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Latest News in Israel – 27th November

Palestinian shot dead after attempted stabbing attack in West Bank

Security forces shot and killed a Palestinian after an attempted stabbing at the Tapuah Junction in the West Bank on Thursday.

Police said that the attacker suddenly jumped out of his car at a Border Police position and ran at the forces stationed there with a knife in his hand. The forces responded by shooting him. Large numbers of Border Police forces and IDF soldiers arrived at the site following the attack.

The incident happened at the same place where a number of Israelis were wounded in an attempted vehicular ramming attack on Tuesday.

Three soldiers and a Border Police officer were wounded in that attack.

A colonel and a lieutenant-colonel from the IDF Engineering Corps were among the injured. They were in the area on foot to examine altering the infrastructure at the junction as part of wider steps to beef up security.

Paramedics treated one of the wounded for moderate injuries in the head and stomach. Three other victims were treated for light wounds.            (Jerusalem Post)

Netanyahu said to rebuff IDF pitch to arm PA, release prisoners

A senior Israeli official said the government would not approve the transfer of more arms to the Palestinians or approve the release of more security prisoners, Wednesday night, rebuffing a reported IDF proposal to implement the measures as a way to ease tensions.

The comment, by an unnamed source in the Prime Minister’s Office close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, came quickly on the heels of a briefing by a senior IDF official that suggested a series of goodwill gestures to curb a recent wave of terror attacks.

The PMO official said the government would not okay the moves, but did not elaborate, Hebrew-language news site Ynet reported.

The source added that lawmakers would make the granting of building permits to the Palestinians dependent on international recognition for Israeli construction in settlement blocs, heavily-built areas Israel wants to retain in any future peace deal.

Netanyahu made a similar statement to US Secretary of State John Kerry during a meeting on Tuesday.

Earlier Wednesday, a senior IDF officer said the army was considering recommending a series of steps to ease spiraling violence, including allowing the PA to acquire more arms, releasing prisoners, granting more work permits to Palestinians and alleviating the passage of commercial goods between the PA and Israel.

The IDF officer said the army sees moves aimed at easing Palestinians’ lives in the West Bank as key to stemming the violence, which has seen near daily attacks in the West Bank, Jerusalem and elsewhere for two months.

The officer said the IDF recognized Palestinian efforts to quash the violence, predicting that if left unchecked the wave of attacks could last several more months and even worsen.

The remarks by the officer were carried by several Hebrew-language news outlets.

However, an army source told The Times of Israel that no such measures have been taken but are only being “considered, and will be made if the security situation returns to calm.”

On Tuesday, Netanyahu told Kerry that Israel would not make any gestures until Palestinian terror attacks on Israelis ended, according to a senior Israeli official.

This is not the first time the defense community and government have butt heads over how to deal with violence. Earlier this month, the cabinet voted to outlaw the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement, a hard-line Islamist group, despite officials from the Shin Bet security service saying the move was unnecessary.   (The Times of Israel)

Israel provided key intelligence to Germany on imminent terror attack

Germany received key intelligence regarding an imminent terror attack against a packed soccer stadium from Israeli intel services less than two weeks ago, German magazine Stern reported Wednesday.

Israeli intelligence provided the crucial information that lead German authorities to cancel a scheduled friendly soccer match between Germany and the Netherlands at Hanover Stadium on November 17.

The game was called off just four days after the attacks in Paris that killed 130 people. German Chancellor Angela Merkel had been set to attend along with other government ministers in a show of solidarity with the French.

According to Stern, Israeli intelligence had informed of an imminent threat modeled after the Paris attacks, with concrete times and targets being mentioned. One of the targets was the Hanover stadium.

Earlier in the evening, Hanover Police President Volker Kluwe said there were “specific indications” of a planned attack with explosives at the game.

“We had received specific indications that an attack with explosives was planned,” Kluwe told NDR state broadcaster. “We took them seriously and that is why we took the measures,”

Regarding the soccer stadium, police said that “the visitors, who were already in the stadium at that time, were asked to leave the stadium without panicking.”

Apart from the stadium, police also evacuated Hanover’s TUI multi-purpose arena where a concert was about to start, and what seemed to be a suspicious object was found at a local train station.

After the attacks in Paris, security measures in Hanover had been tight. Merkel was set to attend the game with Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel and government ministers, in a show of solidarity with France.

Two Dutch government ministers attending the match – Defense Minister Jeanine Hennes and Health and Sport Minister Edith Schippers – were returning home.

The world champions had not initially wanted the game to go ahead after having played against France in Paris on November 12 as a wave of attacks hit the city, killing 130 people.

The contingent of 80 Germans, including players, coaches and staff, then spent the night holed up in the changing rooms of the Stade de France stadium as the attacks took place across the capital, before heading for the airport on the next morning.                  (Jerusalem Post)

Israel successfully launches new naval missile defense system

The Israeli Navy has carried out its first successful launch of a new maritime missile defense system under battlefield conditions, a senior naval official announced on Thursday.

News of the the Barak 8 missile defense system’s successful test came as the eyes of the world turn to the Russian S-400, an anti-aircraft system deployed in Syria on Thursday, which operates at a substantially greater distance.

Though the Russian missile system is effective at a greater range, the Barak 8 can be installed on naval ships as well as on the ground, giving it a decided advantage in its mobility.

