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. 

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, right, meeting with Jason Greenblatt, U.S. President Donald Trump’s envoy, at the Arab League Summit in Amman, Jordan, on March 28.

Trump quietly transfers $20 million to Palestinian programs


The Trump administration has quietly directed an additional $20 million towards projects that would ‘directly benefit’ the Palestinian Authority, Capitol Hill sources told Jewish Insider“It means that the Trump administration is trying to get money out of the door before Taylor Force (Act) goes into effect,” a Congressional aide explained.

[This article originally appeared on jewishinsider.com]

Last month, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed the Taylor Force Act, legislation introduced by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) that would cut off all U.S. economic aid that “directly benefits” the P.A. until they cease payments to families of terrorists. With the Senate Appropriations Committee including the Taylor Force Act in its most recent annual Foreign Operations Budget, the bill is almost certain to pass by the end of 2017.

In August, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson withheld $30 million of economic aid from Egypt, citing Cairo’s harsh restrictions on human rights organizations. Congressional staffers asked the administration about the reprogramming of this funding and were told that $20 million of the sum would be spent on West Bank and Gaza programs that would “directly benefit” the P.A.

During the Obama administration’s final hours, the U.S. quietly sent $221 million to projects in the Palestinian territories despite significant Congressional opposition. Representative Kate Granger (R-TX) slammed the Obama White House for the move, even though she acknowledged that none of the money went directly to the P.A.

Jason Greenblatt, the U.S. Middle East envoy, has trumpeted a July water deal signed with the P.A., Israel and Jordan as one of the administration’s top accomplishments to date in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. A Congressional staffer explained that the U.S. assistance to the “Red-Dead” water agreement “directly benefits the PA, and therefore would not be able to continue” once the Taylor Force Act is implemented as advanced out of committee.

In a speech on Monday, Greenblatt emphasized the importance of wastewater projects in the West Bank and Gaza, while he also encouraged international donors to assist the P.A. with its budget difficulties.

Last week, the State Department announced that it “strongly supports the Taylor Force Act, which is a consequence of the Palestinian Authority and Palestine Liberation Organization’s policy of paying terrorists and their families.” The State Department did not immediately respond to Jewish Insider’s request for comment.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Azzam al-Ahmad of Fatah (front right) walks to a meeting with a Hamas delegation at a hotel in Cairo following reconciliation talks in September 2014. A new effort is underway. Photo by Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images

Hamas and Fatah try again to move toward Palestinian unity


The long-awaited reconciliation between Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah has taken a new turn with the announcement by Hamas on Sept. 17 that it would dissolve its administrative committee — the body that effectively serves as the governors of the Gaza Strip since Hamas took control from Fatah and the Palestinian Authority in 2007.

The Islamist group apparently has agreed to take the action and to abide by other conditions that Fatah set forth for implementing a reconciliation agreement. Several of the conditions have been signed in recent years but none has been implemented. The new initiative, brokered by Egypt, includes an invitation for Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah to oversee a unity government for the Gaza Strip immediately.

The Hamas declaration was released one day after the PA’s delegation reached Egypt after meetings last week between a visiting Hamas delegation and the head of the Egyptian Intelligence Agency, Khaled Fawzi.

Hamas’ promising press release is something Palestinians have been waiting for since the signing of the first reconciliation agreement in Egypt in 2011. The statement also mentioned that new elections will soon be held in Gaza, and that Hamas is willing to accept Egypt’s invitation to meet with the PA under Cairo’s aegis. Hamas said all of these decisions were made with the desire to establish a unified Palestinian government that includes all political parties that were signatories to the 2011 agreement.

Wassel Abu Yousef, a member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee, cautioned that while the Hamas press release is important, it must be followed by action — specifically, practical steps to implementation, unlike after previous attempts at reconciliation.

“The Palestinian Authority needs to go to Gaza to assess the current governmental infrastructure and prepare for the elections to come,” he said. Abu Yousef also warned that follow-up was critical to end the division, and he expressed appreciation for Egypt’s role in initiating and providing the venue for the political reconciliation.

“The Palestinian Authority needs to go to Gaza to assess the current governmental infrastructure and prepare for the elections to come.”

In recent months, Hamas has sought to improve its relationship with Egypt in several ways, including issuing a new charter that removed its association with the Muslim Brotherhood — Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s nemesis. The Muslim Brotherhood’s relationship with Hamas had been the catalyst for the Sisi government to eschew Hamas and refuse its pleas for assistance. Hamas needs Egypt to allow passage of goods and people through the Rafah crossing, the only crossing point not controlled by Israel. It also needs Sisi’s help in obtaining goodwill gestures from Israel, such as medical treatment for Gazans.

Having been teased several times since 2011, Palestinians-at-large were not optimistic that the latest developments would spell unity.

Abdel Rahman Haj Ibrahim, head of the political science department at the West Bank’s Birzeit University, pointed out that the Palestinian government has not made an official statement despite the PA sending a delegation to Egypt.

“Nothing is solid or official,” he said. “Hamas and Fatah have two different political agendas, they have no mutual points, and there will be no reconciliation without the two parties finding mutual grounds.”

He cautioned, “No one knows what is going to happen. Remember, more than once has there been talk of reconciliations but there were no results on the ground.”

A former member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a rival group to both Fatah and Hamas, explained under the condition of anonymity that the Palestinian people have no faith in either of the two factions involved in the talks.

“For the last 15 years, we have needed a unified government to fight settlements and the occupation, to support prisoners during the strike. … We needed one unified official political Palestinian entity, but they failed to put aside their differences.”

He agreed, however, that the Palestinian reconciliation is a necessary step that needs to be taken in order to reunify the Palestinian people.

“The bad situation in Gaza is a result of Fatah and Hamas and their respective governments, which resulted in corruption and disingenuousness,” he said. “They need to work on regaining the trust of their people.”

Nathan Englander. Photo from nathanenglander.com

Nathan Englander interview: A novel’s view of Israel-Palestine conflict


More words may have been written about the Israel-Palestine conflict than there are grains of sand at the beach, but to Nathan Englander there is still room on bookshelves for a novel that stirs the emotions and invites the empathy so often lost in the conflict’s polemics. 

