Posts Tagged ‘Shin Bet’

Palestinian flags at Israel nation-state law protest — Plot to kill Hamas leaders?

August 12, 2018

The appearance of Palestinian flags at a protest against the nation-state law has those on the right crowing and those in the center shaking their heads

August 12, 2018
Israeli Arabs and Jews protest against the nation-state law' in Tel Aviv on August 11, 2018. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Israeli Arabs and Jews protest against the nation-state law’ in Tel Aviv on August 11, 2018. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

1.Anti-flag: Israelis on the left and right saw the same protest at Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square against the nation-state law Saturday night, but are drawing very different conclusions.

  • On the right, the appearance of Palestinian flags at the rally proves their point about the need for legislation enshrining the country’s Jewish character, including it’s Star of David flag, in law.
  • “Wrong flag,” reads a headline in Israel Hayom.
  • “With a protest like this, who needs to explain the law,” writes Zvi Hauser, a former aide to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the same paper, reflecting the view of many in the government (including the prime minister) who spoke out against the flags as exposing the real face of opposition to the law.
  • The nationalist Israel National News website leads its news section with the headline “PLO flags in the heart of Tel Aviv,” and the fact that it doesn’t even mention the flags in the story reflects how it takes for granted that its readers will gather all they need from just those few words.

2. Flag-flogged: And it was not even just the hard right incensed by the flags’ appearance. The populist Yedioth Ahronoth tabloid cover features a picture of a flag and the headline “Palestinians flags in the heart of Tel Aviv,” and the Walla website also notes them in its top headline.

  • Yedioth notes that while there were some Israeli flags, they were outstripped by the number of Palestinian ones. “This is my flag … I have no connection to the Israeli flag,” one protester is quoted saying.
  • The protest also says that some at the protest chanted “with blood and fire we will redeem Palestine.”
  • Mohammed Barakeh, among the organizers of the protest, told ToI’s Adam Rasgon that protesters had been asked not to bring the flags, but had not listened.
  • What results is a tongue-lashing from critics of the law who now feel their protest has been tarred by the Palestinian national symbols.
  • “Organizers made a big mistake by allowing the flags,” former prime minister Ehud Barak wrote on Twitter. He called the flags and chants a “free service” for those backing the nation-state law.
  • “They shot themselves in the flag,” Yoaz Hendel, another former Netanyahu aide, quips in Yedioth. “Those waving Palestinian flags … are not demanding equality or coexistence, but the erasure of the Jewish right of self determination in the state of Israel,” he writes.

3. Identity crisis: What these analyses are missing is the nuance needed to understand the place of the Palestinian flag and other Palestinian national symbols among Israel’s Arabs, many of whom self-identify as Palestinians, even if they are not necessarily Palestinian nationalists.

  • As a Kafr Qassem teacher told the Christian Science Monitor in 2016, “We don’t have an identity. We are the real refugees. We have a conflict between the national side and civilian side.”
  • A reflection of this unease is the lack of outcry over a protest against the law last week that saw just as many, if not more Druze flags, since Israelis don’t fear any national aspirations by the Druze. Palestinian flags, on the other hand, are viewed with deep distrust because there is a Palestinian movement, thus the reduction of the waving of a flag to a desire to subsume Israel.

4Who’s afraid of the Arabs: “The law sparked an unprecedented mass demonstration of Israeli Arabs in the heart of Tel Aviv, known as the first Hebrew city, but it also exposed the lingering duality of the Palestinian community, as it defines itself. Their show of force also demonstrated their isolation,” Chemi Shalev writes in Haaretz.

  • Shalev notes the fact that mainstream Israelis showed up to the Druze protest but shunned this one shows how they are viewed within Israeli society.
  • Addressing those like Labor head Avi Gabbay who refused to show up because of Palestinian national symbols, Meretz head Tamar Zandberg wrote on Facebook: “So there will be a flag or sign you don’t agree with. So fucking what.”
  • One person who was not afraid was Haaretz publisher Amos Schocken, who spoke at the rally, and whose broadsheet, the flagship paper of the Israeli left, reflects his view of the importance of the Arab-led rally.
  • The paper’s lead editorial chastises Gabbay and other members of Zionist Union for failing to show up, saying they earned a “badge of shame.”
  • “Those who rightly demonstrated against the law together with the Druze in that same square just a week earlier, yet decided to boycott a similar demonstration organized by the Arab community’s Higher Arab Monitoring Committee, missed an important opportunity to expand the protest. No excuse can obscure this,” the editorial reads.

