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....

Once again a very, very busy week in Israel. Supposed to be vacation time, but ISIS never takes a vacation - vacation is for infidels - so let's start with them!

Syria:

Intense fighting continues along the Israeli border at the Golan Heights and Syria. The fight is now down to Syria/Russia/Iran vs. pretty much just ISIS. As was widely reported in the international press, Israel helped approximately 400 sunni arabs escape the onslaught and guaranteed ruthless punishment coming their way by opening the border and allowing them to cross into Israel, on their way to temporary safe haven in Jordan. Some of those who escaped are members and family of the "white helmets" group, who are mostly known for their work in pulling other sunni arabs out of the rubble after the Syrian government or their cronies attack an area. For sure other folks escaped as well with this group. Apparently other "white helmets" and their families and friends were unable to get to the border in time and are now trapped. And some didn't trust Israel - the consistent generous rewards of anti-semitism.  Remains to be scene what their fate will be. This pretty much ends any resistance of anything that could be considered "normal" in the southwest of Syria. 

That leaves ISIS! No longer constrained by the stick-in-the-mud rebels, now ISIS can do what they do best. So the first thing they did was suicide bombings (how did you guess?!!!!) Some reports are claiming that upwards of 200 people were killed in coordinated attacks against syrian government forces and Druze. Why the Druze? Why not?! But also because the Druze remain loyal to Damascus and Bashar Assad and also they broke away from Islam about 1000 years ago. I guess ISIS thought it was now time to pay them back for all that. Oh, and they also shot a few missiles at Israel that landed in the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) and captured the body of a Syrian pilot shot down by Israel for passing into a restricted area along the border. Unfortunately for ISIS, the pilot was already dead, so no torture. Hardly makes any of it seem worth it.

It ain't over yet. The excitement (and killing) never stops in Syria. 

Gaza:

Now to a more peaceful place - Gaza! Very tragically, an Israeli soldier was killed last week by a sniper from Gaza. It appears that the rifle used was made in Iran. This is clearly a serious escalation from the kite/balloon attacks - although those continue as well. And just now, an Israeli officer was wounded by gunfire and, according to some reports, almost kidnapped by terrorists. Thank G-d, he was rescued and is recovering. Directly after this, Israel killed at least 3 hamas terrorists with air force bombings. This is in contrast to previous air force attacks, where Israel intentionally hits empty buildings - not making this up. 

Anyway, its hard to understand Israel's unjustifiable restraint until this point. And then you remember that there is no solution to Gaza other than to reconquer it. And then it all makes sense. Hamas certainly knows this and that's why they just keep firing away. 

Sa-Nur (northern Samaria/West Bank):

Jews return to Sa-Nur! Sa-Nur is one of the Jewish Communities that was forcibly evacuated during the "Disengagement" in 2005. It is located just north of another community, Homesh, that was also forcibly evacuated. Both are located in the northern Shomron/West Bank, between the larger cities of Shechem and Jenin. Two other communities, farther north, Ganim and Kadim, were also evacuated. 

There is a law currently before the Knesset that proposes to make it legal for Israelis to go to this area again and possibly even live there again. There has been a constant presence at Homesh for many years and now there is an attempt to revive a presence at Sa-Nur as well. Over 200 people, and 2 Knesset members, traveled to Sa-Nur, without coordination with the army. This showed some important things: its easy to get there, people want to go back there, and the army is not bothered by it. As has been mentioned in previous updates, this area - the northern Shomron - is an essential part of any scheme to establish a "palestinian state". This is why PM Netanyahu has been very resistant to allowing Jews to legally return to the area. Whether or not he personally supports a "palestinian state", he's working very hard, against his support base, to allow it to remain a viable possibility. 

Western Wall Rock Falling: 

A rock fell out of the Western Wall! A lady almost got hit, but it just missed her and no one was injured. I'm not going to get into all the possible mystical reasons why this happened - in the egalitarian section, but its very important to note that this is the arabs' fault. More specifically: there control of the Temple Mount. Meaning: while we don't exactly know what caused this, the lack of supervision and maintenance on the Temple Mount is extremely problematic, putting it mildly. And it seems something (G-d?) decided its time to deal with it. 

Jerusalem Mayoral Race:  

Just got even more exciting! There is now officially a Hareidi (ultra-orthodox) candidate running for mayor. He is a Slonimer chosid who is currently one of the deputy mayors. (The only one to be running in the election). Meanwhile, the Likud party refused to endorse the Likud member of Knesset, Ze'ev Elkin who is running. However, PM Netanyahu did. He also has the endorsement of the current mayor, nir barkat. What is going on?

Quick analysis: There are two main political "sectors" of the Hareidi community: Agudas Yisrael (AY) and Degel HaTorah  (DH). AY is the chasidic people and DH is the non-chasidic. Together, they make up about 40% of the electorate in Jerusalem. The current candidate, Yossi Deutsch, has the endorsement of AY. Does he have the endorsement of DH as well? Its hard to believe he would run without it. Also there is a DH deputy mayor as well and he isn't running for mayor. Just another sign that everyone is on the same page or planning to be. This would also explain why the Likud party doesn't want to be on the losing side, but individual fellow Likudniks don't want to offend Elkin. 

Quick history: the last time a Hareidi (chasidic) candidate ran for mayor he lost. He lost because Gur (a large chasidic group) deserted him over a personal conflict. That doesn't look likely this time. There are tons of practical ramifications that could result from this, but let's wait for the actual election. 

Hope everyone is enjoying the summer! (Except ISIS, Iran, Hezbollah, Syria, Hamas and those currently controlling the Temple Mount)

Ben Packer

Old City, Jerusalem



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