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August 27, 2016 / 23 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘state’

Missing Soldier’s Mother Blocking Gaza Crossing: If the State Won’t Bring him Back, We Will

Sunday, July 3rd, 2016

The mother and family of one of the missing soldiers whose bodies are being kept by Hamas as bargaining chips for a future prisoners-release deal with Israel, took up a position in front of the trucks hauling supplies into Gaza via the Kerem Shalom crossing, declaring, “Now, after the deal with Turkey, we think everything is humanitarian. But if this is the case, how come so many trucks are being let into Gaza and they don’t return my son?”

“We’re trying to stop the trucks with our bodies and we won’t let this go on,” Zehava Shaul stated, adding, “The Israeli government sent my son [to battle] and it is its obligation to bring him back to us. If it won’t do it, we will. What are they expecting, that we’ll sit quietly?”

Housing and Construction Minister Yoav Gallant (Kulanu) told the press that the Netanyahu government is committed to bringing back the bodies, “but the Turkish channel did not fit” the mission.

Last week, the Shaul family erected a protest tent in front of the prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem, declaring that the deal with Turkey was a “mark of shame for the government,” which cares more for the Hamas than it does for her missing son and the other missing soldier, Hadar Goldin.

“I’m going to get my strength together and block [the deal],” Shaul vowed. “I won’t let you move. It will not happen. I promise you, my word is a word.”

Only two months before he was appointed defense minister, MK Avigdor Liberman vowed that his first task in office would be to issue a 48-hour ultimatum to Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, to return the two missing soldiers’ bodies to Israel or start preparing to die.

A website measuring how dedicated now Defense Minister Liberman is to carrying out his promise, titled Is Ismail Haniyeh Dead Yet? Has added a clock measuring how much time has elapsed since Liberman has taken office in relation to the corporeal well-being of the Hamas leader. As of the writing of this article, Haniye’s 48 hours have been extended to one month, three days and counting.

David Israel

Five MKs Reveal How the State Stole their Families’ Children

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

During Tuesday’s debate at the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice committee, five MKs shared their families’ stories about the disappearance or the kidnapping of their relatives, presumably at the hands of public officials. MKs Yoav Ben-Tzur (Shas), Yoseph Yonah (Zionist Camp), Nava Boker (Likud), Rachel Azaria (Kulanu), and Nurit Koren (Likud) and their families have been living with the pain of that cruel separation for more than half a century.

The committee on Tuesday debated public demands to reveal the sealed protocols of the state investigating commission on the kidnapping of Yemenite, Mid-Eastern and Balkan children by government officials in the early years of the State of Israel. The commission’s findings have been sealed until the year 2071 in keeping with the State Archives Law.

The investigation dealt with the disappearance of thousands of babies and children who arrived in Israel from Yemen and other third-world countries in the 1950s, whose families were told that they died even though their bodies or their graves were never presented. Family members of the disappeared and several NGOs have called in the past for the public exposure of the findings of the investigation, but the state has remained firm in its refusal. Now, in response to increased public pressure, Prime Minister Netanyahu assigned Minister Tzachi Hanegbi (Likud) to look into the matter and submit his recommendations.

Hanegbi, son of illustrious underground radio broadcaster and former MK Geula Cohen, is from Yemenite extraction himself.

The Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice committee / Courtesy the Knesset

The Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice committee / Courtesy the Knesset

Committee chair MK Nissan Slomiansky (Habayit Hayehudi) opened the debate, saying, “The question is where have we been until now? It’s crazy — everybody knows there are protocols and it’s all locked up. As if these are the nuclear secretes of the State of Israel. It looks completely hallucinatory to me.”

State Archives official Dr. Jacob Lazovic told the committee that the archives possess more than one million pages of the investigating commission’s proceedings. “I personally, and we as an organization would be only to happy to reveal everything, but we are operating within the law, which imposes two limits on exposure: one based on the State Archives Law and the other on the Privacy Law,” he explained.

