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Tunnel Vision, Disabled Rights, Carmakers Set Up Shop


Tensions Rise After Israel Blows up Gaza Tunnel

Gulf Times, November 1st 2017

Recap:

Palestinian factions threaten revenge on Israel for destroying a Hamas tunnel found in Israeli territory. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reaffirmed that Israel will “not tolerate attacks on its sovereignty.”

The Context:

  • Israel destroyed more than 30 tunnels during a 50-day war with Hamas in the summer of 2014. During the conflict, Hamas militants used tunnels to infiltrate Israeli territory, killing 12 soldiers [1]. Israel has found three tunnels since.

  • The tunnel, which was in the process of being built, was destroyed after being monitored for some time. The Ministry of Health in Gaza officially identified five of those killed as members of Islamic Jihad [2]. The tunnel’s demolition took place on the Israeli side of the border [3] and there was not yet a tunnel opening on the Israeli side [4].

  • The operation comes at a sensitive time, with rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas pursuing a reconciliation accord aimed at ending their 10-year fracture. Hamas recently handed over control of Gaza’s borders to the Palestinian Authority (PA) under the terms of a deal signed on October 12th. Fatah called for dialogue between Palestinians to discuss the best response to the Israeli action. Islamic Jihad vowed to “exercise [their] right to respond [5].”

  • Israel is building a barrier along its border with Gaza aimed at thwarting future tunnel construction. The barrier will be 40-miles long and extend 131 feet below ground. It will be completed in 2019 [6].

  • This month, the United Nations Palestinian aid organization, UNRWA, discovered another tunnel under one of its schools. Israel has long warned of the presence of Hamas military installations, tunnels and weapons under schools and hospitals in Gaza [7].

Conversation Points:

  • How should a country handle an enemy that conducts military operations from civilian locations?

  • Is Hamas’ muted response to the tunnel destruction a sign of its willingness to proceed with the Palestinian unity deal?

  • Will the barrier between Israel and Gaza become the next “apartheid wall?”

The Disabled Protests Hit the Prime Minister's Office

Sarah Levi, Jerusalem Post, October 29th 2017

Recap:

An ongoing struggle between disabled Israelis and the government to raise disability benefits to the current minimum wage of $1,500 has moved to the nation’s capital.

The Context:

  • Disability groups launched separate protests throughout the country this week in Jerusalem, Haifa and Tel Aviv. The main protest took place in front of the entrance to the Prime Minister’s Office. Protest leaders blamed the government for "ignoring the disabled community” and vowed to step up the pressure by "blocking vital factories, ports and airports [8]."

  • In September, the Finance Ministry and select disabled rights activists agreed on a compromise to raise monthly disability benefits to $1,270 however, other groups persist that disabled benefits should be on par with the minimum wage [9].

  • For a time, the disabled’s maximum monthly pension stood at $650 however, a grassroots social media campaign served to progress their cause [10].

  • According to the state comptroller, 1/3 of Holocaust survivors live below the poverty line [11].

Conversation Points:

  • Should a state be responsible to care for its disabled and elderly?

  • Should holocaust survivors be guaranteed financial stability by the Israeli government?

  • What happens to rights groups that lack lobbying power or are unable to effectively organize?

Auto Giants Setting Up Shop in Israel

Shimon B. Lifkin, Hamodia, October 31st 2017

Recap:

Volkswagen and Hyundai will launch development centers in Israel to foster their smart car technologies. “There is no doubt we need to be here,” said Peter Harris of the Volkswagen Group.

The Context:

  • There are more than 550 startups that are part of the smart car, efficient fuel and mobility industry in Israel [12].

  • Youngcho Chi, chief innovation officer at Hyundai, said their Israeli partnership will focus on artificial intelligence, robotics, energy and smart city technologies.

  • Mobileye CEO Amnon Shashua visited Korea to meet with Hyundai and discuss a self-driving program using Mobileye technology [13]. Intel purchased Mobileye in March.

Conversation Points:

  • Will Israel finally compete in the auto industry despite not having manufacturing capabilities of its own?

Notes:

  1. Gaza: Palestinian militants killed as Israel hits tunnel, BBC, October 30th 2017

  2. Gaza vows to respond to Israeli air raids, Al Jazeera, October 31st 2017

  3. Gaza: Palestinian militants killed as Israel hits tunnel, BBC, October 30th 2017

  4. IDF chief warns Gaza terrorists not to retaliate for attack tunnel’s destruction, Judah Ari Gross, Times of Israel, October 31st 2017

  5. Gaza vows to respond to Israeli air raids, Al Jazeera, October 31st 2017

  6. Gaza: Palestinian militants killed as Israel hits tunnel, BBC, October 30th 2017

  7. UNRWA DEMANDS END TO TUNNEL BUILDING UNDER ITS SCHOOLS, Tovah Lazaroff, Jerusalem Post, October 29th 2017

  8. Disabled Israelis step up protest, set up tent camp in front of Knesset, Omri Ariel, Jerusalem Online, October 23rd 2017

  9. IDF veterans join campaign for higher disability benefits, Times of Israel, October 15th 2017

  10. Dignity for Israel's disabled, Holocaust survivors, Mazal Mualem, AI Monitor, October 6th 2017

  11. Ibid.

  12. Volkswagen, Hyundai seek to set up hubs in Israel to tap into smart car tech, Shoshanna Solomon, October 31st 2017

  13. Mobileye founder to meet Hyundai Motor heir, Korea Times, October 16th 2017


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