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Friday, Oct. 24 '14, Tishrei 30, 5775



HEADLINES:
1. TWO ISRAELI WOMEN AMONG NEPAL BUS CRASH DEATHS
2. AHARONOVICH VISITS FAMILY OF MURDERED BABY
3. RADIO PRESENTER HAS A SON BORN - LIVE ON AIR
4. REPORT: ISIS USED CHEMICAL WEAPONS AGAINST IRAQI FORCES
5. KOTEL RABBI SLAMS WOMEN OF THE WALL TORAH SMUGGLING
6. DIFFERING POLLS REVEAL GAPS IN ISRAELI LEADERSHIP
7. NYPD ADMITS AXE ATTACK MAY BE TERRORISM
8. PROTESTS AT SITE OF TERROR ATTACK: 'AVENGE JEWISH BLOOD'


1. TWO ISRAELI WOMEN AMONG NEPAL BUS CRASH DEATHS
by Tova Dvorin

A bus traveling from Kathmandu to Langtang has fallen off a cliff and into a ravine in the Himalayas, Nepalese sources told Arutz Sheva on Friday morning. 

The bus fell 150 meters (492 ft.) after coming off a narrow road in Belkot, Nuwakot district, about 75 kilometers (46 miles) northwest of Kathmandu, according to Kantipur Television.

Eleven people are reported to have been killed in the crash; 52 have been injured. 

Two Israeli women have been confirmed among the dead and three more are injured. An additional Israeli tourist, a man, is still missing. It is unclear how many Israelis had been on the bus - reports differ - but a consensus of reports indicates 6-7 Israeli nationals had bought tickets. 

Rescue forces are currently rushing to the scene, as are Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries Rabbi Hezki and Chana Lifschitz, who have been flown to the site by helicopter. 

Israeli ambassador to Nepal Yaron Meyer is also on his way to Langtang, to visit victims who were taken to hospital after the crash. 

Experts at the scene now say the bus flipped due to overcrowding on the bus - a danger on the winding mountain road.

Only sixty people were supposed to have been shuttled back and forth on the tour bus, but it was actually carrying over 100. Many people were sitting on the roof. 

This is the second tragedy in Nepal over the past month. An avalanche on the Thorong La mountain pass killed 30-40 people - including four Israelis - several weeks ago. 

At least four Israelis who had signed up for Friday's bus trip had changed their plans to hike up the Thorong La pass ahead of storm warnings before the avalanche, Walla! News reports. 



2. AHARONOVICH VISITS FAMILY OF MURDERED BABY
by Ido Ben-Porat, Tova Dvorin

Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich (Yisrael Beytenu) visited the shiva (mourning) house Friday of the parents of three-month-old Chaya Zisel Braun, hy"d, the baby who was murdered after a Hamas terrorist rammed his car into a crowd of pedestrians Wednesday night. 

"There are no words I can say to comfort a young couple who have lost their innocent little daughter," Aharonovich stated, adding that he would "take punitive measures against the killer by sealing or destroying his home." 

Aharonovich then met with Jewish residents of the nearby Nof Tzion neighborhood after the shiva call, in an apparent attempt to appease the hundreds of frustrated protesters who gathered Thursday night to protest police and government laxity regarding terror in Jerusalem. 

The protesters called for government action, shouting "Arab beware, Jewish blood will not be abandoned," along with "the nation demands to expel the Arabs, death to terrorists." 

Violence in Jerusalem has been snowballing in recent months, in the "silent intifada" that broke out after the "revenge killing" of Arab teen Mohammed Abu-Khdeir by a mentally unwell man in July, after the abduction and murder of three Israeli teens resulting in a constant cycle of violent Arab rioting. 

According to the most recent Israel Security Agency (ISA or Shin Bet) report on Jerusalem, terror has risen dramatically in the city since then - from 22 incidents in May and June to 152 in July and August, a whopping 509% increase. 

While the Israel Police stated at the end of September that over 600 arrests had been made, it did little to stop the constant cycle of violence. 

Aharonovich, along with Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino, has become a focal point for criticism over what many perceive as an inadequate response to the attacks - prompting much drama around goings-on in the police and the government over how the attacks have been handled. 

Frustration over Aharonovich's career appears to have come to a head as well after a series of other attacks were played down by his Ministry, including the murder of 27-year-old construction worker Netanel Arami hy"d last month and 19-year-old Shelly Dadon hy"d earlier this year. 



3. RADIO PRESENTER HAS A SON BORN - LIVE ON AIR
by Benny Moshe, Ari Yashar

The night after he protested with hundreds against the murder of a three-month-old baby by a Hamas terrorist in Jerusalem, Attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir was blessed with the birth of a new son - right in the middle of his weekly radio show with ex-MK Dr. Michael Ben-Ari.