[MORE: Love story meets thriller over Englander’s ‘Dinner’]

“Dinner at the Center of the Earth,” the author’s fourth and latest book, is a political thriller that examines the conflict from the perspectives of a renegade Mossad agent, a young Palestinian activist and a multitude of characters swept up in the conflict’s moral vortex. Englander spoke with the Journal about the challenge of writing through controversy and his commitment to peace, now stronger than ever, in today’s fractured political landscape. 

Jewish Journal: The Israel-Palestine conflict is among the most fraught and nuanced subjects for a novel. What compelled you to write about it? 

Nathan Englander: I moved to Israel [from New York] in 1996 for the peace process, because I was just so excited for this brand-new day and peace in the Middle East. It sounds almost like a utopian vision now, but [peace] really was happening and really right there.

Over the years, the whole thing came apart. Peace between Israel and Palestine and the idea of a two-state solution fell apart, and now the opposite of progress continues to be made. I moved home [to the United States] sort of heartbroken about that in 2001.

For 20 years, I’ve always wanted to explore this conflict and my own internal belief in peace, because I don’t know what other position there is to hold. What I’ve watched over these last two decades is that the two sides separate more and more. Every day going by, every week, the people understand each other less. A physical wall has gone up — Gaza’s closed off, there’s a wall between the West Bank and Israel, there are roadblocks. Even though there was occupation and many of the same issues [in the past], people still mixed more. There was just so much more sharing of the daily life. To me, this book was a way to explore these notions of empathy on both sides.

JJ: What does this book add to the noise of opinions regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict? What’s the fresh angle?

NE: I don’t think it’s the writer’s job to give answers or to give opinions. In fact, when a writer has answers, I think the work ends up being corrupted. It becomes didactic. What a book does is share a consciousness and invite people to explore the questions as best as you can. This book is not my answer; it is my optimistic lament for lost peace.

Every book is vulnerable and every book is nerve-wracking, but I’ve never been both so excited and terrified to have a book coming into the world. It’s an expressly loaded subject, one on which you can’t win. Even with people on the same side — my editor was telling me about her sweet Israeli in-laws who both read the book and got into an argument over it. If all goes well, there will be arguments. 

JJ: Did you have to change your writing style at all in handling such a nuanced topic? 

NE: I was looking for a way to tell this story for a long time because I didn’t want it to be didactic or turn into a history lesson. Nobody needed a 500-page lecture from me on peace in the Middle East. Finally, when it came to me, it was such a departure from my other books in so many ways. It’s sort of like a literary thriller that’s also a metafictional historical novel that ends up being a love story that turns into an allegory. 

I think in circles and speak in circles. When I wrote my first book [“For the Relief of Unbearable Urges”], I studied how to be linear and tell a story straight. This is my fourth book, and I was like, “I finally get to keep my circles,” because the conflict is so circular. Whichever way I start a sentence is going to upset someone — if I say, “Israel attacks Palestine” or “Palestine attacks Israel,” someone will be like, “They started first” or “No, they started first.” Who cares at this point who started first? It’s this endless, heartbreaking cycle that just happens again and again as if it’s new. 

That’s why I wanted the book to swing from side to side. It’s not even two sides — I don’t think there are many sides when it comes to Nazis or neo-Nazis, where there’s only one side that’s functional — but there are two peoples here, and there are many sides among those peoples.

JJ: While you were writing, was your target audience Jews or non-Jews, or both? 

NE: When somebody asks a variation of “Who do you write for?” I always feel like the writer got trapped into putting a form on something that has no form. Certain things are amorphous.

If a story is functioning, it better be universal. I can’t control how an Israeli will feel about the book, or a Palestinian or a left-wing person or a right-wing person. But if a story is working, it should travel across time, across space, across language, across gender, across belief.

JJ: You said in a 2012 interview with the Chicago Tribune that you feel strongly that Judaism is not your subject, your characters just happen to be Jewish. Is that still your position after writing a book about Israel? 

NE: I still stand by that statement. I think it shows more about why it’s being asked than whatever my answer is. Nobody would take a John Updike book and say, “I want to give this to my Jewish friend, but can they read this?” Or they don’t say, “Oh, I love Voltaire, but my friend’s not French and he’s not dead and he’s not 300 years old, so can I give him ‘Candide’?” You just read a book. Some people tell me, “I love your book. Can I give it to my friend who’s not Jewish?” You wouldn’t ask that in the reverse.

Still, this is the book where I feel most like a Jewish writer because of what’s happening in this country right now. Now that some things [in American society] are being let out of the darkness where they belong, I claim [the Jewish label] that much more.

JJ: What is it exactly about current events that makes you embrace that niche label?

NE: A sign of democracy in danger is how our president keeps threatening journalists and tweeting disturbing photos about hurting journalists. The reason people get afraid of writing real, honest journalism and fiction, and the reason corrupted people and demagogues are afraid of journalism and fiction and poetry across the world, is because it is a subversive form.

Writing travels. You can enter into a world far different from your own and understand that there is a reality other than the one you have been spoon-fed. I grew up in a closed, religious, suburban world — I call it a terrarium or a bubble — and opening books just blew my mind open. It just opened universes to me. 

JJ: How were you able to write Palestinian characters and understand a Palestinian’s perspective?

NE: It is hugely important to me what it means to identify, what it means to enter other cultures, what it means to co-opt. I’m not writing this book and pretending to be Palestinian. I do believe writing is a moral act, both your obligation to it and where it comes from.

But all I can tell you is that I write from the heart and put my whole heart and soul into each character equally. There’s no way to work if I am so limited.

JJ: The book’s dust jacket describes a “nice American Jewish boy from Long Island.” Is that an autobiographical character? 

NE: One of the main characters is Prisoner Z, a boy from Long Island who joins the Mossad and ends up betraying it. There was a public story [in 2010] about a real Australian agent in the Mossad called Prisoner X, who was accused of being a traitor. I got to thinking what it would be like if someone like me had joined the Mossad.

I wanted to close in on what it would take for someone like me — someone who moves to a different country, who’s so ideological and so believes in what that country is about that they join its secret service — to flip on the ethical front. What could they hear or see or empathize with the other side that would cause them to turn on their own?

JJ: How have your attitudes toward the Israel-Palestine conflict changed over the course of writing this book? 

