In a dramatic turn of events Petah Tikva's Magistrates Court on Wednesday morning lifted a gag order over the murder of Jewish construction worker Netanel Arami - revealing that his murder was indeed an Arab terrorist attack.
Arami's family have long insisted that his death was an act of murder by one or more of his Arab colleagues after he fell from a Petah Tikva construction site - apparently after his ropes were cut as he rappelled from the eleventh floor. The Arami family have led a hard-fought campaign for police to make public details of their investigation, and just yesterday petitioned the court to lift the gag order.
Initial reports claimed that when police arrived on the roof of the Petah Tikva building Arami fell from they found his ropes cut and Arab workers laughing, but police and other officials have remained tight-lipped on details of their investigation ever since. Police inaction and repeated allegations of a cover-up have sparked public outcry and protests.
Judge Merav Greenberg released for publication the fact that following Arami's murder police arrested and interrogated three Arab suspects "under suspicion that they were involved with causing his death for nationalistic motives."
The three were released from police custody after a lengthy interrogation, as "no legal justification was found" to keep them detained while the investigation is still ongoing.
The court also released for publication the fact that Arami's family received a document from police confirming that they qualified as family of a "victim of terror."
Arami's mother Miriam - who last month accused authorities of leading a cover-up over the affair - responded to the court's decision with both a sense of vindication and frustration.
"It is important to us that they publicized the matter so that everyone should know the truth, and know that Netanel went to work and didn't come but, but was murdered because he was a Jew," she said.
"All the silencing of people and attempts to cover-up did not succeed."
"With the help of God, we promised Netanel two weeks ago when we visited him at the cemetery on his birthday, that we will not rest and will not be silent until the murderers are found," she said.
But the grieving mother could not contain her anger at the muted reaction of government officials to her son's murder.
"We are angry at the fact that not a single government official such as the President or Prime Minister have come to comfort us, and didn't even offer condolences over the telephone."
"Abu Khdeir everyone mourned," she noted, referring to the Arab teenager murdered during the summer by Jewish extremists - an attack which drew sharp condemnations and an outpouring of support for the Abu Khdeir family by Israeli officials.
"Apparently for them he is more precious than the blood of my son."
Attorney Hur Uriel Nizri of the legal rights group Honenu, who has represented the Arami family in their campaign to lift the gag order, hailed the court's decision.
"It is important to say that until now no public or government officials have made contact with the family, despite the fact that the matter was known and clear (to all).
"As such, we call on the President, who knows how to go visit victims of other kinds of violence should come and comfort the family... Netanel Arami was killed because he was a Jew."
"I thank the court for its decision and we call on the various government authorities to come and do their jobs. We call on the Shabak (Israel Security Agency) and to the police to continue to investigate and carry out the required investigative duties," he continued.
Despite that, however, Nizri added that he and the family were "pained" at the fact that it took a long and difficult legal campaign just to reveal the truth about the affair.
Interior Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) decided on Wednesday to strip the permit of stay in Israeli territory for Nadia Abu Jamal, the wife of one of the two Arab terrorists who attacked a Har Nof synagogue in Jerusalem last Tuesday, murdering four Jews at prayer and a police officer.
Abu Jamal, who originally lived under Palestinian Authority (PA) jurisdiction, was living in Jerusalem's Jabel Mukabar neighborhood due to the "family unification" process allowing her to be in sovereign Israeli territory as the wife of the terrorist who was killed in the attack.
She will now have to leave Israel, and will lose all financial and social privileges from the state, such as national insurance and health insurance.
"I've ordered the cancellation of Nadia Abu Jamal's permit of stay in Israel," said Erdan. "Anyone involved in terror needs to take into account that there may be consequences also for their families."
The decision to negate the rights of terrorists, their families and accomplices was made by Erdan in conjunction with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
Erdan likewise on Sunday cancelled the permanent residency status of Mahmoud Nadi, the driver for the suicide bomber responsible for the bombing at the Dolphinarium Disco in Tel Aviv in June 2001. That attack killed 21 people and wounded over 100 others.
In the Har Nof attack, the two terrorists Ghassan and Uday Abu Jamal held Israeli residency and the privileges entailed by it, and one of them reportedly worked in a grocery store next to the synagogue they attacked.
While the wife of one of the terrorists has been targeted, it was also reported that the sister of one of the terrorists is a social worker employed by the city of Jerusalem.
Last Thursday, the IDF obtained orders for the demolition of the homes of the two terrorists who carried out the attack.
