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September 25, 2016 / 22 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘official’

Israel Arrests Second Gaza Aid Official Moonlighting for Hamas

Tuesday, August 9th, 2016

Wahid Abdullah Borsch, 38, from Jabaliya in the Gaza Strip, was arrested in July on suspicion of using his employment by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to carry out missions for Hamas. UNDP carries out housing and development projects for the Gaza population, including renovating homes damaged in the military conflicts with Israel.

The Southern District Prosecutor has indicted Wahid Borsch in Beer Sheva District Court for assisting the Hamas organization.

According to Shabak, Borsch has worked for UNDP since 2003, and his responsibility included demolishing damaged homes and removing rubbish from the area. In his interrogation Borsch revealed that in 2014 he had been directed by a senior Hamas official to focus on his work at UNDP in ways that benefit Hamas. These benefits included diverting UNDP resources to building a clandestine marina in the northern Gaza Strip in 2015, to be used by the Hamas military arm.

Borsch also confessed to influencing his superiors at UNDP to prioritize the rehabilitation in areas where Hamas seniors lived — following instructions he had received from Hamas.

Borsch told his interrogators about several cases in which Hamas openly and brutally usurped the UNDP activities to its needs. For instance, whenever a UNDP rehabilitation project exposed military equipment or tunnel openings in the homes being renovated, Hamas would take over the site and collect the loot — in violation of the clear protocol requiring a report to the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS), which is in charge of removing and destroying illegal military equipment.

Borsch revealed the names of several Hamas agents who have penetrated humanitarian aid organizations in Gaza, as well as information regarding storage facilities, bunkers and tunnels appropriated by Hamas.

Shabak commented that the Borsch case, coming as it does on the heels of the scandal around the World Vision charity’s senior official Mohammad El Halabi who diverted millions of dollars to Hamas, shows the callused way in which Hamas is using international aid for its murderous aims.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry released a statement saying, “Israel updated the UN secretary-general’s office and the heads of the UNDP in New York on the arrest and the charges [against Borsh]. We expect the UN, and particularly the UN’s aid organizations, to unequivocally condemn Hamas for the exploitation of the aid mechanisms, and to take concrete action to ensure humanitarian aid reaches those who need it and not the heads of Hamas.”

JNi.Media

Statue of Egyptian Official Found at Tel-Hazor

Monday, July 25th, 2016

In a historic find, a large fragment of an Egyptian statue measuring 45 X 40 centimeters, made of lime-stone, was discovered In the course of the current season of excavations at Tel-Hazor, north of the Sea of Galilee in Israel. Only the lower part of the statue survived, depicting the crouching feet of a male figure, seated on a square base on which a few lines in Egyptian hieroglyphic script are inscribed.

Hazor is the largest biblical-era site in Israel, covering some 200 acres, and has been recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The population of Hazor in the second millennium BCE is estimated to have been about 20,000, making it the largest and most important city in the entire region. Its size and strategic location on the route connecting Egypt and Babylon made it “the head of all those kingdoms” according to the biblical book of Joshua (Joshua 11:10). Hazor’s conquest by the Israelites opened the way to the conquest and settlement of the Israelites in Canaan. The city was rebuilt and fortified by King Solomon and prospered in the days of Ahab and Jeroboam II, until its final destruction by the Assyrians in 732 BCE.

The archaeologists estimate that the complete statue would equal the size of a fully grown man. At present only a preliminary reading of the inscriptions has been attempted, and the title and name of the Egyptian official who originally owned the statue are not yet entirely clear.

