Middle East Roundup: April 10, 2017

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Israel slams Marine Le Pen for denying French responsibility in Holocaust roundup

(JNS.org) The Israeli government condemned French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen for comments absolving France of responsibility for the roundup of thousands of Jews who were deported to the Auschwitz death camp during the Holocaust.

Le Pen, the leader of the far-right National Front party, told French media Sunday that France “isn’t responsible for the Vel d’Hiv,” referring to French police’s implementation of a German-ordered roundup of 13,000 Jews in July 1942, ahead of their deportation to Auschwitz.

“I think that, in general, if there are people responsible, it is those who were in power at the time. It is not France,” Le Pen said.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry said Monday that Israel “condemns Marine Le Pen’s statements that France is not responsible for the deportation of the Jews from its territory during the Holocaust. This declaration is contrary to historical truth, as expressed in the statements of successive French presidents who recognized France’s responsibility for the fate of the French Jews who perished in the Holocaust.”



Israel to explore ways to treat Syrian children hurt in chemical attack

(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) Less than a week after the chemical attack in Syria’s Idlib province, the Israeli cabinet agreed to examine a proposal to bring Syrian children in need of medical care to Israel for treatment.

At a cabinet meeting Sunday, Israeli Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz proposed bringing the wounded children—some of whom are currently in Turkey—to Israel. He argued there is a moral imperative to do so. But Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman opposed the initiative, reportedly over the coordination with Turkey that would be required.

The Israeli Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement saying that “no decisions were made at the meeting, nor was there a vote. The ministers expressed their views on the topic and it was decided that the issue would be explored to see if it is even possible to bring children from Idlib to Israel for medical treatment. There was no discussion of resettling them in Israel.”



Israeli security forces make pre-emptive arrests to prevent Passover friction

(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) The Jerusalem District Police conducted a number of pre-emptive arrests ahead of the Passover holiday to prevent friction in the Israeli capital.

The arrests followed intelligence suggesting both Muslim and Jewish extremists planned to provoke riots and disturb the peace across Jerusalem during the holiday.

As part of the police’s efforts, several Muslim extremists planning to block Jews from the Temple Mount were arrested in recent days.

Jerusalem police Sunday raided the homes of six Jewish extremists, all minors, and detained them. All six are members of the Temple Mount Faithful movement. Raphael Morris, the group’s leader, was also arrested in light of intelligence suggesting the group was planning to visit the Temple Mount and perform a Passover sacrifice ritual.

A full closure was imposed Monday on Judea and Samaria, and all crossings linking Israel and the Gaza Strip were also closed. The crossings will open for humanitarian cases, medical cases and specific exceptions. Such closures are routine procedure for major Jewish holidays.


Finger from Egyptian statue found in Temple Mount excavation

(JNS.org) A finger fragment from a statue of an Egyptian god or king was found in soil excavated from the Temple Mount, Israel Hayom reported Monday, in fitting archaeology news on the eve of Passover.

Experts are currently analyzing the specimen, which apparently came from a statue originating in Egypt. A more thorough study needs to be conducted before it can be dated accurately. The soil in which the fragment was discovered was thrown into the Kidron Valley—which separates the Temple Mount from the nearby Mount of Olives—by the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf in 1999 after an illegal dig at the Temple Mount. The waqf, is an Islamic religious trust, manages the edifices on and around the Al-Aqsa mosque.

The soil was gathered by archaeologists Dr. Gabriel Barkay and Zahi Dvira, who have been sifting the soil since 2004, discovering thousands of findings that shed light on thousands of years of history at the Temple Mount.

“This is a broken piece of a life-sized figure of a person,” said Barkay, “carved in Egypt and brought to the land of Israel. It can be said with certainty that this is the little finger from the hand of a man, on which is also a fingernail. The statue was made of a hard black stone that originated in Egypt. The statue portrayed either a god or king. According to the type of black stone the statue is carved from, this is a statue that was brought from Egypt.”



