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Update – 3 July 2008

Dear Advocates,  

Last night I tuned into Israel’s Channel 2 at around 8:30pm AEST, and was shocked at the scenes that flashed before me under banner headlines “Attack in Jerusalem”. As the details began to unfold, I realised that the nature of this attack was different to most of the others – a bulldozer ploughed into vehicles in a crowded Jerusalem street. Three people were killed in the attack and over 40 more were wounded. The attacker was subsequently shot dead by a member of an elite police commando team. For more details, please read the following stories:
Terrorist plows bulldozer into vehicles – Jpost
Three dead, dozens hurt in Jerusalem terror attack – Haaretz
Terrorist on Jaffa Road, Jerusalem – MFA

Our local papers were also very quick to report on the issue, with both The Age and the Australian posting stories and images on their websites last night. Please read ‘Earthmover driver kills 3 in Jerusalem rampage‘ from The Age and ‘Three killed in Jerusalem bulldozer rampage‘ from The Australian.

This attack has shown once again certain media outlets failure to report accurately on news coming out of Israel. In a move very reminiscent of its Second Intifada coverage, the BBC initially reported the incident under the headline “Israel bulldozer driver shot dead”. Please read Honest Reporting’s article entitled ‘Caught: BBC’s shocking first response to terror attack‘ which analyses the way in which the BBC instinctively portrays Israel as the aggressor, even when Israelis are killed by an Arab attacker.

Interestingly, the Australian online chose to run with the following picture provide by BBC with the caption: “An Israeli stands with his gun after shooting dead a Palestinian who killed four people in a bulldozer rampage in Jerusalem”. Perhaps I’m being oversensitive, but in a time where people only really have time to scan the news, if that is the only snippet they get of the incident, then they are not really getting a true picture of the attack.

In other news, I am sure that most of you by now have read about the Israeli Government’s approval on the outline of an agreement for the release of abducted soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev.

In exchange for the two, as well as the remains of Israeli soldiers killed in the Second Lebanon War and a report on the disappearance of Ron Arad, Israel will release terrorist Samir Kuntar (who was jailed in 1979 and is serving four life sentences) and four other Lebanese prisoners. For a more detailed outline of what will be exchanged, please click here.

Samir Kuntar, who brutally murdered Israeli Danny Haran, his daughter and a police officer in 1979, has been used as a bargaining chip for information about missing in action Israeli navigator Ron Arad. Please read ‘Nasrallah: Our report contains firm conclusion on Ron Arad’s fate‘ from Haaretz. While Hezbollah’s leader is claiming to have reached a “firm conclusion” on Arad’s fate, many others believe that this is not the end of the story. Please read ‘Despite Hezbollah report, this is not the end of the Ron Arad story‘.

Sadly, following weeks of speculation of the fate of Goldwasser and Regev, Prime Minister Olmert also made the declaration during the cabinet meeting that “As far as we know, the two soldiers – Udi Goldwasser and Eldad Regev – are no longer alive… As far as we know, they were killed during the kidnapped or died from their wounds soon after the incident”. To read more, click here. The coming weeks are going to be very important to see exactly how this two-year long saga unfolds.

Unfortunately, the deal regarding Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev might have negative repercussions on any deal with Hamas regarding Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. A senior Hamas official, Mahmoud Zahar, has said that Hamas should take advantage of Israel’s decision to release Samir Kuntar, saying that they now know the price that Israel is willing to pay for their soldiers. Many commentators have noted that given that all reports indicate that Gilad Shalit is still alive, that Hamas is going to up the price for the deal. Read ‘Hamas: Kuntar deal sets precendent for release of Palestinian terrorists‘ from Haaretz for more information.

I will keep you posted in the coming days with more information regarding the attack in Jerusalem, the truce with Hamas and any advancement on the prisoner swap deals.

Best Wishes,

Emily Chrapot
Research Officer
State Zionist Council of Victoria
9272 5507