Hebron shooter Azaria to be freed in May



Hebron shooter Azaria to be freed in May after sentence reduction

IDF’s parole board orders former soldier released after he completes two-thirds of his 14-month prison term

Former IDF soldier Elor Azaria, who was convicted of manslaughter for shooting dead an incapacitated Palestinian assailant in the West Bank city of Hebron, appears before a parole board in the army's Tel Aviv headquarters on March 14, 2018. (Flash90)

Former IDF soldier Elor Azaria, who was convicted of manslaughter for shooting dead an incapacitated Palestinian assailant in the West Bank city of Hebron, appears before a parole board in the army’s Tel Aviv headquarters on March 14, 2018. (Flash90)

The army’s prison parole board on Monday ordered Elor Azaria, a former IDF soldier convicted of manslaughter, released from prison in May, when he will have served two-thirds of his sentence.

Azaria is to be released on May 10, after completing 10 months of his 14-month sentence for killing an incapacitated Palestinian attacker in the West Bank city of Hebron in 2016, the Israel Defense Forces said.

The development came after last week Azaria appeared before the military parole board to ask for early release from prison, having served half of his sentence — the minimum amount of time before such a request can be made in the army criminal system. In civilian proceedings, convicts have to serve two-thirds of their sentence before seeking parole.

During the hearing, military prosecutors said they would agree to the early release.

Azaria, the so-called “Hebron shooter,” was found guilty last year of killing Abdel Fattah al-Sharif, who several minutes earlier had attacked two IDF soldiers with a knife. In February 2017, Azaria was sentenced to an 18-month prison term, which IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot later shortened by four months. Azaria began serving his prison term on August 9.

During last Wednesday’s proceedings, which took place in the army’s Tel Aviv headquarters, Azaria’s attorney Yoram Sheftel argued that his client had behaved well in prison.

Military prosecutors, meanwhile, said the soldier’s punishment had already been limited by the judges in his initial sentence and then shortened by Eisenkot, so a further reduction was not warranted at this time. Still, they said they would not oppose a parole request in two months’ time, after Azaria had served two-thirds of his sentence.

An IDF soldier loading his weapon before he appears to shoot an unarmed, prone Palestinian assailant in the head following a stabbing attack in Hebron on March 24, 2016. (Screen capture: B’Tselem)

Azaria has never expressed regret for his actions, something the military prosecutors also noted in their arguments. Then-Sgt. Azaria shot and killed Sharif on March 24, 2016, some 11 minutes after Sharif had been shot and disarmed when he and another Palestinian man attacked two IDF soldiers.

Azaria maintained that he opened fire because he believed Sharif had a bomb hidden under his clothes. A military court, however, dismissed that claim, citing the soldier’s nonchalance in the moments before he killed Sharif, and his statements to fellow soldiers that the assailant deserved to die for attacking his comrades.

The Hebron shooter case revealed deep divisions in Israeli society over the army’s activities in the West Bank, with some — mostly on the right — arguing that he had behaved heroically in killing the Palestinian assailant, while others said he had broken the law and deserved a harsher sentence than he received.

The former soldier — he was released from the military part of the way through his trial — garnered support from leading politicians, who expressed hope that they could sway President Reuven Rivlin to grant Azaria clemency.

In November 2017, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, Welfare Minister Haim Katz, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri and approximately 50 other lawmakers signed a petition saying that Azaria should be released.

“The Azaria affair is tearing Israeli society apart, creating polarization and division, and your decision can put an end to all this and calm the discourse,” the petition read. “It is impossible to ignore the feelings of the general public, that Elor Azaria is a scapegoat who has become a symbol and paid an especially high price.”


Trump peace plan could recognize Palestinian state



Trump peace plan could recognize Palestinian state – report

Arab diplomats quoted as saying yet-to-be revealed plan will nix refugees’ right of return, raze far-flung settlements, place Jerusalem’s Old City under international protection

Illustrative: Palestinian protesters wave national flags during clashes with Israeli security forces on the eastern outskirts of Gaza City, near the border with Israel, on January 12, 2018. (AFP Photo/Mohammed Abed)

Illustrative: Palestinian protesters wave national flags during clashes with Israeli security forces on the eastern outskirts of Gaza City, near the border with Israel, on January 12, 2018. (AFP Photo/Mohammed Abed)

The Trump administration’s plan for peace in the Middle East may include US and international recognition of a Palestinian state and acceptance of East Jerusalem as its capital, the London-based Saudi newspaper Asharq al-Awsat reported on Wednesday.

The plan, the report said, calls for placing the Old City of Jerusalem under “international protection.”

The report quoted “knowledgeable Arab diplomatic sources” in Paris as saying that the US is planning to present its plan in the framework of an international conference that would be held in one of the Arab capitals, most likely Cairo, with Israelis in attendance.

However, the sources did not say when the US administration would come out with its plan, the details of which remain under wraps.

The report came following a meeting in Brussels earlier this week in which Arab foreign ministers and their European counterparts discussed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in wake of reports suggesting that US President Donald Trump’s administration would soon announce its plan for peace, which Trump has referred to as the “deal of the century.”

Arab media have published various accounts of the purported plan, which has already been rejected by the Palestinian Authority as a conspiracy aimed at liquidating the Palestinian cause. Some PA officials have referred to the plan as the “slap of the century” and argued that no Palestinian would ever accept it.

According to Wednesday’s report, the US plan requires the Palestinians to give up their demand for “right of return” for Palestinian refugees and their descendants to their former homes inside Israel.

US President Donald Trump reaches to shake Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s hand before a meeting at the Palace Hotel during the 72nd United Nations General Assembly on September 20, 2017, in New York. (AFP Photo/Brendan Smialowski)

In addition, large settlements would remain in place, while small ones would be “relocated,” the report said.

The US plan also calls for expanding the PA’s security and administrative authorities in areas A and B of the West Bank, the report added.

