News Highlights November 2013



       1. The Second 100 Years.

  2. The Israelis.

 3.  Israeli Cities.

 4.   Israeli Kibbutzim.

     5. Israel, Jordan and Palestine Agreement.

     6. Israel assists Syrian Civilians.

     7. USA Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions.

     8. Greek Orthodox Priest's Son Attacked.

     9. Hasmonean Archaeological Discovery.

   10. Battleships to Guard Natural Gas Installations.

   11. Cigarette Vending Machines Banned.


The Second 100 years

After many years of declining numbers Israel's kibbutz movement is staging a revival, with many potential members wanting to join the unique form of collective living.

The total kibbutz population of about 143,000 is the highest in its 104-year history. More people are now joining kibbutzim than leaving and the addition of working-age adults and young children is helping to redress the balance of an ageing population.

Most kibbutzim have implemented reforms so as to become commercially viable. Privatization with differential incomes and home ownership has increased the attractiveness to newcomers reluctant to commit to pure communal principles.

Increasing numbers of families are attracted to kibbutz living by the quality of education, environment, space and security. The kibbutz enterprises also provide thousands of job opportunities.

The Water Authority and the Ministry of Agriculture agreed that from January 2014 there will be a flat rate for fresh water for agriculture , instead of three price levels prevailing today. This decision is in addition to another decision of the Ministry of Agriculture and The Water Authority , whereby a total allotment of fresh water for agriculture will be given in advance, for three years and there will be an  addition of more than - 20% of the annual allocation compared to the amount given in 2013. The Annual allocation will be in the range of 570 mcm to 640 mcm , according to the Ministry of Agriculture. This year ( 2013 ) allocated to agriculture 530 mcm and 585 mcm will be allocated in 2014 .

Back in 1952 Ben Gurion asked a dairy worker to get permission from his kibbutz to take up the position of Deputy Director General of the Ministry of Defense. The dairy worker was just 29 years old but Ben Gurion believed that he was important for the country. The worker approached his kibbutz and a vote was held at a general meeting whether or not to allow a kibbutz member to work outside the kibbutz. That was the way the kibbutzim operated in those days. The members of Alumot voted in favor and the dairy worker, Shimon Peres, was granted leave to serve the country as Deputy Director General of Defense. Shimon Peres was instrumental in building Israel's Defense industry including its nuclear capacity. He also served in numerous ministerial posts including that of Prime Minister. He is of course Israel's current President.

The kibbutzim formed the backbone of the country before Israel gained independence in 1948 and during the first few years after independence. There was an established infrastructure in place because of the kibbutzim and many notable persons from kibbutzim took part in the political and defense organizations as the new state came into being. The kibbutzim were also the bread basket of Israel providing a large percentage of the country's food needs. Kibbutz enterprises diversified over the years and now cover almost every type of business and account for about 8% of Israel's economy.

The Israelis – Ram Sagi


Israel Defense Forces Col. Ram Sagi formally has responsibility for the health of soldiers throughout the Southern Command. But in fact, this often includes civilians in the south, the whole country and even around the world.

The Southern Command covers 60 percent of the State of Israel from Kiryat Gat down to Eilat, but only 10% of its population.

The 45-year-old pediatrician and Kfar Saba resident – who is married and the father of four – has been in the important and influential post for the past 17 months and takes the job very seriously.
He studied medicine at the Rappaport Faculty of Medicine at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology as part of the academic program (Atuda) of the IDF after graduating from high school. Following completion of his MD, he went on to intern at Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, then did a master’s degree in medical administration, pursued his medical specialty at Ben-Gurion University’s Faculty of Health Sciences and an additional master’s degree in political science at the University of Haifa.

He then returned to serve in the IDF as a brigade physician in the field as part of the infantry. He served in south Lebanon, at the Beaufort Castle in 1995, and was wounded in Operation Grapes of Wrath, the 16-day IDF campaign in 1996 to end shelling by Hezbollah terrorists of northern Israel.

