Israel News Updates

2017 Headlines  (click on a headline that interests you to be taken to that article)
Palestinian Kills Three Israeli Security Guards At Checkpoint 09/26/2017
Israel Attacks Two Hamas Positions After Rocket Fire From Gaza 08/09/2017
Tensions Abate On The Temple Mount In Jerusalem 07/30/2017
Metal Detectors Removed Amid Tension On Both Sides 07/26/2017
Tourism Up By 26% In First Half Of 2017 07/22/2017
Tensions Remain High and Status Quo Unchanged 07/21/2017
Temple Mount Reopens With New Security Measures 07/18/2017
Netanyahu and Abbas Work Together After The Temple Mount Attack 07/14/2017
Post Passover Week of Incidents 04/27/2017
Israel’s Iron Dome Intercepts Rockets Fired From Sinai Peninsula 02/09/2017
Hamas Outpost Destroyed In Response To Rocket Fire From Gaza 02/06/2017
Palestinian Rams Car Into Settlement Gate Injuring Police and Security Guards 02/03/2017
Trump Launches Reality Check At Israel 02/03/2017
Hamas, Jordan, PA and Other Arab Allies Warn About Embassy Move 01/24/2017
IDF Responds To Gunshots Near Southern and Northern Borders 01/24/2017
Syria Accuses Israel Of Missile Strike 01/13/2017
Mass Demonstrations Against Hamas In Gaza Strip 01/13/2017
Israeli Soldiers Killed and 17 Wounded In Truck Ramming Attack 01/08/2017
To View 2016 News Articles Click Here

September 26, 2017

Palestinian Kills Three Israeli Security Guards At Checkpoint

A 37 year old Palestinian man shot and killed three Israeli Security Guards, all in their 20s and 30s, at the Har Adar checkpoint, an area where hundreds of Palestinian day laborers gather to find work in the area. Har Adar is an Israeli settlement located on the West Bank border about 15 kilometers west of Jerusalem. Residents of Har Adar say the other Palestinian laborers were incensed by the man’s actions, saying “What has he done to us? How will we find work now?”

The man aroused the suspicions of the security forces as they opened the gate to allow the day laborers to enter. When he realized he was to be arrested, he opened fire, killing the three Israelis and wounding another. The youngest of the three killed, 20 year old Solomon Gavriya, had been injured in another attack a year ago, but had insisted on rejoining his unit to “defend his country” just 2 months ago. In the previous attack he had been stabbed by a terrorist after throwing himself on the man who was attacking people with a knife.

Per Israeli policies, the house of the man’s family was demolished with members of his family being detained and their work permits revoked. According to the investigating officers, the man was embroiled in several personal problems, including the fact that his wife had fled to Jordan after being physically assaulted by him.

The Chief of Police and other authorities were evaluating the situation, saying: “We’re talking about the passage of laborers and Israeli society has needs of its own. Laborers are working with permits and the IDF itself considers it the chance of a normal life for Palestinians. We need to be sure no rash judgments are made.”    Of course, Hamas praised the attack while the Israeli government urged the Palestinian Authority and PM Abbas to denounce the attack. Go to the Top

August 9, 2017

Israel Attacks Two Hamas Positions After Rocket Fire From Gaza

Israeli jets attacked two Hamas positions inside the Gaza Strip in response to a rocket fired from Gaza that landed in open territory near Askelon.  Israel holds Hamas responsible for any and all attacks that come from the Gaza Strip even if another militant group, there are several in Gaza challenging Hamas authority, claims responsibility.

There were no casualties on the Israeli side, however, a Gaza hospital said three Palestinians were wounded in the attack.

Hamas and Israel have fought three wars since the Islamic terror group took control of Gaza a decade ago, most recently in 2014. A cease-fire has largely held since then. Go to the Top

July 30, 2017

Tensions Abate On The Temple Mount In Jerusalem

Tensions are quieting down on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem after 15 days of unrest after two Druze security guards were killed by three terrorist who fled across the Temple Mount before being shot.

Friday, the day of Muslim prayers, happened at the Al Aqsa Mosque without incident.  The authorities were prepared for more trouble, but the people assembled left the area peacefully after praying.