Dr. Lazovic added that while the government has the authority to order the exposure of said material, it is not authorized to permit the publication of content which relates to private persons. In his expert view, this problem could be resolved in short order by the archives’ staff who could go over the documents and redact the private information with black ink. “There are 3,500 cases,” he said. “My estimate is we’ll need one thousand work days.”

MK Meir Cohen (Yesh Atid) who initiated the debate, called the disappearance of the Yemenite children “a stain, a mark of Cain, a gross tumor on Israeli society. I’m trying to think what would have happened nowadays if a mother would have given birth and the next day was informed that her child had died. This phenomenon is rife with racism.”

MK Yonah told the committee, “I carry with me the story of the family of my uncles who passed away three years ago. They had a child named Tzipora who became sick with jaundice, which is why she was being treated in hospital, and was in progressive recovery. One day before she disappeared or kidnapped her mother still nursed her. When they called her to come get her daughter from the hospital, my aunt arrived, but was told, ‘Your child died.’ She asked, ‘How can it be? Only yesterday they told me about her quick recovery.’ My aunt described in chilling details how she ran through the different rooms looking for her girl. The child was gone.”

Yonah continued, “My uncle arrived at the hospital and was also told his daughter had died. He asked to see the death certificate and then, in complete reversal of the message of the state wishing to be modern, they told him, ‘You think you’re living in Iraq? At this age we don’t issue death certificates.'”

Tragically, according to Yonah, “when Tzipora turned 18, her enlistment order arrived in her family’s home, but she was not there, obviously. She is somewhere out there in the world and her brothers want to know where she is.”

Responding to the archives official’s comment regarding the limits posed by the privacy law, MK Yonah said, “My family members are those private people whose privacy is being damaged. Now, clearly, there is no demand on the part of families of the disappeared children for justice or revenge. But a society that wishes to advance to its future must heal its wounds and we need this for the sake of our own future. To face the inequities, not in order to sink but to face and overcome them.”

MK Boker, who co-sponsored the committee debate with MK Cohen, on Monday shared her own family’s story on her Facebook page, speculating that her older brothers and sisters had been among the kidnapped children. “I wasn’t fortunate enough to know my older brothers and sisters … According to what my mother told me when she was still alive, my older brother died at age one year and a half, but now we know he has two graves, rather than one. As to my sister, as soon as she was born, the doctors told my mother she was dead. My mother never saw the body, didn’t receive a death certificate, and that sister was never buried. The doctors and the medical staff probably took advantage of my mother’s naiveté and took away her daughter.”

“It’s time to expose the truth behind this shocking episode, an episode that is a black stain on the history of the State of Israel,” MK Boker said.

The committee meeting ended with a call on the government to open up the protocols; representatives of NGOs working to expose this episode called on the government to accept responsibility and recognize that this is a case of the mass kidnapping of children.

JNi.Media

State Department Q&A on Israeli Supplemental Aid to Communities Suffering from Arab Terrorism [video]

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016
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Yvonne Diamond

@JewishPress Don’t know about that, but they’ve been bombing at MCAGCTC for two solid days now . . .

The following is the transcript and video from the State Department Press briefing on June 20th, 2016, regarding the supplemental aid package that Israel approved yesterday to aid Israelis whose businesses have suffered due to the Palestinian Authority Arab terror attacks in Judea and Samaria, and to help improve security for the communities in Judea and Samaria.

Time: 29:55 on the video.

QUESTION (Matt Lee): Did you guys have any reaction to this additional – the supplementary funding that was approved for the West Bank settlements for – over the weekend, yesterday?

MR KIRBY: Yeah. I actually put a statement out.

QUESTION: You did?

MR KIRBY: I did —

QUESTION: I missed it.

MR KIRBY: — yesterday. I can’t believe you’re not sitting around —

QUESTION: Yeah, Sunday —

MR KIRBY: — waiting for my statements.

QUESTION: Sunday afternoon, Kirby, I’m just sitting there looking – staring at my phone —

MR KIRBY: Well, if you had been —

QUESTION: — waiting for your emails.

MR KIRBY: — then you wouldn’t have had to ask that question.

