Israeli border policemen stand away after shooting a Palestinian man with a knife and what looks like an explosive belt near the Jewish settlement of Beit El, near the West Bank city of Ramallah. December 15, 2017. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic/File photo

Palestinian Wearing Fake Explosive Belt Stabs IDF Soldier


A Palestinian man wearing a belt that appeared to be laced with fake explosives stabbed an Israel Defense Force (IDF) soldier on the shoulder and was shot as a result.

The man, identified as 29-year-old Mohammed Aqal, was reportedly at a riot in Ramallah that became violent to the point of IDF intervention. Aqal allegedly stabbed an IDF soldier twice in the shoulder. Law enforcement officials responded by shooting Aqual and then shooting him again when they noticed the apparent explosives on his belt.

Aqal died from his gunshot wounds. The Hadashot newspaper later reported that the belt didn’t contain actual explosives. The IDF soldier who was stabbed is currently in stable condition.

Aqal was one of four Palestinians who died in riots in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem on Friday in response to President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Another 250 were injured and a total of 2,500 Palestinians took part in the riots, a decline of “thousands” from the week prior. According to the Times of Israel, “Demonstrators burned tires and threw rocks at Israeli troops, who fired back at them with tear gas and rubber bullets.”

A 30-year-old Israeli who has yet to be identified was wounded when some Palestinians chucked rocks at his vehicle. His injuries are not believed to be serious.

Video from the riots can be seen here.

The flare-up in riots come as Vice President Mike Pence is set to visit the Middle East at the beginning of next week. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is refusing to meet with the vice president due to Trump’s Jerusalem move.

As I Lay Dying


When my friend and I sat under a canopy of Jerusalem pines, she asked me the time. Never did I dream that 30 minutes later she would be dead. I had never contemplated that someone would try to brutally murder me. Who does? At only 46 years old, I had never given death a thought.

The half hour leading up to Kristine Luken’s execution (and the attempt on my life) was a madness so debilitating that even the moments necessary for preparing myself for death were strangled by the dread of the manner of it.

On my knees bound, gagged and held captive by moral depravity in the Jerusalem Forest seven years ago, I looked up to heaven and moments later felt the serrated machete tear my flesh. Simultaneously, I witnessed the unthinkable: an innocent woman murdered before my eyes by two immoral, nefarious, hateful psychopaths who murdered with such obscene banality that they could hold a machete in one hand and a Marlboro in the other.

Let me tell you what I did and didn’t think, what I saw and didn’t see during that eternal moment that, unlike other events, cannot be routinely processed like other memories.

When the Angel of Death was beckoning, it never crossed my mind that I had not bought a house or gotten married or had kids or held a high-class career or made a bunch of money. Not for a fleeting moment was I regretful that I had always and only “excelled at average,” and bumbled through life not knowing what I really wanted to do until I was approaching 40.

In some respects, the prospect of death was disappointingly underwhelming. I envy those with near-death experiences who see a light, who see God, who have their lives flash before them, and who feel warm and peaceful. Concerning the mysteries of the World to Come, I had only a dull sense that the Master of the Universe was inherently good and raging at the evil of Adam.

But neither my lack of personal career and family aspirations, nor thoughts of God, was what for the most part occupied my mind.

What did was this:

I was thinking of the people I loved. The grief that I would never see them again was so searing that it competed with the machete ripping my skin. Never again would I embrace them or even hear their voices. I had not made the most of every moment. It was too late to correct anything I had said, or left unsaid. Gone forever were the opportunities to correct the moments when I did not extend kindness, sacrifice my time and think of those I loved before myself. I am often emotionally lazy in relationships; my being right had frequently superseded being kind.

After the attack by the Palestinian terrorists — now jailed in Israel — hundreds of Jews, Arabs and Christians sent me letters, for which I shall be forever grateful. People had taken the time to go out, choose a card, write their good wishes, go to the post office, wait in line and send it off. I had no idea how strengthening such kindness would prove to be, and I suspect neither did they.

In my experience, time does not heal. Time does not lead me to an upward turn, a working through, and finally, acceptance and hope. Unable to cry at the evil done to me, for the past few years I was truly worried that I was becoming a psychopath. Then I grew to understand that time does not heal, and evil does not make me cry. It is kindness that makes me weep.

I swear by the wisdom of the Talmud that says, “He who is merciful to the wicked, will be wicked to the merciful.” Raging at those who murder and maim is one thing, but being unkind toward those in our own communities and families because of political differences is a tragedy. I recognize that sometimes it is impossible to reconcile personal differences. However, the arena in which we conduct those differences can still be one of dignity, self-restraint and kindness.

Trust me, no matter how convinced and passionate you or I may be about our political persuasions, it is good to remember that our opinions are never worth more than our friends and families with whom we may disagree.

I learned that as I lay dying.


KAY WILSON is a British-born Israeli tour guide, cartoonist, musician, educator and survivor of a brutal 2010 Palestinian terrorist attack. 

Tourists stand in front of a grafitti depicting U.S President Donald Trump on the controversial Israeli barrier in the West Bank town of Bethlehem August 4, 2017. Photo by Mussa Qawasma/REUTERS.

Why we need more history lessons


In the cascade of one major news story after another, President Donald Trump has decided somewhat quietly to send his son-in-law and close adviser, Jared Kusher, along with chief negotiator Jason Greenblatt, back to the Middle East to try to revive peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians.

While the chances of success are not high, this nonetheless is a salutary development on at least two scores: First, it reveals that the president has not given up all hope and does seem to regard the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as worth his attention; and second, in this conflict, stasis, or the perceived absence of diplomatic movement, often is a catalyst for violence.

And yet, there is a concerning element to this plan. Several weeks ago, in a talk with a group of congressional interns, Kushner reportedly said of diplomacy: “Everyone finds an issue … ‘You have to understand what they did then,’ and ‘You have to understand that they did this.’ But how does that help us get peace? Let’s not focus on that. We don’t want a history lesson. We’ve read enough books. Let’s focus on how do you come up with a conclusion to the situation.”

It is tempting to imagine that in a conflict weighed down by competing historical narratives, one can begin with a tabula rasa and then move on to a shared understanding of a peaceful future. I fear that this won’t work in the case of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The two sides cling tightly to their accounts of the past — and for understandable reasons. The Jewish/Zionist/Israeli story of liberation from exile and reclamation of the ancestral homeland contains a great deal of truth. But so does the Palestinian story of the flight from homeland to exile. In this sense, both historical accounts have a great deal of veracity, although they are mixed with myth and, often enough, denial of the legitimacy of the other side’s narrative.

Researchers have found that in post-conflict situations such as Northern Ireland and the Balkans, a key and difficult step toward reconciliation is to acknowledge the existence of multiple narratives and to work at all levels of society to educate toward an inclusive, rather than exclusive, view of the past. As I argue in a forthcoming book, “The Stakes of History,” history is not only not to be avoided in such settings, it can be an important tool of reconciliation between warring sides. Failing to acknowledge the history of the other will induce anger and indignation at every turn. And repressing difficult chapters from the past may be gratifying in the short term but ultimately will return with a vengeance, like a festering wound.

Recognizing the story of the other as part of the quest for diplomatic resolution is one sense in which history is important. There are other uses for history. The past, as the German-Jewish philosopher Walter Benjamin noted, is a huge repository of discarded, but interesting, ideas. The current state of affairs between Israelis and Palestinians is a stalemate. The long-regnant model of a two-state solution is increasingly undesirable to both sides; the alternative Israeli and Palestinian visions of a single state between the Jordan and the Mediterranean seem to be so divergent as to be unbridgeable. Returning to the dustbin of history can help to surface old ideas worth reconsidering in the present quagmire, even if only as interim solutions. These include, as Israeli historian Benny Morris explored in his book “One State, Two States,” confederated arrangements in which autonomous areas are joined to existing states or even a canton system that grants autonomy to different parts of the region according to ethnic, political or cultural cohesion.