5Swimming with sharks: The weekend saw mostly quiet on the Gaza border for a change, though Friday did see some protests and a massive fire kite managed to get tangled in the power lines of a kibbutz.

  • A picture of kids playing in a pool is used in Yedioth to represent the weekend of calm after a tense couple of days (though some may find the picture insensitive given the dire humanitarian situation and lack of clean drinking water just across the border.)
  • The calm is the fruits of Israel’s decision to reach yet another ceasefire with Hamas, despite loud protests from politicians and those on the right who see Israel as weak.
  • “Nothing has actually changed. Short of some sharp turn, which does not seem to be on the horizon, the shooting will return soon, and with it the chances for a wide operation,” writes Yoav Limor in Israel Hayom.
  • However, in Yedioth, Shimrit Meir, editor of the Arab-language al-Masdar, praises Netanyahu (a rare feat for that paper) for restraining himself rather than going to war: “One assumes we’ll have a traditional round of fighting for a few days or weeks and find ourselves picking up the phone for the Egyptian or Qatari mediator to scribble out a ceasefire. So why not just skip the days in the bomb shelters and billions spent on fighting and go straight to a long-term deal with Hamas?”

6Kill ’em all: In what may be a planned leak meant as a scare tactic to push Hamas to the table, or an actual leak of battle plans, Haaretz reports that Israel has put together a plot to assassinate Hamas’s leaders.

  • The paper writes that the army and Shin Bet see killing the top of the terror group as preferable to launching an all out-war, but notes that doing so could end up launching another round of fighting in any case, which is the understatement of the century.

7Cold Turkey: Though it has no horse in the race, Israel’s press is taking an interest in the Turkey-US spat.

  • Israel Hayom calls the words of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan “empty threats” precipitated by the crash of the lira.
  • In Yedioth, Nadav Eyal calls Erdogan’s decision to threaten US President Donald Trump that he’ll start looking for new allies “the worst thing he could have done.”
  • “Those around Erdogan are trying to explain to him the terrible situation Turkey is in, and what unpopular steps he needs to take,” he writes.
  • Haaretz’s Zvi Bar’el, meanwhile, doesn’t see much smart policy or strategy from either leader: “The fraught relations may resemble a chess game, but the two primary players, Trump and Erdogan, don’t have the patience or the temperament required of chess players. At the same time, they still have critical shared interests that could force a reconciliation.”

https://www.timesofisrael.com/flagging-support-7-things-to-know-for-august-12/

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Netanyahu cheers Israel’s Jewish state law as a ‘pivotal moment’ in Zionist history

July 19, 2018

Opposition lawmakers blast contentious legislation passed overnight, say it is designed to divide Israeli society

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a Knesset plenary session ahead of the vote on the National Law, July 18, 2018 (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a Knesset plenary session ahead of the vote on the National Law, July 18, 2018 (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Reactions to the Knesset’s passage overnight Wednesday of the new Jewish State law were predictably divided along party lines, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailing it as “a pivotal moment in the annals of Zionism and the State of Israel.”

Lawmakers approved the law, which enshrines Israel as “the national home of the Jewish people” in its quasi-constitutional Basic Laws, in its second and third readings, with 62 voting in favor, 55 opposed and two abstaining, after hours of heated debate in the Knesset chamber.

While the coalition feted the passage of the law, members of the opposition decried it as nationalistic, divisive and a threat to democracy.

“We enshrined in law the basic principle of our existence,” said Netanyahu. “Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people, that respects the individual rights of all its citizens. This is our state — the Jewish state. In recent years there have been some who have attempted to put this in doubt, to undercut the core of our being. Today we made it law: This is our nation, language and flag.”

The law’s main proponent over the past few years, former Shin Bet head Avi Dichter, said it was a response to anyone in Israel who believes Jewish presence is a temporary affair — referencing Arab MK Jamal Zahalka’s past claim that Arabs will outlast Jews in the country.

Likud MK Avi Dichter, sponsor of the Jewish state bill, speaks during the Knesset plenary session ahead of the vote on it, July 18, 2018 (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

“All you can be is an equal minority, not an equal nationality,” Dichter said.

He asserted, “Contrary to the disinformation and fake news that have flooded [the conversation], the Basic Law does not hurt Israel’s minority cultures.” He also claimed it does not detract from the status of the Arabic language.

One clause in the law downgrades Arabic from an official language to one of “special” standing, though it also says that “this clause does not harm the status given to the Arabic language before this law came into effect.”

Read the full text of the law here.

