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Weekly roundup of world briefs from JTA

 


Damage from Gaza rocket cuts power to 70,000 in strip

JERUSALEM (JTA)—A rocket fired from Gaza damaged power lines in Israel that resulted in the loss of power to 70,000 Palestinians in the coastal strip.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Infrastructure Minister Silvan Shalom instructed the Israel Electric Company not to endanger its employees by repairing the lines from Sunday night’s outage while the threat of rocket attacks from Gaza remains. The lines were knocked down at Kissufim, near the Gaza border.

“The power company plans to remedy the problem,” Israel Electric said in a statement sent to JTA late Sunday night. “However, in view of the security situation and the great danger faced by employees by making the repair under fire, the error will be corrected as soon as we possibly can in terms of security.”

Also Sunday, a rocket fired from Syria hit Israel on the Golan Heights. The rocket fell in an open area and caused no casualties.

The Israel Defense Forces said it believes the rocket fire was intentional and not a byproduct of the more than three-year civil war in Syria. The IDF responded with artillery fire in the direction of the rocket launch and confirmed hits on its targets.

Earlier in the evening, the Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted a rocket over the West Bank city of Ariel—the first time a rocket has reached the northern West Bank, some 52 miles away. A rocket fired at Jerusalem also was intercepted.

Meanwhile, some 17,000 Palestinian residents of Beit Lahiya left their homes—against the wishes of Hamas—after Israeli leaflets encouraging them to leave ahead of a military operation were dropped on the area, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency told Israel Radio.

On Sunday, the Gaza Ministry of Health said that over 166 Palestinians have been killed and at least 1,000 injured since Israel started its Operation Protective Edge early last Tuesday, the Palestinian Maan news agency reported.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday reportedly called Netanyahu and offered help from the United States in brokering a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. Netanyahu appeared Sunday morning on “Fox News Sunday,” NBC’s “Meet the Press” and CNN’s “State of the Union” to defend Israel’s military operation in Gaza.

The IDF said that 130 rockets fired from Gaza hit Israel on Sunday and 22 more were intercepted by Iron Dome. Since the start of Protective Edge, more than 700 rockets have hit Israel, according to the IDF.

The Israeli Cabinet on Sunday approved a $121.8 million aid package for residents and communities of southern Israel, who have been hard hit by Gaza rockets. About half the aid will be given to the town of Sderot.

The government said it also will establish five mental wellness centers offering psychological and social work services, mainly for children affected by the conflict. The aid package includes an income tax credit and property tax breaks for residents and businesses.

Rocket seriously injures Israeli teen in Ashkelon; dual citizens leave Gaza

JERUSALEM (JTA)—An Israeli teenager was seriously injured by a rocket fired from Gaza that landed in Ashkelon.

Another Israeli man was wounded in the rocket strike on Sunday afternoon in a residential area of the southern Israeli city.

“Hamas has chosen to attack our cities with massive and indiscriminate rocket fire,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday at the beginning of the regular Cabinet meeting. “I said from the outset that we would respond in strength against this criminal firing at our citizens and this is what we are doing.”

Early Sunday morning, four Israeli Navy commandos were injured in a ground battle on a beach near Gaza City, where they destroyed long-range rockets and its launcher, according to the Israel Defense Forces. Three Hamas fighters reportedly were killed in the clash.

Also Sunday morning, nearly 700 Palestinians with foreign passports, including dozens of dual Palestinian-Americans, left Gaza for Israel. From there they will travel to their other home locations.

Since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge early on July 8, more than 800 rockets have been fired from Gaza on southern, central and northern Israel, according to the IDF. Some 147 rockets have been intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.

The IDF said its forces have struck 1,320 of what it calls “terror targets” across Gaza, including 735 concealed rocket launchers, 64 training bases and militant compounds, 58 weapons storage and manufacturing facilities, 32 Hamas leadership facilities, 29 communications infrastructures and additional sites used for terrorist activities.

Cities throughout northern Israel on Sunday checked and opened public bomb shelters following two salvos of rockets fired from Lebanon since the start of Protective Edge.

