Not such Good News Friday

The bad news keeps on coming and I am simply not in the mood for a Good News Friday post. This morning another soldier was very seriously injured in Bet El, not far from the sites of the previous two terror attacks, as a terrorist infiltrated his guard post, stabbed him and smashed his head with a rock.

A Palestinian man stabbed an Israeli soldier and bashed his head with a rock, seriously injuring him, at a military post outside the Beit El settlement in the central West Bank Binyamin region on Friday, the army said.

Scene of the terrorist infiltration in Bet El

The assailant then fled the scene, prompting a manhunt.

The Israel Defense Forces said a fight broke out between the two after the Palestinian attacker broke into the military position near Beit El, outside Ramallah, where Israeli forces have been searching for the terrorist who committed a shooting attack on Thursday, killing two soldiers and seriously injuring a third serviceman and a civilian woman.

Meanwhile thousands attended the funerals of the two soldiers who were killed at Givat Assaf:

riends and family members mourn during the funeral of IDF soldier Yosef Cohen,in Jerusalem (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The two Israeli soldiers killed in Thursday’s terror shooting in the central West Bank were buried on Friday, solemnly and fondly remembered by their families, friends and commanders.

Sgt. Yosef Cohen and Staff Sgt. Yovel Mor Yosef were members of the Kfir Brigade’s Netzah Yehuda infantry battalion, a unit for ultra-Orthodox soldiers.

Mor Yosef and Cohen were posthumously promoted from the ranks of sergeant and corporal respectively after a Palestinian shot them dead in the attack outside the Givat Assaf outpost. A third soldier was critically injured in the shooting, and civilian woman was seriously wounded although her condition was improving Friday.

Yuval Mor-Yosef Hy’d (l) and Yosef Cohen Hy’d (r), shot dead by Palestinian terrorists at Givat Assaf

“Yosef, sweet child, righteous child, I never believed we would come to this moment,” Cohen’s stepfather, Rabbi Eliyahu Merav, said in his tearful eulogy. “For years I raised you, you great, holy, pure child… full of love, giving and soul.”

Cohen’s father, Eitan, had died when he was young, and his mother — who like other women didn’t speak at the funeral in accordance with ultra-Orthodox custom — married Merav.

“Dear Eitan, are you happy with your dear child, now? Are you dancing with him up there?” Merav addressed Cohen’s late father.

Mor Yosef’s funeral was held at the military cemetery in his home town of Ashkelon in the south.

Some 2,000 people came to pay their respects to the 20-year-old, who was supposed to return home Thursday morning but volunteered to remain with his unit to give other soldiers time off.

The commander of the Kfir Brigade, Col. Zion Ratzon, said he had learned of Mor Yosef’s love of basketball from his friends and commanders. “As a teenager you were a basketball player, you gave up that dream to have a meaningful service as a combat fighter in the Israel Defense Forces,” he said.

“Your friends told me about a special person, who viewed helping the other as a top priority,” Ratzon added. “You were a modest and quiet person, with a good heart. Loved by all your friends. Your premature departure has left a huge gap in our hearts, a gap that we can never mend.”

“Yovel, our dear soldier, you fell in the defense of our country, our families, your friends,” said Mor Yosef’s cousin, Uri Slav. “Your extensive knowledge of Torah and musical tunes always surprised me.

“I will miss the conversations with you, the laughs, the talks about NBA,” he added. “You were the pillar of the family with your great help in the family. In family events, I saw all the kids looking at you with adoration, including my daughter. You were always with a big smile. You will be forever missed by all of us. Rest in peace, I love you.”

What a heart-wrenching loss for the families and friends. May their memories be for a blessing.

Let us also not forget the wounded.  Via the Muqata Facebook page, here are the names of the injured Israelis who need our prayers for a complete recovery:

Netanel Ilan ben Shayna Tzippora
Shira bat Michal
(Both seriously wounded in Dec 13. drive-by shooting attack near Givat Assaf)

Shira Yael bat Liora Sara
Amichai Yishai ben Talila
(Young couple shot outside of Ofra)

May they all have a refuah shlema — a full and speedy recovery among all the sick and wounded of Israel.

Sivan Rahav Meir published a beautiful bittersweet post when baby Amiad Yisrael Hy’d passed away:

Breaking New Records

Each time, our enemies break a new record of cruelty. Unfortunately, many young babies were buried here, and also many families who were murdered together, but the youngest terror victim in our struggle was buried tonight – a fetus who was in his mother’s womb for seven months.

The funeral of baby Amiad Yisrael Ish-Ran Hy’d

Every time we break a new record of solidarity. Millions around Israel and the globe followed the news of Shirah and Amichai Ish-Ran, who were expecting their first child. Many people watched their wedding video and were moved as if they were among the wedding guests. Two days ago, on line at a store, I heard a boy asking his mother: “How is the baby doing?”, and it was clear what baby he was referring to. I went on the Tehillim Yahad (“Psalms together”) website. Almost 60,000 (!) Psalms were read there since the terror attack by 20,000 (!) different people. And this is only one such site. Most Psalms were said quietly, without clicking the button at the end (that is, many Psalms were read without being recorded as “read” and without being included in these statistics). And some of the Psalms, as someone told me this week, were said “even without me knowing what it is, even without me feeling any connection to the Psalms, but I heard that this is what the family was asking, so I did it.” The baby’s grandfather, Chaim Silverstein, said at the funeral, on Mt. of Olives, last night: “Our grandchild, may HaShem avenge his blood, did a lot even before he was born. In four days, he united the People of Israel.”

A society is evaluated by its heroes. We face a society in which a man who shoots a pregnant woman, wounds her and kills her fetus, is its hero. If he hadn’t been killed last night, he would have been warmly received by his people with cries of joy and candy throwing, and now he will be made into a Shahid (Muslim martyr).

And opposite that, there is a society whose heroes this week are a young, courageous couple, and it embraces them with love and care and prays that they will manage to get stronger and see only good from now on

Although these words were written out of tragedy, they give us hope and something stronger than us to cling to – the knowledge that we are the Eternal People and that Hashem is our G-d and our strength.