The system, made up of a radar array and missile launcher, successfully detected and shot down an unmanned aerial vehicle “that was very fast and very small,” in order to simulate a real-life enemy aircraft or missiles, the naval officer said.

The system, which was developed jointly by Israel and India, had been installed on one of Israel’s Sa’ar 5-class warships. In previous tests, the missiles had been fired from land.

The radar acquiring targets for the Barak 8 system is code-named Adir (Hebrew for “Tremendous”), or MF-STAR (Multi Function Surveillance And Threat Alert Radar).

This newest iteration (“8”) is intended to defend against advanced weaponry believed to be in the hands of Hezbollah, including the Russian-made Yakhont P-800 anti-ship missile.

“The Barak/Adir systems will be able to deal with the Yakhont,” the senior officer boasted. “It is the bread and butter of this system.”

The Israeli Navy tests its new ‘Barak 8’ missile defense system on November 26, 2015. The missile (blue) is shown here about to strike its target (red). (Screen capture: IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)

The Israeli Navy tests its new ‘Barak 8’ missile defense system on November 26, 2015. The missile (blue) is shown here about to strike its target (red). (Screen capture: IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)

The system is intended to be mounted either on naval vessels or on the ground, in a battery formation. It can identify and destroy airborne threats like UAVs, jets, missiles and rockets – including projectiles launched simultaneously.

Though the senior officer said he could not reveal the maximum range of the Barak 8 system, an executive vice president of Israel Aerospace Industires, which helped develop the defense system, revealed to Jane’s Defense News earlier this summer that some of the missiles being used can shoot down targets at a range of 150 kilometers (93 miles).

The system is also intended to defend the coastline and reportedly can tackle missiles larger than those within the capabilities of the Iron Dome system.         (the Times of Israel)

Soldier dies, dozens hurt as bus flips on West Bank road

An Israeli bus carrying IDF soldiers overturned in the West Bank on Thursday, killing a female soldier and injuring at least 40 other passengers, several seriously.

Magen David Adom paramedics treated the injured at site. They said 41 passengers were hurt, one seriously, three moderately and the remainder suffered minor injuries.

The woman soldier pronounced dead at the scene was later named as Stav Partush, aged 19, from Ma’ale Adumim. She was set to be buried at Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl military cemetery at 10:30 p.m. on Thursday.

Her father, a volunteer fireman, had arrived at the scene of the crash to evacuate the wounded, not knowing his daughter was killed, Channel 2 reported.

The seriously injured passenger was airlifted by helicopter to Beilinson Medical Center in Petah Tikva. The three moderately injured and seven of the lightly injured passengers were airlifted to Tel Hashomer Medical Center near Tel Aviv. The remainder were taken by ambulance to hospitals in Jerusalem.

Emergency responders at the scene said several passengers were trapped in the bus after it flipped into a ditch by the roadside near the West Bank settlement of Rimonim, north of Ramallah.

The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit confirmed later on Thursday that the private bus was shuttling soldiers from an army base to Jerusalem when it flipped over.

The collision involved a second vehicle, police said.

It was not immediately clear what led to the crash, which occurred on a winding road running through mountainous areas between Ramallah and the Jordan Valley.

The bus driver blamed a Palestinian driving wildly on the road toward him, but initial investigation ruled out that assertion, Army Radio reported on Thursday afternoon. The report said the initial probe pointed “with a high degree of certainty” to reckless driving by the bus driver, and said he had approached a sharp curve at a speed of some 110 kilometers per hour (approximately 68 mph) and lost control of the vehicle                   (the Times of Israel)

PM pledges ‘significant steps’ against domestic violence

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with 11 residents of a shelter for battered women in Jerusalem on Wednesday then pledged his government would take “significant steps” against domestic violence, in honor of the annual International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

“All women deserve to live with dignity and with security,” Netanyahu said during his tour of the shelter run by the Women’s International Zionist Organization (WIZO) and the Welfare Ministry.

“M,” a 28-year-old with two daughters told the prime minister about the physical and mental abuse she had suffered for years.

“All of us here left behind full lives – a house, friends, work – and now we are forced to start our life anew. It is not easy, and we need help,” she said.

Netanyahu thanked the women for sharing their stories and pledged his government  would take “significant steps” to eradicate domestic violence and support women and child victims.

“We will apply the full power of the law against criminals. I think of a situation where people are living in constant fear and distress – it is like [receiving] hammer blows constantly,” Netanyahu said.

He instructed Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel, at his side, to seek ways to allow women forced to leave their homes to return to claim personal belongings, with police protection; to check into securing greater income support for women in shelters; and to expand employment rehabilitation programs on their behalf.

Eliezer Yablon, director-general of the Welfare Ministry, said the issue was central to the ministry’s agenda, and cited Netanyahu’s approval of a request by Welfare and Social Services Minister Haim Katz to increase the office’s budget by 20 percent next year – all geared toward addressing domestic violence.

He also told Netanyahu that just a small number of women report domestic violence to the authorities, and Netanyahu urged all women to “complain the first time,” saying the government will help them but that they also must help themselves and “not give up.”

“You deserve a life of dignity, a good life and a life where you can stand up straight, earn a living and raise your children in safety.

I know this is hard, but we will help you because it is our mitzva, it is our duty – to give you a life of dignity, security and livelihood,” Netanyahu said.