Washington is planning to collect $40 billion to help establish a Palestinian state and its government institutions, the sources told the newspaper. The money is not intended to “buy” Palestinian acceptance of the peace plan, they stressed.

The sources also claimed the plan allows Israel to retain security control over the borders with the West Bank, while responsibility for security of the Gaza Strip would be handed to the Egyptians.

Palestinian-US relations have been strained since Trump’s December announcement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and announcing plans to relocate the embassy there. The announcement was met with worldwide condemnation, and outraged Palestinian officials said it disqualified Washington from playing any role in brokering Middle East peace due to its “bias” toward Israel.

Since then, the PA has refused all substantive contacts with the Trump administration, and top Palestinian officials have demanded the US president reverse the decision.

Later on Wednesday, PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki said that European Union countries were working to convince the Trump administration to modify parts of the plan.

Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki. (Flash90)

The EU countries agreed to push for changes prior to the unveiling of the American plan, Malki told the Voice of Palestine radio according to the PA’s official Wafa news agency.

He did not indicate which European countries were pressing the White House to make changes to the plan.

Malki underscored that any future peace agreement must include articles expressing support for a two-state solution, the establishment of a Palestinian state on the so-called 1967 borders with its capital in East Jerusalem, and an end to Israeli settlement construction.


No Palestinian State Can Be Established Without Gaza, Jerusalem As Capital



Abbas’ Adviser Says No Palestinian State Can Be Established Without Gaza, Jerusalem As Capital

Wednesday, 28 February, 2018 – 12:30
Nabil Shaath. (photo credit: AMIR COHEN – REUTERS)
Ramallah- Kifah Zboun

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Advisor for International Affairs Nabil Shaath said that the Palestinian Authority has fully engaged in a confrontation with the United States, in the wake of its decision to consider Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Speaking during a gathering at the Palestinian Embassy in Cairo, Shaath said: “President Mahmoud Abbas is in a position of full confrontation with the United States and Israel in the wake of the Israeli government’s intransigence and the recent US Administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and transfer its embassy to it.”

“We will not establish our state but on our national soil. No state in Gaza, no state without Gaza, no state without Jerusalem as the capital, not a capital in Jerusalem, but Jerusalem is the capital,” Shaath stressed.

He criticized the absence of a unified Arab position to protect the Palestinian project, but said the world would change.

The Palestinian president’s advisor went on to say that within three years, “the world ruled by the United States will end and a multilateral leadership will be established.”

“We will be part of this new world,” he said.

Shaath’s remarks came in response to the United States, which announced earlier this month that it was about to offer the “deal of the century”, disregarding a plan by Abbas to hold an international peace conference to set up a multilateral mechanism for the peace process.

The Palestinians refuse to deal with the United States as the sole sponsor of the negotiations, saying they are ready to accept the US as part of a multilateral mechanism within an international quartet that would also include European and Arab states.

The relationship between the PA and Washington severely deteriorated after US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and decided to move the US embassy to it.

Israel aims to eliminate use of coal, gasoline and diesel by 2030



Israel aims to eliminate use of coal, gasoline and diesel by 2030

Energy minister to present plan to reduce pollution, strengthen ‘peace axis’ through sole use of natural gas and alternative fuels for energy production and transportation

Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz speaking at an energy conference in Tel Aviv, February 27, 2018 (Dror Sithakol)

Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz speaking at an energy conference in Tel Aviv, February 27, 2018 (Dror Sithakol)

The Energy Ministry forecast Tuesday that within 12 years Israel would be fully reliant on natural gas and alternative fuels for the production of electricity and for transportation.

“We intend to reach a situation in which Israel’s industry will be based on natural gas, and most importantly, transportation in Israel will be based on natural gas or electricity,” Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said at an energy conference in Tel Aviv. “From 2030 onwards, the State of Israel will create alternatives and will no longer allow the import of cars that run on gasoline and diesel fuel.”

Steinitz said he would be submitting a master plan with this vision to the government.

In 2014, electricity was produced through a fifty-fifty split between coal and natural gas. The aim for 2030 is to alter that to 83% natural gas and 17% renewable energy, with “zero pollutants,” Steinitz said.

Illustrative photo of Israeli natural gas rigs in the Mediterranean Sea, September 2, 2015. (Flash90)

Already this year, the balance of electricity production will be 71% natural gas, 25%-27% coal, and 2% renewable energy, with the economy transitioning to using coal only for emergency and backup purposes by 2030.

“We have abolished the strategy of diversification of fuels,” Steinitz said, noting that Israel had previously believed that this kind of diversification — using coal and natural gas — was essential for energy security. “We realized we can reach energy security even without this diversification.”

“There is a historic opportunity to transform Israel into one of the first Western countries in which energy is produced with zero pollution and harm to the environment,” he said.

Steinitz said that according to OECD data some 2,500 people die in Israel annually because of air pollution. He added that the controversial natural gas legislation passed two years ago has been a “huge success,” having enabled the development of Leviathan, Israel’s largest natural gas field, which is expected to come online next year. The one and a half-year holdup in the development of Leviathan caused by delays in passing the gas regulations cost Israel some $20 billion, he said.

The development of the field allowed Israel to sign its “most significant export deals” with neighboring Egypt and Jordan since the signing of peace accords with these nations, he said.

Earlier this month, the partners in the Tamar and Leviathan offshore natural gas fields said they signed deals to export 64 billion cubic meters of gas to the Egyptian firm Dolphinus over a 10-year period. In September 2016, Jordan struck a deal to buy 8.5 million cubic meters of Israeli gas per day over 15 years, a deal estimated to be worth $10 billion.

“This strengthens the peace axis,” Steinitz said. “It is a geopolitical success that has been made possible because of natural gas.”