But how can I not bring you a small piece of proper good news on a Friday. Via Hadassah, here is a fantastic Facebook post about a very unusual engagement party that took place this week in Ofra, where the first terror attack took place. First the Hebrew version:

הינה עם ישראל שוב מתגלה ביופיו!

צבי ועטרה ילדינו היקרים – ביום חמישי ה’ בטבת היו אמורים להתארס בקדומים.
צבי קצין בנצח יהודה משרת בגזרת עפרה.
השבוע התחיל עם הפיגוע בצומת עפרה.
הכוננות תוגברה, צבי עבר ימים עמוסים בפעילות אינטנסיבית וללא שינה.
כל הימים האלה לא ידענו מתי בדיוק יצא לאירוסין.
ואז היום שוב פעם פיגוע בצומת בגבעת אסף.
חיילים מהגדוד נהרגו, הגזרה מתחממת והפעילות המבצעית בשיאה.
עכשיו השאלה היא האם צבי יוכל לצאת בכלל לאירוסין.
בשלוש בצהריים צבי מודיע לעטרה ולהורים שאין לו אישור לצאת לאירוסין.
התקשרנו לאורחים והודענו על דחיית האירוסין.
…ואז עלתה הברקה לקרוב משפחה.
בואו נעשה את האירוסין בעפרה.
אולי צבי יוכל לצאת לחצי שעה לפחות.
הוא יצר קשר עם הרכזת קהילה ותוך דקות נרתמה קבוצת אנשים מדהימים מתושבי עפרה לטובת הענין.
המועדון הרב תכליתי בעפרה נפתח בפנינו בחינם, צוות נחשון של בני עקיבא ועוד בחורות מהסניף הגיעו והרימו לנו את האירוע!!!
ארגנו שולחנות וכיסאות, ערכו מפות וכלים, עזרו בסידור והגשת האוכל, בפינוי ובניקוי האולם לאחר סיום האירוע.
וגם צלם הגיע….
ב”ה הבן שלנו שוחרר לחצי שעה שהתארכה לכדי שעה וחצי והצליח להיות איתנו כל הערב.
השמחה ורוממות הנפש היו בשמים.
המדהים הוא שאנשי עפרה הודו לנו שאנחנו מאפשרים להם להתעסק בשמחות בימים הקשים האלה.
אתם מבינים??? לא נתפס!
אדיר ומרגש עד דמעות להבין את גודל הנתינה של עם ישראל!

משפחת כהן -קדומים
משפחת שור – אחיה

And here is my translation:

And the people of Israel are again revealed in its beauty!

Zvi and Atara Our dear children – on Thursday, 5th of Tevet, they were supposed to get engaged in Kedumim.

Zvi is an officer in the Netzach Yehuda brigade and serves in the Ofra area.This week began with the attack at the Ofra junction. Guard duty was reinforced, Zvi underwent intensive days and without sleep.

All through these days we did not know exactly when he he would get out for his engagement. And then again , a terrorist attack at the Givat Assaf Junction. Soldiers from the battalion were killed, the sector is heating up and operational activity is at its peak.

Now the question is whether Tzvi will be able to get to his engagement at all. At 3 PM Tzvi informs Atara and the parents that he does not have permission to leave for their engagement. We called the guests and announced the postponement of the engagement….

And then a relative had a brilliant idea. Let’s do the engagement in Ofra. Perhaps Zvi could leave for at least half an hour. He contacted the community coordinator and within minutes a group of amazing people from Ofra took upon themselves to help in the event. The multi-purpose clubhouse in Ofra opened for us free of charge, the Nahshon team of Bnei Akiva and other girls from the branch came and set up the event !!!

They organized tables and chairs, laid tablecloths and dishes, helped arrange and serve food, clearing and cleaning the hall after the end of the event.

And a photographer arrived ….

Thank G-d, our son was released for half an hour, which lasted about an hour and a half and managed to be with us all evening. The joy and spiritual elation reached the heavens.

The amazing thing is that the people of Ofra thanked us for allowing them to get busy with celebrations in these difficult times. You understand ??? It’s incredible!

It is amazing and moves us to tears as we understand the greatness of the giving spirit of the people of Israel!

Family Cohen – Kedumim
Family Shor – Achia

What a beautiful story! Kol hakavod to the people of Ofra who put on an engagement party at a moment’s notice for people they don’t know, and whilst they themselves were in mourning.  Heartiest mazal tov to Zvi and Atara and their families! May they merit to build an everlasting house in Israel – שיזכו לבנות בית נאמן בישראל.

May the coming week, even with its sad fast day of 10th Tevet, be a week of joy and peace.

Wishing us all a quiet, safe and peaceful Shabbat. Shabbat Shalom to you all.

Posted in Defence and Military, Slice of Israeli life, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Yet another terror attack today – two soldiers gunned down at Givat Assaf

We are still reeling from the terror attack at Ofra, in which Shira Ish-Ran was severely injured and her baby boy, delivered prematurely, died as a result of the shooting.

We were feeling a measure of relief that the IDF located and arrested the terrorists responsible for this heinous attack, killing one of the terrorists in the process – and surprise! He si the son of a Hamas leader in the Palestinian territories:

The IDF killed the son of a West Bank Hamas leader and arrested suspected of links to the terrorist cell that wounded seven Israeli civilians at a bus stop outside of the Ofra settlement earlier this week.

We were equally relieved to learn that almost simultaneously with the arrest of the Ofra attackers, the terrorist who shot and killed Kim Levengrond-Yehezkel and Ziv Hajbi in Barkan in October was finally located, and he too was similarly killed during the arrest operation.

The Shin Bet said Na’alwa was armed when the forces arrived at his hiding place. He was killed by the Israel Police’s YAMAM counterterrorism unit after a short exchange of fire. There were no injuries among the Israeli forces.

Another Palestinian man who was on the scene was arrested on suspicion of aiding Na’alwa’s escape.

Since the attack in October, Na’alwa has moved between hiding places and was able to elude Israeli forces for two months.

