Israel Brief June 27, 2012: Social Protest Returns as Activists Set Up Tents in Tel Aviv

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Social Protest Returns as Activists Set Up Tents in Tel Aviv

Social protest activists set up some 20 tents in a park near the central train station in Tel Aviv, this time approved by the city.
Tent city protester with laptop

Tent city protester with laptop
Flash 90

Social protest activists set up about 20 tents on Tuesday in a park near the central train station in Tel Aviv.

The tents were set up with the approval of the City of Tel Aviv-Yafo. Army Radio reported that the municipality has agreed to provide the protesters with toilet stalls, water supply, lighting and cleaning crews.

An attempt to set up unapproved tents on Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard last Friday resulted in the arrest of tent protest leader Daphni Leef and several other activists.

Leef’s arrest sparked outrage, and protesters took to the streets of Tel Aviv on Saturday night, breaking bank windows and battling each other as anarchy hijacked the “social justice” movement.

Demonstrators experienced first-hand police violence that usually is reserved for nationalist protests, but unlike reports of right-wing protests, mainstream media were generally sympathetic to the protesters….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief June 27, 2012: Deputy PM Shaul Mofaz to Meet PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah

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Mofaz to Meet Abbas in Ramallah

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas will meet Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz in Ramallah next Sunday, reports say.
Shaul Mofaz

Shaul Mofaz
Flash 90

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas will meet Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz next week, Channel 2 News reported on Tuesday.

It will be Abbas’ first meeting in months with an Israeli cabinet minister. The report said that Mofaz will arrive in Ramallah on Sunday for the meeting.

The meeting comes after many attempts by Mofaz to bring Abbas to meet with him. He recently indicated that he means to meet with Abbas in order to get the peace process going, which is one of the four major issues to be addressed as part of the recent coalition agreement between Likud and Kadima….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief June 26, 2012: Rockets fired from Gaza hit Israel despite truce

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Rockets fired from Gaza hit Israel despite truce

Source: JTA, 6-26-12

Four rockets were fired from Gaza at a Jewish community in the Negev.

The Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted two of the four rockets fired at Netivot Tuesday evening. The others landed in open areas and did not cause any damage, according to reports.

On Tuesday morning a rocket fired from Gaza that landed in a kibbutz in southern Israel struck an empty hen house.

The rockets were fired despite an Egyptian-mediated truce between Israel and Gazan terrorist groups that went into effect on Sunday evening.

More than 150 rockets fired from Gaza have struck southern Israel since the cross-border attacks began last week.

 

Terrorists Fire Four Grad Missiles at Netivot

Terrorists from Gaza fire a barrage of four Grad missiles at Netivot. Iron Dome intercepts two of them.
Iron Dome system

Iron Dome system
Flash 90

Terrorists from Hamas-controlled Gaza fired a barrage of four Grad missiles at the town of Netivot on Tuesday evening.

The Iron Dome system intercepted two of the missiles, and the other two exploded in open areas. There were no physical injuries and no reports of property damage.

Despite an Egyptian-brokered “ceasefire” announced by Hamas last week, terrorists from Gaza have continued firing rockets at southern Israel. On Tuesday morning, a Qassam rocket hit a kibbutz chicken barn, causing damage but no physical injuries.

The rocket exploded in the area of Sderot, located less than a mile from northern Gaza….READ MORE

Israel Brief June 26, 2012: Massive Jerusalem Fires in Motza area ‘Under Control’

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Jerusalem Fires ‘Under Control’

A major blaze in Jerusalem’s Motza area has been brought under control by some 28 firefighting teams from across the country

Firefighters on Tuesday succeeded in bringing several fires in Motza area of Jerusalem under control.

Fire and Rescue Services Commissioner Shahar Ayalon postulated that the massive blaze could have broken out due to arson.

“A fire doesn’t start itself,” he said. “This was either caused by negligence or was lit intentionally.”

Police closed the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv Highway (Highway 1) in both directions and reopened it two hours later. Some residents in the Motza area were evacuated. Four people suffered mild smoke inhalation injuries.

According the Fire Department, 35 firefighting teams were trying to contain the flames. Six IAF planes assisted in their efforts.

