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Thursday, Jul. 12 ’12, Tammuz 22, 5772
1. 1 TERRORIST DEAD IN IAF STRIKE ON GAZA 2. ISRAEL PLANS TOURISM OVERHAUL AT THE DEAD SEA 3. TURKEY ADMITS: NO TRACES OF EXPLOSIVES ON DOWNED JET 4. ATTENTION POTENTIAL OLIM: GOV’T CUTS TAXES ON APPLIANCES 5. DUTY, PURCHASE TAX CUTS TO SLASH PRICES FOR ISRAELIS 6. GERMANY INVESTIGATES NAZI FOR MASSACRE OF UKRAINIAN JEWS 7. IN BOSNIA, JEWS STILL NOT PERMITTED TO RUN FOR ELECTED OFFICE 8. MK DANON: JEWS NEED TO COME HOME, ILLEGALS OUTNUMBER OLIM
1. 1 TERRORIST DEAD IN IAF STRIKE ON GAZA by Chana Ya’ar
Israeli fighter pilots have killed at least one terrorist and wounded three others in an air strike on the Gaza city of Zeitoun.
The strike, carried out Thursday, came in response to numerous attacks on southern Israel by Hamas terrorists over the past week.
Palestinian Authority sources said the attack took place east of Gaza City. One of the wounded was critically injured, according to the Gaza health ministry, the Bethlehem-based Ma’an news agency reported.
IDF sources confirmed the strike but not the number of wounded or killed.
Earlier in the day, IDF Armored Corps artillery forces attacked a Hamas terror cell in a joint operation with IAF aircraft. The cell, operating within Gaza, was in the process of preparing to launch an anti-tank missile at Israeli soldiers patrolling the security fence along the Gaza border.
On Monday, Kibbutz Yad Mordechai was targeted in anti-tank missile and sniper fire aimed at a group of farmers in a field, and vehicles that included a child’s infant seat.
The baby seat was directly targeted, and the sniper didn’t miss: a bullet hole pierced the center of the back of the infant’s seat. Miraculously, the 7-month-old who usually occupied the seat was not there at the time.
2. ISRAEL PLANS TOURISM OVERHAUL AT THE DEAD SEA by Chana Ya’ar
Israel’s Tourism Ministry is planning to upgrade the hotel strip area at the southern end of the Dead Sea.
Recommendations from a committee formed to explore the issue included development of the region between “Hamei Tzohar” – the Tzohar hot springs – and Ein Bokek.
Among the projects under consideration are construction of hotel rooms at various standards, architecture “that reflects the desert landscape” and development of a boardwalk along the shore, ministry officials said.
“This is an opportunity to design the region for generations,” commented Tourism Ministry Stas Misezhnikov.
“We have made a significant step in the rehabilitation of the Dead Sea region and the tourism facilities in the area. According to the schedule, within nine months a new plan will be presented with the suggested design for hotels and tourism in the area.”
Senior representatives from the hotel and tourism industries met with architects and engineers to discuss development of the region following the government decision to accept recommendations of the Tourism Minister and Minister of Environmental Protection to rehabilitate the region.
A total of NIS 859 million is to be invested in the effort over the next five years, officials said.
The Dead Sea Preservation Government Company (DSPGC), together with a national interdisciplinary team has been placed in charge of creating a comprehensive plan to be submitted to the Minister of Tourism.
DSPGC CEO Shimon Daniel said the plan will include upgrades for existing hotels as well as reconstruction of new ones. The plan also focuses on creating attractions outside of the hotels, such as restaurants, shopping centers, and more, he noted. A total of 12 to 16 new hotels are slated to be built in the region over the next 10 years, according to the development plan, with 4,000 additional hotel rooms.
The Dead Sea was the most crowded leisure destination in Israel in 2011, with some 857,000 visitors during the year.
Data published by the Central Bureau of Statistics in 2011 showed that hotel occupancy at the Dead Sea averaged at 77 percent, as compared with 75.3 percent in Tel Aviv, and 67 percent in Eilat, and with a consistent growth rate of 43 percent over the past five years.
Hotel revenue at the Dead Sea reached NIS 1.096 billion in 2011. As part of the Law to Encourage Capital Investment, the Tourism Ministry has allocated NIS 9 million in grants for entrepreneurs who wish to develop or expand hotels in the Dead Sea region, as specific in accordance with the conditions for the grant. The deadline for submission of proposals is August 15, 2012.
3. TURKEY ADMITS: NO TRACES OF EXPLOSIVES ON DOWNED JET by Rachel Hirshfeld
Turkey announced that it has not found traces of explosives on the ruins of a fighter jet it has claimed was downed by Syria, raising new questions about the incident that inflamed tensions between the two countries, AFP reported.