The monumental Egyptian statute of a high official from the Middle Kingdom in Egypt, found in the administrative palace at Hazor, north of the Sea of Galilee in Israel. / Photo credit: Shlomit Bechar

The monumental Egyptian statute of a high official from the Middle Kingdom in Egypt, found in the administrative palace at Hazor, north of the Sea of Galilee in Israel. / Photo credit: Shlomit Bechar

The statue was originally placed either in the official’s tomb or in a temple – most probably of the Egyptian god Ptah – and most of the texts inscribed on the statue’s base include words of praise to the official who may have served and most probably practiced his duties in the region of Memphis, the primary cult center of the god Ptah. They also include the customary Egyptian funerary formula ensuring eternal supply of offerings for the statue’s owner. This statue, found this year, together with the sphinx fragment of the Egyptian king Mycerinus (who ruled Egypt in the 25th century BCE) discovered at the site by the research team three years ago, are the only monumental Egyptian statues found so far in second millennium contexts in the entire Levant.

The discovery of these two statues, in the same building currently being excavated by the research team, indicates the special importance of the building (probably the administrative palace of the ruler of the city), as well as that of the entire city of Hazor.

According to Prof. Amnon Ben-Tor of the Institute of Archaeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who has been conducting excavations at Tel-Hazor for over 27 years, Hazor is the most important site from the Biblical period. Shlomit Bechar, a doctoral student at the Institute of Archaeology who has been excavating at Hazor for a decade, is co-director of the Hazor excavations and director of the main excavation area.

In the course of close to 30 years of excavation, fragments of 18 different Egyptian statues, both royal and private, dedicated to Egyptian kings and officials, including two sphinxes, were discovered at Hazor. Most of these statues were found in layers dated to the Late Bronze Age (15th-13th centuries BCE) – corresponding to the New Kingdom in Egypt. This is the largest number of Egyptian statues found so far in any site in the Land of Israel, although there is no indication that Hazor was one of the Egyptian strongholds in Southern Canaan nor of the presence of an Egyptian official at Hazor during the Late Bronze Age.

JNi.Media

Republicans Officially Embrace New Blockbuster Pro-Israel Plank [video]

Tuesday, July 12th, 2016

Last night the JewishPress.com brought the news that a GOP subcommittee drafted and endorsed a pro-Israel plank that includes every single item on every (truly) pro-Israel wish list, thanks to the hard work of a few lawmakers such as South Caroline State Rep. Alan Clemmons and several pro-Israel organizations, including the Iron Dome Alliance.

But this morning brings more huge news: the full committee endorsed the pro-Israel plank with no changes. And the passage of that adamantly pro-Israel plank was met with a standing ovation by those in the room.

The Republican party ain’t what it used to be, or at least it doesn’t match the anti-Israel party portrait which so many people have tried to peddle.

And what of the Democrats? Jeff Ballabon, chairman of the Iron Dome Alliance, told the JewishPress.com that his coalition has made it very clear that they “would still love for Democrats to accept the same language and will attempt to persuade delegates in light of today’s success but ha[s] little optimism that it would be accepted.”

He said the coalition didn’t want this (strongly pro-Israel) policy to be tied only to one party, “this should be America’s policy,” but the enthusiasm with which the important language was met and embraced by the Republican platform committee speaks volumes.

While rumors have been swirling that the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC has been trying to stop the truly pro-Israel plank from getting out of the station, if they engaged in that effort, it failed.

And if AIPAC did not work to defeat this non-Two State language, it’s a whole new AIPAC world in which Israel is now in control of the best resolution of the various conflicts besieging the Jewish State, rather than bowing its head to dictates from the U.S. It also signals a change in the lobby’s stance regarding the disputed territories, which it has never strongly embraced.

Here is the language of the new Republican Party Platform on Israel:

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And here’s the video of Rep. Alan Clemmons speaking to the GOP subcommittee, introducing the pro-Israel plank:

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Official: Water Crisis in Samaria Caused by Arabs Stealing 400 Million Gallons a Year

Friday, July 1st, 2016

On Thursday, during an emergency meeting on water shortages in Samaria in the office of Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan (Habayit Hayehudi), it was revealed that systematic water theft by Arabs, as well as dereliction of duty on the part of the Israeli water authorities, are to blame for the current crisis.

