A7News: ‘The Heart Breaks Seeing the Five Coffins’

Arutz Sheva Daily Israel Report

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Friday, Jul. 20 ’12, Av 1, 5772

 

 

 

HEADLINES:

1. ‘THE HEART BREAKS SEEING THE FIVE COFFINS’

2. SENIOR CITIZENS REFORM PROGRAM LAUNCHED IN GUSH ETZION 3. IRAN STILL USING FOREIGN FLAGS TO BYPASS SANCTIONS, U.S. WARNS 4. AL-AQSA SHEIKH: JERUSALEM WILL BE MUSLIM FOREVER 5. GERMAN PARLIAMENT PASSES RESOLUTION PROTECTING CIRCUMCISION 6. NETANYAHU: WE’LL CONTINUE TO FIGHT THE TERRORISTS 7. UN SECURITY COUNCIL CONDEMNS BULGARIA ATTACK 8. FOUR YOUNG WOMEN ARRESTED NEAR BEIT EL

 

 

1. ‘THE HEART BREAKS SEEING THE FIVE COFFINS’

by Elad Benari

 

Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov told the families of the victims of the terror attack in Bulgaria on Thursday night that he hoped the attack would be “yours and our last disaster.”

 

Misezhnikov spoke on behalf of the government in a state ceremony at the Ben Gurion Airport, after the coffins of the five victims landed in Israel. The coffins were brought to Israel on a plane belonging to the Israeli Air Force. Before the minister spoke, IDF Chief Rabbi Rafi Peretz read Psalms and recited the Kadish prayer.

 

“We stand here in front of the coffins and the heart breaks – five coffins and one giant hole in the heart,” said Misezhnikov.

 

“They were in the prime of their lives when the heaven they went to turned into a hell. The sin for which they were killed was one and only – that they were Israelis and Jews. These miscreants went all the way to the Black Sea to hurt them intentionally.”

 

Misezhnikov noted that the Hizbullah terror group has gone to great lengths to hurt Israelis and Jews worldwide, noting that, “The Hizbullah group, sent by Iran, managed to kill six people, including five Israelis and the bus driver, and wounded dozens of innocent people. This time Iran succeeded in its despicable task.”

 

“The purpose of the murder is to put fear in our hearts and break our spirit,” he added, “but we will rise up again and not allow them to intimidate us. International terrorism has unfortunately become a reality with which we must deal everywhere. The murderous terror knows no bounds and does not distinguish between blood and blood. But despite the pain and grief and sorrow, will not be deterred and we will not break. Terrorism must not disrupt our way of life. We must continue to create and live and travel the world – that’s what we will do.”

 

Earlier on Thursday, the names of the five Israelis who were killed in the terror attack were cleared for publication.

 

The dead are Yitzchak Kolangi, 28, of Petach Tikva; Amir Menashe, 28, of Petach Tikva; Maor Harush, 25, of Akko; Elior Preis, 26, of Akko; and Kochava Shriki, 44, of Rishon LeTzion.

 

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu directly fingered Iran and Hizbullah as being responsible for the attack, saying, “This attack was part of a global campaign of terror carried out by Iran and Hizbullah. This terror campaign has reached a dozen countries on five continents. The world’s leading powers should make it clear that Iran is the country that stands behind this terror campaign.”

 

He added, “Iran must be exposed by the international community as the premier terrorist-supporting state that it is. And everything should be done to prevent Iran, the world’s most dangerous regime, from developing the world’s most dangerous weapons.”

 

 

2. SENIOR CITIZENS REFORM PROGRAM LAUNCHED IN GUSH ETZION by Elad Benari

 

The biggest strategic plan for improving the quality of life of senior citizens in Israel was launched this week in Gush Etzion. The official launch of the senior citizens reform program was attended by Deputy Minister of Pensioner Affairs Dr. Leah Nass (Likud), the Director-General of the Pensioner Affairs Ministry Aharon Azoulay and the head of the Gush Etzion Regional Council, Davidi Perl.

 

The senior citizens reform program will fundamentally change local authorities” perception of the country’s senior citizens. Until now, senior citizens were seen as a burden on the budget, on the health system and on the country”s social services. The reform will see senior citizens being recognized as human capital that can make a significant contribution to Israeli society.

