Last week, Ministry of Defense Crossing Authority officials at the Kerem Shalom crossing thwarted an attempt to smuggle crates containing dual use substances used in the manufacturing of explosive devices. The materials were discovered within a shipment of medical equipment en route to the Gaza Strip.
The materials seized by the examiners were taken to a laboratory for testing. The lab identified the substances as a central component used in the preparation of explosive charges and in the high-trajectory industry within the Gaza Strip. An investigation is currently being carried out by the Israeli Police and other security forces.
The laboratory for substance identification was set up several months ago at the Kerem Shalom crossing in order to locate problematic materials whose entry into the Gaza Strip is forbidden for fear of reaching terrorist forces. Using advanced equipment, the lab tests a wide range of materials, from gases, liquids, powders, solids, metals and others before they enter the Gaza Strip.
The laboratory is a joint project of the MOD Crossing Authority, the Israel Security Agency, and Israel Police Crossing Department of the Israel Police- whose operational purpose is to identify the type of material within as short a time frame as possible from the point of sampling. This is in order to minimize the danger to crossing officials and in order to improve the quality of service and to minimize as much as possible any delays in the entry of goods into Gaza.
This discovery joins the dozens of smuggling attempts foiled by Kerem Shalom Crossing Authority employees during 2017.
An ancient pool unearthed by archaeologists near Jerusalem is being linked to where St Philip may have baptised the Ethiopian eunuch.
The large pool is part of a system of a network built during the Byzantine era and discovered at Ein Hanniya Park between 2012 and 2016, officials said on Wednesday according to the New York Post. They date back to between the 4th and 6th centuries AD, according to the Israel Antiquities Authority, and are typical of royal structures during the First Temple period 960 BC and 586 BC.
It is unclear what the pool would have been used for, experts said.
‘It’s difficult to know what the pool was used for — whether for irrigation, washing, landscaping or perhaps as part of baptismal ceremonies at the site,’ said Irina Zilberbod, excavation director for the Israel Antiquities Authority.
Ancient coins, pottery and glass also found at Ein Hanniya site suggest it was also a hive of activity between the 4th and 6th centuries BC.
‘We believe that some early Christian commentators identified Ein Hanniya as the site where the Ethiopian eunuch was baptised, as described in Acts 8:26–40,’ Jerusalem district archaeologist Dr Yuval Baruch said in a statement.
‘The baptism of the eunuch by St Philip was one of the key events in the spread of Christianity. Therefore, identifying the place where it occurred occupied scholars for many generations and became a common motif in Christian art.’
Listening to U.S. Vice President Mike Pence’s address to the Knesset last week was a euphoric experience. Pence is a devout evangelical Christian who regards America’s religious commitment as a crucial component of the administration’s policy. He genuinely believes that God will bless those who bless Israel.
President Donald Trump’s deputy affirmed the United States’ love of Israel, based on our biblical and historical vision and the spiritual bonds we share.
He stressed that the administration still sought a peace settlement but asserted that ultimately, the parties must negotiate directly with each other. As Trump pointed out, the days of free lunches are over and the Palestinians will no longer be able to take for granted that the billions of dollars of U.S. aid would continue pouring in to support them. More importantly, the entire U.N. Relief and Works Agency operation was being reviewed on the suspicion that vast funds were being spent on incitement and that no effort had been made to integrate the refugees and their descendants – but instead, they had been exploited in the fight against Israel.
The Trump administration’s policy is a stark contrast to that of the Barack Obama era when at best Israel and the Palestinians were portrayed as morally equivalent, even as Abbas praised and rewarded killers and their families.
Pence declared that “we stand with Israel because we believe your cause is our cause, your values are our values and your fight is our fight. We stand with Israel because we believe in right over wrong, in good over evil, and in liberty over tyranny.”
This was accompanied by pledges of support and renewed commitments to open a Jerusalem embassy next year.
He also guaranteed that the U.S. would never acquiesce to a nuclear-armed Iran.
No American leader has ever spoken to or about Israel this way. It signaled the end of the daylight Obama created between the U.S. and Israel. It was thus apt of Pence to recite the Shehecheyanu blessing, thanking God for granting us life, sustaining us, and enabling us to reach this occasion.
Setting aside the Joint Arab List MKs who were ejected from the Knesset for creating a disturbance and the Meretz representatives who remained seated, almost the entire Knesset gave him repeated standing ovations. Aside from the visit of Indian Prime Minister Modi, it was the first display of near-total unity in the Knesset toward a foreign statesman since the nation’s division over the Oslo Accords.
The overwhelming majority of Israelis feel cautiously optimistic about the new administration’s policy toward Israel and especially the visit of Pence.
Not so among American Jewry, where polls suggest that 42% (initially including Reform leader Rabbi Rick Jacobs) opposed Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem, considering it harmful to the peace process. That 70% voted against Trump is no excuse for such behavior, which amounts to contempt for Israel’s interests.