Ayalon said, despite the blaze being under control, it would nevertheless noted that it would take a while to extinguish the smaller fires….READ MORE

Israel Brief June 26, 2012: Gilad Shalit Receives Honorary NYC Welcome with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Marking 6th Anniversary of His Capture

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Gilad Shalit Receives Honorary NYC Welcome

Gilad Shalit met with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, marking the sixth anniversary of his capture.
Source: Israel National News, 6-26-12

Gilad Shalit
Gilad Shalit
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Gilad Shalit met with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council speaker Christine C. Quinn at City Hall on Monday, marking the sixth anniversary of his capture….

“I just know that the government of Israel had to make a decision and they didn’t walk away from the decision, they made one, and that’s what governing is all about,” Bloomberg told reporters in Jerusalem at the time.

Gilad was passing through New York en route to the European soccer championships, which are being held in Poland and the Ukraine.

He didn’t say much during the five-minute ceremony, other than to mention that the NBA finals were “not bad,” and he smiled when Mayor Bloomberg said that he wished that a New York team had made the finals, The New York Times reported.

He also smiled when Mr. Bloomberg showed him a photo, on his iPad of the mayor with Shalit’s parents.

Together, Bloomberg and Quinn presented Mr. Shalit with a crystal apple, donated by Tiffany’s.

Israel Political Brief June 26, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu Pushes for Deficit Spending

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Netanyahu Pushes for Deficit Spending

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu sought to offset reduced state revenues by setting a 3% deficit spending target.
Netanyahu

Netanyahu
Reuters

Prime Minister Netanyahu and Finance Minister Steinitz on Sunday decided to seek a deficit target of 3% to compensate for reduced state revenues due to the slowdown in European economies.

In line with the decision, the government will be asked to set a lower deficit targets in the long run: 2% by 2016, and 1.5% until 2019.

Netanyahu noted that the government will make efforts to meet the objective of reducing the debt to GDP ratio in the field of 60% in 2020.

In their recommendation of the Minister of Finance is contrary to the position of Budget Division, proposed to increase the deficit target by only 1% – 2.5%.

Prime Minister Netanyahu said that the rise in the deficit to 3% instead of raising taxes will add to the budget 15 billion….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief June 26, 2012: Israel deports 150 more South Sudanese migrants

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Israel deports 150 more South Sudanese

Source: JTA, 6-26-12

Israel deported 150 more migrants from South Sudan.

A planeload with the African migrants, which Israel calls illegal infiltrators, left Israel for South Sudan on Monday evening. Some 120 South Sudanese migrants had left Israel last week.

The migrants reportedly are leaving voluntarily in exchange for a cash grant and a flight home. Migrants who do not leave voluntarily will be imprisoned, according to reports.

Israel rounded up dozens of South Sudanese last week in immigration control sweeps….READ MORE

Full Text Israel Political Brief June 26, 2012: Statement by PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz After Their Meeting on Deficit Spending

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Statement by PM Netanyahu and Finance Minister Steinitz

Photo by GPO

Source: PMO, 6-26-12

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz issued the following statements after their meeting this morning:

Prime Minster Netanyahu: “I have decided to adopt Finance Minister Steinitz’s recommendation on the deficit outline. I think that we will also maintain fiscal responsibility and a responsible and real economic framework for the State of Israel. But, of course, we will need to adopt a series of steps that the Finance Ministry will submit to us in order to ensure that this framework will indeed take place. In so doing, we will maintain important national programs such as blocking the entry of infiltrators and the free education law that we will apply in another two months.”

Finance Minister Steinitz: “After a long series of discussions at the Finance Ministry, with the participation of Bank of Israel and Prime Minister’s Office representatives, I have decided to update the 2013 deficit target to 3%.

Following the sharp slowdown in Europe, we have a decline in state revenues in Israel; therefore, we must update the deficit target. This is still a challenging and conservative deficit target that is lower than in most Western countries and we will need to make an effort over the coming weeks to submit steps to the Government in order to meet this deficit target.

We also decided to set long-term deficit targets – lowering the deficit to 2% by 2016 and 1.5% by 2019, and to maintain the original goal that we decided upon, which is the most important, of lowering Israel’s debt-to-GDP ratio to around 60% in 2020. In the coming weeks, we will present a plan to meet these targets.

