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Israel’s Problem: How Do You Stop the Lone Wolf?

(Photo: ASHERNET)

(Photo: ASHERNET)

This week’s synagogue massacre in Jerusalem was only the latest in the rising number of terrorist attacks against Israelis. So many of these attacks have not been the result of coordinated actions by terror groups – though those organizations do work toward the destruction of the Jewish state, and do applaud violence against the Jewish people – but have been the result of “lone wolf” terrorists acting alone. Bloomberg News’ Alisa Odenheimer looks at how Israel is dealing with this latest threat against its people and its existence:

Palestinians’ new weapons of choice can be found in every kitchen and parked outside their doors, presenting Israeli security forces with what may be their toughest challenge yet.

Nine people, including five killed yesterday at a Jerusalem synagogue, have been attacked in the past month by Palestinians who deliberately plowed cars into pedestrians or wielded knives and cleavers. Israeli Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino says assailants have acted on their own. This combination of readily accessible weapons and rogue attackers makes it impossible to foretell who will act, or where.

“It’s the lone-wolf syndrome,” Jonathan Fine, a senior researcher at the International Institute for Counter– Terrorism at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, said last week. “It’s the worst kind of terrorism you can think of because it’s unpredictable …

“I pay attention when I cross the street: I look 20 times before I cross,” she said in an interview. “When I wait for the bus, I stand as far back from the street as I can.”

One of the victims of a previous attack was a three-month-old baby killed by a driver who rammed into a group of people waiting at a tram station.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accused Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas, the militant group that rules the Gaza Strip, of inciting the violence. Last week, Abbas lauded Palestinian protesters for trying to keep Jews from “defiling” a contested Jerusalem shrine that’s holy to Muslims as the al-Aqsa mosque complex and…

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Friday, November 21st, 2014 at 9:01 AM  | Stand For Israel

IDF: West Bank Van Attack Was Terror, Not Accident

Two weeks ago, after one deadly vehicle attack had already occurred, we reported on a second incident in which three IDF soldiers were hit by a van in the West Bank. Initially labeling the event an accident, the IDF has now declared it to be a deliberate terror attack:

hit-and-run incident in which three Israeli soldiers were struck by a van in the West Bank was indeed a terror attack and not a car accident, the IDF has determinedaccording to a Thursday report.

The army informed the families of the three soldiers who were injured in the November 5 van attack in the Etzion Bloc region of the West Bank, south of Jerusalem, that the incident was nationalistically motivated, after wrapping up a two-week investigation into the incident, Channel 2 reported.

A day after the attack, a senior security official said the attack may have been a car accident, according to Israeli media reports. The driver of the van, Hamam Mesalmeh, turned himself in to Israeli authorities on November 6, ending a manhunt following the incident.

Mesalmeh told officials that he lost control of the large commercial vehicle he was driving, and panicked when he realized he had hit Israeli soldiers and fled the scene.

But the parents of the three wounded soldiers maintained all along, based on the footage of the incident, that it was a deliberate attack. On November 9, Roni Aharoni said that his son, Moshe Aharoni, who was seriously injured in the hit-and-run, told him that the driver of the commercial van had accelerated as he barreled into the soldiers.

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Thursday, November 20th, 2014 at 1:57 PM  | Stand For Israel

Consulate Warns Americans in Israel of Terrorism

(Photo: flickr/ usembassyta)

(Photo: flickr/ usembassyta)

Three of the victims of yesterday’s terror attack in Jerusalem held American citizenship. Now, The Times of Israel reports, the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem warned other Americans to be safe and to make themselves “hard targets”:

The United States Consulate in Jerusalem said in a security message to Americans in Israel that the deadly attack on a Jerusalem synagogue Tuesday demonstrated “low-level coordination.”

The Har Nof synagogue attack, in which five Israelis were killed by two Palestinian terrorists, “differs from recent attacks, potentially demonstrating low-level coordination to attack a pre-identified soft target as opposed to an opportunistic random act of violence,” the consulate said in the message posted on its website and e-mailed to Americans registered with the consulate or State Department.

“While we cannot predict where and when attacks may take place, we have consistently seen a cycle of violence in East Jerusalem neighborhoods following incidents like the one today,” the consulate said.

The message came less than a day after the attack during morning prayer services. Three of the dead were dual American and Israeli citizens. The FBI reportedly is participating in the investigation of the attack.

