Monday, August 19, 2019 Last Update: 11:08 PM GMT

Israeli Minister to Be Indicted for Fraud, Breach of Trust

Israeli Social Affairs and Social Services Minister, Haim Katz. (Photo: File)

Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit “is expected to announce that he will indict Labour, Social Affairs and Social Services Minister Haim Katz on charges of fraud and breach of trust”, reported Haaretz. Katz is also to be accused of use of insider information.

However, according to reports, Mandelblit has decided against indicting Katz for bribery.

In order to file criminal charges against Katz – who is a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party – the Attorney General “must notify the Knesset of his decision to indict” and “ask the lawmakers to lift his immunity from prosecution so that he may be tried”.

Katz would then have 30 days “to argue against his immunity being lifted”. Such deliberations “could only be held once a new Knesset is in place following the September 17 election,” Haaretz added.

The case against the Likud minister relates to his relations with Moti Ben-Ari, “a businessman involved in the financial markets who was a financial adviser to Equital, a company believed to be controlled by investor Kobi Maimon.”

According to the draft indictment, “the relationship between Katz and Ben-Ari developed during the period from 2010 and 2015, during which they allegedly provided benefits to one another.”

Specifically, “Ben-Ari is suspected of advising Katz on the management of his investment portfolio”, and of having “advised Katz to buy securities issued by an Equital subsidiary as a result of insider information that Ben-Ari had due to his connection with Equital.”

“Katz and Ben-Ari carried out coordinated transactions of considerable scope through stock trades, in a manner that provided major financial benefits to Minister Katz,” the draft indictment said.

Meanwhile, according to the allegations, “in exchange for Ben-Ari’s services, Katz sponsored legislation that Ben-Ari himself drafted that would benefit both Equital and Ben-Ari personally.”

When the legislation was being debated in the Knesset, Katz arranged for Ben-Ari to appear in a committee hearing as the only expert witness, while concealing the pair’s relationship.

(Middle East Monitor, PC, Social Media)

Netanyahu Claims Occupation Soldier Stabbed to Death in West Bank

Israeli soldiers in the occupied West Bank. (Photo: ActiveStills.org)

An Israeli soldier was found stabbed to death in the occupied Palestinian West Bank on Thursday and Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed the soldier he was killed by a “Palestinian attacker”.

In a statement, the Israeli military said the body with stab wounds was discovered near a Jewish settlement north of the Palestinian city of Al-Khalil (Hebron).

The military did not immediately accuse anyone in the killing but Netanyahu issued a statement calling it a Palestinian attack.

Netanyahu said:

“The security forces are in pursuit, in order to capture the despicable terrorist and hold him to account.”

Israeli army and settler violence against Palestinians and their property is routine in the Occupied Territories.

(via Swissinfo.ch, PC, Social Media)

Israeli Ministers to Attend Event Honoring Rabbi Who Praised Palestinian Massacre

Massacre supporting Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh will be celebrated by Israeli ministers. (Photo: File)

Two Israeli ministers will speak at a conference organized in honor of a right-wing rabbi, who praised the 1994 massacre of Palestinian worshipers in Hebron (Al-Khalil) and was previously charged with racism. 

Education Minister Rabbi Rafi Peretz and Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich will speak at an event Thursday where a prize called the “Cathedra for Torah and Wisdom,” will be awarded to Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh.

Ginsburgh, a United States born rabbi praised religious extremist Baruch Goldstein who in 1994 killed 29 Muslims at prayer in the Tomb of the Patriarchs known as Sanctuary of Abraham to the Muslims.

He also endorsed the book “The King’s Torah” which discussed various legal circumstances under which Jews can kill non-Jews.

The “Cathedra for Torah and Wisdom” received around US$7,162 in 2017 and 2018 from the Education ministry’s Jewish culture department. However, the ministry said it won’t fund the institution in 2019 and they were not involved in selecting the recipient of the award. 

