Strike inevitable as Iran mocks World Powers

With an interim agreement reached and signed in Geneva between the P-5+1 and Iran on Saturday, the US Government seems content while subsequent events clearly indicate Iran is not planning on keeping its end of the bargain leaving Netanyahu no option but to order a strike.

A couple of quick pen strokes signaled the sealing of the (interim) agreement in the early hours of Sunday after four long days of negotiations. Soon thereafter, near-euphoric headlines emerged around the world notifying the international community of this happening. Yet there is little to rejoice about.

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Child’s attacker still at large in West Bank

9-year old victim of suspected terror attack in stable condition, soldiers scour nearby Palestinian town in hunt for assailant

A 9-year-old girl, who was shot Saturday night in the settlement of Psagot, is brought to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem. (photo credit: Flash90)

A 9-year-old girl, who was shot Saturday night in the settlement of Psagot, is brought to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem. (photo credit: Flash90)

The perpetrator of a suspected terror attack Saturday on a 9-year-old Israeli girl in the West Bank settlement of Psagot has likely escaped the area, the IDF said early Sunday. The search continued throughout the day, and Psagot residents were told they could return to their normal routine, after overnight fears that the attacker was still hiding out in the settlement.

The girl, Noam Glick, was injured Saturday night while playing in the yard outside her home. She said she was shot by a Palestinian gunman at very close range.

“I went outside, and Noam told us there was an Arab there,” the victim’s father, Yisrael Glick, told Army Radio on Sunday morning. “I understood this was a security situation, dangerous to our lives, the most frightening thing that can happen to a family — that a terrorist came into the house.”

He said that he heard gunshots and was able to pull his daughter into the house. The assailant fired “three shots” at her from point-blank range, he said. By the time he emerged from the house again with his weapon, he said, the attacker had fled.

Glick said that the attacker was “startled” by the girl playing in the yard, “so instead of entering the house he shot her.”

Doctors at Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek medical center said the girl, who did not lose consciousness during the incident, had sustained light injuries and was in good condition. It was “not clear” whether she had been shot or stabbed, according to hospital physician Dr. Danny Fink.

“The girl’s survival is a miracle,” Fink told Maariv Sunday. The victim, who underwent surgery overnight, had a deep gash along the base of her neck and her upper chest area and was wounded in one ear, he said. She was slated for release Sunday afternoon.

According to Noam Glick’s account, the distance between her and the attacker was basically “zero,” Fink said. “The wound does not look like a gunshot,” he added, “but there were testimonies that said there were gunshots.”

Defense officials said they believed the incident was a terror attack, but were not ruling out other unspecified possibilities.

Authorities said a breach in the Psagot fence was discovered overnight, with signs of forced entry and footprints nearby.

Shortly after the incident, Israeli forces numbering in the hundreds entered the neighboring Palestinian town of al-Bireh, where the shooter was thought to have come from. Security forces, said to include troops from elite IDF units, began the search on the outskirts of the town, near a soccer stadium, and Palestinian security forces had been called in to clear the area.

The Palestinian Ma’an news agency reported two Palestinians were lightly injured by rubber bullets in an altercation with troops that erupted during the incursion.

Shortly after the Psagot attack, shots were reportedly fired at a motorcyclist on the road between Psagot and the nearby settlement of Kochav Ya’akov. No injuries were reported. A police official also said rocks were thrown at vehicles on the road leading into Psagot after the child was shot.

Psagot residents were told to stay in their homes past midnight Saturday; those with firearms were instructed to keep them by their side. Soldiers conducted a house-to-house search of the settlement. Residents were informed via text message to anticipate a knock on the door, to answer in Hebrew, and to await identification.

Early Sunday morning, after an overnight search, the authorities gave residents permission to resume their normal routine.

Saturday night’s incident came two weeks after an IDF soldier was killed while on duty in the West Bank city of Hebron by an unidentified shooter. The culprit remains at large despite investigations by Israeli authorities. Another soldier, off duty, was killed near the West Bank town of Qalqilya that same weekend.


The end of the Iranian fantasy

For a week, Iranian President Hasan Rouhani peddled a rosy picture around New York, and the world applauded • Until Netanyahu came along and brought everyone back down to earth • The world was reminded that Iran is an extreme nation that seeks mass destruction.

