IDF Soldiers Work Within Program That Helps Autistic Children

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Soldiers, parents of autistic children, high school students and random volunteers joined forces in Tel Aviv to make life easier for people with autism and their caregivers.

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Some 85 people took part in a 24-hour hackathon last month organized by OFEK, the computing unit of the IAF. Held jointly with ALUT, the Israel Society for Autistic Children, people worked in groups to put innovation in the service of disability by creating an app or computer program for the benefit of the children.

“Until recently, the only treatment available for autistic children and adults in Israel was admission into psychiatric hospital,” said Arkady Gurevich, chairman of OFEK Alumni Association. “Even the necessary equipment or tools required to diagnose a patient as autistic are minimal or of poor quality due to costly-budget issues.”

The project also helped OFEK soldiers meet the three goals they abide by: “networking, working better together and contributing to society,” said Gurevich, who was in charge of ensuring the smooth running of the collaboration. “This is important for our soldiers as it allows us to put our knowledge into practice, all while continuing to learn at the same time, creating a lasting legacy of productive work.”

Gurevich explained that the hackathon’s 24-hour time frame “provides an indication of how quickly we can respond to a need through technology.”

Participating groups prepare for the start of the hackathon. (Dror Sitahkol)

Participating groups prepare for the start of the hackathon. (Dror Sitahkol)

Prior to the hackathon, ALUT organized several meetings in which therapists, specialists and psychologists educated the soldiers and volunteers about autism and the challenges of both the children and their parents. They introduced some 100 different challenges in total, out of which ALUT chose 13.

OFEK then divided all the participants into 13 different groups with each group tackling one task.

The challenges

The blank facial expression is a typical issue for autistic people who do not know how to show facial expressions when they are happy, mad or sad. The condition makes communication between autistic individuals and their caregivers extremely difficult as the facial expressions are impossible to read.

Participants try out some technology developed at the hackathon. (Dror Sitahkol)

Participants try out some technology developed at the hackathon. (Dror Sitahkol)

One group tackled this challenge by creating an app that aims to teach the autistic person how to express their feelings.

The app that was developed displays the an image of a smiling face and asks the person to imitate it. Then the app does the same for other feelings. The app monitors the expressions of the users to give them feedback if they are doing it correctly or not.

Navigation is another issue that burdens both people with autism and their caregivers. It is common for autistic persons going out in a group to want to wander off on their own. The navigation tools and apps currently available are complex to use due to an overload of information, and maps that are complicated to read.

One group aimed at simplifying the current tools by creating a GPS built-in wearable device for the autistic person. The device would then be linked to an app so that if one leaves the group’s perimeters, the instructor would get an immediate update on where the person is.

Another group tackled the inability of autistic individuals to maintain eye-contact. Autistic people have difficulty looking at one specific thing at the time. Quantifying the lack of eye contact would help doctors measure the severity of the autism, so the soldiers came up with a way to help doctors measure eye contact in an objective way — they created a camera-like device to monitor the patients’ eye contact.

This project with ALUT “is the first of many to come, as OFEK intends on using its soldiers’ powerful skills and knowledge to help one non-profit organization a year,” Gurevich said. “While the project took place in the form of a competition, the real prize was to bring attention to the autistic community of Israel and eventually develop what could be life changing technology for many.”

Today is the “Tishaa Beav”. I wish everybody easy fast.

(THIS ARTICLE IS FROM THE WEBSITE OF ‘SEELISTENUNDERSTAND’)

 