There is a third way history can be of value — and this is of most direct value to Jared Kushner. American policy is far better off with a rich sense of history than an enfeebled one. Had military and political planners possessed a more refined sense of the history of ethnic and religious conflict in Iraq and the region, there might have been a greater sense of restraint before the U.S.-led invasion of 2003 — and a more realistic awareness of the challenges of governing the country after it. By extension, it would seem responsible to take a deep dive into the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as well as into the attempts to solve it, before embarking on a new diplomatic initiative.

In fact, it might be worth reviving a proposal raised by two distinguished scholars in the waning months of the Barack Obama presidency. Political scientist Graham Allison and historian Niall Ferguson called in September 2016 for the creation of a Council of History Advisers to serve a function akin to the Council of Economic Advisers. The two proposed a number of ways in which history could be of great value to policymakers, recalling the valuable recourse to history made by former Federal Reserve Board chairman Ben Bernanke in response to the 2008 economic crisis.

As in that case, so too in the present, we stand to benefit greatly from more rather than fewer history lessons.

DAVID N. MYERS is the president and CEO of the Center for Jewish History, as well as the Sady and Ludwig Kahn Professor of Jewish History at UCLA. He is the author of “Jewish History: A Very Short Introduction” (Oxford University Press).

Why didn’t Obama punish Palestinian incitement?


As I reflected on the horrific news from Jerusalem of the latest Palestinian terror attack against Jews, I thought about President Obama’s recent decision to not veto United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, which branded Jewish neighborhoods of East Jerusalem—including the Western Wall–as “Occupied Palestinian Territory.”

Let’s accept that the president has the right to punish an ally for not honoring his demands. Israel, in fact, did not honor Obama’s draconian demand nearly eight years ago to freeze every inch of construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. So, it’s perfectly OK to look at this resolution as the consequence of not obeying an important ally.

Obama can talk all day long about his admiration for Israel, but he surely must know that a resolution that turns the Jewish state into an outlaw state, and that makes no distinction between an illegal outpost and the Western Wall, is harmful to Israel and is fodder for Israel’s enemies.

What makes Obama’s action especially nasty and unjust, however, is that he could never bring himself to similarly punish Palestinian terrorism and incitement to violence.

Punish Jews for building too many homes in disputed territory? Absolutely. Punish Palestinians for inciting their people to murder Jews? Absolutely not.

Palestinian incitement is not just the glorifying of terrorism and teaching of Jew-hatred throughout Palestinian society—we’ve almost become used to that. A more insidious strain of incitement is the denial of any Jewish connection to Jerusalem, which is dramatized in violent statements such as these: “Every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem is pure. Every martyr will reach paradise, and every injured person will be rewarded by God.”

Those are not the words of a bloodthirsty terrorist from Hamas or Hezbollah– they are those of the “moderate” Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas. Evidently, for our peace “partner” Abbas, murdering Jews in Jerusalem is a big mitzvah.

Does Abbas shake in his boots when he encourages such murder against Jews? Is he afraid that Obama will punish him? Of course not. Yes, Obama has uttered the obligatory statements against Palestinian terrorism and Palestinian incitement. But real consequences to put teeth behind the condemnations? That’s reserved for Israel.

Obama easily could have threatened to punish Palestinian leaders if they did not dismantle their infrastructure of Jew-hatred. He could have pushed for sanctions against Palestinian incitement both in the Security Council and the U.S. Congress. He could have introduced a U.N. resolution that reaffirmed the Jewish people’s deep and ancient connection to Jerusalem and exposed Palestinian lies. He did none of that.

Instead, he came after Israel, first with an extreme demand that characterized “settlements” as anything from an illegal outpost to the Western Wall, and, second, by allowing a Security Council resolution that officially enshrined Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem as “Occupied Palestinian territory.”

Now, ask yourself: If you’re a Jew-hating Palestinian who hears that the leader of the free world believes the Jewish Quarter belongs to Palestinians, wouldn’t you be encouraged to attack Jews in those areas, especially if your own leader has promised you a special place in paradise for dropping Jewish blood in the holy city?

Of course Obama never meant to encourage violence against Jews in “occupied” Jerusalem. Still, it’s hard to argue that the resolution he allowed to pass won’t make such violence more likely.

Obama’s great sin is not that he gave Israel a hard time, but that he failed to do the same with the Palestinians. When he had a chance to make his defining statement on the conflict, he didn’t demand that Palestinians accept Israel’s offer to negotiate without preconditions, nor did he punish Palestinian leaders for promoting Jew-hatred and inciting their people by denying any Jewish connection to Jerusalem.

No, when he came to his moment of truth at the end of his term, Obama chose to follow Israel’s enemies at the United Nations and punish the Jewish state.

By doing so, he will only end up punishing himself. Israel will survive Obama’s betrayal at the U.N. just as it has survived for so long in the world’s most hostile neighborhood.

It is Obama’s legacy with the pro-Israel community that may not survive. When you give Israel’s enemies more justification to attack Jews, you shouldn’t be surprised if many of those Jews end up turning against you.

The courage to respond


Since the soaring violence returned to the streets in October, dozens of Israelis have been killed in random acts of violence while more than 170 Palestinians have died – most while in the act of inflicting grave harm and even death to people they don’t know. It’s all about the blood.

Periods like this have been upon us before. We even number them: First Intifada; Second Intifada. Then we debate: are 200 acts of violence enough to give it a number – the Third Intifada. Yet, the one constant that remains in each set of violent acts, whether suicide-bombings or this macabre stabbing fetish that demonizes young people and takes its toll in youthful deaths – is the courage of first responders.

To my brave colleagues who arrive at the scene to pandemonium and confusion; that we are stepping in line to become the terrorists’ most promising target is by necessity pushed from our minds. Abstract arguments and debates aside, the first responders treat anyone inflicted with physical wounds, victims and terrorists alike. However, don’t think for a moment it’s an easy choice, or that we don’t agonize over the innocent and are repulsed by destroyers of life.

Like other first responders, my parents brought me up to respect and celebrate life; to embrace    the hearts of others – not stab them. The recent reality of responding to the scene of a call only to find a teenager lying dead and learning that he – or she – was the assailant – is a horror surpassed only by the thought of young children witnessing the brutal murder of a parent, an image will never be erased.

In the past decade, I’ve responded to thousands of emergency calls including terror attacks. Each time I arrive on the scene my heart pounds with adrenaline and anticipation at what will be the challenge. We are prepared to do the utmost to save the life of anyone who can still be saved – even if it means risking your own life – this is more than a given: it’s a part of the job and it’s expected.

But what is not expected and rarely understood beyond the circle of first responders and emergency medical personnel is what we feel when the last ambulance has departed the scene and reality replaces the rush. Somehow peeling off the blood-stained gloves fails to remove the true stain that remains on our hearts.

The incessant emotional highs and lows take an unfair toll on those who respond day-after day. I recall how the surreal nature of what we do was driven home on October 3, arguably the start of the “knife Intifada,” when on Saturday afternoon two men were stabbed in Jerusalem’s Old City and I participated in efforts to resuscitate each of them. Tragically, both died. A mere few hours later I was escaping to the amazing sounds of the great Bon Jovi, singing in Tel Aviv. It was not only a macabre juxtaposition, but for me it represented the melding of horror and heart-break with the need to carry on; perhaps too confusing for anyone but a first responder to comprehend.