NE: Oh, God. I can’t tell you how much, over time, my views have changed. It’s been a long evolution of ideas based on experience, and this book was a way for me to re-ponder and re-explore my positions on a million fronts.

It’s impossible for [young people] to have a memory when peace was really happening and on the horizon. It was over when [their] life began. Two-state seems impossible now, and peace between Israel and Palestine seems a ridiculous notion. That’s something I refuse to let go of, and if you think that’s a romantic notion or a naive notion, I don’t know what better idea anyone has.

But I can tell you, if it keeps building toward extreme conflict, someone’s going to win. Maybe that’s the point of the book — to say, “We should really make peace, because without it, someone is gonna win.” And I don’t understand why we wouldn’t want both peoples to have bright and open and hopeful futures.

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).

Former Israeli soldier Elor Azaria, middle, waits to hear the ruling at an Israeli military appeals court in Tel Aviv on July 30. Photo by Dan Balilty/Reuters

Israeli soldier asks army chief for leniency after losing appeal in shooting of downed Palestinian


Israeli soldier Elor Azaria, convicted of shooting a downed Palestinian terrorist, has asked the head of the Israel Defense Forces for leniency.

Azaria made the request of Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot days after a military appeals court upheld both the conviction and the 18-month prison sentence, which the prosecution had called too lenient. Azaria reportedly will not appeal the decisions to Israel’s Supreme Court.

In the letter, Azaria reportedly repeated his defense that he believed the Palestinian attacker was planning a suicide bombing from his prone position after he was shot and injured by other soldiers.

Azaria has not expressed remorse for his actions; regretting them could help him obtain leniency, observers say.

Azaria’s attorney, Yoram Sheftel, attacked Eisenkot in a television interview Monday, saying the chief of staff “is fat and doesn’t project a soldierly image in his appearances.”

Following the verdict, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and several other Israeli government ministers called for Azaria to be pardoned. Netanyahu also backed a pardon following Azaria’s conviction in January.

Azaria also noted his mother’s reliance on sleeping pills and his father’s stroke in the wake of the case, The Times of Israel reported.

Azaria, who was sentenced in February, has been under house arrest since leaving the military last week. He had been confined to the closed Nachshonim military base since being arrested in March 2016.

A medic in the elite Kfir Brigade, Azaria came on the scene following a Palestinian stabbing attack on soldiers in the West Bank city of Hebron on March 24, 2016. One assailant was killed, and Abdel Fattah al-Sharif was injured. Minutes later, while Sharif was lying on the ground, Azaria shot him in the head in a shooting that was captured on video by a local resident for the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem.

Azaria was arrested the same day and indicted nearly a month later. Autopsy reports showed that the shots by Azaria killed Sharif. Prior to shooting Sharif, Azaria had cared for a stabbed soldier.

Muhammad Harouf, a Palestinian resident of Nablus is brought to the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on suspicion of murdering his partner Michal Halimi on Aug. 2. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Palestinian man confesses to killing his pregnant Israeli girlfriend, police say


A Palestinian man confessed to killing his pregnant Israeli girlfriend, Israel Police said.

Michal Halimi, 29, from the West Bank settlement of Adam, has been missing for more than two months. Her body was found in Holon, on the coast of central Israel, on May 24.

Halimi reportedly was eight months pregnant, as well as reportedly married to an Israeli man.

She had left her home voluntarily to move in with her boyfriend, Muhammad Harouf of Nablus, the police said in a statement Wednesday. Police said that based on both of their Facebook pages, the couple had intended to get engaged and be married.

When Harouf was first interrogated there were contradictions in his responses, which led to a continuing investigation and questioning of other witnesses to the couple’s relationship, according to police.

Police interrogated Harouf several more times before he confessed and reconstructed the murder for police. He said he met Halimi in Holon, choked her, threw stones at her head, buried her and left the area in her car, according to police.

A motive for the murder has not been determined, but in the courtroom at the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday, Harouf kicked a prison guard and yelled, “I’ll kill all the Jews,” the Ynet news website reported. “I wanted to free prisoners,” he yelled to reporters as he exited the courtroom.

A Palestinian protester uses a sling to hurl stones towards Israeli troops during clashes at a protest against Jewish settlements in al-Mughayyir village near the West Bank city of Ramallah March 24. Photo by Mohamad Torokman/REUTERS.

Israeli troops kill Palestinian teen suspected of hurling firebombs


Israeli troops shot and killed a Palestinian teenager they said was hurling firebombs at Israelis.

Three other teens were critically injured in the incident Thursday night in the West Bank, according to the Palestinian news agency Maan.

An Israeli army spokesman told Maan that “three suspects exited a vehicle adjacent to the community of Beit El, where the suspects threw firebombs at the community. In response to the threat, Israeli forces in the area fired towards the suspects, and several hits were confirmed. The suspects then fled the scene.”

Israeli troops dispersed a riot near Beit El after the incident by dozens of Palestinians who protested the shooting, hurling objects at the troops.

Palestinian sources identified the person killed as Muhammad Mahmoud Ibrahim al-Hattab, 17, who reportedly was shot in the chest and shoulder.

The four teens, all residents of the al-Jalazun camp, were transported to a Ramallah hospital, where al-Hattab was pronounced dead, according to the Maan report.

Elor Azaria at a military court hearing in Jaffa, Aug. 30, 2016. Photo courtesy of Miriam Alster/Flash90.

Israeli soldier who shot downed Palestinian terrorist sentenced to 18 months in prison


An Israeli soldier who shot a downed Palestinian terrorist was sentenced to 18 months in prison.

Elor Azaria, 20, who was convicted of manslaughter last month in an Israeli military court, was sentenced Tuesday by a panel of three judges at the Israel Defense Forces headquarters in Tel Aviv. Azaria also was demoted one rank, to private from sergeant, and was given a 12-month suspended sentence.

Military prosecutors had asked for a sentence of three to five years.

Azaria’s attorney said he will appeal the sentence, and also is appealing the verdict. He will request that Azaria be free until the end of the appeals. Prosecutors have called for Azaria to enter prison as early as Sunday.

About 100 people demonstrated outside of the IDF headquarters, called the Kiriya, during the sentencing. Among their chants: “The people of Israel do not abandon soldiers” and “We’ve come to take Elor.” The soldier’s father, Charlie, thanked the protesters and urged them to remain calm.