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Post Aug. 1st 2017
1. Today is the “Tishaa Beav”. I wish everybody easy fast.
2. There is a very noisy debate in Israel. The subject is the killing of a terrorist that tried to stab Israeli soldiers. He was shot by Israeli soldiers and while he was lying on the ground, came another soldier and made “confirmation” of death of the terrorist. If you doubt/ask why to confirm the terrorist death? Here is the answer: It happened in the past that “Killed/dead” soldiers “waked” up and caused casualties to the soldiers. It happened in many places. Actually it happens in every war/battle. During the fight the soldiers run and look for shelters. They don’t watch if there are fake dead enemies. This, many times, enabled the “dead/injured” enemies to get organized/prepared to attack the soldiers from their back. So, in order to eliminate such unpleasant surprises the order is to confirm the death of those that pretend to be dead.
3. In the case in debate the Israeli soldier killed the terrorist. Couple of journalists took pictures of the confirmation. They published it and ignited the surface. The soldier tat “confirmed” the death was called to court. After many, too many, court meetings he was sent to jail for 1.5 years.
4. I think that the judges behaved to him in the most serious way. He, and his colleagues, the Israeli soldiers are exposed every day to attacks by terrorists. Attacks means stabbing and/or shooting and of throwing homemade bombs and/or fireworks. Everything is usable for their purposes to kill Israelis/Jews/Christians/Druze/civilians/soldiers/children/ adults/ men/women and people of any other nation in the world. Even Arabs/Muslims. Their purpose is to see blood and as much as possible.
5. Israel fights them because of this reason. But this is not the only reason. Israel was occupied by Jews all history long. Since the time of the bible. Even when the land of Canaan was conquered by foreign armies, and it happened several time, Jews were sitting, keeping the land by making agriculture. After the 2nd world war Jews Holocaust survivors returned to Israel and established the best and most wonderful/blooming/successful state in the world. The Arabs can’t admit to the flourishing of Israel so they want to destroy us. They failed. So they established their “Small warfare” which is called, in another words, terror. They hope that it will help them. So this is the story of the confirmation of the death of the terrorist in subject.
6. In the same breath, while we discuss this subject, I want to tell all of you that if you look for a pure fight and pure army that keep strictly the pure arms you won’t find one like the IDF. We don’t kill civilians and/or even soldiers, like the Arabs do, if it is not necessary for the safety and security of our soldiers/army. If you check all history long you can find that all armies killed many prisoners. You can’t find even one prisoner that was killed by Israeli in a cold blood. If it should have been happened the soldier would have have been sent to jail for the entire of his life. This is the degree of honor that we give to other soldiers although they are our enemies and that they are in danger.
7. The Israeli law order very strictly not to pour blood, whoever it will be, of innocent people. This is the charter of the Israeli army.
8. But there are cases that the soldier is in a dilemma what to do. This is up to him. To leave a live enemy that can attack him from behind or to make sure that he and his friends, Israeli soldiers, keep living and fight for our lives/state. This is not a easy decision, especially during war when you see your best friends getting killed.
9. All of this is to differ from the Arab/Muslim/Palestinian way to kill everybody that they see on the way and if they didn’t find such one to kill Jews, on Friday night, while they celebrating the entrance of the queen Shabat=”Shabat Hamalka”.
10. “Even if he would be sentenced to life imprison it would not revive our son”. This sentence was said by the terrorist that was killed by the soldier that confirmed his death. Just read it carefully. They complain about the killing of their son who was killed because he was educated, and tried to implement his education, to kill Jews. Killing innocent Jews is, from their point of view-ok, but he got killed. They blame the others. This is part of the Muslims culture. It must be learned in every school in the world to show the level of art that the Muslims reached in lying by using religion.
11. Israel, as a social state, thinks that everybody is equal so one must contribute to the state by fulfilling his duties. One of the duties is the army service. Most of the youngsters do join the army after high school. “Most” does not mean all. The balances of the people that don’t serve in the army are the extreme right wing religious parties and the most leftists. The right wingers don’t recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people and they support the Arabs. Some of them even meet with Palestinian leaders and have very good relations with them, not with Israel. Most of them live in America. Not very many live in Israel but contribute nothing to the social life and the economy. The next group of extremists is the day and night Torah learners. Just next to them there is another group that don’t serve in the army, but they recognize Israel and even have government members. They also give some kind of social service. After them there are still none Zionist group that don’t recognize Israel, but they serve in the army. They suffer very much from the more right wingers, because of their contribution to the state in different ways. After them we have the group of Zionist religious people that fulfill all duties that an average Israeli citizen do. Afterwards there is the center, the main group of the Israelis that carry the state on their shoulders. These people can be found everywhere and they, together with the Zionist religious people, are the ones that lead the state. The next group is the leftists that don’t serve in the army as they are pacifists and they claim that the debate/war with the Palestinians is because of Israel’s position. They claim that if we fulfill all Arab claims the peace, between Arabs and Jews, will prevail. My feeling is that this is a wishful thinking. Why? See next.
12. In the Quran is written that all none Muslim people, from all over the world, must convert to the Islam. The none believers in the Islam will be killed. This is what happened just lately between Daesh and Muslims that were not of their group/stream. They just beheaded them. This is how they behave among/between Muslims. What will be the verdict and the execution between Muslims and Jews if they get all the requested by them, by the Muslims/ Arabs, I don’t want even to think of.
13. Yes, that’s right that not all Arabs are the same. They have different opinions. There are pacifists that look for common lives. I know many of them and we are friends. They have the same blood color, like mine and work very hard for their income. The problem with them is that they are not war people and they can’t fight the extreme Muslims. They are afraid of the extremists. Therefore they stay in the shed looking for better time.
14. In spite of all the above written I hope that somebody, Muslim leader, like Ata Turk of Turkey, will take the lead of the Islam, will overrule the orders in the Quran and lead the Islam in different way, more friendly. I am sure that it will happen. The question is when?
Please share/reblog the posts.
In friendship……………………………….Amir

Six Day’s In History 50 Years Ago

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE FRIENDS OF THE IDF)

Friend, this is a week for heroes.

