the podium and demanded that she be removed from the lectern.

Zoabi took part in the 2010 flotilla from Turkey that tried to break the Israeli blockade on the Hamas-run coastal enclave.

Nine Turkish nationals, including one with American citizenship, were killed in clashes that erupted when IDF commandos were violently attacked by those on board the Mavi Marmara, the final ship in the flotilla, and opened fire. A tenth Turkish national died of his wounds years later. A number of Israeli soldiers were also injured in the raid. Zoabi was on board the Turkish-flagged vessel at the time.

“I demand an apology for all the political activists on the Marmara and an apology to MK Hanin Zoabi, for inciting against her for six years and hounding her. You all need to apologize, all of the members of Knesset here,” Zoabi said. “Those who murdered need to apologize, you need to apologize.”

In his Wednesday statement, Netanyahu said, “in her actions and her lies, [Zoabi] has crossed all red lines and there is no place for her in the Knesset.”

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Wednesday evening branded Zoabi a terrorist, writing on Facebook that, “IDF soldiers will continue to fight against terrorists on sea, air and land — and that includes terrorists traveling at sea who are members of Knesset.”

Zoabi’s comments came a day after Israel signed a reconciliation deal with Turkey to restore ties, after years of frosty relations exacerbated by the raid. The deal provides for Israel to pay Turkey $20 million compensation over the Marmara raid, a point objected to by some Israeli politicians.

Zoabi’s statements were met by howls from several members of Knesset, including MK Micky Levi (Yesh Atid), who charged toward the podium in outrage to berate her.

“Your friends are murderers, you’re a partner to terrorism,” Likud MK Oren Hazan screamed at her. “You’re out of line. Don’t use this podium to speak against IDF soldiers!”

“You murdered! Shut up!” Zoabi replied.

Yesh Atid MK Aliza Lavie called on Zoabi to knock it off, to which Zoabi replied: “Come knock me out.”

Yisrael Beytenu MK Hamad Amar, who chaired the plenary session, said Zoabi “lied to me.”

Zoabi requested permission to speak because she wanted to apologize, said Amar. “She lied.”

In a bid to quiet the hubbub, Amar ordered security to escort several MKs out of the plenum, including Zoabi, Zionist Union MK Micky Rosenthal and Meretz party leader Zehava Galon.

Yesh Atid MK Levi, a former chief of the Jerusalem Police, said after the stormy session that while Zoabi was speaking, he was thinking of the dozens of IDF officers and Air Force pilots who were sitting in the visitors’ gallery as they toured the Knesset, “and were forced to listen to this defamation, to this humiliation. These are our children, our sons. I couldn’t let it go on, and I demanded that her inciting rhetoric be stopped.”

Levi echoed Netanyahu’s comments, saying Zoabi “is not worthy of a seat in Israel’s Knesset.” He called on the Knesset Ethics Committee to examine her behavior and “remove her from the plenum.”

Knesset members cannot legally be prevented from casting votes in the plenum, nor can they be expelled from the parliament except by being stripped of their immunity following a criminal conviction.

Even after her departure from the plenum Wednesday, Zoabi’s remarks continued to trigger enraged responses from other lawmakers.

“IDF soldiers are the children of all of us, to call them murderers is an abomination,” opposition leader Isaac Herzog wrote on Twitter. “Another reason why we ought not to have agreed to compensate those who attacked the soldiers.”

Fellow Zionist Union MK Nahman Shai called on the Ethics Committee to suspend Zoabi.

Likud MK and Coalition Chairman David Bitan said he would put forward a bill to bar Zoabi from the Knesset, though he did not explain how the legislation would achieve this.

“She regularly causes provocations, and we can’t continue with this ritual,” he told Army Radio. “She should be allowed to be a martyr, but not in the Knesset. She doesn’t interest us, we are interested in her not sitting in the Knesset and causing provocation.”

Zoabi has refused to apologize for her comments.                         (the Times of Israel)

IDF to revise controversial abduction prevention orders

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot on Tuesday repealed a controversial order designed to thwart the abduction of Israeli soldiers by any means necessary. The military’s Operations Directorate has been tasked with formulating new abduction prevention protocols.

The order, known as Hannibal Protocol, was enacted in 1986. It outlines a series of procedures employed in the event enemy agents capture Israeli security forces personnel. Over the years, it has also been employed in cases involving the suspected abduction of civilians by terrorist groups, as was the case in the 2014 abduction of three Israeli teens by Hamas.

The directive effectively allows commanders in the field to take any action necessary to foil abductions without the need for special authorization for each step, to save time. Hannibal tactics includes setting up roadblocks and checkpoints, damaging civilian infrastructure to hinder assailants’ progress, and the use of overwhelming firepower to prevent soldiers’ capture, even when it may risk or kill those taken by enemy agents.

Still, despite these rather extreme measures, the Hannibal Protocol never proved successful in preventing abductions. Over the years, its controversial tactics, especially the fact it allowed Israeli troops to further compromise the safety of those abducted, were repeatedly criticized by public officials, who urged their revision.