He was a divisional physician in the Second Lebanon War, studied in the National Defense College and then was promoted to his current position. “I really enjoy it a lot,” he said with evident pleasure. “I feel that I am doing a lot that makes a difference.”

One of his unforgettable experiences was going as an IDF physician to Haiti to rescue wounded in the horrendous 2010 earthquake there, which measured a catastrophic 7.0 on the Richter scale, with the epicenter 25 kilometers west of the capital, Port-au-Prince. An estimated three million people were affected by the quake, and hundreds of thousands died in the disaster.

A quarter-of-a-million homes were devastated, and 30,000 commercial buildings collapsed or were severely damaged.

“Four days after the quake, we had already arrived, set up the field hospital on a football field and seen our first patient. I was in charge of pediatric medicine on the Israel medical team. We pulled people – live or dead – out of the rubble. Because we had arrived faster than nearly all other national rescue teams, our presence was critical to save lives. We treated over 1,100 victims – about a third of them children,” Sagi recalled. “Some of them were orphans and completely alone.”

First, the team treated many victims who had suffered trauma, including severe head and chest wounds.

“There were many open and closed fractures and amputation injuries and wounds that had become infected. It was so hard when I had to select the children for treatment. I went outside, in front of the hospital, to see who urgently needs to be helped first. We had to set the priorities.”

When Sky News reported on the predicament of one child named Clifford, Sagi rushed with his team to Port-au-Prince and took him to the Israeli field hospital they set up within a very short time. “He was only 18 months old, and we performed several operations on him. When he was better, we handed him over to the American team, and he was in good condition. I remember how proud we were and what prestige Israel got from our work. I still give lectures on our work in Haiti to Israelis and foreigners.”

Sagi he wanted to render assistance in the typhoonstruck the Philippines, but was not sent with the national team because he was needed as the top Southern Command physician. But even without him, the Israeli medical delegation earned high praise for their rescue and medical work among the unfortunate Filipino victims.

The Negev and Arava, with its sometimes-extreme weather – both hot and cold within hours – complicates Sagi’s work. “We have to deal with sudden flooding as well. I and my team have to make sure that soldiers are not active during severe heat and that they always have enough water so they don’t dehydrate.”

One of the vital units serving at the southern border is the Caracal battalion, a mixed battalion with male and female soldiers. Because there are substantial numbers of women, Sagi is considering the possibility that a gynecologist would visit on a regular basis to treat “women’s problems.”

As there are many Beduin living in the area – and Beduin soldiers – Sagi must be alert to their special medical needs as well. The physician is in contact with Magen David Adom and other rescue agencies. “Obviously, there are always limits on our financial resources, so we have to learn how to manage to meet the needs. We give medical help to anyone in the area who needs it. Later we can argue over who pays and how much. If someone is injured or wounded, it doesn’t matter if they are Israeli soldiers or civilians or Palestinians. We give the same treatment whoever they are.”

The medical commander is busy dealing not only with treatment but also with disease and accident prevention and health promotion. “We want soldiers and officers to think different,” he said. Nutrition, prevention and cessation of smoking and physical fitness are prime goals for Sagi. “As a pediatrician who previously treated sick children, nutrition was quite a new field for me. We are considering clinical dietitians to advise us on a better diet for more fitness and weight loss.”

As for smoking, he agrees that there is not much sense in allowing the sale of cigarettes at military kiosks at the same time as struggling to persuade soldiers to kick the smoking habit. Sagi said he will think about putting forward a proposal to bar the sale of cigarettes at these outlets, just as water pipes (nargilas) and all forms of alcohol are prohibited there.

Israeli Cities – Acre

Acre is one of the oldest continuously inhabited sites in the world. First settlement at the site of Ancient Acre appears to have been in the Early Bronze Age, or about 3000 BCE. In the Hebrew Bible, (Judges 1:31), Akko is one of the places from which the Israelites did not drive out the Canaanites. It is later described in the territory of the tribe of Asher and according to Josephus, was ruled by one of Solomon's provincial governors. Throughout Israelite rule, it was politically and culturally affiliated with Phoenicia. Around 725 BC, Akko joined Sidon and Tyre in a revolt against Shalmaneser V.

