A rocket was fired from Gaza early Friday afternoon, breaking the truce reached at the end of the last Hamas terror war.
"Color red" rocket warning sirens were sounded in communities in the Eshkol Regional Council area just outside of Gaza, and shortly thereafter it was reported that a rocket struck just outside a community in Eshkol; no wounds or damage were reported.
On Thursday there was a false alarm in Be'er Sheva, with rocket sirens sounding reportedly due to a technical malfunction.
The attack comes a day after Hamas held its largest military exercise since Operation Protective Edge on the ruins of two former Israeli villages - Dugit and Nissanit - in Gaza which were evacuated in the 2005 Disengagement plan, allowing Hamas to take over.
In the past few months, since the end of Operation Protective Edge, various incidents have occurred indicating Hamas' attempt to rebuild and regain military strength.
Among other things, the IDF has reported multiple test rocket launchings conducted by Hamas, in which rockets were shot out into the Mediterranean Sea.
In addition to restoring its rocket cache, Hamas has been actively rebuilding the terror tunnels into Israel meant to attack civilians.
At least 30 of the tunnels were destroyed during the operation, and Hamas is currently using reconstruction materials sent to it by world nations and Israel to rebuild the tunnels.
Former Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon (Likud) responded to the Gaza rocket attack Friday morning, linking it to the European Union's (EU) removal of Hamas from its terrorist organization list on Wednesday.
"This morning the Europeans received more proof that Hamas is a terrorist organization," released Danon in a statement after the rocket attack which fortunately didn't inflict any wounds or damage.
The MK continued "the rocket that Hamas fired at Israel proves again to European countries that they don't need to wait for any check as to whether Hamas is a terrorist organization, if anyone still had a doubt about it they received their answer now with the (rocket) firing."
In addition to removing Hamas from the terror list on Wednesday due to a claimed lack of legal evidence submitted in adding it to the list, the European Parliament that same day voted to recognize "Palestine."
Calling for action, Danon added "the government of Israel must respond with strength against every attack on its sovereignty, and not abandon residents of the south."
In the Friday attack a rocket exploded just outside of a community in the Eshkol Regional Council area adjacent to Gaza. The attack came a day after Hamas held its largest military exercise since Operation Protective Edge on the ruins of two Israeli villages in Gaza evacuated in the 2005 Disengagement plan.
In fact the rocket attack is not the first such breach of the truce agreement that ended the operation; there have been several rockets fired into Israel since, including one that was shot down at the beginning of last month.
Eshkol Regional Council head Chaim Yelin, who on Thursday joined Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid party, said in response to the rocket attack "whoever thought that IDF deterrence is the solution for quiet in the Gaza Belt doesn't understand that wars are won by diplomats, who with courage bring quiet and security."
"After Protective Edge the state had an unusual opportunity to bring a long-term agreement," said Yelin, apparently suggesting a deal with the intransigent Hamas that calls for the genocide of Jews in its very charter. "Instead of that we find ourselves with a ticking clock towards the next escalation and war."
Givati Brigade Commander Col. Ofer Winter is back in the news over an IDF investigation - several of his soldiers told Arutz Sheva they are convinced that someone is pulling the strings and organizing a targeted "elimination" of him for his religiosity.
The soldiers firmly reject all of the claims being leveled that Winter didn't pass on to his supervisors complaints of sexual abuse of female soldiers by Givati's Tzabar battalion Commander Lt. Col. Liran Hajbi, that he hushed up a rebellion by fighters as well as two suicides, and didn't report on damage caused to a jeep.
According to the soldiers, the latest investigation is part of a campaign by organizations and people, including those in the army, seeking a pretext against Winter - and it all started after he made religious statements at the start of Operation Protective Edge.
Winter was embroiled in a media storm after in a call-up message sent to members of the brigade he wrote that they were going out against "the terrorist Gazan enemy that curses, reviles and insults the G-d of the campaigns of Israel." The criticism against him came from various sources, including then-Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon (Likud).
"His call to rely on the G-d of Israel gave strong feelings to many in the army and outside it because of the media storm, since then he's a target for elimination in the eyes of several people, and the attempt now to frame him with covering up some abuse case of some commander is part of the program to eliminate his career," said the soldiers, who refused to add more details.
The talk of a secretive planned campaign comes on the heels of a Knesset debate last month about "religionization" in the IDF, framed as a discussion of Jewish "radicalization" following an increasing religiosity among soldiers during the operation.
Former IDF Chief Rabbi Brig.-Gen. (res.) Rabbi Avichai Ronski slammed the discussion, calling it "anti-Semitic."
Attorney Oded Saborai, who represents Winter, said that the charges against his client in the investigation are baseless because Winter did not cover up the complaints against Hajbi and the other claims but rather passed them on as required.
