(Religious Poem) Walking With Faith, Or Without It

WALKING WITH FAITH, OR WITHOUT IT

 

There is no peace saith the Lord for the wicked

Without faith in God it is impossible to please Him

The Hebrews were given water out of the rocks to drink

In 40 years the soles of their shoes nor garments ever failed

Birds and Manna from Heaven given to these faithless

 

Listen to the Lord O Israel as He calls you to honor His name

With faith in the Lord you never would have lost your land

Babylon shall never prevail against you for His name sake

The language of the Mediterranean shall cease to be spoken

Babylon and her Whore shall be brought down in one day

 

The Lord laid all the foundations for all of us to live and to love

Our Lord is the Alpha and the Omega the First and the Last

Thus saith the Lord our Redeemer He is the Holy One Of Israel

With faith we shall all be refined better that the purest of Gold

Through faith there is hope, without faith only Hell’s fire awaits

 

In weaving India and Israel together, challenges loom

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

In weaving India and Israel together, challenges loom

Officials see plenty of potential for closer ties both in trade and on the strategic front, but getting there may be more complex than Netanyahu’s whirlwind tour of India suggests

Joshua Davidovich

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, uses a spinning wheel as his wife Sara Netanyahu, center, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi look on during a visit to Gandhi Ashram in Ahmedabad on January 17, 2018. AFP/SAM PANTHAKY)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, uses a spinning wheel as his wife Sara Netanyahu, center, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi look on during a visit to Gandhi Ashram in Ahmedabad on January 17, 2018. AFP/SAM PANTHAKY)

MUMBAI, India — Mumbai’s Gateway of India, a hulking structure looking out over the city’s harbor, was built to commemorate the landing of British King George V and Queen Mary in 1911.

The royal couple never actually got to see the structure, which was only finished in 1924, but it remains to this day as a reminder of the city’s colonial past and as a testament to the grandeur with which rulers were once greeted.

Over 100 years later, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took a quick whirl around the site just before heading to the airport after five days in India during which he was afforded a welcome seen by some as almost as impressive as the building of the massive gate.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara are greeted by Indian dancers at the airport in Mumbai, India, on January 17, 2018. (Avi Ohayon/GPO)

Unlike the gateway, remnants of Netanyahu’s visit — the Israeli flags the kids waved, and the giant billboards of the Israeli leader gracing every city he visited — will quickly fade. What’s more important, though, is whether the relationship spotlighted by the carefully choreographed displays can withstand the many external pressures bearing on it.

As it stands, the Israel-India trade relationship is estimated to be less than $5 billion and most of the commerce is in diamonds and arms, with official Indian figures putting the number at just under $3 billion, making Israel its 39th-largest trading partner. By contrast, India trades over $7.2 billion annually with Iran. But what officials on both sides see is potential, both for more trade and a closer strategic relationship, and the rub may be getting both to work together.

The stated goal of the trip Netanyahu and over a hundred businesspeople took to India was to diversify and expand business ties and highlight what is seen as an already growing diplomatic relationship. “The sky is the limit,” Netanyahu said on more than one occasion, a sentiment echoed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who accompanied Netanyahu on several legs of the visit, including to his home state of Gujarat.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, left, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center and his wife Sara arriving in Ahmadebad, India on January 17, 2018. GPO)

At event after event, officials played up the closeness of the Indian-Israel relationship, the kinship between the countries and the fact that “both of us are surrounded by enemies.” The amalgamation of Israeli tech and Indian creativity was another theme voiced repeatedly during the visit, as Netanyahu met with officials, business leaders, young entrepreneurs and farmers helped by Israeli aid.

But while optimism was omnipresent, there were also signs that the countries did not see eye-to-eye on everything relating to both trade and any strategic/security relationship.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, right, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pose for photographers after the Israeli leader arrived at the Air Force Station in New Delhi January 14, 2018. (PRAKASH SINGH/AFP)

As the country with the second-largest Muslim population in the world, and with a long-trained relationship with Israel and continuing strong trade ties with Iran, India’s supposed love affair with Israel is more complex than the Netanyahu-Modi bromance on display would indicate.

At a joint statement following an official sit-down, neither premier mentioned the Palestinians, with Modi even saying that the land Indian soldiers helped liberate in World War I was “Israel.” (It may have been a slip of the tongue, but Netanyahu followed his lead, saying they had liberated “Israel, the land of Israel.”)

But on Thursday morning, just hours after Modi paid his last farewell to Netanyahu, news leaked out of the Indian leader’s plans to visit Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in a matter of weeks.

Just weeks before Netanyahu’s trip, India backed a UN resolution condemning US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, though both countries insisted that the vote would not affect ties.

Modi’s visit to Israel in July, the first ever by an Indian prime minister, did not include a visit to Ramallah. In somewhat similar fashion, Netanyahu’s visit, only the second by an Israeli prime minister after Ariel Sharon’s short and ill-fated jaunt in 2003 — he had to return home to deal with a terrorist attack — didn’t include a meeting with opposition leader Rahul Ghandi of the left-leaning Congress Party.

India’s opposition Congress Party president Rahul Gandhi, center, is presented with a garland, during a meeting in Ahmadabad, India, December 23, 2017. (AP/Ajit Solanki)

While Ghandi’s faction had for years blocked ties with Israel and led the anti-Israel bloc at the United Nations, it did maintain mostly positive ties with Israel in the government led by Manmohan Singh preceding Modi’s rise to power in 2014, making the omission all the stranger.