I also met with the Prime Minister yesterday evening and I received his agreement to submit this decision for Cabinet approval on Sunday, July 1.”

Israel Political Brief June 26, 2012: Evacuation of Ulpana neighborhood of the Beit El settlement begins

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Evacuation of Ulpana neighborhood begins

Source: JTA, 6-26-12

Residents and supporters of the Ulpana neighborhood in the West Bank held a morning prayer service as moving vans arrived to evacuate them from the disputed properties.

The first 15 families living in the outlying neighborhood of the Beit El settlement moved to trailer homes set up at a nearby army base on Tuesday. The other 15 families will move Thursday, according to Israel’s Ministry of Defense.

The five apartment buildings are to be moved to 4.5 acres of state land that was a Border Police base and will be annexed to the settlement. Three hundred other dwellings also will be built there.

Movers hired by the Defense Ministry began packing up the families Tuesday morning. Four families said they would passively resist the evacuation, and all the families are asking media outlets to report that they are being forced from their homes and refrain from saying that the evacuation is by agreement. An agreement to evacuate and move the buildings was struck between the government and Beit El Rabbi Zalman Baruch Melamed.

A statement from the Ministry of Defense said “The operation is being carried out in full coordination, and with the agreement of community leaders and the residents themselves.”…READ MORE

Israel Brief June 26, 2012: Haredi Orthodox Men Arrested in Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum Anti-Israel Graffiti Vandalism

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Haredi Orthodox men arrested in Yad Vashem vandalism

Source: JTA, 6-26-12

Three haredi Orthodox men were arrested for allegedly spray-painting anti-Semitic and anti-Israel graffiti on the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem.

The men, aged 18, 26 and 27, of Jerusalem and Bnei Brak and reportedly of the Neturei Karta group, were arrested Tuesday and reportedly admitted committing the vandalism earlier this month. They are also suspected of being connected to vandalism attacks at Ammunition Hill on Memorial Day and on memorials in the Jordan Valley.

The slogans, written in Hebrew, included “Hitler, thank you for the Holocaust,” “If Hitler did not exist, the Zionists would have invented him,” and “The war of the Zionist regime is not the war of the Jewish people.”

Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev praised the quick and effective work of the police.

“I believe that it was important to know the identities of those who spray-painted the graffiti. The suspects are extremist ultra-Orthodox Jews, anti-Zionists, who are on the fringes of society, and do not represent the majority who respect the memory of the Holocaust,” Shalev said. “Numerous reactions that we received from Israel and around the world, expressing condemnation and repugnance of the graffiti testify that this warped action offended many, and I hope that the court will mete out justice to the criminals.”

The Neturei Karta is a group of Orthodox Jews that rejects Zionism and the establishment of the State of Israel, believing that a legitimate Israel can only be reestablished with the coming of the Messiah.

Full Text Israel Political Brief June 25, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Statement After Meeting with President of the Russian Federation, Mr. Vladimir Putin

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PM Netanyahu’s Meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin

Photo by GPO

Source: PMO, 6-25-12

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin
The meeting continued for over an hour; Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman and National Security Advisor Maj.-Gen. Yaakov Amidror (ret.) also attended.

Prime Minister Netanyahu and Russian President Putin will soon deliver statements to the media and, afterwards, will sit down for lunch. They will be joined by Vice Premier Shaul Mofaz, Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein and coalition chairman MK Zeev Elkin.

Russian President Putin was welcomed to the Prime Minister’s Jerusalem Residence by the Prime Minister’s wife, Sara Netanyahu.
The Russian President signed the guestbook: “With blessings and appreciation for the attention.”

PM Netanyahu’s Statement After Meeting with President of the Russian Federation, Mr. Vladimir Putin

Source: PMO, 6-25-12

President Putin, Vladimir, I want to welcome you and your delegation to Jerusalem.
Mr. President, this is your second visit to Israel as President.  Following your first visit to Israel seven years ago, Israel and Russia significantly upgraded their relations.  You mentioned the considerable expansion in trade, the economy, culture, science, technology and tourism. The foundation for the relations between our two countries is not only common interests, but the more than one million Russian-speaking Israelis.  They constitute a vast human bridge, and, in just a few short years, the Russia-speaking immigrants from Russia and the former Soviet Union have become an integral part of Israeli society.