Israel, a country with scarce natural resources, discovered offshore natural gas fields that may enable it to achieve energy independence and become an exporter of natural gas. The Tamar gas field was discovered in 2009 and started production in 2013, while the Leviathan field — the largest deep water natural gas field discovered in the world in the past decade — was discovered in 2010 and is expected to start production in 2019.

Steinitz was speaking at a conference organized by the Israel Institute for Energy and Environment that dealt with the potential of and challenges to Israel’s natural gas industry.

Steinitz and other speakers were heckled by a group protesting against the planned Leviathan rig, which they say will be set up just 10 kilometers off the northern shore and will cause pollution and billions of dollars’ worth of environmental damage.

Protesters demonstrating outside an energy conference in Tel Aviv against setting up a gas rig 10 kilometers from Israel’s shores, February 27, 2018 (Shoshanna Solomon/Times of Israel)

“Instead of a proposed rig, the companies should be setting up a floating production storage and offloading facility above the rig, not close to the shore of Dor Beach,” said protest head Yoni Sapir.

In addition, a gas-processing to be set up on land could pollute local water sources, said Eli Budman, a toxicologist who was protesting outside the hotel.

Steinitz dismissed them as “not in my backyard” protesters who were ignorant of the issues. “We will not submit to pressure by anyone. We are convinced we are doing the right things for the future of Israel,” he declared.

An environmental heckler disrupting the speech of Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz at an energy conference in Tel Aviv; 27 Feb. 2018 (Shoshanna Solomon/Times of Israel)

Responding to the demonstrators, Environment Minister Ze’ev Elkin said Israel cannot both cut its consumption of coal and stall development of the natural gas industry. “We can’t go in both directions,” he said.

The ministry was prioritizing the reduction of pollution, he said, and natural gas had to play its part as soon as possible. “Pollution is the number one environmental challenge of Israel,” he said. “The progress of Leviathan is of environmental interest to Israel.”

At the conference Yona Fogel, the CEO of Paz Oil Company Ltd. an oil refiner, said the price of natural gas in Israel as set by the agreement reached by government and the producers of the gas was too high. “There is a market failure here,” he said. Paz’s two plants, in Haifa and Alon Tavor, were ready to receive natural gas but “the gap between implementation and desire” was very high, he said.

Mathios Rigas, CEO of Energean Oil & Gas, a Greek oil and gas explorer that won the license to develop and operate the smaller Karish and Tanin offshore natural gas fields — which are estimated to have reserves of 2 trillion cubic feet (TCF) and are earmarked to supply fuel to Israel and compete with Tamar and Leviathan — said he expects drilling at the fields to start in 2019 and supply of gas to start in the first quarter of 2021. Energean will be investing some $1.6 billion in the development of the fields, he said, and has already raised the funds to manage the project, he said.

Yossi Abu, the CEO of Delek Drilling LP, a unit of Delek Group Ltd., which together with Noble Energy Inc. is a partner in the Tamar and Leviathan fields, said that he expects more deals with Egypt following the one with Dolphinus signed earlier this month. Egypt is estimated to need some 20 to 40 billion cubic meters of natural gas a year for the next decade, he said, and this presents an opportunity for Israel.

The pipeline infrastructure already in place will allow Leviathan to supply gas to Egypt and Jordan when production starts in the fourth quarter of 2019, he said, and will allow Israel to be part of a regional grid connected to the two Arab countries, as opposed to the energy island it has been until now.


A Real Hero: Praise Allah For Killing A 3 Month Old Baby

A Real Hero: Praise Allah For Killing A 3 Month Old Baby


The mother of Abdelrahman Shaludi, the Hamas terrorist who last Wednesday murdered three-month-old Chaya Zisel Braun and 22-year-old Karen Mosquera with his car in Jerusalem, has “brought honor to his family” for these murders, and is a “martyr” according to his mother.

The mother of Abdelrahman Shaludi, the Hamas terrorist who last Wednesday murdered three-month-old Chaya Zisel Braun  and 22-year mother.
Please check into virtual Jerusalem web site if you wish for more information on this and other events in the local areas. How is ANY peace-loving non violent society suppose to allow such misguided worshipers of pure evil to reside anywhere on the map? Do you want such misguided evil people living anywhere within rocket/missile distance of you and your loved ones? Then don’t blame the Israeli people for trying to protect themselves from such ideology! Until the people who worship this Evil realize their error in Whom/What they are worshiping and voluntarily cleanse their own population this world-wide violence against all other people of the Earth will not stop.

Seal of Prophet Isaiah said found in Jerusalem




In find of biblical proportions, seal of Prophet Isaiah said found in Jerusalem

Chanced upon near a seal identified with King Hezekiah, a tiny clay piece may be the first-ever proof of the prophet, though a missing letter leaves room for doubt

  • Isaiah bulla, a 2,700-year-old clay seal impression which may have belonged to the biblical prophet Isaiah. (Ouria Tadmor/© Eilat Mazar)
    Isaiah bulla, a 2,700-year-old clay seal impression which may have belonged to the biblical prophet Isaiah. (Ouria Tadmor/© Eilat Mazar)
  • Standing in front of the Ophel excavation are (from left) Suzanne Singer, the former BAR Managing Editor; Israeli archaeologist Dr. Gabriel Barkay; Hershel Shanks, BAR Editor Emeritus who recently retired as Editor; and Israeli archaeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar. (Eilat Mazar)
    Standing in front of the Ophel excavation are (from left) Suzanne Singer, the former BAR Managing Editor; Israeli archaeologist Dr. Gabriel Barkay; Hershel Shanks, BAR Editor Emeritus who recently retired as Editor; and Israeli archaeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar. (Eilat Mazar)
  • Drawing by Reut Livyatan Ben-Arie of the Isaiah Bulla, a 2,700-year-old clay seal impression which potentially belonged to the biblical prophet Isaiah. (Illustration: Reut Livyatan Ben-Arie/© Eilat Mazar; Photo by Ouria Tadmor/© Eilat Mazar)
    Drawing by Reut Livyatan Ben-Arie of the Isaiah Bulla, a 2,700-year-old clay seal impression which potentially belonged to the biblical prophet Isaiah. (Illustration: Reut Livyatan Ben-Arie/© Eilat Mazar; Photo by Ouria Tadmor/© Eilat Mazar)
  • The Ophel excavations at the foot of the southern wall of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem (courtesy of Andrew Shiva)
    The Ophel excavations at the foot of the southern wall of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem (courtesy of Andrew Shiva)

The hand of the Prophet Isaiah himself may have created an 8th century BCE seal impression discovered in First Temple remains near Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, according to Hebrew University archaeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar.

