Israel Briefs 12-13-11

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Bill could limit Muslim call to prayer due to noise

Click photo to download. Caption: A view of Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Credit: MathKnight.MK Anastassia Michaeli from Yisrael Beitenu has proposed a bill to ban Muslim loudspeaker calls to prayer, Israel Hayom reported. Left-wing politicians and other opponents have called the bill a violation of freedom of religion. Michaeli claims the bill is about reducing noise.

These loud calls traditionally happen five times a day: at sunrise, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset, and nightfall. The calls are broadcast over mosque loudspeakers, so that they are clearly heard in the often-overlapping Arab and Jewish neighborhoods in Israel. This causes a lot of tension between the communities.

“The law is environmental in nature and addresses noise pollution of any kind, with an emphasis on houses of prayer, including Jewish and Christian ones,” Michaeli told her opponents.

However, Professor Mordechai Kremnitzer and attorney Amir Fuchs from the Israel Democracy Institute wrote a letter to the Ministerial Legislation Committee in which the strongly condemned the bill, arguing that “beyond the blow to religious freedom, the proposed law could arouse, to put it mildly, bitterness and confrontation with the Muslim public.”

“The government, with its commitment to fairness and defense of freedom of religion, must oppose the bill,” they also said.

—JointMedia News Service

Shalit thanks activists who help win his freedom

Recently freed prisoner of war Gilad Shalit released his first official statement since his release, Israel Hayom reported. Shalit taped the video message from the dining room of Kibbutz Shefayim, aired on Saturday in honor of a reunion of major activists who had worked on the Free Gilad Shalit campaign.

“I want to thank you this evening from the bottom of my heart and to tell you that I am indebted to all of you and to each of you individually. I will continue to be grateful to you every day of my life. An enormous thank you to all of you and good evening,” Shalit said.

Shalit was kidnapped by Gaza militants and held captive for five years until he was finally freed in October 2011 in exchange for the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners.

“I know without a doubt that you’re steadfast and unrelenting struggle for my release, with each person contributing what they could, your persistence and support for my family on the long journey, was one of the determining factors in the decision to bring me home,” Shalit added

—JointMedia News Service

Artifacts from Mossad operation to catch Eichmann on display

The Israeli Parliament is displaying dozens of artifacts from the 1960 operation to catch notorious Nazi Adolph Eichmann in Argentina, ABC News reported.

The exhibit, which will be on display in parliament for three weeks and then move to a Tel Aviv museum, includes the Mossad cameras used to track Aichmann, briefcases, and a forged passport with alias used to smuggle Aichmann out of Argentina. Some of Eichmann’s personal affects found on him when he was caught are also on display.

“Notice how back then …there were no communications, there was no Internet, there were no computers, no weapons and this exhibit shows that even with primitive means you can do great things,” said Rafi Eitan, 85, who headed the operation.

Eichmann is known as the “architect of the Holocaust” for coordinating Nazi genocide policy. He fled to Argentina after World War II and changed his name, only to be caught by Mossad agents in the daring operation. He was publically tried in Israel in 1961 and remains the only convicted criminal in Israeli history to be sentenced to capital punishment. Aichmann was hanged after his conviction in Jerusalem.

“The capture and the bringing to trial of Eichmann was a turning point in which the state of Israel and the Jewish people began carrying out justice against their tormentors,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

—JointMedia News Service

Click photo to download. Caption: The Mughrabi Bridge. Credit: Avishai Teicher.Police close Mughrabi Bridge to Jews, Tourists

The Jerusalem District Police on Sunday closed the Mughrabi Bridge, which connects the Western Wall and the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City and is the only access point to the holy site for Jews and tourists, Israel Hayom reported.

The site has become a flash point between Israel and its Arab neighbors in recent weeks, as Israeli officials have said the bridge must be rebuilt as it poses a fire hazard and could collapse, while Palestinians, Jordanian and Egyptians have warned such a move could unleash regional unrest.

