January 21, 2021

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02/05 Links Pt1: BDS Terrorists; Abbas accuses U.S. of no longer being qualified to act as peace broker; PA vows to continue payments to prisoners, families of ‘martyrs’


From Ian:

JPost Editorial: BDS Terrorists
A Strategic Affairs Ministry report released this week with the catchy title “Terrorists in Suits,” reveals more than 100 different connections linking terrorists groups to organizations that promote anti-Israel boycotts, including “the employment of 30 current and ‘retired’ terror operatives.”

Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan said: “Terrorist groups and the anti-Israel boycott campaign have united in their goal of wiping Israel off the map. Terrorist groups view boycotts as a complementary tactic to terror attacks.”

We’re not talking about Roger Waters and his ilk: This is not just the ugly face of an artist who has decided to make it his life’s work to present a false image of Israel as an apartheid-era South Africa and call for the boycott of events, such as the Eurovision Song Contest scheduled to be held in Tel Aviv in May.

The report reveals a deeper, darker phenomenon: It shows how Hamas and the PFLP (the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) have ties to at least 13 anti-Israel NGOs, and have managed to place more than 30 of their members in senior positions inside these groups. This includes 20 members who have previously sat in jail, some for murder. The report “shows how boycott organizations and terrorist-designated organizations raise finances together and share the same personnel – and showcases that, contrary to popular belief, these officials have not abandoned their support for terrorism, but instead continue to maintain organizational, financial and active ties with terrorist groups.”

The BDS organizations were shown to have received millions of euros in funding from European countries and philanthropic foundations, in addition to funds raised through crowdfunding, banks and other means.

One of the most notorious names in the report is Leila Khaled, who became the poster girl of the PFLP in the 1970s for her involvement in the hijacking of two airliners. According to the report, in 2011 she was found to have taken coordinated actions for a terrorist cell planning to attack sites in Jerusalem, and has not renounced “armed struggle.”

Khaled remains active in the PFLP, a designated terrorist organization, but has been invited to address the Irish National Teachers’ Organization and to appear at an arts festival in Barcelona, for example. The Johannesburg City Council in South Africa last year even proposed that a street be named after her.

Sohrab Ahmari: A Papal Visit to the United Arab Emirates Bodes Well for the Region, and for Israel

On Sunday, Pope Francis became the first pontiff to visit the Arabian Peninsula when he arrived in Abu Dhabi for an interfaith conference sponsored by the United Arab Emirates’ Muslim Council of Elders. Sohrab Ahmari puts the visit in context:
The invitation to the [pope] solidifies the UAE’s status as the most responsible power in the Persian Gulf region. And it gives testament to the Emirati leadership’s determination to transcend the bloody, cruel fanaticism that has disfigured the House of Islam and brought ruin to Christians and other minorities unfortunate enough to dwell inside it. . . .

A reform vision defines the UAE’s geopolitical posture as well. Threatened by the expansionist Tehran regime, Abu Dhabi (along with Riyadh) has forged a strategic partnership with Jerusalem that is the region’s worst-kept secret. But in the UAE’s case, the ties go beyond “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Since 2010, three Israeli cabinet ministers have visited the UAE to discuss infrastructure, energy, and sports. As Zaki Nusseibeh, a minister of state and adviser to the late Sheikh Zayed, [the Emirates’ founder], told me: “There is no enmity between us and the state of Israel.”

Opinion polling suggests that the UAE leadership’s enlightened attitudes have begun to filter down to the populace. A YouGov survey conducted ahead of the pope’s visit found that Emiratis are much less likely to be concerned if a close relative marries a Christian than their neighbors in Saudi Arabia and Egypt would be. And while only about a third of Egyptians and Saudis expressed fears about Islamic extremism, more than half of Emiratis did. . . .

[T]rue, the country isn’t any sort of liberal democracy. Virtually all UAE Muslims, for example, hear the same sermon at Friday prayers—one drafted by a government-approved committee charged with countering radicalism. That goes against every liberal instinct in the West’s bones, but if it means fewer Islamic State atrocities here or in our homelands, I’ll take
it. The common good isn’t always and everywhere served by our form of government.