Iranian Americans protesting outside the White House against warming relations with Iran

Iranian Americans protesting outside the White House against warming relations with Iran

Ever since Iranian President Hasan Rouhani gave his address at the United Nations General Assembly last week, the world has been living in some kind of fantasy. At the Iranian movie festival in New York, Rouhani managed to sell the world on a romantic comedy in which the Iranians and the rest of the world live happily ever every after. If it wasn’t about an Iranian nuclear bomb and an existential threat to Israel, it could have been rather funny. And if it weren’t for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s own U.N. address this week, the Iranian movie could have just kept on running.

Netanyahu was the last speaker at this year’s General Assembly. Some say that he really did come too late. To borrow terms from the field of social psychology, Rouhani won with the primacy effect, while Netanyahu won with the recency effect.

The prime minister’s advantage lies in that he concluded the assembly. He could see that there wasn’t a single righteous man among the assembled world leaders who would tell the Iranians the truth. On the contrary, Rouhani was able to meet with almost every official he wished to meet with, and thus proved once and for all that Iran is not at all isolated. He was even the one to dictate the level and quality of his contact with U.S. President Barack Obama: It began as a planned casual meeting accompanied by a handshake, as he himself admitted, during a luncheon hosted by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, but ended up being a phone call just before he returned home to Iran.

Iran became the world’s, rather than just Israel’s, problem a long time ago. Nevertheless, Israel’s prime minister looked to his left and to his right and saw that among all the speakers there was not one who could communicate a sharp, clear message to Iran. There was not one whose speech reflected a historic perspective or any genuine concern. There was not a single person who stood up and said “the emperor Rouhani has no clothes.”

Therefore, on Tuesday, it was up to Netanyahu to assume the unpleasant task of putting an end to the Iranian fantasy. Netanyahu undoubtedly took the complex responsibility upon himself to bring us all back down to earth, which is hard and cold, just like the reality of the Iranian nuclear program. Netanyahu was left with the task of exposing that what Iran is actually offering is lies in exchange for diplomatic relations, and lies in exchange for the lifting of sanctions.

Netanyahu understands that though the world is no longer what it was, Iran is still the same Iran. When it comes to Iran’s nuclear program, it really doesn’t make any difference to Netanyahu whether the president in Iran is named Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Hasan Rouhani. In a serious speech, devoid of gimmicks, Netanyahu tried to tear the mask off the face of the Iranian president and burst the bubble. He described Rouhani as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

Judging by the responses in the world, Netanyahu succeeded in this extremely unpopular mission. Netanyahu, the party pooper, not only managed to return home safely, he even managed to bring the world back down to earth.

He didn’t come to win any popularity contests

“A nuclear-armed Iran in the Middle East wouldn’t be another North Korea. It would be another 50 North Koreas,” the French weekly Le Point quoted Netanyahu’s speech. A Canadian radio station chose to emphasize Netanyahu’s remark that “Israel will stand alone” in the face of Iran. The British BBC network opted to underscore the Rouhani angle while Sky News went for the quote “Israel will not allow Iran to get nuclear weapons.”

The headlines in the American media were many and diverse. ABC stressed Israel’s resolve not to allow Iran to achieve military nuclear capability, while the Los Angeles Times chose to remark on the Israeli warning against Iranian deception, whose smiles are aimed only at lifting crippling sanctions and not curbing the nuclear program. Netanyahu’s 33-minute-long speech yielded a plethora of headlines.

The Al-Jazeera website decided to highlight Netanyahu’s warning not to trust Rouhani. On the whole, the media in the Gulf states enjoyed Netanyahu’s speech immensely. It would be a lie to say that the warming relations between Tehran and Washington were a cause for celebration in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain or the United Arab Emirates.

In his speech, the prime minister mentioned how the important newspaper The New York Times failed in its analysis of the nuclear situation in North Korea. The prime minister, we’ve established, didn’t come to the U.N. to win any popularity contests. He came with one objective: to openly put all the facts on the table. The following day, The New York Times wrote that the Israeli prime minister was sabotaging Obama’s efforts to reconcile with Iran.

