JNS news briefs: March 13, 2014

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‘Relative calm’ shattered as southern Israelis shaken by Gaza rocket barrage
(JNS.org) After months of relative quiet in southern Israel, dozens of Palestinian rockets exploded in Eshkol, Shaar Hanegev, Merhavim, Sderot, and other communities on Wednesday.

Startled residents ran to bomb shelters, once again entering the cycle of fear that occurs during every round of violence emanating from Gaza. Even after the volley of at least 60 Islamic Jihad rockets ended, residents were instructed to stay within 15 seconds’ distance from bomb shelters.

“After a period of relative calm, once again we return to the sights of sirens and explosions, of panicked people running to bomb shelters,” Sderot resident Ilan Yalizerov told Israel Hayom.

“I was on my way home with my two little daughters and while driving we suddenly heard a deafening siren,” he said. “I quickly got out of the car while it was still running, grabbed my daughters and found cover. The girls did not stop crying. It is sad that this is the reality we live in.”

One rocket exploded near Sderot resident Nikko Pischov’s house.

“My God, the house shook like it was about to collapse,” Pischov said. “Our neighbors left their homes in a panic and ran to the street, where we saw the rocket on the road. Lucky, one tiny change in its course and the rocket could have hit our building.”

A rocket explosion also occurred only a few feet away from Arik Ohayon’s home in Sderot.

“I have four little children, and everyone, including my wife, are at a family event in the north. I can take care of myself. So long as they are there I can be calm. But enough already, enough terrorism,” he said.

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Israel to hold its first eco-friendly building contest
(JNS.org) Israel is holding its first eco-friendly architecture competition, in which two winners will have their designs constructed and showcased to the general public, Israel Hayom reported.

The contest, hosted by the Jewish National Fund (JNF) and Israeli Green Construction Council, intends to raise awareness for eco-friendly construction among the Israeli public and to train planners and architects to think green when starting new projects.

The competition has two tracks, one for professionals and one for students. Early registration has already begun, with July 10 the deadline for submitting projects. The winners will be announced in September at a formal ceremony.

“A building’s footprint on the environment is huge in its use of electricity and water, which is why eco-friendly construction has become an essential topic in promoting a green lifestyle in Israel,” JNF sustainable development board member Dr. Orr Karassin said.

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Friends of the IDF raises $20 million at NY gala
(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) Friends of the Israel Defense Forces raised $20 million on Tuesday at its annual national gala, held in New York’s iconic Waldorf Astoria hotel.

Some 1,400 guests from the U.S., Panama, and Israel attended the event.

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz spoke at the event and thanked the organization “for choosing to stand by our side and open your hearts to our soldiers.”

Gantz also remarked on recent events, including the seizure of an illicit Gaza-bound arms shipment from Iran aboard the Klos C cargo ship.

“Terrorist organizations do not rest and are continuing their large efforts to smuggle weapons into Gaza,” Gantz said.
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Jerusalem exhibit unveils 9,000-year-old stone masks
(JNS.org) A new display in Jerusalem is showcasing the oldest-known masks in the world, believed to have originated 9,000 years ago.

The 11 masks are made of stones and were discovered in the Judean desert near Jerusalem. Experts believe the masks were meant to look like skulls, with each displaying a unique personality via emotional expressions of shock or grinning.

“When you go back to objects that are this old, that are so much before the theology that becomes Judaism, Christianity and then Islam, to feel that there is a kind of a connection, that this is all part of a continuous story, is something that is pretty thrilling,” said James Snyder— director of the Israel Museum, which is hosting the exhibit—the Associated Press reported.

The custom of mask making and wearing dates back at least 25,000 years (though no masks that old have been found), according to exhibit curator Debby Hershman, with the earliest masks most likely made of animal materials. Later, stone masks originated at the time when humans living in the Fertile Crescent adopted agriculture.

“It’s the most important revolution that ever happened,” Hershman said. The people who fashioned the masks, she said, “are actually the founders of civilization.”
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Egyptian army says it destroyed 1,370 Gaza smuggling tunnels
(JNS.org) The Egyptian army said it has destroyed 1,370 smuggling tunnels underneath the border between Egypt and Gaza, AFP reported.

Egyptian authorities have accused Hamas, which is an offshoot of the banned terror group Muslim Brotherhood, of supporting jihadists in the Sinai Peninsula. The Egyptian army has launched a massive military operation in the Sinai to target terror groups there.

Last week, an Egyptian court banned all activities of Hamas.

Additionally, Egyptian authorities have accused former Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi of collaborating with Hamas. Morsi, along with 36 other Muslim Brotherhood officials, are currently being prosecuted for charges of espionage with Hamas. Recently, Egyptian officials also told Hamas that it would hold them responsible for any incidents along the Gaza border, and that it would not tolerate smuggling.

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At Knesset, British PM David Cameron calls boycotts of Israel ‘abhorrent’
(JNS.org) British Prime Minister David Cameron, in his first visit to Israel since taking office in 2010, stressed to Israeli leaders during a speech to the Knesset that his country fully backs Israel’s efforts for peace and security, while promising to defeat attempts to isolate and delegitimize the state of Israel.

“Let me say to you very clearly: with me, you have a British prime minister whose belief in Israel is unbreakable and whose commitment to Israel’s security will always be rock solid,” Cameron said.

Cameron also urged Israel to adopt a two-state solution, highlighting the potential gains a peace deal would offer.

“Imagine what this land would be like if a two-state solution was actually achieved,” he said. “Think of all the aspects of life that would change. … Israel’s relationships with the world. Its security, its long-term prosperity, and the quality of life for all its people.”

The British leader called efforts to boycott Israel “abhorrent” and promised to work together with Israel to defeat them.

“Britain opposes boycotts,” Cameron said. “Delegitimizing the state of Israel is wrong. It’s abhorrent. And together we will defeat it.”

Cameron said he shares Israel’s “deep skepticism” of Iran.

“A nuclear-armed Iran is a threat to the whole world… Britain will ensure that is never allowed to happen,” he said.
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