Gardeners discover bag of ISIS flags in northern Israel


Gardeners in the Israeli city of Nazareth Illit discovered a bag containing about 25 ISIS flags.

Israel Police have opened an investigation into the discovery of the flags on Tuesday in an industrial area of northern Israeli city. The possession of materials from the jihadist group was outlawed in Israel several weeks ago.

“When something like this is discovered in the heart of a Jewish city, it needs to light up many warning signs,” Nazareth Illit Mayor Alex Gadalkin told Ynet.

In late September, a 24-year-old Arab-Israeli from Kfar Kana who was suspected of being associated with ISIS was arrested and questioned.

Earlier in the month, another Arab-Israeli was arrested for allegedly traveling to Syria and training with ISIS. Contact with the group also was made illegal.

Fire at Palestinians’ home seen as bid to avenge Israeli soldier’s murder


Five Palestinians were treated for smoke inhalation after their home was set ablaze in a “price tag” attack believed to be in revenge for an Israeli soldier’s murder.

“Regards from Eden, Revenge” was spray-painted on the house, which is located in a Palestinian village northeast of Ramallah. Its five residents were treated at a nearby hospital.

Pvt. Eden Atias, 18, of Nazareth-Illit was stabbed to death Wednesday morning on a public bus in Afula by a 16-year-old Palestinian male who was in Israel illegally. Atias was traveling back to his army base.

Thousands attended his funeral on Wednesday evening.

The Palestinian homeowner told the daily Haaretz that four “settlers” approached the house, poured flammable liquid near the door and set it alight.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the incident appeared to be in response to Atias’ murder, according to Reuters.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, two Palestinians arrested last month on suspicion of murdering an Israeli army colonel admitted to the killing, calling it a “gift to the Palestinian people.”

The suspects, aged 18 and 21, told Israel’s Shin Bet security agency that they had originally planned to rob Saraya Ofer, but decided to murder him when they realized he was a senior Israel Defense Forces official, The Jerusalem Post reported.

Saraya Ofer was the nephew of brothers and leading Israeli businessmen Yuli and Sammy Ofer.

Palestinian kills Israeli soldier on bus


An 18-year-old Israeli soldier was stabbed to death on a bus in northern Israel by a Palestinian teenager.

Police are calling the Wednesday morning incident in Afula a terrorist attack.

The soldier was stabbed several times in the neck on a bus traveling from Nazareth to Tel Aviv. He was rushed to a nearby hospital, where he reportedly died during surgery.

Police said the assailant, a 16-year-old male from Jenin, did not have a permit to work or reside in Israel, the Times of Israel reported.

Haaretz reported that the stabber’s brothers are known to Israeli security officials and have been connected to terrorist activity.  The attacker’s uncles are in prison in Israel, Army Radio reported.

The attack comes a day before the one-year anniversary of Pillar of Defense, an Israeli operation in Gaza launched to stop rocket strikes on southern Israel.

Last month, a Palestinian on a bus near Jerusalem threatened riders with a knife before cutting off a sidelock of a passenger and fleeing.

Industry is best bet for peace, Israeli billionaire says


On a new industrial park in Israel's largest Arab town, a software plant belonging to a multibillion-dollar U.S.-listed firm sits cheek-by-jowl with two small Arab-owned businesses: a metal factory and one producing tools for brain surgery.

About 300 Jews and Arabs work in the park in Nazareth, and within five years it should be 1,000.

This is what peace between Israelis and Arabs will one day look like, says the park's founder, Israeli industrialist Stef Wertheimer: manufacturing- and skills-driven wealth creation that makes ethnic differences seem less and less important.

Wertheimer, who fled Nazi Germany with his family when he was 10, has testified before the U.S. Congress about forging peace through the teaching of skills and developing export-oriented industries.

Aged 86, the billionaire has just completed his seventh industrial park with a personal investment of $25 million, and his zeal for peace through prosperity is undimmed.

“At the moment both sides are afraid of each other and don't see their future clearly,” Wertheimer said.

“The solution is to switch the focus from fear to success. Achievements in successful export industries, which need highly skilled people, can create an area as flourishing as South Korea and Singapore.”

