Maurice’s e-mail tête à tête with Haaretz’ editor
Maurice Ostroff has been having a tête à tête with Haaretz editor Ehud Ein-gil all week. Ostroff, an expat SA Zionist and prolific writer, lives in Herzliya & is a keen follower of SAJR Online’s editor Ant Katz. He thought the SA Jewish community would enjoy following this (ongoing?) web war. We agreed – SA Jewry will find some elements of each man’s arguments compelling – and Maurice’s tenaciousness fun too.
The complete e-mail argy-bargy publoished below speaks for itself and requires no further comment from us.
Haaretz violates rules of good journalism again
Sent by: Maurice Ostroff, Herzliya, Israel on Monday 9 December 2013 @ 12h13
To: Ehud Ein-gil, senior editor, Haaretz, cc: Israel Press Council
Subject: Haaretz violates the rules of good journalism again
Recently Haaretz and Gideon Levy were reprimanded by the Israel Press Council for violating the ethics code that mandates fact-checking, objectivity and loyalty to the truth and that bars any mention of a person’s country of origin, ethnicity or social class if it isn’t relevant to the subject under discussion. It also said Haaretz’s editors had not made sure the facts were checked and that they were not careful enough about what the paper published
Your December 8 article under the sub-title “Shimon Peres and Benjamin Netanyahu have no right to eulogize Nelson Mandela” similarly contravenes the basics of good journalism. For example while you correctly quote Nelson Mandela as having said “We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians” you omitted his very important qualification acknowledging Israel’s legitimate security concerns: “I cannot conceive of Israel withdrawing if Arab states do not recognize Israel within secure borders.”
Careless with facts, Levy erroneously slams Shimon Peres for allegedly having hosted South Africa’s prime ministers and says this disqualifies him from admiring Mandela. As far I can recall only two apartheid prime ministers visited Israel and Peres hosted neither. Ben Gurion was PM when D.F. Malan visited in 1953 and Rabin was PM when B.J. Vorster visited in 1976. Malan also visited Britain, Switzerland, Belgium and Netherlands and Vorster was welcomed in Portugal, Spain, France, W. Germany Paraguay, Uruguay and Switzerland. P.W. Botha was welcomed in Britain as late as 1984. Between 1980 and 1988 he visited most European countries including the Vatican.
Singling out Israel is not only malevolent, it is absurd. Levy’s argument implies that none of the leaders of countries that hosted South African prime ministers in the days of apartheid are entitled to admire Mandela.
Levy FALSELY alleges that Israel was “virtually the only country that collaborated with that evil regime.” It is disgraceful that he recklessly propagates this damaging canard in violation of clause 5 of the Israel Press rules that states unambiguously “Prior to the publication of any item, the newspaper and the journalist shall check the accuracy thereof with the most reliable source and with the caution appropriate to the circumstances of the case.”
The fact is that dozens of countries traded and collaborated with the apartheid regime. In 1986, while apartheid was suffering worldwide opprobrium, South Africa’s main trading partners were, USA $3.4 billion, Japan $2.9 billion, Germany $2.8 billion, and UK $2.6 billion. By comparison, Israel’s puny $0.2 billion total trade with South Africa amounted to less than 1% of South Africa’s total trade. In addition the apartheid regime was propped up by Arab oil and financing by major European banks
Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan opposed sanctions against South Africa in the 1980’s. Thatcher visited SA and was hosted by Botha who said he was highly impressed by her. The US considered the ANC a terrorist group and Mandela’s name remained on the U.S. terrorism watch list until 2008.
In the circumstances and in view of the harmful political implications, it is highly irresponsible to propagate the canard (i.e. the false deliberately misleading story) that Israel was the only country that collaborated with South Africa and a retraction is called for.
You’re not bound by ethics code, fact-checking
Sent by: Ehud Ein-Gil, senior editor, Haaretz
To: Maurice Ostroff on Monday 9 December 2013 @ 18h51
Dear Mr Maurice Ostroff,
Thank you your detailed letter. Unfortunately, you have misfired.
Shimon Peres was Minister of Defence when the South African premier visited, and actively participated in hosting him. Please see the attached photograph from Haaretz front page of April 10, 1976. It shows PM Rabin and Peres with the South African PM.
So what if other countries entertained Mr Vorster, who had been detained during WWII for his pro-German sympathies and anti-Allies activity, and remained a racist and one of the architects of apartheid.
