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Ahead of ‘Unity Day’ Memorial Held for Three Jewish Teens Murdered by Hamas

(JNS.org) More than 1,000 people attended a memorial ceremony on Monday in the Judea and Samaria community of Talmon that marked one year since Israeli teenagers Gilad Shaar, Naftali Frenkel, and Eyal Yifrach were kidnapped and murdered by Hamas terrorists in an incident that sparked last summer’s Gaza conflict.

Though the three boys are believed to have been murdered on the day of their abduction, their bodies were not found until 18 days later. Among those present at the ceremony were members of the search teams who looked for the boys as well as the special Israel Defense Forces unit that assisted the families during the search last summer.

Friends, relatives, and youth group leaders spoke about their memories of the boys.

“Exactly one year ago, I opened a new file on my computer and named it, ‘Waiting for Gil-adush,’” said Bat-Galim Shaar, using an affectionate nickname for her late son. “Since then, the file has filled up, and, in a way, our lives emptied.”

On Wednesday, June 3, Israelis marked the first “Unity Day,” an initiative to bridge gaps and encourage tolerance in Israeli society and in Jewish communities abroad, created by the murdered boys’ bereaved parents, Israel’s Education Ministry, the Jerusalem municipality, and the Gesher non-profit.

Israeli Ministers Increase Efforts to Fight Boycotts

(JNS.org) Israeli government ministers are increasing their efforts to fight academic, consumer, cultural, and sports boycotts against Israel in what has become a significant diplomatic priority for the Jewish state.

Last Friday, Israel was able to thwart a Palestinian motion asking FIFA, world soccer’s governing body, to suspend the Jewish state from its ranks. Science, Technology and Space Minister Danny Danon plans to convene the heads of Israel’s universities next week to discuss how to defeat boycotts against Israeli academics, scientists, and researchers.

Danon said Monday that Israeli researchers seeking recognition from leading institutions overseas must often contend with “passive rejection,” meaning they are politely deferred or ignored.

“Unfortunately, we have to deal with organizations and agencies that have made it their mission to undermine Israel rather than promote research and development,” he said.

Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev said her ministry will form a special task force to prevent and counter boycotts against Israel.

“[Pro-Palestinian groups] urge economic, academic, cultural, and sports boycotts, and to them it is ‘right’ and ‘moral’ to wage a libelous propaganda campaign against Israel’s economy, and the wonderful intellectuals and artists based in Israel and abroad,” Regev said.

IDF Detains Hamas Members on Fishing Boat That Violated Restrictions

(JNS.org) The Israeli Navy on Monday intercepted a Palestinian fishing boat carrying members of the Hamas terrorist group that repeatedly violated Israeli restrictions on fishing off the Gaza Strip.

According to military officials, the interception was necessary after the boat made several attempts to go beyond the area in which fishing is allowed, despite warnings to its crew to stop. Eventually, after firing several warning shots in the air and in the water, Israeli troops fired at the boat itself, after which point it was diverted to the Ashdod port and its crew was taken in for questioning. A Dvora-class fast patrol boat escorted the fishing boat along the way.

Gaza media reported that the boat was raided by the Israeli Navy’s elite commando unit, Shayetet 13. According to the reports, after Israeli forces detained several Hamas members, the ship was instructed to head to Ashdod.

Egyptian Historian: Normalize Relations with Israel, Ditch Palestinian Cause

(JNS.org) Prominent Egyptian historian Maged Farag called for his country to normalize relations with Israel and to ditch support for the Palestinian cause.

According to a report by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), which translated Farag’s May 28 appearance Egypt’s Mehwar TV, Farag called on his fellow countrymen to leave “the old ideology and cultural heritage on which we were raised”—referencing the rampant anti-Semitism among the Egyptian population—and to embrace Israel out of national interests.

“There are no such things as eternal enmity or eternal love,” said Farag. “There are only eternal interests. We should identify our country’s interest. [Winston] Churchill once said that he was ready to cooperate with the Devil in the interest of his country. As a man who knows a little bit about history and about international relations, I believe that it is in our interest to maintain normal relations with Israel.”

Citing Israeli technological advances such as drip irrigation, Farag said, “They used this technology to cultivate the desert, so why can’t we use it here? Why can’t I benefit from someone who used to be my enemy?”

Farag also said the Palestinians have shown no interest in resolving “their own problems.”

“For over 70 years, the Palestinian cause has brought upon Egypt and the Egyptians nothing but harm, destruction, and expense,” said Farag.

Despite signing peace treaty in 1979, Egypt and Israel have maintained a cold peace. Under new Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, both countries have had a mutual interest in defeating Islamic extremist groups in the Sinai Peninsula and thwarting Hamas in Gaza. But anti-Semitism remains deeply embedded within Egyptian culture.

Turkey’s Erdogan Calls for ‘Liberation’ of Jerusalem Ahead of Elections

(JNS.org) Turkey’s Islamist president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, called for the “liberation” of Jerusalem during a rally ahead of Turkish parliamentary elections later this week.

“Conquest is Mecca, conquest is Saladin, it’s to hoist the Islamic flag over Jerusalem again; conquest is the heritage of Mehmed II and conquest means forcing Turkey back on its feet,” Erdogan said in a campaign speech on Saturday, Yedioth Ahronoth reported.

Erdogan’s remarks came at a political rally celebrating 562 years since the Muslim Turks captured Constantinople from the Christian Byzantine Empire on May 29, 1453. Erdogan’s comments referenced the Muslim military hero Saladin, who captured Jerusalem from the Crusaders during the 12th century.

Turkey is holding parliamentary elections on June 7. Erdogan hopes that his Islamist AKP Party will win at least two-thirds of the 550 seats in the Turkish parliament, which would enable him to amend the constitution to give more power to the office of the president. But recent opinion polls indicate that Erdogan’s party will fall well short of the two-thirds threshold and may even fail to win a simple majority for the first time in 12 years.

