Weekly roundup of world briefs


August 25, 2023

Jerusalem merchant arrested after charging US tourist $1,900 for ashtray

(JNS) — Police detained a merchant in Jerusalem’s Old City this week after he allegedly scammed an American tourist by charging her almost $1,900 for an ashtray using her credit card.

Earlier this month, the man approached a woman, who is in her 60s, after seeing her smoking near his shop. He proceeded to give her an ashtray. Eventually, after thanking him for the gesture, she asked to buy it, to which he responded that it would cost 30,000 shekels (about $8,000), but she said she does not have that amount.

He then carried out the alleged scam, giving her $800 and telling her, “This is so you would have money during your visit; I will charge your credit card.” 

But rather than charge her for that amount, he went on to carry out a transaction in which it would appear that she willingly bought the item for $2,700.

The woman did not realize the scam had happened until this week; she rushed to the bank. The tellers told her she would have to provide a receipt before they could do anything about the transaction. When she returned to the merchant and asked him to produce the document, he refused, as this would make his profit taxable.

Distraught, she left the shop. Police officers who noticed asked her what had happened, at which point she told them about it. They went on to arrest the alleged scammer and he was taken in for questioning. 

The Israel Police intelligence and investigation officer for that area of Jerusalem said, “We will continue pursuing scammers with a whole host of methods, both openly and covertly, so that they are held accountable.”

He added that “these criminals also impeach the country’s reputation and its efforts to bolster tourism in the old city and overall.”

Originally published by Israel Hayom.

‘Al-Quds’ reporter: Colony on Mars probably easier than Palestinian state

(JNS) — Said Arikat, Washington bureau chief of the Palestinian daily Al-Quds, often smears Israel during his ostensible questions at U.S. State Department press briefings. Tuesday was no different.

“It is probably easier to establish a colony on Mars than—at least—than a state for the Palestinians,” Arikat told Vedant Patel, the State Department’s principal deputy spokesman.

“What practical steps has the United States taken in the past few months to reverse the settlement process, the balance that the Israeli occupation is inflicting on the Palestinians, the stealing of the land, terrorists that you call terrorists [in a reference to Jewish suspects] that are being let out the following day, and so on?” Arikat asked.

He added that there is an envoy for normalization (between Israel and Arab states) but not a peace envoy, “which the United States has had for decades, where you sort of started negotiations, brought people together, talked about this issue.”

Patel replied, “The particular designation of somebody in a specific role or a personnel decision to assign someone to a specific portfolio is not necessarily indicative of the weight that our government places on an issue,” he said. 

“We have been quite clear from every corner of this administration from day one of how integral we see a negotiated two-state solution as a peaceful resolution to the current situation,” Patel added. “I will also note that part of this, Said, is not having some sort of glitzy rollout of major policy steps or steps that we’ve taken.”

“Yet not one settlement has been rolled back,” Arikat interjected, before launching into an unrelated question.

Maccabi Haifa punches ticket to UEFA Champions League playoffs

(JNS) —Israeli champions Maccabi Haifa F.C. advanced to the UEFA Champions League playoff round on Tuesday with a convincing 3-1 victory over ŠK Slovan Bratislava.

The 30,000-plus green-clad supporters at Sammy Ofer Stadium roared in approval after forward Frantzdy Pierrot, who also plays for the Haitian national side, hit the back of the net at the 29th minute. Attacking midfielder Dia Saba struck in the second minute of extra time before half-time making it 2-0 for the Israeli team.

Croatian attacking midfielder Marko Tolić scored for the Slovak club at the 85-minute mark and Haifa forward Dean David added a goal in the third minute of extra time to make the final score 3-1.

Maccabi Haifa won 2-1 in Slovakia last week in the first leg of the third qualifying round, claiming a 5-2 victory on aggregate and setting up a playoff match against BSC Young Boys based in Bern, Switzerland. 

A win against the Swiss club would book The Greens from the Carmel a spot in the UEFA Champions League group stage for the second straight year and the fourth time in club history. While not advancing last year, the team notably defeated Italian soccer powerhouse Juventus 2-0, securing its first UEFA Champions League win since 2002.

The club in May claimed its third consecutive Israeli Premier League championship title.