“No traces of explosives or flammable products were found on the debris recovered from the sea,” a statement from Turkey”s general staff said on Wednesday.
For the first time, the army also declined to use the term “shot down by Syria” instead referring to “our plane that Syria claimed to have destroyed.”
Turkey has previously maintained that the F-4 Phantom was shot down in international airspace over the eastern Mediterranean by Syrian fire on June 22, further impairing relations between the one-time allies.
Two weeks after the incident, a Turkish rescue team recovered the bodies of the two pilots from the wreckage. Most of the remains, however, lie at the bottom of the Mediterranean.
“A technical investigation is ongoing on the parts we have salvaged, and on the video footage of other parts still lying at the bottom of the sea,” the statement added.
Turkish experts claim, however, that the only way of uncovering the truth behind the story that continues to make international headlines is to recover all of the wreckage.
“Syria thinks they opened fire and shot down the plane, Turkey thinks the plane was shot down. But now we have the third option that the plane might have just crashed trying to dodge fire,” the Haberturk daily quoted security analyst Nihat Ali Ozcan as saying, according to the AFP.
“The announcement from the army command does not confirm or refute Turkey”s or Syria”s explanation for that matter,” retired vice-admiral Atilla Kiyat told the same daily.
Syria maintains that the fighter was flying low in Syrian airspace when it was shot down by shore-based anti-aircraft guns. Turkish media speculated that the plane might have crashed due to pilot error or technical failure.
“I think we are increasingly witnessing politics enter into the scene here,” former air force general Erdogan Karakus told Hurriyet daily. “I am feeling Turkey might be gradually giving up on its missile claims,” he noted.
Earlier this week U.S. officials claimed that they were privy to details of the incident but refused to release such information to the press.
“Those in the American government who need to know [details] know them,” a U.S. Foreign Affairs official told Hurriyet Daily. “But we will make no statements about the topics in question.”
4. ATTENTION POTENTIAL OLIM: GOV’T CUTS TAXES ON APPLIANCES by Rachel Hirshfeld
Minister of Finance Yuval Steinitz on Wednesday signed a special directive to cut import duties and taxes on hundreds of items, including electrical appliances, food, and clothing. The tax cuts were recommended by the Trajtenberg Committee, Globes reported.
The customs cuts will go into effect immediately, and follow on the previous cut, which totaled NIS 387 million, in January.
Today’s directives eliminate altogether customs duties of 8-12% on a range of consumer goods, such as clothes dryers, vacuum cleaners, microwave ovens, fans, humidifiers, hair dryers, toasters, electric sheets and blankets, electric tooth brushes, coffeemakers, irons, toasters, candles, headphones, light bulbs, sunglasses, protective goggles, reading glasses, sinks, and various batteries.
In a supplementary move to the January 2012 tax cut on textiles, customers on a number of finished textiles items will be abolished on January 1, 2013. At the same time, customs duties on manufactured goods and consumer items on which no duties are actively collected, will be cut by 10%, in order to encourage imports. On January 1, 2014, the customs duties on manufactured goods will be cut by 15%.
Quotas and taxes on food items will be gradually reduced by 2015, including meat, eggs, sausages, juices, spices, nuts, dried fruits, mushrooms, and jams, according to Globes.
5. DUTY, PURCHASE TAX CUTS TO SLASH PRICES FOR ISRAELIS by David Lev
Prices on a wide range of goods imported to Israel are set to be slashed, after Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz on Wednesday signed an order cutting import duties and purchase taxes on electrical appliances, entertainment systems, and food imports. The cuts begin going into effect on October 1, and Finance Ministry officials said they hoped that the tax cuts will significantly lower the cost of living for Israelis.
Import duties on a wide range of electrical appliances and consumer items, including washing machines, vacuum cleaners, microwaves, fans, toasters, coffee makers, irons, lightbulbs, glasses, and many more, have been cut to between 8% and 12% of the value of the item.
On some items, import duties have been canceled altogether, the Ministry said. In addition, a 15% purchase tax on entertainment items, such as TV sets, home movie systems, DVD players, computer screens, and other items will be eliminated altogether. A Ministry spokesperson said that the duty cuts would cost the state treasury NIS 440 million ($130 million).
Duties on many imported food items are set to be slashed as well. For example, duty on imported fresh meat products will be cut from the current level of 190% to 90% over the coming four years. Duties on imported spices, nuts, and dried fruits will drop from around 16% of the value of the item to between 4% and 8%. And imported ice cream duty will fall from its current 13% rate to 4% within four years.