QUESTION: If you’ve already put something out, then —

MR KIRBY: Okay. I’ll let the statement stand. Seems like everybody else got a chance to read it.

QUESTION: We like to hear it directly from you, though.

MR KIRBY: But you did hear it directly from me. I signed it.

QUESTION: You know what I mean, with your own voice. It sort of gives it an added —

MR KIRBY: We’re aware of the funding package. We’re looking into further details. Our position on settlement activity remains clear and consistent: We strongly oppose all settlement activity, which is corrosive to the cause of peace. We continue to look to both sides to demonstrate with actions and policies a genuine commitment to a two-state solution, and actions such as these we believe does exactly the opposite.

QUESTION: Well, wait, wait, but this isn’t for settlement activity, per se. This was not to expand or build new homes.

MR KIRBY: It’s approving more than like $18 million for settlements. It’s approving funding for —

QUESTION: But not for building them. This is for, like, helping businesses and security.

MR KIRBY: But it still runs counter to our view about settlement activity, period.

QUESTION: So securing – adding security to settlements is the same as settlement activity?

MR KIRBY: As I said, we’re still – we are still – we’re aware of this funding package and we’re still looking into it for details. But settlement activity, as we’ve said – there’s nothing – nothing has changed about our concerns about that.

QUESTION: So any money that goes into anything in a West Bank settlement is bad according to you guys?

MR KIRBY: I didn’t say that. I said we are aware of this funding package and we’re looking into the details.

QUESTION: Okay. All right. Okay.

QUESTION (New Reporter): Well, the worry here by the Palestinians is that these kind of steps make annexation of the West Bank all but a foregone conclusion, and they say that some of this money is basically geared to encourage, let’s say, tourism and to expand tourist projects and so on in the occupied West Bank, in the settlements and so on. What do you say to that?

MR KIRBY: As I said in my statement and just a few minutes ago, we’re looking into what this funding package really means. And I think I’m going to leave it at there to – for right now.

 

Jewish Press News Briefs

UNSC Unanimously Condemn Tel Aviv Terror Shooting, State Dept. ‘Happy to Once Again Condemn’

Friday, June 10th, 2016

The credit for this one belongs entirely to Israel’s UN Ambassador Danny Danon, who, in less than one year at a job to which he was appointed to get him out of PM Netanyahu’s and DM Ya’alon’s hair, appears to be making a difference in effectively representing Israel’s case in the most hostile international arena outside Khartum, Sudan. In a manner reminiscent of another UN envoy, Benjamin Netanyahu, Danon is not a complainer, he is an attacker, and he makes demands. Such as the demands he has made of the UN to at last treat the murder of innocent Jews by Arab terrorists in Tel Aviv as seriously as the did, say, the murdrer of innocent Frenchmen in Paris by Arab Terrorists. Well, last night they did.

For the first time since the wave of Arab terrorism began, on September 2015, on Thursday at 11:30 PM, the UN Security Council condemned the deadly shooting in the strongest terms, calling for the individuals behind “these reprehensible acts of terrorism” to be brought to justice. The council statement was approved by all 15 members. It expressed sympathy for the families of the four civilians killed and those who were injured, and “reiterated that any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable.”

Also on Thursday, in the daily press briefing by Mark C. Toner, Deputy Spokesperson for the US State Dept., reporter Arshad Mohammed asked Toner if he had anything more to say about the terror attack. Toner answered: “I’m happy to once again condemn yesterday’s terrible terrorist attacks in Tel Aviv.” Oh, for sure, this is gotcha’ journalism on our part, because, of course, Toner didn’t mean to say he was happy there was a terror attack — but the officious, businesslike manner in which the spokesperson treated the story and the statement conveyed how much empathy he really felt, which was probably somewhere between zero and one on the eleven-notch Spinal Tap volume scale.

The original State Dept. response, on Wednesday, sounded real, though: “The United States condemns today’s horrific terrorist attack in Tel Aviv in the strongest possible terms. We extend our deepest condolences to the families of those killed and our hopes for a quick recovery for those wounded. These cowardly attacks against innocent civilians can never be justified. We are in touch with Israeli authorities to express our support and concern.”