Being involved in international operations for United Hatzalah (and America’s United Rescue), I’m often asked about Israel’s seemingly endless innovation and leadership in life saving. I answer that while it’s no great honor to achieve out of necessity, it is nevertheless an endless source of pride that our first responders can be called into service all too frequently to arrive at scenes all too horrific to comprehend  without losing their sense of perspective and dedication to saving lives. Any lives.

As a medic I constantly pray that the most recent victim is the last: but deep down I know that me and my fellow first responders will likely fail to finish our next meal. It’s a horrible feeling to wish that next call is a person in distress and not a terror attack, but we are nevertheless ready to respond. We can never allow the fear of not responding to enter our minds because once that happens, the enemy has won. The next call will inevitably come and when it does, we’ll reach for the keys and rush out the door – without thinking twice.

Not responding is not an option. Giving up on humanity is for the terrorists, not for the first responder.


Gavriel Friedson, Deputy Director of International Operations for United Rescue (Israel’s United Hatzalah), has been responding to emergency calls for twelve years. He holds a Masters of Public Health in Emergency and Disaster Management from Tel Aviv University.

Palestinian hunger striker rejects Israeli offer of May 1 release


A Palestinian journalist on the 75th day of a hunger strike has rejected Israel’s offer to release him by May 1.

Muhammad al-Qiq, 33, said he will not accept an offer unless it ends his detention immediately and allows him to be treated in a Palestinian hospital, the Palestinian Maan news agency reported Sunday.

Qiq, who lost his ability to speak due to the strike and only communicates in writing, said he will continue the strike until “martyrdom or freedom,” according to Maan. He is protesting being held by Israel in administrative detention since Nov. 24.

The offer comes days after Israel’s Supreme Court suspended Qiq’s detention due to his failing health from the hunger strike. Under the Supreme Court order, Qiq would not be allowed to leave the hospital without permission and his family would be allowed to visit. The order did not cancel, just suspended, his detention.

Under administrative detention, a prisoner can be held for six months without being charged or tried. The order can be renewed indefinitely.

On Saturday, Maan quoted a doctor at HaEmek Medical Center in Afula as saying Qiq was in danger of imminent death.

“Each minute marks serious threat to his life because it is probable that his inner organs will stop operating at any moment, leading to immediate death,” the doctor said, according to Maan.

Doctors at the hospital have refused to force-feed Qiq, despite a law passed in July that allows hospital to do so.

Qiq has been jailed by Israel before, including a month in 2003 and 13 months in 2004, the French news agency AFP reported. In 2008, he was sentenced to 16 months on charges linked to his activities on the student council at the West Bank’s Birzeit University, according to AFP.

Palestinians attack Israeli soldiers, civilians with knives – one killed


Three Palestinians attacked Israeli soldiers in the West Bank and civilians in the Tel Aviv suburbs with knives on Monday and one of them was shot dead,Israeli authorities said. 

Now in its second month, the worst spate of violence since the 2014 Gaza war has been caused by tensions over Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque compound, a site sacred to both Muslims and Jews, and by deadlocked talks with Israel on Palestinian statehood.

The Israeli military said troops approached two Palestinians at a petrol station near a checkpoint inside the West Bank boundary. One of them tried to stab a soldier and was shot dead, the army said. Palestinian officials said he was 16 years old. 

The second Palestinian was arrested, the Israeli army said.

Later, a 19-year-old Palestinian from the West Bank city of Hebron stabbed three people in the Tel Aviv suburb of Rishon Lezion before being overpowered and arrested, Israeli police said. They said two of those stabbed, one an 80-year-old woman, were in serious condition. The third was slightly hurt.

In Netanya, north of Tel Aviv, another West Bank Palestinian in his 20s stabbed a 70-year-old man, seriously wounding him, and was shot and wounded by police, Israeli authorities said. 

At least 67 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces since Oct. 1. Forty of them were armed mainly with knives, while others were shot during violent protests, Israel says. An Israeli air strike in retaliation for a cross-border rocket attack also killed a Gaza woman and her daughter.

Eleven Israelis have been killed in stabbings and shootings by Palestinians.

A growing number of visits by religious Jews to al-Aqsa plaza – Islam's holiest site outside Saudi Arabia and revered in Judaism as the location of two destroyed biblical temples – have stirred Palestinian allegations that Israel is violating a long-running agreement banning non-Muslim prayer there.

Israel has accused Palestinian officials of inciting the violence by spreading the allegations, which it says are false.

Berkeley students chant for intifada [video]


A video of UC Berkeley students chanting in support of an intifada “just hours…after the stabbing of a 72 year old Jewish civilian on a bus” was shared on the Facebook page of pro-Israel group StandWithUs on Wednesday.

“Shocking: right now on the campus of UC Berkeley, students participate in a ‘day of action’ and explicitly chant ‘we support the intifada,’ just hours after this ‘intifada’ resulted in the stabbing of a 72 year old Jewish civilian on a bus,” according to the Facebook page of StandWithUs, which combats anti-Israel sentiment on college campuses.

“Where is their moral compass!?” the StandWithUs Facebook page adds, in reference to the UC Berkeley students depicted in the video, which you can view below.

Deadly incidents, many of them stabbings, have been taking place on an almost daily basis in Israel this past month, prompting observers to predict that an intifada—a Palestinian uprising—is imminent. If an intifada were to occur, it would be the third intifada since Israel’s founding in 1948. 

 

 

 

Shocking: right now on the campus of UC Berkeley, students participate in a “day of action” and explicitly chant “we support the intifada,” just hours after this “intifada” resulted in the stabbing of a 72 year old Jewish civilian on a bus. Days ago, this “intifada” led to the stabbing of a 13-year-old Israeli child in the streets of Jerusalem…and last week, the murder of Eitam and Naama Henkin in front of 4 of their children. Where is their moral compass!?#StopIncitement

Posted by StandWithUs on Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Palestinian detainee ends 65-day hunger-strike


Palestinian detainee Mohammed Allan ended his 65-day hunger strike against his detention without trial on Wednesday after the Israeli Supreme Court suspended his arrest warrant, his lawyer said.

Allan has sustained brain damage as result of his hunger strike and is hospitalized in Israel in critical condition. The court said that in his current condition he poses no threat and therefore suspended his arrest warrant.

The 31-year-old Islamic Jihad activist's case was being monitored closely by opposing sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which had looked likely to boil over into new violence if Allan were to have died as result of his strike.

“The story is over, administrative detention is cancelled and therefore there is no strike,” Allan's lawyer, Jameel Khatib, told Reuters.

The Israeli government saw his hunger strike as a powerful challenge against “administrative detention”, a practice that has drawn criticism from Palestinians and human rights groups but which Israel calls necessary for its national security.

It fears his release would only encourage some 370 other Palestinian detainees held without charge to refuse food.

The court said Allan was to stay at the Israeli hospital where he was being treated.

Before Wednesday's court session got under way, Allan's lawyers said that in return for an end to the strike, Israel had pledged not to renew his six-month detention period, meaning he would go free on Nov. 3.

The hospital said Allan's condition had deteriorated since he was brought out of sedation on Tuesday. His attorneys said he did not respond to the proposal.

In court, a government lawyer said Israel was prepared to free Allan immediately if a scan carried out while court was in session showed that he had suffered irreversible brain damage and subsequently no longer posed a security threat.

But the scan results were not conclusive. Barzilai hospital chief Chezy Levy told reporters it showed some brain damage and it was not yet clear whether it was “completely reversible”. He said it was possible Allan would recover.

On Tuesday Allan instructed medical staff to halt intravenous treatment, but then agreed vitamins could be administered in the run-up to the court hearing.

Allan's case was originally seen as a possible test of Israel's new force-feeding law, which the country's medical association has condemned as a violation of ethics and international conventions. But doctors have said that option is no longer viable due to his grave condition.