One must admit that Netanyahu’s speech was up against some tough competition in real time: the menacing budget standoff that ultimately led to the shutdown of the U.S. government. This was the issue that was on the minds of the American public more than anything else this week. It is safe to assume that even during the meeting between Netanyahu and Obama at the Oval Office a day before the prime minister’s speech, each leader had a slightly different set of priorities: one was thinking about the looming shutdown perpetrated by the Republicans, and the other was thinking about shutting down the Iranian nuclear program.

Credit without guarantees

“I think Netanyahu’s speech was a terrific speech,” Massimo Lomonaco of the Italian ANSA news agency told me this week. But he confessed that the world is occupied with other problems at the moment. In Italy, for example, the locals were more concerned with the no-confidence vote against Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta, which ended up failing.

“I don’t really think that the Italian public is especially worried about what is going on in Syria or Iran,” Lomonaco said. Officials in Jerusalem are well aware of this, and though Netanyahu’s speech was directed at the media as well as public opinion, it was mainly directed at Obama, other world leaders and also Iran, where it was received loud and clear.

Rouhani, who, until Netanyahu’s speech was the star of the General Assembly, touched on Netanyahu’s comments on Wednesday during a cabinet meeting. “That an aggressive regime in the region names Iran with coarse language is the cause of our happiness,” Rouhani told reporters in Tehran. He gave Netanyahu’s speech a lot of attention, and it appeared that this time, his eternal smile was prompted by irritation rather than pleasantry.

Rouhani gave himself a lot of credit in Tehran this week. He boasted how Iran, with its sober policies, had prevented regional war, and how he received five letters from Obama asking him to meet in New York during the General Assembly — invitations that he said he rejected. Rouhani even explained that the conditions were not ripe for a face-to-face meeting because of the “dark” atmosphere that still surrounds American-Iranian relations and because a decades-long crisis cannot be resolved in a matter of days.

There is no doubt that Netanyahu’s speech came right on time. The world was being blinded by Rouhani, even though we have all already seen this movie with the “liberal” Mohammad Khatami, who was elected president of Iran in 1997 and served in that role until 2005. Back then people were talking about Khatami in the same kind of terms, as though he was some kind of Mikhail Gorbachev who would bring about the Iranian version of glasnost (freedom of speech, increased openness).

Even though that never happened and even though Iran never did away with its nuclear program — they only put it on hold when the Americans landed in Iraq in 2003 — Khatami, and now Rouhani, received, and continue to receive a lot of credit from the West. Credit without any guarantees.

That is precisely the reason why Netanyahu felt he needed to expose Rouhani’s true nature. Netanyahu knows full well that very few people in the world, if any, have read Rouhani’s book, published in 2011, in which he openly describes how he tricked the world when Iran completed building its nuclear infrastructure in Isfahan while simultaneously exchanging soothing words with the European negotiators.

The prime minister’s objective wasn’t only to warn, expose and lay blame, but also to alert the world to the looming dangers. The world, Netanyahu knows, really wants to extricate itself from crisis, even if the solution is nothing more than fantasy or perception. That is why many media outlets ran articles urging the West to lift the economic sanctions and boost Rouhani’s position against the Iranian conservatives and against Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Netanyahu came to the U.N. to clarify and remind the world that Rouhani, who accompanied the leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, to exile in France, and returned with him as a victor to Iran, was not fighting against the conservatives and the religious institution — he was a part of the religious institution.

Netanyahu also wanted to remind the world exactly how that same Rouhani served as his country’s national security adviser at a time when Iran was involved in global acts of terror, all the way from Buenos Aires to Beirut. How much could Rouhani have changed? Netanyahu wondered. It is not pleasant for Western ears to hear the truth, but that was the objective of Netanyahu’s speech.

Netanyahu wanted to caution against leaving Iran with even the most minimal ability to enrich uranium. “There are those who would readily agree to leave Iran with a residual capability to enrich uranium. I advise them to pay close attention to what Rouhani said in his speech in 2005,” Netanyahu said.

“A country that could enrich uranium to about 3.5 percent will also have the capability to enrich it to about 90 percent. Having fuel cycle capability virtually means that a country that possesses this capability is able to produce nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu quoted Rouhani, adding that “This is why Iran’s nuclear weapons program must be fully and verifiably dismantled.”

