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Today's News

July 20, 2017




Russia Vies with Israel Over Aid for Quneitra

By DEBKAfile


As Russian troops began moving into the Quneitra ceasefire sector opposite Israel’s Golan border on Wednesday,  they found they were in hot competition with Israel over … humanitarian aid for the sector’s rebel-held villages.


Since Israel is adamantly opposed to the Russian presence in the Quneitra demilitarized zone—although it was endorsed by the Trump administration, as DEBKAfile reported exclusively on Tuesday, Moscow decided to take it slowly and meanwhile try and win over the Syrian rebel groups whom Israel has succored for years. The Kremlin figured that if these anti-Assad groups could be weaned away from Israel, they might be persuaded to cooperate with the Russian troops in setting up the Quneitra ceasefire zone, and the Russians would not need Israel’s compliance.


On Tuesday, therefore, a Russian military convoy drove into Jabah, a village northeast of Quneitra town and 4km from Israel’s Golan border. Officers described as belonging to the “Russian Defense Ministry’s reconciliation center” left the trucks and began handing out food packages to the villagers. The civilians received necessities and were treated by Russian doctors, a Syrian officer announced. Russian and Syrian officers promised that more humanitarian aid would be delivered to “settlements across the Quneitra province” and Russian doctors would visit all the villages in the ceasefire zone.


Israel, who has been sending aid across these Syrian villages which were cut off by the civil war from basic necessities, has mostly kept its humanitarian program under wraps, except when witnesses reported what they saw to the media. On Wednesday, the IDF officers running the program asked sardonically: “Where were the Russians all these years when Israel alone helped the beleaguered villages across its border?”


After watching the Russian troops hand out packages to the people of Quneitra, the Israeli government and military chiefs decided to challenge the Russian belated propaganda move. Up until now, Israel has supplied regular humanitarian aid to some 200,000 Syrian villagers living in 80 non-ISIS rebel-controlled villages 15km deep inside the Syrian Golan. Last year alone, Israel sent over half a million liters of heavy fuel, 360 tons of foodstuffs, 77 tons of clothing and shoes, tens of generators and water system, as well as providing them with medical treatment, including hospital care for sick and injured Syrians and a field hospital on the border.


Wednesday, Israel formalized its assistance program under the title “The Good Neighbor” and disclosed it had been administered since 2016 by a special unit of the Bashan Division which is in charge of the Golan sector. The IDF released footage of trucks ferrying across the border supplies of medical equipment, medicines, foodstuffs and fuel, as well as pictures documenting IDF medics lifting Injured Syrians off the battlefield for treatment in Israeli hospitals.


According to IDF statistics, at least 3,000 Syrians crossed the border in the past four years for medical treatment. And Israel sent over as needed incubators, respirators and ambulances. In the same period, the IDF conducted 150 assistance operations on Syrian soil.


On their arrival in Quneitra, the Russians found a population that was better fed and cared for than Syrian civilians on any other of the country’s warfronts. They are nonetheless challenging Israel for the locals' hearts and minds.



PA's Brutal Torture of 'Collaborators' with Israel



The Jerusalem District Court cleared for publication an unprecedented ruling stating that the Palestinian Authority was responsible for the unlawful detention and torture of collaborators with Israel since the 1990s.


In the precedent-setting ruling of Jerusalem District Court Judge Moshe Drori which covers more than 2,000 pages, the judge details the legal considerations that led him to his decision, as well as the torture that collaborators have experienced in the cellars of the Palestinian Authority over the years.


In the ruling, Drori states that "when the PA arrests a suspect—in its opinion – for cooperation with Israel, this means that the arrest is on security grounds that are not within the authority of the PA, but only within Israel's authority under the Interim Agreement. As a result, the arrest is illegal. "


"The arrest of the PA on grounds that are not within its jurisdiction, especially when it comes to security grounds, has security implications in itself, since the arrest is intended, from the point of view of the Authority, to direct the behavior of its residents against the State of Israel and in support of terrorist activities. Therefore, a civil suit filed by any of the residents of the PA on grounds of this arrest—including the plaintiffs in the cases before me - also carries security implications,” the Judge states.


Regarding the torture experienced by the plaintiffs, the Judge said, "I cannot refrain from saying the following: a continuous examination of all the evidence materials, including the detailed affidavits of the Plaintiffs, and the presence of them in the memory of those witnesses who testified about the torture, when some of them presented me during their testimonies damaged organs – none of this is easy. Indeed, the court has been exposed in many cases to difficult situations.”


