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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, DECEMBER 12, 2014 PAGE 21A Syria says Israeli planes hit military sites near Damascus JERUSALEM (JTA)--The Syrian military claimed that Israeli planes attacked mili- tary sites near Damascus. The attacks, also reported on Syrian television, took place on Sunday night, the military said, according to a report by the Syrian state news agency, SANA. Israeli planes are reported to have hit several military facilities near Damascus International Airport and in Dimas, located north of Damascus near the border with Lebanon. Syrian state television reports said that there were no casualties. "The Israeli enemy commit- ted aggression against Syria by targeting two safe areas in Damascus province, in all of Dimas and near the Damascus International Airport," the Syrian government said. The Israel Defense Forces neither confirmed nor denied the reports on Sunday, ac- cording to Israeli media. The IDF does not comment on such accusations. The Syrians said the attacks were further evidence that Israel was working with rebels against the Syrian govern- ment in the country's more than three-year civil war. The Jerusalem Post cited foreign reports that said the attack targeted a warehouse of advanced S-300 missiles that were being transported from Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Syria's Foreign Ministry sent letters to the United Na- tions secretary-general and to the head of the U.N. Security Council condemning Israel for the attacks, SANA reported. Israel reportedly has struck targets in Syria several times during Syria's civil war. The Strikes, including at least two in 2013, were reported to be an effort to stop the transport of advanced weapons to Hez- bollah in Lebanon via Syria. Israel has not acknowledged or denied the strikes. Suspects arrested in torching of joint Arab- Jewish school JERUSALEM (JTA)--Sev- eral suspects were arrested in the suspected arson attack on a joint Arab-Jewish school in Jerusalem. The suspects were arrested a week ago, shortly after a fire was set in the classroom of the Max Rayne Hand In Hand Jerusalem School. On Sunday, the Petach Tikvah Magistrate's Court lifted a media gag order on the arrests. A gag order remains in place on the exact number of suspects being held and details of the investigation. A preliminary police inves- tigation found that the blaze was set intentionally. "Death toArabs" and "There is no coexistence with cancer" were among the anti-Arab epithets spray-painted on the school wails. The court on Sunday ex- tended the remand of the suspects until Thursday, and allowed the police and Shin Bet security service to con- tinue to prevent the suspects from meeting with their law- yers, Haaretz reported. The Hand In Hand Jerusa- lem School is Israel's largest joint Arab-Jewish school and the only such primary and high school in the city. Five Hand in Hand schools are lo- cated throughout the country. Netanyahu: Israeli objec- tionsstaved off bad Iron deal WASHINGTON (JTA)-- Israel helped head off a bad deal with Iran, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed in an address to a fo- rum of U.S. and Israeli leaders. "A Nbv. 24 deadline for an agreement has come and gone, and that's fortunate," Netanyahu said Sunday in a recorded address to the Saban Forum, which was convened under the auspices of the Brookings Institution, in Washington. "Our voice and our con- cerns played a critical role in preventing a bad deal," Netanyahu said. "We must use the time available to increase the pressure on Iran from developing a nuclear arms capability." The major powers and Iran agreed to extend the deadline for a deal in Iran nuclear talks to June 30. Israel has objected persis- tently to any deal that would leave Iran with uranium en- richment capacity. The United States and other powers say that a minimal capacity is" likely in a final deal. Speaking after the broad- cast of Netanyahu's recorded video, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry alluded to Netan- yahu's objections in strongly defending the talks with Iran, "Many voices had claimed we had made a tragic mistake," Kerry said, describing events a year ago after the terms of the negotiations were outlined. Now, he said, by reducing Iran's enrichment output, Israel and the world are safer. "Iran has lived up to every commitment" of the interim deal, Kerry said, but added that "we have no intention of negotiating forever." Netanyahu and Kerry also seemed to differ on the failed talks with the Palestinians, with Netanyahu saying it was Palestinian intransigence and not Israeli construction in eastern Jerusalem that scuttled the talks. Kerry said that "settle- ments are undermining pros- pects for peace and isolating Israel in the international community." The secretary of state pledged that the United States would not interfere in the coming Israeli elections, but said that brokering an Israeli- Palestinian peace remained a priority. Netanyahu said he was committed to preserving Israel's status as the Jewish nation-state, but pledged that he would "never agree to legislation that undermines Israel's democratic character." Aproposed Israeli constitu- tional law that would define Israel as Jewish have raised concerns both in the Obama administration and among a number of American Jewish groups. IDF launches criminal probes into Gaza opera- tion incidents JERUSALEM (JTA)--The Israel Defense Forces opened