Last week supporters of Allan clashed with Israeli right-wingers near the hospital. Israel has long been concerned that hunger strikes by Palestinians in its jails could end in deaths and trigger waves of protests in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Israeli man killed after Palestinian drives car into Jerusalem bus stop


A Palestinian man from eastern Jerusalem drove his car into two Israelis waiting at a bus stop, killing one and critically injuring the other.

Police are investigating whether the late Wednesday night incident in the French Hill neighborhood, near the border of eastern and western Jerusalem, was a terror attack.

Shalom Sharki, 25, an Israeli civilian from Jerusalem, died Thursday morning of his injuries. An Israeli woman, 20, was in critical condition and on a respirator.

Sharki is the son of Rabbi Uri Sharki, a community rabbi in Jerusalem, and the brother of Yair Sharki, a reporter for Channel 2 in Israel.

The driver, 37, was treated at Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital and was to be turned over to the Shin Bet security service for questioning. He reportedly is married with no children and has no criminal record.

The incident was initially treated as an accident, but police later decided to investigate the driver, according to reports. Police said the driver “swerved from his lane and hit two civilians standing at the station,” Ynet reported.

There have been several terror attacks in recent months in which cars were used to ram into pedestrians in Jerusalem in recent months. In one such incident in October, two people were killed, including a 3-month-old girl.

At least 12 injured, four critically, in stabbing spree on Tel Aviv bus


At least 12 people were wounded, some seriously, when a Palestinian man stabbed passengers and the driver on a Tel Aviv bus.

Four victims, including the driver, remained in serious condition following the Wednesday morning attack on the No. 40 bus. Initial reports said 12 to 21 people were injured.

The assailant was shot in the leg by a commander in the Israel Prison Service who was at the scene of the attack and apprehended by police. Video of the attack was later posted on YouTube.

Police identified the assailant as Hamza Muhammed Hasan Matrouk, 23, from the West Bank city of Tulkarem who had entered Israel illegally, according to media reports.

The attack was the first in Tel Aviv since a soldier was killed in a stabbing attack at a train station in November.

In a statement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the Prison Service members who stopped Wednesday’s attacker and drew a link between the incident and recent terrorist attacks in France and Belgium.

“The attack in Tel Aviv is the direct result of the poisonous incitement spread by the Palestinian Authority toward the Jews and their state,” Netanyahu said. “The same terror tries to harm us in Paris, Brussels and everywhere.”

According to Israeli reports, the attacker boarded the bus at approximately 7:15 a.m. and began stabbing passengers soon afterward. The driver, Herzl Biton, 55, sprayed the assailant with pepper spray as he was being stabbed, slowing him down and aiding the Prison Service employees in stopping him as he fled the scene.

“We identified in the area of the Maariv Bridge a large gathering, and people crying for help. After an initial assessment, we understood it was a terrorist incident,” said Prison Service Commander Benny Botershvili, who shot the attacker, according to the Times of Israel. “I and a team of three Nachshon fighters identified the terrorist and chased after him. We shot toward his legs, the terrorist collapsed and fell, we handcuffed him and waited for the police to arrive.”

Liel Suissa, an eighth-grader on his way to school, told the Israeli daily Israel Hayom that he broke a bus window to escape the attack after the stabbing began. He said the assailant continued chasing after people as they escaped the bus.

“Suddenly the terrorist came and began stabbing people,” Suissa said, according to Israel Hayom. “We all went to the back, and most of the people piled onto me. I sat in the bus and heard people screaming. He turned around in the bus and suddenly went to the driver and stabbed him.”

Tel Aviv Police Commander Bentzi Sau called the attack a “nationalist incident” and praised Biton’s “excellent reaction” to the stabbing. He said the police are investigating whether the attacker had any accomplices.

Hamas officials praised the attack as “heroic and courageous,” according to Israeli reports. Hamas said it was a “natural reaction of sons of the Palestinian nation to the crimes of the cruel Zionist occupier.”

Palestinian driver killed attempting to run West Bank checkpoint


A Palestinian driver was killed as he tried to run over Israeli soldiers at a West Bank checkpoint.

Another Palestinian in the minivan and an Israeli civilian also were injured in the Tuesday afternoon incident.

The driver was seriously wounded when an Israeli soldier opened fire as the vehicle attempted to overrun the Eyal checkpoint near the Palestinian city of Kalkilya. He later died of his wounds.

The minivan had Israeli license plates and held several Palestinian passengers without documentation reportedly attempting to enter Israel illegally, according to The Jerusalem Post. They were arrested and taken for questioning.

Why Israel must negotiate with Hamas


The following article appeared in the Italian and Israeli press, and is offered here for the first time in English.  Its author is the distinguished Novelist, Alef Bet Yehoshua, well known as well for his advocacy of peace initiatives and his argument that Israel constitutes a kind of special Jewish sovereignty that (some feel) diminishes the importance of Diaspora.    William Cutter, Prof. Emeritus at Hebrew Union College, is the translator, and is not representing his personal views on any subjects related to Mr. Yehoshua’s arguments.   

——

When Israel was established officially in 1948, The Jordanians bombarded Jerusalem and isolated it even as they killed hundreds of its residents.  The soldiers of the Arab Legion conquered Gush Etzion and murdered killed many Israelis—even in cold blood. Yet, throughout all the months of that cruel and difficult war, no one called (thought of calling) the Jordanians “terrorists”.  They were the enemy, pure and simple the “enemy.  And in the very midst of such awful bloodshed, ongoing talks were held between the official Israeli and Jordanian delegations.  These cease fire talks—brokered by the United Nations –led eventually to fragile agreements to cease hostilities in 1949.    

The Syrians—up until the War of 1967—bombarded the settlements in the northern Gallilee, killing or wounding many of its residents, but no one described the Syrians as “terrorists”; they were rather termed “the enemy.”  This situation was not about providing gas or electricity, and in fact they actually did meet from time to time for face to face meetings about armistice or cease fire. 

Until the Six Day War terrorist divisions commonly came across the Egyptian border and spread death among Israeli settlements that were situated on that border which were open to Egypt as an enemy, not as a terrorist nation.

And in spite of the fact that such countries announced openly their intention to destroy Israel, Israel’s Prime Minister managed to open every session of his Parliament (K’nesset) by turning to Egypt and Syria with a plea to calm hostilities and make peace agreements.

What accounts for the fact that, after the retreat of Israel from the Gaza Strip, the departure from Israeli settlements and the transfer of authority to Hamas, we continue to characterize Gaza as a terrorist state rather than as an “enemy’ in the full sense of that word?  Is it that the expression “a regime of terror” is a stronger expression than “enemy”?  Or, perhaps the word “terror” signifies that we reckon deep down that the territory of Gaza is a part of Israel, which we tried unsuccessfully to settle, wishing to return.  In that case, its inhabitants wouldn’t be considered “enemies” but Arab s of the Land of Israel in which bands of terrorists operate?  Do we have the obligations towards the welfare of Gazans in a way in which we did not have to attend to the welfare of the Syrians or Egyptians in previous wars—so that, while we DO continue to supply electricity and food and oil (and this is my main point) we don’t agree even to enter into negotiations with the leadership of Gaza in the way in which we once negotiated with the Jordanians, the Syrians or the Egyptians.

Is it possible that all of the confusion and complexity here derives from the concern that cease fire meetings with Hamas or consideration of future essential steps towards establishing stable arrangements of cease fire are likely to weaken Abu Maizen?

Yet the continued killing in Gaza is weakening even more the person who regards himself as the leader of the Palestinian people.  And even if we grant this is the reason for our concern, the question remains:  Why, when a short time ago the Palestinians united, we didn’t exploit the opportunity to talk with Hamas, the partner in that coalition, and grant thereby a legitimacy to the polity that was governing Gaza? 

