November 18, 2019

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12/30 Links: After massive investigation, NY Times concludes Israel did not intentionally shoot Gaza medic; amas at 31: As Committed as Ever to Israel’s Destruction

http://elderofziyon.blogspot.com/2018/12/1230-links-after-massive-investigation.html

From Ian:


Ruthie Blum: Ill-Boding News for Israel’s Enemies
Netanyahu’s and Norkin’s words were not only directed at the new group of fighter pilots tasked with keeping Iran and its terrorist proxy, Hezbollah, from attempting to annihilate the Jewish state. The joint message was also aimed at Tehran, Damascus, Beirut, and Moscow.

The verbal warning was as clear as Tuesday night’s military one: that Trump’s exit from the region does not signal the onset of Israeli defeatism. If anything, it bodes even more ill for Israel’s enemies.

One indication that those enemies are getting the picture is Syria’s response to the airstrikes. This took the form of a letter of lament to the United Nations, stating that “Israel’s continuous aggressive policy is possible due to the unlimited and consistent support of the American administration.”

Ironically, the Syrian Foreign Ministry lodged this complaint on Wednesday, just around the time that Trump was paying a surprise visit to US troops in Iraq. There he explained why he will be withdrawing all American soldiers from Syria and half from Afghanistan, yet leaving those stationed in Iraq where they are. He intimated that having a US presence in Iraq would serve as a bulwark against Iran, while also enabling a swift ground re-entry into Syria, if necessary, or airstrikes from the very base where he was addressing the troops.

Coming as it did on the heels of Israeli military actions, Trump’s statement was the only encouraging communication about the Middle East to emerge from the White House in the past week. That the administration in Washington did not issue a statement about Tuesday night’s IAF raid indicates tacit American approval, if not outright coordination.

JPost Editorial: How will Trump’s address in Iraq effect Israel?

This dovetails with Trump’s Iraq visit. The US President could have made this part of a larger trip, going to Baghdad and Erbil to meet essential Iraqi leaders, and then to Turkey, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Israel to show that the US may be leaving Syria, but the US is not leaving the Middle East. Instead this visit was a US-only visit. It took place in Iraq, but at a US airbase. Therefore it was designed for a domestic American audience, but the Middle East paid close attention to Trump’s words.

Trump said ISIS was mostly defeated, and that the US would remain in Iraq to prevent a resurgence. “We are putting America first for the first time in a long time,” Trump said, arguing that the US would no longer be suckers, paying for foreign wars. He said the Syria conflict demands a political solution, and that Saudi Arabia and Turkey might be part of that. He argued that the US would withdraw in an orderly manner from Syria “while maintaining US presence in Iraq to prevent ISIS resurgence and protect US interests, and also to always watch very closely over any reformation of ISIS and also to watch over Iran. We’ll be watching,” Trump said.

The comments about Iran are part of a larger US policy that began with Trump’s decision to quit the Iran nuclear deal and continued with sanctions applied this fall, particularly in November. However Iran appears to be on a charm offensive in the region. Its president was recently in Turkey, and it is working with Ankara and Moscow to form a constitution committee for Syria. It also attended the Doha Forum. In each instance, Iran seeks to show that it is an influential country, and it pairs its visits with jibes at Israel. Recent comments by Turkey’s president against Israel, even comparing Israeli actions against the Palestinians to the Holocaust, paired with Iran’s comments and Russia’s criticism, show that Israel may be in for rough sailing ahead. Israel has improved some relations in the Gulf but Turkey and Iran are two of the most important and powerful countries and economies in the region. The warmth their leaders show is a threat to Israel, as is Iran’s presence in Syria and its growing influence in Iraq. Confabs like the Doha Forum also isolate Israel as Jerusalem has no presence at them, even as Qatar still claims to play a positive role in the peace process.

Now is the time to have a serious conversation with the US about its Middle East strategy. Trump wants to put America first. The US is increasing its defense budget which is good for Israel because of defense connections between Israel and the US. But a reduced US presence in the region is not helpful in the long term.