So we probably shouldn’t begrudge Toner his unfortunate expression of happiness.

The same reporter on Thursday continued, saying “the defense minister over there, Avigdor Liberman, has said that in the future Palestinians that are killed while carrying out attacks– their bodies will not be returned to their families. They’re going to be interred somewhere. Israel has a cemetery for enemies, I think.”

The Internet is rife with Arab media stories about Israel’s “cemetery for enemies.” It’s a real place, in the Jordan valley. Back in 2011, Prime Minister Netanyahu approved the transfer of 84 bodies from the Jordan Valley cemetery of enemy combatants to the Palestinian Authority. The Liberman new decision to stop returning terrorists’ bodies is a blessed step in the right direction, and a clear change in the IDF soft arm policy of Liberman’s predecessor. Turns out Israel now has a rightwing defense minister. Liberman also revoked thousands of entry permits issued to Judea, Samaria and Gaza Arabs for the month of Ramadan, added two IDF battalions to Judea and Samaria, and sent security forces to Yatta Village, home of the cousin terrorists who murdered four Israelis in Tel Aviv. If Liberman also gets those two the death penalty he could probably be Israel’s next prime minister.

About which Toner had to say: “We understand the Israeli Government’s desire to protect its citizens, after this kind of terrorist attack, and we strongly support that right. But we would hope that any measures it takes would also take into consideration the impact on Palestinian civilians, who are just trying to go about their daily lives.”

We’ll see what we can do.

David Israel

Report: Israeli Civil Administration Accelerates Mapping of State Lands in Judea and Samaria

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) in 2015 re-mapped an area of 62 thousand hectares in Judea and Samaria, in a manner that may hint at plans for wide range construction there, Ha’aretz reported Tuesday. The re-mapping is carried out by a special task force dubbed the “blue line” team, within COGAT. The work involves examining state lands that were declared in the last century. The old maps are being digitally scanned to enhance their accuracy. The report notes that Israeli law demands re-mapping areas that were declared state land before 1999 before releasing them to construction.

The report, composed by Dror Etkes, founder of Kerem Navot, an NGO “monitoring the Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories,” is based entirely on speculation over the map digitizing effort at COGAT, which may be simply an administrative move to preserve them, rather than a secret plot to populate those areas. However, since Etkes is not a newcomer to observing and reporting on the Jewish settlement enterprise, his conclusions, coming as they are from a hostile, leftwing source, may be a cause for (muted) celebration in rightwing circles.

“It’s important to understand that the mapping efforts are directed almost exclusively at the depth of Judea and Samaria and to settlements which are well outside the ‘settlement clusters,’ as well as, most emphatically, to areas declared by Israel to be ‘fire zones’ despite the fact that in reality they are part of the lands reserve which Israel gradually assigns to settlement,” Etkes told Ha’aretz.

The re-mapping effort of those 62 thousand hectares constitutes a significant increase in the rate of this work, compared with only 20 thousand hectares re-mapped in 2014 and 13 thousand in 2013.

Ha’aretz speculates that one of the goals of the new, wholesale re-mapping effort, is intended to deny Arabs living in the fire zones the right to appeal to Israel’s Supreme Court against infrastructure and construction work carried out near their homes. Should such appeals be filed, Israel would be within its rights to argue that the Arab homes were built after the area had been declared state land.

Etkes also suggests that the re-mapping of areas near Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria indicates planned expansions. He noted 962 hectares re-mapped near Nokdim, and 3 hectares outside Gitit.

JNi.Media

Supreme Court Wants Interior Ministry to Explain Why Reform Converts Aren’t Recognized by the State

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

Israeli Supreme Court Chief Justice Miriam Naor on Wednesday issued a temporary injunction against the Interior Ministry ordering it to explain within two months why 11 petitioners who underwent Reform or Conservative conversion in Israel should be refused a Certificate of Oleh (immigrant) based on the Law of Return, and why they should not be registered as Jews in the Population Registry.