In my own view, Hamas’s frustration grows from the lack of a meaningful legitimization in Israel’s eyes and in the eyes of most of the world.  It is this frustration that leads them to such destructive desperation.  And that is why it is necessary to grant them status as a legitimate enemy before we can come to any agreement or, alternatively, to a frontal war and all that would entail.  That is how we functioned previously with Arab nations.  As long as we label Hamas as a terrorist gang that dominates innocent citizens it is not only that we cannot reach a satisfactory cease-fire in the South with appropriate military consequences, but (and this is the main point) we will not be able to enter into open negotiations with the Gaza government in three significant aspects: 

1.      International supervision regarding the removal of missiles and the prohibition on importing them by land sea or air;

2.     Opening up the borders to Israel so that workers may come to Israel for employment;

3.     The eventual and desirable opening of secure passage between Gaza and the West Bank.

There will be skeptics among us who will argue that Hamas may not choose to sit with us for such open negotiations.  What about them?

Then we must propose meetings within the framework of the united Palestinian government.  And should they reject that possibility, then our war will become a legitimate war in every sense of the word, fought according to the general rules of warfare.

But let us not forget: The Palestinians in Gaza are our permanent neighbors and we are theirs.  We will never halt the bloody destruction with talk of terror except through negotiation or a war against a legitimate enemy from whom we have no claims other than the claims that he stop the attacks. 

Pro-Israel rally at Federal Building to begin at 4 p.m.


A pro-Israel rally at the Wilshire Federal Building, located on Wilshire and Sepulveda Boulevards, on Sunday, kicks off at 4 p.m. Click here for more information. Organizations 30 Years After; Stand With Us; and Israeli American Council; and others are sponsoring the event, and if previous, similar rallies are any indication, hundreds, if not thousands, of people will show up to express their support. 

There's a lot happening in Israel at the moment. This past week, Israel and the Gaza have exchanged rocket fire, amidst upheaval over the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers and a group of young Israelis' subsequent revenge killing of a Palestinian teen.

Rioting in the streets, coupled with the razing of homes in the West Bank as Israel searched for the murderers, contributed to the escalation of violence between the two warring sides. For the past several days, Gaza ruling party Hamas has been launching rockets into Israel.

Israel, for its part, has responded to Hamas' actions with Operation Protective Edge, a military bombarding of aerial strikes against Gaza.

The worst has yet to come, apparently. Israeli leaders have said the deployment of ground troops into Gaza, a coastal enclave ruled by Hamas that Israel has a naval blockade over, might go down. Various media outlets, citing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israel leaders, have said Operation Protective Edge could last a long time.

Israel has mobilized thousands of Israel Defense Forces reserve troops in the event it is deemed necessary to pursue a ground option.

Israel Consul General in Los Angeles David Siegel, who spoke to the Journal last Wednesday, said goals of Operation Protective Edge, which began on July 7, include securing Israel.

Some worry the embattled regions are on the verge of a Third Intifada.

More than 100 Palestinians have lost their lives as a result of this latest round of violence.

Israelis are faring better. This is due to the Iron Dome, a counter-defense system that has prevented Hamas rockets from hitting their targets in Israel.

Life in Israel has been disrupted by the violence, with bomb shelters becoming temporary homes for Israelis within firing distance from Gaza.

The Los Angeles community has been paying attention. On July 8, dueling rallies took place outside the Los Angeles Israeli consulate's headquarter. More than 300 people turned up at the anti-Israel event. 

The Federal Building is often the site of choice for these pro-Israel actions, like in 2012, during Operation Pillar of Defense. More than 1,000 people showed up for the pro-Israel rally. 

An Israel-Hamas ceasefire resulted from the 2012 conflict, a similar deadly episode between Israel and Gaza. It is unclear if one will come any time soon. In the meantime, the United States has offered to help the two sides return to normalcy, if such a word can describe the two sides' relationship, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has also called for an end to the fighting.

Rallies at LA Israel consulate show strong feelings about renewed Israel-Gaza violence


Dueling rallies on the afternoon of Tuesday, July 7, outside the Israeli Consulate in Los Angeles showed strong feelings about renewed Israel-Gaza violence.

On the south side of the street at  11766 Wilshire Blvd., protestors held Palestinian flags, which flapped in a reporter’s face as the people waving them chanted slogans, infusing strong emotion into a demonstration critical of Israel held outside the Israeli consulate’s office in West Los Angeles. 

Chants alternated between being anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian.

“Netanyahu you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide” went one chant. “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” went another during the rally, which, according to a Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) official estimate, drew approximately 300 people.

The rally began at 4 p.m. and ended around 7 p.m.

The event turned the sidewalk on the south side of Wilshire Boulevard, near Barrington Avenue, into a scene of controlled chaos. The sound of car horns filled the air. Pro-Palestinians sang their chants into microphones. Many of them students, the crowd pushed up against the curb, their bodies pressed up against large pro-Palestinian banners, as buses and other cars drove by.

Across the street, a somewhat more subdued gathering of supporters of Israel drew about 100 people, according to an LAPD estimate.

The rallies took place even as rockets flew between Israel and the Gaza Strip, an escalation of violence in the wake of the recent abduction and murder of three Israeli teenagers – and the subsequent revenge killing by Israelis of a Palestinian teenager.

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.

Grappling with troubled peace process, Kerry urges Israeli settlement limits


Secretary of State John Kerry urged Israel on Wednesday to limit settlement building in the West Bank to help push peace talks with the Palestinians back on track.

Faced with grim Israeli and Palestinian assessments of progress in the talks, Kerry also appeared to slap down Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and warmly endorsed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's commitment to seeking a two-state solution.

Friction over the talks has risen this past week on the back of Israeli plans, announced in tandem with its release of 26 Palestinian prisoners, for some 3,500 new homes for Jewish settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

“Let me emphasize at this point the position of the United States of America on the settlements is that we consider them… to be illegitimate,” Kerry, reaffirming long-standing U.S. policy, said after discussions with Abbas.

Speaking to reporters in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, Kerry said it would be better if settlement building was “limited as much as possible in an effort to help create a climate for these talks to be able to proceed effectively”.

Palestinians have warned of a brewing crisis if Israel continues to assert that they had effectively agreed to turn a blind eye to the settlement campaign, in exchange for the progressive release of 104 long-serving inmates.

Kerry dismissed Israeli suggestions there had been an understanding with the Palestinians about settlement expansion and stated “unequivocally” his belief that Abbas was “100 percent committed” to peace talks.

“I want to make it extremely clear that at no time did the Palestinians in any way agree as a matter of going back to the talks, that they somehow condone or accept the settlements,” he said.

In Jerusalem earlier, Netanyahu had said the U.S.-brokered negotiations had failed to make any real progress.

Speaking to reporters with a stone-faced Kerry at his side, Netanyahu accused the Palestinians of creating “artificial crises” and of trying to “run away from the historic decisions that are needed to make a genuine peace”.

Hours later, Kerry said Abbas “wants to try peace and he understands it requires compromise by all the parties”.

The chief U.S. diplomat, citing “difficulties” in the peace process, had said earlier in Jerusalem that the United States was convinced that Netanyahu was also determined to pursue an end to the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“As in any negotiation there will be moments of up and moments of down, and it goes back and forth,” Kerry said.

Kerry, whose shuttle diplomacy helped to revive the talks last July after a three-year break, has set a nine-month schedule for an agreement, despite widespread skepticism.

PALESTINIAN FRUSTRATION

Few details have emerged from the negotiations, held at unannounced times and at secret locations in line with pledges to keep a lid on leaks.