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein was also celebratory, saying “history” was made in the plenum, and calling the new legislation “one of the most important laws ever to be passed by the Knesset.”

Tourism Minister Yariv Levin condemned the opposition to the law by the Zionist Union faction, and particularly the Labor party, its chief component. “Tell us honestly, Labor members: Do you contest the Jewish people’s right to the Land of Israel? Is it not our nation state? Is its flag not acceptable to you? There has never been such a rejection by the Labor movement of Zionist values.”

Critics have said that the law is discriminatory to Israel’s Arab and other minority populations. and needlessly provokes those minorities by underlining a preferential attitude toward Judaism.

Zionist Union’s Shelly Yachimovich said, “Nobody believes it is nationality and the State of Israel that [the coalition is] interested in,” adding that the law encourages a “debased” form of nationalism “that hates the other.”

Zionist Union MK Shelly Yachimovich attends a faction meeting in the Knesset on February 6, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

MK Tzipi Livni said the law in its current form prioritizes politics over substance. “When I asked coalition MKs why they weren’t bringing forth a version of the law that a hundred MKs could unite around, they smiles at me cynically and said Netanyahu wants the law to create strife. ‘Otherwise how will people know he’s more patriotic than you? What will we get out of you supporting it?’ That’s the method.”

Outgoing opposition chief Isaac Herzog, the new head of the Jewish Agency, was more ambivalent, but expressed concern.

“The question is whether the law will hurt or strengthen Israel,” he said. “History will be the judge. I very much hope the delicate balance between [Israel’s] Jewish and democratic aspects will not be upset.”

In the opposition Yesh Atid party, MK Elazar Stern said the law was an insult “to our Druze and Bedouin brothers who serve with us in the IDF and in the security services.”

A lone voice of dissent in Likud, MK Benny Begin said the legislation was not what he expected from his party, and warned that it could increase societal tensions and boost extreme nationalism.

Meretz party head Tamar Zandberg, too, lamented the “shameful night” and “debased and tainted law.”

The most withering criticism came from the Joint (Arab) List, which called the law “anti-democratic, colonialist, racist and with clear characteristics of apartheid.”

“The law has no mention of the word democracy or the word equality, and is wholly committed to brutish emphasis of ethnic supremacy, leaving no doubt that there are two types of citizenship — first-rate ones for Jews and second-rate ones for Arabs,” it said.

Joint List head Ayman Odeh said in a statement that Israel “has passed a law of Jewish supremacy and told us that [minorities] will always be second-class citizens… Netanyahu’s regime is digging a deep pit of fear, racism, and authoritarianism to divide us from each other. ”

He added, “We will not allow the majority to humiliate and destroy us,” and vowed to fight for “a future for all of us with democracy, equality, and justice.”

The law also declares that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, sets the Hebrew calendar as the official calendar of the state, and recognizes Independence Day, days of remembrance and Jewish holidays.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett attends a Knesset plenary session ahead of the vote on the Jewish state law, July 18, 2018 (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

On Sunday, Netanyahu and Education Minister Naftali Bennett reached an agreement to cut a controversial clause that would have allowed the state to “authorize a community composed of people having the same faith and nationality to maintain the exclusive character of that community,” and replace it with a new clause celebrating “Jewish settlement” in Israel in general terms.

Lawmakers amended the bill accordingly just hours before the final authorization, removing the clause sanctioning housing discrimination on the basis of ethnicity or religion.

Some of the last-minute changes to the bill came after politicians, legal advisers and others warned that several of its clauses were discriminatory and could cast a dark shadow over Israel in the international arena.

Judaism is already mentioned throughout the country’s laws, and religious authorities control many aspects of life, including marriage. But the 11 existing Basic Laws deal mostly with state institutions like the Knesset, the courts, and the presidency, while Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty defines Israel’s democratic character.

Raoul Wootliff contributed to this report.

Times of Israel

https://www.timesofisrael.com/netanyahu-hails-jewish-state-law-as-a-pivotal-moment-in-zionist-history/

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Israel: Shin Bet says it thwarted plot to assassinate Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

June 5, 2018

East Jerusalem man, 2 accomplices arrested for allegedly planning ‘significant terror attacks’ on behalf of Syria-based group

Illustrative. Handcuffs in a courthouse. (Abir Sultan/Flash90)

Illustrative. Handcuffs in a courthouse. (Abir Sultan/Flash90)

Israeli forces arrested an East Jerusalem man suspected of planning to assassinate Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat earlier this year, on orders from a Syria-based terrorist group, the Shin Bet security service revealed on Tuesday.

