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March 1, 2013

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PAGE 12A L F HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MARCH 1, 2013 On the Golan Heights, Israel braces for consequences from Syria civil war By Ben Sales national parks and bed-and- breakfasts, the Golan has remained immune from the terrorists and missiles that have bombarded Israel in recent decades. But the sense of sanctu- ary is eroding. Mortar shells and gunfire from the Syrian civil war began spilling into the Golan in November. Is- rael returned fire--the first cross-border conflict on the Golan since 1973. One shell landed in a backyard in this agricultural village 500 yards from the border. In January, Israel an- nounced construction of the new fence to prevent Syrians from infiltrating the border. Two weeks ago, seven Syrians crossed into Israel to seek medical attention; they are hospitalized in the northern Israeli city of Safed. Residents have tried to ig- nore their neighbors' conflict, but they say it's becoming more difficult. Some worry that if rebels succeed in top- piing the regime of President BasharAssad, Islamistgroups will exploit the opportunity to attack Israel, as terrorists did following Israel's withdrawal from Gaza in 2005. "They'll turn this into an- other Gaza," saidYaron Dekel, a resident ofAlonei Habashan. "I don't think what's hap- pening here is different from what's happening in the rest of Israel." Like many Golan towns, ALONEI HABASHAN, Is- rael (JTA)--A fence made of chain links and rusted barbed wire once was enough to separate the Golan Heights from Syria. That's no longer the case. A few feet away from what one area resident called a"cat- tle fence"--one easy to jump if not for the electric current running through it--a newer barrier of crisscrossing shiny steel bars towers high above the heads of nearby soldiers. As Syria's civil war esca- lates next door, Israelis have grown concerned that spill- over could undermine the sense of security that Golan residents have enjoyed since the end of the 1973 Yom Kip- pur War. "The chaos presents a situ- ation in Syria where there's no rule, and a lot of entities can enter that can put us in danger because they have no national or diplomatic responsibility," said Ori Kal- ner, deputy head of the Golan Regional Council. Heightened security aware- ness is a new feeling for residents of the Golan, the mountainous region in Isra- el's northeast corner captured from Syria in 1967's Six-Day War. The Bible mentions it as a place of refuge, and for many Israelis it is exactly that. Two hours from the country's congested center, filled with Clashes intensify after death of Palestinian pris- oner (JTA)--Clashes intensified in the West Bank following the death of a Palestinian prisoner who fellow inmates said had been tortured. Arafat Jaradat, 30, died Saturday of a heart attack in the Megiddo jail in northern Israel five days after his arrest for participating in stone- throwing attacks on Israelis last year. News of his death prompted the announcement of a three-day hunger strike by Palestinians in Israeli pris- ons, and clashes intensified throughout the West Bank. According to Haaretz, fel- low Megiddo prisoners said Jaradat fell ill after being tortured. Israeli authorities said Jaradat was known to suffer from back pains and other maladies arising from pre- vious clashes with Is'aeli troops, the newspaper said. Tensions had flared a day earlier when Israeli police made a rare incursion into the Temple Mount area in Jerusalem. The police were responding to stone throwing by worshipers exiting Friday prayers from mosques at the site, which is holy both to Muslims and Jews. In a clash in the northern West Bank on Saturday, Jewish settlers used live fire in a clash with Palestinians over claims to farmland. TWo Palestinians were wounded. The West Bank has seen tensions mount recently over the status of Palestinian prisoners, some held without trial for years under admin- istrative detention. Some of the 56-family Alonei Ha- bashan is tightly knit. Resi- dents are used to leaving their doors unlocked and the town's entrance gate open, Dekel said, though they have become more cautious lately as the threat of Syrians cross- ing the border has risen. "If you live in Tel Aviv, you lock your door," Dekel said. "Here no one does, but now they tell us to. People used to leave the door open for a month." Communities across the Golan are adopting increased security