Sunday, Jul. 22 ’12, Av 3, 5772
1. TERRORISTS FIRE ON IDF BUS FROM EGYPT; NO INJURIES 2. COURT PERMITS ‘SUPPORT ISRAEL/DEFEAT JIHAD’ NY BUS ADS 3. BULGARIA: IRAN-FINANCED HIZBULLAH BEHIND TERROR ATTACK 4. HAMAS OFFICIAL DENIES GAZA ‘DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE’
5. SYRIAN CAPITAL, ALEPPO TEETERING BETWEEN LOYALISTS, REBELS 6. KNESSET SPEAKER URGES HIRING HAREIDI ACCOUNTANTS AND LAWYERS 7. US F-16 FIGHTER JET CRASHES OFF JAPANESE COAST 8. 2ND MAN SELF-IMMOLATES NEAR TEL AVIV
1. TERRORISTS FIRE ON IDF BUS FROM EGYPT; NO INJURIES by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
Terrorists hiding behind sand dunes fired on a bus filled with soldiers at the border near Eilat Sunday afternoon. The bus was damaged.
The attack occurred several hours after another explosion on the Egyptian-Israeli gas pipeline. The two incidents are not necessarily connected but underscore the ability of Muslim terrorists to operate freely in the Sinai Peninsula.
The shooting attack occurred in the area of Ein Netafim, adjacent to the Egyptian-Israeli border.
A high alert was raised by the IDF, which immediately deployed other soldiers to comb the area for other terrorists.
It was the third security incident in five weeks at the increasingly volatile border.
Israeli security forces less than two weeks ago shot and killed one suspected terrorist and wounded another who had crossed the border fence from Sinai into Israel.
Last month, terrorists attacked an Israeli construction team working on the fence, killing one man. Last year, nine Israelis died in a multi-pronged terrorist attack on a bus traveling on the highway 10, between Eilat and the Ovdat air base and terminal in the western Negev. The IDF has alternately closed and opened the road.
2. COURT PERMITS ‘SUPPORT ISRAEL/DEFEAT JIHAD’ NY BUS ADS by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
“Support Israel/Defeat Jihad” ads that label jihadists “savages” can remain on New York City buses, despite Muslim objections, a U.S. judge ruled Friday.
U.S. District Judge Paul Engelmayer in Manhattan said a 1997 rule by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority that barred demeaning language in advertisements was a violation of free speech, Reuters reported.
Judge Engelmayer said the MTA rule was well intentioned but discriminates against certain advertisers based on the content of their proposed message.
The advocacy group American Freedom Defense Initiative, one of the most vocal opponents to the planned construction of a mosque and Islamic center near Ground Zero, sued the MTA in September 2011 after the transit agency denied its proposed ad.
The ad said: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel/Defeat Jihad.” The ad would have been posted on 318 city buses for four weeks, at a cost of about $25,000, the opinion said.
“Disallowing a pro-Israel ad was clearly a politically correct, politically motivated denial of free speech,” said Pamela Geller, the group’s executive director.
The judge said the advertising space on public buses should be considered a public forum. The judge also ruled that because the ad in question was political speech, it was entitled to the “highest level of protection under the First Amendment.”
“By differentiating between which people or groups can and cannot be demeaned on the exterior of a city bus, MTA’s no-demeaning standard … discriminates based on content,” the opinion said.
The judge said his preliminary injunction would take effect in 30 days, at which time the MTA would be prevented from enforcing the standard.
The standard bars any ads that “contain … information that demean(s) an individual or group of individuals on account of race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, gender, age, disability or sexual orientation.”
While MTA officials had been correct to regard the ad as “demeaning a group of people based on religion (Islam),” the standard itself does allow for demeaning statements on a host of other topics, such as where they live, their job or their political affiliation, the judge said.
Some Muslims were furious over the ruling. Pakistani-American CUNY student Omar Makram Radwan told Bikyamasr.com, “If we decided to put ask for ads saying Israel and Jews were savages, we would be protested and the court would agree with them that they are hate speech so I don”t see the difference here.
“This sort of hate speech is now being tolerated by judges and as Ramadan hits it is very unfortunate. People are angry.” The Muslim holy month of Ramadan began last Friday.
