The Israeli National Security Council's Counter-Terrorism Bureau has warned of the increased likelihood of terror attacks targeting Israeli and Jewish targets in the run up to the High Holy Days, highlighting western Europe as an area of particular concern.
In a report issued Monday assessing global terror threats, the Bureau noted the significant danger of western nationals currently fighting abroad for global jihadi groups, including Al Qaeda and the "Islamic State" (ISIS), returning to their home countries to commit terrorist attacks. It cited the example of Mehdi Nemmouche, the French-Algerian former ISIS fighter and torturer, who returned to Europe and is believed to have carried out a deadly shooting at the Brussels Jewish Museum, which killed four people including two Israelis.
Nemmouche is said to have planned a much larger terror attack to take place in Paris, but was apprehended before he could carry it out.
Some 2,000 of ISIS's fighters are thought to hail from western states, and many have indeed returned home already. According to British authorities for example, of the 500 or so UK nationals who traveled to fight for the Islamic State, roughly half have already returned home - 40 of whom have been arrested.
The Bureau added that from the eve of Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) until the end of the festival of Sukkot the threat of attacks against Jewish and Israeli targets will increase, and also cited the recent war with Gazan terrorists as a factor behind the increased motivation of Islamist terrorists to attack Israelis at this time. Extremists in Europe used Operation Protective Edge as a pretext to unleash a wave of anti-Semitism unprecedented in recent memory, but the terror alert illustrates how that phenomenon may be but the tip of the iceberg.
Apart from Sunni jihadi groups, the Bureau also warned of the threat posed by Iranian-backed terror networks, which are still looking for "soft" Israeli targets, such as tourist hotspots, Chabad centers and other Jewish centers and institutions. Iranian and Hezbollah terrorists have repeatedly attempted to attack Israeli tourists in the far-east, most notably in Thailand.
In addition to western Europe, the report also issued a severe warning against traveling to the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt. The Sinai is a popular region for Israeli tourists, but it is also the site of an increasingly aggressive and brutal Islamist insurgency whose main instigators, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, is believed to be aligned with the Islamic State.
The report also added that there were credible terror threats against Israeli tourism and business interests in Africa, specifically Kenya and and Nigeria, where Al Qaeda-aligned groups such as Boko Haram are particularly active.
Other regions Israelis are advised to avoid traveling to include southern Thailand, Algeria, Burkina-Faso, Djibouti, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritania, Pakistan, Togo and Tunisia. The gulf states, Jordan and Turkey are also on the list, as is eastern Senegal.
An unusual briefing by a senior IDF Northern Command officer caused concern throughout northern communities Sunday. The officer described scenarios for a possible war with Hezbollah in alarming detail, and said it was possible that Hezbollah would capture some Israeli territory before being repulsed by the IDF a few hours later.
He also said that Hezbollah incursions would be carried out by large units, numbering 50-70 fighters, and that the war could last four months.
According to Channel Two, numerous concerned residents called Upper Galilee Regional Council Head Giora Zaltz Sunday and asked what had changed to prompt the briefing. Zaltz spoke to Northern Command Head Major General Yair Golan, who reassured him that the briefing simply described scenarios for which the IDF trains and prepares, but that there is no change in the situation vis-a-vis Hezbollah.
Owners of tourist rooms in the north reported that some reservations were cancelled in the wake of the briefing, which made it sound like war was imminent.
There has been speculation that the IDF is engaged in fearmongering because it seeks to avoid deep defense cuts in the upcoming budget debates in the Knesset.
The officer himself said in the briefing that if Hezbollah invaded Israeli territory, it would easily be pushed back out, but there would be an effect in terms of "the narrative." Therefore, he explained, one "takes the sting out" of the possibility by talking about it.
The former head of Israel's Mossad intelligence agency, Yitzhak Hofi, passed away Monday aged 87, after being hospitalized several days ago.
Hofi was born in Tel Aviv, and began his illustrious military career in the pre-state Palmach militia of the Haganah, after which he served in the IDF Paratrooper Brigade. He fought in several of Israel's major wars, and served as head of the IDF's Northern Command during the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
He served briefly as acting Chief of Staff of the military, before eventually taking the helm of Israel's world-famous spy agency.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his sorrow over Hofi's passing.
