ARIEL TERROR Rabbi Ahiad Ettinger’s wife, Tamar, and two of his 12 children, Elyashiv and Efrat, mourn at his funeral in Eli on March 18. Ettinger, 47, and Sgt. Gal Keidan, 19, (inset) were killed and another soldier seriously wounded in a terrorist attack at the Ariel Junction a day earlier. Ettinger, who headed the Oz V’Emunah Yeshiva in south Tel Aviv, succumbed to his wounds after doctors fought to save his life for 24 hours. Keidan, a gifted musician who played the mandocello, was the youngest of three children born to parents who came from the former Soviet Union and moved to Beersheba. Two days after the attack, security forces killed the Palestinian terrorist who went into hiding in a village near Ramallah.
GAZA ROCKETS A rocket fired from Gaza hit a house in Moshav Mishmeret north of Tel Aviv early on March 25, wounding six people – including a 59-year-old woman who sustained moderate injuries – and killing four dogs. Ten days earlier, two rockets were launched from Gaza at Tel Aviv, and the IDF struck some 100 Hamas targets in response while the Gazans fired nine more rockets at southern Israel. The army said the rockets had been fired at Tel Aviv “by mistake.” There were no casualties on either side in that attack.
BEN-ARI BARRED On March 17, the High Court of Justice disqualified Michael Ben-Ari, a candidate for the far-right Otzma Yehudit party, from running in Israel’s April 9 elections, apparently over his racist comments against Arabs. The court did, however, permit the candidacy of his party colleague, Itamar Ben-Gvir, and the Arab parties, Balad-United Arab List and Hadash-Ta’al. Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (New Right) slammed the ruling against Ben-Ari and in favor of the Arab parties, saying she would propose that the new Knesset adopt the American system for choosing justices.
GOLAN RECOGNITION US President Donald Trump announced on Twitter on March 21 that “after 52 years, it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and regional stability.” In response, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – who was about to host visiting US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for dinner – thanked Trump for “making history” and called it “a Purim miracle.” The move was opposed by Arab states, the Palestinian Authority and the Druze community, which held a protest on the Golan against Trump, carrying Syrian flags and pictures of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
MASTER SPY Rafi Eitan, a founder of the Israeli intelligence services who was credited with capturing Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in 1960, died on March 23 at the age of 92. Born in Ein Harod, Eitan worked his way up to leadership positions in the Shin Bet and Mossad, where he ran Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard. After retiring, he won seven seats as head of the Pensioners’ Party in the 2006 elections, after which he served for three years as pensioners’ affairs minister.
SPECIAL MEDALS Israel won 23 medals – five gold, seven silver and 11 bronze – at the Abu Dhabi 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games in March. Although Israel does not have diplomatic relations with Abu Dhabi, its 27 competitors joined more than 7,000 counterparts from some 170 countries. Among the gold medalists was Guy Wartikowsky, who won the 1,500 meter Open swimming race. Israel sent a team to the International Judo Federation Grand Slam in Abu Dhabi in October 2018, when the Israeli anthem played for the first time in the Gulf state.
POLANI HONORED Naomi Polani is to receive the Israel Prize this year for her lifelong achievements in theater and dance. Calling her “the mother of IDF bands,” Education Minister Naftali Bennett made the announcement on March 19. Polani, who was born in 1925, served in the War of Independence as a singer, and was instrumental in shaping the way the IDF incorporated musicians and actors into its entertainment division in the 1950s.