Sunday, July 10, 2016

  • Sunday, July 10, 2016
From Ian:

UNESCO again tries to deny Jewish connection to Temple Mount
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is again entertaining efforts to deny any Jewish connection to the Temple Mount.
The motion, which was filed by Jordan and the Palestinian Authority, repeats previous attempts to declare the entire complex as a holy Muslim site and leaves out any relationship to Judaism, even regarding the Kotel.
It would require Israel to restore the site to its "historic status quo," presumably meaning that Jews would be banned from visiting, as was the situation under the Jordanian occupation from 1948 to 1967.
The document casts Israel in a negative light whenever possible, referring to it as an "occupying force" that allegedly violates the Geneva and Hague Conventions. The drafters claim that Israel severely damages the historic buildings, gates, windows and ceramics, and that it prevents Jordanian repair efforts.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry is working to convince countries to vote against the motion. "The document that was presented to UNESCO is an another malicious and dishonest attempt to harm Israel’s affinity with its capital," an official statement read. "This is a tendentious text and we hope that it is does not receive support from the member states. Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the nation of Israel and of Israel’s alone."
Israel's ambassador to UNESCO, Carmel Shama Hacohen, says: "Anyone who thought that after the criticism voiced by Israeli and international Jewry against this decision and the recanting of the heads of state and foreign ministers around the world following the last decision that Palestinians would come to their senses need to come to their senses and internalize this complicated reality.

PMW: Al-Aqsa preacher: US responsible for terror in Muslim world
In a Friday talk at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Sheikh Al-Abu Ahmad blamed America for all acts of terror in Muslim countries targeting Muslims. Sheikh Al-Abu Ahmad posts his videos on a YouTube channel called Aqsa Calls.
Palestinian Media Watch has documented that the Palestinian Authority has repeatedly said that the US and Israel are behind the civil wars and killings in the Muslim and Arab world today.
The following is an excerpt of the Sheikh's talk, delivered at the Al-Aqsa Mosque on July 8, 2016:
Sheikh Al-Abu Ahmad, preacher at the Al-Aqsa Mosque: "America's crimes in Muslim countries are known to all. Any action carried out, any explosion and any operation in which a Muslim is killed in Muslim countries, America stands behind it, together with the infidel West that hates Islam and Muslims. It doesn't matter who takes responsibility for the crime and who announces it. We will never believe it. We will never believe it. We will never believe it because America is the one that blows up Muslims and it is the one that kills Muslims." [YouTube Channel Aqsa Calls, July 8, 2016]

IsraellyCool: Kay Wilson’s Story Makes Headlines At Huge Personal Cost
A few days ago Palestine Media Watch published a video with a mother complaining about the conditions in Israeli prison for her son. Specifically she is the mother of the murderer of Kristine Luken and the attempted murder of Israellycool friend and contributor Kay Wilson. PMW’s report has been picked up by two major new outlets. Also note, Reuters, AP and AFP did not pick this up.
Here’s the Daily Mail’s headline:
Palestinian man who stabbed two female hikers in 2010 attack is praised as an ‘heroic prisoner’ on television
And this is how the Fox News website put it:
Terrorist who slaughtered American hiker lauded on Palestinian TV
This kind of press doesn’t happen without a huge effort and Kay herself takes part in that. Don’t imagine for one minute that it is easy to keep reliving these events. Kay Wilson is a very rare and special person. She didn’t just survive, she has worked hard to move beyond victimhood and find a positive way of dealing with her experience.
Also note how the paid foreign media in Israel refuses to cover this story even when it is handed to them on a plate. They don’t even have to monitor the hate TV of their dear Palestinian Authority “moderates”, PMW or MEMRI do that for them. They don’t have to translate anything, they barely have to glance at their iPhones as stories arrive by email while they sip their “affuch” coffees in smart hotel bars.
They minimise or bury negative stories about the heinously sick Palestinian society for fear of, for fear of what? I don’t really know? Why are they protecting these sick people from scrutiny?
DaphneAnson: Pieces of Hate: "The Palestinian cause is ... for the exploited & oppressed masses in our era"
In London last week, a mob of abusive Palestine Solidarity Campaign activists taunt an unexpected showing of pro-Israelis, standing in dignified fashion in silent counter-protest while the PSCniks raise fists in the air, rasp familiar chants, sound a silly shrill trill, and even indulge in a taunting improvised rhyme that includes da Joo word.
Israel 'Lions of Judah' facing down abusive PSC activists.