WIZO Israel chairwoman Gila Oshrat thanked Netanyahu for visiting the facility and urged him to adopt a national plan against violence.

NA’AMAT, the movement for working women and volunteers in Israel, released a poll showing that 62% of youths, some 74% of boys and 49% of girls, have witnessed violence between members of couples in their inner circle.

In addition, 8% of youths reported they had been victims of violence while in a relationship.

The findings, based on a survey of 400 Jewish youths ages 14 to 18 polled on November 5-6, also showed 68% of boys responding that “jealousy on the part of a boy/girlfriend was a sign of love,” while 57% of girls opposed the statement. A third of boys said it would “bother them” if their girlfriend had male friends.

More than half those surveyed said they do not receive any information regarding healthy relationships without violence, and three out of four respondents said their parents did not talk them about the issue.

“The survey data clearly shows that Israeli youth are exposed and experience violence in general and violence among couples in particular,” said Galia Wolloch, president of NA’AMAT Israel.

“It is no less grave that boys and girls do not receive any explanations or guiding hand – not at home and not in the education system,” she said.          (Jerusalem Post)

Israel, Greece, Cyprus likely to hold 3-way gas summit in January

The leaders of Israel, Greece and Cyprus will likely hold a three-way meeting in Cyprus in January, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced Wednesday, following a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.

The tripartite meeting is expected to focus on energy issues, which were also a key topic of the Netanyahu-Tsipras discussion. Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades was in Israel earlier this month, also for talks dominated by the energy question.

This was the first visit ever to Israel for Tsipras, head of Greece’s far-left Syriza party.

In addition to meeting Netanyahu, Tsipras met with opposition leader Isaac Herzog.

He is scheduled to meet on Thursday with President Reuven Rivlin before going to Ramallah for talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Netanyahu, who in 2010 forged close ties with one of Tsipras’s predecessors, George Papandreou, characterized his talks with Tsipras as “broad, deep and productive.”

Netanyahu said Israel and Greece have a common interest in exploring opportunities, while at the same time pushing back against dangers emanating from “violent religious fundamentalism,” which wants to control the world and is sweeping through the Middle East, North Africa and other parts of the world.

Netanyahu praised Tsipras for the economic steps he is taking, and said he had to take similarly difficult economic steps in Israel in the past.

Netanyahu said he believes the Greek economy would “bounce back,” and that he would encourage Israelis to invest there.

Tsipras said it is well known that in the last few years great efforts have been made to strengthen the ties between Israel and Greece.

“We are on the way toward strategic cooperation, but we should not forget that there are other directions where we should also focus,” he said.

He specifically mentioned tourism – some 350,000 Israelis visited Greece this year, as opposed to 50,000 five years ago – cultural ties and the field of energy.

Tsipras said the three-way meeting between him, Netanyahu and Anastasiades would deal with how the three countries could cooperate in the energy field. That meeting will come as Israel is exploring its natural gas options. One of the options is to export the gas through a pipeline through Cyprus and via Greece.

Other options include exporting via Turkey or through Egypt.

Tsipras said he spoke with Netanyahu about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as well, and that as a “friend of Israel” offered Greece’s help in facilitating negotiations between the two sides. In the past, Athens has offered to hold the talks on one of the Greek islands.

The Greek premier also stressed the need to ensure Israel’s security, as well as the safety of innocent civilians.

His visit, and the degree to which he has maintained and even strengthened Greece’s ties with Israel, is a sign of how Tsipras is a “man of surprises, said Arye Mekel, Israel’s former ambassador to Greece from 2010 to 2014.

Mekel, now a senior research fellow at Bar-Ilan University’s Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, who wrote an article for the center in January titled “The New Greek Government: Israel has Reason for Concern,” said it was not a given that Tsipras would continue the strong ties with Israel that began in 2010 under the Socialist government of Papandreou and continued under the conservative government of Antonis Samaras.

Before coming to power, Mekel pointed out, Syriza was very critical of Israel and sympathetic to the Palestinians, with one leader, who is now an assistant minister, having taken part in one of the Gaza flotillas. Nevertheless, he said, Tsipras has maintained the relationship, including the military cooperation between the two countries, which includes joint air maneuvers.

Mekel said Tsipras’s visit here at this time is also an indication that the prime minister is interested in raising Greece’s profile internationally.

He pointed out that the Greek defense minister, Panos Kammenos, is from a right-wing party in the governing coalition and is very supportive of a strong relationship with Israel. Kammenos was in Israel earlier this year.

Greece, which traditionally was very cold to Israel, began a significant warming up in 2010 under Papandreou, which can be attributed to a number of factors, foremost among them the significant deterioration of Israel’s ties with Turkey and Greece’s need for friends and partners in the wake of its severe financial problems.

The change in ties has been manifest in Greece’s dispatch of significant assistance in December 2010 to fight the Carmel forest fire; its preventing the launch of a second Gaza flotilla from Greek ports in 2011; the huge increase in Israeli tourism to the country; the increased quality and quantity of Israeli-Greek military cooperation; and the discussions about forming a Greece-Israel-Cyprus energy triangle in the eastern Mediterranean.               (Jerusalem Post)

Diaspora Jews raise money to attend terrorism orphan’s wedding

Representatives of Jewish communities around the world will be sending special representatives to celebrate with a young Israeli woman, who had to postpone her wedding after her father and brother were shot to death by a Palestinian terrorist near Hebron two weeks ago.

