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August 30, 2016 / 26 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Defense Minister’

Former Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Fuad Ben-Eliezer Dies at Age 80

Sunday, August 28th, 2016

by Ilana Messika
Veteran Israeli politician and IDF officer Binyamin “Fuad” Ben-Eliezer died today at the age of 80 at the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center due to complications of kidney disease.

“Fuad served the State of Israel for decades. He did so as a fighter, as a commander, as a public figure, and as a senior minister. I knew him and appreciated his contribution and remarkable character.”said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“Many conversations with Fuad showed his concern and commitment to the future of the country that he loved so much. May he rest in peace,” he concluded.

Ben-Eliezer, born in Basra under the name Fuad, emigrated to Israel from Iraq with his family in 1950. Upon arriving in Israel, he adopted the Hebrew name Binyamin and joined the IDF, where he had a long and illustrious career.

He served in the Six-Day War and the Yom Kippur War before being appointed Commanding Officer in Southern Lebanon in 1977, as the IDF liaison between Israel and the Christians of Lebanon.

From 1983 to 1984, he served as the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, charged with the responsibility of implementing the government’s civilian policy in Judea and Samaria and vis-a-vis the Gaza Strip.

Fuad Ben-Eliezer was also a 30-year veteran of Israeli politics. Elected in 1984 on the Yahad list, he served in the Knesset until 2014 as part of the Alignment party, which later became Labor.

In 1994, as part of his tenure as minister of construction and housing, he was sent by Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin as the first Israeli minister to meet with Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat.

Following the establishment of a national unity government in 2001 led by Ariel Sharon and Ehud Barak, Ben-Eliezer assumed the post of defense minister until he resigned in 2002 when Labor left the coalition.

In response to the second intifada, he was a central proponent of Operation Defensive Shield, the first large-scale military operation to be carried out in Judea and Samaria since the Six-Day War, He continued on to serve in various ministerial positions in the 2003, 2006, and 2009 Labor governments.

Four days prior to the Knesset vote to elect a new president in June 2014, Ben-Eliezer withdrew his candidacy for the position due to a police probe on suspicions of illegal gambling and bribes which he had allegedly received during his years in office. He officially resigned from office in December, 2014 due to health issues and to focus on clearing his name.

Opposition Chairman and Zionist Union MK Isaac Herzog related, “I had recently conducted many conversations with Fuad about the cloud that surrounded him at the end of his life and he repeatedly insisted he was innocent.

“He was a fearless fighter and a Labor party leader who died surrounded by many admirers and friends,” Herzog concluded.

Ben-Eliezer died while his reputation was still shrouded in suspicion following a six-month police investigation. He was indicted by the Israeli attorney general in December 2015 along with 10 other suspects for accepting bribes amounting to more than $500,000 as well as money laundering, breach of trust, fraud and tax offenses.

Ben-Eliezer suffered from a severe kidney disease for which he was previously rushed to the Assaf HaRofeh hospital in Tel Aviv in serious condition, prior to his transfer to Sourasky Medical Center.

“The Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center and the Israeli National Transplant Center would like to thank the family of Binyamin Ben-Eliezer for agreeing to donate the deceased’s corneas for transplant purposes.” stated Ichilov Hospital.

Binyamin “Fuad” Ben-Eliezer is survived by his wife and five children. Baruch Dayan Emet.

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Former Defense Minister Binyamin ‘Fuad’ Ben-Eliezer in Hospital

Sunday, August 28th, 2016

Former Knesset Member Binyamin ‘Fuad’ Ben Eliezer remained in Assaf HaRofeh Medical Center in Tzrifin on Saturday, hospital spokesperson Liad Aviel told media.

Ben Eliezer was admitted to the cardiac intensive care unit. He was reported in stable condition.

“The hospital administration together with the Ben Eliezer family asks the media to do its part to help put an end to any rumors (about the MK’s health.) We are making every effort to bring Fuad to a full recovery to good health.”

