Israel Briefs 11-15-11

 The latest news from Israel.

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Cabinet Continues Freezing Transfer of Tax Revenue to PA

Israel’s Political-Security Cabinet on Monday decided to extend "until further notice" a freeze on tax revenue transfers to the Palestinian Authority.

The revenues amount to $100 million each month. In accordance with interim peace deals, Israel collects customs, border and some income taxes on behalf of the Palestinians and relays them monthly to their West Bank government.

This was the second cabinet meeting convened in the past two weeks to discuss the issue, following recent pressure on Israel by the U.S. and EU, who say that withholding the funds will seriously harm the Palestinian Authority’s stability.

The decision came shortly after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s chief negotiator, Yitzhak Molcho, held a meeting on Monday with representatives of the Middle East Quartet—the U.S., EU, the U.N. and Russia—during which one official expressed disappointment in the Palestinians’ unwillingness to revive negotiations.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service


Medical residents skip work in protest

Dozens of medical residents whose resignation applications were rejected by Israel’s National Labor Court did not attend work in Haifa and other Israeli cities on Monday in protest of unreasonable working conditions, Yediot Achronot reported. This has caused significant delays in the admission and releasing of patients at Israeli hospitals.

On Sunday, Israel’s High Court ruled that residents can resign only if their reasons for resigning do not involve their working conditions. In practice this has placed a limitation on collective resignation on behalf of Israeli medical residents, who have been protesting what they claim to be unfair working conditions.

 “They demand that I work 10 shifts a week and then claim that I earn NIS 18,000 a month. It doesn’t matter that when I have to work weekends, leaving my family at home on Saturdays, I have to ride the bus to work,” said Udi Argaz, a Tel Aviv resident, according to Yediot Achronot.

—JointMedia News Service


Jerusalem battle for gender desegregation on buses continues

(Click photo to download. Caption: Haredi youths in the Mea Shearim neighborhood of Jerusalem. Credit: PD-Israel.)Members of the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC) boarded a bus in an effort to protest the religious segregation of gender on public transportation in Jerusalem, Reuters reported. Bus number 56 is one of the many Jerusalem buses in which the women sit in the back separately from men, based on the preferences of ultra-Orthodox (“Haredi”) Jews.

Although the Israeli Supreme Court ruled this year against gender segregation on public transportation, critics maintain that many women who wish to sit in front on one of these buses are often subjected to verbal and physical assaults.

Religious residents point the finger back at the immorality of secular communities. “Look how their women parade along the beach in a degrading way,” said passenger on the bus, who only identified herself as Bracha, according to Haaretz.

However, IRAC’s Executive Director Anat Hoffman said that, “The idea that sex is dirty is not part of Judaism.”

(Click photo to download. Caption: Yitzhak Rabin in 1986. Credit: U.S. Air Force.) 

Sixteen Years On, Rabin Remembered

More than 10,000 people on Saturday night filled Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, where Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was murdered by Yigal Amir 16 years ago, to commemorate the late leader’s life and legacy.
Supporters waved flags and held pictures of Rabin and signs reading, “We will neither forget nor forgive” and “Peace Now.” A lineup of musicians, political activists, and politicians addressed the audience from the podium.

“Since his murder, many have stood over Rabin’s grave and have vowed to continue his path,” said Yossi Sarid, who served as education minister under Rabin. “These are false heirs who carry his name in vain. Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated and so was his path.”

Rabin was shot by Amir at a pro-peace rally on Nov. 4, 1995.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service


Israeli archeologists decipher stone from Crusades

Israeli archeologists have deciphered an 800-year-old marble stone that bears an Arabic inscription denotingthe name of Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II. The slab is said to be the only Crusade-era artifact discovered with an Arabic inscription in the Middle East, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) said, according to Haaretz.

The inscription, which fully states, “1229 of the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus the Messiah,” leading the IAA to proclaim it “a rare archaeological find,” was originally discovered in the city of Jaffa and thought to be from the Ottoman period. Only later was it discovered to be from the sixth crusade (1228-29), when Frederick II fortified the castle of Jaffa.

Frederick famously gave over Jerusalem to the crusaders through an agreement with the Egyptian Sultan al-Malik al-Kamil. The inscription refers to Frederick as “King of Jerusalem.”

—JointMedia News Service


Jerusalem medical center starts trials for cancer vaccine

The Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem has begun new clinical trials for a vaccine said to be effective against a specific type of blood cancer known as multiple myeloma. If the trials are successful, the vaccine could be available within six years to treat certain types of cancer and prevent its reoccurrence, the Israel National News reported.