“We appear to have discovered a seal impression, which may have belonged to the prophet Isaiah, in a scientific, archaeological excavation,” said Mazar this week in a press release announcing the breathtaking discovery.

Mazar’s team uncovered the minuscule bulla, or seal impression, during renewed excavations at the Ophel, located at the foot of the southern wall of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The discovery was published on Wednesday in an article, “Is This the Prophet Isaiah’s Signature?” as part of a massive March-June issue of the Biblical Archaeology Review dedicated to its recently retired founding editor, Hershel Shanks.

The clay impression is inscribed with letters and what appears to be a grazing doe, “a motif of blessing and protection found in Judah, particularly in Jerusalem,” according to the BAR article.

Isaiah Bulla, a 2,700-year-old clay seal impression which potentially belonged to the biblical prophet Isaiah. (Ouria Tadmor/© Eilat Mazar)

The oval-shaped bulla, however, is not intact. On its legible portion, there is an inscription with First Temple Hebrew letters that seem to spell out the name l’Yesha’yah[u] (Belonging to Isaiah). On a line below, there is the partial word nvy, which presumably spells out “prophet.”

“Because the bulla has been slightly damaged at the end of the word nvy, it is not known if it originally ended with the Hebrew letter aleph, which would have resulted in the Hebrew word for ‘prophet’ and would have definitively identified the seal as the signature of the prophet Isaiah,” Mazar said.

Archaeologist Eilat Mazar in the 2018 winter Ophel Excavations in Jerusalem. (YouTube screenshot)

In the BAR article, Mazar leaves room for the possibility that the inscription on the Isaiah bulla does not refer to the biblical prophet. “Without an aleph at the end, the word nvy is most likely just a personal name. Although it does not appear in the Bible, it does appear on seals and a seal impression on a jar handle, all from unprovenanced, private collections.”

“The name of Isaiah, however, is clear,” she said.

Millennia-old connections between a prophet and his king

The most well-known of the biblical prophets, Isaiah is thought by scholars to have been active circa in the late 8th century and early 7th century BCE.

The Isaiah bulla was discovered in wet-sifted material that was taken from an Iron Age layer close to bedrock that was near a foundation trench cut for a wall of a Herodian vault. The material was found close to a structure that was first discovered in 1986-87 and is today thought to have been a “royal bakery.”

The Ophel excavations at the foot of the southern wall of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem (courtesy of Andrew Shiva)

It was found only 10 feet away from where in 2015 Mazar’s team discovered an important, intact bulla with the inscription “of King Hezekiah of Judah.” The 12th king of the Kingdom of Judah, King Hezekiah ruled from circa 727 BCE-698 BCE, during the period in which the northern Kingdom of Israel fell to the Assyrians in 721 BCE. Some 20 years later, Hezekiah successfully fought off the Assyrian siege of Jerusalem, in part due to fortifications and a water channel which can still be seen today.

A seal impression of King Hezekiah unearthed in the Ophel excavations at the foot of the southern wall of the Temple Mount, conducted by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Institute of Archaeology (ourtesy of Eilat Mazar; photo by Ouria Tadmor)

Upon the discovery of the Hezekiah bulla in 2015, Mazar called the artifact “the closest as ever that we can get to something that was most likely held by King Hezekiah himself.”

This week Mazar said in a press release released by BAR that it is logical that the Isaiah and Hezekiah bullae would be discovered in such close proximity.

“If it is the case that this bulla is indeed that of the prophet Isaiah, then it should not come as a surprise to discover this bulla next to one bearing King Hezekiah’s name given the symbiotic relationship of the prophet Isaiah and King Hezekiah described in the Bible,” said Mazar.

There are several biblical instances of interactions between Isaiah and Hezekiah which indicate the prophet was a spiritual advisor to the king. He consoled the ruler that the Israelites would survive the siege. In the BAR article, Mazar writes, “The names of King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah are mentioned in one breath 14 of the 29 times the name of Isaiah is recalled (2 Kings 19–20Isaiah 37–39). No other figure was closer to King Hezekiah than the prophet Isaiah.”

Dara Horn walking through Hezekiah’s Tunnel in Jerusalem, August 2017. (Brendan Schulman)

The Hezekiah and Isaiah bullae join other similar finds from previous excavations. Digging in 2005-2008 at the summit of the City of David in a large structure which may have been the palace of biblical King David, she discovered a clay impression with a First Temple Hebrew inscription bearing the name of a high-ranking Israelite official who is recorded by the biblical Jeremiah, “Jehucal, son of Shelemiah, son of Shovi.” Years later, a few meters from the Jehucal bulla, she found a seal impression belonging to a second high-ranking official, “Gedaliah, son of Pashur,” who is also found in Jeremiah. Dozens more bullae have been discovered.

Mazar recently reopened the Ophel excavation and is currently digging in the House of the Medallion, which she excavated in 2013, and a rare untouched Second Temple-period cave.

The find has not been peer reviewed and some have already begun to push back against Mazar’s hypothesis, noting that the lack of an aleph after the nvy leaves room for doubt.