While the IDF and Shin Bet have yet to track his entire path of escape, an initial investigation found he first went north of the Barkan industrial area, which is west of Ariel, to the northern Samaria region, and later went south to Nablus. Then, on Wednesday night, security forces were able to track him to a small structure in the violent, crowded refugee camp.

The YAMAM force covertly raided the structure, where they found the terrorist, who opened fire at them with the Carlo rifle he used to carry out the attack. He was shot and killed on the spot.

During the search, over 100 Palestinians were arrested and questioned by security forces on suspicion they aided the terrorist or were aware of his terror activity. Some of the suspects, including the terrorist’s father, were charged.

The interrogation of these suspects found that Na’alwa was planning to carry out another attack.

Frustratingly, there is no shortage of Palestinian terrorists. As soon as one is cut down another one pops up to take his place.

Yuval Mor-Yosef Hy’d (l) and Yosef Cohen Hy’d (r), shot dead by Palestinian terrorists at Givat Assaf

We saw this in real time today when yet another terrorist cell opened fire on a group of people, soldiers and civilians, standing together at the Givat Assaf junction, on the road between Bet El and Ofra – the scene of this week’s shooting. In the shootout, two soldiers were killed, one was critically injured, and a young female civilian also was severely wounded. The attack is notable for the brazenness of the terrorists, who stopped their car and got out to open fire, rather than just shooting from inside the car:

The Jerusalem Post reports:

In a devastating terrorist attack on Thursday, two IDF soldiers were killed and two others were seriously wounded in the West Bank, just north of Jerusalem.

The shots were fired by a Palestinian who got out of his car and started shooting. He then fled the scene and his car was located by security forces near Ramallah. The IDF is in pursuit of the suspect.

Scene of the shooting at Givat Assaf

The murdered soldiers were identified as Yuval Mor-Yosef and Yosef Cohen, both of whom served in the Kfir Brigade in the Netzach Yehuda batallion – a unit made up of only religious soldiers:

IDF combat soldiers Sergeant Yuval Mor-Yosef, 20 from Ashkelon, and Corporal Yosef Cohen, 19 from Beit Shemesh, were identified as the soldiers who were killed today during the shooting attack at Givat Assaf on Thursday.

Both Mor-Yosef and Cohen were combat soldiers in the Netzach Yehuda-Nahal Haredi Battalion. Mor-Yosef was posthumously promoted to Staff Sergeant and Corporal Yosef Cohen was posthumously promoted to Sergeant. Their families have been notified.

Another IDF soldier and 20-year-old Shira Sabag from Beit El were seriously wounded in the attack as well. The wounded soldier underwent a complicated head operation at Hadassah Hospital. Doctors say that his condition continues to be life-threatening.

Shira Sabag, who was seriously injured, was operated at Shaare Zedek Medical Center and her condition is defined as serious yet stable. Sabag is fully conscious and has already met with her parents.

Contrary to the stereotypes, Yosef Cohen’s haredi step-father spoke very movingly and emotionally of his son’s dedication to the army and the security of Israel:

Rabbi Eliyahu Merav, the father of Yossi Cohen, one of the soldiers who fell in the shooting attack at the Givat Asaf junction earlier today, spoke to Channel 10 News about his son’s final words.

Rabbi Meirav, Yossi Cohen’s stepfather, talks to Channel 10 News about his murdered son

“Yossi was a beautiful and pure soul. He went on a mission. We sent him with great love,” the bereaved father told the news station. “When we sat at a Shabbat meal and everyone thanked us for something, Yossi said, ‘I thank God that I have the right to protect the people of Israel with my body.'” Yossi was a pure soul, a devoted child who only wanted to help since he was a little boy, and G-d took him.”

“I served in the IDF and became religious after the Yom Kippur War. I am an Israeli, I am the product of a crisis in secular Israeli society,” Rabbi Meirav said.” I understand that everyone has to live by his faith and values, but mutual respect must be preserved, this hatred must end. It is impossible to build a home and a state like this. Beyond all the arguments, why do we only meet after a bereavement and say ‘we are brothers?’ Let’s meet at celebrations.”

“Yossi was an Israeli guy, a haredi man with a heart of gold who was dedicated to the glory of the people of Israel. Yossi wanted to be a dentist after the army and now he is guarding us from above,” the rabbi added with tears in his eyes.

He said that his son’s final words to him were: “We believe that the Jewish people is one. We must all help and give, These are eternal values ​​of human love.'”

Friends and family also paid tribute to Yuval Mor-Yosef who was kind and dedicated:

Several hours before the shooting, Moryosef told his father on Whatsapp that he had volunteered to take over guard duty at the bus stop for some friends instead of going home—so that his friends could rest.

“His life’s goal was to serve in a combat unit,” said his uncle, Sammy Moryosef. “He insisted on doing combat service, despite the situation in Israel. He enjoyed his service, volunteered and gave it all.”

“It’s hard to grasp such horrible news, he was an amazing guy. It’s difficult to speak about him in past tense,” said his uncle. “We demand of the Israeli government that the terrorist is killed, even though his death will be of no comfort to Yovel’s parents.”

What a tragic loss for the families and friends of these two beautiful young men. May their families be comforted amongst the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem and may Hashem avenge their blood.

It is human nature to forget these terror attacks as time goes by, so the Jerusalem Post has done us a huge favour by illustrating, via an annotated interactive map of the sites of these terror attacks, the shocking frequency of these attacks, in which 11 people have been killed over the last year:

Map of terror attacks over the last year

Click on the map to enlarge or better still, click on the JPost link and use the interactive buttons.

Israeli residents of the area under attack, the Binyamin region of Judea and Samaria, are furious and fed up at the government for what they see as its inaction and ineptness in dealing with the terrorists and their enablers in the Palestinian Authority. Tonight they blocked the main road and demonstrated both in Tel Aviv and outside the Prime Minister’s residence in Jerusalem, demanding action.

In response the Prime Minister and Attorney General announced the legalization of about 2,000 homes in Judea and Samaria. The residents reacted cynically, saying that this promise is simply a recycled pledge from 3 years ago. After every terror attack it is wheeled out to placate the settlers, and then it is quietly shelved again. We will all be very happy to believe it when we see it.

