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Terror Suspect Admits Plan to Attack Israelis in Thailand (Bangkok Post-Thailand)
Investigations into two suspected foreign terrorists are progressing
swiftly as one of the men admitted to a planned attack on Israeli
tourists, according to an investigator.
The men, arrested on suspicion of links to the militant Islamist
group Hizbullah, have been identified as French-Lebanese national Daoud
Farhat and Lebanese-Filipino national Youssef Ayad.
Assistant national police chief Winai Thongsong said the men were
arrested in Bangkok after Thai police received intelligence from Israel
about a planned attack on Israeli tourists during Passover.
A source said investigators believe at least nine suspected foreign terrorists connected to Hizbullah are in Thailand.
Ayad admitted his group entered Thailand to carry out a bomb attack against Israeli tourists.
Christians Mark Good Friday in the Holy Land (AP-Washington Post)
Christians in the Holy Land are commemorating Good Friday with prayers and processions through Jerusalem's Old City.
The Easter holiday and Jewish Passover coincide this year.
Amsterdam Fined Holocaust Victims for Unpaid Taxes While They Were in Camps (JTA-Times of Israel)
The City of Amsterdam collected more than $10 million from Holocaust
survivors who were charged ground lease fees for periods they spent in
hiding or in concentration camps, researchers said.
The team of researchers for the Institute for War, Holocaust and
Genocide Studies, or NIOD, wrote their findings at the city's request,
the Het Parool daily reported Tuesday.
Nazi authorities began in 1942 the deportation and murder of 75% of the 140,000 Jews living in the Netherlands then.
Many of their houses were used by Nazi officers and local
collaborators. The city went after Holocaust survivors for missed
payments as late as 1947 and imposed fines on them for missing payments.
"What has come to light is a scandalous procedure, in which people
were stripped of their homes and then made to pay for those who moved in
in their place," said Ronny Naftaniel, a former chief negotiator for
the Dutch Jewish community in restitution talks and a member of the
supervisory committee of the NIOD research.
Culture Secretary Is UK Cabinet's New Israel Ally - Marcus Dysch (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
Sajid Javid, the first Asian male Conservative minister, was appointed Culture Secretary last week.
Speaking at a Conservative Friends of Israel event in 2012, he
described himself as: "a proud, British-born Muslim" whose father came
He said that if he had to settle in the Middle East, he would opt
for Israel, "the only nation in the Middle East that shares the same
democratic values as Britain."
IDF Introduces Mobile Radar for Infantry and Armored Units - Yaakov Lappin (Jerusalem Post)
The IDF is introducing a mobile radar called Wind Shield that will
be carried by infantry or armored units and track the sources of
incoming rocket and mortar fire, the IDF said on Wednesday.
Lt.-Col. Yigal Katzav of the IDF Northern Command said the device will
provide an early warning to forces on the ground. It will also allow
the army to return fire on the source of an attack within a very short
Israeli Company Develops Belt that Protects Against Nuclear Radiation (World Tribune)
The Israeli company Stemrad has developed a belt designed to block harmful gamma radiation.
"StemRad's tested...technology protects hematopoietic stem cells
from the toxic effects of gamma radiation, providing affected
individuals with an increased chance of survival in the event of
inadvertent exposure...from a nuclear catastrophe such as an explosion
or reactor leak," the company said.
StemRad has received orders from Israel, Japan and Russia.
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News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
- Iranians Carry "Death to Israel" Signs as Rouhani Tells Crowd He Supports Dialogue - Parisa Hafezi
Chanting "God is Greatest," Iranian troops paraded missiles carriers,
some bearing banners saying "Death to America" and "Death to Israel,"
at an annual parade in Tehran, state television reported on Friday.
"We don't attack any country and don't want war, but we will firmly
confront any aggression against Iran," Iranian President Hassan Rouhani
told the crowd, as helicopters and fighter jets flew overhead and
parachutists landed near the shrine of revolutionary leader Ayatollah
- Israel, Palestinians Hold Peace Talks with U.S. Envoy
Israeli and Palestinian negotiators met Thursday with U.S. envoy Martin
Indyk to try to find a way to extend faltering peace talks.
The discussions are "very difficult," one Palestinian source said.
- Former Iranian Atomic Energy Director: We Hid Information from IAEA
In a March 17, 2014, interview with the Iranian daily Khorasan,
former Atomic Energy Organization of Iran director Fereydoon Abbasi, who
headed the agency under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, revealed that
over the years Iran had concealed from the International Atomic Energy
Agency (IAEA) information on its nuclear program, on its activity at the
heavy water reactor in Arak, and on the location and activity of its
- U.S.: Forfeiture Deal over Iran Assets Sets Record
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara says a federal judge Thursday approved a
settlement with 19 holders of terrorism-related judgments against the
government of Iran.
It includes the sale of a 36-story New York office building and other
properties owned by Iran in the largest ever terrorism-related
The settling creditors include families and estates of victims of
the 1983 terrorist bombing of the U.S. Marine Barracks in Beirut, the
1996 terrorist bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, and
terrorist attacks in Israel. Besides the Manhattan tower, buildings will
be sold in California, Maryland, Texas and Virginia.
