Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Weekly roundup of world briefs from JTA

 


Tamar field in northern Israel yields natural gas

JERUSALEM (JTA)—Natural gas started to flow from a Tamar field that is expected to meet Israel’s domestic needs for at least the next 20 years.

The gas, which began flowing from an offshore rig in the Mediterranean Sea, was expected to reach an intake center in Ashdod in southern Israel last Sunday afternoon.

Some 9 trillion cubic feet of natural gas is believed to be contained in the field off the coast of northern Israel near Haifa.

“This is an important day for the Israeli economy,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Saturday night. “On the Festival of Freedom, we are taking an important step toward energy independence. We have advanced the natural gas sector in Israel over the last decade, which will be good for the Israeli economy and for all Israelis.”

The gas will be used for the generation of electricity at power stations, which will increase its availability and allow for lower prices. Electricity prices rose 24 percent in recent years, in part due to the depletion of the Yam Tatis gas field west of Ashdod.

The Tamar field was discovered in 2009. It is next to the larger Leviathan gas field, which has yet to yield gas, and will be used mostly for export.

Israel has been facing a natural gas crisis since the gas flow from Egypt was disrupted by terror attacks on the gas line to Israel in the Sinai Peninsula. Israel has not received gas from Egypt since 2011. Egypt recently canceled its natural gas contract with Israel.

Report: Shalit could have avoided captivity

(JTA)—Gilad Shalit’s capture was the result of his operational failures and those by other members of his tank crew, interviews with Shalit revealed.

Shalit, the only member of a three-man crew who survived a cross-border, guerrilla-style attack on June 25, 2006 by armed Palestinians from Gaza, failed to seize several opportunities to fire on his seven attackers during the raid, according to military debriefings following Shalit’s release, The Jerusalem Post reported.

According to the report, Shalit’s Merkava III tank remained fully operational even after militiamen hit it with an RPG rocket. Shalit knew how to operate the tank and could have driven away, Ben Caspit wrote in The Jersualem Post article.

Alternatively, Shalit could have opened fire either from the main barrel or from a formidable machine gun that he could have operated from within the safety of the tank, according to Caspit.

Shalit was released in a 2011 deal with Hamas in exchange for 1,027 prisoners, many of them convicted terrorists responsible for killing Israelis.

The terrorist cell that staged the attack had seven men, but at the time of the attack there were only two gunmen outside Shalit’s tank. They killed Hanan Barak and Pavel Slutzker, who abandoned the tank against regulations. Shalit came out of the tank without his M-16 assault rifle and told his captors not to shoot.

The soldiers had been warned to watch out for abduction or attacks based on new intelligence but ignored the instructions, Caspit said. At the time of the attack, only one crew member was awake, though regulations demanded two stand watch at dawn.

Shalit’s commanders arranged extra backup from combat engineers because of the elevated risk but Shalit, a gunner, never radioed in the attack, the report said.

France reportedly backs designating Hezbollah militiamen as terrorists

PARIS (JTA)—The French government supports adding the armed wing of Hezbollah to the European Union’s list of terrorist organizations, an Arabic daily reported.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius informed U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry of Paris’ decision at a meeting on March 27, the London-based Al Hayat daily reported last Friday.

According to the report, the French government endorsed the designation following the finding by Bulgarian authorities that Hezbollah was responsible for the terrorist attack last summer on a busload of Israeli tourists in the Black Sea resort town of Burgas, Bulgaria, and because of the support Hezbollah is providing to the embattled regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The Burgas attack last July killed five Israelis and one Bulgarian. Earlier this month, a court in Cyprus convicted a Lebanese-Swedish man of plotting to kill Israelis for Hezbollah. Hossam Taleb Yaacoub on March 28 was sentenced to four years in jail.

Hundreds of groups back diversity on day of Klan rally in Memphis

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (JTA)—Hundreds of communal organizations and religious groups joined the mayors of Memphis and Shelby County, Tenn., in publishing a statement supporting diversity on the day the Ku Klux Klan staged a rally in the city.

“We believe our city is stronger and richer for its broad array of faith- and ethnic-based communities,” said the statement, which was wrapped around the front page of the Memphis Commercial Appeal on Saturday. “Because we don’t fear those who are different, we can embrace all the diverse cultures and faiths that make up the beautiful mosaic that is Memphis.”

The ad, spearheaded by the Memphis Jewish Federation, drew signatories from Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist groups and congregations, as well as numerous social action groups.

At the KKK rally at the Shelby County Courthouse in downtown Memphis, 61 Klansmen protested recent decisions by the city to rename parks commemorating Confederacy figures, notably Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate general who was among the founders of the white supremacist group in the war’s aftermath.

The rally, held in a driving rain, passed without event and did not clash with anti-Klan protests held separately.

Canada’s largest student association endorses Israel boycott

(JTA)—The largest student association in Canada passed a resolution endorsing the global boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel.

With the passage late last week of the resolution, York University’s student association joins two others in Canada—the University of Toronto and Montreal’s Concordia University graduate student associations—in endorsing the BDS campaign, according to the York University Excalibur newspaper.

The campaign calls for universities to divest from holdings in companies that do business with Israel and to cut ties with Israeli academics.

Belarus Jewish leader convicted of tax evasion

(JTA)—Yuri Dorn, a Jewish community leader in Belarus, was convicted of tax evasion but set free after a year in jail.

Dorn, president of the Union of Religious Jewish Congregations in Belarus, was arrested in March 2012 on allegations that he had mismanaged the community’s property for personal gain. Police also said Dorn had been caught accepting a $13,000 bribe in a sting operation. Prosecutors had accused Dorn of renting out space belonging to the Jewish community without permission.

Slovak court moves toward imprisoning war criminal in Hungary

(JTA)—A Slovak court commuted a death sentence against Laszlo Csatary, a war criminal whom Slovakia wants extradited from Hungary for his complicity in murdering thousands of Jews.

A Czechoslovakian court in 1948 sentenced Csatary in absentia to death for torturing Jews and helping to deport them to the Auschwitz death camp when he served as police commander in the eastern Slovak city of Kosice.

For decades Csatary, now 98, escaped the sentence until he was detained and placed under house arrest last July in Budapest by Hungarian authorities. He has denied any guilt.

The sentence was changed this week to be in line with modern Slovak law, Reuters reported last Friday. Czechoslovakia abolished the death penalty in 1990, three years before its division into Slovakia and the Czech Republic, Kosice prosecutor’s office spokesman Milan Filicko said.

 

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