Greek historians refer to the city as Ake, meaning "cure." According to the Greek myth, Heracles found curative herbs here to heal his wounds.  Josephus calls it Akre. The name was changed to Antiochia Ptolemais (in Greek Αντιόχεια Πτολεμαίς) shortly after Alexander the Great's conquest, and then to Ptolemais, probably by Ptolemy Soter, after the partition of the kingdom of Alexander the Great.

Strabo refers to the city as once a rendezvous for the Persians in their expeditions against Egypt. About 165 BC Judas Maccabeus defeated the Seleucids in several battles in Galilee, and drove them into Ptolemais. About 153 BC Alexander Balas, son of Antiochus Epiphanes, contesting the Seleucid crown with Demetrius, seized the city, which opened its gates to him. Demetrius offered many bribes to the Maccabees to obtain Jewish support against his rival, including the revenues of Ptolemais for the benefit of the Temple in Jerusalem, but in vain. Jonathan Maccabaeus threw in his lot with Alexander, and in 150 BC he was received by him with great honour in Ptolemais. Some years later, however, Tryphon, an officer of the Seleucids, who had grown suspicious of the Maccabees, enticed Jonathan into Ptolemais and there treacherously took him prisoner.

The city was captured by Alexander Jannaeus, Cleopatra VII of Egypt and Tigranes II of Armenia. Here Herod built a gymnasium, and here the Jews met Petronius, sent to set up statues of the emperor in the Temple, and persuaded him to turn back. St Paul spent a day in Ptolemais (Acts 21:7). A Roman colonia was established at the city, Colonia Claudii Cæsaris. After the permanent division of the Roman Empire in 395 AD, Akko was administered by the Eastern (later Byzantine) Empire.

In recent history 1799 Napoleon, in pursuance of his scheme for raising a Syrian rebellion against Turkish domination, appeared before Acre, but after a siege of two months (March–May) was repulsed by the Turks, aided by Sir Sidney Smith and a force of British sailors. Having lost his siege cannons to Smith, Napoleon attempted to lay siege to the walled city defended by Ottoman troops on 20 March 1799, using only his infantry and small-calibre cannons, a strategy which failed, leading to his retreat two months later.

During the pogrom of 1929, Arabs, led by As'ad Shukeiri, demolished the ancient synagogue in Acre's old city. During the Arab revolt in 1936–1939, Acre's Arab residents were also very active against the British. Acre's fort was converted into a jail, where members of the Jewish underground were held during their struggle against the British, among them Zeev Jabotinski, Shlomo ben Yossef, and Dov Grunner. Grunner and ben Yossef were executed there. Other Jewish inmates were freed by members of the Irgun, who broke into the jail on 4 May 1947 and succeeded in releasing Jewish underground movement activists. Over 200 Arab inmates also escaped.

During the 1948 War, Acre was besieged by Israeli forces. Acre was captured by Israel on 17 May 1948.

The population of Acre is now about 50,000. Acre's population is mixed with Jews and Arabs. Most Arabs are Muslims and Christians, with small minorities of Druze and Baha'i. Jews are 67.1% of the city's population, Muslim Arabs are 25.3% of the city's population, Christian Arabs are 2.4% of the city's population and other citizens make up 5.2% of the city's population.

 Israeli Kibbutzim – Degania

Degania Alef is a kibbutz in northern Israel. It falls under the jurisdiction of the Emek HaYarden Regional Council. Degania was Israel's first kibbutz. It was established 104 years ago in 1909.

Degania Alef was the first kibbutz established by Jewish Zionist pioneers in Palestine, then under Ottoman rule. It was founded by a group of ten men and two women. Degania Bet was established to the south in 1920. On May 20, 1948 during the Battles of the Kinarot Valley, Degania Alef and Degania Bet repelled a Syrian attack.