The consulate’s message urged Americans in Israel to “make yourself a ‘harder target’ and raise your situational awareness” when visiting “soft targets” such as hotels, clubs, restaurants, shopping centers, identifiable Western businesses, housing compounds, transportation systems, places of worship, schools, or public recreation events, which the message said often have little or no security in place.

Even as we continue to pray for God’s comfort over those who lost loved ones and who were injured in yesterday’s attack – and other attacks in recent weeks – let us to ask for His protection over all who are in the Holy Land.

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Wednesday, November 19th, 2014 at 1:46 PM  | Stand For Israel

Each Terrorist Incites the Next

(Photo: ASHERNET)

(Photo: ASHERNET)

Yesterday’s massacre at a Jerusalem synagogue – while praised by terrorist groups like Hamas – seems to be yet another “lone wolf” attack. Writing at The Jerusalem Post, Yaakov Lappin says that each terrorist incites the actions and infects the mind of the next:

The latest horrific terrorist atrocity in Jerusalem appears to be the most recent in a series of unorganized Palestinian attacks, with no visible guiding hand of a larger organization directly behind it.

The perpetrators, two cousins from the Jebl Mukaber neighborhood of east Jerusalem, have no affiliation to terrorist organizations, and no background of security offenses. They do have a record in property crime, according to initial checks. The PFLP’s claim of responsibility at this stage appears to be unfounded.

In other words, once again, incitement to violence in the Palestinian media, incitement to religious violence based on baseless conspiracy theories regarding the Temple Mount, and previous attacks are igniting subsequent terrorist incidents, in a domino effect of deadly violence.

The dialogue within Palestinian media surrounding the death of a Palestinian bus driver from east Jerusalem, who, according to an autopsy, committed suicide, is the latest example of this incitement.

Following the autopsy, medical officers – including a Palestinian pathologist who was present for the procedure – all agreed that the man had hanged himself.

But then, elements in the Palestinian media spread the falsehood that the Palestinian had been murdered.

This atmosphere, which is producing a chain of murderous violence, makes the job of formulating a response difficult.

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Wednesday, November 19th, 2014 at 8:18 AM  | Stand For Israel

Silence of Prayer Shattered in Synagogue Terror Attack

(Photo: ASHERNET)

(Photo: ASHERNET)

This morning in Jerusalem, a synagogue’s prayer service was turned into a scene of horror as two Palestinian terrorists burst in, armed with guns and knives, and attacked the congregants. The Times of Israel’s Mitch Ginsburg provides testimony from eyewitnesses to the horrific attack that left four dead and six injured:

Yaakov Amos had just finished calling silently on God to “grant peace everywhere, goodness and blessing; grace, loving kindness and mercy to us and unto all Israel, Your people,” when two terrorists stormed into Har Nof’s largest synagogue at 7:01 a.m. on Tuesday.

Amos, a trained trauma therapist, was in the middle of the Amidah prayer when he heard a pair of gunshots issued in quick succession. “Boom-boom,” he said.

He swiveled around fast, his feet still together in prayer, and saw “a Jew in phylacteries” on the floor.

In those seconds, Amos was transported from the calm of the meditative prayer into the middle of a  massacre, as terrorists armed with a gun, a knife and meat cleaver killed four people and injured several more. Witnesses and rescue workers described a gruesome scene inside the Jerusalem synagogue, with blood spattering prayer books and people in the middle of prayer caught in the carnage.

A former infantryman in the Givati Brigade, Amos, dressed in the black-and-white garb of the ultra-Orthodox, said that the gunman did not fire wildly into the congregation of worshipers but rather “closed the gap,” running up close to his victims and shooting them “in the head, from point-blank range.”

He ducked behind what is known as a shtender, a wooden podium used to support books for prayer and study, and then, once the gunman ran past him, he stumbled out the open synagogue doors, losing his phylacteries in the process, and ran across the street to his family.

Joseph Pasternak, a father of eight originally from Argentina, was also caught in the middle of the silent prayer.

He said he saw both terrorists, one with a handgun and one with “a butcher’s knife,”…

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Tuesday, November 18th, 2014 at 8:54 AM  | Stand for Israel

ISIS and al-Qaeda Reconcile, Promise Joint Terror Attacks

(Photo: flickr/3aref)

(Photo: flickr/3aref)

Before the Islamic State (IS or ISIS) overran parts of Syria and Iraq, it was at odds with al-Qaeda, the terrorist group from which it separated. But now JNS.org reports that ISIS and al-Qaeda have reconciled and will cooperate in fighting the U.S.-led coalition and committing future terror attacks:

The Islamic State and al-Qaeda have reportedly reached a deal to reconcile their differences and coordinate joint terror operations in Syria, according to high-level Syrian opposition sources.

