Police Suspect Tel Aviv Terrorist’s Family Hid Him
(Ari Yashar/Arutz Sheva) Police have arrested the father and several family members and acquaintances of the Arab-Israeli terrorist Nashat Melhem, who murdered at least two in Tel Aviv on Friday and wounded several others, with suspicions high that the family hid Melhem.
It is suspected that Melhem, an Arab citizen of Israel, was given shelter by his family in Wadi Ara in the north, with police on Tuesday said to now be focusing their search on that region.
Melhem’s father Mohammed was arrested on Tuesday morning, under suspicion of accessory to murder, manslaughter, forming an illegal group and having connections to a crime. His arrest was later extended by two days. The terrorist’s mother was also detained for questioning before later being released.
In addition, five others were arrested, two of them family members of the terrorist and three others acquaintances of his. Among them was a man who worked with Nashat Melhem at a construction site in Tel Aviv.
Two of Melhem’s brothers were also arrested in the last three days on similar suspicions to those leveled against his father, although the Haifa Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday ordered police to release one brother, Juadat, to house arrest, after his detention had already been extended once.
Police reportedly estimate that those who were arrested helped the terrorist escape from the Tel Aviv area and hide, and therefore searches have begun in the Wadi Ara region on Tuesday.
The terrorist intentionally threw away his phone before carrying out the attack, showing his cunning in making it harder to track him. Police believe he contacted his family through other means after having ditched his phone.
Nahmi Feinblat, the lawyer of Mohammed Melhem, told Walla on Tuesday that the arrest of Melhem’s father and family members is meant to pressure the terrorist to turn himself in. According to the lawyer, the Israeli Security Agency (ISA) is under pressure to catch the terrorist before he strikes again, and therefore it is targeting the family as a pressure tool.
Melhem’s father Mohammed on Monday called for his son to turn himself in to authorities, and initially he reported to police that it was his son who conducted the shooting, in which Nashat murdered two people in a Tel Aviv pub. An hour later he apparently murdered a taxi driver as well.
Mohammed Melhem previously volunteered in the police and has a weapons license. In July 2007, when the younger Melhem was convicted of attempting to steal a soldier’s gun at Karkur Junction to the east of Hadera, his father got him out of jail by asking that he be released to his supervision.
Apparently the authorities saw nothing wrong with the proposal, and let Melhem go despite his attempt to steal a gun and potentially conduct a lethal shooting spree, and despite his misconduct in prison.
Officers who guarded Melhem at the time revealed their shock that he was released, given his misconduct in jail. They also confirmed the appraisals that Melhem is not mentally ill as his family insists, appraisals given by residents of Ramat Aviv in northern Tel Aviv where Melhem worked as a delivery boy at a vegetable store until 2008.
IDF Officer Killed in Training Accident
(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) An Israel Defense Forces officer was killed and another soldier was wounded Tuesday in an accident at an IDF training base in southern Israel.
Capt. Yishai Rosales, of the IDF’s Charedi Netzah Yehuda Battalion, was killed when a mortar shell was accidentally fired in his direction. The other soldier sustained minor injuries.
It is unclear why the mortar shell exploded in the vicinity of the soldiers, who were training at the base. Initial details suggest that the incident occurred as a part of a multi-unit training drill for company and battalion commanders.
During the drill, a soldier with the Armored Corps’ 75th Battalion fired an 81 mm mortar shell that exploded right next to Rosales, who was taking part in a different drill nearby. Rosales sustained critical wounds and died shortly afterward. He was posthumously promoted to the rank of captain.
The other soldier wounded in the incident was airlifted to the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba.
All training at the base has been suspended until the investigation into the accident, headed by a special task force, is complete. Initial assessments suggest the accident was the result of human error. Among other things, the investigation will focus on whether the error was made by the soldier who fired the shell or by the commander who ordered the shooting. The possibility of a technical malfunction will also be investigated.
Tuesday’s tragedy marks the first time in three years that an IDF soldier has been killed during a training exercise. Last May, one reservist was seriously wounded and three others were lightly injured when an armored personnel carrier flipped over during training in the Golan Heights.