Also Sunday, the Temple Mount was closed to visitors after Palestinians rioted, throwing rocks and explosives at Israeli policemen. Two officers were injured in the unrest.

Rockets force cancellation of Neil Young concert in Tel Aviv

JERUSALEM (JTA)—The Neil Young concert scheduled for Tel Aviv was canceled due to the continuing rocket fire on Israel.

The July 17 performance by Neil Young and Crazy Horse at Yarkon Park was canceled Sunday, according to the Shuki Weiss production company, due to “missile attacks in recent days and the fear for the audience’s safety at an event with so many participants.”

It would have been Young’s second performance in Israel; the first was in 1995.

Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters on Thursday released a letter that he wrote to Young in January urging him not to sign a contract to play the Tel Aviv concert. Young reportedly did not respond to the letter.

Meanwhile, Pearl Jam lead singer Eddie Vedder on Friday denounced Israel in an expletive-laden tirade during a concert in England.

“I swear to f***ing god, there are people out there who are looking for a reason to kill,” Vedder said. “They’re looking for a reason to go across borders and take over land that doesn’t belong to them.

“They should get the f*** out, and mind their own f***ing business. We don’t want to give them our money. We don’t want to give them our taxes to drop bombs on children.”

Rabbi of Casablanca assaulted in response to Israel’s Gaza operation

(JTA)—The rabbi of the Jewish community in Casablanca, Morocco, was beaten allegedly because of Israel’s Gaza operation.

Rabbi Moshe Ohayon was attacked last Friday night as he walked to synagogue for Sabbath services, according to local and Israeli reports.

Ohayon suffered a broken nose and broken ribs, and was beaten on the head in the attack, according to the French language alyaexpress-news.com. The rabbi reportedly asked passers-by for help but was ignored.

The alleged attacker, a local Muslim man in his 20s, reportedly told the rabbi during the attack that it was in retribution for Israeli airstrikes on Gaza. The assailant is known to local police, according to the report, and officers were searching for him in order to arrest him.

Following the attack, Casablanca Jews called on local authorities to increase security around synagogues and other Jewish institutions.

Palestinian officials put the Palestinian death toll at more than 166 since Israel launched Operation Protective Edge, which entered its sixth day on Sunday.

Since July 8, the Israel Defense Forces said, 707 rockets have hit Israel and 160 have been intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.

New Iron Dome battery goes operational

JERUSALEM (JTA)—More Iron Dome batteries will become operational and be deployed in the coming days, the Israeli government said.

A seventh missile defense battery was put into service last week and immediately intercepted five rockets from Gaza, according to Defense News.

Israel’s defense minister, Moshe Yaalon, met Friday with executives from the Israeli companies Rafael and Israel Aerospace Industries, and praised Iron Dome for its “impressive performance” and “strategic significance” as Operation Protective Edge in Gaza goes forward.

“It saves lives and grants us expanded opportunities for managing the campaign against Hamas,” Yaalon said. “And it sends a message to countries and organizations amassing huge quantities of rockets and missiles” for terrorist purposes.

Rafael is working on an eighth Iron Dome battery. Yaalon said both companies are working to produce more interceptor rockets.

Jewish groups launch emergency campaigns for Israel

(JTA)—American Jewish groups are launching emergency fundraising campaigns to send Israel aid while the fighting with Hamas continues.

The Jewish Federations of North America is partnering with the Union for Reform Judaism and the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism for a campaign called Stop the Sirens aimed at distributing safety equipment and emergency information, providing trauma counseling and respite opportunities. The funds will be sent over the next two weeks and in the immediate aftermath of the conflict, according to the Jewish Federations. The money will be distributed in conjunction with the federation’s overseas partners, the Jewish Agency for Israel and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.

The Orthodox Union has also issued a call for its Israel Emergency Fund to help offer respite and psychological services to children in the conflict zone. B’nai B’rith International also opened an Israel Emergency Fund.

The American Jewish Committee sent $50,000 to a hospital in Ashkelon, Barzilai Medical Center, for the purchase of an anesthesia machine for its emergency room.