The main suspect, 30-year-old Arab Israeli Muhammad Jamal Rashdeh, was arrested on April 24. Two more suspects were arrested in the following weeks, the Shin Bet said. The security service refused to identify the two suspected accomplices.

Indictments were filed against the three on May 27, but the case was kept under a court-issued gag order until Tuesday.

“Working on orders from terrorist operatives abroad, Muhammad planned to carry out a number of significant terror attacks against a variety of targets,” the security service said.

The targets included Netanyahu and Barkat, as well as buildings belonging to the US consulate in Jerusalem (which has since been converted into an embassy) and a delegation of Canadian security officials who were in Jerusalem to train Palestinian Authority security forces in the West Bank, the Shin Bet said.

A spokesperson for the security service said Rashdeh received his orders from members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command, a Syria-based terrorist group that fights alongside Syrian dictator Bashar Assad.

In order to carry out the attacks, Rashdeh and his accomplices planned to bring in an additional terrorist operative from Jordan, the Shin Bet said.

According to the security service, Rashdeh had already begun collecting intelligence about his targets.

“The arrest of the suspects thwarted significant terror attacks, which the cell had been requested to advance,” the Shin Bet said in a statement.

According to the Shin Bet, Rashdeh was a resident of the Shuafat refugee camp in East Jerusalem and had previously been incarcerated for “terrorist activities.”

https://www.timesofisrael.com/shin-bet-says-it-thwarted-plot-to-assassinate-prime-minister-jerusalem-mayor/

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Iran is funding Hamas’s violent campaign at Gaza border, Shin Bet says

May 14, 2018

Captured terror operatives tell Israeli security service they keep away from border, encourage youths to riot and sabotage fence as cover for attacks by terror group

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A Palestinian boy protester runs carrying a tire towards a fire during clashes with Israeli forces along the border with the Gaza strip east of Gaza City on May 4, 2018 (AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS)

A Palestinian boy protester runs carrying a tire towards a fire during clashes with Israeli forces along the border with the Gaza strip east of Gaza City on May 4, 2018 (AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS)

Iran is funding Hamas’s campaign to promote violence and attacks against Israel under the cover of mass demonstrations at the border, the Shin Bet security service said on Monday.

Hamas has warned its members to stay away from the security fence during Gaza’s mass protests, lest they get shot, while actively encouraging Palestinian civilians — particularly children and teens — to approach the border, the Shin Bet added, citing findings from a number of interrogations.

“There is a prohibition for Hamas operatives to approach the border, from a fear that they will be killed or captured by IDF troops, unless the security fence falls and then they must enter, armed, into Israel under the cover of the masses and carry out terror attacks,” the Shin Bet said in a statement.

Over the course of the past seven weeks of violent demonstrations along the Gaza border, in an event known collectively as the “March of Return,” Israeli forces have arrested a number of Palestinians, some of them Hamas members, who crossed the security fence into Israeli territory.

Ahead of mass riots expected on Monday, the Shin Bet released the findings of its interrogations of those suspects, which the security service said showed the methods used by Hamas to destabilize the border area, breach the fence and try to carry out terror attacks inside Israeli territory.

“From the information we have, it appears Hamas is encouraging and sending protesters to the border fence in order to carry out violent acts and damage security infrastructure. In addition, it was found that Iran is providing funding to Hamas in order for it to carry out these violent activities along the Gaza Strip’s border fence,” the Shin Bet said.

Palestinian demonstrators burn tires near the Gaza-Israel border, east of Gaza City, on May 14, 2018 (AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS)

The security service did not provide specific evidence of Iranian involvement. However, Hamas has maintained relations with the Islamic Republic and reportedly drawn significant funding from Tehran.

On Monday, the Israel Defense Forces expects upwards of 100,000 Palestinians to take part in violent protests along the Gaza border. These riots were expected on Tuesday, the Palestinian Nakba Day, which commemorates Palestinians’ displacement from their homes following the creation of the State of Israel. But on Sunday the military assessed that Hamas would look to capitalize on the media attention around the transfer of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and move its plans up a day.

The IDF is particularly concerned that the demonstrations will see mass border breaches, in which Palestinians, including Hamas members, would stream across the border and wreak havoc in nearby Israeli communities — attacking residents, setting fires and destroying property.

“The IDF and the Shin Bet security service will continue with determination to prevent any infiltration attempts into the State of Israel in order to defend Israel’s citizens and sovereignty,” the Shin Bet said on Monday.

