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Israelis Warned to Leave Sri Lanka ASAP

By DEBKAfile. YnetNews and Israel's Counter-Terrorism Bureau on Thursday raised its travel warning for Sri Lanka to Level 2. "In the wake of a deteriorating security situation, which might lead to further attacks shortly, we call upon Israelis to refrain from traveling to the country, and those already present to leave immediately." Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the multiple suicide bombings on Sri Lanka' churches and hotels on Easter Sunday that left 359 people dead and wounded hundreds more. "In the wake of a deteriorating security situation which might lead to further attacks shortly, we call upon the Israelis to refrain from traveling to the country, and those already residing in its territory should leave immediately," the bureau said in a statement. The bureau also asked Israelis currently in Sri Lanka not to approach the sites of the bombings as well as churches that had been targeted, follow the instructions of the local security forces and avoid crowded places that lack security. "Additional explosive devices have already been located, and there are fears of additional terrorist attacks," said the statement. The Prime Minister's Office said the travel warning would be reexamined once the security situation in the country stabilizes. Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry has confirmed 36 foreigners died in the blasts. The remains of 13 have been repatriated. Fourteen foreigners are unaccounted for, and 12 were still being treated for injuries in hospitals of Sri Lanka's capital of Colombo. On Thursday, Colombo remained jittery as authorities set off controlled detonations of suspicious items, soldiers stopped and searched vehicles and some businesses advised staff to stay indoors. The streets around Dematagoda, a wealthy Colombo neighborhood where officials say many of the bombing suspects lived, were quiet Thursday. Investigators continued to comb through a mansion with nine front balconies where investigators said suspects detonated a ninth bomb on Sunday that killed three police officers who were pursuing them. A white BMW was parked outside a garage partially blown out in the blast. Sri Lanka's civil aviation authority also banned drones and unmanned aircraft "given the existing security situation in the country," according to a statement. Hobby drones have been used by terrorists in the past to carry explosives. Iraqi forces found them difficult to shoot down while driving out the Islamic State group, whose members loaded drones with grenades or simple explosives to target government forces. And Yemen's Houthi rebels have used drones, most recently to target a military parade in January, and killing troops. A top Sri Lankan official has said that many of the suicide bombers were highly educated and came from well-off families. Junior Defense Minister Ruwan Wijewardene said at least one had a law degree and others may have studied in the UK and Australia. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said one of the bombers had been in the country on a student visa with a spouse and child before leaving in 2013. A British security official also confirmed one bomber is believed to have studied in the UK between 2006 and 2007. In response to the horrific suicide bombings, Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld, Vice President of the Coalition for Jewish Values (CJV), stated: "It only adds to the pain of this atrocity that something as obvious as `evil is bad' needs to be said. Violence against civilians is abhorrent in all cases, under all circumstances, and hate crimes have no place in a civilized society." The Coalition for Jewish Values (CJV), the largest rabbinic public policy organization in America, articulates and advocates for public policy positions based upon traditional Jewish thought. The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America and Rabbinical Council of America issued a statement as well. "The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America and Rabbinical Council of America express deep condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in the horrific murders on Sunday at three Christian churches and other locations in Sri Lanka and prayed for the speedy recovery of those injured in the terror attack. "We stand with our brothers and sisters throughout the world against senseless hatred and bigotry, and the despicable violence they breed. We condemn, in the strongest terms, the horrific murder of innocent people, and the added abhorrence of violence in houses of prayer. We commit to continue to work toward a future in which people of all faiths may respect each other and live together in safety and peace."

Israel will Participate in World Expo 2020 to be Held in Dubai

By the Jerusalem Post
The Israeli Foreign Ministry released a statement on Thursday stating that Israel will participate in World Expo 2020 to be held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. "We are excited about the opportunity to share the spirit of Israeli innovation and entrepreneurship and to present breakthrough Israeli technologies and innovations in various fields such as water, medicine, and information," The statement read. Expo exhibitions are a meeting place where people from all over the world combine and use their talents to deal with common challenges and promote the society. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu commented, saying "I welcome Israel's participation in the Expo in Dubai, which is another expression of Israel's rising status in the world and the region."

Israeli Researchers: 'Spider-Man' Movies Decrease Spider Phobia

It sounds like a teenager's dream: Could watching superhero movies have actual health benefits? Two Israeli researchers think so. They found that exposing people to short clips of "Spider-Man" and "Ant-Man" films reduced their phobias of spiders and ants.

Menachem Ben-Ezra from the School of Social Work at Ariel University and Yaakov Hoffman of the Interdisciplinary Department of Social Sciences at Bar-Ilan University published their findings in the Frontiers of Psychiatry journal last week. Study participants who were shown just seven seconds of a scene from a recent "Spider-Man" movie lowered their arachnophobia score — taken before and after the viewing — by 20%. They achieved a similar result by showing participants with ant phobia a seven-second clip from "Ant-Man" (which stars Jewish actor Paul Rudd). The phobia scores did not decrease when participants were shown a scene from a general Marvel movie without insects, leading the researchers to conclude that the exposure to the specific insect-themed heroes onscreen did the trick. A news release notes that Ben-Ezra and Hoffman are both avid Marvel movie fans. "Such movies not only help people feel better about themselves, but they also provide a contra to hectic and stressful lives by showing us the true underlying spirit of one confronting his/her fears," the release says.