Egypt FM arrives, places Cairo - not France - at center of Mideast diplomatic efforts
Egypt placed itself firmly in the middle of the diplomatic process between Israel and the Palestinians on Sunday, when Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry arrived in Jerusalem and said before meeting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the Egyptian leadership is “serious” in its determination to “provide all possible forms of support” toward reaching the goal of a two-state solution.
“My visit to Israel comes today at a crucial and challenging juncture for the Middle East,” he said, adding that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has “raged on for more than half a century claiming thousands of victims, and crushing the hopes and aspirations of millions of Palestinians to establish their independent state based on the 1967 border [sic.], with east Jerusalem of its capital; as well as the aspirations of Israelis to live in peace in security and stability.”
Shoukry was met warmly by Netanyahu at the entrance to his office, and then delivered a brief statement at a podium set up in front of a bank of Israeli and Egyptian flags. This was the first visit to Israel of an Egyptian foreign minister in nine years.
Shoukry, speaking in English, said that the situation in the Middle East is becoming more “volatile and dangerous,” and said that the threat of terrorism continues to grow and plagues everyone. “No person, group or people are exempt,” he said.
The Egyptian foreign minister said his visit was a “continuation of Egypt's long-standing sense of responsibility toward peace for itself, and for all the peoples of the region, “particularly the Palestinians and Israelis who have suffered for generations due to the conflict between them.” He said his visit comes, as did a visit two weeks ago to Ramallah, within the context of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's call in May for a comprehensive agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.
“Such a monumental achievement will have a far reaching and dramatic and positive impact on the overall situation in the mideast regional,” he said Shoukry said that the goal is to achieve a two-state solution through negotiations between the parties that will reach an agreement based on “justice, legitimate rights and a mutual willingness to coexist peacefully in two independent sets, in peace and security.”
Belgian Jewish paper demands EU action on Abbas ‘blood libel’
A Belgian Jewish newspaper urged European leaders to condemn a false statement by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, whose June 23 speech in Brussels about rabbis seeking to poison water wells sparked outrage in Israel.
The Joods Actueel monthly on Monday published an open letter on the matter by its editor-in-chief, Michael Freilich, to German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
In his speech before the European Parliament, Abbas said: “Just a week ago, some rabbis rose up in Israel and explicitly announced and demanded of their government that it poison the water in order to kill the Palestinians.”
Abbas’s office later apologized for the reference to wells, which a probe by Israeli media showed was false. The anger was in part over the fact that the theme of poisoning wells was frequent motif in medieval blood libels against Jews, which often led to deadly pogroms. Freilich also branded Abbas’ speech a “blood libel.”
Israelis trust the IDF, are skeptical of politicians — survey
The Israel Defense Forces remains the most trusted institution in the country, earning the confidence of 82 percent of respondents in a Central Bureau of Statistics annual survey published Sunday.
Local municipalities came in second, with an average confidence rating of 61% percent, followed by the state comptroller with 60%.
At the bottom of the list are political parties, which are trusted by a mere 22% of the public. Second to last is the Knesset at 38%, just below the cabinet with 40%.
While trust in the IDF was ranked the highest overall, the proportion of reported trust in the army was nearly three times higher among Israeli Jews than their Arab counterparts: 93% to 32%, respectively.
Israelis from all segments of society appeared to share a distrust of political parties.
A total of 22% of respondents — 24% of Jewish and 15% of Arab respondents — said they have confidence in Israel’s political parities, respondents.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Livni: Brexit Shows Danger Of Letting The Little People Vote (satire)
Hatnua Party leader and ranking member of the Zionist Union faction MK Tzipi Livni offered her insights today on the outcome of the British referendum on continued membership in the European Union, saying that the episode offers lessons for Israel, specifically that the common people cannot be trusted to make decisions better left to the political, social, and economic elite.
In an interview at her Knesset office, Livni invoked her experience as Attorney General, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and years of experience in Israeli politics to lend authority to her stance that the Brexit result should serve as a warning to Israel’s political leadership not to allow democratic values to get in the way of pursuing what a relatively wealthy minority of the electorate deems the country’s best interests.
“The future of this country must be decided by people who have the knowledge and experience to make such fateful determinations as the disposition of Jewish communities beyond the Green Line,” she asserted, giving an example of the decision-making that must not be left to anyone who did not attend certain schools. “If your party cannot attract more than the minimum number of votes in a mock-election held at the Bleich High School in Ramat Gan, you don’t belong in a position of national leadership.”