This coming week is important in Jewish history, and the authorities continue to stay on high alert.  The Fast of the Ninth of Av happens this Tuesday, a day that commemorates the destruction of the 1st and 2nd Temples, the exile of Jews from the Land of Israel and other catastrophes.  Many Jews are expected to visit the Old City, the Western Wall and some hope to actually be able to stand on the Temple Mount itself. They can pray at the Western Wall but not on the Temple Mount. We all need to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, not just during times of unrest but continually. Go to the Top

July 26, 2017

Metal Detectors Removed Amid Tension On Both Sides

Israel moved to diffuse tension surrounding the Temple Mount by removing the catalyst, the metal detectors that were installed at all gates the Muslims use to enter the Jerusalem compound that contains the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa Mosque.  Israel is said to be looking into more technical security measures, however, the WAQF (the Jordanian Trust that administers the Temple Mount) have rejected ANY security measures for Muslims, continuing to order Muslim worshippers to not enter the Temple Mount for prayers.

Not all Israelis or Israeli security officials agree with the decisions, 1) to install the metal detectors or 2) remove them, that have angered the Arab world.   Once put in place many view the decision to remove the security measures as a capitulation to terrorism.  Others are unhappy with the decision in the first place….obviously this is a complicated and emotionally charged situation.  The Temple Mount is and has always been a powder keg in Israeli-Arab relations….it will remain so even after this situation has run it’s course.

For tourists and pilgrims to the Holy Land, this episode surrounding the Temple Mount and Jerusalem is troubling.  While tensions are still high in the Old City, there have been photos of tourists still visiting sites.  You must always be aware of your surroundings and your guide’s first responsibility is to know where to take you and when to take you there!  It would not help either side, both economically and in world opinion, if tourists or pilgrims to the Holy Land were caught in the middle of this current stand-off. Go to the Top

July 22, 2017

Tourism Up By 26% In First Half Of 2017

Tourism Minister Yariv Levin stated:

“The June tourism statistics bring us to record levels for incoming tourism in the first six months of the year. Our policy continues to prove itself and to bear fruit, and we can see that the right marketing strategy can bring Israel to new heights.

According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, some 1.74 million tourists entered Israel between January-June of this year. That’s an increase of 26 percent over 2016 and 24 percent over 2015. Go to the Top

July 21, 2017

Tensions Remain High and Status Quo Unchanged

No, Jews still can’t pray at Judaism’s holiest site, but that status quo was briefly abrogated on Thursday, July 20.  For the first time since the Second Temple stood in all its glory, Jews were able to walk the Temple Mount freely when the Muslim authority (WAQF) boycotted their administrative duties in the wake of Israeli installed metal detectors.

The Islamic WAQF, a Jordanian trust which controls the Temple Mount, immediately and furiously rejected the use of the detectors, calling the security measure “Israeli aggression”. The WAQF called for a Muslim boycott of the site and scuffles between Arabs (NOT Arabs and Israelis) broke out as WAQF security prevented Muslims from entering through the metal detectors and ascending the Temple Mount.

The sudden lack of WAQF guards on the Temple Mount led to an unusual situation. For the first time in decades, Jews were not followed by WAQF guards preventing them from praying.  This lack of WAQF security, who also follow Christian tourists as they visit the Temple Mount, also allowed Christians the privilege, however short-lived, to pray on this holy site.

Israel is partially exercising its sovereignty by refusing to remove newly reinstalled metal detectors at the entrances to the Temple Mount and that decision has resulted in violence as Muslims enter the Old City and the Temple Mount for Friday prayers.

Many think that it was Israel’s acquiescence months ago to Muslim demands that it remove metal detectors that facilitated last Friday’s deadly terrorist shooting that took the lives of two Israeli Druze police officers guarding the holy site.  Metal detectors have always been used to check Jewish visitors and tourists as they entered through the Mughrabi Bridge, the only access allowed for non-Muslim visitors.  However until this recent terrorist attack, Muslims accessed the Temple Mount without undergoing any security checks through eleven gates open to only Muslims.

After the deadly attack, Israel promptly put the metal detectors back in place.  Due to Israel’s refusal to remove the metal detectors, PA President Abbas froze all contacts with Israel, despite previously joining with Prime Minister Netanyahu in calling for cooperation and prevention of further violence immediately after the terrorist attack.

As of late Friday, 3 Palestinians and 3 Israelis had been killed in the violence.  On Saturday, the situation remained tense in Jerusalem’s Old City and especially near and on the Temple Mount Go to the Top

July 18, 2017

Temple Mount Reopens With New Security Measures

After the attack in which three terrorists shot two Israeli Policemen, the Temple Mount was closed to all visitors.  It opened on Sunday, July 18th with new security measures in place, metal detectors and security cameras, were installed at three gates used by the Muslim public.  Jews, Christians and Tourists still will use the Mughrabi Gate to enter the Temple Mount, that gate has always had much stricter security measures than the gates used by the Muslim public.

