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Wednesday, May. 27 '15, Sivan 9, 5775



HEADLINES:
1. MASSIVE FIRES BURN AROUND ISRAEL, 3 HOMES DECIMATED
2. IAF STRIKES TERRORIST INFRASTRUCTURES IN GAZA
3. HEAT WAVE HITS PEAK, BREAKS 2015 RECORDS
4. 'WE'LL DO WHATEVER IS NEEDED TO PRESERVE QUIET'
5. ARAB THREAT SHUTS DOWN NEW ROAD HOURS AFTER IT WAS OPENED
6. ARABS IN YAFO TELL HAMAS THEY'LL FIGHT HOUSING PLAN
7. OBAMA OFFERED 50 COWS FOR HIS DAUGHTER'S HAND IN MARRIAGE
8. JEWISH TEEN'S ONE-MAN PROTEST BLOCKS TEMPLE MOUNT ENTRANCE


1. MASSIVE FIRES BURN AROUND ISRAEL, 3 HOMES DECIMATED
by Ari Yashar


The record-high heat wave descending on Israel on Wednesday has led to an outburst of fires, with three homes burned to the ground and a large forest outside Beit Shemesh blazing in a massive fire that is spreading out of control.

Earlier in the afternoon three homes belonging to a single family caught fire on Golan Street in Tel Mond, a town located to the east of Netanya, after a brush fire spread to the homes.

Fortunately no one was home at the time, as the fire set two gas balloons on fire and caused them to explode.

Numerous firefighting crews fought valiantly to put out the fire and check its spread to other homes, which eventually they did - but not before all three houses burned down completely.

Meanwhile, in Beit Shemesh, a massive fire has caught hold in the large forest in the Nahal Sorek area adjacent to the city, which is located to the west of Jerusalem.

The blaze is spreading out of control, as no fewer than 20 firefighting crews from the Beit Shemesh and Rishon Letzion districts aided by four planes struggle to halt its advance. 

A command post to direct the firefighting efforts was established near the fire. After intense fighting, the crews finally gained control over the blaze around 2:30 p.m., with the teams working to put the fires out once and for all and prevent the danger of them being rekindled.

To the east of Gaza, in the town of Mabuim which is part of the Merhavim regional council, residents were given orders to evacuate their homes after a large fire broke out in the area. Firefighting forces are on the scene combating the blaze.

In Samaria, between the communities of Sal'it and Tzur Natan, a fire broke out in a grove, prompting two firefighting crews to be deployed to fight the flames.

Local volunteers have also been called up to prepare to defend the towns, with four planes ready to be dispatched in case of necessity; the road to Sal'it has been closed to traffic. 

Earlier in the day, a fire at the industrial zone of the northern Jerusalem neighborhood of Atarot was brought under control by firefighting crews.

Also in Jerusalem, six people were lightly wounded from inhaling smoke during a fire near a building in the eastern neighborhood of Ras al-Amud. The six were evacuated to hospital, while the building suffered damage from the blaze.

Photos: Judea and Samaria Fire Services

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2. IAF STRIKES TERRORIST INFRASTRUCTURES IN GAZA
by Elad Benari

IAF aircraft on Wednesday morning struck four terrorist infrastructures in southern Gaza, the IDF Spokesperson said.

Direct hits at the targets were identified, said the statement. The airstrike came in response to the rocket attack on southern Israel on Tuesday evening.

"The IDF views the incident gravely, the Hamas terrorist organization is responsible" for any attacks on southern Israel, the statement added.

Air raid sirens sounded in towns across southern Israel Tuesday evening at 9:02 p.m, as the IDF confirmed that at least one Grad rocket fired from Gaza struck near the community of Gan Yavneh, near Ashdod.

Some residents of the south reported seeing Iron Dome missile defense batteries deploying to intercept at least one incoming rocket.

Sirens were heard in Ashdod, Ashkelon and in numerous towns and villages in the Lachish and Hof Ashkelon regions close to Gaza.

No injuries were reported. Following the attack there were reports that Hamas was evacuating its headquarters in Gaza in fear of an IDF airstrike response.

Yesh Atid MK Haim Yellin, a resident of the Gaza border region and former head of the Eshkol Regional Council, called on the government to respond to the Grad rocket attack.

"There needs to be a response from the IDF to the rocket fire from Gaza. There has to be a clear price tag according to which the policy towards Gaza is conducted. We must disarm the Gaza Strip in exchange for its rehabilitation, while the people there have nothing to lose. We here will continue to suffer," he said.



3. HEAT WAVE HITS PEAK, BREAKS 2015 RECORDS
by Ari Yashar


If you live in Israel and don't need to go outside today (Wednesday) - don't. The heat wave that has been building in recent days is reaching a peak, and will reach record highs for the year.

Nearly the entire country will break 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) on Wednesday as the temperatures spike.