“The critically important letter that would be needed to confirm that the second word is the title ‘prophet’ is an aleph. But no aleph is legible on this bulla, and so that reading cannot be confirmed at all,” Semitic languages professor Christopher Rollston told National Geographic.

Isaiah, in an illustration from the Providence Lithograph Company (Wikipedia)

“The assumption that this is a [seal] of Isaiah the prophet is scintillating, but it is certainly not something that we should assume is at all certain,” he added. “It’s not.”

Israeli epigrapher Dr. Haggai Misgav took to Facebook to express his skepticism over the possibility of this bulla having belonged to the Prophet Isaiah. Echoing Rollston’s concerns over the missing “aleph,” the Hebrew University lecturer wrote that since the impression would have been tied to a sack of goods, it is highly unlikely the title “prophet” would have been used at all.

“But as always there is no shortage of those who jump on the finds with cries of, ‘Hurray, we have proven the Bible,’” writes Misgav.

While Mazar herself admits that the missing aleph can be problematic, she says the discovery is important nonetheless.

“Whether or not the bulla we found in the Ophel excavations is the bulla of the prophet Isaiah, it remains, nevertheless, a unique and fantastic discovery,” writes Mazar in the BAR article.

“Finding this bulla leads us to consider the personality and the proximity of the prophet Isaiah as one of the closest advisers to King Hezekiah — not only with regard to the events of his time, but also in assessing them from an informed perspective and foreseeing their influence over future events,” she writes.

A gift fit for a true friend to archaeologists

On his way to catch a plane, the new editor of the Biblical Archaeology Review, Dr. Robert Cargill, told The Times of Israel that the publication of the exciting new find in his magazine “came about by very fortunate timing.”

Dr. Robert Cargill, editor of the Biblical Archaeology Review. (courtesy)

As Cargill was preparing the double issue of BAR in honor of founding editor Shanks, he approached Mazar to ask her for a contribution.

“She said, ‘Your timing couldn’t be better,’” related Cargill. Mazar was getting ready to publish this new discovery. “She allowed us to publish it as a gift to Hershel [Shanks] to say thank you for his support of archaeology and Israel,” said Cargill.

The magazine was first published in 1975 and has focused, sometimes controversially, on finds that claim to offer insights into the ancient workings of the Holy Land — often in approachable articles written by top scholars.

Shanks, not an archaeologist himself, is a lawyer by training. But in the past four decades, he has written innumerable articles and several books about ancient Israel and biblical archaeology.

Standing in front of the Ophel excavation are (from left) Suzanne Singer, the former BAR Managing Editor; Israeli archaeologist Dr. Gabriel Barkay; Hershel Shanks, BAR Editor Emeritus who recently retired as Editor; and Israeli archaeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar. (Eilat Mazar)

In part of her “gift” to Shanks, Mazar wrote: “Like the prophet Isaiah, Hershel is very caring and enthusiastic about current events pertaining to Israel and the greater Near East, in this case those relating to excavations, discoveries, and studies of Biblical archaeology… Creating this valuable link between scholars and the public in the sphere of Biblical archaeology was his ‘prophetic’ vision.”

Cargill, a religious studies assistant professor at University of Iowa, said he respected Mazar’s “careful, responsible treatment” of the bulla in the BAR article.

“She didn’t rush to conclusively say she had found the seal of Isaiah… In our article she gives the possible alternatives,” said Cargill, who called himself “a natural skeptic.”

Drawing by Reut Livyatan Ben-Arie of the Isaiah Bulla, a 2,700-year-old clay seal impression which potentially belonged to the biblical prophet Isaiah. (Illustration: Reut Livyatan Ben-Arie/© Eilat Mazar; Photo by Ouria Tadmor/© Eilat Mazar)

“But if you’re asking me, I think she’s got it. You’re looking at the first archaeological reference of the prophet Isaiah outside of the Bible,” said Cargill. “It’s amazing.”


(Theology) The War Will Never Ever End



Today the headlines from Israel and Gaza, war, more deaths and destruction. In 1948 the Jewish people took back about 1% of the Holy Land and renamed it Israel, as it was, is, and will always be. The people that later became known as the Palestinians were displaced into the other 99% of the Middle-East. None of their Islamic brothers wanted them and they became know as a people without a Nation, displaced. The Arab people who did take them in like the people of Jordan soon threw them out because of the ways in which they acted toward their hosts. Even though their brothers who possess 99% of all the land, no one wants them in their countries. Instead, these “brothers” used them as a pawn for over sixty years, not supporting them, just using them.

Then the Israeli PM did that which he had no authority to do, he gave up some of the Israeli land in an effort to obtain peace with the Palestinian people and their Islamic neighbors. The PM gave them what is now called the West Bank and Gaza, hoping for peace. As I wrote then, Israel only accomplished giving these hate filled people closer bases into which to use to attack Israel and their people from.

God gave to the Israeli PM his just reward for giving away land that is no mans property to give away. He was told not to do it, he did it anyway. He quickly stroked, suffered, never repented and died. This is called the Holy Lands for a reason, this land above all of earths land is called Holy because it is where Christ will rule from the NEW Jerusalem after Satan and his angels are put into hell for ever.

Toward the end of times the ten demons who possess the ten human rulers here on earth new Jerusalem will be sub-planted by the three demon generals who sit at Satan’s left hand. These three “super leaders” will come from the three divisions of human powers. 1) the Americas, 2) Europe/Russia, 3) Asia. You see yet, the sign of God is 3, the sign of man is 6. The three men who would be gods, three of the last four “super” anti-Christs. Have you figured out yet who “The” anti-Christ is, The Root who sub-plants them from beneath is? Should be obvious, their boss, Satan himself, The Anti-Christ. He who would be God but who will instead only rule Hell once the trumpet of God sounds. He comes from beneath for two symbolic reasons. One is because where he now is “god” is geographically beneath the current world super powers where his base is. His throne is now upon the Temple Mount above the Wailing Wall as he demands “Submission” from all.

