„And I also have private plans. Not today, nor tomorrow. But I would like to have my own family. And as many children as possible“

ב“ה

 

On August 28, 2014, when I published my thesis for the journalist diploma here, this was Ori’s last comment. It was clear, that his life was certainly close to a turning point.

I do not know exactly when the photos of the two of them first appeared in Facebook. It may have been at the end of 2015. At first there were only occasional pictures, then they became ever more, until there were practically no other subjects.

Ori’s radius of movement grew steadily. A trip to Jordan with his own car, a short vacation in Barcelona and an extended stay in the USA followed by a cruise, determined the year 2017. It was not really a surprise when in December 2017 we learned of the planned wedding.

On Friday, June 1, 2018 – 18 Sivan 5778, he had made a great step towards realizing his plans and dreams. Ori and Yasmin are married!

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The happy celebration took place at the neighboring kibbutz „Beit Oren“ (House of Pines). Weddings in Israel are very different from weddings in Europe. The ceremony can be held wherever there is room for the Chuppah – the wedding canopy under which the ceremony itself is performed by a Rabbi.

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Earlier, the Ketubah, the marriage contract, is signed by the bride and the groom, as well as by two witnesses and the Rabbi. While this archaic document is being signed, the guests are already celebrating. The mood is festive, there is dancing, laughing. One meets relatives, friends one does not see every day, renews old friendships, sometimes also meeting among well-liked some less-liked persons and trying to avoid them. In orthodox communities, the bride and the groom celebrate separately even to this day!

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Three generations of the two families

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There are tendencies to repudiate the classic Ketubah, because it only determines the husband’s obligations towards his wife and states an amount payable in case of a divorce or in the event of his death. The woman’s role in this document, written mostly in Aramaic, is minor, certainly not that of an equal partner. Modern texts describe mutual rights and obligations, and can be individually designed, and of course they are in the language of the country.

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Then the actual ceremony begins. It consists of two parts, the betrothal and the actual marriage. This division goes far back in history. The first part, the engagement (Kiddushin), means the couple is married according to the Halacha. In ancient Jewish Law this was considered a legally binding state that could only be annulled by a divorce letter (Get) in a Jewish Rabbinical Court. Then the couple is given a goblet of wine, which they drink together. Afterwards, the groom puts a ring on the bride’s finger and speaks the marriage wows: „By this ring you are married to me according to the Law of Moses and Israel“.  Although it was once unusual for the bride to put a ring on the groom’s finger, nowadays, especially in non-orthodox communities, it has become a matter of course. The reading aloud of the Ketubah marks the end of the first part.

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Reading of the Ketubah

If this were the end of the ceremony, the couple would be considered married, but not allowed to live together. In the past, sometimes weeks or even months would pass between the two ceremonies. Nowadays, the second ceremony – Nissu’in – mostly begins immediately afterwards. By this ceremony, with the „Sheva Brachot“, the seven blessings, at its heart, the actual marriage takes place. Those blessings can be recited by friends and relatives named by the couple. Each blessing is followed by a sip of wine. At the very end of the wedding, the couple empties the goblet. Then, the groom breaks a glass, after which everybody loudly shouts „Mazal Tov“.

The bridal couple, Ori and Yasmin, being very special people, their ceremony was very special too! Elisha, the Rabbi of the community and a friend of the couple, made it a very personal ceremony. He inserted remarks showing his close relationship with the groom’s family and the bride. It was not one of those anonymous ceremonies that simply „have to be got over“ leaving no emotional echo whatsoever. The guests had come from all over Israel, including from Beer Sheva in the south. There Ori and Yasmin met, where they studied and where they are now working after completing their studies. It was a merry company with many children, that had assembled in Beit Oren.

The fabric used as the bridal canopy had been drawn and written upon by anyone who wanted. Instead of a glass, Ori broke a light-bulb. He had received the Kiddush cup for his Bar Mitzva 17 years ago. The cup will certainly be used again and again on Friday nights in the coming weeks and months, but as Elisha remarked with a twinkle, hopefully also soon after the birth of the first child. If it is a boy, eight days after his birth there will be the circumcision ceremony, if it is a girl, on the first Shabbat after birth, her name will be solemnly announced in the synagogue.  The next ceremony will take place 12 or 13 years later: the solemn Bat-Mitzva or Bar Mitzva, held naturally in non-orthodox communities equally for both genders.

But until then they have plenty of time to enjoy their life together!

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It was a wonderful event with a moving ceremony. Two wonderful young people who had decided to make their way in life together. A courageous step that needs great love and confidence. Together they will master it, maybe not laughing and dancing every day, but sustained by love, optimism and their joy of life.

 

 

 

© esther scheiner, Israel

© translated by: Translations International, Herzliya, emjay@smile.net.il

 

 

 

 

 

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The lull before the storm?