“One of the most important lessons from the Brexit vote for us in Israel is how quickly we must adjust our electoral paradigm to account for this reality,” she continued. “Last year’s national election here was a painful reminder that people who don’t think like a North Tel Aviv social activist can still vote. Fortunately the direct political implications of such a vote don’t last more than four years at a time, at most, but can you imagine if the unwashed masses are allowed to vote on more fateful questions such as relinquishing territory to a future Palestinian state? The political left would never be able to realize its dream.”
Watch: March of defiance from site of deadly terror shooting
Some one thousand Israelis marched in defiance Sunday, at a protest rally from the site of the deadly drive-by shooting which claimed the life of Rabbi Michael Mark 10 days ago, to his hometown of Otniel in Har Hevron.
The demonstrators called on the government to act decisively to end the ongoing wave of Arab terrorism which has seen dozens of Israelis murdered and hundreds wounded over the past nine months.
The march began at Adorayim Junction, where Arab terrorists overtook four members of the Mark family traveling in a car and opened fire, spraying 20 bullets into the vehicle, killing father Michael, seriously wounding mother Chava and injuring two of their children.
Attending the march were several of Mark's children, as well as relatives of 13-year-old Hallel-Yaffa Ariel, who was murdered in her sleep after an Arab terrorist broke into her house in the nearby town of Kiryat Arba.
Also attending were several community leaders and rabbis.
Shooting attack near Tekoa, one civilian wounded
A Palestinian gunman shot and wounded an Israeli man in the lower leg as he drove in the Gush Etzion region of the West Bank on Saturday at around 11 p.m. The gunman is thought to have executed the attack while driving in a passing car, before escaping south.
It’s the second shooting attack in the West Bank this month. On Friday, July 1, Palestinian gunmen shot and killed Rabbi Michael “Miki” Mark as he drove on Route 60 in the South Hebron Hills.
“The roads have become red with blood. We cannot let this continue. The prime minister and the defense minster have to understand that the reality has changed. We have gone from knife attacks to shooting on the roads,” said Gush Etzion Regional Council head Davidi Perl.
“We have to stop this immediately,” he said.
The victim, a man aged at around 30-years old, was treated at the scene by Magen David Adom paramedics. The injury was not thought to be life threatening and he has been evacuated to Shaare Tzedek Medical Center in Jerusalem.
Shooting victim: By a ‘miracle,’ terrorist didn’t fire right away
The Israeli man injured in a West Bank shooting attack on Saturday night said the terrorist did not fire at his car until he had driven past, in what he described as a “miracle.”
Eitan Finkel, who was shot in the leg and lightly to moderately injured, told reporters at Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center on Sunday that he was driving home to the southern city of Netivot from the settlement of Metzad with his wife and six children when they spotted the gunman.
“When we arrived at the T junction, just two meters away, my wife and I saw a terrorist in front of us with a gun… directed at us. We waited for a boom. My wife screamed and I screamed.”
“Why he didn’t shoot, I don’t know,” he added.
Finkel described how he turned right at the junction and then “I heard shots. The windshield cracked, I saw that I was still alive, thank God, and I flew. I stepped on the gas.”
After driving for some five minutes, the Finkels saw an army jeep parked on the side of the road and stopped for help.
Liberman seeks to revoke residency of Palestinian stabber’s wife
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Sunday asked Interior Minister Aryeh Deri to revoke the Israeli residency of the widow of a Palestinian man who carried out a stabbing attack last month.
Wael Abu Saleh, 40, from the West Bank city of Tulkarem, stabbed two Israelis in the coastal city of Netanya on June 30 before he was shot dead by a civilian guard.
His wife, Hadera al-Saudi, also from Tulkarem, holds Israeli residency from her first marriage in 1995. As a result of her earlier marriage, she was allowed to reside in the Israeli town of Taibe. She divorced her first husband in 2013 and married Abu Saleh in 2016.
Under Israeli law, West Bank Palestinians who have family members in Israel can apply for residency status, in a process known as family reunification.
Police arrest three Palestinian teens for highway firebombings
Following a two-week investigation into a series of firebomb attacks on vehicles traveling on Highway 1, between Jerusalem and Ma’ale Adumim, three teenaged suspects from the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Isawiya were arrested, police said on Sunday.
According to Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, the suspects, between the ages of 16 and 17, planned and executed several attacks against Jewish cars traversing the highway at night.
“The three suspects were arrested over the weekend for incidents that took place over the last couple weeks,” he said. “Police tracked the individuals after a number of attacks on the highway, as well as in Isawiya.”