When Gods’ trumpet sounds, the world will then see and understand that they have been duped by their leaders and that these “super” leaders have been Satan’s henchmen. Friends, it will be too late for those who bowed to the will of Satan to repent. The demons will be cast straightway into Hell because they have already been judged. Satan will be cast into his new Kingdom after the last humans have had their turn before the  judgement seat of Christ. Unfortunately, billions of duped humans will spend forever there in the fire with him. This religion IS NOT a “great and peaceful religion” no matter what the buffoons say on TV. IT IS the most powerful attack on the people of earth that has ever been established.——-“THE WAR WILL NEVER END—UNTIL GODS’ TRUMPET SOUNDS”…..People wake up, or you are going to die twice, 1) the physical death, 2) Eternal separation from the presence and grace of God in Hell with Satan and his followers…… People, Please wake up!!!

Arab Parliaments Call for Boycotting Any State that Recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital



Arab Parliaments Call for Boycotting Any State that Recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital

Sunday, 11 February, 2018 – 12:45
The heads of Arab Parliaments during their meeting in Cairo on Saturday (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Cairo – Asharq Al-Awsat

The heads of Arab parliaments called for severing relations with any state that recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel or transfers its embassy to it.

They also urged the Arab League to take decisive action against countries that did not abide by the international legitimacy’s resolutions by abstaining to vote in favor of the UN General Assembly resolution on Jerusalem on December 21.

In a statement issued at the end of the third conference of the Arab Parliaments and Arab Parliamentary Speakers in Cairo on Saturday, participants pledged to provide Palestine with the needed Arab support at all financial and political levels.

Voicing their rejection of US President Donald Trump’s decision on Jerusalem, which they described as a flagrant violation of international law, the Arab speakers warned that the US administration became an “untrustworthy peace sponsor and a distrusted broker in the Middle East peace process.”

In this context, they called on the United Nations to lead the Peace Process and preserve the sovereignty of Palestine and the legal status of Jerusalem in line with the UN resolutions and the 2002 Arab initiative.

The heads of parliaments decided to prepare an Arab parliamentary action plan in cooperation with the Arab Parliamentary Union and the Union of Member States of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to expose the gravity of the racist laws approved by the Israeli Knesset and all the laws pertaining to the city of Jerusalem.

The current president of the Arab Parliament, Speaker Meshal bin Fahmi al Salami, said that the conference condemned Iranian interference in Arab affairs, as well as the Turkish intervention in Egypt and Libya.

He added that the participants issued a comprehensive document to combat terrorism, covering all the challenges posed by this phenomenon at the political, security, economic, cultural and media levels.

Israel-Iran Fight Steps Into The Open



No longer shrouded by ‘foreign reports,’ Israel-Iran fight steps into the open

Long-heard warnings of war between Jerusalem and Tehran are poised to become reality – unless someone can stop it

Judah Ari Gross

Israeli soldiers survey the border with Syria from a military post in the Golan Heights, following a series of aerial clashes with Syrian and Iranian forces in Syria, on February 10, 2018. (Flash90)

Israeli soldiers survey the border with Syria from a military post in the Golan Heights, following a series of aerial clashes with Syrian and Iranian forces in Syria, on February 10, 2018. (Flash90)

On Thursday, the International Crisis Group think tank and advocacy firm warned in a new comprehensive report that Israel and Iran (plus its proxies) were barreling toward open conflict in Syria.

Those prescient warnings came true — in part, at least — throughout Saturday morning, beginning shortly before 4:30 a.m., with the violation of Israeli airspace by a drone that the Israeli military says was piloted by an Iranian operator from an airfield that Tehran had taken control of months before, with Syrian permission.

Israeli jets conducted reprisal raids in Syria, during which one of the F-16 fighter planes was apparently hit by shrapnel from an exploding anti-aircraft missile and crashed in northern Israel, in what appears to be the first downing of an Israeli plane since 1982.

The aircraft’s pilots bailed out; one of them was seriously injured.

A picture taken in the northern Israeli Jezreel Valley on February 10, 2018, shows the remains of an Israel F-16 that crashed after coming under fire by Syrian air defenses during attacks against ‘Iranian targets’ in the war-torn country. (AFP PHOTO / Jack GUEZ)

Air force jets then completed a second set of retaliatory strikes. In the two rounds, the Israeli military said, its aircraft targeted several Syrian air defense systems as well as four Iranian positions in the country.

This was the first time Israel publicly acknowledged conducting airstrikes against Iranian-held locations in Syria, though not the first time it had done so, according to foreign reports.

In the aftermath of the Saturday morning clash, Israeli, Syrian and Iranian politicians released tough, threatening statements aimed at one another. The United States backed Israel’s right to self-defense. Russia called for calm on all sides, but singled out Israel for violating Syrian sovereignty with its strikes, while conspicuously ignoring the Iranian drone’s airspace violation.

The aerial exchange thrust what had previously been a long-simmering but largely quiet conflict into the international spotlight and raised concerns that this bout will be the first of many clashes — and, in the nightmare scenario, the start of a full-fledged war across Syria, Lebanon and northern Israel.

I don’t think it’s the last time we’ll see such an event, but for the time being both sides will restrain their responses

However, the prevailing belief among Israeli defense analysts is that Saturday’s events were not the prelude to open war, but the beginning of an extended period of increased tension, which is liable to see additional clashes.

“I don’t think it’s the last time we’ll see such an event, but for the time being both sides will restrain their responses,” Sima Shine, a career defense official and current senior researcher at Tel Aviv’s Institute for National Security Studies think tank, told reporters on Sunday.

IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot (L) attends a briefing with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (R) in response to the escalation of tensions along the northern border on February 10, 2018. (Ariel Harmoni/Defense Ministry)

She added, during the phone briefing organized by the Media Central group, that escalation is in neither side’s best interest.

