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....

Crazy winter weather has hit Israel and I decided to write the update a little earlier this week, just in case we lose....can't even say it! Honestly I don't even know where our power lines are in the Old City, but they generally don't go down and if they do, we can always go pray at the Western Wall that it will come back soon. 

Syria

There was just now a serious terrorist attack by ISIS on a patrol in northern Syria and it appears at least 4 US soldiers were killed and others wounded. This is a very serious escalation and is definitely connected to stated US plans to leave Syria in the near future. There has been a clear uptick in the number of ISIS terror activity in the past few weeks. Might be the animal kicking before it dies or a actual resurgence. Remains to be seen. Will be hard for President Trump to ignore today's attack. Otherwise, Syria is quiet as President assad continues to consolidate his po‎sition, both domestically and internationally. 

A Sixth Hezbollah Terror Tunnel Found

This week, a sixth tunnel from Lebanon into Israel was found by Israeli combat engineers. It has been reported that this is the final tunnel that exists. Pretty confident, no? Without to sound too over-confident myself, it would seem that the findings of the 6 tunnels were all based on received intelligence info that indicated that there were 6 tunnels and more or less where they were located. Realistically, these tunnels were not in the best shape and one has to wonder how much of a real threat they presented. Of course, remains to be seen if any additional tunnels are found what that will mean. For now seems like more of a psychological victory over hezbollah than a military one. 

Terror in Jerusalem

An older married couple were found murdered in their Jerusalem apartment this week, not far from a previous terrorist stabbing. Currently the details of the investigation are under a gag order, but all signs point to terrorism and many are openly suggesting that the two incidents are likely linked. The neighborhood, Armon HaNatziv, borders an arab neighborhood known for terror, jabel mekaber. Don't have to be Sherlock Holmes to figure this one out. 

Jewish Terror? 

As was reported last week, a group of Jewish youths were arrested on suspicion of throwing a stone at a car that resulted in the death of an arab woman. Since then, four of them have been released and, as of now, no potential indictments have been indicated for them. However, the prosecution has announced that they intend to indict the fifth youth (16 years old) for manslaughter in the death of the arab woman. No evidence has been provided to the public as of yet and the defense attorney is screaming that there isn't any. I don't think either of these things are indications of anything and we will have to wait and see what can be eventually proven.

Elections

Much is still to be decided as to who is even running together in the coming Israeli Knesset elections. We found out a few things this week:

-yair lapid will not be running with tzipi livni

-United Torah Judaism will be running together (Chassidic and non-Chassidic ultra-Orthodox parties). Personal prediction: I think they'll get 7-8 seats this time. They've been stuck below that for a while and I think their quick unity will pay off this time). 

-Betzalel Smotrich was elected head of the right-wing National Union faction. It is believed that he is keen to include the far-right parties in some sort of partnership. This would be a big deal for the right. Prime Minister Netanyahu immediately called Smotrich to congratulate him on his victory. He didn't do that to be nice. His future government very well might depend on Smotrich. 

-Benny Gantz is a leftist and has dug himself quite a hole. Will be interesting to see if he can climb out of it.

-Expect alot more to happen! 

Jerusalem

The supreme court recently re-affirmed the eviction of a large property in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Shimon HaTzadik (sheikh jarrah to the arabs). The particular property is located very near to the tomb of the famous Sage, Shimon HaTzadik. (Google him). There has not been an eviction of arab squatters in this area in the past 10 years. The evictions of virtually all the other properties in the neighborhood have been held up by similar arguments to the one just rejected by the supreme court. In short, this is just the beginning. 

Stay warm and dry. I need you to be healthy to be able to continue reading these important updates! 

Ben Packer

Old City, Jerusalem