European Jewish Congress
Israel Press Review of 09/01/2017
Israeli Press Review
Israel Press Review of 09/01/2017

Major Headlines 
  • Four soldiers killed, 15 injured in truck-ramming terror attack in Jerusalem

Four young Israeli soldiers were killed and another 15 were wounded on Sunday when a terrorist rammed his truck into them in the southern Jerusalem neighbourhood of Armon Hanatziv, Israel Hayom reports.

The soldiers had just descended from a bus when the utility vehicle ploughed into them.

The four soldiers killed were named as 2nd Lt. Yael Yakutiel (20) from Givatayim, whose rank was posthumously elevated to Lt.; Cadet Shir Hajaj (22) from Ma'ale Adumim, whose rank was posthumously elevated to Lt.; Cadet Shira Tzur (20) from Haifa, whose rank was posthumously elevated to 2nd Lt.; and Cadet Erez Orbach (20) from Alon Shvut, whose rank was posthumously elevated to 2nd Lt. 

Bus driver Moshe Aharon recounted the harrowing moments on Army Radio:

“A group of soldiers was standing with their bags near the bus. I had just let them off. The truck drove into the group of soldiers, ran over them and kept going. The soldiers shot at the driver. He reversed and ran over them again.”

Police confirmed that the incident was indeed a terrorist attack, and not a traffic accident, as evidenced by the fact the driver reversed and ran over the bodies several times.

A number of soldiers were trapped under the vehicle and had to be rescued.

The driver of the truck was shot and killed. 

Click here to read the full article in Israel Hayom


  • Thousands rally for unity in Tel Aviv following Azaria verdict

“I am whole because of the unity of the people,” said Captain Ziv Shilon, who lost his arm in a Hamas terrorist attack near the Gaza border in 2012.

He made these comments at a rally on Saturday night in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, where a couple of thousand gathered to project unity and call for an end to the divisiveness plaguing Israeli society in the wake of Elor Azaria’s manslaughter conviction, the Jerusalem Post reports.

Shilon told the crowd that when he lay in the hospital following his injury, what helped him was the support he received from people of all sectors of society.

“There is a way to say things and that is in a civilized manner, with love and not by swearing and badmouthing,” Shilon said at the rally.

In the middle of the event, just ahead of Shilon’s speech to the crowd, a dozen Azaria supporters interrupted the rally with banners and megaphones and cries that Azaria was innocent and calls for his release. They were escorted away by police.

On Thursday night, Shilon, who has been an inspiration to many Israelis due to his optimism in the face of great adversity, took to Facebook to decry the “hate” which has divided the nation.

“I feel that our people are divided, hurt, hateful, disappointed, discouraged,” he wrote.

 “A pain struck me in my chest, I went to my room and tears just started to trickle down,” he wrote. “Yes me, who did not cry during the critical moments that I don’t wish upon anyone, I sat today and simply cried, alone by myself, restrained tears but full of pain like they taught me to cry in the army for my band of brothers that I lost, I cried for the people of Israel that are tearing themselves to pieces with unprecedented hate.

Shilon decried the vilification of the IDF and people who express their refusal to serve in the army.

“The army was, until now, a consensus, a lighthouse for all the armies of the world, and today factions of the people that it protects call for the murder of the man who leads it? The army that they will not go to...,” he wrote.

As such, Shilon said he would make a stance at Rabin Square Saturday night, “even if it is by myself,” in order to express and call for “solidarity and mutual love and a return to the centre of power that is crumbling – our unity.”

His plea also won the support of Gesher, an organization which aims to bridge rifts in Israeli society, and the Jerusalem Unity Prize, initiated by the Jerusalem Municipality and the mothers of the three teenagers – Eyal Yifrah, Gil-Ad Shaer and Naftali Fraenkel – who were kidnapped and murdered by Palestinian terrorists in the summer of 2014.

“Each and every one of us has the responsibility to act toward a mutual guarantee to save the rare fabric that our people have, let’s learn to look one another in the eye in a good light. Let’s learn the differences between us. Let’s hug one another, hug our army and our country. Let’s take responsibility,” Bat-Galim Shaer, mother of Gil-Ad, said at the rally.

Click here to read the full article in Jerusalem Post


  • Netanyahu’s lawyer says no basis to corruption allegations

A lawyer for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Friday that there is no substance to allegations he improperly accepted gifts, Yediot Aharonot reports.

Yaakov Weinroth, speaking to the press from his home's yard in Ramat Gan, added that there is "no scrap of crime" in someone giving his friend cigars as a gift. He explained that he was unable to directly address the content of the questioning, as it constitutes part of an ongoing police investigation. 

He spoke a day after Netanyahu was questioned by police for a second time in a case that local media say arose from allegations involving high-profile figures in international business and Hollywood. Police said Netanyahu was questioned about suspicions that he "allegedly received benefits" as well as about another undisclosed matter.

The cigars constitute one of two lines of inquiry, the details of which remain confidential at this time. In this line of inquiry, the prime minister has allegedly received gifts of cigars and alcohol from billionaire businessman Arnon Milchan worth hundreds thousands of shekels. Milchan is a Hollywood mogul who holds just under 10 per cent of the shares in Israel's Channel 10. 

Those close to Netanyahu have maintained that these gifts were not illicit and not intended as bribes, but rather gifts freely given that need not have been reported. Channel 2 journalist Amnon Abramovitch reported on Thursday that Milchan had been providing the cigars to the prime minister for seven to eight years. He revealed that the cigars were Cohiba Siglo VIs, Trinidads, and Montecristos. Abramovitch stated that the price for each cigar is between 100 to 200 shekels.

The alcohol that the Hollywood producer allegedly sent to the Netanyahu residence was for the prime minister's wife, Sara Netanyahu. Abramovitch explained that Milchan sent large quantities of pink champagne, costing 300 to 400 shekels a bottle.

The other line of inquiry is reported to be considerably more significant, but it remains cloaked in mystery whilst the authorities continue their investigation. 

Weinroth said in his statement to the press, "Any reasonable person understands that if a close friend brings his friend cigars as a gift there is not and cannot be any shred of prohibition, any trace of criminal offence."

Click here to read the full article in Yediot Aharonot


  • IDF reserve commanders pen letters supporting chief of staff

Dozens of reservist battalion commanders sent a letter in support of the IDF chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, on Thursday following incitement against him due to the Elor Azaria trial. Eisenkot's predecessor, Lt. Gen. (res.) Benny Gantz, also expressed his support in a separate letter, Yediot Aharonot reports.

“An attack on the IDF is an attack on the State of Israel and its citizens, more so than any other event. It only helps our enemies,” they wrote.

In Gantz's letter, he wrote, "What you do is good and right." He lauded Eisenkot for not letting go of the values that "are the strong foundation of our professional character as those who serve in the IDF and the moral character of the IDF as the defender all strata of society in the country." 

The Association for Former Members of Sayeret Matkal, the IDF’s elite unit, also expressed its support for Eisenkot, "who stands at the forefront of maintaining the IDF's moral code and its values." 

The reservists' letter reads, “With the atmosphere of the last several days and the various things which certain members of the Israeli public have been saying - things which negatively affect the fragile social fabric of the state – and given the damage these calls make to confidence in the IDF and its commanders, we, the commanders of the reservists brigades of the IDF, would like to try and strengthen the IDF.”

“We condemn statements that attempt to drive us apart and which only deepen the schisms in Israeli society,” the letter continued.

Click here to read the full article in Yediot Aharonot

Monday, January 09, 2017
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