L.A. grad Max Levin survives attack in Gaza by ‘a quarter of a millimeter’


At 2 a.m. on July 23, Bud and Judy Levin were awakened by a call from Israel to their home in Los Angeles. It was their son, Max, a 21-year-old paratrooper in the Israeli army — calling from a hospital.

Just a few hours earlier, he had been securing a three-story home in Gaza with other members of his unit when a booby-trapped explosive planted by Hamas detonated, killing three soldiers, seriously wounding at least four others and lodging a piece of shrapnel above one of Max’s eyes.

If the shrapnel had struck “a quarter of a millimeter” in any other direction, Max likely would have been killed, Bud Levin told the Journal. Following the explosion, Max was airlifted to Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva for surgery. He has since been released. 

Speaking from Los Angeles recently, Max’s father said that he had just returned from a brief trip to Israel, where his wife remains with their son.

A 2011 graduate of New Community Jewish High School, Max Levin made aliyah in 2012 and is serving out the army’s mandatory three-year service for citizens. His unit’s July 23 operation in Gaza was part of Israel’s ongoing effort to find and destroy Hamas’ dwindling cache of weapons and explosives, and its network of underground tunnels, which the terrorist group has used in recent weeks to attempt to kill and kidnap Israeli civilians and soldiers on the other side of the border.

Jonathan Price, a cousin of Max Levin’s and his only relative in Israel, wrote in an email to friends and family that a “steady stream” of people Max didn’t know paid him visits bearing food, balloons, flowers, letters and pictures drawn by Israeli schoolchildren for wounded soldiers.

“They offered Max their prayers and blessings, sang songs, told him stories, asked him about himself, and most of all, just said, ‘Thank you,’ ” Price wrote.

That evening, Price added, Israeli officials cleared the room of visitors so that an army psychologist could inform Max of the deaths of his three fellow soldiers and the serious wounds inflicted upon the others.

According to Price, Max was particularly close with his commander, Lt. Paz Eliyahu, who was killed in the explosion. “[He] is said to have been an extraordinary person, and to have helped Max in a personal way through the many difficulties of his army service,” he wrote.

Bud Levin said that even though his son probably won’t be in any shape to go back into combat for at least a month, he’s eager to return immediately.

“Everybody says no, including the army,” he said, adding that when he asked Max if, just maybe, he would consider returning to California to recover, his son responded:

“No. Somebody’s got to keep up the memory of my three buddies who we lost.”

Egypt seizes two tons of explosives bound for Sinai


Egypt seized two tons of explosives hidden in a truck carrying a shipment of fruits and vegetables bound for Sinai on Friday, security sources said.

The country's security forces are trying to reassert control over the Sinai, which borders Israel and the Gaza Strip and has descended into lawlessness since the revolt that overthrew President Hosni Mubarak two years ago.

“We found the amount in a shipment, concealed under some fruits and vegetables… We found the explosives packed inside 100 plastic bags,” a security source said.

In January, Egypt seized six anti-aircraft and anti-tank rockets in the Sinai peninsula that smugglers may have intended to send to the Hamas-ruled Gaza strip.

The confiscated explosives were of a type used for demolishing stones in quarries.

When interrogated, the truck driver said he was unaware he was transporting explosives and that a businessman had asked him to take the goods to Sinai where it would be collected.

Reporting Yousri Mohamed; Writing by Asma Alsharif; Editing by Michael Roddy

Arrest made following Wilshire Boulevard Temple bomb scare, vandalism


A naturalized citizen from South Korea was arraigned today on charges related to the numerous bomb threats made Dec. 18 against Wilshire Boulevard Temple (WBT) in Koreatown and a police squad car parked adjacent to its campus, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

Wan Ryung Song, also known as Patrick Song, 46, was charged with four counts of making a bomb threat in addition to one count of vandalism at a house of worship and one count of a hate crime. Investigators believe that he was responsible for vandalizing the synagogue with a swastika and anti-Semitic rant on Dec. 6, a police statement says.

No evidence was found of any explosives despite phone calls reporting multiple bomb threats. Detectives determined that the calls were made from a pay phone at a nearby health spa where Song was a registered member.

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Israeli Arabs charged with smuggling explosives for Hezbollah


Israel has charged eight Israeli-Arab citizens were charged with smuggling explosives into the country for Hezbollah.

The residents of Nazareth and Ghajar, which is located half in Israel and half in Lebanon, were charged Wednesday in Nazareth District Court with smuggling nearly 45 pounds of explosives into Israel in June. They were arrested in July.

Israel’s Shin Bet security service said the explosives could have set off “a wave of serious terrorist attacks in Israel,” Reuters reported.

The operation would have needed approval from Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, the Shin Bet said, according to The Jerusalem Post.