Netanyahu lobbying for Syrian buffer zone as Russia reinforces support for Assad

(JNS.org) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is reportedly lobbying for the creation of a secure buffer zone between Israel, Jordan and Syria as part of any future resolution to end the six-year Syrian Civil War.

Netanyahu addressed the issue in recent talks with U.S. administration officials and other international actors, as a means of maintaining regional stability by keeping Iran’s forces and the Iranian-sponsored terror group Hezbollah at a safe distance from Israeli territory. The prime minister insisted on the creation of a buffer zone on the Syrian side of the border, secured by forces other than those from the Jewish state, reported Haaretz.

In a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin last month, Netanyahu similarly expressed his strong opposition to Iranian forces and terror proxies—many equipped with Russian-made heavy artillery—operating in Syria close to Israel’s northern border.

Netanyahu’s buffer zone push comes after America’s surprise military strike on Syria in response to the Bashar al-Assad regime’s purported chemical attack, the latter killing at least 86 Syrians.

A coalition of Russian, Iranian and pro-Iranian forces loyal to Assad said Sunday that the U.S. strike crossed “red lines,” and that the coalition members would respond to any new aggression and increase their support for Assad’s regime.


World soccers FIFA receives complaint over Palestinian terror promotion

(JNS.org) The Lawfare Project, a nonprofit legal-focused think tank, last week submitted a formal complaint to the Disciplinary Committee of international soccer’s FIFA governing body, compelling FIFA to review alleged violations of its statutes by the Palestinian Authority’s soccer association and its president, Jibril Rajoub.

The complaint was submitted in collaboration with several other nonprofit organizations, including Palestinian Media Watch, UK Lawyers for Israel and the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies.

According to The Lawfare Project, the Palestinian Football Association (PFA) and Rajoub have repeatedly breached FIFA’s regulations through open “promotion of racism and terrorism” as well as “incitement of hatred and violence, and encouragement of kidnap and murder.”

“For too long, the PFA has used the sport to promote terrorism in a most egregious manner, unabashedly celebrating acts of terror and naming teams after mass murderers,” said The Lawfare Project’s director, Brooke Goldstein.

“By punishing Muslims who play with Jews, the PFA is actively and intentionally preventing normalization between Israelis and Arabs…inaction will only send the message that FIFA condones such overt abuse of its institution,” she added.



Russia recognizes west Jerusalem as Israels capital in surprise move

(JNS.org) In a surprise move that represents a drastic shift in Russia’s policy, the Russian Foreign Ministry released a statement last week recognizing western Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Russia’s statement represents the first instance of any country officially recognizing any part of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The Israeli government was cautious to immediately accept the recognition, as it considers all of Jerusalem to be Israel’s capital.

“We reaffirm our commitment to the U.N.-approved principles for a Palestinian-Israeli settlement, which include the status of east Jerusalem as the capital of the future Palestinian state,” the Russian Foreign Ministry stated. “At the same time, we must state that in this context we view west Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”

The statement also includes a reaffirmation of Moscow’s support for a two-state solution.

Israeli officials initially interpreted the statement to mean that Moscow would recognize western Jerusalem as Israel’s capital following the possible future establishment of a Palestinian state with eastern Jerusalem as its capital. Emmanuel Nahshon, a spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry, simply said Israel is “studying the statement.”



Islamic State claims responsibility for Palm Sunday church bombings in Egypt

(JNS.org) The Islamic State terror group claimed responsibility for bombings on two Coptic Christian churches in Egypt as worshippers gathered to mark Palm Sunday, one of the Christian calendar’s holiest days.

The first bombing occurred in the northern Egyptian city of Tanta, where an explosion ripped through a Palm Sunday service at St. George’s Church, reportedly killing at least 25 people and wounding 60 others. The bomb was planted under a seat in the main prayer hall, according to Egyptian state media.

Further, at least 11 people were killed and 35 were wounded in a suicide bombing attack outside of St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Alexandria. Reports indicate that Egypt’s Coptic Pope Tawadros II was inside the church during the bombing, but was not injured.

Sunday’s bombings marked the latest Islamic State attacks against Egyptian Christians. Last December, Islamic State claimed responsibility for a bombing that killed 25 at Cairo’s St. Mark’s Cathedral.