The families of the two celebrated the attack by passing out candies, with one relative calling the attack "a normal thing that can be expected from every man who has courage and a feeling of belonging to his people and to Islam."
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni is actively torpedoing the so-called Zoabi Bill, which would make it possible to dismiss rogue MK Hanin Zoabi (Balad) from the Knesset.
Livni filed a an appeal against the fact that the decision to bring the bill to a Knesset vote was made by the Coalition Management and not in the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, which she chairs.
As a result of this appeal, the Knesset plenum discussion of the bill that was scheduled for Wednesday has been postponed.
The bill would make it possible for a 61-member majority in the Knesset to permanently dismiss an MK who expressed support for a terror organization or for a state that takes belligerent action against Israel. Before such a vote is held, the Knesset's House Committee would have to vote to recommend the impeachment.
In the case of an MK “who, during a time of war or a warlike operation against an enemy state of terror group, published praise for armed struggle against the state of Israel,” the bill states, “his term of office in the Knesset will end on the day in which the Knesset decides by a majority of its members and with the recommendation of the House Committee, that the statement he published constituted support [for the enemy's action] as defined above.”
The bill was presented by MK David Rotem (Yisrael Beytenu) and was signed by 27 other MKs, including Hilik Bar (Labor), Rina Frenkel (Yesh Atid), David Tzur (Hatnua) and MKs from Shas, UTJ, Likud and Jewish Home.
MK Rotem accused Livni of allowing “populism and elections-related considerations” to guide her in filing the appeal. The bill, he noted, was signed by members of nearly all factions in the Knesset. “The last word has not been said,” he vowed, “and Yisrael Beytenu will fight to advance the bill.”
"No country in the world,” noted Rotem, “allows people who undermine its very existence and support terror groups to serve as parliament members.”
Livni has taken advantage of her authority as chair of the Ministerial Committee for Legislation – through which bills normally have to pass in order for them to receive coalition support – to stall or bury several bills that she found to be too nationalistic or not “democratic” enough. The latest example of this was her decision to remove the Jewish State bill from the committee's agenda – a move that prompted Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to bring the bill to a vote in the cabinet.
This behavior has caused outrage among the less leftist coalition partners, and appears to be a prime motivation behind recent moves by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu – as well as Jewish Home head Naftali Bennett – to hold primaries ahead of possible national elections. The moves by Netanyahu are seen as a signal to Livni that if she persists in her oppositional activities, he will not hesitate to dissolve the government and hold new elections, in which her chances of being reelected are far from certain.
MK Danny Danon (Likud) lambasted Justice Minister Tzipi Livni Wednesday over a bureaucratic maneuver that stalled a vote on a bill that would make it possible to dismiss enemy-supporting MKs from the Knesset. The bill is tailored to make it possible to fire MK Hanin Zoabi (Balad), who has repeatedly expressed support and understanding for terrorism.
After Livni filed an appeal against a procedural issue relating to the so-called Zoabi Bill, Danon attacked her in the plenum, asking – “Tzipi Livni, have you decided to serve as the devil's advocate?”
"Tzipi Livni, I can't believe how low you've sunk,” Danon declaimed. “You, who were raised in a revisionist home, who were a part of the Herut and Likud movement – you are serving in the government and Knesset as the advocate for the enemy of the people, the supporter of terrorists, the supporter of Israel's most criminal enemies?”
"Advocate Tzipi Livni – have you deicded to serve as the advocate of the devil, Hanin Zoabi? I think that it is proper that you get up today and do what your party-colleague Amir Peretz did, and resign from the government. In view of your actions in general, and today's action in particular – your place is no longer among us.”
Zoabi took part in the Mavi Marmara terror flotilla in 2010, and recently called the IDF soldiers who boarded the Marara "murderers." She is infamous for provocative speeches, including one in which she said that Israel has “no right to a normal life” and a later address claiming that “the Israeli occupation” was behind the murder of Israelis in Bulgaria.
Before the latest national election, the Central Elections Committee banned Zoabi from running for the Knesset, under a clause requiring candidates and parties not to work against Israel's character as a Jewish, democratic state. However, the Supreme Court later overturned the decision and allowed Zoabi to run.
The debate on "religionization" in the IDF held by the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee's Subcommittee for Personnel in the IDF on Monday has left former IDF Chief Rabbi Brig.-Gen. (res.) Rabbi Avichai Ronski livid.