Hamas at 31: As Committed as Ever to Israel’s Destruction

Making no effort to disguise its ultimate goal of establishing a Palestinian state on Israel’s ruins in the entirety of what was once Mandatory Palestine, or its categorical rejection of the idea of Jewish statehood, Hamas draws comfort from the deafening aloofness of the international community to its genocidal vision and activities.

Thus, for example, the glaring failure of the UN to condemn Hamas’ countless war crimes over the years — be they firing missiles and rockets at Israeli civilian population centers, or straightforward terror attacks — has reinforced the organization’s belief that its terrorist actions are considered legitimate by the international community and carried out according to the “rules of the game.”

Hamas is keenly aware that the schism between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip complicates its ability to pursue its strategic goals, and Haniyeh’s statement criticizes Fatah for undermining the attainment of national reconciliation that will enable Palestinians to resist the “Zionist occupation.” In Hamas’ view, Zionist machinations against the Palestinians continue apace, including “the Judaization of Jerusalem and the West Bank, the killing of hundreds of Palestinians, the wounding of thousands, and the incarceration of still other thousands.” By way of countering this “aggression,” the statement boasts, Hamas has carried out numerous “acts of resistance,” including “dozens of shooting operations as well as hundreds of stabbing, car ramming, and Molotov cocktail attacks that killed and wounded the enemy. This is how we continue the resistance.”

Haniyeh concludes his statement by reiterating the main precepts of Hamas’ vision, notably the establishment of a Palestinian state with all of Jerusalem as its capital, the continuation of “armed resistance” against Israel, and the rejection of the Jewish right to statehood. On its 31st anniversary, Hamas thus remains as committed as ever to its genocidal worldview: “Jihad is jihad. Either we triumph or die as martyrs.”

After massive investigation, NY Times concludes Israel did not intentionally shoot medic Rouzan al-Najjar

As Lenny Ben-David points out on Twitter, the resources the Times devoted to the investigation were extraordinary:
The NYT’s indictment of #IDF is 5,500 words long & accompanied by 17 minute video! When was the last time NYT spent so many manhours & millions of $ on an investigation?

Not since Warren Commission on JFK’s assassination have I seen such research, stopped frames, diagrams.

Yet despite all those words, the investigation conclusion is almost buried in the headlines, diagrams, video and verbiage: Israel did not deliberately or directly shoot al-Najjar. The was hit by a ricochet of a bullet that fragmented hitting a total of three people.

Here are the key quotes from the main Times article, several paragraphs into the article:
The bullet that killed her, The Times found, was fired by an Israeli sniper into a crowd that included white-coated medics in plain view. A detailed reconstruction, stitched together from hundreds of crowd-sourced videos and photographs, shows that neither the medics nor anyone around them posed any apparent threat of violence to Israeli personnel. Though Israel later admitted her killing was unintentional, the shooting appears to have been reckless at best, and possibly a war crime, for which no one has yet been punished.

Notice how in that key paragraph, the first to introduce the Times’ conclusion, no mention is made of the ricochet. The paragraph makes it seem as if al-Najjar was deliberately and directly shot when Israel fired “into” a crowd that included medics. Only much later does the Times acknowledge that al-Najjar was not directly shot, the bullet did not go “into” the crowd, it struck the ground several yards away.

You have to read deep down into the article, to find these details:
Three medics down, all from one bullet. It seemed improbable.

But The Times’s reconstruction confirmed it: The bullet hit the ground in front of the medics, then fragmented, part of it ricocheting upward and piercing Ms. Najjar’s chest.

It was fired from a sand berm used by Israeli snipers at least 120 yards from where the medics fell.

To get even more details, you need to go to the separate methodology article the Times ran, including that Israel did not fire at the medics, but rather, people near the medics, and that the bullet hit the ground “a few yards away from the medics, and ricocheted off the ground:

IsraellyCool: Even Israel-Hating NY Times Journo Malachy Browne Finds Israel Did Not Kill Razan Najjar Deliberately

Malachy Browne is a senior story producer with the New York Times.

Objective he ain’t – he lets his hatred of Israel shine through from time to time.

I say this as way of preface to his latest piece: a painstaking look at how palestinian medic Razan Najjar actually died. At 5,500 words, front page presence and including a 15-minute documentary, you can bet he means business. Heck, when was the last time we saw anything like this from the New York Times? Clearly Browne wants so desperately to convict Israel, and he spares no time and effort to do so.