Sources close to Winter added that it would have been impossible to cover up the investigation, because the IDF's Criminal Investigation Unit (CID) was holding a covert investigation in the brigade on the claims against Hajbi - an investigation Winter was aware of as brigade commander.
IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz spoke about the case for the first time on Thursday, saying "we will give the sources connected to the matter full backing in all they ask for, so as to investigate the truth and to exercise justice as required."
The battle between Labor and Likud is expected to be tight, according to a poll published in Globes on Thursday night - and, unlike other recent polls, the Shas party may still make the Knesset threshold.
According to the survey, Tzipi Livni and Yitzhak Herzog's Hatnua-Labor pact and Likud are both projected to win 23 seats in the Knesset - predicting a race to assemble a coalition post-elections.
Meanwhile, Jewish Home ranks third with 16 seats; Yisrael Beytenu and Moshe Kahlon's Kulanu would tie for fourth with nine seats; and Yesh Atid and Shas would tie for fifth with eight seats each.
The Arab parties - United Arab List, Hadash, and Balad - would garner 11 seats if they were to combine; United Torah Judaism (UTJ) would gain seven seats; and Meretz would round out the list with just six seats. As has been the case with the recent polls, Otzma Yehudit was not included in the survey.
This is a significant increase for Aryeh Deri's Shas party, which was projected in recent polls to barely make the Knesset threshold with 4 seats after MK Eli Yishai formed his Yachad party. Thursday's poll projects that Yachad will fall far short of the threshold with just 2 seats, a large fall from polls just days earlier.
A poll earlier this week showed Shas's electorate power was split in half since Yishai introduced Yachad, with a poll giving Shas and Yachad 4 apiece. That split has also been reflected in a Knesset Channel survey published Tuesday.
The 6th Annual Latke Festival in New York City was held this week in honor of Hanukkah, and to mark the Jewish holiday celebrating how the Maccabees defended Judaism from Greek occupiers - participants decided to submit non-kosher ham latke potato pancakes.
A total of 24 restaurants and vendors took part in the potato pancake competition reported the The Daily Beast on Wednesday. Their entries were less than traditional to say the least.
Veselka, a Ukrainian restaurant in the East Village, layered its latkes with pork goulash. Meanwhile Mokbar, a Korean restaurant located in Chelsea Market, made its entire latke out of pork.
At least Egg, from Brooklyn, warned that its country ham latkes were not kosher with a warning sign.
The choice of serving ham latkes is particularly poignant given that the Maccabees fought off the Syrian-Greeks after they outlawed Judaism, forcing Jews to break Torah law by such acts as eating pork and sacrificing pigs to the Greek gods.
Oily latkes are traditionally eaten on the holiday to mark the miracle the occurred when the Maccabees sanctified the Second Temple that had been desecrated by the Greeks, with the oil used to light the Temple menorah (candelabrum) miraculously lasting eight days instead of one.
In saving Judaism from oblivion, the Maccabees took up arms and despite being vastly outnumbered successfully ousted the Greeks, re-establishing the last fully independent Jewish state with the Hasmonean dynasty until the modern Jewish state of Israel was founded in 1948.
A majority of the National Union/Tekuma party's rabbis are against a split in the national-religious camp, Arutz Sheva has learned Friday.
Three of the four Rabbis - Rabbi Isser Klonsky, Rabbi Chaim Steiner, and Rabbi Gidon Perl - opposed the split during the Thursday night meeting over the game-changing potential to break off from Jewish Home.
On the other side, Rabbi Dov Lior adamantly opposed joining with Jewish Home, leading the final decision to be made by the party's Central Committee. The meeting of the rabbis came after the Tekuma council discussed whether or not to run jointly with Jewish Home, but could not reach a decision as a vote on the issue resulted in a tie.
In the previous elections Rabbi Lior opposed running jointly with Jewish Home, and instead supported running together with former MK Dr. Michael Ben-Ari's Otzma Leyisrael party, as was the case during the 2009 elections. Ben Ari's party is running in the current elections as Otzma Yehudit.
Tekuma and Jewish Home have been largely at odds lately, with Tekuma sources this week explaining that there is a religious divide.
According to them, Jewish Home's controversial decision to actively court the secular and Druze public threatens to remove the Torah core principles from the party. They pointed to the slew of anti-religious legislation in the last Knesset and warned if the Jewish nature of the party is watered down it likely will no longer be interested in properly defending the Jewish nature of the state.
If Tekuma breaks off from Jewish Home, it is expected to join with former Shas chairperson Eli Yishai's new Yachad party (the name of the party has yet to be finalized). Ariel and Yishai have been discussing the possibility of a joint run extensively.