This week, we are commemorating the 50th anniversary of one of the most heroic and pivotal moments in Israel’s history: the Six-Day War, which took place from June 5th to 10th, 1967. Against all odds, and with an outcome no one could have predicted, the young nation of Israel fought enemies from all sides and achieved unprecedented victory in just six days.

In June of 1967, Israel found itself poised for war against its neighboring Arab states. Taking place on three distinct battlefronts, the Six-Day War came after a period of escalating tension during which Egypt and its Arab partners had taken severe steps that threatened both Israel’s security and economy, including: expelling the United Nations Emergency Force from Sinai, infiltrating many military units into the Sinai Peninsula, and blocking the Straits of Tiran, Israel’s only waterway to Asia. On the northern border of Israel, the Syrians tried to divert the headwaters of the Jordan River and were supporting the terrorist activity of the PLO in Israel. All of this created serious threat and the risk of war was looming. Israel was forced to begin mobilizing reserve forces, despite the detriment to the Israeli economy.

On June 4, 1967, the government of Israel, headed by Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, accepted the decision “to launch a preemptive strike against the Arab states in order to remove the military chokehold that has tightened on Israel…” The war began on June 5, 1967, at 7:45 AM, with a massive air strike by the Israeli Air Force, known as Operation Moked (Operation Focus) on the Egyptian airfields. This took the Egyptians completely by surprise and, due to its brilliant execution, decided the war’s outcome from its very inception with the destruction of the Arab air forces and full paralysis of their airfields. In the first two hours of the war, the Israeli Air Force destroyed 197 Egyptian aircraft, and by the end of the first day 300 Egyptian planes were destroyed, more than 90% of them while on the ground. In the second day, an additional 150 Jordanian, Syrian and Iraqi aircraft were destroyed as they joined in the war.

The war spread along all of Israel’s borders. Within six days, the IDF achieved a decisive victory as they:

It was a stunning victory in which the IDF removed the military choke hold, proved their superiority, and earned the title of “the best army in the world.” In those six days, the size of the State of Israel grew threefold. Click here for a full description of the events of the Six-Day War.

Victory celebrations swept the entire country. After 19 years that the Jewish people had been banned from praying at their holiest site, they were now able to return to pray at the Kotel on the Temple Mount. The song “Jerusalem of Gold” (Yerushalayim Shel Zahav) became one of the anthems of the Six-Day War. Amidst the euphoria of this victory, the hearts of the Israeli nation pained for the 779 IDF soldiers who paid the ultimate price by losing their lives.

On June 28, 1967, in a now-famous address called “The Man, Not the Metal” delivered at Hebrew University on Mount Scopus, General Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin, Z”L, provided the following insights from this unprecedented military campaign:

“War is intrinsically harsh and cruel, bloody and tear stained, but this war in particular, which we have just undergone, brought forth rare and magnificent instances of heroism and courage, together with humane expressions of brotherhood, comradeship, and spiritual greatness. Whoever has not seen a tank crew continue their attack with their commander killed and their vehicle badly damaged; whoever has not seen soldiers endangering their lives to extricate wounded comrades from a minefield; whoever has not seen the anxiety and the effort of the entire air force devoted to rescuing a pilot who has fallen in enemy territory, cannot know the meaning of devotion among comrades-in-arms.”

Fifty years have passed, and while the challenges that face the State of Israel have dramatically changed, the same fundamental precepts which guide and drive the IDF are the same spirit and morality which led to the incredible victory of the Six-Day War, and have passed from generation to generation to continue today as the ethos of the IDF. The warriors of the IDF and their commanders continue to operate from unequivocal commitment to their nation and country and the same values and ethics which accompanied these warriors for generations.

To honor this momentous anniversary, FIDF is hosting a series of community events across the US, featuring three of the paratroopers of the Jerusalem Brigade, among the first to reach the Kotel. The image of these three paratroopers setting their eyes on the Kotel for the first time in their lives, was made famous thanks to the camera of David Rubinger, Z”L, who captured this highly emotional moment, which has become the iconic image of the Six-Day War.

The 50th anniversary of the Six-Day War

Please join me today, in salute to the warriors of the past and the generation that continues, by bowing our heads together in honor of those who have fallen and their families, and in commitment to do all we can to contribute to the well-being of the soldiers of the IDF, to maintain their spirit, morale, and battle ethics by standing united with them and supporting them as we continue to say: Their job is to look after Israel. Ours is to look after them.

With deep respect,

Maj. Gen. (Res.) Meir Klifi-Amir
National Director and CEO
Friends of the IDF (FIDF)

Lebanon: Wants To Ban New Wonder Woman Movie Because Lead Actress Is Israeli: Childish, Ignorant, Stupidity

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME NEWS AGENCY)

Lebanon Wants to Ban Wonder Woman Because Lead Actor Gal Gadot Is Israeli

5-30-2017

(BEIRUT) — Lebanon is seeking to ban the new “Wonder Woman” movie because its lead actress, Gal Gadot, is an Israeli — a reflection of how the decades-old animosity between the two neighbors is also infused in the cultural scene.