Rosenfeld said no one was wounded by any of the firebombs.
Prosecutors seek mental examination of Rasmea Odeh
Rasmea Odeh is the Palestinian terrorist group member convicted of the 1969 supermarket bombing in Jerusalem that killed two Hebrew University students, Edward Joffe and Leon Kanner. She was released in a prisoner exchange in 1979 for an Israeli soldier captured in Lebanon.
I visited the graves of Edward and Leon, and met their siblings, during my trip to Israel in 2015, Rasmea Odeh’s victims – then and now.
Rasmea eventually made her way to the U.S., where she lied on both her visa and naturalization applications, by falsely stating that she never was convicted of a crime or served time in prison. She told other lies as well, such as not disclosing the time she spent in Lebanon after release from Israeli prison, or that she was a military member of the terrorist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
Rasmea became a U.S. citizen in 2004 on the basis of those lies.
Report: Hamas Distributes Turkish Sweets to Loyalists Instead of Hungry Children
Israel has allowed tens of tons to humanitarian aid into Gaza for Eid al Fitr festival, as per the provisions of its normalization pact with Turkey, signed last week.
Forty-two truckloads of Turkish provisions have entered the Strip out of 11,000 tons delivered aboard a Turkish cargo ship to Israel’s Ashdod port.
The first Turkish shipment into Gaza included sweets for the holiday marking the end of Ramadan, but according to the Palestinian newspaper Alhayat Aljadida they were distributed to Hamas loyalists rather than to the Strip’s children and poor.
The West Bank-based newspaper said that “the Turkish chocolate was given by Hamas to thousands of their loyalists,” and quoted sources in the Palestinian Red Crescent that claimed that the aid organization was prevented from taking part in the distribution.
“Hamas, in coordination with the Turks, oversaw the reception and distribution of the provisions,” the source said.
A charity director in Gaza said that “in distributing the aid, Hamas gave precedence to its own people. It’s true that there are some poor people among them, but the sectarianism of the whole endeavor testifies to the great divisions within the Palestinian society.”
Islamic Jihad fighter killed in Gaza tunnel collapse
One person was killed as a tunnel being dug in the Gaza Strip collapsed Sunday morning, according to Palestinian reports.
Hamas’s al Aqsa TV station confirmed one man had died when a tunnel collapsed in the northern Gaza Strip.
He was named as 28-year-old Ibrahim Hussein al-Masri.
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group said on its website that Masri was a member of the al-Quds Brigades, the group’s armed wing.
The collapsed tunnel was the 13th reported incident of its kind since the beginning of the year. (h/t Yenta Press)
Egypt Newspaper: Qatar, Muslim Brotherhood In Conspiracy To Destroy Egyptian Soccer
As Qatar gears up to host the World Cup 2022, the Egyptian Al-Watan daily has accused the Gulf country of hatching a “wicked plot” together with the Muslim Brotherhood to destroy Egypt’s soccer teams.
One of the ways it will do so is by stealing Egypt’s best players to add to its own national team, the newspaper said, noting that the Qatari team is “filled with naturalized foreigners.”
“The operations carried out by Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood against Egypt have not, and will never, cease,” the article, translated by the Middle East Media Research (MEMRI), read, adding that the Qataris “do the thinking, the plotting, and the funding, while the traitors in the banned organization,” the Muslim Brotherhood, execute the Qataris’ will.
The report claimed that the Qatari-Brotherhood axis is responsible for many plots against Egypt and this time “has turned to the field of sports, in a grand joint conspiracy whose aim is to destroy the important and vital field” of Egyptian soccer.
Al-Watan claimed to have obtained documents and information pertaining to a “wicked plot to smuggle a large group of talented young players” from Egypt to Qatar. The players would be naturalized Qatari citizens so that by the time it hosts the World Cup, the Egyptian players would be part of Qatar’s national team.
Egyptian Politician Faces Backlash For Call To Remove Pro-Jihad Verses from Curriculum
Egypt’s former Culture Minister Jaber Asfur faced backlash after he demanded that the government remove pro-Jihad verses from the state curriculum.
“These verses are used as a pretext by terrorist organizations and as a mechanism to recruit young Egyptians,” he said.
“Our education should be based on tolerance, moderation, and open-mindedness, in the spirit of our time,” he added, praising the Moroccan government that recently published new editions of textbooks.
“The verses about jihad should be replaced by verses about compassion and forgiveness,” he said.