The logo of the Jewish cultural department of the education ministry was used by the Cathedra for Torah and Wisdom during an announcement two weeks ago when Ginsburgh was named as the winner. 

“The director of the department [for Jewish culture] has instructed that the logo be removed,”  the ministry told Haaretz adding that it was not involved in the ceremony. 

Meanwhile, the Giv’at Shmuel municipality, whose logo was also used in the announcement, denied its association with the ceremony and denied any knowledge of its logo being used. 

The Transport Minister Bezalel Smotrich praised Ginsburgh in a Tweet saying that he is “a genius” and that his work has an “incomprehensible scope. You don’t have to agree with him about everything to believe he deserves an award.”

According to the event, “Peretz would be speaking at the opening of the conference, and Ginsburgh would receive his award at the end”, while “Smotrich is to speak during the award ceremony itself”.

(TeleSur, PC, Social Media)

Israel Approves 2,300 New Homes for Settlers in West Bank

An illegal Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank. (Photo: via AJE)

Israel has advanced plans for more than 2,300 illegal settlement homes in the occupied West Bank, the latest in a surge of such approvals since US President Donald Trump took office in 2017, according to an NGO.

Israel’s Higher Planning Committee issued the approvals while meeting over the past couple of days, Peace Now said in a statement on Monday. 

The 2,304 housing units are at various stages in the approval process, according to Peace Now, an Israeli group closely monitoring settlement building.

The group said:

“The approval of settlement plans is part of a disastrous government policy designed to prevent the possibility of peace and a two-state solution, and to annex part or all of the West Bank.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged before April elections to annex settlements in the West Bank, a move long supported by nearly all legislators in his alliance of right-wing and religious parties.

Annexing settlements on a large-scale in the West Bank could prove to be a death knell for the two-state solution, long the focus of international efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

(Al Jazeera, PC, Social Media)

Israel Involved in US-Led Mission in Gulf

Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs Yisrael Katz. (Photo: via Twitter)

Israel will join the US-led mission to secure shipping lanes in the Strait of Hormuz, a move likely to provoke Iranian outrage.

The revelation was disclosed yesterday by Israel’s Foreign Minister, Yisrael Katz, during a session of the Israeli Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee, the vast majority of which was held behind closed doors.

The “rare meeting” was held with the Knesset in recess ahead of Israel’s general election, which is slated for September 17.

Katz told the committee that he had instructed Israel’s Foreign Ministry to work to include Tel Aviv in the US-led mission after a recent visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

There Katz met with Emirati officials to discuss developing ties between Israel and the UAE in technology, energy, agriculture and water management, as well as “the need to deal with the threat of a nuclear Iran”.

It was against this backdrop that the foreign minister claimed to have discussed Israel’s joining of the operation with an unnamed senior Emirati official.

It is not yet clear whether Israel will send naval vessels to take part in the US-led mission – dubbed “Operation Sentinel” – or whether it will assist by providing intelligence, as suggested by a report from Israel’s public broadcaster Kan last month.

(Middle East Monitor, PC, Social Media)

Gantz Vows to ‘Pound’ Gaza if He Becomes Prime Minister

Benny Gantz, head of the Blue and White (Kahol Lavan) alliance. (Photo: via MEMO)

Benny Gantz, the leader of Israel’s largest opposition party Blue and White (Kahol Lavan), vowed yesterday to “pound Gaza” if he becomes prime minister, reported Haaretz.

According to Gantz – who was commanding the Israeli military during two major offensives in the occupied Gaza Strip in 2012 and 2014 – added that in a future assault he would order a ground invasion of the blockaded enclave, and kill Hamas’ leadership.

Describing the comments as marking “a more hawkish line than that taken by his party during the last election campaign”, Haaretz said, “sources in the party confirmed that it has decided to sharpen its rhetoric regarding defense in an effort to attract right-wing voters”.