But Palestinian officials have been airing frustration over a lack of movement on core issues such as the borders of a Palestinian state, security arrangements, the future of Israeli settlements and the fate of Palestinian refugees.

Abbas, in a speech on Monday, said that despite all the meetings nothing had changed on the ground.

Netanyahu said he hoped Kerry's visit would “help steer (the negotiations) back to a place where we could achieve the historical peace that we seek”.

Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, territories it captured in the 1967 Middle East war and which Palestinians seek for a state along with the Hamas Islamist-run Gaza Strip, are considered illegal by most countries.

Israel cites historical and biblical links to the land, where more than 500,000 Israelis now live alongside 2.5 million Palestinians.

In another development, Netanyahu said former Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman would return to the cabinet after his acquittal in a corruption trial on Wednesday.

The right-wing powerbroker is a hardliner on Palestinian peace talks, which he has said have no chance of succeeding.

In the Gaza Strip, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said any deal reached by Abbas, a rival of the Islamist group, “would not be binding on our people”.

Writing by Jeffrey Heller; Editing by Angus MacSwan

Release of Palestinian prisoners no threat, says former Shin Bet head


Ami Ayalon, the former head of the Shin Bet, Israel’s secret service, says he’s not concerned, from a security perspective, about Israel’s scheduled Oct. 30 release of 26 Palestinian prisoners who had been involved in terror attacks.

In an Oct. 27 interview with the Journal in Beverly Hills, Ayalon did not endorse the release but said, “It does not present any danger.”

“Most of them are sitting in our jails more than 30 years,” he said. “They are not part of the present terror infrastructure.”

Israel agreed to the release as a pre-condition to participating in American-brokered negotiations with the Palestinians. More than 100 terrorists will be released in four groups over the planned nine-month duration of the talks.

Ayalon, who was also a commander in Israel’s navy and is a former Knesset member for the Labor Party, was in Los Angeles to raise awareness for the University of Haifa as part of the American Society of the University of Haifa’s inaugural gala at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills on Oct. 27. He serves as chairman of the executive committee at the university.

He and Amos Shapira — former CEO of El Al and Cellcom and president of the university — sat down with the Journal on Sunday afternoon to discuss current events in Israel and their efforts at Haifa University.

Regarding possible upcoming negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian leaders, the trim, fit Ayalon said he’s neither optimistic nor pessimistic.

 “I’m realistic,” Ayalon said, sternly and directly. “I don’t believe — and I hope I’m wrong — that negotiations will bring us any result.”

[Related: 

Palestinian who planned Tel Aviv bus bombing killed in shootout


A Palestinian terrorist who Israel said was behind a 2012 bus bombing in Tel Aviv was killed in a shootout with Israeli security officials trying to arrest him.

Mohamed Aatzi, 28, was killed Tuesday morning during an exchange of gunfire in the West Bank Palestinian town of Bil’in during a joint operation of the Israel Defense Forces and the Israel Security Agency, or Shabak.

Aatzi was among the planners of the Nov. 21 bus attack during Operation Pillar of Defense that wounded 29 passengers, according to a statement released by the IDF and Shabak.

He had been involved in activities of the Islamic Palestinian Jihad terror organization. Aatzi had been in hiding since the bombing and reportedly was planning another attack against Israeli civilians or army forces.

Two Palestinian men alleged to be Aatzi’s assistants, who have been jailed in the past for their involvement with the Islamic Palestinian Jihad, were arrested by security forces on Monday night and held for questioning.

“The outcome of this operation emphasizes that terror does not pay,” IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said in a statement. “Terrorists must know that there is no eluding the extensive intelligence and operational capabilities of the IDF, we will continue to seek out those that attempt to undermine and defy our way of life.”

Abbas meets pope, invites him to visit Holy Land


Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday invited Pope Francis to visit the Holy Land, matching an invitation from Israel.

The pontiff, who has made many appeals for peace in the Middle East since his election in March, has already told Israel he will visit and is widely expected to make the trip next year.

“I invited him to the Holy Land,” Abbas said after a 30-minute private audience with the pope in the Vatican's Apostolic Palace, their first meeting.

After the private part of the meeting, the pope gave Abbas a pen, telling him “surely, you have a lot of things you have to sign”.

Abbas responded: “I hope to sign a peace treaty with Israel with this pen.”

Both of Francis's two immediate predecessors, Benedict and John Paul, visited Holy Land sites in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Most Christian Holy Land sites are in Israel but Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, is in the West Bank, in the Palestinian territories.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where Jesus is said to have been buried, is in East Jerusalem, which Palestinians want as part of their future state.

Abbas and Francis discussed the civil war in Syria and the prospects for peace between Israelis and Palestinians, the Vatican said in a statement.

Using the same language it used when Israeli President Shimon Peres visited Francis in April, the Vatican urged both sides to make “courageous and determined” decisions to move closer to peace, with the help of the international community.

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators began a new round of talks on Monday, picking up the tempo of their meetings at the request of the United States.

The two sides resumed direct peace negotiations in late July after three years of stalemate and have conducted a series of discussions far from the gaze of the media over recent weeks, without any outward hint of the slightest breakthrough. 

Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Andrew Heavens

Why Israel-Palestinian peace talks will fail


The conventional wisdom is that the revived Israeli-Palestinian peace talks are doomed to fail. The popular reason cited is that “the maximum the Israelis can offer is less than the minimum the Palestinians can accept.” 

From a pragmatic view, that may well be true, but I think there’s an underlying emotional reason why these talks are doomed to continue the failures of the past.

No one wants to negotiate — let alone compromise — with a thief.

For several decades now, the Palestinians have successfully sold the world and themselves on the narrative that Israel stole their land. This has given them zero incentive to compromise.

Over time, as this unchallenged narrative has taken on the aura of accepted truth, it has undermined all attempts to reach a final peace agreement, as well as expose Israel to a global campaign of boycotts and condemnations.

To make matters worse, whenever there is more settlement construction, the perceived level of “criminality” has only gone up.

I get why Israel never made a big deal of challenging the “illegal occupation” narrative. Because it has already shown its willingness to dismantle settlements for the sake of peace, it probably figured, “Why bring up this red herring? What purpose would it serve?”

Israel’s mistake was to overlook a crucial  truth of the Middle East: Honor trumps all. If you don’t defend your honor, you’re worthy of contempt, not respect. It’s not a coincidence that Palestinian leaders have consistently used contemptuous language in accusing Israel of every possible sin.

Concentrating on pragmatic issues while ignoring this emotional poison is like cooking a rotten fish with a tasty tomato sauce. Eventually, you’re bound to bite into the fish.

We saw another example last week of how dismissive the Jewish world can be about defending Israel’s honor.

A petition signed by 1,000 jurists from around the world was delivered to European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton asserting that the E.U. is wrong in holding that Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria are illegal, and that the term “1967 lines” does not exist in international law.

Remarkably, I couldn’t find any mention of this initiative in the Jewish media, except for the right-wing Israeli news site Arutz Sheva.  No coverage in the mainstream media; no supportive statements from major Jewish organizations.

The jurists who signed are certainly no slouches. As reported on Arutz Sheva, among the signatories are former Justice Minister Yaakov Ne’eman, former U.N. Ambassador Meir Rosen, Britain’s Baroness Ruth Deech, and law professors Eliav Shochetman and Talia Einhorn, as well as legal scholars from more than 20 countries around the world.

It’s well known that when prominent Jews release public statements encouraging Israel to make “courageous concessions for peace,” they get major coverage.

But apparently, when prominent jurists release a statement defending Israel’s honor, it’s not even worth a news mention.