A security official said a formal request for a ban has not yet been received.

A ban would require a recommendation from a six-member committee from the Ministry of Economy, a process that has not yet began, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to reporters.

A premiere of “Wonder Woman” is scheduled for Wednesday in at least one cinema in Beirut. Posters of the movie and digital billboards have sprouted up around the Lebanese capital.

Lebanon is officially at war with Israel and has a decades-old law that boycotts Israeli products and bars Lebanese citizens from traveling or having contacts with Israelis. The two countries have been through a number of wars, including a particularly devastating one in 2006 that battered Lebanon’s infrastructure and left hundreds dead.

A group called Campaign to Boycott Supporters of Israel-Lebanon has pressed an effort against the movie. On its Facebook page, the campaign said Gadot was a soldier in the Israeli army and has expressed support for Israel’s military policies against the Gaza Strip, a coastal Palestinian territory run by the militant group Hamas.

“The state took the right decision,” Samah Idriss, a member of the boycott campaign told The Associated Press. “We now await the implementation. … Even if it is one hour before the show, they should ban it anyway.”

Tensions have been rising between Israel and Hezbollah, with Israelis reportedly bombing several Hezbollah targets in Syria in recent months. Israel has signaled that the targets were smuggling sophisticated weapons to Lebanon. Hezbollah officials said recently that they are not seeking war but are ready for it.

On her Facebook page, Gadot had praised Israel’s military during the 2014 Gaza-Israel war, sending prayers to soldiers “who are risking their lives protecting my country against the horrific acts conducted by Hamas.”

Officials at Lebanon’s Economy Ministry did not return calls seeking comment. The security official said banning a movie would ultimately come from the country’s interior minister following a recommendation from the six-member committee.

Warner Bros., which has released the film, declined comment.

Even though Lebanon enjoys a greater margin of freedom of expression than other countries in the region, prior censorship remains in place, particularly with content relating to Israel, religion and homosexuality.

Reflecting tightening of censorship, the Egyptian movie “Mawlana,” about a celebrity Muslim cleric, and a Lebanese movie, “Beach House,” about friends discussing their identities, were banned in Lebanon earlier this year.

“Mawlana” was later shown after cuts were made, said one cinema manager, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing controversy. The two movies were approved in Egypt.

There has been a precedent for the Arab League to call for banning Israel-linked films. In 2013, Arab nations acted on calls by the Arab League to ban the terrorism drama, “The Attack,” that was shot in Israel, even though it was made by Lebanese-born filmmaker Ziad Doueiri.

In a high profile case in 2009, Gad Elmaleh, a French comedian of Moroccan-Jewish descent, canceled his participation in one of Lebanon’s biggest festivals because of concerns for his safety after Hezbollah’s TV station alleged he served in the Israeli army.

In 2015, Miss Lebanon, Saly Greige, was in hot water when she appeared in a selfie with Miss Israel, Doron Matalon, in Miami. She later apologized and said the Israeli photobombed her selfie.

Support for the “Wonder Woman” boycott was not unanimous.

Elie Fares, a well-known Lebanese blogger, said the movie already must have been approved to be allowed in theaters in the first place. He said the push for a boycott apparently reflects disputes within the Lebanese government.

“Resist what?” Fares wrote. “A movie about an iconic superhero who’s been part of pop culture for over 70 years. A movie in which the lead actress happens to be Israeli but who’s not portraying ANYTHING related to her ‘country’ in any way whatsoever.”

Lebanon also has a website called “The Virtual Museum of Censorship” that tracks censored artwork since the 1940s.

Boycott campaign supporter Idriss rebuffed critics, saying that politics is inseparable from art.

“We don’t separate art — even romantic movies — from the role of the artist and the intellectual on the ground,” he said.

There is no clear mechanism for appealing a ban on artwork, and public campaigns often are the only means to protest such a ban. Religious institutions also have a say in artwork with religious references.

Despite the controversy in Lebanon, “Wonder Woman” is set to open as scheduled Thursday at theaters in the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Kuwait on Thursday. It is scheduled for release June 22 in Oman and June 29 in Bahrain.

The movie, based on the DC Comics character, has earned acclaim for Gadot for landing a rare leading role for a woman.

A model and former Miss Israel, Gadot did her mandatory two-year military service in Israel before starting her acting career. She appeared in sequels of the “Fast and Furious” franchise, none of which were banned in Lebanon.

She appeared in other Hollywood movies before appearing as Wonder Woman in last year’s “Batman vs. Superman.”

The same campaigners sought to bar “Batman vs. Superman,” which was shown in Lebanese theaters.