Earlier on Monday, the IDF dropped thousands of leaflets into the Gaza Strip, telling residents not to be Hamas’s “puppets” and to keep away from the border.

The testimonies

Yahya Ijlah, a 19-year-old Hamas member who entered Israel on April 29, told Shin Bet interrogators that he had been sent to the border in order to steal a security camera along the fence.

Captured Hamas operative Yahya Ijlah (Shin Bet)

According to the Shin Bet, Ijlah said Hamas “is working to make its activities look like a popular uprising in the media, and not a violent operation by its members.”

The security service said that a number of suspects told interrogators that Hamas was specifically encouraging teenagers and children to approach and even breach the fence.

“The testimony showed a cynical use of children and innocent civilians by Hamas, while endangering their lives, in order to vandalize and steal equipment,” the Shin Bet said.

Salim Abu-Daher, 21, who was arrested after breaching the fence on April 28, told the Shin Bet that Hamas operatives wear normal street clothes and blend themselves into the masses of civilian protesters, while armed with “bottles of butane, knives and wire cutters,” the Shin Bet said.

Captured Hamas operative Salim Abu-Daher (Shin Bet)

The Shin Bet said that Ijlah revealed that during protests Hamas members are meant to act as instigators but not take action themselves.

“The role of Hamas members is to provide Gaza Strip residents with tires and help set them on fire. This is in order to create a thick smokescreen and to rile the Gaza residents, in order to convince them to infiltrate into Israeli territory,” the service said.

Hamas operatives also “help throw firebombs and prepare incendiary kites,” according to the Shin Bet.

These so-called “attack kites” or “terror kites” have proven a challenge to Israeli forces and have destroyed hundreds of dunams of farmland.

https://www.timesofisrael.com/iran-funding-hamas-efforts-to-foment-border-violence-shin-bet-says/

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Israel arrests Hamas agents for smuggling cash into the West Bank for terror activity, support suicide attacks

May 3, 2018

Israel’s Shin Bet security agency on Thursday announced the arrest of two Hamas activists in the West Bank on suspicion of receiving thousands of Euros of funding for the terrorist organization.

BY ANNA AHRONHEIM
 MAY 3, 2018 12:43

 950 Hezbollah operatives, 300 Hamas members in Germany – intelligence report

 Three Hamas men from Jerusalem indicted for planning shooting attack

Bir Zeit

Palestinian students supporting Hamas stand next to mock Hamas rockets during a rally celebrating their winning of the student council election at Birzeit University in the West Bank city of Ramallah April 23, 2015.. (photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN)

Israel’s Shin Bet security agency on Thursday announced the arrest of two Hamas activists in the West Bank on suspicion of receiving thousands of Euros of funding for the terrorist organization.

According to a statement by the security agency, 24-year-old Hamas operative Omar Kiswani from the West Bank village of Beit Iksa was arrested in a joint undercover operation by the Shin Bet, the Israel Police and the IDF on March 7, and brought in for questioning by security authorities.

Kiswani’s arrest was caught on camera and widely shared on social networks. The video showed men in civilian clothes carrying pistols wrestling Kiswani to the ground, one kicking him as he was on the ground. The men are also seen pointing their pistols toward onlookers and shots are heard towards the end of the clip.

The Shin Bet investigation showed that Kiswani made contact with Hamas activist Yassin Rabi’a, who had been expelled to the Gaza Strip as part of the Schalit deal, as well as with Hamas operatives in Turkey in order to ask for funds to promote Hamas activity at Birzeit University.

Yassin transferred a total sum of €150,000, which had been hidden in a number of locations throughout the West Bank, to Kiswani, who collected the money along with his friend and fellow Hamas activist, 20-year-old Yahya Alawi.

The two are suspected of using the funds to promote Hamas activity. The investigation by the Shin Bet security agency found a “deep involvement of Hamas operatives in Turkey and the Gaza Strip” who were working on attempts to promote Hamas activity in the West Bank.

“This is another expression of the efforts of the Hamas headquarters in Turkey and the Gaza Strip to accelerate activity in the West Bank. They launder funds and hide them in many locations throughout the West Bank,” read the statement, adding that the exposure and arrest of the two men who studied at Birzeit University “once again points to the great importance that the Hamas headquarters attaches to student activity. Actions within the university’s walls serve as a main tool for recruiting and training Hamas operatives in the West Bank.”

In 2017, a Hamas cell, led by members located in the Gaza Strip, recruited students at Birzeit university to carry out suicide attacks.

Following Kiswani’s arrest, Birzeit Univesity released a statement saying that the arrest was a violation of international humanitarian law.

