This Week Today - Current Events from Israel

Ben Packer,

לבן ריק
לבן ריק
צילום: ערוץ 7
Ben Packer
Originally from Petersburg, Virginia, Ben Packer moved to Israel in 1999, where he served in the IDF's Givati Brigade in the Gaza Strip. Ben served as a Rabbi on campus at Univ. of North Carolina and at Duke Univ. Ben now serves as Director of the Jerusalem Heritage House ( and Co-Director of Young Jewish Conservatives ( He lives in the Old City of Jerusalem with his wife and 6 children....

This Week Today

Current Events from Israel

I was expecting that maybe things would be quiet this week - a little Hanuka vacation of sorts. No such luck! Its been a totally wild week! 

Hezbollah Terror Tunnel Discovered and Destroyed 

Far and away the biggest news this week: Israel announced the discovery and destruction of a Hezbollah-built tunnel from Lebanon into Israel - near the northern Israeli city of Metulla, next to the Israel/Lebanon border. The tunnel was impressively constructed with power, water and ventilation systems. Less impressive was the purpose of the tunnel: to enter Israel and kill/kidnap as many Jews as possible. Additionally, the battle plan seemed to be to cut off Metulla from the rest of Israel in any future conflict. 

Despite how incredibly difficult it must be to watch 2 years of hard work and money get totally destroyed, Hezbollah has so far refrained from responding. Their restraint thus far can certainly be attributed to fear of what an escalation might lead to, but also the fact that both the US and Russia have publicly supported Israel's actions. Meaning: besides Iran, they would be pretty much alone on this one. Not very alluring. Especially with Trump as President. 

Why is this happening now? It fits well with the Hanukah story! Yes, but probably not. Israel has been increasingly threatening to destroy Hezbollah's advanced missile arsenal. Certainly makes sense to destroy the tunnel before that. And finally, there are those suggesting, including Hezbollah, that the timing is political, specifically Israeli domestically political. And that's our next topic! 

Police Recommend Indictment of Prime Minister Netanyahu

This week, after an investigation that went on for seemingly longer than the Hundred Years' War, the Israeli police formally recommended that Prime Minister Netanyahu be indicted for bribery. It remains to be seen if the Attorney General will actually indict Netanyahu and if Netanyahu has to immediately resign if he does. Like everything else in Israel, will probably be decided by the Supreme Court. So much for democracy. A Greek idea, I guess its Hanuka, so tis' the season to fight everything Greek. 

There are definitely issues with the case so its hard to say how this will play out. There are other investigations still going on, so many attempts to dethrone the Prime Minister, other than of course in an election because that isn't really practical. (but more on that later)  

Police Chief Nominee Withdraws Candidacy 

Speaking of a lack of democracy, the Minister of Public Security, Gilad Erdan, recently appointed Moshe Edri to replace outgoing Roni Alsheikh as National Police Chief. Edri had previously been police chief of both Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and was presently working as the Director of Public Security. He beat out two other candidates for the nomination. But then this happened: there is a committee called the Goldberg Commission. Its chaired by the very modest Eliezer Goldberg. Apparently he gets as many votes as he wants and he didn't like Moshe Edri. Why not? Maybe because he's considered more right-wing or maybe because he's Sephardic or both - they tend to go together anyway. So without any good reason, his committee did not recommend the nomination. (In my opinion, the best (read: most ridiculous) criticism of Edri is from gay groups. He was police chief in Jerusalem when a participant in the gay pride parade was stabbed and killed. The direct connection to Moshe Edri? He's Sephardic and supposedly right-wing)

And just tonight Moshe Edri has withdrawn his his candidacy. So who will be the next Israeli police chief and when is anyone's guess. Whoever it is, he/she is supposed to take over this month. 

Draft Deferment Law Deferred Again

Since the current Israeli Government coalition is so weak, its finding it virtually impossible to pass a new law, as ordered by the Supreme Court, legalizing draft deferments for yeshiva students. Therefore, this week they asked the Supreme Court for another extension (they already received one before this one). They asked for 6 months, which might seem like a lot, but makes sense. Realistically that's the earliest time that a newly elected government coalition could address this issue. However, the Supreme Court is known to be anti-anything practical and issued an extension of 45 days. How does that work? In the spirit of Hanuka, I bet the deferments last alot longer! 

Happy Hanuka! 

Ben Packer

Old City, Jerusalem