Yet…

After all of his investigations, Browne’s findings contradict the narrative that Najjar was deliberately shot! Rather, his investigations can only conclude that she was killed by a ricocheting bullet.

The Israeli military maintains that the 6:31 p.m. shot targeted and hit a protester wearing a yellow shirt who was throwing stones and pulling at the coils of barbed wire laid out 40 yards from the security fence. We identified several men and boys wearing yellow shirts that day. Only one was near the direction of fire. From several videos, we could determine that he was standing around 120 yards from the fence and that he did not appear to be protesting violently in the minutes leading up to the shot. Indeed, we didn’t see any violent protesting in that area in the minutes before the fatal gunshot, suggesting that the shot contravened the Israeli military’s own rules about targeting protesters. What’s more, behind the target was a group of bystanders and medics in white coats. Former snipers in the United States Army and the Israel Defense Forces told us that, without a backstop, it was a reckless shot to take.

The bullet missed and hit the ground a few yards in front of the medics. Michael Knox, a forensic ballistics investigator, told us that the type of bullet used by the Israeli sniper could skim like a stone off the rocky soil. When it hits soil at a low angle, it pushes the soil ahead of it into a miniature ramp and projects itself up and out of the ground. Mohammed Shafee was hit in the torso with shrapnel. The bullet grazed Rami Abo Jazar’s thigh and continued its upward trajectory to pierce Rouzan just above her chest, severing her aorta.

Israel urges UN to include baby Amiad in report on children

Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon is urging the United Nations to include the death of prematurely delivered baby Amiad Yisrael in its annual Children and Armed Conflict report.

Danon contacted U.N. Secretary General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict Virginia Gamba to ask that her office’s upcoming report on deaths of children in regional conflicts and wars include baby Amiad, who was delivered in an emergency cesarian section after his mother, Shira Ish-Ran, was seriously wounded in a terrorist shooting attack on Dec. 9.

Ish-Ran was 30 weeks pregnant at the time of the attack and sustained serious bullet wounds to her upper body. Amiad was delivered in critical condition, and although medical staff battled around the clock to save him, he died a few days later.

“Children in the Palestinians Authority are taught from a young age to hate Israel, through school textbooks that are full of lies and incitement, and through social media posts that encourage terrorism,” Danon wrote to Gamba.

“It is not too long before they put these messages to action, sometimes by way of violence, as we saw in the Ofra attack.

“The brutal incident in Ofra that led to the death of a three-day-old baby should be noted in the U.N. report on ‘Children and Armed Conflict,’ alongside a clear, strong condemnation of Hamas’ violent aggression against the citizens of Israel, which harms the safety of children and youth in the area,” Danon wrote.

Netanyahu: Brazilian leader said embassy move a matter of ‘when, not if’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Brazilian Jewish leaders on Sunday that Brazilian President-elect Jair Bolsonaro informed him that he would like to relocate the Latin American country’s mission from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

“It’s a question of when, not if,” Netanyahu said, according to a source present at the meeting.

The statement came after Netanyahu and Bolsonaro met on Friday, and after an Israeli government source insisted Saturday that Brazil’s embassy move to Jerusalem was merely “a matter of time.”

“The situation is similar to [US President Donald] Trump’s declaration” that he planned to move the US embassy in December of 2017, the source said. “He declared it and he carried it out later on.” The US embassy move took place in May of 2018, six months after Trump stated his intention to do so.

Netanyahu had announced his trip to Brazil following a November 1 tweet from Bolsonaro indicating he intends to move the Brazilian Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, following in Trump’s footsteps. Bolsonaro later backtracked by saying “it hasn’t been decided yet.”

US warns travelers to ‘exercise increased caution’ in Israel

The US State Department called on travelers to “exercise increased caution in Israel due to terrorism.”

In an email to citizens registered to its Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, or STEP, the State Department noted that the security level of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza is at Level 2: Exercise Extreme Caution.

The security warning states that travelers should not travel to Gaza due to “terrorism, civil unrest, and armed conflict.” It also recommends that travelers reconsider travel to the West Bank due to “terrorism, potentially violent civil unrest, and the potential for armed conflict.”