The new security measures have been widely condemned, just as the closure, by the Jordanian WAQF Trust that administers the Temple Mount and others in the Muslim world.  While the WAQF administers access and other aspects of the Temple Mount, Israel has maintained the security of the area since 1967.

For more information on the attack and other aspects of the Temple Mount, read the story below from July 14th. Go to the Top

July 14, 2017

Netanyahu and Abbas Work Together After The Temple Mount Attack

Three terrorists, Israeli Arab cousins, shot two Israeli policemen near the Lion’s Gate, just adjacent to the Temple Mount on Friday, July 14th.  Both policemen were Druze, an secretive Islamic sect that peacefully lives in Israel and supports the nation.  Druze soldiers, policemen and security guards are an integral part of Israel’s defense forces and are highly thought of in the military.  This maybe why they were targeted by the terrorists.

After shooting the two Druze policemen, the terrorists ran down a alleyway and back onto the Temple Mount.  Apparently they had hidden themselves and their weapons on the Temple Mount overnight.  The security for Muslim worshippers and visitors is not as stringent as the security for Tourists, Christians and Jews to enter the Temple Mount.  In fact, the entry places are not the same, Tourists, Christians and Jews can only enter from the Mughrabi Bridge near the Western Wall, while the Muslim public are able to use eleven gates to access the Temple Mount.

Israel closed the Temple Mount to any visitors until Sunday the 16th in order to search for more weapons and investigate the incident.  The closure has caused Muslim nations and groups to publicly lash out at Israel, even though their condemnations of Israel did not contain any mention of the terrorist act.

One good thing to come out of this is that Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel and Palestinian President Abbas did talk on the phone.   According to Haarretz Newspaper, The two leaders decided over the weekend to diverge from their usual habit; instead of clashing and avoiding dialogue, they cooperated to resolve the crisis and prevent the volcano from erupting.Go to the Top

May 7, 2017

Damascus Gate Scene of Palestinian Knife Attack

A knife-wielding, sixteen year old Palestinian female rushed Israeli policemen patrolling near the Damascus Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem Sunday evening. She was shot as she attempted to stab the officers and, although treated by paramedics at the scene, died of her wounds.  She was identified as a resident of a town near Ramallah in the West Bank and a farewell note to her family with a verse from the Quran was found near her.  No one else was injured in the attack.  The Damascus Gate is on the north side of the old city and is the main entrance to the Muslim Quarter or eastern section of Old Jerusalem. Go to the Top

April 27, 2017

A Post Passover Week of Incidents

Three Palestinians, one on Tuesday, April 25th and two on Wednesday, April 26th, attacked Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) of the Golani Brigade’s 51st Battalion stationed in the West Bank near Nablus. The area is near Biblical Shechem, where Abraham first pitched his tent in Canaan, the land God promised to him and his descendants. Apparently the three attackers were cousins and assaulted the soldiers with knives. No soldiers were hurt in the attack, however, the Palestinians, all neutralized with IDF gun fire, were taken to area hospitals for treatment.

Earlier in the week, on Sunday, April 23rd (Easter), a Palestinian from the same area near Nablus attacked four Israelis in Tel Aviv. The assault occurred on the coastal promenade near Herod’s Hotel. The Palestinian man was overpowered within seconds by hotel security and Tel Aviv police. The four people attacked were slightly wounded and treated in area hospitals.

On Tuesday, April 21st the Israeli Defense Forces had retaliated in response to three mortars fired from Syrian positions into the Golan Heights area. The mortars were apparently a spillover from the internal civil war wreaking havoc in Syria. However, Israeli Defense Forces have consistently held the Syrian regime responsible for any armaments that fly into and land on Israeli territory whether an accident or not. Later, on Tuesday April 25th, the IDF reported that the retaliation fire in response to the Syrian mortars had destroyed 100 missiles destined for Hezbollah in Lebanon. Good news for Israel, as any Hezbollah missile would be directed right at Israel! Go to the Top

February 9, 2017

Israel’s Iron Dome Intercepts Rockets Fired From Sinai Peninsula

Three rockets fired from the Sinai Peninsula into southern Israel were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome Defense System, while a fourth rocket landed in open ground short of the Israeli resort city of Eilat, late  Wednesday evening, February 8th.  According to the International Institute on Counter Terrorism, this was the first time since 2015 that southern Israel had been attacked from the Sinai.  The Israeli army said the evening rocket attack did not cause any injuries or property damage in the city of Eilat.

