Appropriate Reading for Tisha B’Av

Today is Tisha B’Av – the ninth of Av, which is a fast day (24 hours versus those fasts which are only during daylight hours) and commemorates the destruction of both temples in Jerusalem. Many tragic things happened to the Jewish people on this day. I thought that the following links would serve as “appropriate” reading for this day.

The first is a link to lists of all of the terrorist attacks and fatalities in Israel from 1948 until May of 2013. Starting in 2000 and going for the next three years the numbers are hideous. After the Oslo Accords (bringing “peace at last” to Israel) the Israeli government gave a lot of autonomy to the Arabs in Yehuda and Shomron, and kept the IDF out of mostly Arab cities. This loosening of restrictions led directly to Arab terror - here is list of the attacks and victims from 1993 until 2000.  After 2000 when Arafat decided it was to his benefit “go all out” – what was called the second intifada broke out, and the terrorists used the advantage they had to launch even more attacks on Israelis. This included rock throwing, hurling Molotov cocktails, and rioting in the streets. When this did not enlist a reaction from the Israeli government and the IDF, it progressed to suicide bombers. 2002 was a particularly bad year – especially March. I personally remember one week where there were three separate suicide bombers on Israeli busses. I remember feeling as if I couldn’t breathe – just from the feeling of sorrow. After the suicide bomber blew himself up in the Park hotel in Netanya on the first night of Passover, and another terrorist broke into a home in Elon Moreh and killed three members of the Gavish family, Arik Sharon finally called the IDF to launch an attack and go into the Arab cities again to root out the terrorists. After that the number of terrrorist attacks went down to “normal” levels (which would be shocking in any other country). Here is a list of the attacks since 2000, with the names and ages of the victims themselves. The list is heartbreakingly long, and it puts a m0re personal face to the tragedies.

To give you a “taste” here is the listing for July 16, 2001:

July 16, 2001 – Cpl. Hanit Arami, 19, and St.Sgt. Avi Ben Harush, 20, both of Zichron Yaakov, were killed and 11 wounded – 3 seriously – when a bomb exploded in a suicide terrorist attack at a bus stop near the train station in Binyamina, halfway between Netanya and Haifa, at about 19:30 Monday evening. The Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack.

This is the listing for a week in March, 2002: (39 killed, 168 injured in one week) Look at the ages here – it boggles the mind.

Mar 27, 2002 – 30 people were killed and 140 injured – 20 seriously – in a suicide bombing in the Park Hotel in the coastal city of Netanya, in the midst of the Passover holiday seder with 250 guests. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack. The victims: Shula Abramovitch, 63, of Holon; David Anichovitch, 70, of Netanya; Sgt.-Maj. Avraham Beckerman, 25, of Ashdod; Shimon Ben-Aroya, 42, of Netanya; Andre Fried, 47, of Netanya; Idit Fried, 47, of Netanya; Miriam Gutenzgan, 82, Ramat Gan; Ami Hamami, 44, of Netanya; Perla Hermele, 79, of Sweden; Dvora Karim, 73, of Netanya; Michael Karim, 78, of Netanya; Yehudit Korman, 70, of Ramat Hasharon; Marianne Myriam Lehmann Zaoui, 77, of Netanya; Lola Levkovitch, 85, of Jerusalem; Furuk Na’imi, 62, of Netanya; Eliahu Nakash, 85, of Tel-Aviv; Irit Rashel, 45, of Moshav Herev La’et; Yulia Talmi, 87, of Tel-Aviv; St.-Sgt. Sivan Vider, 20, of Bekaot; Ernest Weiss, 79, of Petah Tikva; Eva Weiss, 75, of Petah Tikva; Meir (George) Yakobovitch, 76, of Holon. Chanah Rogan, 92, of Netanya; Zee’v Vider, 50, of Moshav Bekaot; Alter Britvich, 88, and his wife Frieda, 86, of Netanya died of their injuries on April 2-3, 2002. Sarah Levy-Hoffman, 89, of Tel-Aviv died of her injuries on April 7, 2002. Anna Yakobovitch, 78, of Holon died of her injuries on April 11, 2002. Eliezer Korman, 74, of Ramat Hasharon died of his wounds on May 5, 2002. Clara Rosenberger, 77, of Jerusalem died of her wounds on June 25, 2003.

Mar 28, 2002 – Rachel and David Gavish, 50, their son Avraham Gavish, 20, and Rachel’s father Yitzhak Kanner, 83, were killed when a terrorist infiltrated the community of Elon Moreh in Samaria, entered their home and opened fire on its inhabitants. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack. Mar 29, 2002 – Tuvia Wisner, 79, of Petah Tikva and Michael Orlansky, 70, of Tel-Aviv were killed Friday morning, when a Palestinian terrorist infiltrated the Neztarim settlement in the Gaza Strip. Mar 29, 2002 – Lt. Boaz Pomerantz, 22, of Kiryat Shmona and St.-Sgt. Roman Shliapstein, 22, of Ma’ale Efraim were killed in the course of the IDF anti-terrorist action in Ramallah (Operation Defensive Shield).

