A 1,200-year-old gold coin fonud at Kfar Kama. (photo by Israel Antiquities Authority via Ashernet)
Two teenage students from the lower Galilee, Dor Yogev and Ella Dicks, who were participating in an Israel Antiquities Authority dig in nearby Kfar Kama, found some ancient coins. Included in the find was a 1,200-year-old gold coin inscribed in Arabic and mentioning the name of Muhammad and monotheism. The find shows that the people who lived at the location were there at the early Islamic period in the 7th and 8th centuries. The location of the dig, Kfar Kama, is the home of the Circassian community. The Circassians are a Sunni Muslim community closely allied with Israel; they participate fully in Israeli life, including their young men serving in the Israel Defence Forces.
A letter of introduction, written and signed by the Rambam (Maimonides) in the 12th century, which is part of the Discarded History exhibition that will be opening in April 2017 at Cambridge University.Visitors will be able to see a small fraction of the more than 300,000 manuscripts and fragments that were originally found in the geniza, or storeroom, of Ben Ezra Synagogue in Fustat, or Old Cairo, in Egypt. Some of the items are more than 1,000 years old and, among them, are accounting records and parts of responsa and observations by some of the greatest Jewish theological minds, such as the Rambam, Isaac Luria and Joseph Caro. (photo by Edgar Asher with permission of the Syndics of Cambridge University Library)
Israel Antiquities Authority’s new 36,000-square-metre, three-level National Campus for Archeology of Israel, designed by architect Moshe Safdie to descend like excavation strata, is still under construction. (photo by Ardon Bar Hama, Israel Antiquities Authority, via Ashernet)
Located on Museum Hill in Giv’at Ram between the Israel Museum and the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem, the facility will allow the public to see some of the tens of thousands of archeological items presently being held in store rooms and to watch, through windows, conservation being carried out on a variety of national treasures. Twenty-six donors, together with a significant contribution from the state, made it possible to go ahead with the $105 million project, which is expected to be complete in about a year’s time.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu kisses Adel Banita’s 2-year old son on the forehead in Hadassah Hospital on Oct. 5, 2015. Netanyahu was visiting Banita, who was stabbed by a Palestinian terrorist in Jerusalem’s Old City. Her husband, Aharon, 22, died later of his injuries. (photo from Ashernet)
The Jewish year 5776 could be probably best described as a year of diplomacy and terror. Despite the toll of death and misery being inflicted by radical Islamic terror groups around the world, Israel this past year has been relatively quiet in so much as it has not had an outright war with its neighbors. Terror, however, has been present, with the knife and automobile being the weapons of choice to inflict fear and mayhem on the long-suffering citizens of Israel.
Radicalized, mostly young, Arab terrorists have been responsible for murdering or seriously injuring innocent men, women and children by stabbings or ramming their vehicles into groups of people, usually standing at bus stops or hitchhiking posts. Death and injury have also been caused by throwing large stones at passing cars in the West Bank. In several instances, firearms have been used by terrorists to kill people enjoying an evening out. On Aug. 17, a terrorist from the West Bank shot dead four people and injured a further six individuals at a restaurant in Tel Aviv. Perhaps the most outrageous attack was the murder of 13-year-old Hallel-Yaffe Ariel as she slept in her bed in her home in Kiryat Arba on June 30.
The year has been marked by intensive diplomatic activity, particularly as far as the African continent is concerned. Major countries, such as Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia and Rwanda, played host to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu this past summer. Their leaders have also visited Israel and trade agreements were signed. One African leader said the visit of the Israeli prime minister to Africa was to “reset Africa’s diplomatic relations with Israel.” Many African countries are anxious to use Israeli technology for water management and agricultural development. It is also worth noting that many African nations have also been victims of radical Islamic terrorism.
Israel’s Mediterranean neighbors were not forgotten this past year. Mutual interests of both energy and security have brought Greece, Israel and Cyprus closer. Greece and Israel have conducted military exercises in each other’s country, and the three countries are working together to maximize the natural gas deposits that have been discovered in the eastern Mediterranean.
Despite the tensions in the Middle East, beneath the surface, much is happening between Israel and its neighbor Jordan. Perhaps the most significant long-term change is the soon-to-be-completed Jezreel Valley railway project. Apart from the advantage for Israelis living in the north and working in the Haifa area, the new rail link will enable Jordanians to have a Mediterranean trade outlet, via Haifa. The only link to the sea for Jordan at present is at Aqaba on the Red Sea.
Another project between Israel and Jordan concerns the rapid evaporation of the Dead Sea. Already the lowest point on earth, the sea level is getting lower every year. Also, the annual replacement of water from rivers in the north does not reach the Dead Sea. This river water is being used for agriculture and domestic purposes. In principle, the two countries have agreed to build a water feed from the Gulf of Eilat to the Dead Sea. On the way, the flow of water would power generators to produce electricity.