The lack of a Netanyahu-Gandhi meeting and the fact that the prime minister only visited states ruled by Modi’s Hindu nationalist BJP party, even avoiding business hub Bangalore despite the trade orientation of the trip, raised questions as to whether the positive ties forged between Israel and India under Modi would survive his eventual fall from power.

“Confining Netanyahu’s itinerary only to BJP-ruled states is a short-sighted move,” Jawaharlal Nehru University prof. P. R. Kumaraswamy wrote in The Indian Express daily. “Since relations were established by Congress Prime Minister P. V. Narasimha Rao, consensus building has been the hallmark of Indo-Israeli relations.”

Strategic relationships could also be hampered by a reluctance to take a stand against each others’ enemies. Despite Israel’s push to isolate Iran over its nuclear program, Tehran and Delhi maintain a close trading partnership, especially in oil, a relationship Delhi is unlikely to give up without more incentive than a few water purification plants.

A cartoon in the Hindustan Times on January 16, 2018. Joshua Davidovich/Times of Israel)

On the other side, Israeli officials indicated they had no interest in trying to join India in pushing back against Pakistan and China. A cartoon in a popular newspaper during the visit showed Netanyahu and Modi piloting a drone as Pakistan and China cowered in fear, but Israeli officials insisted it was not representative of reality.

“It’s not a zero-sum game,” one Israeli official said, regarding balancing ties with India and ties with China (Israel has no relations with Pakistan).

However, an Indian official noted that the relationship could be affected if Israel’s ties to China moved from the economic to the strategic, with India viewing China — with which it fought and lost a bitter border war in the 1960s — as a major threat.

Arun Singh, a former Indian ambassador to Israel, wrote during Netanyahu’s trip that Jerusalem’s willingness to keep a door open to forging ties with Pakistan and improving ties with China could put a damper on improving the India-Israel relationship.

“There are limits on convergence of interests, as is inevitable between any two countries, especially those with differing histories and dissimilarities in their geopolitical challenges,” he wrote on the Indian website The Print. “We should unhesitatingly consolidate our bilateral relationship with Israel, where it serves our national interest. But we should also remain mindful of limits of the convergences. Israel’s approach to China, Iran and Pakistan are indicative.”

Speaking to reporters during the trip, Netanyahu said he “understood sensitivities” surrounding building of ties with Delhi while both were unaligned on other geopolitical matters.

“Improving ties is not meant to be against any specific country,” he added.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and his wife Sara pose for a photograph at the Taj Mahal in the Indian city of Agra on January 16, 2018. ( AFP PHOTO / STR)

But trade and politics are often intertwined, as evidenced by the desire for a direct flight between Delhi and Tel Aviv over Saudi Arabia, which became a major theme of the trip.

Amid reports of talks over brokering such a route for Air India, Netanyahu at a business forum called for a “simple, direct flight.” Later that day, an Indian food exporter confirmed that the lack of such a flight was hurting business ties.

Politics also seeped into Israel’s bid to boost tourism by attracting a Bollywood film, highlighting the potential pitfalls of developing a larger business relationship in any sector. According to reports, a trio of top Muslim Bollywood stars, Aamir Khan, Salman Khan, and Shah Rukh Khan, known as “the Khans of Bollywood,” boycotted a gala event held in Mumbai Thursday night to protest Netanyahu. A fourth Bollywood Khan, Ajaz Khan, criticized director Karan Johar on Twitter for attending the event, and posted a tirade against it on YouTube.

Wonderful evening, a honour and a privilege, meeting an occupier of Palestinian land and killer of unarmed protesters including women and children in Occupied Territories.shame on u Karan https://twitter.com/karanjohar/status/954087461700775936 

At the event, keynote guest Amitabh Bachchan spoke of the allure of Bollywood films and their ability to bring people together. And the very next morning, Bollywood news was on the front page, but for the opposite reason. Riots were threatening to break out over the film “Padmaavat” after the Supreme Court ruled that states could not ban the controversial historical drama based on a 16th century poem about a queen.

The case was just another example that sweet words, like those uttered by Modi, Netanyahu and other officials from both sides about the great Indian-Israeli relationship, were sometimes more complicated than they were made out to be from the dais.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (unseen) at an Israeli-Indian Economic Conference in New Delhi, India on January 15, 2018 (Avi Ohayon/GPO)

Indian businesspeople at many of the events hosted by Netanyahu talked up the strength of the economic relationship, though when pressed, they admitted that Israel was only a blip on the map of potential business ties.

After all the talk of Indian-Israeli business ties, the name “Israel” was not mentioned once in the 12-page business section of the Hindustan Times on Friday, the day Netanyahu left.

A close-up shot of the Tammuz missiles mounted on an armed personnel carrier (Photo credit: Courtesy: IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)

Free trade talks remain moribund, by all accounts, and the biggest business news to come out the trip was the reviving of a deal for India to buy Spike anti-tank missiles (known as Tammuz in Israel) from the Israeli firm Rafael. However, it seems it may be for less than the original $500 million price tag, to say nothing of the fact that it does nothing to diversify the business relationship or grow it, since Israel thought the deal was in the bag until recently anyway.

