Netanyahu Orders Halt of Cement Shipments to Gaza After Tunnel Discovery
(JNS.org) Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday ordered a halt to Gaza-bound cement shipments, following the discovery of a Hamas terror tunnel under the Israel-Gaza border.
Israel had allowed cement to enter Gaza as part of the rehabilitation efforts there following Operation Protective Edge in 2014. Although some 10,000 buildings were damaged during that summer’s war, Hamas has used the cement mostly for military purposes.
Netanyahu also said Monday that a seaport would not be established in Gaza, adding that Gaza would only have access to Israel’s Ashdod port, enabling Israel to inspect any incoming cargo.
“We support any form of humanitarian aid,” Netanyahu said. “But supervising a port is much more problematic… I will not sacrifice Israel’s security for the sake of a good headline. I will not permit the establishment of a maritime artery to Gaza through which arms and terrorism will flow.”
IDF Soldier Who Shot Neutralized Terrorist Identified, Charged With Manslaughter
(JNS.org) The 20-year-old Israel Defense Forces soldier who shot a neutralized Palestinian terrorist in Hebron last month has been charged with manslaughter and named as Sgt. Elor Azaria, after a Jaffa military court lifted the gag order on his identity on Monday.
At a hearing, the military prosecution indicted Azaria on counts of manslaughter and inappropriate behavior, and the judge extended his remand until the end of legal proceedings. The judge further ruled that Azaria would be able to visit his family for the Passover holiday over the coming weekend.
Military court judge Lt. Col. Ronen Shor wrote in his decision that “there is apparent evidentiary basis showing that the defendant caused the man’s death via a prohibited act, and that the gunfire carried out by the defendant directed at the terrorist was done with no operational necessity, rather with criminal intent.”
But the judge also wrote, “Within the investigation materials themselves, there is evidence that weakens the stance of the prosecution, which maintains that the defendant’s actions and conduct necessarily constitute the crime of manslaughter. There is not insignificant evidence…that the injured terrorist, who was lying on the ground, was carrying an explosive device.”
Arab League, U.S., Germany Reject Israel’s Golan Heights Affirmation
(JNS.org) The Arab League has denounced Israel’s “escalation” over control in the Golan Heights, while Germany and the United States also rejected Israeli claims on the strategic territory.
Israel’s cabinet held its weekly meeting in the Golan on Sunday to symbolize the Jewish state’s sovereignty in the area.
“Israel will never come down from the Golan Heights… In the 49 years Israel has controlled the Golan, it has been a place of peace and prosperity. Israel today is the solution, not the problem,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.
On Monday, Arab League General-Secretary Nabil al-Arabia said Netanyahu’s comments marked “a new escalation that represents a brazen violation of international law.”
At the same time, Germany’s Foreign Ministry on Monday said that Israel’s decision to unilaterally maintain control over the Golan Heights would violate international law. German Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer said it is “a basic principle of international law and the U.N. charter that no state can claim the right to annex another state’s territory just like that.”
The U.S. State Department also said that the American position on the Golan Heights has not changed, and that it does not recognize the territory as part of Israel.
According to recent reports, a negotiated deal on the Syrian civil war that is being worked on by world powers would declare the Golan Heights as Syrian territory. Israel gained control of the Golan during the 1967 Six-Day War.
Clinton and Sanders Spar on Israel in Democratic Debate
(JNS.org) In a long exchange during last Thursday’s Democratic presidential debate, candidates Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders sparred on American policy regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Sanders called himself “100 percent pro-Israel,” but added that “in the long run, and this is not going to be easy, if we are ever going to bring peace to that region that has seen so much hatred and so much war, we are going to have to treat the Palestinian people with respect and dignity… I believe the United States and the rest of the world have got to work together to help the Palestinian people. That does not make me anti-Israel. That paves the way, I think, to an approach that works in the Middle East.”
Sanders had recently ignited controversy through an interview in which he inflated the number of Palestinian civilian deaths in the 2014 Gaza war at least sevenfold.
