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Violence Erupts at Western Wall as Non-Orthodox Jews Hold Prayer

(Michael Bachner/TPS) Clashes broke out at the Western Wall in Jerusalem on Wednesday morning during a demonstration and prayer service by some 200 members of the Reform and Conservative communities, as well as Women of the Wall, who were calling on the government to implement a compromise deal at the site.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews protested the fact that the women were holding eight Torah scrolls, in violation of their religious views. Some even attempted to snatch the holy Jewish scrolls from their hands, and knocked over activists including Yizhar Hess, CEO of the Conservative Judaism movement in Israel.

The activists—men and women together—eventually entered the women’s section of the holy site and held prayers marking the beginning of the Jewish month of Cheshvan.

The event was on a larger scale than a normal Women of the Wall prayer, since the activists were also protesting the government’s failure to implement a compromise deal at the Old City holy site.

“The Prime Minister came so close to implementing a historic solution at the Western Wall. He himself aimed for that deal,” said Anat Hoffman, director of Women of the Wall. “Now he is backing down because he is frightened by threats from the ultra-Orthodox. We and our millions of supporters in Israel and around the world are demanding that Netanyahu act bravely, eradicate the discrimination against women and the pluralistic movements, and implement the Western Wall deal immediately.”

In February, the government decided to expand the Western Wall and to establish an egalitarian section open to all streams and denominations of Judaism. The plan had been to expand the section at Robinson’s Arch and to have visitors enter through the main entrance rather than the side entrance that they currently have to use.

Protesters on Wednesday included prominent community leaders visiting from the United States, including Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, and Rabbi Steven Wernick, chief executive officer of The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.

“The Western Wall will not be the same after this day,” said Rabbi Gilad Kariv, CEO of the Reform Movement in Israel. “For the first time, women and men, Reform, Conservative Orthodox and secular Jews, all standing up for their right to enter the Western Wall. Today we liberated the site from the ultra-Orthodox control; they will not dictate to the majority of the Jewish people how to pray.”

Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovich had earlier called on the organizations to refrain from entering the women’s section and to pray instead at Robinson’s Arch, the non-segregated area located to the south of the main section of the Western Wall. He also called on the ultra-Orthodox public to not clash with them and not be dragged into the “provocation.”

After the prayer was held, Rabinovich released a statement expressing his “shock and pain,” saying that “Women of the Wall today hurt thousands of worshipers by holding a demonstrative mixed-gender prayer inside the women’s section.”


Israeli Scientists Disintegrate AIDS Cells in Test Tube

( Israeli scientists may have found a cure for AIDS with an experimental new drug called Gammora, which eliminated the virus up to 97 percent in test tubes, Israeli media has reported.

The Gammora drug was developed at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University and is currently being tested at the “Neve Or” AIDS Treatment and Research Center at Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot. The drug was injected in test tubes containing blood from AIDS patients and HIV carriers undergoing treatment at the Kaplan facility. After an eight-day period, the virus in the test tubes was cut down by 95 percent to 97 percent, “causing the death of HIV cells,” said Professor Abraham Loyter of Hebrew University’s biological chemistry department, according to press reports.

Loyter and Assaf Friedler developed a peptide, the drug’s active ingredient, which causes infected cells to disintegrate.

Currently, anti-AIDS drugs on the market curb the growth of the virus but do not eliminate it entirely. “In our approach, we eliminate the cells so there’s no chance that the virus will return one day because there are no cells, or there will be no cells, containing the virus,” Loyter said.

The Israeli start-up Zion Pharmaceuticals is developing the medication, which has a long way to go before approval, company officials said.


IDF Raids Home of Palestinian Cop Who Shot Soldiers

( A Palestinian policeman, who opened fire on Israeli soldiers at the Beit El checkpoint north of Jerusalem wounding three servicemen, including one seriously, on Monday was killed during a shootout a day later.

Muhammad Turkman, 25, a member of the Palestinian Authority police, was killed in a shootout after the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) raided his home in the village of Kabatiya, arresting his brother.

Monday’s attack was the fourth terrorist attack in the disputed territories in three days. The other incidents involved an attempted hit and run, a stoning and a highway shooting.

Officials also revoked work permits for members of Turkman’s family, denying them entrance into Israeli territory, following the attack.

A similar attack occurred in January when another member of the Palestinian Authority police wounded soldiers at the same checkpoint near Beit El. A month later, another Palestinian policeman shot at Israeli security forces at the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem.

Also on Tuesday, a Palestinian woman in Hebron was reported arrested in a thwarted stabbing attack near the Cave of the Patriarchs.


Three Israeli Police
Wounded in Ramming Attack in Samaria

(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to Three Israeli Border Policemen suffered minor injuries Sunday after a terrorist attempted to run them over on a road leading to the Palestinian village of Beit Ummar, near Hebron in Samaria.

The troops opened fire at the vehicle killing the terrorist, later identified as a 23-year-old resident of Beit Ummar.

According to available details, the troops were on routine patrol around 5 p.m. when a car traveling on the road suddenly sped up and hit them. They were mostly able to jump out of the way, escaping more serious injuries, and were taken to a nearby hospital for treatment and released within a few hours.

Meanwhile, earlier Sunday, a 5-year-old Israeli boy was lightly injured after his family’s car was stoned while traveling on a Gush Etzion road.

The boy’s father, who was driving, was unharmed and rushed the child to the Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem for treatment.


Palestinians Claim Land Ownership Inside Jewish Town in Gush Etzion

(Andrew Friedman/TPS/Michael Bachner/TPS contributed to this article) Palestinians claiming to be the owners of an untended field inside Nokdim, an Israeli town southeast of Jerusalem, entered the community Wednesday morning along with their attorney. They said they wanted to set a time to return in order to plant crops in the field.

Several Nokdim residents protested the visit. One resident told Tazpit Press Service (TPS) that the Palestinians’ lawyer had demanded that security forces remove the residents who had gathered to demonstrate, claiming the site was privately-owned Palestinian land. Police refused.

The Palestinians entered the town along with Guy Butavia, an activist for the left-wing Ta’ayush organization. Butavia was granted permission from the IDF to enter the community under the pretext of serving as a driver for the Palestinians’ lawyer.

Butavia was arrested in January on suspicion of contacting a foreign agent and planning to commit a crime, after he was featured on the investigative television program “Uvda.” Butavia’s fellow Ta’ayush activist Ezra Nawi was shown on the program as bragging about turning in Palestinian real estate agents to the Palestinian Authority for selling land to Jews, and adding that this could lead to their death. Selling land to Jews is regarded as a crime under Palestinian law.

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