“All of the soldiers here are our sons. So I request everyone show restraint,” he said.

In their sentencing decision, the judges stressed that the severity of the incident was mitigated by the fact that it took place in an active combat situation. This was a key component of the defense’s case.

The judges also found, however, that Azaria’s actions did “harm to societal values” and said that Azaria violated the Israeli army’s rules of engagement and values. They also criticized the army for not taking better care of the soldier’s family and the defense minister for his interference in the case.

Azaria, a medic in the elite Kfir Brigade, came on the scene following a Palestinian stabbing attack on soldiers in Hebron in the West Bank on March 24, 2016.

One assailant was killed, and Abdel Fattah al-Sharif was injured. Minutes later, while Sharif was lying on the ground, Azaria shot him in the head in a shooting that was captured on video by a local resident for the Israeli human rights NGO B’Tselem. Azaria was arrested the same day and indicted nearly a month later. Autopsy reports showed that the shots by Azaria killed Sharif.

Prior to shooting Sharif, Azaria had cared for a stabbed soldier.

The case has been controversial in Israel, with some on the political right calling for solidarity with Azaria and others, including military leaders, suggesting such calls reflect a national crisis of ethics.

Following the announcement of the verdict, several right-wing lawmakers called for Azaria to be pardoned.

“Israel’s security demands he be pardoned,” Jewish Home party head Naftali Bennett said in a statement. “Elor was sent to protect Israelis at the height of a wave of Palestinian terror attacks. He cannot go to jail or we will all pay the price.”

Sari Bashi, Israel and Palestine advocacy director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement, however: “Sending Elor Azaria to prison for his crime sends an important message about reigning in excessive use of force. But senior Israeli officials should also repudiate the shoot-to-kill rhetoric that too many of them have promoted, even when there is no imminent threat of death. Pardoning Azaria or reducing his punishment would only encourage impunity for unlawfully taking the life of another person.”

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.

Trump adviser endorses Netanyahu claim of ‘ethnic cleansing’ by Palestinians


An adviser to Donald Trump and his presidential campaign backed up Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s claim that the Palestinian demand for a removal of settlements amounts to “ethnic cleansing.”

“The prime minister of Israel correctly observes that the Palestinian demand to remove all Jews from their ancestral homeland in Judea and Samaria is nothing short of an attempt at ethnic cleansing,” David Friedman, a longtime lawyer to the Republican presidential nominee and an adviser on Israel to his campaign, ” target=”_blank”>described as “inappropriate” Netanyahu’s claim that Palestinian opposition to settlements amounts to “ethnic cleansing.”

“We believe that using that type of terminology is inappropriate and unhelpful,” State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau said.

In the video posted last week to Facebook, Netanyahu likens residents of the settlements to Arabs born in Israel.

Israel says Arab citizen illegally crosses into Gaza Strip


An Israeli from the country's Bedouin Arab minority illegally crossed into Gaza on Tuesday, Israel's military said, an incident that may affect a proposed prisoner swap with the Palestinian enclave's Hamas authorities.

Hamas says it is holding two Israeli soldiers whom the army declared dead after they were lost in action in the 2014 Gaza war. The Islamist militant group also says it has two Israeli civilians who previously walked into the fenced-off enclave.

The man who entered Gaza on Tuesday was not authorized to do so and was believed to be inside Palestinian territory, a military spokeswoman said. She declined to say how she knew he is a Bedouin Arab citizen, or to elaborate on the incident.

“This matter is under investigation,” the spokeswoman said.

Palestinian authorities did not immediately comment, but witnesses in the Gaza Strip reportedIsraeli spotter aircraft overhead.

Israeli officials previously said they sought to recover the two soldiers' remains and the two civilians held by Hamas, signaling willingness to repeat past amnesties of jailed Palestinians in a trade. Hamas has conditioned any discussion of the four on a preliminary release of detainees byIsrael.

Relatives of the two Israeli civilians who previously entered Gaza, one of whom is Jewish and the other a Bedouin, have described them as suffering from psychological problems.

Palestinian teen bystander killed by Israeli soldiers responding to rock-throwing attack


Israeli soldiers shot dead a Palestinian teenager and wounded several others whom they wrongly thought were involved in a rock-throwing attack, the Israel Defense Forces said.

The military said it was investigating the incident, which happened early Tuesday morning outside Jerusalem.

Palestinian news agency Maan identified the killed teen as Mahmoud Badran, 15, from the nearby village of Beit Ur al-Tahta. Four others were injured, Maan reported.

The soldiers were responding to the rock-throwing attack. An Israeli man and two foreign tourists were injured when rocks hit their car traveling near Jerusalem on Route 443, one of the main arteries between the capital and Tel Aviv. Several cars were damaged in the attack.

The army initially said those shot by soldiers were involved in the attack, but later said none of them were.

The Palestinian Authority Foreign Ministry called the incident an “execution.”

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 kills two in Jerusalem, then shot dead: police


A Palestinian man stabbed and killed two people in Jerusalem's Old City on Saturday before police shot him dead, officers said, amid an uptick in violence in the city and occupied West Bank.

Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad issued a statement claiming the attacker as one of its members.

“The terrorist approached a group of Jews, whipped out a knife and began stabbing,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.

One woman was in a critical condition after the assault and a toddler was lightly injured, police added.

Violence has risen in East Jerusalem and West Bank in recent weeks. Though not at the levels of previous Palestinian uprisings or “Intifadas”, it has raised Israeli fears of a greater escalation.

Israeli police and Palestinians have clashed frequently at East Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque compound, Islam's third holiest site, and at other parts of the city.

“According to what I see, the third Intifada has started,” the man police identified as the knife attacker posted on his Facebook page on Friday, citing the tension at al-Aqsa.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was due to convene an emergency meeting with security officials on Sunday, his office said, and a security cabinet meeting on Monday.

“We are deep inside a wave of terror and incitement,” Israeli Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz told Channel Two's Meet the Press show.

Palestinians want East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza Strip, lands Israel captured in a 1967 Middle East war, for a future state. Peace talks collapsed in 2014.

On Thursday an Israeli couple was shot dead while their four children were in the car in a suspected Palestinian drive-by attack near a West Bank Jewish settlement.