The Law of Return (Hok Ha-Shvut) was passed in 1950, giving Jews the right of return and the right to live in Israel and to gain Israeli citizenship. In 1970, the right of entry and settlement was extended to people with one Jewish grandparent or people married to a Jew, although they were not considered Jewish under Jewish halakha. Those who immigrate to Israel under the Law of Return are immediately entitled to gain citizenship in Israel.

According to the halakhic definition, a person is Jewish if his or her mother is Jewish, or if he or she converts to Judaism. However, Orthodox Jews do not recognize conversions performed by Reform or Conservative authorities. But the Law of Return states that any Jew, regardless of affiliation, may immigrate to Israel and claim his or her citizenship.

In 2005, the Supreme Court ruled that all conversions performed outside of Israel would be recognized by the authorities under the Law of Return. The court had already ruled in 1989 that conversions performed outside of Israel were valid for the Law of Return, regardless of whether they were Orthodox, Conservative, or Reform. The 2005 ruling extended that decision, finding that overseas conversions were still valid even if the individuals did the preparatory work for the conversions while residing in Israel.

Now it appears that the Supreme Court is prepared to bring down the last vestige of halakhic Judaism regarding conversion, in an attempt to authorize Reform and Conservative religious courts in Israel to covert, forcing the state to accept their converts as Jews.

The current Interior Minister, Aryeh Deri, is an ultra-Orthodox Jew, and will most likely fight the court’s obvious plan tooth and nail. But in the end, he will have one of three choices: obey the court (not going to happen), resign (not likely), or change the law, which is, in fact, anchored in the Haredi parties’ coalition agreement.

Can the Law of Return be changed today? Can the 1970 dreaded ruling allowing non-Jews to be accepted as Jews also be revoked, while the Knesset is at it? The fate of Netanyahu’s government may depend on it.

David Israel

State Comptroller Draft Report Reveals Ya’alon Brazenly Refused to Attack Hamas Tunnels

Sunday, May 22nd, 2016

The texts of meeting protocols which were used in the State Comptroller’s draft report on the 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict, also known as Operation Protective Edge, offer a peek into the intense political pressure used mainly by Minister Naftali Bennett (Habayit Hayehudi) to force a reluctant IDF and defense ministry brass to take action against the Hamas terror tunnels reaching inside Israel, Channel 2 News revealed Saturday night.

One mindblowing revelation in the report is that Defense Minister Ya’alon, famous for his recent encouragement of IDF officers to speak their minds, no matter what, was in the habit, during the security cabinet meetings, of forcing those same officers to remain silent if their views did not match his own. Some Israeli commentators have already speculated that Ya’alon chose to leave over an “ideological” dispute with Prime Minister Netanyahu, rather than to be pushed out over the upcoming condemning Comptroller’s report.

The security cabinet convened on the day of the discovery of the bodies of three Jewish youths who had been kidnapped by Hamas operatives. At the meeting, Former Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, now retiring Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, and the Shabak — all shared the view that Hamas was not seeking a large-scale confrontation with Israel. In the meeting, Minister of the Economy and of Religious Services Naftali Bennett, and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liebrman (Yisrael Beiteinu) both warned they would vote against a weak military retaliation.

At the same meeting, the protocols show Bennett mentioning dozens of Hamas attack tunnels and the fear that Hamas would use them for a strategic attack. This information should be viewed in the context of the 2006 Gilad Shalit kidnapping. The Shalit kidnapping was executed in a Hamas raid using a cross-border underground tunnel. It resulted in the 2011 prisoner exchange fiasco, in which PM Netanyahu, fearing for his popularity, released 1,027 Arab security prisoners, many with Jewish blood on their hands.

On that first security cabinet of the Gaza War, before the forces had been launched, Netanyahu told Ya’alon: “I would like to see plans for taking care of the tunnels, even if this would lead to an escalation and to rocket fire.” But the meeting ended without resolutions.

24 hours later, the security cabinet convened again, twice. Ya’alon presented a report saying that Egypt claims Hamas is calling for restraint.