Dem Reps Signal Support for U.S. Recognition of Israeli Sovereignty Over Golan Heights

Two Democratic lawmakers from New York signaled on Monday that they might support the United States officially recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

“The only thing the Golan has ever been used for by the Syrians is to bombard Israel,” Rep. Jerry Nadler (D., N.Y.) told Jewish Insider. “They can’t have that again. It’s unsafe.”

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D., N.Y.) said she would support U.S. recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over the region if Democratic leadership is on board.

“If our leadership supports it, I don’t see what the problem is,” Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D., N.Y.) said. “So I will be supporting it, but only if it goes through the [House Foreign Affairs Committee] and is supported by the committee.”

Israel has maintained control over the contested region for 51 years after taking control in 1967 during the Six Day War. Israel defended itself during the conflict from attacks brought by Syria and other Arab nations in the region. In 1981, Israel annexed the Golan Heights. Since then, the U.S. has refused to recognize the region as sovereign territory of Jewish state.

Sens. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) and Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) introduced a resolution in December of last year that would have the Senate recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pressed the matter with John Bolton, the U.S. national security advisor, when the two met last month.

Democratic support for the measure appears to be growing. Rep. Eliot Engel (D., N.Y.), the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said last month that he supports the measure.

Khaled Abu Toameh: Abbas accuses U.S. of no longer being qualified to act as peace broker

The US is no longer qualified alone to act as a mediator because of its bias in favor of Israel and because of the decisions regarding Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees and settlements, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Tuesday.

Abbas, who was speaking during a joint press conference with visiting Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen in Ramallah, renewed his call for holding an international conference for peace in the Middle East. He also called for the establishment of a multi-party mechanism to proceed with the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.

“The European Union can play an important role [in the peace process], alongside members of the United Nations Security Council,” Abbas said. The Palestinians, he added, will not agree to participate in any international conference “that is not based on international legitimacy.”

Abbas said that the Palestinians have not authorized anyone to negotiate on their behalf.

“We have the first and last word on the Palestinian cause,” he stressed. “No one can represent us or speak on our behalf.”

Abbas’s remark refers to the upcoming US-Polish conference in Warsaw, which is scheduled to convene later this month, to discuss issues related to Syria, Yemen, Iran, terrorism, cybersecurity and missile development. Palestinian officials have called on the Arab countries to boycott the conference under the pretext that it is aimed at promoting normalization with Israel. PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat was recently quoted as saying that the Palestinians did not authorize any Arab country to represent or speak on behalf of them at the Warsaw conference.

Greenblatt, PA officials face-off in form of Twitter diplomacy

The Palestinian Authority may be boycotting the Trump administration’s Middle East negotiating team, which is expected to unveil its long-awaited peace plan after the April 9 elections, but the two sides are locking horns in the Twittersphere.

Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s Special Representative for International Negotiations, kicked off a sharp exchange on Friday, when he responded to Nabil Abu Rudeineh’s response to the ending of the US providing $61 million annually for a funding and training program for the PA’s security services because of the enactment of the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act. That law stipulates that those who receive US aid will come under jurisdiction of US courts in terror-related lawsuits.

As a result of the law, the PA said it would forgo receiving US financial aid.

“Disingenuous quote from Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman for Palestinian President [Mahmoud] Abbas,” Greenblatt tweeted, citing Rudeineh as saying that “the suspension of aid to our people, which included critical sectors such as health and education, will have a negative impact on all, create a negative atmosphere, and increase instability.”

First, Greenblatt tweeted in a long thread, “This aid was cut (not just suspended) at the PA’s request because they didn’t want to be subject to US courts which would require them to pay US citizens killed by Palestinian terrorists when the PA was found guilty.”

In this thread he wrote that the PA must use its money “wisely,” such as “stop rewarding terrorists who kill Israelis.”

PA vows to continue payments to prisoners, families of ‘martyrs’

The Palestinian Authority has again said that it will continue to pay salaries to Palestinian security prisoners and the families of Palestinians killed while carrying out attacks on Israel, despite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to authorize withholding taxes and tariffs collected for the PA in response to the payments.

The PA threatened that it will “go to international courts and institutions and to take all legal and diplomatic measures” to thwart Netanyahu’s plan.