The vaccine trains the immune system’s own T-cells to attack the MUC1 molecule, which is usually found in cancer cells. More than 90 percent of cancer tumors have this molecule, such as lymphoma, leukemia and multiple myeloma. The vaccine will not prevent the need for chemotherapy and surgery to treat advanced cancers, but when the disease is brought under control with those treatments, the body’s own immune system should be able to keep the illness in check.

—JointMedia News Service


Study Says Border Flare-Ups Imminent

Anti-Israel groups are planning to stage a series of rallies and border breaches in the coming months, and defense forces are bracing themselves for the challenge, officials from a national security research center said last Sunday.

Security officials say the groups are hoping to pressure Israel to change its policies through a string of flotillas to Gaza, fly-ins to Ben-Gurion International Airport and marches at Israel’s border fences.

In a paper published on Sunday by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, a private research center that focuses on national-security issues and intelligence, it was reported that activists from both within and outside the Middle East are hoping to carry out what they call “awareness-raising” events—incidents specifically designed to challenge Israel’s riot police and military. One specific threat relates to the Israeli-Jordanian border, where a “Million Man Worldwide Caravan” is scheduled for Nov. 25.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service


Surprise Drill Tests IDF Response to Kidnapping

Less than a month after Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was released by Hamas after being abducted more than five years ago, the Israel Defense Forces last Sunday morning participated in a surprise simulation drill conducted by IDF Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz as part of an extensive operational review to test the IDF's preparedness for the possible sudden abduction of an Israeli soldier.

The drill was held at the IDF’s 162 division in the Jordan Valley. The “Hannibal Protocol”—which states that the abduction of a soldier must be prevented in every way possible, even if doing so endangers that soldier’s life—was practiced.

“This is the first time in years that such an exercise has been carried out at the general staff level,” Army Radio quoted Col. Shlomi Fayer as saying on Sunday.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service



Sinking Feeling: Dead Sea Falls Short in ‘New 7 Wonders’ Contest

The Dead Sea. Credit: David Shankbone.In what might leave a bitter feeling for many Israelis, the Dead Sea lost in its quest to be tabbed be one of the new Seven Wonders of the World.

According to results revealed Nov. 11, the body of water was not among the winners of the “New 7 Wonders of Nature” contest. Contest officials said the Dead Sea was among the top 14 in the voting out of 28 finalists, but it could not crack the top seven: Amazon, Halong Bay (Vietnam), Iguazu Falls (Argentina and Brazil), Jeju Island (South Korea), Komodo (Indonesia), Puerto Princesa Underground River (Philippines) and Table Mountain (South Africa).

“I’m disappointed because we were so close,” Dov Litvinoff, mayor of one of two regionals councils that border on the Dead Sea, told the Jerusalem Post.

Knesset member Nitzan Horowitz told the Post that, “Precisely because it didn’t win, we must restore the Dead Sea and preserve its status as a world wonder of nature.”

—JointMedia News Service


Netanyahu Remembers Father-in-Law for Wisdom, Modesty

The late Shmuel Ben-Artzi, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s father-in-law, who was a writer, poet and educator, was laid to rest in Jerusalem on Nov. 11.

Among those in attendance at the funeral were President Shimon Peres, Rabbis Yisrael Meir Lau and Yona Metzger, government ministers and MKs, friends, and family members including his sons, his daughter Sara and son-in-law the prime minister, and their two sons, Yair and Avner.

During Netanyahu’s eulogy for Ben-Artzi, the prime minister called his father-in-law, “a man who had conventional wisdom and wisdom of the heart, one of the most truly outstanding individuals of our generation.”

The prime minister said, “I never met anyone who knew him, who wasn’t captivated by his personality, who wasn’t enchanted by his modesty and his sensitivity, by the depth of his knowledge and the good of his heart, by his down-to-earth manners and his life story.”

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service


Rabbi Accidentally Killed by IDF Soldiers Laid to Rest

Hundreds of mourners gathered in Jerusalem on Nov. 11 for the funeral of Rabbi Dan Mertzbach, 55, who was accidentally killed when Israel Defense Forces soldiers on patrol mistakenly identified his car as that of a terrorist.

According to an IDF investigation, soldiers stationed at an observation post in the southern Hebron hills settlement of Beit Hagai identified a vehicle driving erratically, and soldiers were rushed to intercept the car.

The soldiers failed to set up an impromptu checkpoint in time and when Mertzbach’s vehicle came toward them, the soldiers signaled with flashlights for him to stop. Poor visibility that morning prevented Mertzbach from realizing it was soldiers in front of him, and instead he accelerated.

The soldiers apparently thought Mertzbach’s car was the car reported minutes earlier and one of the soldiers, sensing imminent danger, fired eight rounds into the vehicle. One of the bullets struck Mertzbach in the head, and the car continued another 1,300 feet before hitting the guardrails.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service

Posted on November 15, 2011 and filed under Israel.