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....

Alot going on over here, let's get right to it. 

Syrian/Iraqi Fallout Continues

Fallout continues since President Trump surprisingly announced that he would be pulling all American armed forces out of Syria. ISIS has upped their terror, with multiple deadly attacks this week. The Kurds have become more aggressive as well, including raising their flag in the contested Iraqi/Kurdish city of Kirkuk. Turkey can't seem to stop threatening pretty much everyone. And Syrian President Bashar Assad continues his victory lap over his rebellious subjects and their foreign Sunni supporters. Not exactly a great week for stability over there. And all this while the weather is dreadful. One can only imagine what will be come springtime in Damascus! 

The 3rd Destruction of Amona

A strange incident happened this week with the 3rd destruction of the Jewish Presence in Amona, just north of Jerusalem. The hilltop has become wildly symbolic over the years and most clearly represents the Israeli Government's both inaction toward and abuse of the "settler movement". 

As may be recalled from a previous update, Amona was once again re-established after the murderous terror attacks at nearby Ofra and Givat Asaf. This time the land inhabited was claimed to have been bought in a private sale from arab owners. Regardless of this seemingly undisputed claim and the pending elections, police forces arrived early in the morning and violently removed young Jewish teenagers who had barricaded themselves inside the two trailers at the site. When furious criticism was hurled at Prime Minister Netanyahu by this right-wing allies, he claimed that he had explicitly ordered to not tear down the community, but the message was not delivered by his recently appointed religious military secretary. Though this seems quite dubious, more dramatic events were right around corner and didn't allow for too much discussion about Amona. Undoubtedly, Jews will be back there again soon, with or without the knowledge of a secretary. 

Israeli Election Drama Continues

Even greater chaos was created in the Israeli political world this week. Multi-party alliances were broken up - both by the arabs and ultra-orthodox. New parties were created, mostly by former generals, and a current Government minister was fired and replaced. There are still a ton of unanswered questions as to who will make it to election day in April and with whom. But there was more....

Bibi's "Dramatic" Announcement

In a continuation of the talk-show/professional wrestling themed election campaign in Israel right now, Prime Minister Netanyahu announced that he would be making a "dramatic" speech this week. So of course everyone tuned in - suckers! Netanyahu went on to lambaste the investigations against him and mock the various allegations that most likely will soon become indictments. Basically just created more hype for the seemingly inevitable upcoming "cage match" between him and the entire Israeli legal system. And about that legal system.....

Official Shabak Policy: Just Arrest Them All

Months ago, an arab woman was reportedly killed when a large rock was thrown threw the windshield of the car she was traveling in on a Friday night in Samaria, the northern west bank. Until now the killing has gone unsolved and nobody has been charged. However, this week, the "Jewish section" of the Israeli "FBI" - the shabak - arrested 5 teenagers from a nearby Jewish high school. The detainees were not allowed access to attorneys for days and a gag order was placed on all details of the case. Since then, 2 more students have been detained under similar circumstances, and today something like 80 other students have been summoned for questioning. They won't be able to hold all these kids forever, so something is going to have to give soon, probably in the next few days. There have already been numerous protests against the arrests and suspected torture of the suspects - the largest this past Sat. night in Jerusalem. Without any compelling evidence presented so far, patience is wearing thing.

Terror Victims Head Home

Exactly a month since they were both shot and their pre-mature baby killed, Amichai and Shira Ish-Ran left the hospital today to continue to recover from their injuries at home. Additionally the final terrorist involved in the shooting was apprehended by special forces this week. However, one of the soldiers shot (Netanel Ilan ben Shaina Tzipporah) continues to fight for his life in the hospital. He was joined by another terror victim today, a 14 years old girl who was stabbed this morning at a bus stop in Jerusalem. She is expected to fully recover. 

Everyone seems to be expecting next week to be even crazier. No idea exactly how, but they are probably right.

Ben Packer

Old City, Jerusalem