The poet Rachel, the "prophet of labor" A.D. Gordon, and Joseph Trumpeldor all worked at Degania Alef. Gideon Baratz was the first child born on the kibbutz and Moshe Dayan was the second. Dayan was named after Moshe Barsky, the first kibbutz member killed in an Arab attack. Barsky was killed in November, 1913. He was alone in the kibbutz fields when he was shot in the back and left for dead by Arab marauders.

Both Deganias lie along the southern shores of the Sea of Galilee. During the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, the kibbutz was completely destroyed by the Syrian army. The kibbutz members resisted, however, and launched a counter-attack against the Syrian army. Reconstruction started almost immediately. The name is derived from "dagan," meaning "grain."

In 2007, Degania Alef moved to undergo privatization.  Instead of assigned jobs and equal pay under the former communal economy, the reorganization requires members to find employment, live on their income, and allows them to own their homes, but still offer a form of a social "safety net" supplement for members whose livelihood is inadequate to meet their expenses

Israel, Jordan and Palestine Agreement

Israel, Jordan and Palestine have signed an agreement on an ambitious and contested project to replenish the rapidly shrinking Dead Sea by transferring in water from the Red Sea along a 170 KM  pipeline.

Israel's energy and infrastructure minister, Silvan Shalom, said it was "a historic agreement that realises a dream of many years and is of the highest diplomatic, economic, environmental and strategic importance." He and the Palestinian and Jordanian water ministers, Shaddad Attili and Hazem al-Nasser, attended a signing ceremony at the headquarters of the World Bank in Washington.

The proposed pipeline will help to slow the drying up of the Dead Sea, which is famous for its high levels of salt and other minerals that allow bathers to float on its surface. Desalinated water from the Red Sea will also be supplied to the cities of Eilat in Israel and Aqaba in Jordan for human consumption.

But analysts said the deal would create a vastly scaled-back version of a grandiose project that had been under consideration for almost 20 years. They said it would provide about a 10th of the volume of water needed to stabilise the Dead Sea, while threatening its unique characteristics, and would not alleviate severe water shortages in the area.

Under the agreement, 200 million cubic metres of water will be pumped from the Red Sea a year. Half will be desalinated at a new plant in Aqaba, at the northern tip of the Red Sea, and the rest will be piped to the Dead Sea to help replenish its waters, which are shrinking by a metre each year.

Construction of the pipeline, which will be laid on Jordanian territory, is likely to take up to five years and cost up to £400m. Israel will sell water from the Sea of Galilee to Jordan and desalinated water to the Palestinians.

The Dead Sea lies more than 400 metres below sea level. It is a magnet for tourists who go to float in its mineral-rich waters and smother themselves with the dense black mud that forms its bed.

Its eastern shore is in Jordan and its western sides under Israeli control, although about two-thirds lie in Palestinian territory in the West Bank. Water levels have been declining for about 40 years, the lake's surface area has shrunk by 30% in the past two decades and thousands of sinkholes have appeared on its shore. The main cause of the decline is the appropriation of more than 90% of water from the river Jordan to the north for agricultural and domestic use by Israel, Syria and Jordan. The commercial and industrial extraction of vital minerals from the sea itself has also played a part.

The idea of pumping water from the one sea to the other – a project known as the Red-Dead Conduit, or Two Seas Canal – has been criticised by environmentalists who argue that the introduction of Red Sea water containing living organisms could have a catastrophic effect on the unique characteristics of the Dead Sea.

Experiments to mix water from the two seas have produced disturbing changes to its biological and chemical composition, with the growth of algae and colour changes caused by blooming bacteria.

Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME) has criticised the Red-Dead project as playing with nature and failing to address the root causes of the decline of the Dead Sea.

The project would supply less than 100m of the 800m cubic metres of water needed each year to stabilise the Dead Sea at current levels. "This is a way of saving face rather than saving the Dead Sea," said Gidon Bromberg, of FoEME.

Israel assists Syrian Civilians

Israel assists Syrian civilians near the Israeli border who have been trapped by the civil war, said Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, during a tour of the Golan Heights.