The murders of Rabbi Yaakov Litman, 40, and his 18-year-old son, Netanel, forced Sarah Techiya Litman to push off her wedding to Ariel Beigle for a week in order to sit shiva. Instead of opting for a small wedding, however, Litman announced that she was inviting the public to attend what she is calling a “million person wedding” at Jerusalem’s International Convention Center.

“Do not rejoice over me, my enemy, for I have fallen but I have gotten up,” the couple quoted from the Prophet Micah in their public invitation.

At least seven Chabad houses and campus centers in the United States, Canada and Australia are raffling off tickets to Israel in order to send representatives to the wedding.

“This initiative presents our community with a tangible and meaningful way to express our solidarity, love and support with the people of Israel,” Rabbi Aaron Slonim, the Chabad emissary at Binghamton University told chabad.org.

“Beyond that, we join in the deep resolve of this couple that terror not define our lives, and that goodness and kindness and joy fight the wave of darkness and despair that seems so overwhelming.”

“In just two days, over 150 people entered the raffle, and many others just chose to donate,” said Rabbi Dovid Gutnik of Chabad in East Melbourne said.

“Despite the current and historical challenges and tragedies, we are an unbreakable family. And when we are united, we will prevail and we will thrive. That is the lesson of history, and that is what we are doing now.”

According to Rabbi Mark Fishman of Congregation Beth Tikvah of Dollard des Ormeaux, Quebec, after announcing his intention to fly in for the wedding, several congregants decided to join him as well and that in the end a 12-person delegation would attend.

“I spoke in synagogue this last Shabbat and told those attending that I would be flying out to Israel to dance at this wedding and be a part of the epic saga that is Jewish destiny. Since that time we as a community have been blessed by individuals who have stepped up and wish to join. We are truly fortunate to have such leadership,” Fishman wrote in an email to congregants, adding that he will be giving the couple a gift from the congregation’s Torah Fund.

“We read this and we knew – one of us had to attend this wedding,” Fishman’s wife Sarah explained.

“Why? Because those of us living outside of Israel do not bear the tremendous task of protecting our homeland.

That responsibility is entrusted to those 18-yearold men and women who serve in the IDF. Because we, who live outside of Israel, do not bear the weight on our shoulders on a daily basis of what route to take as we drive our kids to school, what supermarket to shop at today, and far too often lately, what funeral to attend.

That weight is carried on the shoulders of Israelis. So why go to the wedding? Because OUR role in the history of the Jewish people is to ensure that those who DO live in our homeland truly know that we support them, that we appreciate all they do so that we too can have the ‘zchut’ [merit] of calling Israel ‘OUR’ homeland from so far away.”

Aside from sending people, Diaspora Jews have also taken to the Internet to crowd-fund for the couple.

On Tuesday OnlySimchas.com, an orthodox web platform used for announcing weddings, engagements and other life-cycle events, announced that it had started a GoFundMe campaign to give them “a beautiful wedding gift from Jews across the world who are unable to be at the wedding but are definitely with them in their hearts.”  (Jerusalem Post)

Netanyahu, Argentina’s president-elect agree to improve ties

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Argentina’s president-elect Mauricio Macri and congratulated him on winning the election.

Netanyahu told Macri that he expected to see relations between Israel and Argentina grow warmer, according to a statement from the prime ministers’ office.

Macri, according to the statement, told Netanyahu that Argentina’s treatment of Israel will change for the better and that cooperation between the two countries is expected to improve.

Netanyahu invited Macri to visit Israel.

On Monday, Macri said that he would work to cancel the agreement signed with Iran to jointly investigate the 1994 attack on the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires, as he had vowed during his election run. Alberto Nisman, the investigating prosecutor who was found dead earlier this year, had traced the authorization for the attack, in which 85 people were killed, to Iran, and identified the Hezbollah suicide bomber who carried out the attack.

“We will propose to Congress to cancel the pact with Iran as we promised in the campaign,” Macri said in his first news conference after being elected in a runoff vote the previous day.

Macri, the opposition candidate, will take office on December 10. He won the runoff with 51.4 percent of the vote, defeating Daniel Scioli, a close ally of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who garnered 48.6 percent, according to the final results released Monday.

The agreement had been criticized by Israel and Argentina’s Jews, among others. Iran has been accused of being behind the AMIA bombing, which killed 85 and injured hundreds.

Macri has a recent history of close relations with Argentine Jewry and Israel.

As mayor of Buenos Aires City, the country’s capital, Macri’s government implemented a plan to support incubators and start-ups inspired by the Israeli “Start-Up Nation” model. Local entrepreneurs visited Israel to learn how to market themselves globally, and they described their experiences on the city government’s website.

In June 2014, he traveled to Israel to participate in a mayors’ conference in Jerusalem, where he offered his support to Israel against terrorism.

“Israeli suffering has to be understood. From afar, it is easy to give advice, but you have to be in Israel to really understand the situation,” he told journalists.

Macri’s new political party, PRO, leads Argentina’s Let’s Change coalition. In 2011, the center-right party picked Rabbi Sergio Bergman to head the ticket for municipal elections. In 2013, Bergman was tapped by Macri to run for the national legislature, which he won, becoming the first rabbi to serve as a national lawmaker in the country. Macri also has ties to other Jewish candidates.