Clinton said during the debate that Israel does not “seek this kind of attacks. They do not invite rockets raining down on their towns and villages. They do not believe that there should be constant incitement by Hamas, aided and abetted by Iran, against Israel. And so when it came time after they had taken the incoming rockets, taken the assaults and ambushes on their soldiers, and they called and told me…they were getting ready to have to invade Gaza again because they couldn’t find anyone to talk to, to tell them to stop it.”
Bernie Sanders Suspends ‘Jewish Outreach Coordinator’ for Profane Anti-Netanyahu Posts
(JNS.org) The presidential campaign of Democratic candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders suspended its recently hired Jewish outreach coordinator after she was found to have posted profanity-laced social media messages about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Simone Zimmerman is active in the self-described “pro-Israel, pro-peace” lobby J Street and the “Open Hillel” movement—both of which have been criticized in the Jewish community for ignoring Israeli grievances in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and whitewashing Palestinian terrorism. Zimmerman has also been involved with IfNotNow, a new movement of young American Jews who oppose Israeli control in the disputed territories.
In the wake of Zimmerman’s hiring, her past Facebook posts came to light, including one in which she wrote, “Bibi Netanyahu is an arrogant, deceptive, cynical, manipulative asshole,” and “F**k you, Bibi, for daring to insist that you legitimately represent every fraction of the Jewish world.” She later edited those posts to remove the profanity.
Sanders’s spokesperson, Michael Briggs, told the New York Times that Zimmerman has “been suspended while we investigate the matter.”
Jordan Drops Plan to Install Security Cameras on Temple Mount
(JNS.org) Jordan has decided against plans to install security cameras on the Temple Mount holy site amid ongoing Palestinian objections to the move.
According to reports, Palestinian activists have recently been distributing leaflets warning against the installation of the security cameras. The decision to drop the plan was announced by Jordanian Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour, the Jerusalem Post reported.
The agreement to install the security cameras was reached late last year between Israel and Jordan against the backdrop of ongoing tensions over the Temple Mount. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry helped facilitate the agreement.
Last month, during a visit to Ramallah by Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas also voiced support for the cameras. But Palestinian objectors have reportedly argued that the security cameras would be used by Israel to arrest Muslim worshippers on the Temple Mount.
After Earthquakes, Israeli Relief Group Sends Teams to Japan and Ecuador
(JNS.org) The Israeli international relief organization IsraAID has sent a delegation to southern Japan, where more than 50 people have been killed and thousands have been injured as a result of two strong earthquakes in the Kumamoto province since last Thursday.
The Israeli relief delegation in Japan comes after another IsraAID delegation was dispatched to Ecuador, where another earthquake killed more than 70 people and injured hundreds on Saturday.
In addition to distributing food, the IsraAID volunteers are offering medical and psychological assistance to the affected communities.
“In addition to the dozens of volunteers of IsraAID who are working hard to provide support to the teams on the ground, IsraAID plans to provide ongoing support to both countries and regions in need,” the organization said, the Jerusalem Post reported.
The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) humanitarian group also responded to the earthquakes in both countries. In Ecuador, JDC said it is “assessing needs and coordinating relief efforts with both the Jewish community of Ecuador and longstanding partner Heart to Heart International,” while also opening a fundraising webpage. For Japan, JDC disbursed a $25,000 grant to its partner on the ground, the Japanese humanitarian agency “JEN.”
UNESCO Approves Resolution Ignoring Jewish Ties to Temple Mount
(JNS.org) The executive board of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) adopted a resolution on Friday that ignores Jewish ties to the Temple Mount and Western Wall in Jerusalem.
With 33 votes in favor, six against, and 17 abstentions, the resolution solely refers to the Temple Mount areas by their Muslim names—Al-Aqsa mosque/Haram al-Sharif—with the exception of two references to the Western Wall Plaza in parentheses, the Jerusalem Post reported. The resolution also referred to the Western Wall plaza by its Muslim name, Al-Buraq Plaza.
