Israel in the News Jul/Aug 2013

Israel Launches News Network
Communications mavens have been saying for years that Israel needs to get its message to the world via an Israeli-type Al Jazeera. Various business people have dipped their toes in the water, but until now no one was prepared to actually take the plunge. French businessman Patrick Drahi, owner of the controlling interest in HOT cable television, has decided to be one of the financiers of i24 NEWS despite the heavy financial losses he incurred at HOT.

i24 NEWS was founded by Frank Malloul, a former adviser to the French government, who will act as its CEO. i24 NEWS will operate on a 24/7 basis and will have a website that will deal with politics, international affairs, culture, sports, and other subjects.

Although no date has been announced for its launch, i24 plans to begin broadcasting this summer and will be headquartered at Jaffa Port.

The Jerusalem Post (

Poverty Rating High in Israel
Despite Israel’s overall economic resilience and strong global market presence, the Jewish state continues to struggle with high poverty levels. A survey published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has revealed that Israel has the highest rate of poverty among all developed nations.

Nearly 21 percent of all Israelis live below the poverty line. That’s even higher than the poverty rate of Mexico, which stands at 20.4 percent. Israel scored a little better when it came to the gap between rich and poor, placing fifth behind Chile, Mexico, Turkey, and the United States.

In today’s economic climate, “middle class” Israelis live from paycheck to paycheck and can no longer afford to buy a home. Those who live at a lower economic level are worse off, and many of the welfare programs they rely on are facing what Finance Minister Yair Lapid calls “necessary cuts” to get Israel back on track fiscally. Those who often suffer most are the children.

Israel Today (

Mega Drought?
Israel has just overcome a seven-year drought, and the country’s natural water reservoirs are finally relatively stable following years of severe depletion. But Israelis shouldn’t get too content, as experts with the Water Authority’s Hydrological Services predict the next drought will hit in 2015 and will make the previous dry spell seem like a picnic.

It will last up to 20 years and will have an “exceptional” negative impact on the region’s fresh water resources, according to a report published by the Water Authority. However, the Authority is confident “all of Israel’s water needs will be fulfilled.”

Israel has made great strides in reclaiming wastewater for agriculture, and its expanding desalination program should cover consumer water needs in the near future.

Israel Today (

PA Arabs Gifted Israeli Citizenship
Several thousand Palestinian Authority Arabs living in certain neighborhoods on the Israeli side of the security fence are to be “gifted” with Israeli citizenship. They will be eligible to vote and receive National Insurance and other benefits that come with Israeli citizenship.

After research, the State Attorney said it was decided that, because the Arabs live on the Israeli side of the fence and work inside Israel, there are sufficient grounds to make them citizens. These Arabs have lived in this location since before the fence was built.

Israel Today (

Google Officially OKs ‘Palestine’
Israel has expressed its displeasure at Google’s official decision to recognize “Palestine” as an independent state.

Until recently, anyone visiting the localized version of would see the label “Palestinian Territories.” Now that page simply labels the localized version of Google as belonging to “Palestine.”

Google officials said the move was in line with the UN’s recent upgrading of “Palestine” to non-member state status, a de facto recognition of its independence, as well as the United Nation’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO’s) open acceptance of a sovereign Palestinian state.

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin stated in a letter to Google CEO Larry Page that the Internet giant’s new policy will actually complicate reaching a peace agreement that results in the creation of a real Palestinian state. “This is intervention by an international company in local politics, [and] does not serve the interests of either party in the long-term,” wrote Elkin. He called on Google to rethink its “erroneous decision.”

Israel Today (

IDF Gets Riot Suits
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Central Command has begun receiving new riot dispersal equipment, including protective suits for soldiers and an advanced GPS system, according to the official blog of the Israel Defense Forces. The new tools are being integrated as part of the IDF’s range of measures for curbing violent riots in Judea and Samaria.

Soldiers of the Central Command have already begun using protective suits, and they will receive hundreds more. The suits are designed to absorb shocks, stones, and clubs.

“This suit provides a wider possibility for the soldiers to approach and even to run, and it gives the soldiers more confidence,” said Maj. Yuval Yaron. He said the suits are lightweight and extremely effective.

Arutz-7 (

Fatah Hails Killer on Facebook
The father of 24-year-old Salam al-Zaghal has openly defended his son’s recent, brutal murder of an Israeli Jew in Samaria. The victim, Eviatar Borovzky, a 31-year-old husband and father of five small children, was beloved throughout the Jewish communities of central Samaria.