Over the past two weeks or so, the Jewish communities of eastern Samaria—Karney Shomron, Ariel, Kdumim—have been under emergency water procedure. These communities, with roughly 60,000 residents, experience interruption of their water service every few days, and it has been presumed that the shortages are due to the failure of the water authority to expand its infrastructure to match the Jewish and Arab population growth in Samaria.

On Monday, MK Bezalel Smotrich (Habayit Hayehudi) ordered Knesset Finance Committee management to freeze debates over budgets intended for the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), including freezing its budget of about $20 million until the water crisis in Samaria is resolved.

Also on Monday, Yesha Council heads met with Energy and Water Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud) and presented alarming data on the absence of long-term infrastructure planning by the various government ministries throughout Judea and Samaria. Steinitz promised to take over the coordination of the different entities, including the Water Authority and the national water utility Mekorot.

The Thursday night meeting in Ben-Dahan’s office on the water shortage in Judea and Samaria (most acutely in Samaria) included representatives of COGAT, the Civil Administration, and the water Authority. During the meeting, Ben-Dahan stated that “for many years there has been neglect of everything having to do with the water infrastructure in Judea and Samaria, which resulted in the absence of promoting master plans to develop the water resources in the area. Unfortunately, none of the entities involved has been properly prepared to deal with the growth in both the Jewish and Palestinian populations, as well as the growth in agricultural land which require a great deal of water.”

“In addition,” Ben-Dahan stated, “there’s the phenomenon of water theft by the Palestinians in the amount of 5,000 cubic meters of water daily, a factor in the shortage of water.”

To illustrate, 5,000 cubic meters is the equivalent of 1,100,000 gallons a day. Over one year, water theft by Arabs in Judea and Samaria reaches a staggering 401,500,000 gallons.

The debate in Ben-Dahan’s office, reported by Srugim, resulted in short- and long-term solutions. Over the next few days there will be a regular rotation of 15 water trucks that will refill the reservoirs in communities where they have dried out. In addition, the entities involved will examine the possibility of constructing 27 above-ground pools to provide for locations where the crisis has been particularly acute. Existing pumping stations which have been left in disrepair in Ariel and additional locations will be repaired speedily.

In coming weeks, both Deputy Minister Ben-Dahan and Minister Steinitz will meet to plan the promotion of a master plan for the water infrastructure in Judea and Samaria.

Interestingly, not one word was said about ways of preventing the flagrant theft of water by Arabs.

Meanwhile, on the Palestinian Authority side, the responsibility for the shortage is being placed squarely on Israel. In mid June, Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said that Israel was “waging a water war against the Palestinians. Israel wants to prevent Palestinians from leading a dignified life and uses its control over our water resources to this end; while illegal Israeli settlements enjoy uninterrupted water service, Palestinians are forced to spend great sums of money to buy water that is theirs in the first place.”

Ayman Rabi, executive director of the NGO Palestinian Hydrology Group, told Al Jazeera that “some areas had not received any water for more than 40 days. People are relying on purchasing water from water trucks or finding it from alternative sources such as springs and other filling points in their vicinity. Families are having to live on two, three or 10 litters per capita per day.”

Mekorot denied cutting the water supplies, but admitted there was a reduction in water supply “as a result of the shortage of water supply.”

“We have made a broad reduction of the supply to all residents in the area,” Mekorot told Al Jazeera. “All the facilities are working and the capability to supply is less than the rate of consumption. The water authority recently approved a master plan for the water sector and accordingly we will build the systems that will meet the West Bank’s required consumption.”

Now, if only Mekorot had told Ministers Ben-Dahan and Steinitz about this new master plan, it would have saved everybody a lot of time.

JNi.Media

Official: Israeli CEO Salary Cap Law May Result in Hundreds Fleeing Banking Industry

Monday, June 20th, 2016

As many as 80 senior employees at Israel’s two largest banks, Hapoalim and Leumi, are threatening to leave shortly, in response to a new law capping the salaries of senior bank officers, Israel Army Radio reported Monday. The report cites a letter from the Supervisor of Banks in Israel Bank Hedva Bar to Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi), which warns that as many as 215 senior bank administrators are expected to retire from the two top banks. Bar added that in the rest of Israel’s banks the numbers of departing administrators would be smaller.

