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June 20, 2014

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JUNE 20, 2014 Weekly roundup of world briefs from JTA Kerry calls for release of kidnapped Israelis, cites likely Hamas involvement (JTA)--U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called for the immediate release of three kidnapped Israeli teens and noted the "many indica- tions" pointing to Hamas' involvement. In a statement released Sunday afternoon, more than 48 hours after the teens' abduction, Kerry said he "strongly condemns" the kidnapping and reiterated that Hamas is a "terrorist organization." Kerry said Washington of- ficials "continue to offer our full support for Israel in its search for the missing teens, and we have encouraged full cooperation between the Is- raeli and Palestinian security services." Along with calling for their immediate release, he said the United States hopes for "their quick and safe return home." He said the U.S. continues to "seek details on the parties responsible for this despi- cable terrorist act, although many indications point to Hamas' involvement." "We reiterate our position that Hamas is a terrorist organization known for its attacks on innocent civilians and which has used kidnap- ping in the past," Kerry said. The three Israeli teens, including one dual Israeli- American citizen, have been missing since Thursday night. They were last seen trying to get rides home from a yeshiva high school in Gush F_,tzion, a bloc of settlements located south of Jerusalem. The missing teens were identified Saturday as Gilad Shaar, 16, from Talmon; Eyal Yifrach, 19, from Elad; and Naftali Frenkel, 16, from Nof Ayalon, the American citizen. In a statement released Sunday afternoon, Israe- li Prime Minister Benja- min Netanyahu reiterated, "These teenagers were kid- napped and the kidnapping was carried out by Hamas members. Hamas denials do not change this fact. And this attack should surprise no one because Hamas makes no secret of its agenda. Hamas is committed to the destruc- tion of Israel and to carrying out terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians--including children." Netanyahu said that "Is- rael holds the Palestinian Authority and President Abbas responsible for any attacks against Israel that emanate from Palestinian- controlled territory. The Palestinian claim that the Palestinian Authority can- not be held responsible for an attack that took place in an area under Israeli security control is patently absurd." Later, the Israeli leader said, "We will do whatever needs to be done to protect our people, our citizens, our children and our teenagers from the scourge of terror- ism." In a letter Sunday to Netanyahu, the leadership of the Jewish Federations of North America declared its "complete solidarity" with the prime minister, the families of the kidnapped teens and with "the entire people of Israel." "The three kidnapped teens are our sons too, and we join with Jewish parents around the world to offer our prayers, thoughts and soli- darity with you as you stand up to terror and mount every possible effort to bring the boys home," the letter said. Netanyahu: Hamas abduct- ed three Israeli teens JERUSALEM (JTA)-- Members of Hamas abducted three Israeli teenagers, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said after senior operatives from the terrorist group were among dozens of Palestinians arrested in an Israeli military operation. Netanyahu, making the accusation on Sunday at the beginning of the weekly Cabinet meeting, said he did not name Hamas in his news conference the previ- ous evening because of the operation trying to bring home the teens. Eighty Palestinians were arrested overnight Saturday. A closure also was placed on Palestinian cities in the West Bank, including Hebron and Bethlehem. "This morning I can say what I was unable to say yesterday before the ex- tensive wave of arrests of Hamas members in Judea and Samaria," Netanyahu said at the Cabinet meeting. ,, \\; Those who perpetrated the abduction of our youths were members of Hamas--the same Hamas that Abu Mazen made a unity government with. This has severe reper- cussions." The teens, including one dual Israeli-American citi- zen, have been missing since June 12. They were last seen trying to get rides home from ayeshiva high school in Gush Etzion, a bloc of settlements located south of Jerusalem. The missing teens were identified Saturday as Gilad Shaar, 16, from Talmon; Eyal Yifrach, 19, from Elad; and Naftali Frenkel, 16, from Nof Ayalon, who is also an American citizen. A massive national opera- tion involving at least 2,000 troops is underway to locate the teens. Security forces also have mobilized to en- sure that the youths are not taken from the West Bank into Gaza. Among those arrested Saturday night, according to Ynet, was senior Hamas activist Hassan Yousef, a for- mer spokesman for Hamas who is considered one of the organization's spiritual lead- ers. Several members of the Palestinian Parliament also were arrested. Israeli media reported late Saturday that police received a report about the teens' abduction shortly after their disappearance, but did not inform the Israeli military or security services until several hours later. Meanwhile, hundreds gathered Saturday night at the Western Wall for a prayer vigil for the safe return of the teens. Parents of kidnapped U.S- Israeli teen: 'Israel will bring