ב“ה

Last Tuesday, May 29, just before 7 am, the first sirens were heard in the South. Most people were on their way to work, to school, to kindergarten. Mothers were pushing the pushchairs without any particular hurry. A false alarm. That is what some of them thought. An error in judgement that might have ended lethally. There was not only the one alarm, no; it went on and on, one second after the other. The pauses were too short to remain standing. Until early the next morning, over 130 rockets and mortar shells had been fired from the Gaza Strip at civilian targets in Israel. The exact number has not yet been ascertained, there may well have been even 200 projectiles. The responsibility was assumed by the Palestinian arm of the Islamic Jihad that is supported by Iran.

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Remember, in the spring of 2014, something like 1500 rockets or more were launched, finally leading to the Protective Edge operation that began in the summer of 2014. The operation ended in a ceasefire, which started at midnight on August 26.

Earlier, there had been several attempts by Egypt to negotiate a ceasefire, which were violated time and again by Hamas.

In theory, that ceasefire is still valid, since there were no further negotiations that might have led to an enduring truce. As opposed to a truce that is always secured by contract, the ceasefire is not regulated by international law.

This is something the terror groups in Gaza also know. And they know that we are not interested in having the tense situation escalate.

So, on May 30, a spokesman of the Hamas Politburo, Khalil al-Hayyeh, completely distorting the facts, announced that an agreement „was reached on a cease fire in the Gaza Strip, and that they would commit to the agreement as long as Israel abides by it.” He also said the agreement had been reached with Egyptian help and would take effect at midnight. This was later moved to 2 am, and actually came into effect at 4 am.

It probably would not have been logical earlier, since alarms went off at

22:55:13

22:55:19 (in seven different locations)

03:02:40

03:16:07

03:16:19 (in two different locations)

03:16:25 (in three different locations)

03:16:28 (in two different locations)

And that, too, was not long enough, even afterwards, there were attacks. At

05:04:55

05:15:07

05:15:13 (in two different locations)

05:15:25

05:15:46

05:16:07

the sirens were heard again!

Since then it has been quiet. Whether it is deceptive cannot be said yet. After twelve hours without any further shooting, the security regulations for the inhabitants of villages near the border that had been in force since the night before were mostly annulled.

The Israeli government and the IDF did not confirm that any agreement was reached, except for the unofficial assurance that no further military actions would be made if it remains quiet in Gaza.

The full day under fire from Gaza is a new and sad record. In the summer of 2014, 120 rockets were fired into Israel in a single day.

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Football field in Netivot hit by a rocket
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Private home in Eshkol region

Thanks to the „Iron Dome“, this time most projectiles were intercepted, but one hit a building in Netivot, a private home in Eshkol took a direct hit and a mortar hit a kindergarten. Thank God, this happened during the first salvo, so that there were no children yet. The kindergarten is built like a bunker and is therefore the safest building in the village, as reported by a teacher.

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Mortar shell in the garden of the kindergarten

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Four IDF soldiers were hit by shrapnel and had to be treated in a hospital. Numerous civilians suffered shock because of the rocket attack and the explosion-like noises when the projectiles were intercepted. They had to be treated as well.

As a reaction to the constant shooting, the IAF flew air-attacks on terrorist targets all over Gaza. Nobody was injured or killed.

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Whereas in the last weeks Israel was constantly accused and defamed, the world public reacted differently this time. The spokesman of the Foreign Ministry, Emmanuel Nahshon, demanded that Israeli diplomats abroad immediately start acting to achieve a clear condemnation of Hamas and its partners in terror from their host countries. „This is an attack by a terrorist organization against civilians, in which, regretfully, there are injuries and from whence [we derive] our right to self-defense. We request your urgent engagement in all ways at your disposal.“

The USA, Italy, Ireland, Germany, France and even the UN strongly condemned Hamas for the attacks. Germany, about whose „reason of state“ we have often reflected, had its ambassador in Tel Aviv announce, “Germany unequivocally condemns the escalation of violence. There is no justification, under any circumstances, for the continuation of the massive mortar attack on Israel from Gaza.”

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© Screenshot Twitter

 

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His message is quite another one (Director UNRWA) © screenshot Twitter

The Security Cabinet met last night in Jerusalem to discuss the situation in Gaza. The ten most important ministers and the PM are taking part. US ambassador at the UN, Nikki Haley, demanded an urgent session which took place on the same night after 7 pm. Mortars fired by Palestinian militants hit civilian infrastructure, including a kindergarten, The Security Council should be outraged and respond to this latest bout of violence directed at innocent Israeli civilians, and the Palestinian leadership needs to be held accountable for what they’re allowing to happen in Gaza.“

Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, stated: „For weeks we’ve warned that the violent rioting along the Gaza border – including planting explosives along the fence and live fire at our security forces – a —were not a spontaneous protest, but a violent coordinated attack against Israel,“ 

 

© esther scheiner, israel

© translated by: Translations International, Herzliya, emjay@smile.net.il

 

 

Gaza VIII – the Lost Propaganda War

ב“ה

The quote is attributed to Churchill, but other publicists are also pretending authorship: „History is written by the victors. But posterity reserves the right to amend it“.