Still, ties between the countries are growing unmistakably closer. It’s impossible to overstate the length the Indians went to in order to welcome Netanyahu, with outlandish routines that sometimes seemed almost embarrassingly obsequious — a sign that to a large degree, Israel has a giant on its side, even if it is one that is still largely focused on raising up hundreds of millions of people out of dire poverty, and it is largely thanks to Netanyahu’s emphasis on expanding diplomatic ties around the world.

At the same time, it seems it’s easy to get sucked into exaggerating the importance of that relationship. While Netanyahu was sweet-talking the Indians, behind the scenes he was distracted with working on repairing another diplomatic relationship: with Jordan, which is one he and the rest of the country likely view as more strategic than ties with Delhi.

Indian children wave to a vehicle carrying Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as they arrive at Sabarmati Ashram or Gandhi Ashram in Ahmadabad, India, Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018. (AP/Ajit Solanki)

In India, the cheering crowds and adulation were likely a welcome respite from home, where the prime minister is constantly dogged by political intrigue and criminal investigations that are casting a pall over his continued rule. Moments before taking off for Delhi over a week ago, he briefly spoke to reporters, looking dejected as he addressed his son Yair’s strip club tape scandal, which was roiling the country.

Landing back home almost a week later, he sat relaxing in his first class seat as staff, security and journalists disembarked, scrolling through his phone and looking carefree as ever.

Less than an hour before he landed, a major rainstorm had passed over the country, but as his plane touched down, the clouds over the airport cleared and for a brief moment, the sun was shining.

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(Religious Poem) The Mighty One Of Israel

THE MIGHTY ONE OF ISRAEL

 

I have not hid my face from the shameful and simple

The Ignorant have plucked the hairs from off of my face

Yet I have not been rebellious to the words my Lord has given

The Lord opened my ears and I have not turned my face away

The Lord awakens me each morning so I may hear His words

 

The Lord has given me the tongue of one who is learned

I now know how to speak wisdom to those who are weary

The Lord clothes the Heavens with blackness and gives us drink

At His word the rivers dry up the fish then the men soon die

Has the Lord no power to deliver upon the words He feeds us

 

Only the fool believes the Lord’s hand is unable to deliver us

When the Lord first spoke there was no man to hear His words

When the Lord spoke Creation itself opened its ears to hear

The Wise and True says to owe no one so no one can own you

The foolish walk in the darkness and give away their freedom

 

The unlearned will drink their own blood as though it is wine

The Heathen who oppress you shall dine on their own flesh

Many of a strong-arm will come to remove you from your inheritance

You shall be surrounded by many yet I will save My faithful Children

The Lord is your Savior and Redeemer, I am the mighty one of Israel

(Biblical Poem) Ezra 9-Lamentation Of The Man: Ezra

Lamentation of the Man: Ezra

 

When he heard The Royal Seed, dirtied

Hair from his head and his beard he pulled

Astonished and confused by the people’s lost faith

The Holy Seed contaminated, defiled, mixed blood

We have taken of their daughters and they our sons

 

Trying to get the faithless to understand and to see

Grace from G-d, His promise: to save, some of us

Do we have a nail hold in understanding of the Holy Crown

Great Grace has been given to us: yet we mostly choose to fail

Hebrew Theology the Lamentation of Ezra: The Man, Chapter 9

Abbas Once Again Tries To Rewrite History

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

(COMMENTARY: ARE PRESIDENTS TRUMP AND ABBAS JUST BROTHERS WITH ANOTHER MOTHER? CERTAINLY THEY MUST BE, THEY ARE TWO OF THE MOST IGNORANT LOUD MOUTH IDIOTS WOMAN KIND HAS EVER HAD TO OFFER!)(trs)

 

Rewriting history, Abbas calls Israel a ‘colonial project’ unrelated to Judaism

In speech ignoring Jewish ties to holy land, PA head implies European Jews chose to die in Holocaust rather than go to Palestine; claims Ben-Gurion forced Mideast Jews to Israel

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting with the Palestinian Central Council, a top decision-making body, at his headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah, January 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed,l)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting with the Palestinian Central Council, a top decision-making body, at his headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah, January 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed,l)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday night implied European Jews during the Holocaust chose to undergo “murder and slaughter” over emigration to British-held Palestine, and alleged that the State of Israel’s first prime minister David Ben-Gurion imported Jews from Yemen and Iraq to the country against their will.

The Palestinian leader further asserted that the State of Israel was formed as “a colonial project that has nothing to do with Judaism” to safeguard European interests.

The PA leader delivered a mini-lecture on his understanding of the history of Zionism on Sunday, claiming the Jewish state deliberately stirred trouble in Arab countries in order to forcibly move Middle Eastern Jews into the sparsely populated nascent state.

Abbas, in his address, made no mention of the Jews’ historic presence and periods of sovereignty in the holy land. Israel is the only place where the Jews have ever been sovereign or sought sovereignty.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (C) speaks during a meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah on January 14, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / ABBAS MOMANI)

The comments were made near the beginning of a two-and-a-half hour speech by the Palestinian leader to a meeting of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Central Council in Ramallah, which largely focused on a response to United States President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

In response to the address, Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said on Monday that Abbas had “lost his senses.”

“Colonialism created Israel to perform a certain function. It is a colonial project that has nothing to do with Judaism, but rather used the Jews as a tool under the slogan of the Promised Land,” said Abbas, who added that he was borrowing from the scholarly work of Egyptian intellectual Abdel-Wahab El-Messiri. El-Messiri wrote an eight-volume Encyclopedia of Jews, Judaism and Zionism.