 

During 2012, the reform program will be implemented in 100 local authorities throughout Israel, and will be implemented in all of Israel by 2014. In the first stage, each municipality will build a profile which maps the situation of its senior citizens in all walks of life. The second stage involves formulating a strategic plan by a round table of experts. The full plan will be presented at the conclusion of the first year of the project and will immediately be implemented for a period of 15 years.

 

Speaking during the launch of the reform in Gush Etzion, Nass said, “Thanks to developments in medicine and in technologies, life expectancy in Israel rose by almost nine years during the last 30 years. The expectation is that the number of senior citizens will double by 2030. The purpose of the reform is to give local authorities the tools to prepare for the anticipated growth, improve the quality of life and, most importantly, maximize the potential of this population, so that they can lead an active and vital life, while making a significant contribution to the community in which they live.”

 

During her visit, Deputy Minister Nass also referred to the Levy Report, which concluded that from a historical and legal prospective, and considering agreements with the Palestinian Authority, the international law against “occupation” does not apply to Judea and Samaria (Yehuda and Shomron), meaning that Israel does not “occupy” the region.

 

“We welcome the conclusions of the report authored by Judge Edmond Levy and which offer a solution to the issue of construction in Judea and Samaria,” said Nass. “I hope that his conclusions will be brought up for a serious discussion at the Ministerial Committee on Settlement Affairs, and that they will be adopted as official policy of the Israeli government.”

 

The head of the Gush Etzion Regional Council, Davidi Perl, who also spoke at the launch, said, “We are pleased to welcome Dr. Leah Nass and take part in the new program. As the head of the Gush Etzion Regional Council I work and promote any activity that would integrate our senior citizens in various fields. It is thanks to them that we are here in Gush Etzion and in the entire settlement enterprise. The senior citizens are unique and we need to leverage and encourage their integration. We are currently working to promote a unique initiative known as ‘housing support’, which is designed to allow the senior citizen to live in his home and remain in surroundings that are familiar to him and, if necessary, receive support and assistance.”

 

There are some 450 senior citizens over the age of 65 residing in the Gush Etzion Regional Council, comprising 2.9 percent of the population. 350 residents are entitled to old age pension, and 70 residents are entitled to old age pension with income support.

 

 

3. IRAN STILL USING FOREIGN FLAGS TO BYPASS SANCTIONS, U.S. WARNS by Elad Benari

 

The United States warned the maritime industry on Thursday that Iranian ships were still using other countries” flags in an attempt to evade Western sanctions against the country.

 

Reuters reported that Sierra Leone is the latest country to revoke its flag for a vessel controlled by the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL), which is on the U.S. blacklist for its involvement in Iran’s weapons program.

 

The United States and the European Union have implemented tough sanctions against Iran in an attempt to stop the country from acquiring nuclear weapons.

 

The U.S. penalties forced Iran’s major trading partners to reduce their Iranian crude imports. The EU enacted a ban from July 1 on insuring ships carrying Iranian oil that has also crimped Tehran’s oil exports.

 

The United States said port authorities should be on the lookout for fabricated vessel registration and phony flags, according to the Reuters report.

 

Iran has been forced to shut off wells in its expansive oil fields, as Western sanctions reduce Tehran’s vital crude oil exports by as much as 30%.

 

Tehran’s current production levels to lows not seen in more than two decades, which has cost Iran billions in lost revenues.

 

In an attempt to sidestep the EU sanctions, Iran has offered to insure any foreign ships that enter its waters.

 

 

4. AL-AQSA SHEIKH: JERUSALEM WILL BE MUSLIM FOREVER by Elad Benari

 

Sheikh Yusuf Salameh, a preacher at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, denounced on Thursday a statement by Israel’s Attorney General that Israeli law must be applied to the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex in Jerusalem.

 

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein has said that the Temple Mount in Jerusalem is part of Israeli territory so Israeli law applies there, including antiquities laws and laws regarding building and planning.

 

At the same time, he said, the law had to be applied with extra sensitivity and pragmatism, due to its unique nature.

 

In response, Sheikh Salemeh said that “Al-Quds” (the Arabic name for Jerusalem) is an Islamic city, as determined by the creator of the world and as indicated in the Koran.