“We’ve transferred water and food – including baby food. The villages here are locked in, have no access to anywhere else,” Ya’alon said. Israelis are feeding Syrian refugees in Jordan, but in secret.

“We’re supplying humanitarian help to residents over the border here, and are evacuating them to our hospitals. We don’t see the situation stabilizing in the near future,” Ya’alon said.

During his tour, Ya’alon was accompanied by Northern Command chief Maj.-Gen. Yair Golan and other senior officers, and received a security briefing.

“We’re seeing daily fighting by opposition elements against the Syrian army, with the opposition pushing the Syrian army eastwards and we’re monitoring developments in the rest of the Syrian territory where there is daily fighting.

The world is focusing on the disbandment of chemical weapons, but there are hundreds of casualties per week in this fighting,” the defense minister said.

He praised the IDF’s Northern Command and the Golan Division for its work to secure the border, saying that Israel won’t allow a violation of its sovereignty on the Golan Heights, and won’t accept attacks by various elements in Syria against it.

Addressing the situation in the Gaza Strip, Ya’alon said that Hamas is the sovereign ruler of the enclave, which he called “Hamastan.”

Hamas could have “decided to grow and export strawberries and not produce and export rockets and missiles. If it wasn’t for this situation, we would not prevent the entry of pipes used to manufacture missiles, and would not prevent the entry of concrete, recently used to dig and build attack tunnels.”

He added, “There is no siege. We’re the only party that cares about the residents of Gaza apparently, as Egypt blocked the border, and the PA isn’t interested – it has other considerations.”

Israel is the only party that supplies Gaza with most of its electricity and water needs, and allows in goods daily through the Kerem Hashalom crossing, with the exception of concrete and dual-use products that can be used to manufacture rockets and missiles, he said.

USA Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions.

The 5,000-member American Studies Association (ASA), which describes itself as “the nation’s oldest and largest association devoted to the interdisciplinary study of American culture and history,” announced that it had endorsed and would participate in a boycott of Israeli universities and academic institutions.

It is the second educational group in the US to adopt the boycott. The Association for Asian American Studies did so in April. Another academic group, the American Association of University Professors, recently reiterated its opposition.

In all, 1,252 members of the ASA participated in the vote on whether or not to endorse the boycott. Approximately 66 percent voted yes, 30% voted no and 3% abstained.

 “During the open discussion at the recent convention, members asked us to draft a resolution that was relevant to the ASA in particular and so the Council’s final resolution acknowledged that the US plays a significant role in enabling the Israeli occupation of Palestine.”

The final resolution, which applies to the ASA as an organization, is not binding on its members. It also targets institutions, not individuals.

In Monday’s announcement, the ASA said it would still invite Israeli and Palestinian academics to its 2014 national meeting in Los Angeles.

Jewish groups in the US reacted strongly and immediately to the announcement.

The boycott was a “shameful, morally bankrupt and intellectually dishonest attack on academic freedom,” said Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), in a statement.

Targeting Israeli institutions solely because they are in Israel – the only democratic country in the Middle East, where scholarship and debate are encouraged and flourish – is based on a myopic and fundamentally distorted perspective of Israel and the conflict and is manifestly unjust,” Foxman went on. “We commend those members of the ASA who boldly spoke out and voted against this shameful resolution.”

Ronald S. Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, had similar words for the ASA, saying that it was actions like this that caused “many Americans [to] dismiss the academy as deeply biased and disconnected with reality.”

On the other side of the spectrum, the California-based Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) issued a statement supporting the boycott, saying it represented a “significant milestone in the growth of the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement in the United States.”

With its endorsement, the members of the ASA have voted to hold Israeli institutions accountable for their participation in human rights violations, bringing into sharp focus Israeli policies that severely limit the academic freedom of Palestinians within the occupied Palestinian territory and inside Israel,” JVP said.

The group Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) also gave its “unqualified endorsement” of the boycott, saying the resolution would “move us one small step closer to a world of democracy, freedom, and justice.”