Netanyahu’s move will be the first of its kind since the Deduction Law was passed last year. The law requires the Defense Ministry to present the security cabinet with a report on how much the PA paid to the prisoners and the families, and for the Finance Ministry to deduct that amount from the taxes and tariffs Israel collects for the PA.

Israel Hayom reported this week that Netanyahu will enact the law, but is concerned that it will destabilize the PA and is therefore seeking to find a way a balance between the two elements.

In response, the PA government in Ramallah on Tuesday accused Israel and the US administration of “employing various forms of pressure to force the Palestinian leadership to accept the deal of the century.” The “deal of the century” refers to US President Donald Trump’s yet-to-be-announced plan for peace in the Middle East, which the Palestinians have repeatedly dismissed as a “conspiracy aimed at liquidating Palestinian rights and the Palestinian cause.”

Israel’s Government Poised to Deduct ‘Terror Salaries’ From PA Tax Money

The Diplomatic-Security Cabinet is expected within two weeks to approve a major cut to the tax revenues that Israel collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, with the amount the PA pays to terrorists and their families to be deducted from the money Israel hands over to the PA.

The reduction will be enacted under a law passed this past summer by Knesset members Elazar Stern (Yesh Atid) and Avi Dichter (Likud), which requires the Defense Ministry to provide the cabinet with data on the amount the PA pays terrorists and their families. The Finance Ministry will then withhold that amount from the tax funds.

For some weeks, the Defense Ministry has been assiduously collecting figures to determine the exact amount that the PA pays out in “terror salaries.” According to the mechanism stipulated by the law, after a report on the salaries is presented, the Finance Ministry will carry out the deduction.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said in closed-door talks that the deduction will go ahead, although he expressed concern that the reduced tax funds would hurt the stability of the PA. He also said he would look for a way to carry out the demands of the law while ensuring that the PA remains stable.

Senior Israeli leaders pledge: 2 million Jews in the West Bank – report

Dozens of senior ministers and Knesset members from Likud and other right-of-center parties overnight signed a declaration to support the “Nahal” movement, which promotes a settlement plan from the time of former prime minister Yitzhak Shamir, according to a report published Tuesday by Israeli press.

The movement’s goal: Two million settlers living in the West Bank.

The senior officials who signed the declaration, according to the Israeli report, included Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, ministers Israel Katz, Yariv Levin, Ze’ev Elkin, Gilad Erdan, Ayelet Shaked, Naftali Bennett, Miri Regev and Tzachi Hanegbi.

The plan reflects a significant shift in policy from that of the current government, including unbridled building within the current settlement blocs and establishing new settlements throughout Judea and Samaria.

In the past two weeks, the Nahal movement has held protests in front of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s home, demanding that the government establish basic guidelines to allow Jewish building in all of Judea and Samaria, and annul any declarations of a two-state solution.

Netanyahu to meet Putin for first formal talks since Syria downed Russian plane

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will travel to Moscow later this month for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the first formal meeting since Russia blamed Israel for the downing of a military aircraft by Syrian anti-aircraft fire over Syria last year, the premier announced Tuesday.

Netanyahu said he will fly to Russia on February 21 for talks focused on Iranian efforts to establish a military presence in Syria.

He made the announcement during a press conference with Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen.

His office said the Israeli and Russian leaders would also discuss regional issues and improving security coordination between the countries’ militaries in Syria.

Danon: UN envoys were ‘shocked’ by Hezbollah tunnels

Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, told i24NEWS on Monday that a group of some 40 other ambassadors who visited Israel were “shocked” when they saw Hezbollah’s attack tunnels on Israel’s northern border with Lebanon.

The ambassadors to the United Nations landed in Israel last Thursday for a tour of the country hosted by Danon. On Sunday, the Israeli ambassador took his colleagues to the Lebanon border where they got a close look at one the cross-border terror tunnels discovered by Israeli forces recently.

The IDF recently concluded its Operation Northern Shield to foil the secret attack tunnels dug out by the Hezbollah terrorist group.

Danon told i24NEWS it was critical to bring UN delegations to Israel to see for themselves the situation on the ground and put a picture to the conflict discussed at length in the international arena.

