The Day In Israel: Sun Oct 31st, 2010

In recent weeks, much has been made of the wanton destruction of the olive trees of palestinians, allegedly by Jewish “settlers.”

Now, a group claims to have caught palestinians and their leftist supporters vandalizing their own trees.

palestinian tree cutter

Photo: Ehud Amiton, Tazpit Unit

Arabs and leftist activists staged an attack on Palestinian fields in a bid to accuse settlers of vandalism, an organization that claims to have documented the incident says.

were made Saturday by Tazpit Unit members, an organization identified with the settlers which documents news events in the territories. Tazpit says that these staged attacks were meant to falsely accuse settlers of attacking Palestinian land.

The photos, taken by members of the Tazpit Unit, were shot on Palestinian land Friday, near the Neveh Tzuf settlement. The images allegedly show Palestinians and left-wing activists cutting down Palestinian olive trees using an electric saw.

Many so-called “Price Tag’ acts targeting Palestinians were recorded in the last few weeks, and the settlers now claim they were staged by the Palestinians themselves and intended to harm the settlers’ image.

Tazpit photographer Ehud Amiton, who documented the vandalism act on Friday, says that this is exactly what can be seen in his images.

“We are talking about an olive grove east of Beit Zayit, located near Route 60,” Amiton said.”I immediately saw that it was no ordinary pruning, it was done very aggressively…Some of the branches broke and other trees were cut off entirely. When I approached closer with my camera, the Palestinian man waved his saw at me threateningly. I felt uneasy so I backed off”.

Tazpit unit director Amotz Eyal said that “during every olive harvest season, just like this one, there are many cases of Arab farmers cutting down olive branches, later blaming it on the settlers.”

“Time after time photos prove that these Arabs are not holding back; they provoke in order to tarnish the image of Jewish settlers,” he said.

Eyal vowed that Tazpit photographers will continue to document such activities in order to show the public actual events on the ground.

While I do not view this as a “smoking gun,” it certainly does raise the possibility of this being another example of Pallywood.

And what would be a “smoking gun”? Video footage of destruction of the trees, for example.

Updates (Israel time; most recent at top)

5:34PM: The former American deputy defense secretary at the time of Jonathan Pollard’s arrest has said he must be freed immediately.

The United States must free Jonathan Pollard immediately, the former American deputy defense secretary at the time of Pollard’s arrest told Army Radio on Sunday.

Pollard, a former civilian intelligence analyst, was sentenced to life in prison in 1987 on charges of spying on the U.S. for Israel.

Lawrence Korb said that Pollard should be freed since his punishment was too severe relative to the felonies he committed.

Korb pointed out that Pollard has been sitting in prison longer than any other person who has been charged with spying for a friendly country on the U.S.

The reason for Pollard’s severe punishment, Korb explained in a piece written for the Los Angeles Times, was due to a letter that the U.S. Secretary of Defense at the time gave to the court directly before Pollard’s sentencing.

In the letter, Secretary of Defense Caspar Willard Weinberger detailed the damage that Pollard caused to the national security of the U.S., including an apparent connection with the exposure and subsequent killing of 11 American agents in the former USSR. According to Korb, the letter demanded that Pollard be severely punished. In Korb’s article, he says the thinking that any of Pollard’s information had reached the USSR has been debunked.

Another reason that Korb cited in his article was the refusal on the side of the Israeli government to acknowledge that Pollard was indeed one of their agents.

Last month, several U.S. congressmen signed a petition calling on President Obama to pardon Jonathan Pollard in order to advance the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

A statement released by Democratic Representative Barney Frank “notes the positive impact that a grant of clemency would have in Israel, as a strong indication of the goodwill of our nation towards Israel and the Israeli people.”

The petition in support of Pollard’s release will circulate until mid-October, when it will be sent to the U.S. president, the statement released by Frank’s office said.

3:48PM: Photo of the day:

soccer hebron

Photo: Yair Altman

Background:

Moment of hope: Unexpected coexistence prevailed in Hebron Saturday, after about 10,000 people visited the Jewish community in town ahead of the Torah portion on Abraham’s acquisition of the Cave of the Patriarchs.