Rosales, 23, from Beit Meir, immigrated to Israel from Mexico in 2001 with his parents and brother. Until six months ago, he lived in Kochav Yaakov in the Binyamin region.
The residents of Kochav Yaakov remembered him as a happy, kind-hearted man, who loved to laugh and make others laugh. He donated to the needy anonymously, adopted a lone soldier, and always rushed to help anyone who was in need, they said.
“I remember once he asked me to come with him to build a sukkah for someone who was unable to build one for themselves,” said Ohad, 17, from Kochav Yaakov. “He was like an older brother to me. He loved to watch soccer games and to play [soccer]. He helped me train so that I could play on the town’s team. Whenever he saw someone who was standing on the sidelines while we played he would make sure that someone invited them to play.”
Iran Unveils New Underground Ballistic Missile Silo
(JNS.org) Iran has unveiled a new underground ballistic missile silo that will house a missile that is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.
“Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani made a visit to the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps’ new underground missile town today during which he vowed the legislature would allocate a much bigger budget to the country’s missile program,” the state-run Fars News Agency reported.
In October, Iran test fired its Emad ballistic missile in defiance of international sanctions against its ballistic missile program. A United Nations Security Council panel in December said that the test violated a Security Council resolution.
The Emad missile is an intermediate-range ballistic missile that has a claimed range of up to 1,000 miles and is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, according to U.S. officials.
Despite the violation, the Obama administration has held off on new sanctions, with the international community preparing to lift sanctions on Iran as part of the nuclear agreement reached last summer.
Obama Defends Forthcoming Gun Restrictions as Constitutional
(www.vosizneias.com and combined sources) President Barack Obama grew emotional as he defended his administration’s plans to tighten the nation’s gun-control restrictions without going through Congress, insisting Monday that the steps he’ll announce fall within his legal authority and uphold the constitutional right to own a gun.
Flanked by his attorney general and the head of the FBI, Obama offered few details about the list of recommendations he’s received and will come out with over the next few days. Behind the scenes, though, Obama’s administration has been preparing an effort to expand background checks on gun sales by forcing more sellers to register as federally licensed gun dealers.
“This is not going to solve every violent crime in this country,” Obama said, setting expectations for what he can do on his own. “It’s not going to prevent every mass shooting; it’s not going to keep every gun out of the hands of a criminal. It will potentially save lives and spare families the pain of these extraordinary losses.”
More than three years after the massacre in Newtown, CT, with many other mass shootings since, Obama is training his attention once again on a policy goal that has eluded his administration. He tried the legislative route in 2013, pushing hard for a package of gun control measures including expanded background checks. But that effort collapsed spectacularly in Congress. Obama and his aides have described their inability to move the issue forward so far as one of the most frustrating failures in his presidency.
This time, with barely a year left in office and his political currency dwindling, Obama is eschewing Congress in favor of presidential action that doesn’t require a vote—legislative action being a non-starter in the Republican-controlled Congress. Already, the issue has become a hot topic in the presidential campaign, ensuring that whatever steps Obama takes will be heavily politicized by both sides.
Even before being announced, Obama’s steps were provoking a major confrontation with Congress, with Republicans and gun-rights advocates pledging and preparing to derail them before they’re implemented by challenging Obama’s authority to create impediments on gun ownership on his own.
Mindful of those inevitable attacks, the White House carefully crafted the steps to bolster their prospects of surviving in court, and Obama said he was acting “well within my legal authority.”
“I’m also confident that the recommendations that are being made by our team here are ones that are entirely consistent with the Second Amendment and people’s lawful right to bear arms,” Obama said. He paid homage to the “strong tradition of gun ownership” in the U.S., but added that even hunters and other gun owners “want to make sure the wrong people don’t have them for the wrong reasons.”
The changes to the background check would be aimed at some unregistered sellers who skirt the requirement by selling at gun shows, online or informal settings. Other moves being considered include improving reporting of lost and stolen weapons and beefing up inspections of licensed dealers, according to people familiar with the plans who would not be identified discussing proposals before they are complete.
California Lawmaker Introduces Bill to Block State Business With BDS Backers
(JNS.org) California State Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach) on Monday introduced a bill that would block California from doing business with companies that implement boycotts based on race, color, religion, gender, or nationality—in particular as it relates to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.