So far Bank Hapoalim CEO Zion Keinan and the number two administrator at Bank Leumi Danny Tsiddon have already retired, and according to Bar there are 39 high ranking administrators at Hapolalim and 43 at Leumi who are at a very high risk of retiring.

These figures are particularly worrisome to Bar, who wrote that such mass departure could expose the banks to a real crisis — a managerial breakdown as well as a loss of knowledge and experience. The banks are preparing for such a scenario and have set aside the funds in case all these CEOs would be leaving close to one another and the banks would have to lay out their severance pay all at once — about $70 million.

Meanwhile, the banks have lost their first appeal to the Supreme Court against the salary cap law. And the Knesset, the Finance Ministry and Israel Bank have informed the court that they object to an interim ruling on the senior CEO salary cap law. The banks were asking for the time out to try to figure out whether the salary cap would include the severance and pension benefits the senior bank administrators have accumulated — would those funds also be limited to $650 thousand a year like the capped salaries? The banks fear that if the caps apply retroactively and include severance pay and pensions, a much larger number of bank officials would be seeking to leave before the law goes into effect in October.

The Knesset and the State argued in court that the banks are actually requesting the suspension of a law that otherwise passes constitutional muster in the eyes of the high court — something the court has applied on very rare occasions in the past.

The Knesset and the State also told the court that, assuming the appeal hearings would take roughly three weeks, this should be ample time for the banks to figure out the intricacies of the law and whether or not it applies retroactively.

JNi.Media

Likud, Labor MKs Conclude First Official Visit to Muslim Tajikistan

Sunday, June 5th, 2016

Knesset Members Sharren Haskel (Likud) and Yoseph Yonah (Zionist Camp-Labor) on Sunday concluded their official visit to Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, where they held a series of meetings with senior state officials, including the speaker of Tajikistan’s parliament, the country’s labor and agriculture ministers, and Members of Parliament.

The Republic of Tajikistan is a mountainous, landlocked country in Central Asia with an estimated 8 million people, bordered by Afghanistan and Pakistan to the south, Uzbekistan to the west, Kyrgyzstan to the north, and China to the east. Tajikistan became an independent nation in 1991, following the breakup of the Soviet Union. A civil war erupted almost immediately after independence, lasting from 1992 to 1997. Since the end of the war, newly established political stability and foreign aid have allowed the country’s stability and economy to grow.

The MKs’ discussions centered on intensifying the cooperation between Israel and Tajikistan – mainly with regards to agriculture and health, and establishing permanent ties between the friendship groups of the countries’ parliaments. The MKs invited senior government officials to visit Israel.

MKs Haskel and Yona (center) in Tajikistan / Courtesy

MKs Haskel and Yona (center) in Tajikistan / Courtesy

The visit marked the first time members of Israel’s political echelon visit Tajikistan in an official capacity. Relations between the countries were established in 1992, and they are defined as “friendly.” Israel is represented in Tajikistan by a non-resident ambassador. In October 1995, Tajikistan’s president, Emomali Rahmon, met with then-Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, but, generally, contacts between the countries were maintained by lower-level officials.

The MKs said they received a particularly warm welcome in Tajikistan. MK Haskel, head of the Israel-Tajikistan Parliamentary Friendship Group, said the visit by the Israeli parliamentary delegation is “historic and groundbreaking in our relations with a country which, until now, has not maintained parliamentary relations with the State of Israel.”

“Tajikistan is a Muslim state that has close economic, social and cultural ties with Iran,” she continued. “Tajikistan supported Iran’s nuclear program, opposed the international sanctions against Tehran, and has stood by the Palestinians in their disputes with Israel and the UN. Particularly because of this, their wish to establish parliamentary relations with Israel for the first time is extremely significant. The breakthrough in improving Israel’s status in the world will come from cooperating with countries that are not necessarily our natural partners.”

