Tevet 29, 5770 / Friday, Jan. 15 ’10
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- Jordan: Roadside Bomb Against Israel Embassy Staff, None Hurt
- PA Defends Right to Publicly Honor Terrorists
- Rabbi Levanon: Does Barak Want to Hang the Soldiers Too?
- PA Chief Says Israel Trying to Kill Him
- Hamas City Bombs Anger Gazans
- LIBI Fund Increases Support to Judaism in IDF
- Yeshiva University Students Help Jewish Refugees from Gaza
- All Israelis Accounted for in Haiti
1. Jordan: Roadside Bomb Against Israel Embassy Staff, None Hurt
by Gil Ronen
Unknown terrorists set off a roadside bomb Thursday against a convoy of cars carrying Israeli diplomats in Jordan. No one was hurt.
The diplomats were on their way to the Allenby Bridge from Amman, Jordan. The bomb went off at about 5:00 PM as a car carrying three Israeli diplomats passed it. No one was hurt. Two cars reportedly overturned as a result of the blast, however.
The Israeli Ambassador to Jordan was not in the convoy that came under attack. The convoy reportedly continued to drive toward Israel and the Jordan Police launched an investigation.
In 2002, Jordanian police said they had prevented an attempt by terrorists to enter the neighborhood of Amman where the Israeli embassy resides. The police said that they had arrested several suspects who possessed automatic weapons, hand grenades, handguns, knives and other weapons.
In February 2008, gunmen attacked the Israeli embassy in the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott. Five people were injured in the attack, including one foreign national.
2. PA Defends Right to Publicly Honor Terrorists
by Hana Levi Julian
The Palestinian Authority government is defending its practice of honoring terrorists who murder Israelis by naming public places and events in their honor.
A city square in Ramallah was recently named after Dalal Mughrabi, the lead terrorist in a murderous attack on an Israeli bus traveling on the Coastal Road during the 1970s. Mughrabi, who was killed during the incident, led a team of several other terrorists in murdering 37 Israelis after hijacking the bus in 1978.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu harshly condemned the action as incitement and this week protested to the United States, pointing out the continued hate and violence promoted by the PA through such events.
“It is not only missiles and rockets that endanger security and push peace further off,” Netanyahu noted. “Words can also be dangerous. Whoever sponsors and supports naming a square in Ramallah in honor of a terrorist who murdered dozens of Israelis on the Coastal Road… encourages terror,” he said in a broadcast on IDF Radio.
According to the media watchdog Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), however, PA Minister of Culture Siham Barghouti defended the practice one day later in an interview with the PA-backed Al-Ayyam newspaper.
“It is our right to preserve and maintain [the memory] of our fighters who sacrificed their lives for our sake and for the sake of the Palestinian cause,” he told the paper. “Honoring them in this way is the least we can give them, and this is our right.”
Barghouti was supported in his claim by Salim Salama, a member of the El-Bireh City Council, who added that “naming this square after Dalal Mughrabi is the commemoration of the symbolic figures of our struggle who have given their lives during the long struggle, and it is our right to commemorate them in our culture.”
3. Rabbi Levanon: Does Barak Want to Hang the Soldiers Too?
by Gil Ronen
The Elon Moreh Hesder Yeshiva intends to fight against the IDF’s decision to punish two soldiers from the yeshiva who protested against eviction of Jews, by kicking them out of the Hesder track.
Yeshiva Head Rabbi Elyakim Levanon told Arutz Sheva‘s Hebrew news magazine that Defense Minister Ehud Barak is persecuting the soldiers out of personal and political motives. “How much more can these soldiers be punished?” he asked. “How much can they be persecuted? They were court martialled, they were jailed, and now their Hesder track is being canceled. What next? Soon they will hang them in the city square and then they will refuse to bury them. They have been punished already and they have paid the price.”
Rabbi Levanon said that if the Defense Minister thinks the soldiers are not good enough for the army, he should kick them out of the IDF altogether, but it makes no sense to punish them by making them serve 36 months instead of in the Hesder track, which usually includes 15 months of military service, interspersed between periods of Torah learning at the yeshiva.
Rabbi Levanon said that the security establishment seems to be intent upon pushing the Hesder yeshivas into a corner. “If they will not be interested in us we will go for other solutions… we will postpone the service like the hareidis do. A soldier will postpone the service until he has several children, then he will serve a few weeks or a month as reserve duty and that is all.”
"This is not desirable solution,” Levanon said. “We do want to serve the state, despite the fact that the present government is in power and that the present Defense Minister is the way he is, but in view of Barak’s steps we already see a decline in the motivation to be partners. It is still not clear where this will lead.”
