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Israeli PM’s wife sentenced for misusing state funds
By ARON HELLER
16 June 2019

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FILE - In this June 6, 2018 file photo, Sara Netanyahu, the wife of Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, arrives for the meeting with French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire at Bercy Economy Ministry, in Paris, France. A Jerusalem magistrate court on Sunday, June 16, 2019, sentenced Netanyahu, to pay a fine of more than $15,000 for misusing state funds. The sentencing comes after she agreed to a plea bargain that ended the years-long saga of just one of the high-profile corruption cases involving the prime minister's family. (AP Photo/Francois Mori, File)


JERUSALEM (AP) — A Jerusalem magistrate court on Sunday sentenced Sara Netanyahu, the wife of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to pay a fine of more than $15,000 for misusing state funds. The sentencing comes after she agreed to a plea bargain that ended the years-long saga of just one of the high-profile corruption cases involving the prime minister’s family.

The court ruling settled allegations that Sara Netanyahu had misused some $100,000 in state money on lavish meals. She was indicted on charges of fraud and breach of trust last year after the State Attorney’s office accused her of running up large tabs at luxury restaurants while the official residence employed a full-time chef between the years 2010 and 2013.

The settlement saw her admit to a more minor charge of “intentionally exploiting the mistake of someone else,” specifically by misleading officials who didn’t realize she already benefited from chefs on the government payroll.

Under the terms of the bargain, Sara Netanyahu agreed to pay $2,800 in fines and hand the remaining $12,500 back to the state. The settlement also reduced the overspending charge to $50,000.

But the prime minister himself remains the main focus of the family’s legal troubles. He is facing an indictment on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, pending a hearing scheduled for early October. He has pushed for a postponement and can still request an extension from the Supreme Court.

Benjamin Netanyahu is accused of accepting lavish gifts from billionaire friends and promising to promote advantageous legislation for a major newspaper in exchange for favorable coverage. He vehemently denies wrongdoing, portraying himself as a victim of media-orchestrated persecution against him and his family in an attempt to oust him from power.

The prime minister and his wife have a reputation for leading indulgent lives at public expense, out of touch with most Israelis. The 60-year-old Sara Netanyahu in
particular has been accused of excessive spending, using public money for her private, extravagant tastes and for abusive behavior toward her personal staff. These allegations earned her an image as the Israeli Imelda Marcos, the former Philippine first lady infamous for her collection of designer shoes.

In 2016, a court ruled Sara Netanyahu mistreated a housecleaner and awarded the man $42,000 in damages. Other employees have accused her of abuse, charges the

Netanyahus reject. Another former housekeeper is currently suing Sara Netanyahu for $63,000 in damages over mistreatment and harassment.

However, Sara Netanyahu’s lawyer, Yossi Cohen, portrayed his client as a victim, saying she had “been put through hell” the past four years with a public shaming campaign that was due only to her public standing.

“Sara Netanyahu is today paying a heavy and painful personal cost to put an end to this witch hunt, and I hope that indeed this is the end of the story,” he said after the hearing.

Benjamin Netanyahu has stood by her, calling her a “true hero” and bemoaning how she had become a “punching bag” for their opponents.

 

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Former Israeli PM Ehud Barak stages return to ‘topple Netanyahu’
AP
June 26, 2019

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Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak holds a press conference at Beit Sokolov to announce that he will be running in the upcoming elections in September. (AFP)

  • Speaking at a Tel Aviv press conference, Barak called for an end to ‘Netanyahu’s rule’
  • Barak retired from politics in 2013, but has been an outspoken critic of Netanyahu since
JERUSALEM: Israel’s former Prime Minister Ehud Barak has announced he is returning to politics and is forming a new party that will aim to unseat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in upcoming elections.

Speaking at a Tel Aviv press conference Wednesday, Barak called for an end to “Netanyahu’s rule with the radicals, racists and corrupt, with the Messianists and his corrupt leadership.”

The 77-year-old Barak, who was once Netanyahu’s army commander, served as military chief and then prime minister from 1999-2000. Most recently, he served as Netanyahu’s defense minister. He retired from politics in 2013, but has been an outspoken critic of Netanyahu since.

