The Day In Israel: Friday Dec 25th, 2009

According to the Jerusalem Post, Israel and the US Consulate are embroiled in a dispute.

Which tends to happen when you try to run over a Defense Ministry security guard with your diplomatic car.

A dispute is rumbling between Israel and the US Consulate in Jerusalem after a US diplomatic car allegedly tried running over a Defense Ministry security guard recently at an IDF checkpoint in the West Bank. The car had been stopped after the occupants refused to present identification papers.

Israel is also furious that one of the consulate cars was found to have transported a Palestinian without permits between Jerusalem and the West Bank.

The identification of American diplomats from the consulate at IDF checkpoints has been a major sticking point for several years.

In January 2008, the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria filed complaints with the Foreign Ministry after both US Security Coordinator Lt.-Gen. Keith Dayton and then-consul-general Jacob Walles refused to roll down their windows or open their car doors and show identification papers at a checkpoint.

However, Israel’s ire reached a new level after an incident on November 13 in which a five-car convoy of consulate vehicles with diplomatic plates arrived at the Gilboa crossing.

According to a detailed official Israel Police description of the incident obtained exclusively by The Jerusalem Post, the drivers refused to identify themselves or open a window or door. The drivers, according to the report, purposely blocked the crossing, tried running over one of the Israeli security guards stationed there and made indecent gestures at female guards.

The entire incident was documented by cameras at the crossing.

Now there’s a YouTube video I wouldn’t mind seeing.

Following the incident, the head of the police’s Security Department, Lt.-Cmdr. Meir Ben-Yishai, convened a meeting on November 18 at police headquarters in Jerusalem with the regional security officer at the consulate, Tim Laas. Also present were officials from the Defense Ministry and the Foreign Ministry, and the regional security officer at the US Embassy in Tel Aviv, Dan Power.

According to a protocol of the meeting, obtained by the Post, Ben-Yishai said he assumed the drivers of the consulate vehicles had received permission to act the way they had. He said that in the future, if a diplomatic car did not stop and identify its passengers “immediately,” it would not be allowed to pass the checkpoint.

Ben-Yishai described additional violations by consulate workers, and referred to at least one case in which a female Palestinian without appropriate documentation was found in a diplomatic car. Defense officials told the Post that there had been other similar cases in the past.

“We view this as an attempt to illegally transfer someone,” Ben-Yishai said, according to the official police protocol.

Ben-Yishai also said the drivers of the cars, from east Jerusalem, hid their Israeli identity cards and put stickers over their names on their consulate-issued identity cards, since, as they claimed, “they are in a diplomatic vehicle and cannot be touched.”

He added that police had filed a complaint with the Foreign Ministry and were conducting their own investigation to identify the driver who had tried running over the Israeli security guard.

While Power apologized for the incident and tried smoothing things over, Laas angered Ben-Yishai, according to the protocol, when he said it was unacceptable for “simple guards” to inspect senior diplomats.

Laas said the communication needed to be between the guard and the driver, since “we can’t know who the guard is.”

This was understood by those present as indicating his lack of trust in Israeli guards.

“This situation is being misused, and as proof in the latest incident, they refused to identify themselves and even tried smuggling a Palestinian without permission,” Ben-Yishai said, according to the protocol. “The security guards at the crossings are licensed and are authorized by me, and that is how they should be treated. They are not ‘simple guards‚’ as Tim Laas called them.”

Laas claimed that the Palestinian woman who had been in the car served as a translator for Dayton and the consul and that she had been returning with the team to Israel. He said it was possible that there had been a mishap with her papers.

Concluding the meeting, Ben-Yishai set new procedures under which consulate cars would need to undergo complete inspections if only a driver were present. If diplomats are inside the vehicle, they must open the door and present their identification papers.

A spokesperson from the consulate said that consulate policy was not to comment on internal meetings with Israeli officials.

“In regards to the checkpoints, we enter and exit from the West Bank many times a day through checkpoints controlled by the government of Israel without incident, and consulate officials and drivers always carefully follow the procedures that have been established and agreed to by US and Israeli governments for entering and exiting the West Bank,” the spokesperson said. “Any problems that have occurred with checkpoints have been a result of misunderstanding and miscommunication, and we are in regular contact with the government of Israel regarding those procedures to avoid miscommunications in the future.”

