Second Hamas Tunnel Digger Discloses Their Locations and Routes - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
Israeli security forces arrested another Hamas tunnel digger who provided interrogators with a wealth of information on Hamas' underground tunnel system, it was announced on Tuesday.
The 17-year-old Jabalia resident served in Hamas' Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades and was arrested after he crossed the border fence from Gaza on April 6.
The Israel Security Agency (ISA) said he admitted that the tunnels were to be used by Hamas special forces to kidnap IDF soldiers, commit suicide attacks, and commit other large-scale attacks on Israeli towns. He also admitted to taking part in planting IEDs along the border with Israel and inside the tunnels.
The ISA noted that the majority of the training he underwent was offensive attack training. "The investigation revealed a wide range of information regarding Hamas efforts to dig tunnels under the border for the purpose of sending Hamas militants into Israel," the ISA said.
Last week it was announced that Mohammad Atuna, 29, also from Jabalia, was arrested for crossing into Israel to commit a stabbing attack against IDF soldiers. He, too, revealed a wealth of information about Hamas tunnels.
Israel's Population on Independence Day - 8,522,000 - Yaron Druckman (Ynet News)
Israel's population on Independence Day stands at 8,522,000, the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) reported on Monday.
There are 6,377,000 Jews (74.8%), 1,771,000 Arabs (20.8%), and 374,000 non-Arab Christians and others (4.4%).
Since Israel's last Independence Day, there were 195,000 births and 36,000 immigrants.
There are 14.3 million Jews worldwide, 43% of whom live in Israel.
Video: A Medley of Israeli Songs - IDF Singing Troop (YouTube)
The IDF Singing Troop performs a medley of songs against a backdrop of historical footage at the Israel's Children's Festival 2014. (10 min.)
Does any other country show patriotic spirit like this?
See also Video: Scenes of Israel (israel21c)
Start your celebrations for Israel Independence Day with an amazing 150-second trip around Israel.
See also U.S. Ambassador Reflects on Israel's Memorial Day-Independence Day - Amb. Dan Shapiro (Israel Hayom)
Video: 68 Facts You Probably Didn't Know about Israel (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
See also 68 Reasons Why I Love Israel - Barbara Sofer (Jerusalem Post)
68 Reasons to Respect Israel - Robert Sarner (Jerusalem Post)
Israel's Economic Achievements - Yair Seroussi (Jerusalem Post)
The Israeli economy has grown 180% over the past 20 years, while its population has increased by only 45%.
The debt-to-GDP ratio is steadily falling, unemployment is lower than the OECD average, and more and more Israelis are entering the workforce every day.
Israel spends more money per capita on R&D than any other country in the world.
The author is chairman of the board of Bank Hapoalim.
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- Kerry Rebuts Claims that U.S. Is Undercutting Iran Trade and Investment - Rick Gladstone
Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday rebutted Iranian complaints that the U.S. is impeding others from investing and trading with Iran.
Kerry suggested that some companies were using the American sanctions that remain in force as a guise for not venturing into Iran. (New York Times)
- America's Top Intelligence Official: "The U.S. Can't Fix the Middle East" - David Ignatius
James Clapper, 75, has worked in intelligence for 53 years and has served almost six years as America's top intelligence official.
He says the U.S. is slowly degrading the Islamic State but probably won't capture its key Iraqi stronghold of Mosul this year and faces a long-term struggle that will last decades. "The U.S. can't fix it. The fundamental issues they have - the large population bulge of disaffected young males, ungoverned spaces, economic challenges and the availability of weapons - won't go away for a long time."
At the same time, he says, "I don't think the U.S. can just leave town. Things happen around the world when U.S. leadership is absent. We have to be present - to facilitate, broker and sometimes provide the force." (Washington Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Israeli Army Officer Seriously Wounded in Blast at West Bank Checkpoint - Gili Cohen
An Israeli officer was seriously wounded Tuesday by an explosive device at the West Bank checkpoint of Hizme, north of Jerusalem.
The officer had noticed a suspicious object and left his vehicle to investigate.
After the blast, five other pipe bombs were found at the scene.
- Report: Israel Strikes Hizbullah Weapons Convoy on Syrian-Lebanese Border
Israeli Air Force jets struck a weapons convoy in Syria headed for Hizbullah, Israel's Channel 2 reported Tuesday, citing Arab media sources.
- Netanyahu: Our Soldiers Died for Israel's Independence - Omri Efraim
At a ceremony in Jerusalem for fallen IDF soldiers and terror victims on Tuesday afternoon, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who lost his brother Yoni in the Entebbe Operation, said the fallen soldiers "died for Israel's independence. Our sons and daughters go to battle because of a higher calling, and that is exactly the difference between an enslaved and beaten people, as we were up until 68 years ago, and a people that sits in its own land and has control of its own destiny. But the price is terrible." (Ynet News)
See also Rivlin: We Have Been Fighting our War of Independence for 68 Years - Hannah Broad
President Reuven Rivlin spoke at a ceremony at the Western Wall in Jerusalem on Tuesday night in honor of Israel's Memorial Day. Rivlin eulogized the fallen soldiers, saying: "Your time to love was cut short, so we will love in your place. You didn't have enough time to accomplish your dreams, so we will accomplish them in your name." "The IDF is not just our army, it is all of us as a whole. Secular and religious Jews. Arabs and Circassians, city-dwellers and kibbutznikim."
