Eugene Kontorovich: Why Israeli Rule in the West Bank Is Legal under International Law
An interview with Professor Eugene Kontorovich by Sarah Haetzni-Cohen
A version of this interview first appeared in Hebrew in Makor Rishon on March 23, 2018.
Professor Eugene Kontorovich is the head of the international law department of the Kohelet Policy Forum and a fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He teaches at the Law Faculty of Northwestern University. Born in Ukraine, Professor Kontorovich spent most of his adult life in the United States. Several years ago, he moved to Israel with his family.
Q: From the viewpoint of international law, how can the legal position of Judea and Samaria [West Bank] be defined?
Professor Kontorovich: The question that should be asked is: What were the borders of Israel when it was first established? What defines this is the borders at the moment of independence. Israel was created, like most countries, after a successful war where no one came to its aid. In international law, there is a clear rule regarding the establishment of new countries: the country’s borders are determined in accordance with the borders of the previous political entity in that area. So what was here before? The British Mandate. And what were the borders of the British Mandate? From the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River.
The UN General Assembly’s declaration on November 29, 1947, was a recommendation for partition rather than an operative resolution. What actually defined the situation was what the Mandate did, and it neither accepted the recommendations nor put them into force. During the War of Independence, Jordan and Egypt conquered territories from Israel illegally, and it was almost universally agreed that neither Jordan nor Egypt had any legitimate claim of sovereignty over Judea and Samaria or Gaza. But Israel did. When Israel liberated the territories in 1967, it renewed its control over lands that it had sovereignty over based on the Mandatory borders.
This week, an assemblywoman from Brooklyn — the New York City borough with approximately 2.7 million people, not some far-flung hamlet in flyover country — went on an near-hour-long rant in which she accused Jews of conspiring to gentrify her district and steal her home. In the midst of this outburst, Diane Richardson reportedly referred to one of her rivals as the “the Jewish senator from southern Brooklyn.”
This incident comes not long after a DC Council member named Trayon White Sr., a Democrat who represents the Eighth Ward of the capital of the free world in the twenty-first century, posted a video offering some of his thoughts on how “the Rothschilds” were controlling the climate to squeeze money out of the oppressed.
Both of these people have been treated as raving lunatics, which they might very well be. But a person could easily imagine the fate of any elected official in a large city had he or she aimed similar conspiracies at African-American neighbors. We would almost assuredly be plunged into a national conversation about the shameful bigotry that plagues our cities.
That’s not to argue that we should overreact to these incidents. Although certainly a serious concern, anti-Semitism is a relatively minor problem in American life. It is, however, getting difficult not to notice a trend among liberals of either ignoring, rationalizing, or brushing off anti-Semitism, which seems to be more commonplace on the Left than it has been in a long time.
But when identity politics and class warfare propel your movement, as it does the progressivism that’s becoming increasingly popular on the American Left, it’s almost inevitable that the Jews, who’ve tended to successfully navigate meritocracies, will become targets. This hate has traveled with socialists since Karl Marx first declared that “Money” was the god of the Jews.
The “Friday of Tires” protest failed to achieve its main objective, which was to impede the actions of IDF marksmen on Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip.
The Palestinians did not manage to infiltrate the territory of the State of Israel in their vast numbers, and the Israeli deterrent was preserved.
The Palestinian “Return” campaign has also failed to mobilize Arab states and the West Bank. But there is still a month ahead for the campaign to run, on various notable dates, culminating in Nakba Day on May 14 and 15, the scheduled dates of the transfer of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem and Nakba
On May 15, the month-long fast of Ramadan, which is sacred to the Muslims, is set to begin.
According to official statistics released by the Palestinian Health Ministry, 10 Palestinians were killed during the “Friday of Tires” in Gaza. Around 1,400 were injured, 33 of whom were in serious condition.
The second week of the “return” campaign organized by Hamas ended in failure, according to IDF estimations, which the Palestinians do not deny. Only around 20,000 people took part in these events, compared to 40,000 people who participated during the previous week.
International Criminal Court Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said on Sunday that the IDF’s and Hamas’ actions on the Gaza border could potentially constitute war crimes.