Israel has often written history. It has been victorious in all Israeli-Arab wars, starting with the Civil War (1947/48), seamlessly continuing into the War of Independence (1948/49), the Suez Crisis (1956/57), the Six-Day-War (1967), the Yom Kippur War (1973), the first (1982) and the second Lebanon Wars (2006).

Since the Six-Day-War, which the world public likes to call a war of aggression while Israel defines it as a preventive attack, Israel’s image in the world has changed. Until then, it was the small state in the Near East, the pampered child of Europe’s politics and youth. Israel was „in“. Whoever was able to do so, spent some time on a Kibbutz to become part of this wonderland.

After the war, which ended with the conquest of the Golan Heights from Syria, the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, the territories of Judea and Samaria including East Jerusalem from Jordan – everything changed. Suddenly Israel had become the hated aggressor. Instead of spending a year on a kibbutz, European youth started wearing black and white Keffiot as a sign of solidarity with the now “oppressed” Palestinian Arabs.

The Gaza operation „Cast Lead“ (December 2008/ January 2009) ended in a unnegotiated truce. It was followed by numerous pro-Palestinian and few pro-Israeli demonstrations, as well as intensive appeals to boycott Israel.

The second Gaza operation „Pillar of Defense“ (November 2012) also ended in an armistice, with both sides claiming victory.

The third Gaza operation „Protective Edge“ (July/August 2014) ended with an armistice. Both sides achieved their aim only partially, but nevertheless Hamas claimed to be the victor. Protests in Europe that were in part violent, with attacks on Jewish institutions, followed.

In the media, the reports were mostly critical or even hostile to Israel. The terms describing Israel, the IDF and our politicians that were in current use in the net are incredible. It is true that there were some other voices, but the balance started to tip against us.

And now the „March of Return“. There was a total of about 100 dead Palestinians and more than 2500 injured. And on our side? Ash on our head, we only had one injured soldier, damage to one house, and as yet uncalculated damage to burnt fields, which means burnt crops. The continuous fat black smoke blowing from the direction of Gaza into Israel most certainly caused damage to nature, maybe even respiratory ailments to soldiers and the population living near the border. We do not know yet.

Since last Monday it has been relatively quiet at the border. In principle, such quiet is always a sign that Hamas is reorienting and repositioning. They should not be underestimated.

But it gives us the time to look at some information and hopefully to create a somewhat corrected picture.

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Screenshot Times of Israel

On Friday, May 18, the UN Human Rights Council decided with 29 „yes“ votes, 2 „no“ votes and 14 undecided, to appoint an independent commission to enquire why during the „peaceful“ protests there could have been so many deaths in Gaza. The two „no“ votes were those of Australia and the USA. Prince Zeid bin Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein, member of the Jordanian Royal Family and, since 2014, High Commissioner of the UN Human Rights Council, said in an emergency meeting:„According to international law Israel is the occupying force and therefore has the obligation of protecting the population of Gaza and caring for their wellbeing. But de facto that population, from birth to death, is shut in a poisoned cage. They have been robbed of their dignity and devalued by Israeli politicians to such extent, that it seems as if they do not even take into consideration the fact that the men and women of Gaza have a right and a reason to protest“. Later in his speech, he made Israel and the blockade of the Gaza Strip responsible for the fact that the living conditions have worsened so dramatically. He did not mention an important fact: Gaza is not occupied – since 2005 no Jews are living there anymore.

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This shows only a small part of the usual daily deliveries, © screenshot twitter

Shortly thereafter, the EU promised to send 3 million euros as a direct humanitarian contribution for Gaza. The money is supposed to be for distributing water, medical products and disinfection products to the Gaza population. Christos Styliandes, President of the EU Aid organization said: “The EU’s emergency assistance will help provide basic supplies to civilians in need. For a smooth and continued delivery of humanitarian aid, it is essential that critical goods and equipment are allowed to enter Gaza in a timely manner.” 

This really is a good and expedient demand with which I can fully agree!

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I hope they will have nice holidays!, © screenshot twitter

But why have the „peaceful protesters“ damaged the supply crossing Kerem Shalom three times within a few weeks? Within only ten days the infrastructure was so heavily damaged that it had to be shut down immediately. The administrative infrastructure on the Palestinian side, several warehouses, the pipes bringing fuel into Gaza were completely destroyed. Defense Minister Lieberman reacted by announcing that the crossing would be closed until further notice. Upon urgent requests by COGAT (Government coordination office) officers, the very next day he allowed urgently needed products to pass through.

Careful estimates speak of about 9 million US dollars in damage.

