Monthly Archives: August 2016

Human Rights Watch: Palestinians Abuse Journalists, Activists

Jerusalem, Israel — August 30, 2016 … Palestinian authorities are silencing dissent by cracking down on free speech and abusing local journalists and activists critical of their policies, a leading international human rights group said Tuesday.

Human Rights Watch said both the Western-backed Palestinian Authority led by President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank and its rival, the ruling Islamic terror group Hamas in the Gaza Strip, are “arresting, abusing, and criminally charging journalists and activists who express peaceful criticism of the authorities.”

In 2007, Hamas ousted Abbas’ Fatah forces from Gaza in bloody street battles, leaving the Palestinians divided between two governments. Attempts at reconciliation have repeatedly failed, and both Hamas and the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority have periodically launched crackdowns against their rivals in efforts to consolidate power.

“The Palestinian governments in both Gaza and the West Bank are arresting and even physically abusing activists and journalists who express criticism on important public issues,” said Sari Bashi, the Israel and Palestine country director at Human Rights Watch.

HRW said that in the West Bank, Palestinian forces arrested activists and musicians who “ridiculed Palestinian security forces” and “accused the government of corruption” in statements posted on Facebook or stated in graffiti and rap songs.

In Gaza, the rights group said an activist who criticized Hamas for “failing to protect a man with a mental disability” was detained and intimidated by the group, as was a journalist who “posted a photograph of a woman looking for food in a garbage bin.”

The New York-based rights group said that in the incidents of abuse, “activists and journalists said that security officers beat or kicked them, deprived them of sleep and proper food, hosed them with cold and then hot water, and made them maintain uncomfortable positions for long hours.”

Tarik Abu Zaid, a journalist with the Hamas-allied al-Aqsa TV station, said he has been arrested by the Palestinian Authority three times, most recently in March, and held for a month each time.

“For the first week, the investigation was friendly,” he said. “But by the end of the first week, they started using several ways of physical and psychological torture to make me confess to charges that I didn’t do.” He said he was forced to stand and prevented from sleeping for three days and beaten in the genitals by an interrogator.

Jamal Dajani, spokesman for the West Bank government, said any such incidents were “isolated” and did not reflect official government policy. He said in some cases, journalists were arrested under defamation laws.

“These incidents have nothing to do with freedom of the press,” he said. “The government is working on creating a better environment for press freedom. We believe in and support the freedom of speech and the right for journalists to operate freely in Palestine.”

In Gaza, Hamas officials declined comment.

Israel Earthquake Search, Rescue Teams Arrive In Italy


By Joel Leyden
Israel News Agency

Jerusalem, Israel — August 26, 2016 … IsraAID has arrived at Italy’s earthquake epicenter with a 20 member team of Search and Rescue, Relief and Trauma Specialists. IsraAID is an Israeli-based humanitarian aid agency that responds to emergency crises and engages in international development around the world. The Israel search and rescue team wears blue and orange.

IsraAID was able to send the rescue team thanks to the support of The Ted Arison Family Foundation.


The death toll in earthquake ravaged Italy is climbing slowly, and it is unclear how many people remain trapped under the mounds of concrete, brick and stone. Rescue missions entered their third day Friday, still within the crucial 72-hour window in which the possibility of survival is highest.

Officials set up a red zone in Amatrice — the hardest-hit town with 207 dead — where buildings crumbled in the aftershocks, many of these weakened structures from the 14th century. At least 268 people are now known to have died and 400 were injured.

The 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck in the early hours of Wednesday, 100km (65 miles) north-east of Rome in mountainous central Italy.

The hardest hit towns – Amatrice, Arquata, Accumoli and Pescara del Tronto – are usually sparsely populated but have been filled by tourists visiting for summer, making estimates for the precise number missing difficult.

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent condolences to the people of Italy regarding the victims of the earthquake and his wishes for a quick recovery to the injured. He has offered search and rescue assistance to Italian Prime Minister Mateo Renzi.

Israel President Reuven Rivlin today sent a letter of condolence to Italian President Sergio Mattarella following the devastating earthquake which occurred in the center of the country.

Rivlin wrote: “Our thoughts are with you and the people of Italy at this very difficult time as you seek to help the injured, give shelter to those made homeless, and plan the reconstruction.”

On behalf of the citizens of Israel he asked: “Please convey our sincere condolences to the families of the victims, our best wishes for a speedy recovery to the injured, and our hopes that the region will soon experience a happier future.”