The plan involves a somewhat complicated regulation method:

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit on Thursday officially approved the use of a legal tactic that will allow for the de-facto legalization of roughly 2,000 illegally built Israeli homes throughout the West Bank.

The authorization followed an earlier announcement by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office outlining a series of measures he would take in response to a wave of terror attacks, which included the regulation of thousands of settlement homes.

“The prime minister decided this evening to legalize the status of thousands of homes in communities throughout Judea and Samaria (West Bank), which were built in good faith and whose legal status has not been regulated until now,” the Prime Minister Office’s statement said.

Manelblit’s approval — which came at the behest of Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked — provides the legal grounds for such a far-reaching move.

In his legal opinion on Thursday, Mandelblit argued that the government’s issuing to settlers of (what it believes to be) state land is a “transaction” it of itself, even though the Israelis were often not paying for the land that they received.

Extending that logic, the attorney general concluded that roughly 2,000 homes that were initially believed to have been built on state land, but were later determined to have been constructed on private Palestinian property and subsequently deemed illegal, can now be regulated.

Mandelblit wrote that the legalization of the 2,000 homes will now only require a cabinet decision in order to move forward.

I echo the suspicious reaction of the settlers to this “kind offer” by the PM and AG. It has been promised so many times before and not fulfilled. Why should this time be any different.

More importantly I don’t think building settlements or legalizing existing ones should be a response to terrorism. Settlements should be built and legally recognized because it is our right – not only from G-d, but by international law. Yes, that international law that is always being thrown in our face actually supports the legality of the settlements. Our craven leaders are just too scared of what the international community will say if they go ahead and do something that supports our own interest for a change. Hint: the UN and EU and others will all condemn us no matter what we do. So we might as well act in our own best interests and let everyone else take a long walk off a short pier.

A more immediate solution to the present terrorism upsurge is that proposed by the Jewish Home party: a closure of Palestinian roads until the terrorism can be brought under control again:

“Following the severe terror attacks, we decided to… reexamine our continued membership in the government and coalition,” Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel, who leads the hardline Tekumah faction within the religious right-wing Jewish Home coalition party, wrote on Twitter.

The meeting, called to take place Thursday evening, could see Ariel and MK Bezalel Smotrich leave the coalition, which currently has a minimal 61-59 majority in the Knesset — a move that would topple the government.

Reports in Hebrew-language media said the faction intends to issue an ultimatum to Netanyahu, conditioning their coalition membership on the closing of Route 60 — the main north-south West Bank artery — to Palestinian vehicles to prevent further drive-by shootings.

“I have asked the prime minister to order immediate action including reinstating checkpoints all over Judea and Samaria, the immediate demolition of houses and deportation of terrorists within Judea and Samaria,” Ariel wrote, using the biblical-historical name for the territory.

He also demanded that the security cabinet convene by Sunday.

Smotrich said the government had “no right to exist” if routes in the West Bank aren’t closed to Palestinians, and if steps aren’t taken to legalize settlements.

Meanwhile the army is still in action searching for more perpetrators:

The IDF said it closed off the entrances to the nearby city of Ramallah and set up roadblocks throughout the area in an effort to locate the perpetrators of Thursday’s attack. The army said it was not yet sure how many people were involved in the attack.

Palestinian media also reported that Israeli troops launched raids in the Ramallah suburb of el-Bireh.

Additional infantry battalions were sent into the West Bank both to defend roads and settlements and to conduct additional searches and arrests, the army said.

The West Bank has seen a significant increase in the number of attacks on Israeli civilians and soldiers in recent weeks, after months of relative calm in the area, raising concerns of a potential renewed outbreak of regular, serious violence in the region.

The military blamed the increase in attacks both on terror group’s ongoing efforts, the “copycat” phenomenon and a number of significant dates coming up this week, notably the anniversary of Hamas’s founding.

The one question to which no one has a clear answer yet is is Iran behind this latest wave of attacks? Or is it a home-grown endeavour promoted by Hamas as it jockeys for position against the Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas?

Posted in Defence and Military, indigenous rights, Israel news, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Israel unites in grief around the murder of a tiny baby

Following on from my previous post, we received the heart-breaking news this evening that Shira and Amichai’s baby has died.The baby was born 10 weeks early by emergency Caesarean after his mother Shira was shot in the stomach and seriously injured at Ofra junction in Samaria.Her husband Amichai was moderately injured. Thank G-d Shira has begun to improve from her terrible injuries, but heart-breakingly, her baby did not survive, and passed away after a struggling for 4 days.

He was given the name Amiad Yisrael – meaning “My people Israel forever” – before he was buried. Hundreds accompanied this tiny baby – born and died two months before he should ever have emerged into this world – on his final journey to his resting place on Har Hazeitim (the Mt. of Olives).

It is in Israel and the Jewish People’s merit that Israelis have united over the last few days in fervent prayers for the recovery of Shira and her tiny baby. Only the Jewish People have the compassion to unite like this in times of grief, and much of the credit goes to the families of Shira and Amichai, and to their tiny baby.

Hundreds of people attended the baby’s funeral on a cold, dark rainy night in Jerusalem:

Some 300 hundred people crowded around the fresh gravesite on the Mount of Olives, overlooking Jerusalem’s Old City, using umbrellas to shield the baby’s tiny body, wrapped in a prayer shawl and smaller than a shoe box, from the steadily falling rain.

Baby Amiad Yisrael Ish-Ran, murdered in his mother’s womb by terrorists outside Ofra, in the arms of a relative at the funeral

Barely able to speak between sobs, grandfather Refael Ish-Ran said despite the baby’s short life, few people had “managed to unite the nation of Israel” like he had.

“You brought so much light. And with all the light that you brought, we will extinguish their darkness,” he said in his eulogy.

The baby’s parents, Shira and Amichai Ish-Ran, were both recovering from gunshot wounds at the hospital and unable to attend the funeral. Shira, who was 30 weeks pregnant at the time of the shooting, was seriously wounded in the shooting, but doctors said Wednesday her condition was improving.

