First we note the death of a vigilant and brave security officer:
Last Wednesday, two young Border Policewomen outside the Damascus Gate were able to stop three terrorists who had concealed machine guns and other weaponry. Both policewomen were attacked, and the three terrorists were then quickly shot dead by other Border Police on the scene.
At the time I last wrote, one of those who had been attacked, Hadar Cohen, was in critical condition. But sadly, the doctors were not able to save her life. She was 19 years old and had been on the job only two months.
Hadar has been hailed as a hero. What quickly became clear is that the three terrorists, loaded as they were with weaponry, intended something big. She gave her life during the process of stopping them from a large scale massacre.
Ravit Mirilashvili, age 20 – Hadar’s heroic companion in this action, shown below in the hospital during a visit by PM Netanyahu – is recovering from her wounds.
Credit: Amos Ben Bershom/GPO
Hadar’s funeral was last Thursday. Her father, Ofir, at her graveside, saluted her, and said:
“My beloved Hadar, my dear daughter…who was more beloved to me than anything. How am I supposed to separate from you now, how?…I am proud of you…may your soul be entwined in life.”
Here you see her mourned by colleagues in the Board Police.
Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90
Too many times, I find myself writing about funerals!
But then, to some good things, because especially now, they must not be ignored:
In the face of all we are coping with – including the efforts of the BDS campaign to weaken us economically – it’s pretty amazing: Standard’s and Poor’s Rating Service has given Israel an A+ long term rating with stable outlook. According to the agency:
“The ratings are supported by Israel’s prosperous and diverse economy, strong external balance sheet, and flexible monetary framework…
“We expect the Israeli economy to weather potential volatility in the global economy and international financial market, thanks to its diversified economy, strong external position, and flexible monetary framework.’
As to predicting a stable outlook, S&P said this “reflects our expectation that the government will maintain stable public finances and that the impact of security risks on the Israeli economy will be contained over the next two years.”
“An innovative technology developed in Israel may soon be able to predict the spread of cancer from one organ to another, potentially saving the lives of millions of people around the world.
“The technology, developed at Israel’s Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, has been proven in preliminary laboratory trials, and is now entering into advanced testing using cells from patients undergoing surgery.”
“Farmers face a major crisis today — a ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ crisis. Farmers need to keep their fields free of insects that eat crops and destroy their livelihood.
However, the pesticides that are effective against those insects are causing major environmental damage, killing off not only pests, but helpful insects such as bees…
Fortunately, an Israeli start-up has developed a middle way — a system that enables farmers to protect their crops, while avoiding the use of environment-destroying pesticides. And a new study conducted by that start-up, EdenShield, showed just how effective are the company’s natural [non-toxic] pesticides, which have been developed from plants and herbs.
In the study, greenhouses in Italy where tomatoes are grown using EdenShield’s GateKeeper prevented close to 100% penetration of pests and led to a reduction of over 80% in the use of pesticides. .
As the above examples demonstrate so vividly, we are doing smashingly well in a number of spheres.
But when I ask, “Are we ready?” I am thinking about the strength Israel requires to take steps on her own behalf even if the world will not like it.
Whatever is being done to stop or greatly reduce the violence being visited upon innocent Israeli Jews by Arabs terrorists (both Palestinian Arabs and Israeli Arabs) is simply not sufficient to the task. By all means, all of those approaches that are in place – increased police force, etc. etc. – should be continued. But it is time to look at what more would do the trick.
Critical to the solution, I believe, is taking action that would make would-be terrorists think twice. And then a third time. That’s the logic behind demolition of houses of the families of terrorists. If they know their families are going to be severely inconvenienced, would-be terrorists might hesitate, goes the thinking. Perhaps there are some who indeed have revised their plans because of this. But it sure hasn’t served as a major deterrent.
There are commentators who have suggested wrapping the bodies of terrorists in pig skin. Now we would be talking not about inconvenience to the families, but about generating major worry to the would-be terrorists themselves regarding whether they would be able to go to heaven – as promised in all of the jihadist hype – because they would be defiled.
I suspect this indeed might work. But we are not going to find out, because our officials would never do it. It would generate an enormous international furor with an outcry about human rights and all the rest. Human rights for terrorists.
But there is something else that has been talked about, and tried from time to time: withholding the bodies of the terrorists. Refusing to return them to their families, who would give them a religious Muslim burial. Burying them, instead, in an anonymous grave, preferably without religious rites and certainly without family present.
This too might have an impact. Not just because the families would grieve at this situation. But also because the prospect of not being accorded what would be deemed as a proper burial might be genuinely worrisome to those would-be terrorists.
We had been told, not so long ago, as my recollection serves me, that bodies of terrorists would no longer be returned to their families. And then, for whatever reasons, and due to whatever pressures, that stricture was modified. I know that Defense Minister Ya’alon was not in favor of that ruling, although the Cabinet had been.
Now, says Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan (Likud), we will hold bodies until the families promise to have small, quiet funerals at night, which won’t be used to generate rioting and incite further terrorism.
Erdan certainly has a point. There have been some horrendous funerals, with mob scenes and riots ensuing – shooting of guns and strident calls for murders of more Jews to “avenge” the Israeli “murder” of the “martyr.” Incitement is reduced when these over-sized, over-heated, violence-inducing funerals are blocked. One such funeral pictured here:
Credit: AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)
However, this is just half the story. For if someone already contemplating a terror attack knows that indeed his family would be able to recover his body and give him proper Muslim rites – even if the funeral would be small, then it is not likely that he would be deterred. Greater deterrence would be served if he knew his body would not be returned.
