Decorated special forces soldier Sgt. Yehuda Yitzchak Hayisraeli who fought and was critically injured in the 2014 Gaza War, during the courageous attempt to retrieve the late Lt. Hadar Goldin who had been captured and killed by Hamas. Sgt. Yehuda was in a coma for two years, surrounded by his wife and family, who never gave up on him. His son Erez was born and was circumcised while his hero father was still in a coma, an event that focused national attention on the family one more time.
Then a miracle happened and Yehuda came out of the coma, a few months ago. Since then he has been engaged in a grueling and demanding rehab process, where he is re-learning a large variety of basic skills, on the way to full recovery. Eventually the time came for Yehuda to be discharged from the hospital to continue his rehab at home. Like every injured soldier, the defense ministry pays for adjusting his home environment to his rehab needs. But Yehuda is a resident of the community of Ofra in Judea and Samaria, and since the entire region is under a construction freeze in an attempt to please Israel’s many friends in the world, the funds could not be legally transferred to him, no matter how deserving he may be.
The family was dumbfounded at this degree of bureaucratic autism, but a group of Israeli citizens who last week heard about the case in the media decided to come to their aid. They launched a communal fundraising page on the website headstart.co.il, and asked for the equivalent of $156,000, the amount needed to pay for Yehuda’s accommodations. As of Sunday morning, the page has raised $373,061.61 from 7,778 individuals.
On the fundraising page, the organizers have thanked profusely everyone who contributed (including opposition leader MK Isaac Herzog who gave about $300), and declared that the collection will continue, at least until the official expiration time, which is in 26 days. The money will go to provide for Yehuda’s family in the next year or so.
The IDF Central Food Technology and Logistics Division recently completed the development of the first Vegan combat rations, following years during which Vegan soldiers have had to settle for a portion of the military issue meal, mainly corn preserves, olives and peanuts. While Vegetarians do not eat meat, fish, or poultry, Vegans, in addition, do not use other animal products and by-products such as eggs, dairy products, honey, leather, fur, silk, wool, cosmetics, and soaps derived from animal products.
Back in 2013, two members of the Israeli animal rights organization Anonymous approached the military prosecutor’s office asking to absolve Vegan soldiers from wearing leather shoes during their service, on conscientious grounds, since making leather shoes involves the “cruel murder of animals.” Apparently, they could not tolerate the thought of killing people while wearing shoes made from killed animals. Since then, the IDF has been supplying declared Vegan soldiers with non-leather shoes.
Also in 2013, the IDF has begun to supply Vegan berets, made from synthetic material, to soldiers who asked for them. Currently the inoffensive berets are available only in green (for the infantry) and black (for the armored troops). Paratroopers (red berets) are still required to wear head cover made from the sheared coats of innocent barnyard animals.
Vegan soldiers are encouraged to file their complaints with the military ombudsman by fax or email, whenever their military assignments clash with their core Vegan beliefs.
The new combat rations are due to reach over the next few months the 600 or so declared Vegans currently serving. The promised rations will include raw tehini, bernflex, energy bar, natural almonds, walnuts, dried fruits, roasted peas and chickpeas, peanuts, and preserved beans. One ration should last one soldier two weeks or two soldiers one week, provided they trust each other.
Combat Zone Cooking Competition: IDF base chef preparing and serving his unit’s competition dish / Photo Credit: Gadi Yampel, IDF Spokeserson’s Unit
The IDF HR insists that new recruits declare their Vegan status upon enlisting, otherwise they must wait six months before they can be granted Vegan status. The reason is economic, since the army spends much more on the preparation of Vegan food at the military bases and on the rations than it does on normal food. According to the Central Food Technology and Logistics Division, everybody enjoys the Vegan delicacies: last year they budgeted about $80,000 to purchase Vegan goodies for the general military population, but the stuff was consumed in a single quarter and the budget had to be increased.
In 2013 there was a wave of protests regarding the sandwiches IDF soldiers were given on field trips. There were Facebook pages dedicated to the fact that Vegans had to work their way around the cold cuts in their food supplies, there were online petitions, and the military ombudsman was bombarded with complaints, both by fax and email. So now every base kitchen is equipped to provide healthy, nutritious and cruelty-free sandwiches to Israel’s heroes.
I can’t deny it, it’s exciting that we’re potentially getting a right-wing coalition, at least on paper and according to the rumors.
A lot of changes are said to be afoot. Let’s take a look at them.
Liberman as Defense Minister: This could be great – if he walks the walk as much as he talks the talk.
It remains to be seen how he’ll act once he has the job, but after months of Ya’alon talking down to the nation from his pseudo-moral perch and rushing to castigate our soldiers in the public arena before running proper investigations, it will be good to have a Defense Minister who is hopefully more interested in winning wars and crushing the enemy rather than telling us how moral his army is compared to the rest of the country and then telling us how the army’s first job is to educate the country, as he’s handing over another terrorist’s body.
Netanyahu will need to decide if he wants Ya’alon around anymore, or if he’s become too much of a political liability for the Likud. This could always just be a ploy to get Ya’alon back in line and to shut up, but I doubt it.