Shortly before the burial, the baby was named Amiad Yisrael. The parents had only been able to visit the baby on Wednesday morning.

In my previous post I stated that the UN failure to condemn Hamas led directly to this latest murder. While I was being slightly hyperbolic, Hamas confirmed my argument when they claimed credit for the attack and praised the shooter, calling him a “heroic martyr”.

Well, that heroic martyr was very much a dead martyr as of tonight. In very welcome news, tonight the IDF captured the terrorist cell that carried out the Ofra shooting,  killing one of the terrorists during the arrest. What a shame that they were not all killed, but maybe the IDF will be able to gain some useful intelligence from the others.

Those terrorists deserve the death penalty for cold-blooded murder.  Make no mistake. Baby Amiad Yisrael Hy’d was murdered by terrorists. He didn’t simply “die”, and not only because he was a preemie. He was murdered while still in his mother’s womb because his parents were standing in a place that the terrorists didn’t approve of – the town of Ofra which is beyond an imaginary Green Line that the Palestinians don’t accept in any case, for the simple reason that they don’t accept Israel inside any borders. Cowardly terrorists driving past the bus stop saw a pregnant woman and targeted her stomach with the specific aim of murdering “two for one”. They almost succeeded but thank G-d Shira is now recovering from her terrible injuries.

But the terrorists and their enablers – the Palestinian Authority, other Arab or Muslim nations, the UN, the EU and multiple do-gooding NGOs who funnel funds to them enabling them to continue their depraved “pay for slay” policy – none of them will prevail in their malicious aim to drive the Jews out of Israel. No amount of terrorism, intimidation or delegitimization will succeed because Israel, this beloved country of ours, is our historic G-d-given land, we have legitimately bought the rights to this land (sometimes several times over), and we will continue to build, to thrive and to live life to its fullest extent as we continue this newest chapter in Jewish history and preserve it for future generations.

May baby Amiad Yisrael Hy’d’s memory be for a blessing. May Hashem avenge his blood and may his parents find comfort in the unity that Am Yisrael found while praying for the baby’s recovery.

May they know no more sorrow.

המ’ ינחם אותם בתוך אבלי ציון וירושלים.

May the pure sweet soul of baby Amiad Yisrael Hy’d be a melitz yosher for Israel and  the Jewish People.

Posted in Antisemitism, Incitement, indigenous rights, Israel news, Slice of Israeli life, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

[Updated] One thing leads to another: The UN refuses to condemn Hamas; pregnant Israeli woman shot by terrorists

There was no Chanukah miracle for Israel last week at the UN. Unbelievably (actually, considering this  the UN it is completely believable) the UNGA failed to pass a resolution condemning Hamas. The vote would have passed but at the last minute another resolution was passed demanding a 2/3 majority in order to pass the hamas condemnation, and it was that resolution which put the kibosh on passing the condemnation. Without that demand for a 2/3 majority, Hamas would have been roundly condemned by all civilized countries for their terrorism, targeting of civilians and war crimes.

Isn’t it funny, the UN has never require a 2/3 majority when condemning Israel. Interesting how that works.

Here is a chart of who voted to uphold the demand for a 2/3 majority. Look and learn who are our friends. Click to enlarge:

Nations who agreed to the need for a 2/3 majority in order to condemn Hamas

And here is the second chart showing who actually voted to condemn Hamas. It is clear that without the demand for a 2/3 majority, Hamas would have – finally! – been condemned.

Nations who condemned Hamas’ terrorist activity

Israellycool provides a video of US Ambassador Nikki Haley’s brilliant speech – her last speech as US Ambassador to the UN – where she condemns those who refused to condemn Hamas. It is an outstanding speech, and so apposite for her last speech in her position as ambassador:

I agree 100% with Aussie Dave’s opinion of the UN – and that he is davka glad that that useless institution cannot pass the simplest vote if it in any way supports Israel:

Having said that, I am actually glad the resolution condemning Hamas did not pass. It shines an even brighter light on not just how ineffectual the UN has become but how evil it has become.

The UNGA could not pass a resolution demanding that “Hamas and other militant actors including Palestinian Islamic Jihad” cease terrorism against Israelis. It could not pass a resolution condemning Hamas’s use of resources in Gaza for terror tunnels and rocket launching equipment “when such resources could be used to address the critical needs of the civilian population.”

No longer can countries claim they condemn Israel because they are somehow upholding international law. Or because they care about human rights or justice.

Sussex Friends of Israel brings us the video of the shameful speech by the British Ambassador to the UN as she explained the reasons for Britain’s agreement to the demand for a 2/3 majority to pass the resolution. And then they abstained on the actual condemnation!  As the Sussex Friends so aptly (and cheekily) assert:

Tonight I ashamed to be a Brit! Just once you would hope that the British would stand up and call out the anti-Israel bias at the UN but sadly and as usual they sit firmly on the fence and just gather splinters in their tuchases. Shameful!

 

Three days after this shameful vote, on the last night of Chanukah, again a Chanukah miracle failed to appear.  Palestinian terrorists, no doubt encouraged by the lack of international interest in its malign endeavours, opened fire on a group of Israelis standing by a bus-stop outside Ofra.The terrorists were in a car and slowed down as they saw the group of Israelis, opening fire and very seriously injuring a young pregnant woman, injuring also her husband and several other bystanders. There are some witnesses who say the pregnant woman was deliberately targeted, and I would not be surprised if this were true.

The young woman, Shira Ish-Ran is in very serious condition but has made an improvement overnight thank G-d.

Shaare Zedek Medical Center trauma unit senior surgeon Dr. Alon Schwartz reported today on the condition of Shira and Amichai Ish-Ran, who were seriously injured in yesterday’s Ofra junction attack.

Shira Ish-Ran and her husband Amichai, injured in the shooting attack near Ofra

“She’s still in intensive care under sedation and assisted breathing; her condition’s stable and we’re pleased with the improvement in her condition,” says Dr. Schwartz.

“The father Amichai is still hospitalized mainly for reducing pain; no surgery required on our part,” noted the senior surgeon.