The warning continues: “Terrorist groups and lone-wolf terrorists continue plotting possible attacks in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, and local government facilities. Violence can occur in Jerusalem and the West Bank without warning.”

Michael Oren’s loss is a tragedy for all Israelis

It’s hard to imagine a more qualified candidate than Michael Oren in national politics. With decades of public service behind him – working as an adviser to former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and ambassador to the US appointed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, writing bestselling books on the history of Israel and the Middle East, and being an excellent public speaker in English and Hebrew – Oren seemed like a great candidate for the Knesset and even a cabinet post.

But now it seems that unless there’s a surprise change of events, and after four years, Oren’s short-lived Knesset career is over. The Kulanu MK and deputy minister for diplomacy announced that he won’t be running with the party again. And while he left his options open for another party to invite him into the fold, his political prospects seem dim.

That’s not just bad news for Michael Oren, it’s bad news for all Israelis.

The Knesset is a place where many talented, qualified people can’t survive, but vulgarians, serial harassers and terrorism-supporters get elected over and over again.

Oren is far from the first highly qualified person to drop out of national politics. But he wasn’t plagued by one of the problems that such people often have when they enter the Knesset, when they’re used to being the big boss and then have trouble working as a team as a regular Knesset member, equal to many others.

Oren seemed to do what he was supposed to, and more. He did reasonably well as a parliamentarian, making an effort to propose bills and take part in legislative meetings and caucuses, as well as meeting with international delegations visiting the Knesset. He made the jump the deputy minister, where he dealt with his area of expertise, international relations, and engaged in diplomacy at the highest levels, bringing his unique talents to the Knesset.

And while Oren is a veritable celebrity among Anglo-Israelis, he understood he needed to make a genuine effort to keep his name in the news in Hebrew, as well, commenting on international affairs and writing dozens of op-eds in various newspapers. When spotted in the Knesset during the AIPAC Policy Conference this year, and asked why he was not in Washington, he remarked, “Because the voters are here.”

Israel protests after Jordan minister steps on flag on way to government meeting

Jerusalem has lodged a strong protest to Amman after a Jordanian minister was seen stepping on an Israeli flag at the entrance to a government meeting over the weekend.

The meeting was held at the country’s trade union headquarters — a body deeply opposed to normalization of relations with Israel despite a peace treaty signed in 1994.

The trade union has placed a drawing of the Israeli flag on the floor at the entrance to its building, along with footprints, encouraging visitors to step on it as a form of protest against Israel.

Jordan’s minister for media affairs and communications and government spokesperson Jumana Ghunaimat was praised on social media for being among those who chose to step on the flag as she arrived for the meeting.

In contrast, Prime Minister Omar Razzaz chose to enter the building through a side entrance, thus avoiding stepping on the Israeli symbol but earning himself criticism in Jordanian media.

Political activists also heckled him during his speech at the headquarters, accusing him of hypocrisy in “supporting the Zionist entity.”

PMW: It’s OK for husbands, fathers and brothers to beat disobedient women, says Abbas` advisor

Contradictory messages are an art in the Palestinian Authority. A striking example was when right in the middle of a PA campaign to stop domestic violence against Palestinian women, Abbas’ advisor and top PA religious figure explained on TV exactly when, how and why husbands, fathers and brothers are allowed to beat women!

The Palestinian campaign to stop violence against women ran during the international “16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence” campaign calling to end violence against women and girls. The campaigns began on Nov. 25 on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and ended on Dec. 10, Human Rights Day.

While this campaign was running and teaching that it is never acceptable to hit women, Abbas’ advisor Mahmoud Al-Habbash explained on official PA TV that there are situations in which men are allowed to beat women. In fact, it is even good for the women:
“As long as Allah permitted a certain type of beating, it is for the good. It is good for society and good for the woman and the man.”