criminal investigations into eight deadly incidents that occurred during its 50-day Gaza operation. The investigations, in- volving the deaths of 30 Gazan Palestinians, were announced Saturday night by the IDF's Magistrate Advocate General service. Among the incidents is a July 20 airstrike on the home of the Abu Jama family in Khan Younis, in southern Gaza, that left 27 dead. Most were believed to be civilians. Some 13 cases are cur- rently under investigation. About 85 incidents are under "various stages of review," according to the IDF. The IDF also announced Saturday that seven other cases were closed in which the investigation "did not find that the forces' actions in these reported incidents appeared to substantiate reasonable grounds for sus- picion of criminal behavior, and therefore there is no basis for an investigation." The Fact Finding Assess- ment Mechanism was estab- lished during the summer's Gaza conflict to investigate individual incidents and decide if a criminal investi- gation is warranted. It also will "assist in preventing exceptional incidents in the future," Maj. Gen. Danny Efroni, the army's chief mili- tary advocate general, who appointed the fact-finding commission, said a state- ment. More than 2,100 Pales- tinians were killed in the Gaza operation, according to figures furnished by Gaza institutions that said most of the victims were civilians. Some 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel were killed. Cousin of murdered Palestinian teen helped supermarket terror victims JERUSALEM (JTA)--A cousin of the Palestinian teen who was burned alive in an apparent retaliatory attack was among the first to help the wounded in a stab- bing attack at a West Bank supermarket. Mahmoud Abu Khdeir, whose cousin Mohammed Abu Khdeir was killed this summer in the Jerusalem forest in apparent retaliation for the murder of three kid- napped Israeli teens, rushed to help the wounded inside the Rami Levy discount supermarket in the Mishor AdLtmim industrial zone near Maale Adumim, east of Jerusalem. The assailant in the Dec. 3 attack was identified as a 16-year-old Pa!estinian male from a West Bank village with no prior record. He was shot in the legs by a supermarket security guard. Khdeir was working in the supermarket's storeroom when the attack took place. He helped stop the bleed- ing on a man's head and got him upstairs to an office for further treatment. '"That's how I was taught to behave by my family," Khdeir told Ynet. "When someone is wounded, you help them. It do n't matter where they,re from. He added: "I was raised in a goc d family. I'm not at war. At work, when I see something like.this, I have to help. It's a matter of education: I believe that tomorrow the wounded man will see someone else and go help him. I hope that one day the situation will change and we will no longer have incidents such as this. But force brings more force, and peace brings peace." Jewish food historian Gil Marks dead at 62 (JTA)--Gil Marks, an ac- claimed Jewish food writer and historian, has died. Marks, who had been bat- tling lung cancer for three years, died last Friday in Jerusalem. He was 62. He was the author of five books on the subject of Jewish food and was the founding editor of Kosher Gourmet Magazine. His 2004 cook- book "Olive Trees and Honey: A Treasury of Vegetarian Recipes from Jewish Com- munities Around the World" was a winner in the 2005 James Beard Foundation Awards, often referred to as the "Oscars of Food." In 2010, Marks published "The Encyclopedia of Jew- ish Food," the first attempt within the American Jewish culinary community to com- pile a comprehensive refer- ence guide for Jewish food. The critically acclaimed volume was nominated for another James Beard Award, and earned Marks a spot on the Forward 50, a list of the 50 most influential American Jews of that year. Along with his accomplish- ments in the world of food, Marks was also an Orthodox rabbi, with ordination from a Yeshiva University affiliate. Marks, who lived most of his life in New York, was diagnosed with lung cancer in November 2011 and made aliyah to Israel the following year. He was active on social media, and documented his three-year struggle with the disease on Facebook along with personal posts about food, Judaism and family. His funeral was to be held on Sunday. Israel, Presidents Con- ference urge Pollard release after collapse WASHINGTON (JTA) - In the wake of news that Jonathan Pollard collapsed in prison and was taken to a hospital, Israeli Prime Min- ister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the United States to release the convicted spy for Israel. Netanyahu called Secre- tary of State John Kerry on Saturday night, a day after Pollard's collapse. "Pollard's life is in danger," Netanyahu said after the phone call. "After 30 years in prison, it's time he should be released and live the rest of his life as a free man." Pollard reportedly will be returned to the infirmary of the federal prison in Butner, N.C., in the coming days and will require surgery soon, The Jerusalem Post reported, citing activists working on behalf of Pollard's release. The Conference of Presi- dents of Major American Jewish Organizations also urged President Obama to release Pollard following news of his collapse. "We urge President Obama, especially in this holiday sea- son and given Mr. Pollard's worsening health, to take steps immediately to expedite Mr. Pollard's release and to commute his life sentence to the more