Once the State of Israel was created, Abbas maintained, Israeli leaders were hard-pressed to get Jews to immigrate to the country.

The Palestinian leader suggested the Jews of Europe — six million of whom would be killed by the Nazis — chose to remain in their home countries during the Holocaust, rather than emigrate.

“The Jews did not want to emigrate even with murder and slaughter. Even during the Holocaust, they did not emigrate. By 1948, Jews in Palestine were no more than 640,000, most of them from Europe,” he said.

In fact, from 1939 to 1945, the British mandatory authorities prevented almost all Jewish immigration to Palestine, at the behest of the Arab states.

In order to fill the nascent Jewish state, Abbas asserted, that Ben-Gurion begrudgingly began bringing Jews from Arab lands to Israel by force.

“Ben-Gurion did not want Middle Eastern Jews to come [to Israel]…but when he saw the vast land, he was forced to bring Middle Eastern Jews… that didn’t want to come. From Yemen they flew 50,000 Jews…They didn’t suffice with 50,000 Jews. Then they went to Iraq, which had large reserves of Jews,” said Abbas.

Some 49,000 Yemeni Jews were brought to the nascent State of Israel in Operation Magic Carpet in 1949-50.

Illustrative: Jews of Aden awaiting evacuation to Israel on November 1, 1949. (GPO/Public domain)

Abbas claimed the Israelis cut deals with the Iraqi politicians “to take away the citizenship of Jews and force them to emigrate.”

“They did not suffice with this and gathered all the Jews in Arab countries, from Morocco to Algeria and Tunis, Libya, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon,” Abbas said.

The establishment of the Jewish state in 1949 was met with violent riots, looting, and attacks on local Jewish populations in countries throughout the Middle East, including Yemen, Iraq, Syria, and Egypt.

Some 900,000 Jews fled, or were forced to flee, their homelands following the creation of the State of Israel. As a result, the Jewish population of the Middle East (excluding Israel) and North Africa shrank from 856,000 to just 4,400 today.

In his remarks, Abbas noted the PLO organization rallied against the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, a British declaration that called for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in historic Palestine.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (C-R) speaks during a meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah, on January 14, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / ABBAS MOMANI)

Yet, according to the Palestinian leader, the history of the British-Jewish connection to Palestine actually reaches back to the rule of Oliver Cromwell in 1653.

“He thought of moving the Jews from Europe to the Middle East, to this region, because they wanted this region to be a frontier to protect convoys and interests coming from Europe to the East,” Abbas said of Cromwell, whose plan never came to fruition.

Abbas then traced the history of European colonialism in Palestine from Napoleon Bonaparte, who also said the Jews should have a state in their historic homeland, through American attempts to set up colonies in the 1850, first with local Palestinian Jews, then with American Christians.

Arriving at the story of Theodor Herzl, considered the father of modern Zionism, Abbas said Herzl was primarily interested in setting up a Jewish homeland in order to aid European Jews. Focusing on the early Zionist slogan, “A land without a people for a people without a land,” Abbas claimed the father of Zionism had called for genocide of the local Arab population.

Abbas alleged that when Herzl visited Palestine and saw people living there, the father of Zionism said: “We must wipe out the Palestinians from Palestine so that Palestine will be a land without a people for a people without a land.”

The Zionist leader is not known to have advocated for the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians.

Famous picture of Theodor Herzl on the balcony of the Hotel Les Trois Rois in Basel, Switzerland (photo credit: CC-PD-Mark, by Wikigamad, Wikimedia Commons)

Famous picture of Theodor Herzl on the balcony of the Hotel Les Trois Rois in Basel, Switzerland (photo credit: CC-PD-Mark, by Wikigamad, Wikimedia Commons)

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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Netanyahu arrives in India, is greeted by PM Modi

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Netanyahu arrives in India, is greeted on tarmac by PM Modi

Israeli leader says he greatly appreciates unplanned personal welcome; two men embrace warmly at start of week-long visit

  • Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, right, embraces Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as the Israeli leader's wife, Sara, watches on their arrival at the Air Force Station in New Delhi, on January 14, 2018. (PRAKASH SINGH/AFP)
    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, right, embraces Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as the Israeli leader’s wife, Sara, watches on their arrival at the Air Force Station in New Delhi, on January 14, 2018. (PRAKASH SINGH/AFP)
  • Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, right, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pose for photographers after the Israeli leader arrived at the Air Force Station in New Delhi January 14, 2018. (PRAKASH SINGH/AFP)
    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, right, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pose for photographers after the Israeli leader arrived at the Air Force Station in New Delhi January 14, 2018. (PRAKASH SINGH/AFP)
  • Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, left, welcomes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, and his wife Sara Netanyahu on their arrival at the Air Force Station in New Delhi on January 14, 2018. (PRAKASH SINGH/AFP)
    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, left, welcomes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, and his wife Sara Netanyahu on their arrival at the Air Force Station in New Delhi on January 14, 2018. (PRAKASH SINGH/AFP)
  • The plane carrying Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara Netanyahu arrives at the Air Force Station in the Indian capital New Delhi on January 14, 2018. (PRAKASH SINGH/AFP)
    The plane carrying Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara Netanyahu arrives at the Air Force Station in the Indian capital New Delhi on January 14, 2018. (PRAKASH SINGH/AFP)
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, together with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, center, and the Israeli leader's wife Sara Netanyahu, left, during the dedication of Haifa Chowk Square, Delhi, India, January 14, 2018. (Avi Ohayon/GPO)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, together with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, center, and the Israeli leader’s wife Sara Netanyahu, left, during the dedication of Haifa Chowk Square, Delhi, India, January 14, 2018. (Avi Ohayon/GPO)
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, together with his wife Sara Netanyahu, seated, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, right, during the dedication of Haifa Chowk Square, Delhi, India, January 14, 2018. (Avi Ohayon/GPO)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, together with his wife Sara Netanyahu, seated, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, right, during the dedication of Haifa Chowk Square, Delhi, India, January 14, 2018. (Avi Ohayon/GPO)
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, together with his wife Sara Netanyahu, right, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, left, during the dedication of Haifa Chowk Square, Delhi, India, January 14, 2018. (Avi Ohayon/GPO)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, together with his wife Sara Netanyahu, right, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, left, during the dedication of Haifa Chowk Square, Delhi, India, January 14, 2018. (Avi Ohayon/GPO)