Israel did have special relations and cooperation with the apartheid regime, an alliance that was not based on trade but on military, strategic and political (and according to foreign sources, including South African ones, also nuclear) mutual interests.
I see that you did not wait more than three hours for our reply before publishing your unfounded criticism and accusations, but sure, you are not a journalist and therefore are not bound by the ethics code that mandates fact-checking before publishing.
I stand by the facts I stated, I respectfully disagree
Sent by: Maurice Ostroff, 10 December 19h17
To: Ehud Ein-Gil
Thank you for your prompt and considered response. I appreciate it.
If by “misfired” you mean that the facts I stated are incorrect, I respectfully disagree.
You can’t be serious in using the logical fallacy of guilt by association, inferring that a photo of Peres with Rabin and Vorster justifies Levy’s declaration that Shimon Peres and Benjamin Netanyahu have no right to eulogize Nelson Mandela.
Yes, Peres was Minister of Defence when Rabin hosted Vorster, but how do you connect the dots in reaching the conclusion that because Peres met with Vorster and Rabin he has no right to express admiration of Mandela? Does this conclusion apply only to Peres or also to Rabin and all who accompanied him when he was with Vorster? And more interestingly does it apply to the Christian mayor of Bethlehem, Elia Freij who welcomed Vorster and showed him the manger in which infant Jesus lay?
If you apply the reasoning that Peres is tainted by indirectly hosting Vorster, then Levy would be more directly tainted by his association with Arafat. In an April 28, 2009 Haaretz article Gideon Levy tells how he dined with Arafat who is regarded by many as the father of modern terrorism, involving Black September with its hijackings and violence in Jordan, hundreds of terror acts including the 1972 murder of Israeli athletes in Munich, the 1985 hijacking of the Achilles Lauro and throwing overboard of wheelchair-bound Klinghoffer as well as Arafat’s siphoning of hundreds of millions of dollars from the Palestinian people.
You ask “so what if other countries entertained Mr Vorster?” Do I really need to explain that if a balanced standard were applied, then by Levy’s reasoning none of the leaders of the many democracies that hosted Malan, Vorster and Botha would have a right to eulogize Mandela; a classic example of reduction ad absurdum? It is this recurring, propaganda-like insinuation of a sinister meaning only to events in Israel that are considered unremarkable when occurring in other countries that is objectionable.
You say Israel did have special relations and cooperation with the apartheid regime.Yes Israel, like other democracies had relations with apartheid South Africa but I gave you figures showing clearly that Levy’s statement that Israel was virtually THE ONLY country that collaborated with the apartheid regime is patently false and I challenge you to prove otherwise.
By the way, I did not publish my letter to you in the media as I have been awaiting your response so that it could be published together with mine. I did however send copies to my mailing list and it appears that someone passed it on to an online publication which published it without my knowledge.
“We’re not in the business of censoring opinions”
Sent by: Ehud Ein-Gil, senior editor, Haaretz
To: Maurice Ostroff on Wednesday 11 December 2013 @ 10h07
Thank you for your response.
I have refuted your claims that Levy’s article contained factual errors.
Now your claims concentrate on opinions. These are Levy’s opinions, and he has the right to express them.
We are not in the business of censoring opinions.
By the way, there was a period when Israel was the only country that refused to respect the UN sanctions on South Africa, as even a defender of Israel’s policy confirms SEE HERE.
As for Israel’s special cooperation with South Africa, and its economic importance for Israel, SEE HERE.
Sending a text to a mailing list is nowadays the equivalent of publishing it, as you should have known, and if you did not – now you certainly do.
“I repeat my challenge to you…”
Sent by: Maurice Ostroff, 11 December
To: Ehud Ein-Gil
Thank you for your email. Unfortunately it doesn’t address the gist of my email to you. For example, it ignores my request for an explanation of how Peres’ accompanying Rabin and Vorster justifies Levy’s declaration; “Shimon Peres and Benjamin Netanyahu have no right to eulogize Nelson Mandela” and my question whether you apply the same reasoning to the others who hosted Vorster that I named.
The article by Avi Shilon to which you refer supports my argument. He wrote that describing Israel as a friend of the apartheid regime is flawed and simplistic.
Shilon does not support Levy’s claim that Israel is virtually THE ONLY country that collaborated with the apartheid regime. He says it was the only WESTERN country that in 1986 did not take part in sanctions and even this is incorrect. Factually, when economic sanctions were imposed in 1986 Germany and Britain merely made recommendations and imposed no binding sanctions. Switzerland rejected sanctions and Margaret Thatcher actively opposed sanctions as did Ronald Reagan.