Peace for Israel, Palestine Requires Breaking The ‘Zero-Sum’ Game

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

Peace for Israel, Palestine Requires Breaking The ‘Zero-Sum’ Game

Negotiations around a settlement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, whether within a framework of one state or two states, have historically tended towards what is commonly referred to as ‘zero sum’ game – where the gains of one party are directly proportional to the losses of the other. A one-state solution would provide stability, civil rights, equality, and recognition for Palestinians, but in light of their rising population it threatens the very existence of a “Jewish State”; similarly, the establishment of a sovereign Palestine along 1967 lines neighboring Israel would require the eviction of over 600,000 Israeli settlers currently in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Today, in the words of Palestinian Ambassador to the UK Manuel Hassassian, “both Palestinians and Israelis are stuck between the historically inevitable and the politically impossible”.

Yet the struggle for peace seems rooted in the false premise that “a solution” exists and that we need only decide which to choose. In reality, however, the failure to resolve the conflict to date comes about not primarily as a result of the content of the plans, but rather the need for a shift in attitudes. Throughout over 70 years of conflict, three perpetual obstacles have lain on the path to peace: trust, security, and justice. Complicating matters, the longer these remain issues, the more difficult they become to resolve.

Fostering trust is an integral key to any peace negotiations; without this all efforts are wasted energy on fruitless diplomacy; central to the trust-building exercise is the dispelling of myths, prejudices, and misinformation. Over the decades and throughout numerous Israeli and Palestinian leaderships, positions have become entrenched based upon what each group thinks about “the other”: today, many Israelis believe Palestinians do not want peace, or at a stretch the borders of 1948 Palestine; on the other side, many Palestinians believe that Israel wants all the territory from the Nile to the Euphrates. Conversely, the truth is both sides actually have similar desires: stability, peace, prosperity, and a viable deal to facilitate these.

Such misunderstandings are, naturally, politically useful for scapegoating both among an increasingly right-wing Israeli government and within the militant Gazan leadership. Moreover, they are perpetuated by the daily lives of both peoples: unlike Arab Israelis in Haifa or Jaafa, Palestinians in the Occupied Territories are not permitted to mingle freely with their Israeli neighbors. Beyond entire generations that have grown up under occupation, the result is that a majority of Palestinians have never had personal contact with an Israeli outside of IDF uniform – one must question what psychological impact of such limited experience has upon a people; likewise, many Israelis have rare personal interactions with Palestinians, who are generally tarred with the same brush as not only personal threats – bombers, terrorists, knife-wielders – but also existential ones – anti-Zionists and revolutionaries. Against this backdrop, it becomes evident that there is simply no environment or opportunity for the necessary trust-building: economic, cultural, and even political.

In this respect, there are lessons that can be learnt from Northern Ireland, where a fundamental part of success was the refusal to concede to binary narratives of Catholics or Protestants. Leadership on both sides in Israel and Palestine must be willing to move closer – a Trimble for every Paisley, a De Klerk to each Mandela, a contemporary Rabin to every Arafat. Leadership on both sides are responsible for building bridges; it is only through this that communication can improve and a sense of solidarity can be built. The intellectual wherewithal to disbelieve propaganda about a group in a vacuum is a difficult task, yet it becomes easier through the lived experience of interaction with them and seeing firsthand that information being spread is erroneous. As US President Abraham Lincoln once famously said, “I don’t like that man. I must get to know him better.”

One of the by-products of this misinformation has been the Israeli focus on security, resulting in much despair: a security wall deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice; checkpoints that exacerbate already prohibitive employment opportunities for Palestinians; and a policy of “defensive borders” that is a thinly veiled cover for further appropriation of Palestinian land, despite its failure to end rocket and mortar attacks by Hamas. Gaza has, since Israeli exit, been used as justification that Palestinians cannot be left to their own devices and to underline the need for a continued, hard military presence. To focus on Gaza, however, belies the reality that intricately-woven security cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank has been a continuing success for many years. Ultimately, the Israeli government must heed the bottom line recognized by its own military: nothing will provide lasting security for Israel, Iron Dome included, more than peace.

Finally, the issue of justice – a matter that can only begin to take shape once ongoing crimes come to an end and with the recognition of historical wrongs; history, however, teaches us that it is rarely swift. Over a century passed between the beginning of the practice of the Stolen Generations in Australia and an acknowledgement of government wrongdoing by former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd; following the lengthy Saville Report in the UK, former Prime Minister David Cameron issued a formal apology for the actions of the British Forces on Bloody Sunday, over 40 years after the massacre; and, only weeks ago, France’s President Emmanuel Macron referred to French colonization of Algeria – which gained independence in 1962 – as a “crime against humanity”. The day will come, also, when a future Israeli government must apologize for wholesale crimes: forced evictions, extra-judicial killings, land grabs, severe curtailment of human rights, and economic suffocation of the Palestinian people – the reconciliation of Palestinians and Israelis depends upon it.