Issuing the first statement relating to Israel and the Palestinians since a visit in October 2016, she said, “It is with grave concern that I note the violence and deteriorating situation in the Gaza Strip in the context of recent mass demonstrations.”
She noted “at least 27 Palestinians have been reportedly killed by the Israeli Defense Forces, with over a thousand more injured, many, as a result of shootings using live ammunition and rubber-bullets.”
Continuing she said, “Violence against civilians – in a situation such as the one prevailing in Gaza – could constitute crimes under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court…as could the use of civilian presence for the purpose of shielding military activities.”
The chief prosecutor said she was issuing the statement to “remind all parties that the situation in Palestine is under preliminary examination by my Office…any new alleged crime committed…may be subjected to my Office’s scrutiny. This applies to the events of the past weeks and to any future incident.”
Moreover, she said her office “will continue to closely watch the situation and will record any instance of incitement or resort to unlawful force. I urge all those concerned to refrain from further escalating this tragic situation.”
Bensouda concluded that, “Any person who incites or engages in acts of violence including by ordering, requesting, encouraging or contributing in any other manner to the commission of crimes within ICC’s jurisdiction is liable to prosecution before the Court, with full respect for the principle of complementarity. The resort to violence must stop.”
The Palestinian Authority on Saturday called to devise a “new formula” that would deny the US the right to veto resolutions at the United Nations Security Council.
The appeal came after the US on Friday blocked a Security Council statement supporting the right of Palestinians to “demonstrate peacefully” and endorsing Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ call for an independent investigation into deadly protests in the Gaza Strip.
In response to the latest US move, the PA Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Ramallah called on UN members and the international community to “search for a new formula that would invalidate US vetoes and objections if they are found to be in violation of the goals, principles, and conventions on which the international system was established.”
The ministry noted that the US move came in spite of the fact that the proposed resolution was “non-binding and modest.”
The PA ministry said that unless such a formula was devised, the Security Council will remain a “helpless hostage in light of blind American bias in favor of the occupation and will lose what’s left of its credibility.”
The PA ministry warned that failure to do so would “legitimize the law of the jungle and the concepts of bullying and power.”
Richard Kemp, a former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, came to see the protests.
“One thing people don’t appreciate if they haven’t seen it is that this is not a peaceful demonstration,” he said.
Despite Hamas’s claims, Kemp said that seeing the clashes close up revealed the reality.
“This is a deliberate and specific intent by terrorist organizations to penetrate the State of Israel and kill civilians, and the IDF has no option except to use lethal force to stop such a dangerous threat.”
Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, the IDF’s spokesman to the foreign press and head of social media, emphasized that 10 of the Palestinians killed last week had been active Hamas members.
Speaking to media assembled near Nahal Oz, across from Gaza City, Conricus said the demonstrations were not peaceful and the sole intention was to use the riots as a cover to threaten Israeli communities along the border.
“We hold Hamas responsible for any act of aggression that comes from Gaza,” he asserted.
He also said that the number of demonstrations was smaller than the week before.
Israeli troops opened fire on three Palestinians who were spotted crossing into Israeli territory from the northern Gaza Strip on Sunday afternoon, the army said, amid heightened tensions along the Gaza border.
The Israel Defense Forces denied reports that the suspects had shot at Israeli equipment or troops.
According to the army, the three men were seen crossing the security fence and then returning to Gaza.
“IDF troops fired toward them,” the army said.
Palestinian media reported that a tank had fired shells at the men. The IDF would not comment on the claim.
There were no immediate reports of Palestinian casualties.
No IDF soldiers were hurt.
“The circumstances of the breach are being investigated,” the army said.
This infiltration is the latest incident in a series of escalating events along the Gaza border.
An unarmed Palestinian man was apprehended by security forces on Saturday after he crossed the security fence separating Israel from the Gaza Strip.
The man was delivered to the Shin Bet security service for interrogation.
His arrest came a day after tens of thousands of Palestinians gathered along the Gaza border, burning tires and throwing firebombs and rocks at Israeli soldiers, who responded with tear gas and live fire.
