Israel Briefs 1-10-12

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Drawing praise and criticism, Noam Shalit announces move into politics

Click photo to download. Caption: Noam Shalit with his wife, Aviva. Credit: Itzik Edri.Noam Shalit, father of former Hamas captive Gilad Shalit, confirmed on Monday that he would run for a spot on the Labor party list for the next Knesset, Israel Hayom reported.

"After years of being engaged in a public struggle [for the release of his son] during which I gained a deep understanding of Israeli society, including its beautiful and moral aspects, I wish to serve the public," Shalit, who has been a member of the Labor party since 1996, said on Monday.

While Shalit received praise for his decision, not everyone approved of it . Since he is seen as a public figure associated with a complex story, MKs largely refrained from publicly attacking Shalit, but in private conversations, some Kadima and Likud MKs expressed outrage at his decision to enter politics. According to the MKs, Shalit is trying to capitalize politically on his family's trauma, which became a national issue.

-JointMedia News Service

Four Palestinians discovered with 11 explosives

Israeli border officers arrested four Palestinian men at a checkpoint in Jenin with an improvised gun, a commando knife and 11 different explosive devices, Yedioth Ahronoth reported. Authorities destroyed the discovered explosives.

"Eleven devices is an exceptional amount in one time. We've had incidents this year of three or four devices seized at the same time,” a senior officer said.

An officer first spotted one of the men because he had wires sticking out of his clothes. After ordering the man to lift his arms and undress, he discovered the explosives and weapons on his body. Although nothing was discovered on the bodies of the other three men, they were detained on suspicion of helping the primary suspect.

-JointMedia News Service

IDF to purchase 2500 cars, trucks from U.S. military

The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) is negotiating to purchase 2,500 Hummer vehicles, trucks and other equipment from the United States, Yedioth Ahronoth reported.

According to the U.S. – Israeli military agreement, the IDF will buy the equipment, including gear the U.S. military has used in operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. If the deal takes place, the vehicles will first be tested and then sent to special military warehouses.

The IDF is also preparing for a joint missile defense exercise with the U.S., the army announced last week. "Austere Challenge 12" is expected to be the largest ever joint drill between the two nations.

-JointMedia News Service

Four new Supreme Court judges appointed in Israel

Israel’s Judicial Selection Committee appointed four new Supreme Court judges last week, Israel Hayom reported. After weeks of controversy and a meeting at the Justice Ministry, the Judicial Selection Committee reached a compromise and appointed district judges Noam Solberg, Zvi Zilbertal and Uri Shoham, as well as Professor Dafna Barak-Erez as Supreme Court justices.

Three of the appointments were approved unanimously by all nine members of the selection committee. Solberg's appointment was approved by eight members.

The past few weeks saw intense negotiations over the new Supreme Court appointments.  The controversy centered on Solberg, a kippa-wearing resident of Gush Etzion in the West Bank. Solberg had the support of many right-wing politicians while Judges Barak-Erez and Zilbertal were supported by the left. Shoham, of Iraqi descent, was appointed to ensure Sephardi representation on the court.

Solberg and Zilbertal will begin their terms soon, replacing Judges Ayala Procaccia and Edmond Levy, who both recently retired. Shoham will begin his term when Beinisch retires in February. Barak-Erez will replace Deputy President Justice Eliezer Rivlin when he retires at the end of May.

-JointMedia News Service

3.4 million tourists visited Israel in 2011, new report shows

More than 3 million tourists came to Israel last year, the vast majority of them staying for at least one night, making 2011 the second most voluminous year for incoming tourism, Israel Hayom reported.

The government’s Central Bureau of Statistics issues its annual tourism report on Monday, which showed that Israel's popularity as a tourist destination remained relatively steady, dropping just 2 percent from the record levels of 2010.

Reacting to the report, Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov (Yisrael Beitenu) on Monday touted Israel's success.

"First and foremost we want to make vacations in Israel affordable to everyone and we are engaged in a marketing campaign to bolster Israel's image as a tourism hotspot. This will allow us to meet this year's goal of 4 million tourists. This will serve as an indirect boost to the economy by increasing revenue and adding jobs to the tourism industry," Misezhnikov said.

-JointMedia News Service

Arab-Israeli brothers accused of plotting acts of terror with Hamas

Two Arab-Israeli brothers have been charged with assisting Hamas in the plotting of lethal bomb and shooting attacks on Israelis, the Jerusalem Post reported.

The two men confessed after being arrested by the Israeli security agency of Shin Bet. Amir Farid Yasin Asad, 28, and Mahmad Farid Yasin Assad, 19 admitted to being in contact with Hamas and for agreeing to receive bomb making instructions. The two also planned to smuggle explosive belts into Israel.

The younger brother "agreed to help them obtain weapons for attacks, collect information on areas where soldiers gather, and to recruit other Arab Israelis," security forces said. "This case underlines the potential threat of exploiting Arab Israelis for terror plots and for acting as go-betweens for terror cells," a security source added.