4. PA Chief Says Israel Trying to Kill Him
by Avi Yellin
Fatah head Mahmoud Abbas, current chairman of the Palestinian Authority, claims that Israel is trying to assassinate him. Abbas told an Egyptian news agency this week that Israel had murdered his predecessor,Yasser Arafat – despite Arafat’s commitment to peace – and that he is afraid of suffering the same fate. The PA chairman, who enjoys massive political and economic backing from Western powers, further stated that he is not prepared to resume negotiations with Israel until all Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria is halted, claiming the current 10-month ban by the government of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Jewish building in the area is not sufficient for a return to negotiations.
Abbas’s remarks came against the backdrop of intense American efforts to quickly resume negotiations between Israel and the PA. United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called this week on the local parties to resume talks without any pre-conditions. Speaking to reporters in Washington this week, Clinton reiterated that the United States would seek “an outcome which ends the conflict and reconciles…the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state based on the 1967 lines.”
According to reports from Jerusalem, Israel has been under increased American pressure in recent weeks to placate Mahmoud Abbas through confidence-building concessions. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu received a visit earlier in the week from U.S. National Security Advisor James Jones who, according to sources within the Prime Minister’s Office, focused the two-day meeting on pressuring Netanyahu to take steps that would entice Abbas back to the negotiating table.
Jones, a former NATO general, had been a major regional player during the administration of former U.S. President George W. Bush. Following his meetings with Netanyahu in Jerusalem, Jones traveled on Thursday to Ramallah for talks with Abbas, who reiterated his position that Israel’s 10-month construction ban is not a sufficient concession for him to return to negotiations. Abbas further claimed that more than 50 percent of Jewish homes in Judea and Samaria lie empty, and that Israel has no legitimate need to build more. Despite showing Abbas general support, American officials have not commented on his claims that the Jewish State is attempting to assassinate him.
5. Hamas City Bombs Anger Gazans
by Hillel Fendel
Hamas is preparing for war with Israel by placing large bomb-traps in densely-populated areas – angering local residents. So reports a Fatah website named Al-Ahad.
The bombs are being placed in areas far from the border with Israel, and are sparking clashes between the residents and Hamas militants.
The Palestinian Authority newspaper Al-Ayam reported this week that Fatah, too, is preparing for the expected war with Israel – by demanding that Hamas members return the weapons they took from Fatah men during the Hamas takeover of Gaza in July 2007. The paper reports that Fatah wants the weapons in order to face a possible Israeli attack on Gaza.
“Hamas talks of resistance against Israel while at the same time taking the weapons from those who want to resist,” Fatah claims.
Correspondent Haggai Huberman notes that Defense Ministry officials have warned over the past year that Hamas is busy building its military capabilities, using the civilian population as camouflage and shelter.
Israel’s three-week anti-terrorism Operation Cast Lead, which ended exactly a year ago, was successful in ending the Hamas barrage of rockets on the Negev – but many defense officials say that an even stronger offensive will be required in the next round.
Among the areas in which Hamas has been building its military potential are: reinforcing the arms smuggling tunnels network, bringing in large quantities of explosive materials, improving rocket manufacturing capabilities, and the like.
6. LIBI Fund Increases Support to Judaism in IDF
by Gil Ronen
The LIBI Fund, a philanthropic fund that supports the IDF, increased its support of Judaism within the military in 2009, according to the Voice of Israel government radio station. The investments were made at the request of donors who asked that their contributions go to these causes.
One such donation was a Torah scroll that was donated to the Tel HaShomer synagogue by the congregation of Georgian Jews in Moscow.
In all, six ornate Torah scrolls were donated to IDF bases in 2009, with a combined monetary worth of NIS 800,000. A uniquely designed synagogue, shaped to look like the burning bush in which G-d revealed Himself to Moses, was constructed at the Bahad 1 officer training base, at a cost of NIS 5 million. Of this investment, NIS 4 million were contributed by the Ruderman family.
Thousands of Psalms books were contributed and handed out to soldiers fighting the Gaza terrorists in the Cast Lead operation. Other funds went toward creating an “Awareness-Mobile” which drives between IDF combat units in the field and spreads Jewish awareness.
Lt.-Col. Dr. Arik Siton, Head of External Relations at the LIBI Fund, said that contributions through the fund to religious projects shot up by several dozen percentage points in 2009.