Speaking to Arutz Sheva, the rabbi said "instead of trying to clarify why such a great vacuum was created (in the army), into which many members of religious Zionism entered - instead of that, they're busy with the 'danger' of religious Zionism to the IDF."
"Only last week I took part in a conference of the Council for Peace and Security, and there they accused us of staging a military coup; Dr. Amir Braun claimed that we are trying to take control the army in order to foil decisions by the elected government and the audience applauded," recalled Rabbi Ronski.
According to the rabbi, there is a small group of elitists who are inciting against the religious soldiers in the IDF, noting "instead of dealing with Hamas, they worry when they see soldiers going to the Kotel to say the hagomel blessing after the war."
"They see how the religious Zionist community has become a central player in all parts of the society and the army, and they are trying to undermine this wonderful spirit," said Rabbi Ronski. "But we need to continue doing things with confidence and joy."
"Eighty percent of citizens of the state are (religiously) traditional and they want the connection to the tradition. Therefore, all those who hold conferences today on 'religionization,' there's a touch of anti-Semitism to it," Rabbi Ronski charged.
He concluded "they're taking the massive entrance of religious to the army, and trying to present this process as a negative process and even give it an academic name, 'religionization.'"
"Religionization," or hadata in Hebrew, is a recently invented word that does not exist in the dictionaries.
A religious IDF Chief of Staff?
Responding to Rabbi Eli Sadan's comment that Israeli society is not yet ready for a religious IDF Chief of Staff, Rabbi Ronski remarked: "that's a ridiculous statement, most of the public in Israel is definitely ready for a religious Chief of Staff, and if there will be a religious Chief of Staff that will be no worse than anyone else."
"The public wants people who also have inspiration," said the rabbi. "I know that today even the IDF Rabbinate is wary of journalists and is afraid to bring people like me to give speeches. But in practice, in all the recent wars there was a great demand to hear my words in all units, including the elite ones."
Speaking about the first counter-terror operation in Gaza in 2008-2009, the rabbi said "in (Operation) Cast Lead they brought me in to several places in tanks, they know that the rabbis have things to say that strengthen the fighting spirit."
The Knesset discussion on "religionization" and "religious radicalization," led to other angry responses, including from MK Moti Yogev (Jewish Home) who was present at the debate.
"The enemies are Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran, and not religious soldiers in the IDF," Yogev said at the session. "This discussion doesn't need to take place in the Israeli Knesset and doesn't need to preoccupy army officials and waste their time."
One of the topics raised in the discussion was the message sent by Givati Brigade Commander Col. Ofer Winter to his troops at the start of the operation, in which he wrote that the brigade was going out to fight against "the terrorist Gazan enemy that curses, reviles and insults the G-d of the campaigns of Israel."
The invocation of G-d made a stir in the media, and led Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon (Likud) to criticize Winter, noting not all IDF soldiers are religious, or even Jewish.
Many have argued that regardless of the religious identity of individual soldiers, the IDF, as the army of Israel which defines itself as the Jewish state, exists first and foremost to defend the Jewish state and Jewish values.
India on Wednesday marked six years since Islamist terrorists stormed Mumbai in three days of horror that left 166 people dead, as survivors said they would never be "beaten back by terror".
Families of victims and politicians laid flowers and wreaths at sites around the city to remember those slain in 2008 when Islamist gunmen stormed luxury hotels, a popular cafe, a train station and a Chabad Jewish center in an unprecedented coordinated massacre in the country.
"Today, as we remember the horror of the terror attack in Mumbai in 2008, we feel the endless pain of lost lives," Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a speech at a regional summit in Kathmandu.
"Let us work together to fulfill the pledge we have taken to combat terrorism and transnational crimes."
Live television footage was beamed around the world as commandos battled the gunmen, who arrived by sea on the evening of November 26. It took authorities three days to regain full control of the city.
India blames the attacks on Pakistan-based terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba. Tense relations between the rival neighbors hit a fresh low as New Delhi pressed Islamabad to bring the masterminds of the attack to justice. Pakistan's ISI intelligence service has long been accused of having links to several Islamist terrorist group - including Lashkar-e-Taiba - which it allegedly uses as part of a proxy campaign against India.
Sourav Mishra remembers enjoying a beer with two friends at Leopold Cafe, a popular haunt for foreign tourists, when a grenade exploded at the next table and the terrorists opened fire.
"Something went off with a flash close to my table and the guy there crumpled," Mishra told AFP.