“This is not the first violent intrusion by Israeli army forces, who systematically invade the university’s campus – even though it is specifically protected under international humanitarian law,” it said.

“The kidnappers, carrying firearms in their backpacks, entered the campus during working hours and attacked the student in front of the Student Council Building, located at the center of the campus. The operatives forced and pinned the student to the ground while firing their weapons, endangering lives.”

https://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Israel-arrests-Hamas-agents-smuggling-cash-for-university-terror-activity-553379

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Employee at French Consulate in Jerusalem Admits to Smuggling Weapons From Gaza to West Bank

March 19, 2018

Haaretz

Case was reported on extensively in French press but a gag order was imposed on coverage of it in Israel – even though relevant agencies had already worked on press releases

A 24-year-old employee at the French Consulate in Jerusalem admitted that he smuggled dozens of weapons from the Gaza Strip into the West Bank through diplomatic vehicles, the French newspaper Le Figaro reported on Sunday. Israeli security sources have confirmed the existence of the case.

The employee was a driver and carried an official passport. He was detained for questioning by Israeli security authorities on February 19. A security guard at the embassy was also arrested. The two will stand trial on Monday, most likely in a Be’er Sheva court, for smuggling weapons from Gaza to the West Bank.

 French Consulate in Jerusalem

The case was reported on extensively on Sunday in the French press but a gag order was imposed on coverage of it in Israel, even though the relevant agencies in Israel, including the Shin Bet security service and the Foreign Ministry, had already worked on a press release on matter.

This is not the first time that a security-related case has been banned from publication while it was reported on extensively abroad.

One high-profile example was the case of a man identified as Prisoner X on an Australian website, which was only reported later in Israel following the lifting of the gag order.

The French Embassy issued a statement saying: “The authorities in France are taking the incident in which one if the workers at the consulate general of France in Jerusalem is a suspect with very great seriousness. The authorities in France are cooperating with Israeli authorities.”

Israeli diplomatic officials called the matter “a very difficult event, which we take very seriously.” They added that relations with France are excellent and this will not have an adverse effect, thanking French authorities for their cooperation.

The affair takes place days before French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian is slated to arrive in Israel, amid the backdrop of a potential visit from French President Emmanuel Macron later this fall. This affair may overshadow the visit.

Israel arrests Palestinians ‘planning attack on defence minister’

February 18, 2018

AFP

© POOL/AFP/File | Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman is seen during a press conference in Tel Aviv on April 21, 2017

JERUSALEM (AFP) – Israel arrested six Palestinians suspected of planning attacks targeting Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman and other Israelis in the occupied West Bank, security agency Shin Bet said Sunday.Shin Bet said the six were affiliated with the Islamic Jihad militant group and were active in the Bethlehem area where they sought to carry out shootings against Israeli civilians and security forces.

In addition, some of the group had been planning to target Lieberman’s vehicle when he travelled to his home in a West Bank settlement.

According to a Shin Bet statement, the suspects had been “trying to obtain explosives to make a bomb, and even reached out to terror elements in (Gaza) for funding.”

“Upon failing to acquire the materials, they decided to create a fake device to receive recognition for their action and enable further attacks,” the statement read.

The six will be charged in an Israeli military court later Sunday.

In 2014, Shin Bet said it had apprehended a Hamas group planning to assassinate then-foreign minister Lieberman by firing a rocket-propelled grenade at his convoy.

Israel Still Believes Turkey Helped Hamas Gain in Military Strength — “Army of Palestine” Made To Fight Israel

February 15, 2018
BY ANNA AHRONHEIM
 FEBRUARY 15, 2018 10:11

 

Cemil Tekeli says he was tortured by Israel during month-long detention

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh recieves royal welcome

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh recieves royal welcome in Turkey. (photo credit: Courtesy )

Turkey has rejected Israel’s accusations that it helped Hamas gain in military strength, calling them “incompatible with reality,” after a Turkish citizen was arrested and deported.

“We reject the allegations, apparently out of reality and seriousness, which were introduced on the basis of some statements obtained from our detained citizen under ambiguous circumstances,” Turkey’s Anadolu Agency quoted the Turkish Foreign Ministry as saying.

“It is out of the question for Turkey to permit an activity on its soil that can jeopardize the security of another country,” the statement continued.

Cemil Tekeli, a Turkish citizen and law lecturer, was arrested by the Shin Bet on January 15, 2018, just before he was due to board a plane at Ben-Gurion airport on suspicion of laundering money to Hamas using Turkish businesses. He was deported back to Turkey on February 11.