When is it permitted? Not very often explained Al-Habbash; only when women are “disobedient”:
“The one and only situation, which is very limited and very rare, in which a man is permitted to beat in a way that doesn’t harm, doesn’t injure, avoids the face, and doesn’t cause strong pain – is the situation of disobedience. Only a situation of the woman’s disobedience. The disobedient woman, the woman who is out of line, the woman who destroys the bonds of marriage, and the bonds of home and family. Aside from this, any type of beating, injuring, and cursing of the woman constitutes a forbidden act.”

While Al-Habbash defends the practice, saying it is “rare,” the categories of women who may be beaten that he himself describes are so general that he opens the door for ongoing abuse: “The disobedient woman, the woman who is out of line, the woman who destroys the bonds of marriage, and the bonds of home and family.”

IsraellyCool: Kuwaiti Parliament Rejects Law to Grant Citizenship to Non-Muslims

Kuwait’s parliamentary Interior and Defense Committee has rejected a draft law to allow citizenship for non-Muslims – and human rights organizations, the mainstream media, and others who blasted Israel for her Nation-State law have spoken out.

Only part of what I just wrote is true.

The National Assembly’s interior and defense committee yesterday rejected a draft law to allow authorities to grant Kuwaiti citizenship to non-Muslims which is prohibited under the law, head of the committee said. MP Askar Al-Enezi said the rejection was based on a constitutional provision which states that “Islam is the official religion of the state.”

Kuwait’s nationality law issued for the first time in 1959 allowed the naturalization of non-Muslims but this provision was amended by the National Assembly in 1981 thus prohibiting granting citizenship to non-Muslims.

The legal and legislative committee less than a month ago approved the draft law, saying it did not violate the constitution. But Islamist and conservative lawmakers strongly opposed the move and vowed to reject when it comes for voting in the assembly.

By the way, non-Jews can have citizenship in Israel, of course. Our Nation-State law does not curtail their rights.

BBC News’ ‘different side’ to Gaza is much of the same

In among Kholoud Nassar’s photos of cheesecake and coffee, historic buildings, well-stocked markets, a garden centre and a strawberry field, the same slogans were promoted in the film itself.

“Gaza has been through three major wars in the last decade between Israel and the Hamas group that controls the strip. […] Israel and Egypt restrict the movement of people and goods into and out of Gaza, citing security reasons.”

Remarkably the film’s producer Cara Swift chose to use that particular image despite the fact that it is not representative of the Gaza Strip at the end of the last conflict in 2014 and with no room for an explanation of the context that lies behind the damage seen.

Another day, another example of the way in which the BBC’s strict chosen framing does not allow any Gaza Strip related story to be “different”.

The BBC, 2018 ‘fake news’ and fact checking

This year too BBC Watch has documented numerous examples of misinformation promoted by the BBC and has submitted dozens of related complaints. Among the inaccurate claims made by the BBC to which we have managed to secure corrections in 2018 are the following:
1) The claim that a sign in Arabic promoting Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions related solely to “a boycott of Israeli products coming from Jewish settlements”.
BBC World Service amends inaccurate photo caption

2) The claim that the Israeli government “retroactively legalised an unauthorised settlement outpost” following a terror attack.
One month on BBC corrects inaccuracy regarding Israeli cabinet decision

3) The claim that Riyad Mansour is the “UN envoy for Palestine”.
BBC News website corrects Palestinian envoy’s title

4) The claim that the Argentinian football team’s cancellation of a friendly match against Israel was related to “Israel’s treatment of Palestinians in Gaza”.
BBC amends misleading Argentina match report after complaint

5) The claim that “Thousands [of Palestinians] have been imprisoned for refusing to leave their land”.
BBC’s ECU upholds part of BBC Watch ‘Alternativity’ complaint – part one

6) The claim that the head of the PLO delegation to Washington is an ‘ambassador’.
BBC News website amends inaccurate Palestinian envoy title

7) The claim that a crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip had been closed.
BBC amends inaccurate photo caption two months on

8) The claim that UN forces were in control of the Golan Heights demilitarized zone.
Corrections secured to inaccurate BBC News website maps – part two

9) The claim that “for the first time” a Palestinian candidate was running for a seat on the Jerusalem city council.
BBC issues correction to inaccurate Jerusalem elections claim

10) The claim that the next Israeli election “had to be held by November this year”.
BBC Watch prompts correction to error on Israeli elections

Jewish Argentine ex-FM, derided for Iran cover-up, dead at 65

Hector Timerman, a Jewish former foreign minister of Argentina, has died at age 65, local media in the South American nation reported Sunday.