The octogenarian spent 30 years as a leader of the Labor Party, and also served as a defense minister as well.

Ben-Eliezer has been in poor health for years. He was hospitalized this past March after having complained of chest pains, and last year as well, with a serious case of influenza. In December 2014, the former lawmaker was the recipient of a kidney transplant.

Hana Levi Julian

5 Arabs Injured as Israel Retaliates Hard Following Gaza Rocket in Sderot

Monday, August 22nd, 2016

On Sunday afternoon, a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip hit the city of Sderot in Israel, no injuries have been reported. In response to the attack, IAF aircraft immediately targeted Hamas positions in the northern Gaza Strip. This was the 14th rocket fired from the Gaza Strip at Israel since the beginning of 2016. But this time, the Israeli response was swift and refreshingly “disproportionate.”

IDF Spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said in a statement: ”The IDF remains committed to the stability of the region and operated in order to bring quiet to the people of southern Israel. When terrorists in Hamas’ Gaza Strip, driven by a radical agenda based on hatred, attack people in the middle of the summer vacation, their intentions are clear- to inflict pain, cause fear and to terrorize.”

According to Ma’an, the IDF fired missiles into the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun on Sunday afternoon and evening, injuring at least five Arabs. Reports of an air raid over Beit Hanoun emerged at around 10:30 PM, with IAF shelling. Earlier in the day, a spokesman for the Ministry of Health in the Gaza Strip announced that a young Arab man in his twenties was injured as a result of an Israeli artillery shelling targeting a military training ground in Beit Hanoun near the Erez crossing. Local sources later told Ma’an that two other Arabs were also injured, though the details remained unclear.

An Israel air force plane was used to strike the first target, while an Israeli army tank was used to attack the second.

Eyewitnesses told Ma’an that a rocket fired by an Israeli drone hit a water reservoir and another shell landed in an open area in Beit Hanoun. The Hamas “Palestinian Information Center” reported that a “Palestinian citizen was injured in the face” by shrapnel of an artillery shell. The report quoted local sources as saying that Israeli tanks fired three shells at an agricultural land in the al-Masriyyin neighborhood in Beit Hanoun. Furthermore, the report said Israeli artillery shells landed in the Filistin training ground which Hamas fighters use for military training.

All of the above were signals from Israel’s new Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beiteinu) that the old “proportionate” retaliation policy whereby a volley of rockets from Gaza that fall mostly in empty fields in Israel is met with a lazy IAF attack, several hours later, against terrorist facilities that had been cleared of their inhabitants well in advance — all that is over.

Liberman is changing the rules in Gaza, and it appears that from now on, a provocation, no matter how small, will be met with a fierce and destructive reaction—last night’s attacks hit some 50 targets—that might change the calculus on the other side as well.

One side benefit of the IAF and tank attacks Sunday was that Abu Obeida, the spokesman for Hamas’ military wing who was supposed to give a watershed announcement on his group’s policy, canceled his planned speech for security reasons.

JNi.Media

Israel Hands Over Terrorist Corpse to Family Months After Attack

Thursday, August 18th, 2016

By Tzvi Lev/TPS

Jerusalem (TPS) – After months of negotiations, Israeli authorities handed over the body of the terrorist who committed a shooting attack on a bus in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramot in March despite firm opposition to the move by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman.

Muhammad al-Kalouti, 21, was buried in a small ceremony heavily guarded by police at the Bab al-Zahra cemetery in Jerusalem last night. Al-Kalouti had been killed by security forces while perpetrating the attack.

The Israeli government often holds the bodies of terrorists both as a deterrent against future attacks and because funerals in the past have turned into massive demonstrations of incitement. Officials only returned Al-Kalouti’s body after the family deposited NIS 20,000 in collateral with the police and pledged not to have more than 30 people at the ceremony.

Defense Minister Liberman is a firm proponent of withholding the bodies of terrorists from their families, but Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit ruled that the move did not have legal justification and ordered the body released. The Supreme Court has also demanded answers from the government as to why terrorists’ bodies have not been handed over after it ruled on the issue in July.