Even if you’re a J Street-supporting peacenik whose definition of Mashiach is the two-state solution, this state of affairs should trouble you. It’s bad for peace.

However impractical you might think it is to defend Israel’s honor and assert her land rights, in this case there is one very practical advantage: If you have a legal right to the land, it makes your concessions worth something. The concessions of a thief are worthless. 

Sadly and ironically, Israel could have made a compelling legal case regarding her land rights. The settlements may be a bad idea, but that hardly makes them illegal. 

As the man behind the initiative, Alan Baker, explained to Arutz Sheva, “It is true that most of the world thinks so [that the settlements are illegal], but that does not make it true legally. Legally, the clause in the Geneva Convention that they use to say that settlements are illegal was not intended to refer to cases like our settlements, but to prevent the forced transfer of populations by the Nazis. This is not relevant to the Israeli settlements.”

Baker is Israel’s former ambassador to Canada and legal adviser to the Foreign Ministry, who was also a member of the three-person committee headed by former Supreme Court Judge Edmond Levy, which pronounced last year that Judea and Samaria were not occupied territory.

Beyond the issue of the strategic or moral wisdom of Israeli settlements, the Levy committee showed there’s plenty of evidence supporting Israel’s legal right to settle the disputed land — including binding international agreements that predate the United Nations and were never abrogated.

In their well-intentioned zeal to challenge the wisdom of these settlements, the pro-Israel peace camp has tragically reinforced the enemy’s narrative that the settlements are a criminal enterprise. The real tragedy is that it’s probably too late now to correct this libelous narrative.

At this moment, it’s clear that external conditions — such as the presence of Hamas, the wide gap between the parties and the instability of the region — mitigate against the success of the peace talks.

But we should never underestimate the power of internal, emotional conditions.

Because even if external conditions were to improve, one human truth will remain: As long as you enter negotiations with the mark of “thief” on your forehead, good luck trying to get the other side to compromise.


David Suissa is president of TRIBE Media Corp./Jewish Journal and can be reached at davids@jewishjournal.com.

Most Israelis object to withdrawing to pre-1967 borders, poll says


Most Israelis would oppose any peace deal with the Palestinians that involved withdrawing to pre-1967 ceasefire lines, even if land swaps were agreed to accommodate Jewish settlements, a poll showed on Tuesday.

The survey by the liberal Israeli Democracy Institute showed 65.6 percent of those questioned did not expect to see a deal in talks between Israel and the Palestinians within a year.

The talks resumed last month after a three-year hiatus. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has said he hopes a peace agreement that has eluded the parties for decades can be achieved within nine months.

But even if Israel manages to defy skeptics and secure an accord, the poll, jointly sponsored by Tel Aviv University, suggested it would struggle to sell it to its people.

Of the 602 people questioned, 55.5 percent said they were against Israel agreeing to the 1967 lines, even if there were land swaps which would enable some Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem to remain part of Israel.

Among Israel's majority Jewish population, opposition to such an agreement was 63 percent, while among Israeli Arabs, a minority group, only 15 percent objected to such a deal.

The issue, which refers to the lines that existed before the Six-Day War between Israel and its Arab neighbors, is considered key to sealing any deal.

Some 67 percent of all Israelis said they would also oppose Palestinian demands for a return of a even a small number of refugees who either fled or were driven away when Israel was created in 1948. They were also against compensating the refugees or their descendents financially.

On one of the other issues facing negotiators, the question of whether Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem should become part of a Palestinian state, some 50 percent of Israeli Jews said they were against the idea.

Only 55 percent of Israeli Arabs were in favor, fewer than might be expected, suggesting Arab residents of East Jerusalem did not want to lose advantages of living under Israeli government control, such as health and national insurance benefits, the IDI said.

After an opening round of talks in Washington a week ago, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators have agreed to meet again during the second week of August.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the next round of discussions would be “soon.”

“We have said they would meet in the region, but we have not made an announcement about an exact date yet,” she said, adding that the talks would be led by U.S. envoy Martin Indyk.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is also facing an uphill task trying to sell the talks to his people, even within his Palestine Liberation Organization — an umbrella body that includes many leading political factions.

In a statement on Tuesday, two groups – the Popular and the Democratic Fronts for the Liberation of Palestine — called for the talks to be suspended, denouncing them as “a repetition of pointless and harmful negotiations” held since the early 1990s.

Additional reporting by Nidal al-Mugrabi in Gaza and Lesley Wroughton in Washington; Writing by Allyn Fisher-Ilan; Editing by Crispian Balmer and Sonya Hepinstall

Israeli army detains 5-year-old Palestinian stone-thrower


An Israeli human rights group accused the army on Thursday of illegally detaining a 5-year-old Palestinian boy for throwing a stone in a flashpoint city in the West Bank.

Video footage taken by the group B'Tselem of Tuesday's incident showed Wadi Maswadeh crying as he was surrounded by soldiers on a street in Hebron. He was then made to board a military jeep accompanied by a Palestinian adult.

The images, aired on Israeli media, looked likely to stoke debate about policy in the West Bank, where the army guards Jewish settlers. There is often friction with Palestinians, who have limited self-government but have been frustrated in their hopes of gaining statehood.

B'Tselem said troops took Maswadeh home, picking up his father and holding them both for another half-hour, during which the father was bound and blindfolded. The two were then handed over to Palestinian police, who questioned and released them.

In a later television interview, Maswadeh admitted throwing a stone, saying he had aimed at a dog but hit a car instead.

B'Tselem said Maswadeh's handling by the troops was illegal as the age of criminal responsibility in Israel and its West Bank jurisdiction is 12.

“The security forces are not allowed to arrest or detain children under that age, even when they are suspected of having committed criminal offenses, and the authorities must deal with the law-breaking in other ways,” said group director Jessica Montell.

In a statement, the army said Maswadeh's stone-throwing had endangered passers-by. More than 150 Israelis were hurt in similar West Bank incidents between January and May, it said.

“Soldiers intervened on the spot and accompanied the minor to his parents. From there he was passed on to the care of the Palestinian Security Forces, all the while accompanied by his parents. The child was not arrested and no charges were filed,” the statement said.

Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Mark Trevelyan

Egyptian Islamists attack on Gaza border


Islamists attacked Egyptian military posts in the Sinai, killing at least one on the Gaza border.

The attack on the police post at Rafah, a city on the Gaza-Egypt border with a Palestinian side and an Egyptian side, was one of several attacks Friday by Islamists on Egyptian security forces. Two other men were wounded in the Rafah attack.

Assailants also fired fired rocket-propelled grenades at army checkpoints at the El-Arish airport in the Sinai.

The attacks came as Egypt was bracing for mass protests Friday by supporters of Mohamed Morsi, the Egyptian president who was deposed Wednesday by the army after a year in power. Morsi, who hails from the Muslim Brotherhood, called the action a coup.

Murder of Jewish settler sparks West Bank clashes


Israeli settlers and Palestinians clashed in the West Bank more than a day after the murder of a Jewish man by a Palestinian attacker.

Jewish settlers threw rocks at passing Palestinian cars, and settlers and Palestinians threw rocks at each other in the northern West Bank on Wednesday, according to reports.

Late Tuesday night, the words “Price Tag” were sprayed on a house in a Palestinian village near Ramallah, and five cars there were damaged by rock throwing, The Jerusalem Post reported.

“Price tag” refers to the strategy that extremist settlers and their supporters have adopted to exact retribution for settlement freezes and demolitions or Palestinian attacks on Jews.

Eviatar Borovsky, 31, a father of five from the Yitzhar settlement, was killed Tuesday morning as he waited for a bus at the Tapuach Junction. The stabber then took Borovsky's gun and began shooting at Border Guard officers. The officers returned fire, injuring the Palestinian, who was taken to an Israeli hospital to be treated for his wounds.

