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Israel’s welfare minister discusses care for released hostages

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Israel’s welfare minister discusses care for released hostages



Welfare and Social Affairs Minister Ya’acov Margi’s recollections of the Yom Kippur War, which coincided with his 13th birthday, evoke memories of fear, helplessness, and a profound sense of existential threat. Fifty years later, on October 7, Margi found himself in Moshav Sde Tzvi, just 18.4 km from the Gaza border, experiencing the stark reality of rocket fire and an unfamiliar atmosphere.

As Margi recounts the events, he emphasizes the lack of immediate response from emergency services, leaving the community in isolation. Drawing parallels to the Yom Kippur War, he notes the stark contrast, pointing out the disturbing incidents of murder, rape, and massacre that occurred on October 7.

Instead of going to the synagogue, Margi engaged in a situation assessment conference with his ministry’s director-general Yanon Aharoni as he understood the gravity of the situation. The Welfare and Social Affairs Ministry swiftly became a central player, deploying social workers to hotels accommodating evacuees.

Amidst the ocean of grief, Margi acknowledges the ministry’s role in supporting the hostages upon their return. Collaborating with other players, the ministry prepared for their reception, focusing on long-term accompaniment after they were released from their initial hospital visits.

Margi addresses the need for permanent figures to provide confidence and explains the importance of assigning one social worker per released hostage. The ministry adopted a flexible approach, drawing on research materials and collaborating with the ‘Harov Institute.’

The return of the kidnapped to the Red Cross (Credit: Flash 90)

Deputy Director-General Etti Kisos, who manages the social affairs in the ministry, is leading a team of 80 social workers dedicated to the care of 98 women and children. Margi addressed the challenges, emphasizing the varied circumstances and emotions the social workers encounter.

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While Margi has not met the released hostages, he acknowledged the efforts of the ministry, the IDF, and the National Insurance Agency in supporting them. He stressed the importance of letting professionals work while respecting the privacy of the hostages who were released.

“We debated the question of where we send the hostages whose families were evacuated,” Margi said. “Should they go to hotels so that they can be with their communities? If we need to, we will make an independent residential unit available to them. For more than 50 days, these people were in an indescribable situation.”

Margi addresses Welfare Ministry’s negative reputation 

Margi acknowledged the problematic image his ministry has endured over the years, expressing a commitment to streamlining processes and recruiting additional social workers. He also reflected on the positive impact of privatization in enhancing operational efficiency.

Discussing the ministry’s budget, Margi managed to secure an increase of one billion shekels for the current and next year. He emphasized the ministry’s ability to overcome challenges and praised the support received from the Finance Ministry.

The shortage of social workers is a significant challenge, and Margi outlined efforts to address it, including discussions about improving salary conditions. He rejected the possibility of cuts in the Welfare Ministry in the event of a cut in government ministries.

Margi addressed the controversy surrounding coalition funds and food stamps, defending their allocation. He distanced himself from populist discourse and expressed regret for not insisting on including the funds in the base of the budget.

Finally, Margi acknowledged his responsibility for the recent events, expressing understanding for the criticism received. He refrained from commenting on the prime minister’s role but expressed regret for his past opposition to the adoption regulations for LGBT couples, highlighting the ministry’s commitment to providing supportive services to all community members.





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IDF, security forces rescue gazelles and confiscate NIS 70,000 in West Bank raids

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IDF, security forces rescue gazelles and confiscate NIS 70,000 in West Bank raids



IDF soldiers arrested wanted individuals and confiscated over NIS 70,000 in terror funds and materials for making explosives, the IDF announced on Sunday. 

Within the Binyamin Brigade, soldiers arrested two wanted individuals and discovered six gazelles taken to a shelter. 

In Ras al-Ein, a small Arab village in northern Israel, forces arrested an agitator. In Bani Naim, Dahriya, and Dura within the Judea Division, three more wanted individuals were arrested.

Wanted individuals arrested, gazelles taken to shelter

In Beit Ummar and Sa’ir within the Etzion Division, soldiers arrested four wanted individuals.

The arrested individuals and seized combat materials have been transferred to security forces for further investigation. There were no casualties or injuries among IDF soldiers. 

IDF soldiers operating in the West Bank, June 23, 2024. (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON’S UNIT)

To date, approximately 4,150 wanted individuals have been arrested since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas war throughout the West Bank and the Jordan Valley, with around 1,750 linked to Hamas.





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For the second time this week: an Israeli citizen entered Kalkilya – and was murdered

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For the second time this week: an Israeli citizen entered Kalkilya – and was murdered



An Israeli citizen who entered Kalkilya on Saturday morning with his car was shot dead by local residents, according to Palestinian reports cited by Israeli media.

A large number of IDF troops entered the city after an Israeli citizen entered the city center with his vehicle was shot at around seven on Saturday morning.

The shooting was carried out on the main street, after which the vehicles were set on fire. About an hour ago, the victim was brought by a medical team of the Red Crescent to the entrance to the city. An IDF medical team pronounced the victim dead.

Photos from the scene show his car being set alight and his driver’s license being taken. Local Palestinians told Israeli media the car was torched well after the shooting.

IDF soldiers operating near Kalkilya in the West Bank, May 5, 2024. (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON’S UNIT)

Kalkilya hotspot

This is the third event in Kalkilya in the last 48 hours.

On Thursday, an Israeli in his 70s was robbed and attacked. The paramedic team met him at the Eliyahu checkpoint, where he was pronounced dead.

On Friday afternoon, two Islamic Jihad operatives, who were on their way to carry out a terror attack against Israelis, were eliminated by the IDF in Qalqilya.

The operation was carried out after the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) gathered intelligence that the two intended to carry out an attack soon.

As a result, the soldiers of the police’s Gideon unit were rushed to the area. After identifying the two, they started an arrest procedure, at the end of which they fired at the two terrorists.





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Armenia recognizes Palestine as a state, foreign ministry announces

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Armenia recognizes Palestine as a state, foreign ministry announces



Armenia recognized Palestine as a state on Friday morning, according to Russian TASS news agency, citing Armenia’s foreign affairs ministry. 

Armenia supports a UN resolution on an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and is in favor of a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the same statement said.

Indeed, Armenia remained notably silent after the October 7 massacre. It became vocal only three weeks later when the United Nations General Assembly put forth a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Gaza. Armenia was one of the 121 countries which voted in favor.

Armenia has become more and more closely associated with Iran in recent years amid the rising tensions with Azerbaijan. Several sources reported 2023 spotting Iranian soldiers on the Armenian side of the border with Azerbaijan. 

According to French reports, Iran sent agents to Yerevan to manage the Blue Mosque, which was built in Armenia during Iran’s rule.

A protester holds up a Palestinian flag as riot police stand guard near the Israel Embassy during a demonstration in support of Palestinians, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Mexico City, Mexico May 28, 2024. (credit: REUTERS/HENRY ROMERO)

Iran and Israel have been consistently opposed, with Iran attacking Israel in a massive bombardment of rockets and missiles in April.

In addition, Armenia is an observer state of the Arab League. Palestine is recognized as a member state in said league.

Antisemitism has been rampant in Armenia since the war broke out, as well, with Jewish communities in the region fearful and having been attacked several times.

Reuters contributed to this report.





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