It didn’t take long after Netanyahu’s speech for Iran to prove that it is exactly the same Iran that it always was. In the middle of this past week, Iran’s parliament convened to reiterate the country’s right to enrich uranium. Iran’s deputy foreign minister did say that his country would be willing to discuss the “level of enrichment,” but he added that this time, unlike the period between 2003 and 2005, there was no chance that Iran would suspend its enrichment program.

You don’t need to be an expert to know that Netanyahu is right. Incidentally, even his political opponents back in Israel agree with Netanyahu’s analysis of the Iranian regime and the new Iranian formula — lies in exchange for diplomatic relations.

In order to understand Iran’s strategy of deception we may need to go back to one of the speeches given by Khamenei, Iran’s strongest man and the successor of Ayattollah Khomeini. Khamenei, as the French newspaper Le Figaro revealed, invoked a new phrase — “heroic flexibility” — in reference to a form of wrestling. Khamenei explained that in this sport, the player must display flexibility toward his opponent in order to ultimately defeat him with “red lines that must not be crossed.”

Khamenei further explained that the conditions under which Iran would agree to forge closer ties with the U.S. have not changed. The U.S. must relinquish its dream of replacing the Iranian regime, as former U.S. President George W. Bush once wanted, and it must build a relationship in which both sides benefit, on the nuclear side too. The Iranian regime is willing to do anything to achieve their goal, even at the cost of changing their tone, and that is precisely what is new in the republic today: Rouhani is sweet talking, unlike Ahmadinejad who spoke aggressively and was not open to compromise.

The Islamic republic has made great strides in its nuclear program, and has even installed new centrifuges in its enrichment facility in Natanz. But the West’s sanctions are heavily burdening the Iranian economy, and the isolation is beginning to take a toll.

Tehran is reading the regional map rather accurately. Iran has chosen to present itself as the responsible adult in the region and help the Americans resolve the crisis in Syria. In Washington, there are those who believe that this warming of relations with Tehran, if it doesn’t bring about a drastic shift in Iran’s policy, at least it will help the Shiite republic become less of a rogue state. Netanyahu’s great advantage is that beyond his exceptional oratorical skills, he now has a new coalition that will help Israel reveal Iran’s true face to the world.

Temporary bliss

In conclusion, one could say that this week in New York started out in Farsi but concluded in Hebrew. Also, by some coincidence, the Daily Telegraph reported on Thursday that the head of the Iranian cyberwarfare unit was mysteriously murdered. If true, this report will join a long list of previous reports of mysterious assassinations of high-ranking Iranian officials, over which the Iranians were especially bitter last week in New York.

Netanyahu’s speech generated a lot of responses, particularly in Tehran. Following Rouhani’s response, Iranian Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Hassan Fairouz issued a response of his own, referring to Israel’s and the U.S.’s much-repeated phrase, “the military option is on the table,” saying that it was antiquated and rusty and that the table was a rickety one. He too, like his president, said that Netanyahu’s remarks were cause to rejoice. It is safe to assume that in this, too, the Iranians are lying. One thing is clear, however: Netanyahu has managed to stress the Iranians out. Israel, of all countries, at this complicated juncture, was wise enough to keep its cool.

“If Israel is forced to stand alone, Israel will stand alone,” Netanyahu said in his responsible address, which aimed to urge the entire world to continue combating the Iranian nuclear bomb.

Netanyahu’s truth speech comes in stark contrast with Iran’s massive deception. The Iranian lie is being distilled in the centrifuges. That is the danger of which Netanyahu wanted to remind the world.


‘We are not Arabs. We are Christians who speak Arabic’

Many of Israel’s Christians feel that their history, culture and heritage have been hijacked by Muslim Arabs in the region, while they feel a much stronger link to Israel’s Jews • The Jewish state is the only place where we are protected, they say.

Rally for Israel by Christians in New York

Rally for Israel by Christians in New York

It was not just any conference. Even the word “historic” would not do it justice. This was nothing short of the shift of an ancient paradigm.

For a long time we had grown accustomed to thinking about the Middle East as an Arab region. But this region, the vast majority of which was actually originally not Arab, was conquered in the seventh century by tribes hailing from the Arabian Peninsula. They imposed their religion, their culture and their language on the indigenous population, and to top it all off, claimed ownership of the land in the region.

