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'm so happy that this weekly update is always free - impossible to loot it! But seriously, we hope and pray for all those affected by the rioting in American right now. Crazy times.

Israeli Police Blunder
An unfortunate incident happened this week in the Old City of Jerusalem when police mistakenly identified an autistic Arab student as being a terrorist in possession of a firearm. The suspect refused orders to stop and fled the scene. Border policemen were dispatched and were able to locate the youth hiding nearby. Fearing he was armed, they opened fire, killing him. Afterwards, it was understood that he had special needs and had been holding a cellular phone. There is now an investigation underway to determine fault. Like in Minneapolis, this one is the police's fault. Unlike in America, its well known that the group persecuted most by police in the Old City is the Jews, so no riots. The Chief Ashkenazic Rabbi of Jerusalem paid a "shiva call" to the Arab family. The family asked that no government officials come - certainly can't blame them at all on that one.

Corona Second Wave?
There are erroneous reports of a second wave of Coronavirus in Israel right now. In fact there was a small outbreak at a secular high school in Jerusalem of at least 160 cases - both teachers and students. This was most likely caused by their inability to understand science an stubborn refusal to follow the rules set by the health ministry. See how not nice that sounds when its not referring to the ultra-orthodox? Virtually all new cases involved secular people. They are trying to kill us all! (previous Times of Israel headline: "Israel will become Italy if ultra-Orthodox keep gathering." previous Jpost headline: "Coronavirus: Israel's ultra-orthodox endanger the public" and there are many many more examples!) Anyway, no one is seriously ill among the new cases and probably won't be. We doing just fine.

Extending Sovereignty
This continues to be quite the explosive issue. This week saw alot of criticism of Trump's "Deal of the Century" plan from the right-wing. A meeting was held with the leaders of the "settler community" and Prime Minister Netanyahu to try to "settle" things down. Netanyahu has promised that the issue of extending sovereignty over all Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria will be brought up on July 1st or a few days later, but that there will be no significant delay. Meanwhile the American officials, and some Israeli officials, involved in the mapping process claim it will take much longer than July 1st for them to complete the work of deciding which exact 30% of Judea and Samaria Israel can immediately apply full sovereignty to. There are other issues as well like which roads Israelis will be allowed to use. For example some suggest that the plan calls for Israelis to be banned from large parts of Highway 60 which would more than double travel times for some residents to get to Jerusalem and other major cities. Nothing is yet set in stone, but July 1st will come regardless and then we will see what Netanyahu actually does.

Additionally, the anti-war/kumbaya group "peace now" has threatened "war" in the event of extending Israeli sovereignty. I doubt anyone is taking that seriously at all. I can hardly even write it without laughing. Now I'm laughing.

Desert Pirates
This week saw a case of Bedouins in the Negev trying to steal military equipment from an area army base. Anyone who has been in the army knows all about these kinds of incidents. Its just an accepted part of army life - guarding equipment so it doesn't get stolen by Bedouins. However, this incident was different in that the soldiers who initially prevented the theft then gave chase to the thieves. However, as the chase continued, other Bedouins in jeeps arrived and forced the soldiers' vehicles off the road. A confrontation then ensued some of which was videoed. Eventually, one Israeli officer was forced to shoot in the air to chase the Bedouins off.

In short, allowing looting to go on is not a wise policy. It can actually lead to quite dire results and even deaths, like were seen in the US this week. It will be new Minister of Internal Security Amir Ohana's job to tackle this issue, while he also deals with the fallout from the shooting of the autistic arab guy in the Old City. Not easy times for law enforcement in either Israel or the US. Mistakes are made, but while constantly improving to make less mistakes is essential, its also important to keep the big picture in mind and not just what CNN wants you to see and think.