On Tuesday, May 15th, the Nakba day, eight trucks with medical aid were supposed to be transferred. Four loads came from the PA, two from UNICEF and two from the IDF. Whereas the first 6 deliveries were accepted, the Hamas returned the two IDF aid supplies. Despite the fact that due to the high number of injured people, medical care in the Gaza Strip hospital can no longer be assured, Hamas refused to accept any help offered. „We do not accept medicine from our people’s murderers“. Not only that, but fourteen more trucks filled with food and other aid products from Israel were refused access. What cynicism! In any case, this announcement found its way into most media, except that nothing about it appeared in Arab papers. Regrettably, the multiple destructions of Kerem Shalom were the only PR shots of Hamas they were not able to use for their own profit. Repair work will take several weeks. Until then the Gaza inhabitants must take into account that they will have less gas for cooking and less fuel than if the supply installations were fully functional. On Friday, the EU announced that it would contribute 30 million euros to the repair of the border crossing. The question is whether the money will ever reach this objective.

On Saturday, May 19th, a 20-year-old father set fire to himself. He wanted to draw attention to the unacceptable manner in which the Hamas is handling the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. His brother was injured during the protests. The young man, Fathi Harb, survived this suicide attempt with moderate burns.

 

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Although in the meantime Hamas has admitted that at least 50 of the 62 dead last Monday were members of the terrorist organization, and although ever more interviews, videos and witness accounts are being published, the propaganda damage to Israel is enormous. The western media are outbidding each other in demonizing Israel. Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan compared the IDF with Nazi henchmen «The children of those who had been submitted to all kinds of torture in the concentration camps of World War II, are now attacking Palestinians by methods of which Nazis would be ashamed

In the NZZ, the once “big old lady” of Zurich journalism, which regrettably has been continually turning away from objective journalism and reverting to merciless Israel-bashing, a Swiss therapist, Ursula Hauser, was allowed to speak. Back from the Gaza Strip, she was sitting in the Odeon Café and was dictating the following to a journalist: „The situation is desolate, there is even no drinking water left because all wells have been poisoned!“  In the online edition the sentence was later removed with some meagre excuse. In the print edition it remained in place. And here it is again – the lie of the Jews who poison wells. Cheapest antisemitism. What a perfect side dish!

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Screenshot original NZZ print version „Die Situation ist desolat……“
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Screenshot NZZ online, text with the removed sentence (Siehe Fussnote)
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Screenshot NZZ online footnote with „excuse“
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© screenshot Twitter

The mayor of Dublin, Micheal Mac Donncha, a confirmed BDS activist, was able to enter Israel only because his name was wrongly written. When he left, he had to sign a form insisting that in future he will only be allowed to enter Israel with the express permission of the authorities. As soon as he was back home, he appealed for a boycott of the Eurovision Song Contest, that will take place next year in Jerusalem. In the meantime, Iceland has joined the boycott.

But the radio stations still hope to attend.

Omar Barghuti, one of the BDS cofounders, has secured a regular spot in the „Irish Times“ for himself. Every week he is publishing his anti-Israel tirades of hate in this paper with many readers. In the May 15thedition, we read: «Despite Israel’s descent into unmasked, right-wing extremism and its decades-old military occupation and oppression of Palestinians, the EU continues to treat it as if it were above international law» According to Barghuti, even the Negev Desert is under occupation… Mister Barghuti lives in Israel. He is married to an Israeli Arab and can therefore not be expelled.

And there is also the sad story of little Layla. She died under – in my view – rather dubious circumstances after inhaling tear gas next to the border fence. Her young uncle, himself just a child, who took her there while looking for her mother or grand-mother, reports. Incredible and sad. But is it true? What about the Palestinian doctor who spoke of heart disease, which could have killed her? Or the American doctor who said that you do not die spontaneously from the disease? And what about the autopsy that was obviously performed after the baby had been interred? And what about the sudden silence?

In the meantime she has been taken off the list of martyrs, after Hamas Health Ministry in Gaza said she had suffered from a severe congenital heart condition.

Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, the international military spokesman and person in charge of social media, announced last Tuesday, probably with bitterness, that Hamas has won the PR war against us by a KO. “Hamas wanted the casualties. Hamas wanted people to die. Hamas wanted the pictures of the wounded and the overflowing hospitals … and they had no problems sending the human shields forward. That is the sad reality of what we have been facing,”He had to concede that not all shots reached their aim.

But you also have this, a whole page advertisement that appeared in The Telegraph’s print version on Thursday.

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© Screenshot Twitter

We have one of the most moral armed forces in the world, our equipment is excellent, the soldiers are highly motivated and perfectly trained. The documentation of any military act is excellent and is handled transparently.

Unfortunately, Israel has no clue whatsoever about PR!

 

 

© esther scheiner, Israel

© translated by: Translations International, Herzliya, emjay@inter.net.il

 

Cui bono? Advantages and disadvantages of a „peaceful“ outburst of violence.