Mar 29, 2002 – Rachel Levy, 17, and Haim Smadar, 55, the security guard, both of Jerusalem, were killed and 28 people were injured, two seriously, when a female suicide bomber blew herself up in the Kiryat Yovel supermarket in Jerusalem. The Fatah Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility for the attack.

Of course, we cannot forget the rocket attacks from Gaza. Here are statistics for the decade between 2000-2010. This link summarizes the terror policies of Hamas in the Gaza strip.

If anyone should think everything is fine now, the road terror is on an upswing. (And we all know what happens when you don’t nip this in the bud – it leads to worse things). Earlier this month one of the stars of the Latma network (Israeli satire group) was traveling in her car with her small child when they were attacked by rock throwers. Thank G-d noone was killed.

Tzom kal to my readers who are fasting, and may we see better things very soon.

Faster Please

There will be a new air defense system to compliment the Iron Dome that Israel has deployed against the kassam and Grad rockets fired from Gaza. This system, sometimes called Magic Wand, is supposed to be ready for deployment within two years, and was unveiled at the Paris Air Show rcently.

This system will be very much needed if Hizballah decides to start firing rockets at us from Lebanon. The craziness in Syria has its affect in the other countries surrounding Israel – as this interesting analysis of last night’s rocket fire from Gaza points out.

I Wonder What Would Have Happened If British Citizens Carried Guns

The story about the brutal murder of the British soldier is chilling. The fact that it happened in broad daylight and that the attackers just waited around afterwards for the police to get them is bizarre to say the least.

I can’t help but wonder what would have happened to this poor man if regular British citizens were carrying guns. Perhaps a bystander could have shot the attackers and saved his life. Perhaps if the attackers knew that this was a possibility it would have stopped them from doing it in the first place.

I am happy that I live in Israel, where my soldiers are allowed to carry guns in public and know how to use them. I am surrounded by the good guys who have the means to defend themselves (and me of course).

Security is Paramount

An incident happened at the train station last week which I thought pointed out the difference between Israel and other countries. As usual, when the train pulls into the station, there is a rush at the entrance by those coming a bit late and wanting to make the train (by my station the trains leave about every twenty minutes).

The security guard was doing his job checking everyone’s bags, but one gentleman was in a rush and wanted to get through quickly. The guard became angry, and “pushed back” (not physically, but almost) and insisted that the man slow down and get checked as he should. The crowd behind the man, also wanting to catch the train, started to complain and demanded that the guard take the man aside and let everyone else go through.

The guard reacted very strongly and told everyone in a very loud and firm voice that NOONE was going through until the man in question was checked as he should be. Meanwhile the train closed its doors and left the station, leaving a group of very annoyed Israelis.

Many were annoyed at the man who caused the hold-up, some were angry at the guard, and others were angry at the station master, thinking he should have stopped the train for them. (Chutzpah, no?)

Personally, I was very reassured at this incident.

Just think, if you were a terrorist trying to get a bomb onto a crowded train, how would you do it, if there is a security guard at the entrance to the station checking bags? Perhaps you would join up with someone else, who would cause a distraction, and you would rush through while the guard spent his time checking someone who seemed to be more suspicious than you?

This is obviously what the guards are trained to look for – and the one at my station ignored the annoyed crowd behind the first man and insisted on checking everyone thoroughly. Of course noone was a terrorist this time around, and every bag turned out to be fine.

But you never know – and the fact that the guards are doing what they should be doing is keeping all of us safer. Even if the crowd grumbles and yells at each other afterwards. Security comes first.

Tzipi Hotobeli Tells It Like It Is

Tzipi Hotobeli tells it like it is here when she stated that the latest terrorist attacks prove that the Arabs don’t want peace. Last night a terrorist shot at two people near Wadi Kelt – thank G-d they weren’t hurt. This is in addition to the murder earlier this week of Evyatar Borovsky as he was standing at a bus stop.

The other Tzipi in the Knesset, Tzipi Livni, of course takes another tack and completely ignores reality, when she says she is optimistic after talking with Senator John Kerry about negotiations with the Palestinians.

The blah blah blah doesn’t mean anything, but the bigwigs need to have their photo ops. The reality on the ground is what is important.

You Tell Them Guys….

I was happy to hear that the police/FBI captured/killed the animals that were responsible for the terrorist attack in Boston last week. I was also glad to see the patriotic reaction of the American people in response: celebrations where people draped themselves in American flags and heartfelt singing of the national anthem.

It is a bit disturbing, though, that one of the terrorists had been interviewed by the FBI after a tip from a foreign government (I wonder which one….).

