News Highlights November 2013
1. The Second 100 Years.
2. The Israelis.
and Palestine Agreement.
6. Israel assists Syrian Civilians.
Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions.
8. Greek Orthodox Priest's Son Attacked.
Hasmonean Archaeological Discovery.
10. Battleships to
Guard Natural Gas Installations.
11. Cigarette Vending Machines Banned.
Second 100 years
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
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
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
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.