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Israeli Government Officially Approves New Benefits for Soldiers

Israeli soldiers operate in the Gaza Strip amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian terror group Hamas, in this handout picture released on Jan. 2, 2024. Photo: Israel Defense Forces/Handout via REUTERS

The Israeli government has officially approved a new set of benefits for military reservists discharged from service, giving them significant discounts on land purchases.

“Today is a good day, because we have committed for some time to bring free or almost free land to the army servants, our reservists, with an emphasis of course on combat service,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been pushing heavily for the discounts.

“There is really a big news here of 90 percent [discounts], and in some places even 95 percent,” he continued, detailing the benefits. “Though the land itself is almost free, we are aware that there are also development expenses. We are now discussing how to also provide assistance, such as subsidies, with the Finance Ministry for the benefit of development expenses. This is of course a great revolution; it also creates justice.”

Construction and Housing Minister Yitzhak Goldknopf added, “Today we passed a series of historic decisions for the benefit of Israeli citizens of all shades of the population, with an emphasis on [Israel Defense Forces] IDF soldiers and reservists, who sacrifice their time and energy for the defense of the homeland. In addition to increasing discounts for buyers in areas of national priority, in order to encourage and develop Jewish settlement there.”

As mentioned by Netanyahu, the main benefit approved on Thursday was a 90 percent discount on land purchases where the buyer is building a house for personal use. Additionally, priority will be given to reservists in housing lotteries — first choice on 20 percent of the units — and they will become eligible for discounts on apartment purchases.

The new approval gives extra discounts if the land is purchased in “priority locations” such as the Negev, the Galilee, and the Gaza Envelope. The rate will be 10 percent or up to 100,000 NIS (slightly under $28,000), which will be subtracted from the 90 percent discount already applied.

“With the decisions passed today, the state will offer significant discounts for the purchase of land in national priority areas for reservists,” said Yehuda Morgenstern, director-general of the Construction and Housing Ministry. “In addition, we increased the percentage of apartments that will be allocated to reservists in discounted apartment lotteries. We consider it a moral obligation to help as much as possible to encourage settlement throughout the country, especially in the areas close to the borders, and at the same time to give as much assistance as possible to the reserve soldiers who give of themselves for the country all the time.”

The measure defines reservists qualifying for the discounts as being those who served at least 45 days, meaning that almost every soldier who was called can take advantage of the discounts.

More than 300,000 soldiers were called up following Oct. 7, when Hamas terrorists invaded southern Israel, killing over 1,200 people and taking more than 250 hostages in documented cases of systemic rape, murder, and mutilation.

Now almost six months into the war, a large portion of the soldiers called for duty after Oct. 7 have returned to their homes following service, though many remain in or around Gaza and in the north of Israel, where the IDF has been trading missile fire with the Hezbollah terror group in Lebanon.

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University of Toronto seeks injunction to end protest encampment over ‘harmful, discriminatory’ speech outlined in court filing

The University of Toronto is now seeking a court injunction to put and end to the encampment in King’s College Circle after the 8 a.m. deadline passed Monday morning—while unionized workers joined students, faculty and other protesters at a rainy morning rally. Shortly after the ultimatum hour, the university announced in a statement from UofT […]

The post University of Toronto seeks injunction to end protest encampment over ‘harmful, discriminatory’ speech outlined in court filing appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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Monday morning saw the Toronto community and politicians showing support for the Chabad girls’ school struck by weekend gunfire

Mayor Olivia Chow was among those who addressed the crowd.

The post Monday morning saw the Toronto community and politicians showing support for the Chabad girls’ school struck by weekend gunfire appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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‘A Call for Genocide’: South African Jews Blast Country’s President for Chanting ‘From the River to the Sea’

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa in Chatsworth, South Africa, May 18, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Rogan Ward

South African Jewish leaders castigated their country’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, for what they described as him calling for a “genocide” against Jews in Israel over the weekend.

Ramaphosa was speaking at an election rally in Johannesburg on Saturday when he deviated from his prepared speech to lead the crowd in in a chant of “From the River to the Sea, Palestine shall be free” — a popular slogan among anti-Israel activists that has been widely interpreted as a call for the destruction of the Jewish state, which is located between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

The address took place at FNB Stadium, where South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) held its final rally before South African elections on Wednesday. According to Politicsweb, a news website focused on South Africa, a call for the release of the “hostages held in Gaza” who Hamas terrorists kidnapped from southern Israel on Oct. 7 appeared in Ramaphosa’s prepared remarks but not in his final speech.

The South African Jewish community lambasted Ramaphosa for his remarks in a statement shared with The Algemeiner, expressing “its revulsion at the introduction of a call to exterminate Jews from their homeland” by the president.

“The president of the ruling ANC party and the head of state of a democratic country has called for the elimination of the only Jewish state in the culmination of the ANC president’s election speech made to thousands of ANC members and on national television,” said Wendy Kahn, national director of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD). “He uses the populist slogan ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be Free,’ which is widely regarded as a call to genocide of the Jewish people. The call to remove all Jews from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea equates to removing all Jews from Israel.”

Kahn compared the slogan with Hamas’ goal to “see Israel as ‘Judenfrei,’ or Jew free,” before noting that such an endpoint contradicts the South African government’s stated policy of supporting a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“The chanting of this slogan by a head of state of a government that recurrently tries to express their commitment to a ‘two-state Solution’ as their policy on Israel and Palestine is hypocritical to the full,” the SAJBD said. “How does a sitting president reject his own government and own party’s international relations policy? This reconfirms our understanding that President Ramaphosa and his government are not looking for a peaceful solution to the tragic conflict, but rather to cause discord among fellow South Africans against its Jewish community.”

Kahn added, “The president’s contempt for South African Jewry is evident in this unscripted outburst at the rally which amounts to nothing more than Jew hatred. The SAJBD is reviewing its options for holding the president accountable for these hateful words.”

South Africa’s ANC government has been one of the harshest critics of Israel since Oct. 7, when Hamas terrorists launched the ongoing war in Gaza with their invasion of and massacre across southern Israeli communities.

South Africa temporarily withdrew its diplomats from Israel and shuttered its embassy in Tel Aviv shortly after the Oct. 7 Hamas pogrom, saying that the Pretoria government was “extremely concerned at the continued killing of children and innocent civilians” in Gaza.

In December, South Africa hosted two Hamas officials who attended a government-sponsored conference in solidarity with the Palestinians. One of the officials had been sanctioned by the US government for his role with the terrorist organization.

Earlier this month, members of South Africa’s Jewish community protested Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor’s recent call for students and university leaders to intensify the anti-Israel demonstrations that have engulfed college campuses across the US.

In January, the South African government failed in its bid to argue before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that Israel’s defensive war in Gaza constituted a “genocide.” However, the top UN court last week ordered Israel to halt its military operations against the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas in the southern Gaza city of Rafah. The emergency ruling was part of South Africa’s ongoing case at the ICJ.

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