A few weeks ago, it was revealed that the Palestinian Authority was planning to build a cement factory at the heart of a nature preserve in the Judaean Desert. The news came from local Bedouins who had run into surveyors who were measuring the site in preparation for the construction.
According to a report in Kippa, the Bedouins physically blocked the surveyors, who called the PA Police, and only an IDF intervention prevented what would have become a bloodbath.
Following that incident, Moshe Seville, Acting Head of the Gush Etzion Regional Council, and Yossi Levitt, a local agricultural entrepreneur, met with the head of the local Rashaida tribe and listened to his and his people’s concerns regarding the planned factory. The tribesmen warned that it would harm the nature preserve, create massive pollution of the environment and cause illness in the tribe, especially the children.
Seville agreed that the new factory would have an environmental impact that would cause an irreparable damage to the entire area. He even predicted that the spilled waste from the factory would turn the Dead Sea gray.
The Rashaida leaders said they had already contacted their fellow tribesmen in Jordan, and the Hashamite Kingdom has already been acting to prevent the damage to the sea. One tribesman told Seville that he can’t understand how environmental organizations which normally raise hell at the slightest damage to nature preserves have kept mum in this case. He added that for him the Judaean desert is as sacred as Mecca, and he would never accept it destruction for the sake of making money.
According to Seville, the meeting concluded with a resolution to fight together to prevent the looming environmental disaster, and enlist the support of everyone involved, including the defense and the environmental protection ministers, the heads of neighboring councils, and anyone else who is concerned about the future of the Dead Sea, before it’s too late.
Major General Yiftach Ron-Tal (res.) former commander of the IDF Ground Forces, currently the CEO of Israel Electric Company, on Sunday told Galay Israel radio that the proposed plan to integrate women as Armored combat soldiers is being promoted “by entities that are trying to weaken the IDF.”
Ron-Tal said the initiative is “a scandal that will harm anything one might imagine, including the IDF’s ability.” Noting that the next goal of the women’s groups involved is to integrate women in combat infantry units.
“Anyone pushing this objective is, forgive the expression, simply nuts,” he said, adding, “Are we off our rocker? The next phase will be not just tanks, but Division 35 (paratroopers), Golani Brigade, Givati Brigade and the Nahal Brigade (combat infantry units).”
Major General Ron-Tal added that in his view, and based on material he has reviewed, behind the integration initiatives stand not feminist but leftwing groups, “whose aim is the weakening of the IDF.” Citing first-person conversations with knowledgeable sources, he warned against “interested entities who’ve been using this move, which on its face is democratic and very important … to weaken our military ability. This is terrible, I know it’s terrible, and I’m very concerned.”
The plan to integrate women in combat units was introduced last week by Head of IDF HR Gen. Eran Shani, who spoke to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. According to a senior IDF HR officer who spoke to ha’aretz Sunday, the IDF Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, supports the plan.
An association headed by Rabbi Amihai Eliahu calling itself Tzav 1 (order 1), which supports the ability of religious soldiers to serve in the IDF in a manner that does not challenge their beliefs, has been warning that the military must choose between having Religious-Zionist soldiers or women in the tank, because they can’t have both. The association is accusing the entities behind the move of attempting to cleanse the IDF of its religious warriors.
But the decision, made by the government after recommendations by the security cabinet, the National Security Council and the Foreign Ministry, is under scrutiny by some Israeli media that has been said to be seeking ways to undermine Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Attorney David Shimron, who has been the prime minister’s personal lawyer for many years, is also representing the German company that sells the submarines — a sale Israel’s Channel 10 has alleged was opposed by the IDF and former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon.
An IDF spokesperson said Thursday, however, that the military had informed the cabinet of a “need” for new submarines. The National Security Agency (NSA), said in a statement that there has been a “wave of false reports” and that in fact, the deal with Germany to purchase the latest group of new submarines was fully supported by Ya’alon.
Israel’s Channel 10, accused of a vendetta against Netanyahu, reported Tuesday night that Shimron is being accused of a serious conflict of interest because he represents both the German shipbuilder and has held high-level meetings with its Israeli representative, Miki Ganor.
Shimron told media in a statement, “I have not spoken with any state officials about the privatization of the naval shipyard nor have I dealt with any state officials about vessels purchased by the State of Israel.”
Likewise, Netanyahu told Channel 10 that he has never discussed Shimron’s private clients with him. “The only reason for the deal with the Germans is strategic and economic considerations,” he said.