"I was sipping beer one moment and then death had become a very real possibility as blood soaked my clothes," said Mishra, who suffered shrapnel and a bullet wound.
At the Chabad House Jewish center, another high-profile target where six people were killed, an official said its reopening in August showed its community would "never be beaten back by terror".
"Followers of the movement passing through here have been lighting a single candle for the past week in remembrance of the people slain in this disaster," Naftali Charter, head of security at the center, told AFP.
A memorial for all of the victims of the Mumbai attacks is being built on the center's roof and will be "finished shortly", Charter said.
A trove of prosecution documents from the 1961 trial of Nazi leader and Holocaust mastermind, Adolf Eichmann, will be auctioned off in Jerusalem by the Kedem Auction House next Tuesday.
The sellers have estimated the papers could bring in more than $20,000.
Eichman, responsible for managing the deportations and eventual genocide of European Jewry, escaped from Germany to Argentina following World War II.
He lived in Argentina for a number of years, before being captured in a top-secret operation by Israel's Mossad spy agency in 1960. After a four month long trial, he was hanged on May 31, 1962 - the only person to receive the death penalty in Israel.
The documents from the trial include an affidavit signed by Golda Meir, Foreign Minister at the time, correspondence between the prosecutors about Eichmann's body language, and a beat-up draft of of the closing arguments. Photographs of the court were also uncovered.
Kedem Auction House reported that the material was found several months ago in a garbage dumpster in Jerusalem. The person who found the documents continued searching and found additional materials in a Jerusalem apartment “just before they were about to throw those in the garbage, too.”
The documents had reportedly belonged to a member of the prosecution team. Meron Eren, co-owner of Kedem, said it was incredibly fortunate these documents were not lost.
One of the papers is a note on which a prosecutor wrote to a colleague in pink ink, “Did you notice that he is standing [underlined twice] for a full hour without moving at all? There is only a single muscle you can see working: the gullet muscle. And there you can also see that he isn’t so quiet.”
In another document, one prosecutor expresses concern that Eichmann may file a request for immunity, noting, “I wanted to say that no concrete request for immunity has been filed.”
Another note written during a hearing on whether the statue of limitations applied to the crime, the prosecutor wrote, "They’re asking more slowly.”
Other documents deal with the legality of the Mossad's kidnapping of Eichmann from Argentina and the authority of an Israeli court to prosecute him.
In one such document, Meir certifies that the capture and subsequent transfer to Israel “were subjects of discussions between the governments of Argentina and Israel, and a solution was found to the disagreements, acceptable by both governments.”
The collections also contains legal pamphlets written by chief-prosecutor Gideon Hausner, copies of the indictment and the verdict, as well as other legal materials from the course of the trial. Many of the documents include handwritten comments and corrections.
“We are lucky that this fascinating collection, which exposes an unfamiliar side of the prosecution’s work during the trial, was not lost,” Eren told Haaretz.
“These are documents that are part of one of the most significant events in the State of Israel, and they constitute part of this amazing enterprise, whose aim was to be a voice to the six million murdered whose blood cried out, but they had no voice.”
Israel is awash with winter rains, and Lake Kinneret in the Galilee has been soaking up the much needed water rising a rapid 3.5 centimeters (around 1.4 inches) in the last 24 hours alone, marking the largest single-day rise since summer.
The winter weather is set to continue on Wednesday, with thunder storms rolling from the north of the country down to the northern Negev desert.
In Jerusalem's Kiryat Menachem neighborhood in the southwest of the capital, the heavy winds and rain brought down an electric pole on Hantke Street. No wounds were caused, but a parked car on the street was damaged.
As a result of the damage, traffic lanes to the Ir Ganim and Ein Kerem neighborhoods were closed, with police guiding traffic in the area.
Heavy rains and stormy weather are set to continue at least until the afternoon, with the rain expected to taper off afterwards even as the temperatures remain colder than normal.
There are flood warnings for rivers in the south and east of the country, with rivers raised out of their banks by the extraordinary rains.
The traffic department of the police reports that the roads continue to operate as normal aside from Route 443 at Makabim Junction, where an error in the traffic light system caused traffic jams.
On the highway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv there was heavy traffic from the Latrun Exchange up until Shoresh Exchange.
Five centimeters (two inches) of snow were recorded on Mount Hermon in the north on the upper regions of the mountain. The snow is expected to continue gathering at the mountain, which is Israel's sole skiing mountain, allowing it to be opened for adventurous visitors.