January 16, 2019

Swords To Plowshares

Israeli farmers from communities bordering Gaza will have some 3953.6 acres of agricultural land allocated to them once the IDF clears the area, dubbed “firezone,” from landmines and unexploded bombs. Swaths of Israeli farmland has been scorched by incendiary airborne devices launched into Israel by militants of Gaza.

The Hevel Shalom area, under the jurisdiction of the Eshkol Regional Council – which borders Egypt and Gaza – has remained deserted for years due to landmines planted there decades ago.  But, a new amendment made to the Minefield Clearance Act, which went into effect last week, requires the defense establishment to clear all explosive devices from the area.

Gadi Yarkoni, the head of the Eshkol Regional Council praised the decision to transfer the land to the local farmers, calling the amendment “important.”

“The decision to award the farmers a permanent ownership of the area… is an integral part of land regulations planned for our regional council… which would facilitate the demographic expansion in the region,” Yarkoni said.

The move comes in the wake of renewed violence along the southern border after several weeks of relative quiet.  On Sunday (6th), Gaza militants used a cluster of balloons to fly a model airplane carrying an explosive device into southern Israel.  The plane landed in a field in Sdot Negev Regional Council, near the Gaza border, and was neutralized by police sappers. The process caused the device to explode, but no damages or injuries were reported.

Three weeks ago, a cluster of balloons with an explosive device attached landed on Moshav Kfar Maimon, also located in the Sdot Negev Regional Council, near a kindergarten.  Again, police sappers neutralized the device.



Muslims Protest Against Kippah-clad Policeman At Temple Mount

Muslim worshipers and guards for the Wakf Islamic religious trust protested on Monday (14th) against an Israeli policeman wearing a kippah who tried to enter the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount as part of a routine security patrol.

The protesters barricaded themselves inside the shrine after a large police force was rushed to the area, witnesses said.  They demanded that the policeman remove the kippah before entering the site, triggering a standoff with police. The incident ended several hours later.

The Wakf said in a statement that because of the incident the Dome of the Rock had been ordered closed.

PA Minister for Religious Affairs, Yusef Edais said in a statement, that “Israel is working toward dividing Al-Aqsa Mosque in time and space, between Muslims and Jews.”

The standoff began shortly after Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel toured the Temple Mount accompanied by scores of Jewish visitors.



Christians Mark Epiphany At Holy Site On Jordan River

Christian worshipers and visitors performed a baptism ceremony on the banks of the Jordan River on Sunday (13th) to celebrate Epiphany, the revelation of Jesus Christ as God incarnate according to Christian tradition.

Christians from around the world gathered at Qasr al-Yahud, a site on the Israeli side of the Jordan River built on the spot where Jesus is believed to have been baptized.

The site opened in 2011 and has stairs for pilgrims to descend into the muddy water.

The surrounding of three out of seven churches near Qasr al-Yahud – belonging to the Franciscan, Greek Orthodox and Ethiopian orders – have been recently cleared of mines by Israeli authorities but they have yet to be formally opened to the clergy or the public.



When It Rains It Pours: Israel’s North Hit By Floods

Heavy rains caused floods across Israel’s north on Monday (14th), stranding two cars mid-stream and damaging property in several regions.

The two cars were caught in a flood in the Hilazon stream, in which an IDF soldier drowned last Monday (7th) during navigation practice, and drivers had to call for rescue.  The local fire department used a crane in order to reach the drivers, who were stranded on the roofs of their cars.

Several northern communities in the Galilee suffered floods, including Acre, Sakhnin, Kabul and Tamra.  Main roads turned into rivers and properties were flooded, causing a mother and her two children from the city of Arraba to be stranded in their flooded home.  Rescue forces brought them to safety.

While northern regions experienced the heaviest rainfall, Israel’s south experienced light rains.  However, according to the Meteo-Tech meteorological organization, areas are flooding regardless of the amount of rainfall due to an oversaturated water table after the recurrent storms of the past few weeks.

On the Golan Heights, reservoirs for agricultural use reached up to 50% capacity, while Mount Hermon once again saw snowfall and is expected to open for skiers and snowboarders for the first time this year once the stormy weather subsides.

The inclement weather also reached the center of the country, which was hit by fog, heavy winds and rain.  In the Negev Desert residents braced for sand storms, which were also felt in Tel Aviv.

The storm front is expected to continue into Wednesday (17th), and snowfall in northern peaks could expand to the Jerusalem area.

(meteo-tech.co.il; ynetnews.com)


Saudi Journalist: If Muslims Despise ‘Infidel’ West, Why Are They So Eager To Live There?

In his July 8, 2018 column in the Saudi daily Al-Jazirah, Muhammad Aal Al-Sheikh slams Arab and African Muslim immigrants who choose to live in the West and even risk their lives to reach it, yet express hatred and contempt toward the West and regard it as “infidel.”

He criticizes in particular the ingratitude of mosque imams in Europe, some of whom are immigrants themselves, who abuse the democracy and free speech in their host countries by inciting against the West.  In light of this, says Aal Al-Sheikh, the European right’s opposition to immigration is justifiable, for it is only natural to oppose the influx of immigrants who are “steeped to the bone in a culture of hostility and hatred.”

Following are excerpts from his article.

“Immigrants cast themselves into the waters of the Mediterranean knowing full well that the chance of reaching their destination, the northern shore, is slim. They nevertheless risk the journey, taking advantage of the instability in Libya, which has become the immigrants point of departure on their way to the European paradise.  But what is strange, and perhaps even embarrassing, is that, if you ask them about the infidel West, they will spew curses and invective, call it ignorant, and express contempt for it. So why do they cast themselves into its bosom and risk their lives to reach it? I truly fail to understand this reasoning, which is so warped, rotten and paradoxical that it seems sickening and ridiculous at the same time.”

“The embarrassment becomes even more acute when one hears certain mosque imams in Europe, some of whom are foreigners and immigrants themselves, abusing the democracy and free speech that are granted to everyone in those countries, by becoming expert at directing curses and invective at the infidels using various skillfully phrased expressions.”

“When the populist right in Europe demands to stop and fight immigration, even by means of military force, this evokes cries of outrage from the Arabs and Muslims there.  They accuse those who make this demand of racism and hatred for the other, and – most ludicrously – claim that the West is undemocratic. Let me say this loud and clear: I do not blame the Europeans.  In fact, if I were European, I would not hesitate for a moment to oppose this immigration and reject these people, whose culture is based on the duty to hate the non-Muslim, and examples of this in their heritage are numerous and varied… The Arabs and especially the extremist Muslims among them are steeped to the bone in a culture of hostility and hatred.”

“These conflicting statements – of hatred for the West, but a willingness to risk one’s most precious possession, one’s life, in order to live among those hated societies and enjoy the comfort, security, stability and prosperity they offer – requires a psycho-social investigation… Some people justify this attitude, saying that the Europeans are racist xenophobes and are enemies of Islam and the Muslims.  But for the sake of reason and honesty, put yourself in their place. Would any Arab country open its doors wide to Christian foreigners and even allow them to work in it? The answer is definitely not. So why do you demand that others treat you differently than you treat them?”

“All that is left to say is that the wave of populism currently sweeping the Western societies is justified, since it is simply a response in kind…”