Timerman served as his country’s top diplomat from 2010 to 2015 under controversial president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, and was instrumental in establishing a much-derided truth commission with Iran to investigate the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center, in which 85 people were killed and hundreds wounded.

Timerman, Kirchner and others were investigated on suspicion of working to cover up Iranian involvement in the bombing by pushing for a pact with Iran under which suspects could be questioned in Iran and not brought to Argentina.

The plan was formally approved by both houses of the Argentine Congress, but never ratified by Iran.

Nobody has been tried for the bombing.

Timerman, who had been suffering from cancer, was arrested in December 2017 while attempting to board a plane to New York for treatment, and released to house arrest in Buenos Aires.

Timerman earlier served as ambassador to the US. His father, Jacobo Timerman, was an ardent Zionist who lived for several years in Israel after being exiled by Argentina’s military junta. Hector Timerman lived during that time in New York.

The reported death Sunday drew mixed reactions.

Head of firm that insured Auschwitz workshops stripped of posthumous honor

University of Mannheim in southern Germany is changing the name of a prestigious research institute after it was revealed that the moniker was an homage to the chairman of an insurance company that insured SS-owned slave labor workshops in Auschwitz and other death camps.

The Dr. Kurt-Hamann Foundation will now be called the “Foundation for the Promotion of Insurance Science at the University of Mannheim.” A statement released by the university on December 24 said the name change will become final when approved by the regional government in nearby Karlsruhe, to which the paperwork was being sent.

Hamann, who died in 1981, was the chairman of the Victoria Insurance Company, then headquartered in Berlin, from 1935 to 1968. The Victoria’s senior management had originally included Jews and had actively sought Jewish customers. During the Third Reich, the firm withdrew mortgages from Jews and Jewish-owned companies, including on a Berlin building owned by this reporter’s family. The ownership of the Wolff family building was transferred directly to the Reichsbahn, Hitler’s railways, in 1937.

The name change concludes a campaign this reporter launched in 2013 concurrently with the writing of “Stolen Legacy: Nazi Theft and the Quest for Justice at Krausenstrasse 17/18, Berlin.” The book is about my family’s bid to win restitution of a property built in 1909 by my great-grandfather to house his H. Wolff international fur business.

Technion students develop algae-based falafel to battle protein hunger

An ecologically friendly and nutritious microalgae that used to be a daily food source for the Aztecs in central Mexico could be making its way to Western tables in the form of a new kind of protein-rich falafel, the delicious Middle Eastern deep-fried chickpea balls.

Graduate students at the Biotechnology and Food Engineering Faculty at Israel’s Technion-Israel Institute of Technology have developed what they call the Algalafel, a new kind of falafel that enriches the traditional ingredients with spirulina — a biomass of blue-green algae which in its dried form contains about 60 percent protein and is seen as a solution for food insecurity and malnutrition.

The students nabbed first prize in the EIT Food Project (European Knowledge and Innovation Community) as part of an innovative microalgae product development competition, held in early December at the Technion. EIT Food is a pan-European consortium that focuses on promoting innovation and entrepreneurship in the food sector.

“It tasted very good, almost identical to regular falafel,” said Prof. Yoav Livney, the project leader.

Dried spirulina contains also 5% water, 24% carbohydrates, and 8% fat. Its cultivation uses much less land and water to produce protein and energy than do cattle or poultry.

Four millionth tourist arrives in Israel

The four millionth tourist landed in Israel over the weekend, marking an unprecedented number of tourists who arrived to Israel in 2018.

When the third millionth tourist landed in the country in 2017, a Romania tourist, she got to meet Tourist Minister Yariv Levin at the airport and was shown around the country. Including a guided tour in the tour of David in Jerusalem give by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The fourth millionth tourist was greeted by Levin, who called this unusual large number of visitors “the result of a revolution undertaken by the Ministry of tourism.”

Levin said he’s “excited by this moment that proves Israel is an attractive tourist destination.”