ב“ה

The „useful victims“ of Hamas

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On May 14, 2018, the inauguration of the US American Embassy in Jerusalem took place, whereby President Donald Trump fulfilled one of his election campaign promises. The announcement of the move from Tel Aviv and the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital provoked controversial reactions. „…Therefore, I have determined that it is time to recognize officially Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. (…) Israel is a sovereign nation with the right like every other sovereign nation to determine its own capital.  Acknowledging this as a fact is a necessary condition for achieving peace.“

 

PM Netanyahu repeatedly exhorted  in these words: „In order to promote peace, move your embassies to Jerusalem“. Guatemala will move on Wednesday following the appeal, Paraguay will be moving the embassy to the capital in the course of this month… (and did so today!!) Honduras and the Czech Republic are planning to move gradually. The former US American ambassador in Israel, S.E. Dan Shapiro also said that moving the embassy to Jerusalem might help to put an end to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.  On June 4, 2008, after becoming a presidential candidate, Obama declared to AIPAC: „Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel and it must remain undivided.“ By now what he wanted has become clear, he wanted the votes of Jewish Americans – and he got them, 80% at his first election and 70% at the second.

President Trump obtained only 20% of their votes.  So, it is no wonder that 80% of American Jews are against the move. Nevertheless, it is beyond question for them that Jerusalem is the eternal indivisible capital of Israel. But they are afraid that America is thereby endangering its up-to-now important role of mediator between Israel and the Palestinians. President Trump mainly addresses his evangelical and mostly pro-Israeli voters. Election promises are a political matter, and not to keep them is certainly no trivial offense:  it means defrauding the voters.

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Jerusalem is celebrating. Out of 86 invited delegations, only 32 accepted the invitation. Out of 28 EU members, only the Czech Republic, Romania and Hungary accepted. The Austrian ambassador took part in the event at the Foreign Office but was absent from the inauguration itself. This is a typically Austrian solution.  Was it due to reasons of state? Was it a EU dictate? A BDS dictate? Or a little bit of both?! How embarrassing!

While in Jerusalem there are celebrations, in the territories of Judea and Samaria there are protests against the Embassy inauguration, though the numbers are much lower than expected. Some 5,000 people marched with green and black flags from Ramallah to the border crossing Qalandyia near Jerusalem. There were individual attacks but no rioting. The border crossings between the territories of Judea and Samaria and Israel remained open all day long.

What the Jewish and Arab inhabitants think of the Embassy’s move and what should be the capital of a Palestinian State when it is established, was a question asked by i24 News. Some of the numbers are astonishing.

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The death toll in Gaza was preposterous. The number of participants – around 40,000 – was much lower than the Hamas terrorists expected. To them this probably meant that they had to compensate for the lack of manpower by special aggression.

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Screenshot Twitter

And here it is, the UN Security Council’s harsh complaint against Israel. No word, not the least remark against the Hamas terrorists, the actual cause of this day’s horrible events. At 4 pm, the Security Council announced that today or tomorrow an initiative by Kuwait would be discussed. The result is known beforehand; the travel expenses should be saved and spent on charitable institutions.

In the morning, Hamas again made financial promises: 100 US$ for anyone nearing the fence, and 1,000 dollars for any break-through. The place and manner of payment was not published. Anyway, where does the money paid in Gaza come from? In Islamic Law, there is the notion of „blood money“ (Diya). That is the money by which the victim’s family is compensated by the perpetrator’s family. The law is still valid in Iran today…

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Jason Greenblatt und Maj.Gen. Yoav Mordechai in one of the Hamas tunnel © COGAT

In February, US chief negotiator in the Near East, Jason Greenblatt, already pointed out that the money paid by Iran to the Hamas terror organization only accelerates the spiral of violence and is no help at all to the Palestinians. One billion US Dollars flowed into the terror funds. The Hamas terrorists invested that money exclusively in the construction of tunnels and the purchase of arms.  All in order to attack Israel.

At the time, he had already warned the Palestinians not to leave the negotiating table. Now the latter announced that they would no longer accept any contact with the USA. Maybe they have thereby closed the last door that still had a small crack open.

In recent weeks, several Hamas members were arrested. Their detailed interrogation by the Internal secret service confirmed a picture that was long known.

Young people, ideologically misused for years, but also children, women, even invalids, are being sent forward. Their tasks have been known since the beginning of the „protests“. They must by all available means disturb the peace at the border and give the impression that it is a popular rising. Almost any means are allowed. Injuries, even death are condoned. The actual masterminds, in civilian dress, remain in the background. Sometimes, like last Friday, there may be a media-effective picture of one or the other of them. They give their orders by modern communication methods. Between this line and the excitable youngsters, stand the „combatants“. Their time comes once the smoke is thick enough and the breach in the fence big enough. Then they can perpetrate their lethal job in Israel, among the population.

Until now, the IDF was able to prevent any serious break-through into Israel. After fire was opened on IDF soldiers in several instances, the IAF destroyed training camps of Hamas terrorists in the north of the Gaza Strip. Because of the tense situation, the IDF is getting ready to counter missile attacks from the Gaza Strip. Several Iron Domes have been set up along the border.

At 6 pm, the Hamas leadership asked the protesters to leave the border area.

There is hope that the Nakba Day will be more peaceful.

The last day’s terrible balance: 62 dead and far more than 1,000 wounded.

Qui bono? There is only one answer to the question – it helps no one!