But that’s only the first of the changes that may soon happen.
Liberman’s party is potentially also getting the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, so Minister Ze’ev Elkin would be moved from there to become the Minister of the the Economy – Bennett’s old job.
And speaking of Naftali Bennett, he may be moved from being the Education Minister to being appointed as Israel’s Foreign Minister.
It’s a great move. His English is good enough, he understands the foreign media, and he brings his ideology with him to the job. It’s also astounding that a member of Bayit Yehudi (Mafdal) party will hold one of the top 3 positions (to the best of my memory), as amazing as it was when a Bayit Yehudi member was appointed Justice Minister.
Unfortunately, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked may have to take over the Education Ministry.
It’s practically guaranteed she’ll do an amazing job as Minister of Education. Probably even better than Bennett (Shaked is potentially Prime Ministerial material, if she improves her English).
What’s disappointing is that she was doing an incredible job in reforming the justice system in Israel, and things were starting to change for the better.
But all is not lost, the Likud’s Yariv Levin might be moved over from the Tourism Ministry to take over Justice. He comes from a legal background, he’s a staunch right-winger and will hopefully want and be able to finish what Shaked started. The upside is that he won’t be as much as a lightning rod as she was, so it may be easier for him to complete the task.
Tzachi Hanegbi may get Strategic Affairs. He can’t do us too much damage there.
Overall, the coalition will be more stable.
With Liberman as Defense Minister may see the end of the building freezes and the anti-democratic administrative detentions/distancing orders without trials, perhaps he’ll implement a plan to help the poor, trapped Gazans emigrate to first-world countries where they won’t be under the tyranny of Hamas, and who knows, maybe he’ll try to extend Israeli law onto at least Area C.
The Jaffa Military Court heard on Monday the indictment against Sergeant Elor Azarya who is charged with manslaughter and inappropriate behavior, and the court President, Colonel Maya Heller, suggested the prosecution and the defense seek mediation. The prosecution objected. Still, the court gave the two sides until the end of the week to consider this option.
Common sense suggests that if the court gives the two sides this opening to bargain the case down from manslaughter—a felony, to misdemeanor, it is because the court does not believe the prosecution is able to prove a felony and would like to spare them the embarrassment. But the prosecution is going for broke, and has even conscripted a top attorney, Nadav Weissman, “one of the most talented litigators involved today in many of the highest profile litigation cases in Israel,” to take down the young medic.
Azarya’s attorneys are also reluctant to cop a plea, because they believe the prosecution’s own files contain all the evidence they need to acquit their client.
Incidentally, the conscripted attorney has complained through his attorneys about the prosecution’s shoddy job of preparing the evidence in the case, and they also noted for the record that they can point to precedence where the most the accused soldier received was disciplinary action.
Indeed, disciplinary action was all the medic Azarya’s commanding officers were going to do, if that, until they got the call from the defense ministry about the B’Tselem video which supposedly proves hands down that the killing of the terrorist was an act of murder.
The defendant’s attorneys are accusing the army of running a show trial for the benefit of the political echelon, namely Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, not the most popular man in most Israeli households these days, most notably in his own Likud party. The majority of Israelis in several recent polls believe there should have been no prosecution at all in the case.
Much of the prosecution’s case hinges on the state of mind of the accused during the shooting, namely how much he knew about the neutralizing of the terrorist and the verification that followed his neutralizing. Since he arrived some ten minutes after the incident, the fact that the verification process had been proper may not matter if the defense can establish that the accused was not aware of it, and estimated the terrorist to still be dangerous.
The case will also revolve around the application of the rules of engagement in cases where a suicide bomb is suspected. The prosecution will bring witnesses who will tell the court there hadn’t been any suicide bombers in the entire six months of a terror wave leading up to the shooting. But that may not matter in establishing the state of mind of the accused or the validity of the rules of engagement that include an expectation of a suicide bomb.
The army soon may be allowed to act like an army and actually fire at terrorists even if soldiers might only be liable to be wounded and not killed.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told the Security Cabinet Wednesday morning that there will be a re-examination of a recent decision to prohibit soldiers from shooting at rock-throwing and firebombing terrorists unless their lives are in immediate danger.
Since the legal system is finding it difficult to deal with stone-throwing by minors, changing open-fire orders regarding the throwing of stones and firebombs will be examined, as will be the imposition – by law – of minimum sentences for those who throw stones and firebombs.
Stiffer sentences, including several years in prison, for rock-throwers already are on the agenda following an imitative by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked.
The issue of minors throwing rocks, intended to kill Israeli drivers either with a direct hit in the face or by causing them to lose control of their vehicles and crash, was highlighted around the world earlier this week with the video of a Palestinian Authority family whose children are “stars” in rock-throwing attacks on soldiers, whose reactions are filmed and edited to portray the children as innocent victims of a big bad army.
The video showed the children and adults punching and beating the soldier, who sat helpless and without even aiming his semi-automatic rifle at them.