On Saturday Israeli soldiers carried out a raid in the Palestinian city Nablus, arresting seven people and wounded eight more, Palestinian and Israeli sources said. The military said significant progress toward catching the assailants has been made.

Settler leaders on Friday erected a protest tent outside Netanyahu's official residence in Jerusalem, demanding tighter security measures in the West Bank.

Katz said the government would consider cancelling work permits for Palestinian laborers in Israel and restoring military roadblocks that had been removed in recent years in the West Bank if the violence continued.

Thursday's shooting happened not far from a Palestinian village where two months ago suspected Israeli arsonists set fire to a home, killing a toddler and his parents.

(Additional reporting by Ammar Awad and by Ali Sawafta in Ramallah; Writing by Maayan Lubell)

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.

Former hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner again detained, released


A Palestinian imprisoned in Israel who was released after a 55-day hunger strike was detained in Jerusalem.

Khader Adnan was detained on Monday in Jerusalem’s Old City for several hours before being released. The detention came a day after he was released from an Israeli prison, where he had been held for a year.

Adnan had attempted to visit the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount, but was prevented from entering because of Israeli restrictions.

“Khader Adnan was arrested because he had no right to be in the Old City of Jerusalem where free access is allowed to West Bank Palestinians only aged 50 and above, and he is just 37,” Israel Police spokeswoman Luba Samri told the French news agency AFP.

Palestinian males aged 12 to 30 were denied entry into Jerusalem to mark the Laylat al-Qader, a special ceremony for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, while men 30 to 50 required Israeli permits.

Adnan ended his hunger strike late last month after the Israel Prison Service agreed to release him from administrative detention, where he had been held for a year without charge or trial. He was rearrested nearly a year ago for “activities that threaten regional security.”

In 2012, Adnan was released in exchange for ending a 66-day hunger strike to protest his administrative detention.

A prisoner can be held in administrative detention, without charges being brought, for up to six months. The detention can be renewed indefinitely.

Home of Har Nof synagogue terrorist sealed


The home of one of the Palestinian terrorists who murdered four rabbis and a policeman in an attack on a Jerusalem synagogue was sealed by the Israeli military.

The eastern Jerusalem home of Uday Abu Jamal, 22, who was killed by police during the November 18, 2014 attack, was cemented shut on Wednesday. It is not known where his family was at the time of the action. The home of Ghassan Abu Jamal, 28, who also was killed during the attack, also located in the Jabel Mukaber neighborhood remains unsealed. The two men were cousins.

The government issued demolition orders for the home in the days following the attack by the cousins with meat cleavers and a pistol on the Bnei Torah Kehilat Yaakov synagogue, but the country’s Supreme Court held up the action after the families appealed the order.

Israel’s Interior Ministry also revoked the residency permit of the wife of Ghassan Abu Jamal, a West Bank Palestinian who was allowed to live in Israel under the Family Reunification Law.

“The terrorists and those who send them will continue to pay a heavy price. Terrorism has a price, including to the lone attacker. We will also apprehend the murderers who perpetrated the recent attacks in which Malachi Rosenfeld and Danny Gonen were murdered,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday night.

Israeli defense minister sees no peace with Palestinians in his lifetime


Israel's defense minister said on Tuesday he did not believe a stable peace agreement could be reached with the Palestinians in his lifetime – one of the bleakest assessments from a top-level cabinet member since talks collapsed last year.

Moshe Yaalon, one of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's closest allies, accused the Palestinians of having “slammed the door” on efforts to keep discussions going, and said they had rejected peace-for-land deals for at least 15 years.

His comments, in a speech to a strategic conference, were dismissed by a Palestine Liberation Organization official who told Reuters that Netanyahu's administration bore the blame for the impasse.

Peace negotiations broke off in April 2014, with disputes raging over Israeli settlement building in land Palestinians seek for a state and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's unity deal with Hamas Islamists who rule Gaza and do not recognize Israel's right to exist.

“As for the possibility of reaching an agreement … there is someone who says he doesn't see one during his term,” Yaalon said, referring to remarks U.S. President Barack Obama made in an Israeli television interview last week.

“I don't see a stable agreement during my lifetime, and I intend to live a bit longer,” Yaalon told the Herzliya Conference, held annually near Tel Aviv.

Netanyahu was due to address the forum later in the day.

Palestine Liberation Organization official Wasel Abu Youssef told Reuters past and present Israeli governments had “closed the political horizon” by demanding to retain major settlement blocs and rejecting a right of return for Palestinian refugees.

Youssef said Netanyahu's administration bore responsibility for the current impasse through its settlement activities, refusal to release jailed Palestinians and demand Palestinians recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.

On the eve of his March 17 election to a fourth term, Netanyahu drew international criticism by saying there would be no Palestinian state if he remained Israel's leader.

He said withdrawal from territory by Israel would embolden hardline Islamist guerrillas arrayed on its borders.

Netanyahu has since sought to row back, insisting he remained committed to a “two-state solution” in which Palestinians would establish a demilitarized country and recognize Israel as the Jewish homeland.

In his television interview, Obama said Netanyahu's position “has so many caveats, so many conditions that it is not realistic to think that those conditions would be met at any time in the near future”.

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 home attacked with firebomb


A Palestinian home near Hebron was set alight by a firebomb in what is believed to be a price tag attack.

The Molotov cocktail was thrown through the living room window of the house at about 4 a.m. on Wednesday, while the home’s 10 residents were sleeping. Most of the living room was destroyed by the fire.

The father of the family told Ynet that two masked men threw the firebomb. The Hebrew word for revenge was spray painted on the outside of the house.

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

The attack comes days after a Jewish home is eastern Jerusalem was firebombed, and a week after a firebomb thrown by two Palestinian teens in the northern West Bank severely injured an 11-year-old Israeli girl.

Later on Wednesday, Palestinians and West Bank residents clashed after the Palestinians arrived to plough fields near the settlement of Nokdim located in Gush Etzion. The Palestinians had not coordinated the visit with the appropriate government authorities, according to the settlers.

Can Israelis protect themselves from a new wave of low-tech terror?


Just after dawn on Nov. 18, a pair of Palestinian cousins from East Jerusalem went ” target=”_blank”>three American and one British — as well as a Druze traffic officer who tried to intervene.