3. BULGARIA: IRAN-FINANCED HIZBULLAH BEHIND TERROR ATTACK by Chana Ya’ar
Bulgaria has denied claims of responsibility for the suicide attack on an Israeli tour bus parked outside Bulgaria’s international airport in Burgas last week by a small Muslim terrorist group. The group, which calls itself Qa’adat el-Jihad, claims to be linked to the international Al-Qaeda terrorist organization.
But investigators from the Bulgarian government have reached the same conclusion as Israel and the United States: On Saturday, the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry told reporters that government officials believe the lethal bombing was carried out by the Iranian-financed Hizbullah terrorist organization, despite the group’s denial of involvement in the attack.
Officials are now seeking a second suspected terrorist as well, believed to be the bomber’s accomplice.
Bulgarian media reported on Sunday that it is believed the suicide bomber received assistance from a man who was seen in the resort city of Varna in the country.
Many Israeli tourists regularly visit Varna, which is about 150 kilometers from Burgas.
Five Israelis, including a pregnant woman, and one Bulgarian national, the driver of the tour bus in which the tourists were to depart from the airport, were killed in the conflagration. In addition, 35 others were wounded, including three who were critically injured.
On Friday, Israel laid its victims to rest after their bodies were recovered through the efforts of the ZAKA organization, which accompanied them home on an IAF Hercules military aircraft.
Most of the wounded had arrived earlier in the day, also via military transport, accompanied by IDF and Magen David Adom paramedics. The three critically wounded victims, hospitalized in Sofia, were to arrive later on a separate transport.
4. HAMAS OFFICIAL DENIES GAZA ‘DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE’
by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
Senior Hamas official Mahmoud Zahar vehemently denied a report in the London-based Al Hayat newspaper that the terrorist organization plans to declare itself an independent state.
“Such news is being disseminated by the enemies of Hamas seeking to maintain the siege on Gaza,” Zahar told the Bethlehem-based Ma’an news agency. “This issue hasn”t been addressed officially within Hamas, but some people posed it privately on their own,” he added.
Zahar explained that the planned meetings this week are to explore developing trade with Egypt and connected Gaza to Egypt”s power grid and natural gas pipeline.
Al Hayat reported that de facto Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh will talk with Egypt”s Muslim Brotherhood president Mohammed Morsi this Thursday to promote the idea. Hamas officials allegedly said that Egypt”s support of establishing Gaza as an independent state would allow Hamas to close the crossings with Israel and to develop the trade route with Egypt through Rafiah. In return, Hamas supposedly would help secure the border with Egypt.
The idea of declaring Gaza as an independent country has been tossed within Hamas around for at least two year, but Egypt previously has blocked the move.
Al Hayat quoted unnamed Hamas officials as saying the new Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt has paved the way for putting the option back on the table. However, doing so would likely cause difficulties in relations between Egypt and the United States, which has declared Hamas to be an illegal terrorist organization.
In addition, independence for Gaza would throw the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority into turmoil. PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, head of Hamas”s rival Fatah faction, has failed to win unilateral recognition by the international community as a new Arab country within Israel”s current borders.
5. SYRIAN CAPITAL, ALEPPO TEETERING BETWEEN LOYALISTS, REBELS by Chana Ya’ar
Fighting is raging in Damascus and Aleppo as Syrian opposition forces battle troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.
There were clashes near the main intelligence base in the northern city of Aleppo on Sunday. Battles also raged in other parts of Syrian’s main commercial and industrial hub as well.
Syrian Intelligence Chief Hisham Bekhtyar died Friday from wounds suffered Wednesday in an attack on Damascus by rebel forces, according to Al-Manar TV, associated with Hizbullah terrorists in Lebanon. Three high-ranking Syrian officials were killed on the spot.
Helicopter gunships bombarded a number of districts Sunday in Damascus, meanwhile, trying to drive out opposition forces from the capital. Assad’s forces appeared to regain some ground as they drove rebel fighters from the Mezze district, residents and opposition activists reported.
Elite Fourth Division troops besieged the northern Damascus neighborhood of Barzeh in an effort to overcome opposition fighters.