 

© esther scheiner, israel

© translated by: Translations International, Herzliya, emjay@inter.net.il

 

 

Gaza VII – Fly little bird!

ב“ה

The women of Gaza have assumed an important new protest task. They sit in the tents by candlelight and write on little pieces of paper. Always with the same message:

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In principle, this is a truly peaceful kind of protest. After all, homing pigeons have been used as rapid and dependable mail carriers since antiquity. That is how Ramses II announced his inauguration and how Julius Cesar reported on the rebellious Gauls and called his soldiers to arms. Acre surrendered to the crusaders without a fight after the latter had intercepted Saladin’s homing pigeon announcing help for the hard-pressed city.

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Camera-pigeon WWI – © Bundesarchiv
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Carrier pigeon, selling price € 500

Carrier pigeons are expensive. Their price can reach several hundred Euros. Moreover, they have a problem. They always find their way home to their nesting place but cannot go to new destinations. Where will the peace doves of Gaza fly? Maybe they are simply intended to give moral support to the protesters and entertain them.

If that had been the intention, then here is another example of an unsuccessful „entertainment“ attempt: Three extreme-right activists from Israel tried to send an incendiary kite towards Gaza, in order, so to say, to reciprocate – to cause a conflagration there. The attempt failed [probably because of the prevailing west wind blowing from Gaza to Israel], but the fire that erupted on the Israeli side was extinguished by fire fighters before causing important damage. Ran Karmi Buzaglo, a known activist, and his two companions were briefly detained and interrogated. After being released, he assured his listeners that the action’s objective was „to amuse and raise the morale of the residents of the region who are harmed by the kite terror.“What an expensive, dangerous and mindless action!

Meanwhile, the IDF had an unconventional idea for fighting the incendiary kites. Cheap and efficient! Small model airplanes controlled by joysticks and equipped with extremely sharp blades on their wings are guided towards the kites and cut the steering lines. The kites fall to earth and any damage occurs in Gaza. According to IDF reports, seven kites were brought down on Friday.

The terror attack with the gravest consequences occurred for the second time at the Kerem Shalom border crossing. This single supply crossing for the Gaza Strip is the daily transshipment point for the delivery of goods and relief aid.

Besides the gas pipes leading to Gaza and the administration building, additional infrastructure has now been destroyed on the Palestinian side of the crossing. The damage is estimated at 9 million dollars. Defense minister Liebermann said on Saturday that the crossing would be closed until further notice. The significance: no fuel, no gas, no medicine, no food, no building materials.

Despite the destruction of the main infrastructure and the resulting closing of the Kerem Shalom crossing, six trucks with urgently needed medical supplies will cross over today.

On May 12, Egypt opened the Rafah border crossing for four days. Generally, this crossing is a one-way street to enter Egypt, to allow students to travel to university, allow sick people to get care and workers with a working permit to leave Gaza.

The situation is getting even more serious for the inhabitants of Gaza. I feel an immense pity for those people, most of whom want only one thing – to live in freedom, peace and self-determination. Moreover, there is almost no one in the world to stand up and denounce the injustice. On the contrary, the aid continues to flow without ever reaching those who need it.

Yahya Sinwar, a leader of the Hamas terror organization in Gaza, said in his first big press conference, that in the following week hundreds of thousands of Palestinians would break through the border and march to Jerusalem. ‚What’s the problem with hundreds of thousands breaking through a fence that is not a border?‘ He and other leaders are ready to die for their struggle.

Israel will do everything to prevent this from succeeding. This week there were about 15,000 protesters at five locations along the border to Israel, but the IDF believes that next week there might be 17 locations from which the protesters could start. The IDF presence has been reinforced. Nevertheless,they are concerned that the troubles could extend to East Jerusalem as well as to Judea and Samaria.

Special attention and readiness will be necessary for the inauguration of the US Embassy in Jerusalem on Monday, May 14,  the next day being the Nakba Commemoration Day (Day of Catastrophe).

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That’s how real freedom-fighter look like – Ismail Haniyeh!

Neither did Ismail Haniyeh waive the opportunity of addressing words of encouragement to theinsurgents in the north of the Gaza Strip. „We’re expecting the great march on the 14thand 15thof this month – the entire Palestinian people will be out on the streets of Palestine,„.  He himself has gone to Cairo to meet the Head of the non-military intelligence service, Abbas Kamel.

Before leaving, he stressed that he would of course be back in Gaza before the start of the protests on Monday. He may wish to be the first to throw himself heroically at the fence…

Several days ago, Hamas suggested indirect negotiations to achieve a long-term truce. Note well: a truce, not an armistice! However, as a matter of principle, the term used is of no importance. Here again one must assume that it is a taqiyya, the web of lies which causes every agreement to fail before the ink is dry.

The offer: no more terror, end of the „blockade“, extensive infrastructure projects, exchange of prisoners.

The intermediary is Egypt.

Israels‘ demands: stop arms development, stop tunnel construction, and demilitarize the most militant Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades.

