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Former Israeli PM Olmert Headed to Prison

By VOA News &

A top Israeli politician heads to prison after a long corruption scandal. Israel's Supreme Court Tuesday partially overturned a bribery conviction against former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. His sentence was reduced from six years to 18 months in prison. Olmert expressed relief, saying a great burden has been lifted from his heart.

The ex-prime minister, who is 70, was convicted two years ago by a lower court of accepting tens of thousands of dollars in bribes to promote a controversial real-estate project in Jerusalem. This allegedly occurred when he served as the mayor of Jerusalem, prior to becoming prime minister in 2006.

Olmert denies it. He said, "I was never offered and I never took a bribe." Nevertheless, while the Supreme Court overturned some of the bribery charges, it upheld others. Therefore, Olmert will become the first former Israeli leader to spend time behind bars.

State Prosecutor Liat Ben Ari said justice was served. She said "the case represents a watershed in the war against corruption in Israel." The justice system, Ben Ari said, has sent a strong message that "no one is above the law." Olmert led the centrist Kadima party when he was prime minister and worked on pushing forward peace talks with the Palestinians, before leaving office in 2009.

Olmert will apparently enjoy deluxe conditions in jail; He is expected to serve less than 12 months in jail, assuming a third of his sentence is knocked off for good behavior. Israel Hayom reported that be will be incarcerated in Bloc 10 of the Ma'asiyahu Jail in Ramle, which holds mostly white collar offenders, child support debtors and the like. He will share a cell with two prisoners and receive visits once every two weeks.

The fact that he is who he is, and that he has been privy to the most sensitive state secrets, makes it impossible to keep him incarcerated among regular prisoners. Therefore, the Israel Prisons Service), with guidance from the Israel Security Agency, renovated one of the blocs in Ma'asiyahu Jail and readied it for prisoners who must be separated from the rest of the prison population.

The bloc will be guarded by the IPS alone, and will have 10 cells, each with up to three inmates. Other convicts from the Holyland scandal who are deemed to be under threat may also be incarcerated there. The bloc will include a clubhouse, a canteen as well as a kitchen and dining room. There will be a television in each cell, and each prisoner will have the right to subscribe to a newspaper. Olmert and the other prisoners will be allowed to wear civilian clothes in the bloc. They will have to wear orange prison suits during visits, and if they have to visit the infirmary.

Ma'asiyahu Prison is named after Ma'asiyahu Shalum, the gatekeeper to the Holy Temple, according to Jeremiah 35:4.

Terrorists Open Fire on Officers North of Jerusalem


Border Police officers came under fire by Arab terrorists on Tuesday night near Beit Horon in Samaria, to the northwest of Jerusalem. Reportedly the officers identified several Arab terrorists armed with guns driving in a car adjacent to the village of Tira along Highway 443, in a section of the road in Samaria to the northwest of the capital.

The officers are said to have approached the terrorists to check them, but one of the terrorists opened fire. In response the soldiers shot back, although the attackers were able to escape in their car. No soldiers were wounded in the incident.

Duma Suspect Finally Released


The Israeli courts ordered the release of one of the Jewish suspects in the lethal Duma arson case on Tuesday, but after the Israel Prison Services (IPS) delayed his release despite the order, the court forced them to comply. Lod District Court ordered the suspect, whose identity remains under a media gag order, to be released to a 10-day house arrest.

After being held for 29 days - during the first 20 of which he was denied legal consultation - police asked to extend his arrest based on alleged involvement in an unrelated quarrel with Bedouin shepherds two years ago, in a request thrown out by the court.

However, the Honenu legal aid organization representing the suspects reported the IPS was refusing the order to release him, as State Attorney Shai Nitzan had a request issued to have the release delayed while submitting a petition. The group argued the delay was illegal, and apparently the IPS finally relented and released the man from the Lod District Court.

Attorneys reported that the suspect testified he was subjected to torture, including "violent shaking, hitting, banging his head against a wall, stretching his head back until he vomited, and sleep deprivation for entire days."

His family released a statement shortly after the court ruled to release him, saying, "The entire argument in the court throughout stages of the arrest was that they're dealing with a ticking bomb as it were, and it was a lie from the beginning and they led the court, the politicians and the public astray. We call to establish a parliamentary investigation committee to examine the video tapes from the interrogation so that the truth behind the claims of torture will reach the light," added the family.

Police in Jerusalem on Tuesday arrested the groom from a wedding three weeks ago, after video from the event was leaked to the media showing Jewish extremists appearing to celebrate the deadly Duma arson while waving weapons. Aside from the groom, three other participants in the wedding were also arrested, and will be brought on Wednesday for a hearing on an extension of their arrest. Earlier on Tuesday, the police detained a resident of Kfar Tapuach in Samaria who was videotaped dancing at the wedding with a gun in his hand.