According to a statement to The Associated Press by a commander in the Free Syrian Army, the two terror groups met Nov. 2 in the Syrian town of Atareb, west of Aleppo, and agreed to halt infighting and to open up a new joint front against the Kurds in northern Syria.

Sources indicate that a number of terror factions attended the meeting, including Islamic State, the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front, the Khorasan Group (an al-Qaeda affiliated terror group comprised of veteran fighters from Afghanistan and Pakistan), and two smaller groups, Jund al-Aqsa and Ahrar al-Sham.

The al-Nusra Front was originally one of the most powerful jihadist forces fighting the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad. Most the leadership and fighters for Islamic State originated with al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), which fought against U.S. forces there. But after overrunning parts of northern Iraq, Islamic State became flush with heavy weaponry and cash that it took from the fleeing Iraqi military and banks that it looted, becoming the more powerful of the two jihadist groups.

“If there is less blood being spilled against each other and they don’t have to worry about that, that’s going to make it easier for the jihadis to go after Assad or any western-backed forces,” Tom Joscelyn, an analyst for the Long War Journal website, told The Associated Press.

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Friday, November 14th, 2014 at 11:59 AM  | Stand for Israel

Why Abbas Will Not Condemn Terror Attacks

(Photo: White House/ Paul Morse)

(Photo: White House/ Paul Morse)

As Israelis have been killed and injured by Palestinian terrorists over the past weeks, Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas has yet to condemn these attacks. Writing at the Gatestone Institute, Khaled Abu Toameh explains that this is because the very people Abbas has radicalized would turn against him if he spoke out against violence toward the Jewish state and its people:

The recent spate of terror attacks in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the West Bank did not come as a surprise to those who have been following the ongoing incitement campaign waged by Palestinians against Israel.

This campaign escalated immediately after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s last failed “peace process” between Israel and the Palestinians. Kerry’s “peace process” actually put Israelis and Palestinians on a new collision course, which reached its peak with the recent terror attacks on Israelis.

Kerry failed to acknowledge that Palestinian Authority [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas does not have a mandate from his people to negotiate, let alone sign, any agreement with Israel. Abbas is now in the tenth year of his four-year term in office.

Nor did Kerry listen to the advice of those who warned him and his aides that Abbas would not be able to implement any agreement with Israel on the ground. Abbas cannot even visit his private house in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, and he controls less than 40% of the West Bank. Where exactly did Kerry expect Abbas to implement any agreement with Israel? In the city-center of Ramallah or Nablus?

What Kerry and other Western leaders do not want to understand is that Abbas is not authorized to make any concessions for peace with Israel, and has even repeatedly promised his people that he would not make any concessions for the sake of peace with Israel.

In a speech in Ramallah on November 11, marking the tenth anniversary of the death of his predecessor, Yasser Arafat, Abbas declared: “He who surrenders one grain of the soil of Palestine and…

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Friday, November 14th, 2014 at 8:29 AM  | Stand for Israel

A Society Indoctrinated

(Photo: ASHERNET)

(Photo: ASHERNET)

The recent wave of terrorism in Israel – with cars being used as rockets to target and kill civilians, and stabbings being carried out in broad daylight – is despicable. It also says a lot about Palestinian society, where such attacks are not only condoned but are met with praise.

In the 20 years since the Oslo Accords and the Palestinian Authority’s creation, Palestinian society has been indoctrinated to hate Jews, an indoctrination the likes of which has not been seen since the fall of Nazism.  Is it any surprise that so many Palestinians are willing to kill Jews even if it gets them killed in the process?

The biggest innovations in Palestinian society during this time have been methods of killing. Once it was suicide bombs. Then it was rockets. This summer we discovered a subterranean tunnel network that would facilitate the kidnapping and killing of Jewish men, women, and children. And now, mowing down Israelis with a car.

Israel’s security establishment cannot keep up with the ever-changing tactics used by Palestinians to target Israeli civilians. And unfortunately, because of decades of incitement and the indoctrination of a whole generation of Palestinians, the chances of lasting peace grow slimmer and slimmer.

Who’s to fault for the violence?