In response to the claim that the consulate cars had illegally transported Palestinians, the spokesperson said, “Any allegations that we are illegally transferring people are completely untrue, and as stated earlier, it is in our best interest that we follow the rules so that people who participate in US-funded programs can participate, and it would not be in our best interest to illegally transfer people.”

Oy vey.

Updates (Israel time; most recent at top)

1:54PM: Yesterday’s terror victim was buried today.

Meir HaiHundreds of people took part Friday in the funeral of Meir Avshalom Hai, 45, who was murdered  Thursday evening in a terror attack near the West Bank settlement of Shavei Shomron.

Eliyahu, 16, one of Hai’s seven children, eulogized his father at the Shamgar funeral home in Jerusalem. “We are not seeking revenge against the Arabs,” he said. “The difference between us and them is that we are human beings. We won’t shoot them in the head for no reason. We are Jews, holy people, human beings.”


With heartbreaking sobs, the son said, “Father, you know that two years ago I decided not to be religious, that this way is not for me, that I don’t want to observe the Sabbath, don’t want side-locks. I left everything behind, I said ‘I don’t want this.’ I know that I tore you apart then, we didn’t talk to each other and I wanted to say to you, ‘Father, I love you.’

“In the past few weeks I felt it, I had a feeling that something was going to happen. I wanted to hug you. I know that I hurt you in your life. I want to ask for your forgiveness.”

The son continued to cry painfully, “Father, father. God gave and God took away. What would we do without faith, father? I managed to spend 16 years of eternity with you. Everyone spoke about how special you were. You were with us; you were very connected to us. We knew that our father is always with us, at any situation.

“You all came, the youth, to see where father was murdered yesterday. I said, God, there are no such things. This youth is with us in good times and in bad. You are the best youth there is. I salute you, salute the army. Continue father’s way. Father wanted faith, Torah studying and prayer.”

Shavei Shomron’s rabbi, Yehoshua Schmidt, also eulogized Hai. “You were full of love. You had unusual powers. Your love of the Torah. You taught the children Torah which even adults don’t know. You were filled with the love of Torah. Your liveliness, you shined to everyone around you.

“God Almighty, how could this happen? Who will fill in for you? How could the hand of evil people cut off this thing? How are Arabs better than Jews? Rabbi Meir, you are filled with purity, the love of Torah. You were killed for the sanctification of God’s name.”

Rabbi Haim Drukman spoke about the Torah Hai bestowed to his students. “This is what you were like since I knew you at the yeshiva and throughout the years: Completely perfect – in your faith, fear of God, your good traits and lifestyle… Your dedication and your work at the Talmud Torah school.

“We lost an entire world. There is a private loss here, but a general loss as well. It’s a national mourning. The murderers did not target you because they had a score to settle with you. The bullet which hit you was directed at all of us. They want to destroy the people of Israel. The people of Israel is a stubborn people. We shall overcome them, both the harassments from the outside and the weaknesses on the inside.”

12:18PM: The Hamas leadership in Syria has reportedly rejected our demand that certain terrorists be deported, even though the Gazan leadership is willing to agree to it.

Here’s hoping they try to settle this difference of opinion by fighting to the death.

10:30AM: Ever wondered where your letters to G-d end up? Wonder no more!

Yep. Apparently it goes to former PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei.

post office

8:40AM: Here’s a debate between an Iranian university professor and a former Israeli pilot.

This particular network seems to like inviting Dr Gordon as someone representing the Israeli side in a debate against an Iranian. For instance, here’s another such debate I posted a couple of months ago.

As I said at the time, Dr Gordon is perhaps the worst representative of the Israeli side I have ever seen – aggressive, rude, inarticulate, and showing more than a passing resemblance to Dr Evil. Although at least he doesn’t resort to shouting and interrupting this time.

8:20AM: Another transparently biased photo and caption, courtesy of Reuters.

palestinian pray mosque - Reuters

Palestinians pray in a makeshift mosque built in the ruins of one destroyed during the three-week offensive Israel launched last year, in the northern Gaza Strip on Christmas Eve December 24, 2009. December 27 marks one year since the start of a three-week offensive Israel launched in Gaza during which more than 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis

I wonder if it is the ruins of this mosque.

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