Gantz said:

“We do not intend to let deterrence continue to be eroded; we do not intend to allow this model of another round and another round and another [incendiary] kite and another missile and another thing to continue.”

He added:

“The next time something happens here, we will make sure that it’s the final round.”

According to Haaretz, Gantz said:

“Another round of fighting would not end with just an agreement, but with an attempt to fully defeat Hamas militarily,” adding that “if another conflict erupts while he is prime minister, the military would move to kill all of Hamas’ leadership.”

The Blue and White (Kahol Lavan) leader made the remarks during a visit to the Gaza border area, accompanied by other senior members of the party, including co-leader Yair Lapid, Moshe Ya’alon, and Gabi Ashkenazi.

(Middle East Monitor, PC, Social Media)

Israel’s Right-Wing Candidates Sign Pledge to Annex 60% of West Bank (VIDEO)

Illegal Israeli Jewish settlement near Jerusalem. (Photo: ActiveStill.org)

Candidates of several Israeli right-wing parties yesterday signed a document agreeing to annex 60 percent of the occupied West Bank – Area C, Quds Press reported.

Israel’s Public Broadcaster reported the document saying:

“Israel is a national home for Jews, guarantees individual rights and equality among all citizens, opposes the creation of a Palestinian state and imposes sovereignty over Judea and Samaria [the West Bank].”

Area C covers 60 percent of the occupied West Bank and was designated as such by the Oslo Accords. It is under full Israeli military and administrative control. There are a number of illegal Jewish only settlements located in the area and Israel has been working to increase the number of settlers in the West Bank.

Israeli authorities are set to advance more than 2,400 settlement housing units this week, in parallel to granting retroactive approval to four unauthorized settlement outposts, according to settlement watchdog Peace Now.

(Middle East Monitor, PC, Social Media)

Israel Charges Al Araqeeb Residents $0.5m to Cover Cost of Demolition of Their Village (VIDEOS)

Israeli forces habitually destroy al-Araqeeb village. (Photo: via Twitter)

Arab Bedouins living in the “unrecognized” village of Al-Araqeeb have been ordered to pay 1.6 million shekels ($0.46 million) to cover the cost of the Israeli occupation’s demolition of their homes.

Al-Araqeeb was demolished for the 149th time yesterday, the third such demolition in the space of two weeks. This time, Israeli police stormed the village and dismantled the residents’ tents and threw them into their four-wheel-drive vehicles. They did not bring bulldozers or demolition vehicles.

The demolition forces left the village after it was confirmed that all the tents belonging to the residents had been demolished, destroyed and removed.

Forces returned this morning to arrest one of Al-Araqeeb’s residents, Salim Mohammed Al-Turi Abu Medegham.

Located in the Negev (Naqab) desert, the village is one of 51 “unrecognized” Arab villages in the area and is constantly targeted for demolition ahead of plans to Judaise the Negev by building homes for new Jewish communities. Israeli bulldozers, which Bedouins are charged for, have demolished everything, from the trees to the water tanks, but Bedouin residents have tried to rebuild it every time.

Bedouins in the Negev must abide by the same laws as Jewish Israeli citizens. They pay taxes but do not enjoy the same rights and services as Jews in Israel and the state has repeatedly refused to connect the towns to the national grid, water supplies, and other vital amenities.

In its ruling, the court said the villagers had “broken into state-owned land” by rebuilding their demolished homes.

(Middle East Monitor, PC, Social Media)

UN Report Slams Israel for Selling Arms to Myanmar Army despite Muslim Rohingya ‘Genocide’

Myanmar officials attended weapons conference in Tel Aviv, despite weapons ban over Rohingya genocide. (Photo: via Social Media)

A United Nations fact-finding mission called on Monday for an embargo on arms sales to Myanmar and for targeted sanctions on businesses with connections to the military after finding they are funding human rights abuses.