7. Yeshiva University Students Help Jewish Refugees from Gaza
by Avi Yellin
Twelve students from Yeshiva University arrived in Israel Monday to spend a week participating in the construction of permanent homes, schools and community centers for Jews refugees expelled from their Gaza homes during the 2005 Disengagement.
The former Gush Katif residents, whose new homes were built in the southern desert community of Halutza, had been living for over four years in difficult conditions while the government sought a permanent solution.
Before arriving in Israel, the YU students raised $20,000 to support the Halutza project as part of the University’s QUEST student leadership program. The mission, which marks the first-ever partnership between Yeshiva University and the Jewish National Fund, is geared towards presenting the students with opportunities to develop their leadership skills and gain a deeper understanding of the Zionist cause.
“Our partnership with Yeshiva University has presented a unique opportunity to work with an exceptional group of students who are already committed to becoming leaders in the Jewish community,” said JNF Campus Programs Manager Rebecca Kahn. “It has also connected the Orthodox community to JNF’s work in Israel, so it has been very exciting.”
Over the last year, QUEST has refocused its programming to help YU’s undergraduate students to improve their leadership skills and take an active role in the Jewish community. During the first semester of program, student fellows practice skills such as public speaking, time management and team building. During their second semester, the students utilize these skills to raise funds for a specific JNF project while honing their leadership, event planning and fundraising abilities.
During the Israel mission, QUEST fellows visited the Jewish refugees they had helped in their new community of Halutza and met with local mayors and the heads of charitable organizations to discuss leadership challenges and the methods used to address those challenges.
Marc Spear, the leadership training director for Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future (CJF), praised the success of the QUEST program’s pilot initiative and expressed confidence in the future Jewish leadership being cultivated through the unique experience. “We challenged the QUEST leadership fellows to set goals for themselves and develop plans to achieve them. Now that they have raised the funds they need for the project, they are primed for the next phase of the leadership training: experiencing the cause they are supporting.”
Yeshiva University students have gained a reputation for political apathy in recent years and Spear expressed hope that the spirit of volunteerism and national responsibility that has made this mission such a success will spread beyond the QUEST fellows to YU’s general student body. “Our hope is that this mission will not only help these students learn about this specific cause and how they can contribute to it, but that it will inspire them to share their passion for Jewish communal causes with their peers.”
8. All Israelis Accounted for in Haiti
by Hana Levi Julian
The last Israeli believed missing has been accounted for in Haiti; the daughter of late peace activist Abie Nathan was finally able to reach her family. The Foreign Ministry reports that no other Israelis are missing in the massive earthquake that struck the island nation earlier this week.
The Magen David Adom (MDA) detection unit, working in cooperation with ministry helped the families of Israelis to make contact with those who were caught in the quake. Upon hearing there were Israelis unaccounted for on the island, MDA established a dedicated website specifically to assist the families with locating their missing relatives.
Israel was in the forefront of nations to send aid to the disaster-struck island. The IAF Search and Rescue team is expected to arrive Friday, as will the IDF medical delegation. IDF Medical Center Commander Lt.-Col. Moshe Meuchas told Arutz Sheva’s Hebrew news the team will help treat the hundreds of thousands of wounded victims. Many are still trapped under the rubble; others have been freed, but are badly injured and in desperate need of medical assistance.
“A large shipment of medical equipment is arriving with a delegation of physicians, surgeons, obstetricians and gynecologists so we can set up a field hospital in Haiti,” he said. “It will include modern equipment and a delivery room so we can handle anything.”
The IDF has a great deal of experience in managing similar mass casualty events, he added. “The delegation has 150 staff members, including paramedics and medics. The Medical Corps has a long tradition of setting up field hospitals; the last time was in India in 2002, before that we worked at the disaster in Turkey, so we have had a lot of experience in this area.”
Meanwhile, the Chabad-Lubavitch emissary in the neighboring Dominican Republic, Rabbi Shimon Perel, also headed for Haiti with the local Police Chief and another police officer late Thursday night. The small group, which brought kosher food for the Jewish rescue workers, was only an advance team: the Jewish community led by Perel in Santo Domingo donated four large truckloads of produce to be distributed to citizens in Haiti.
The International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) estimates that some 50,000 died in the earthquake that hit the island on Tuesday. Most of Haiti’s population of 3 million was affected by the disaster, however – many are homeless, the houses destroyed in the quake due to the poor construction standards in the country.
The United Nations announced Friday that 36 of its staff members were killed in the earthquake, and more than 200 others are still missing.
The country’s former president, Jean Bertrand Aristide, exiled to South Africa, announced Friday morning that he intends to return to Haiti in the wake of the disaster, but did not disclose further details.
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