14 Days: Terror victims

Israeli news highlights from the past two weeks.

  (photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)


Four Israelis were gunned down in an attack by two Hamas terrorists at a gas station outside Eli on June 20: Harel Masoud, 21; Elisha Antman, 18; Ofer Feirman, 63; and Nachman Mordoff, 16. An armed civilian killed one terrorist, while security forces killed the second. Following the attack, settlers went on the rampage against Palestinian villages in the West Bank. On June 19, seven Israeli servicemen were wounded, while five Palestinian gunmen were killed and more than 90 Palestinians wounded in a gun battle that broke out when Israeli forces raided Jenin to arrest Palestinians involved in terrorist attacks.


MK Karine Elharrar (Yesh Atid) was chosen to represent the opposition on the Judicial Selection Committee as the Knesset voted 58-56 in her favor on June 14, with a few coalition members supporting her in the anonymous ballot. In what was viewed as a defeat for the coalition, MK Tally Gotliv failed to be elected as its representative. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signaled that the government would press on with its judicial reform plan after opposition leaders announced that they would not resume talks at the President’s Residence until the Judicial Selection Committee convenes.


The US said it is “deeply troubled by the Israeli government’s reported decision to advance planning for over 4,000 settlement units in the West Bank.” A State Department statement also voiced concern over the decision to grant Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, a strong settlement advocate, full authority over approval for settlement construction and expansion. The UN, the Palestinian Authority and Jordan condemned the move, with the Jordanian Foreign Minister saying it was “a grave breach of international law... [that] undermines the foundations of peace and the prospects for a two-state solution.”


Russia announced on June 9 that it plans to open an office in Jerusalem that will serve as a branch of its embassy to the country and will provide consular services. Israel, in exchange, agreed to forgo its claim to a piece of land in downtown Jerusalem purchased by the Russian Empire in 1885. According to Israel’s Foreign Ministry, the Russian complex will host consular offices, an event hall and lodging for diplomats. “The agreement is in line with the Foreign Ministry’s efforts to increase the number of diplomatic missions in Israel’s capital, Jerusalem,” the ministry said.


President Isaac Herzog on June 13 laid the cornerstone for Einstein House, a museum dedicated to the life and legacy of Albert Einstein, designed by architect Daniel Libeskind, that is being built next to the Hebrew University’s Givat Ram campus in Jerusalem and is due to open in 2024. Herzog was joined at the groundbreaking ceremony by Hebrew University President Prof. Asher Cohen, Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Leon and philanthropist Jose Mugrabi, whose donation helped fund Einstein House. Einstein bequeathed his writings and intellectual property to the Hebrew University. and they now comprise over 80,000 items.

 Sir Ben Helfgott (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Sir Ben Helfgott (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)


US semiconductor giant Intel Corp. has signed an agreement in principle with the Israeli government to build a chip manufacturing plant in Kiryat Gat at an investment of $25 billion. “This is the largest investment ever in the State of Israel,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the weekly cabinet meeting. Under the deal, the plant, scheduled to open in 2027, will employ thousands of workers at wages above the industry average. Intel has been in Israel since 1974 and employs some 10,000 people in the country.


Amiel Ungar, 75, a longtime columnist for The Jerusalem Report, was laid to rest in Tekoa on June 16. After earning a doctorate in International Relations at Columbia, he and his wife, Beverly, made aliyah from New York in 1978 and had five children. A year later, they were among the founders of Tekoa, which he represented on the Etzion Regional Council and the Yesha Council. Dr. Ungar taught Political Science at Bar-Ilan and Ariel universities for 25 years and wrote regularly for The Jerusalem Report from 1996 to 2020. 


Sir Ben Helfgott, a Polish-born British Holocaust survivor who became an Olympic weightlifter and a champion of Holocaust education, died in London on June 16 at the age of 93. Helfgott was knighted in 2018 by Prince Charles for his contribution to Holocaust remembrance and education. “Sir Ben Helfgott was one of the most inspirational people I have known,” said Britain’s Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis. “His own horrific experiences inspired him to work tirelessly for a more peaceful and unified world, and he inspired us to do likewise.”