Asfur’s statement was hotly condemned by several clerics, including Abdullah Najar of the Institute for Islamic Studies, who said, “Asfur is like a sick man who goes to the doctor, who says that the most effective way to get well is to kill himself.”
MEMRI: ISIS Takes Responsibility For Downing Russian Attack Helicopter East Of Palmyra
On July 8, 2016, the Islamic State's (ISIS) Homs province published an official communiqué announcing that organization members managed to down a Russian attack helicopter east of Tadmur (Palmyra) and kill its crewmembers. According to the communiqué, the incident occurred at a time that ISIS fighters were conducting an attack in the region and took over three Syrian army checkpoints. It should be mentioned that on July 9, the website of the Russian RT (Russia Today) television network published a Russian Defense Ministry announcement confirming that a Russian MI-25 helicopter was downed in the Tadmur region and its two pilots were killed. The announcement disclosed that the helicopter pilots were summoned to provide air support to Syrian Army forces blocking the attack of terrorists (ISIS) in the region, and the helicopter was downed after it began withdrawing from the region, having exhausted its ammunition. The RT report also divulged that Russian Defense Ministry sources claim that the helicopter was downed by an American-made TOW missile.
The ISIS Homs district communiqué which was distributed on the Telegram Al-Khilafa channel and elsewhere wrote as follows: "Thanks to Allah alone, the caliphate soldiers mounted an attack with heavy weaponry on the Nusairi regime positions (Syrian Army) East of the Palmyra monasteries. The mujahideen managed to take control of three checkpoints of the apostates after which one of the martyrs [suicide bombers] advanced in a BMP armored car bomb and detonated himself amongst the concentration of Army soldiers and Shiite militia auxiliaries. He managed to cause them dozens of dead and wounded. At the same time caliphate soldiers shot down a Russian attack helicopter when it attempted to attack their positions and caused the death of its crewmembers, Allah be praised and thanked."
ISIS likewise released a video via its news agency A'maq documenting the incident. The video shows an Mi24 'Hind' attack chopper at low altitude shooting several rockets before being hit by a missile on the tail rotor. The helicopter enters an incontrollable spin and crashes in a fire ball. A second helicopter is seen flying next to the one that crashed.
Must Jews literally be likened to Satan for UK media to note Palestinian antisemitism? Oh wait…
PMW explained that presenting Jews as agents of Satan who bring evil into the world is “a part of the PA’s religious ideology”, and noted that Abbas’ advisor on Islam recently stressed that PA ideology views the conflict with Israel as “a conflict with Satan“. Further, a poem teaching that “Zion, is Satan with a tail” has been recited by Palestinian children six times in recent years on official PA TV, most recently in 2015.
A couple of weeks ago, we also noted that the British media similarly ignored a speech by Abbas evoking medieval antisemitic tropes by accusing Israeli rabbis of calling for their government to murder Palestinians by “poisoning the wells”.
The British media’s failure to report such regressive, racist attitudes within Palestinian society contrasts sharply with their tendency to contextualize every conceivable Israeli imperfection as a sign the nation is descending into the “far-right” political abyss – representing an egregious double standard which continues to profoundly distort British news consumers’ understanding of the conflict.
PalFest Of Hate Emboldens Hamas
Irish playwright and actor Donal O’Kelly writes in the Irish Times “Why we need to remember the Gaza dead.” In the opinion piece he may try to give the impression that he cares about Palestinians, but by leaving out the facts he reveals that, in reality, he is simply anti-Israel.
Writing about Israel’s 2014 war with Hamas, he makes no mention of the terror organization at all, and complains that “it was presented on most of the media as a conflict between two sides.” In his mind, or at least the way that he portrays it, there is no Hamas, and Israel kills innocent Palestinians for no reason. Irish Artists in Support of Palestine was started then to counter that and “resist with image,” because “This would be done again unless we acted.”
O’Kelly promotes the ‘PalFest Ireland’ arts festival which is held to demonstrate solidarity with the Palestinians, and mentions that last year it hosted Dr. Mads Gilbert, a Norwegian surgeon of Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza. HonestReporting and others have previously exposed Gilbert as a radical anti-Israel propagandist who has expressed support for terrorism and aided and promoted Hamas lies, including by denying that Hamas used the Gazan hospital as a military base, despite evidence to the contrary.