Just several minutes after they began their show "Bypassing from the Right" which broadcasts live on Galei Yisrael (Israel Radio) every Friday, Ben-Gvir abandoned the microphone and drove off quickly to the birthing room.

The attorney had received a text message calling him to come urgently to the hospital for his son's birth, and said on air he had to leave before rushing out of the studio and straight to the delivery room.

"Already on the way to the hospital I got dozens of text messages and phone calls from listeners blessing me and my wife and dozens of prayers, blessings and missions telling me what to do so that the birth would pass smoothly," Ben-Gvir told Arutz Sheva.

"The birthing went well and thank G-d we had a healthy son born to us," said the proud father who lives in Kiryat Arba, adjacent to Hevron.

Ben-Gvir was even able to make it back to the recording studio in time for the end of the show to announce to listeners that the birth was successful, and to tell Ben-Ari about the warm support he had received from the audience.


4. REPORT: ISIS USED CHEMICAL WEAPONS AGAINST IRAQI FORCES
by Tova Dvorin

The US is investigating reports that terror group Islamic State (ISIS) used chemical weapons against the Iraqi military, after separate accounts from both an unnamed Iraqi Defense official and hospital workers treating the victims told authorities that chlorine gas had been used. 

Eleven Iraqi policemen were rushed to hospital last month complaining of dizziness, vomiting, and shortness of breath, the Washington Post reported Friday - all symptoms of chlorine gas poisoning. Yellow gas was also seen emanating from the site near where the policemen fell ill. 

This is not the first time ISIS has been linked with chemical weapons attacks, officials said - two other reports making similar accusations were raised last month - but it is the strongest corroboration of facts surrounding an ISIS gas attack thus far. 

In June, ISIS seized a weapons complex thought to have held hundreds of tons of lethal sarin and mustard gasses: the al-Muthanna complex, located 60 miles north of Baghdad, which was a central base of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's chemical weapons program. 

While the US State Department waved off rumors that the plant still held chemical weapons, experts stated to the British Telegraph that the chemical residue left at the site could be weaponized regardless - and that ISIS does, in fact, have chemical weapons experience. 

In the meantime, Iraqi Defense officials told the Washington Post that the weaponry for the current attack was seized from Iraqi water plants now in ISIS territory, not from the complex. 

But the fear remains that this initial attack may only be the beginning, as ISIS trains for larger and larger attacks. Chlorine gas is easy - and legal - to produce and sell, but violates the Chemical Weapons Convention. 

"They use it just to create terror," an Iraqi official said. "But of course we are very concerned."

Chlorine gas: a Syrian trend?

Last week, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) confirmed that chlorine gas was used in attacks in northern Syria this year - but it is unknown by whom. 

The OPCW, which is the international body seeking to implement global laws banning chemical weapons, said it had found "compelling confirmation" of the use of chlorine, in pure or mixed form.

The attacks took place earlier this year in villages where rebels have been fighting government forces, according to the organization, which has been overseeing efforts to destroy Syria's chemical weapons.

Activists in Syria said several months ago that over 100 people had been killed in a chlorine gas attack in the town of Talmenes in Idlib province, and the United Nations Security Council has called for an investigation into the alleged attack. Since then there were reports of other such attacks.

The US has blamed Damascus for the attacks, even though Syria has emphatically denied that it carried out chlorine gas attacks against civilians. 

Yet a close look at the initial reports of chemical weapons use in Syria in 2013 reveal that the UN report regarding the attacks never conclusively stated that it was Syrian government forces - and not rebel groups - who used the gas against civilian targets. 

Last December, a veteran journalist accused the US of hiding evidence that rebel groups - including ISIS, which began and blossomed in Syria - had also used chemical weapons in the attacks. 

Overall, however, the UN has placed the blame squarely on Syrian President Bashar Assad's shoulders - noting in a special panel in September that Assad's atrocities surpassed ISIS's. 


5. KOTEL RABBI SLAMS WOMEN OF THE WALL TORAH SMUGGLING
by Ari Yashar


In January the ultra-liberal Women of the Wall (WoW) group denied they tried to smuggle a Torah scroll into the Western Wall (Kotel) plaza in breach of the regulations - on Friday, they proudly posted pictures online of a miniature Torah scroll they smuggled in, read from and danced with.

Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, the rabbi of the Kotel and Holy Sites, criticized the small group that held its monthly Rosh Hodesh (Jewish new month) prayers at the Kotel women's section in open disregard of Jewish tradition, despite the fact that an Ezrat Israel egalitarian section has been prepared specifically for them further down the Wall.

