This Week Today - Current Events from Israel

Ben Packer,

לבן ריק
לבן ריק
צילום: ערוץ 7
Ben Packer
Originally from Petersburg, Virginia, Ben Packer moved to Israel in 1999, where he served in the IDF's Givati Brigade in the Gaza Strip. Ben served as a Rabbi on campus at Univ. of North Carolina and at Duke Univ. Ben now serves as Director of the Jerusalem Heritage House (www.heritagehouse.org.il) and Co-Director of Young Jewish Conservatives (www.youngjewishconservatives.org). He lives in the Old City of Jerusalem with his wife and 6 children....

Something happened this last week that hasn't happend in DECADES to Israel - an Israeli Air Force fighter jet was shot down by enemy forces, specifically Syria in this case. Thank G-d, both pilots were able to eject over Israel and are now recovering from injuries sustained during their escape from the damaged aircraft. In short, this could have been alot worse - ALOT WORSE!

The downed aircraft was involved in operations over Syria because of an earlier incident that day when an Iranian drone penetrated Israeli airspace through Jordan. The drone was promptly shot down and recovered by Israel. This is a serious escalation in the conflict between Israel and Syria/Iran. After this incident, the Israeli Air Force inflicted significant damage to both Syrian and Iranian forces in Syria.

So as of now, things have somewhat stabilized. Its hard to understand why Iran would think its a good idea to start up, but then again, its iran. Its kind of their thing. Someone forgot to educate obama on that before he gave them billions to spend on terrorism. whoops.

Continuing with recent developments in the Shomron (Samaria) area. Again, why is this important? Its important because one of the longstanding (very misguided) ideas for establishing stability in Israel/the Middle East is the creation of separate state for arabs in the "West Bank". A large part of this State would need to come from the Shomron. Additionally, and maybe more significantly, in the absence of the creation of this terrorist entity, there are prominent Israeli political leaders that propose evacuating areas of the West Bank of both civilian and military presence. A large part of the proposed retreat would be from the Shomron. Why? The short answer is: the Jewish population is not high enough. What is being done about this? Three significant developments in the past week:

1) Ariel University (in Ariel) had its status upgraded to now be on the same level as all the other universities in Israel - even though its physically located in the Shomron. This will have many effects, but the primary one is to allow the establishment of a state-of-the-art medical school.

2) The re-establishment of the outpost called "Evyatar" just to the east of the Tapuach Junction. The location is a former army base. At least seven structures have been built and a constant Jewish presence has been in place for the past 2 weeks. Remains to be seen how the Israeli government will react. I can say as someone who has visited the site, ITS INCREDIBLY STRATEGIC!! You can clearly see all the other Jewish communities in the area from its high perch.

3) After the terrorist murder of Rabbi Itamar Ben Gal, Israeli Government representatives told his widow and family that they are strongly considering allowing the construction of 800 housing units in Har Bracha - the community in which the Rabbi lived. This would more than double the size of the community and increase the Jewish population is the entire area significantly.

May of area attached - important to focus on area between the cities of Ramallah (at the bottom) and Shechem (at the top).

A disturbing incident took place this week, also in the Shomron, when 2 non-combat Israeli soldiers mistakenly entered the palestinian authority-controlled city of Jenin. The soldiers were nearly lynched and were able to escape from a large crowd with only a series of flesh wounds. The worse part about this incident is how not at all surprising it is.

And finally, the Israeli police have recommended that Prime Minister Netanyahu be indicted for bribery and some other related charges. As we have mentioned numerous times and wherever possible, respect for the Israeli police and their "competence" is very low in Israel, putting it mildly. Their recommendation has no legal authority and the Attorney General will decide whether or not to bring charges. Until then, there is no reason in the world for Netanyahu to resign. Actually, his approval rating has gone up. Nobody has left the government coalition or even threatened to leave. The Israeli "legal" system vs. the Jewish people is becoming quite the recurring theme.

We have entered the month of Adar when we are commanded to increase joy! However, our thoughts and prayers go out to the folks in Florida who have suffered from this most recent school mass shooting tragedy. Thankfully in Israel teachers are allowed to be armed so its one less thing we have to worry about.

Chodesh Tov!

Ben Packer

Old City, Jerusalem