Israeli Woman Smuggles Matza to Grandkids in Gaza

By Israel Hayom
The Yad L'Achim organization has been helping an Israeli woman smuggle matza to her grandchildren, who are being held by their Palestinian father in the Gaza Strip, in an attempt to "expose them to Judaism." The father abducted the children and lied to them, telling them that their mother was dead. The story began 40 years ago when Sarah (not her real name), a young Jewish woman from Ashkelon, met and married a man from Gaza. The two lived in Gaza for 10 years and had two children. The family then moved to Jaffa, but a few months after the move, the father decided he wanted to return to the Gaza Strip. Sarah refused to go back, and her husband arranged for her to spend a few days abroad. While she was away, he told their children that she had died and that they must go back to Gaza. Sarah tried her find her children, but shortly after that Gaza was transferred to the hands of the Palestinians and it became impossible for her to locate her children. Two years ago, Sarah reached out to Yad L'Achim, an organization that rescues women who have become involved with men from local villages and find themselves trapped there. The group managed to find her children through the use of social media. Sarah learned that her daughter had married a Muslim man and had five children with him. Her son was still unmarried. Yad L'Achim contacted Sarah's children without their father's knowledge, and they were able to speak to their mother online. On Passover eve, a moving family reunion finally took place. One of Sarah's grandchildren left Gaza for Israel to receive medical treatment. The child's father, Sarah's son-in-law, who wanted to gain from the renewed contact between his wife and her mother, agreed to the meeting, which took place in a public square in one of Israel's mixed Jewish-Arab cities. Sarah gave her grandson and his aunt, who had accompanied him to Israel, matza to take back to Gaza.

Yad L'Achim decided to make the story public despite its sensitive nature, in the hope that making the situation public would allow the grandson to be treated at an Israeli medical center.

Who Do You Think You Are?

By Itay Ilnai, YnetNews
I cannot imagine what a woman, walking the Galilean hills, 6,200 years ago may have looked like. What she ate, how she dressed and what she cared about, will remain a mystery, but after her skeleton was discovered in a cave near Pki'in, I know that we are related. I and this woman who lived in these parts during the Chalcolithic period share 38.4% DNA. In other words, she and are related genetically. So am I a descendant of the people of this land, am I part of the biblical kingdom of Israel? Am I entirely Jewish? This is not at all certain. I've just learned I am Indian too. A woman who died, 2,000 years ago, and whose bones were uncovered in an Arizona desert, shares 5% DNA with me. That is more than my Galilean relative. So am I Apache? Not entirely. I've also just learned I am 5% Viking - and 5.5% ancient Egyptian and even 5% European from the time of the ice age. "In short," says Dr. Eran Elhaik, "you are Ashkenazi." Elhaik is Israeli, had done two post-doctoral degrees at Johns Hopkins and today resides in the UK, teaching at Sheffield University while researching human genetics. Identity politics in the 21st century have made DNA tests a trend, but they do not provide a complete and honest answer to the question of who we are. They are based on modern societies, so a person can ask how Norwegian or Moroccan am I, but that does not take into account, that Norwegians themselves are made up of earlier populations that migrated to Norway long ago. "All modern populations moved around" Elhaik explains. "People migrated, intermarried, etc." Elhaik's work focuses on ancient, extinct populations. He has developed a product he calls Primeval DNA test. It is based on the genetic make-up of skeletons, mummies and body parts found around the world, belonging to people who lived thousands of years ago. "This provides a much clearer genetic picture," he said. The Primeval DNA test looks at seven ancient population groups: Israelis who lived from the stone age until biblical times, 2,000-year-old mummies from Egypt, European skeletons from the stone age, 1,000 year old Iceland Vikings, Indian remains found in the western United States and even Europeans who died over 30,000 years ago during the ice age. I chose to concentrate on the Israelis. Twenty skeletons were found in three sites in Northern Israel, most believed to be 6,200 years old. Some are older, from 12,000 years ago. Elhaik's test was able to determine how genetically close these remains are to modern ethnic groups of Jews. He found Jews who originated in Yemen were genetically closest to the ancient Israelis. Jews from Iraq came second, followed by Jews from Persia. Ashkenazi and Moroccan Jews had the least common DNA. Druze, Bedouin, and Palestinians were also related to the ancient remains in the same percentage as the Yemenite and Iraqi Jews, more than other Jewish ethnic groups. Ashkenazi groups share more DNA with Vikings. They are also related to Indians who are known to be genetic descendants of people in northern Russia who crossed the Bering Straits to settle on the American continent. Iraqi Jews also share DNA with Indians. So what do the numbers tell? It appears we are made up of a mosaic of ancient populations and are all related to some extent. "I have never found a 100% match with an ancient group," said. Elhaik

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