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for this rocket attack and the 2015 attack. While the terrorists are waging deadly battles against Egyptian forces in the Sinai Peninsula, such attacks against Israel are rare.  Egypt has been battling militants, many linked to ISIS, in the restive Sinai.  With the agreement of the international community, Egyptian military troops and security forces have poured into the Sinai in an effort to stem extremist attacks.  Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, has long been accused by Egypt and Israel of providing support to the terrorists in the Sinai, building a labyrinth of tunnels from Gaza into the area in order to smuggle weapons and goods.

The incident in southern Israel came just hours after a mortar reportedly fell on the northern border of Israel in the Golan Heights, near the Syria border fence. As in the south, this missile did not cause any known causalities or damage and the IDF retaliated by striking a target in the Syrian area of Golan. Go to the Top

February 6, 2017

destroyed-hamas-outpost
Destroyed Hamas Outpost (Courtesy of Ynetnews)

Hamas Outpost Destroyed In Response To Rocket Fire From Gaza

An Israeli Defense Force (IDF) tank fired on and destroyed a Hamas lookout post on the Israeli-Gaza border on Monday (February 6th).  The destruction was in response to double acts of aggression, a Hamas rocket fired from the Gaza strip that landed in Southern Israel near Askelon and small arms fire directed at IDF soldiers working near the border fence.  No injuries were reported in connection with the rocket, small arms or IDF response.

In addition, Israeli aircraft attacked three additional Hamas armed positions.  A spokes person confirmed the strikes, saying they were not only carried out in retaliation for Monday’s rocket and small arms fire, but also in response for aggressive acts by Hamas over the course of the last month.  The IDF Spokesperson unit commented, The IDF considers the Hamas terrorist organization solely responsible for goings-on in the Gaza Strip.”  Go to the Top

February 3, 2017

Palestinian Rams Car Into Settlement Gate Injuring Police and Security Guards

In an area rarely included in tours to Israel, a female Palestinian deliberately rammed her car into a police car at the entrance of the settlement of Adam.  Three guards were slightly injured, according to Israeli EMTs called to the scene, as was the Palestinian woman who was immediately arrested.  The Adam settlement, with a population of 5000, is located on a mountaintop north of Jerusalem overlooking the Jordan Valley.    It was founded in 1984 and is about a seven minute drive from Jerusalem.  Go to the Top

Trump Launches Reality Check At Israel

The White House released a statement aimed at Israel’s newest settlement expansion plans, (5000 new units in Judea and Samaria settlements) saying that the plans “may not be helpful” to future peace negotiations, and added “the Trump administration had not taken an official position on settlement activity.”  According to the State Department, newly installed Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, spoke with PM Netanyahu on Thursday but gave no details of the conversation.  Also, Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, responded to the statement by saying “it was too early to tell how the newest Trump statement will affect construction of settlements.”

While the statement did not condemn settlement expansion outright, it clearly was a warning for Israel to wait for Trump to figure out what his Israel policy actually will end up looking like.  This may be a step back from his campaign rhetoric regarding 1) the two state solution where he implied he did not support that position and 2) his statement declaring he would move the US Embassy to Jerusalem. Go to the Top

January 24, 2017

Hamas, Jordan, PA and Other Arab Allies Warn About Embassy Move

Once committed to quickly moving America’s embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the Trump administration is now expressing caution, promising only to review the matter extensively and in consultation with “stakeholders” in the conflict.  This comes after Jordan, the Palestinian Authority, other Arab allies and even Hamas warned of severe repercussions should the new administration proceed with it’s embassy move  campaign promise.

That deliberative process tracks closely with the policy evolutions of two prior presidents, Barack Obama and George W. Bush, who also campaigned on a pledge to move the embassy. Both ultimately reversed course while in their first terms office.  Most countries, including the US, maintain consular offices in Jerusalem (most in West Jerusalem) today. Go to the Top

January 24, 2017

IDF Responds To Gunshots Near Southern and Northern Borders

An IDF tank destroyed a Hamas position in the Gaza Strip late Tuesday night.  The action was in response to gunshots fired at IDF soldiers from the southern part of the Gaza strip.   The IDF also scrambled forces after gunshots were heard near the Lebanon border in Northern Israel. The situation was under investigation as it was unknown if the shots were fired intentionally at IDF forces.