Regarding the condition of the baby, Dr. Schwartz said “the baby is unfortunately still in a difficult situation and there’s no change in his condition.”

Meirav Sharvit, 17, who was also injured in the attack, is expected to be released in coming days. The hospital said her condition was improving.

Shira’s baby her baby, which was delivered by C-section immediately upon her arrival at the hospital, is struggling, as he was born at 30 weeks and is suffering from the effects of the shooting and his mother losing a lot of blood.

Please pray for refuah shlema for Shira Yael bat Leora Sarah and for Tinok ben Shira Yael.

UPDATE: We received the heart-breaking news this evening that Shira and Amichai’s baby has died. He was given the name Amiad Yisrael – meaning “My people Israel forever” – before he was buried. Hundreds accompanied this tiny baby – born and died two months before he should ever have emerged into this world – on his final journey to his resting place on Har Hazeitim (the Mt. of Olives).

May his memory be for a blessing and may his parents find comfort in the unity that Am Yisrael found while praying for the baby’s recovery.

In case you were wondering, Ofra is a “settlement”, i.e. an Israeli community in the Israeli heartland of Judea and Samaria. I am usually reluctant to use the term “settlement” because it has become such a loaded, negative term,  but it is a very useful indicator of both the geographic location of the community and also of anyone reacting to it. If your reaction is outrage at the shooting, thank you for your support, and please share your outrage with your government, the media and the UN. If your reaction is “yes, but they are settlers” then I ask you to leave this blog forthwith and never comment here again.

Of course the terrorists didn’t set out to shoot the Israelis at Ofra because of the UN vote, but it certainly gives a tail-wind to their nefarious designs. They know that they can literally get away with murder and no one will condemn them while the slightest Israel defensive action gets attacked and condemned from all directions and without any proportion.

More likely it is positions like Germany’s and other countries which still send funds to the Palestinians which are then used by the PA as “pay for slay” – to pay terrorists who murder Israelis a stipend for them and their families for life. We saw this outrageous deed exactly this week, when German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party rejected freezing funds for Palestinian terrorism!

Members of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union Party voted against a motion on Saturday in Hamburg to stop public funds for the Palestinian Authority’s payments to terrorists and financial aid to the families of terrorists who have murdered and injured Israelis.

According to the motion titled “Freeze aid to the Palestinian Authority,” the “Palestinian Authority [PA] has for years already paid the families of Palestinian terrorists… and with the payments, the PA knowingly and willingly supports terror against Israel and makes this a worthy financial business.”

I quote the Sussex Friends of Israel:

You can’t make it up!…

On the very night that another terrorist becomes eligible for the PAs ‘pay to slay’ payments by attempting to murder a pregnant woman and 6 others, Germany announce that they will CONTINUE to help finance it!

“Members of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union Party voted against a motion on Saturday in Hamburg to stop public funds for the Palestinian Authority’s payments to terrorists and financial aid to the families of terrorists who have murdered and injured Israelis.”

Paying terrorists to kill Israelis will encourage more terrorists to kill Israelis. Failing to condemn terrorism at the UN will encourage more terrorism.  Supporting terrorists leads to more terrorism. It really is as simple as that.

But as long as Jews and/or Israelis are the target nothing will change.

Posted in Incitement, indigenous rights, International relations, Lawfare and Delegitimization, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Good News Friday – Shabbat Chanukah edition

We are right in the middle of Chanukah, entering Shabbat Chanukah in a few hours, so here is a special, Chanukah-themed Good News Friday post.

Actually, before I start, I should mention that it has been raining. Not gentle, English-style gentle rain, but a tropical rainstorm of proportions that I don’t think I’ve seen in decades. Last night I was in Modiin for my niece’s Batmitzvah (Mazal tov RRW and family!) and on the drive home my car was almost washed away as I lost contact with the road and started drifting in the water. Passing cars sent waves of water over my car’s roof (and I don’t have a particularly small car). I know we need the rain, and our reservoirs and the Kinneret need refilling, but honestly Hashem – do we really need the entire decade’s rainfall in one day?! (Only slightly exaggerating) 🙂

Here is what happened yesterday: 50 preschoolers had to be rescued by boat from their kindergarten in Rechovot.

Kindergarten children rescued by boat in Rechovot

Today the Ayalon motorway has been closed because of flooding, as well as several other major roads:

And today in Petach Tikva a major intersection was blocked when the traffic lights failed due to the flooding – and our new mayor Rami Greenberg was the guy in the middle directing traffic! (via Reality):

Rami Greenberg directing traffic at Gissin junction

The Kinneret rose by 1 cm which doesn’t sound a lot but when you consider the size of the lake, that is a huge amount of water. Let it keep coming – just drive safely!

And now back to the subject at hand: Channukah!

The a capella ban Six13 have produced a brilliant cover of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody – but this version is a special edition for Chanukah: a Bohemian Chanukah:

I love the way they sing the musical accompaniments, complete with suitable hand movements. They are such great talents, really worth following.

Next we have those ingenious talents at the Technion who never let a good festival go to waste. They have come up with yet another Rube-Goldberg type Chanukiah-lighting machine – lighting the Menorah the hard way 😀

On a more serious, but beautifully heart-warming note, the “social singing” group Koolulam organized a singing session for families of children with special needs. Here is the English translation of their announcement on the video:

In October 2018 an event for the opening of the year was held by Mercazei Tzamid (special needs) in the Administration for Culture, Society and Sport in the Jerusalem Municipality together with the Kesher organization – the home for special families. Hundreds of families with special needs children and adults gathered together to open their hearts and to sign together with Koolulam and to spread a great light.

