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News from Israel: Sat-Sun, March 8th-9th

Having spent the last 25 hours observing the Jewish Sabbath, I can say there was a palpable somberness in the air in the aftermath of Thursday evening’s devastating attack. One of the men at the synagogue in which I prayed lost his nephew in the attack, and some others I spoke to knew someone who had been in the yeshiva at the time of the attack.

After the Sabbath, I was hoping (but not expecting) to hear of some meaningful Israeli response. But, alas, nothing. I mean, sure, police have arrested 8 people in connection to the attack, Israeli security forces have interrogated a brother of the murderer (who was subsequently released and traveled to Jordan), and the terrorist’s father was detained for questioning immediately following the attack (and was instructed to take down the Hamas and Hizbullah flags displayed in the mourning tent). But I don’t think this is enough. Why do we allow people who openly support our destruction be citizens of Israel, and obtain the benefits citizens enjoy? The minute his family flew the Hamas and Hizbullah flags, they should have been charged with treason and sent to Gaza.

To make matters worse, palestinians fired another Qassam rocket and 3 mortar shells today, while Prime Minister Olmert uttered more empty platitudes, and PA leader Mahmoud Abbas said peace talks with Israel must move forward.

But things are not all doom and gloom, with news that the condition of 2 of the students wounded in the shooting attack has improved.

In other news, the ADL condemned the UN’s lack of condemnation, President Shimon Peres stated that Israel is not considering any unilateral military operation to stop Iran, and Egypt destroyed 6 smuggling tunnels.

Updates (Israel time)

Saturday, March 8th

10:20PM: Today’s blatant media bias and manipulation comes courtesy of AFP:


A relative holds up a picture of Alaa Hisham Abu Dheim, a Palestinian suspected of gunning down eight students at a Jewish religious school in Jerusalem. Israel went on alert as crowds mourned eight teens killed by a Palestinian at a Jewish religious school in an attack claimed by Hamas that shook faltering peace talks. (AFP/Ahmad Gharabli)

Leaving aside the obvious attempt to evoke sympathy for the little girl who just “lost” her relative, how is the murderer only suspected of gunning down the 8 young students?

10:25PM: As usual, despite earlier attempts to link terror attacks to specific Israeli operations, it turns out that the murdering scum from Thursday night had planned the attack for a long time.

Franco said the attack had been planned even prior to the IDF’s operation in Gaza, adding that the shooter had apparently scoped out the seminary for some time before the attack.

Just like with the Rafah wall blast, and the “al-Aqsa Intifada.”

10:45PM: Pictures of 2 more of the victims: Yonatan Yitzhak Eldar, 16 (L), and Segev Peniel Avihail, 15 (R).


11:00PM: A female soldier and another Israeli woman have been injured by stone-throwing palestinians in separate incidents.

11:32PM: 2 more of the victims: Yochai Lipschitz, 18 (L) and Roey Roth, 18 (R).


11:45PM: More on 5 of the victims:

Avraham David Moses, 16,Efrat

Avraham David Moses, 16, left behind parents and five brothers aged between two and 11. His parents divorced, remarried and live nearby each other in Efrat. At his funeral, Avraham David’s father recounted that his son had visited him at home last Saturday. “I blessed you, put my hand on your head and suddenly grasped how much you had grown in spirit. You did not break. The murderers broke you. You were not a fighter but a loving person – you loved the Torah and studying the Torah. You ended your life studying the Torah.”

Avraham David’s stepfather, David Moria, said the boy was “like an angel. He had amazing integrity.” His mother, Rivka, said thanks for “the 16 years we had the privilege of raising him, 16 years of purity of heart and honesty.”

On Thursday night, when they heard of the attack, Avraham David’s parents tried to find him but he had no mobile phone. They called all the hospitals in Jerusalem and when they couldn’t find his name in any of the lists of the injured, they realized they’d lost their son.

Neria Cohen, 15, Jerusalem

Neria Cohen, who was laid to rest at the Mount of Olives cemetery Friday, grew up in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City, one of 12 children born to Ayala and Rabbi Yitzhak Cohen. His father is a rabbi at the Esh HaTorah hesder yeshiva in the Jewish Quarter, and was for many years among the heads of the Ateret Cohanim yeshiva in the Muslim Quarter.

Many in Neria’s extended family are active in programs that combine religious studies with community outreach and education in poor towns. “Neria’s most striking quality was boundless joy. Everyone always wanted to be with him,” said Eliezer Avni, a ninth-grade counselor at the Mercaz Harav affiliate where Neria studied. “He was a boy who lived all the ideals in the world, who enlisted for every mission, whether it was activity on behalf of Jonathan Pollard, or on behalf of communities, or the needy.”