Several American fundraising arms of Israeli organizations have issued calls for help, including Na’amat, an Israeli day care organization, and American Friends of Magen David Adom, Israel’s emergency services, which asked for money for emergency medical supplies for ambulances and first responders, blood bags and supplies, and communications equipment.

Meanwhile, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews said Sunday that it was opening a new emergency support center for the elderly and allocating more funds for bomb shelters for southern Israelis, who have been the major targets of Gaza bombing. The center will provide a base for volunteers to contact and accept calls from the elderly in need of assistance.

Fellowship volunteers will deliver food, medication and emotional support to the elderly in endangered areas, the organization said in a statement.

In the past week, the fellowship said it raised over $2 million from Christian supporters of Israel to help the victims of Gaza rockets.

U.N.’s Ban: Hamas stopping rocket fire would stop escalation

NEW YORK (JTA)—U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said an end to Hamas rocket fire was the only means of preventing an Israeli ground invasion of the Gaza Strip.

“Today we face the risk of an all-out escalation in Israel and Gaza with the threat of a ground offensive still palpable and preventable only if Hamas stops rocket firing,” Ban said Thursday at a U.N. Security Council session on the latest outbreak of hostilities.

Ban’s casting of the responsibility for ending the conflict principally on Hamas was unusual for a U.N. official.

Palestinian and Israeli representatives addressed the session of the council, the only body with decisions that have the force of international law.

Ron Prosor, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, played the sound of a warning siren during his address.

“Imagine having only 15 seconds to find a bomb shelter,” he said. “Now imagine doing it with small children or elderly parents or an ailing friend.”

Israel launched a counteroffensive on Tuesday after an intensification of rocket fire, dubbing its campaign Operation Protective Edge. Some 100 Palestinians have been reported killed so far in strikes by Israeli combat aircraft on suspected terrorist targets.

Anti-Israel protesters besiege Paris synagogue

(JTA)—Dozens of young men protesting Israel’s actions in Gaza briefly besieged a Paris synagogue and clashed with security.

At least three Jews were taken to the hospital as a result of the clashes that erupted Sunday between the protesters and young Jewish men who guarded the Don Isaac Abravanel Synagogue in Paris, a witness told JTA.

“The attackers splintered off an anti-Israel demonstration and advanced toward the synagogue when it was full,” Alain Azria, a French Jewish journalist who covered the event told JTA.

Azria said that when the demonstrators arrived at the central Paris synagogue, the five police officers on guard blocked the entrance as the protesters chanted anti-Semitic slogans and hurled objects at the synagogue and the guards. He said nearly 200 congregants were inside.

“They were determined to enter and the police did not have enough forces,” he said.

Azria said the mob was kept away by men from the SPCJ Jewish security unit, the Jewish Defense League and Beitar, who engaged the attackers in what turned into a street brawl.

“Thank God they were there because the protesters had murder on their minds and it took awhile before police reinforcements arrived,” he added.

The synagogue attack followed several anti-Semitic incidents that coincided with Israel’s offensive in Gaza, which began on July 8.

In one attack in Belleville north of the French capital, a firebomb was hurled at a synagogue, causing minor damage. In another attack, a man pepper-sprayed the face of a 17-year-old girl.

Frankfurt protester cons cops, chants anti-Israel slogans with police megaphone

(JTA)—A demonstrator in Frankfort, Germany, used a police megaphone to shout anti-Israel slogans after duping police.

Police said the demonstrator had agreed to calm down a violent protest Saturday but instead shouted “Child murderer Israel” and “Allahu akbar!”—Arabic for “God is great”—a Frankfurt police spokeswoman told The Associated Press.

“We as police had come up spontaneously with this unusual method and he abused it—we didn’t expect that,” the spokeswoman, Virginie Wegner, told AP.

The crowd of more than 2,000 protesters, who were waving Palestinian flags and calling for a boycott of Israeli products, followed the police car while cheering and repeating the slogans, according to AP.

