Posts Tagged ‘Israel’

Approximately 200 demonstrators in support of Palestine lined the south side of Wilshire Blvd. to protest the recent escalation of violence between Israel and Hamas. Photo Credit: Kat Russell / Multimedia Editor @ Daily Sundial

>>> UPDATE, Nov. 21

Israel and Hamas reached a ceasefire agreement brokered by Egypt on Wednesday. Israel agreed to a truce but refused to lift the blockade on Palestinian territory.

In the eight days of fighting that began Nov. 14, more than 140 Palestinians and five Israelis have been killed.

In spite of the agreement, violence still raged on Wednesday.

A bus bomb exploded near the Israel’s Defense Ministry and military headquarters in Tel Aviv wounding 15 people.

Israel struck more than 100 targets in Gaza, including a cluster of Hamas government buildings, killing 10 people one of which was a 2-year-old boy.

Gaza continued to fire rockets at Tel Aviv, none of which reached the city.

>>> UPDATE, Nov. 20

Israel and Hamas came closer to a ceasefire, however a deal still remained uncertain and fighting continued to rage on both sides of the border.

Israeli tanks and gunboats struck targets in Gaza while at least 200 rockets were fired into Israel.

Ceasefire proceedings are being held in Cairo and have involved the U.S. Secretary of State, the U.N. chief and Egypt’s president in addition to representatives of both Hamas an the Israeli government.

Israel has demanded an end to rocket fire from Gaza and a stop to weapons smuggling into Gaza through the tunnels connecting to Egypt. Israel also wants guarantees that Hamas will not rearm or use Egypt’s Sinai region to attack Israelis.

Hamas has demanded that Israel halt all attacks on Gaza and lift tight restrictions on trade and movement in and out of the territory that have been in place since Hamas came into power in 2007.

An estimated 130 Palestinians, many of which were civilians, have been killed and hundreds wounded since the conflict’s start on Nov. 14 and five Israelis have been killed by rocket fire.

>>> UPADATE, Nov. 19

The latest casualty figures out of Gaza reported 22 people killed since midnight, Sunday Nov. 18. Included in the report were Palestinians killed in air strikes by warplanes, a drone attack on two men riding a motorcycle and a father his two toddler-aged sons in their bombed home in northern Gaza. Another Israeli drone attack killed a taxi driver hired by journalists and displaying “press” signs.

Three people have been killed in Israel so far, all of which were civilians, in a rocket attack that hit an apartment house in southern Israel on Nov. 15. The Israelis said that at least 79 people have been wounded since the violence began.

Hamas leader dared Israel to launch a ground invasion of Gaza and dismissed efforts to broker a ceasefire.

Israel conducted a new wave of airstrikes, including a second hit on a 15-story building that housed media outlets.

Gaza fired multiple rockets into southern Israel one of which hit a vacant school. Diplomatic efforts to reach a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas are underway in Cairo where Khaled Meshal, leader of Hamas, called the Israeli infantry mobilization on the border of Gaza a bluff on the part of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

>>> UPDATE, Nov. 18

An Israeli airstrike struck two media buildings in Gaza injuring eight journalists, with one needing a leg amputated. The airstrike also damaged the Al Sharouk building in which several foreign journalists have been staying.

The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) had admitted to targeting the media building that housed offices for international media in Gaza and confirmed having knowledge that foreign journalists were in at least one of the media buildings struck. However, Israel denied targeting journalists saying that the second attack on the Al Sharouk building had targeted an office of the Islamic Jihad

An Israeli bomb killed eleven people, including three generations of a single family, making it the deadliest single strike since the conflict began. The incident sparked a rally in Gaza on Monday in support of Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers.

Hamas continued to fire rockets into Israel. Injuries have been reported in the towns of Ashkelon and Ofakim.

Both Israeli and Hamas officials said attempts to reach a ceasefire are ongoing.

>>> UPDATE, Nov. 16

Israel conducted five airstrikes on Gaza City before dawn on Nov. 16, destroying the offices of Ismail Haniya, the prime minister of Hamas. The airstrike also hit the main police complex nearby.

At the same time, a heavy Israeli bombardment was reported at the south end of the Gaza Strip, which targeted the smuggling tunnels leading into Egypt.

Israel confirmed the attacks, saying that it had also targeted the Hamas Ministry of Interior – a training facility – a site believed house weapons stores and launching sites.

According to Israel, the bombardments were retaliation for Palestinian rocket attacks on Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

No deaths have been yet reported.