Incidents such as the free BBQ organised by Ichud Leumi outside Ofer military prison to taunt detained Palestinians on hunger strike highlight not only a visceral lack of humanity shown by some Israelis towards their fellow human beings but the chasm that is yet to be overcome between parties. Extremist views are held on both side in the vain hope that hammering can fix what requires a screwdriver. Such behavior ignores a core fact all-too-often neglected for its inconvenience and unpalatability to some: Israel and Palestine, for better or worse, are in a symbiotic relationship; neither state can ever achieve peace or security without the assistance, cooperation, and complicity of the other the assistance and complicity of the other.

Breaking the cycle of a ‘zero-sum’ game requires that Israel and Hamas realize that the promotion of rights for one party does not lessen those of the others – there is no finite quantity of rights or privileges that must be apportioned between the two sides. Searching for deep-rooted trust, lasting security, and meaningful justice are key to peace for all citizens, whether in one state or two. The sooner this is realized by both the general public and politicians in Israel and Palestine, the sooner they can begin the transition towards a much-needed more inclusive, constructive type of national and personal politics.

Israeli Jets Strike Inside Syria; Military Site Near Palmyra Reportedly Targeted

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

Israeli jets strike inside Syria; military site near Palmyra reportedly targeted

An Israeli fighter jet takes off from the Ramat David ar base, southeast of Haifa, in June.

Story highlights

  • Syria says strikes targeted military site near Palmyra
  • Israeli jets make incursions inside Syria, but IDF rarely confirms it

Jerusalem (CNN) In the most serious clash between Israeli and Syrian forces since the start of the Syrian conflict six-years ago, Israeli aircraft struck several targets in Syria overnight, the Israeli military said Friday.

Israel targeted a military site near the ancient city of Palmyra, the Syrian military said, in what would be one of its deepest airstrikes inside Syrian territory since the civil war began there.
Palmyra, once held by ISIS and retaken by the Syrian government, is strategically important to both the regime and its opponents.
Most of Israel’s reported strikes have been around the capital of Damascus, about 60 kilometers (37 miles) from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
In response, Syrian forces fired anti-aircraft missiles at the Israeli jets, saying they downed one aircraft and hit another. Israeli vehemently denied the assertions, calling them “absolutely not true.”
“At no point was the safety of Israeli civilians or the IAF aircraft compromised,” a statement from the Israel Defense Forces said. The statement is unusual in that Israel rarely comments on airstrikes in Syria.
The intercept triggered alarm sirens in the Jordan Valley. Shrapnel from the explosion, which was heard as far south as Jerusalem, landed in western Jordan, the Jordanian military said.

Israel denies Syrian claim it downed Israeli plane

Israel denies Syrian claim it downed an Israeli plane
Syria’s latest claims are reminiscent of its statement in September about downing an Israeli aircraft near Quneitra, close to the Golan Heights. Israel seized parts of that region from Syria in the 1967 Six Day War.
The Israeli military said then that Syria fired two anti-aircraft missiles at its jets targeting artillery positions, but both missiles missed. They were fired long after Israeli jets left the area, the military added.

Arrow missile defense

One of the missiles overnight was intercepted by Israel’s Arrow missile defense system, marking its first operational use. Arrow, Israel’s ballistic missile defense system and the long-range version of its Iron Dome, is designed to intercept missiles outside the atmosphere.
The use came more than a year after the first successful Arrow-3 intercept test was carried out in December 2015. At that time, Israeli officials would not say when the missile would become operational.
The Israeli military would not explain why Arrow was used against an anti-aircraft missile, fueling speculation that Israel was either testing the Arrow missile or that its Iron Dome missile defense system wasn’t within range of downing the anti-aircraft missile.

Taking aim at weapons smuggling

Israel has long focused on stopping the transfer of weapons from Syria to terror groups.
In December, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman told a delegation of European Union envoys that Israel will “prevent the smuggling of sophisticated weapons, military equipment and weapons of mass destruction from Syria to Hezbollah.”
It was another acknowledgement of Israel’s ongoing operations in Syria. Last April, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed that Israel has struck Syria “dozens of times,” breaking with the policy of remaining quiet about involvement in its war-torn northern neighbor.
Netanyahu returned last week from Moscow, where he reaffirmed Israel’s military coordination with Russia in the skies over Syria. The two countries established the coordination last year to avoid conflicts in Syrian airspace, ostensibly to allow both countries to operate freely. Netanyahu also expressed his concerns about a growing Iranian presence in Syria.

Repeated incursions

Israel has attempted to stay out of Syria’s civil war but has reportedly struck the country multiple times in the past, often taking aim at weapons shipments intended for Hezbollah in Lebanon.
As recently as late February, Syrian media reported that Israeli jets hit military positions and weapons convoys near Damascus.
In November 2012, Israel fired warning shots toward Syria after a mortar shell hit an Israeli military post, the first time Israel had fired on Syria across the Golan Heights since the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
Israeli jets have been hitting targets in Syria since at least 2013, when US officials told CNN they believed IDF jets had struck nside Syrian territory.
In 2014, the Syrian government and an opposition group both said an IDF strike had hit Damascus’ suburbs and airport.