Liberman criticized Mandelblit’s decision yesterday, telling reporters that “the role of the attorney general is to be an advisor, not a judge.”

Liberman’s predecessor Moshe Yaalon had opposed withholding the bodies of terrorists from their families and had argued that the policy only provoked more attacks.

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Rightwing Watchdog Urging Action on Fake Arab Settlement Susya [video]

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

Israeli legal watchdog Regavim has appealed to its supporters in Israel and abroad to write to Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman to take action against the illegal squatter camp in Susya. The call comes one day after the Israeli Supreme Court has given government a two-day extension on the deadline to deal with the issue through legal means.

There has been immense public pressure on the Netanyahu government by the US State Department, the European Union and dozens of anti-Israel NGOs, to halt the legal process of evicting the illegal Arab squatters who only arrived in Susya over the past few years. The Arabs’ assortment of lean-tos and tents borders on a legal Jewish community that was established by the government in 1986. Should Israel permit this illegal outpost to remain, in Area C of Judea and Samaria which was designated for Jewish settlements, more camps like it will soon dot the landscape everywhere inside the Jewish area of the “disputed territories,” enhancing the Arab side of the dispute.

Regavim released a video call-to-action in which the organization’s International Director Josh Hasten called on supporters to rally around the government as they deliberate on the fate of the squatters’ camp. Explaining the importance of the Susya case, Hasten says the Arab squatters “have set-up shop deliberately on an ancient Jewish town that existed 1,500 years ago — this is a litmus test to see if the government of Israel is willing to uphold the laws of the land.”

Hasten urges viewers to “get involved, let the Prime Minister know that the State of Israel and people of Israel are behind him and we are here to strengthen him in making this decision which is necessary to uphold the laws of the land.”

David Israel

PA Attorney: Israel to Hand Over Terrorists’ Bodies

Tuesday, August 16th, 2016

A PA Arab prisoners’ committee on Monday announced that Israel had agreed to hand over for burial the bodies of Arab terrorists still in its possession. The announcement did not mention a specific timeframe for returning the bodies, save for that of Muhammad Jamal al-Kalouti, 21, who was shot dead by police in March together with Abd al-Malak Saleh Abu Kharoub, 19, outside the Old City of Jerusalem.

Attorney Muhammad Mahmoud of the prisoners’ committee Addameer said that Israeli authorities would release al-Kalouti’s body to his family on Wednesday.

On March 9, 2016, these two terrorists shot at a bus from a car at the Ramot Junction north of Jerusalem. The bus was not hit but shell casings were found at the scene. They then drove their vehicle to the Shechem Gate of the Old City of Jerusalem, and shot at police and civilians. Police returned fire and killed them. A passerby was seriously injured by police gunfire. Two rifles were found in the car. Both terrorists carried blue Israeli identity cards (Source: The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center).

According to Mahmoud, Israel agreed to release the body on the condition that the funeral be carried out at midnight Wednesday, with a maximum of 25 people attending, and that the body be buried in the al-Mujahidin cemetery near Herod’s Gate. According to the announcement, the family was charged $5,200 in fees for the processing of the body.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman has reversed the Israeli policy regarding the return of terrorists’ bodies to their families for burial, disregarding the recommendations from the security apparatus, including his predecessor Moshe Ya’alon (Likud). Liberman (Yisrael Beiteinu) preferred instead to embrace the contrary position of Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud).

It should be noted that the Jack Khoury story in Ha’aretz on the Muhammad Mahmoud announcement, which was published at 1:17 AM Tuesday, was titled, “Israel agrees to hand over bodies of seven Palestinians killed in confrontations,” with the sub-headline, “Police agree to transfer the remains held for months after negotiations with families under pressure from Israel’s High Court, according to the Palestinian prisoner administration.” Even the first paragraph continued the obvious lie that the release of the bodies was an official Israeli decision. It read: “The Israel Police has agreed to hand over the bodies of seven Palestinians from East Jerusalem who were killed in confrontations with Israeli forces and which were held for a number of months, the Palestinian prisoner administration said on Monday.”