Israel: Turkey Needs To Think Twice Before Criticizing Us

Israeli woman patting her daughter after qassam hit the center southern town of Sderot, the qassam fired by Palestinian militants in Gaza, March 09, 2001. Photo by Edi Israel /

Israeli woman patting her daughter after Qassam rocket hit the southern town of Sderot. The Qassam was fired by Palestinian terrorists in Gaza.

By Israel News Agency Staff

Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

“The normalization of our relations with Turkey does not mean that we will remain silent in the face of its baseless condemnations. Israel will continue to defend its civilians from all rocket fire on our territory, in accordance with international law and our conscience.” 

“Turkey should think twice before criticizing the military actions of others,” the ministry added.


Nefesh B’Nefesh To Fly 233 Immigrants To Israel, 75 Enter IDF

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By Joel Leyden
Israel News Agency

New York — August 11, 2016 … North Americans are again illustrating their love for Israel but for 233 of them it will not be through sending donations. This coming Tuesday they will leave New York’s JFK airport to settle in their ancient, biblical homeland. These proud Jews will arrive in Israel on an El Al Boeing 777 chartered by Nefesh B’Nefesh and officially make Aliyah next Wednesday, August 17.

The flight is being facilitated in cooperation with Israel’s Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption, the Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth Le’Israel (KKL), JNF-USA and Tzofim-Garin Tzabar.

“Of these Jews 75 young men and women will be serving in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF),” said a spokesperson for Nefesh B’Nefesh. “They are moving to Israel as ‘Lone Soldiers’, youngsters who left their families in the US and Canada to move to Israel and volunteer for the Israeli Army, Navy and Air Force. They will join the over 900 Lone Soldiers from the US, and the 3,000 Lone Soldiers from around the world who are currently serving in the IDF.”

NBN states that the flight’s other passengers will include a diverse mix of people from 22 US states and one Canadian province, including 24 families, 78 children and 10 medical professionals. Ages of immigrants range from 3.5 weeks to 85 years old.

With this flight, NBN will celebrate making history with its 50,000 immigrant brought to Israel with the organization, which was founded in 2002.

A special welcome ceremony will be held at Ben Gurion Airport upon the flight’s arrival and will include: President of the State of Israel Reuven Rivlin; Minister Tzachi Hanegbi; Minister of Immigrant Absorption, MK Sofa Landver; Director of the Aliyah, Absorption and Special Operations Unit of the Jewish Agency for Israel, Yehuda Sharf; Chairman of Garin Tzabar, Eli Ben Yosef; and Co-Founders of Nefesh B’Nefesh, Rabbi Yehoshua Fass and Tony Gelbart.

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Founded in 2002, Nefesh B’Nefesh in cooperation with the Israeli government and The Jewish Agency for Israel, is dedicated to revitalizing Aliyah from North America and the UK by removing or minimizing the financial, professional, logistical and social obstacles of Aliyah. The support and comprehensive social services provided by Nefesh B’Nefesh to its almost 50,000 newcomers has ensured that over 90 percent of its Olim have remained in Israel.


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50 US National Security Experts: “Trump Is Dangerous”

By Joel Leyden
Israel News Agency
New York — August 9, 2016 … Donald Trump’s meltdown inside his own party was further illustrated Monday when 50 senior national security officials who have served under GOP administrations going back to that of Richard Nixon warned Trump “would be the most reckless president in American history.”
“None of us will vote for Donald Trump,” said the letter, in which some of the most influential players in global defense policy warned he would be “dangerous” in the Oval Office.
Those who signed the letter include Michael Chertoff and Tom Ridge, both former secretaries of Homeland Security, as well as John Negroponte, who served as director of national intelligence.
“Mr. Trump lacks the character, values, and experience to be president,” the officials warned.
“He weakens U.S. moral authority as the leader of the free world. He appears to lack basic knowledge about and belief in the U.S. Constitution, U.S. laws, and U.S. institutions, including religious tolerance, freedom of the press, and an independent judiciary.”
The letter accuses Trump of showing no interest in educating himself on foreign policy and displaying “an alarming ignorance of basic facts of contemporary international politics” while at the same time boasting of knowing more about Islamic State than military generals.
“He is unable or unwilling to separate truth from falsehood,” the letter said.
“He does not encourage conflicting views. He lacks self-control and acts impetuously. He cannot tolerate personal criticism. He has alarmed our closest allies with his erratic behavior. All of these are dangerous qualities in an individual who aspires to be president and commander-in-chief, with command of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.”
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