you back' JERUSALEM (JTA)--The arents of Naftali Frenkel, one of three teens kidnapped last week, assured their son that "Israel will bring you back." "Naftali, Mom and Dad and your siblings love you to no end. Know that Israel is turning the world upside down to bring you home," Rachel Frenkel said in a message to her son during a meeting with reporters on Sunday afternoon in Nof Ayalon, a city in the center of Israel near Modiin where the family lives. It was the first time that the parents of the 16-year-old boy, a dual Israeli-American citizen, have addressed the media since the kidnapping Thursday night. Naftali Frenkel; Gilad Shaar, 16, from Talmon, a West Bank settlement; and Eyal Yifrach, 19, from Elad, near Petach Tikvah, were last seen trying to get rides home from a yeshiva high school in Gush Etzion, abloc of settlements located south of Jerusalem. "We are optimistic, with God's help, He will see the combined effort of the prayers and solidarity, and we will embrace Naftali, Eyal and Gilad here," Frenkel said. Later in the day, Shaar's mother, Bat Galim, offered similar sentiments in a brief- ing with reporters in Talmon. Frenkel, who is a U.S. citi- zen, said the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv has been "very supportive." "We are grateful to every soldier in the field, Knesset member, parents of soldiers and the media for bringing our story to the world," she said, adding that the family has been in constant touch with the Israeli army, police, the Shin Bet security service and government representa- tives. Frenkel also praised her family, friends and neighbors for looking out for her, her husband and her six other children since the start of the episode. A NofAyalon resident told JTA that community resi- dents have been instructed not to talk to reporters. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that members of Hamas kidnapped the teens. Thousands gather at Western Wall to pray for abducted teens JERUSALEM (JTA)-- Thousands gathered at the Western Wall to pray for the safe return of three teens kidnapped in the West Bank. More than 25,000 people attended the Sunday evening service led by Chief Rabbi David Lau. Chief Rabbi Yit- zhak Yosef also was at the service, as were members of the Chief Rabbinate council and Knesset members. "We prove to our enemies that the nation of Israel is alive and will never be bro- ken," Lau said at the service. "Everyone gathered here at the Kotel as one, with one heart, unified in a prayer'for the safety of the kidnapped, that they will be swiftly returned to their families." Meanwhile, a Facebook page dedicated to the return of the teens, Bring Back Our Boys, has garnered more than 64,600 likes since its establishment on Friday. The three Israeli teens, including one dual Israeli- American citizen, have been missing since Thursday night. They were last seen trying to get rides home from a yeshiva high school in Gush Etzion, a bloc of settlements located south of Jerusalem. The missing teens were identified Saturday as Gilad Shaar, 16, from Talmon; Eyal Yifrach, 19, from Elad; and Naftali Frenkel, 16, from Nof Ayalon, the American citizen. Meanwhile, it was cleared for reporting by the military censor on Sunday evening that one of the kidnapped teens had made a call to the police moments after the kidnapping, at approxi- mately 10:30 on Thursday night. The teen reportedly whispered "We have been kidnappedF' before the call was disconnected. Police did not report the suspected kidnapping to the military until about 4 a.m. West Bank police receive dozens of false reports of attempted kidnappings each day, the Times of Israel reported. Abbas' wife has leg sur- gery at Tel Aviv hospital JERUSALEM (JTA)--The wife of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was released from a private hospital in Tel Aviv after having surgery there. Amina Abbas was sent home Sunday from the As- suta Medical Center follow- ing the procedure on her leg two days earlier. The surgery was per- formed amid a search for three Jewish teens purport- edly kidnapped by Hamas, the Gaza-based terrorist group that recently entered into a unity government with the Palestinian Authority led by her husband. Patients and visitors to  the hospital were not aware of Amina Abbas' presence, and were given misleading information if they inquired about the VIP patient, Israeli media reported. "Out of concern for the privacy of its patients, Assuta does not disclose the identi- ties of inpatients or those coming in for treatment, thus we cannot confirm or deny any information regarding the patient," the hospital said in a statement, Haaretz reported. Israel retaliates for Gaza strikes, moves Iron Dome battery JERUSALEM (JTA)--An Iron Dome anti-missile battery in southern Israel was moved near the coastal city of Ashdod following an increase in rockets fired from Gaza. The Iron Dome battery was moved into position on Sunday, according to Israeli media reports. The repositioning came after a night in which Is- raeli airstrikes hit at least eight sites in the Gaza Strip identified as terror activity sites andweapon storage and manufacturing facilities. The strikes on Gaza were retaliating for a volley of rockets fired Saturday from the coastal strip on the southern Israeli city of Ash- kelon. The rockets landed in open areas and did not cause any injuries or property damage. Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz calls for prayers for teens' return JERUSALEM (JTA)--Tal- mud scholar Rabbi Adin Even-Israel Steinsaltz, founder of the yeshiva high school attended by two of the three kidnapped Israeli teens, called on Jews to recite psalms and pray for their safe return. Steinsaltz in a statement issued Sunday called the kidnapping of students from the Yeshivat Mekor Chaim, located in the Gush Etzion bloc south of Jerusalem, "a shocking, painful and fright- ening event." "In a time and place that had seemed to us quiet and serene, we have been thrown into an event that we can do nothing to re- solve," he said. The teens, including one dual Israeli-American citi- zen have been missing since Thursday night. They were last seen trying to get rides home from Gush Etzion, a bloc of settlements located south of Jerusalem. They were identified Sat- urday as Gilad Shaar, 16, from Talmon; Eyal Yifrach, 19, from Elad; and Naftali Frenkel, 16, from NofAyalon, who is also an American citi- zen. Shaar and Frenkel are the Mekor Chaim students. Steinsaltz expressed grati- tude to the Israel Defense Forces for its efforts to return the teens to their families, and frustration that he and other concerned Israelis are not able to assist. "All we have left now is to turn to our Father in Heaven and plead," Steinsaltz said. "What we can do, and this has been the Jewish way from time immemorial, is to add more holiness and learn more Torah," he said. "Furthermore, we Jews have always been accustomed to reciting the Psalms, and we certainly ought to do more of this, especially two psalms that seem to me most rel- evant: Psalms 142 and 143, chapters that literally deal with our plight. We pray also for the safety of those we are working toward their rescue." Tel Aviv Shabbat dinner sets Guinness mark TEL AVIV (JTA)--More than 2,000 people in Tel Aviv set the Guinness World Record for largest Shabbat dinner. At an event last Friday evening hosted by Chabad- Lubavitch and White City Shabbat, a Tel Aviv organiza- tion that hosts and coordi- nates Shabbat meals, 2,226 people gathered for what was billed as the largest Shabbat dinner ever. An official repre- sentative of Guinness World Records present at the event certified that the dinner had set the mark. The organizers for the dinner--held in a large atrium at the Tel Aviv Port-- purchased 800 bottles of wine, 80 bottles of vodka, 50 bottles of whiskey, 2,000 challah rolls, 1,800 pieces of chicken, 1,000 pieces of beef and 250 vegetarian meals. Attendees also ate rice, peas, a range of Israeli appetizers and cake. Chabad representatives led Orthodox services be- fore the dinner, which was dedicated to the late Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneer- son, the Lubavitcher rebbe who died in 1994. PAGE 13A Among those on hand were Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, former Israeli Am- bassador to the United States Michael Oren and former Israeli Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau. "The jubilation in the room when Guinness World Records announced the of- ficial results was palpable," White City Shabbat co- director Deborah Danan said in a statement. "We are witnessing the transition of Tel Aviv as being the new capital for Jews--not just for those with professional impetuses but also for those who want to see the revival in Jewish life continue." Eight Palestinians ar- rested after Temple Mount clash (JTA)--Eight Palestinians were arrested after rioting on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Masked Palestinians be- gan throwing stones at Is- raeli police by the Mughrabi Bridge last Friday after prayers at AI-Aksa mosque. "Police quickly responded and entered the Temple Mount using non-lethal stun grenades to disperse the crowd," Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told The Jerusalem Post. Israeli officials foil Pales- tiuian prisoners' escape plan (JTA)--Palestinian pris- oners serving time in an Israeli prison dug a tunnel and prepared fake uniforms in what prison authorities said was a foiled escape plan. The 12-foot tunnel was discovered June 12 at the Shita maximum security prison in northern Israel, Israel Radio reported. "We were looking for an improvised knife," Asher Vaknin, a top officer of the Israel Prisons Service told the radio station about the discovery. "Then we found civilian clothing that had been converted to resemble prison guard uniforms. We cleared out the entire ward as a precaution and started to examine the perimeter. That's when we found a four- meter tunnel dug from one of the cells." Prison authorities suspect the inmates responsible for the tunnel may have planned to abduct a prison guard, ac- cording to Army Radio. The prison has a few hundred inmates, including a separate ward for people serving time for what the prison defines as "security- related offenses"--a designa- tion referring to Palestinians jailed for what the Israeli justice system defines ter- rorist activities. In 2006--one year be- fore the prison's name was changed from Shata to Shita--several inmates were injured in a mass fight that broke out after Friday prayers between prison- ers belonging to the Fatah movement and those affili- ated with Islamic Jihad. The fight broke out after a prisoner who led the prayer said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who is the leader of the Fatah move- ment, was an "enemy of the Palestinian people" for meeting with Ehud Olmert, then prime minister of Israel.