Nine Gazans were reported killed and over 1,000 injured by Israeli fire at the border protests. It was the second Friday in a row that the Palestinians held a “March of Return” protest at the border.
A Palestinian man suspected of trying to stab an Israeli at a West Bank gas station was shot in the head by an armed civilian bystander on Sunday, police said.
According to police, the suspect ran after the Israeli man while holding a screwdriver as a weapon outside a gas station in the West Bank’s Mishor Adumim industrial area, near the Ma’ale Adumim settlement.
A civilian who was driving by the area saw the suspect running after the man with the weapon in his hand and opened fire, police said.
He was shot in the head, according to medical officials.
The Palestinian suspect was taken to Jerusalem’s Hadassah Hospital Mount Scopus in critical condition, according to the Magen David Adom ambulance service.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said Sunday he had asked the attorney general to investigate the leaders of a left-wing group that called on Israeli soldiers to refuse orders to open fire at Palestinian protesters during clashes on the border with the Gaza Strip.
The organization, B’Tselem, lashed out in response, saying Liberman himself was guilty of incitement by demanding that soldiers carry out a manifestly illegal order.
In a tweet Sunday, Liberman said he had asked Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit to “probe the heads of B’Tselem for incitement to disobedience after their call for soldiers to refuse orders in defending the border.”
He was referring to advertisements that B’Tselem took out in major Hebrew-language newspapers Thursday in which the group urged Israel Defense Forces soldiers to refuse to fire their weapons at unarmed protesters during demonstrations planned by the Palestinian terror group Hamas at the Gaza border for the next day.
The Israeli army on Saturday denied deliberately targeting a Palestinian journalist who the Palestinians say was killed while covering mass protests along the Israeli border the previous day, and said it was investigating the incident.
Hundreds, including Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh, attended the funeral of well-known Palestinian journalist Yasser Murtaja. Murtaja reportedly died from a gunshot wound he sustained while filming Friday in an area engulfed in thick black smoke caused by protesters setting tires on fire.
Israeli troops opened fire from across the border, killing at least nine Palestinians and wounding 491 others in the second mass border protest in eight days, according to Palestinian figures. The deaths brought to at least 31 the number of Palestinians reported killed by Israeli fire since last week. Israel does not provide figures.
Murtaja was over 100 meters from the border, wearing a flak jacket marked “press” and holding his camera when he was shot in an exposed area just below the armpit, news agency reports said.
In a statement released later Saturday, the IDF said it did not deliberately target journalists and it was investigating the incident.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Saturday praised the actions of security forces during violent protests in the Gaza Strip on Friday, which Liberman called “a terrorist march.” The defense minister also indicated a Palestinian photo-journalist who was killed during Friday’s clashes had placed his life in danger by operating a drone above Israeli soldiers.
Netanyahu said Palestinians “speak of human rights, but they really want to crush the Jewish state. We won’t let them.”
Liberman said the Passover holiday “was one of the quietest and safest we have known in recent years. Our preparation on the Gaza border proved itself.”
He said Israelis were indebted to “thousands” in the military, police, and Shin Bet security agency “who worked very hard and thwarted any attempt to challenge us.”
The blog Intelli Times on Sunday supported Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s hint that Gaza-based video journalist and photographer Yaser Murtaja, who was shot in the abdomen by an Israeli sniper on Gaza’s border on Friday, had been operating camera drones over the heads of IDF soldiers before being taken down.
The blog offered Murtaja’s Facebook post from September, 2017, in which he stated: “Our planes in the sky and our soldiers on the ground. Our troops are ready for all scenarios. Refreshing morning.”
The combative declaration was accompanied by a video clip of Murtaja, co-founder of the Ain Media production company, proudly displaying his drone.
Intelli Times suggested that of Murtaja managed to purchase and smuggle into Gaza drones carrying high quality cameras capable of gathering high-resolution, 360-degree intelligence on the activities of IDF forces on the ground.
Clearly a Hamas sympathizer, if not an outright member, it is difficult to imagine the late video journalist being able to arrange this level of a smuggling operation of such expensive equipment without the Hamas knowledge, if not support.