In the footage dozens of men and boys can be seen dancing while waving guns and knives. One masked individual can also be seen carrying a mock Molotov cocktail and a picture of the Arab baby killed in the Duma arson attack, and at one point, the masked individual can be seen stabbing the picture.

Attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir argued that the weapons seen passed around among minors in the video were toy guns, and "even if this was a tasteless act, there is no criminal offense in dancing like this." Regarding the wedding, Tzfat (Safed) Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu on Sunday claimed that the Israeli Security Agency (ISA) "cooked up" the incident to cover up public outcry, over allegations of brutal torture against Jewish suspects being held in the Duma case.

Rabbi Eliyahu noted on past cases of reported entrapment by the ISA, and emphasized that the one person present at the wedding who held up a picture of the Arab baby has yet to be identified, arguing he may have been planted there to negatively portray the "Hilltop Youth." Lending weight to the rabbi's questions are statements by the groom's parents, who claimed the wedding was hijacked, that those videotaped dancing with the picture were not invited guests, and that their son did not recognize them.

ISIS Issues Ruling on Female Slaves

By Reuters

Islamic State (ISIS) theologians have issued an extremely detailed ruling on when "owners" of women enslaved by the extremist group can have sex with them, in an apparent bid to curb what they called violations in the treatment of captured females.

The ruling or fatwa has the force of law and appears to go beyond the Islamic State's previous known utterances on the subject, a leading Islamic State scholar said. It sheds new light on how the group is trying to reinterpret centuries-old teachings to justify the sexual slavery of women in the swaths of Syria and Iraq it controls.

The fatwa was among a huge trove of documents captured by US Special Operations Forces during a raid targeting a top Islamic State official in Syria in May. Among the religious rulings are bans on a father and son having sex with the same female slave; and the owner of a mother and daughter having sex with both. Joint owners of a female captive are similarly enjoined from intercourse because she is viewed as "part of a joint ownership."

The United Nations and human rights groups have accused the Islamic State of the systematic abduction and rape of thousands of women and girls as young as 12, especially members of the Yazidi minority in northern Iraq. Many have been given to fighters as a reward or sold as sex slaves.

Far from trying to conceal the practice, Islamic State has boasted about it and established a department of "war spoils" to manage slavery. In an April report, Human Rights Watch interviewed 20 female escapees who recounted how Islamic State fighters separated young women and girls from men and boys and older women. They were moved "in an organized and methodical fashion to various places in Iraq and Syria." They were then sold or given as gifts and repeatedly raped or subjected to sexual violence.

Fatwa No. 64, dated Jan. 29, 2015, and issued by Islamic State's Committee of Research and Fatwas, appears to codify sexual relations between ISIS fighters and their female captives for the first time, going further than a pamphlet issued by the group in 2014 on how to treat slaves.

The fatwa starts with a question: "Some of the brothers have committed violations in the matter of the treatment of the female slaves. These violations are not permitted by Sharia law because these rules have not been dealt with in ages. Are there any warnings pertaining to this matter?"

It then lists 15 injunctions, which in some instances go into explicit detail. For example: "If the owner of a female captive, who has a daughter suitable for intercourse, has sexual relations with the latter, he is not permitted to have intercourse with her mother and she is permanently off limits to him. Should he have intercourse with her mother then he is not permitted to have intercourse with her daughter and she is to be off limits to him."

Islamic State's sexual exploitation of female captives has been well documented, but a leading ISIS expert at Princeton University, Cole Bunzel, who has reviewed many of the group's writings, said the fatwa went beyond what has previously been published by the militants on how to treat female slaves. "It reveals the actual concerns of IS slave owners," he said in an email.

Still, he cautioned that not "everything dealt with in the fatwa is indicative of a relevant violation. It doesn't mean father and son were necessarily sharing a girl. They're at least being 'warned' not to. But I bet some of these violations were being committed."

The fatwa also instructs owners of female slaves to "show compassion towards her, be kind to her, not humiliate her, and not assign her work she is unable to perform." An owner should also not sell her to an individual whom he knows will mistreat her.

Prof. Abdel Fattah Alawari, dean of Islamic Theology at Al-Azhar University, a 1,000-year-old Egyptian center for Islamic learning, said Islamic State "has nothing to do with Islam" and was deliberately misreading centuries-old verses and sayings that were originally designed to end, rather than encourage, slavery. "Islam preaches freedom to slaves, not slavery. Slavery was the status quo when Islam came around," he said. "Judaism, Christianity, Greek, Roman, and Persian civilizations all practiced it and took the females of their enemies as sex slaves. So Islam found this abhorrent practice and worked to gradually remove it."

In September 2014 more than 120 Islamic scholars from around the world issued an open letter to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi refuting the group's religious arguments to justify many of its actions. The scholars noted that the "reintroduction of slavery is forbidden in Islam."

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