By ignoring Hamas’s role in the conflict, O’Kelly, like many anti-Israel activists and others who don’t understand the reality, is actually emboldening and enabling Hamas to continue its tactics, pushing the false narrative of indiscriminate Israeli attacks, and leaving Hamas free to continue its regime of terrorism and corruption. They ignore Hamas terror attacks on innocent Israeli civilians, and that it is Hamas that provokes wars with Israel, that incites and brings up children to do the same, steals the money and materials meant for its own people in Gaza to be used for terror tunnels and weapons instead, and during conflict does everything possible to ensure the maximum number of Palestinian civilians will be killed.
Following Discovery of Pakistani Terror Tunnel Into Its Territory, India to Purchase Advanced Border-Defense Systems From Israel
India is seeking to purchase hundreds of millions of shekels-worth of Israeli defense systems to help the country defend itself against the infiltration of terrorists across its border with Pakistan, Israel’s Channel 2 reported on Thursday.
According to the report, this was decided during a recent trip to Israel by Indian Minister of Home Affairs Shri Rajnath Singh, who had a chance to examine a wide array of radar equipment, above-ground and underground sensors for movement and tunnel detection, electro-optic observation systems and weapons. In addition, Singh toured Israel’s border with Gaza, where he was given the opportunity to observe real-time operations.
“Such systems are just what we need,” he said at the time.
The impetus for the purported purchase of such defense equipment, according to Channel 2, was the discovery, some three months ago, of a tunnel shaft on India’s side of its border with Pakistan.
IsraellyCool: Ben Gurion Ranked #6 In Travel + Leisure List Of World’s Best International Airports
The list is based on ratings given by Travel + Leisure readers on airport access, check-in/security, restaurants/bars, shopping, and design.
Given Travel + Leisure has approximately 4.8 million readers and is owned by Time Inc., the list actually means something.
I think this is an even bigger deal, especially considering what Ben Gurion airport was like before it was revamped in 2004 – a dinky little international airport where shuttle buses would transport passengers to and from planes. Ah, the memories!
Aussie outfit Tame Impala brings its wild sound to Israel
Australian band Tame Impala arrives in Israel Sunday for their Monday night performance at Rishon Lezion’s LIVE Park.
The band is a favorite in Israel’s indie music scene. Tame Impala’s third album, “Currents,” was a big success in Israel and was voted best album of the year by Army Radio listeners.
The Perth, Australia, band is led by Kevin Parker, the founder, lead vocalist, songwriter, sometimes percussionist and producer for the Tame Impala’s brand of psychedelic rock.
2015’s “Currents,” the band’s third album, moved away from Tame Impala’s previous rock ‘n’ roll base and into synthetic pop and R&B tones.
Biblical Mosaics Uncovered in 5th Century Synagogue in Israel
A set of mosaics depicting two scenes from the Hebrew Bible have been discovered by archaeologists carrying out excavations at a fifth century synagogue in Israel’s Galilee, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill announced this week.
“This is by far the most extensive series of biblical stories ever found decorating the mosaic floor of an ancient synagogue,” said UNC-Chapel Hill professor Jodi Magness, who led the excavations along with assistant director Shua Kisilevitz of the Israel Antiquities Authority. “The arrangement of the mosaics in panels on the floor brings to mind the synagogue at Dura Europos in Syria, where an array of biblical stories is painted in panels on the walls.”
The panels on the floor of the synagogue’s nave, the central part of the structure’s hall, illustrate two biblical stories: Noah’s Ark and the parting of the Red Sea. The panel centering on the former scene depicts an ark and pairs of various animals, while the latter shows large fish swallowing Pharaoh’s soldiers among overturned chariots.
First Philistine cemetery found, offers unique glimpse of biblical enemy
Speaking to the press at Jerusalem’s Rockefeller Museum, Daniel Master, one of the heads of the Leon Levy Expedition, said the cemetery, “the final great discovery” after 30 years of excavation of Ashkelon, could help shed light on the origins and customs of the Philistines.
The discovery of a sizable cemetery, with over 210 individuals, at a site conclusively linked to the Philistines, was a “critical missing link” that allows scholars “to fill out the story of the Philistines,” said Master, a professor of archaeology at Wheaton College.
The cemetery, discovered just outside the ancient city walls and dated to between the 11th and 8th centuries BCE — a period associated with the rise of the Israelites — may contain thousands of individuals, providing an abundance of material to study, he said.
With that broad a population, “we’re going to be able to reconstruct what the Philistines as a group were like,” Master said.
Scholars believe the Philistines were among a number of tribes of non-Semitic peoples who migrated across the Mediterranean — possibly from modern Greece and Turkey — and settled the Canaanite coast in the early Iron Age.

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