In an interview with Anadolu, Tekeli accused Israel of torturing and drugging him during his month-long detention.

“I used to hear people screaming, animal sounds. It was as if they had been tortured,” Tekeli said.

“Almost 16-17 people came every day and asked me the same questions every time. My eyes were sealed [blindfolded] and they were continuously taking me from one place to another,” he was quoted as saying, adding that, “you cannot even stand with your back against the wall because of bad plastering. Your hands and feet are cuffed.”

“In the last room I was sent, I was all naked and they kept me waiting in handcuffs in freezing cold… Later they said they would take me to a room that they called VIP. At first, I thought it would be a better room. But that VIP room turned out to be like a fridge. The prisoners there used to call it ‘sellace’, which means fridge.”

“One day, I was really exhausted after they had interrogated me for hours… Then I saw them giving me an injection. I tried to ask what they were doing and then I realized that there were two pills in my mouth. I could not focus on anything after that.”

According to the Shin Bet, the investigation regarding Tekeli found that he helped Hamas operatives who had come to Turkey establish themselves both personally and economically. Most of them were released during the 2011 Gilad Shalit prisoner-exchange deal; all of them were involved in terror attacks which claimed the lives of dozens of Israeli citizens.

The investigation also found that Turkey is contributing to Hamas’ military buildup, among other things through SADAT, a company that was set up to help finance and build the “Army of Palestine” to fight Israel. SADAT also helped senior Hamas officials visit a weapons exhibit in Turkey where they expressed interest in unmanned aerial vehicle (drone) capabilities.

The Shin Bet implied that Turkey gave tacit approval for Hamas’s actions, saying that government officials there “turned a blind eye” to the fact that the terrorist group was the source of the money given to Tekeli and an Arab-Israeli who was also arrested in the case.

“The findings of the investigation illustrate the extensive military and economic activity of Hamas in Turkey, which takes place uninterrupted as Turkish government officials turn a blind eye, and sometimes even encourage with the assistance of Turkish citizens, some of whom are close to the administration,” read the Shin Bet statement.

“This activity relies, inter alia, on business platforms used by Hamas to launder funds to be transferred to the West Bank and to recruit Israelis for its activities,” the statement added.

 http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Turkey-rejects-Israels-claim-Ankara-helps-Hamas-542720

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Former Shin Bet Head: Fear of Terrorism Threatens Israel with ‘1984’ Scenario

January 26, 2018

 

BY ANNA AHRONHEIM
 JANUARY 26, 2018 11:04

‘A democracy eats itself up in small bites,’ warns expert Brian Michael Jenkins.

Former Shin Bet head: Fear of terror threatens Israel with ‘1984’ scenario

A BOY WATCHES Hamas members gather in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Yunis earlier this month ahead of commemorations marking the 30th anniversary of the group’s founding.. (photo credit: IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA / REUTERS)

Israel risks turning into a “1984” society if it remains in fear of Palestinian attacks, warned a former head of the Shin Bet security service.

“The major threat to democracy is fear,” Adm. (res.) Ami Ayalon told The Jerusalem Post.

“Terrorists want to instill fear, and naturally what the government should do is try to decrease the level of terror. In a normal world this is what should be expected. But what we see is the opposite,” Ayalon stated. “Leaders encourage the fear of citizens in order to get elected. The immediate result is a frightened society that always prefers security over civil rights and this way brings us certainly to 1984,” he said, referencing the 1949 dystopian novel by George Orwell.

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Image result for George Orwell, book, 1984, picture

Ayalon, a former director of the Shin Bet and commander of the Israel Navy, made the comments following a special geostrategy conference at the University of Haifa.

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“What are we willing to pay to win against the enemy we are fighting?” he asked, while recounting his time as the head of the Shin Bet during the Second Intifada, when parents wouldn’t allow their children to ride on buses or go to shopping malls out of fear of suicide bombings. “If the war on terror is never-ending, what will we give up?”

“We are on the way to losing our identity as a liberal democracy,” Ayalon said, explaining that the “slippery slope” of fear is being

“In our world, the military cannot win. We can win on the battlefield but they will win hearts and minds,” he explained, adding that the world is engulfed in a “hybrid, complex war on terror” that, thanks to the 24/7 news cycle, has become a “reality show” broadcast across the globe in which citizens have become “spectators choosing their leaders.”

Echoing Ayalon, terrorism expert Brian Michael Jenkins told the Post that “terrorism is all about manipulation of perception. Terror takes our anxieties and gives them a face.”