Elsewhere in the country, government forces hammered the major eastern city of Deir al-Zor with artillery and mortar fire. Helicopters fired rockets in the residential districts in an attempt to prevent opposition forces from taking over the city, witnesses said.
A former artillery officer told the Reuters news agency by telephone that he counted around 200 shells hitting the Ordi and Old Airport districts of the city, located some 270 miles (430 kilometers) northeast of Damascus.
It was the heaviest reported bombardment since the army stormed Deir al-Zor one year ago, to crush street protests against President Bashar al-Assad, who disappeared last week and whose whereabouts are currently unknown.
6. KNESSET SPEAKER URGES HIRING HAREIDI ACCOUNTANTS AND LAWYERS by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin has urged major accounting and legal firms to hire hareidi-religious men and maximize their skills, Globes reported Sunday.
The business newspaper quoted sources as saying that Rivlin sent a letter to leading companies and to several government officials, including the Office of the State Prosecutor.
His letter reportedly was in answer to the chairman of the student union of a metropolitan Tel Aviv college, who complained that hareidi religious graduates with outstanding grades are not able to find employment.
“We are all familiar with slogan that the integration of hareidim in the jobs market is a national mission, but I approach you with this request because we must all contribute to give real content to the words,” the Knesset Speaker wrote.
He noted that the hareidi religious community comprises approximately 10 percent of Israel”s population, and that it is important o integrate them into the economy.
“I am sure that from among the hundreds of hareidi students who have not yet found an internship, a way to maximize the use of their skills and intellectual talents can be found,” Rivlin added.
7. US F-16 FIGHTER JET CRASHES OFF JAPANESE COAST by Chana Ya’ar and Reuters
After nearly five hours, rescuers have not yet located a U.S. Air Force fighter pilot whose F-16 jet crashed into the Pacific Ocean at around 11:30 Japan time Sunday morning.
The jet went down approximately 200 miles northeast of Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island, according to a spokeswoman at the Misawa Air Base in Aomori Prefecture, Reuters reported. The jet, produced by Lockheed Martin Corp., had taken off from the Misawa base.
“One person, the pilot, was on board. Efforts are currently underway to retrieve the pilot,” she said, reading from a statement. “The aircraft was enroute to North America when the incident occurred. The cause of the incident is unknown at this time.”
There were conflicting reports about the whereabouts and condition of the pilot, with some news agencies reporting his location unknown.
By 4:00 p.m. local time, the unidentified pilot had still not been located, said Misawa spokesman Tech. Sig. Phillip Butterfield. “All efforts are focused toward that right now,” Butterfield said. Details about the pilot’s condition and circumstances of the crash were unavailable, he added.
However, a spokesman at the Japan Coast Guard allegedly told reporters the pilot ejected from the aircraft and was known to be awaiting rescue at sea.
8. 2ND MAN SELF-IMMOLATES NEAR TEL AVIV
by Chana Ya’ar
A second man has set himself on fire in central Israel.
Passersby tried to extinguish the flames with water and other materials, until first responders arrived on the scene and finally managed to put the fire out. Medics from the Magen David Adom emergency medical service treated him on the scene and then rushed him to a nearby hospital in serious condition. The man’s motives were not immediately made clear.
Less than 24 hours earlier, approximately 1,000 social justice protesters marched in Tel Aviv to Kaplan Street, where 57-year-old social justice protester Moshe Silman self-immolated last week, and then to the National Insurance Institute (NII, Bituach Leumi).
One demonstrator was arrested. Several hundred protesters broke through police lines and tried to block a police van from driving away with the protester in custody. The demonstrators marched towards the Ayalon Highway, which police closed to traffic.
Prior to igniting himself, Silman had distributed a letter explaining that he felt he had no choice, as he was left with no more options and refused to live homeless.
Beginning with a small debt to the NII, his difficulties grew until he lost everything he had, and then suffered a stroke that left him completely disabled. The modest monthly disability stipend he received from NII left him unable to pay for little more than medication.
Silman’s life ended Friday with burns over 90 percent of his body at Sheba Medical Center in Tel HaShomer Hospital.