NEW DELHI, India — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu touched down in this smog-filled city Sunday afternoon, warmly embracing his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, in a surprise ceremony at the airport, and celebrating a close personal bond that the two are hoping to parlay into further cooperation between their two countries.

Netanyahu’s five-day trip to India will see him attempt to expand business ties with the subcontinent, though it comes amid a cloud of uncertainty after Delhi canceled a $500 million deal with Israeli arms maker Rafael late last year.

The Prime Minister’s Office said that Netanyahu had been expecting to be met by Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and, arriving in Delhi, was apparently surprised to be greeted by Modi. The two leaders exchanged pleasantries and held their hands aloft for the press on the tarmac red carpet.

“I very much appreciate the gesture,” Netanyahu said through his office shortly after the two were whisked away from the brief arrival ceremony.

On his official Twitter account, Modi wrote in Hebrew, “Welcome to India, my friend PM @netanyahu. Your visit is historic and special. This visit will strengthen the close ties between our countries.”

Responding in Hebrew on his own Twitter account, Netanyahu expressed his appreciation for Modi’s personal welcome. “Thank you, my dear friend Modi, on the warm and personal welcome to India,” he wrote.

Accompanied by his wife, Sara, Netanyahu is leading a 130-strong trade delegation — the largest ever for an Israeli prime minister — to India meant to boost bilateral business ties, as well as diplomatic relations.

Over the course of the visit, Israel and India will sign a series of bilateral agreements.

Kicking off the heavily guarded trip, the two stopped at a large traffic circle in Delhi marked by a memorial to Indian soldiers who fought in Palestine in World War I, which they saw renamed from Teen Murti Chowk Square to Haifa Chowk Square in a small ceremony.

Laying a wreath on a statue listing places where the Indian Hyderabad, Jodhpur and Mysore brigades fought — such as Haifa, Gaza, the Jordan Valley and Damascus — Modi, Netanyahu and Sara Netanyahu stood at attention for several minutes as trumpets played.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, right, embraces Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as the Israeli leader’s wife, Sara, watches on their arrival at the Air Force Station in New Delhi, on January 14, 2018. (PRAKASH SINGH/AFP)

Netanyahu’s visit is the first by an Israeli prime minister since 2003, when Ariel Sharon visited, but abruptly cut his trip short to return to Israel after a terrorist attack.

In contrast with prime ministerial visits to the US or Europe, Netanyahu’s trip, which will take him to three cities in India, will focus very little on Middle Eastern affairs such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. India recently backed a UN General Assembly motion condemning US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, throwing some cold water on hopes for a closer diplomatic relationship.

The confirmation earlier this month that India had canceled the $500 million deal for Spike anti-tank missiles from Israeli firm Rafael also cast a shadow over the trip. While wanting to foster a stronger relationship with Israel, India is also in the midst of trying to develop its own arms manufacturing industry, under the “Make in India” tagline. Last week, however, an Indian news agency reported that Delhi was considering the possibility of reviving the missile sale as a government-to-government deal.

Ahead of the visit, Netanyahu pointed to close personal relationship between himself and Modi cemented during the Indian premier’s trip to Israel last year, his first since taking office.

“This visit is an opportunity to enhance cooperation with a global economic, security, technology and tourism power. Indian Prime Minister Modi is a close friend of Israel and of mine and I appreciate the fact that he will accompany me on extensive parts of my visit,” Netanyahu said Saturday night before leaving Israel.

Modi’s visit to Israel was also marked by a sharing of tweets and the two leaders accompanying each other nearly everywhere.

Netanyahu is set to have dinner with Modi Sunday night after meeting Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj. On Monday the two will hold a series of meetings focused on expanding trade ties, and on Wednesday, they will travel to Modi’s home state of Gujarat before leaving for Mumbai, where Netanyahu will attend memorials for the 2008 terror attacks that took place there.

While there, he is also slated to meet with several Bollywood figures as part of Israel’s drive to expand tourism by attracting Indian films to shoot in Israel.

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IDF Destroys Another Hamas Attack Tunnel

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

TUNNEL ENTERED ISRAEL BENEATH KEREM SHALOM GOODS CROSSING

IDF destroys Hamas attack tunnel that penetrated Israel and Egypt

Israeli jets strike in southern Gaza; army denies Palestinian claims the cross-border passage — the third destroyed by Israel in three months — was used for smuggling

The Israel Defense Forces on Sunday said it had destroyed a border-crossing Hamas attack tunnel, the third in recent months, that penetrated hundreds of meters into both Israeli and Egyptian territory from the Gaza Strip, in an airstrike in southern Gaza on Saturday night.