than 29 years he has already served," said the statement issued Friday by the Presidents Conference, the U.S. Jewish foreign policy umbrella. Pollard has been jailed since his arrest in 1985 for spying for Israel. He had sur- gery in March and has been hospitalized several times in recent years, mostly for kidney and liver problems. The former civilian U.S. Navy analyst was sentenced to life in prison in 1.987. Many former U.S. officials involved in his identificati6n and prosecution now advocate for his release. The Presidents Conference in its statement also scored the U.S. Parole Commission for turning down Pollard's first application for parole, earlier this year. "It is regrettable and in- explicable that the Parole Board denied his application after serving 30 years, much of it in solitary confinement, far beyond anyone accused of a comparable crime," the statement said. GOP lawmakers press administration on Israel 'sanctions' claim WASHINGTON (JTA)-- Republicans in Congress are asking the Obama ad- ministration to explain a murkily sourced claim that it is considering "sanctions" against Israel. "Recent reports suggest that your administration has held classified meetings over the past several weeks to discuss the possibility of imposing sanctions against Israel for its decision to construct homes in East Je- rusalem," said the letter sent last Friday and signed by 48 members of the U.S. House of Representatives led by Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C:). "Israel is one of our strongest allies, and the mere notion that the administration would unilaterally impose sanctions against Israel is not only unwise, but is extremely worrisome." Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) issued similar statements. The appeals are apparently based on a Dec. 4 story in Haaretz reporting that the Obama administration "is examining taking action against the construction in the West Bank and East Je- rusalem, rather than making do with issuing denunciatory statements." The article, which is based on a claim from an anony- mous Israeli official who said he was briefed by an American official, does not cite any "sanctions." The Free Bea- con, a conservative news site, picked up the Haaretz report and used "sanctions" repeat- edly but did not explain why. In Haaretz, the anony- mous Israeli official de- scribes discussions between State Department and White House officials that encom- pass the contemplation of actions ranging from with- holding the traditional U.S. veto on U.N. Security Council resolutions critical of Israel to issuing "clearer instruc- tions" about a ban in place on U.S. funding for settlements. The ban referred to is not clear. Obama's predecessors up to President George W. Bush withheld from Israel a percentage of loan guar- antees based on the rate of Israeli investment in settle- ment activities, but Obama has suspended the practice. The United States does not directly fund settlements, although it allows tax-exempt dollars to reach their chari- ties. White House and State Department officials have refused to comment on the story, noting its anonymous sourcing and a policy of generally not commenting on internal deliberations. "I'm obviously not going to respond to unidentified anonymous sources' reports about alleged internal delib- erations," Marie Harf, the State Department spokes- woman, said Friday. Hagee: Meant to call Obama anti-Israel, not anti-Semitic WASHINGTON (JTA)-- Pastor John Hagee "clari- fied" that he did not mean to call .President Obama anti-Semitic but anti-Israel. Hagee, the Christians United for Israel founder, in a statement last Friday said he was issuing a clarification to comments he made Nov. 23 to the Zionist Organization of America's annual dinner in New York following "con- versations with friends in the pro-Israel community." The "friends" included Robert Sugarman and Mal- colm Hoenlein, respectively the chairman and executive vice chairman of the Confer- ence of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organiza- tions. "The prepared text of my remarks before the Zionist Organization of America called President Obama one of the most 'anti-Israel' presidents in U.S. history," Hagee said in his statement. "During my speech, I in- advertently called him one of the most 'anti-Semitic' pYesi er ts The statement added, "While I regret my misstate- ment, I stand behind my prepared remarks. I believe that those of us who love Israel must be aggressive in our criticism thereof." The Anti-Defamation League had slammed Hagee for calling Obama anti-Se- mitic, saying itwas a "serious denigration and distortion of the term." Brazilian pool sports giant swastika (JTA)--A large swastika Was discovered painted on the bottom of a swimming pool in southern Brazil. The large Nazi symbol was identified during a kidnap- ping investigation last week, where police used aerial surveillance, CNN reported. Located on private prop- erty in Pomerode, in the southern state of Santa Cata- rina, the swastika reportedly has decorated the bottom of the pool for 13 years. No charges will be filed since the pool is located on private property, according to CNN, citing local officials. The homeowner is not pro- moting Nazism, according to local officials. Many Germans andAustri- ans immigrated to the Santa Catarina region, which ac- cording to a Brazilian tourist website is home to the second largest Oktoberfest in the world, attracting well over 1 million people every year. m -tb t