Watch this beautiful video:

 

This fits in so beautifully with Sivan Rahav Meir’s Facebook post about the meaning of lighting even one candle:

Come on, who cares if we lit a Hanukkiyah? What does one little act from us even mean? The world is so big and there are so many people in it, so what difference does it make if we did or did not do something? Rabbi Yerachmiel Israel Itzhak Danziger wrote around a hundred years ago in his book “Yismach Israel” (Israel will Rejoice) about the immense importance of our small acts. How every good deed we do is critical and essential. He bases his words on the Ramban’s commentary, and states:

“During the lighting of a Hanukkah candle, every Jew stands in place of the Kohen Gadol in the Holy Temple, and every one, even the simplest person, when they go to light a Hanukkah candle, they become the equivalent of a Kohen Gadol, and their home becomes like a Holy Temple, and they should be minded, when they go to light the fire, of the fact that they do not light just oil or wax candles, but they light the light from the Six Days of Genesis, and they should approach this kind of worship in fear and awe, out of joy of performing a Mitzvah, that a simple person like them merits to cause now great ‘revolutions’ in the upper worlds”.

Notice the words “revolutions”. Revolutions do not only happen on the streets, in mass parades. Revolutions are also done with our small deeds, in the family circle, between the kitchen and the living room. Happy rest of Hanukkah!

We should take those inspiring words with us into Shabbat, which is not only Chanukah but also Rosh Chodesh Tevet.

Wishing you all Shabbat Shalom, Chodesh tov and Chanukah Same’ach!

Posted in Culture, Arts & Sports, Israel news, Judaism, Slice of Israeli life | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The IDF launches Operation Northern Shield, exposing Hezbollah attack tunnels

Yesterday the IDF made a dramatic announcement that it had launched Operation Northern Shield, an operation to expose and destroy Hezbollah terror tunnels and other offensive capabilities:

One of the massive tunnels which was discovered penetrates several hundred meters into Israel:

There was a moment of light relief (for us anyway) when this Hezbollah terrorist  got more than he bargained for as the IDF camera self-destructed on his approach:

The IDF released more details about the Hezbollah terror tunnel:

On Tuesday morning, IDF troops exposed a Hezbollah cross-border attack tunnel that infiltrated into Israeli territory in an operational, technological and intelligence operation.

The IDF on Wednesday morning released several aerial photos depicting the cross-border attack tunnel that was dug from the southern Kafr Kela area and was exposed Tuesday in Israeli territory.

The site from which the cross-border attack tunnel was dug in the southern Kafr Kela area. Photo: IDF Spokesperson’s Unit.

The cement factory in the southern Kafr Kela area from which the tunnel was dug and the stages of its conversion to a military site. Photo: IDF Spokesperson’s Unit

Please note that the tunnel’s origin was under a cement factory. Next time Israel is accused of war crimes for bombing civilian infrastructure, please remember what this “civilian” infrastructure is in fact used for. That itself is the real war crime.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu made the following announcement regarding the operation:

The tunnels are only the first step before dealing with Hezbollah’s massive missile arsenal according to analysts:

Israeli security analysts believe that the decision to expose the Hezbollah attack tunnel is a precursor to a larger Israeli operation to remove the threat posed by the precision missiles being developed by the Lebanese terror group together with their Iranian sponsors.

On Tuesday the IDF said it uncovered the “first of what are sure to be many” cross-border attack tunnels dug by Hezbollah, as part of its newly launched Operation Northern Shield. The tunnel was found south of the Israeli town of Metulla along the Lebanese border. The army said it was some 200 meters (650 feet) long, extending some 40 meters (120 feet) into Israeli territory.

Israel’s Channel 10 TV later said the IDF estimates that there are some 10 attack tunnels.

There has been some discussion in Israel whether the timing of the IDF operation was in any way connected to Netanyahu’s possible indictment on charges of bribery. Lahav Harkov in the Jerusalem Post explains that this operation has been months in the making. Such IDF operations cannot be organized overnight. But luckily for Netanyahu the timing is impeccable – especially as he was slammed for our inaction over the Hamas rocket attack last month in the south.

Two weeks ago, The Jerusalem Post reported that the chain of events leading to last month’s political crisis came from concerns about the security situation in the north, specifically Iranian involvement in Lebanon. On Sunday, this became clear, as the IDF embarked on Operation Northern Shield to destroy Hezbollah’s cross-border tunnels into Israel.

Last month, when Hamas responded to a botched IDF operation in Gaza by launching 460 rockets into Israel in one day, the IDF struck back at Gaza, but the Security Cabinet quickly agreed to a ceasefire without a vote, because there was no serious opposition. The reason? Because they knew their focus would soon need to shift to the northern border. They chose Northern Shield over a southern shield. And they said they would respond more harshly to Gaza at a time that’s better for, and determined by Israel.

A senior cabinet source confirmed on Sunday that the North is the operative priority, and that the area is of greater sensitivity, because of the continuing need to attack when Iran attempts expanding its presence in Syria. Therefore, the ministers decided it was not worth risking a greater escalation in Gaza.

Of course, the public didn’t know that, and then-defense minister Avigdor Liberman was being slammed in the media for talking tough and doing nothing – including by usually-friendly commentators – and he resigned from his post, saying Israel surrendered to Hamas, and pulled Yisrael Beytenu from the government. This left the coalition with a one-seat majority, throwing it into a crisis, leaving most in the political sphere certain that it would fall apart sooner, rather than later. But Netanyahu managed to convince his remaining coalition partners to keep it together, and while the past few weeks have been challenging, the Knesset has yet to be dissolved.

Throughout the political crisis, Netanyahu referred to a “sensitive security situation” as a reason that now is not a good time for an election, and that it made Liberman’s resignation irresponsible. Some Security Cabinet members agreed that the situation was, indeed, unique, while others, like Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who was gunning for Liberman’s job, said: “There’s no apocalypse, there are enemies. We have always had enemies.”

It’s possible, of course, that Bennett is right, and this operation will be exactly what the IDF said it is – destroying Hezbollah tunnels – and won’t lead to anything more. After all, it is primarily an operation of engineering, meant to take place on Israel’s side of the border. But with Iranian missiles stored in Beirut and elsewhere in Lebanon, as Netanyahu revealed in his speech to the UN in September, this could easily snowball into something major, and the Security Cabinet clearly chose to be risk-averse.

And Netanyahu is taking full advantage. A few Security Cabinet ministers anonymously expressed frustration to Army Radio host Razi Barkai at being told not to give interviews after the Northern Shield was announced, saying Netanyahu was silencing them so he can have all the glory, while he inflated “a small engineering operation” beyond reasonable proportions.