“It is crucial to understand it because in the UN we speak a lot about Hezbollah, we speak about Iran funding Hezbollah in Lebanon, but there they actually saw Hezbollah on the other side of the border, they saw the tunnels, they saw the violation of Security Council Resolution 1701,” he said, referring to the UN-established ceasefire in 2006 after the Second Lebanon War.

Iraq War Veteran, Grandson of Holocaust Survivors Elan Carr Tapped as Antisemitism Envoy

After a 21-month-long vacancy awaiting the appointment of the US State Department’s Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, the Trump administration has picked Iraq War veteran and attorney Elan Carr to fill the position.

“I hope I make the difference. At the end of the day, all that matters are results and impact,” Carr told JNS. “And that’s what I pray — that I should have an impact on this terrible [problem].”

Carr, 50, arrived in Baghdad in October 2003 and served as an anti-terrorism officer in a unit under US Central Command.

He participated in Jewish life in the army including having a Passover seder, regularly leading Friday night Shabbat services, and lighting the Hanukkah menorah in the former palace of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, who threw Carr’s grandfather behind bars in 1948 for five years in response to Israel’s founding. He was convicted on a fabricated charge of disseminating Communist propaganda and calling Muslim witnesses “liars,” according to his grandson.

“My mother remembers him coming to the door with shaving cream on his face when they arrested him,” Carr told The Times of Israel in 2013, adding that she “remembers vividly the hysteria.”

In 1950, while in prison, the rest of the family moved to Israel, where he eventually joined them. There, Carr’s mother underwent army service in intelligence, followed by studying for a graduate degree in Middle Eastern and Islamic studies in New York City, where she met her husband.

Salvadorians elect friend of Israel as their next president

Bukele’s father is a prominent member of the local Palestinian community, and according to various media reports he emigrated from Jerusalem during the first half of the 20th century.

Despite his heritage, Bukele’s views on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict are unclear. In 2018, he was the guest of the Israeli government at a conference of mayors in Jerusalem. During his visit, he struck up a friendship with then Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and was seen praying at the Western Wall.

During his visit he gave an interview with Israel Hayom, detailing his plan to fight corruption and violence in his country. “If you install street lights, and then build a sidewalk and then a soccer field and library and an orchestra – you can probably convince people that joining gangs is not so sexy after all; this may give them some hope,” he said. “Of course you cannot eradicate violence overnight, but I can give them hope for a better future.”

Argentine forces stage massive drill at Israeli embassy, without warning locals

Hundreds of Argentinian security forces and and emergency responders held a large-scale drill Sunday simulating a hostage-taking scenario inside the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires.

Argentine Federal Police said the exercise involved members of Argentina’s police and military, as well as fire and medical rescue teams.

Footage of the drill aired on local TV showed commandos rappelling from a helicopter onto the roof of the building and special forces securing suspects in the street during a simulated hostage situation.

Israeli officials did not take part in the exercise, although several embassy employees played the parts of the hostages.

Malaysia to Lose $1.2 Million After Stripped of World Para Swimming Championships

Malaysia is projected to lose $1.2 million after being stripped by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) from hosting this summer’s World Para Swimming Championships due to the country banning Israeli athletes.

Reportedly, the hotel sector is set to take most of that loss as around 600 athletes were expected to compete, “any of whom would have stayed in hotels in the state of Sarawak,” according to the sports-news outlet Inside the Games.

Other fields that will likely be hit due to the IPC reversal are airlines, restaurants, travel agencies, shopping areas and transportation firms.

“The swimmers and coaches stay up to two weeks, although the championships last for one week,” said John Teo, honorary secretary general of the Malaysian Association of Hotels Sarawak Chapter. “The hotel would not be able to fill up the occupancy within [this] short span of time after the cancellation of the championships.”

The competition is scheduled to occur from July 29 to Aug. 4.

“Politics and sport are never a good mix,” said IPC President Andrew Parsons in a statement following the decision. “We are disappointed that Israeli athletes would not have been allowed to compete in Malaysia.”

Cameroon apologizes after official says ‘arrogant’ Jews brought on Holocaust

The Cameroon government has expressed “sincere regret” to Israel over comments made by a minister who compared the Bamileke people to Jews persecuted by Nazi Germany.

Deputy justice minister Jean de Dieu Momo appeared to warn arrested opposition leader Maurice Kamto that he was leading the Bamileke people to a fate similar to that of Jews murdered in World War II.