Their attitude remained unchanged even after Abbas refused to meet Pence and made it clear that he would never recognize Israel as a Jewish state. In a series of anti-Semitic speeches, Abbas cursed the Balfour Declaration, warned of massive terror attacks and lashed out against Trump, insisting that he would not have any future dealings with the administration or Israel until the recognition of Israel’s capital was reversed. Trump responded that Jerusalem was off the table. Needless to say, to the outrage of the delusional Left, Pence also failed to describe the duplicitous Abbas as a “peace partner.”
The Israel media’s reaction was astonishing. With the exception of Israel Hayom, it abounded with columns minimizing and mocking Pence’s address.
Haaretz, which despises the Trump administration, described Pence’s speech as “bombast” and accused him of promoting messianic evangelical Zionism and being more Zionist than Israelis.
The Jerusalem Post’s political correspondent (in contrast to Herb Keinan’s excellent analysis) dismissed the importance of the Pence visit, comparing it to a recent trip by comedian Jerry Seinfeld. Another Jerusalem Post columnist claimed that Trump, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley and now Pence had given Israel a “get out of jail free” card that would encourage intransigence and not make it “search for ways to move forward.”
One might ask those calling on Israel to “move forward” to elaborate. The implication is that the worse Abbas becomes, the more concessions we should provide, thereby appeasing those seeking our destruction.
Instead of commending Pence for distinguishing between good and evil, the Israeli media condemned him for casting blame on the Palestinians and not on Israel. While Israel has made mistakes, to suggest that both parties are equally at fault and morally equivalent is utter distortion.
For the first time since our independence, the American leadership is willing to tell the truth and expose the evil emanating from the Palestinians and their allies.
They have ceased repeating the mantra of equivalence between those striving for peace and those inciting to bloodshed.
This is truly a sea change; we should unite to take advantage of this situation which, given the turbulence of American politics, cannot be guaranteed to last forever.
Isi Leibler’s website can be viewed at www.wordfromjerusalem.com. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Morning Star News) – After opposition shut down a meeting center for Messianic Jews in southern Israel last May, ultra-Orthodox Jews are harassing it again since it re-opened this month, sources said.
Ultra-Orthodox Jews protested the presence of the center in Dimona, Israel on Tuesday (Jan. 23) and threatened some of the Messianic Jews, followers of Jesus, according to advocacy group Middle East Concern (MEC).
“Protests have taken place the last two weeks after the reopening of the center at the beginning of January,” according to a MEC press statement.
The center, where Messianic Jews meet for conversation, coffee and tea, had been temporarily closed last year due to protests by ultra-Orthodox Jews on May 4, 2017, after which they damaged Messianic Jewish leaders’ homes, breaking windows and traumatizing two children inside one home, one of the leaders told Messianic news outlet Kehila News Israel.
“Because we bent down at the right moment, we were not hit by stones thrown at us,” Albert Knoester, elder at a Messianic congregation in Beersheba, said of last year’s attacks in an interview published by Kehila News Israel. “Apart from this damage, there was also psychological trauma to one of the families in Dimona, due to the demonstrations and also because their house was damaged by stones. But also through bullying, etc., their two young daughters were traumatized by what had happened, and they needed psychological help.”
Knoester, of Nachalat Yeshua (Yeshua’s Inheritance) congregation, said that not long after protestors secretly filmed the Messianic Jews at a Town Hall meeting last year, demonstrators including members of the ultra-Orthodox Yad L’Achim showed up at his and house and did more damage, including smashing windows.
Those incidents, however, led to townsfolk on the street inviting them for drinks to talk, he told Kehila News.
“Quite a number of ‘ordinary people’ are feeling ashamed of what is being done to us,” he told Kehila News. “We receive invitations from people to come over and have a coffee with them. We had at least six times an opportunity to explain to a rabbi why we believe that Jesus is the Messiah – as a result of the question to us, ‘Why do you believe that Jesus is the Messiah?’”
Local media have misrepresented the center as a “mission post,” and false reports including accusations of bribery for conversion to Christianity have also led Jews to talk with them, he told the news outlet. A group of rabbis showed up to interrogate them, he said, and when his wife Esther responded with verses from Psalm 23, they agreed to temporarily close the center while continuing to discuss what place the “Open House” should have in the community.
“One day later,” he told Kehila News, “one of the rabbis wrote in a local newspaper: ‘We went to that house in order to silence them by force, but that woman would not stop talking! She should know about that other verse of Psalm 23: about the valley of the shadow of death. Let her go through it, together with her husband.’”
In the following days local media began a slander campaign, he said. Besides the bribery accusation – that they would offer a car in exchange for converting to Christianity – they were accused of putting a powder in people’s coffee “to change Jews into Christians,” and of coercing Jews to convert by force, he told the news outlet.
