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June 27, 2016 / 21 Sivan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Israel Security Agency’

Meet the Activist Rabbi and his Gay Bodyguard: the Knesset’s Most Incredible Allies

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

By Jesse Lempel/TPS

Jerusalem (TPS) – Looking at the two newest lawmakers for the Likud party, you would never guess they were close friends: Yehuda Glick is a Brooklyn-born Orthodox rabbi who built his career on pressing for Jewish prayer on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount; Amir Ohana is the first openly gay parliamentarian of the center-right Likud party and founder of its LGBT Caucus.

Yet the two men share an extraordinarily unique bond that began in earnest in 2014 when Glick was gunned down by an Arab would-be assassin, an attack he miraculously survived. After being released from the hospital, the death threats continued pouring in – yet the police declined to provide protection.

That’s when Amir Ohana, a relatively unknown LGBT activist from the southern city of Be’er Sheva and a former agent with the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), stepped in: he volunteered to be Glick’s personal bodyguard.

“I’m not a religious person, but I believe in freedom – and it was my honor to defend freedom,” Ohana, 40, explained in a recent interview with Tazpit Press Service (TPS) that took place, together with Glick, 51, in Ohana’s office in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament. “I don’t hold religious views but I can respect our legacy and our history as a people. What I want is for everyone to be free to pray wherever they want, and the Temple Mount is the holiest place for Jews.”

The Temple Mount, however, also houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock complex – the third holiest site in Islam. The shrine has been a frequent flashpoint of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and tensions surrounding the site – in particular Palestinian claims that Israelis, including Glick personally, are “invading” and “defiling” the complex by visiting – are widely seen as underlying the most recent wave of terror attacks against Israelis.

Because of that tension, for the last several months all members of the Israeli parliament – Jewish and Arab alike – have been banned from visiting the holy site by order of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, head of the Likud party. And in keeping with the “status quo” on the site: Jews may visit sections of the compound in small groups, and only during designated hours, but are evicted if they attempt to pray.

Both Glick and Ohana strongly protest this policy. Glick has been perhaps the most visible advocate of Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount and, with his striking red beard, has become something of an infamous figure in the Arabic-language media and social networking platforms, where he has been caricaturized as a serpentine villain.

Glick as snake

The hatred directed at Glick eventually led to his near-assassination and, later on, brought him together with Ohana – who is now, as chance would have it, his colleague in the Knesset.

The ‘Enemy of Al-Aqsa’

On the night of October 29, 2014, Glick was leaving an event at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem. At 10:04 p.m. Mutaz Hijazi, a Palestinian from eastern Jerusalem, showed up on a motorbike.

“This guy stops right next to me on his motorcycle, wearing a white helmet and all black,” Glick recalled to TPS. “He says to me, in Hebrew, ‘I’m very sorry.’ I said, ‘What are you sorry about?’ I get close to him and he says to me, ‘You are an enemy of Al-Aqsa’ and he takes out a pistol and shoots four bullets into the center of my body.”

As Hijazi sped off, Glick staggered along with four bullets in his torso.

“My wife hid under the steering wheel. I saw that I was bleeding and – I have no explanation for this – I had no pain. I managed to walk maybe twenty yards, then I collapsed,” Glick said. “I heard Shai [Malka] say, ‘We just witnessed murder.’ He rips off my shirt and yells to me, ‘[Rabbi] Yehuda, don’t go! We need you!’ That was the last sentence I remember.”

Within a few hours, Israeli security agents – “Amir’s friends” in the Shin Bet, Glick says – discovered footage of Hijazi on the security camera from St. Andrew’s Scottish Church adjacent to the scene of the shooting. By 4 a.m. Israeli forces had tracked Hijazi to his family’s home in the Abu Tor neighborhood and, following a shootout on the roof, killed him.

Hijazi was a member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group, but a local official of the mainstream Fatah party also claimed responsibility for the “heroic act.”

“I knew there were threats, but I didn’t really believe that it could happen,” Glick said of his attitude before the shooting. “I also believed we have a democratic country and people don’t kill people because they have different views.”

“Now he’s dead and I’m alive,” Glick summed up.

‘A Zealot for Human Rights’

For all the fury he attracts from extremists in the Arab world, as well as from his left wing colleagues (one of whom boycotted his swearing-in ceremony at the Knesset), Glick also faces a backlash from rightist Israelis who recoil from some of his more liberal ideas – including his acceptance of non-Orthodox Jews, his criticism of an Israeli soldier who shot an already-wounded Palestinian terrorist, and his extensive interfaith work (which, according to Glick, was sparked by hours spent in his Bedouin .