Both men are of Bamileke descent.

“In Germany, there was a very rich community who wielded all economic power,” Jean de Dieu Momo said on Sunday during a prime-time TV show on the public Cameroon radio television (Crtv) network. He added that he was referring to the Jews.

“They (the Jews) were so arrogant that the German people were frustrated. Then one day, a certain Hitler came to power and put them in the gas chambers,” he said.

“Educated people like Mr Kamto need to know where they are leading their people,” he said.

In Haaretz’s English Edition, TIPH Abuses Are Just Allegations

In two separate articles late last week, Haaretz‘s Hebrew edition noted video documenting two incidents in which employees of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) carried out abuses in the disputed city, slapping a Jewish child and slashing the tires of a Jewish resident’s car.

Haaretz‘s corresponding English articles, however, were not so sure about the documentation, and has qualified these incidents as “alleged,” or according to police reports. Videos, as the Hebrew edition reported, do indeed show these incidents.

Thus, the page 2 story Friday (“Erekat to UN: Stop Israel’s plan to expel international observers from Hebron,” and online here), states:

In recent months the organization’s people had become especially loathed, after dissemination of a security camera tape allegedly showing one of them slashing the tires on a settler’s car, and another video allegedly showing a TIPH operative slapping a child in the settlement.

In contrast, the Hebrew article states as fact that the video showed the violence and vandalism:

In recent months, the organization’s people had become especially loathed after the dissemination of documentation of one of them slashing the tires belonging to one of the settlers and letting out the air across from security cameras, and documentation of another activist slapping a child from the settlement.

IDF: Palestinian teens attack troops with bomb; 1 shot dead

Two Palestinian teenagers were shot as they attacked a group of Israeli soldiers at an army post in the northern West Bank on Monday night, the military said.

One of the assailants, a 19-year-old, was killed, and the second, 15, was seriously wounded, according to Palestinian health officials.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, the two threw an explosive device at soldiers guarding the Jalameh Crossing, near Jenin.

In response, the servicemen opened fire at the assailants.

No IDF soldiers were injured in the incident, the army said.

The Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance service said the attacker who was killed had been shot in the head. He was identified as Abed Allah Tawalbeh. The other was reportedly shot in the buttock and taken to a Jenin hospital for treatment.

Mother, brother of Givat Asaf terrorist arrested in raid

IDF soldiers have arrested the mother and brother of Assam Barghouti, the terrorist who killed IDF soldiers Staff Sgt. Yovel Mor Yosef and Sgt. Yosef Cohen and wounded two other Israelis in a shooting attack at the Givat Asaf outpost in Samaria in November, Palestinian media outlets reported Tuesday.

According to the Palestinian reports, the IDF carried out a raid early Tuesday and took Umm Salah al-Barghouti, the shooter’s mother, and one of his brothers – whom the reports did not name – into custody.

The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said that overnight Monday, IDF and Shin Bet security agency forces, along with Border Police and Israel Police personnel, arrested 25 terrorist suspects in Judea and Samaria and in the Jordan Valley.

AG rejects right-wing appeal against Breaking the Silence

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit put to bed on Monday the final appeal by right-wing groups demanding that the left-wing anti-occupation group Breaking the Silence be investigated for treason.

In a letter to an attorney for the right-wing advocacy organization Ad Kan, Mandelblit’s office said the attorney general found “no cause” to second-guess the State Attorney’s Office’s announcement in 2017 that there was no evidence of criminal wrongdoing on the part of Breaking of Silence.

Breaking the Silence has drawn a great deal of criticism among mainstream Israelis in recent years for collecting and publicizing mostly anonymous testimony of alleged IDF mistreatment of Palestinians.

The latest legal saga began in 2016, when right-wing NGOs sent former soldiers with hidden cameras to meet with Breaking the Silence and offer inaccurate testimony, attempting to demonstrate that the organization’s methods for collecting its information was skewed by its self-acknowledged left-wing politics. Breaking the Silence said none of the attempts were successful.

The footage aired in a news report on what was then Channel 2 news (now Channel 12).

