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Following Purim Request, Jerusalem Cancels Fireworks for Independence Day

People watch a fireworks display kicking off celebrations for Israel’s Independence Day, marking the 73rd anniversary of the creation of the state, in Tel Aviv, Israel April 14, 2021. REUTERS/Corinna Kern

Following calls to forgo toy explosives for the Jewish holiday of Purim last week, the Jerusalem municipality announced that this year’s Israeli Independence Day events will be held without them as well.

“The city of Jerusalem is preparing for Independence Day events and to mark the establishment of the State of Israel, and in the spirit of the times, the events will take place this year in the shadow of the ongoing war [against Hamas in Gaza] and the many people for whom the sounds of explosives evoke uncomfortable feelings,” read a statement from the municipality.

“Independence Day events will begin at the end of Memorial Day for the Fallen Soldiers of the Wars of Israel and Victims of Actions of Terrorism (Yom HaZikaron in Hebrew) who fell in the wars and whose death commanded us life,” the statement continued. “This year, Independence Day will be celebrated in Jerusalem with a salute to the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] and the security forces, to the martyrs and their families, to the wounded and abductees. We will all offer a prayer for their speedy return from captivity, for their health, and for strengthening the strength and glory of the State of Israel.”

The decision to cancel fireworks and other loud noises that normally accompany celebrations such as Independence Day came amid the war in Gaza to Israel’s south and the daily rocket attacks by Hezbollah terrorists in the north, both of which have contributed to fear of sparking trauma among soldiers returning from the front.

According to mental health officials, the psyche of soldiers and civilians since the outbreak of war on Oct. 7 has become a huge issue facing the country. Professionals have estimated that every Israeli — civilian and soldier — is undergoing some sort of trauma since the mass terror attack of Oct. 7, when Hamas terrorists invaded southern Israel, killed more than 1,200 people, and took 253 others as hostages. Mounting evidence has documented Hamas’ systematic use of torture and sexual violence, including mass rape, against the Israeli people during the onslaught.

Against such a backdrop, the IDF called on the public to refrain from using toy explosives on Purim out of respect for soldiers, with the army releasing a moving video of a group of soldiers pleading with the public to avoid using the toys so as not to bring them mentally and emotionally back to Gaza.

Independence Day, called Yom Haatzmaut in Hebrew, marks the day when David Ben-Gurion, who became Israel’s first prime minister, declared in 1948 the establishment of the new Jewish state. The festival is celebrated on the 5th day of the Hebrew month of Iyar — this year on May 14, which happens to correspond with the same Gregorian date from 1948 — and features celebrations throughout the country, including the largest of which in the capital of Jerusalem.

This year’s celebration is the 76th anniversary of the establishment of the modern State of Israel.

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OCAD University student is seeking $1M in damages—alleging a lack of protection from threats and abuse

Samantha Kline, 22, presented photos of antisemitic graffiti she says targeted her.

The post OCAD University student is seeking $1M in damages—alleging a lack of protection from threats and abuse appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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Palestinian Islamic Jihad Releases New Propaganda Video of Israeli Hostage

Israeli hostage Alexander (Sasha) Trufanov as seen in a propaganda video released by Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Photo: Screenshot

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group on Tuesday released a short propaganda video featuring Israeli hostage Alexander (Sasha) Trufanov, 28, who was kidnapped by Palestinian terrorists during Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel.

The 30-second undated video shows Trufanov, an Amazon employee, identifying himself and saying that he will soon discuss what has happened to him and other hostages in Gaza.

Similar videos have been released by terrorists groups in Gaza. Israel has lambasted them as psychological warfare.

Trufanov’s mother said in a video released by the family that she was happy to see her son after all this time, but “it was heartbreaking” that he had been a hostage for so long.

Trufanov was an engineer at the Israeli microelectronics company Annapurna Labs, which Amazon owns.

Hamas-led Palestinian terrorists abducted over 250 people during their Oct. 7 onslaught. Trufanov was kidnapped alongside his mother, grandmother, and girlfriend.

All three were released as part of a temporary ceasefire agreement negotiated in November. His father, Vitaly Trufanov, was one of the 1,200 people killed during the Hamas massacre.

“The proof of life from Alexsander (Sasha) Trufanov is additional evidence that the Israeli government must give a significant mandate to the negotiating team,” the Hostages Families Forum, which represents the families of the hostages, said in a statement.

More than 120 hostages remain in Gaza, which is ruled by Hamas. Islamic Jihad is a separate but allied terrorist organization in the Palestinian enclave. Both are backed by Iran, which provides them with money, weapons, and training.

Negotiations brokered by Qatar, Egypt, and the US to reach a ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas in Gaza have been stalled for weeks.

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Gal Gadot’s Action Movie Nabs Second Place on Netflix List of Most Watched Films in Second Half of 2023

Gal Gadot as Rachel Stone in a scene from the trailer for “Heart of Stone.” Photo: YouTube screenshot

Netflix released its engagement report that details the films with the most views from July 1 to Dec. 31, 2023, and Israeli actress Gal Gadot’s action thriller Heart of Stone secured the number two spot with 109.6 million views.

The film — starring Gadot alongside Jamie Dornan and Bollywood actress Alia Bhatt in leading roles — was the runner-up to Leave the World Behind, the drama starring Julia Roberts, Mahershala Ali, and Ethan Hawke that garnered 121 million views on Netflix.

Heart of Stone, directed by Tom Harper, was released on the streaming giant on Aug. 11 of last year. The action film is about international intelligence operative Rachel Stone, played by Gadot, who goes on a mission to protect an artificial intelligence system, known as The Heart, from falling in the wrong hands. The film was produced by Pilot Wave, a company founded by Gadot and her husband Jaron Varsano.

Gadot also stars in Netflix’s most popular film of all time, Red Notice, alongside Dwayne Johnson and Ryan Reynolds.

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