Ohana, too, finds himself in the odd position of fending off attacks from opposing sides of the aisle. As he attended the Tel Aviv Pride Parade nearly two weeks ago, despite remarks from some of his right-wing political allies who have crudely likened the to parade to a celebration of bestiality, Ohana also received threats from some in the largely liberal gay community who despise his nationalist politics – so much so that the police, in a twist of fate, decided to provide Ohana with a personal bodyguard for the march. (The interview with Glick and Ohana took place before massacre at the gay bar in Orlando this past weekend and before the terror attack at Tel Aviv’s Sarona Market last week, at which Ohana happened to be present.)

“In Israel it’s quite unique. When you talk about right and left, unlike everywhere else in the world, you primarily talk about the Arab-Israeli conflict,” Ohana explains. “So there is no reason why a person can’t be right wing – and even, as I’m sometimes called, a hawkish right winger – and yet support LGBT rights, women’s rights, freedom of speech, everything that is considered liberal. We are a liberal national party.”

Remarkably, despite all their drastically different backgrounds and religious beliefs, Glick and Ohana seem to share this view. Both men seem determined to fight for issues beyond their own sectarian interests – whether it’s Ohana, the LGBT activist, protecting Glick’s struggle for the Temple Mount, or Glick, the Orthodox rabbi, irritating his base by supporting non-Orthodox women’s prayer groups at the Western Wall, for example, and even gay rights.

“I’m a zealot when it comes to human rights and respecting every single human being,” Glick boasts. “I think that every single person deserves rights. I mean it’s obvious, you know, we’re living in a democratic country.”

Does he, then, support gay marriage, an impossibility under the current Israeli arrangement in which marriage is governed by the Orthodox rabbinate?

“I support that he should have every single right he deserves,” Glick says somewhat evasively, pointing to Ohana, and referring to Ohana’s partner: “I know that he has a wonderful mate.”

Yet when asked why he wouldn’t attend the Tel Aviv Pride Parade, Glick replied: “I don’t see a problem with [going to the parade], but I wouldn’t go because other people might see me as a problem,” adding that he went to visit Shira Banki, a teenage girl stabbed by a Jewish religious extremist at the Jerusalem Pride Parade in 2015, while she was in the hospital. Shortly afterward, Banki died of her wounds.

‘Jerusalem of Peace’

Glick was sworn in to his parliament post in late May, following the resignation of former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon. As our interview ended, he decided to inaugurate his new office by placing the ritual mezuzah on the doorpost – a small box holding verses of the Torah which is thought to protect one’s home.

Ohana tags along to Glick’s new office, borrowing a kippa from an aide, and the two hang the mezuzah together.

“I protected you once, so I may as well finish the job,” Ohana quips.

Glick then declares that his office has a name.

“This isn’t Yehuda Glick’s office,” he says. “It’s called ‘Jerusalem of Peace.’”

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

2 Suspects Arrested in Hizme Terror Attack, ‘Significant Progress’ Made in Interrogation [video]

Sunday, May 15th, 2016

Israel Police officers from the Binyamin district in Samaria and Shin Bet agents from the Israel Security Agency (ISA) have arrested two Arab suspects in connection with last week’s May 11 terror attack at the Hizme checkpoint.

“Significant progress” has been made in the investigation of the two suspects, according to a statement by the Shin Bet. Other details in the case remain under gag order, the security agency said.

An IDF officer sustained serious head and face wounds when a pipe bomb blew up as he bent down to examine what appeared to be a suspicious item near the entrance to the checkpoint. A total of nine bombs were found after sappers subsequently swept the checkpoint, including the four that exploded at the site. Five were safely defused by the bomb squad.

The Hizme security checkpoint station is located close to the northern Jerusalem neighborhood of Pisgat Ze’ev and the Palestinian Authority Arab village of Hizma.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon visited the wounded IDF officer at his bedside in Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center on Sunday. The officer reportedly communicated with Ya’alon via a writing board because his wounds prevented him from speaking.

“I was excited to visit the officer and meet him and his family, who demonstrate true strength of character,” Ya’alon said. “What’s needed now is time for recovery. There are excellent doctors here and a supportive environment, and I am confident that his willpower and that of his family will help him return to an active, creative life.”

A two-day curfew of the village of Hizma was imposed by IDF forces following the attack, during which time the two suspects were detained.

Joshua B. Dermer/TPS contributed to this report.

Hana Levi Julian

Shin Bet Reports Indicted Terrorist Gave Detailed Info on Hamas, Gaza Tunnels

Tuesday, May 10th, 2016

A Gaza terrorist with the Izz a-Din al-Qassam Brigades was indicted Tuesday in Be’er Sheva District court, the Shin Bet domestic intelligence agency revealed in a statement cleared for release at midday.

The terrorist was arrested on April 6 after infiltrating into Israel, some two years after operating as a member of the military wing of Hamas.