The non-profit Khulumani Support Group filed claims against dozens of major international companies in 2002 for having aided and abetted Apartheid. They include Barclays, Citibank and Deutsche Bank and oil companies Total, BP, Engen and Shell, among others who violated the embargoes (none from Israel). Also car manufacturers such as Daimler, who supplied armoured vehicles, knowing they would be used in repressive activities in the townships and arms manufacturers. Apartheid’s four main credit lenders were the US, Germany, Switzerland and the UK. German net capital export to South Africa between 1985 and 1993 amounted to $2.13 billion. SIPRI reports that the largest suppliers of arms to South Africa were France, UK, USA, West Germany.
Allow me to emphasize that I advocate honest criticism of Israel. I am proud of Israel’s free press and I believe that criticism of government is not only healthy but essential for democracy. However, while I don’t expect objectivity, press freedom must always be subject to accuracy, fairness and accountability. The disproportionate singling out of Israel and insinuation of sinister meanings to events in Israel that are considered unremarkable when occurring in other countries, violates the basics of ethical reporting.
In view of the above I REPEAT MY CHALLENGE to you to prove that Levy’s statement that Israel was virtually the only country that collaborated with the apartheid regime is accurate. I am not, as you suggest, concerned with Levy’s opinions. He clearly stated this as a fact, not an opinion. He wrote “Why was Israel virtually the only country that collaborated with that evil regime.”
Virtually is defined by Merriam-Webster as almost entirely or for all practical purposes.
Your replies will be published together with my emails.
Stay tuned, users, we’re sure Maurice will update us if the action continues…
SA Jewish leadership confront Israeli PM over travellers’ ordeal
Orthodox spiritual leaders in South Africa have expressed their shock and dismay over the treatment of South African travellers turned away from Ben Gurion Airport last Friday night.
Chief Rabbi Dr Warren Goldstein, South African Rabbinical Association Chairperson Rabbi Yossi Chaikin, and the dayanim of the Beth Din of South Africa wrote to Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on 30 November expressing their unhappiness.
The group of five travellers from South Africa included two who were going to Israel to comfort the Kay family after the murder of their son and brother, Eli Kay, in a terrorist attack on 21 November.
They were in the air when Israeli authorities decided to ban South African travellers in light of a new COVID-19 variant discovered by South African scientists. On landing in Israel, they were forced onto a flight back to South Africa via Dubai on Shabbat.
“We were shocked and dismayed to hear that a group of Jewish travellers from South Africa, who arrived at Ben Gurion Airport this past Friday, were denied entry into Israel and forcibly returned to their country of origin, and as a result were compelled to desecrate Shabbat,” wrote our religious leaders.
“That this took place in the Jewish state is simply unconscionable,” they wrote. “To further compound the trauma, two of the passengers were making their way to Israel to spend Shabbat with the Kay family, who are mourning the loss of their beloved Eli in last week’s terror attack in Jerusalem. From the reports we received, no attempt was made to accommodate the passengers by allowing them to remain in quarantine over Shabbat.
“To force fellow Jews to desecrate Shabbat is a violation of the Jewish identity and Jewish values of the state,” they wrote. “The manner in which the religious rights of these individuals have been infringed isn’t something one would expect of any country, and certainly not the Jewish state. On behalf of South Africa’s rabbis and the communities we represent, we wish to record our strongest objection to the forced desecration of Shabbat.”
One of these travellers, Ilana Smith, says the incident led to more stress and trauma for the Kay family, who tried to help the travellers in spite of being in mourning. “I was going to Israel only to be there for the Kay family. I was staying nearby, and was going nowhere else. And now the Kay family had this extra stress on their hands – the last thing they needed! Kasriel Kay was phoning the rabbi in Dubai, trying to help us. My family back home went into Shabbos not knowing if I would be stuck in Dubai. There are post-traumatic repercussions from this ordeal.”
Melissa Genende was travelling to Israel from South Africa to see her grandchildren on the same flight as Smith. “We had no knowledge of the flight ban, and weren’t stopped until we arrived in Israel on Friday afternoon. Our passports were taken from us. We were marched underground and came up at the departure gate for the flight going back to Dubai.
“We were threatened that if we didn’t board the plane, the police would be called,” she said. “This in fact did happen while we explained that we didn’t want to fly on Shabbat. At this point, we had no choice but to get on the plane. I’m not fully shomer Shabbos, but I would never travel on a plane on Shabbat. I have travelled many times in my life, and always make a plan that I don’t travel on Shabbat, often with a lot of extra cost.”