"Throughout his life Yitzhak Hofi was active on behalf of the security of the State of Israel," read a statement from the PM's office.
"He served in the Palmach, the Givati and Paratroop brigades, was GOC Northern Command during the Yom Kippur War and served as Director of the Mossad, including during Operation Yonatan to rescue the hostages at Entebbe.
"At this difficult time I would like to offer my condolences to his family. The people of Israel are grateful for his contribution to the security of the state."
Minister of Interior, Gideon Saar, was not invited to a meeting of Likud activists with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that will take place Monday evening at Petach Tikva.
Saar was left out of the politically meaningful event despite his senior standing within the Likud.
Netanyahu arranged the gathering to coincide with a session of the party convention, which is being chaired by MK Danny Danon. Netanyahu has no intention of attending the convention, which Danon was planning to take advantage of to put him on the hot seat regarding his security policies. Netanyahu fired Danon from his position as Deputy Defense Minister in early July, after Danon criticized the prime minister and defense minister as being “limp” on security.
Danon, for his part, invited Saar to the convention, but Saar has not yet said if he will attend the event, where 500 to 600 Likud central committee members are expected.
Netanyahu and Saar used to be very close politically, but ever since the last elections, their relationship has been tense. There are two known reasons for this development: one is Saar's apparent desire to replace Netanyahu, as evinced by a gaggle of his supporters who danced and chanted “Hoo! Ha! Who is this? The next prime minister!” when Saar entered the Likud convention hall on election night.
Netanyahu and his wife Sarah were present, and were reportedly livid.
The other reason for the falling out between the two is reportedly the Likud's election propaganda, which was supervised by Saar along with Minister Gilad Edran. The campaign, which targeted the Jewish Home and claimed that it was anti-women, was disastrous. While it achieved the purpose of weakening Jewish Home – which went from near 20 in the polls to 12 in the actual voting – it also weakened Likud-Beytenu considerably, bringing it down from the mid-30s to 31.
These factors led to Saar's being appointed as Interior Ministry, a less prestigious portfolio than he desired and one that does not make him a member of the Security Cabinet.
Saar came out against the government's policy in Protective Edge and demanded that the entire cabinet be convened to discuss it. He also supported then-MK Reuven Rivlin in his race for the post of president, despite Netanyahu's objections.
Netanyahu apparently believes Saar wishes to run against him ahead of the next elections, for the role of Likud chairman.
'Color Red' sirens sounded in Hof Ashkelon region in southern Israel Monday morning. There were no reports of explosions, however, causing speculation that the sirens were the result of a false alarm.
Security forces later confirmed that the sirens were indeed a false alarm.
A ceasefire between Israel and Hamas went into effect on August 26, after a 50-day war in which dozens of Hamas rockets struck Israel.
Sirens sounded in the Kiryat Shmona and Metula areas, near the Lebanese border, on Thursday night, according to the Home Front Command.
No injuries or damage were reported.
The IDF Spokesperson's Office stated shortly after the event that the siren was a false alarm.
According to Bethlehem-based news agency Ma'an, Palestinian Authority (PA) chief Mahmoud Abbas will ask French president Francois Hollande to recognize the “state of Palestine” when Abbas meets Hollande in France Friday. According to the report, Abbas will then ask additional European countries to recognize “Palestine” even before he heads for the annual United Nations General Assembly.
PA foreign minister Riad Al Maliki told Ma'an that “the international situation now is much better than in the past, and there is a better chance that the Palestinian people's demands will be met.” Maliki added that “the world is now conviced, more than in the past, that Israel undermines international efforts for peace by constructing settlements.”
"Because of the diplomatic stalemate, we will say at the Security Council that this is the time to take a clear stand that will lead to the end of the occupation,” he explained. According to Maliki, European countries are gradually becoming convinced that Abbas is following the right path.
Abbas is set to meet Hollande in Paris, where he will stay for two days before flying to the UN on September 24 and try to win support for the PA's new diplomatic initiative to set a date for forcing Israel out of Judea and Samaria.
Abbas recently obtained backing from the Arab League for his plan, which aims to secure an end to the Jewish presence in Judea-Samaria within three years and the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state in the region.
Earlier this month, a senior Palestinian official said the leadership was going to seek a UN Security Council vote on a resolution setting a three-year deadline for ending Israel's presence in Judea and Samaria, despite knowing any such text would be vetoed by Washington.