In Israel the security services are top notch, for a number of reasons. One, we unfortunately have a lot of experience and this helps develop instincts. Second, we are very motivated. The people who work at this know that if they mess up, a terrorist might very well kill someone they know and love. Israel is a very small country, compared to America, and we are very close knit, relatively speaking. Three, when it comes to security, people here are not afraid of being politically incorrect. Lives are at stake, and this trumps hurting someone else’s feelings. Fourth, and probably the most important, is that we are a country of immigrants – so there is always a huge pool of ethnically diverse people who can become spies. Jews come to live in Israel from all over the world, and speak many different languages. These people’s children grow up motivated to serve in the IDF, and in turn are used in some cases as spies to keep an eye on potential terrorists.

 

We Are Thinking of You

I was celebrating Israel Independence Day when I heard about the terrorist attack in Boston. All I could think of was the fact that I was sad that Americans will now know what we in Israel have gone through throughout our history – and especially in the past 13 years.

For those of you in America who are in shock and wondering if there is something you can do now, a few pieces of advice:

One – know that you can always pray for the victims and their families. Pray for the injured to heal quickly and for the families of those killed to be comforted.

Two – donate blood. It is always needed but now more than ever.

Three – become more aware of your surroundings. Here in Israel every citizen is very aware of his vicinity, especially in public places. If we see a bag or box in a public place that is unattended – we immediately ask if it belongs to someone. If noone answers, we call the authorities and warn others to back away. The army will be notified and a special bomb squad will come to investigate. Nine times out of ten it is nothing, but all of the effort will be worth it to protect people when the tenth time turns out to be a real bomb.

Please know that we here in Israel are thinking of you…

This Could Have Been My Family

Arabs threw rocks at cars and trucks last evening, and caused a serious accident, where a mother and her daughters were hurt seriously – the two year old baby is fighting for her life. This happened about a five minute drive from my house (and I had been in the area just a few hours before it happened).

Terror takes many forms. When the IDF and the Shabak (Israeli security services) have good information they can prevent the terrrorist attacks, especially suicide bombers and attempted kidnapping. When the terrorists see that they are not being successful, they send out their lesser troops – the stone throwers. The media doesn’t even report incidents of stone throwing (unless of course the IDF, while protecting its citizens, reacts “disproportionately” and then they report it far and wide) but make no mistake – rocks can kill.

The situation always gets worse when a big-wig comes to visit Israel from America. The terrorists need to make sure “they are on the map” in order to impress the VIP. A visit from the president of the United States is a ripe time for them to get active.

Another Parent’s Nightmare

For those of us living in Yehuda and Shomron (Judea and Samaria)  tremping (hitchhiking) is a fact of life. We live in areas that are rural and the bus service is usually not adequate. Therfore adults and teenagers take rides with strangers.

For a long time we did not have a car and I took rides home to my yishuv after work (going to work was somewhat easier as I took rides with people I knew). As my sons grew older they also started to take tremps. I tell them that they need to travel with at least one other person, have their cell phone on at all times, and look carefully at the driver before getting into the car. With all of these precauations, I still get nervous when they do this.

Now the IDF has put out a video trying to discourage teens, especially those who live where we do, to avoid hitchhiking, because there are many terrorists who want to kidnap Israelis, like they did with Gilad Shalit. I wish I hadn’t watched the video, because it will give me nightmares.

I don’t think the video will affect the number of teens traveling like this though. During the spring months, when high school kids have a lot of bagriot (matriculation exams) the usual school schedule is practically suspended. A kid will have a day off to study before an exam, and then have to get to the school at 1:00 pm for the exam itself – and there is no school bus for them to take. Most parents are not available to drive kids to school in the middle of the day, and the busses are practically non-existent during the slow hours.

Both of my boys are learning to drive now, and will hopefully get their licenses soon. As much as I fear them driving I think this video will put that fear into persective.

The Security Threat in Israel Never Stops

The security threat to Israel never stops. Keeping an eye on what is happening in Syria, Israel has deployed two more Iron Dome systems in the north. There is concern about the chemical weapons being given to Hizbollah in Lebanon.

Israeli sources have “confirmed” that there was a blast at a nuclear facility in Iran. The Israeli government never takes responsibility for these blasts, but Avi Dichter’s comment is telling. Above and beyond what is actually happening in Iran, there is a lot of psychological operations going on with the press as facilitator.

Meanwhile the IDF is busy protecting Israel by finding terrorists before they take action. They caught two terrorists who had planned on carrying out an attack in Elon Moreh.

One ironic note: a journalist on the radio here just complained that even when the Israeli public votes in a party that primarily concerns itself with domestic issues, the security situation rears its head and takes over the headlines. As I wrote before, there really is no chance for a “central” party to gain the most votes and form the coalition, precisely for this reason. Security will always be the main issue here in Israel. Domestic issues come to the fore when the government (right wing, usually) takes care of the security issues to the point where they are on the back burner. But security issues are always important, and they never completely go away. We don’t live in Switzerland, after all.

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