Israel will hold a second parliamentary election in September after Netanyahu failed to form a governing coalition following April’s vote.

 

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Israelis of Ethiopian descent protest over police shooting
July 3, 2019

View attachment 8982
A protester stands opposite to a policeman during a protest for the death of 18-year old Solomon Tekah of Ethiopian descent, after he was shot by police, in Tel Aviv, Israel. REUTERS/ Corinna Kern

TEL AVIV (Reuters) - Thousands of Israelis of Ethiopian descent and their supporters staged sit-down protests at major road junctions throughout the country on Tuesday after a member of the immigrant community was shot dead by police.

Around 20,000 Ethiopian Jews, who trace their roots to the biblical King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, were brought to Israel on secret flights in the mid-1980s and early 1990s. But they have at times complained of racist discrimination.

On Saturday, 18-year-old Solomon Tekah was shot dead in the northern city of Haifa by an off-duty policeman. The policeman said he drew his gun while trying to intervene in a brawl between two groups of youths, who ended up turning against him.

A police spokesman said the officer who carried out the shooting had been arrested pending an investigation.

Riot police scuffled with some of Tuesday’s protesters in a bid to free up back-logged traffic. A police spokesman said at least 22 people were arrested.

Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne


 

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Israel Braces for More Protests After Ethiopian Teen's Death
Wednesday, 3 July, 2019
View attachment 8984
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld says Wednesday more than 110 police officers have been wounded. (File photo: AFP)

Tel Aviv- Asharq Al-Awsat

Israeli police are bracing for another day of violent protests Wednesday after demonstrators called for renewed street demonstrations in response to the killing of an Ethiopian-Israeli teen by an off-duty police officer.

Protesters blocked major highways around the country Tuesday, snarling traffic for hours. They also attacked police and vandalized vehicles in response to what they see as continued police brutality.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said more than 110 police officers were wounded, including from stones and bottles hurled at them. The protesters burned tires and set a vehicle on fire, clashing with police and assaulting those who tried to break through their makeshift roadblocks. Overnight, the protesters continued rioting, flipping over a police cruiser. Rosenfeld said more than 130 suspects have been arrested.

The protests erupted after Solomon Teka, 18, was fatally shot in a Haifa suburb on Sunday and escalated after his funeral on Tuesday. The officer in question says he was at a public playground with his young children and felt their lives were in danger from a group of rioting teenagers. He says he opened fire toward the ground and had no intention of killing anyone. He is being investigated by internal affairs and remains under protective custody.

The protesters view the killing as part of a pattern of systematic discrimination by police, who they accuse of using excessive force.

Israeli police say they will permit peaceful protests, including a limited blocking of roads, but will not accept renewed violence.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement acknowledging that "there are problems that need to be solved," but he warned demonstrators that the authorities "will not tolerate the blocking of roads."

"I ask you: Let us solve the problems together while upholding the law," he said.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin also called for calm, warning against what he called "a civil war."

"We need to stop and think how we move forward," he said. "We need to complete the investigation of Solomon's death and prevent the next death, the next harming, the next humiliation. We are all committed to this."

The Ethiopian Jews, who trace their lineage to the ancient Israelite tribe of Dan, began arriving in large numbers in the 1980s, when Israel secretly airlifted them to the Holy Land to save them from war and famine in the Horn of Africa.

The new arrivals struggled as they made the transition from a rural, developing African country into an increasingly high-tech Israel. Over time, many have integrated more into Israeli society, serving in the military and police and making inroads in politics, sports and entertainment. Israel has touted their success as proof of the country's acceptance and diversity.

But many in the community complain of racism, lack of opportunity and routine police harassment. Today, they number around 150,000 out of Israel's 9 million citizens.

The Ethiopians immigrants have long alleged discrimination. In the late 1990s, it was discovered that Israel's health services were throwing out Ethiopian Israeli blood donations over fears of diseases contracted in Africa. Some landlords have also refused them as tenants, and accusations have been raised that Israel has deliberately tried to curb their birth rates.

