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Jerusalem residents worry over Palestinian prisoners freed in Hamas deal

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Jerusalem residents worry over Palestinian prisoners freed in Hamas deal



As Israelis rejoice in the release of some of the Hamas-held hostages from Gaza, a parallel difficulty is being created as Israel releases Palestinian prisoners who have been convicted – or accused of – terrorist activities.

In the first four days of the temporary Israel-Hamas ceasefire, which began last Friday, Israel released 150 Palestinian prisoners, 117 who – despite their terrorist activities – are under the age of 18, plus 33 women. Many of them were released to their homes in the Jerusalem area, sometimes right back into the neighborhoods where they committed their crimes, causing much concern among Jerusalemites. 

In December 2021, Moriah Cohen, 28, was wounded when a then-14-year-old female terrorist stabbed her in the back as she was walking her five children to daycare in the east Jerusalem neighborhood where both assailant and victim live. The attacker, Nafoz Hamad, was among the Palestinian prisoners released this week. On Tuesday, police had to put a stop to a party in honor of Hamad. On Wednesday, an interim injunction was issued requiring her to have no contact with the Cohen family, who live across the street in the capital’s Shimon Hatzadik neighborhood.

Fear is Cohen’s foremost reaction to the return of her criminal neighbor. 

“It’s not fun to walk in the street near my house, knowing that the woman who stabbed me in front of my children is back home, perhaps peeking at me from her house. But I also feel great anger. How can that be a legal procedure? She got 12 years just two weeks ago, and here she is again. I didn’t believe it would happen, I couldn’t believe it. I saw the police here, that’s how I realized she did come back. I closed the curtains, still finding it hard to believe this was happening.” 

MORIAH COHEN outside her Sheikh Jarrah home this week: It’s not fun to walk in the street near my house, knowing that the woman who stabbed me in front of my children is back home, perhaps peeking at me from her house. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

The exterior of the Hamed home, literally facing Cohen’s, boldly displays a large banner featuring the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Ka’aba in Mecca – an unmistakable message to her Jewish neighbors.

Today, although Hamad is still only 16 years old, Cohen refuses to consider her as a youth who was just brainwashed and didn’t realize what she was doing. 

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“She never expressed any regrets, I believe she knew exactly what she was doing. She is a[n attempted] murderer, and I am convinced that she will continue to [attempt to] murder whenever she can,” said Cohen, two of whose children witnessed the stabbing. Her husband is a reservist presently serving in Gaza. 

Palestinian prisoners released back into Jerusalem – and no one asked the municipality

THE PALESTINIAN security prisoners were first transferred to Ofer prison where they signed a document undertaking not to engage in further terrorism and were then released. The Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) Commissioner said that the agency was “Ready to respond to incidents of incitement and disorder.”

The prisoners who were transferred to Judea and Samaria were handed over to the Palestinian Authority at the Beitunia crossing; while those who are eastern Jerusalem residents were first transferred to a detention cell in the capital’s Russian compound and from there released to their homes.

Senior officials in the Jerusalem Municipality claim that no one in the government nor in the security forces checked with them in advance to ascertain whether the city could handle this influx of criminals who could disturb the relative peace in the capital. Despite the prevailing opinion that the residents of the eastern city are not interested in an escalation of the security situation, this part of the hostage release agreement is not popular.

Security forces have been ensuring that there are no victory celebrations or mass receptions for those let out of prison, with the sunsequent two days unfolding peacefully despite the bitter pill. However, this atmosphere did not last long. 

The illusion was shattered on Thursday morning when two residents of the Tzur Bahar neighborhood, heavily armed with guns and ammunition, murdered three and injured 10 at the entrance to the city. The two terrorists, who were neutralized, are members of the same family and were released from prison a few years ago.

JERUSALEM MAYOR Moshe Lion said, “I am in daily contact with the police and we verify every issue and every aspect with them.”

“It’s not easy,” he added, “but the security forces are attentive to the city’s needs. We all agree on one thing: The majority of the 350,000 Arab residents of the east city are not interested in these terrorist acts and certainly do not join in – and we all have to live here together. But we know that one or two are enough to cause destruction. And that is what happened this morning [Thursday].”

Lion believes that we must live together with the Arabs in the city, but he also understands that without a clear system for the protection of people of Jerusalem, it is only a matter of time before what happened on Thursday is repeated. The terrorists from Zur Bahar were not the usual youth from eastern Jerusalem who go out with knives or scissors looking for Jews to stab. 

Additionally, the Jerusalem Municipality quickly realized that the released minors are registered students in the municipal education system and, by law, must return to class. Municipal officials are currently deciding how to abide by the law without allowing their renewed presence in schools to encourage support for terrorism among the students in the east of the city. Education Minister Yoav Kish and his staff expressed strong opposition to the return of terrorist minors to the municipal education system. At a special meeting that took place on Wednesday at the ministry, several options were put forward to solve the problem – one of them was the establishment of a separate educational framework.

Meanwhile, the old city is empty. Most of the shops in the Arab shuk (market) are closed. 

“There are no bar-mitzvahs at the Western Wall, no tourists, and no pilgrims,” said Ami Meitav, a tour guide specializing in the Old City. 

“The Temple Mount is deserted, and very few Muslims come to Al Aqsa to pray – no one prevents them from coming, of course; but the feeling among them is that these days it might be better to stay away from Israeli security forces. 

“But there is another, more significant reason. They understand that these days, the Israelis are a wounded people and that this is not the time. Many who used to come to pray at Al Aqsa, find it better to remain in their own neighborhoods and go to the local mosques. Some would say that it is better to pray in the mosque in Wadi Joz for example, and not run into Jews on the way to Al Aqsa.