Dieter Graumann, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, condemned the incident.

“I’m shocked that a German police car was used to spread hatred and agitation,” Graumann said, according to AP. “It was a big mistake that the police let themselves be abused for this.”

Berlin protest against Israel’s Gaza op turns violent

BERLIN (JTA)—Rocks were thrown at police in Berlin during a protest by some 1,000 demonstrators—most of them Palestinians—against Israel’s military campaign in Gaza.

As many as 10 demonstrators were arrested for breach of the peace and trying to forcibly free others already arrested in Saturday’s protest, a police spokesman said. One police officer was struck by a rock but was not injured.

The march was unregistered; demonstrations in Berlin require a police permit.

The demonstrators, who the police spokesman said were aggressive and chanting, tried unsuccessfully to enter the “Fan Mile,” where tens of thousands of soccer fans have been gathering to watch World Cup games on big screens over the past few weeks. Pushed back by police, the protesters proceeded up one of Berlin’s main avenues near Potsdamer Platz.

Facing a major police response, the demonstrators—at that point led by someone who was trying to calm them, the spokesman said—gradually broke up.

By some estimates, Berlin is home to 35,000 Arabs of Palestinian origin.

Last Friday, several hundred pro-Israel demonstrators gathered at Wittenberg Platz in Berlin under the banner “Fight Terror, Support Israel” organized by the Mideast Freedom Forum Berlin, a non-denominational NGO.

Aussie official, a Sydney Jewish leader, rapped for ‘inappropriate’ email on Gaza conflict

SYDNEY, Australia (JTA)—A senior Jewish leader in Sydney who also holds a government post is under fire for an email on the Gaza conflict deemed “biased.”

The email sent last week by Vic Alhadeff, chief executive of the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies and chair of the Community Relations Commission there, accused Hamas of “war crimes” but did not make reference to Palestinian deaths from Israel’s operation in Gaza to end rocket fire.

Mike Baird, the premier of New South Wales, called the email “inappropriate” for someone in a government-appointed position, according to Baird’s spokesman, the Sydney Morning Herald reported Saturday. Alhadeff’s email had provoked outrage from Arab leaders.

Titled “Israel Under Fire,” Alhadeff wrote that Hamas was guilty of “war crimes” while Israel “is operating with care to avoid civilian casualties.”

Israel had made it clear it would “do whatever is needed to defend its citizens,” he wrote. “All options are on the table.”

Joseph Wakim, a founder of the Australian Arabic Council, slammed Alhadeff’s email as “biased and provocative,” according to the Morning Herald.

“Do such statements build bridges and community relations, or wedge a wall between us and them?” Wakim asked.

The Baird spokesman also said, according to the newspaper, “Few people have done more to promote interfaith engagement and understanding between the Jewish and Muslim communities in New South Wales than Mr. Alhadeff,” the spokesman also said, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Asked whether his Jewish and multicultural posts were mutually exclusive, Alhadeff told JTA, “Definitely not. We can agree to disagree on issues, but we live in Australia as Australians and should all be committed to our shared values... in a democratic multicultural society.”

Alhadeff added that “within minutes” of the news of Palestinian teenager Mohammed Abu Khdeir’s murder last week, allegedly by Jewish extremists, he tweeted that it was “despicable.”

“The role of the CRC chair is to fight racism, promote multiculturalism and ensure community harmony,” Alhadeff told the Herald. “This is what I have done passionately and will continue to do.”

WJC’s Lauder calls on Spain to return painting stolen by Nazis

(JTA)—The president of the World Jewish Congress, Ronald Lauder, urged a leading Spanish museum to return a painting that the Nazis stole from a Jewish art collector.

Lauder in a statement issued last Friday called on the state-owned Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid to stop its legal fight to keep the Impressionist masterpiece “Rue Saint-Honoré, après-midi, effet de plui0e,” which was stolen from Lilly Cassirer, a German Jew seeking to flee her homeland in 1939.

The museum, which does not dispute that the painting was stolen, is fighting the lawsuit on technicalities, including international jurisdiction issues and time limitation on restitution claims.