But the social and diplomatic firestorms currently raging around us have begun to chip away at this monolithic point of view among various ethnic groups, whose identities are actually different than the ones we have lazily attached to them, and their voices are beginning to be heard loud and clear: “We are not Arabs,” they are saying. “We are Christians who speak Arabic.”

At the “Israeli Christians: Breaking Free? The advent of an independent Christian voice in Israel” conference in Jerusalem, one after another, Israeli Christian representatives took to the stage and greeted the audience with a “moadim l’simcha” (“times of joy” – a common Jewish holiday wish of good tidings). The first speaker was the Rev. Gabriel Naddaf, a Greek Orthodox priest in Nazareth and spiritual leader of the Israeli Christian Recruitment Forum. Naddaf is an impressive man, who speaks in a reserved tone, but is nonetheless articulate and resolute. “I am here to open the public’s eyes,” he said. “If we want to refrain from lying to our own souls and to the general public, we must say clearly and unwaveringly: enough!”

“The Christian public wants to integrate into Israeli society, against the wishes of its old leadership. There are those who keep pushing us to the margins, keeping us the victims nationalism that is not our own, and of a conflict that has nothing to do with us,” he said.

Naddaf spoke of the Christian roots, planted deep in this land since the dawn of Christianity. This is where Jesus Christ’s doctrine first emerged. The Christian faith, he said, came out of the Jewish faith and its biblical roots. As far as Naddaf is concerned, what happened in the seventh century was an Arab invasion from which the Christians also suffered. He added that he wasn’t very proud of the Christian crusades either, and distanced himself from them.

He surveyed the dire situation currently faced by Christians in Arab states, and said that the realization that Israel is the only country in the region that protects its Christian minority has prompted many Arabic-speaking Israeli Christians to develop a desire to contribute to the state of Israel. That is how the Israeli Christian Recruitment Forum came to be.

Naddaf quoted the founder of the forum, Maj. Ihab Shlayan, as saying: “The Christians will not be made into hostages, or allow themselves to be controlled by those who wish to impose their nationality, religion and way of life upon us. We will not agree to hide behind the groups that control the streets. We want to live in Israel — brothers in arms and brothers in peace. We want to stand guard and serve as the first line of defense in this Holy Land, the Land of Israel.”

“We have broken through the barrier of fear,” Naddaf went on to say. “The time has come to prove our loyalty, pay our dues and demand our rights.” He spoke about the death threats that he and his friends face, and added that despite the hardships they continue forward “because the State of Israel is our heart. Israel is a holy state, a strong state, and its people, Jews and Christians alike, are united under one covenant.”

Naddaf was followed at the podium by Lt. (ret.) Shaadi Khalloul, the spokesman of the Israeli Christian Recruitment Forum and an officer in the Israel Defense Forces Paratroopers Brigade. Khalloul, a scholar who studies the history of the Christian faith in the region, spoke about the eastern Christian identity that had been stripped of his people. Over the last three years, he has fought Israel’s Interior Ministry over recognition of his community as Aramaic Christians.

We are “B’nei Keyama,” which means allies in Aramaic, he said. He has nothing against the Arabs, but it is simply not his identity. It is especially problematic for him because being associated with the Arabs pulls him into a conflict that is not his own, entirely against his will.

Khalloul said that the way to integrate into Israeli society was through military service in the IDF, which he described as a melting pot, but also through education. It turns out that Israel’s Christian population is not educated in their own history, only the history of the Arabs and of Islam.

“The typical Christian student thinks that he belongs to the Arab people and the Islamic nation, instead of speaking to the people with whom he truly shares his roots — the Jewish people, whose origins are in the Land of Israel.”

Adding to that point, Rev. Naddaf stepped in and said, “It is unthinkable that our children will be raised on the history of the Nakba and on the hatred of Jews, and not be taught their history.”

It was no coincidence that Khalloul chose the Aramaic word for allies to describe his people. In his view, Israeli Christians are not mercenaries, as they might be perceived, but in fact allies. “We want to defend the holy land alongside the Jews,” he insisted. He mentioned the Christians’ support for the establishment of a national homeland for the Jews in the 1947 UNSCOP Committee. In a letter to the committee at the time, the Maronites rejected any reference to the land of Israel as Arab land.

