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Israeli, Palestinian Officials Dispute Autopsy on Dead PA Official

By Reuters & Israel Hayom

Israeli and Palestinian officials issued conflicting accounts on Thursday over the results of an autopsy on a Palestinian Authority official who died after being involved in clashes during a protest near the village of Turmus Ayya on Wednesday.

Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai decided with his Palestinian counterpart Hussein A-Sheikh to have an Israeli pathologist from the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute join the pathologists who arrived from Jordan to investigate Ziad Abu Ein's death.

A-Sheikh told Reuters that Jordanian and Palestinian doctors involved in the late-night examination of the body said Abu Ein, 55, had died from "being struck, inhaling tear gas and a delay in providing medical attention."

But an Israeli medical source familiar with the autopsy results told Reuters the official died from a heart attack and had a pre-existing heart condition. "His death was caused by a coronary occlusion, brought on by stress," said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. He added that the stress may have been the result of the conflict with IDF soldiers, one of whom grabbed Abu Ein by the neck.

The protest took place on Wednesday near the Adei Ad settlement, a site of ongoing dispute. That same day, the leaders of neighboring villages and human rights organization Yesh Din filed a petition to the High Court asking that Adei Ad be evacuated.

In an effort to prevent protestors from crossing a line drawn to protect local residents, the Israel Defense Forces used stun and smoke grenades. A video of the protest shows the Palestinian official being grabbed and pushed, but an IDF official said Wednesday evening that "the circumstances that directly caused injury to the official are not seen." After Abu Ein collapsed, Palestinians evacuated him to a hospital in Ramallah, where he died. The IDF is questioning all soldiers who were present during the incident.

IDF officials anticipate disturbances of the peace in the West Bank following Abu Ein's death, prompting Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz to send two battalions to reinforce security in the area. Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon responded to the incident in a statement: "We regret Abu Ein's death. The stability of the security situation is important to both sides, and we will continue [security] coordination with the Palestinian Authority."

Meanwhile, PA President Mahmoud Abbas announced three days of mourning and said: "This was a barbaric crime. We will ensure those responsible [are punished] to the full extent of the law."


Secret IDF Video Documentation of Zikim Attack – Leaked

By IsraelNationalNews.com

A classified internal military video presentation showing previously unseen footage of a terrorist attack near the Zikim base on July 8, has found its way to Arabic websites. The IDF is investigating how this happened. See http://youtu.be/WbwBvMHZKIQ

The attack was mounted by five Hamas commando terrorists who infiltrated into Israel through the sea on the first day of Operation Protective Edge. IDF female lookouts identified the terrorists and alerted the forces that eliminated two of them. The IDF forces then combed the area, located three more terrorists, and killed them as well.

The presentation shows one of the terrorists placing an explosive charge on a tank. The explosive then blows up. Terrorists are also seen hurling an explosive charge at a tank. IDF sources said that the leak is a serious breach of secrecy and that "it will be investigated and dealt with properly – not through the media."


Israeli Boys Try to Rob Bank with Toy Guns

By Reuters & YnetNews.com

Using toy guns, a 12-year-old boy and his 13-year-old accomplice tried to rob a bank in central Israel but fled without any cash after apparently losing their nerve, police said on Thursday. "We did it as a joke," one of the said after being arrested.

Security camera footage showed the boys, wearing hooded sweatshirts, entering the bank in Rishon Lezion, a suburb of Tel Aviv on Wednesday. One had a schoolbag on his back and what appeared to be a rifle in his hand. See http://youtu.be/mWNUn7KA7G4 Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said both were carrying fake M-16 assault rifles and that they shouted "this is a holdup.

"They were toy guns but they looked real. The people in the bank were scared, but then the suspects ran out without taking any money," he said, adding that police were able to identify the pair from the security footage and later arrested them.


`Israeli-Palestinian Study Finds Regional Flowers Help Combat Viruses

By YnetNews.com

A three-year international study, in which Israeli, Palestinian, Spanish and Greek researchers took part, yielded new findings about medicinal plants that have the potential to be used in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries.

As part of the study, researchers gathered plants from different regions in Israel - such as Jerusalem, Mount Hermon, the Hula Valley, Netanya and Palmachim beach, the Dead Sea - and Nablus in the Palestinian Authority, and found that the plants have the ability to aid in treatment of diabetes, infections, and viruses as well as are useful for cosmetic use.

The researchers found that the Pistacia lentiscus plant, a small tree of the pistachio genus, and the Cistus flower, were effective in treating various viruses. Likewise, sumac, a flower that is commonly used as a spice in the Middle East, and rhus coriaria, known as Sicilian sumac, were also found to aid in the treatment of viruses. Using the leaves of the plants to make tea or even consumption of the plants were found to help treat viruses, according to the study.

The senecio flower, a genus of the daisy family which can be found in almost every field in Israel, was found to aid in treatment of type 2 diabetes, according to the research. Individuals with the illness who drank tea made from the senecio flower had seen an improvement in their condition.

