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....

As promised in last week's update (you can check), this week was much more exciting!!! 

For starters, over 100 missiles/mortars were shot from Gaza at Israel. That might seem crazy, but for years, it used to be normal. Before that, Jews lived in Gaza and rockets were NEVER shot into Israel. Just sayin'. 

Of course Israel retaliated for these attacks and claims to have destroyed all kinds of terror infrastructure in Gaza. Oddly, there don't seem to be very many terrorist casualties from these strikes. Makes you wonder. Thankfully, the missiles from Gaza only caused slight damage, a few injuries and no deaths!!! The Iron Dome system worked very well and a few open miracles as well! 

For now, things seem to have calmed down, with both sides publicly expressing their lack of desire for escalation. The short story is: the arabs/hamas don't really have a solution for the Iron Dome and Israel doesn't really have a solution for what to do if they reconquer Gaza. So nothing has really changed. 

Very unfortunately, prior to the Gaza drama, an Israeli soldier from the elite Duvdevan unit was killed in a village outside of Ramallah during an arrest mission. The arab terrorist threw a marble slab down from a building and hit the soldier in the helmet. The original terrorists sought during the raid have all been captured and now the search is on for the murderer. 

So let's hear some good news, shall we?!! Yes, we shall! 

Today, the Israeli government approved construction for roughly 700 new houses in Judea and Samaria. Additionally, about 1200 houses received preliminary approval. Plus another 1000 or so houses will be marketed to builders in the near future, so they will be built soon as well. 

The numbers are not so striking - they could be so much higher! Nonetheless, let's examine the impact of the decisions made today:

-Kfar Eldad (eastern Gush Etzion) - 84 new houses (60% increase in the overall size of the community)

-Ateret (central Binyamin, right next to Rawabi)  -70 new houses (50% increase in the size of the community

-In the Har Hevron Area (southern Judea) - where my fingers are on the attached map

Negohot - 102 new houses (50% increase)

Tene Omarim - 136 new houses (100% increase) 

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Clearly, "isolated" Jewish communities are being significantly strengthened. More construction in the Hevron area, in places like Kiryat Arba and Pnei Hever, is also coming. Why that area? Let's hear from the head of the local government: 

"The South Hebron Hills regional council chairman Yochai Damari thanked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman in a Wednesday statement. “In recent years, we have been working with the help of government ministers to build and develop the communities of the South Hebron Hills into a strong and well-established settlement bloc that maintains thousands of acres of state land and constitutes a security buffer protecting southern Israel,” 

"Settlment Bloc" - that's the name of the game. Once an area is a "settlement bloc" it means the Jewish population is high enough that it can never be evacuated/ethnically cleansed of Jews.  Examples of such places are Maale Adumim, Gush Etzion, Modiin Illit, Ariel and a few others. The magic number generally needed to attain this status is 20,000 residents. Although Ariel had slightly less when they were designated a bloc. Now they have much more, and so will everyone else if they can hit their numbers' population targets. 

Expect much more to come! Probably something in Jerusalem next!!! 

Ben Packer

Old City, Jerusalem



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