Amos Yadlin, a former fighter pilot and Military Intelligence chief, described Saturday as the “most significant day of fighting” in what Israel describes as its “campaign between wars,” often referred to in Hebrew by its acronym, Mabam.

“Despite the containment of the incident, the campaign is expected to continue,” Yadlin said.

In its report, released two days before Saturday’s flareup, the Crisis Group laid out how this campaign between Israel and the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah axis has developed and how it can be prevented from escalating further.

The organization tracks the current tensions to the Syrian regime’s battlefield victories over the past two and a half years, which it has achieved in large part due to support from the Russian military, which has provided significant air power since September 2015.

These have opened the Iran-led axis to shift toward preparing for a future conflict with Israel.

Only Moscow is in a position to mediate a bolstering of the deescalation agreement. Unless it does, the rules of the Syrian game are likely to be worked out through attack and response, with risk of escalation

According to the think tank, Russia is also the only entity able to prevent such a bloody war, having emerged from the Syrian civil war as the region’s sole remaining superpower after the United States dramatically scaled back its involvement in the conflict.

“Only Moscow is in a position to mediate a bolstering of the deescalation agreement. Unless it does, the rules of the Syrian game are likely to be worked out through attack and response, with risk of escalation,” according to the report.

In this photo released by an official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, right, shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin during their meeting at the Saadabad Palace in Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)

The group outlines three main issues that need to be addressed: the presence of Iranian and Shiite forces near the Israeli Golan Heights; the construction of Iranian military infrastructure in Syria; and ensuring any clashes that do take place remain confined to Syria.

The Crisis Group has also been working directly with Russia to try to persuade it to accept the role of mediator between Israel, Hezbollah, Iran and Syria.

“And we are seeing some traction with Russian officials,” Ofer Zalzberg, a senior Jerusalem-based analyst for the group and one of the report’s authors, told The Times of Israel last Wednesday ahead of the document’s publication.

The recipe for disaster

As Syrian dictator Bashar Assad vanquishes the remaining pockets of resistance in the country, the Israeli concern is that his allies — Iran, Hezbollah and Iran-backed Shiite militias — will be freed to focus on establishing positions along the Israeli border from which to antagonize the Jewish state, as well as permanent naval and air bases to bring in more advanced weaponry and conduct attacks.

Israel has designated these issues to be “red lines,” which it will not allow to be violated, and has said it will take military action if they are.

In its report, the Crisis Group warned that if the Iranian axis presses on with these efforts and Israel retaliates in kind, there is significant potential for escalation or even a large-scale war that could destabilize the entire region.

Israeli security forces inspect damage to a house after a Katyusha rocket attack by Hezbollah from southern Lebanon in the northern Israeli town of Nahariya, July 15, 2006. (Pierre Terdjman / Flash90)

The military assessments of what a war between Israel and Hezbollah would look like are chilling: Hezbollah launching over 1,000 rockets and missiles at Israeli cities and strategic sites each day, along with attempted infiltrations of Israeli communities along the Lebanese border. Israel conducting wave after wave of airstrikes against Hezbollah infrastructure, which the terrorist group has embedded deep inside civilian areas, ensuring significant noncombatant deaths, as well as large-scale IDF ground force maneuvers in southern Lebanon.

Zalzberg said a major part of the problem is that there are no established “rules of the game” between Israel and Iranian proxies in Syria, as there are in Lebanon, where Israel has been fighting Hezbollah off-and-on for decades.

That means the “rules” will be sorted out through back-and-forth, tit-for-tat clashes like Saturday’s. But this is a perilous path, fraught with opportunities for miscalculation and resulting in unintended casualties on both sides.

For instance, Israeli officials often refer to the “proverbial kindergarten” — the type of target that if hit, even accidentally, would prompt Israeli citizens to demand harsh and swift reprisals. As Iran and Hezbollah lack civilian targets in Syria, their equivalent might be a case of significant casualties from an Israeli airstrike, which would forced them to retaliate.

This is a current concern, following Saturday’s exchange, as the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a watchdog group, reported that at least six pro-regime fighters — including both Syrians and foreign nationals — were killed in Israel’s strikes and that “the death toll is expected to rise because there are some people in critical situation.”

Zalzberg added the potential for escalation in Syria is driven higher by the fact that different sides do not have a clear grasp of one another’s goals and viewpoints, citing a year’s worth of interviews by the Crisis Group with officials in Jerusalem, Tehran, Beirut, Amman, Moscow and Washington.

The report and its authors argue that it is ultimately in Russia’s best interest to avoid an all-out war between Israel and the Lebanon-based, Iran-backed Hezbollah, which would have the potential to completely destabilize the region.

Unlike in the 2006 Second Lebanon War between Israel and Hezbollah when the fighting was primarily limited to northern Israel and southern Lebanon, the view of both Israeli and Hezbollah officials is that the next conflict between the two groups would also include fighting in Syria.

Israeli artillery howitzers fire on Hezbollah targets at the Israeli-Lebanese border on July 18, 2006. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

“A massive campaign by Israel will do enormous damage to [Damascus and its backers’] achievements, perhaps even destabilizing the regime itself,” the report noted.

According to Zalzberg, this is not a desirable situation for Russia, as Moscow would like to see Assad regain near-total control over Syria.

The analyst noted that this is at odds with Iran, which wants to see Assad in power, but does not necessarily want to see him becoming too powerful, preferring instead to have Syria controlled by a coalition, similar to Lebanon, so that its Shiite militias could play a more significant role in the country.

Russia and only Russia

Moscow’s active support for Assad and his other main supporters, Iran and Hezbollah, has left Israeli officials decidedly wary of their Russian counterparts.