As regards her other neighbors in the region, the terrible humanitarian crises being played out in Syria and Libya have once again demonstrated that Israel will never turn her back on those in need. As thousands of refugees have been pouring onto some Greek islands via Turkey to escape the unrelenting wars in the Middle East and North Africa, Israel’s aid organizations and medical teams have been on hand to offer help and expertise.
Among other happenings during the year, another state-of-the-art submarine was delivered during the summer from a German shipyard to augment Israel’s submarine fleet. And, finally, former prime minister Ehud Olmert was sent to prison after being found guilty of corruption and bribery. The positive side of this? The rule of law is the same in Israel for all of its citizens.
Buzz Aldrin addresses the 2016 session of the International Space University at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa. (photo from Technion via Ashernet)
On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first human to set foot on the moon; he was followed by Buzz Aldrin, while the third member of the team, Michael Collins, orbited the moon in the expedition’s command module.
On July 26, Aldrin addressed the 2016 session of the International Space University at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa. Aldrin serves as chancellor of the ISU and, at present, the ISU’s summer program is being held at the Technion.
“We were given an opportunity to land on the moon, and the opportunity became a landmark event that changed the history of mankind,” said Aldrin in his lecture. “Four hundred thousand people were involved in the success of this mission and a half billion people were watching us making history,” he added. “When we returned from there, we were greeted as heroes, but the world cheered not only us but what we represented – conquering the impossible.”
Looking beyond the moon, Aldrin would like to see humans having a permanent presence on Mars by 2040 – to this end, he founded the Buzz Aldrin Space Institute in Florida.
The newly found Philistine cemetery in Ashkelon National Park. (photo by Leon Levy Foundation via Ashernet)
Over the past 30 years, excavations have been undertaken in the park by the Leon Levy Expedition and the cemetery was actually located in 2013, but kept secret until the excavation was complete. The cemetery is located about 10 feet below ground level on a site that was later used as a Roman vineyard, and between 150 and 200 bodies lie buried there. The findings, dated to the 11th-8th centuries BCE, may well support the claim that the Philistines were migrants from lands to the west who arrived in ancient Israel around the 12th century BCE. Some of the Philistines were buried with perfumed oil, bracelets, earrings and other jewelry. The findings are on display until February in an Israel Museum exhibit at the Rockefeller Archeological Museum in Jerusalem.
Humanitarian goods from Turkey arrive at the Kerem Shalom crossing point into the Gaza Strip; it was the first such shipment to arrive in Israel from Turkey since the reestablishment of ties between the two countries at the end of last month. (photo from Ashernet)
The families of Israel Defence Forces soldiers Oren Shaul and Hadar Goldin – both of whom were killed two years ago in Operation Protective Edge and whose bodies are still held by Hamas – were dissatisfied with the reconciliation agreement between the two countries, as it did not include the return of their sons’ bodies or the return of two Israeli citizens, Avraham Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayyad, imprisoned in the Gaza Strip. Many also objected at the apology by Israel to the Turkish government, together with a $20 million compensation package, over the May 2010 IDF raid on the Gaza-bound Turkish ship Mavi Marmara, which resulted in the deaths of 10 Turkish citizens after the activists on board attacked the IDF soldiers; it was this event that caused the break in Turkish-Israeli relations.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu awards this year’s Genesis Prize to violinist Itzhak Perlman at a June 23 ceremony in Jerusalem. The annual prize of $1 million is given to “an exceptional human being who has attained outstanding excellence and international renown in his or her chosen field, is a role model in the community and who can inspire the next generation of Jews worldwide.” Perlman said he plans to direct his prize money to philanthropic projects in the fields of music and support for individuals with disabilities.
(photo by Israel Antiquities Authority via Ashernet)
Inspectors of the Israel Antiquities Authority’s Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery during a June 14 raid on a store in Jerusalem’s Mamilla Mall. Bronze arrowheads, coins bearing the names of the Hasmonean rulers, vessels for storing perfumes and hundreds of items that are thousands of years old were being offered for sale by the store, which was not licensed to trade antiquities. New regulations have been in force since March requiring that antiquities dealers manage their commercial inventory using a computerized system developed by the IAA. The system, which allows the tracking of items, aims to prevent antiquities dealers from selling artifacts that are the product of robbery, namely the illicit excavation of archeological sites.
Prof. Eytan Mor, left, and Dr. Evyatar Nesher with a kidney transplant recipient at Petach Tikvah’s Beilinson Hospital, which is part of the Rabin Medical Centre. Mor is director of the transplant department and Nesher, the department’s deputy head. (photo from Ashernet)
About nine years ago, a 55-year-old woman with a congenital kidney disease underwent a kidney transplant in the Philippines. Last week, she died following a stroke and her brother, who suffered from the same congenital disease and needed a transplant, received his sister’s kidney, which was still viable, though she had died. This was the first time such a surgical procedure had been performed in Israel, and it is thought that this procedure has been performed only five times in the world. This is also the first time that such a transplant has been carried out between family members. It is hoped that this landmark operation will encourage more live donations of kidneys.