On Election Day, Macri played in a soccer game with his friends against the over-45 team that will represent Argentina at the next Pan-American Maccabi Games in Chile. The president’s team defeated the Jewish squad, 4 to 1.                      (The Times of Israel)

Israeli invention to fight AIDS wins coveted tech prize

‘If you want to make a man feel really uncomfortable, talk to him about circumcising his penis. I should know, I do it every day,” declares a smiling Sabelo Dlamini in the opening of a film shown at this month’s Tech Awards 2015 honoring winner PrePex, an Israeli-developed nonsurgical method of circumcision.

Developed by Israeli anti-AIDS group Circ MedTech Ltd., PrePex is a circumcision ring that has been shown to reduce the likelihood of contracting HIV by nearly 60 percent.

The simple device – two plastic rings and an elastic band – cuts off blood supply to the foreskin, which then shrivels and is removed with the band after a week.

“There’s no blood, no stitches, no injection, very little or no pain, and it’s absolutely free…. You can trust me, my brother, I’ve done it myself,” Sabelo can be seen saying as he tries to persuade Johannesburg’s men to consider the procedure.

The makers of PrePex boast that a man “can resume work and almost all daily activities shortly after the procedure,” with the device “designed to be placed, worn, and removed with minimal disruption,” though they should abstain from sex for six weeks afterwards.

The Tech Awards — presented by Applied Materials — are considered “the Oscars of Silicon Valley” and celebrate those using technology to address global challenges. Each year there are two winners of the Sutter Health award honoring individuals, nonprofit organizations and for-profit companies that use new or existing technology to improve health conditions around the world.

The award comes with a $50,000 cash prize that Circ MedTech CEO Eddie Horowitz said would be donated to HIV/AIDS prevention in Africa.

Speaking at the ceremony, Horowitz said he was “honored and humbled” to be accepting the award on behalf of the Israeli company.

“I want to thank our partners, the courageous government leaders and NGOs in Africa, our shareholders and last but not least, the loyal and passionate PrePex team. I would like to thank the over 100,000 men who have chosen PrePex,” he said.

PrePex has been used in over 100,000 procedures in 12 countries in Africa and Asia.

Officials say PrePex has the ability to decrease the number of deaths and injuries caused by unsafe circumcision practices. It was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration and certified by the European Union in 2012, and endorsed by the World Health Organization last year.

WHO and the United Nations Aids Program push circumcision as an additional prevention measure in high-prevalence countries where HIV transmission is predominantly heterosexual.

The Israeli-made PrePex is being used in several African nations to reduce HIV rates. (Screenshot from YouTube)

The WHO says there is “compelling evidence” circumcision reduces risk of heterosexually-acquired HIV infection in men. The organization has “prequalified” PrePex, meaning the device has been assessed and meets international standards for efficacy and safety.

Scientists have found that male circumcision can significantly reduce the chances of HIV infection because the foreskin has a higher concentration of HIV-receptors than the rest of the penis and is prone to tears during intercourse, providing HIV an entry point.         (the Times of Israel)

8-year-old ‘Indiana Jones’ makes First Temple era archaeological find in Beit Shemesh

An eight-year-old Israeli boy on a daytrip with his family in the Beit Shemesh area accidentally made an important archaeological discovery last week, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced Wednesday.

Itai Halpern of Pardesiya was granted a certificate of honor after discovering the head of a statue from the First Temple period and turning it in to Antiquities Authorities’ officials. Halpern’s school class was also invited to take part in an archaeological dig.

Halpern was hiking with his family when he picked up a round object from the ground. He soon realized that the ceramic object was the head of a sculpture.

The family quickly reported their discovery to the Antiquities Authority. Archaeologist Alexander Glick met the family and informed them that they had made a discovery of historical significance. Itai told Glick that he had recently seen an Indiana Jones movie and wanted to be like him when he grows up. Finding the statue was a dream come true for Itai.

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Alon de Groot, an IAA expert on the Iron Age, identified the finding as the head of a sculpture of a fertility goddess.

“Figurines of this kind, depicting naked women which symbolize fertility, were common in the homes of residents of the Kingdom of Judah from the eighth century BCE until the destruction of the Kingdom by the Babylonians in the days of Zedekiah (586 BCE),” he said.

De Groot added that “these figurines serve in our research as a marker for the area controlled by the Kingdom of Judah.”

Archaeologist Ana Irich said that the area of Beit Shemesh where the figurine was discovered was a known residential area in the First Temple period. “Beit Shemesh is mentioned as a city in the area of the Tribe of Judah.

“In the First Temple period their was a big city in the area, which was a commercial and industrial center. The city was surrounded by a wall that held within it many residential structures, as well as public structures that have been uncovered – warehouses and an impressive waterworks,” she said.

“Assyrian King Sennacherib sacked Beit Shemesh in 701 BCE, and the destruction of the area was completed in  586 BCE by the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar,” she added.      (Jerusalem Post)

Saving innocent lives must have priority over civil liberties

“When calls are made to unite to combat global Islamic terrorism, as in the aftermath of the Paris massacres, Israel, which is on the front lines of the battle, is simply ignored.”


by Isi Leibler    The Jerusalem Post

The indisputable prime responsibility of any government is to protect its citizens. This overrides all other considerations, including civic rights and freedom of association and expression.