Gaza film wins top documentary at Paris foreign press awards

A documentary about a Palestinian family in the Gaza Strip that had many of its members killed by Israeli soldiers in an incident during the 2009 war in the territory, won best documentary at the Paris foreign press film awards late Monday.

“Samouni Road,” a partly animated film by Italian Stefano Savona, examines the so-called Zeitoun incident, which came during an Israeli ground offensive aimed at stopping Hamas rocket fire.

Savona spent nine years trying to piece together what happened when a farming community in the north of the Gaza Strip was razed by Israeli special forces, killing 29 civilians mostly huddled together in one house.

Last year the film earned stellar reviews at the Cannes Film Festival.

Savona has said his film is not “reportage or propaganda” but an examination of “the pain and resilience of these people” trying to rebuild their lives.

On Saturday at Spain’s national Goya Awards, another film, “Gaza,” won best short documentary.

The popularity of Hamas

In December of last year, Hamas held a celebration of the 31st anniversary of its founding. While photographs of the event showed a public square packed with enthusiastic participants, Hillel Frisch argues that the terrorist group isn’t nearly so popular as its leaders want people to believe:

Hamas refrained from holding its commemoration in Gaza’s largest square, the Square of the Unknown Soldier, choosing instead a smaller [venue] near the Islamic University, a Hamas stronghold, with an area of 21,000 square meters—compared to over 60,000 for the former.

Specialists in traffic flow . . . point to a two-person-by-square-meter measure as the high-end threshold of crowd safety. [A close look at pictures of the event therefore suggests that] the number of those participating could not have exceeded 42,000. . . . The number attending also explains why Hamas chose the smaller square. The shadow (and real) Hamas government has on its payroll 51,000 military and civilian employees, many of whom are beneficiaries of the $30 million in cash from Qatar distributed in Gaza. . .

Rest assured that these employees returned part of the money they received to Hamas to organize the event. These employees, as reluctant as they might have been to part with precious cash, no doubt realized that Qatar provided these funds because of Hamas’s feud with the Palestinian Authority—which has become wrapped up in Qatar’s own feud with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates—rather than on humanitarian grounds. There are far needier Gazans than Hamas employees.

The crucial question is whether the organization will privilege meeting the needs of its bureaucracy, and thus keep the peace, [thanks to which Israel has allowed Qatari money to enter Gaza], or stick to the path of aggression it renewed in April 2018, with the March of Return demonstration. Qatar wants a tamer, but independent Hamas, [while] Iran wants bloodshed on Israel’s southern front. The problem is that Hamas needs the financial aid of both.

MEMRI: Assad Regime: If Israel Does Not Cease Its Attacks, It Will Find We Are Capable Of Defending Ourselves

In the course of January 2018, the Syrian regime and its affiliated media escalated their statements against Israel. The statements came in response to Israel’s continued attacks against the Iranian presence in Syria: On January 11, a Syrian military source reported that Israeli planes had fired several rockets into the Damascus area,[1] and on January 20 the Syrian army reported an Israeli attack in the south of the country, which, unusually, had taken place during the day. [2] The Syrian regime responded by firing a surface-to-surface missile into the Israeli Golan.[3] This prompted Israel to launch what the Syrian regime called “its most violent and large-scale attack” in Syria to date, which, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, resulted in the death of at least 21 people, 12 of them members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).[4] In an unusual move, Israel admitted to carrying out this last attack, one of whose targets was the Damascus international airport.[5]

Alongside its standard responses to the attacks – such as claims that Israel dares to attack Syria only thanks to the support it receives from the U.S. and that the UN Security Council (UNSC) is not doing enough to stop it – the Syrian regime has begun taking a harsher tone and threatening a direct attack on Israel. Articles in the regime and pro-regime press likewise made threats, warning Israel that Syria has missile capabilities of which it is unaware and that its end is near.

This report reviews the threats voiced by Syrian officials and in the Syrian press against Israel.