She’s angry that all the other people on the plane entered Israel with no problem. “We came from South Africa on the same plane, so why were we not giving any other option? We could have gone into bidud [quarantine] for a few days. We had all been tested, and I had already prepaid for PCR tests at the airport. I understand the panic. What I don’t understand is how they make a decision for five people and let everyone else in the country.”
The group had no opportunity to get food or water while waiting in the airport. “Kosher food was also unavailable to us for the entire two flights. When we landed in Dubai, it was already Shabbos. We had nowhere to wait all night until our flight at 05:00. We managed to find a lounge that would allow us to pay $32 [R513] for four hours. There was no kosher food there. We arrived back in South Africa at 12:00 on Saturday. Our luggage didn’t arrive, and we still have no idea where it is or when will get it back.”
Genende has since been ill from dehydration and travel sickness. “I’m taking this as far as can. I’m hoping that the Israeli government will do something about the staff at the airport. At the very least, I want a new ticket to Israel. I will fight until I get answers and compensation.” Emirates, she says, won’t reimburse her as she has “used” the return flight.
Even though she was able to get home, she says she would have preferred to be stuck in Israel than to have experienced this. She says she and the other South Africans have since been asked to go to the Israeli Embassy in Pretoria to meet the ambassador. She’s waiting “with bated breath” to hear what’s said. She’s had no other communication from anyone in Israel.
Former MK and olim advocate, Dov Lipman, has worked tirelessly with his organisation, Yad L’Olim, to assist olim and their families to deal with travel restrictions throughout the pandemic. In the past few days, he has barely slept as Israel went from one extreme to the other in a matter of hours.
“It’s been a really difficult time for South African Jewry,” he says. “I hear their pain, I hear their cries. The incident last Friday was nothing short of tragic, and I use that word deliberately. It’s a tragedy when someone arrives in Israel legally and is turned away.”
He says the incident has been covered extensively by the Israeli media, “with strong criticism of the government for the way it was handled from all segments of Israel’s population. At the very least, this kind of thing won’t happen again because of the degree of criticism.”
He was involved in trying to assist the South Africans. “I had a hard time enjoying my Shabbat knowing that people were in transit to who knows where. It was very painful. I’m now even more motivated to help olim and their families around the world. I believe all of our efforts will lead to a better situation.”
In response to queries from the SA Jewish Report, the Israeli Embassy in Pretoria released an official statement. “We deeply regret the unfortunate incident that occurred at Ben Gurion Airport on 26 November when a group of South African citizens were deported and had to violate their religious beliefs. The incident took place immediately after the imposition of new strict COVID-19 regulations. The incident is being investigated, and necessary conclusions will be drawn. Needless to say, if the embassy had been informed of these events in time of the occurrence, this unfortunate chain of events could have been prevented.”
Citizens take government to court over Miss SA bullying
Citizens for Integrity (CFI) has accused the government and the minister of sports, arts, and culture of acting unconstitutionally and irrationally in its “bullying” of Miss SA.
The non-governmental organisation has filed papers in the North Gauteng High Court taking the government and Minister Nathi Mthethwa to task for withdrawing its support for the local beauty queen in November, and for calling for her to withdraw from the 70th Miss Universe pageant to be held in Israel in less than two weeks.
In a press statement issued this week, CFI said that as an organisation “aimed at protecting the rights of citizens and the public against abuse, unconstitutional action, and irrational government decisions which affect citizens’ rights”, it took issue with the government and the minister.
It has demanded an apology and an immediate retraction of the statement withdrawing its support for the Miss SA organisation and Miss SA, Lalela Mswane.
Mswane, a University of Pretoria LLB graduate who was born in KwaSokhulu in Richards Bay, KwaZulu-Natal, has consistently stood her ground through a steady stream of harassment and vilification by Israel-haters and politicians hell bent on scuppering her once-in-a-life time opportunity to participate on the international stage.
In spite of this, she left for Israel at the weekend in preparation for the pageant, with the full backing and support of the Miss SA organisation and countless fans who have steadfastly continued to support her in her decision to participate.
Following weeks of intimidation by anti-Israel lobbyists, Mswane, dressed in a bright yellow, summery jumpsuit left the country telling her fans, “We will Rise”, and expressing how grateful she was for the opportunity to represent her country.
The Miss SA organisation posted, “We stand united with you @lalela_mswane. You have already made us so proud, and we know you will continue to do so. We love and adore you.”