"In this case, however, we are dealing with a sequence of dozens of plaintiffs, attesting, individually, to events, with the detailed picture written in the individual chapters. After this detailed writing, it is inevitable to say that this is an accumulation of evidence, which shows that the PA - with all its branches and mechanisms detailed in the individual chapters - used severe violence, including harsh torture, against the Plaintiffs,” the Judge said.


Deliberations, which have been going on for more than a decade before the court, gave a picture of harsh torture over the years. “Most of the plaintiffs describe similar descriptions of torture (torture by the “Shabaah” method - hanging the prisoner in different ways, exposure to freezing cold or heat, preventing drinking or forced drinking from the toilet, beatings, forced sitting on a broken and sharp bottle). It’s hard to assume that similar torture methods did not stem from a single method, which was acceptable at the time in jails,” the Judge wrote.


Attorneys Barak Kedem and Aryeh Arbus of the Rom-Arbus-Kedem-Tzur office representing the plaintiffs are expected to conduct discussions in the court over the next few months on the individual case of each of the Plaintiffs, during which the amount of compensation that the Authority is to compensate will be determined. The compensation money will reach millions of shekels per plaintiff.


Kedem said following the ruling: "After 14 years in which the case was conducted in the court, and following an in-depth examination of the Honorable Justice Drori, which was spread over a 1,800-page ruling, the court enacted justice and placed responsibility on the Palestinian Authority in determining that the PA jailed and tortured 52 Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel. They were tortured in all sorts of nightmarish ways, from smashing bones and taking out fingernails to being dragged by a traveling vehicle, and ending with their murder in sadistic ways that cannot be written on paper."


Kedem added that "the State of Israel has a deep moral obligation to those who were tortured and murdered because of the suspicion that they helped prevent terrorism from its streets. The court in its important decision has taken the first step towards the fulfillment of a supreme moral duty.”



 Uber-Style App 'Careem' Goes Off Beaten Track in Palestinian West Bank

 By Reuters


Careem, a Middle Eastern rival to Uber, has become the first ride-hailing firm to operate in the Israeli West Bank. Dubai-based Careem, whose name is a play on the Arabic word for generous or noble, launched in Ramallah in June, aiming to bring digital simplicity to the Palestinian territory.


There is certainly a market for easier ride-hailing among the nearly 3 million Palestinians living in the West Bank, but the fact the mobile network is still 2G, that electronic payments are not the norm and that Israeli checkpoints are common, make using the service somewhat cumbersome.


Yet Careem is optimistic about the potential. "We are planning to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars within the coming year in the (Palestinian) sector," Kareem Zinaty, operations manager for the Levant region said. "After the investment, it is also an opportunity to create jobs."


Careem, which launched in 2012 and now operates in 12 countries and more than 80 cities across the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia, has said it aims to provide work for one million people across the region by 2018.


While a version of Uber and Israeli app Gett already operate in Israel, they do not venture into Palestinian territory. Drivers are excited to work with Careem, which they hope will help boost their incomes, especially with unemployment in the West Bank running at nearly 20%. "It's a very wonderful opportunity," said one of the more than 100 new drivers, known as "captains" by Careem. "Most of the people who use it are young and happy with the price."


Palestinians have limited self rule in parts of the West Bank, which they want for a future state alongside East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. Israel captured those areas in the 1967 Middle East war. It withdrew from Gaza in 2005, but still occupies the West Bank and East Jerusalem.


Under interim peace accords, Israel still controls 60% of the West Bank, where most of its settlements are located. Careem's drivers have Palestinian license plates, meaning they usually cannot enter Israeli-controlled areas.


In 2015, Israel and the Palestinian Authority agreed to expand 3G mobile access to the West Bank by 2016, but have yet to implement the agreement. In the meantime, the Ramallah municipality has set up public Wi-Fi in parts of the city center, allowing Apps like Careem to be used more easily. Despite 2G's slower service, Zinaty said their model was an opportunity for telecommunication companies to look into expanding services and technologies to better serve Palestinian start ups and businesses.




New Prayer for Israeli Security Forces



Israel Police Rabbi Rahamim Berachyahu recently received approval for his initiative to add to the prayer said for IDF soldiers a mention of Israel Police as well. Berachyahu proposed his initiative to Israel's chief rabbi, and received explicit support and approval from Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi David Lau to add the words "Israel Police officers" to the traditional prayer which is recited in synagogues around the world.


The current prayer was written by former IDF Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren, and remained unchanged until the Second Intifada, when it was expanded to include "all security forces."


Berachyahu explained that policemen and policewomen protect Israel's citizens every day of the year, standing at the forefront of Israeli security and remaining in dangerous areas - and sometimes sacrificing their lives to save innocent civilians. In fact, the vast majority of terror victims killed since the start of the current intifada in 2015 were in uniform - either IDF soldiers, or, more commonly, Israel Police and Border Police officers. As a result, the need to change the prayer became obvious and urgent.