Syrian Regime: Israel Will Not Be Able To Withstand The Syrian Missiles, Which Can Reach Every Part Of It

In a January 22, 2019 UNSC session on the situation in the Middle East, the Syrian representative to the U.N., Bashar Al-Ja’afari, criticized the UN for failing to condemn “the almost daily Israeli aggression” against Syria, the latest example of which, he said, was Israel’s bombing of the international airport in Damascus. Directing a threatening message at Israel, he asked: “Is it not time that the UNSC took the necessary measures to stop the repeated Israeli attacks on the soil of the Syrian Arab Republic? Or must Syria draw the attention of the war-mongers on this council by exercising its legitimate right to self-defense and responding to the Israeli attack on the [Damascus] civilian international airport with a similar attack on the airport in Tel Aviv?”[6]

MEMRI: IRGC Deputy Commander Hossein Salami Threatens To Annihilate Israel, Adds: Our Influence In The Region Is Based On A Spirit Of Jihad That The People Relate To; We Can Expand Our Missile Force In Accordance With Our Military Strategy

Hossein Salami, the deputy commander of the IRGC, said on Channel 2 TV (Iran) on February 2, 2019, that Iran has the experience and technological ability necessary to expand the stealth capabilities, destructive capacity, and range of its missile force, and that it has not done so only because of strategic considerations. Explaining that Iran’s current defense strategy is one of deterrence and that this strategy is not fixed, Salami said that any desire on the part of Europe or other countries to disarm Iran of its missiles might give Iran no choice but to make a “strategic leap.” He said: “Let no one negotiate with us, recommend anything to us, or request anything from us” with regard to Iran’s missile program. Salami added that the Islamic Revolution has inspired and given confidence to other military powers in the Middle East and that it has connected them to Iran in terms of policy, strategy, and security. He also said that Iran’s influence in the region is a matter of faith because the people and Iran share a conviction regarding a spirit of Jihad and of revolution against the tyrannical rule of the Zionists, the Americans, the terrorists, and the takfiris. In addition, Salami threatened Israel, saying that it is vulnerable and bringing itself closer to death. He said: “If Israel makes a mistake that sparks a new war, they can rest assured that this will bring about their elimination… They will be annihilated before the Americans get here. They should look for cemeteries outside of occupied Palestine.”

“No Technical Obstacles Are Preventing Us From Increasing The Range, The Precision, Or The Destructive Power Of Our Long-Range Missiles”

Hossein Salami: “We have valuable experience from our use of the missile force during the final years of the Iran-Iraq War and during the War of the Cities. We have valuable experience from the battles of the Muslim Palestinians and Lebanese against the Zionist entity and their confrontation with it. Therefore, the goal of our defense strategy is to create a constant deterring force.
“Fortunately, we do not have any technological obstacles preventing us from expanding our missile force. In other words, we can increase the precision of the missiles to 100%. With regard to missile fuel and propellants, as well as with regard to the warheads and their destructive power and the range of the missiles and their stealth capability – we are facing no technological obstacle.

U.S. ambassador to Germany: ‘Horrific actions’ of Iran equal to ISIS

The most high-profile US ambassador in Europe, Richard Grenell, compared on Saturday the Islamic State’s brutality with the execution sprees in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The US ambassador to Germany wrote in the federal republic’s largest circulation paper BILD: “The recent press reports, first carried by The Jerusalem Post, that the Iranian regime publicly hanged a 31-year-old man for being gay should be a wake-up call for anyone who supports basic human rights. Politicians, the UN, democratic governments, diplomats, and good people everywhere should speak up – and loudly,” adding “Iran’s horrific actions are on par with the brutality and savagery regularly demonstrated by ISIS.”

Islamic State has engaged in public executions of gay men, including tossing gay men from buildings.

Iran’s mullah regime and the Islamic State despise the LGBT community and both prescribe capital punishment for gays and lesbians.

As of 2016, the LGBT human rights advocacy organization OutRight Action International documented 90 murders carried out by the Islamic State during the period 2014-2016.

According to a 2008 British Wikileaks dispatch, the Islamic Republic of Iran executed “between 4,000 and 6,000 gays and lesbians” since the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran.

