On Wednesday, 30-year-old reserve Captain Eliav Gelman was killed by friendly fire in the midst of a stabbing terror attack at the Gush Etzion junction in the West Bank. The terrorist, who was also shot by Israeli security forces, survived and remained in moderate condition. Palestinian sources identified the assailant as Mamdouh Tousef Amru, a math teacher from the Hebron area.
The same day, two Arab food vendors working outside the Old City’s Herod’s Gate were arrested by police after a routine search uncovered two pipe bombs and a cache of bullets hidden in their kiosks.
On Sunday, Israeli security forces arrested Palestinian Saadi Ali Abu Hammad on charges of attacking an Israeli security guard in Ma’aleh Adumim’s shopping mall with an ax on Friday. The guard, 48-year-old Tzika Cohen, remained in serious condition.
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Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said that a new defense package between Israel and the US would likely be agreed upon in the coming weeks. Earlier in the month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the deal might not be complete during US President Barack Obama's remaining tenure in the White House. Israel is seeking to increase defense aid levels from $3 billion to $5 billion a year.
An uneasy ceasefire took hold on Saturday in Syria, following an agreement brokered earlier this month in Munich between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry. The Obama administration hopes to use the ceasefire to build a political solution to the conflict, which has killed between 250,000 and 370,000 people and displaced half of Syria's population in the past 5 years.
The Syria civil war has turned Israel into a central land bridge for trade between some European and Arab countries. Before the war, countries such as Turkey and Bulgaria trucked products through Syria to destinations such as Iraq, Jordan and the Persian Gulf. As a result of the war, they are instead shipping to Haifa then crossing products through Israel and in to Jordan via the Nahar Hayarden crossing. As a result, Israel is looking to expand the crossing's freight terminal.
On Friday, Iranians went to the polls to elect a Parliament and the Assembly of Experts, the 88-member body that anoints the Supreme Leader. Early results indicated a favorable showing for relative moderates and reformists, a show of confidence for President Hassan Rouhani and his strategy of negotiating with the West. All the candidates, however, were pre-screened by a body called the Guardian Council; Half of the 12,000 registered candidates were blocked from running, and only 200 moderates made the cut.
In the US Presidential race, Republican Marco Rubio lashed out at his party's front-runner Donald Trump for taking "an anti-Israel position." Trump had earlier said he wanted to remain neutral in brokering a Middle East peace deal.
Holocaust survivor Renee Rabinowitz is suing El Al for gender discrimination after a flight attendant asked her to change seats to accommodate an ultra-Orthodox man. The man complained that he could not sit next to a woman for modesty reasons. Earlier in the week, another ultra-Orthodox Israeli man was detained after causing a disturbance on an El Al flight from Poland. He was protesting an in-flight entertainment film, the R-rated 2015 Robert Redford flick entitled Truth, which he deemed to be immodest.
Australian singer and songwriter Sia announced that she will perform her first Israeli concert on August 11 at Rishon Lezion’s Live Park. Before becoming a household name, Sia was active in the music industry for almost two decades, writing songs for the likes of Madonna, Britney Spears, Beyoncé, Celine Dion and Rihanna, for whom she wrote the worldwide number one smash hit “Diamonds.” She is best known for her 2014 hit “Chandelier.”