“I was in shock — I didn’t understand what they were doing,” said Simha Anteby, 30, a Venezuelan immigrant who lives across the street from the synagogue and watched police kill the shooters as they ran from the building. “Never before has Hamas entered the shul. This is our calmest time, when we’re standing wrapped in tefillin. We’re completely vulnerable.

“They took advantage,” she said.

The Har Nof synagogue massacre, above all other recent acts of terror, has shattered the Israeli public’s sense of security in its most intimate settings. And it is forcing Israelis, who have secured their skies with the Iron Dome and their borders with fences and separation barriers, to attempt to figure out how to defend themselves against their next-door neighbors.

Regular worshipers at the Kehilat Bnei Torah synagogue in West Jerusalem inspect bullet holes left by Palestinian shooters in a Nov. 18 rampage. Photos by Simone Wilson

This was the sixth fatal attack against Israelis within one month. There were also two car-as-weapon assaults ” target=”_blank”>attempted assassination of religious activist Yehuda Glick; and two stabbings on the same day, at a ” target=”_blank”>Tel Aviv train station.

A trend has emerged: Palestinian assailants, most with Jerusalem residency cards and, therefore, freedom of movement around Israel, are launching lone-wolf attacks with easy-to-find weapons.

Israeli social media analyst Orit Perlov, a research fellow for the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), said that trend has turned into a wildly effective, almost ISIS-like online campaign called “Ida’as, Ita’an, Itbah” (Arabic for “run over, stab, slaughter”).

“It creates a bigger effect than before,” Perlov said. “I’m sitting in Tel Aviv, I don’t leave my house, and I’m getting those pictures in a second. It doesn’t mean we have less security today, but we feel more insecurity. … I don’t need to physically be there to be terrorized.”

Most of the attacks before Har Nof seemed to be spur-of-the-moment decisions, impossible to predict or prevent.

“This is quite clearly a popular [movement] that is going from bottom up,” said Udi Dekel, a former negotiator in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and managing director of the INSS. “It’s the popular, kind of copycat nature of terrorism that people are getting excited about. … They can decide one morning to go out and [release] what’s been cooking in their souls for a week or two.”

When the attacks began, Israeli police erected concrete blocks at rail stations, deployed more than 1,000 extra officers around the city, set up dozens of vehicle checkpoints, and launched a new fleet of helicopters and surveillance balloons overhead.

Still, early on Nov. 18, the Abu Jamal cousins drove to the Har Nof synagogue with a car full of weapons and entered with ease.

“They didn’t have to break in,” said Dr. Joyce Morel, a first responder. “It was time for prayers — it was open. Anybody could just walk in.”

In response, Israeli Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich implemented sweeping changes. He boxed in all Palestinian neighborhoods with concrete barricades, requiring anyone entering or exiting to pass through a checkpoint. He ordered all synagogues to hire private guards and enlisted four reserve border police companies for public patrol. 

The residents of Har Nof in West Jerusalem, many of them English-speaking immigrants, gathered for a special service on Nov. 20 in memory of four synagogue members killed two days before.

Perhaps most controversially, Aharonovich eased restrictions for former cops or soldiers — and anyone living in a high-risk neighborhood — to acquire a gun license.

“The decision comes from a need to improve the feeling of safety among the population in light of the recent terror attacks,” Aharonovich said.

Jonathan Fine, a senior researcher at the Institute for Counter-Terrorism at Israel’s Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya (IDC), lives in a mixed Arab-Jewish sector of Jerusalem called French Hill. He said he doesn’t leave the house anymore without a gun.

“On the intelligence and tactical levels, it’s almost impossible to predict an independent attack,” he said. “Therefore, the only response on the ground will be from those who happen to be there. Police, pedestrians, or … your humble servant jogging with a pistol in his pouch.”

Yoram Schweitzer, INSS’ resident expert on terrorism, stressed that Israel can’t “put a guard in every synagogue and every kindergarten, because you have a zillion installations. This is not a solution.” In an INSS roundtable on the state of the conflict, Schweitzer and his colleagues advised that in order for calm to be restored, knee-jerk security measures would not be enough without a real political effort to move forward in the pursuit of Palestinian independence.

“We have to fight against the terror and dismantle the terror infrastructure … but it’s not enough,” Dekel said. “You have to all the time strive and go forward in the direction that you believe would be better for us and for the Palestinians.”

An insecure nation

Multiple Jerusalemites told the Journal that the synagogue massacre, more than other attacks, has left them with a feeling of total insecurity.

Kalman S., an Orthodox father-to-be and West Jerusalem resident who was afraid to give his full name, said he had always considered Har Nof off-limits to the enemy. “Americans come all the way to Israel to live in this beautiful place,” he said. “Until now, it was the area that was more safe than the rest of Jerusalem. Then, all of a sudden, these guys are barbarically killed.

“Now,” he said, “I’m crossing the street with my wife, nine months’ pregnant, and I’m looking over my shoulder to make sure there’s no Arab guy to stab me.”

More than 12 hours after the attack, small clusters of Har Nof residents still lingered near the front steps to the shul, their faces dark and disbelieving. Charedi men in black coats and hats inspected bullet holes in synagogue windows and car doors, now marked with police tape. Women pulled their cardigans tighter to shield themselves from the cold.

“We know that if we go to the center, to the Western Wall, they can hurt us,” Avraham Kleiger, 25, told the Journal. “But, here we thought we were safe. We thought the synagogue was the red line.”

Young women from Har Nof hide their tears behind their prayer books during an emotional Nov. 20 service at the Kehilat Bnei Torah shul.

In the agonizing hours that followed the Nov. 18 attack, Har Nof residents would learn which of their seasoned Torah scholars hadn’t made it through morning prayers alive: Aryeh Kupinsky. Kalman Levine. Avraham Goldberg. Moshe Twersky.

Twersky comes from a famous Chasidic family with a strong presence on America’s East Coast that is a household name among the Jerusalem Orthodox. His friends and family knew him as a strict scholar with a warm smile, devoted wholeheartedly to serving God. Twersky’s niece, Rebecca Rosenblatt, currently studying abroad at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, said in a hushed interview outside the family shivah that she had never once heard her Orthodox uncle discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“Uncle Moshe respected everyone,” she said. “The only one he ever sought recognition from was God.”