The worst brunt of the heat will be borne by the southern port city of Eilat and the Dead Sea region, both of which are estimated to reach upwards of 45 C (113 F).

Be'er Sheva in the Negev will fare little better, hitting 43 C (over 109 F), and the coastal cities of Tel Aviv and Ashkelon will likewise come in for 42 C (over 107 F).

Haifa on the coast in the north, as well as Kiryat Shmona near the Lebanese border in the north will both reach 40 C, while the capital city Jerusalem will enjoy a reprieve at 38 C (100 F).

If you thought things will cool off at night you'd be wrong according to the forecasters, who predict the heat will only intensify on Wednesday night.

There will be a heavy heat wave in the mountainous regions, although the rest of the regions are to fare even worse with heats reaching extreme levels.

Sometime early on Thursday the heat wave is expected to break, first on the coast and then moving inland. Strong winds will bring in a haze, with a light trickle of rain possible in certain areas.

And then on Friday there is to be a noted drop in temperatures, even as the humidity is to rise and the skies are to be partially cloudy. Rainfall is possible in the north and coastal regions.

By Shabbat (Saturday), the weather is to be partially cloudy with temperatures under seasonal averages, with rain again possible in the north and on the coast.


4. 'WE'LL DO WHATEVER IS NEEDED TO PRESERVE QUIET'
by Gil Ronen

As he greeted visiting US Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said a few words to the press Wednesday about the rocket fired from Gaza Tuesday against Israel.

"The IDF acted immediately and forcefully in response to this [rocket] fire," Netanyahu said. "That is our policy. We will do whatever is needed to preserve the quiet that was achieved in Operation Protective Edge."

He said that Israel sees Hamas as the party responsible for any rocket fire from Gaza.


The rocket fired from Gaza Tuesday exploded in an open area near Gan Yavneh, not far from Ashdod. No one was hurt. In response, the IDF struck four terror infrastructures in southern Gaza.

Hamas reportedly said Wednesday it had arrested the people responsible for firing at Israel. The IDF estimated that Islamic Jihad terrorists fired the rocket, possibly as part of an internal power struggle. 


5. ARAB THREAT SHUTS DOWN NEW ROAD HOURS AFTER IT WAS OPENED
by Yishai Karov, Ari Yashar


The new road leading from Ramallah to the Arab town of Bitin in Samaria was opened to Arab traffic by the IDF as a "gesture" on Monday, only to be closed again on Tuesday following a serious security incident committed by an Arab driver.

On Monday night, mere hours after the opening, an Arab car driving on the road blocked a Jewish car on its way to Beit El, which is located adjacent to the new road, forcing the Jewish driver to swerve to the side of the road.

While the incident ended without any violence, it easily could have been the lead-in to a terrorist attack.

The IDF's Brigade Commander, who had warned in advance that any security incident would lead to the road being closed again, followed through on his promise.

Following the road closure, the Beit El regional council said it had "earnestly opposed the opening of the Bitin road, both in terms of security and (road) safety. Despite the opposition of the council, and despite its protest, the road was opened."

"Mere hours after the opening of the road there was a security incident, due to which the sector's Brigade Commander ordered to close the road," they noted. "The council appreciates the firm position of the Brigade Commander and thanks the army for its quick response."

The IDF "gesture" to open the road was made despite repeated warnings that the move, like similar moves on other roads, would lead to a security threat against the Jewish residents.

Last week, dozens of Beit El residents protested against the opening of the road.

Beit El regional head Shai Alon said at the protest, "Beit El has been turned into an enclave, and this time we won't let it happen quietly. We have turned to the defense minister, the transportation minister and the head of the Civil Administration, clarifying that this is a red line we won't cross."

Speaking on Wednesday morning after the road was closed again, Alon urged to "preserve strength because we have a long road ahead."

"We aren't just demanding the closure of the new route, but also demanding the opening of the Wallerstein Route, opening the old Highway 60 to allow residents to live normal lives," he said, calling for additional transportation solutions to Jewish residents of the region.



6. ARABS IN YAFO TELL HAMAS THEY'LL FIGHT HOUSING PLAN
by Dalit Halevy, Ari Yashar


The building plan to construct thousands of new housing units in Yafo (Jaffa), a welcome development as Israel suffers in the grip of a nationwide housing crisis, is being met with condemnation among radical leaders of the city's Arab population.

The plan, which was passed by the Israel Land Authority and the building council of the Tel Aviv-Yafo municipality, was denounced by Abd al-Kadr Satal, chairman of the Popular Committee of Yafo.

Despite being an Israeli citizen and holding a post in the city, Satal on Tuesday gave an interview to Palestine, the newspaper of the Hamas terrorist organization.

In it, he called the new and much needed construction plan "a stage in the policy of the occupation government to Judaize the city."