Iran Has Teamed Up with the Taliban

Republican Rep. Michael Waltz, 45, defeated Democrat Nancy Soderberg in the 2018 midterm elections in Florida’s 6th Congressional District to replace Rep. Ron DeSantis, who was elected the state’s governor in a contentious race. Before joining Congress, Waltz served as a U.S. Army Special Forces officer and is the first Green Beret ever elected to Congress. A veteran of the war in Afghanistan, he served a senior role at the Pentagon as the director of Afghanistan policy as well as senior advisor to Vice President Dick Cheney for South Asia and Counter terrorism.
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JNS talked with Waltz in person. The interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

Q: What is your overall stance on the U.S.-Israel relationship?
A: A strong U.S.-Israel relationship is critical—it’s critical to our national security, it’s critical to the region. That ranges from our cultural and historic ties together; our values of democracy, freedom, free press, individual liberties and, of course, defense. I’m a proponent of the qualitative military edge that we’ve committed to our Israeli allies. With me as a member, you’re going to get someone who has walked the walk overseas across the Middle East, across South Asia, across Africa, has a little dirt under the fingernails. So it’s really not just a talking point with me. I don’t think you’re going to find any members who have actively operated against the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps [IRGC] and seen what they’re about. I’ve seen firsthand what Iran wants to do in the region not only to Israel as our ally, but to American interests. Bottom line: I think the relationship is critical across the board.

Q: Do you mind elaborating on your experience? You mentioned the IRGC.
A: When I served abroad in Afghanistan, the IRGC was very active with the Taliban, even though they would not have a natural relationship with Iran obviously being Shia, the Taliban being an extremist Sunni organization. But we’ve seen Iran through the IRGC and through the Kuds force, which is its foreign operations force, very effectively have marriages of convenience with surrogates that may not be naturally aligned but have forces that they want to use against the U.S., which is exactly what they were doing with the Taliban through training, through recruiting, and helping them with arming and equipping.

In rare joint statement, EU voices concern about Iranian missiles

The European Union said on Monday it was gravely concerned by Iran’s ballistic missile launches and tests and called on Tehran to stop activity that deepened mistrust and destabilized the region.

Iran has expanded its missile program, particularly its ballistic missiles, in defiance of opposition from the United States and expressions of concern by European countries. Tehran says the program is purely defensive.

“The Council is … gravely concerned by Iran’s ballistic missile activity and calls upon Iran to refrain from these activities,” the EU said in a rare joint statement on Iran.

“Iran continues to undertake efforts to increase the range and precision of its missiles, together with increasing the number of tests and operational launches … . These activities deepen mistrust and contribute to regional instability.”

Tehran should refrain in particular from any work on missiles designed to be capable of delivering a nuclear weapon, the EU said.

Iran: EU Preconditions for Alternate Trade Channel “Unacceptable”

Iran’s top judge said on Monday that Tehran would never accept the “humiliating conditions” set by the European Union for non-dollar trade intended to evade U.S. sanctions, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported.

France, Germany and Britain have opened a new channel for non-dollar trade with Iran to get around the sanctions, reimposed on Iran after President Donald Trump’s decision in May to exit a 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and six major powers.

“After nine months of procrastination and negotiation, Europeans have created a mechanism with limited capacity … only for food and medicine,” Tasnim quoted Sadeq Amoli-Larijani as saying.

“Iran will never accept their strange and humiliating conditions of joining the FATF (the Financial Action Task Force) and negotiations on its missile programme.”

A French, British and German statement on Friday made no mention of any preconditions, although the European powers must now establish a budget and define its rules before the mechanism can be operational.

Iranian Atomic Energy Chief Salehi: We Needed 10 Years for Centrifuge Testing Regardless of JCPOA

Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, was interviewed on Channel 2 TV (Iran) on January 30, 2019. He said that Iran is neither rich nor poor when it comes to uranium and that it is working to produce a strategic uranium reserve. He said that testing on the IR4 and IR2M centrifuges has been completed and they can now be produced industrially. He also said that the IR5, IR6, IR7, and IR8 centrifuges are currently being tested, and that this is being done in compliance with the JCPOA. He explained that the 10-year period in which the JCPOA limits Iran to using only IR1 centrifuges for uranium enrichment is roughly the same amount of time that Iran would have needed to test new centrifuges anyway, and that the U.S. had thought that Iran would not have enough IR1 centrifuges to last for those 10 years. However, he said that less than 1% of IR1 centrifuges disintegrate – compared to the previous failure rate of 40% – and that Iran today has 14,000 IR1 centrifuges, many of which are in storage, such that Iran has more than enough IR1 centrifuges to last for the 10-year period.

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