Israeli security and social-media analyst Perlov said this attack on religious Jews wrapped in tefillin comes amid a shift in iconography driving the Palestinian resistance. Whereas propaganda cartoons used to mainly show uniformed Israel Defense Forces (IDF) under attack, she said, many of the victims are now depicted as caricatures of Orthodox Jews.

IDC counterterrorism expert Fine said the synagogue massacre was a clear sign that Palestinian attackers are taking clues from radical Islam. “They used butcher knives,” he said of the assailants. “If you get into Sharia law, you’ll see very specific rulings on killing the enemy with a knife.”

Some analysts believe the Har Nof synagogue may have been a random pick, born of convenience, but there’s a good possibility the Abu Jamal cousins chose their venue carefully. East Jerusalem residents who knew Ghassan and Uday told the Journal that the Kehilat Bnei Torah shul was the same one frequented by the family of the man convicted of brutally murdering young East Jerusalem boy Mohammed Abu Khdeir in July. (Various Israeli and Palestinian media reports provided evidence toward the same claim.) And Ghassan, they said, had been close friends with Yousef Ramouni, the Palestinian bus driver Dust and lightning

A short drive from Har Nof, at the mouth to Jerusalem, a few hundred Israelis gathered beneath the Bridge of Strings on the night of the synagogue massacre to voice their pain — and their anger at Israeli officials for not preventing the attack with a greater show of strength.

Israeli activist Itamar Ben Gvir rallies a crowd near the entrance to Jerusalem on Nov. 18, calling for Israel to expel all Arabs from the country.

The rally soon devolved into a rowdy mob led by members of the extreme anti-Arab group Lehava. They taunted riot police, chanted “Death to the Arabs!” and attempted to chase down suspected Palestinians and “lefties” walking by. Slogans like “No Arabs = no attacks” and “There is no coexistence with cancer” were scrawled on homemade signs. Wartime-level racial tensions had returned to Jerusalem.

Said one young protester: “The government needs to fight stronger against this enemy. We need to go and blow up their house — right now. It’s taking too long.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had the same idea. That night, under pressure to take decisive action and to console an insecure nation, he said in a media statement:

“We will not tolerate this reality; we will fight terrorism, and we will defeat it. We will restore law, order and security to the streets of Jerusalem. This evening, I ordered the demolition of the homes of the terrorists who perpetrated the massacre and the hastening of the demolition of the homes of the terrorists who perpetrated the earlier attacks.”

The next night, a demolition team made up of IDF Combat Engineering Corps soldiers, Israeli police and border cops A young relative of terror suspect Abdel Rahman Al Shaludi stands in the rubble of their family home. The building was partially demolished by Israeli forces on Nov. 19 as punishment for Al Shaludi’s deadly October attack at a Jerusalem light rail station.

The family building didn’t crumble entirely. However, 21-year-old Abdel Rahman’s apartment — where he lived with his mother, father and five brothers and sisters — has been gutted, rendered unlivable, by an IDF explosive. And the building’s other seven units are now in various states of destruction — some with holes in their walls, some with their belongings ransacked and furniture shredded. A car parked on the street below was destroyed by falling objects. “They peed on the bed of the children, and on the schoolbooks of my niece, on the first floor,” Enas claimed.

Her son, now a community shahid (martyr) with his face on fliers and banners all over Silwan, allegedly had rammed his car into a Jerusalem light rail station on Oct. 22. The crash killed a 3-month-old baby girl and an Ecuadorian immigrant, and sent Jerusalem into a new era of tension and violence some are calling the Third Intifada.

“I don’t like to see innocent people dying. I don’t like to see anyone die — Jew or Palestinian,” she said. “But violence will create more violence. Action will create more action. The situation will only become worse. The only solution is to end the occupation and to keep the settlers out of Al-Aqsa mosque.”

‘An extraordinary step’

The Al Shaludi home demolition was the first in a lineup of at least six punitive demolitions that as of press time Nov. 24 was expected in the coming days.

Back in July, the IDF demolished two family homes in the West Bank belonging to Palestinian men suspected of carrying out the infamous kidnap-murder of three Jewish boys. At that time, officials were hesitant to confirm the demolition to the press. The practice was then somewhat taboo: It had been discontinued in 2005 after the IDF declared it ineffective and had only been approved in two exceptional cases since.

But with the 4 a.m. explosion in Silwan last week, this tactic, whose effectiveness is often debated, re-entered the mainstream.

In a video interview with CNN, the prime minister’s spokesman, Mark Regev, explained the revival. “It is an extraordinary step, one of the tools in our tool box,” Regev said. “A Palestinian terrorist, any terrorist, may not care about themselves. But maybe they care about their immediate loved ones and where they live. I’ve been in security discussions, and our experts believe this policy could save lives.”

Jabel Mukabbir, the East Jerusalem hometown of the Abu Jamal synagogue attackers, will be hit hardest by the demolitions. Their two family homes — plus that of Mohammed Naif Ja’abis, who flipped over a Jerusalem bus with his tractor on Aug. 4, killing one — are on the IDF’s list.

Theirs is a tight-knit neighborhood that cascades down a hill just south of Jerusalem’s Old City, spilling over the political fault line that separates East Jerusalem from the West Bank. It’s also a hotbed for anti-Israel activity: In 2008, another Jabel Mukabbir resident shot up a yeshiva in West Jerusalem; eight boys died in the attack.

On the afternoon of Nov. 21 in Jabel Mukabbir, hundreds of residents had gathered to support the Abu Jamal family at a mourning tent for Ghassan and Uday. Their mothers were holed up in a neighbor’s home, too distraught to speak to the press. They’d just gotten word that Israel might not return their sons’ bodies for burial — and a 48-hour demolition notice posted on their family homes Nov. 20 was set to expire the next afternoon.

“When you build this house, your soul is gone when you finish,” said Kamal Awisat, 51, a cousin of the synagogue attackers. “It’s not easy for Palestinians to build in Jerusalem because Israel doesn’t give us new permits. So every time your children have children, you cut a new apartment into the house.”