 --JointMedia News Service

Ugandan pastor treated in Israel after being attacked by Muslim extremists

Click photo to download. Caption: Pastor Umar Mulinde after being admitted and bandaged on Thursday (Jan. 5) at the Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer in Israel by plastic surgeon and burns expert Dr. Joseph Haik (right). Credit: Ilana Yona, Sheba Medical Center.An evangelical pastor from Uganda had to receive extensive emergency medical treatment in Israel last week after he was splashed with acid by Muslim extremists in the Ugandan capital of Kampala, Israel Hayom reported.

Pastor Umar Mulinde, 38, arrived in Israel on Thursday seeking urgent medical attention after extremists doused him with acid, causing severe burns to his face, torso and hand, and damage to his right eye. Mulinde recently began preaching support for Israel, and was attacked on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24. He was initially admitted to the International Hospital in Kampala, but then made a request to be brought to Israel to receive advanced medical treatment.

Recounting the brutal attack against him, Mulinde said, "I was attacked by someone who called out to me and when I turned to look over, he spilled acid on me that burned part of my face. When I turned around again, another person spilled acid over my back. They they ran away yelling ‘Allahu Akbar’ [Allah is great]."

-JointMedia News Service

Hacker publishes 11,000 more Israeli credit cards, names and emails

A Saudi hacker posted information online about 11,00 Israeli credit cards, swearing that he will not rest until he releases information about at least 60,000 more cards, the Jerusalem Post reported.

This development comes after hackers posted a 30 megabyte file including 15,000 card numbers and other identifying information on the One Sport website earlier last week. Those hackers have already encouraged visitors to the website to use the cards to make purchases. Israeli credit card companies urged customers to remain calm. Visa CAL decided to suspend all of the accounts included in the published file.

The new file contains full details of credit cards, including expiration dates, CVVs, names, addresses, telephone numbers, and even people's e-mail addresses and passwords. The new hacker also threatened to release information he "downloaded from Israeli military contractor companies."

"I'm thinking to start doing it from an Israeli company which creates jammers and eavesdropping devices," he posted, continuously referring to the "Zionist lobby" and the "Jewish lobby" in his statement.

--JointMedia News Service

Education, defense country's top budget priorities, Netanyahu says

The Israeli cabinet discussed an across-the-board 4 percent budget cut on Sunday that would be diverted to subsidizing preschool education, Israel Hayom reported.

At the start of the cabinet session, Netanyahu told the government that the cuts are designed to bolster what the government considers paramount. "Education and Security are now our top priorities, and today we are putting on the table resolutions that will bolster those two areas," he said.

Coming just days after tax breaks and other benefits took effect, this latest measure is one of the most dramatic socioeconomic reforms, and one of the key recommendations of the Trajtenberg Report. 

"We are going to provide free education to everyone starting at the age of three. We will not discriminate among sectors. Those opposing free education hurt the poorer members of our society and young couples," Netanyahu said Sunday, ahead of the cabinet session.

-JointMedia News Service

Muslim Brotherhood will not honor treaty with Israel, officials say

Click photo to download. Caption: Amidst statements to the contrary, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland says the United States has received reassurances that the Muslim Brotherhood will abide by the pre-existing treaty with Israel. Credit: PD-US.The Muslim Brotherhood’s Deputy Leader, Essam el-Erian, stated on Saturday that the peace agreement with Israel is "under the responsibility of the people and state institutions, and it would not be right for anyone to speak on behalf of the Egyptian people... We are not in a position to give assurances," World Jewish Daily reported.

This statement now appears to contradict the reassurance by US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland. Despite contradictory statements, she said, various Egyptian political parties have given the State Department “good guarantees” that they will abide by treaties signed by previous Egyptian governments, including the treaty with Israel in 1979, Yedioth Ahronoth reported.

However, Rashad al-Bayoumi, the Muslim Brotherhood's second in command, also recently said that the Islamist Egyptian party has no plans to recognize Israel and may hold a referendum on the peace treaty with Israel.

So far two rounds of Egyptian elections showed that the public in the country overwhelmingly supports Islamist parties. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman is currently in the Middle East, where he is meeting Egyptian officials to discuss the upcoming third election round.

--JointMedia News Service

With sights set on politics, Yair Lapid resigns from journalism

Popular journalist and Channel 2 news anchor Yair Lapid announced on Sunday that he was leaving his career to enter politics, a move likely to rouse the political system, according to Israel Hayom.

He now has considerable support, especially among secular voters, in opinion polls. A poll conducted late last week by Israel Radio said a Lapid-led party could win as many as 15 seats in the 120-seat parliament if elections were held now. That could make it the second-largest party after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud.

Lapid has been rumored to want to join the Kadima party. Indeed, many Likud reactions on Sunday focused on the potential harm Lapid's political move could cause Kadima, reactions possibly stemming from Likud's own fears that the popular journalist could steal seats even from the ruling party.

-JointMedia News Service



Posted on January 9, 2012 and filed under Briefs, Israel.