But frustrations only boiled into a public outcry with a younger generation far more willing to take on the establishment. Mass protests first erupted in 2015 after a police officer was filmed beating a uniformed Ethiopian Israeli soldier, and there have been sporadic demonstrations since.


 

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Angered by police killing, Ethiopian-Israelis demand change
AFP
July 04, 2019
View attachment 9063
Members of the Israeli security forces detain a protester during a demonstration in Tel Aviv against police violence and the recent killing of a young man. (AFP)

  • Solomon Teka’s death has been a deeply personal tragedy for his family, but for the wider Ethiopian-Israeli community, he has become a symbol
  • In Kiryat Ata, near Teka’s home in the neighboring community of Kiryat Haim in northern Israel, demonstrators burned tires and blocked roads

KIRYAT HAIM, Israel: Woreka Teka sits in a mourning tent and accepts the hugs of supporters, but begged off when asked about the night his 19-year-old son was killed by a police officer’s bullet.

“I want the demonstrations to keep going, but not violently, until they charge the policeman who shot him,” the 58-year-old said in his native Amharic language through a translator as he and his wife sat near a picture of his smiling son.

Solomon Teka’s death has been a deeply personal tragedy for his family, but for the wider Ethiopian-Israeli community, he has become a symbol as well.
Violent protests erupted in areas across the country after he was killed on Sunday.

In Kiryat Ata, near Teka’s home in the neighboring community of Kiryat Haim in northern Israel, demonstrators burned tires and blocked roads, the burn marks on the street still visible.

Teka’s death has brought renewed attention to the longstanding grievances of the Ethiopian-Israeli community, who say they are discriminated against and targeted by police because of their skin color.

The community now numbers around 140,000, of whom some 50,000 were born in Israel. They are Jewish, but say they are in many cases still seen as outsiders.
One young man gathered with others at a junction in Kiryat Ata fired off an expletive against police when a journalist approached.

A young woman nearby waved him off and spoke of wanting to see “people stop dying because of the color of their skin.”

“The cops don’t understand what we’re all trying to explain to them,” said Lihi Achdari, 21.
“They don’t know what it is, that people look at you different because of the color of your skin.”

The protests turned violent in parts of the country, with police targeted with stones, bottles and firebombs.
Police say more than 140 people have been arrested and 111 officers wounded.

Early on, police kept their distance to avoid stoking tensions, but beginning late Tuesday they took a tougher stance and began clearing protesters from roads.
On Wednesday night, the number of protesters and the level of violence were vastly reduced.

Police said Teka was killed when an off-duty officer saw a fight between youths and tried to break it up.

After the officer identified himself, the youths threw stones at him and he opened fire at Teka after “feeling that his life was in danger,” a police statement said.
Other young men and a passer-by said the policeman was not attacked, Israeli media reported.

The officer is under house arrest while an investigation continues.

Ethiopian-Israelis arrived in the country as part of a unique history.

Their ancestors were cut off from the Jewish world for centuries before eventually being recognized by Israeli religious authorities as Jews.
Many arrived in two separate Israeli airlifts in 1984 and 1991.

Jews of Middle Eastern descent have faced their own forms of discrimination in Israel, where the government was for many years dominated by those of European descent.

But Ethiopian-Israelis face special challenges due to their relatively recent arrival and other factors, including the simple fact of their skin color.
Teka’s death was not the first time a police shooting led to protests.

In January, thousands of Ethiopian-Israelis demonstrated after a young man was shot dead as he allegedly rushed at a police officer with a knife.

His mother said she had called the police to subdue her son, who reportedly suffered from a mental condition, and alleged they used excessive force.

There have been many success stories of Ethiopian-Israelis, said Yaakov Frohlich of Fidel, a non-profit organization that helps the community integrate into society.

But discrimination combined with the struggles of families who arrived poor from a vastly different country have limited others’ advancement, he said.

The problem of what Frohlich and others call “overpolicing” of the Ethiopian-Israeli community has also created frustration.