>>> UPDATE, Nov. 15

Palestinian militants fired rockets at Jerusalem and Tel Aviv for the first time, pushing Israel closer to a possible ground invasion. Hamas said in a statement that the rockets were meant to hit the Israeli Parliament.

One of the rockets landed in an open space, south of Jerusalem, near and Israeli settlement. It was unclear where the other rockets landed. No damage or injuries were reported.

Hamas said in a statement that the rockets were meant to hit the Israeli Parliament.

The Israeli government has more than doubled its number of reservists, preparing them for possible invasion if needed.  The Israeli military has also closed roads, running adjacent to Gaza, in anticipation of a possible ground incursion into Gaza. This would be the first Israeli military maneuver on the ground in Gaza since the 2008-9 invasion.

>>> UPDATED with additional information

As the violence between Israel and Hamas escalated to the worst conflict seen between the two sides in recent years, demonstrators sympathetic to both sides gathered in protest outside the Israeli consulate in West LA. on Nov. 15.

An estimated 200 people sympathetic to the Palestinian cause carried signs depicting graphic images of mangled bodies and wounded children and chanted slogans calling for Israel to put an end to its occupation of the Gaza Strip and the oppression of the Palestinian people.

“Once again, the state of Israel has decided to massacre the Palestinian people in an indiscriminate way and we, as a community, cannot just sit here,” said Taher Herzallah the campus coordinator for American Muslims for Palestine.

At the same time, approximately 20 demonstrators sympathetic to Israel gathered on the opposite side of the street, waving Israeli flags and calling out in response to the pro-Palestinian slogans.

“(This is a) protest against the killing of terrorists (Hamas military leader, Ahmed Jibari) and to condemn a country (Israel) for defending its citizens who live under rocket fire on a daily basis,” said Israel supporter, Moshe Arnold. He went on to say that “whenever there’s evil, someone has to respond with truth and goodness and that’s why we are here tonight.”

The protest was arranged through a series of emails sent out the night before, by Answer Coalition, an umbrella group consisting of numerous antiwar and civil rights organizations.

“Anytime there’s a war going on that’s unjust, we (members of Answer Coalition) come out to protest” said Michael Kakes, a member of the Part for Socialism and Liberation, which is part of the Answer Coalition network.

Although the demonstrations remained peaceful, the crowds were heated and shouted angry words across the street at each other.

Approximately 40 LAPD officers lined both sides of Wilshire to contain the demonstrators on their own sides of the street. Andrew Smith, LAPD’s Commanding Officer of Media Relations, said that in situations involving two opposing sides, the LAPD aims to keep each side from antagonizing the other while allowing both sides ample space to exercise their rights to free speech.

The recent violence between Hamas and Israel was renewed on Nov. 14 when Israel assassinated Ahmed Jabari, the head of Hamas military operations. According to Israel, the strike was retaliation for increased rocket attacks from Gaza.  Israel called the action a tactical operation carried out in response to an increase in rocket attacks, from Hamas, on Southern Israel.

Since the conflict’s onset, Israel and Hamas bombarded each other with more than 1,500 rockets killing 161 Palestinians, 71 of which were civilians, and 5 Israelis. Authorities have referred to the conflict as the worst violence Israel and Palestine have since Israel’s invasion of Gaza in 2008.

>>> Audio slideshow from the protest:


As Shabbat comes to a close, a group of HUC students, have gathered together for food, music and merriment. Much reminicent of my days in summer camp, a guitar comes out and songs are sung, food is eaten and laughter is bountiful.

My best friend moved to Jerusalem 2 months ago to attend his first year of rabbinical school. My being in Istanbul was the perfect opportunity for me to pay my bestie a much needed visit. Needless to say, that summer camp was not on my list of expectations. It wasn’t even on the long list. And yet, here I sit, surrounded by future rabbis and canters of reform Judaism and the only things missing are a camp fire and some smores.

The night before, we had a much more intimate and traditional Shabbat celebration and feast. And sitting here today, among this boisterous group, I find the comparison between the two celebrations to be intriguing to say the least. Our celebration last night was held with reverence as age old traditions were honored and practiced. Prayer, ritual, food, and song were all abundant as was camaraderie. Conversely, today’s celebration felt more like a gathering of classmates (which it was).  There was an abundance of people, food, and wine. Laughter and jocularity were plentiful. Reverence, ritual and tradition had essentially been thrown out the window as this lively group gathered and cast off the bondage of the previous week’s schooling. And then the guitar came out and summer camp began. American pop radio songs were sung in unison with fervor and excitement. It was a new day and a totally different Shabbat.

