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The Day In Israel: Mon Oct 18th, 2010

Hamas yesterday accused Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of misleading Israelis.

Because they obviously stand for truth and care about us.

gilad shalit flag

Hamas on Sunday accused Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of “misleading” Israelis by creating the false impression that there was some kind of progress in negotiations for kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Schalit.

In an early morning interview with Army Radio, Netanyahu confirmed that contacts started anew a number of weeks ago to gain the young man’s release.

“There has been a renewal of contact with the German negotiator,” he said, adding that his office is dealing with the Schalit dossier on a continuous basis in a variety of ways.

The central channel, he said, is “negotiation [through the German mediator] that started a number of weeks ago.” Netanyahu would not offer any details of the talks.

Osama Hamdan, a senior Hamas official in Lebanon, told Al-Jazeera that Netanyahu’s talk about progress was aimed at “easing domestic pressure on his government.”

His words came after Channel 2 reported on Saturday that German mediator Gerhard Konrad traveled to Gaza three weeks ago to speak with Hamas about a deal for Schalit.

Hamdan confirmed that a German mediator had visited the Gaza Strip recently in another bid to achieve a breakthrough, but to no avail.

“Hamas informed the German mediator that it won’t make any concessions on its demands and there would be no return to phase zero of the talks,” Hamdan said.

He added that the mediator, whom he did not name, did not bring anything new and had only a few meetings during his stay in the Gaza Strip.

Holding Netanyahu responsible for the lack of progress in efforts to reach a prisoner-exchange agreement, the Hamas official said: “Hamas’s position is very clear. The negotiations and discussions must be resumed from the point where they stopped. We won’t return to stage zero.”

Sources close to Hamas in the Gaza Strip said that the main differences between the two sides remain over whether Israel should release Israeli Arab prisoners and those who carried out big terrorist attacks.

The sources said that Hamas and Israel would still need months to bridge the gap between them.

Meanwhile, a a senior General Staff officer has warned that our response to the kidnapping of another soldier into Gaza will be no less severe than Operation Cast lead.

Updates (Israel time; most recent at top)

10:02PM: BREAKING NEWS: Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah lies.

Nasrallah AhmadinejadThe Israel Defense Forces is taking aim at a new claim by Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah who last week presented what he said was an Israeli rifle to visiting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Nasrallah said the weapon, placed in a felt-lined box with a row of bullets, was captured during the guerrilla group’s 2006 war with Israel.

Israeli military spokeswoman Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich said Sunday the gun appears to be an assault rifle that Israel hasn’t used since 1974 – meaning it likely wasn’t captured during the war.

Ahmadinejad had met with Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah at Iran’s embassy in Beirut prior to the Iranian leader’s departure from Lebanon.

Who’d have thought?

8:35PM: UN: Bla bla bla bla.

8:12PM: Israel’s answer to SpongeBob SquarePants?

lotto Israel

8:05PM: Israel has invited the 33 rescued Chilean miners to Israel.

Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov on Monday extended an official invitation to the 33 Chilean miners who were rescued last week to experience a “spiritual journey” this Christmas in the Holy Land.

The men, who were trapped underground for 68 days in a mine in Chile, are invited to Israel with their spouses for a week-long, all-expense paid sightseeing tour of various sites holy to Christianity.

“Your bravery and strength of spirit, your great faith that helped you survive so long in the bowels of the earth, was an inspiration to us all,” the tourism minister wrote in his invitation. “It would be a great honor for us to welcome you as our guests in the Holy Land.”

“This December, Christians around the world – and here in the Land of Jesus – will celebrate Christmas. During that time, we welcome tens of thousands of pilgrims and we would be pleased to offer you this uplifting and extraordinary experience, as our guests.”

No word yet on whether mistresses are also invited.

5:26PM: A sculpture of comatose former PM Ariel Sharon has gone on display.

3:45PM: What, me funny? According to the blurb on YouTube, this next video is:

The first episode of the USAID-funded cartoon campaign for the Palestinian Authority, designed by PACE and developed by Sketch in Motion, Inc.

This episode is about public transportation, and sends a message to the public about safety on the roads in a humorous way. Join us as Abu Awad dodges shawarma restaurants and crazy drivers on his way through the West Bank.

I guess we all have different ideas about humor.

12:52PM: Here in Israel, something happened last week that is only slightly more likely than peace in the Middle East.

Statisticians said the probability was abysmal, conspiracy theorists said the game was rigged, but some lucky gamblers believed this could happen: In an odds-defying incident, Saturday night’s state lottery numbers were an almost identical repeat of the lottery numbers from September 21. Ninety-five people picked the lucky combination and won.