Khalloul said further that global Christianity supported them, but refrained from making the support public because of the fact that Christians in the Middle East are hostages in the hands of Islamic forces.

Remarking on the ongoing debate surrounding the issue of a Jewish-democratic state vs. a so-called state of all its citizens, Khalloul said that he preferred a Jewish state that takes care of all its citizens over a state governed by all its citizens, without a Jewish identity.

“Several decades ago, 80 percent of the Lebanese population was Christian,” he recalled, “but the 20% Muslim minority imposed their Arab identity on them and many of them left. Today, only 35% of the population is Christian.”

Syria, too, he added, is comprised of Christians and Kurds who are not Arab. “Where is the respect for these groups? For their history and their culture?” Only in a Jewish state, he concluded, will different groups be given the right to exist.

Naddaf then interjected and said, “That is not just [Khalloul’s] opinion. The entire forum shares this view.”

The last representative to take the stage was Capt. Bishara Shlayan, whose initiative to establish the Christian Israeli Party was first reported in Israel Hayom this past July. Following the report, Shlayan was bombarded with responses from all over the world.

“We were raised on Arab political parties,” he said, “the communists, and then the National Democratic Assembly. In time, I realized where these Arab parties were taking us — only against Israel.”

He said that Islam was imposing itself on the Christians in the region. Thus, for example, the ancient “Miriam’s Spring” evolved into the “Nazareth Spring.” In his youth, he had received a red flag, he recounted. But today, he sighed, “our children are being raised on the green flag, on anti-Israeli culture.”

“We need to create a different culture,” he continued. “We need to hand out Israeli flags to every child. Education begins here. You enter a school in Nazareth, and you will not see a single Israeli flag. They don’t recognize it. You will only see Palestinian flags.”

Shlayan is well aware of the claims that Israeli Christians are not afforded all the rights to which they are entitled. “That may be,” he said, but “you have to begin by pledging loyalty to your country and serving it. I believe that.”

All the above is only part of what was said at the recent conference of the Liaison Committee of B’nai B’rith World Center in Jerusalem and the Ecumenical Theological Research Fraternity in Israel.

The Christian communities’ march toward the heart of the Israeli consensus has an iconoclastic significance. It is reminiscent of Abraham’s smashing the idols and thereby smashing certain thought conventions and patterns. It is important not only on the inter-faith and theological level; it is also important to Israel’s efforts to prove our rights to the world. Parts of the Christian world see us as the crucifiers of the Palestinians, even though this could not be further from the truth. Therefore, when the Israeli Christians stand by the State of Israel and declare that this is the Land of Israel and not Palestine and that Jews did not steal this land but rather returned home as the Bible prophesied, it has immeasurable significance.

We, as a society and as a state, must embrace these courageous people, who spoke from the very deepest recesses of their hearts. We must help them, provide for them and integrate them into our society. And no less importantly, we must protect their lives. Our lives and our future depend on it.

Israel Security Agency reports dramatic rise in terror attacks

The Shin Bet says 133 terror attacks were noted in September, compared with 68 attacks in August • West Bank a hotbed for terror activity • Intelligence indicates a steady rise in terror organizations’ motivation to abduct Israeli soldiers.

israeli security forces

israeli security forces


The number of terror attacks and attempted terror attacks rose dramatically in September from August, a report by the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) revealed Thursday. According to the Shin Bet’s data, 133 terror attacks took place in September, compared with 68 attacks in August.

The two most notable terror attacks were the murders of Israeli soldiers Staff Sgt. Gal (Gabriel) Kobi, 20, on Sept. 19, and Sgt. Tomer Hazan, 20, on Sept. 21.

The report noted that most terror attacks in the past month — 104 — took place in Judea and Samaria, compared with 68 terror attacks in the territories in August. Four terror attacks took place near the Gaza Strip border in September (compared with five in August), and 26 attacks took place in Jerusalem (25 in August).

The Shin Bet further noted that defense intelligence indicated that there was a rise in terror organizations’ motivation to abduct Israeli soldiers, especially across Judea and Samaria, to use them as bargaining chips in potential negotiations for the release of Palestinian prisoners.