The world is currently facing the most severe global threat to Western civilization since World War II when, despite enormous human cost, the free world ultimately united and defeated Nazism.

Alas, from everything we’ve seen until now, the West has shown itself incapable of confronting the new barbarians, the Islamic fundamentalists who have succeeded in exporting terrorism to and creating mayhem in the leading cities throughout the world, most recently with the Paris massacre.

At the same time, a huge flow of preponderantly Muslim “refugees” has migrated to the European continent and could ultimately bring about the demographic dominance of Islam over much of the region.

It can be observed that wherever there is a Muslim majority, multiculturalism cannot exist. Indeed, there is every likelihood under such circumstances that Shariah law would replace democracy and bring an end to Western civilization in Europe.

Since its inception, Israel has been at the forefront of the battle of maintaining multiculturalism. Yet it is today the only state in the world whose right to exist is challenged by Islamic neighbors committed to the elimination of Jewish sovereignty in the region.

Israel’s conflict with its neighbors and the ongoing terrorism that it suffers are mistakenly portrayed as a territorial conflict. But the reality is that Islamic fanaticism and hatred of the Jews represent the primary source of the violence which has been intensified by the dramatic explosion of populist anti-Semitism in Europe and the fact that the political Left perceives Israel as a colonial occupier.

As a consequence, when calls are made to unite to combat global Islamic terrorism, as in the aftermath of the Paris massacres, Israel, which is on the front lines of the battle, is simply ignored.

Under such circumstances and in the light of the current intensive new round of murders in Israel by crazed religious fanatics who stab, shoot and run down pedestrians, the Israeli government must now consider introducing what would previously have been considered draconian legislation to maximize security for its citizens.

No country at war with hostile neighbors would even contemplate tolerating groups within its actual borders that incite hatred against the nation and encourage terrorism. In any other comparable situation, this would amount to treason. Yet the frenzied Islamic religious incitement against Jews and Israel not only emanates from Hamas and the Palestinain Authority but from Israeli Arab politicians and local imams, who are increasingly contributing to the escalation of the current climate and the intensity of the latest violence.

Such terrorist initiatives cannot destroy the state, but they impact on the quality of life of Israeli citizens by exacerbating tension and fear. It is thus high time for the government to employ more drastic measures to curtail incitement. The recent decision to ban the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel was long overdue. Its leader, Raed Salah, has close ties with Hamas and calls for the replacement of the Jewish state with an Islamic caliphate. He has been at the forefront of the campaign within Israel to generate religious hysteria and violence under the banner of “Al Aqsa is in danger,” falsely claiming that Jews intend to destroy the mosque. Salah will serve a new prison sentence for inciting his followers to violence.

Despite the inevitable wails from civil libertarians that Israel is becoming a “fascist” state, the government must now take drastic action and draft legislation to deal with Arab-Israeli parliamentarians who undermine the state and use the Knesset as a platform from which to engage in treasonable activities and supporting those seeking Israel’s destruction. This is highlighted by the fact that as many as 17 percent of Israeli Arabs are full-fledged supporters of IS.

THE GOVERNMENT must also toughen its response to terrorists and our law enforcers and the military should be instructed to shoot to kill any terrorists engaged in efforts to murder civilians.

Despite claims that destroying the homes of the families of terrorists is inhumane and amounts to collective punishment, this process should be intensified and, unless there are extenuating circumstances, families of terrorists should be aware that their citizenship and social benefits may be revoked and they could face deportation.

The bodies of terrorists and suicide bombers should not be returned to their families where they will be sanctified as martyrs.

Murderers who have been captured alive should not be sent to prisons that treat them with kid gloves. They should be denied conjugal and family visits or at least have these severely limited. In most cases, released murderers resume their terrorist activities, and they should not be rewarded for their crimes by being provided with a state-funded education in the prisons.

The government is obliged to act harshly and intervene militarily in Arab-Israeli communities engaged in subversive activities. Administrative arrests of suspected terrorists or their collaborators should be widely sanctioned.

Above all, mosques with extremist imams incubating potential terrorists should be closed and those imams inciting hatred should be arrested and, if necessary, deported.

Hopefully, the Supreme Court will take into account these critical circumstances where the lives of innocent civilians are at stake, and adopt a less intrusive approach to legislation related to security issues, recognizing that for the time being, the need for public security must override possible infringements of civil liberties.

However, such a tough regime must be accompanied by major efforts to enhance the status of law-abiding and loyal Arab-Israeli citizens and provide them with every possible means of integrating and strengthening their status in the country.

Obviously, there is concern that such laws may enable occasional abuse. But any government behaving irresponsibly or crossing red lines would soon face a very hostile Israeli electorate.

These proposals will be considered politically incorrect and will be condemned by many civil libertarians and liberals as extreme and “fascist.” Yet even if all these recommendations were implemented, Israel would still remain one of the most democratic countries in the world and infinitely more enlightened and free than any Islamic country in the region.

What is involved is not merely protecting the quality of life in the nation. It is also based on the premise that we are confronting barbaric Islamic fundamentalists who will only be deterred by our determination to do whatever is necessary and employ all our resources to bring an end to the terrorism.

