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|Sunday, Dec 27 ’09, Tevet 10, 5770|
1. Murderers of Rabbi Chai Killed By IDF, Security Forces
General Security Services in partnership with soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) killed the murderers of Rabbi Meir Avshalom Chai. All three were convicted terrorists who had been committed to and later released from Israeli prisons.
Chai, 45, was murdered by Arabs in a drive by shooting while chauffeuring his wife and one of their children in their family car, between Shavei Shomron and Einav.
The Israeli military operation took place on the evening of December 25, the Jewish Sabbath. PA head Mahmoud Abbas was not forewarned of the mission.
The homes of three men known to have taken part in the murder were surrounded by special forces units, who tried to arrest them. According to an army spokesperson, the men "refused to cooperate", rejecting calls to surrender. Troops subequently opened fire on the buildings.
Nader Raed Sukarji, a 40 year-old inhabitant of Shechem, was arrested in 2002 and suspected of being a top Al Aksa terror group brigade operative and participant in many terror attacks. He also prepared bombs and helped establish explosives factories in Nablus (Shechem). He was released from prison in January 2009.
Palestinian sources say Sukarji’s wife was also injured in the operation, after her husband used her as a human shield while hiding in their house.
Ghassan Abu Sharkh, 39, was imprisoned by security forces in 1990. His brother, Nayef, was the head of the Tanzim terror organization’s military wing in Nablus. Nayef facilitated several terror attacks until being killed by IDF forces in June 2004.
Anan Suleiman Mustafa Subih, 36, resident of Nablus, was an operative of the "Shuhada al-Aksa" brigade, which was involved in extensive Tanzim military operations as a cell of Tanzim in Nablus. The group was led by Nayef Abu Sharkh, until Nayef’s death. Subih worked in trafficking weapons and supplies for use in terror acts.
Subih had recently been accepted to Israel’s amnesty program for Fatah gunmen. His participation in Tanzim activity was a direct violation of that agreement.
In the process of attempting to arrest Subih, Israeli forces found 2 rifles and 2 guns hidden in the house. The weapons have been transferred to police laboratories to determine if they were the ones used to kill Rabbi Chai.
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad condemned the IDF operation in Shechem, saying it would hurt the Palestinian ability to achieve stability and security. Terror organizations swore they would take revenge for the operation.
National Union chairman MK Yaakov "Ketzaleh" Katz demanded the indictment of the judges of the Supreme Court, for having released the men from jail who went on to commit the murder of Rabbbi Chai and other terror attacks. "[.. prosecute the Supreme Court justices who took part in the freeing of the murderers of Rabbi Meir Chai (may G-d avenge his blood), although they were warned that these men would return to killing," Katz said. "This is the only way we can bring the infamous releases of our people’s murderers to an end."
CEO Meir Indor of the organization representing terror victims, Almagor, praised the army’s mission, but is urging citizens to contact the Defense Minister’s office and demand a cessation to the release and pardon of terrorists. He says the government should re-evaluate its relationship with the PA leadership, claiming that the PA leaks information, training, and arms to Tanzim terrorists on a regular basis.
2. US Demands Clarifications on Shechem Raid
The United States has demanded clarifications from Israel after IDF special forces killed three terrorists Saturday who murdered a civilian, Rabbi Meir Chai, on Thursday.
Calls were made to National Security Adviser Prof. Uzi Arad, apparently by senior U.S. Administration officials, in which he was asked to provide clarifications. The calls came from the United States after Palestinian Authority officials complained to the Americans that the IDF had carried out “executions.”
Arad informed the White House of details of the counterterrorist raid and rejected the PA officials’ claims.
The left-wing group B’Tselem also made a public demand that an investigation be launched into whether the IDF “executed” two of the three terrorist murderers. The self-acclaimed human rights group said that an initial inquiry it conducted at the homes of the dead killers indicated that they were executed.
The group said that the family members of two of the terrorists had told them that the terrorists were not armed and did not try to escape, nor did IDF soldiers try to arrest them. Rather, they said, the soldiers shot them at close range when their identity was confirmed.
The IDF denied these allegations.
A senior IDF officer said Saturday night that the security forces received accurate and focused information regarding the whereabouts of the terror cell’s members. Forces from the Judea and Samaria Brigade, together with the Nachshon Battalion and the Duvdevan Battalion, were sent to the locations and conducted a three-hour long chase after the terrorists. One terrorist hid inside his home and sent his wife as a human shield to the front of the home.
"After the IDF operated on all required levels and using all means to arrest him,” the officer said, “and when he did not respond to the loudspeaker, nor to the means of riot dispersal and additional means, and in the knowledge that the man was armed and dangerous, a decision was made to open fire.”
3. IDF Officer Stalks Out of Shomron Post-Murder Meeting
.A meeting between residents of Shavei Shomron in Samaria and the Commander of the Judea and Samaria Regiment, Col. Itzik Bar, ended in discord Saturday evening when Bar walked out angrily.
Bar had come to the Shavei Shomron clubhouse building to talk to the residents after the murder of their neighbor Rabbi Meir Chai, in a shooting attack Thursday night.