Israel says that the negotiations can start after the end of the Nakba Day and the March of Return.

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However, the agreement is probably obsolete by now. During the night, the IDF for the first time blasted a tunnel that had not yet reached Israeli territory. The tunnel, in proximity to the Erez border crossing, had been discovered some time ago. IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said in his Twitter account:  #HamasKillingGaza.The Hamas terrorists certainly do everything possible to torture their people. If they are not stopped, Gaza will soon be unviable.

Not because of Israel, but because of the terror regime which, with the support of many countries, lives in the lap of luxury while destroying its people.

© esther scheiner, israel

© translated by: Translations International, Herzliya, emjay@inter.net.il

 

 

Gaza VI – The Workers‘ Friday

ב“ה

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Some people believe that a stone propelled by a sling is just a toy and has no more effect on the human skull than the landing of a fly. Whether we believe the story about David and Goliath or push it away into the realm of legends is not important. Since the other day, Friday 4, we know that a well-hit drone can be shot out of the sky. Suddenly the story about David becomes more credible! The IDF confirmed the success of those shots, immediately underlining that the loss of the drones may be regrettable but does not represent any security risk.

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Parts of the Israeli UAV

The two „shooters“ who succeeded in shooting down Israeli drones launched with the aim of filming the situation that was barred from view by black smoke at the Gaza border, were acclaimed as heroes. Debris were proudly presented. There was jubilation, laughter, dancing. Almost like after the success of a terror attack. Eager amateur filmmakers and press collaborators filmed the scenes, but not very clearly. Only a small point can be seen spinning down to earth. A celebration in Gaza, but without parades and no sweets, as is the case for lethal terror attacks.

The women were otherwise occupied. Their main mission is usually to supply water and food to the „combatants“ of the „peaceful protest“. Some of them also stay in contact with the „social media“ groups who support them virtually. They are based in the tents that were erected at some distance from the border. However, in their newly found female self-confidence – or should it be called badly defined feminism? – they also wanted to be at the frontline. „Some say that we cannot do what the men can do. Others fear that we may be injured. Others again support us“, reports Aya Abeid. „I was at the fence twice and raised a Palestinian flag. This is a location where almost nobody dares to go. I also threw stones at Israeli soldiers“. Is there nobody to tell this 18-year-old to stay at home? Jehad Abu Muhsen, 48, also wants to contribute to the struggle: „Two or three times a week I come with a donkey cart and bring tires. That is what I can do to help“. None of these „courageous women“ has been killed up to now, but some of them have been injured.

However, flying fire kites have caused considerable damage to Israeli agriculture. Despite the fact that all kibbutzim near the Gaza Strip constantly patrol the area, and fire fighters are on constant alert, it is not always possible to extinguish the fires immediately.

 

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Over 800 dunams of agricultural fields have been consumed by fire and will remain unusable for years. A burning wooded area could only be extinguished thanks to a large-scale operation of several fire-fighter units. Here also, it will be years before the area will be reforested. As far as the region’s farmers are concerned, it means a total loss of income. The tax authorities and the finance ministry speak of compensation. However, despite promising to act bureaucratically, it will take months before any money is paid. The regional authorities are indignant about the Supreme Court. „Instead of dealing with our problems, they prefer negotiating with leftist human rights organizations demanding that the soldiers be handcuffed. But throwing stones and fire kites are also crimes. Both have already caused damage and will continue to do so. Besides the economic damage, they also endanger human lives“. The IDF is still struggling to find ways and means of catching the incendiary devices before they land in Israel territory.

Avichai Edri, head of the IDF Spokesman’s Arab-language communication office, informed the Gaza people along the border: „The burning kites are not something we do not see. We take the issue most seriously. Exploding kites are no children’s toys. From the IDF’s point of view, Hamas is responsible for everything that happens in Gaza or is sent off from there. Inhabitants of Gaza – Hamas is misusing you and sucking you into a vortex of terror. On the „Workers‘ Friday“ as Hamas is calling it, we suggest: stop working for Hamas, and start to work for yourself and solve your own problems“. An appeal that will again fall on deaf ears.

 

On Friday, the terrorists – I cannot call the protesters by any other name now – started on their latest act of madness. They set fire to the facilities at the important border crossing Kerem Shalom. It is through this crossing in the south of the Gaza strip that Israel supplies tons of material to Gaza every day. By forcibly penetrating the Palestinian part of the crossing, the administration offices were set on fire, the fuel tank, which operates the generators as well as the gas pumps, was destroyed. The damage it caused created long-term breaks in supplies to the Gaza Strip. It will be weeks before normal operations can be fully resumed.

This damage, by the way, concerns Israel only indirectly. It is rather their own people who will suffer. Is it out of weak-mindedness, destructive frenzy, delusion?

The IDF addressed the usually young terrorists over the existing loudspeaker system: „Hamas sent you here, you are just a boy! Study, look for a job! Hamas will not take care of you!“

Yesterday, there were between 7,000 and 10,000 protesters – more than double the number in the two previous weeks.