“The effort to carry out abductions is a familiar one and it is directed by the terror organizations’ headquarters abroad, as well as by security prisoners incarcerated in Israel, who strive to use [such abductions] as a means to promote their release,” a statement posted on the Shin Bet’s website said. “Over the past few months, especially since November 2012’s Operation Pillar of Defense, a more focused effort has been made to that effect, especially by Hamas, the Islamic Jihad and Fatah.”

The Shin Bet said that since Operation Pillar of Defense Hamas has been promoting the abduction of Israeli soldiers “as part of its attempts to cement its position as the entity leading the ‘resistance’ and armed struggle against Israel.”

The Islamic Jihad, “whose operational leeway has been curtailed by Hamas in Gaza (as it attempts to maintain security in the Strip) is also in search of new operational theaters and is focusing on abduction as a means of promoting the release of its prisoners,” the Shin Bet said on its website.

“Fatah, which is wary of leaving ‘the Palestinian street’ to Hamas, is seeking to garner ‘bonus points’ that, as they see it, would counter Hamas’ achievements in the [2011] Schalit deal and Operation Pillar of Defense,” the statement said.

The Shin Bet’s report said, “There has been growing motivation among Palestinian terror groups to execute abduction attacks for the purpose of a prisoner exchange. The past few months have also seen a rise in the threat of abduction, which has manifested in the growing number of terror cells intercepted by Israeli security forces before they could set their plans into motion.”

According to the report, Israeli security forces have thwarted 37 abduction plots since the beginning of 2013.





French diplomat who struck soldier to be expelled from Israel

Marion Fesneau-Castaing, a cultural attaché at the French Consulate in Jerusalem, to leave Israel before the end of the year • Israeli official: This was an isolated incident that does not characterize Israel-France relations.

French Diplomat hit Israeli soldier in the face

French Diplomat hit Israeli soldier in the face

The French diplomat who was involved in a physical clash with Border Police personnel in the Jordan Valley last Friday will be expelled from Israel.

Marion Fesneau-Castaing, a cultural attaché at the French Consulate in Jerusalem, will leave Israel before the end of the year.

A video of the incident near Khirbet al-Makhul last Friday shows Fesneau-Caistaing striking a Border Police officer in the face.

Israel filed a complaint with France about the incident. The two countries decided to handle the matter while “maintaining Israel-France relations,” as an Israeli official put it.

“This was an isolated incident that does not characterize relations between the two countries,” the official said.

The incident occurred as Israeli security forces seized tents and emergency aid that a European delegation was trying to deliver to Palestinians whose homes had been recently demolished in Khirbet al-Makhul. The homes were demolished after Israel’s High Court of Justice ruled that they had been built illegally without proper building permits.

Palestinians, Police Clash at Temple Mount

Police block visitors from Temple Mount, fearing disturbances – fears realized. Police storm holy site, pelted with stones

Israeli riot police storm the temple mount

Israeli riot police storm the temple mount

Police and Border Guard officers stormed the Temple Mountcomplex on Wednesday after several dozens of Palestinian youngsters lobbed stones, fireworks and tear gas toward police in the area, stationed there due to intelligence reports of plans of public disorder.

Security forces dispersed the Muslim worshipers in the plaza and surrounded the  Al Aqsa where some youngsters hid, throwing stones at the police. : Palestinian rioters on the temple mount, earlier this month, or current video at this link:,7340,L-4433489,00.html

Over recent weeks, police entered the complex almost every Friday and holiday eve due to public disorders and stone throwing. On Tuesday, Jerusalem  police decided to prohibit visits to the site due to intelligence alleging intentions of public disturbances.

However, the police noted that over the holidays thousands visited the site, including hundreds of Jews, despite the disturbances. The police statement said that the decision to prohibit visits on Wednesday was made as an exception, out of concerns for the public safety.

Recently, there has been a rise in the number of clashes between security forces and Palestinian demonstrators in Jerusalem. On Tuesday several dozens of Arab youngsters protested outside Damascus Gate, some brandished PLO flags and lobbed stones at the police.

Officer dispersed the demonstration and arrested 11 suspects.