The two stone buildings set for demolition, home to around 20 members of the Abu Jamal family, are situated about 50 meters apart, surrounded by olive trees and connected by a dirt path. One is said to be around 200 years old.

By last Friday, families had removed their furniture from the home and were bracing for an explosion in the night.

Uday’s younger brother, who didn’t want to give his name for fear the Israeli police would arrest him, said that if the IDF demolished his home, he would sleep in the rubble — right where Uday’s room used to be. “I will be like him some day, inshallah (God willing),” said the 10-year-old, a red checkered keffiyeh draped over his shoulders.

“You see? Instead of making calm, they are making more fire,” said Awisat. “How would you feel if this was your house? They will make 500 youth ready to do more than what [Ghassan and Uday] did.”

Waiting for Demolition

Next door, in the more low-key, upscale East Jerusalem neighborhood of Abu Tor, there’s another IDF demolition slated for the home of Mutaz Hijazi — the man suspected of the near-fatal shooting of Israeli-American activist Yehuda Glick, a lead campaigner for Jewish prayer rights at the contested Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City.

Hijazi‘s father Ibrahim, 67, welcomed a nonstop rotation of journalists into his house on Friday afternoon. He walked from room to room, showing them the space where he‘d raised his children. The furniture had been dragged out, but traces of life remained: In the living room, a child had painted stripes of glitter on the wall. In an adjacent bedroom, deflated red and yellow balloons were still tacked to the ceiling. An embroidered “Welcome” sign and a photo of his dead son Mutaz hung near the front door.

Waiting for the IDF to arrive, Ibrahim said, was almost more painful than the demolition itself. “He’s already gone,” said Ibrahim of his son. “What they‘re doing now is just to show how much hate they have for our people.”

The renowned Israeli professor and doctor Shimon Glick, father of the man Hijazi allegedly shot, said he sees the demolitions mostly as a means of attempting to calm the Israeli people.

“No one knows whether this is effective” in preventing future terror attacks, he said. “Everyone has an opinion. They like to think they know, but no one knows for sure.”

Personally, Glick said, “It gives me no satisfaction to know that these people will have their house blown up. But when something this horrible happens, people demand a response. The government has to do something.”

The U.S. has urged Israeli authorities to avoid punitive home demolitions. “We’ve made it clear that all sides have to work together to lower tensions,” U.S. State Department Jeff Rathke said at a recent press conference. “And we believe that punitive home demolitions are counterproductive in an already tense situation. This is a practice I would remind that the Israeli government itself discontinued in the past, recognizing its effects.”

Various Israeli security experts stressed to the Journal that the country’s long-term security depends on a delicate balance of initially cracking down on radicals — to deter future attacks — while not pushing other Palestinians to the breaking point, and keeping hope alive for the future.

“When you have a gloomy option of peace negotiations, naturally the radicals have the upper hand — they incite and violence grows,” Fine said.

‘They knew the neighborhood’

The initial crackdown phase is in full effect in Jerusalem. Over the past few days, the Israel of a decade ago — in which one couldn’t walk a block without being watched or patted down by a man in uniform — has come back to life. More than usual, the streets are full of vigilantes: Plainclothes men in kippot walk around slung with rifles. On a recent Friday, one young man on the Jerusalem light rail, fresh out of the army, said he was carrying a gun to show Palestinians that “Jerusalem is ours.” Two others peeled past the central bus station in black helmets and Israeli flag capes, whooping into the wind. Central bus station security guards looked like they’d just woken up from two years of vacation, and spent a good 30 seconds rifling through each passenger’s bag.

Some Jerusalemites told the Journal that there’s not much they can do besides stay alert — or hide. “There are fewer people in the streets,” said Kalman S. “We stay home when we can.” 

Others are taking a stand. A controversial new campaign has urged Jewish business owners to fire their Palestinian employees.

According to police, the Tel Aviv stabbing suspect had been working illegally in Israel before he lashed out. One of the Abu Jamal cousins, too, is said to have worked at a grocery store a few blocks from the Har Nof synagogue. (Residents of Har Nof each named a different store when questioned by the Journal, and storeowners all denied the synagogue attacker had worked in their businesses.)

“They knew the neighborhood. If they didn’t work here, this wouldn’t happen,” said 17-year-old Har Nof resident Yakov Wilshinky. “The Arabs don’t want us alive in this country. You don’t know which one will come and kill you.”

Wilshinky and his friends — one of whom held up a flier reading “Don’t hire Arabs!!!” — said they had been making the rounds to local businesses. “We’re going to the managers of all the grocery stores and telling them to fire their Arab workers,” said Dudu Asulin. He said his own boss, at a nearby supermarket, had sent all the Arabs home that day and told them, “Don’t come back to work.”

Despite warnings from the Prime Minister’s Office — “We should not generalize an entire population because a small minority of it is violent and belligerent,” Netanyahu said — the “don’t hire Arabs” movement quickly spread beyond Har Nof. A reception hall chain in Bnei Brak reportedly fired more than a dozen Arab dishwashers after the synagogue attack. And the mayor of Ashkelon, a large Israeli city near Gaza, made international headlines when he banned Arab workers from construction sites near schools. (He later retracted his decision.)

Protesters at the Lehava rally said there was no alternative. “Every Arab you see, you get scared,” said Avi Mann. “If an Arab wakes up in the morning and he’s angry, he could take a knife and kill Jews.”

A 22-year-old Palestinian woman living in Jabel Mukabbir and working at an Israeli hospital would only give her initials — R.A. — in an interview with the Journal, for fear her hospital superiors would see the article and fire her.

R.A. also volunteers for a Palestinian emergency response team, where she’s been treating young Jabel Mukabbir protesters wounded in clashes with police ahead of the slated home demolitions. “We couldn’t just let them come in,” she said of Israeli forces. “All of the people of this village stopped them from entering. We are very close here; every home is our home. We can’t give up that easily.”

Of the motives driving recent terror attacks, she said: “Things escalated over a few months. It started on Ramadan, when they stopped us from going to the [Al-Aqsa] mosque. Then Abu Khdeir was killed, and then Gaza — it built up, bit by bit. And they just suppressed it. They didn’t let people express their feelings.

“These bad things that happen don’t come from nowhere,” she said. “It’s a reaction. We don’t all wake up every morning and want to kill.”

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.

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