In any event, I found it more than a little disconcerting that the bodies of the three terrorists Hadar Cohen had confronted outside the Damascus Gate were quickly turned over – to the Red Crescent – by Israeli authorities. This happened on Friday, reportedly after the families agreed not to use the funerals for a “political rally.”
Is agreeing there would be no “political rally” the same as agreeing to a small funeral at night?
One of the terrorists was from Jenin, and two were from the Arab village of Kabatiya. The Red Crescent turned the bodies over to the families, and it was in Kabatiya that the funerals were held later that same day. In spite of the fact that Israel had maintained a closure on Kabatiya (and had made several security arrests), thousands came to the funeral.
There is something wrong with this picture. See following for a complex and infuriating situation that just might have some connection.
On Thursday evening, three Israeli Arab members of the Knesset of the Balad party, which is part of the Joint List, went to visit 10 families of terrorists, whose bodies have not been released to them. The three are – from the left in photo – Basal Ghattas, Haneen Zoabi (a nightmare), and Jamal Zahakla.
Credit: Noam Moskowitz
But it’s worse than the fact that these MKs met with terrorists’ families, ostensibly for a “humanitarian” purpose.
It’s that they identified with them. According to the Maan news agency, the meeting in eastern Jerusalem began with a moment of silence [out of respect for those terrorists who had died]. Said Maan, the MKs emphasized their Palestinian identity, and saluted the families’ strong stance and their endless struggle against aggression.
I believe this also occurred at the meeting with the families, but it has been documented as well that the Balad party, on Facebook, referred to terrorists as “shahid,” “martyr.”
The question now is what will be done about this.
It is hardly a new story, that we have members of the Knesset who identify with our enemy. Their presence in the Knesset has been tolerated all too long. Now they have gone over the top.
There has been a lot of noise from various quarters about this situation, and a great deal of anger (all emphasis added):
Said Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein:
“It cannot be that while innocent civilians are being slaughtered on the streets of Israel, MKs go to comfort [the terrorists’ families] and, with incomparable audacity, even bring their requests to the government.”
Most pertinently, MK Michael Oren (Kulanu), tweeted:
”Let me get this straight: Israeli MKs meet with terrorists’ families and not the victims’, and we’re still paying their salaries?”
Prime Minister Netanyahu has said these people do not belong in the Knesset.
Both Edelstein and Netanyahu will be filing complaints with the Knesset Ethics Committee, but that is not sufficient. The committee can levy penalties against the MKs but not banish them from the Knesset.
Carrying this further, Netanyahu has discussed this with the attorney-general.
We have a new attorney-general, Avichai Mandleblit (pictured), who may be more receptive than his predecessor, Yehuda Weinstein, who was far left, had been. (Weinstein, for example, was apparently opposed to the deportation of family members of a terrorist to Gaza.)
Credit: Marc Israel Sellem
Today’s news is that Mandelblit is considering what legal action might be taken against the trio, but nothing is a certainty yet.
Avigdor Lieberman, head of Yisrael Beitenu, in opposition, is particularly incensed by this situation, as he had tried to block certain members of Balad – notably Zoabi – from running in the last Knesset election but was prevented from doing so by the High Court.
Nissan Slomiansky (Habayit Hayehudi), who is on the Knesset Law and Constitution Committee, has suggested that legislation might need to be drafted to handle this situation. The point is that whatever needs to be done must be done.
There must be the will at this point.
This becomes a matter of who we are as a State.
A couple of other pertinent points here:
On Thursday, Interior Minister Arye Deri (Shas) signed on order cancelling the residency permit of Riad Zwid, the father of one terrorist, Ala Zwid. This means he will lose medical and other benefits.
The circumstances here are worth noting. Riad Zwid, along with his son, Ala, had been residents of a Palestinian Arab village. But when Riad married an Israeli Arab, under Israel’s Family Reunification law, he was granted residency in Israel. This law, more than once, has proved to generate a problematic situation.
The question has been raised – which I will repeat here but cannot answer definitively – as to whether there was any connection between the appeal to the minister of public security by the three Arab MKs that terrorists’ bodies be released and the alacrity with which the bodies of the three “Damascus Gate” terrorists were released. The timing lends itself to this question. As does the fact that – in spite of rules that were supposed to be in place – there were thousands in attendance at the funeral of those terrorists.
Lastly for now on this issue, I want to make the point very clearly that the outcry against the MKs of Balad is NOT an outcry against the Arab population of Israel. Not at all. In fact, one MK after the other specifically made a point of saying that Israeli Arabs deserve better representation than what whey have had in the Knesset to date. The Arab MKs often promote their own radical agendas rather than tending to the genuine needs of their constituency.
Naftali Bennett (chair, Habayit Hayehudi), declared:
“I call on the Arab public: You are better than them. Reject them. Condemn them…”
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) said:
“Arab MKs are agents of terror instead of representing their voters.”
Today I am going to end with the late, great Ofra Haza sing “Hai.” Includes English subtitles. An old song, a great message, with the poignancy of knowing her life ended too soon.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.