“We completed the destruction of a third terror tunnel,” spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus told reporters early Sunday morning, denying claims made by Hamas that it was a smuggling tunnel.

The tunnel, which was constructed differently from most tunnels in Gaza, began in the city of Rafah and crossed into Israel under the Kerem Shalom Crossing, through which hundreds of trucks ordinarily cross into the coastal enclave with goods from Israel each day, he said.

“We understand this tunnel belongs to Hamas,” Conricus added, saying the military believed the terror group saw it as a “significant asset.”

That assessment came from the fact that the tunnel ran underneath the Gaza crossing, which was kept closed on Sunday, as well as below the gas and diesel pipelines into the Strip and a nearby IDF post, he said.

An attack tunnel that was bombed by Israeli jets on January 13, 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)

“This is a severe breach of Israel’s sovereignty, a serious threat to Israeli civilians and a threat to the humanitarian efforts that Israel allows for the people in the Gaza Strip,” the military said in a statement.

The army spokesperson credited the discovery and destruction of the tunnel to a combination of “cutting-edge” technology and intelligence.

It was the third tunnel entering Israeli territory destroyed by the IDF in under three months. On October 30, the army blew up an attack tunnel that belonged to the Iran-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group, in the process killing 12 members of the organization, along with two Hamas operatives. On December 10, the military demolished a second tunnel, this one controlled by Hamas.

However, in both of those cases, the tunnels were destroyed from inside Israeli territory, unlike the one on Saturday night, which was hit from inside Gaza by Israeli jets, Conricus said.

“If you do something once, it’s a chance; if you do something twice, it’s a coincidence; if you do something three times, there’s a method,” he said, hinting at further tunnel demolitions to come.

IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot made the destruction of Palestinian terror groups’ attack tunnel a top priority for the military, following the 2014 Gaza war, which saw extensive use of tunnels by the Hamas terrorist group.

Over the past year, the army has been constructing an underground barrier around the Gaza Strip that is meant to block attempts to dig into Israel.

Military officials have noted that more tunnels will likely be destroyed in coming months as the barrier nears completion.

IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, left, visits an attack tunnel dug by a Palestinian terrorist group from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel during a visit to the area on December 20, 2017. (Israel Defense Forces)

Conricus’s comments marked the first time an army official has publicly acknowledged that the military has the capability to successfully strike tunnels from the air, though others have alluded to it in the past.

Last week, the IDF also struck what many assumed to be a tunnel in the Gaza Strip, following a series of mortar attacks.

In its statement at the time, the army referred to the target of the attack on January 4 as “significant terror infrastructure.”

According to official Palestinian media, that “infrastructure” was farmland in the southern Gaza Strip, prompting many to assume that it was, in fact, a tunnel beneath the field, though not necessarily one that crossed into Israeli territory.

The message to the leaders of Gaza and its citizens is clear — invest in the sanctity of life and not in [digging your own] catacombs

On Twitter, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman praised the IDF’s “professional and accurate” Saturday night airstrike.

“The destruction of the attack tunnel network is a key feature of our policy of consistently striking Hamas’s strategic capabilities,” Liberman wrote Sunday morning. “The message to the leaders of Gaza and its citizens is clear — invest in the sanctity of life and not in [digging your own] catacombs.”

Earlier, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, before taking off for an official visit to India, threatened Hamas with “even greater force” following the Saturday night strike.

“This evening the IDF attacked Hamas’s central terror infrastructure in the Gaza Strip,” he said. “There are those who have said the IDF just targeted sand dunes — this is incorrect. Hamas must understand that we will not tolerate the continuation of these attacks and will respond with even greater force.”

The army denied the claim made by Hamas late Saturday night that the Israeli jets had targeted a smuggling tunnel between the Gaza Strip and Egypt.

“We know it’s a terror tunnel because it passes under different strategic assets,” Conricus said, referring to its proximity to the fuel pipelines into Gaza, the Kerem Shalom Crossing and a military installation nearby.

The army spokesperson also denied earlier reports in Hebrew media that the jets had targeted a shipment of long-range missiles into Gaza.

According to Conricus, the tunnel was dug in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, some 900 meters from Israel, and extended 180 meters into Israeli territory.

On the other end, it also extended hundreds of meters into Egypt, which could have allowed fighters in Gaza to attack Israeli positions from the Sinai Peninsula, he said.

Asked if the tunnel could have functioned as both a smuggling and attack tunnel, the army spokesperson responded, “It could have, but we deal with the infrastructure.”

As the tunnel entered Egyptian territory, the army was in contact with Cairo about its destruction, Conricus said, but would not elaborate on the extent of the cooperation.

The tunnel’s design was out of the ordinary, not matching the size of some larger tunnels and lacking the domed roof of smaller attack tunnels.

The strike came shortly after the military announced it would not be opening the Kerem Shalom Crossing into the Gaza Strip on Sunday, following a “situational assessment.”

UN trucks carrying building materials for projects funded by UNRWA arrive in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip after crossing the Israeli Kerem Shalom crossing on December 10, 2013. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

It is the second time Kerem Shalom has been closed in under a month.

Israel shut down the crossing on December 14 following multiple rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza, along with Erez Crossing, through which people enter and exit the Strip. Erez reopened a day later, and Kerem Shalom was reopened on December 17.