Prime Minister Netanyahu did not refer to the most recent “Pallywood” video and instead focused on the increasing number of attacks on Highway 443, the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway that is an alternate to Highway 1 and which also connects the capital with the suburban city of Modi’in.
He told the Security Cabinet:
The policy is zero tolerance for stone-throwing and zero tolerance for terrorism.
That has been said over and over, but the government and military actually have shown 100% tolerance by tying the hands of soldiers trying to defend themselves and civilians.
One young woman told TheJewishPress.com she still is traumatized by an ambush on a vehicle in which she was riding on Highway 60 between Jerusalem and Gush Etzion.
“S. B.” said”
Arabs smashed the back windshield and ambushed our car. An IDF officer at the scene communicated with his superior, who told him not shoot. The officer replied, ‘How am I supposed to defend civilians if I can’t shoot?’
The IDF’s answer earlier this month was not encouraging and was so cowardly that even international media such as Newsweek reported:
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has tightened its rules of engagement for soldiers based in the West Bank in a move one analyst says could embolden would-be Palestinian attackers.
IDF soldiers have been instructed not to shoot at Palestinian suspects unless they pose an immediate threat to life in an updated directive issued by Major General Roni Numa, who is in charge of IDF Central Command….
The new directive clarifies existing IDF rules on opening fire against Palestinians. The rules stipulate that soldiers can only shoot when their lives are threatened—so if an attacker throws a firebomb at soldiers before running away, for example, the soldiers can only shoot in the air, as the attacker no longer poses a threat to forces.
Asaf Day, an Israeli security analyst with Tel Aviv-based consultancy Max Security…said, ‘I think [these measures] will encourage Palestinians to carry out more attacks and I think it has been proven in the past.”
That is exactly what has happened, and the Prime Minister gave clear signs today he will rectify the situation.
He also ordered the examination of several defensive measures, such as increasing lighting and the number of security cameras on Highway 443. In addition, two more Border Police companies and approximately 400 more police officers will be stationed in Jerusalem.
That does not solve the problem in Judea and Samaria, where rock-throwing attacks are so common that they no longer are reported by most media, unless someone is seriously injured or killed. That is similar to the rocket attacks from Gaza. If they “land,” meaning “explode,” in “open areas,” the liberal media might consider it important enough for two paragraphs.
The “turn the other cheek for the sake of ‘peace'” mentality that successive U.S. governments and the European Union have imposed on Israel still prevails in many quarters.
As usual, it takes more violence and injures before the government and the IDF begins to think that maybe, just maybe, soldiers should be allowed to shoot at terrorists, whether they are shooting bullets or throwing rocks.
Netanyahu took the first step today by suggesting that perhaps solders can shoot, even if rocks and firebombs might cause them injuries and not death.
Below the photo, a video shows Palestinian children, starring Shirley Temper.
One of the most inspiring IDF army commanders to have led his troops into battle against the terrorist enemy during Operation Protective Edge this summer is being left off the list to be promoted, according to the Hebrew-language NRG news website.
Givati Brigade Commander Col. Ofer Winter was in line to be promoted to the rank of Brigadier General, but it is apparently not to be, according to the report — at least, not this year — due to two controversial incidents that took place during his wartime leadership this summer.
One cause of the holdup is rumored to be a letter of inspiration he wrote to the men under his command on July 9, just prior to entering Gaza.
The other is allegedly his involvement with the implementation of the Hannibal protocol in Rafah in response to the murder-abduction of Lt. Hadar Goldin by Hamas terrorists during a supposed cease-fire in Gaza.
Hamas is still holding the body parts of Goldin’s corpse it captured during the attack, for some ghoulish ransom, such as the exchange of who knows how many live Palestinian Authority terrorist prisoners held in Israeli jails. Or perhaps in trade for a huge number of dead Muslim terrorist bodies. After the Second Lebanon War, Hezbollah returned the bodies of two kidnapped and murdered IDF reservists to Israel in exchange for both.
The letter of inspiration Winter wrote for his soldiers during Operation Protective Edge this past summer contained Biblical references, making it a controversial item for secularist groups but one that was lauded by others.
Deputy Religious Services Minister Eli Ben-Dahan praised the commander for the letter of encouragement sent to soldiers under his command. Winter wrote of their ‘great merit’ to be at the forefront of the battle against “the terrorist enemy that dares to curse, blaspheme and scorn the God of Israel.”
Summing up his trust in his men, his commanders and in his Creator, the Givati Brigade commander wrote, “In the name of the fighters of the IDF and in particular the Brigade and the commanders, may the verse be fulfilled for us that ‘the Lord your God goes with you to fight for you with your enemies to save you,’ and we will say ‘Amen.’ Together – and only together – we will win.”
Winter’s letter stirred and inspired many by its deep and abiding faith but was slammed by at least two secularist groups who insisted Israel can not mix religion with military affairs.
Nevertheless, the vast majority of lawmakers spoke out in support of the commander, saying his call for Divine aid in time of battle against an implacable enemy was entirely appropriate.
As far as his implementation of the Hannibal protocol, that issue is being considered separately along with all other such matters by the IDF investigating committee.