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Amid Shooting Controversy, IDF Chief Clarifies Rules of Engagement

(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) In light of the ongoing controversy over the shooting of an incapacitated terrorist in Hebron last week, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot on Wednesday sent an open letter to troops to clarify the IDF’s rules of engagement.

The letter elaborates on the proper procedures to follow when confronting terrorists, the IDF’s Code of Ethics and the need to keep politics out of the military.

“IDF commanders, including myself, will continue to back every soldier who makes an error in the heat of the moment while fighting the enemy,” Eizenkot wrote. “But we will not waver when it comes to holding soldiers accountable when they deviate from the operational and moral norms we uphold.”

“Adherence to the spirit of the IDF and its values is not a right, it is a duty, if we are to preserve the status of the IDF as the people’s army in a Jewish and democratic state,” he added. “Every time, and in every situation, we must conduct ourselves professionally while exerting focused and calculated force in order to fulfill our duty and remain true to our values.”

On Tuesday, the suspect in the shooting arrived at a military court for his latest remand hearing. The military advocate general said the soldier’s life had not been threatened during the incident and that he contradicted himself during his interrogation. But the presiding judge, Lt. Col. Ronen Shor, said the evidence was inconclusive.

“This is a complicated case that requires a thorough and extensive investigation,” Shor said. “Even though there is a reasonable suspicion that the shooting was improper, given the circumstances, the evidence gathered thus far points in two different directions as to the key aspects of the controversy.”

Off-Duty Israeli Security Guards Now Allowed to Carry Weapons

(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) A bill allowing off-duty security guards in Israel to carry weapons passed its final Knesset readings on Tuesday, with a vote of 21 lawmakers in favor of the measure and eight against it. The proposal, which aims to boost public safety amid the current wave of Palestinian terrorism, was passed as a temporary provision that will be reviewed by the Knesset again in a few months.

The bill, an amendment to Israel’s Firearms Law, effectively reinstated a provision that was repealed in 2013 after several cases in which security guards who had been allowed to take their weapons home killed their spouses. The amendment bars security guards with criminal records, or any history of violence or domestic abuse, from carrying their weapons after hours.

Member of Knesset (MK) Nachman Shai (Zionist Union), who voted in favor of the bill, said, “No one is thrilled by the prospect of people carrying guns on the streets, but in 2016 in Israel this has become a vital need. Deterrence is key, and having trained, licensed individuals carry weapons…will help bolster public security.”

MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) criticized the bill, saying, “This is nothing short of dangerous. Someone thinks that saying the word ‘terrorism’ is enough to scare us all into voting in favor, but this bill could potentially cost more lives than it would save. We have to vote against it and find other ways to deal with terrorism. The solution isn’t with adding more weapons on the streets.”

According to Israel’s Public Security Ministry, 38,000 security guards in Israel are licensed to carry guns.

Palestinian Unity Talks End Without Agreement

(JNS.org) Unity talks between the Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah ended on Monday in Qatar without an agreement.

The only item both sides agreed on was to refrain from talking to the media about the negotiations, the Jerusalem Post reported. Ziad al-Thatha, a senior Hamas official who was involved in the unity negotiations, said that both sides would have more talks in the future to discuss “thorny” issues.

“We hope that [Palestinian Authority] President Mahmoud Abbas will comply with the demands of the Palestinians, and agree to partnership [with Hamas] in order to end the division,” al-Thatha said.

Members of the Fatah delegation to Qatar, which was headed by Azzam al-Ahmed and Skher Bsaisso, were scheduled to head back to Ramallah for consultations. Hamas, the terrorist group that rules the Gaza Strip, and Abbas-led Fatah, the ruling party in the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority (PA), have been locked in a bitter dispute since Hamas violently ousted PA security forces from Gaza in 2007.

Numerous rounds of negotiations have taken place between Hamas and Fatah, producing limited agreements, including the formation of a technocratic Palestinian unity government in 2014. That unity government quickly unraveled, and more recent intra-Palestinian negotiations have focused on forming a new unity government as well as holding presidential and parliamentary elections.

German Doctor Returns Ancient Coin He Took from Israel 25 Years Ago

(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) A German doctor has decided to return a rare ancient coin he discovered on a visit to Jerusalem 25 years ago.

The bronze coin picked up by Dr. Tonio Sebastian Richter dates to 178-179 C.E. and is imprinted with a profile of the Roman Emperor Commodus. The name “Ashkelon” appears on the coin in Greek script.

Richter took the coin back to Berlin, cleaned it, and realized it was an ancient artifact. He tried to find information about the coin, and kept it in his possession until he heard that the Israel Museum was celebrating 50 years since its founding and decided to return the coin.

Richter sent it to the museum along with a letter in which he wrote, “I found this coin in the summer of 1991 when I was on an educational tour of Jerusalem. The object I found on the ground couldn’t be identified as a coin, but only as a round metal object I picked up. In Germany, I cleaned it…and discovered that it was an ancient Roman coin from Ashkelon.”

The doctor explained that he began researching the coin, and after consulting experts he realized that the coin was of an unknown variety. In his letter, Richter said, “After I grew up, I realized I had to return the unique coin to its owner, the State of Israel, and to the best place for it to be kept, the Israel Museum.”

Dr. Haim Gitler, chief curator of the Israel Museum’s Archaeology Wing, who received the coin, said, “This important coin is larger than the standard coins that were used on a daily basis. It might be that it was minted for a special occasion. It measures 34 millimeters (1.3 inches) across and weighs 33.4 grams (1.18 ounces). It’s exciting, because this is the only coin of its type. I believe it will be displayed in the future.”

Israel’s Rivlin ‘Very Worried’ About Islamic State Threat to Turkish Jewish Children

(JNS.org) Israeli President Reuven Rivlin expressed deep concern over a recent report that the Islamic State terror group is planning an attack on Jewish children in Turkey.

“We are very worried about the information we are receiving, and following the situation closely with the relevant authorities in Israel and Turkey,” Rivlin said in a phone interview with the president of Turkey’s Jewish community, Ishak Ibrahimzadeh.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Turkey’s government have yet to comment on the report.

According to a report by the United Kingdom’s Sky News, citing intelligence sources, the plot includes attacking Jewish kindergartens, schools, and youth centers, with the most likely target being a synagogue in Istanbul’s Beyoglu district. Information on the attack was obtained from six Islamic State operatives who were arrested in the southern Turkish city of Gaziantep last week, the report said.

The latest plot by Islamic State comes after the terror attack in Istanbul on March 19 that left four people dead, including three Israeli tourists.

Israeli and Indian Firms Sign Agreement to Produce Air Defense Systems

(JNS.org) Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and India’s Reliance Defense on Tuesday announced that they have agreed to establish a joint venture to produce air defense systems.

The agreement, which is valued at more than $10 billion for the next decade, will produce air-to-air missiles, air defense systems, and observation balloons. Reliance will hold a majority stake in the joint venture at 51 percent, while Rafael will hold 49 percent.

Rafael Director-General Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yoav Har-Even said that the joint venture is “part of our global strategy for cooperation in general and in India specifically.”

“This cooperation will help us give the Indian Ministry of Defense its added value when it comes to deal with the goals and challenges that it faces,” said Har-Even, the Jerusalem Post reported.

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