On Friday, approximately 1,000 Palestinians took part in violent demonstrations in four locations along the security fence surrounding Gaza, rolling burning tires and throwing rocks at the barrier and the soldiers on the other side, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

In response, “troops fired live rounds selectively toward three main instigators, who posed a threat to IDF soldiers and the security fence,” the army said.

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry said dozens of Palestinians were injured by live fire, rubber bullets and tear gas during the riots.

On Saturday, the Defense Ministry’s chief liaison to the Palestinians warned residents of the Gaza Strip that the Hamas terror organization was using them in its quest for violence against Israel.

“Hamas terrorists send young people to riot at the [Gaza border]… while hiding behind them and claiming that these riots are spontaneous and peaceful,” Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), said on Facebook.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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Frustration boils into calls for revenge at funeral of slain Rabbi

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Frustration boils into calls for revenge at funeral of slain Rabbi

Mourners for Raziel Shevach at Havat Gilad outpost heckle Naftali Bennett in middle of his eulogy, urge aggressive action against Palestinians

Friends and family attend the funeral of Rabbi Raziel Shevach, 35, in the West Bank outpost of Havat Gilad on January 10, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Friends and family attend the funeral of Rabbi Raziel Shevach, 35, in the West Bank outpost of Havat Gilad on January 10, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

HAVAT GILAD, West Bank — Irate and mournful, hundreds of mourners attended the Wednesday funeral of a rabbi who was slain by terrorists in a drive-by shooting attack in the northern West Bank, eulogizing the father of six and calling for revenge.

A large group of mourners shouted down Education Minister Naftali Bennett as he concluded his eulogy for Raziel Shevach at the Havat Gilad outpost, where the victim lived.

As dozens of hecklers chanted “revenge,” Bennett attempted to calm the crowd by saying that “the only revenge is to keep building.”

Not appeased, the chants only grew louder, with one yelling that the minister, the head of the Jewish Home party, was “all talk.”

“Your name should be blotted out,” one mourner yelled out, using a Hebrew phrase usually reserved for especially villainous figures.

The funeral took place at the illegal outpost south of Nablus, a tiny grouping of caravans housing some 40 families, in a hastily prepared cemetery, with Shevach becoming the first person to be buried there.

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Raziel Shevach will be the first person laid to rest in the Havat Gilad outpost. There’s no cemetery here so construction workers are hustling up to the last minute before the funeral to clear the area in time for burial. This whole area was bushes and weeds 24 hrs ago

“Raziel asked that if something were ever to happen to him that he would be buried at Havat Gilad,” his wife Yael said in a statement earlier Wednesday.

Shevach, 35, was killed Tuesday night in a drive-by shooting attack as he drove on a main highway south of Nablus. The army launched a large-scale search for his killer, but no arrests have been announced.

Like nearly every one of the eulogizers, Bennett called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to increase construction in the West Bank and legalize the outpost in response to Shevach’s murder.

“You, the residents of Havat Gilad are the real heroes,” the minister said earlier in his eulogy. “Our enemies’ terror stems from the hope that if they kill one more Jew or throw one more rock, that we will break in the end,” he asserted. “But we extinguish that hope by building families and establishing new communities on our land.”

Rabbi Elyakim Levanon, a settler leader, told mourners it was time for Netanyahu to revise his settlement polices so that “not every meter of building will be a debate.”

“Mr. Prime Minister, come here and look at this family in the eyes and you’ll see what you have to do,” Levanon told the hundreds in attendance.

Samaria Regional Council chairman Yossi Dagan was much more forceful. “Rabbi Raziel did not die from cancer, he died because he was a Jew living in Israel,” he said, holding back tears.

Rabbi Raziel Shevach with his family, in an undated photo (Courtesy of the family)

“I call, from here, on the members of the government. We have the best army in the world. We demand that the army bring the murderers their day of vengeance. We must restore our national honor,” Dagan added emphatically.

Shevach’s brother Bar’el spoke at length of his brother’s “holiness,” praising him at length for his devotion to Judaism as well as his decision to become a volunteer medic. “You were so dedicated to making this world a better place,” he said.

Between sobs at the end of his eulogy, Bar’el called on God “to kick the Gentiles out of our land. Don’t put up checkpoints; kick them out.”

Education Minister Naftali Bennett attends the funeral of Rabbi Raziel Shevach, 35, in the West Bank outpost of Havat Gilad on January 10, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Havat Gilad was established in 2002 in memory of Gilad Zar, security coordinator of the Shomron Regional Council, who was shot dead in an attack a year earlier.

Construction workers labored from Tuesday evening up to minutes before the funeral to clear an area near the outpost’s entrance in time for the burial.

Earlier Wednesday, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said that he had ordered his office to examine the possibility of legalizing the outpost.

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Senior Hamas Leader Accidentally Shoots Himself In The Head

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Senior Hamas official suffers gunshot wound, is in critical condition

Imad al-Alami, who is a key link between Gaza and Iran, reportedly shoots himself in the head while inspecting his gun

Senior Hamas leader Imad al-Alami. (Youtube)

Senior Hamas leader Imad al-Alami. (Youtube)

Senior Hamas official Imad al-Alami, who is a key link between Gaza and Tehran, was shot in the head Tuesday morning, with the terror group’s spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum saying he accidentally discharged his own weapon while inspecting it.

Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry spokesperson Dr. Ashraf al-Qidre said al-Alami is being treated at the intensive care unit in Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital and that his condition is critical.

Al-Alami, also known as Abu Hamam, was born in Gaza in 1956. He was one of the founders of Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, and served as the terror group’s main representative in Tehran for many years before moving to Damascus in 2008.

At the start of the Syrian civil war in 2012, he was the last Hamas leader to leave Damascus and return to Gaza, where he was quickly elected as deputy Hamas leader, a capacity in which he served until last year’s elections.

Members of the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, take part in a rally in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, on December 5, 2017. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Al-Alami is unique among senior Hamas leaders for staying out of the press. He does not take part in press conferences nor is he active on any social media platform.

Al-Alami, who is a mechanical engineer by training, suffered serious leg injuries during the Israel-Gaza war in the summer of 2014, in circumstances that are not totally clear.

According to one claim, he was hurt when an elevator collapsed inside a tunnel in which senior Hamas members were hiding. Another rumor said he was injured by gunfire during a battle between Hamas activists. He was treated in Turkey.

Al-Alami was first deported from Gaza in 1991, after being arrested by Israeli security forces for carrying out terror activities for Hamas.

Hamas has said Iran is currently its leading military backer.

Avi Issachoroff contributed to this report.

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Israel has stopped hijacked planes crashing into European cities

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Netanyahu hints Israel has stopped hijacked planes crashing into European cities

PM tells NATO ambassadors that Israeli intel has thwarted ‘several dozen major terrorist attacks,’ some involving civil aviation

Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu hold a joint press conference with NATO ambassadors to Israel at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, January 9, 2018 (Hadas Parushl/Flash90)

Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu hold a joint press conference with NATO ambassadors to Israel at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, January 9, 2018 (Hadas Parushl/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday indicated that Israel has prevented hijacked airplanes from crashing into European cities.

“We have, through our intelligence services, provided information that has stopped several dozen major terrorist attacks, many of them in European countries,” he told foreign diplomats in Jerusalem.

“Some of these could have been mass attacks, of the worst kind that you have experienced on the soil of Europe and even worse, because they involve civil aviation. Israel has prevented that, and thereby helped save many European lives,” Netanyahu said, apparently referring to plane hijackings.

He did not provide specific details about the attacks Israel helped prevent. The Prime Minister’s Office declined to elaborate.

At a meeting of Israel-based ambassadors to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Netanyahu said Jerusalem contributes to the security of every single member of the Western defense alliance, in that it fights both Sunni and Shiite strands of radical Islam.

Injured people are evacuated from the scene of a terrorist attack on a mosque in Bir al-Abd in the northern Sinai Peninsula of Egypt on November 24, 2017. (AP Photo)

Besides fighting Islamic State terrorism aimed at European cities, Israel is also preventing the group from creating a second stronghold in Egypt, he said.

“ISIS is being destroyed in Iraq and Syria, but it is trying to establish an alternative territorial base in the Sinai. Israel is contributing to preventing that in myriad ways,” Netanyahu said. “In general, I would say that Israel is the most powerful indigenous force in the Middle East that fights radical Islam.”

Israel further helps NATO by fighting Iran, the dominant Shiite power, the prime minister went on. The Jewish state does not only seek to prevent the Islamic Republic from acquiring nuclear weapons, it is also “absolutely committed to preventing Iran from establishing a military base in Syria. And we back our words with action,” he added, likely hinting at various airstrikes on weapon convoys and factories allegedly carried out by Israel.

Furthermore, Iran plans to import 100,000 Shiite fighters to Syria as part of its quest to dominate and eventually “conquer” the Middle East, he charged.

Israeli satellite images show results of an airstrike attributed to the IDF on a Syrian military weapons development base on September 7, 2017. (ImageSat International)

If Tehran were successful in its efforts, radical Sunni and Shiite forces would clash in Syria, sending millions of refugees to European shores, the prime minister warned.

“Where will the spillover [of a Sunni-Shiite clash in Syria] happen? In Europe. Where will the human flow go? To Europe. Who’s preventing that right now? Israel? Right now, Israel alone. But I maintain that it’s a common interest that we have,” he told the NATO ambassadors during the public part of the event.

Israel and NATO have cooperated on security matters for decades but recently upgraded their ties significantly. Last year, Israel opened its first office at NATO headquarters in Brussels.

Israeli officials have repeatedly said that the Jewish state opposes the presence of Iran and its proxies, notably Hezbollah, in southern Syria and Lebanon.

Israel has been negotiating with the United States and Russia, the main brokers in Syria, to keep Iran-backed Shiite militias and the Hezbollah terrorist group away from the border.

Netanyahu, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and others have all said that Israel’s policy is to target shipments of advanced weaponry, including accurate long-range missiles, that are heading to or in the possession of Hezbollah.

In late December, Assad’s troops, accompanied by Iranian-backed fighters, recaptured the Syrian Golan from rebels, allowing President Bashar Assad to reassert control over a small portion of the area adjacent to the Israeli border. Still, much of the area along the border, around the city of Quneitra, remains under rebel control.

Last week, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot said the most serious immediate threat to Israel was posed by Hezbollah, followed by other jihadist groups supported by Tehran positioned on the Syrian border.

Describing Iran as a “multidimensional threat,” the army chief said the most worrying aspect is the Islamic Republic’s desire to obtain nuclear capabilities, followed by its efforts to achieve hegemony in the region.

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