Jerusalem leads the nation as the most sought after tourist destination, 40% of tourists coming in are landing on return visits and the majority of them are Christians [61%] followed by Jewish tourists [22%].

Chinese tourists arrived in a great number in 2018 with 100 thousand visitors, yet the biggest numbers of visitors hail from the US with 813 thousand, France [320,000] and Russia [303 thousand].

Nearly 30,000 new immigrants moved to Israel in 2018, up from 2017 stats

More than 29,600 new immigrants made Israel their home in 2018, according to year-end statistics published on Thursday by the Jewish Agency for Israel.

The 2018 figures represent a 5% increase over 2017, when 28,220 people immigrated to Israel.

The largest number of immigrants, more than 10,500, came from Russia, a 45% increase from the previous year.

Some 3,550 immigrants came from the United States and Canada, similar to 2017 figures. British olim numbered more than 500, while 2,600 came from France, a 25% decrease.

“I congratulate the increase in the number of immigrants to Israel,” said Jewish Agency chairman Isaac Herzog. “Every Jew who immigrates and establishes his or her home completes another piece of the amazing mosaic of the people of Israel in its historical homeland.”

Artifacts stolen and smuggled in the West Bank now on display in Jerusalem

For over 40 years, tens of thousands of ancient artifacts confiscated from smugglers and looters in the West Bank were stockpiled in the offices of the Antiquities Department of the Civil Administration (ADCA). With no certified provenance and no certain way of ascertaining their origins, the 40,000 stolen antiquities sat in storage for decades.

In archaeology, an artifact’s context is considered as important as the item itself. Without a clear origin story, archaeologists are often loathe to research and publish scientific studies on random relics of the past. And so the recovered items sat.

In 2010, however, the new Staff Officer of Archaeology of the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria Area, Hananya Hezmi began implementing protocols customary for artifacts discovered at known excavations.

Based out of a small group of semi-permanent structures in the West Bank industrial-zone town of Mishor Adumim, Hezmi’s small team of archaeologists began sorting, dating, registering, and documenting the finds, through photography and other scientific methods.

Two rare 1,700-year-old funerary busts unearthed in Beit She’an cemetery

For the first time, a pair of limestone funerary busts — a style of grave marking unique to the region during the Late Roman (3rd–4th centuries CE) period — were discovered in situ, after early December rains near Beit She’an.

Walking in the northern cemetery at Beit She’an, a hiker saw a small head popping out of the muddy earth — thankfully mineral and not animal. She quickly phoned the Israel Antiquities Authority, which hastened to send out a team to pick up the well-known, but very rare limestone funerary bust.

It turned out to be a two for the price of one operation: While the archaeologists worked they discovered a second limestone bust, each weighing circa 30 kilograms (66 pounds).

These two busts are the only examples found in the location in which they were lain after the burial of the subject depicted by the statue. “Because of that, we hurried to remove them,” said Dr. Eitan Klein, deputy head of the Israel Antiquities Authority Theft Prevention Unit. Klein told The Times of Israel that an excavation is being planned for the future in the area where the busts were unearthed.

French hero who saved hundreds of Jewish children dies aged 108

French Resistance hero Georges Loinger, who used his ingenuity and athletic prowess to save the lives of hundreds of Jewish children during World War II, died on Friday at the age of 108, Agence France-Presse reported.

A talented athlete and cousin of the famous mime artist and fellow Resistance member Marcel Marceau, Loinger would smuggle the children in small groups across the French-Swiss border by throwing a ball and telling them to run after it.

Another ruse involved dressing children up as mourners and taking them to a cemetery whose wall abutted the French side of the border, AFP reported.

With the help of a gravedigger’s ladder, the “mourners” would clamber over the wall and head for the border just feet away.

France’s Holocaust Memorial Foundation described Loinger on its website as an “exceptional man.”

The children he saved, whose parents had been killed or sent to Nazi concentration camps, were under the responsibility of the Oeuvre de Secours aux Enfants, a Jewish children’s aid society founded in St. Petersburg in 1912.

Loinger, an uncle of famed Israeli singer Yardena Arazi, was awarded the Resistance Medal, the Military Cross and the Legion of Honor.



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