February 27, 2018

IDF imposes four-day closure on West Bank, Gaza Strip for Purim

The IDF has imposed a four-day closure of the West Bank and Gaza for Purim, the army announced.

The closure is scheduled to be in effect from Tuesday (27th) through midnight Saturday (3/3) and will see all crossings shut “with the exception of humanitarian medical and exceptional cases” approved by the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, (COGAT), the IDF said in a statement.

The army usually imposes a closure on the West Bank and Gaza prior to all major Jewish holidays.

Purim begins in most of Israel on Wednesday evening (28th), and in Jerusalem on Thursday evening (3/1).



Israeli security arrests 3 ISIS supporters, thwarts attack on Temple Mount

The Israeli Security Agency (ISA/Shin Bet), in conjunction with the Israeli police, arrested three Israeli Arabs on suspicion of planning a shooting attack on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

Two of the suspects were identified as Muhammad Masoud Jabarin and Amad Lutfy Jabarin, both 20.  The name of the third was withheld as he was a minor at the time the offenses were committed.  The three were indicted on Monday (26th) and are residents of Umm al-Fahm, a predominantly Arab village in the Haifa District.

The ISA investigation shows that the three were planning to carry out a shooting attack at the Temple Mount compound similar to the attack on July 14, 2017, in which two Israeli soldiers  were murdered.  The assailants in that case also hailed from Umm al-Fahm.



Israel discussing Jerusalem embassy move with 10 more countries – Herb Keinon

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely told the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations last week that Israel was currently in discussion with 10 other countries about moving their embassies to Jerusalem.



Palestinians fume over US decision on early embassy move to Jerusalem

The Palestinians fumed over the weekend following reports that the United States will move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem within months.

“This is an unacceptable step,” said Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri, said, “Moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem is a declaration of war against the Arab and Muslim nation.”

U.S. officials said Friday (23rd) that the United States expects to open its embassy in Jerusalem in May.



Visiting Ramallah – Lilia Gaufberg

This past July I visited Ramallah, the primary Palestinian-Arab city in the West Bank.  I saw gorgeous apartment buildings, schools, and towering mosques contrasted with littered streets.

I witnessed girls in tank tops drinking iced coffees in front of mosques during the call to prayer.

In Ramallah, everywhere you turn, a vehement hatred of Israel and a denial of Jewish history in the Land of Israel pulses through the city.  Streets and squares are named after internationally recognized terrorists.  The main museum, Yasser Arafat Museum, contains exhibits which praise the intifadas, the terror wars inflicted upon the Jews.

People on the streets are warm and welcoming, but the city speaks of a consensus towards the complete destruction of Israel and, ultimately, the Jewish people.  Mothers and their children walk down streets with images of murderers pasted on the walls of shops and cafes.  The advocating of violence masked under the noble guise of “resistance” is rampant.  A hatred of Israel and a narrative of injustice towards the Palestinian people is woven into the societal fabric.   



Iran files UN grievance against Israel over PM’s “threats” in Munich speech

Iran has filed a grievance against Israel with the UN Security Council over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech at the Munich Security Conference last week saying, it constitutes a direct threat to the Islamic Republic.

The speech came on the heels of an Iranian drone incursion into Israeli airspace.  Israeli fighter jets struck Iranian assets in Syria in retaliation.

Holding up a fragment of the downed drone, during his speech, Netanyahu warned that “Israel will not allow Iran’s regime to put a noose of terror around our neck.  We will act if necessary, not just against Iran’s proxies that are attacking us but against Iran itself.”

Commenting on the Iranian grievance Sunday (25th), Danny Danon said, “The Iranian lies will not succeed in obscuring the clear facts.  Iran is the biggest state-sponsor of terrorism in the world.  The UN can not stand idly as Iran provokes a dangerous escalation and destabilizes the region.”



In 2017 most immigrants to Israel came from Russia and Ukraine

For the first time in more than a decade, Russia and Ukraine provided Israel with most of its immigrants in a calendar year.

Russia emerged as Israel’s largest provider of immigrants under its law of return for Jews and their relatives with 7,224 newcomers, followed by 7,182 immigrants from Ukraine according to an updated report of immigration to Israel, or aliyah, by a partnering organization of the Ministry for Immigrant Absorption.

Of the 28,598 legal immigrants from last year, 50.4 percent were from Russia or Ukraine according to the updated chart.



Israeli hospital treats Syrians suffering from emotional trauma

Given the enormous death toll of the ongoing war in Syria – it is easy to overlook the psychological well-being of those who have endured.  The severe trauma faced by so many Syrians has left an entire generation with scars, which Israel, Syria’s arch-enemy is trying to address.

The Galilee Medical Center in northern Israel has treated more than 2,300 Syrians over the past five years, as part of the Israeli army’s Operation Good Neighbor.

Hana Solomon, Director of the Social Work Department at the Galilee Medical Center said that Syrians show up with normal responses to trauma including anxiety, difficulty sleeping and flashbacks.  She said with counseling, this usually passes within a month.

Solomon said the situation is catastrophic and everyone has been silent until now.  She said, “In our small corner up north we are trying to do what we can to help.”

(reuters.com; jpost.com)


Russia deploys advanced stealth jets in Syria with a warning aimed at Israel

Russia has deployed two of its most advanced and sophisticated  stealth jets in Syria, in a power move likely to draw U.S. criticism, as the Pentagon expressed its alarm earlier this month over recent close calls with Russian planes.  On Friday (23rd), in the Satellite images published by Israeli company Imagesat International, the fifth generation jets  – two Su-57 fighter aircraft could be seen at the Russian airbase in the coastal Syrian city of Latakia.

The deployment came with a covert warning to Israel by a Russian official who said that the aircraft send a political message as a deterrent, “to neighboring aircraft which periodically fly into Syrian airspace uninvited.”

(timesofisrael.com; afp.com)


Israel shares anti-terrorism expertise with Europeans

MK Anat Berko, a criminologist, represented Israel at a meeting in Vienna last week of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.  It was the first time that Israel participated as a full member of the Ad Hoc Committee on Countering Terrorism, after having been an observer.

Berko said, “It is clear to the Europeans that they need our experience….We see how Europe understands that Israel is the canary in the coal mine when it comes to dealing with and fighting terror.”

“The Europeans are starting to be well aware of the danger Iran poses to the West….It looks like the winds of change are blowing in their attitude toward Israel.  I hope to see THAT in votes in the UN and its Security Council.  After all, the information we provide them on terrorism and security is significant for them.