The resolution criticized a number of Israeli actions on the Temple Mount, such as plans to build an egalitarian prayer space near Robinson’s Arch, and called on Israel not to restrict Muslim worshippers from the Temple Mount. (In fact, the Israeli government enforces a ban on Jewish prayer at the site.) The measure also condemned ongoing violence on the Temple Mount, but solely focused on Israeli actions and not Muslim rioters.
Report: Brussels Terrorists Targeted Israelis, Americans and Russians
(JNS.org) The terrorists responsible for the bombings at the Brussels airport and train station in March specifically targeted Israeli, Russian and American passengers, according to a new report by the French television station BFM.
Mohamed Abrini—who has been dubbed the “man in the hat” after appearing on closed-circuit television at the airport just prior to the attack, and was arrested last week—told interrogators that the selected targets were the “departure halls for flights to the United States, Russia and Tel Aviv.”
The terrorists were only able to detonate the bombs near the check-in counters for those flights, but more than 30 people were still killed. In the wake of the attacks, the European Union (EU) parliament has passed a law requiring all EU countries to share passenger information for flights coming in and out of Europe, which will allow for tracking EU citizens traveling back to Europe from Islamic State-controlled areas in the Middle East.
Hamas Gearing up for Next War With Israel, IDF Officer Says
(JNS.org) Eyeing a fresh round of violence with Israel, the Hamas terrorist organization is sparing no effort to enhance its arsenal and train its operatives, especially from the Gaza-ruling group’s elite “Nukhbah” terror unit, a senior officer with the Israel Defense Forces Southern Command told reporters Thursday.
In a briefing with military correspondents, the officer said that Hamas’s special forces currently include some 20,000 operatives. Hamas also strives to develop its drone and naval capabilities, including terrorist divers, he said, adding that the terror group was actively pursuing improved rocket-launching capabilities. But Hamas has yet to rehabilitate its pre-2014 firing abilities, which were significantly crippled during Israel’s Operation Protective Edge.
Hamas is currently focusing on developing its short-range projectile fire apparatus, which proved more effective during the summer 2014 war with Israel, as it challenged the Iron Dome missile defense system’s interceptors. The officer said the Islamist group was trying to increase the amount of explosives its arsenal of short-range projectiles can carry, as well as to develop mid-range rockets that could “escape” the Iron Dome.
Israel-U.S. Study: Early PTSD Treatment No Guarantee for Lasting Recovery
(JNS.org) Some patients diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) who undergo early psychological or drug treatment will not necessarily recover over the long run, according to a joint study by Israel’s Hadassah University Medical Center and New York University’s (NYU) Langone Medical Center.
Many people suffering from PTSD do recover after early treatment, but a good number are still affected by the condition for years, explained Arieh Shalev, a professor at Langone, in the publication of the study by the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.
“We assume that people living in an otherwise stable environment would have better conditions for long-term recovery than individuals who experience lengthy wars or live in a constant state of violence,” said Shalev, who is also a co-director of NYU Langone’s Steven and Alexandra Cohen Veterans Center.
“This might explain part of their spontaneous recovery without initial treatment. However, what this study tells us at its core is that there is a significant public health challenge ahead. Individuals continually expressing initial PTSD symptoms, and who are resistant to early treatment, should be the focus of future research,” Shalev added.
Ukraine Confirms Appointment of Jewish Prime Minister
(JNS.org) The Ukrainian Parliament confirmed the appointment of a Jewish prime minister.
Vlodymir Groysman, the 38-year-old former mayor of the town of Vinnytsia, was confirmed as the country’s new prime minister following the resignation of Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who had been condemned by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko for losing the public’s trust. Ukrainian lawmakers voted 257-50 to approve Groysman’s appointment and to accept Yatsenyuk’s resignation.
“I understand that we are in an extremely difficult condition, that the government has a huge responsibility and the challenges it faces are simply enormous,” Groysman said last week regarding Ukraine’s ongoing conflict with Russia and its financial crisis, the Interfax news agency reported. “I also know that with Ukrainian citizens’ support, we’ll strive to end the crisis.”