"We are not a people of war. We did not go to battle thirsty for war. We are a nation that loves peace, loves life and hates war. You paid the heavy price necessary that this nation pays in order to defend the lives of its citizens and its independence."
The memorial candle-lighting ceremony started at 8 p.m. after a siren sounded throughout the nation. A two-minute siren wailed nationwide at 11 a.m. Wednesday, marking the start of memorial ceremonies at the country's 52 military cemeteries.
- Citations for Bravery During Attacks Awarded to Three IDF Soldiers - Yoav Zitun and Elisha Ben Kimon
Staff Sgt. Tuvia Yanai Weissman, who was killed in a terror attack in a supermarket in February, was awarded a citation for bravery from the IDF. It states, "Weissman sought contact with his bare hands and, through his actions, served as a shining example of the IDF's values." His widow Yael said,
"It confirms for me the knowledge Yanai was a hero, I knew he was when he ran there, fought with the terrorists, obstructed one terrorist and then tried to obstruct the second one."
A citation for bravery was also awarded to Sgt. Lichai Malka, a female combat soldier in the search and rescue brigade, for actions during a shooting attack at Kikar Adam in the West Bank. "Sgt. Malka acted quickly and showed courage, composure and professionalism," the citation states.
A citation for bravery was awarded to Sgt. Matan Shamir from the Givati Brigade for his actions during a terrorist attack in which he was injured near Nablus in the West Bank. (Ynet News)
- How Iran Is Twisting Reality to Get What It Wants - Emily Landau
Nothing has changed in terms of Iran's military nuclear ambitions, and Iran continues to advance its program where it can. In the post-deal period, Iran continues to try to squeeze more concessions from the West - to ensure improvement of its economic situation beyond what was agreed to.
Iran forever glosses over its aggressive regional behavior, gross human rights violations, and missile and nuclear advances.
In attempting to squeeze more concessions, Iran adamantly claims that it has upheld its end of the bargain meticulously, while accusing the U.S. of bad-faith behavior and of shirking its commitments. These accusations were predictable from the start, because the tactic has been employed so many times before. It is the exact pattern that Iran followed in the early stage of negotiations with the EU-3, from 2003-05.
Generally speaking, the U.S. has refrained from pushing back with determination against Iran's false narratives. The administration's response to Iran's missile tests that violated UN Security Council resolutions was delayed and relatively mute, failing to highlight Iran's ongoing support for terror.
Iran's success in the long and drawn-out negotiation with the international community from 2003 to 2015 was due to its ability to manipulate the weaknesses in the NPT long enough, so that when it was finally forced to negotiate seriously, it already had an advanced nuclear program. The writer heads the Arms Control and Regional Security Program at the Institute for National Security
Studies (INSS) in Tel Aviv.
- The Improbable Happiness of Israelis - Avinoam Bar-Yosef
The World Happiness Report 2016 Update ranks Israel (Jews and Arabs) 11th of 158 countries evaluated for the UN. Israel also shines as No. 5 of the 36 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries on the OECD's Life Satisfaction Index - ahead of the U.S., UK, and France. How can this be so? Israelis live in a hostile and volatile neighborhood, engaged in an endless conflict with the Palestinians and under the threat of nuclear annihilation by Iran.
A new study by the Jewish People Policy Institute found that 83% of Israel's Jewish citizens consider their nationality "significant" to their identity. More than 2/3 mention Jewish tradition as important. Strong families and long friendships stretching back to army service as young adults, or even to childhood, also foster a sense of well-being.
In every aspect of Israel's existence there is plenty of room for improvement. Yet Israelis take comfort in looking back and savoring how much has been achieved, how sovereignty over the land of their forefathers was reclaimed. Jews from more than 90 countries, of all colors and walks of life, are united in one society. They cherish the sense of self-determination.
The writer is president of the Jewish People Policy Institute and former chief diplomatic correspondent for the Israeli daily Maariv.
(Wall Street Journal)
14 Israeli Heroes to Light Independence Day Torches - Greer Fay Cashman (Jerusalem Post)
- The Ministerial Committee for Ceremonies and Symbols selected 14 civilians and military personnel whose courage will be reflected in the torches they light on Mount Herzl to usher in Israel's 68th Independence Day on Wednesday evening.
- Rona Ramon is the widow of astronaut Ilan Ramon, killed with the rest of the crew when the space shuttle Columbia disintegrated on reentering Earth in 2003. Six years later her eldest son, Asaf, was killed in a plane crash during a training exercise. In their memories, Ramon created the Ramon Foundation, which encourages space, science and technology education, excellence in scholarship, leadership development and community responsibility.
- Hallel Bareli, a junior high school student in Sderot, volunteered to help local kindergarteners during the rocket bombardment from Gaza in 2014, and assisted elderly people to find shelters.
- Gabi Barsheshet is active in Friends of United Hatzalah, one of Israel's rescue organizations. He coordinated Israeli humanitarian efforts to rescue Nepalese trapped in the rubble after the earthquake last year.
- Tel Aviv bus driver Herzl Biton, though seriously wounded, wrestled with a knife-wielding terrorist in January and succeeded in opening the bus doors, allowing passengers to escape.
- Border Police Staff Sgt. Alison Berson, an immigrant from France, saved the life of a fellow officer in the West Bank in October 2015 when two Palestinians with knives drawn approached a checkpoint.
- In 2009, Avi Toibin dove into the polluted waters of the Yarkon River and rescued Israeli canoe champion Yasmin Feingold whose boat had capsized, trapping her.
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