Willie Hofmeyr, the retired head of the asset forfeiture unit at the National Prosecuting Authority, and also one of the founders and directors of CFI, said this week that it was an “important issue to address”.
“We need to ensure that all citizens in the country are treated equally well and fairly. It appears as if Miss SA has not been treated fairly,” he said.
Sibongile Cele, the deputy chairperson of the African National Congress (ANC) Women’s League Johannesburg, also insisted that Miss SA’s rights had been infringed upon. “As a committed Christian, I felt it was important to look at her rights as a woman and her rights as Miss SA,” said Cele, who is also a spokesperson for the CFI.
“Her rights shouldn’t be infringed because of politics. The Miss Universe pageant shouldn’t be politicised, and as a citizen of this country, she has the right to compete in the pageant. She shouldn’t be held back, she won the title of Miss SA, and she is our ambassador,” Cele said. She isn’t afraid of a backlash from the ANC saying, “ I am a Christian before I am a member of the ANC, we report to G-d first.”
The CFI said in papers before the court that the government’s decision also “didn’t constitute a legitimate purpose of government” as it didn’t “fall within the legitimate powers and objectives conferred upon the government by the Constitution”.
“The government has not only failed, but has deliberately transgressed its obligation to respect and protect the human rights guaranteed to all in the Bill of Rights,” it said.
Although Mswane is already in Israel, the CFI launched an urgent application in the Gauteng North High Court to be heard on Tuesday, 7 December to have the government’s statement declared unconstitutional, said Cele.
She said the organisation’s attorneys had written to President Cyril Ramaphosa demanding an apology to South Africans “for exceeding the bounds of the government’s authority, and interfering in the rights of citizens”.
“The South African government’s decision to support a boycott of a country with which it has diplomatic relations and withdraw its support for a citizen – who will participate in a non-political cultural event in that country – is also irrational, especially in light of the fact that countries that don’t have diplomatic relations with Israel are allowing their citizens to participate and are furnishing them with due support,” said the CFI.
“That agents of the South African government approached Miss South Africa and attempted to coerce her to withdraw from her legitimate participation in the Miss Universe pageant is unconscionable and disgraceful by all normal standards of governance,” it said.
The decision constituted “a standard of bullying by government” and also induced “a sense of unease” that the government may arbitrarily and unconstitutionally pick on any citizen “regarded with disfavour”.
Meanwhile a smiling and ecstatic Mswane has posted pictures of herself on Instagram in Israel dressed in locally designed outfits.
After a long silence, the 24-year-old took to social media before she left, saying attending Miss Universe was “not only an honour but also a huge responsibility”.
“I am determined to serve our country proudly in the best way I can. I stand today as an empowered woman because of so many before me who fought for our voices to be heard. I feel my duty is to do the same for the women of the past, the women of today, and the women to come.
“There is no greater time to shed light on issues affecting women, to choose courage over comfort, and to be steadfast in my beliefs regarding the advancement of women and our rights.”
Mswane said she viewed her participation in the pageant as a “unique opportunity” hopefully to contribute to the process of dialogue and peace.
“I am deeply thankful to all the amazing people who have supported and uplifted me, and brought me joy and comfort during the lead-up to this moment. I wish to compete with the support of South Africans and do my country proud,” she said.
In spite of the anti-Israel lobby’s attempts to harass contestants into pulling out of the pageant, not one country is boycotting. Several have pulled out due to COVID-19, but none have withdrawn for political reasons. The Israel-haters spread fake news that countries such as Greece and Barbados had withdrawn because they were boycotting Israel, however this was proven false.
The terrorist attack that struck very close to home
It’s noteworthy that two days after British Interior Minister Priti Patel announced that she was banning the Palestinian militant group, Hamas, Eliyahu David Kay was shot dead by one of its activists.
The United States and European Union had already listed Hamas as a foreign terrorist movement whereas South Africa, Russia, China, Iran, and others don’t regard it as one.
Official Hamas delegations have visited these countries especially in the years following 2007 when its leaders took control of the Gaza Strip and removed rival Palestinian Fatah officials from office. Tensions between the two groups are rife.
Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Fatah-controlled areas of the Palestinian territories, fears a similar takeover in the West Bank. Years ago, it was difficult to get Hamas supporters in cities like Ramallah, Jenin, Hebron, and surrounding villages to talk freely on television without their faces being blurred and location hidden. I remember being sworn to secrecy for the select few who agreed to meet with foreign journalists.