Satal said  leaders of the Arab community demanded that a portion of the new apartments be specifically designated for Arab residents of Yafo, and claims the authorities opposed that demanded, insisting on "expelling" the Arab residents.

He said that the Arab residents refuse to be moved out and intend to fight against the building plan until alternative housing is found for them in Yafo, or until the Arab residents are integrated into the new plan.

In the coming days the leaders of the Arab community in Yafo are to meet so as to plan how they will react to the new building plan.

Regarding Israel's housing crisis, many have noted that developing Judea and Samaria would solve the shortage, given that over 90% of the region is said to be unpopulated. However, the Israeli government has covertly frozen all Jewish construction in the area since late 2013 amid the peace talks, despite the lack of any formulated international demand to do so.


7. OBAMA OFFERED 50 COWS FOR HIS DAUGHTER'S HAND IN MARRIAGE
by Ari Yashar

US President Barack Obama's 16-year-old daughter Malia has attracted unsolicited attention from Kenya, where the president's father was from, as one intrepid Kenyan lawyer on Tuesday offered a motley selection of livestock to marry the teenager.

The lawyer, Felix Kiprono, of the Kalenjin tribe, said he would pay Obama 50 cows, 70 sheep and 30 goats to marry his daughter, reports AFP.

How - and if - Obama intends to respond to the offer remains to be seen.

Kiprono told The Nairobian that he "got interested in her in 2008," when Obama was making his first presidential campaign and Malia was a tender ten years of age.

"As a matter of fact, I haven’t dated anyone since and promise to be faithful to her. I have shared this with my family and they are willing to help me raise the bride price," said the infatuated Kenyan.

It is unclear how old Kiprono is, although he was said to be young.

Kiprono said he will present Obama with his offer and is full of hope that the president will bring Malia with him when he makes his first presidential visit to Kenya in July.

"I am currently drafting a letter to Obama asking him to please have Malia accompany him for this trip. I hope the embassy will pass the letter to him," he said.

Obama may be rich and influential, but according to the love-struck lawyer his intentions are pure. "People might say I am after the family’s money, which is not the case. My love is real," he protested.

His proposal is all planned out, and is to be made on a hill near his rural village. The wedding won't have champagne, he said, but rather "mursik," a traditional sour milk.

What would lie in store for Malia Obama as Kiprono's wife? According to him they would lead "a simple life."

"I will teach Malia how to milk a cow, cook ugali (maize porridge) and prepare mursik like any other Kalenjin woman," he said.

As far away as the life of a Kalenjin woman may seem to the daughter of the American president, traditional Kenyan life actually isn't that remote to the Obamas.

The president's grandmother, aged in her early 90s, lives in the western Kenyan town of Kogelo along with a number of his other relatives. She is from the Luo tribe.



8. JEWISH TEEN'S ONE-MAN PROTEST BLOCKS TEMPLE MOUNT ENTRANCE
by Ari Soffer

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Routine discrimination against Jews on the Temple Mount is certainly nothing new.

Despite its status as the holiest site in Judaism, due to Muslim pressure and threats Israeli police maintain a blanket ban on any forms of non-Muslim worship. In practice, the measures target visibly-Jewish visitors, who are only allowed to visit during certain hours of the day and whose groups are severely restricted in size and closely monitored for anyone daring to pray - an arrestable offense.

This, despite numerous Israeli court rulings, most recently in March of this year, reaffirming the right of Jews and other non-Muslims to freedom of worship on the Temple Mount.

In addition, Jewish groups are often subjected to humiliating and prolonged searches for "prohibited items" including prayer books or other religious items, and regularly forced to stand for hours before being cleared for entry, while non-Jewish tourists breeze through security.

It was during one such two-hour-long wait on Monday that a Jewish Israeli teenager was filmed staging a one-man protest, briefly blocking off the entire entrance to the Mount to all visitors in protest of anti-Jewish discrimination.

During the ensuing scuffle with police - recorded by another Jewish visitor - the teen was joined by another, younger Jewish boy, and the pair can be heard protesting police "racism" and "apartheid" against Jews on Judaism's holiest site before being detained.

As he is arrested, the first youth wondered out loud to the crowd of Jewish and non-Jewish tourists how King David would feel that "when they built a Jewish state... Jews would not be allowed to enter the Temple Mount."

"It is not logical that Jews can't go up the Temple Mount, it's a disgrace... it can't pass in silence! ...All I want is to go up to the Temple Mount...!" he shouted as he was led away.

In addition to political pressure, Muslim extremists have also sought to prevent Jews from visiting their holiest site by paying provocateurs to engage in a campaign of harassment against Jewish visitors.

Islamists have also been accused of waging a "brutal" campaign against priceless, ancient artifacts in an attempt to erase all traces of the Temple Mount's Jewish past.




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