For the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, Friday was another difficult day.
For the Palestinians in the West Bank, Friday was just another ordinary day — a day for weddings, family gatherings, and, for some, dining at the fancy restaurants in Ramallah and Nablus.
Gone are the days when the deaths of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip (by Israel) would prompt Palestinians in the West Bank to declare a general strike or take to the streets to protest against Israel.
True, there were a few clashes between Palestinian protesters in the West Bank on Friday, but there was nothing unusual about the protests. Such protests, especially in villages in the Ramallah and Nablus area, have been taking place every Friday for several years now.
Gone, too, for that matter, are the days when the death of a Palestinian in clashes with the IDF in the West Bank would spark protests and a general strike in the Gaza Strip.
During the 70s and 80s, the situation was different, particularly in the years of the First Intifada, which erupted in late 1987.
Those were the years when Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip felt they were one people, and the bond between them was stronger than ever.
An Arab MK has called on Arab citizens to step up solidarity protests with Gaza, including by non-violently blocking roads so as to disrupt traffic in the country.
Jamal Zahalka (Joint List) said two days after nine Gazans were killed in the latest protests along the border fence, that “I want to see things expanding to the West Bank and inside Israel. Inside Israel there should be protests against the occupation and against the continuation of the siege and for a just peace. I hope Jews and Arabs will demonstrate. I even call for blocking roads in a non-violent way inside Israel. This is a legitimate means of protest.”
“The ultra-Orthodox and the disabled do it, why shouldn’t we?” he asked.
The IDF said it faced Molotov cocktails and stones Friday and was compelled to act to safeguard the border fence and protect Israeli communities from penetrations. It says it uses warnings and riot dispersal means and that soldiers fire live rounds in a precise and measured way only as a last resort. But B’tselem said the use of lethal force Friday was unjustified and illegal.
Zahalka said: “The government of Israel does what it wants. If there are demonstrations inside Israel they may restrain the government and prevent the continuation of the killing because right now they are killing as if they are hunting. Simply hunting people as if they are hunting ducks.”
Seth J. Frantzman: Waiting for Godot next to Gaza: ‘Tire Protest’ misses the mark
Over the years, the same has been said again and again, that “this could be the spark of the third intifada.”
There is a feeling that the world no longer notices Palestinian deaths in the Gaza Strip.
When six Arabs were killed in protests in Israel in 1976, the event became “Land Day,” commemorated annually ever since. Twelve Arab citizens of Israel were killed in 2000 during the outbreak of the second intifada and those killings led to the Or Commission of Inquiry.
The latest protests in the Gaza Strip have resulted in around 30 deaths so far, and it’s unclear if they will be as significant. So far the protests have not been sustained during the weekdays, only appearing on Fridays and already seeing lower numbers of participants the second time around.
Israel appears to have checked Hamas at every move. Hamas made rockets, so Israel created the Iron Dome. It built tunnels, so Israel found a way to stop them. It trained “naval commandos,” and Israel stopped them, too. Now it has sent tens of thousands of people to the border and they didn’t get through.
The protests in Gaza have not been helped by the intra-Palestinian rivalry. On March 13, a bomb targeted the convoy of the Palestinian Authority’s Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and intelligence chief Majed Faraj during a visit to the enclave. PA President Mahmoud Abbas blamed Hamas.
Therefore, Fatah and other Palestinian factions have not sent supporters into the streets of the West Bank, since it would hand Hamas a win. There are also other considerations for the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah. Its members have to balance the interests of Jordan, the United States, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Egypt in their equations. Trump is still expected to announce some kind of peace proposal, and uncertainty hangs over who will lead after Abbas.
With so many questions, Hamas’s actions in Gaza don’t seem to provide the answer.
Israel’s actions in defending its borders against repeated Palestinian attacks have been called an “outrage” and “inhumane” by UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
In a message read out at a demonstration outside Downing Street on Saturday, Mr. Corbyn demanded that Prime Minister Theresa May support the United Nation’s call for an independent international inquiry.
Britain should also consider stopping the sale of arms to Israel that “could be used in violation of international law”, he said.