Many people in the West blame Israel. They point to the lack of a peace accord and blame Israel’s construction in Jerusalem and parts of the West Bank – even construction in those areas which no Israeli leader on the left or right would ever relinquish. But to those who hold such views, Palestinian violence is not terrorism. To them, it is a legitimate form of resistance.

The reality is that the Palestinian Authority is to blame. Under their leadership, Hamas was allowed and encouraged to grow and to build a terror network. The P.A. facilitated incitement in Palestinian schools and summer camps, and in the media. The P.A. has continuously glorified “martyrs” who kill Israeli civilians, and has made it their mission to free terrorists from Israeli jails and throw them a…

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Thursday, November 13th, 2014 at 8:41 AM  | Stand for Israel

Israeli Trauma Doctors Leave Their Emotions at the Door

(Photo: flickr/IDF)

(Photo: flickr/IDF)

Israel and its supporters have watched horrified in recent weeks as terrorists have committed attacks using cars and knives, leaving Israelis dead and wounded. The Israeli physicians who have treated both the victims and their attackers have been forced to make some tough decisions, writes The Times of Israel’s Renee Ghert-Zand, but their ethics and dedication mirror the overall goodness of their nation and its people:

Accused Hamas terrorist Abdelrahman al-Shaludi was brought with severe gunshot wounds by ambulance to Shaare Zedek Medical Center on October 22. He had been shot by police as he tried to flee the scene at a crowded Jerusalem light rail station where he had allegedly run over bystanders, killing two of them, including a 3-month-old baby, Chaya Zissel Braun.

One of Shaludi’s victims, an injured woman, was transported to the hospital at the same time. Doctors at Shaare Zedek opted to treat the terrorist first.

As the doctors saw it, it wasn’t really a choice. Shaludi’s condition was more critical, so he needed more urgent medical attention, regardless of what he had done.

Whatever their opinions about what happens outside the hospital, once they stand within its walls, Israeli physicians, sworn by oath to do no harm and save lives, say they manage to put aside their emotions and treat each and every patient equally.

“Five department heads were called in to try to help save this guy who purposely ran people over,” Dr. Ofer Merin, Shaare Zedek’s deputy director and head of trauma, told The Times of Israel …

The team of physicians performed two surgeries on Shaludi, but he died on the operating table five hours after having been brought to the hospital.

“We gave him 30 units of blood. We did everything we would have done had it been the prime minister or the president, God forbid,” said Merin.

Merin does not deny that seeing victims of terrorist attacks rushed in to the emergency room can provoke strong emotions, but he insists that medical professionals…

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Wednesday, November 12th, 2014 at 3:49 PM  | Stand for Israel

What They Didn’t Tell You About Dahlia

(Photo: Flash90)

(Photo: Flash90)

A recent string of terror attacks in Israel, perpetrated by Palestinian terrorists driving their cars into crowds of people or stabbing Israelis on the street, has left many dead, including 26-year-old Dahlia Lamkus.

The Times of Israel’s Sherri Mandell points out that many news reports offer details about the terrorist and why he felt compelled to attack Israelis and yet leave out the details about this beautiful young life tragically and senselessly cut short:

We learn nothing about 26 year old Dahlia, who was just getting started in life after finishing college, studying occupational therapy so that she could have a job where she could help people who were sick or infirm or disabled to live in a fuller way.

They don’t tell you how she loved to bake with her mother, the two of them bringing rich, luscious cakes to parties and the way she spoke English with an accent — but not a Hebrew accent — a South African accent because her parents made aliyah from there thirty years ago. They don’t tell you how she went to synagogue every Sabbath and smiled at the people in her row before she prayed. And they don’t tell you how she had to hitchhike to get to her job working with children in Kiryat Gat or that she was the main volunteer at Yad Sarah in Tekoa which lends medical equipment like wheelchairs to those who are sick or injured. They don’t tell you how she liked to help brides look beautiful by doing their makeup for them before their weddings.

They don’t care that Dahlia’s father Nachum drives the ambulance in Tekoa. Day and night he is called on to make the drive to Jerusalem, and that Dahlia’s mother cares tenderly for the elderly.

(more…)

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Wednesday, November 12th, 2014 at 8:08 AM  | Stand for Israel

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State of Israel"

Rabbi's Commentary
Clarity in a Confused World

In response to this week’s horrific terrorist attack on a Jerusalem synagogue, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded with a voice of moral clarity. We, as people of faith and conscience, must all cling to such clarity in a world so often ruled by moral confusion.


Read Rabbi Eckstein's message »

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