Other plants researchers found to be effective in treating diabetes were stachys aegyptiaca, marram grass, and sonchus oleraceus. The tamatix nilotica tree, commonly found in the Negev region in southern Israel, was found to help combat fungus. The bold-leaf launaea and the golden samphire were also found to be effective in combating fungus. For infection, the anemone coronaria, pistacia atlantica, and viburnum tinus flower were found the most effective.

Another interesting find by the researchers - A flower picked near the Western Wall in Jerusalem called the capparis spinosa was found to be useful in the treatment of intestinal worms.

The rare collaboration between researchers, led by President of Hadassah College, Prof. Berthold Friedlander, and Dr. Gili Joseph, received 2 million Euros in funding from the European Union as part of a project encouraging cooperation between various regions surrounding the Mediterranean.

The project was selected from a batch of 700 applications sent to the European Union and included the participation of the Biodiversity and Environmental Research Center located in Nablus in the Palestinian Authority, the Hellenic Regional Development Center from Greece and Leitat Technological Center from Spain as well as the Hadassah College in Jerusalem, which led the study. The study was also aided by researchers from the US.

Friedlander, who headed the study, said: "The study of plants for medicinal purposes was the prime goal, but the cooperation with the researchers from the Palestinian Authority and from the rest of the nations was no less important. The mutual understanding, joint endeavor and the yearning to deliver results, which was important to both nations, helped bring the final result."

According to Friedlander, he and his colleagues were surprised by "how much the project connected the participants from all corners of academic research. We are proud and grateful we were able to head it," said the professor. The results of the study are still raw but the researchers say that the results will form the basis for further research in order to bring them to use in the medical industry within a few years.


Palestinian Terrorists Have Gone Online

By YnetNews.com

Everyone's looking for the third intifada out on the streets, but it's not only there; it has active and threatening offshoots on the Internet too. The younger generation of Palestinians has learned well from Islamic State's staggering success when it comes to sowing the seeds of fear, and has moved the focus of its resistance to the social networks. The blogger has joined forces with the muezzin; the talkbackers are in cahoots with the stone-throwers; and the "share" buttons are working alongside the incitement leaflets.

The social network is the new mosque, and there's no need to remove one's shoes when entering; there are Border Police and there's no tear gas; and the police don't impose an age restriction on worshipers.

In recent months, this protected expanse has allowed the Palestinians to establish a new terrorist infrastructure. Instead of recruiting activists on the ground and worrying about them getting picked up on the radar of the Shin Bet security service, they've moved over to online recruitment via popular campaigns designed to sow hatred and covey the sense that the Al-Aqsa Mosque is under threat – in the hope of prompting a terror mission carried out by a lone attacker, one who is not affiliated with any terrorist organization.

Such was the case with the recent terror attacks in Jerusalem; and such was the case, too, with the death of the construction worker in Petah Tikva in September. We're no longer dealing with a wave of religious suicide attackers who are waiting to be received by 72 virgins. The new martyrs fall on the network, and get flooded with Likes.

Orit Perlov, a social media analyst at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) who monitors and analyzes the discourse on the social networks in Arab states, says that the Palestinian Internet is currently running a number of incitement campaigns at the same time. "One of the leading campaigns calls for running down Jews with vehicles," Perlov says. "It uses the word, 'Idaas,' which is 'run down' in Arabic, alongside a picture of a car running down ultra-Orthodox Jews.

Immediately after the shooting of Yehuda Glick, the networks began a more focused campaign that called for running down Knesset members who have encouraged pilgrimages to the Temple Mount. "And there's also the popular 'Atan' campaign, which simply gives the instruction, 'Stab;' and there's the 'Atbah' – 'Slaughter' – campaign, in which you see a masked Palestinian youth beheading someone. And there are Palestinians who are replacing their Twitter profile picture with a picture of an ax. This doesn't mean that these people are going to go out tomorrow and take action, but that they identify with the notion and promote it."

Who posts this kind of material? Who's behind it? "Individuals in the West Bank and East Jerusalem who understand the psychology of the Net, who know what works." Gilad Shiloach, a network analyst who works at the American news website, Vocativ, which monitors social network activity, says that Palestinian Web users respond quickly to developments on the ground. Such was the case, for example, in the affair of the dead Egged bus driver, Yusuf al-Ramouni, who Israel determined had committed suicide, whereas his family claims he was murdered.

"Shortly after he was found hanged, activists from East Jerusalem sent out a Tweet with the heading, 'Yusuf was strangled,'" Shiloach relates. "Within a few hours, we were seeing it in the thousands. Graphic designers used Photoshop to prepare a beautiful design of Yusuf on the backdrop of the Temple Mount, with slogans like 'The Jews are sullying Al-Aqsa.' This is how a blood libel spreads on the social networks; and this happened two days before the terror attack at the synagogue in Har Nof."

Prof. Yair Amichai-Hamburger, the director of the Research Center for Internet Psychology at the Interdisciplinary Center's School of Communication in Herzliya, explains that the discourse on the Internet functions as a breeding ground for extremists. "The Internet group is actually feeding your mind with its messages all the time, and then there's a kind of escalation," he says. "The group becomes a hotbed for an idea of a certain nature, and the individuals take it to the extreme in order to play a significant part in it. For the next terrorist, the Internet creates a media ghetto of sorts. He sees what is happening on the social networks, and it becomes his reality."