measures. The Golan Regional Council, which de- livers services to area commu- nities, is providing increased security funding to towns, as well as assembling local volunteer security, logistical and medical teams in case of an attack. Kalner says the Golan is "ready for change in Syria." He adds, however, that the Golan, as opposed to Syria, is calm, vibrant and secure. "Were raising people's awareness," Kalner said. The region's two largest security threats are missiles and refugees crossing the border, he says. On Feb.17, Kalner toured the area ad- jacent to Israel's Gaza and Egypt borders, both targets of frequent rocket attacks in the past decade, to learn about security protocols there. While similar attacks in the Golan could temporarily drive Ben Sales/JTA Israel started construction on the new fence separating the Golan Heights from Syria, seen in front of the old one, in response to possible consequences from the Syrian civil war. away tourists, the council's tourism chief, Shmuel Hazan, says that Israelis will return out of a sense of solidarity. "Israelis like to support places that are problematic," Hazan said. "We know from experience that in Gaza or Jerusalem, when there was a crisis, when things got bet- ter they returned to the way they were." One silver lining to the Syr- ian threat, both residents and officials say, is that Israel will likely hold on to the Golan for the coming years. Israel an- nexed the region in 1981 and its return has been a subject of peace negotiations with Syria in the past. Given the Assad regime's instability, the prospects of a deal that would lead to the Golan returning to Syrian control is more unlikely than ever. "It's clear that what's happening there makes that discussion superfluous," said Dalia Amos, the council's Weekly roundup of world briefs from JTA areas frequented by Israeli tourists. Yaacoub continued to deny witting involvement in any plot to kill Israelis, saying he did not know how the infor- mation he gathered would be used. Belgium reports 30 percent rise in anti-Semitism com- plaints (JTA)--Belgium saw a 30-percent increase in the number of anti- Semitic com- plaints filed in 2012, accord- ing to a government agency. Edouard Delruelle, presi- dent of the Centre for Equal Opportunities and Opposi- tion to Racism, a Belgian government agency, said his organization documented 88 complaints of anti-Semitism in 2012, compared to 62 the previous year and 57 in 2010. "The Jewish community is right to be concerned," Delru- elle told the Belgian daily La Derniere Heure in a Feb. 21 article. "The figures show that anti-Semitism persists in Belgium." He said that while 88 inci- dents may seem negligible, "These figures are merely indicative, the tip of the ice- berg, because many victims do not complain." The figures for 2012 include 11 cases of vandalism, 15 verbal assaults on the street, 13 Holocaust denials and 28 insults made online. Other attacks included intimidation and harassment. Delruelle said that the figures correspond to the 58 percent rise in anti- Semitic incidents in France documented in a report by the SPCJ, the French-Jewish se- curity unit, that was released this week. spokesperson. "We're all very optimistic." Dekel called Syrian peace negotiations "a thing of the past." He said that while the Syrian unrest has awakened residents to their own vulner- ability, it has also brought the Golan's strategic advantages into sharp relief. "This is the Middle East," he said. "Whoever lives here should live on the heights, and be able to see every- thing." the prisoners have been on extended hunger strikes. On Saturday, Human Rights Watch again called on Israel to end the practice of administrative detention, which it says violates the Geneva Conventions. Israeli authorities have said the practice is necessary to keep dangerous actors out of the conflict while also keeping secret the sensitive intelli- gence that led to their arrest. Under administrative de- tention, a prisoner can be held without charges for up to four months. The administrative detention also can be renewed. Netanyahu rejecting apol- ogy to Turkey for now (JTA)--Israeli Prime Min- ister Benjamin Netanyahu for now has rejected a bid to apologize to Turkey for a fatal raid on a 2010 Turkish aid flotilla to Gaza. Netanyahu preferred to hold off on any such gesture until after he has cobbled together a new government, Haaretz reported. Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who has advocated for such an apology since the May 2010 incident, suggested a formula to Netanyahu under which Barak, who is leaving the government, would de- liver the apology and absorb any political fallout. Netanyahu had considered such an apology but had balked in part because of the adamant opposition of his foreign minister, Avigdor Liberman. Now out of government and facing a trial on fraud charges, Liberman is no longer a factor. Iran claims new uranium deposits (JTA)--Iran claimed to have uncovered new deposits of uranium ahead of talks with world powers on its nuclear capacity. Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, the head of the country's Atomic Energy Organization, made the announcement at an annual conference on the nuclear industry, Reuters reported Sunday, quoting Iranian media. Abbasi-Davani told the conference that Iran will put the raw uranium "to use in the near future." Iran was believed to be run- ning out of sources for raw uranium because of tough sanctions aimed at forcing the country to make its nuclear program more transparent. IN other news from Iran, the Associated Press reported over the weekend that Iran claimed to have forced down an unmanned drone in its airspace. The claims are significant because the ability to guide down the aircraft--as op- posed to shooting them down--would suggest that Iran has the capability to breach the codes of the Western militaries that have launched the drones. British Jewish population is consolidating, statistics show LONDON (JTA)--Britain's Jewish population is becom- ing more concentrated, with nearly 60 percent of Jews liv- ing in London, new statistics show. According to detailed fig- ures from the 2011 census released this week, 90 percent of the country's 263,000 Jews live in just 20 percent of its neighborhoods. The most heavily Jewish areawas the Orthodox suburb of Golders Green in northwest London, with 7,661 Jews, a growth of 35 percent since the last census in 2001. "This concentration into relatively few places often gives rise to the perception that there is a greater Jewish presence in Britain than is actually the case," said Da- vid Graham of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research. "Nationally, Jews comprise just 0.5 percent of the popula- tion, butat the local level that proportion rises to as much as 40 percent in some places." He noted that many of the areas that were growing fastest were haredi Orthodox neighborhoods in London and Manchester, buoyed by high birth rates. Another trend was for Jews to move away from "the crowded and congested" capital to the "greener, more spacious surroundings" of Greater London. Hezbollah operative tracked Israeli plane landings in Cyprus (JTA)--The Hezbollah op- erative on trial for plotting against Israeli tourists in Cyprus acknowledged pass- ing on Israeli aircraft land- ing times to his terrorist handlers. Hosem Taleb Yaacoub said Feb. 21 in court that he recorded landing times for Arkia flights between Tel Aviv and Larnaca, The New York Times reported. He said he relayed the landing times to his Hezbollah handler. Yaacoub, who has a Leba- nese and a Swedish passport, earlier in the week had ac- knowledged membership in Hezbollah and staking out The French report said 614 anti-Semitic attacks were documented in France in 2012 compared to 389 in 2011. France has a Jewish popu- lation of approximately half a million compared to Bel- gium's estimated 40,000 Jews. Dozens protest anti- Semitic bullying at Danish school (JTA)--Dozens of protest- ers outside a school near Copenhagen demonstrated against the anti-Semitic harassment of Jewish stu- dents. The protesters at Satur- day's rally in Norrebro, a suburb north of Copenhagen, outside the Radmandsgades elementary school held up Israeli flags and signs reading, "Today we are all Jews." The demonstration was in response to recent statements by Lise Egholm, a retiring headmistress of the Radma- ndsgades school who said the bullying of Jewish children by Arab classmates forced her to advise Jewish parents not to enroll their children in the school. Cavs' Casspi undergoes ap- pendectomy NEW YORK (JTA)--Omri Casspi, the first Israeli to play in the NBA, had an ap- pendectomy. The Cleveland Cavaliers forward had his appendix removed on Saturday night at the Orlando Regional Medical Center and stayed overnight at the hospital, CBS Sports reported Sunday, citing a team news release. The 6-foot-9 Casspi, a na- tive of Yavne in central Israel, was averaging 4 points and 2.2 rebounds in limited minutes this season.