Bennett then asked, “What will happen if they use the tunnels the way did with Gilad Shalit?”

Netanyahu answered that “a penetrating ground operation might drag Israel into conquering Gaza.”

And Ya’alon said, on the record, “If we don’t act, Hamas won’t use the tunnels.”

“Are we going to hear the plan to take care of the tunnels?” Bennett insisted, and Netanyahu explained that the army still needs to discuss those plans. Bennett responded impatiently, “They should have done their homework already.”

Another 24 hours later, Shabak presented intelligence reports of an attack tunnel near the Jewish community of Kerem Shalom. However, the Shabak head assured the security cabinet: “Strategically, the Hamas has no intention of using the tunnels.” Bennett asked him how he knew this, and the Shabak head did not respond.

Bennet: Is it possible to destroy the tunnels?

Gantz: There are a few options of action.

Bennett: Is there a plan?

Ya’alon: Yes.

Gantz: We should leave the decision of taking care [of the tunnels] to when we decide whether we’re going in on the ground and how.

According to Channel 2, Gantz was referring to the option of bombing the tunnel openings from the air, using intelligence reports.

On July 3, 2014, at the next security cabinet meeting, the IDF once again argues that Hamas does not intend to use the tunnels, which results in confrontation between various ministers. At some point, Bennett called IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz a “lazy horse,” saying that the forces in the field are eager to go into Gaza and finish the job once and for all, but the high command is preventing them.

Netanyahu: Attacking the tunnels would make it difficult to expose and thwart them.

Bennett: There is a scenario of a mass attack coming out of the tunnels.

Gantz: If we exit from a tunnel and they’ll shoot at us from some hilltop, and we’ll take it over, and then another hill, and another, we’ll find ourselves in the heart of Gaza. We could be dragged into conquering the Strip.”

Bennett: [But] we decide how and when to exit.

Ya’alon: Forces would be sucked in. It’s preferable to try and calm the situation.

Only at this stage, less than one week before the July 8 start of the war, did the Southern Command form a “forward defense” plan to deal with the tunnels. The plan was presented to the chief of staff and the defense minister, who chose not to present it to the cabinet the next time it convenes, July 7, 2014. Bennett nevertheless insisted on adding the taking care of the tunnels to the operation’s goals. Both Netanyahu and Ya’alon object.

Ya’alon: It’s wrong to define a goal of stripping Hamas of its tunnels at this stage, the Egyptians are working on a ceasefire.

Head of the NSC Yossi Cohen: We’ve asked the chief of staff already, and he says they’re doing the best they can, but we can’t destroy all of them.

Bennett and Lieberman, who appear to have done their homework, want to know if the army had examined all the options, including going in on the ground.

Shabak head: The IDF has decided at this stage not to go in on the ground.

Southern Command Chief, Maj. Gen. Shlomo Turgeman, attended the July 10, 2014 security cabinet meeting. Only then was the IDF plan of dealing with the tunnels presented to the ministers.

Bennett: How deep will this draw us in?

Turgeman: There will be friction, but we shouldn’t exaggerate [the consequences].

Bennett then asked Turgeman what he would have done in his, Bennett’s shoes, at which point Ya’alon and Gantz retorted that, “he is not you, he is not in your shoes.” So Bennett defered and asked, “Fine, what would you have done in your own shoes?”

Here is when both Gantz and Ya’alon tried to force their subordinate Turgeman to shut up. Remember Moshe Ya’alon, who has grabbed so much attention urging IDF officers to speak their minds even if it contradicted the accepted dogmas? Even, in fact, if it could be perceived as a kind of coups d’état? Turns out that when one of Ya’alon’s top officers was trying to voice an opinion different from the boss’s, it was not greeted lovingly. Finally, Netanyahu asked Turgeman to respond.

Turgeman: In your shoes or in mine, I would take action.

Lieberman then said, “We have to go on everything or nothing. Either conquer Gaza or stop everything.” But according to the protocols, all the other ministers objected.

Should be interesting when the same question comes up again, except this time around Lieberman would be running the army.

JNi.Media

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