Israel Briefs 12-6-11

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Noam Shalit: Gilad did not go on hunger strike during captivity

Gilad Shalit salutes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu upon returning to Israel. Credit: IDF Spokesperson.Recently released Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit did not go on a hunger strike while he was a prisoner of Hamas, and his poor physical condition was the result of a lack of basic necessities during his captivity, Noam Shalit, his father, told reporters on Monday at the 2011 Eilat Journalists Conference.

Noam said Gilad, who was freed in a swap for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails, had been in such poor physical condition that he had to be nourished intravenously upon his return to Israel, according to Israel Hayom. Noam also denied a report that Gilad had gone on a life-threatening hunger strike while in captivity, and that Hamas had imported four captors from outside Gaza to continuously guard the prisoner.

“This [his poor physical condition] is the result of the conditions of captivity—a lack of exposure to sunlight for years, for example,” Noam said.

—JointMedia News Service

Both Fatah and Hamas hate Israel, PA official writes

Palestinian Authority Ambassador to India, Adli Sadeq, said that both the PA or Fatah groups utterly deny Israel’s right to exist in an article to the PA Daily according to Palestinian Media Watch.

“They have a common mistake, or misconception by which they fool themselves, assuming that Fatah accepts them and recognizes the right of their state to exist, and that it is Hamas alone that loathes them and does not recognize the right of this state to exist. They ignore the fact that this state, based on a fabricated [Zionist] enterprise, never had any shred of a right to exist...”

Commentary Magazine’s Jonathan Tobin wrote that Sadeq is undeniably wrong about the legitimacy Israel’s existence but he agreed on the point that many Israelis and Americans blindly and falsely believe that there is a difference between how Hamas and Fatah view the state of Israel.

“Until the Palestinians accept the Jews have a right to be there and they are entitled to their own homeland alongside a Palestinian state, then any two-state solution is merely a truce until the next round of fighting begins and not a genuine peace,” Tobin wrote.

—JointMedia News Service

Netanyahu moves up Likud Primaries

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that the Likud party primaries will be moved to January 31 despite the guidelines of the the official Likud constitution stating that primaries should be held six months before balloting for the Knesset, Haaretz reported.

“In addition to saving our party millions of shekels, it is important that we avoid entering an internal struggle, so that we can be free to tackle the big challenges we are facing,” Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu hopes to win re-election as the party leader by taking advantage of his current strong position among voters. He also wants to prepare in case a government partner party decides to break-up the coalition. Likud members argue that moving the primaries will save a lot of money.

Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom said he intends to fight the decision through legal means. Netanyahu responded that he received overwhelming support from party members for his decision.

”The Likud is an organized and stable party, operating responsibly, and the Israeli people appreciate that,” he said.

—JointMedia News Service

Defense Minister: Lebanese Government Responsible for Lebanon

In response to Lebanon’s accusations that Israel violated a UN resolution when retaliating to Katyusha rockets launched on the country last month, Israeli Home Front Defense Minister Matan Vilnai said “the Lebanese government is responsible for everything that happens in Lebanon and everything that leaves its borders,” according to the Jerusalem Post.

While the Israel Defense Forces dropped multiple artillery shells on the Lebanese launch sites, a Lebanese newspaper claimed that only one rocket had actually been launched at Israel. For this, Lebanon filed an official complaint with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), citing violation of UNSC Resolution 1701.

“This is a serious incident in violation of UN Council Security Resolution 1701 and is clearly directed at undermining stability in the area,” UNIFIL responded.

—JointMedia News Service

Netanyahu unfreezes PA money but gets German U-Boat

Benjamin Netanyahu. Credit: Pete Souza.President Benjamin Netanyahu had to unfreeze tax money collected by the Palestinian Authority (PA) in order for Israel to buy a Dolphin-style military submarine U-boat from Germany, the Israel National News reported. Despite this, the country now possesses a weapon that could deter Iran.

Netanyahu had frozen the taxes in retaliation for the PA’s bid to join the United Nations (UN) but affectively released the taxes after German Chancellor Angela Merkel approved the sale only under this condition. Despite the unfreezing of the taxes, PA President Mahmoud Abbas said the PA will continue its UN efforts.

However, according to the German newspaper Die Welt, Merkel also approved the sale of the submarine because with its medium-range missiles it can be armed with nuclear warheads. Since it is widely believed that Israel possesses nuclear weapons, the newspaper said, such a weapon could be an enormous deterrent against Iran.

"The security of Israel is for me, as German Chancellor, never negotiable. And if that’s the case, there should be no empty words in time of threat,” Merkel said.

—JointMedia News Service

Wallet that saved professor’s life now at Yad Vashem

A view of Yad Vashem from the outside. Credit: Doron Erez.Professor Dov Weissberg, who hid from the Nazis during the Holocaust, owes his life to a wallet and some documents that were in his back pocket, which stopped a bullet that was fired at him.

Weissberg recently donated the wallet to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem as part of the institution’s Fragments of Memory project, Israel Hayom reported.

Born in 1929, Weissberg was a young boy when he fled from one hiding place to another until he was taken into hiding by a Polish family. Then a true miracle happened.

“I had a wallet in my pocket during the Warsaw Uprising by the Polish resistance in August and September of 1944,” Weissberg remembers. “We were four Jews hiding with a Polish family who was being paid to keep us safe. When the uprising erupted, we didn’t leave the hiding place in fear of being discovered. We were exposed to bombings and gunfire and we were without food. The bullets entered the house and whistled by us. The roof was destroyed.”

—JointMedia News Service

Government seeks to raise penalty for employing ‘infiltrators’

Israel’s government is seeking to triple their fines on businesses that employ illegal immigrants as part of a broader effort to deter African migrants from sneaking into Israel, Israel Hayom reported.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently asked Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman to prepare legislative changes, which would facilitate the move. The government is also considering the possibility of temporarily closing down businesses if they continue to employ “infiltrators” even after being fined.

“Those who employ infiltrators will be punished with very large fines," Netanyahu said at the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday. "I see the phenomenon of being flooded by illegal, job-seeking infiltrators as a threat to the economy, to society, to security and to the delicate demographic fabric upon which the state of Israel is based.”

—JointMedia News Service

PM praises Ben-Gurion while hinting at attack on Iran

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday issued what appeared to be a veiled hint about a potential Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear facilities, Israel Hayom reported.

Speaking at a memorial service for David Ben-Gurion, the first prime minister of Israel, Netanyahu said, “We must make bold decisions to secure our future, even if someone warns against them.”

 “There is no doubt that Ben-Gurion's supreme test was his moment of decision regarding the establishment of the state,” the prime minister continued. “From within and without, from within the settlement, and all over the world, tremendous pressure was applied to Ben-Gurion not to declare a state. Among those pressuring him were prominent politicians, friends, and loyal representatives of the Jewish settlement and Zionism. They warned him that the declaration of a state would bring about Arab army invasions against the fledgling Jewish state and a tremendous struggle against them. Ben-Gurion did not ignore those warnings.”

—JointMedia News Service

Posted on December 5, 2011 and filed under Israel.