Late Friday night, despite the fog and heavy rain, security cameras spotted two Arab infiltrators climbing over the security fence into the Ultra-Orthodox city.
The army was called out, and hundreds of soldiers ran searches all night long through the massive rain storm in the Givat Aleph neighborhood.
The alert level was finally lowered in the morning after it had been determined that the infiltrators had left the city via the fence.
An interesting point of information about Beitar, is that on Shabbat, the security chief is Faraj Daahar, an Israeli-Druze, who served as an officer in Givati, and has protected the town of Beitar as their Shabbat security chief for the past 25 years.
A fire broke out in the Geva’ot Forest in Gush Etzion early Tuesday afternoon. Firefighters were at the site battling that blaze as well.
The forest is located in Judea, in the westernmost area of Gush Etzion. The area is named for the hills (“giva’ot” in Hebrew) from which the Biblical Bila’am spoke (Numbers 23:9), and is just a few minutes’ drive from Jerusalem.
Some 988 acres of the land surrounding Geva’ot was declared part of Israeli state land two years ago, to the consternation of world leaders and the Palestinian Authority. But the move comes in accordance with general Israeli policy to consolidate the Israeli settlement blocs in Area C that would have remained under the control of the State of Israel regardless of which final status agreement was reached with the Palestinian Authority.
At present, PA leader Mahmoud Abbas, now in his eighties, continues his years-long policy of refusing to meet for direct talks to resolve the final status issue between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, as was called for under the internationally-recognized Oslo Accords.
Deputy Minister of Defense and Jewish Home MK Eliyahu Ben-Dahan visited the Netiv HaAvot neighborhood in Gush Etzion Thursday in an effort to capitalize on the Legalization Bill, which passed a first reading in the Knesset plenum Wednesday. The controversial measure would block the court ordered demolition of both Netiv HaAvot and Amona communities by retroactively authorizing them.
The High Court of Justice has accepted Arab claims that both neighborhoods were at least partially built on privately-owned Arab land and ordered the government to dismantle the communities. Netiv Avot, located adjacent to the town of Elazar, is scheduled for demolition by by March, 2018. Amona residents are scheduled to be evicted by December 25.
“The state’s position has been and remains clear: the Netiv HaAvot houses should not be destroyed!” Ben-Dahan stated. “Legal and practical solutions were offered to permit the houses to stay there and unfortunately, the Court chose to refuse them and decided against the government’s position,” he argued.
“In this reality, there is no choice but following up the ‘Legalization Bill,’ which will finally normalize the area and stop the perception that Israelis who live in Judea and Samaria are second-class citizens,” Ben-Dahan continued.
Acting Gush Etzion Council Head Moshe Seville also said that while the Legalization Bill constitutes an important step, the threat of demolition remains real and should be prevented.
Also Wednesday, lawyers for the Jerusalem Municipality asked the Jerusalem District Court to order immediate execution of 14 demolition orders for buildings in East Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina. Illegal construction there currently houses around 40 families.
The municipal request includes a demand to stop delaying the executions of the building demolitions concerning buildings, which were built on private property managed by the State.
In addition, Defense Minister Avidgor Liberman cautioned settlement activists against overreacting to the Legalization Bill, as well as to the election of Donald J. Trump as president of the United States. Judea and Samaria activists including Jewish Home MKs Naftali Bennett and Bezalel Smotrich welcomed Trump’s election and said they expected the new administration not to object to a large-scale building program in Judea and Samaria.
But speaking to local authorities on Thursday morning about the Amona eviction and the aforementioned bill, Liberman cautioned the activists about overreacting to the recent string of events. He said the incoming administration have asked Israel to behave “modestly” and warned people not to be taken by misguided perceptions of reality.
“I deplore the people attempting to steer wrong the residents and to set expectancies, because afterwards we still need to deal with the reality.
“I call for responsibility and not militancy. I think to represent the pragmatic and practical right in the middle of the populist right,” Liberman concluded.
J-TV tried to run an intelligent debate between Norman Finkelstein and Ken Spiro discussing if Israel is held to double standard or not.
It quickly degenerated into Finkelstein quoting out-of-context cherry-picked facts, and then just losing it completely when confronted, until he eventually hung up.
The segment was a short one, and unfortunately was not set up to answer all the claims that Finkelstein made, but we found his mention of Theodor Meron very interesting, such that we wanted to discuss it further.
Theodor Meron was a legal advisor for the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1967.
The cover letter version is that Meron, in a top secret document, apparently gave his legal opinion to the government that Israeli settlements on the Golan Heights and the West Bank would be in violation of the 4th Geneva Convention, though the entire issue is complex from a political and legal point of view.
And Finkelstein ran with that, claiming that Israel knew that settlements were illegal under international law, and purposely ignored international law.
Putting aside for the moment that Meron was only just one legal opinion, and other government legal advisors held different legal opinions, it’s interesting to point out that Finkelstein chose to only wield the part of Meron’s response that he agreed with.
Reading Meron’s complete response we learn that he also advised the government, based on his legal position, how the government could set up settlements legally .
Furthermore, and perhaps more interesting to this discussion, Meron legally opined that Israelis could return to live in Gush Etzion (and Hebron and eastern Jerusalem, by definition) and it would be difficult to claim it was a Geneva Convention violation, and those Israeli settlements would not be illegal — as Jews inhabited those areas before 1948.
“With regard to Gush Etzion, settlement there could to a certain extent be helped by claiming that this is a return to the settlers’ homes.”
Finkelstein was happy to selectively quote Meron’s general opinion to use it against Israel, but ignored the parts of what Meron wrote that he found unacceptable.
If Finkelstein accepts Meron’s opinion, and we have to assume he does as he was using Meron to prove his point, then Finkelstein has to also accept that there are no illegal Jewish settlements in Gush Etzion, Hebron and eastern Jerusalem.
Imagine how apoplectic Finkelstein would have gotten if Spiro had pointed that out.
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