Israel has forged a reputation for high-tech innovation, but Wertheimer's vision is of a broader base of industrial production for export, not only in Israel but also across the region.

ARAB UNEMPLOYMENT

In the process, he fully expects to improve the lot of Israel's Arab citizens, who make up 21 percent of the population and complain of underfunding for their community. Research by Tel Aviv University last year said the Arab unemployment rate stood at 30 percent against a national average of 6.5 percent.

“Israel and our vicinity is an area that traditionally has little industry. The area is known for history, it's known for religious stories, it's known a bit for agriculture but … neither was the Jewish population thinking about export industry, nor the Arab or Palestinian population,” he said.

“Germany and South Korea were able to lower unemployment through success in export industries. If our region will be successful in building export industries and skills, this will help promote peace.”

Wertheimer moved his home and office to Tel Aviv a year ago to be near the sea after spending most of his life in the Galilee in Israel's north. There, 61 years ago, on a lush green hill, he founded the toolmaker Iscar, which today employs 12,000 people around the world – many of them in Germany and South Korea.

This month, the Wertheimer family sold its remaining 20 percent stake in Iscar to Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc for $2.05 billion in cash.

Berkshire had bought 80 percent of Iscar, a maker of metal cutting tools formally known as IMC International Metalworking Cos, for $4 billion seven years ago.

ISCAR THE FOUNDATION

At the time, that purchase was one of the largest acquisitions involving an Israeli company, and Buffett's biggest bet outside the United States. The latest purchase suggested that Iscar's value has more than doubled since then.

Around Iscar, Wertheimer built his first industrial park, Tefen, which today accounts for 10 percent of Israel's exports.

Six more centers followed, mostly in Israel's northern and southern peripheries and one in Turkey, which was established eight years ago and is home to 1,200 workers.

All were built entirely with Wertheimer's own money, except for the one outside Istanbul, which includes a Turkish partner. Most include a university or trade school to teach the industrial skills lacking in Israel.

The park in Nazareth is anchored by a plant belonging to Amdocs, a provider of software for communications companies that had revenue of $3.2 billion in fiscal 2012.

The Arab-owned companies that sit beside it have been carefully chosen.

“It's not a real estate story. It is a story of picking companies that can make exports and create interesting jobs for the local people,” Wertheimer said.

Wertheimer, who recently founded five new companies making products ranging from drums for printing machines to spindles for the semiconductor industry, said he had agreed to sell the rest of Iscar after Buffett guaranteed that the jobs in Israel – a third of the company's employees – would remain.

“We made an agreement from the beginning … that Iscar would continue to grow, which was my biggest worry,” he said. “I got a promise from Mr Buffett that he will make all efforts for us to continue because my job is to make jobs and make peace.”

Editing by Steven Scheer and Kevin Liffey

Egyptian captors release Israeli man


An Arab-Israeli man from Nazareth who was kidnapped by Bedouin in Egypt was released.

Amir Omar Hassan arrived in Israel on Tuesday after being released by his captors. A Norwegian woman abducted at the same time also was released.

Hassan, a student at Ben Gurion University, told Israeli media that he and Ingvild Selvik were physically assaulted and threatened.

Their captors wanted Egyptian authorities to release two of their relatives, who are being held in a prison in northeastern Egypt on drug charges, according to Haaretz.

Security in the Sinai has deteriorated since the 2011 coup in Egypt that deposed President Hosni Mubarak.

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.

Israel gifts pope with olive tree


An olive tree more than 200 years old grown near Nazareth was sent as a gift from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Pope Benedict XVI.

The tree will be planted Wednesday during a ceremony at Viale Degli Ulivi, or Olive Tree Boulevard, in the Vatican Gardens.

According to Netanyahu, the tree symbolizes the blooming friendship between Israel and the Vatican, and it represents the aspiration to foster peace and brotherhood between peoples and religions. The gift follows the prime minister’s recent visit to the Vatican Museum.

Keren Kayemeth L’Yisrael, the Jewish National Fund, selected and shipped the tree to Ravenna Port in Italy. JNF World Chairman Effi Stenzler will attend the ceremony.