Kid with tires

President Abbas, who is not one to use mild and peacemaking words, demanded last week – „Keep young men away from the border, move the children away from there, we do not want to turn into a nation of handicapped people“.

A few weeks ago, the leader of the Hamas Terrorist Organization, Ismail Haniyeh, demanded of the inhabitants of Gaza to continue their protests at the border with Israel, even at the price of casualties. „Gaza has entered a new stage of peaceful popular resistance“. Was this exactly what President Abbas meant when he said: „Hamas has begun to adopt popular resistance by peaceful methods. I congratulate them for accepting the fact that peaceful resistance is much more effective“?   

© esther scheiner, israel

© translated by: Translations International, Herzliya

emjay@inter.net.il

Giro d’Italia 2018 started in Jerusalem, in honor of four Italian „Righteous among the Nations“.

ב“ה

The Giro d’Italia, the world’s second most important bicycle race after the Tour de France, is organized since 1909. Several times the Giro started abroad, but never outside of Europe.

The first leg started on Friday, May 4 in Jerusalem. On Saturday, the way led from Haifa through Acre, Zichron Yaacov and Caesarea to Tel Aviv. The longest distance was covered on Sunday, when the third leg went from Be’er Sheva to Eilat. On Tuesday, May 8, the race continues on Italian territory, before ending on Sunday, May 27 in Rome.

In Zichron Ya’acov, preparations have been under way for weeks. Last week, several cyclists were able to cycle the road under „the conditions of the competition“ for a test race. The road was decorated. Hundreds of spectators applauded heartily whenever a cyclist succeeded in struggling up the hill from the valley. The mood was so good that one could not hope for anything better when the actual spectacle took place.

The weather forecast for the coming days was good, the prevailing heat and strong winds, Sharav conditions, were expected to diminish. The forecast for Saturday was only 24°.

Why is this Italian national event held in Israel in 2018?

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Gino Bartali  during a Swiss Championship in Zürich. (1946 or 1948)

The reason is a man named Gino Bartali. He was born on July 18, 1914 in Ponte a Ema (Tuscany). The hamlet benefits solely from this famous citizen, to whom even a small museum is dedicated.

Gino Bartali is also called „the cycling monk“. As a devout Catholic – as were many people in Europe’s countryside – he was the mystic among the racing cyclists. He was taciturn, secretive and stubborn. Any awards from a race were shared among the team immediately upon receipt. He completed each stage with a prayer. In 1937, he joined the Third Order of Carmelites as a layman.

When he won the 35thTour de France in 1948, he said that winning the Biarritz-Lourdes stage was an omen. This was the first race partially broadcast on French television. Two thousand Parisian households were able to follow the finish and the award ceremony.

Ten years separate this second success from his first victory of the Tour de France. Those were the years of Nazi Terror that cost so many people their lives.

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Because of his friendship with Elia Dalla Costa, then Archbishop of Florence, he established contact with the Catholic Resistance. With the Nazis takeover in 1943, Italian Jews were deported to concentration camps. Together with the Chief Rabbi of Florence, Nathan Cassuto, the nuns in a convent of the Order of Saint Clare in Assisi, and two printers, Luigi Brizi and his son Trento, Elia Dalla Costa had created a Resistance network in Assisi. Around 800 Jews were provided new papers printed in Assisi and were thus able to flee. Gino Bartali served as courier. Even though no cycling races took place at the time, it was credible that he – hoping the war would soon end – would start training again. In the frame of his bicycle, he hid the cleanly rolled-up documents. He rode alone, under the Nazis‘ eyes, more than once encountering dangerous situations, often risking his life. On some days, he covered over 300 km.

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© Screenshot Yad Vashem
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© Screenshot Yad Vashem

 

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Nathan Cassuto and his family

Nathan Cassuto was taken prisoner by the SS in November 1943 and deported to Auschwitz with his wife. His wife survived and immigrated to Israel. She was killed during the War of Independence in an attack on ambulances. Their two children survived the war hidden with a Christian family in Florence.

In the cellar of his house in Florence, Gino Bartali hid several Jewish families for whom he provided traveling papers. The people he helped toflee never saw him. Food was brought by his wife, who did not know her guests were Jews.

He seldom spoke about his heroic feats. He repeatedly told his eldest granddaughter, Giola, at an early age about the important things in life: „Humility, honesty, modesty. There are medals one pins to the soul rather than to the lapel.“

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Gino Bartali died in Florence on May 5, 2000. He, as well as Archbishop Elia Dalla Costa and the two printers, Luigi and Trento Brizi, were awarded posthumously the title of „Righteous among the Nations“ by Yad Vashem. This year, on May 2, Gino Bartali’s granddaughter, Giola Bartali, received from Avner Shalev, President of Yad Vashem, the certificate in which her grandfather is named honorary citizen of the State of Israel.

 

© esther scheiner, israel

© translated by: Translations International, Herzliya

emjay@inter.net.il