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U.S. earmarks $50 million in humanitarian aid for Gaza Strip

The United States announced $50 million in new humanitarian assistance for the Gaza Strip.

The aid announced May 9 by the U.S. consul in Jerusalem, Donald Blome, will include the “distribution of food items (such as eggs and cheese) and non-food items (such as school uniforms, bedding, and cleaning supplies),” a consulate statement said, as well as investment in the employment of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip through paid internships and job training, among other means.

Titled “Envision Gaza 2020,” the assistance will be administered by the U.S. Agency for International Development and Catholic Relief Services. The United States, which provides $400 million to $500 million a year in assistance to the Palestinians through the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority and other agencies, bans any direct dealings with Gaza’s Hamas rulers.

Blome announced the initiative at an event at his Jerusalem home celebrating Palestinian agriculture in Gaza. He said Gaza faces “significant challenges” in the wake of the destruction wrought by the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas, and called for greater cooperation between the Palestinian Authority and Israel in order to facilitate produce exports from Gaza.

Blome alluded to difficulties getting products in and out of Gaza because of security measures that Israel imposes. — jta


Three out of four Israeli Jews say it’s not ‘occupation’

Nearly three-quarters of Israeli Jews, 71.5 percent, do not view Israel’s control of the West Bank as “occupation,” a monthly survey found.

Exactly the same percentage of Arabs consider it an occupation, according to the May Peace Index survey of the Israel Democracy Institute released on May 9.

When asked which is more important, “that a peace agreement be reached with the Palestinians or that the Palestinians recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people?” some 48 percent of Jews polled said Palestinian recognition of Israel was more important. Some 27 percent said the peace agreement was more important, while 16 percent said the two goals are equally important.

Fifty-two percent of respondents answered that it was more important to have a Jewish majority in the State of Israel than sovereignty over all of the historical land of Israel, with 22 percent responding that sovereignty is more important, according to the survey.

Asked “To what extent do you fear that you or one of the people important to you will be harmed in the current wave of terror attacks?” 64 percent of Jewish respondents said they fear it.

The survey polled 600 Arab and Jewish Israelis 18 and older on May 2 and 3. — jta


Jerusalem stabbing of 2 elderly women on promenade called terror attack

Two elderly Jewish women were stabbed on May 10 by two masked assailants while walking on a popular promenade overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem in what is being called a terror attack.

The victims, reported to be in their 70s or 80s, were taken to a Jerusalem hospital in moderate condition with stab wounds to their arms and upper bodies following the morning attack in the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of East Talpiot.

They were walking with a group of women on the promenade, which marks the border between the eastern and western halves of the city. The promenade includes stretches named after two San Francisco families, Haas and Goldman, both designed by the late Bay Area landscape architect Lawrence Halprin.

Police said they arrested two men in the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber and were continuing to search for other suspects. Security was heightened in the city following the attack. — jta


Israeli American soldier awarded posthumous medal

A dual Israel American citizen killed in a West Bank supermarket terror attack was one of three Israeli soldiers honored by the Israel Defense Forces for bravery.

Tuvia Yanai Weisman, 21, along with Sgt. Lihi Malka and Matan Shamir, was cited for thwarting a terror attack, the IDF announced on May 10.

Weisman was off duty when he was killed Feb. 18 at the Rami Levi supermarket in Shaar Binyamin, north of Jerusalem. Seeing two Palestinian teenagers enter the store and begin to stab shoppers, the unarmed Weisman left his wife and daughter to stop them, but was stabbed and died.

Weisman “made contact barehanded, and by his action was a shining example of IDF values,” the announcement said.

Malka, of the Home Front Command, fought off a man who had stabbed and seriously wounded another soldier at a traffic junction north of Jerusalem. She shot and killed the 22-year-old attacker, acting “swiftly [with] courage, calm and professionalism,” according to the IDF.

Shamir and his commander were injured in a stabbing attack near the West Bank city of Nablus, but Shamir managed to kill the two attackers, behaving with “courage, calm and professionalism,” the IDF said. — jta