What does he experience there? "The propaganda is absolute. We are perceived there as Satan's earthly representatives, who can take on the form of a Border Policeman, a 25-year-old woman or a baby of a few months. For him, every Jew represents a part of the threatening mechanism. "Once the message has seeped in, the sense of solidarity becomes absolute, and the attacker's personal existence becomes meaningless. He turns into the long arm of Islam. This gives rise to a new profile of a terrorist, one who perhaps just a few days earlier had no intentions of driving his car into a group of soldiers or people at a train station, but ends up saying to hell with the world."

For many in Israel, up until a month or so ago, Yehuda Glick was an unknown figure; but he's been a target on the Facebook pages of Palestinian activists for the past two years. "You'll be dead soon," said the caption alongside his picture on pages that dealt with visits by Jews to the Temple Mount. Glick complained, but nothing was done; and one Internet surfer who internalized the message eventually shot him. Today, the social networks are carrying calls for another attempt on the life of the right-wing activist.

Glick now has bodyguards, and the same goes for others associated with efforts to visit the Temple Mount and who also star on the social networks; but the big question is can the Shin Bet foil the plans of the next terrorist – a terrorist who doesn't yet know he is one. "The defense establishment has been caught unawares by the new kind of attacker that has emerged; it's been caught with its pants down," says Prof. Amichai Hamburger. "The thought that a regular man with a family and children might suddenly carry out an attack doesn't fit its profile."

The Palestinian masses aren't the only ones taking advantage of this security vacuum; the terror organizations, too, are entering the fray. "These organizations are using the networks to try in fact to find those who do not necessarily fit the classic profile – the introverted attacker, an individual on the margins of society," Amichai-Hamburger continues. "And it could be just about anyone from among this very large group. That's the scary thing."

Daniel Cohen, an expert in cyber terrorism at the INSS, names Hamas as one of these organizations. "The organization is trying to join the masses and to encourage the lone perpetrator by means of incitement campaigns. We're talking about popular terror attacks of sorts, ones for which the organization doesn't have to claim responsibility and have less chance of being thwarted. Once you used to be able to monitor the phone calls of activists and try to identify the individual who would be going out to perpetrate an attack; now, however, the activity has moved to the Net and is directed at the masses, and you have no way of knowing which one it will be."

According to social media analyst Perlov, "Today, all the security mechanisms have software that monitors content on the Net, so you can see if there is a mass of activity and how many people support the campaign. But there is still no computer program that can analyze sentiment – in other words, the intentions of a specific person. Furthermore, the two terrorists at the synagogue, for example, were not key figures who were active on the Net. People like that won't make an impression on the security mechanism's that are monitoring the Internet activity; they're small fry."

Despite the fact that the defense establishment has little chance of laying its hands on the lone terrorist, it still sees value in monitoring the social media sites – digging through the Facebook statuses and Twitter messages can at least offer an understanding of the mood among the Palestinians in the territories.

"There's something called 'public intelligence' – intelligence that is gathered with the purpose of studying the public," explains an Israel Defense Forces intelligence officer. "The bottom line is that we want to have our finger on the pulse of the Palestinian public; and in the age of the social media networks, you can't not add this piece of the puzzle to the picture. It has great value because it shows which way the wind is blowing among the public and allows you to know what pains it.

While the IDF merely monitors the Palestinian social media sites without actually taking any action against the incitement campaigns and the like, the Palestinian Authority adopts a more active approach, shutting down Facebook pages and conducting arrests when efforts are made to organize and affect change on the ground.

"During Operation Protective Edge, for example, one of the campaigns that went viral called for the assassination of Mahmoud Abbas," Perlov says. "He was dubbed "the Zionists' dog,' 'a traitor' and 'a collaborator.'"

Just in case you were wondering, Israelis are no saints either. "Only live ammunition saves lives," "Jews, revenge," "Arabs are murdering you," "Enemies aren't given jobs" – these are just a few examples from numerous incitement campaigns that have appeared in recent months on the social network sites in Israel.

And while the Israeli public isn't swept along to the same extent as the Palestinian public, we are seeing racist and provocative campaigns on the part of right-wing groups, threats against the left, and the undermining of fundamental values of a democratic state. It turns out that this open expanse is actually closing the most mouths.

"If radical right-wing groups were once on the margins of the margins of the Israeli public, hidden deep on the Net, the opinions of such organizations today have become legitimate," Shiloach says. "Their presence on the social networks has grown at least four to fivefold in relation to the period prior to the abduction of the boys. It was very noticeable during the war; we saw the emergence of groups such as 'I'm also in favor of death to terrorists' or 'I also support killing the Arabs of Israel.'"

One of the major sources of the fire that has spread through the Israeli social media networks is the extreme right organization, Lehava. Its principal agenda is to prevent marriages between Jewish women and Arabs; but in the wake of the recent terror attacks, it has embarked on a new campaign against the employment of Arabs. "Don't hire enemies," Benzi Gopstein, head of the organization, corrects me. "Saying 'Arabs' is racism; there are Arabs who aren't enemies and they can be employed."

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