Greek Orthodox Priest's Son Attacked

Greek Orthodox Priest Nadaf said that he has been suffering from incitement for a year and- a-half now, since he called in 2012 for Christians to enter the army.

“I thank God that a disaster did not occur,” he said.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addressed the attack on Nadaf’s son at a cabinet meeting, saying that Israel will not tolerate threats of physical attacks against Christians, Muslims and Druse who “want to link their fate even more to the State of Israel and want to serve in the IDF.”

“We will protect them,” he said.

In August, Netanyahu met Father Nadaf and said he saluted him for his work to integrate Arab Christians into Israel’s mainstream and for his leadership in the forum for the enlistment of Christian youth into the IDF.

“The Christian youth must be allowed to go into the IDF,” he said at the time.

In August the Prime Minister’s Office said there was a significant increase in the number of Christian enlistees in the IDF – from 35 a year ago to approximately 100 this year, with another 500 young people from the community doing national civilian service.

“My wife is closed up in the house and my second son refuses to leave the house,” said the priest.

Nadaf explained that Arab MKs are confusing the aggressor with the victim and are trying to turn his son into the bad guy.

Father Nadaf specifically pointed out Hadash MK Muhammad Barakei and Balad MK Basel Ghattas for inciting against him.

He has filed several lawsuits against Arab politicians and journalists for slander and is pushing for the Knesset ethics committee to investigate and remove Ghattas and other Arab MKs for incitement.

If Ghattas gets away with this and goes back to inciting against me, “it won’t end well,” warned Nadaf.

Ghattas, a Christian Arab himself, “doesn’t do anything for the Christians.

He entered the Knesset by luck and he attacks me a lot,” he said.

The Arab MKs only work to support the people who voted for them and not everyone else, said Nadaf.

“My son who will enlist soon in a combat unit in the army – people curse him, and I always tell him to ignore them,” he said.

Asked if he is a supporter of Bishara Shlayan, who is creating a new pro- Israel Arab Christian party, he responded that he is not a political person, but he will do everything to help Christians in all places.

In addition, he is receiving lots of contact from Christians in America and elsewhere in the world who have shown their support.

Asked if the future of Nazareth as a Christian city is at risk, he said that numbers do not matter.

“A Christian who doesn’t believe in coexistence – he doesn’t go the way of Christianity,” he concluded

Hasmonean Archaeological Discovery


Despite over 100 years of exhaustive excavations throughout Jerusalem’s City of David, archeologists have been unable to find a single significant structure from the Hasmonean period, until now.

Following months of delicate probing and analysis, the Antiquities Authority announced an unprecedented finding – a 4- meter-high building from the second century BCE, covering some 64 square meters, with dozens of ancient coins still lying on its floors.

The structure, enclosed by walls made of roughly hewn limestone blocks more than a meter thick, was found earlier this year in the Givati parking lot, located by the walls surrounding the City of David National Park.

“More than 100 years of archeological excavation has failed to find the buildings of the Hasmonean period,” Dr. Doron Ben-Ami, one of the excavation’s directors, said on Tuesday. “We have not had good evidence of Hasmonean buildings, until now.”

The Hasmonean dynasty, descendants of the Maccabee family, ruled Judea and surrounding areas from 141-37 BCE, during classical antiquity.

In 37 BCE the Hasmoneans fell to Herod the Great, of Edomite descent, and the Herodian dynasty began.

Although numerous pottery vessels were discovered inside the building, Ben-Ami said it was the discovery of more than 40 silver and bronze coins found on the floor that surprised him most.

“These indicated the structure was erected in the early 2nd century BCE and continued into the Hasmonean period, during which time significant changes were made inside it,” he said.

Ben-Ami said the coins are presently in the Antiquities Authority laboratory, where they continue to be cleaned, and will not be displayed for another year.

“The silver coins are easier to clean than the bronze ones, which take a tremendous amount of time to uncover the small details,” he said.