Following the attack, a group of Yitzhar residents set fields afire and threw stones at a Palestinian school bus, Haaretz reported.

Since the murder, at least 15 Jewish settlers have been arrested for violence against Palestinians.

Several hundred people attended Borovsky's funeral. Later, a photo of one of his young sons hugging his lifeless body draped in a prayer shawl went viral on Facebook.

In January, a 17-year-old Israeli was stabbed at the same junction.

Rocket fired from Gaza at Israel as second rocket discovered in Sderot preschool


A mortar rocket was fired from Gaza at Israel, while a partially exploded Kassam rocket was discovered in an Israeli preschool.

The mortar rocket launched Tuesday was not located and could have landed in Palestinian territory, according to reports.

Also Tuesday, pre-school teachers in Sderot discovered that one of the Kassam rockets fired at southern Israel during President Obama's visit to Israel landed in a local preschool facility.

Staff returning to the preschool building after the two-week long Passover vacation discovered that the partially exploded rocket fired March 21 had crashed through the roof and remained in the building, which usually houses three-year olds, Ynet reported.

There were no children in the building when the rocket fell due to the Passover vacation. They are set to return to school on Wednesday.

UNICEF: Israel mistreats Palestinian children in custody


Palestinian children detained by the Israeli military are subject to widespread, systematic ill-treatment that violates international law, a UNICEF report said on Wednesday.The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) estimated that 700 Palestinian children aged 12 to 17, most of them boys, are arrested, interrogated and detained by the Israeli military, police and security agents every year in the occupied West Bank.

According to the report, most of the youths are arrested for throwing stones. Israel says it takes such incidents seriously, noting that rock-throwing has caused Israeli deaths.

UNICEF said it had identified some examples of practices that “amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment according to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention against Torture”.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said officials from the ministry and the Israeli military had cooperated with UNICEF in its work on the report, with the goal of improving the treatment of Palestinian minors in custody.

“Israel will study the conclusions and will work to implement them through ongoing cooperation with UNICEF, whose work we value and respect,” he said.

According to the report, ill-treatment of Palestinian minors typically begins with the arrest itself, often carried out in the middle of the night by heavily armed soldiers, and continues all the way through prosecution and sentencing.

“The pattern of ill-treatment includes … the practice of blindfolding children and tying their hands with plastic ties, physical and verbal abuse during transfer to an interrogation site, including the use of painful restraints,” the report said.

It said minors suffered physical violence and threats during their interrogation, were coerced into confession and not given immediate access to a lawyer or family during questioning.

“Treatment inconsistent with child rights continues during court appearances, including shackling of children, denial of bail and imposition of custodial sentences and transfer of children outside occupied Palestinian territory to serve their sentences inside Israel,” the report said.

Such practice “appears to be widespread, systematic and institutionalized”, it added.

“POSITIVE CHANGES”

UNICEF based its findings on more than 400 cases documented since 2009 as well as legal papers, reports by governmental and non-governmental groups and interviews with Palestinian minors and with Israeli and Palestinian officials and lawyers.

Qadoura Fares, chairman of the Palestinian Prisoners Club which looks after inmates and their families, praised the report and called for Israel to be held accountable.

A spokeswoman for Israel's Prison Service said there were currently 307 Palestinian minors in Israeli custody, 108 of whom are serving a prison sentence. Most of them, 253, are between the ages of 16 to 18 and the rest are under 16.

A senior Israeli officer in the Military Advocate General's office said one of the jailed Palestinians, aged 17 at the time of his arrest, had stabbed to death two Jewish settlers and three of their children, including a three-month-old baby, in 2011.

He denied that minors, while in interrogation, were not allowed access to family members or a lawyer. “Very few of the parents take the time to come (to the police station),” he said.

UNICEF said Israel had made some “positive changes” in recent years in its treatment of Palestinian minors, including new hand-tying procedures meant to prevent pain and injury.

It also noted a 2010 military order that requires Israeli police to notify parents about the arrest of their children and to inform minors they have the right to consult a lawyer.

The Israeli officer said the army was considering videotaping interrogations and that a new military order, coming into effect in April, will limit to 48 hours the time a minor can be held prior to appearing before a judge.

Additional reporting by Ali Sawafta in Ramallah; Editing by Jeffrey Heller and Andrew Roche

Israeli bus company institutes special Palestinian bus lines


An Israeli bus company will offer special bus lines to transport Palestinian passengers from the West Bank into central Israel.

The institution of the special lines by the Afikim bus company is meant to ease the overcrowding of bus lines that go into Jewish settlements, the Transportation Ministry told Ynet.

Palestinians cannot enter Jewish settlements. They board the buses at stops on the Trans-Samaria Highway.

The implementation of the bus lines comes after complaints from Jewish bus riders, who said that the buses were overcrowded and that they were concerned about security risks, Ynet reported.  Jewish and Palestinian riders have gotten into verbal and physical scuffles on the buses, according to reports.

The buses will run from stops near Palestinian communities into Israel. Still, the Palestinians legally cannot be refused permission to board the regular bus lines, an unnamed Afikim bus driver told Ynet. They could, however, be removed from the buses at Israeli checkpoints, which would be both inconvenient and humiliating.

“The new lines will replace irregular, pirate lines that charge very high prices from Palestinian passengers. The new lines will reduce congestion and will benefit Israelis and Palestinians alike,” the Transportation Ministry said in a statement. “The Transportation Ministry is forbidden from preventing any passenger from boarding any line of public transportation, nor do we know of a directive to that effect. Instating these lines was done with the knowledge and complete agreement of the Palestinians.”

Nablus Palestinian man treated at Hadassah Hospital


A Palestinian wounded in a clash with Israeli soldiers and settlers near the Palestinian West Bank city of Nablus was taken for treatment to Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem in Jerusalem.

Hilmi Hasan, 27, was wounded by gunfire several days ago and taken to a hospital in Nablus for treatment. Doctors at the hospital realized that they could not treat Hasan and asked Hadassah Hospital to handle his case. On Monday, he was in the intensive care unit at Hadassah and in severe but stable condition.

According to reports, Hasan is the first patient from Nablus to be treated at Hadassah Hospital, which is 40 miles away.

Senior Hadassah anesthesiologist Micha Shamir traveled to Nablus and accompanied Hasan back to Hadassah. Some local residents protested Shamir’s arrival but did not otherwise threaten him.

“It was a bit unpleasant, but at no time were we under any real threat,” said Shamir, according to a news release. “We were guarded by so many policemen and security people.”

Palestinian tent city in E1 corridor dismantled


Israeli police dismantled a Palestinian tent city set up in the controversial E-1 area.

The Israeli forces removed some 25 protest tents late Wednesday night located in the area between Jerusalem and Maale Adumim on land the Palestinians say is necessary to form a state. The removal came hours after Israel's Supreme Court lifted a temporary injunction on dismantling the Palestinian outpost, called Baab al Shams, or “sunny gateway” in Arabic.

In lifting the injunction, the court accepted the government's argument that the outpost could lead to a security crisis.

The evacuation reportedly took about an hour and the Israeli forces were not met with resistance.

Some 100 Palestinian activists and international activists were removed from the site on Jan. 13, more than a day after the tent city was erected in the area between Jerusalem and Maale Adumim on land the Palestinians say is necessary to form a state.

Israeli security forces removed the people but not some 25 tents, saying that met the court's requirements. Israeli soldiers since then have turned back Palestinians attempting to return to the outpost several times.

The Israeli government in November announced plans to approve construction of thousands of apartments for Jews in the area in response to the Palestinians' decision to appeal to the United Nations General Assembly for enhanced statehood status.

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