6. GERMANY INVESTIGATES NAZI FOR MASSACRE OF UKRAINIAN JEWS by Rachel Hirshfeld
German prosecutors have launched an investigation into a 91-year-old man suspected of taking part in a 1942 massacre of over 300 Jews from the Zhytomyr ghetto in Ukraine, a local daily reported Monday.
“There is suspicion that this man is guilty of involvement in the murder of 360 people,” spokeswoman Petra Hertwig for the Cottbus prosecutor’s office told the Markische Allgemeine daily, according to the AFP.
“We’re looking into whether there is also material for other investigations,” she added, without revealing details.
The man, referred to only as Herbert N., belonged to the SS commando suspected of having killed Jews, including women and children, from the Zhitomir ghetto.
In October 1942, 60 Jews from the ghetto were driven in trucks to a forest approximately 15 kilometres (nine miles) from Zhytomyr in central Ukraine, where six German soldiers killed them and tossed their remains into a mass grave.
The following month 30 other soldiers from the commando massacred 300 more Jews in similar circumstances by shooting them in groups of 60, according to the daily.
One of the major obstacles facing the investigation lies in the difficulty of rounding up witnesses 70 years after the massacre. The first witness to report the slaughter in 1947 was a prisoner of war in the ex-Soviet Union and died in 1971.
In 1985, the prosecutor’s office in the western city of Wiesbaden abandoned proceedings against the head of the unit responsible for the massacres amid doubts over the truth of witness testimony, according to the AFP.
Herbert N.’s name first surfaced when the state body tasked with uncovering Nazi criminals was searching for witnesses in another case.
7. IN BOSNIA, JEWS STILL NOT PERMITTED TO RUN FOR ELECTED OFFICE by Rachel Hirshfeld
The Representative of the Irish Chair-in-Office of the Organisation for Security in Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Minister for European Affairs Lucinda Creighton, has urged Bosnia to end practices of discrimination against its Roma and Jewish minorities, whose members cannot run for high elected office, AFP reported.
“There is no excuse to discriminate against anyone, especially minorities,” Creighton said in a statement.
“This is especially important in a post-conflict society,” she said in a reference to Bosnia’s 1992-1995 war.
“We in Ireland know very well how difficult it is to build trust between communities but we have also seen the tangible economic and social benefits that overcoming those divisions can bring,” she added.
Bosnia’s constitution makes a clear distinction between “constituent peoples,” namely Bosniaks (Muslims), Croats and Serbs and “others,” categorized as Jews, Roma and other minorities.
Posts in the Bosnian parliament are reserved for the three “constituent nations,” under regulations that were intended to prevent ethnic strife in the aftermath of the war.
In 2009, the European Court of Human Rights condemned Bosnia for barring Jews and Romas from running for high elected office. The Strasbourg-based tribunal ruled that the Balkan country was violating provisions of the convention prohibiting discrimination and upheld the right to free elections, AFP reported.
Creighton discussed the issue with Bosnian Foreign Minister Zlatko Lagumdzija and chairman of the country’s tripartite presidency Bakir Izetbegovic.
A reform of the constitution is one of the main conditions for Bosnia to obtain European Union candidacy status.
8. MK DANON: JEWS NEED TO COME HOME, ILLEGALS OUTNUMBER OLIM by David Lev
Likud MK Danny Danon welcomed 229 new English-speaking immigrants to the Jewish State on Thursday, but noted there are still more illegal aliens flooding the country than new immigrants and encouraged Jews from outside the country to consider moving back “home.”
While the arrival of the plane full of North American olim Thursday morning was being celebrated by Israelis, Danon, who is Chairman of the Knesset Aliyah Committee, said that despite the joy Israelis felt when seeing new immigrants, it was unfortunate that there were more illegal aliens infiltrating the country via the border with the Sinai Peninsula than olim entering the country via Ben Gurion International Airport.
Danon participated in the ceremony at the airport Thursday morning, as 229 people, including 100 children and 59 singles, arrived in the first chartered El Al flight of summer 2012. They are among the 2,500 olim who will be arriving this summer on Nefesh B”Nefesh aliyah flights, in full cooperation with the Jewish Agency and the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption.
Speaking at the ceremony, Danon said that “it does not make sense that each year more illegal aliens from Africa enter Israel than do Jewish olim from the entire world. We must fight to maintain the Jewish nature of the State of Israel and increase activity to raise the number of olim coming to Israel.”
Danon added that “there is no doubt that aliyah, immigration to Israel, is the victory of the Jewish people, and Nefesh B’Nefesh, which is celebrating its tenth anniversary, is an important cause for ensuring that Israel remains Jewish.”