July 16, 2018

IDF officer injured in Gaza grenade attack

An IDF officer was moderately injured in a terrorist grenade attack during violent protests in the northern Gaza Strip Friday, according to a statement released by the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit.

The officer, whose name has not been made public, was transferred to hospital for medical treatment.

The IDF returned fire, and hit one of the attackers.

Violent clashes took place along the security fence separating Israel and the Hamas-ruled Palestinian enclave over the course of the day Friday.

“The rioters hurled grenades, explosive devices, firebombs and burned tires and hurled rocks towards the security fence and at IDF troops,” the statement said.

Israeli soldiers shot dead a Palestinian teenager who had been taking part in the border protests, Gaza medical officials said.

The Hamas-affiliated Gaza Health Ministry said the 15-year-old boy killed was shot in the chest. It said 70 others were wounded, at least 20 by live fire, and others by tear gas.

“During the violent riots, the forces identified an attempt to breach the security fence and infiltrate into Israel from the northern Gaza Strip and fired to stop the attempt,” the IDF statement said, though it is not clear if this statement relates to the death of the Palestinian youth.

“The Hamas terror organization continues to send civilians to the security fence, endangering their lives by using them as a cover for terror acts,” the statement continued. “The IDF will not allow security infrastructure or the security fence, which protects Israeli civilians, to be damaged, and will operate to prevent violent rioters and terrorists from doing so.”

More than 130 Palestinians have been killed in the Israel-Gaza border protests which have entered their fourth month.

Palestinians say the protests are a popular outpouring of rage against Israel by Palestinians demanding the right to return to homes their families fled or were driven from during the war of 1948.

Israel says the demonstrations are organized by the Islamist terrorist group Hamas that controls the Gaza Strip and denies Israel’s right to exist.

As part of the protests, Palestinians have burned hundreds of acres of agricultural land near the border by sending kites carrying torches and helium balloons.

Tens of thousands took part when the protests were launched at several locations along the Gaza earlier in the summer, but the number has dropped significantly in the past several weeks and only a few thousand have participated recently.

Israel has accused Hamas of stoking the violence in an attempt to deflect domestic opinion from Gaza’s energy shortages and faltering economy.

Israel maintains a naval blockade of Gaza and tight restrictions on the movement of people and goods at its land borders. Egypt has also kept its own Gaza frontier largely closed. Both countries cite security concerns for the measures, which have deepened economic hardship.



Rabbinical Congress Presses for Continued Jewish Control Over Holy Land

The heads of the Rabbinical Congress for Peace, “Pikuach Nefesh,” which is comprised of more than 400 Israeli rabbis, continues its ongoing dialogue with ambassadors of world powers stationed in Israel.

Their goal is to heighten international awareness as to the requirement, according to Jewish law, for Israel to maintain control over the entire area of the Holy Land. They also seek to change the attitude of the world community to the events occurring in the Holy Land.

This week, the rabbis  met with David Quarrey, the British Ambassador to Israel, and presented him with the Jewish legal approach to the status of the “territories,” as well as an official ruling, signed by the majority of Israel’s leading rabbis, that states that the concept of “two states for two peoples” is illegitimate in the eyes of Jewish law, and unacceptable to many Israeli rabbis and legal authorities inasmuch as it seeks to legalize a form of national suicide.

Quarrey related that he had previously heard about the Rabbinical Congress and read about its work, as well as the Jewish legal position that they promulgate. He expressed great interest in hearing the authoritative Jewish approach to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the rabbis explained to him at length how it is precisely through a strong and unyielding position, as Jewish law dictates, that peace and regional development could eventually sprout forth—not only to Israel, but to their Arab neighbors, as well.

Rabbi Yermiyahu Cohen, a Chief Rabbinical Court Justice Emeritus of France and Belgium, and today a rabbinic judge in Jerusalem and leading member of the RCP, presented historical evidence and findings dating back almost 2,500 years of a Jewish presence in the Holy Land. “In light of this evidence, how is it possible to speak of ‘two lands for two peoples?’” he stated. “There is not an archaeological dig in Israel that does not validate the eternal presence of the Jewish people in this land.”