The Association of Civil Rights in Israel called on the military to cancel the practice, saying it endangered the lives of soldiers and civilians alike.

On Tuesday, Eizenkot ordered the IDF’s Operations Directorate to draft new directives that would highlight the need to foil abductions while sparing no effort to avoid unnecessary risk to compromised personnel. The new orders will most likely underscore the need to cut off assailants’ escape routes, over the use of massive firepower.

A military source said that once formulated, the new orders will also be given a new name, so not to be confused with the Hannibal Protocol.                       (Ynet News)

New French Immigrants: ‘We don’t see a future in France anymore’

Francis Ben-Hanni cried as he put his hands on the Western Wall, after finally living up to the promise he had made years earlier to one day make aliya.

He prayed for his wife, Rivka, who could now live as a religious Jew without feeling threatened the way she had living in Massy, a suburb of Paris.

He thought of his daughters, Liat, 10, and Sarit, six, who have suffered from recurring nightmares since the November 2015 Paris terrorist attacks, which killed 130 people.

And he looked down at his nine-year-old son, Avram, telling him to touch the wall and ask God for whatever he wanted. In Israel, Avram would no longer have to wear a baseball cap over his kippa on the way to school each day.

The Ben-Hannis are among the 81 newly arrived French immigrants who touched down at Ben-Gurion Airport on Tuesday in pursuit of a better life. Many, like the Ben-Hannis, came seeking to raise their children in greater security, as well as to leave an environment they felt was becoming increasingly hostile to Jews.

The flight marked the first of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews Freedom Flights from France this summer. In the next two months, over 400 more French Jews are to make aliya through the IFCJ’s program.

“Aliya is not a dusty relic from the ’50s or ’90s,” said Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder of the IFCJ, which has settled more than 3,300 Jews in Israel over the past two years.

“Recent events demand that Israel – and the entire global Jewish community – step up their efforts. Many Jews living in France are being threatened by anti-Semitism and economic hardship. We must do our utmost to help them.”

The IFCJ olim represent what has become a significant movement of French Jewish immigration in the past few years, and 10,000 French Jews are expected to immigrate to Israel in 2016, according to an Immigration and Absorption Ministry and Jewish Agency projection in April.

Although France has the one of the largest Jewish populations in Europe, at over half a million, more than 63 percent of Jews have experienced anti-Semitism there, according to the Diaspora Affairs Ministry. In addition, the wave of terrorist attacks across Europe – from the suicide bombing in Istanbul’s airport on Tuesday to the shooting at the Hyper Cacher Jewish market in Paris last year – have left many feeling particularly vulnerable.

“We made the decision to leave six months ago, after the terror in the Bataclan [theater],” said Valerie Nakash, 48, who came to Israel with her two children, ages 19 and 21. “We don’t see a future in France anymore. There is too much tension there.”

Another new arrival, Ilan Zarka, 36, says he felt anti-Semitism all around him. When people looked at him, he said, he could see hostility in their eyes. He often did not feel accepted by non-Jews and wanted his children to grow up in a more welcoming society.

“The religious Jews have a difficult life in France,” Zarka said. “In France it is the same [religious] practice, but here there is a different feeling, a feeling in my heart of something good. Here there is the presence of holiness and unity.”

The sense of unity is a feeling that IFCJ works hard to create. On Wednesday, the olim gathered in Kibbutz Ramat Rahel to take part in a series of seminars, covering everything from banking to health insurance, meant to help ease their entry into Israeli society.

“In the past, when you make aliya, you receive a flight ticket and the papers, but no one deals with the human issues,” said Yael Toledano, IFCJ coordinator of aliya in France. “We are there for them for the next six months to help them create the base for their life in Israel: in education, in housing, and with ulpan; we are working together with the municipalities to integrate them.”

In addition to providing a helping hand, Toledano says, IFCJ strives to create a sense of community for the new Israelis.

“They are coming here without friends a lot of times, and so we are their contacts, their friends. We are bringing olim as a group to create a platform of contacts,” she said. “The olim are our future. They are coming with children, they are very connected to Israel, very patriotic. They are fulfilling a dream.”

The Ben-Hannis have enjoyed their time in Israel and are looking forward to settling into their new life in Hadera.

“I love all the sun in this country,” said Francis, who lived on a kibbutz for four years in his youth. “And I can go out with my kippa and I can live my Judaism like I want.”    (Jerusalem Post)

New high-tech weapon in the war on cervical cancer

In the 1940s, George Papanicolaou’s Pap smear was introduced and became the standard cancer screening test for cervical cancer, then the number one killer of women and today the fourth most common cancer in women worldwide.

Incredibly, Pap remains the standard despite severe drawbacks. The smear must be sent to a lab for analysis (which takes several days), has a high rate of inaccurate results, and samples only the outer surface of the cervix although cancer begins in the inner layers.

Furthermore, the Pap test isn’t readily available in developing parts of the world such as India, Africa and China, where cervical cancer is still the leading cause of death among women.