The campaign must go beyond Israel’s borders. Those in the PA beyond Israel’s jurisdiction must be made aware that incitement will not be tolerated. Hamas leaders who are publicly calling for and orchestrating more Jewish murders must once again be made the object of targeted assassinations.

The Weimar Republic, which preceded the Nazi Anschluss, was considered the most democratic government in the world. The lesson it bequeathed was that a democracy that fails to respond forcefully to antidemocratic or totalitarian elements within its ranks will be destroyed.

The overwhelming majority of Israelis are fully committed to a Jewish democratic state but are beginning to appreciate that we are obliged to respond brutally to the barbarians indiscriminately attacking innocent civilians in our streets. And if the price for saving Israeli lives is that bleeding-heart liberals or delusional Israeli leftists writing for Haaretz screech “fascism,” so be it.

The vast majority of Israelis are far more concerned with preventing Jewish bloodshed than maintaining postures.

It is certain that the US, UK or French governments would act far more stringently if they faced Islamists within their ranks publicly calling for innocent civilians to be butchered. It is high time to respond with common sense and not be influenced by those who either seek our destruction or feel that sacrificing innocent Jewish lives is justified in order to retain the support of bleeding-heart liberals.

Even if the life of only a single innocent Israeli is saved, the price of encroaching on civil liberties will be justified.

Who Is Jailing and Torturing Palestinian Journalists?

by Bassam Tawil            The Gatestone Institute


The Palestinian Authority (PA) sees no need for international intervention to halt its own crackdown on freedom of speech. Nor does it consider the closure of a newspaper office and the detention of journalists as a “war crime.”

The report reveals that Palestinian detainees have been undergoing severe torture while in PA detention. During the past few years, ten people have died in Palestinian prisons. As far as we can see, no one from the European community has taken the slightest notice.

The detention of Khalil is seen in the context of the PA’s continued effort to silence and intimidate Palestinian journalists who dare to criticize the Palestinian leadership and its institutions.

The PA clearly wants a media that reports only against Israel. The only incitement permitted is the one directed there.

Western human rights groups that regularly condemn Israel for its actions against Palestinians have, as usual, failed to respond to this latest assault by the PA on public freedoms. The PA’s crackdown on the media is not going to attract the attention of the mainstream media in the West: the story lacks an anti-Israel angle.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) recently and not surprisingly announced that it was planning to file a complaint with international organizations over Israeli “assaults” and “crimes” against Palestinian journalists.

The Palestinian Ministry of Information condemned the “assaults” as a “war crime” and said it would urge the International Federation of Journalists to send a commission of inquiry to the Palestinian territories to launch an investigation against Israel.

Ironically, the PA’s announcement came only a few days after it ordered the closure of a newspaper office in Ramallah and the detention of a female journalist, Naela Khalil. The announcement also coincides with the PA’s ongoing crackdown on freedom of expression in the West Bank, where Palestinians are being arrested for posting critical remarks on social media.

The Palestinian Authority, of course, sees no need for international intervention to halt its own crackdown on freedom of speech. Nor, apparently, does it consider the closure of a newspaper office and the detention of journalists a “war crime” when it does it.

Earlier this month, the Palestinian Authority ordered the closure of the Ramallah-based Al-Araby Al-Jadeed online newspaper on the pretext that it was operating without a license from the Palestinian Ministry of Information. The decision to shut the newspaper came after Palestinian security officers had raided its offices several times and questioned employees about the nature of their work.

The management of Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, however, said that it had applied for a license in December 2014, but had never received an answer from the Palestinian Ministry of Information.

A senior official with the Ministry later admitted that the decision to shut down the newspaper was taken after the publication of an article that was considered “offensive to the State of Palestine and its security institutions.” In other words, the decision had nothing to do with the newspaper not having obtained a license from the Ministry of Information in Ramallah.

The Palestinian Ministry of Information sent a letter to the Palestinian prosecutor-general urging him to authorize the closure of the newspaper. The letter explained why the newspaper had to be shut. The letter read: “A London-based newspaper that has an office in Ramallah recently published a report that offends the State of Palestine and its security agencies. The report portrayed our security forces as if they have nothing to do but arrest people and conduct security coordination with the occupation state (Israel). This is incitement against the Palestinian Authority and its security institutions. We therefore hope you will issue an order to close this unlicensed office.”

According to Palestinian journalists, the report that enraged the PA and prompted it to take action against Al-Araby Al-Jadeed was actually written by an Egyptian journalist, Shaima Al-Hadidi.

The report criticizes the Palestinian Authority for clamping down on journalists and political opponents in the West Bank and refers to security coordination between the Palestinian security forces and Israel.

“The Palestinian Authority does not hesitate to open the doors of its cells for [to hold] its opponents,” the report charged. “The Palestinian Authority prisons in Ramallah are full of dozens of political detainees accused of resisting occupation.”

The report reveals that Palestinian detainees have been undergoing severe torture while under Palestinian Authority detention. In just one month last August, there were at least 12 cases in which detainees complained that they had been tortured by Palestinian Authority interrogators. Some detainees were denied medical treatment, the report said, and pointed out that during the past few years, ten Palestinians have died in Palestinian prisons. As far as we can see, no one from the European community took the slightest notice. Such information is presumably considered, in journalistic terms, “dog bites man:” The Palestinian leadership is abusing its own people again? Who cares, glad it’s not us.