The headline has since been modified to read: “Israel Reportedly Agrees to Hand Over Bodies of Seven Palestinians Killed in Confrontations.” Now we have to wait and see what Israel has to say about it.

JNi.Media

Israel Taking Concrete Steps to Stretch Gush Etzion Out to Bethlehem

Monday, August 15th, 2016

Israel is conducting a land survey intended to declare the area east of the community of Efrat in Judea a state-owned land, freeing it up for construction, according to a document submitted by the state to the Supreme Court last week and cited by Ha’aretz.

According to the document, the survey has been undertaken “in a manner that will create contiguity of state lands.” As Ha’aretz points out, Efrat is inside the Gush Etzion settlement bloc of Judea, and construction east of Efrat, in an area known as Givat Eitam, would expand Gush Etzion eastward, to the outskirts of the ethnically cleansed Bethlehem, which used to be majority Christian but since 1994 has seen a flight of its Christian population.

Jewish prisoners in Jordan, after the fall of Gush Etzion, May 1948 / Wikipedia commons

Jewish prisoners in Jordan, after the fall of Gush Etzion, May 1948 / Wikipedia commons

To remind you, Gush Etzion was founded not after the 1967 War, but back in 1940-1947. Its civilian population was overrun by an invading Jordanian army in 1948, some of them massacred and the rest taken prisoner. But as of 2011, Gush Etzion consists of 22 communities with a population of 70,000 Jews.

According to Ha’aretz, in 2009, 425 acres of land outside Efrat were declared state land, with a plan to build 2,500 housing units there. The state told the court that early in 2016 the Efrat Regional Council requested permission to start planning construction in the area, noting that the land of Givat Eitam is privately owned by Himanuta, a subsidiary of the Jewish National Fund.

The document the state submitted to the court reads: “The intention is to promote in the future development of Himanuta lands. To this end, infrastructure must be installed between Himanuta lands westward toward Efrat, including lands that have been declared [state lands] at Givat Eitam… The installation of this infrastructure will be possible if and when the land survey now underway is completed in the area between Efrat and Givat Eitam in a manner that creates contiguity of state lands.”

The document is co-signed by the supervisor of government and abandoned property in Judea and Samaria, Yossi Segal, and the defense minister’s aide for settlements, Kobi Eliraz.

The Efrat Regional Council released a statement Sunday replying to a challenge to the building plans by Peace Now, saying, “It is symbolic that precisely on the day marking the destruction of the Temple some are trying to sabotage the building of the Land of Israel (referring to the fast day of Tisha B’Av,which fell on Sunday).”

“The legal clarification of the status of lands in the Eitam neighborhood has been underway for 12 years,” the regional council said, adding that “at the High Court of Justice at least five different panels of justices have come to realize that there is nothing of substance in the claims of the petitioners, who have dragged the state into a waste of money and costly resources in unnecessary proceedings.”

The council said it was “happy about High Court rulings in previous petitions, and we are happy that the state is seeking to redress years of injustice.”

The council noted there were “hundreds of acres bought by Jews even before the establishment of the state and registered to the Jewish National Fund in trust for the Jewish state” at Givat Eitam, and construction at Givat Eitam will fulfill the will of these Jews, and the “great bonus is mainly for young couples who cannot afford to purchase an apartment in Jerusalem and its environs.”

The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories confirmed to Ha’aretz that its “blue line team” in the Civil Administration – consisting of cartographers, surveyors and legal experts – was now “working to study the status of lands at Givat Eitam, and a decision on their status will be rendered at the end of the team’s work.”

David Israel

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/israel-taking-concrete-steps-to-stretch-gush-etzion-out-to-bethlehem/2016/08/15/

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