The Israeli company Biop Medical is designing and testing a better alternative: a state-of-the-art colposcope, the instrument used to check women for gynecological disease. Colposcopy is usually performed after a positive Pap smear, and if it detects suspicious cells the woman must schedule a biopsy.

Biop’s device does everything in one visit. It optically scans the inner layers of the cervix for early signs of cancer, analyzes the images instantly and indicates where to perform a biopsy if necessary.

That takes away the anxiety of waiting for results or for a colposcopy and biopsy appointment, during which time cancer could spread.


“Our device extracts optical features from the cervix and sends them to the cloud in real time to analyze them, all at the point of care,” says Biop Medical founder and CEO Ilan Landesman. “Biop tries to find the disease at very early stages and this has a real value because it can give enough time to treat it successfully.”

The product is undergoing clinical trials in Israel and Hungary into next year. The company expects to apply for CE (Europe) and FDA (US) approval in 2017.

Meanwhile, another Israeli invention for early cervical-cancer detection is being developed at Illumigyn, a company headed by Ran Poliakine of Powermat fame. Illumigyn’s Gynescope colposcope will use proprietary imaging technology to deliver 15-micron image resolution over a wide field of view, along with advanced illumination features and the ability to capture, send and store high-definition images and videos taken during the exam.

When Landesman and his wife lost a close friend to cervical cancer, they learned the tragic ripple effects of the disease.

“Cervical cancer strikes mainly women between the ages of 18 and 35, so it can devastate young families,” Biop Medical head of operations Tal Bar Tur tells ISRAEL21c.

Founded in 2013, Biop Medical was in the first cohort of IBM’s AlphaZone accelerator program in Israel, and was presented at the Cleveland Clinic’s Medical Innovation Summit at the end of 2014.

“We have tremendous help and cooperation with IBM,” Landesman tells ISRAEL21c. “Using IBM Cloud and Analytics tools, we were able to develop a big-data point-of-care solution that sends information as it scans.”

The device scans the cervix in about 100 segments, using more than 20 optical features on each segment to achieve high specificity. “We integrate those segments into a map to show the practitioner the suspicious area,” he explains. “Our optics are able to observe what is happening at a cellular level throughout the full depth of the cervix.”

Changes observed in the cervical cells during clinical trials will help improve the device’s predictive abilities. “Our aim is 90 percent accuracy,” says Bar Tur.

Dr. Rami Eitan, chief of gynecologic oncology Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva, headed a clinical trial of Biop’s device last year; the results were published in the Journal of Obstetric and Gynecological Investigation on March 10. Eitan now is enrolling 50 patients for a second trial.

“We have a problem with technical evaluation of the cervix even by colposcopy,” Eitan tells ISRAEL21c. “We sometimes don’t see very small lesions, or misinterpret non-lesions. The optical means Biop Medical has chosen probably is one of the best ways to advance our diagnostic ability.”

The Biop device was designed by a multidisciplinary team from the areas of physics, optics, biology and software. Headquartered in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan, the company recently raised $2.25 million in a Series A investment round led by Shanghai Creative Investments of China.

“We have a team of 12 extraordinary people,” Landesman says, “and an advisory board of top gynecologists in the United States and Israel. We’re fortunate to have Sidney Braginsky, former CEO of Olympus America, as our president.”

The mobile device also could be used in remote areas and requires only a short training to be used by any healthcare provider, says Bar Tur.

Biop Medical’s product is not in competition with the award-winning EVA optical assessment system for cervical cancer screenings developed by Israeli company MobileODT specifically for developing countries, using a smartphone camera to capture and securely transmit the images for diagnosis and analysis.

Rather, Biop is positioned as a high-end manufacturer of colposcopes, says Landesman. Its optical technology could be adapted for identifying other types of epithelial cancer, such as oral, esophageal, rectal and bladder.               (Israel 21C)

In Israel-Turkey Deal, No Winners and Losers – Zalman Shoval (Israel Hayom)

Obviously, there were concessions from both Israel and Turkey ahead of signing the deal, but we should remember the Kissinger principle on diplomacy: Negotiations must not result in one side achieving its goals and the other being forced to concede most of its interests. In other words, negotiations must not paint a picture of winners and losers.

An objective test would prove that Israel’s achievements are greater than Turkey’s as the latter got off the high horse on which it rode during the early stages of negotiations. The Gaza blockade, a necessity for Israeli security, will not be lifted.

Israeli diplomacy made use of political developments that are not related to us, but that work in our favor: Turkey’s growing isolation – from the Arab and Muslim world, from Europe, the U.S., and Russia.

Turkey knows very well that the nuclear deal will quickly end Iran’s political and economic isolation and that its hegemonic trends in the Middle East endanger not just the Sunni Arab world, but also Turkey itself. Israel’s and Turkey’s shared interests on this issue are clear to both countries.

Turkey is not likely to become Israel’s best friend now, at least not as long as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is in power, but there is no doubt that the geopolitical balance has shifted in Israel’s favor.

The writer is a former Israeli ambassador to the U.S

Arab and Jewish DJs performed in a number of downtown bars during the after party, proving once again the power of music to break down boundaries.