"A small group of ‘Women of the Wall’ acted deceptively this morning, and after they were prevented from bringing in a large Torah scroll, they deviously snuck in a small one to the women’s section," reported Rabbi Rabinowitz.

The rabbi said he avoided directly confronting the small group out of fear the Torah scroll might be damaged in trying to remove it, but added "in the future, efforts will be made to ensure that this event is not repeated. No Torah scroll will be brought in to the Kotel, something which is not permitted for anyone - man or woman."

WoW's insistence on conducting services with a Torah scroll - including the blessings over the Torah reading - directly contravenes Jewish law which mandates that such blessings can only be made by someone fulfilling a Torah obligation; since women are exempt from the time-bound obligation of reading from the Torah, the blessings are recited in vain which is strictly forbidden.

However, WoW was not trying to hide their smuggling in of the miniature scroll, instead posting a picture of the Torah reading online, flaunting the regulations that are meant to guard Jewish traditions and the sensitivities of visitors to the site.

On the group's official Twitter page they likewise lauded the incident as "the first Torah reading and bat mitzvah in the womens (sic) section of the Western Wall."
The reference to the "first bat mitzvah" comes after a controversial ad campaign by the group on Jerusalem buses showing a girl telling her mother she wants a bat mitzvah at the Kotel, which the traditional group Women FOR the Wall (WFW) charges is really a push to change the status quo at the site regarding Torah readings.

Leah Aharoni, co-founder of WFW, accused the group of seeking attention despite receiving the Ezrat Israel section, saying of it "Jews are voting with their feet and almost nobody is choosing to pray at the section that WoW has claimed to be so essential."

WoW's Chairperson Anat Hoffman last July wrote an article in the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism website entitled "support our rally to end the chief rabbinate." After casting various accusations, Hoffman concluded that "it is time to throw out the whole rabbinate."


6. DIFFERING POLLS REVEAL GAPS IN ISRAELI LEADERSHIP
by Tova Dvorin

A set of differing polls reveals an odd lacuna in Israeli leadership Friday, with the public presented in the findings as apparently being unclear over its feelings for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. 

Forty-five percent of Israelis want to see a different Prime Minister elected next Knesset term, with just 29% approving of Netanyahu so far, a Channel 10 survey revealed Friday. Meanwhile 26% stated that they "do not know yet" if they'd like to see Netanyahu re-elected. 

But the results showing roughly half of Israeli wanting a change in leadership differ significantly from a similar poll conducted by the Knesset channel less than 24 hours ago - whereby 36% of Israelis approved of Netanyahu's term so far and 24% claimed he was the "best person" for the next prime minister.

In that category of "best person" for next prime minister, he had double the support of the next competitor, Economics Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) who had 12% calling him prime ministerial material.

Channel 10 stated in response to the gap that "the majority of Israelis do not want to see Netanyahu re-elected to office, but in the current situation they see no suitable alternative." 

The Knesset Channel poll on Thursday found that Bennett had just outpaced Netanyahu in approval, with a 38% rating, after Netanyahu's approval took a nosedive in Operation Protective Edge.

Moreover, the Channel 10 poll shows that, if Knesset elections were held today, Likud would still be the biggest force to be reckoned with, at 22 seats; Jewish Home, 17; Labor, 12 seats; Yesh Atid, 12 seats; and Moshe Kahlon, 11 seats. Yisrael Beytenu would gain just 9 seats, as would Meretz; Shas would gain just eight seats, and only five seats for the hareidi United Torah Judaism and communist Hadash. Tzipi Livni's Hatnua would gain just four Knesset seats. 

The gap could be attributed to differing audiences. Channel 10 leans to the left of the political spectrum, and whereas the Knesset Channel - the Israeli version of C-SPAN - is considered more of a neutral party.

But the question remains over how the Israeli public actually feels regarding Netanyahu.

As Channel 10 noted, approval for Netanyahu remains relatively high - despite a severe drop in approval ratings following a ceasefire agreement at the end of Operation Protective Edge in Gaza. 

And political analysts are not the only parties to have noted the odd gap between Israelis' "ideal" candidate and their voting patterns; President Reuven Rivlin made a similar remark last month, claiming that Netanyahu's lack of competition is "bad for democracy." 

"We have a prime minister who could be a thousand times better if he knew that someone was challenging his place," he stated. "If I were to pay attention to polls, in which one of the candidates has around 40-percent support and the others only around 10 percent, that is very worrying."