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said regarding Sunday’s bombings in Egypt, “Terror doesn’t stop in Stockholm, St. Petersburg​, Berlin, London or Jerusalem. Today’s terror attack near Cairo reminds us that Egypt too is under attack.”

“Alongside the sorrow and grief, we need to join forces against the forces of evil and terror with an iron fist,” she said. “Israel is part of the international campaign against terror wherever it strikes and is ready to assist in order to rein it in.”


Netanyahu says Israel fully supports Trumps decision to strike Syria

(JNS.org) Israeli leaders welcomed President Donald Trump’s surprise military action late Thursday to strike the airbase where Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was believed to have launched a chemical attack resulting in the deaths of at least 86 Syrians, including 27 children.

“In both word and action, President Trump sent a strong and clear message today that the use and spread of chemical weapons will not be tolerated,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated. “Israel fully supports President Trump’s decision and hopes that this message of resolve in the face of the Assad regime’s horrific actions will resonate not only in Damascus, but in Tehran, Pyongyang and elsewhere.”

Israeli opposition leader Member of Knesset Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union) said the strike came at the “right time and in the right place” and sends an “important message to the butcher from Damascus.”

The IDF said it had been notified ahead of the U.S. strike, which saw close to 60 Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from two naval destroyers in the eastern Mediterranean strike Syria’s Shayrat Airfield north of Damascus.

“The American update to the IDF and security establishment before the attack in Syria is further proof of the strength of the relationship and depth of the connection between Israel and its largest ally, the United States,” Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said.


Israel Aerospace Industries signs historic $2 billion arms deal with India

(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) announced Thursday it has signed contracts amounting to $2 billion with India, marking the largest arms deal in the history of Israel’s defense sector.

The deal comprises a $1.6 billion contract to deliver a medium-range surface-to-air missile (MRSAM) defense system and a $400 million contract for a long-range surface-to-air missile (LRSAM) system. Both systems are variations of the advanced Barak 8 missile defense system, which is designed to defend against any type of airborne threat, including aircraft, helicopters, anti-ship missiles and drones. The Israeli-Indian deal includes an advanced phased-array radar, command and control technology, mobile launchers, communications systems and missiles.

The MRSAM was jointly developed jointly by IAI, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and the Indian military’s Defense Research and Development Organization. The LRSAM, which is the naval version of Barak 8, will be installed on India’s first aircraft carrier.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office called the $2 billion deal “another expression of Israel and India’s expanding ties.”



JCC bomb threats suspect traded millions in bitcoin on darknet, probe reveals

(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) Israel’s Rishon Lezion Magistrates’ Court Thursday remanded a 19-year-old Israeli-American hacker from Ashkelon to police custody for an additional 12 days. It marked the suspect’s third remand since his March 23 arrest as part of an FBI investigation into allegations that he phoned in bomb threats to Jewish institutions—primarily JCCs—in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand earlier this year.

The case has seen significant developments in recent days, as investigators analyzing the suspect’s computer discovered he had traded millions of dollars in bitcoin digital currency on the darknet. Police believe the suspect used the darknet to sell drugs and forged passports, drivers’ licenses and other identity papers. Authorities are now investigating the parties who paid for his services.

In a previous hearing, the teen’s attorney argued his actions were influenced by autism and an inoperable brain tumor.



Hamas hangs 3 Zionist collaborators over terror commanders assassination

(JNS.org) The Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas Thursday hanged three men it had accused of collaborating on the recent assassination of terror commander Mazan Faqha in Gaza.

Hamas officials have blamed Israel for coordinating the assassination and have vowed to exact revenge. Israel has neither confirmed nor denied involvement.

In the wake of the terror commander’s assassination, Hamas instituted a crackdown in Gaza, closing the Erez border crossing with Israel and launching an investigation into Faqha’s death. The results of Hamas’s probe have not been published.