Rabbi Yosef Garlitzky, head of the RCP and rabbi of Central Tel Aviv, explained to the ambassador that the group’s primary goal is to change the direction and approach of current “peace talks,” so that instead of focusing on “how much is Israel willing to give up for the sake of peace,” the country should take a firm stance — as required by Jewish law for hundreds of years — and reject any and all concessions, which will lead only to war and further bloodshed. If peace is to be achieved between Jews and Arabs, they say, then Israel must stand strong and not participate in any negotiations that question they ownership over the entirety of the Land of Israel.

Rabbi Avraham Schreiber, past rabbi of Gush Katif and current rabbi of the Shevi Darom settlement, was also present at the meeting. He described to Quarrey how an “incendiary kite” landed near his home only a week ago and related how the vast amount of terrorist activities perpetrated by the Arabs began precisely after Israel conceded land to its enemies, whereas beforehand, Jewish residents of Gush Katif maintained amiable relations with their Arab neighbors.

Rabbi Avraham S. Lewin, general secretary of the Rabbinic Congress, requested of Quarrey to convey the position of Jewish law to British policy makers.

“The British Commonwealth has had, for years, the merit of supporting the State of Israel. It would be a great pity to lose this merit due to faulty foreign policy,” said Lewin. “By adopting the rational position of Jewish law, England can change the direction of international dialogue regarding this most important subject.”



Israeli study finds positive emotions may shrink cancer tumors

A new study by Israeli researchers has found that positive emotions may help limit cancer growth.

The study, published Friday in science journal Nature Communications, was conducted on mice by a research team at Haifa’s Technion — Israel Institute of Technology, and focused on the role of the brain’s reward system in fighting tumors.

Researchers said that while previous studies have found a connection between one’s emotional state and the body’s ability to combat cancer, they mainly focused on negative emotions and not on “the impact of positive mental attributes on cancer biology.”

The mechanism by which emotions affect the immune system and its response to tumors was also not well understood until now, they said.

One regulator of the immune system’s activity in the body is Myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs). These suppress the immune response to certain threats, a critical function in preventing the body from overreacting.

But MDSC activity is also believed to suppress the body’s ability to fight tumors.

In their new study, the researchers artificially stimulated the reward system in the brains of tumor-bearing mice, raising their levels of dopamine — a neurotransmitter that helps regulate pleasurable feelings.

They then identified a response by the mice’s immune system, with a reduction in the activity of MDSCs.

After 14 days of continuous treatment, the researchers identified a 50 percent reduction in the size of the tumors.

“Given the central role of the reward system in positive emotions, these findings introduce a physiological mechanism whereby the patient’s psychological state can impact anti-tumor immunity and cancer progression,” the study said.



Kidnapped Israeli Arab boy held in West Bank released after 3 days in captivity

A seven-year-old Arab Israeli boy who was kidnapped earlier this week and held in the West Bank city of Ramallah was freed Friday and returned home to his family.

Israel Police said contacts working on its behalf had located the captors of Karim Jumhour, who was taken Tuesday from outside his home in the central city of Qalansawe, and took custody of the child before turning him over to police. Police said Jumhour had been given a medical examination and that his family was brought to take him home.

Over a thousand people gathered in Qalansawe to celebrate Jumhour’s release.

“For three days we have worked to bring the boy back, and thank God he’s back,” one mediator told the Walla news site. “He said he wanted mom and dad and cried. We calmed him down.”

Jumhor’s father thanked police for the intensive efforts to free him.

Police credited the arrest of several suspects in the case, one of whom confessed involvement and gave details on the case. They said the arrests created a “situation in which the child became a burden to those holding him on behalf of the criminals.”

“The Israel Police will bring to justice all those involved in the kidnapping,” police said.

Central to the mediation with the kidnappers was the Jarushi crime family from Ramle in central Israel. Karim Jarushi traveled to Ramallah multiple times in recent days and was the first person to meet Jumhour upon his release.

Police have yet to comment on a possible motive behind the kidnapping nor name any suspects.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan praised police for locating Jumhour and returning him to his family unharmed.

“I hope that justice will be brought to the kidnappers and they spend many years behind bars,” Erdan wrote on his Twitter account.

Jumhour’s release came just hours after Israel Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich confirmed the child was being held in a Palestinian Authority-controlled area of the West Bank. He said police were in talks with their PA counterparts to free Jumhour and that the Shin Bet had also joined the manhunt.