Segev Pniel Avichail, 15, Neveh Daniel

Segev Pniel Avichail, who was buried Friday in Jerusalem’s Har Hamenuhot Cemetery, was the grandson of two well-known rabbis: Rabbi Eliahu Avichail, who studied the Ten Lost Tribes and their disappearance; and Rabbi Yehoshua Zuckerman, the founder of the El Ami movement and teacher at Har Hamor Yeshiva. Segev Pniel’s father, Rabbi Elishav Avichail, is the rabbi of Adora, in the south Hebron hills. His mother, Moriah, was head of a girls art school in the community. A few years ago, Segev Pniel and his father escaped injury in a shooting attack on the Telem road. Segev Pniel was the oldest of four children. An uncle, Yair, described him Friday as a “serious student, a pure soul with a good heart.”

Yehonadav Haim Hirshfeld, 19, Kochav Hashachar

Yehonadav Haim Hirshfeld was the fifth of 13 children born to one of the oldest families in Kochav Hashachar, a community in the Matte Binyamin regional council. His father, Zemah, serves as a mohel in the community and its surroundings. His mother, Elisheva, is a housewife.

Yehonadav went to a highschool yeshiva near Mercaz Harav and later continued to study at the yeshiva itself, where he was killed on Thursday evening. He was a “talented young man with broad horizons, intelligent, and an admired guide in the Ariel youth movement,” Haya Meir, a neighbor, said.

When his parents heard of the terror attack on the yeshiva they couldn’t get a hold of their son, because he had no mobile phone.

The yeshiva’s emergency hotline also couldn’t help them and they sent relatives to look for Yehonadav. Finally, after midnight, the community’s rabbi arrived to inform them officially of his death.

Yonatan Yitzchak Eldar, 16, Shiloh

Yonatan Yitzchak Eldar was buried with his copy of the Nedarim Tractate of the Babylonian Talmud, soaked in his blood. Despite the celebration scheduled at the yeshiva later that evening for the start of the new month, Yonatan didn’t want to miss learning his daily page of Talmud and had taken the book with him to the library. One friend says he saw Yonatan studying alone at 1 A.M. Wednesday.

“Usually you think of someone so young who is so deeply involved in Torah study as being square, but Yonatan wasn’t at all like that,” said Rabbi Uri Bayar, an educator in Shiloh and a friend of the Eldar family. “He was full of joie de vivre and had many interests,” Bayar said.Yonatan Yitzchak was buried in Shiloh. After the funeral his friends gathered at the home of one of them and told stories about their friend. They recalled his love of hiking but also noted that he learned the rules of orienteering out of a book. Yonatan Yitzchak is survived by six brothers and one sister.

His father, Dror, works in high tech. His mother, Avital, is a teacher

Sunday, March 9th

9:00AM: Since my last update, palestinian sources have said Thursday’s terrorist was acting on instructions from Hamas in coordination with Hezbollah, and Public Security Minister Avi Dichter has suggested we deport Arab residents who take part in terrorism.

9:33AM: 20-year-old Sergeant Liran Banai, who was critically wounded in the Gaza border ambush last Thursday, has died of his wounds.

11:20AM: Binyamin ‘Bibi’ Netanyahu has said what needed to be said:

Arab Israeli public leaders and politicians should “pick which side they’re on,” opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu said on Sunday.

“They should publicly condemn the rock throwing terror and prove they stand by Israel’s side,” Netanyahu said, referring to several incidents of Arab Israeli teens hurling rocks at passing vehicles on Saturday and to Hamas flags that were hung in the east Jerusalem mourning tent for the terrorist who perpetrated Thursday evening’s shooting attack in Jerusalem’s Mercaz Harav Yeshiva.

“The State of Israel cannot afford an enemy from within. I demand any citizen, Jewish or Arab – to show loyalty to the soldiers, citizens and casualties of the country. It is a basic requirement that we must demand now, before it is too late,” he said during an interview with Israel Radio.

2:33PM: 20-year-old Sergeant Liran Banai, who today died of wounds he sustained last week:


2:40PM: A Hamas commander has admitted that Hamas has sent hundreds of terrorists to train in Iran and Syria in the past two years.

4:57PM: From the Missing the Point Department:

Likud MK Gilad Erdan said Sunday he intends to propose a bill that would ban mourners’ tents or any other public form of mourning or remembrance for terrorists.

The proposal comes after police said they could not prevent the erection of a mourners’ tent in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber honoring Ala Abu Dhaim, who carried out Thursday’s terror attack in a Jerusalem yeshiva that killed eight, most of them teenagers.

The proposed bill does not go far enough. What we need is a bill imposing strict punishments on any Israeli citizens convicted of treason, along with clear definitions of what constitutes treason.

5:15PM: Meanwhile, Prime Minister Olmert has held consultations with officials to check into the possibility of tearing down the killer’s family’s mourning tent. Again, why is that his first order of business, and not looking into deporting the family?

About the author

Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
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