Israel wary of Russian military buildup in Syria

 Israel wary of Russian military buildup in Syria
The state-run Syrian Arab News Agency characterized those strikes as “a flagrant attack on Syria, targeting two safe areas in (the) Damascus countryside in Dimas and near Damascus International Airport.”
Israeli strikes have also gone after ISIS fighters inside Syria. Late last year, IDF troops operating in the disputed Golan region came under fire from militants of the ISIS affiliate Khalid ibn al-Walid Army, Israeli military spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said.
The soldiers fired back, triggering an exchange of gunfire. A subsequent Israeli airstrike destroyed a vehicle carrying four militants, Lerner said.

Israel: Destruction Of Palestinian Homes Are At A Record Pace

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE MA’AN PALESTINIAN NEWS AGENCY)

‘We have nowhere else to go’: Bedouins say they will continue to rebuild as Israel carries out home demolitions at a record pace

A white tent is the only structure left standing among the scattered piles of twisted metal and tarp that was a Jahalin Tribe Bedouin encampment West of Jericho city in the Wadi Qilt valley.

On the morning of Wednesday, January 25th, Israeli forces escorted two bulldozers down from the main road up to the small Bedouin community. Mohammed Jahalin and his family were ordered out of their houses and forcefully gathered together on the edge of their encampment where they watched as the metal blades of bulldozers smashed through their homes.

Israeli forces destroyed every standing structure in the encampment — including three houses and two livestock barns — leaving 12 people homeless, half of whom are children.

In 2016, Israeli forces demolished homes, particularly Bedouin homes, in record numbers. According to United Nations documentation, Israeli forces in 2016 demolished or seized an unprecedented 1,093 Palestinian-owned structures throughout the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, resulting in the displacement of 1,601 Palestinians and affecting the livelihoods of another 7,101.

In the first 23 days of 2017, Israeli forces demolished 119 Palestinian-owned structures, leaving 177 Palestinians displaced. The bi-weekly average for home demolitions in 2017 is nearly a third higher than 2016’s, putting 2017 on track for another record-breaking year.

Read more on Mondoweiss: http://mondoweiss.net/2017/01/bedouins-continue-demolitions/

Israeli Air Force Bombs ISIS Base In Southern Syria After ISIS Attack On IDF Soldiers

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

The Israeli Air Force struck a military target belonging to the Islamic State terror group on the Syrian side of the southern Golan Heights overnight Sunday-Monday, the military said in a statement Monday morning.

The raid came after an Israeli airstrike killed four members of an Islamic State-affiliated terrorist group in southern Syria on Sunday morning, following a clash near the border. No Israeli soldiers were injured in the exchange, the army said.

The military said that the additional airstrike Monday was also in response to the attack on Israeli forces on Sunday when, while conducting an “ambush operation,” according an Israel Defense Forces spokesperson, soldiers from the Golani Brigade’s reconnaissance unit had come under attack from small arms fire after crossing the security fence with Syria while remaining inside Israeli territory. They returned fire, but soon came under attack from mortar shells.

The IDF said Monday that the target in the overnight airstrike was an “abandoned UN building that has been used by the Islamic State as an operations center along the border in the southern Syrian Golan Heights,” adding that “the compound was the base for yesterday’s attack against IDF forces.”

“This is an additional response to yesterday’s attack, and it is aimed at preventing the terrorists from returning to the installation which poses a significant threat,” the IDF said.

The IDF “will not hesitate to act against terror groups that operate against the State of Israel,” the statement added.

In its immediate response to the attack on Sunday, the Israeli Air Force targeted a truck “that had some sort of machine gun on top of it” and killed the four terrorists who were riding in it.

“It was a short exchange, but it was productive,” IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said.

The incident Sunday occurred at approximately 8:30 a.m., east of the Avnei Eitan community in the southern Golan Heights, the army said.

Map data ©2016 Google, Mapa GISrael, ORION-ME

According to the IDF, the four men were members of the Khalid ibn al-Walid Army, formerly known as the Yarmouk Martyrs’ Brigade, a terrorist group in Syria that is connected with the Islamic State.

“The army will not tolerate any impairment to its sovereignty and will respond severely to any attempt to damage it,” the army said in a statement.

The army would not go into details about the Golani reconnaissance unit’s ambush, saying only that it was “planned by operational intelligence.”

The incident was the first major confrontation between Israeli forces and Islamic State affiliated terrorists in the Golan, though Israel has clashed with other fighters on the Syrian side of the border several times.