The Crisis Group report quotes an unnamed Israeli Foreign Ministry official as saying of the Russians, “It’s hard to trust them. They tell us they are not selling weapons to Hezbollah, but we know for a fact that they do. Their policies are cynical. They are not an enticing mediator.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, shakes hands with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during an event marking International Holocaust Victims Remembrance Day at the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center in Moscow, January 29, 2018. (Vasily MAXIMOV/AFP)

Yet there is an understanding among some in Israel that, while not enticing, Russia is the only mediator that has significant leverage over Iran and Hezbollah.

Israel has already had to maintain a close, if uneasy, relationship with Moscow due to its involvement in the region.

After Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jets that had invaded its airspace, Moscow installed an S-400 missile defense system in Syria. With the system, one of the world’s most advanced anti-aircraft batteries, Russia can monitor the overwhelming majority of Israel’s active airspace, including Israeli military flights.

Or, as one Israeli official told the Crisis Group, “A fly can’t buzz above Syria without Russian consent nowadays.”

This came as a shocking blow to the Israeli Air Force, which had, until then, enjoyed aerial superiority in the region, and required Jerusalem and Moscow to set up a hotline to prevent any potential conflicts between the two militaries.

Israel has also worked diplomatically with Russia to secure a buffer zone around the southwestern Syrian border, in which Hezbollah and other Iran-backed Shiite militias would not be allowed to maintain a presence.

In this photo released on Friday, Dec. 29, 2017 by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian government forces stand next to a bus which is waiting to evacuate Syrian rebels and their families from Beit Jinn village, in the southern province of Daraa, Syria. (SANA via AP)

The border area has naturally been of significant concern for Israel, which is loath to see Hezbollah set up military positions along the Golan Heights to join the significant infrastructure it has already put in place in southern Lebanon.

Last month, the Syrian military, with some assistance from Shiite militias, regained control over the area of Beit Jinn, or Beit Jann, which is located just 13 kilometers (8 miles) from Israel’s Mount Hermon ski resort.

Though it is currently focused on retaking the area of Idlib in northwestern Syria, this coalition is likely to soon focus its attention on the Quneitra and Daraa regions, near the Israeli border.

Though Israel secured its buffer zone for that area this summer, the Crisis Group report notes that it would be relatively easy for these groups to get around the restriction, “for instance by integrating the fighters into the Syrian army or simply having them don its uniforms.”

The advocacy group argues that before the Syria-Iran-Hezbollah axis moves toward the southwest, Russia should work to negotiate an agreement between it and Israel.

There is still time for Russia to try to broker a set of understandings to prevent a confrontation, protecting both its investment in the regime and Syrian, Israeli and Lebanese lives

The Crisis Group notes that Israel’s insistence that Iranian and Iran-backed troops stay out of southern Syria will be the most difficult to negotiate, as Hezbollah and the Shiite militias would not be inclined to accept it and could easily cheat by disguising themselves as Syrians.

However, the authors say this could be resolved by getting Russia to agree to prevent Iran from setting up the types of infrastructure most concerning to Israel, like a seaport through which the Islamic Republic could carry out attacks against Israeli natural gas fields, an airport to transport weapons to Hezbollah, or a factory for the production of precise missiles.

“There is still time for Russia to try to broker a set of understandings to prevent a confrontation, protecting both its investment in the regime and Syrian, Israeli and Lebanese lives,” the Crisis Group wrote.


Russian delegation ‘sought to stop Israeli strikes in Syria, Lebanon’



Russian delegation ‘sought to stop Israeli strikes in Syria, Lebanon’

Arabic daily says high-level team visiting from Moscow came to Jerusalem to discourage action against Iran and Hezbollah

Russian Federation Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev, left, meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, February 1, 2018. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Russian Federation Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev, left, meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, February 1, 2018. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

A delegation of senior Russian security officials visiting Israel this weekreportedly sought to dissuade Jerusalem from striking Iranian and Hezbollah weapons facilities in Syria and Lebanon.

According to the London-based Arabic daily Asharq Al-Awsat, quoted by Israel’s Channel 10 news, the purpose of Wednesday’s visit, headed by Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev, was Moscow’s desire to discourage Israeli intervention across the border, Channel 10 news reported.

The Russian delegation, which also included deputy ministers, army generals and intelligence officers, held talks with Israel’s National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat as well as heads of Israel’s National Security Council and top military, defense and intelligence officials.

Patrushev himself met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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. Foreign media reports have attributed dozens of airstrikes on Iranian-linked targets in Syria to Israel.

Last week’s visit by the Russian officials came on the heels of Netanyahu’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow to discuss Iranian military entrenchment in the region.

A satellite image showing the results of an alleged Israeli airstrike on a reported Iranian base being set up outside Damascus, from December 4, 2017. (ImageSat International ISI)

Netanyahu said his meeting with Putin focused on Iran, with the prime minister saying if Tehran continues to try and deepen its influence in Syria, Israel would work to “stop it.”

“The question is: Does Iran entrench itself in Syria, or will this process be stopped. If it doesn’t stop by itself, we will stop it,” Netanyahu told Israeli reporters during a telephone briefing.

“We also spoke about Lebanon, which is becoming a factory for precision-guided missiles that threaten Israel. These missiles pose a grave threat to Israel, and we will not accept this threat,” he added.

Netanyahu said that the weapons factories are currently “in the process of being built” by Iran. Israel is determined to do whatever is necessary to prevent those two developments, Netanyahu said.

Last month, Israel’s envoy to the United Nations said there are 3,000 soldiers from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps currently fighting in Syria, and accused Tehran of seeking to turn the country “into the largest military base in the world.”

Danny Danon told the Security Council that Iran controls 82,000 fighters in Syria, including 9,000 members of Hezbollah, 10,000 Shiite militiamen from Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and another 60,000 Syrians.

Danon urged member states not to “allow Iran to continue funding worldwide terror, pursue its dangerous internal arms buildup, and grow its military presence abroad.”