 

He said that no decision by one person or another will be able to change this reality, stressing that “Al-Quds” will remain Islamic until the end of time. “Al-Quds threw up its occupiers in the past and it will throw up this occupier, too,” he said.

 

Sheikh Salameh added that the Al-Aqsa Mosque is spread over 144 dunams of land and includes the entire area within the walls, buildings, roads, terraces, and domes of the mosque. He said the mosque is land belonging to the Waqf both above the ground and below it. Salameh called on UNESCO to bear the responsibility and preserve the historic Islamic sites in the holy city.

 

This week, Abdul Rahman Abbad, the head of the Muslims” scholars council in Jerusalem, said that “Muslims are the only ones who own this mosque.”

 

He insisted that religious authorities are not bound by Israeli decisions, and warned of Israel’s intentions in issuing such a statement ahead of the holy month of Ramadan, when Muslims flock to the compound.

 

The Temple Mount was left in the hands of the Waqf following Jerusalem”s reunification in 1967, a decision of then-Defense Minister Moshe Dayan. The Waqf has taken advantage of this and removed every sign of ancient Jewish presence at the Jewish holy site. At the entrance, a Waqf sign says, “The Al-Aqsa Mosque courtyard and everything in it is Islamic property.”

 

Police, in an attempt to appease the Waqf, discriminate against Jews. They limit the number of Jewish worshippers allowed on the Temple Mount at one time in order to prevent conflict with Muslim worshippers. They often close the Mount to Jews in response to Muslim riots – despite evidence that Muslim riots have been planned in advance for the specific purpose of forcing Jews out.

 

Waqf officials recently told a young Jewish man to remove his kippah on the Temple Mount. The young man was visiting the Mount, Judaism”s holiest site, as part of a tour group from Europe. When Waqf officials saw his kippah, they ordered him to remove it, saying, “This is a holy place.”

 

 

5. GERMAN PARLIAMENT PASSES RESOLUTION PROTECTING CIRCUMCISION by Elad Benari

 

Germany’s lower house of parliament passed a resolution on Thursday to protect the religious circumcision of infant boys, after a district court ban on the practice outraged Muslims and Jews and sparked an emotional debate in the country.

 

Reuters reported that the resolution, jointly filed by Merkel’s conservatives, their liberal coalition ally (FDP) and the opposition Social Democrats (SPD), demanded that “the government present a draft law in the autumn … that guarantees that the circumcision of boys, carried out with medical expertise and without unnecessary pain, is permitted.”

 

The new law would overrule the Cologne court decision, the report noted.

 

Lawmakers noted in the resolution that the court ruling had deeply unsettled Muslims and Jews in Germany, as they feared the practice would now be outlawed, while doctors were alarmed at the threat of prosecution if they performed operations.

 

“Jewish and Muslim religious life must continue to be possible in Germany. Circumcision has a central religious significance for Jews and Muslims,” the resolution stated.

 

An overwhelming majority of lawmakers voted in favor of the resolution, according to the Reuters report, although the small opposition Left party opposed it, suggesting that infant boys could have a “symbolic circumcision” then undergo the actual operation when older.

 

The court in Cologne ruled that non-medical circumcision, practiced by most Jews and Muslims, causes bodily harm and therefore is a crime.

 

The practice is a “serious and irreversible interference in the integrity of the human body,” the court decided.

 

Muslims and Jews banded together last week to ask the German parliament to overrule the court ban on circumcision. There are approximately four million Muslims and 150,000 Jews living in Germany.

 

On Tuesday, German chancellor Angela Merkel told her party that Germany risked becoming a “laughing stock” over the court ruling.

 

Merkel warned the board of her conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) that Germany must restore legal protection for circumcision.

 

“I do not want Germany to be the only country in the world in which Jews cannot practice their rites,” Merkel said. “Otherwise we would make ourselves a laughing stock among nations.”

 

Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said last week the German government would take quick action to protect the right of Jews and Muslims to circumcise baby boys on religious grounds. Israel’s ambassador to Germany welcomed the plans to pass the resolution.

 

 

6. NETANYAHU: WE’LL CONTINUE TO FIGHT THE TERRORISTS by Elad Benari

 

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addressed the media on Thursday, condemning Wednesday”s terror attack against Israelis in Bulgaria, and once again blaming Hizbullah and Iran for the attack.