While descriptions of the Hasmonean city were vividly articulated in the works of Flavius Josephus, Ben- Ami said that apart from remains of the city’s fortifications discovered in different parts of Jerusalem, none of the Hasmonean city’s buildings had been uncovered.

Calling the finding unprecedented, the archeologist said the structure bridges the gap in Jerusalem’s settlement sequence by adding “tangible expression.”

“We are filling a gap in the sequence of periods in Jerusalem’s history,” he said. “We know it is well documented in different texts that it flourished in the 2nd century BCE, but there has been almost nothing found there until now.”

Noting that the building’s structure precluded it from being residential, Ben-Ami said although only a small portion has been excavated, it was likely a public space.

“The way it was built was not suitable for living, so our guess is that it was an administrative building,” he said. “As we uncover more we hope to learn more about the nature of the building.”

Battleships to Guard Natural Gas Installations.


Germany has agreed to sell Israel two destroyers in exchange for one billion Euros. According to the report, the torpedo-laden destroyers are intended to provide protection for Israel's natural gas installations.

Bild reported that the head of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's National Security Council, Yossi Cohen, visited Berlin last week.

A German government spokeswoman confirmed Cohen's visit, but declined to comment on the nature of his business in Berlin, according to AFP.

Israeli Navy captain Ilan Lavi said in April that the new offshore gas resource offers Israel's enemies an obvious target that would require extra spending to protect.

"We have to build an entire new defensive envelope," said Lavi, head of the navy's planning department.

A senior naval commander, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that simply to patrol the area Israel needed four new ships and that it had already been in touch with eight or nine foreign firms.

The discovery of large natural gas deposits in its offshore economic zone in 2009 came as a welcome surprise to Israel, transforming the energy security outlook of a country that used to rely heavily on imports. A burst of exploration followed, and by the end of 2013 18 new wells are expected to be drilled at a cost of $1.8 billion.

Israel estimates there are about 950 billion cubic meters of gas beneath its waters, enough to leave plenty for exports. A successful attack could threaten export revenues and harm domestic energy supply.

Cigarette Vending Machines Banned

Starting January 1, the sale of cigarettes from indoor and outdoor vending machines will be outlawed throughout the country. The Health Ministry is working towards enforcing the law, which was originally passed in August 2011 but whose implementation was postponed until the beginning of 2014 because the vending companies said they “needed time to adjust.”

By prohibiting the sale of cigarettes to adults and to minors – who by law are not allowed to purchase cigarettes – the ministry thus carries out its obligation regarding vending machines to the World Health Organization, whose Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) it approved and then ratified.

The FCTC is the first treaty negotiated under the auspices of the WHO and aims to protect present and future generations from the devastating health, social, environmental and economic consequences of tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke by providing a framework for tobacco control measures.

Those who sign and ratify the FCTC are supposed to implement its guidelines at national, regional and international levels.

Israel ratified it in August 2005, becoming the 77th country to do so. By March 2012, 174 countries had ratified it. Due to the strong tobacco lobby in the US, that country has not yet approved the FCTC.

But Israel and the ministry have not implemented all the FCTC’s provisions, including a regulation that would require all cigarette packages to be sold in plain packages with graphic images of dirty, nicotine-stained teeth or decayed lungs, for example, which would deter young people from smoking.

Even existing laws are not enforced properly in Israel, including the ban on selling single cigarettes so that children cannot get them cheaply and the failure to prevent smoking at covered bus stops and at light rail stations in Jerusalem.

The vending machine owners appealed to the High Court of Justice against the law, but the court rejected their arguments and insisted that the law banning cigarette vending machines was very important for public health and for reducing the accessibility of children and teens to the deadly habit of smoking. The ministry has asked the Council of Local Authorities and the municipalities, as well as the Israel Police, to ensure that the vending machines disappear by January 1. Theoretically, the automated devices could be retrofitted to sell things like bottles of water or bags of fruit or vegetables, for example.

To help with enforcement, members of the general public are asked to report on the presence of any vending machines selling cigarettes by calling the ministry’s Voice of Health number at *5400 or writing to