Admiral (Res.) Ami Ayalon and terror expert Brian Michael Jenkins (ANNA AHRONHEIM)Admiral (Res.) Ami Ayalon and terror expert Brian Michael Jenkins (ANNA AHRONHEIM)

Jenkins stated that while a risk-free society is unrealistic, there have been only 21 terrorist attacks in the US that claimed a total of 133 lives in the 17 years since 9/11, with the Las Vegas shooting attack by Stephen Paddock in October 2017 claiming almost half of the total with 58 fatalities.

“In the United States, security measures are not imposed but demanded. A police state can happen even in a democratic society if it is desperate. It will be the cumulative effect of the requests for increased security measures following attacks.

“A democracy eats itself up in small bites,” Jenkins warned.

Since October 2015 Palestinian youth have stabbed, run over and shot Israeli soldiers and civilians, including tourists, in a wave of violence in the West Bank and Israel. The violence has decreased since its peak in the winter of 2016 when there were almost daily attacks, but according to Ayalon attacks are not expected to disappear.

“As long as Palestinians have no hope and nothing to lose, we will continue having terror attacks,” he said, adding that “the waves of terror will continue if they have no hope in their current reality, especially in regards to the Gaza Strip.”

Nevertheless, Ayalon said, Israel must continue to be strong in the fight against Palestinian terrorism.

“When we understand that a group of people are going to kill our citizens, we must do everything in our power to stop them. It’s the morally right thing to do.”
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http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Politics-And-Diplomacy/Former-Shin-Bet-head-Fear-of-terror-threatens-Israel-with-1984-scenario-539904

 
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Israel’s Internal Security Service in Unprecedented Criminal Probe — Shin Bet, Torture and Israel’s Investigative Methods Probed

January 25, 2018
Haaretz

This is the first investigation to be opened since the establishment of a unit dedicated to complaints against Israel’s internal security service

.Right-wing activists reenact Shin Bet torture tactics during a demonstration in Tel Aviv, 2015.
Right-wing activists reenact Shin Bet torture tactics during a demonstration in Tel Aviv, 2015.\ Moti Milrod

The Justice Ministry has opened a criminal investigation against a Shin Bet interrogator suspected of committing prohibited acts in the course of duty.

This is the first investigation to be opened against a Shin Bet operative since the establishment more than a decade and a half ago of a Justice Ministry unit, known by the Hebrew acronym Mivtan, to investigate complaints against the Shin Bet.

Until now, hundreds of complaints about torture during interrogations have not been investigated. The criminal investigation was begun last year, and stems from a field interrogation that took place in 2015.

The opening of a criminal investigation against a Shin Bet agent requires the approval of both Mivtan and the Police Internal Investigations Department, known as Mahash. Two sources say Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit was involved in the decision. It has also been learned that the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, the main organization that deals with this issue, was not the one that filed the complaint against the investigator.

The Justice Ministry confirms that an investigation was opened in the wake of a complaint filed more than a year ago, but would not answer other questions about it, such as who filed the complaint, what actions it refers to, what the possible charges are and why the matter was only turned into an investigation so long after the incident occurred. The ministry would only say, “The matter is still being handled, therefore we cannot comment on it at this time.”

Mivtan is a parallel agency to Mahash, with the purpose of investigating complaints about Shin Bet personnel. Initially it was under the Shin Bet, but in 2013 it was transferred to the Justice Ministry. Until recently, the agency employed just a single investigator. Last year it was supposed to recruit two more. So far, one investigator has been added, and the Justice Ministry notes that he speaks Arabic and has experience with interrogations.

Last year Haaretz reported that from 2009-2016, Mivtan received hundreds of complaints about prohibited torture during interrogations (the majority came from Palestinians, and a few from Jewish Israelis), and since 2001 the Public Committee Against Torture has also filed thousands of complaints. However, until now, not one has led to a criminal investigation or trial.

The Justice Ministry says, “The process of examining the complaints has frequently led to different system-wide lessons being applied, or to disciplinary action being taken against investigators.” In the past year alone, 50 examinations were started.

Attorney Efrat Bergman-Sapir of the Public Committee Against Torture says, “We are pleased to see that the unit – after 16 years – has decided for the first time in its history to open a criminal investigation against Shin Bet personnel about whom complaints of the use of torture have been made. This is an important step that signals to the Shin Bet that it, too, is subject to the law and will no longer enjoy total immunity as it has up to now. We hope that the investigation will be conducted quickly and professionally.”