They are partners in the army, in hi-tech, in science and medicine, in art and culture.  Mr. President, they are also partners in the government.  You know Foreign Minister Leiberman well, but there are many others including:

Minister of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Yuli Edelstein; Minister of Tourism, Stas Misezhnikov; Minister of Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver; the chair of our coalition, Zev Elkin; Natan Sharansky, who heads the Jewish Agency; Eugene Kandel, my national economic advisor; and many others.

I must say that, rumors to the contrary, I do sometimes work with people who are not Russian speakers, but there is no doubt that the public of Russian-speakers in Israel truly serves as a living bridge between Israel and Russia.  A lot of people are crossing that bridge.  In the past year alone, over half a million Russian tourists came to Israel.  That’s an enormous number for a country the size of Israel.  It has multiplied by a factor of seven in the three years since we eliminated the need for visas from Russia.

Tourists from Russia come to Israel because they like this country; they like the sun; they like the sea; they like the history, the holy sites, and we look after these as if they were the apple of our eye.  In the Middle East, Israel safeguards freedom of religion.  All this means that Israel is a country in which Russian tourists can feel at home.

Despite all this, I have no doubt that we have barely scratched the surface of what we can accomplish together, and therefore I am certain that your current visit will lead to a further upgrade in agriculture, science, hi-tech, space and in many other areas
Mr. President, you are coming at a time of tremendous changes in our region.  Yesterday, Egypt elected a new President.  Israel appreciates the democratic process in Egypt and respects the results of its elections.  We look forward to working with the new government on the basis of our peace treaty.  I believe that peace is important to Israel; I believe that peace is important to the Egyptians; I believe that peace is a vital interest for both countries; and I believe that peace is the foundation for stability in our region.

We just had the chance to discuss the current negotiations between the international community and Iran.  We agree that Iran’s continued pursuit of nuclear weapons is a grave threat first and foremost to Israel, but also to the region and to the world.

Israel believes that the international community should have three clear demands of Iran: Stop enriching uranium inside Iran; remove all the enriched uranium from Iran; and dismantle the underground nuclear facility near Qom.  That is why Israel believes the international community must now do two things:  ratchet up the sanctions against Iran; and also ratchet up the demands that are being made of Iran.

Mr. President, we all aspire to peace.  I look forward to discussing with you ways in which Russia can help Israel and the Palestinians advance peace, even during these challenging times, maybe especially during these challenging times.

There is a slight difference between us that we discussed prior to beginning the press conference.  Mr. President, when you want to visit a neighboring country, you usually fly from Moscow for several hours.  Our neighborhood is much smaller.  Tomorrow, you will meet with President Abbas in Bethlehem, which is a four to five minute drive from here.  Ramallah is only ten minute’s drive from here.  The key to peace is complex, but in the end it is very simple: either President Abbas must come here or I must go to him, and I am willing for either of these possibilities to occur, however we must begin to talk.  I hope you convey this simple message tomorrow during your meeting in Bethlehem.

Regarding our neighbor to the north, a way to end the killing and the terrible suffering of the citizens of Syria must be found, and peace, security and regional stability must be pursued as far as is possible during these turbulent times.

Mr. President, two years ago during my visit to Moscow, I promised on behalf of the State of Israel that we would memorialize the historic role played by the Red Army in defeating the Nazis.  Today, I am pleased to say, we kept that promise.  You just came from Netanya, from the moving ceremony inaugurating that same memorial that recognizes the tremendous contribution of the Red Army in the victory over the Nazis.  For us, memory is a part of our existence.  We fight against Holocaust denial and we join in the fight against the attempt to deny the important role played by the Red Army in defeating the Nazi monster.

This is a fundamental and important part of our heritage.  Approximately half a million Jews fought in the ranks of the Red Army, including thousands of veterans who currently live in the State of Israel.  Each year I meet them on Victory Day.  They proudly wear their medals and I ask them, “For which battle did you receive this?”  One tells me, “In the battle defending Moscow”.  Another answers, “In Stalingrad”.  A third says, “In Kursk”, and there are those who say, “Many places”.  We salute them today.  We salute all those who fought and sacrificed their lives for humankind.
Mr. President, over the past twenty years, a special relationship between our peoples was built, and I am certain that your visit in Israel will greatly contribute to the strengthening and deepening of these ties in the years to come.