In another security situation, Israel issued a Travel Alert to tourists visiting the Sinai Peninsula after an assessment by the Counter-Terrorism Bureau identified an imminent danger of terror attacks on tourist sites in the region.  The Sinai is always under an on-going warning, however this alert stressed January 25 in particular, which marks six years since the 2011 revolution in Egypt, a date that has witnessed terror attacks in previous years.
The Israeli bureau advised Israelis in Sinai is to return to Israel immediately and families were asked to contact family members traveling in the Sinai and alert them to the situation. Go to the Top

January 13, 2017

Syria Accuses Israel Of Missile Strike

Syria has accused Israel of launching a missile attack against a military airport west of Damascus early Friday morning, January 13th.  The official news agency of Syria, SANA, said that several missiles were launched from the Sea of Galilee region but did not say if there were any casualties.  It was the third such attack in recent months, according to the Syrian government, however Israel declined to comment on the accusations.

In the past, Israel has carried out sporadic attacks in Syria, designed to eradicate ammunition and armament stockpiles, specifically to prevent the transfer of such weapons to the Lebanese Hezbollah terror organization.  Also, it is widely believed that Israel has carried out a number of airstrikes in Syria solely targeting advanced weapons systems, including Russian anti-aircraft missiles and Iranian missiles, as well as the Lebanese Hezbollah military positions in Syria.

Syria has promised that there will be consequences without specifying how or when they would retaliate – so stay tuned! Go to the Top

Mass Demonstrations Against Hamas In Gaza Strip

Mass demonstrations occurred in the Gaza strip against the Islamic Hamas regime that currently holds power in Gaza. An electricity crisis prompted thousands to take to the streets in the northern part of Gaza which Hamas countered with arrests and firing live rounds into the air.  In the background of the electrical crisis is a feud between Hamas and the current regime in the West Bank that includes money or lack of money, politics, an aging power plant and power network in need of rehabilitation.  A rehabilitation that cannot occur because any raw materials arriving in the Gaza area destined for the power network are transformed into weapons to use against Israel causing Egypt and Israel maintain a tight blockade.

Gaza residents are living under extreme conditions that allows residents only 3 to 4 hours of electricity a day.  The cause of the shortage is, on one hand simple and the other complicated, with most citizens blaming Hamas for the crisis and Hamas blaming the rival Palestinian Authority in the West Bank for using the crisis to damage Hamas’ image.  Israel provides the bulk of electricity that arrives in the Gaza strip and could supply more but has not been paid for all the electricity it has supplied in the past, while looking for financial guarantees before delivering more.

On a positive note, due to the relative quiet on the Gaza front, Israel is increasing humanitarian aid to the area.  An additional border crossing has been opened to convey shipments of fuel, building materials and vehicles into Gaza and allowing more workers to enter Israel.  However, the Defense Ministry declared that if the situation changes, those areas will be closed immediately. Go to the Top

January 8, 2017

4 Israeli Soldiers Killed and 17 Wounded In Truck Ramming Attack

In an attack, similar to those in Nice, France and Berlin, Germany, 4 Israeli soldiers were killed and 17 wounded as a flat-bed truck rammed a group of cadets from an officers’ course as they were disembarking from buses.  The soldiers, ages 18 to 22, were on a routine educational tour of Jerusalem, which included the Armon Hanatziv Promenade, a popular sightseeing spot in southeastern Jerusalem.  The promenade offers spectacular views of Jerusalem including sweeping views of the Old City with its walls and towers, the Temple Mount, the Kidron Valley, the Mount of Olives and the City of David.

Eye witnesses said the driver not only rammed the group but also backed over them in order to cause greater damage.  The driver, a Palestinian from the nearby neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber, was killed at the scene.  Three female soldiers – 20-year-old Lt. Yael Yekutiel of Givatayim, 22-year-old Lt. Shir Hajaj of Ma’aleh Adumim, and 20-year-old Sec.-Lt. Shira Tzur of Haifa – and one male soldier, 20-yearold Sec.-Lt. Erez Orbach of Alon Shvut, were declared dead at the scene.

Prime Minister Netanyahu reportedly said that Israel has blockaded Jabel Mukaber, the east Jerusalem neighborhood of the attacker, a continual source of incitement and attackers, and is planning other measures to prevent similar attacks.  In the past the Israeli government has taken strong deterring actions such demolishing the home of attackers and not handing over the bodies of terrorists to families for burial.  Five others, including the father and brother of the attacker, have been arrested.