“To enforce the rule of law and achieve general deterrence, a number of execution sentences will be carried out against collaborators with the Zionist enemy, who have been convicted of perpetrating criminal acts and providing information [to Israel] that harmed public security,” said Ismail Jaber, Hamas’s self-described attorney general, before Thursday’s executions.


Palestinian Authority TV broadcasts guide to religious rules for beating wives

(JNS.org) The Palestinian Authority’s (PA) official television network gave viewers instructions on what a female reporter described as the Islamic “religious rules” that husbands should use when they physically abuse their wives, Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) reported Thursday.

“To those who use beatings and violence to solve their marital problems: carefully read the Quranic verse again (Sura 4:34),” the PA TV reporter said April 1 on the “Talk of the Land” program. “There are solutions before giving beatings. If you have to, there are religious rules for beatings that must be obeyed. Guys, the goal of the beatings is rebuke in a way that does not cause injury. You can even go ask someone about it.”

PMW, an organization that monitors and documents Palestinian incitement, noted in an email bulletin that while the Palestinian reporter “did remind viewers that ‘there are solutions before giving beatings,’ she didn’t categorically reject violence against women.”


State Department historian criticized over defending Holocaust-era US visa policy

(JNS.org) Holocaust scholars are taking issue with a State Department historian’s comments defending 1940s consular officials who rejected visa applications from Jewish refugees.

Melissa Jane Taylor, from the State Department’s Office of the Historian, recently claimed in the journal Holocaust and Genocide Studies that U.S. officials in Vichy France from 1940-1941, such as William Peck, were “sympathetic” to refugees.

Dr. Rafael Medoff, director of the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, and immigration scholar Prof. Bat-Ami Zucker, of Bar-Ilan University, pointed out in an analysis of Taylor’s article that she failed to mention a memo by Peck in which he wrote that he favored immigration only by “old people [who] will not reproduce and can do our country no harm; the young ones may be suffering, but the history of their race shows that suffering does not kill many of them.”

Medoff and Zucker also criticized Taylor for trying to minimize the accomplishments of Hiram Bingham IV, a dissident consular official who helped Jews escape France and was punished by the State Department.



Palestinian terrorist kills Israeli soldier in car-ramming attack

(JNS.org) An Israeli soldier was killed Thursday and another was wounded in a car-ramming attack carried out by a Palestinian terrorist at a bus stop along Route 60 in Judea and Samaria.

Sgt. Elhai Teharlev, 20, a member of the IDF’s Golani Brigade, was identified as the slain victim. A 19-year-old man was lightly injured in the attack.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said sent his condolences to Teharlev’s family, and said that Israel’s security services “are working tirelessly to keep us safe, in a complicated battle in which the home front and the front line are one and the same.”

Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassim praised the terror attack, saying, “The Jerusalem intifada is continuing its work that will only end with freedom….Once again, the Jerusalem intifada proves that it isn’t a passing event, but rather a Palestinian decision to continue the struggle until freedom from occupation.”



Israels first female Muslim diplomat to serve in Turkey

(JNS.org) Israel’s Foreign Ministry last week appointed its first female Muslim diplomat, 31-year-old Rasha Atamny, to serve in Turkey as the Israeli embassy’s first secretary.

Atamny, who hails from the town of Baq al-Gharbiya in central Israel, was a psychology major at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and refined her diplomatic abilities in the school’s Model U.N. club. A year after joining the club, Atamny applied to represent Israel as a youth ambassador at the U.N. in New York City, and was accepted for the role.

“One day, I sat at the Israeli seat as usual in the Human Rights Assembly Committee, and I listened with great interest to the discussion that took place—the violation of women’s rights,” she wrote in her blog on the Israeli Foreign Ministry website. “By this point, I had become used to hearing the series of charges against Israel from many countries on the council, as [U.S. Ambassador to the U.N.] Nikki Haley recently described in the media.”

She added, “The discrimination against Israel is very prominent in the U.N., and disappointing…That day at the U.N., which made me desperately disappointed, pushed me to take the matter into my own hands.”


Articles from JNS.org appear on San Diego Jewish World through the courtesy of Dr. Bob and Mao Shillman.


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