Cassirer’s father-in-law, Julius, purchased the painting from the painter Camille Pissarro. Her late grandson, Claude, sued for restitution in 2005 in a claim he filed with a U.S. district court in California.

“The Spanish government and the museum have subjected the late Claude Cassirer and now his heirs to a decade of litigation largely on technical legal issues,” Lauder wrote. “We are calling on Spain to fulfill promptly their moral obligation to this family.”

Lauder also noted that “since 1988, Spain has been a party to three different declarations, signed by dozens of nations, committing it to return looted art or settle with victims’ families expeditiously.”

In 2000, Lilly’s grandson Claude discovered that the painting was on display in the museum, which houses the collection of the late Baron Hans-Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza, the nephew of Fritz Thyssen, one of the largest German industrialists in the Third Reich.

After being rebuffed in his efforts to have the painting returned, Claude Cassirer filed suit in 2005 against Spain and the museum. Since his death, his two children, together with the United Jewish Federation of San Diego County, have continued the fight.

Dutch parliament calls on P.A. to stop paying salaries to terrorists

(JTA)—The Dutch parliament unanimously passed a motion calling for an end to salaries that the Palestinian Authority pays to convicted terrorists.

The motion was supported by the 148 lawmakers in the Dutch lower house, the House of Representatives, who voted. The House has 150 members.

“The parliament asserts that since 2011, the Palestinian Authority transfers money to Palestinian convicts in Israeli prisons [and] that these moneys can have a negative effect, in which criminality and terrorism are rewarded,” read the motion submitted by Joel Voordewind and Kees Van der Staaij of the Christian Union and SGP: Reformed Political Party parties, respectively.

In the motion passed earlier this month, the Dutch parliament also “request the government to take effort, also in European Union frameworks, for ending this Palestinian policy” and “to inform branches of government and parliament” of the policy before the annual vote on the foreign ministry’s budget.

Votes on the ministry’s budget are often accompanied by scrutiny of how the ministry spends resources abroad, including on aid programs in the Palestinian Authority and Gaza Strip.

The Netherlands gives $88 million annually to the Palestinian Authority in addition to about $24 million that it donates to UNRWA, according to the De Telegraaf daily.

Holland’s former foreign minister, Uri Rosenthal, has said that of those sums, only $10,800 is used by the Palestinian Authority to pay salaries to terrorists, but Voordewind said recent figures show the real figure is closer to $5.5 million.

Recruitment of alumni enables Ukrainian Jewish camp to stay open

DNEPROPETROVSK, Ukraine (JTA)—Organizers of a Ukrainian Jewish summer camp recruited their alumni as counselors to avoid closure.

Camp Shuva, which is held annually at a site 50 miles from Kiev, opened for the 25th consecutive year earlier this month thanks to the recruitment plan, Rabbi Yaakov Dov Bleich, a chief rabbi of the Ukraine and the camp’s organizer, told JTA.

The camp, which has relied on foreign volunteers to serve as counselors, almost did not open this year because organizers “couldn’t get any volunteers to come work as counselors,” Bleich said, adding the problem was connected to unrest in Ukraine following its bloody revolution and conflict with Russia.

In addition, the opening was threatened by a lack of funds created by Ukraine’s ailing economy and the need to spend on security and other emergencies, said Bleich, who is the president of the Jewish Confederation of Ukraine.

His organization launched an online campaign to raise funds to cover the deficits and simultaneously recruited alumni from Shuva Camp to serve as counselors and replace the foreign staff.

The Jewish Confederation of Ukraine estimated the cost of running the camp for 60 days at $288,000.

The camp operates out of a compound donated in 2002 by the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation and will host four groups throughout the summer, bringing together a total of 500 adults and children, Bleich said.

“The camp has always been important to instilling Jewish life in Ukraine,” he said, “but it’s especially important now for instilling a feeling of normalcy.”

The counselors chose to prepare activities built around the theme of peace.

“Especially now, it’s important kids from all across Ukraine can come and see what unites us as Jews,” Bleich said.

 

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