Allen’s proposed measure “will require parties contracting with the state government to certify that they do not participate in boycotts against California’s trading partners,” the lawmaker’s office said.
“California strongly opposes discrimination. Of particular concern lately is the fact that boycotts of entities and individuals affiliated with specific countries can amount to ethnic, religious, racial and/or national origin discrimination. No group better demonstrates this fact than the Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment movement (BDS), whose use of false, demonizing and delegitimizing propaganda against the State of Israel has become a pretext for the expression of anti-Jewish bigotry,” said Allen.
The U.S. states of South Carolina and Illinois have passed similar legislation that takes concrete action against BDS supporters, while state legislatures in Tennessee, New York, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Florida have passed resolutions condemning the BDS movement.
Israeli Government Meets to Discuss Possible Palestinian Authority Collapse
(JNS.org) Israeli government officials have been meeting during the past 10 days to discuss the possibility and prevention of a Palestinian Authority (PA) collapse, Haaretz reported on Tuesday.
“We must prevent the Palestinian Authority from collapsing if possible, but at the same time, we must prepare in case it happens,” the newspaper reported Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as telling the Israeli security cabinet in a closed-door meeting.
Israel’s defense establishment gave the government oral and written opinions warning of a possible collapse, according to a senior Israeli official. A collapse of the PA government in the West Bank would create a strain on Israel, said the official, because the Jewish state would need to take over security and civilian affairs in PA-controlled areas.
Netanyahu has previously said he does not want the PA to collapse and wishes to take steps to prevent that scenario. A PA collapse may also pave the way for increased influence by the Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group in the West Bank.
Israeli Soldiers to Get Neck Protectors as Safeguard Against Stabbing Attacks
(JNS.org) Israeli soldiers who are stationed at checkpoints will receive neck protectors as a safeguard against terrorist stabbing attacks, the Times of Israel reported.
The Israel Defense Forces announced that it will distribute 850 new neck guards that are designed specifically to protect soldiers serving in areas such as Hebron, Gush Etzion Junction, Hawara, and Tapuach Junction, according to Lt. Col. Liron Segel, who runs the IDF Technological and Logistics Directorate’s Personal Protection and Equipment Department.
The IDF’s Central Command requested the new equipment from the directorate in November due to the threat of stabbings during the current Palestinian terror wave, said Segel, who explained that the neck guards will “strike a balance between the amount of area protected and [the] comfort of the soldier.”
The equipment is designed to fit underneath protective vests.
“On the one hand, we put an emphasis on materials that are very durable in order to protect against a penetrating wound, while on the other hand we worried about comfort,” said Segel. “We have managed to make a product that is flexible, thin, and even its weight on your neck is not comparatively that heavy.”
Hebrew University Makes Top 50 in Wikipedia Ranking
(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) The Hebrew University of Jerusalem has placed first in Israel and 47th in the world in the Wikipedia Ranking of World Universities.
The ranking rates the influence of academic institutions based on a computerized analysis of the number of times their names appear in the online encyclopedia, as well as the appearances of each school’s name and articles in Google search engine results, according to their PageRank score. PageRank is an algorithm that determines how important a website is based in part on how many other pages link to it. It is used by Google to order search results.
The researchers from France who put together the universities ranking analyzed all 24 different language editions of Wikipedia, including a total of about 17 million articles. British institutions led the ranking, with Cambridge and Oxford universities placing first and second, respectively, followed by American universities Harvard, Columbia and Princeton.
2015 Marks Lowest Number of Israeli Soldier Casualties in a Decade, IDF Says
(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) The number of Israeli soldiers who died during their service in 2015 was the lowest in a decade, the Israel Defense Forces said Sunday.
According to IDF Personnel Directorate data, a total of 36 soldiers died in 2015. Six were killed in the line of duty, seven in road accidents, and two in other accidents. Six died of terminal illnesses, and 15 other deaths were considered “suspected suicides.”
Seventy Israeli soldiers were killed in the line of duty in 2014, including 67 during Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip. Forty Israeli soldiers died in 2013.