Mr. Corbyn’s intervention came after 10 days of sustained riots along the Israel/Gaza border driven by the Hamas terrorist group. He Tweeted this initial message:
The killing and wounding of yet more unarmed Palestinian protesters yesterday by Israeli forces in Gaza is an outrage.
I have asked for this statement to be read at today’s demonstration supporting the Palestinian people in Gaza: https://t.co/KzxZU83cIg
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) April 7, 2018
Mr. Corbyn’s statement then described Gaza Strip residents as “stateless refugees, subject to a decade-long blockade and the denial of basic human and political rights.”
During the second round of protests in Gaza last Friday, several hundred tires were set ablaze at five different points along the Israel-Gaza border.
The burning tires were intended to create a thick cloud of black smoke to obstruct the vision of Israeli soldiers so that protesters could penetrate the border into Israel.
However, burning tires are known to release a number of toxic fumes and pollutants into the atmosphere, causing concern among environmentalists in the public and private sector.
In a statement released on Friday following the protest, the Environment Ministry said, “The Environment Ministry has been monitoring the air quality at various points along the Israel-Gaza border since the morning hours. These observations were carried out in locations including Nahal Oz, Kfar Aza and Kibbutz Mefalsim and all of the data show minimal contamination in the air particles that were collected.”
The ministry added, “Even the meteorological conditions today (Friday) did not enable the smoke from the area of the protests on the border to spread significantly in the direction of these locations within Israel. Therefore, no special precautions were issued to the population.”
Four truckloads of car tires that were scheduled to enter Gaza via the Kerem Shalom Crossing Sunday morning, were prevented by the Israeli authorities from entering after the tire burning riots last Friday, Gazan reporter Tamer El Sultan tweeted.
Gaza Arabs nicknamed Friday’s events “Jum’at al-Kawshook” – “Tires Friday,” as protesters set fire to thousands of tires along the border with Israel, creating huge clouds of black smoke intended to confuse Israeli snipers and prevent them from targeting individuals who attempted to scale the fence.
Incidentally, Black Friday Tires was an event that was held by Goodyear Tires last November with no relation to the Middle East conflicts.
A Hamas spokesman said Friday’s protests along the Gaza-Israel border were a signal to the world that Palestinians have started a revolution to “pave the way to freedom.”
“The March for Return has sent a message that made a decision to start the revolution and pave the way for our freedom,” Fawzy Barhoum tweeted.
The protests, Barhoum said, would “break the siege and restore our rights.” He vowed they would continue until “a major breakthrough” was reached.
Earlier on Friday, Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar told thousands of Palestinians gathered at the border that Gaza would soon “explode in the face of the occupation.”
He said the world should “wait for our great move, when we breach the borders and pray at Al-Aqsa,” referring to the Muslim holy site in Jerusalem.
Here’s at brief thought experiment. Imagine if the Israeli government orchestrated a publicity stunt to highlight the plight of Jewish refugees, which entailed thousands of descendants of the 850,000 Jewish refugees from Arab lands violently demonstrating and attempting to infiltrate the borders of Egypt, Syria, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisa, Iraq and Libya, ostensibly to reclaim the lost property and homes and assets of their ancestors.
Is there really any question that the media would be contemptuous of Jerusalem’s cynical exploitation of civilians to score (‘hasbara’) propaganda points, or that they would hold the government responsible for any subsequent loss of life?
Yet, most British media coverage of the violent riots on the Gaza border has failed to critically examine Hamas’s framing of the propaganda stunt known as the “Great Return March as a “peaceful”, civil-rights march to secure their “right of return”, whilst simultaneously downplaying the use of molotov cocktails, IED’s and attempts to cut the fence and infiltrate the border.
On Friday, April 6th, Sky News published a short video accompanying a story by their Middle East correspondent Alex Rossi – which they also tweeted – representing a good illustration of this ongoing media failure.