“Because they are unable to charge us, and unable to find anything against us, another weapon is used instead: lies, gossip, changing facts and blackmail,” he told Kehila News. “There are pictures of us in the city center with severe warnings. Also, big posters on billboards with nasty texts have been put up. The people are warned to watch out and protect their children against us.”
Bible Society Threatened In Tel Aviv, a Bible Society bookshop is under threat of being shut down.
The owner of the bookshop’s building alleges that the Bible Society is violating its commercial license by changing the purpose under the rental agreement from selling books to managing or advancing missionary activity and therefore should not have protected tenant status, according to MEC. The owner also accuses the Bible Society of violating the agreement by adding another partner. The Bible Society denies both accusations. Its shop has been in the same location for 55 years.
On Wednesday (Jan. 24) two representatives of the Bible Society in Israel went to court to give testimony, but the judge did not appear due to illness, and the case has been postponed to an as yet unknown date, MEC said in a statement.
“The delay is frustrating for those concerned, but the director of the Bible Society in Israel affirms that God is in control and thanks everyone for their prayers and encouragement,” the MEC statement reads. “It is believed that the owner of the premises is being influenced by others who are opposed to the presence of the Bible Society in Tel Aviv and the sale of Christian books.”
In Bethlehem, where two nuns and their convent in the Palestinian Territories were attacked last year, a policeman appeared to be altering the facts in his testimony at a hearing on the case on Monday (Jan. 22), according to MEC.
On April 30, 2017, a woman identified as a member of the Mahatna family, which has taken over part of St. Mary’s Coptic Convent, broke into its storeroom and physically assaulted a nun identified only as Sister Maria, besides damaging the property. While the nuns were on the way to a police station to file a complaint, the alleged assailant’s brother, Rami, and a friend stopped their car and struck it with an iron bar, unaware that a police officer was inside the car, MEC reported.
“According to Sister Maria, the police officer who had been in the car failed to give a true account of what happened” in testimony this week, MEC reported. “It is believed that the Mahatna family have close links to influential members of the Palestinian Authority and that, as a result, the course of justice is being obstructed.”
A lawyer representing the nuns has asked for damages to the car to be examined by an expert and presented as evidence. The next hearing is scheduled for April 9.
The Mahatna family has illegally taken up residence in part of the convent building, according to MEC.
At a prior hearing on Monday (Jan. 22) regarding the alleged assault on Sister Maria by the Mahatna family member, identified only as Rania, a judge appeared sympathetic to medical reports on the nun’s injuries, according to MEC. A final hearing is scheduled for March 23.
“Prayer is requested that the judges will examine the cases fairly, and that justice will be seen to be promptly done; and that the Mahatna family members will stop harassing the nuns and move out of the convent premises,” MEC said in a statement.
Gaza-based terrorist group says that by praying at the holy site, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence had “defiled Al-Aqsa with a Jewish ritual” • Hamas: Pence’s speech before Israeli parliament proves the U.S. has a strategic alliance with the Zionist entity.
Hamas on Tuesday denounced U.S. Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to the Western Wall in Jerusalem, saying his prayer there “desecrated” a Muslim place of worship.
The Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray, is part of the Temple Mount compound, which also houses Al-Aqsa mosque, the third holiest site in Islam after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.
Pence visited the site on the last leg of his Middle East tour. He stood solemnly with his hand on the wall and left a note, as people who pray there traditionally do. In response, the Gaza Strip-based terrorist group said that by praying at the Wall, Pence had “defiled Al-Aqsa with a Jewish ritual.”
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said Pence’s tour in Israel was “unwelcome.” He accused the U.S. of promoting pro-Israel and anti-Palestinian policies, saying that Pence’s speech before the Israeli parliament “proves the USA has a strategic alliance with the Zionist entity.”
America “doesn’t take the interests and requirements of the Islamic and Arab nation into consideration,” Haniyeh said.
He accused the Trump administration of targeting “the principles of the Palestinian cause” by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and cutting funds to U.N. Relief and Works Agency, the agency responsible for Palestinians refugees and their descendants.
Hamas further praised Arab Israeli lawmakers who disrupted Pence during his Knesset address.
Joint Arab List MKs hoisted signs reading, “Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine” during the speech and heckled the vice president. They had to be forcibly removed from the plenum.
Pence responded to the fracas by saying with a smile: “It is deeply humbling for me to stand before this vibrant democracy.”
The Palestinians called for a general strike across the West Bank and east Jerusalem on Tuesday in protest of Pence’s pledge that the U.S. Embassy in Israel will move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by the end of 2019.
Demonstrations protesting Pence’s visit were held in Bethlehem and Nablus on Monday. In both locations, protesters shouted anti-Israel and anti-U.S. slogans as they waved crossed-out posters depicting Trump and Pence, and some even burned them.