Welcome to Israel.  Welcome to Jerusalem.

Israel Brief June 25, 2012: Central Israel Moshav Maor Synagogue vandailzed with Arabic graffiti

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Synagogue vandalized with Arabic sayings

Source: JTA, 6-25-12

A synagogue in central Israel was defaced with Arabic graffiti.

The vandalism was discovered June 22 on a synagogue in central Israel’s Moshav Maor.

The graffiti was from an Islamic prayer and read “There is no God but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet.”

It came days after a West Bank mosque near Ramallah was torched and graffiti protesting the upcoming evacuation of several apartment buildings in the Ulpana neighborhood of the West Bank settlement of Beit El was painted on its walls in what is being considered a price tag attack.

Israel Political Brief June 25, 2012: Israeli government requests extension on West Bank outpost Givat Assaf demolition

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Israeli government requests extension on outpost demolition

Source: JTA, 6-25-12

Israel’s government has asked the country’s Supreme Court to postpone the demolition of a West Bank outpost for several months.

The state requested the extension because it said it discovered new information that the Givat Assaf outpost near the Beit El settlement was not built on privately owned Palestinian land, as was alleged by Peace Now in the court case.

Givat Assaf is to be demolished by July 1. It is one of six illegal outposts that the court ordered to be dismantled.

Full Text Israel Political Brief June 24, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Statement on the Egyptian Presidential Elections

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PMO Statement on the Egyptian Presidential Elections

Source: PMO, 6-24-12

Israel appreciates the democratic process in Egypt and respects the results of the presidential elections. Israel looks forward to continuing cooperation with the Egyptian government on the basis of the peace treaty between the two countries, which is a joint interest of both peoples and contributes to regional stability.

Israel Political Brief June 24, 2012: Rockets Still Falling on Southern Israel Despite Egypt Brokered Truce with Gazan Terrorist Groups

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Despite truce, rockets still falling on Israel

Source: JTA, 6-24-12

Rockets continued to fall on southern Israel despite a truce with Gazan terrorist groups.

The Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted five rockets fired at Ashkelon shortly after the truce, which was mediated by Egypt, went into effect at 8 p.m. Sunday. Several rockets also hit southern Israel on Sunday.

An Israeli man, 50, was seriously injured by shrapnel when a rocket exploded near a factory in Sderot.  A school in Sderot also was damaged by rocket fire.

Israel struck several targets in Gaza over the weekend, according to the Israeli military, including a terror cell about to detonate a rocket. Hamas reported that at least three Palestinians were killed in retaliatory attacks over the weekend, including a child and a terrorist.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the start of the regularly scheduled Cabinet meeting on Sunday said “the IDF is taking strong action against those who are attacking us and it will take even stronger action if need be. Our policy is to use force in order to restore security and quiet to the residents of the south.”

At least 150 rockets fired from Gaza have struck southern Israel since the cross-border attacks began last week, the Israel Defense Forces reported.

 

Israel Brief June 24, 2012: Arson blamed for many recent Jerusalem fires including weekend outbreak

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Arson blamed for many Jerusalem fires

Source: JTA, 6-24-12

At least 15 fires broke out in a day in Jerusalem, and most reportedly are believed to be the result of arson.

Several of the fires throughout the city Sunday showed signs of arson, Jerusalem fire officials told the Israeli media.

Some of the fires were located on Mount Scopus, French Hill, near the American Consulate and in the suburbs of Ora and Aminadav.

The Jerusalem area reportedly has had hundreds of fires in recent weeks, and many are believed to be the result of arson.

Israel Brief June 24, 2012: Social Protests Turn Violent in Tel Aviv, 85 Protesters Arrested

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Social protests turn violent in Tel Aviv

Source: JTA, 6-24-12

Social protests in Tel Aviv turned violent as demonstrators shattered windows and attempted to break into banks.

Some 2,000 people gathered Saturday night in Habima Square protesting against socioeconomic inequality as well as police violence. Eighty-five people were arrested, Haaretz reported.