Teka’s killing was in some ways the “straw that broke the camel’s back,” Frohlich said.
“You have a generation now who grew up in Israel who realized that by keeping it inside you don’t really get anywhere with it.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu trod carefully during the protests, calling Teka’s death a “tragedy” and acknowledging problems needed to be addressed before eventually declaring that violent demonstrations would not be accepted.

At an Ethiopian restaurant next to the protest site in Kiryat Ata, a suburban-style town of strip malls and industrial areas near the port city of Haifa, Ora Yakov said she supports the protests’ message but not violence.

The daughter of the restaurant owners, she said she is studying law to work to defend her community.

“It’s not only the kid that was killed,” said the 23-year-old, alleging young Ethiopians face regular police harassment.
“It’s also the way they treat us every day.”

 

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Israeli Drones to Help Monitor Turkish "Encroachment" of Cypriot EEZ
October 11, 2019

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Aerostar Tactical TUAS (image: Aeronautics)

Israeli UAV manufacturer Aeronautics has sold 4 Aerostar tactical UAVs to the Cyprus' defense ministry to monitor Turkey’s exploration for oil and gas in the Eastern Mediterranean sea.

The deal valued at $13 million for four Aerostar Tactical UAS (TUAS) drones, which have a wingspan of 8.7 meters, will be used to control the country's offshore exclusive economic zone (EEZ) amid concerns that Turkey is “encroaching” on Cypriot territory in search of gas and oil.

The deal was reported by the Cyprus media but not confirmed by the Israeli company.

View attachment 10728
Turkish drilling vessel Yavuz in the Mediterranean Sea (image tweeted by Fatih Dönmez, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources of Turkey)

The Aerostar TUAS can climb at a rate of 304m/min. The maximum and cruise speeds of the UAV are 203km/h and 114km/h respectively. The stall speed is 90km/h and the range is 200km. The UAV can loiter in air for a maximum of 12 hours.

The UAV features a robust airframe, an automatic identification system, a ship identification system, VHF radios, a hands-on throttle and stick control system, and vertical stabilisers. It is also equipped with a UMAS digital flight control system, directional antennae and a multi-channel data link system built by Commtact.

The drone is equipped with a large payload bay, and carries several types of payloads, including advanced, stabilized EO/IR sensors, Laser designation, Synthetic Aperture Radars (SAR)\GMTI, various electronic intelligence sensors (COMINT, ELIINT) and other advanced payloads.

View attachment 10726
Turkish drilling vessel Yavuz in the Mediterranean Sea (image tweeted by Fatih Dönmez, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources of Turkey)

In July 1974, Turkey invaded Cyprus in order to crush a military coup backed by Greece. Ever since then, Ankara continues to lay claim to the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, a de facto state situated in the north-eastern portion of the island.

According to the UN Law of the Sea Convention, a country’s EEZ (where it can claim fishing, mining and drilling rights) can stretch upto 200 miles out to the sea. In cases where maritime distance between two countries is less than 424 miles, the parties involved must determine an agreed dividing line between their EEZs.

Turkey has not signed up to the convention because the document grants significant rights to island territories. Ankara asserts right to the area stating that its continental shelf extends to the median line with Egypt. This in part overlaps with Cyprus’ blocks (including Block 7) in the EEZ.
Turkey does not recognise Cypriot EEZ; and demands authority over and a share of revenue generating from the oil and gas reserves for the Turkish Cypriots.

This July, the Cyprus government granted a licence to a consortium of France’s Total and Italy's Eni to explore for hydrocarbons in Block 7. In the same month, Turkish minister for energy and natural resources Fatih Donmez tweeted that the Oruc Reis seismic vessel would soon join a trio of Turkish Petroleum (TPAO) vessels in the Eastern Mediterranean.

On October 8, Turkey deployed two drilling vessels-Fatih and Yavuz, in the waters around Cyprus; with the Yavuz being assigned to drill in Block 7.
Ankara says its activities are legitimate since the licenses for TPAO’s exploration were granted by the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and that it is merely defending the rights of Cypriot Turks. Both the Cypriot Government and the UN have condemned Turkey’s actions as illegal and provocative.
 

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