During the investigation he revealed detailed information about the terror group’s continued efforts to develop its intricate tunnel network from Gaza.

The operative was recruited shortly before Israel’s counter terror war with Hamas in the summer of 2014, according to the statement released by the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet). He told interrogators he underwent military training, dug tunnels and participated in ambushes against Israeli soldiers.

According to the Shin Bet, most of the operative’s training was focused on infiltration, entering buildings and detonating explosives, as “part of the expectation that the next war would take place inside Israeli territory.”

In particular the terrorist shared detailed information with his interrogators about Hamas attack tunnels, including the locations of shafts inside Gaza and the escape routes to be used by the terror group’s elite during emergencies.

Details of the techniques, tools and work procedures of the tunnel diggers were also revealed. “For example, they are not permitted to exit the tunnel in their work attire or before they shower and change their clothes inside the tunnel in an attempt to camouflage their activity,” the statement said.

The operative had stored explosives at his own home in Jabaliya, and participated in planting explosives in and around tunnels to ambush Israeli soldiers in case of enemy infiltration.

The Shin Bet added in its release that the terrorist is only one of several currently being questioned about the Gaza tunnel system and the operating procedures of Hamas.

Michael Bachner of TPS contributed to this report.

Hana Levi Julian

Nadav Argaman Takes Over As Head of Shin Bet (ISA)

Sunday, May 8th, 2016

Former Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) deputy director Nadav Argaman officially takes the helm today of the domestic intelligence agency.

He will be sworn in Sunday afternoon. Argaman has spent his entire career working in the security field.

Argaman was appointed earlier this month to take over as head of the agency, replacing outgoing leader Yoram Cohen.

The Shin Bet is responsible for dealing with terrorist activities on both sides of the 1949 Armistice Line (also known as the “Green Line”).

Hana Levi Julian

Israeli Intelligence Agent Killed on Gaza Border

Wednesday, March 9th, 2016

Cleared for publication: Israeli officials announced in a statement early Wednesday that an agent from the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) was killed Tuesday (March 9).

The agent died during an operation on Israel’s southern border with Gaza, apparently caught in the crossfire and hit by an IDF bullet, according to a report on the Hebrew-language 0404 website. The agent’s family has been notified.

The circumstances behind the incident are under investigation by the agency.

All other information remains under a gag order at this time.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Shabak Foiled Hamas Plan to Kidnap, Murder Israelis, Bargain over Bodies

Thursday, January 7th, 2016

A Hamas terrorist cell in the advanced stages of planning a major attack has been taken out in a joint operation by the Israel Police and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency, or Shabak).

The cell was discovered last month; its six members were residents of Jerusalem and Hebron. The terrorists planned to kidnap and murder Israeli citizens in an attack similar to that carried out in June 2014 against three yeshiva teens in Gush Etzion. The cell was in the advanced stages of planning, according to the Shin Bet, and had reached the point where cell members had begun to prepare a place to store the bodies of abduction victims.

The Shin Bet investigation revealed the cell was comprised of three Israeli residents who lived in Jerusalem, and three members who lived in the Palestinian Authority-controlled section of Hebron.

All six members of the cell have been taken into custody.

The Shabak investigation discovered that over the past few months the six cell members had been looking at caves and digging up several plots where they planned to hide the dead body of their kidnapped victim. They were going to use two vehicles, with the Israeli member of the cell driving the kidnapping vehicle, since his Hebrew is good enough to allay suspicion. They planned to murder their victim and bury the body, then negotiate for released prisoners in exchange for it.

Mehar Kawasma, 36, a resident of Hebron, was the leader of the cell. He had served two years in Israeli prison for a previous involvement in planning Hamas terror activities.

After the Israeli members of the cell had been arrested, Kawasma started to produce explosives with the remaining members, in the hope of carrying out a mega-attack in a civilian center. They purchased fertilizer and tried to make explosives but did not succeed.

Jewish Press Staff

Increased Security Ordered for Education Minister Naftali Bennett

Sunday, December 27th, 2015

Upgraded security has been ordered for Education Minister Naftali Bennett, chairman of the Bayit Yehudi party, and around his home in Ra’anana, Channel 2 television news reported.

The decision comes following threats received by Bennett after his public support for the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet/Shabak).

Bennett openly expressed support for interrogiation by Shin Bet security of Jewish suspects in the arson murder case involving the death of a mother, father and toddler in the Arab village of Duma this summer.

The minister also publicly condemned “Jewish terror,” which he bluntly said was aimed at toppling the Israeli government and the State of Israel.

Bennett said the threat posed by such extremists is as dangerous to the security of the state as any threat by Arab terrorists and should be treated as such.

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/increased-security-ordered-for-education-minister-naftali-bennett/2015/12/27/

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