Today’s (Sunday, January 8th) incident marks the first Israeli deaths in three months.  Since September 2015, clashes between Palestinians and Israelis have killed 40 Israelis, 2 tourists, and 230 Palestinian attackers. The Palestinians and rights groups have accused Israel of using excessive force in some confrontations, however some witnesses of this incident wonder if there was some hesitation to fire on the truck driver in light of last week’s guilty finding in the trial of an Israeli soldier accused of killing a wounded Palestinian. However, cadets did fire weapons at the attacker and later said that it was fear of friendly fire accidents (there were 300 cadets at the site) that kept neutralizing fire to a minimum. One cadet wanted to assure everyone that “we fought for our friends.”

Update January 10th:  For the first time, Israel has revoked the permanent residency status of 13 members of the terrorist’s family, including his mother, which will result in the loss of all social benefits that come with residency status.  One of the benefits that is lost to them is appealing this decision to the Israeli Supreme Court.  This appears to be a signal of zero tolerance for those involved in acts of terrorism against Israel.

Please join us as we pray for those young people who were injured and the families of the four who were killed as they prepared to protect their country. Go to the Top

2016 News Articles
Another Knife Incident at Qalandiya Checkpoint 12/30/2016
IDF Responds to Rockets Fired From Gaza Strip 12/19/2016
Weather, Not “Arson Intifada” Prime Cause of Israel’s Blazes 11/26/2016
Palestinian Shot As He Attempted To Stab an Israeli Security Guard 11/22/2016
Belgium Gathers Airport Security Tips From Israel 11/22/2016
Noise Abatement in Israel 11/14/2016
Right Wing Ministers on a Collision Course With Obama in Twilight of His Presidency 11/14/2016
Violence at Joseph’s Tomb A Microcosm of Israeli-Palestinian Conflict 11/13/2016
Israeli Defense Forces Kill Knife Wielding Assailant 11/3/2016
Western Wall Clashes 11/2/2016
Beer Sheva Assault 10/18/2015
3rd Intifada? 10/2015
December 30, 2016

Another Knife Incident at Qalandiya Checkpoint

On Friday, December 30th, a Palestinian woman was wounded and arrested as she approached security forces at the Qalandiya checkpoint in the West Bank.  The checkpoint, a major crossing between Jerusalem and the West Bank, has been the scene of several attacks in 2016.  For more information on the checkpoint see the Palestinian Shot As He Attempted To Stab an Israeli Security Guard article below. FYI: According to the Shin Bet (Israel’s equivalent of the American FBI), over 400 major terror attacks were thwarted in Israel during 2016. This does not include what are considered low level attacks such as the Qalandiya attack above, most of the terror attacks thwarted do not even make the news. Go to the Top or Go to 2016 News Articles

December 19, 2016

IDF Responds to Rockets Fired From Gaza Strip

Early Monday morning, December 19th, shots were fired at Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) stationed in Southern Israel near the Gaza Strip.  The soldiers were guarding a civilian engineering crew working near the border fence.

The IDF quickly retaliated by firing three tank shells into a Hamas military post, demolishing it.  There were no injuries to Israeli civilians or IDF personnel, however area farmers were advised to leave their fields and stay inside.

The incident was preceded by the assassination of a Hamas operative in Tunisia for which the organization holds Israel responsible.  There was no official indication that the two events were related and Tunisia has arrested eight nationals in connection with the death.  Israel remains firm in its position that any aggression from the militants holding the Gaza Strip will be answered with force, and this is another example of that response. Go to the Top or Go to 2016 News Articles

November 26, 2016

Weather, Not “Arson Intifada” Prime Cause of Israel’s Blazes

Amid signs that the wave of wildfires that have ravaged Israel since Tuesday were being brought under control, Israeli officials on Saturday night gave preliminary indications that weather was the prime cause of the initial blazes.  Arsonists appear to have jumped on the bandwagon and began to set fires on Wednesday.  Thirty arson suspects were still in custody as of Saturday, with security personnel pointing to arsonists as being to blame for some of the fire outbreaks in Haifa.  More than 60,000 people were forced to evacuate from the Haifa fires on Thursday which had rendered 400 homes unlivable.

Other fires, deemed arson, destroyed some West Bank settlements overnight Friday and even though Palestinian suspects were being held, officials said it would be an exaggeration to consider this as some kind of “arson Intifada.”

Just like California, Israel is currently in a drought and fires this time of year are not uncommon.  The weather in Israel has been dry, hot and windy….definitely conditions conducive to eruptions of wild fires.  Many countries have sent firefighters and equipment to Israel, including the US, which reported that the US “SuperTanker” firefighter was expected late on Friday.