My bestie and I discussed the comparison later this evening. Both celebrations, we found to be fun and endearing. I verbalized my surprise at the contrast between the two as well as my gratitude for having gotten to witness and participate in both. Chalk it up to another cultural learning experience stoking the fires of my religious (and spiritual) curiosity. This is a beautiful thing.

Peace and Love.

Faith, Tradition, Prayer, Song, Feast, Conversation, Friends, Laughter, Community, Celebration, Love and Light. These are the words that come to mind when I think of my first real Shabbat experience. It is Friday night in Jerusalem and Shabbat is in full swing.

I arrived in Jerusalem yesterday in the very early hours of the morning. My best friend moved here two months ago, and seeing that it was only a three hour journey from Istanbul, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to visit him in his new world. It has been less that 48 hours since I arrived and I am already overwhelmed by all that I have seen, experienced and felt.

Yesterday was a day of very little sleep, hours upon hours of walking in very intensive heat, and the meeting of distinctly different religions. My best friend, who is a bit of rabbi, history teacher and tour guide all rolled into one, mapped out a long day of many sights. Needless to say, we hit the ground running.

 First on the agaenda was the Dome of the Rock. The Dome of the rock is a huge Muslim shrine, with a golden  dome, that is considered to be the most famous Muslim sight in Jerusalem. Built on a sacred stone, which is  believed to be the stone on which Abraham prepared to sacrifice Isaac, the Dome of the Rock stands  majestically, rising up out of the Jerusalem panoramic gleaming so brightly as to be seen for miles and miles.  Built from 688 – 691AD, the Dome was not originally intended to be a mosque, but instead a shrine for pilgrims.  Today, its beautiful mosaic walls and shining  golden dome stand, as majestically as ever, in the Muslim  Quarter of Jerusalem, interestingly juxtaposed with Western Wall, one of the most sacred spots in Judaism.  While we were there, a Call to Prayer rang out and I  was struck by how different it sounded from the ones I have  become so accustomed to and enamored with in  Istanbul. My adoration was by no means lessened, but instead  grew even deeper as I heard this call that was  seemingly new to me.

The next stop on our list was the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which was  built in 330AD and commemorates the hill on which Jesus was believed to  be crucified and the tomb in which his body was believed to be buried. This  place was the “mecca” for anyone of the Catholic or Christian faith – chalk  full of artifacts that could be considered some of the holiest of the holy. The supposed site of Jesus’s crucifixion, the stone that his body was washed on after being removed from the cross, and the site where his body was believed to be entombed are all housed in this church. I was struck, as I walked around, by the overt displays of faith from the other visitors. People in prayer, people singing, people kneeling, and some even writhing with I guess was what they felt to be the presence of God. It was both interesting and admirable. At the same time, I was struck by my own detachment from theses same things that had brought others to their knees. Having been raised Catholic, I have been taught the stories and was well aware of the significance of the things that I was seeing, and yet, I felt no affiliation with them whatsoever. What I did feel was the intensity of other people’s faith and that was amazing to see and feel.

 The final place on our agenda yesterday was the Western or “Wailing” Wall. A  site that is considered to be one  of the holiest spots in Judaism. The Western  Wall is a section of the western supporting wall of the Temple  Mount that has  remained in tact since the destruction of the Second Jerusalem Temple approximately  2000 years ago.  To an  outsider, the wall is just a wall, but from what I understand, the Western Wall is believed  to be a site where  the  Divine Presence of  God is always present. Among the cracks and crevices of the wall, as high as the average  man  can reach, there are scraps of papers that have been crammed into the wall’s spaces – each bit of paper a prayer or  letter or poem of some kind to God. At any time of the day or night, you can find people there praying  This was  an  interesting thing for me, an outsider who has no knowledge of the jewish  faith or history or  tradition. While I  happened to be there, there was also a large group of young women, that were obviously all in  the same group,  and all were in prayer. Girls were swaying back and forth reciting prayers from  a book. Some of those  girls (the  ones  that could push their way to the wall) had their faces pressed against the  wall as they prayed and  others  had their  faces buried in their prayer books. I asked someone what that was about  and she said that it was  a way  to avoid  being distracted by outside things when praying.

While writing this, again I am struck by how profound I found my experiences at the Dome and the Wall were and  detached I was from any experience at the Church. My exposure to these traditions and faiths has tapped my curiosity and I find myself wanting to learn and understand as much as I can about these things that I know so little about. I find the devotion, the persistence of tradition and the intensity of faith to have tapped my thirst for further knowledge.

Peace and Love.