While Israelis are justly proud of the Army Intelligence Services that succeeded in naming and tracking the murderers in record time, they want to know that all the means to prevent terrorism are in force. Thus, the residents of Shavei Shomron echoed many Israelis’ worries when they voiced sharp criticism of the defense establishment and said that the removal of an IDF checkpoint near the community helped the terror cell that murdered Rabbi Chai. Col. Bar rejected the criticism and said that the removal of the checkpoint had not harmed security. After a heated discussion, he stalked out of the meeting.
"The Regiment Commander spoke arrogantly, and in a condescending and cold-hearted manner, which angered the residents,” a participant in the meeting said. “It was a shameful sight. The regiment commander said, with great insensitivity, even said that removing the checkpoint actually improved security. How can you say something like that to 150 people who are mourning the murder of their friend?”
Residents noted that this was not the first time Col. Bar showed a condescending attitude. They pointed out his instructions to soldiers not to eat at settlers’ homes – an order that was repealed after the Chief of Staff intervened.
The Shavei Shomron secretariat did not issue a response after the meeting, stating that the media was not the proper place for working out disagreements with the military.
Menorah Chazani of Shavei Shomron told Arutz Sheva that the residents feel that they have been abandoned by the political leadership. She said that Bar admitted that the IDF had failed to prevent the murder.
Limor Sohn Har-Melech, whose husband Shalom was murdered six years ago, noted that her husband’s killers are among the terrorists that are supposed to go free in the Shalit deal. “After we saw that these terrorists go back to killing, the feelings are very bad,” she said. "We feel that releasing the terrorists in a deal with Hamas would set the entire country on fire.”
4. Netanyahu Links Rabbi Chai’s Murder with Shalit Deal
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu drew a connection Sunday morning between the successful military operation against the murderers of Rabbi Meir Chai on Thursday and the proposed release of hundreds of terrorists in return for captive soldier Gilad Shalit.
At the start of the weekly government session Netanyahu said that he wishes to congratulate the Shin Bet and the IDF on “their speedy action against the terror cell that carried out the attack against Rabbi Meir Chai of blessed memory.”
"The policy against terror is clear,” he said. “We will continue to aggressively defend and respond to any attack on Israeli citizens and any rocket fire at Israel.”
‘No Deal Right Now’
The Prime Minister made a connection between the murder of Rabbi Chai and the Shalit deal, noting that one of the terrorists who participated in the murder and were eliminated by the IDF had recently been released from an Israeli jail. He added that in a deal for Shalit, Israel will insist that the terrorists it releases not go back to terror activity “in the field.”
Regarding the Shalit negotiations, Netanyahu added that “right now there is no deal [for an exchan and it is not clear at all if there will be one. It is clear that if we reach a practical proposal, I will bring it before the government, but we are still not there and I do not know if we will be there.”
The Prime Minister also said that he would be traveling to Egypt to meet with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Tuesday, and that the meeting was requested by Israel. “We are interested in advancing the peace process in various ways,” he said. “Egyptian Intelligence Minister Omar Suleiman was here. I will continue this important dialogue.” Netanyahu said that he asked the Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor Binyamin Ben-Eliezer of the Labor party to join him on the visit to Egypt.
5. Kadima Wavering on Joining Gov’t
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will meet this evening (Sunday) with Opposition Leader Tzipi Livni to discuss his offer for her Kadima party to join the government coalition.
The offer was made on the backdrop of a split in the Kadima party and reports that several Kadima members want to join the Likud. Despite this, Livni is not expected to take Netanyahu up on his offer – and certainly not at present.
Kadima leaders are miffed that Netanyahu has not offered any ministerial portfolios, sufficing instead with up to four without-portfolio Cabinet positions.
Kadima MK Meir Sheetrit says that it would not be wise for his party to accept such an offer. “We’re not in 1967 and there is no war in the offing,” Sheetrit said, referring to the formation of an emergency unity government at that time. “If someone really wants us to join the government, this is not the way.” Sheetrit and his party colleague MK Yisrael Hasson have both said that Kadima must demand a fundamental change in the way Israeli governments are elected and formed.
Kadima MK Ronit Tirosh, on the other hand, said the party should join the coalition. Mentioned as one of the potential Kadima renegades, Tirosh said that she would quit the party if Kadima remains out of the government for “immaterial” reasons.
Netanyahu: Construction Will Resume No Matter What
Netanyahu told Likud ministers on Sunday morning that he does not plan to change the coalition guidelines in order to suit Kadima. He also said that the 10-month Jewish construction freeze in Judea and Samaria will end on schedule even if Kadima joins.
Kadima on Brink
MK Eli Aflalo of Kadima continues to want out of Kadima in order to form a one-man Knesset faction, and the other potential breakaways are still on the fence. Kadima was formed four years ago as a Likud breakaway, such that the possible split in Kadima to the Likud’s benefit is widely seen as “poetic justice.”
6. Pilots’ Course: Few Kibbutzniks, Even Fewer Religious Zionists
The Israel Air Force published statistics about the graduates of the Winter 2009 Pilots’ Course. They show that the course is still overwhelmingly dominated by secular soldiers.