"We will be seeking a Security Council resolution on ending the occupation on a specific date," said Hanan Ashrawi, who is a member of the governing body of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO).
"We should know that the occupation will end within three years."
She also raised the possibility of seeking passage of a similar but non-binding resolution by the UN General Assembly.
If, as expected, the Security Council bid fails, the PA has said they will consider fast-tracking an application to become party to the International Criminal Court.
According to data recently released by the Organization for Co-operation and Development (OECD) and analyzed by content outlet 24/7 Wall St., Israel is in fourth place in the world in terms of education.
In Israel, the percentage of the population with tertiary education is 46.4%. Tertiary education spending per student is at $11,553, the 18th highest in the world and lower than most other developed countries.
Low education spending in Israel has resulted in low teacher salaries. New secondary teacher hires with minimum training were paid less than $19,000 in 2013, versus an OECD average of more than $32,000.
The most educated populations tend to be in countries where tertiary education spending is among the highest. Tertiary education spending in six of the most educated countries was higher than the OECD average of $13,957. Spending on tertiary education in the U.S., for example, was $26,021 per student, by far the most in the world.
Despite the value of investing in education, there are exceptions. Korea and the Russian Federation both spent less than $10,000 on tertiary education per student in 2011, considerably lower than the OECD average. Yet, they still have among the most educated populations.
Nevertheless, countries with strong higher education systems tend to have higher levels of advanced skills. Roughly 12% of adults across the OECD performed at the highest literacy proficiency level in 2012. The percentage of adults performing at the highest literacy level exceeded that figure in five of the most educated countries.
To identify the most educated countries in the world, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 10 countries with the highest proportions of residents aged 25 to 64 with a tertiary education in 2012. These data were included as part of the OECD’s 2014 Education at a Glance report. The countries considered included the 34 OECD member countries, and ten non-OECD nations. Included in the report were data on the proportion of adults completing various levels of education, unemployment rates, as well as public and private education expenditure. 24/7 Wall St. also reviewed data from the OECD’s Survey of Adult Skills, which included advanced adult proficiency in both math and reading. The most current figures for education expenditure by country are from 2011.
In the United States, the percentage of the population with tertiary education is 43.1%. High education expenditures have paid off to some degree, as a large proportion of U.S. adults have very high levels of qualification. Because of the slow growth rates of the past decade, however, the U.S. has slipped behind many other nations. While spending per tertiary student between 2005 and 2011 increased by 10% across OECD countries on average, U.S. spending decreased over that time. And the U.S. was one of only six countries to cut public education spending between 2008 and 2011. Like other countries where education is controlled by regional authorities, tertiary attainment levels vary widely in the United States, from as little as 29% in Nevada, to as much as 71% in the District of Columbia.
Kutiman, an Israeli artist who samples music videos and pastes them together ingeniously, has another viral hit.
Musician, composer, producer and animator Kutiman, or Ophir Kutiel, 32, is best known for creating the online music video project, ThruYOU, and a self-titled album.
The newest hit is “Give it Up,” from the Thru You Too project. In its third day on Youtube, at the time this report is being posted, it was already approaching 700,000 views.
In 2009, Kutiman released "ThruYOU," featuring a mixture of samples of YouTube videos, and the video project received more than 10 million views in around two weeks. Time Magazine named it one of the "50 Best Inventions of 2009". Following this success, Kutiman was invited by YouTube to perform at the "YouTube Play" grand opening at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City in 2010.
In a June 2009 Internet radio interview, Kutiman described how he made the first ThruYOU video:
"It took me two months, but it was really intense. I barely ate, I just worked on a computer and went to sleep...day and night, and night and day...didn't see any friends, no family...not even the sun.”
After disclosing his work to only twenty friends, Kutiman's project spread virally across the web, racking up more than one million views in less than a week.
After viewing ThruYOU, open source advocate, Lawrence Lessig, praised the project for pioneering a new, less-regulated form of media, stating, "If you come to the Net armed with the idea that the old system of copyright is going to work just fine here, this more than anything is going to get you to recognize: you need some new ideas."
In June 2011, Kutiman was chosen as the "Artist of the Season" for "The Jerusalem Season of Culture" and he created the video "Thru Jerusalem".