Sammy Ofer will play host to the first leg against the Swiss club on Aug. 23, with the second leg at Stadion Wankdorf on Aug. 29.

Israel’s AG won’t defend ‘reasonableness law’ at High Court hearing

(JNS) —Israel’s Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara will not represent the government in a High Court hearing on petitions against the “reasonableness law,” Ynet reported on Wednesday.

Instead, Baharav-Miara will allow Justice Minister Yariv Levin to seek private counsel to represent him in the petitions filed attempting to overturn the key piece of the ruling coalition’s legislative agenda to reform the judicial system.

The attorney general stated that the approval comes “in view of the apparent differences in positions regarding the petitions.” She plans to recommend that the court overturn the amendment to Basic Law: The Judiciary, which she said is “not legal.”

“The AG’s decision is based on the fact that this is an exceptional event, in view of the fact that the petitions deal with precedent-setting and particularly sensitive constitutional issues,” Baharav-Miara wrote.

The court will hear the petitions on the law, an amendment to Israel’s Basic Law: The Judiciary, on Sept. 12, with all 15 judges presiding. The Supreme Court, sitting as the High Court of Justice, last week issued an order asking Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to explain why the court should not strike down the law.

The amendment, passed on July 24 by all 64 lawmakers in the governing coalition, bars “reasonableness” as a justification for judges to reverse government decisions.

Most Israelis do not trust mainstream media

(JNS) — The great majority of Israelis do not trust mainstream media, according to a survey the Central Bureau of Statistics released on Wednesday.

Only 35 percent of Israelis polled said that the mainstream media provides credible information, compared to 60 percent who did not find the reporting reliable, the poll found.

Less than half of those polled found television, radio and newspapers to be credible, compared to only a quarter for social media.

Fifty percent of respondents said that the media presents things in a more negative light compared to reality, while 25 percent said press reports reflect the situation in the country and 13 percent said the media reports on things in a more positive way than the underlying reality.

Forty-seven percent of respondents said that television was their major source of news, compared to 42 percent who cited the internet. The older ones tend to get more of their news from television while younger Israelis opt for the web.

The annual survey on attitudes regarding communications and social media, which polled 6,501 Israelis over the age of 20, did not cite a margin of error.

Eilat’s coral reefs getting sicker

(JNS) — The condition of the coral reefs in the Gulf of Eilat/Aqaba continues to deteriorate, according to the report for 2022 on the Israel National Monitoring Program in the Northern Gulf of Aqaba published on Thursday.

A combination of the warming of the Red Sea, underwater pollutants, extreme storms and disease outbreaks are contributing to the worsening of the ecosystem, the Israeli Environmental Protection Ministry report says.

Action must be taken to reduce the impact on the marine ecosystem from development at the popular Red Sea resort, particularly from artificial lighting, the report states. It also expresses concern about an expansion of the Eilat desalination plant that could lead to an increase in nitrogen and brine discharged to the sea.

The report points to a severe winter storm in March 2020 that damaged the coral reef through sand, infrastructure and debris. A survey found a 6 percent to 22 percent loss of living cover, depending on the site examined.

Another 1.5 percent decrease in coral cover was found in 2021, and it wasn’t until 2022 that the beginning of a recovery was measured.

The Gulf of Eilat is home to one of the northernmost coral reefs in the world. It is one of the fastest-warming regions as well—the sea surface temperature in the Gulf has been increasing since 1988 at a rate 2.5 times higher than the world average.

“The reef in Eilat is a national and global asset, which is affected by climate change and extreme weather events that lead to its deterioration,” Environmental Protection Minister Idit Silman said.

“Given that global conditions, such as the warming of seawater and the increase in acidity, are not improving and even deteriorating—the reef will have difficulty dealing with local impacts of sea pollution, oil spills and irresponsible development,” the minister said.

“All entities must act responsibly and make extensive use of science to formulate environmental policies, with the aim to preserve the ecosystem and the coral reef in the Gulf of Eilat,” Silman said.

The report was prepared by the Interuniversity Institute of Marine Sciences in Eilat, funded by the Environmental Protection Ministry’s Marine Pollution Prevention Fund, and conducted under the guidance of the ministry’s chief scientist, Professor Noga Kronfeld-Schor.

