Esther Horgan (photo courtesy of family)

Amid the COVID-19 ‘hurricane,’ a brutal murder sent shock waves throughout the Jewish state. Esther Horgan, a 52-year-old mother of six and grandmother, was bludgeoned to death near her settlement Tal Menashe, on the West Bank. Esther was loved and respected by everyone who knew her – a friendly and loving mother, who was also a jogger. At about one in the afternoon, she went jogging alone on a trail near her home. When she failed to return, as usual, her husband phoned the security authorities, and an intensive search began. Shortly after midnight, her dead body was found in the underbrush near the jogging trail. Her killer had smashed in her head with a bloodied rock, which was found at the scene. The settlement of Tal Menashe is located near several Arab villages – so naturally, suspicion fell on a Palestinian killer. The Shabak internal security service was called in immediately, and an intensive manhunt is now underway.

If the killer was indeed a Palestinian, it recalls a similar incident that took place in February of 2019 when Orly Ansbacher, a 19-year-old Israeli young woman, went walking alone in the forested area near Jerusalem. It was another what is termed “a murder of opportunity.” In Orly’s case, a young Palestinian man saw no one was nearby, and then he raped and murdered her. The Shabak tracked him down and arrested him. He confessed and is now serving a life sentence. (There is no death penalty in Israel, except for high treason during the state of war.)

Sadly, maybe the lesson will now be learned. With tension running so high between Israelis and West Bank Palestinians, maybe people will now realize that it can be very dangerous to go walking or jogging alone in deserted areas where they can be surprised by a Palestinian attacker. This is not a matter of bravery or the right to walk freely in one’s own country, but simply common sense that should apply in the existing situation. 

Former CIA Director, John Brennan (Photo by Jay Godwin)

Israeli submarine sails off the coast of Iran

Tension continues to mount between Israel and Iran following the mysterious assassination of Iran’s nuclear weapons mastermind, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. Israel’s Channel 11 TV has quoted Arab sources as saying that an Israeli submarine recently sailed off Iran’s coast in the Persian Gulf. Obviously, it sailed underwater. This would be another Israeli warning to the Ayatollahs in Tehran, who are now bent on building another Iranian enrichment plant near Fordo; this after a major mysterious explosion destroyed a similar plant earlier this year in September. Tehran has repeatedly declared that “it will wipe the Jewish state off the map.” In response, Israeli officials have said that they will not allow this to happen. 

Speaking of assassination, John Brennan (a former CIA Director) has condemned the killing of civilians (such as Mohsen Fakhrizadeh), even if they are building weapons to annihilate another state. Brennan contends this tactic could lead to international chaos and disrupt the world order. However, Brennan himself authorized such tactics and even supervised, sometimes on the spot, the infamous CIA interrogations of terror suspects by the infamous “waterboarding” tactic. Now, in his old age and, apparently preparing to “meet his maker” (like all the rest of us), Brennan, belatedly, expresses regret in his memoirs for some of the tactics he participated in when he was CIA Director. But what of his thesis that the targetted assassination of terrorists should be permissible, but not the killing of state representatives, although they may be involved in terrorist activity? Nor does he have any reservations about preaching to Israel, as he did recently in an interview with Haaretz newspaper. Question – if one criticizes someone else after doing exactly the same, and possibly much more, is the “H” word not applicable? Moreover, if the culprit, Iran, even participates in the UN while openly declaring its intention to annihilate another sister state, what kind of ‘international order’ is Brennan talking about? 

Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh (Photo Credit: Tasnim News Agency, CC BY 4.0)

Amid the mounting tension between Israel and Iran – IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi has reacted to Iran’s threats by warning that Israel will retaliate severely. At a public gathering, Gen. Kochavi said, “Recently, we have heard an Iranian intensification of threats to Israel. If Iran and its partners commit actions against the Jewish state, they will discover that they will pay a heavy price. The IDF will respond with great intensity against anyone who is an Iranian partner in attacks against Israeli targets!” And for good measure, Kochavi added, “The intensity of our reaction has been planned and tested.”

Netanyahu and Gantz headed for another early election …

After another intensive round of political horsetrading – Likud Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu, and his coalition partner, Defense Minister Benny Gantz of Blue and White, have failed to save their current coalition government. This will necessitate yet another early election, the fourth in less than two years. Pundits predict that it will probably be held in March.

PM Benjamin Netanyahu receives Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine (screen shot)

The long and short of it is that Bibi wanted to make some basic changes in Israel’s justice system that would give him a better chance of surviving his upcoming trial on three counts of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust. Gantz, who has led Blue and White nearly into oblivion, was ready to go along with Bibi, but the Justice Minister, and others in Blue and White, were not. After days of political wrangling, the Blue and White party dug in its heels and forced Gantz to reject Bibi’s demands. The result will trigger the fall of the government. 

Meanwhile, Bibi is bathing in his success in acquiring millions of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine doses. While this is a big feather in Bibi’s cap, the new surge in the pandemic may force another lockdown, with its negative impact on Netanyu’s Likud supporters. The result could benefit two of Netanyu’s Right-wing opponents, Gideon Saar and Naftali Bennett, who have been gaining in the polls. Bibi could be behind the proverbial “8-ball.”


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