Speaking at a weekly government meeting shortly after the incident, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised that Israel “won’t allow Islamic State figures or other enemy actors, under the cover of the war in Syria, to set up next to our borders.”

Both the IS-affiliated Khalid ibn al-Walid Army and the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly the al-Nusra Front, which is linked to al-Qaeda, have actually been present on Israel’s borders for years, though they and the IDF had maintained a “live and let live” relationship until Sunday.

The Syrian Golan has been the site of intense fighting in recent years between Assad regime forces and the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, though the front on the border with Israel has been relatively quiet in recent months after seeing intense bouts of violence.

Israeli officials fear Hezbollah and Iran’s al-Quds Force, which are allied with Syrian leader Bashar Assad, are aiming at using the area to open a new front against Israel in any future conflict.

Since March 2011, when the war broke out, dozens of mortars have landed in Israeli territory as a result of spillover fighting. The IDF often responds to fire that crosses into Israel by striking Syrian army posts.

Israel maintains a policy of holding Damascus responsible for all fire from Syria into Israel regardless of the source.

Palestinian Security Forces And IDF Work Together To Stop Bomb Attack Near Hebron

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘ISRAEL HAYOM’)

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IDF, Palestinian security forces foil terrorist attack near Hebron

Palestinian security forces reportedly provide IDF with intelligence on a large roadside bomb meant to target Israeli patrols in the area • Palestinians arrest Qalqilya resident, say he is affiliated with an international terrorist cell.

Lilach Shoval, News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff
Palestinian police patrol the West Bank town of al-Eizariya
Photo credit: AP

The Hypocrisy Of The PA And Many Of The Palestinian Officials Is Humerus/Sickening

(This article is courtesy of the Times Of Israel)

On day of violence, Abbas aide says IDF killing of attackers is ‘execution’

Amid spate of four attacks by Palestinians, Nabil Abu Rudeineh urges world to defend Palestinian people from Israeli ‘crimes’

September 16, 2016, 8:26 pm 15

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting with a delegation of the Federation of Jews from Arab countries in Ramallah, in the West Bank, on March 28, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting with a delegation of the Federation of Jews from Arab countries in Ramallah, in the West Bank, on March 28, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

A spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday called the killing by Israeli security forces of two attackers in separate incidents in Jerusalem and the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba earlier in the day “a crime and an execution.”

Nabil Abu Rudeineh called on the international community to defend the Palestinian people.

Israel has previously come under criticism for the way in which it responds to attacks on its civilians and soldiers. In March, senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat submitted a request to the United Nations asking it to formally investigate what he called Israeli extrajudicial “executions” of Palestinian attackers. The request came days after an IDF soldier was filmed shooting and killing a wounded assailant in Hebron.

Israel has in turn repeatedly accused Abbas of failing to condemn the wave of Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians and security forces that erupted late last year, and says his PA hierarchy presides over incitement to terror and violence against Israel.

Nabil Abu Rudeineh (L), spokesman of Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, welcomes Israeli opposition head Isaac Herzog (C) at the Palestinian Authority headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah, August 18, 2015. (AFP Photo/Abbas Momani)

Nabil Abu Rudeineh (L), spokesman of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, welcomes Israeli opposition head Isaac Herzog (C) at the Palestinian Authority headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah, August 18, 2015. (AFP/Abbas Momani)

Shin Bet chief Nadav Argaman told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee in July that a condemnation of terror attacks by Abbas would help to reduce incitement and therefore the level of violence against Israelis.

In the first of four attacks Friday, a Jordanian man was shot and killed by Border Police officers when he tried to carry out a stabbing attack near the Damascus Gate, in Jerusalem’s Old City.

The man, Fadi Aljaba, arrived at the Damascus Gate from inside the Old City and approached a group of officers with a knife drawn. The 28-year-old assailant was carrying a Jordanian passport, but police were still investigating if he also held a Palestinian ID card.

Less than an hour later, one Palestinian was killed and another was seriously wounded when they rammed their car into a bus stop outside the Kiryat Arba settlement in the West Bank, the army said.

Soldiers at the scene where a soldier was stabbed in Hebron on September 16, 2016 (YouTube screenshot)

Soldiers at the scene where a soldier was stabbed in Hebron on September 16, 2016 (YouTube screenshot)

The driver and passenger were shot as they plowed their vehicle into the bus stop at the Elias Junction near the settlement, the IDF said.

In one of the other two attacks Friday, an IDF soldier sustained light wounds when he was stabbed in the face in an attack at a checkpoint in the West Bank city of Hebron on Friday. The assailant was shot and killed by forces at the Gilbert checkpoint near the Tel Rumeida neighborhood of the city, the army said.

Also Friday afternoon, a bus driver was lightly wounded when unidentified perpetrators threw rocks and glass bottles full of paint at his vehicle on the highway between Jerusalem and the Ma’ale Adumim settlement.

— Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.

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