According to Hadashot news, the kidnapping is believed to have been carried out by a crime family over unpaid debts. Other Hebrew media reports said it revolved around a financial fight among the boy’s relatives.

On Thursday, police said they arrested four suspects. Police said three of the suspects are aged 26, 27 and 41, with no details given about the fourth individual.

On Wednesday, the boy’s family said they received a ransom demand from the kidnappers.

“They asked me for NIS 4 million ($1,090,000) but I don’t want to pay,” Jumhour’s father told the Ynet news website. “I’m waiting for the boy to return home safe and sound.”

Dramatic video footage of the incident shows a white car pulling up outside the Jumhour home and a person inside asking two young boys a question. As they answer, a masked man jumps out of one of the rear doors and pushes Jumhour into the car. The assailant tries to grab the other child, who runs out of reach. The vehicle then drives away from the scene.

“My wife and the whole family are still in shock,” the boy’s father said. “We cannot comprehend what happened. It is good that they didn’t kidnap another child.”



Report: air strike on IS-held area kills dozens in Syria

BEIRUT – An air strike, probably carried out by US-led international forces or Iraq, struck an Islamic State-held area of eastern Syria, killing 54 people including 28 civilians as well as members of the jihadist group, a war monitor said on Friday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the air strike hit the area near the towns of al-Sousa and al-Baghouz Fawkani on Thursday near the border with Iraq, one of the last areas where Islamic State has a presence in Syria.

Colonel Sean Ryan, a spokesman for the US-led coalition, said that it or “partner forces may have conducted strikes in the vicinity.” The coalition would assess the report alleging civilian casualties, he added, in an emailed response to a question from Reuters.

“We have no further information at this time,” he added.

The Syrian foreign ministry called the attack a “massacre” and an act of aggression by the “illegal coalition.” Damascus says coalition forces in Syria are occupiers because they are in the country without its permission.

The US-led coalition is fighting the remnants of Islamic State on both sides of the border between Syria and Iraq. In Syria it operates in support of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of militias that includes Kurds.

The Observatory said the attack had targeted an ice factory east of Sousa a few km (miles) from the border with Iraq. Most of the civilians killed were Iraqis.

The death toll could rise because dozens more people had been wounded including some in critical condition, the Observatory said.

Earlier reports by the Syrian state news agency SANA and the pro-Damascus al-Watan newspaper accused the US-led coalition of carrying out the air strike. Reuters could not independently verify those reports.

Islamic State was largely defeated in most of the territory it controlled in both countries last year, but fighters still operate in the desert near the border.



One killed in tunnel collapse in Israel’s north

One person was killed when a tunnel collapsed trapping 11 people at a work site near Beit She’an, near the Jordan River Valley,  on Friday. Eight have already been rescued and the site’s emergency rescue team is working together with firefighters to rescue the rest of the trapped people. Israel police officers are also assisting in the rescue operation.

The 10 remaining trapped people were all rescued by emergency forces, with four reported in light to moderate condition, police said. Police closed the construction site.

The collapse, according to initial reports, occurred when a crane fell during pumping and drainage work. The incident occurred at a power plant near Kibbutz Reshafim, which sits just south of Beit She’an.One person was killed and 11 were trapped when a tunnel near Beit She’an, near the Jordan River Valley, collapsed on Friday.

Two of the workmen, ages 18 and 19, were evacuated by helicopter to Emek Medical Center, where they were treated for shock. They are in stable condition.

Two others, who were lightly wounded, were also being treated at the medical center.

The police have also opened an investigation into the circumstances of the accident in cooperation with the Labor and Welfare Ministry.

MK Shelly Yachimovich (Zionist Union), Chairwoman of the State Control Committee called for the site’s closure and for a criminal investigation into the contractor.

“The contractor’s license must be revoked until the end of the investigation and a huge banner must be placed at the site explaining its closure,” she said.

According to Yachimovich, Friday’s incident marks the 23rd death this year in the construction industry and a not a single contractor’s license has been revoked. “It’s shocking that human life is so cheap that ‘it’s not worth’ investing in means to protect lives,” she said.

During a meeting held by the committee this week, Yachimovich accused the Ministry of Labor and the Contractors Registrar of dragging their feet while lives continue to be lost.