 

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“Yesterday’s attack in Bulgaria was perpetrated by Hizbullah, Iran’s leading terrorist proxy,” said Netanyahu. “This attack was part of a global campaign of terror carried out by Iran and Hizbullah. This terror campaign has reached a dozen countries on five continents. The world’s leading powers should make it clear that Iran is the country that stands behind this terror campaign.”

 

He added, “Iran must be exposed by the international community as the premier terrorist-supporting state that it is. And everything should be done to prevent Iran, the world’s most dangerous regime, from developing the world’s most dangerous weapons.”

 

“Israel is a strong country and the people of Israel are a strong people,” said Netanyahu. “We’ll continue to fight against the terrorists and to exact a heavy price from those who support them.”

 

Iran denied responsibility for the terrorist attack earlier on Thursday, claiming that “the unfounded statements by different statement of the Zionist regime in connection with the accusations against Iran about its possible participation in the incident with the blown-up bus with Israeli tourists in Burgas is a familiar method of the Zionist regime, with a political aim, and is a sign of the weakness … of the accusers.”

 

Hizbullah chief Hassan Nasrallah did not mention the attack in a speech he gave on Wednesday evening, but Channel 10 News quoted an official with Hizbullah as having denied any involvement in the attack.

 

“The claim that we hit tourists is ridiculous,” said the official.

 

 

7. UN SECURITY COUNCIL CONDEMNS BULGARIA ATTACK by Elad Benari

 

Members of the United Nations Security Council unanimously condemned on Thursday the deadly terrorist attack on a bus carrying Israeli tourists in Bulgaria.

 

“Terrorism in all its forms and manifestations is one of the most serious threats to international peace and security. All acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable, no matter the motives for them, where, when and by whom they are carried out,” a statement by the Security Council said.

 

“The perpetrators and organizers, as well as those who finance such reprehensible acts of terrorism must be brought to justice,” added the statement.

 

The Middle East Quartet – the UN, the European Union, Russia and the United States – also condemned the attack, saying it “is an act of cowardice against innocent people, including children.”

 

“The members of the Quartet look forward to the apprehension of the perpetrators and their being brought to justice,” the statement posted on the UN”s website said, adding that the Quartet supports all international efforts to assist the Bulgarian authorities and others in this effort.

 

The Quartet also offered its condolences and sympathies to the families and friends of the Israelis and others killed or injured in the attack, as well as to the people of Bulgaria.

 

“This attack provides a reminder of the need for the members of the international community to stand side-by-side in the effort to prevent terrorism wherever it may be practiced,” the group”s members said. “The Quartet will continue its effort to reach comprehensive, just and lasting settlement in the Middle East, where all the people will live in peace and security.”

 

Earlier on Thursday, the names of the five Israelis who were killed in the terror attack were cleared for publication.

 

The dead are Yitzchak Kolangi, 28, of Petach Tikva; Amir Menashe, 28, of Petach Tikva; Maor Harush, 25, of Akko; Elior Preis, 26, of Akko; and Kochava Shriki, 44, of Rishon LeTzion.

 

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a condemnation through his spokesperson of Wednesday’s suicide terrorist attack, though he only referred to the “deadly bombing of Israelis” and did not use the word “terrorism.”

 

U.S. President Barack Obama also strongly condemned the terror attack, saying, “The United States will stand with our allies, and provide whatever assistance is necessary to identify and bring to justice the perpetrators of this attack.”

 

 

8. FOUR YOUNG WOMEN ARRESTED NEAR BEIT EL by Gil Ronen

 

 

 

Security forces arrested four young Jewish women Thursday at Oz Tzion, an “outpost” community near Beit El, north of Jerusalem.

 

The security forces showed up at the outpost and demanded that the women leave the location because it was declared a closed military zone. The young women told them that they are residents of the community and therefore the military order does not apply to them.

 

They said that they have been residing at the outpost for 10 months.

 

After negotiating for about an hour, the policemen arrested the young women and took them to be questioned at the Shaar Binyamin police station.

 

Honenu, the NGO that assists Jews who face prosecution for nationalist activities, said that the young women are the “founding nucleus” of the outpost. The community was established last Sukkot, and the young women have been there ever since then.

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