“There is fear. During the first two weeks, a large number of Arab employees, including at the Jerusalem Municipality, didn’t show up at work. Today, I can say that those who have steady work – municipality, supermarkets, even in the medical professions – came back, but there are many who prefer to wait a little longer, and avoid any encounter with Jews in the city,” added Meitav. •





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Preparing for war: Haifa mayor describes city’s infrastructure changes tensions in North escalate

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Preparing for war: Haifa mayor describes city’s infrastructure changes tensions in North escalate



Haifa mayor Yona Yahav spoke this past Monday with Lior Rosenfeld on Radio North 104.5FM about the escalation of the war in the North and his entry into political office amidst the security situation.

Yahav began, “I cannot speak on behalf of the North as I don’t know exactly what’s happening there. No one updates me, as if we are not the largest and most important city in the North. Tomorrow, the Home Front Command is coming to see us for the first time, and we will see what they have to say. We are doing everything to ensure that the city itself and our residents are safe and know what to do in case, God forbid, missiles fall on us. They are more accurate than those in 2006.”

Yahav also discussed the city’s preparations for a war in the North.

“We are now changing the entire method of building public structures,” Yahav said. “We are preparing them for prolonged stays. The minimum will be four consecutive days in shelters and such buildings, which require preparation. For example, installing toilets, which we don’t have today, and we have given instructions to build them in places close to where new houses are being built. This has been fully understood, and developers have begun to understand that the talk about evacuation and reconstruction has undergone drastic changes in light of the security situation. For example, road width needs to be maintained for the sake of evacuating residents on these roads. These are things that were not considered until now and must now be taken into account.”

Yonah Yahav (credit: ASLAN ABGANA)

Yahav’s plans for the success of Haifa’s future

Yahav then discussed his appeal to the transportation minister to stop the Highway 23 Carmel Tunnels’ toll charge.

“We called on the transportation minister to stop the discrimination. Haifa and the North are always discriminated against compared to central Israel, and there’s no reason for this. There are huge tunnels dug in Jerusalem that do not cost residents any money to pass through. There’s no reason why the tunnels dug in Haifa should include a toll. I speak on behalf of Haifa residents, and we are preparing to petition if we do not receive an answer.”

Regarding his entry into his mayoral role about three months ago, Yahav said, “I found a completely ruined city. They destroyed the municipality, and it’s very difficult to move things around. I don’t understand how residents sat idly by and kept quiet. We are trying to go to government offices to fix relations, to get funds, to move projects to bring in fees – and we are doing all this in a short time.

“The ministers are acting openly and with the goodwill to help. I am now waiting for the money on the table. The casino building in Bat Galim will be a luxurious hotel on the Bat Galim seashore. This neighborhood will undergo a complete transformation and will be the most beautiful neighborhood in the country. It will also be the only neighborhood facing a recognized beach. We came to make a change, and we will succeed.”

In conclusion, he touched on the issue of wild boars: “You won’t be able to follow them because soon you won’t see them anymore.”





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‘Psychological operation’: Turkey condemns FM Katz social media post depicting toddler Erdogan

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‘Psychological operation’: Turkey condemns FM Katz social media post depicting toddler Erdogan



Turkey’s Foreign Affairs Ministry released a statement on Sunday condemning a social media post made by Foreign Minister Israel Katz, in which Katz presented Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan as a toddler on the lap of Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. 

Katz, in a Sunday post on X, wrote “Erdogan @RTErdogan finances and arms terrorist organizations of Hamas to carry out attacks and murder against Israelis. The General Security Service captured a squad of students from Bir Zeit who were employed by the Hamas headquarters in Turkey to carry out murder attacks in Israel, through training and weapons and tens of thousands of dollars provided to them.

“Erdogan turned Turkey into a state that supports terrorism and subjects Turkey to the Iranian axis of evil in the name of extreme ideology and blatant anti-Semitism.”

Katz’s comments were made in reference to a recently thwarted terror attack planned by the student Hamas cell in Bir Zeit University, north of Ramallah. The attempted attack, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) said, was directed by Hamas’s base in Turkey. 

TURKEY’S PRESIDENT Recep Tayyip Erdogan meets with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, in Istanbul, earlier this month. Reports in the media suggested that this meeting was the result of a breakdown in relations between Hamas and Qatar. (credit: Turkish Presidential Press Office/Reuters)

Turkey condemns the social media post

The Turkish ministry responded “The Israeli Foreign Minister is trying to hide Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians behind a series of lies, slander and disrespect.

“Israel’s dirty propaganda targeting Türkiye and President Erdoğan, and psychological operation attempts will not bear fruit.

“The members of the Netanyahu Government, who have killed nearly forty thousand Palestinians in Gaza and are now trying to start a regional war in order to stay in power, will be tried in international courts and held accountable for their crimes.

“Türkiye will continue to speak the truth and defend the right of the Palestinian people to live in justice and peace.”

The ministry cited data provided by the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry, which does not distinguish between combatants and civilians. 

Additionally, Turkey has repeatedly asserted that it does not categorize Hamas as a terrorist organization – despite its western allies acknowledging it as such and its proven attacks on Israeli civilians. 





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ICJ: Settlements in West Bank, east Jerusalem are illegal

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ICJ: Settlements in West Bank, east Jerusalem are illegal



The International Court of Justice said on Friday it can give a non-binding advisory opinion on Israel’s ‘occupation’ of Palestinian territories, rejecting calls by Israel and a handful of other countries to refuse to give one.

The decision is expected to address the West Bank, east Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip as a single entity. 

The ICJ claimed that Israel’s settlement policies and exploitation of natural resources in the Palestinian territories were in breach of international law.

 





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