A day after the murderous stabbing, the Fatah party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas hailed the killer on its official Facebook page. Such glorification of those who murder Israeli Jews is commonplace in the Palestinian Authority (PA) and is one of the chief reasons peace remains so elusive.

“What he has done is the duty of all Palestinians who suffer from the aggression of the army and the settlers,” stated al-Zaghal’s father, Ali al-Zaghal.

It should come as little wonder that average Palestinians think this way about their Jewish neighbors when their leaders in the PA set such a terrible example.

Abbas, hailed the world over as a “moderate,” insisted recently that Palestinian Arabs who murder Israeli Jews cannot be punished for their crimes. He was hosting a two-day “Freedom and Dignity” conference in Ramallah to mark the 11th anniversary of Israel’s arrest of Marwan Barghouti, a senior Fatah member who was convicted of directing numerous terrorist attacks against Israelis.

At the event, Abbas declared that whether or not Israel frees the thousands of jailed Palestinian terrorists will determine its true commitment to peace. However, many of those jailed took part in attacks that killed innocent Jewish men, women, and children. Most of the rest were captured while trying to do so. According to Abbas, these killers and would-be killers must not be held accountable for their crimes.

Israel Today (

Incidents at Temple Mount
The United States has asked Israel and the Palestinian Authority to exercise restraint after Israeli police arrested the grand mufti in May for throwing chairs at Jewish people on the Temple Mount. In response to the incident, Jordan’s parliament has demanded its government expel Israeli Ambassador Daniel Nevo.

“We’re concerned about the recent tensions surrounding the Temple Mount, Haram al-Sharif, including the detention today of the grand mufti,” U.S. State Department Deputy Spokesman Patrick Ventrell, told reporters, according to Agence France Presse. “We understand that he was released,” he said. “But we urge all sides to respect the status quo of this holy site and to exercise restraint and refrain from provocative actions.”

Meanwhile, members of Jordan’s parliament demanded Jordan expel Nevo. “The (150-member) lower house of parliament unanimously demanded the government ask the Israeli ambassador to leave Jordan, and recall the Jordanian ambassador in Israel,” Jordanian official Walid Obeidat said, adding that the vote came in response to “Israeli occupation measures at Al-Aqsa mosque.”

After Israel liberated the Temple Mount during the 1967 Six-Day War, it left the Waqf in charge of the compound. The Waqf, in return, has removed every sign of ancient Jewish presence at the Jewish holy site and has consistently destroyed Jewish antiquities on the Temple Mount in direct violation of a ruling by the Supreme Court.

Arutz-7 (

Jews Arrested for Praying
A day after Israeli police at the Temple Mount arrested Jerusalem Mufti Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, five Jewish men were arrested for praying quietly atop the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site. Police said a mob of Muslims gathered around the Jewish men, hurling insults and nearly coming to blows before Islamic officials stepped in to restore calm on the condition the Jewish worshipers be arrested.

Jews and Christians are forbidden to pray atop the Temple Mount for fear of upsetting the Muslims that currently control the complex.

The mufti was arrested on suspicion he had riled up a mob of Muslims who attacked and wounded two officers. The officers came under assault for quieting a young Muslim boy who had been yelling insults at another group of Jewish visitors who were not trying to pray. They were harassed simply for being Jews.

The director of Israel’s Ministry of Religious Affairs has promised to review and update the current laws prohibiting Jewish and Christian worship on the Temple Mount. Many have argued that by denying Jewish and Christian freedom of religion at the holy site, Israel has effectively demonstrated it, in fact, has no authority on the Temple Mount.

Israel Today (

Russian Warship Visits Haifa
For the first time since the establishment of the State of Israel, a Russian warship has docked at Haifa. The Azov came to Israel in May to help celebrate the anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany.

Israeli officials say the Arab Spring has improved Russia’s view of Israel. “There are things on which we do not agree with Russia, but…they share our concern over Islamic fundamentalism taking over the Middle East,” said an Israeli official.

The Russians loudly publicized the Azov’s visit and the decision to mark the victory over the Nazis together with Jewish veterans. “Russia is proud of its connection to this historical event and wants to remind everyone that we fought on the right side,” read a statement from the Russians. “There is something to be understood from this for the contemporary Middle East. Where we decided to make anchor is a clear statement, both to the Israelis and the entire region.”

Israeli officials did not deny they are open to further cooperation with Moscow.

Israel Today (

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