The new prayer is: “He Who blessed our forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—may He bless the fighters of the Israel Defense Forces, the officers of the Israel Police, and those who serve in Israeli security forces, who stand guard over our land and the cities of our God, from the border of the Lebanon to the desert of Egypt, and from the Great Sea unto the approach of the Aravah, on the land, in the air, and on the sea.


“May the Almighty cause the enemies who rise up against us to be struck down before them. May the Holy One, Blessed is He, preserve and rescue our fighters from every trouble and distress and from every plague and illness, and may He send blessing and success in their every endeavor.


“May He lead our enemies under our soldiers’ sway and may He grant them salvation and crown them with victory. And may there be fulfilled for them the verse: For it is the Lord your God, Who goes with you to battle your enemies for you to save you. And let us say, Amen.



Supreme Court: Women Can Also Pay Child Support



Israel's Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that parents of children ages 6 to 15 will need to pay mutual child support in accordance with each parent's financial status. Previously, fathers always paid child support to the mother - even if the children spent equal amounts of time at each parent's home, and even if the woman's salary was significantly higher than the man's.


The child support paid by divorced fathers in Israel is among the highest in the OECD, with only Swiss fathers paying more. The average payment per child is $500 (1790 NIS), and the average salary is between 8000-9000 NIS ($2,240-2,518). A father of three with joint custody may end up paying as much as 6000 NIS ($1,678) in child support, leaving himself with only 3000 NIS ($840).



The Holocaust in the Third Reich  as Depicted in Hollywood Cartoons


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By Frances Bernay-Cohen

I can't speak for you, but my grandparents came to the United States to find a refuge from "change." They came to The United States where their basic freedoms were guaranteed by the Constitution; where they could build a future on this solid ground.

Whether our forefathers and forI'm sure you will find some truth in this song.






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Air France flew from the U.S. to Israel during the early 1950s. They flew Lockheed Constellations and the flying time was 20 hours.

This promotional film - in English for an American audience - shows Israel as it was three years after the War of Independence .

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 Paradise Regained, Paradise Lost

By Don Canaan (Commentary)

This year marked the 34th anniversary of the return of the Sinai by Israel to Egypt--a day of mourning by many of the 2,000 settlers who settled and later were forcibly evacuated by Israeli authorities under the command of Ariel Sharon, from the seaside city of Yamit on the Mediterranean.

Yamit was former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan's dream--a projected seaport and city of 250,000 founded on the Sinai sand dunes overlooking date palm trees and the blue Mediterranean--a populated buffer between the Gaza Strip and Egypt on the other side of the Suez Canal.

Some alternate historians say Moses and the children of Israel passed near the site of Yamit 3,500 years ago as they wandered for 40 years through the Sinai Desert on their way to the proverbial land of milk and honey.

Since April 25, 1982 only the whine of the desert wind weaves its currents through the crevices of destroyed homes, businesses and monument--a memorial to the young men who died during the 1967 Six Day war.

Christians, Jews and Muslims died during three Arab-Israeli wars and battles that took place in the Sinai in 1956, 1967 and 1973--Egyptian and Israeli--young people who fought and died in that desolate, forsaken desert wasteland.

The modern-day chariot carrying Egyptian President Mohammed Anwar al-Sadat hugged the intermittently green coastline of Sinai on its historic mission to Jerusalem. Israelis glancing upward into the clear night sky saw merely a jet banking gently to the northwest.

Official Israeli government policy was that the settlers had to be removed and the army came and forcibly removed the remaining diehard residents. The Jerusalem Post described the scene: Apocalypse had arrived in Yamit and in the dust and noise and destruction one could wander freely. Dozens of bulldozers and giant mobile air hammers were loose in the city like a pack of predatory beasts."

April 25, 20011 marked the 29th anniversary of Israel's withdrawal from Yamit and Sinai and a cold peace between long-term enemies.

That gift of peace silently glided overhead as the Sabbath disappeared and the stars appeared. At 8:01 p.m. Sadat's jetliner landed at Ben-Gurion Airport and the first minutes of a then potential peace came to the Middle East.

Old enemies became new friends. The crowds roared its approval when Sadat shook hands with Moshe Dayan. A person standing nearby, according to the Jerusalem Post, said Sadat told Dayan, "Don't worry Moshe, it will be all right."

The peace treaty between the two nations was signed on March 26, 1979 and on April 25, 1982; the events that had started on a November day at Camp David came to fruition. Sinai was returned to Egypt. Yamit was bulldozed to the ground. But Anwar Sadat did not live to see that day. He had been assassinated seven months before.



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