Narendra Modi to Become First Indian Prime Minister to Visit Israel

(JNS.org) India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, will become the first holder of his office to visit Israel later this year.

Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj revealed the plans, saying no date for Modi’s trip has been set yet and that the visit would take place “as per mutually convenient dates.”

While the official state visit will be the first of its kind for a sitting Indian leader, Modi already visited Israel in 2007 as part of a high-tech agricultural conference when he was leader of the Indian state of Gujarat from 2001-2014.

Since taking office last year, Modi has led a shift towards greater Indian ties with Israel. In February, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon visited India, where the two countries finalized a major defense deal worth more than $1.5 billion.

Modi also met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last year on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. Reports have indicated that Modi is considering a shift in his country’s pro-Palestinian stance at the U.N.

Terrorist Punished for Giving Interview to Hamas Radio from Israeli Jail

(JNS.org) Hamas “military wing” commander Abdullah al-Barghouti, who is serving 67 life terms in Israel’s Ramon prison, has been placed in solitary confinement for speaking to Hamas radio on a smuggled mobile phone.

In the radio interview, Barghouti, known as the Palestinian terrorist group’s “engineer,” urged Hamas and its Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades to take their time when negotiating any future prisoner swap deal with Israel.

Barghouti, who was furious at Hamas for excluding him from the 2011 Gilad Shalit prisoner swap (in which 1,027 Palestinian prisoners were released in exchange for the Israeli soldier, who was captured by Hamas in 2006), said, “We are willing to stay in jail as long as it takes, even if it’s another thousand years—Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades should not be hasty in reaching a prisoner exchange deal with Israel.”

Palestinian sources told Israel Hayom that the Israel Prison Service has taken disciplinary measures against Barghouti and that he has been placed in solitary confinement.

Israeli Minister Benny Begin Resigns From Cabinet After Only 17 days

(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) Israeli minister MK Benny Begin (Likud) resigned from the country’s government just 17 days after being inducted, in a move that was needed to maintain the size of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s 20-minister cabinet following Likud MK Gilad Erdan’s appointment as strategic affairs and public security minister last week.

Begin, the son of former prime minister Menachem Begin, tendered his resignation to Netanyahu on Friday, but it was not announced until it came into effect 48 hours later. Begin, who had been named a minister without portfolio and a member of Israel’s diplomatic-security cabinet, will continue to serve as a Knesset member.

Netanyahu said he hoped to again include Begin in the government in the future.

Hamas Paves Road Near Gaza Border for Attack Against Israel

(JNS.org) Former Hamas interior minister Fathi Hammad admitted Saturday that the Palestinian terrorist group has been paving a new road near the Israeli border with northern Gaza.

According to Hammad, the road, located southeast of Kibbutz Nahal Oz, was intended for the use of Hamas’s Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades in future conflicts with Israel.

“The road has been secretly built under heavy security and will be used when the time is right for us to launch an attack against our enemy,” Hammad said during a speech in Khan Younis.

“The Zionist occupier will be surprised at Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades’ capabilities in the next military confrontation,” he added. “Since the last round of fighting, Hamas’s military wing has been reinforced. The Zionists haven’t got the slightest inkling of what surprises await them.”

Report: Israeli Weapons Intercepted at Saudi Embassy in Yemen

(JNS.org) A large shipment of Israeli weapons and ammunition was intercepted inside the Saudi embassy in the Yemenite capital of Sana’a, Iran’s Fars news agency reported Sunday.

According to the report, the weapons were discovered when Iran-backed Houthi rebel forces gained control of the compound, defeating the Yemenite security forces guarding the embassy.

The Houthis claimed that they also seized documents proving that the U.S. planned to establish a military base in Saudi Arabia to monitor the Bab el-Mandeb strait (between the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea) “in order to protect American interests and protect Israel,” the report stated. The Houthis also claimed that Saudi Arabia had asked Israel to send advanced weapons to help forces loyal to Yemen’s deposed president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

Cyprus Police Arrest Alleged Hezbollah Operative Planning Attack on Israelis

(JNS.org) Police in Cyprus last week arrested a man who they suspect of planning to target Israeli interests on the island country following the discovery of two tons of ammonium nitrate fertilizer in his basement.

Ammonium nitrate can be used as an explosive, which was the case in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. The 26-year-old suspect was born in Lebanon but held a Canadian passport and was detained by Cypriot police on May 27, Reuters reported. Local newspaper reports indicate that the unnamed suspect may have close links with Hezbollah terrorist leader Hassan Nasrallah.

Hezbollah is widely believed to be behind the 2012 bus bombing in the Bulgarian city of Burgas that killed five Israeli tourists and their bus driver. In 2013, a Swedish citizen was arrested in Cyprus for planning to attack Israeli targets. Cyprus is a popular tourist destination for Israelis.

Palestinians Drop Bid to Have Israel Suspended From FIFA

(JNS.org) The Palestinians on Friday dropped a motion to have Israel suspended from FIFA, world soccer’s governing body.

“I decided to drop the suspension but it does not mean that I give up the resistance,” Palestinian soccer official Jibril Rajoub told the 65th FIFA Congress in Switzerland.

A new Palestinian proposal that was passed by the FIFA Congress calls for the formation of a committee to look into the freedom of movement of Palestinian soccer players and the status of Israeli soccer teams located in Judea and Samaria.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the efforts of Israel’s delegation at the FIFA Congress, saying, “Our international effort has proven itself and led to the failure of the Palestinian Authority attempt to oust us from FIFA.”

Netanyahu added that continued unilateral steps by the Palestinians in international bodies will “only push peace further away instead of bringing it closer.”

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