MK Yona said the visit was meant to “strengthen the friendly relations between the countries and examine possibilities for fruitful cooperation. I expect that in light of our visit, official Tajikistani work delegations will visit Israel to give a practical expression to the developing cooperation.”

JNi.Media

Hasbara. A Tale of Official Neglect.

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

Those of us fighting against the tsunami of anti-Israel haters were no surprised to read the State Comptrollers Report accusing government ministries of gross negligence in the fight against anti-Israel activism. The headlines of one Israeli media outlet, covering the State Comptroller’s report, called the government “dysfunctional” and “failing utterly” in its fight against BDS.

What has been glaringly absence has been the total lack of involvement in local diplomacy abroad not only by our ministries but also by our overseas embassies. Officials both at home and abroad have abandoned Israeli supporters with an arrogance that is hard to explain.

I cannot begin to list the limitless complaints I receive from supporters who have been turned away by Israeli embassy officials when they have asked for minimal assistance in organizing pro-Israel events and actions as part of their efforts to take on the anti-Israel groups in their local towns. I personally can vouch for the lack of concern by certain key embassy people in my attempts to set up special Israeli advocacy groups in certain countries. I wasn’t asking for money, simply for them to arrange contacts and simple logistical help. Israeli hasbara at local level it seems is not their task, at least not with individuals or small local groups, despite the fact that these are the people who are our most avid and enthusiastic activists.

Despite a newspaper headline in July 2015 that the Strategic Affairs and Information Ministry had been allocated one hundred million shekels to fight anti-Israel activism there is no clear action plan in place. Simply put, it is a case of throwing money at a problem but with no clear idea how to solve it.

With a lack of understanding what is happening abroad, it will be tempting for government ministries to take the easy road and form a coalition with the major Jewish organizations abroad including offering them funding. This may be a mistake for a number of reasons.

In certain countries, it has been the major Jewish organizations that have been unable or unwilling to promote affirmative pro-Israel actions in times of Israel’s needs. In fact, this is what has led to the development of so many grassroots support groups who have taken to the streets to confront the anti-Israel protagonists when they have been demonstrating for Hamas or boycotting local stores selling Israeli products.

It would also be wrong for the government to lump their actions abroad through national Jewish organizations because, in many countries, the most affirmative action-minded groups have been Christian supporters of Israel. Two of many examples I can quote of brave pro-Israel advocacy have been set by Nigel Goodrich, a Scottish teacher, who has built a coalition of twelve Scottish branches of Friends of Israel, and two Dutch girls, Brenda Aartsen and Sabine Sterk, who have voluntarily, and at no small cost and sacrifice to themselves, have created Time to Stand With Israel. I spoke at one of their events which drew a large and enthusiastic Christian audience. They also led a group of both Christian and Jewish Israel supporters in a face to face confrontation with BDS outside Amsterdam City Hall over the proposed cooperation plan between the cities of Amsterdam and Tel Aviv which BDS was protesting. These two girls also organized a pro-Israel rally in Dam Square at the time of the 2014 Hamas terror assault on Israel.

It takes a network to defeat a network and our government really has to learn what is happening out there and use that knowledge with precision accuracy to support, particularly with funding, the NGOs and local groups who have the successful track records of achievements on behalf of Israel and not squander preciously short resources on heavy establishment organizations who have let our supporters down so badly and have been unwilling or unable to act for Israel when needed.

Our embassies must be manned by young enthusiastic diplomats trained and guided by our effective NGOs to assist the nimble local groups with material, logistical and budget needs as these are our first-line, rapid-response, teams in times of emergency. They know the territory and know the local enemy who are hyper-active in trying to defeat us.

Readers will be amazed at the spectacular successes achieved by these local groups and NGOs. With greater help, these willing warriors can take the battle to our enemies and win many more victories because our cause is right and we have both the moral and legal rights on our side.

Barry Shaw

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/hasbara-a-tale-of-official-neglect/2016/05/25/

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