The numbers that rolled out during a live studio broadcast this past Saturday, in lottery number 2194 of Miphal HaPayis, Israel’s state lottery, were 36, 33, 32, 26, 14, 13, and an additional ‘strong’ number 2. Moments after the celebration in the studio, curious web surfers were amazed to notice that these same numbers happened to roll out less than a month ago; on September 21, in lottery number 2187, the winning numbers were 13, 14, 26, 32, 33, 36, and a ‘strong’ number of 1. The order in which the numbers were picked was reversed.

“We are in the business of luck, and when it comes to chances and probabilities anything is possible, even the rare and infrequent, like in this case,” said Dr. Chaim Melamed, the statistics expert for Miphal HaPayis.

Three players guessed all seven numbers correctly, including the ‘strong’ number, and won NIS 4 million ($1,116,694) each. This is the highest numbers of first prize winners since 2006. Ninety-two players guessed a combination of six numbers correctly, and won NIS 4,000-NIS 6,561 ($1,116-$1,831) each.

Melamed stated that people often gamble on numbers that won previously. “I assume it’s like the people who hang on to birthdays,” he said. “There are people that hang on to numbers that were picked in the past. This time, this wish was fulfilled. It’s rare, but it’s still luck.”

Trillion-to-one chance

According to Zvi Gilula, a professor of statistics at the Hebrew University, getting all seven lottery numbers exactly correct, under normal circumstances, is one in 18 million. Guessing six numbers correctly, excluding the ‘strong’ number, is one to 2,250,000.

Gilula, an expert on gambling, estimated the probability of the same set of numbers being randomly picked twice a few weeks apart is no higher than one in 4 trillion, or 0.00000000000025.

“Usually, this is the type of numbers they use to describe the probability of life on Mars,” Gilula said.

Yitzhak Melechson, a professor of statistics at the University of Tel Aviv, said that the incident of six numbers repeating themselves within a month is an event of once in 10,000 years, and addressed the issue of a mishap.

“A bend in the lottery machine is a much more complex issue. If certain numbers were repeated more often it could attest to something, but it’s not the case in the repeated sextet.”

9:36AM: This next story is sure to disappoint many.

Some 11,500 students, among them 500 Arab and Druze Israelis, began the academic year Sunday at the Ariel University Center of Samaria, which is located in the West Bank, beyond the Green Line.

“I scored high on my psychometric exam and could have enrolled in Tel Aviv University and other institutions, but here the enrollment process was quicker. This was the first place that accepted me, so I decided to go for it,” said 20-year-old Tayibe resident Manar Diuani, who is studying computer science.

A group of prominent Israeli artists recently caused a public uproar when they drafted a letter declaring their refusal to perform in Ariel’s new cultural hall for political reasons.

Diuani, an Arab-Israeli, told Ynet the settlement issue does not concern her. “I separate studies from politics. I don’t think where I go to school will matter to anyone – only my grades and diploma will matter.”

Another Arab student, who chose to remain anonymous, said, “We did not come here because of the ideology; we came here to get an education, and we don’t want to link this to politics.”

Asad, 25, from the Druze village Hurfish, was recently discharged from the IDF after serving as an officer in a secret unit. He rents a room at the university’s dorms and is studying for a BA degree in civil engineering. “I didn’t take the psychometric exam, so the Technion (Israel Institute of Technology) was out of the question. Beersheba is too far, and as a family man I wanted to stay close by,” said Asad, who is married with a daughter.

“Ariel is a large city that has existed for many years and will continue to exist without me. In this case, politics is pushed to the side,” he told Ynet.

Joana Moussa, a 20-year-old behavioral sciences student from Abu Snan, an Arab village in the Galilee region, said politics does play a role. “All of the students in Ariel fear the day will come when they’ll be told their diploma cannot be recognized because they studied in the territories. But as of today, our diploma is recognized everywhere.

“I am very pleased because the professors give us personal attention and there is no racism here. Perhaps in other places people would have commented on my name or ethnicity, but here I’m accepted for who I am,” she said.

Some three years ago Ariel College was recognized as a “university center,” a move that drew harsh criticism from leftist groups.

Bring on the boycott!

6:14AM: An anti-Israel campaigner rewrites history as he explains why Britain supported Zionism, including claims both Balfour and Churchill were “vicious antisemites.”

Of course, our intrepid historian is himself not antisemitic – just anti-Zionist – even as he explains that “Herzl, the founder of Zionism, promised that he would take the Jews away from these [revolutionary] movements and make them into colonists who would go and pillage other countries”

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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