7. NYPD ADMITS AXE ATTACK MAY BE TERRORISM
by Tova Dvorin

A terror attack may have been thwarted in Queens, the New York Police Department admitted late Thursday night, after an axe-wielding man savagely attacked four rookie police officers in broad daylight Thursday afternoon.

The assailant deliberately targeted the officers, surveillance footage shows - running at them with the hatchet without a word while they were distracted by a tourist asking to take a photo, according to CNN. 

Grainy footage from a nearby security camera shows the speed with which the assailant attacked, raising the axe with one hand while running at police. 

[youtube:195651]

The suspect - later identified as Zale Thompson, 32 - managed to slash one officer in his arm, and another in his head, before being shot dead. 

One officer, 25, is wounded and in "critical" condition at Jamaica Hospital. A 29-year-old bystander shot by an errant round is also being treated there and is in "grave" condition. 

Thompson was later revealed to have had a criminal record in California and to have been discharged from the US Navy under unclear circumstances. 

Another 'lone wolf' attack?

Hours after the attack, the NYPD announced that the suspect may have had links to terrorism - based on social media posts Thompson allegedly made - but have hesitated to make the announcement official. 

"This early on, we really cannot say yes or no to that question," Police Commissioner William Bratton said. "There is nothing we know as of this time that would indicate that were the case. I think certainly the heightened concern is relative to that type of assault based on what just happened in Canada." 

But posts referred to an "internal mass revolt" against America and referenced the US's airstrikes on Islamic State, according to Fox News. 

"America's military is strong abroad, but they have never faced an internal mass revolt," the suspect allegedly posted on Facebook. "They are weaker at home. We are scattered and decentralized, we can use this as an advantage. They are centralized and strong, which can be exploited as a weakness. Think of a swarm of bees (negroes) [sic] that surround and attack an elephant (America) to death."

NYPD officers have been instructed to "increase their situational awareness" after the attack, CNN reported Thursday night, after concerns were raised over the possibility that this is just another link in a series of "lone wolf" attacks from ISIS-inspired terrorists in North America. 

Thompson's rampage surfaces just one day after a gunman with a similar profile, 32-year-old Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, launched a shooting attack on the Canadian parliament in Ottawa. 

Zehaf-Bibeau, who was shot dead Wednesday after a tense standoff, was later revealed - like Thompson - to have been linked with Islamist extremism and to have even pledged to leave Canada for Syria to join the group. 

And Wednesday’s attack in Ottawa came just two days after a 25-year-old who converted to Islam last year rammed his car into two soldiers in the Quebec town of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu and was shot dead by police; one of the soldiers later died.

Closer to home, Thompson's attack closely resembles a similarly horrific incident in Oklahoma, where a man also ascribing to ISIS's beliefs beheaded a co-worker earlier this month.

In that case, US officials strenuously denied any link between Islamism and the murder - even after later reports indicated that the assailant had been "shouting Islamic phrases" during the attack. 



8. PROTESTS AT SITE OF TERROR ATTACK: 'AVENGE JEWISH BLOOD'
by Hezki Ezra, Ari Yashar

Hundreds of activists from the Otzma Yehudit movement, associated with the Otzma Leyisrael party that just barely missed out of the last elections, gathered Thursday night at the Ammunition Hill light rail station where three-month-old Chaya Zisel Braun hy''d was murdered by a Hamas terrorist the night before.

In the protest that cried out against the collapse of security during the recent "silent intifada" of Arab terror in Jerusalem, protesters bore signs condemning Interior Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich (Yisrael Beytenu), demanding his resignation for not letting police properly erase the terrorism from the capital.

Attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir said at the rally "let them stop trying to fool us, stop trying to play with us, the people of Israel want revenge and demand from the government of Israel revenge."

"We came here to tell all the politicians who think they can sell us out in quiet - enough, stop trying to fool us all," emphasized Ben-Gvir. 

[youtube:195650]

The protesters shouted "Arab beware, Jewish blood will not be abandoned," along with "the nation demands to expel the Arabs, death to terrorists," a night after the terrorist drove his car into a crowd of people, wounding nine including Braun fatally and an 18-year-old girl critically.

Some of the protesters blocked the light rail tracks for a few minutes in an act of demonstration. Police forces started evacuating them by force, at which small skirmishes broke out and two protesters were taken in for questioning.

Responding to the skirmish, Ben-Gvir said "the ones guilty for the disorder that has developed is the Jerusalem police who deployed horses and cavalry and unnecessary force. The public is furious at the government and rightly so."

Nationalist activist Bentzi Gopshtain who also took part in the protest said "it's sad that the Israeli police under Aharonovich use violence against good Jews demanding revenge and doesn't raise a finger against Arabs who burn, stone and murder."

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