UN investigators detailed how businesses run by Myanmar’s army, also known as the Tatmadaw, are engaged in such violations and provide financial support for military operations such as efforts to force Muslim Rohingya out of Rakhine state in what has been branded a “genocide”.

“The revenue that these military businesses generate strengthens the Tatmadaw’s autonomy from elected civilian oversight and provides financial support for the Tatmadaw’s operations with their wide array of international human rights and humanitarian law abuses,” Marzuki Darusman, the Indonesian human rights lawyer who chairs the fact-finding mission, said in a statement.

Israel was identified as one of seven countries that had traded arms with Myanmar since 2017.

State-owned Israel Aerospace Industries agreed to provide “four Super-Dvora Mk III fast attack craft to the Myanmar Navy”, the report said, with two delivered in April 2017.

The private Israeli firm, TAR Ideal Concepts, was also named in the report.

The report said:

“Israel in particular allowed the transfer of arms covered by the ATT [Arms Trade Treaty] at a time when it had knowledge, or ought to have had knowledge, that they would be used in the commission of serious crimes under international law.”

The report urged the UN and member governments to immediately impose targeted sanctions against companies run by the military and suggested carrying out business with firms unaffiliated with the military instead.

Watchdog Global Witness called the report a rallying cry.

Campaign leader Paul Donowitz said:

“Global governments and companies who find themselves connected to a military company can therefore no longer plead ignorance.”

The UN released a 444-page report in 2018 that said the Myanmar military’s persecution of the stateless Rohingya Muslims warranted the charges of “genocide”.

Earlier this year Amnesty International denounced the Israeli government for its arms sales to countries accused of severe human rights violations, including Myanmar.

The Amnesty report said:

“Israeli companies continue to export weapons to countries that systematically violate human rights.”

It added:

“Often these weapons reach their destination after a series of transactions, thereby skirting international monitoring and the rules of Israel itself.”

Israel has long been accused of selling weapons to human rights violators despite international arms embargos, including to South Africa during Apartheid, Rwanda during the 1994 genocide, and to South Sudan during the brutal civil war.

(Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, PC, Social Media)

New Trend in Israel: Military-Themed Summer Camps for Kids

The “new trend in summertime fun” for Israeli schoolchildren is “military-themed summer camps and courses. (Photo: File)

The “new trend in summertime fun” for Israeli schoolchildren is “military-themed summer camps and courses”, reported Israeli publication Calcalist on Friday.

In one center – “The Squadron” – a reservist brigadier general provides children with “briefing rooms” and flight simulators, where participants recreate the 1981 Israeli attack on an Iraqi nuclear reactor.

During week two, the children “have their first taste of air battles and air strikes”. One of the camp leaders told the paper:

“They are not here to pass the time, they are here to receive values.”

Another summer activity includes martial arts training – Krav Maga – for children as young as 12-years-old, with tasks named “preparation for operational fire” and “counterterrorism 101”.

A paintball company, meanwhile, offers daily activities based on the Israeli army’s “enlistment process and basic training”, moving children “through a military-style obstacle course and teaching them how to fire semi-automatic (paintball) weapons”.

One a recent day, Calcalist reported, “150 summer camp kids arrived here for Bootcamp training”. Older children “come for daily activities in a special set designed for urban warfare: densely-built houses burned vehicles, and sniper posts.”

Other centers offer courses in cyberwarfare for “tech-leaning kids”, with one child telling the reporter:

“I want to serve in Unit 8200 [the military unit which conducts surveillance of Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory].”

“I want to be a white hat, the one who stops the hackers with the black hats. White hats hack, say, for the Mossad, to find out things needed to protect the country, unlike black hats that are interested in criminal things like money or world domination,” he added.

According to Kobi Michael, a senior research fellow at Tel Aviv University’s Institute of National Security Studies (INSS), “these summer camps are an expression of the cultural militarism that characterizes Israeli society”.

(Middle East Monitor, PC, Social Media)