As of Saturday, amid heartbreaking damage to homes and forests, no Israelis had been killed in the wave of fires, however 133 have been injured. Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority reported that 32,124 acres of territory had burned, including acres in the Judean Hills National Park and Kfir Nature Reserve.  By late Saturday the fires were reported under control.  Even though rain was not in the forecast for several more days, relief was coming, as the dry windy weather is set to change by Tuesday.

As always, we need to pray for Israel, for her peace and for her safety. Go to the Top or Go to 2016 News Articles

November 22, 2016

Palestinian Shot As He Attempted To Stab an Israeli Security Guard

As a Palestinian attempted to stab him, an Israeli Security Guard shot and killed his attacker.  The clash happened in the West Bank at the Qalandiya checkpoint near Ramallah.  Ramallah is located about 6 miles north of Jerusalem and many Palestinians leave their West Bank homes to work at Jerusalem construction sites and businesses.

The Qalandiya checkpoint is the largest, most frequented passageway that Palestinian laborers use to enter the Jerusalem area and head to their work places.  The checkpoint, manned by four different forces, Israeli Police, Israel Defense Forces, IDF Civil Administration and private Israeli security forces hired by the Defense Ministry, has been the scene of several clashes, assaults and riots this year. Go to the Top or Go to 2016 News Articles

November 22, 2016

Belgium Gathers Airport Security Tips From Israel

Belgium is putting new security into place at the Brussels Airport, the scene of a terrorist suicide bombing in March 2016, after reviewing security controls at the Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel.  Several layers of security at Ben Gurion, from manned checkpoints that use armed guards to question and give passengers the “once over,” cameras that capture license plates and largely unnoticeable monitoring all the way to terminals and the tarmac, ensure the safety of passengers at Ben Gurion, considered one of the most heavily protected airports in the world.

Belgium Deputy Prime Minister and Security Minister Jan Jambon was impressed, especially by how some of the measures were non-intrusive for passengers. “There, security measures are present but not visible all the time.”  He went on to say, “This is not profiling on the basis of age, skin color or gender, it’s about detecting behavior.”

Entering the Ben Gurion airport after a recent tour, our bus was stopped and taken aside in order to question our guide….so not even tourist buses are exempt from their tight security.  Instead of feeling put out, we all felt confident that our safety was important to Israelis.  Israeli security as you travel there and back is legendary….they definitely take great care in making your trip as safe as possible. Go to the Top or Go to 2016 News Articles

November 14th

Two Short News Items

Noise Abatement in Israel

The Knesset moves to mute the mosques in Israel. Most mosques employ loudspeakers to call worshippers to prayer during the day.  Apparently it is the early morning call, usually at dawn, that is causing the most uproar.  Muslims consider this a direct assault on their religious freedoms, the Israelis wonder if another process could be put in place, especially in our technologically advanced time. Go to the Top

Right Wing Ministers on a Collision Course With Obama in Twilight of His Presidency

Throwing diplomatic caution to the wind, the Ministerial Legislative Committee gave their initial approval to legislation to retroactively legalize over 2,000 settler homes, many of which are built on private Palestinian property.  Effectively, should this pass, it could transform dozens of West Bank outposts into new legal settlements.  The timing of Sunday’s vote had to do with a last ditch effort to save the unauthorized West Bank outpost of Amona, home to 40 families, which the High Court of Justice has mandated must be demolished by December 25th. Go to the Top or Go to 2016 News Articles

November 13th, 2016

Violence at Joseph’s Tomb A Microcosm of Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Four Ultra-Orthodox Israelis were arrested overnight Saturday by Palestinian police after entering Joseph’s Tomb in the West Bank, near Nablus, without a permit. The four, all Breslau Hasidim, were handed over to the Israeli army.

The Ultra-Orthodox, who comprise about 9% of Israel’s population of 8 Million, consider Joseph’s Tomb one of the five holiest spots in Judaism, after the Temple Mount, the Western Wall, the Tomb of the Patriarchs, and Rachel’s Tomb. The tomb’s isolated geographic location has meant few Jews pray there, and those that do must receive a permit to do so from the IDF (Israel Defense Force). When permits are obtain, the visits generally take place in the middle of the night to avoid any conflict with the Palestinian Authority and population.

