This Week Today - Current Events in 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....

This Week Today

Current Events from Israel

Prime Minister Netanyahu Goes to Hevron

Prime Minster Netanyahu visited and spoke in Hevron today to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the tragic massacre and expulsion of the Jewish Community of Hevron in 1929. This is the first time an Israeli Prime Minister has ever given an official speech in Hevron. Many of those who did go to Hevron didn't even get out of their cars - including Ariel Sharon. Other government ministers and President Ruby Riviln visited and spoke as well. Many right-wing folks were hoping for concrete policy changes from the Prime Minister in his speech, but had to settle for this: 

"We are addressing other important issues regarding access to the Cave of the Patriarchs and rights to Jewish property. We do not come to dispossess anyone, but no one will dispossess us. We are not foreigners in Hevron, we will remain in it forever." 

Not what folks were hoping for, but still a dramatic act - Netanyahu's specialty. Earlier in the week, Prime Minister Netanyahu attended the first day of school at the Jewish community of Elkanah in Samaria. He took the opportunity to again promise to extend Israeli sovereignty over all Jewish communities in Judea an Samaria. There will be alot of pressure to act on this topic and right-wing interests if a right-wing government is formed after the elections. 

Iran/Hezbollah

So this week Hezbollah, on behalf of Iran, finally made an attempt to retaliate for Israel's numerous consistently successful bombings of Iranian/Hezbollah targets in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. After promising to respond within 72 hours, Hezbollah forces fired anti-tank rockets across the Lebanese-Israeli border at Israeli military targets. That's where things get a bit murky. 

So Hezbollah says that they struck multiple Israeli targets and killed/wounded Israeli soldiers. Explosions were observed as were what appeared to be wounded Israeli soldiers being evacuated by military helicopter for medical treatment. However, subsequently Israel announced that no targets suffered direct hits and that no soldiers were even slightly injured - "not even a scratch". That's quite a discrepancy. As of now, it appears that Israeli is telling the truth and that they staged the fake injuries to stop Hezbollah from continuing to attack. Hezbollah did stop attacking and declared that they were satisfied with their retaliation. So it worked, for now. 

After the attack: 

-Israel fired over 100 mortar shells into Lebanon

-Israel publicized maps of a Hezbollah missile production facility in Lebanon

-The Prime Minister of Lebanon has distanced Lebanon from Hezbollah and publicly opposed both their recent attacks and even their existence. 

-Information has been leaked that Israel was very close to attacking Iran in 2012 and is currently seriously considering to do it now. 

-Israel made of fun of Hassan Nasrallah, head of Hezbollah, on his birthday. 

I'm not a big fan of the now leftist Jerusalem Post these days, but they had a very interesting article today on Hezbollah and Lebanon and how demographic changes are dramatically affecting the situation. Worth a read: https://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Hezbollahs-demographic-problem-explains-its-restraint-600568

Israeli Election Update

-This week "Zehut" party leader Moshe Feiglin seemingly came to his senses and made a deal to end his party's run for the Knesset and instead support Prime Minister Netanyahu and his Likud party. There was virtually no chance that Zehut would have won enough votes to enter the Knesset. Instead of simply failing again, Feiglin now has a promise from Netanyahu to be named a minister in the next government and to actively support some of Zehut's policy positions. Will Netanyahu keep his side of the deal? Let's see him form a government first and then we'll get to that. 

-Rumors are flying out of the "Blue and White" party that former Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi has been promised to be prime minister after former Chief of Staff Benny Ganz. What about former DJ Yair Lapid? I'm sure he'd like to know. Of course everyone is denying this report. The reality is that Lapid is so hated by so many parties that its incredibly unlikely that him or anyone connected with him will ever be prime minister. 

-How do you solve a problem like....Otzma (Think: Sound of Music).....Otzma is still running. And inching closer and closer to the electoral threshold.  Noam is still running as well. Its hard to believe that Noam will run until the end, despite them saying they will. (Zehut also said they would run until the end.) If Noam were to support Otzma that might be enough to get them in. But that's not guaranteed at all. Its more likely that Noam will throw their support behind "Gimmel" - the Ashkenazic ultra-orthodox party. Of course there are other factors like voter turnout and what happens between now and the election. Otzma's basic talking point is that if they get in, it will bring 4 more seats to the right side and allow Netanyahu to form a right-wing government. I'm not sure of that math, but it might sway some folks to their side. With less than two weeks to go, its definitely coming down to the wire!