Terrorists fire on industrial park in northern Samaria

(JNS) — Palestinian terrorists fired on the Shahak Industrial Park in northern Samaria on Thursday, the Israel Defense Forces said.

The IDF reported no casualties but said that the attack had caused material damage.

The vehicle used in the attack was located in Palestinian Authority territory and contained ammunition and spent cartridges. Israeli forces were searching the area for the suspected shooters.

“The shooting joins the dozens of shooting incidents over the past year which occurred in the bloc of settlements in northern Samaria, and the attempts to launch rockets toward the towns,” said Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan.

“The situation in northern Samaria cannot continue this way,” Dagan added.

“I demand that the prime minister, defense minister and all of the government ministers renew the ‘Bayit Vagan’ operation [the IDF’s 48-hour counterterror operation in Jenin in July] and eliminate the Palestinian Authority’s terror infrastructure. We will not be sitting ducks in a firing range,” he said.

“We will not accept a situation in which a person leaves for work in the morning and does not know if he will return since he is exposed to gunfire from terrorists due to the fact that we have become the Wild West,” Dagan said.

The shooting came amid an ongoing wave of Palestinian terrorism throughout Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem.

Shortly after midnight on Thursday, suspected Palestinian terrorists hurled rocks at Israeli vehicles on the Route 60 highway in the area of Al-Lubban ash-Sharqiya near Ramallah, Rescuers Without Borders (Hatzalah Judea and Samaria) reported.

At least one car was hit, slightly injuring two people. The driver managed to keep driving until he reached the Jewish community of Eli. The two victims did not need medical treatment, said Hatzalah.

Meanwhile, local media reported on Wednesday about an attempted lynching that took place in the northeastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya on Saturday.

According to Channel 14, a haredi, or ultra-Orthodox, Jewish couple from the Etzion bloc in Judea made a wrong turn into the Arab-majority area while on their way to the delivery room at Hadassah Medical Center at Mount Scopus.

“I soon realized that I did not know how to get out of the area, so I opened the window to ask, ‘How do I get to Mount Scopus from here?’ And when I opened the window, immediately a bottle was thrown at me,” the father related.

The Arab mob continued to bombard their car with rocks, firecrackers and bottles, and a teenager punched the husband as he tried to pull him out of the vehicle. “I have no doubt that it was clear to them that my wife was in labor. … And yet, they brutally attacked,” he said.

Eventually, the man was able to press the gas, escape and reach the hospital, where his wife gave birth to a healthy baby boy. The new father was taken to the emergency room, Channel 14 reported.

Arabic subtitles for ‘Oppenheimer’ film omit references to Jews

(JNS) — The three-hour film “Oppenheimer,” which dramatizes the life of Jewish physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, the “father of the atomic bomb,” has already earned more than $650 million worldwide. Depending on where one sees the film, it might be judenrein.

Arabic subtitles translate the word “Jew” as “stranger,” The National reported last week.

“Translated by a Lebanon-based company, the subtitles in the version released in the region omit mentions of Jews, using the term ‘ghurabaa’ instead, which is Arabic for ‘strangers’ or ‘foreigners,’” the Abu Dhabi-based daily reported. “In other instances, the word is avoided altogether. The commonly used word for ‘Jews’ in Arabic is ‘Yehudi.’”

A Universal Pictures representative told The National that it followed guidelines of Middle East censor boards. “There are topics we usually don’t tackle, and that is one of them. We cannot use the word ‘Jew,’ the direct translation in Arabic, otherwise it may be edited, or they ask us to remove it,” the representative said.

“In order to avoid that, so people can enjoy the movie without having so many cuts, we would just change the translation a little bit,” the spokesperson added.

“Jew” appears many times in the Koran.

Senior Israel Navy reservist suspended for refusing voluntary service

(JNS) — The Israel Defense Forces announced on Thursday the suspension of a high-ranking naval reservist for refusing to show up for duty in protest of judicial reform.

His service was suspended following a conversation with the head of the navy. The suspension of another reservist who boycotted reserve duty will be up for review in the coming days after a conversation with him takes place.

Both reserve officers hold the rank of commander and serve as combat managers at navy headquarters at the Kirya in Tel Aviv. They are over the age of reserve service and reported voluntarily.

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi approved the decision of OC Navy Vice Adm. David Salama.


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