The bridge was closed until further following an order from the city, which says the ramp poses a fire hazard and could collapse onto the women's prayer section by the Western Wall.

A recent Jerusalem Municipality recently letter warned that the bridge poses a danger to pedestrians and asked that it be closed to the public, except to security forces requiring access to the Temple Mount.

Hamas officials on Monday said the closure marks the beginning of an assault on the Temple Mount.

—JointMedia News Service

Alleged thieves vandalize Jewish historic site

A five-person gang of would-be thieves allegedly raided an ancient historical site in Israel over the weekend, apparently attempting to loot valuable relics and causing irreparable damage along the way, Israel Hayom reported.

The alleged thieves, all Palestinians from the West Bank town of Beit Ula, are suspected of sneaking into Israel from Judea and Samaria and vandalizing the site. The historical area can be traced back to the time of the Bar Kokhba revolt and is located in the Sha'ar HaGai (Bab El-Wad) area, along the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem highway

A police investigation revealed that the gang was allegedly smuggled into Israel by an Israeli driver, which allowed them to bypass barriers and IDF roadblocks. The perpetrators are suspected of climbing up to the “convoy range,” a small-scale ancient settlement site dating back to the 2nd century C.E. The site is located roughly 30 meters (98 feet) above the country’s main highway.

—JointMedia News Service

Click photo to download. Caption: Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. PD-Israel.Ovadia Yosef approves release of his would-be assassin

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, spiritual leader of the religious Shas party, consented on Sunday to the release of a French-Palestinian terrorist who had planned an attack against him, Israel Hayom reported.

Salah Hamouri was to be freed as part of the prisoner exchange for the release of Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit, who returned to Israel in October after more than five years in captivity in Gaza.

Hamouri was arrested in 2005 with two other residents of east Jerusalem on suspicion that he had planned an attack against Yosef. In an effort to avoid friction between France and Israel over the terrorist's release, French Ambassador to Israel Christophe Bigot visited the rabbi at his home on Sunday to secure his approval for the deal.

“The rabbi gave the ambassador a note addressed to the French president expressing his approval for the early release of the prisoner,” Shas Chairman Eli Yishai said Sunday. “The rabbi respects the French president’s efforts on behalf of Israel and French Jews, and has given his consent out of concern for the people of Israel and the Jews who live there.”

—JointMedia News Service

Jewish births in Israel at all-time high

Statistics show that Jewish births in Israel have increased by nearly 20 percent since 2001, the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot reported.

Additionally, Immigration Data Authority statistics reveal that the number of Muslim births in Israel has dropped by 5 percent, and the number of Christian births by 10 percent.

A total of 107,207 Jewish babies were born in Israel in 2011, a significantly higher number than the births of Muslim and Christian babies. In 2010, 76 percent of all births were Jewish, 22 percent were Muslim and 1.3 percent was Christian.

—JointMedia News Service

Knife attack foiled and two terrorists killed

A female Palestinian tried to attack an Israeli soldier in Hebron last week, and in Gaza, an IDF air strike killed at least two other Palestinian terrorists in Hamas training camps after more rockets fell on Israel’s southern cities, the Israel National News reported.

The female terrorist tried to stab a board guard at a checkpoint, but was stopped by Israeli security forces. In response to five rockets launched at Israel last week, two of which landed near the cities of Ashkelon and Be’er Sheva, the IDF killed two terrorists, including a major operative who coordinated numerous attacks against Israeli civilians. Both were members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades organization.

“The cell was planning western border attacks against Israeli civilians and security forces,” said an IDF spokesperson.

One additional person was killed and 20 civilians hurt, Hamas said, blaming Israel for the escalation of the violence. The IDF said it “regrets the casualties among uninvolved persons but emphasizes once again that the responsibility rests with Hamas, which chooses to operate from within the civilian population and uses it as a human shield.”

—JointMedia News Service

Posted on December 12, 2011 and filed under Briefs, Israel.