Some of the Palestinians who died in detention were identified as Majd Barghouti of Ramallah, Fadi Hamadneh of Nablus, Arafat Jaradat of Hebron, Ayman Samara of Jenin, Nawaf Kawazbeh of Bethlehem, Rabi Mahmoud al-Jamal of Hebron and Raed al-Hitleh of Tulkarem.

In another case, Palestinian Authority security officers arrested the journalist Amer Abu Arafeh after raiding his home and confiscating documents, cameras and computers. Abu Arafeh later said that he was interrogated about Facebook entries he had posted, in which he had reportedly criticized the Palestinian Authority.

The report about Palestinian Authority human rights violations in Al-Araby Al-Jadeed angered the Palestinian Authority to a point where it felt that closing the newspaper’s Ramallah office was not enough. Last week, the newspaper’s correspondent, Naela Khalil, was detained for interrogation. After protests by her colleagues, the PA agreed to release her on bail.

The detention of Khalil is seen in the context of the Palestinian Authority’s continued effort to silence and intimidate Palestinian journalists who dare to criticize the Palestinian leadership and its institutions.

The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate and a few human rights groups in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have since condemned the decision to detain Khalil and shut the offices of her newspaper.

However, most Western human rights groups that regularly condemn Israel for its actions against Palestinians have, as usual, so far failed to respond to this latest assault by the Palestinian Authority on public freedoms. It is a punishment for freedom of expression that apparently bothers no one apart from us.

The cases of Al-Araby Al-Jadeed and Naela Khalil, the female journalist detained in Ramallah, show that the Palestinian Authority leadership effectively does not tolerate any form of criticism. Palestinian officials have accused the newspaper and its journalist of “incitement” against the Palestinian Authority. But this is the same Palestinian Authority that has long been engaged in a massive campaign of incitement against Israel, especially during the past few weeks.

The Palestinian Authority clearly wants a media that reports only against Israel. The only incitement permitted is the one directed there. Palestinian journalists who incite against Israel are safe; they do not face any form of harassment by the Palestinian Authority security forces. But once a journalist or a media outlet dares to publish anything that is considered “offensive” against the Palestinian Authority, they quickly find themselves behind bars in Ramallah.

It is forbidden to criticize President Mahmoud Abbas or any of his top officials. It is also forbidden to report about human rights violations and torture in Palestinian Authority prisons.

During the past few years, several Palestinians have been arrested or summoned for interrogation for posting critical remarks about Abbas and other Palestinian officials on Facebook.

But this is not a story that most Western journalists or supposed human rights groups are interested in covering. A story that reflects negatively on the Palestinian Authority or Hamas is not “news that is fit to print.” The Palestinian Authority’s crackdown on the media is not going to attract the attention of the mainstream media in the West because, as noted by the left-wing Associated Press reporter, Matti Friedman, the award-winning journalist Khaled Abu Toameh and a few others, such stories lack an anti-Israel angle. Had Al-Araby Al-Jadeed been shut by Israeli authorities, the story would probably have made it to the front pages of most newspapers in the U.S. and Europe.

As such, the Palestinian Authority and President Abbas have no reason to be worried about the response of the international community to their continued assaults on freedom of expression. They can continue to arrest as many journalists as they like and close newspaper offices without having to worry about a backlash from the media, so-called human rights groups or the international community.

The Palestinian Authority is now demanding international protection for its journalists against Israeli “assaults.” But the real question that the international human rights organizations need to ask the Palestinian Authority when its leaders come calling to complain about Israeli “violations” is:

Who is going to protect Palestinian journalists from the Palestinian Authority and its security forces?

Bassam Tawil is a scholar based in the Middle East

How Palestinian Propaganda Warps the Truth and Undermines Peace Efforts – Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman (Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)

On Nov. 5, PA negotiator-in-chief Saeb Erekat’s office issued a media guidance document called “Key Points to Remember when Reporting on Occupied Palestine.” The document reveals just how far the Palestinian leadership is from accepting the premises necessary for true peace with Israel.

The document says that “Israel imposes a policy of forced displacement of the indigenous Palestinian population and replacement with foreign settlers.” Whether or not the Palestinians are “indigenous” (there may be good reason to doubt that they have been there “from time immemorial”), Jews are certainly not “foreign” in their own land.

Erekat alleges that the “colonization enterprise and illegal occupation” is the “root cause of the continuous uprisings of the Palestinian people.” “Colonization”? The League of Nations mandate authorized, indeed encouraged, Jews to settle in the land of their forefathers. The term “colonization” is an attempt to tar Israel with the brush of European colonialism.

The Palestinians signed the Oslo Declaration of Principles, which made it very clear that full sovereignty, borders, and settlements are issues to be settled in “permanent status” talks. Palestinian attempts to now leap over this requirement for negotiations do not alter the fact that the path to independence through negotiations has very much been open to the Palestinians. Three times over the past decade the PA has rejected the compromises put on the table by Israel.

To write that “Israel today continues to reject the two-state solution” is to pile lie and insult upon injury. It was Abbas who effectively rejected the U.S. framework proposals suggested in spring 2014 by Secretary of State John Kerry.

The writer, a senior IDF Military Intelligence officer, served as deputy for foreign policy and international affairs at the National Security Council in the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office.

This information is compiled by Dr Ron Wiseman, Board Member of the Zionist Council of NSW