In a statement on his Facebook page late Wednesday, the prime minister noted that the agreement on the submarines was carried out “in an orderly, professional manner with no outside influence and with the recommendation of all the professional bodies in the Defense Ministry, the IDF and the National Security Agency.”
Netanyahu announced at a cabinet meeting last month that negotiations were close to completion for the purchase of three more submarines for the Israel Navy, at a cost of NIS 6 billion ($1.5 billion), pointing out the acquisition was a strategically important move.
The prime minister has said the submarines will play an important part in the protection of Israel’s natural gas fields, and in the defense of the Jewish State against a nuclear-armed Iran.
“The acquisition of ships was done in a professional, organized way without any external influences,” said the National Security Council in a statement.
“In the course of preparations to protect natural gas fields and installations the government decided to purchase four ships. The decision was taken on recommendation of the security administration, the National Security Council and the Foreign Ministry. During the course of our investigation, a number of possibilities were suggested for acquiring ships in accordance with the operational requirements of the IDF. At the end of our professional investigation it was decided based on political, operational, technological and budgetary considerations to base the acquisition on the agreement between the Israeli and German governments.”
The Council also underlined the fact that then-Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon was involved in the decision-making process.
“The decision was supported by then-Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, the Finance Ministry, and various officials from other government offices. It was also supported by then-Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon in accordance with the IDF’s position. Within the framework of the deal, Israel was granted a significant grant from the German government by virtue of the special relationship between the two nations, rendering the cost of the project lower than any of the other alternatives.”
Former head of the National Security Council General Yaacov Amidror (res.) explains to Channel 2 how the process of deciding to buy the submarines was made (in Hebrew):
Dozens of Palestinian Authority Arab activists erected a large tent on state land in the northern Jordan Valley Thursday, near the Israeli town of Mehola.
Eyewitness Hezy Eyal told Tazpit Press Service (TPS) that the Arabs called it a “settlement outpost” and said the move was intended to “protest Jewish settlements in the region.” They named the area Yasser Arafat Village.
Eyal said about two dozen Israeli activists joined the protest, asking why Israelis were living on “Palestinian land” and demanding that IDF forces not expel the Arabs from the site.
IDF and local security forces responded to the demonstration, and field commanders on site ordered the protesters to leave. As of this writing, the protesters have not left, and security forces have not removed them.
Jordan Valley Regional Council head David Elhayani told TPS that the move is reflective of a years-long reticence on the part of the government to exercise Israel’s sovereignty in the area.
“In recent years, [Arabs in the region] have become bolder than they were in the past,” he said. “They have been building illegal structures and taking over state lands. [They are nothing more than] law breakers who have figured out that law enforcement in this region has become lax.
“Today’s attempt by Palestinians to take over state lands is a challenge to the rule of law,” added Elhayani. “I demand not only that they be removed immediately, but that they also face criminal prosecution. Their cars should also be confiscated in order to set an example.”
Five Breslov Chassidim, who endangered their lives by sneaking into Joseph’s Tomb in Shechem in the the middle of the night — without coordination with the IDF — were attacked and arrested by Palestinian Authority (PA) police.
During the night, four of the Chassidim left their car and walked to Joseph’s Tomb, while the fifth Breslov Chassid, the driver, stayed with their vehicle.
At around 4 AM, according to Hatzalah Yo”sh, the PA police tried to arrest the Breslov Chassid in the car, and he sped off back to Jerusalem, leaving his friends behind.
As he sped off, the PA police reportedly opened fire. There is a hole in the car’s windshield which may be from a bullet. The driver was not injured.
The other 4 were arrested by the PA police, and eventually handed over to the IDF.
Joseph’s Tomb, according to the Oslo Accords, is supposed to be under Israeli control, but entry requires coordination and a permit from the IDF who runs the occasional organized, guarded visit to the Jewish holy site.
Yossi Dagan, the head of the Shomron Municipal Council called on everyone who wants to visit Joseph’s Tomb to not do so, unless it is in coordination with the IDF, and to do so otherwise is a sin against the Torah commandment to guard your life.
Dagan also demanded the IDF protect Jewish rights and ensure more Jewish entry to the site.
According to the Honeinu Legal Aid Society, the four are now being interrogated by the Israeli police in the Shomron district.
Arabs have repeatedly vandalized and destroyed the site.