Israeli Air Force pilot Lt. Col. Ron Arad was abducted by terrorists in Lebanon back in 1986; now, 28 years later, his wife Tami opened up and recounted the many hardships suffered on the long road without her husband.
Speaking to Yedioth Aharonoth, Tami noted that she was once informed that Ron died. "It was after seven years. Information that Ron died arrived, but it was ruled out after a week. The source that brought the information took it back and denied it."
"That week I sat a sort of shiva (ritual seven day mourning period) in deep darkness - crying and mourning and self examination," said Tami. "When the week passed and they returned Ron to life without getting a sign of life from him, I had trouble connecting to the optimism. My confidence in the information I received was irreversibly shaken."
Arad and co-pilot Yishai Aviram were on a mission to attack Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) terrorist targets near Sidon, Lebanon on October 16, 1986, when a bomb their aircraft had dropped exploded too early, forcing both men to eject the aircraft. Aviram was rescued hours later, but Arad was reportedly captured by the Lebanese rebel group Amal.
Photos and letters from Arad were received in 1987 proving he was still alive, but negotiations to secure his release failed and reliable data has yet to be received. Arad was announced dead in 2008 after Israel received a report from the Hezbollah terror group, which claimed Arad died two years after his capture.
Now, Arad's daughter Yuval who was one-year-and-three-months old when her father was captured is 29-and-a-half - she is older than her father was when he was captured.
"I try not to speak with her about that," said Tami. "I think it did come up sometime, but not on her actual birthday. What can I tell her, 'Yuvali, you're older than your father?' She knows. She grew up without that father, she waited for him many many years."
"But Yuval is here and Yuval is alive and Yuval is completely okay. It's really important to me that this won't be the unfortunate family and miserable Yuval who was left without a father. There are a lot of kids in the state of Israel who grew up without a dad, and I'm not the only one left alone," said Tami.
Tami continued "I want to pass the weight from us to Ron. We were left behind and went through things that weren't easy, but we continue to live our lives. And he's there alone, think of him."
"We got the diary he wrote afterwards. We could see his fear, his distress, his longings, and his understanding that he very well might not return. The one who paid the price is Ron. Only Ron. In a few more years they won't even remember Ron. They won't even know who Ron Arad is," concluded Tami.
In one diary entry, Ron wrote to Tami and Yuval saying he is "trying to forget you, because all memories of you choke me. But know that I love you and you are the only reason I am resisting thoughts of the worst possible things that could happen to me. I will return. But when – a year? Two years? When I do, I will never, ever leave you again, even if I have to stop flying. We will have a nice, warm home like we never had before."
In 1989 and 1994, Israel captured two leading Lebanese terrorists involved in Arad’s capture as a means of gaining information on Arad. One of them was Mustafa Dirani, a Hezbollah terrorist who held Arad for several years.
Dirani and the other terrorist were released in 2004 as part of the exchange for Elchanan Tenenbaum and the bodies of three captured IDF soldiers. The moment he set foot back on Lebanese soil, Dirani announced that he was re-enlisting in Hezbollah to destroy Israel.
Dirani later filed a lawsuit against Israel for damages he claimed he suffered during his imprisonment. In 2011, the High Court ruled in his favor and allowed him to sue Israel for 6 million shekels in damages.
Australia has been hit by tragedy for the second time this week, as eight children were stabbed to death on Friday and a 34-year-old woman who apparently is their mother also suffered stab wounds in the northeastern city of Cairns, located in Queensland.
Queensland police said they were called to a home on Murray Street in the Cairns suburb of Manoora, and "during an examination of the residence police located the bodies of the children, all aged between 18 months and 15 years."
The mother suffered stab wounds to the chest, with Det. Insp. Bruno Asnicar saying she is receiving treatment in hospital and is in stable condition. Apparently she is providing information to aid the search for the murderer.
"As it stands at the moment, there’s no need for the public to be concerned about this other than the fact that it’s a tragic, tragic event," Asnicar said. "The situation is well controlled."
Lisa Thaiday, who said she was the woman’s cousin, said the eight children were all siblings and the woman was their mother. She added that another 20-year-old sibling discovered his brothers and sisters dead inside the home.
"I’m going to see him now, he needs comforting," Thaiday said. "We’re a big family...I just can’t believe it. We just found out (about) those poor babies."
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott released a statement saying "the news out of Cairns is heartbreaking. All parents would feel a gut-wrenching sadness at what has happened. This is an unspeakable crime. These are trying days for our country."
On Monday an Islamist terrorist who a month earlier pledged loyalty to Islamic State (ISIS) took more than a dozen hostages in a Sydney cafe, eventually murdering two of them before being killed as police stormed the site.