This operation is advantageous to Netanyahu in its timing, as well. On Sunday, when the police recommended that he be indicted for bribery, breach of trust and fraud in relation to the Bezeq Affair, the prime minister pointed to the suspicious timing of their release. Netanyahu was referring to it being ex-chief of police Roni Alsheich’s last day on the job, but the same could be said with an IDF operation two days after bad news for the prime minister.

The timing is also good for Netanyahu in that it will probably keep the coalition intact a bit longer, which is exactly what he wants. Not only will the coalition rally around the flag, but Yesh Atid and Zionist Union in the opposition are likely to tone down their criticism as well while the operation is still ongoing.

Residents of the north are not surprised at the tunnel discovery, saying they have heard sounds of digging underground for years. My own daughter who used to live in the north confirmed this.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has for years spoken about “Conquer the Galilee” which would have seen fighters from the group’s elite Radwan unit infiltrating into Israel in an attempt to take control of border communities.

Hezbollah’s tunnel project was expensive and time consuming, with a 600-foot tunnel being built over the course of two years. The depth of the tunnel, some 80 feet underground, made the group think that Israel was not aware of their work.

This picture taken on December 4, 2018, from the southern Lebanese village of Kfar Kila shows a view of Israeli machinery operating behind the border wall in Israel. (Ali Dia/AFP)

But residents in the North have complained for years of hearing digging sounds, mainly at night, under their homes and in their fields.

On Tuesday, Ruslan Hassan of Metulla told The Jerusalem Post that a friend of his has complained several times of hearing sounds of digging under his home.

“At night he would hear things, he would hear sounds. So would we, but you don’t really think anything of it, because nothing has ever happened so why would something happen?” he asked. “But we have an amazing army and I’m sure that if there are other tunnels, the IDF will find them and take care of them.”

I sincerely hope he is right!

The big question now is how will Hezbollah react. Will they launch retaliatory attacks, including massive missile fire? Or will they hold back? Oded Granot in Yisrael Hayom details Israel’s dilemma in Lebanon:

Every few months, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah ‎makes a point of warning Israel not to attack ‎Lebanon and make all sorts of threats. Last week, he did so using aerial footage ‎of strategic targets in Israel, including the IDF’s ‎headquarters in Tel Aviv, captioned “If you strike, ‎you will regret it.” ‎

This picture taken on December 4, 2018 from the southern Lebanese village of Kafr Kila shows a view of the border with Israel, with Israeli vehicles driving on the right side and UN and Lebanese vehicles driving on the left. (Ali DIA / AFP)

While normally one could say that Nasrallah’s ‎threats serve an internal propaganda ‎purpose, the most recent declarations appear to indicate that Hezbollah believed an Israeli strike was imminent. ‎

These speculations were likely fueled by ‎frequent statements made by senior Israeli officials, ‎whose main concern is the growing threat posed by Hezbollah’s ‎buildup.

Clearly, neither Israel nor Hezbollah are interested ‎in another war, but recent developments on the ‎Israel-Lebanon border indicate that, given the ‎simmering tensions there, a major flare-up is only a ‎matter of time. ‎

The first prominent development in the sector has to ‎do with what appears to be Israel’s narrowing operational leeway ‎with respect to operating in Syria against Iranian ‎weapon shipments to Hezbollah, in the wake of the ‎Sept. 17 downing of a Russian reconnaissance plane ‎by Syrian air defenses trying to counter an Israeli ‎airstrike. ‎

The incident sparked a crisis between Jerusalem and ‎Moscow and the Russian government decided to supply Syria with S-300 ‎missile defense systems, which could pose a direct threat to Israeli aircraft. While ‎those have yet to become operational, Israel has all ‎but refrained from operating in Syria in recent ‎weeks. ‎

The second development most likely evolved from the ‎first: it seems that Iran, whose operational leeway ‎in Syria has also been curtailed by Russia, has come ‎to the conclusion that it would be best if it ‎delivered weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon directly, ‎thus avoiding the more vulnerable Syrian routes.‎

There is no doubt that these direct deliveries, ‎especially of equipment meant to upgrade Hezbollah’s ‎projectile arsenal with precision-missiles, attests to ‎Tehran’s increasing audacity, as it appears to no longer even try to deny that it is transferring weapons to ‎Hezbollah.‎

Still, Israeli decision-makers face a complex dilemma. Hezbollah is believed to be in ‎possession of 150,000 advanced projectiles – far ‎more advanced than anything Hamas has – and ‎Nasrallah repeatedly boasts they are capable of striking any target anywhere in Israel. ‎

Moreover, a strike in Lebanon is not akin to a ‎strike in Syria. With the Syrian civil war ‎practically over, Russian President Vladimir Putin ‎has emerged as the master of the Syrian domain, ‎meaning that while Jerusalem and Moscow may have ‎their conflict of interests, there is someone to ‎reason with if need be, and someone who can, to an ‎extent, curb the Iranians. ‎

Lebanon, on the other hand, is plagued by serious ‎political turmoil that sees Prime Minister Saad ‎Hariri (whose father, Prime Minister Rafic Hariri, was ‎assassinated by Hezbollah in 2005) and Nasrallah ‎constantly lock horns. ‎

Given Hezbollah’s considerable political clout in ‎the Lebanese parliament, Nasrallah is the real ‎master of the Lebanese domain and there is no one ‎there who can stop him. ‎

This is why defense officials believe that an ‎Israeli operation in Lebanon – even a limited one – ‎would not necessarily meet a measured response by Hezbollah, making ‎the potential for a full-scale war, which would ‎expose the Israeli homefront to thousands of ‎missiles, far greater.

As for the next step in Israel’s arsenal, will the UN finally step up to the plate and condemn Hezbollah? Israel is demanding such a condemnation, and John Bolton, US National Security Adviser has said the US strongly supports Israel’s anti-tunnel operation.

Now let’s see if the UN can overcome its anti-Israel prejudice enough to condemn blatant provocation from Hezbollah.

Posted in Defence and Military, Iran, Mideast news, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments