August 27, 2018

Netanyahu Lands In Lithuania, Grandmother’s Birthplace, In Search Of European Allies

VILNIUS, Lithuania – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu landed in Lithuania Thursday (23rd) for a Baltic summit through which he said he hoped to deepen ties with eastern European nations to counter the EU’s “not always friendly” relations with Israel.

Netanyahu, who has Lithuanian roots, was greeted by the Baltic country’s foreign minister at Vilnius airport.

“I want to achieve a balance in the European Union’s not always friendly relations with Israel in order to maintain fairer relations,” Netanyahu said before boarding the plane for the first-ever visit by an Israeli premier to Lithuania.

He said, “I am doing this through contacts with blocs of European Union countries, Eastern European countries, and now with Baltic countries and other countries, of course.”

Netanyahu will be meeting the leaders of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia together in Vilnius during his visit which is set to last through Sunday (26th).  He will also pay tribute to Lithuania’s once-vibrant Jewish culture and its tragic end during the Holocaust.

Lithuania has traditionally been one of Israel’s better friends in the European Union.

Many Israelis have origins in Lithuania, including Netanyahu’s grandmother, who was born in the northern town of Seduva.

Lithuania was once a hub of Jewish learning and home to more than 200,000 Jews before World War II.

The country’s 2.9 million population today includes some 3,000 Jews.



Life-saving Trees Burnt By Incendiary Kites

Extensive damage has been inflicted upon protective thickets of trees planted around eleven Israeli communities in the Western Negev.

Hundreds of acres of security plantings carried out in southern Israel since the 1950s have now gone up in smoke due to incessant incendiary kite and balloon attacks from Gaza.  KKL-JNF teams are working around the clock to mitigate the damage to these security trees by trying to care for them on a daily basis.

Extensive damage has been inflicted upon thickets of trees planted around the communities in the Western Negev to provide a natural protective screen between them and the Gaza Strip.  In recent years these thickets have been fortified by more and more lifesaving trees planted for this purpose with the help of KKL-JNF friends throughout the world.

KKL-JNF Western Negev Recreation Area Coordinator, Itzik Lugasi, who is in charge of the security plantings, explained: “These security plantings make an enormous difference.  The trees conceal local communities and roads and make it hard for terrorists to hit them directly. The camouflage they provide protects farmers from sharpshooters, and the army uses them for cover when necessary, too.  What’s more, a missile fired at the area has a very good chance of hitting the trees first, and when it hits the ground, most of the shrapnel is absorbed.

One father whose son was killed when an anti-tank missile hit his school in April 2011, said that his son might still be alive today if there had been security trees around the school building.



Amsterdam Jewish Woman’s Children Told ‘You Should All Be Shot’

A Jewish woman from Amsterdam told police that a man shouted at her and her children that they “should all be shot” and called them “cancer Jews” before getting into his taxi cab.

The incident occurred Wednesday (22nd) in the heavily-Jewish Buitenveldert neighborhood of Amsterdam according to a complaint to police by a 28-year-old woman who was not named.

Discrimination against Jews in the Netherlands nearly doubled in 2017, reaching a five-year high that accounts for 41% of all the xenophobic incidents recorded, according to a report published earlier this year by the Dutch Public Prosecution Service.  It listed 144 confirmed criminal offenses last year involving xenophobia, including intimidation, vandalism, assault and incitement to hate or violence.

Of those cases, 41% of incidents were “directed at Jews,” who account for 0.2 percent of the Dutch population.



Hebron Arab indicted for planning stabbing attack in Jerusalem

The prosecution filed an indictment Thursday (23rd) in the Jerusalem District Court against 26-year-old Suleiman Kafisha on the charges of planning a terror attack, possession of a knife, and illegal entry, reported local media.

According to the indictment, the Hebron native wanted to kill a skullcap-wearing Jew specifically in the Old City of Jerusalem.  He prepared carefully for his apparent nationalistically-motivated crime, returning a cell phone he’d borrowed from his brother and throwing away the SIM card so he could not be traced by authorities.

He then put a folding knife and pepper spray in a bag with a change of clothes, intending to first incapacitate his victim with the spray before stabbing him.

On the evening of August 8, he went to the Arab village of az-Za’Ayem, east of Jerusalem, where he slipped through a hole in the security fence and took a taxi to his target area.  Around 11 PM, when he couldn’t find a victim to his liking, he searched for a place to spend the night, so he could try again the next day.

Around 12:15 AM police on patrol saw him near the Damascus Gate.  He aroused their suspicion and they searched his bag, at which time he tried to escape but was caught.  He admitted his attack-plan during his interrogation.



Fatah Leaders Arm Themselves Ahead Of Abbas’ Possible Departure

Senior leaders and officials in Fatah have reportedly started to align themselves with various armed groups in the West Bank, in preparation for a possible departure of Palestinian Leader Mahmoud Abbas, and a possible violent struggle over his position that might occur as a result.

In case Abbas departs, there are currently two possible scenarios at play – the Palestinians will either divide the positions of power among themselves, or instigate violent conflicts and riots.

The group of senior Fatah officials in question are those who see themselves as worthy candidates to be the next Palestinian leader, taking over at least one of Abbas’ three positions – The Leader of the Palestinian Authority, the Chairman of the PLO and the Chairman of Fatah.

The alliances with armed factions are supposed to provide the candidates with firing power in the event that the impending succession war will involve violence and the use of weapons.

Among Fatah officials who have already attained the support of armed gangs are: Jibril Rajoub, who also serves as chairman of the Palestinian Football Association, Head of Palestinian General Intelligence Service Majed Faraj, Mahmoud al-Aloul, who is deputy chairman of Fatah and Tawfik Tirari, who was head of Palestinian General Intelligence in the West Bank during the Second Intifada.  Some of them have already begun collecting weapons for their relatives.

There are a few scenarios for the day after Abbas is gone.  One possible development is that a stable Fatah coalition will be established in which the positions of power will be divided among several leaders, and will no longer be the sole responsibility of one leader, as was the case during the rule of Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas.

The second scenario is that the political situation will revert back to the second Intifada days, when inner conflicts between the Palestinian groups deteriorated into violent clashes and chaos in the streets.  Hamas might benefit from such a scenario and gain power in the West Bank, while Fatah members are fighting among themselves.