For the first time in many years, Jews were able to enter Hebron’s Old City without a personal security escort. Palestinian movement in the area was also not limited, prompting local merchants to keep their stores open and welcome Jewish shoppers.

The highlight of the day occurred when Jewish youngsters touring the city spontaneously joined Palestinian youths playing soccer in the area. Dozens of teenagers, both Jewish and Arab, gathered at the site to cheer on the players, as smiling police officers and IDF soldiers watched on.

As noted, Israeli forces did not escort the visiting Jews personally, instead deploying on roofs and patrolling the area.

“Before peace broke out, we had a completely normal Jewish-Palestinian fabric of life here,” said Noam Arnon, spokesman of Hebron’s Jewish community. “This precisely is our intention, to regain normalization. There is no reason why Jews cannot conduct themselves normally vis-à-vis their Palestinian neighbors, as was the case for many years.”

2:48PM: Yesterday:

The Turkish National Security Council approved a few days ago significant changes in a document which contains threats against Turkey claiming that Israel is now a major threat to the country, Turkish media reported Saturday.

Israel was redefined as a “major threat” in the document called “The Red Book.”

This is the first time that Turkey has defined Israel’s actions in the Middle East as a threat towards it.

The document also stated that Israel’s actions may cause countries in the region to begin an “arms race.”

At the same time the Council decided to remove Syria, Bulgaria, Georgia and Armenia from the list of countries that pose a threat to Turkey.

Iran, which was previously a major threat to Ankara was also removed from the list of countries.

The document is valid for five years.

Today:

A suicide bomber blew himself up near police watching over Istanbul’s main square on Sunday, wounding 22 people, including 10 policemen, officials said.

Istanbul police chief Huseyin Capkin said the bomber tried but failed to get into a parked police vans and detonated the bomb just outside the vehicle.

Riot police are stationed at Taksim Square in case of demonstrations.

Ten police officers and 12 passers-by were injured in the attack, Istanbul’s governor Huseyin Avni Mutlu said. Capkin said at least two of the injured were in serious condition.

“The incident is under investigation. It’s a suicide bombing,” Capkin told reporters at the scene, adding that the bomber had blown himself to pieces.  Capkin said bomb squads discovered more devices at the scene and were working to defuse them.

There was no immediate responsibility claim for the attack, which occurred as the city was preparing to hold Republic Day parades that were originally planned for Friday but were delayed due to heavy rain.

Kurdish rebels fighting for autonomy in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast have carried out suicide bombings in the past, as have radical leftist groups and Islamic militants. A unilateral cease-fire announced by the Kurdish rebels is about to end.

Police sealed off all roads leading to the square and forensic teams in blue coveralls were walking in line, combing the area for pieces of debris and other evidence. Some were seen walking around the ledge of a statue at the square center.

“It was a terrifying, very loud explosion,” said Mehmet Toz who was in the square at the time of the blast. “Everyone started to run around, people fell on the ground. There was panic, we couldn’t make out what had happened.”

Muammer Ulutas, who works at a cafe near the square said a policeman fired four rounds of shots at the suicide bomber after he had blown himself up.

“He fired the shots at the suicide bomber, I heard four gunshots,” he said.  “The suicide bomber was lying on the ground and appeared to be in his early 20s,” Ulutas said.

There have been two previous suicide bomb attacks on police near Taksim, in 1999 and 2001, the state-run Anatolia news agency reported. The first wounded three police officers and 10 other people. The second killed two police officers.

Will Turkey realize who their real enemy is, or will they just blame this on Israel anyway?

12:40PM: Vapid terror-supporter Lauren Booth has opened up further about her conversion to Islam.

9:50AM: Separated at birth?

9:30AM: Blast from the past: The late Shlomo Carlebach visiting wounded soldiers in Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem (1973), singing “Am Yisrael Chai” (the nation of Israel lives).

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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

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