- Syrian Army Steps Up Homs Offensive - Loveday Morris
Fewer than 1,000 people, the vast majority of whom are fighters, remain
in the last rebel-held areas of Homs. A series of events in recent weeks
helped clear the way for a military offensive by pro-Assad forces.
An explosion wiped out a number of rebel leaders. Then a Dutch priest
who had refused to leave the opposition areas was assassinated.
With their spirits beaten down, hundreds of rebels have accepted
government offers to hand over their weapons, activists and Syrian state
media said. At least 300 fighters have left in the past month,
according to three activists in the city, and one put the number at
nearer 1,000. Virtually no civilians remain.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Says Ratification of Geneva Convention Makes Israel Liable for War
Crimes; Israeli Officials: Entire Palestinian Leadership Should Be
Indicted - Khaled Abu Toameh and Tovah Lazaroff
Israel is liable for war crimes over the prisoner issue now that the
Palestinian Authority has ratified the four Geneva Conventions,
including the one relating to prisoners of war, PA officials charged on
An Israeli official, however, said that it was the Palestinians who
had now made themselves vulnerable by signing the Geneva Conventions.
"According to the Geneva Conventions, the entire Palestinian leadership
should be immediately indicted for the thousands of rockets that have
been fired from Palestinian territories into Israel in what is a double
war crime," the official said.
Palestinians "deliberately targeted innocent civilians, and they are
using Gaza's civilian population as a human shield....The Palestinians
should be extremely careful if they think that international legality
can be exploited as a tool against Israel."
On Thursday, rallies took place in Ramallah, Bethlehem, Jenin,
Tulkarm and Gaza, calling on Israel to free all Palestinian prisoners.
Public opinion in Israel has swung against any further releases as an
incentive to the Palestinians to continue negotiations. Such calls grew
stronger after a pre-Passover attack on Monday in which a Palestinian
terrorist killed Baruch Mizrahi, a father of five, while he was driving
with his family in the West Bank.
Ambassador Alan Baker, a former legal adviser for Israel's Foreign
Ministry, disputed the claim that the Palestinians were prisoners of war
under the Geneva Conventions. The Palestinians are not fighting "an
armed conflict....They were put in prison for terrorism and tried for
terrorism." (Jerusalem Post)
- Palestinians Riot in Hebron on "Prisoner Day" - Tovah Lazaroff
On Thursday at a Hebron demonstration to mark Prisoner Day,
Palestinian rioters threw stones at IDF soldiers and Border Police,
who attempted to quell the violence with riot dispersal means. The
clashes took place as thousands of Jewish visitors streamed to the Cave
of the Patriarchs and other areas of Hebron under Israeli control so
they could celebrate the Passover holiday.
- Tens of Thousands at Western Wall in Jerusalem for Passover Priestly Blessing Ceremony - Nir Hasson
Tens of thousands of people participated in the "Priestly Blessing"
ceremony, Birkat Hakohanim, at the Western Wall in Jerusalem on
Thursday morning, despite the violent clashes between Israeli police
forces and Palestinians the day before at the Temple Mount, located just
above the Western Wall plaza.
See also Video: Priestly Blessing at the Western Wall, Passover 2014 - Yaakov Kornblit (News 24-YouTube)
- Arab Population of Jerusalem Has Doubled in 20 Years - Arik Mirovsky
Between 2008 and 2012, the number of Jerusalem residents grew by 55,600
from 759,700 to 815,300. Most of the growth was in Arab neighborhoods,
which added 32,200 residents, while the Jewish population grew by only
23,400. Over the past 20 years, the Arab population of the city has
doubled in number and stood at 312,500 at the end of 2012.
- Wait for a Palestinian Leader Who Can Unite All Palestinians to Coexistence with Israel - Zvi Gabbay
Negotiations with the Palestinians, mediated by the Americans, are going
on as if Gaza does not exist. One must suppose that if an agreement
is signed, Hamas or Islamic Jihad (based in Gaza), supported by Iran -
which also opposes a deal with Israel – will continue to attack Israel
with missiles and rockets. The current negotiations are completely cut
off from the Palestinian reality, which has two entities, one in
Ramallah and one in Gaza, competing for supremacy on the Palestinian
Abbas is not the leader of all Palestinians. Although he sits in
Ramallah, where the Palestinian government traditionally sits, he does
not speak for all Palestinians. Therefore, he's in no rush to seal the
deal with Israel. The goal of Palestinian leaders, who are the
descendants of the leaders of gangs that fought against the Jewish
pioneers, is to uproot the Jewish state from the region.
We must wait until a Palestinian leader arises who can unite all
Palestinians around him; one that truly, honestly aspires to coexistence
with the Jewish entity - the State of Israel. In the meantime,
independent Palestinian government should be encouraged, in order to
increase their quality of life and promote economic cooperation between
the two peoples.