Two percent of the graduates are religious, and another 16% define themselves as traditional. This is in contrast to other elite units of the IDF, where knit-kippah wearing soldiers make up 25% to 40% of the soldier and officer corps. Regarding the ground forces, it is generally accepted that the religious Zionists have taken the place of the ‘kibbutzniks,’ or sons of the kibbutz communities – the socialist communal agricultural villages of Israel – who used to be backbone of the IDF’s elite units.
Five percent of the latest Pilots’ Course graduates are ‘kibbutzniks,’ up from 2008, when there were no kibbutzniks at all among the Pilots’ Course graduates. These statistics marks a meaningful downward shift: In the 1980s, about 30% of Pilots’ Course graduates were kibbutzniks, and their proportion went down to about 20% in the late 1990s.
Kippahs hit a glass ceiling?
The proportion of kibbutzniks has dwindled in the IDF’s officer corps as well. Less than 5% of recent IDF Officers’ Course graduates were kibbutzniks, while over 25% wore knit kippahs. However, while the proportion of religious soldiers is growing in the ground forces, it does not seem to be doing so in the air. There are different opinions as to the reason. An article last year in the now-defunct daily newspaper HaTzofeh determined that the number of religious pilot cadets was shrinking. It speculated that there may be an intentional policy of keeping the religious out of the IDF’s most prestigious unit, but did not have conclusive proof.
In recent years the pilots’ terms of service have been changed to include the acquisition of a bachelor’s degree. 49% of the 2009 Pilots’ Course graduates chose an academic track in Economics and Management; 20% chose Politics, Government and Management; 19% chose Mathematics and Computer Science and 12% chose Management of Information Systems. Pilots serve three years’ of regular service and another nine years in the professional standing army (Tzva Keva).
Other statistics from the course: 63% are from central Israel, 28% from the north, and 9% from the south. 54% live in cities, 30% are from small communities, and 7% are from ‘moshav’ agricultural settlements. Five percent were not born in Israel. 88% studied in a math/science track in high school, 16% in the humanities and 9% in art, music and theater.
7. New Town Near Sderot for Gush Katif Expellees
Another milestone has been reached in the seemingly never-ending resettlement process for the Gush Katif expellees: The government has approved a new town for former residents of Kfar Darom. To be named Shavei Darom (Returnees of the South), it will be located southeast of Sderot.
The decision comes nearly 4.5 years after the original expulsion from Gush Katif, and a full three months after Attorney General Menachem Mazuz gave his approval to the plan. New Disengagement Authority Director Bentzy Lieberman was credited by residents with helping the decision along.
The government’s decision comes as a welcome windfall for some 20 families who have been living in a 19-story apartment building in Ashkelon since shortly after the expulsion. They were supposed to move to the building immediately after the expulsion, and remain there for two years – but in the event, they were forced to live in a hotel for four months while legal problems were sorted out, and their "two years" in the high-rise building, waiting for their permanent community to be built, have already turned into four years.
Another group of some 20 Kfar Darom families who lived in the building moved, in the summer of 2008, to Shomeriya, a failed left-wing kibbutz, together with some expellees from Atzmona. Their new community of Mirsham, in the northern Negev region, is not yet ready, and there is no word as to when it will be.
Shavei Darom, which was approved by the Cabinet, is located next to Nir Akiva, southeast of Sderot, though no direct road currently exists between Sderot and Nir Akiva. Residents hope that within four or five months, their pre-fab "caravilla" homes will be placed on the site. Construction of permanent homes will follow after that, at a date to be named later.
Kfar Darom was originally established in Gaza in 1946. The name is taken from the Talmud, which quotes Tannaitic sage Rabbi Elazar of Kfar Darom. It was destroyed by the Egyptians in the 1948 War of Independence, and was rebuilt by Israel after Gaza was liberated during the Six Day War – first as an IDF Nachal outpost, and later, in 1990, as a community that eventually numbered close to 100 families. It was destroyed, together with the other 20 towns of Gush Katif and four of northern Shomron, in the Disengagement of 2005.
Famous Kfar Darom members include Chana Bart, the Cohen family, and Rabbi Asher Mivtzari. Chana Bart was paralyzed in the lower half of her body in a terrorist shooting attack in 2002, and has been confined to a wheelchair ever since. Two years later – a day after Sharon’s bombshell announcement of his plan to throw the 8,000 Jews of Gaza out of their homes – Chana and her husband Eliezer, head of the Nir Akiva core group, celebrated the brit [ritual circumcisio of their week-old son, naming him Amichai [My Nation Live Yisrael. The scene of Chana carrying her baby to the brit in a wheelchair marked a poignant moment in Gush Kaif history, and was immortalized in films prior to the expulsion.
Three children of the family of Rabbi Ophir and Nogah Cohen were seriously wounded in the famous Kfar Darom bus bombing of November 2000; two adults were killed, and the three siblings each lost their legs, or parts of their legs.
Rabbi Asher Mivtzari has been a leader in the struggle for Jonathan Pollard’s release and in the campaign to keep the issue in public consciousness.
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