The Day In Israel: Monday Aug 8th, 2010

An Israeli who disappeared in March has been released from a Libyan prison, thanks to some complex negotiations that involved allowing Libya to build 20 prefabricated housing units inside Gaza

rafram hadad

Photo courtesy: Herb Keinon

An Israeli named Yisrael (Rafram) Hadad, who was arrested in Libya  in March, was released and flew to Vienna Sunday night, where he was greeted by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman who has been working for months for his release.

Hadad, 34, who holds both Israeli and Tunisian passports, went to Libya to take photos of former Jewish property there for a Libyan Jewish organization in Israel, and then suddenly disappeared.

Since then, the Foreign Ministry tried using contacts in France, Italy and the US to win his release, but failed.

Some two-and-a-half months ago, according to government sources, Lieberman got involved and asked Austrian businessman Martin Schlaff, with whom he has good ties and who has business ties with the Libyans, to intercede.

The Libyans originally conditioned Hadad’s release on Israeli allowing a ship that set sail for Gaza last month to enter the Gaza port, something that Israel refused to do. An agreement was then reached with the Egyptians that the ship could dock in El-Arish and that the material on the vessel would be allowed into Gaza.

As part of the deal for the release of Hadad, Israel agreed that Libya could build 20 prefabricated housing units inside Gaza.

A spokesman for Lieberman quoted him late Sunday evening as saying that “the redemption of captives is a big mitzva, and I’m happy I was able to contribute my part to winning his freedom.”

Updates (Israel time; most recent at top)

2:34PM: Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu has testified before the Turkel Commission, which is probing Israel’s commando raid on the Gaza-bound flotilla.

His full statement can be found here.

12:06PM: An Israeli group has purchased the Lutetia Hotel in Paris – ex-Nazi headquarters that later housed Jewish refugees.

And no, the group is not this outfit.

11:58AM: Wait until the Iranians find out about this.

8:40AM: In the wake of Hizbullah’s claim that Israel was behind the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, Israel believes the terrorist organization is running scared.

Nasrallah wipes

“This is completely ridiculous and – most importantly – everyone knows it,” one senior official in the Prime Minister’s Office said of Hizbullah’s claims. “When they start casting for straws like this, it just shows the degree of pressure they are under.”

Hizbullah, the official said, will have a serious problem on its hands if it is indicted for the murder.

“They are looking for a way out,” he said.

Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah is expected to publicly blame Israel in a speech on Monday for the car bombing that killed the former Lebanese prime minister and 20 others on February 14, 2005. The Ma’an News Agency was told by a Hizbullah source on Sunday that the evidence tying Israel to the assassination, which has not yet been released, is “comprehensive, revealing, conclusive information.”

Last month, Nasrallah criticized the UN tribunal that had been investigating Hariri’s assassination since 2007, amid reports that members of the organization would likely be implicated. Nasrallah called into question the tribunal’s impartiality, stating that some of its members were connected to Israel. Those comments came in a prerecorded announcement aired on Lebanese television.

Nasrallah added that Hizbullah possessed proof that would exonerate its members from involvement in Hariri’s assassination, and that it would reveal it when the time comes.

Officials in the Prime Minister’s Office said they saw no connection between Hizbullah’s concern over the Hariri tribunal and the incident on the Lebanese border last week in which the Lebanese army opened fire and killed an IDF officer.

Wow, trying to scapegoat Israel. What an original idea!

6:04AM: Holy biased travel warnings, Batman!

A travel warning recently released by the United States in the wake of a recent rocket attack on Israel and Jordan is signaling Israel out while ignoring the fact that the attack’s only fatality was Jordanian, Israel’s Tourism Ministry said in a statement Wednesday.

Last Thursday, the United States issued a travel warning to Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip on Thursday, citing additional precautions as a result of a recent rocket attack on Eilat and the Jordanian port city of Aqaba which killed a Jordanian citizen was killed and wounded five others.

One rocket hit fields north of Eilat and another is believed to have landed in the sea. No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack but defense analysts believe Bedouin gangs operating in Sinai or the Global Jihad group are behind the attack.

Taking these new developments into account, the U.S. State Department issued a revised travel warning to Israel, saying that “U.S. citizens in Eilat and southern Israel are advised to ascertain the location of the nearest bomb shelter.”

“In the past, some rockets have travelled more than 40 km from Gaza and landed as far north as Yavne and Gadera and as far east as Be’er Sheva,” the travel warning said, adding that American officials must seek approval before travelling near the Strip “as a result “of possible IDF military operations in Gaza and the ever-present risk of rocket and mortar attacks into Israel from Gaza.”

In Sunday’s response to the U.S. travel warning, the Tourism Ministry said that the recent “update to the U.S. travel advisory to Israel is incorrect, singling out Eilat but not Aqaba, despite the fact that the rockets’ only fatality was in the Jordanian city.”

Israeli Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov plans to raise the U.S. State Department’s August 5 travel warning with U.S. ambassador James Cunningham this week, either in a meeting or by telephone, his ministry said in a statement.

“Differentiating Israel from its neighbor that actually suffered loss of life is improper and lacks balance,” the statement said.

5:55AM: Introducing our latest weapon: Zionist Psychotronic Weapons of Death.TM

As you can see, these weapons are effective, even on the very thickest of skulls.

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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