There’s no such problem today. The movement’s green flags mark the entrance to many buildings across the West Bank and graffiti to match emblazons walls with a single word: Hamas. Abbas has indefinitely postponed planned parliamentary elections for fear its outcome could result in gains for his rival.
The latest surge in Hamas’ popularity is a direct result of the May war in which Gaza militants fired about 4 000 rockets into Israel, terrorising residents in Tel Aviv and other cities. That performance earned Hamas newfound admiration among Palestinians not only in Gaza, but also crucially in the West Bank.
At the same time, Abbas was widely criticised – even among fellow Fatah members – for his limp response to Israeli attacks. Long before the most recent round of fighting, Abbas, the 85-year-old heir to Arafat, was flailing. He’s intensely disliked, and it’s not difficult to get Palestinians, especially youngsters, to openly admit it.
Many describe his government as an autocracy in which there are few checks on Abbas’s internal power. He’s criticised for being corrupt, ineffective, inept and tellingly, blamed for remaining beholden to Israel for his ultimate authority.
Hamas has no such problems. Its charter defines historic Palestine – including present-day Israel – as Islamic land, and rules out any permanent peace with the Jewish state. While Abbas is bound by international agreements, Hamas isn’t.
Kay’s murder has heightened Israeli security forces’ attention once again on Hamas and the role it could play in stirring unrest in the West Bank. The group praised Sunday’s attack as a “heroic operation” carried out by a high-ranking member of its organisation.
The group is likely to continue to encourage terrorism in Jerusalem and the West Bank in the hope that it will destabilise the rule of Abbas’ Palestinian Authority (PA) and its ties with Israel.
What’s important to note is that Kay’s attacker, a 42-year-old high school teacher, Fadi Abu Shkhaidem, hailed from the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Shuafat. Hours after he was shot dead by security forces, clashes broke out at the entrance to the neighbourhood between police and rioters, some of whom threw rocks at the forces. Israeli authorities said the attack appeared to have been planned because Abu Shkhaidem’s wife had left the country days earlier. They’ve arrested several members of his family.
The concern here is that this isn’t the West Bank or Gaza. This is inside Israel. The neighbourhood lies within the boundaries of the Jerusalem municipality, where support for Hamas has been on the increase.
It’s perceived as having initiated the most recent Israel-Gaza war to stop evictions in the East Jerusalem Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood. It’s also believed to be behind forcing Israel to rescind its strict security measures in Jerusalem’s Old City and the al-Aqsa mosque compound. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh was in direct contact with the Sheikh Jarrah families threatened with eviction.
Like many Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the predominantly Muslim residents of East Jerusalem are part of a conservative and religious society that supports any group that’s associated with Islam.
The PA, by contrast, is loathed by many Palestinians because it’s regarded as a corrupt secular regime that operates in violation of Islamic teachings.
In the wake of Kay’s murder, Israeli police have beefed up their forces in the Old City and the army is refining the preparedness of its units in the West Bank. Israel’s defence establishment is worried about another showdown between Israel and Gaza, and is closely watching to see if Kay’s murder will have an impact on the situation inside Gaza.
Another concern is copycat attacks. Particularly in light of the fact that Sunday’s attack was in the vicinity of the Temple Mount, it engenders religious sensitivities and the possibility that other Palestinians might seek to follow in the path of the dead terrorists.
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid on Monday demanded that Istanbul shut down Hamas offices operating in Turkey after Israel announced the arrests of a sophisticated 50-member West Bank Hamas cell being directed from Istanbul.
According to the Israel Security Agency, Shin Bet, the Hamas cell was led from Turkey by Saleh al-Arouri, the deputy head of the group’s politburo, and Zacharia Najib, a member of the organisation who was released from Israeli prison in the 2011 Gilad Shalit exchange. They are believed to continue to operate there on behalf of Hamas. Both al-Arouri and Najib live in Turkey, which has long had a close relationship with Hamas, which is politically linked to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
During the Shin Bet operation, security forces captured weapons and materials for preparing four suicide-bomb belts. A senior Shin Bet source said the disruption of a “broad, significant, dangerous terror cell” prevented a series of severe attacks. Its objective was to “undermine regional stability while creating a heavy price tag for local [Palestinian] residents”.
Kay’s murder naturally made headlines in Israel. The government, army, and police are doing their best to try to prevent future incidents, but the sad Israeli reality is that it’s only a matter of time before another family and community is ripped apart. What South African Jewry felt this week is unfortunately what Israelis feel on an ongoing basis.
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