The writer is a former Israeli ambassador to Ireland and deputy director general of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
- Palestinians Need More Than Borders - Tom Wilson
PA head Mahmoud Abbas wants the next round of negotiations to focus on
the borders of a Palestinian state. But the precise geographical
parameters of a Palestinian state must be of less concern than the
internal nature of that state. Indeed, if we could all be confident that
a future Palestinian state would have the national characteristics of,
say, Switzerland, then the question of the defensibility of Israel's
borders might be somewhat less critical.
But because there is good reason to suspect that a future
Palestinian state in the West Bank, like the Palestinian polity in Gaza,
would have more in common with Afghanistan, the exact positioning of
its borders should hardly be our most pressing concern.
The Palestinian Authority's nascent country-in-waiting in the West
Bank has been the model of what a failed state looks like and it only
remains in existence today because of phenomenal levels of international
aid coupled with an IDF presence. Were it not for the Israeli military,
Abbas and his governing Fatah movement would likely have been swept
away long ago just as Fatah was in Gaza.
The Palestinian Authority's dress rehearsal for statehood has
demonstrated what a Palestinian state would look like. As things stand,
wherever the borders of a Palestinian state were drawn would present
Israel with a strategic nightmare.
- The Golan Heights, Where Al-Qaeda Fights Hizbullah - Avi Issacharoff
Most of the Syrian Golan Heights has fallen to the opposition. Along the
Syrian-Israeli border there are only two areas still under the rule of
the Assad regime - Kuneitra in the central Golan, and Khader, the
Druze area in the north. Jabhat al-Nusra, a group created as the Syrian
branch of al-Qaeda in Iraq, now controls the southern Syrian Golan
Heights. From the Israeli side of the border, one can make out the
group's black flags waving over homes in the village of Kudna. But not
every area in opposition hands is controlled by Islamists. In some
areas, more moderate groups are in charge.
(Times of Israel)
- Israel's Relationship with the UN Human Rights Council: Is There Hope for Change? - Michal Navot
The UN Human Rights Council (HRC), since its establishment, has been
characterized by its obsessive bias, selectivity, discriminative
attitude, and double standards toward Israel.
On January 1, 2014, Israel was admitted as a member of the Western
European and Others Group (WEOG) in Geneva.
As a full member of a regional group, Israel will be able to
participate in shaping policies and be able to better defend its
position. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- Lutheran Nuns End Jerusalem Mission to Holocaust Survivors - Renee Ghert-Zand
Beit Avraham (House of Abraham), run by the sisters of the Evangelical
Sisterhood of Mary in Jerusalem's Talpiot neighborhood, is closing down.
Since 1961 it has served as a guesthouse for Holocaust survivors. But
with so few survivors still alive, the nuns have decided their work has
come to an end.
The sisters had originally come to Israel in 1957 to work as nurses
in Israeli hospitals as a way of doing practical repentance for not only
what the Nazis had perpetrated, but also for "the 2,000 years of Jews'
suffering because of Christianity," as Sister Gratia puts it. "We as
Christians had to do something in Israel. We couldn't continue as though
Sister Gratia, 71, who arrived in 1975 from Austria and became an
Israeli citizen two years ago, has no plans to leave the Holy Land. (Times of Israel)
The Middle East War on Christians - Ron Proser (Wall Street Journal)
- Over the past century, a plague of persecution has swept across
the Middle East, emptying the region of its Christian population. At the
turn of the 20th century, Christians made up 26% of the Middle East's
population. Today, that figure has dwindled to less than 10%. Intolerant
and extremist governments are driving away the Christian communities
that have lived in the Middle East since their faith was born.
- In Syrian cities like Aleppo and Damascus, Christians who
refused to convert to Islam have been kidnapped, shot and beheaded by
Islamist opposition fighters. In Egypt, mobs of Muslim Brotherhood
members burn Coptic Christian churches in the same way they once
obliterated Jewish synagogues. And in Iraq, terrorists deliberately
target Christian worshippers.
- Over the past 10 years, nearly two-thirds of Iraq's 1.5 million
Christians have been driven from their homes. Many settled in Syria
before once again becoming victims of unrelenting persecution. Syria's
Christian population has dropped from 30% in the 1920s to less than 10%
- In January, a report by the nondenominational Christian
organization Open Doors documented the 10 most oppressive countries for
Christians; nine were Muslim-majority states noted for Islamic
extremism, tyrannical regimes that uphold archaic blasphemy and
defamation-of-religion laws. The Islamic Republic of Iran has executed
dozens of people for the crimes of "waging war against God" and
"spreading corruption on Earth."
- Israel is the only country in the Middle East with a growing
Christian population. Its Christian community has increased from 34,000
in 1948 to 140,000 today, in large measure because of the freedoms
Christians are afforded. Salim Joubran, a Christian Arab Israeli, has
served as a Supreme Court justice since 2003.
- Father Gabriel Nadaf, a Greek Orthodox priest living in Israel,
recently told me: "Human rights are not something to be taken for
granted. Christians in much of the Middle East have been slaughtered and
persecuted for their faith, but here in Israel they are protected."
The writer is Israel's ambassador to the United Nations.