Joseph’s Tomb, located in Nablus near the Biblical city of Shechem and long considered the burial place of Biblical Joseph, one of the 12 sons of Isaac who was sold into slavery by his brothers (Genesis 37), lies in the northern part of the West Bank, approximately 30 miles north of Jerusalem. The site of Joseph’s Tomb is one of three real estate deals found in the Torah and the Bible. The two other sites are the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron and the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

The tomb site is holy to Muslims, Jews and Christians, although few Christians visit the site due to its location in the West Bank. The site has been fought over for years and even though the IDF provides security, just like the Temple Mount, the Palestinian Authority maintains the site and though required to allow Jewish visits, determining when and how is left to their whims. Go to the Top or Go to 2016 News Articles

November 3rd, 2016

Israeli Defense Forces Kill Knife Wielding Assailant

Ofra, a 40 year old settlement in the West Bank, about 20 kilometers (12 miles) north of Jerusalem, was the site of an attack on Israeli soldiers.  The soldiers, standing guard at a settlement bus stop, were not injured in the incident.  However, the knife wielding assailant was shot and killed in the assault.

One thing you do notice on a tour to Israel is soldiers, Israeli soldiers. Their presence is everywhere, bus stops, shops, highways and city streets.  They are young and they have rifles slung over their shoulders.  Military service is mandatory for Israeli citizens, four years for men, two years for women.  If you are privileged to talk with them or with Israelis who have completed their service, you will find them extremely proud  of their country and military.

Several Israelis (36) and people of various other nationalities have been the victims of Palestinian terrorism and violence in the last year and the Palestinians themselves have sustained numerous injuries and deaths in these attacks. While this is nothing to take lightly, to put it in perspective, the same day the IDF soldiers were attacked in Ofra, two policemen were gunned down in Des Moines, Iowa. This year has been a difficult year for law enforcement in the United States and Israel. Israel is not any different in this respect than any other nation, it is just a smaller country that makes large news. Violence can make you fearful or it can bring you to your knees in prayer. We should all continue to pray for peace in Israel and Jerusalem. Go to the Top

As always, any problem in Israel MAKES NEWS.  Stay tuned for more Israel News Updates. Regardless of the news, Israel remains a safe place for travelers and those on faith based tours.

 

November 2nd, 2016

Western Wall Clashes

Usually the news coverage we get from Israel is about clashes between Palestinians and Israelis, Arabs and Jews….Today the struggle highlights the differences between Orthodox, non-Orthodox and Reformed groups. Israel’s population of 8 million is divided into four groups, Ultra Orthodox or Haredi (9%), Religious or Dati (12%), Traditional or Masorti (30%), and Secular or Hiloni (49%).  The pandemonium at the Kotel or Western Wall was between the first three groups as leaders from the Reform and Conservative groups broke through security barriers with Torah Scrolls in their arms in defiance of the Ultra Orthodox authorities who administer the holy site and oppose granting formal recognition to the Reform and Conservative movements, which they regard as illegitimate, at the Kotel or Western Wall.

A little background…..First,  the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, administered by the Ultra Orthodox and who operates the site, prohibits worshippers from bringing Torah scrolls into the site. It keeps several dozen scrolls at the site for use in the men’s prayer area but has never allowed women access to them. Second, last January, the government voted to create a new section at the southern part of the Western Wall – near the area known as Robinson’s Arch – where members of the non-Orthodox movements could hold egalitarian prayer services, open to men and women worshipping and praying together as one. The deal was struck following three years of negotiations. However, under pressure from his ultra-Orthodox coalition partners, Netanyahu has refrained from implementing it.

As always, any problem in Israel MAKES NEWS. This struggle is an internal problem and hopefully the parties involved will begin to solve their differences in less news making ways.  Stay tuned for more Israel News Updates. Regardless of the news, Israel remains a safe place for travelers and those on faith based tours. Go to the Top or Go to 2016 News Articles


October 2015

3rd Intifada?

Most Middle East authorities, including the Israelis are not blaming these attacks on militant groups or unified factions such as Hamas.  Even though Hamas has praised the Palestinian attackers, they are not claiming responsibility for any of the violence, a direct difference from past confrontations.  The previous “intifadas” required an infrastructure to provide attackers with resources, materials, and transportation to get them into place to carry out attacks, which is not the case in these current assaults. Go to the Top

Beer Sheva Assault

Although the attack in Beer Sheva on Sunday, October 18th, 2015 was reported by the media as another act of violence in the continuing saga of “Israel versus Palestine,” it was not clear if the attacker was motivated by those tensions.  The person responsible was an Arab Bedouin citizen of Israel and although some Bedouins identify as Palestinian, they are their own ethnic group within Israel and other Arab nations.  Bedouin groups have been at odds with authorities throughout the Middle East over issues of their own, and as such the police have not been able to determine a motive for the Beer Sheva assault.
Go to the Top or Go to 2016 News Articles4

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