Though the police called to indict some 37 of the demonstrators, the Tel Aviv Magistrates’ Court on Sunday ordered the release of all the protesters, since none of them have a police record. The court suggested that police should have released them for the duration of the proceedings, according to Haaretz.

The demonstration spread to banks in Tel Aviv as well as City Hall. Windows were smashed in at least five bank branches, according to reports. The protesters also blocked main thoroughfares in the center of the city.

Some 24 hours earlier, 12 activists were arrested in social protests in Tel Aviv, including Daphni Leef, a high-profile activist leader. Protesters in the Friday night protests accused police of excessive violence.

Full Text Israel Political Brief June 24, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting on Gaza Rocket Attacks & African Migrant Deportations

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Source: PMO, 6-24-12

Following are Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks at the start of the Cabinet meeting today:

Regarding events in the south, the IDF is taking strong action against those who are attacking us and it will take even stronger action if need be. Our policy is to use force in order to restore security and quiet to the residents of the south.

Tomorrow, another plane will leave for South Sudan. Two additional planes will leave next week. I note that in the wake of our decision a few weeks ago, any infiltrator who sits on the border and waits for a bus to take him to Tel Aviv will now be taken to years of detention.  This is already making itself felt.

At the same time, we are completing 190 kilometers of fence this week. The section around Eilat, which we thought would take more time, is being built quickly. Therefore, the combination of these things, including fines and punishments for those who employ illegal infiltrators, I think has begun to reverse the trend, and we will solve this problem.

Thank you.”

Israel Political Brief June 20, 2012: Barrage of 60 Rockets from Gaza, One Hits a Negev Home

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In barrage of rockets from Gaza, one hits a Negev home

Source: JTA, 6-20-12

In a barrage of dozens of rockets fired from the Gaza Strip, one hit a home in the Negev.

At least 60 rockets were fired at Israel on Wednesday. The home was damaged but no injuries were reported, according to reports.

Earlier Wednesday, an Israeli airstrike killed a terrorist responsible for an attack that left an Israeli civilian dead.

Wednesday afternoon’s targeted attack also seriously injured another terrorist involved in the planning and execution of a cross-border attack two days earlier that killed a civilian construction worker,  the Israel Defense Forces said. The IDF said the two Global Jihad operatives were planning another attack.

The civilian killed Monday was working on the security fence being erected between Israel and Egypt.

Some 50 rockets struck Israel on Tuesday, and several on Monday, in an escalating series of cross-border attacks this week between Israel and alleged Palestinian terrorists.

At least 11 Israeli Border Guard officers have been injured as a result of the attacks.

Israel Political Brief June 20, 2012: State Comptroller’s Report Blames PM Benjamin Netanyahu & Government Officials for Deadly Carmel Forest Fire

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Report blames Israel’s Netanyahu for deadly fire

Source: AP, 6-20-12

A new report by Israel’s government watchdog blames Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other senior officials for mismanaging the worst fire in the country’s history, a devastating blaze that took 44 lives in 2010.

Report on Carmel Forest fire blames government officials

Source: JTA, 6-20-12

A special report by Israel’s state comptroller on the 2010 Carmel Forest fire blamed several government officials for the four-day blaze.

The report presented Wednesday by outgoing State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss said Interior Minister Eli Yishai and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz bear “special responsibility” for the response, and that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch bear “complete responsibility.”

It did not suggest any consequences for the public officials. “That is a clear political question best left to the Knesset and the public,” Lindenstrauss wrote.

The December 2010 fire killed 44 people, destroyed 18 houses and damaged 173. Some 17,000 people were forced to evacuate their homes, more than 12,000 acres were burned and an estimated 5 million trees were lost. Some 38 planes and helicopters from 12 countries helped extinguish the blaze.

Documents cited by the report show that Yishai was aware that the Fire and Rescue Services suffered from a severe shortage of equipment, personnel, and command and control methods, but did not act on that knowledge. Yishai has denied the accusations and blamed others for the failures.

The report blamed Steinitz for making the requested budget allocations conditional on sweeping reforms.

Netanyahu was assigned complete responsibility based on his position, and for not attempting to mediate between Yishai and Steinitz.

A statement from the Prime Minister’s Office pointed out that some of the deficiencies enumerated in the report were corrected immediately after the Carmel disaster.

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