Thousands are preparing for a violent second week of protests on the Gaza border where the death toll is rising from clashes with troops. Protesters tell us what they’re fighting for pic.twitter.com/5H1cxs0jYJ
— Sky News (@SkyNews) April 5, 2018
Notably, the BBC had nothing to say on the topic of the environmental pollution caused by the burning of thousands of vehicle tyres as part of Friday’s agitprop.
“Piles of tyres were set on fire in an attempt to create a smokescreen to block the view of Israeli snipers, as thousands of protesters gathered at five sites along the 65km-long (40-mile) Israel-Gaza border for fresh protests on Friday.”
It did however promote a dubious interpretation of ‘international law’ put out by the spokesperson of a severely compromised UN agency.
“A spokeswoman for the UN high commissioner for human rights warned that, under international law, firearms could be used only in cases of extreme necessity, as a last resort and in response to an imminent threat of death or risk of serious injury.”
The BBC also found it appropriate to provide readers with a link to a campaign statement on the website of the political NGO it most quoted and promoted during 2017.
“The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem called on Israeli soldiers to refuse to open fire on unarmed demonstrators.”
Readers were not informed of criticisms of that controversial call to disobey orders.
As we see the BBC’s coverage of this story continues to fail to provide audiences with the background information on the Palestinian maximalist demand for the ‘right of return’ that is essential for full understanding of this latest bout of Hamas agitprop.
Jordan’s long-abandoned West Bank claims could be resurrected following the PLO committing political suicide by refusing to have anything further to do with President Trump’s soon-to-be-released “ultimate deal”.
Trump’s deal will be still-born if no Arab negotiating partner is prepared to sit down with Israel.
In 1988 the PLO could justifiably claim to be the sole spokesman for the Gazan and West Bank Arab populations. Hamas – founded only in 1987 – never represented any challenge to the PLO then. However in 2018 the PLO sole-spokesman claim has been completely undermined by Hamas – which itself has governed Gaza with disastrous results since 2007.
Both organisations continue to fail to reconcile their differences, engage in on-going internecine conflict and refuse to give their long-suffering populations any say in their own future.
Jordan appears to be readying itself to jump on the Trump bandwagon – leaving the PLO and Hamas behind battering themselves into political irrelevance.
Elliott Abrams: Corruption in the Palestinian Authority
The rule of law is weak both because the parliament never meets to pass laws and due to executive interference: “the judiciary and the prosecution in the West Bank and Gaza Strip continue to lack independence.”
Government jobs, which are prized due to the weak private economy, are awarded on the basis of cronyism rather than merit: “Appointments at higher posts continued without transparency or fair competition, in disregard for the principle of equal opportunity. No job announcements were published in the newspapers, nor were there any competitions over appointments.”
While there is a high import duty on automobiles, it is often escaped by big shots: “non-payment of customs and taxes for purchase of private vehicles…is a waste of public funds…. Influential persons in senior positions were granted tax and customs exemptions without legal basis for approval. The amount of wasted funds is enormous, as the investigative report documented eight cases concerning influential officials where the amount wasted reached 357,600 dollars, which should have gone to the public treasury.”
The security services continue to be bloated at the top, as under Arafat: “the total annual amount for salaries…for the ranks of Major General, brigadier General, Colonel, and Lieutenant colonel, in 2016, reached the amount of 238.7 million NIS per year, equivalent to the yearly salary of 13000 soldiers. Although the total number of the officers of the ranks mentioned is 5672. This translates into: for each officer assigned to lieutenant colonel or above there are two soldiers, despite the fact that the global experience shows differently. For example, in Israel, the ratio is 9 soldiers to one officer, and in the U.S. it is 5 to one.”
Moneys are spent on non-existent entities, and here’s the best example: “salaries and raises were paid to employees of an airline company that no longer exists on the ground.” That is Palestine Airlines, about which the report says this: “The Palestinian treasury paid salaries to hundreds of employees in the ‘Palestinian Airlines’, which is a governmental company that has a board of directors, headed by the Minister of Transportation. This ‘company’ is not registered as a company in accordance with the law, nor does it have a governing law of its own, although the decree by which it was established goes back to 1994….The budget for this ‘company’ is included in the budget of the Ministry of Transport and Transportation with no details.” A non-existent airline—whose employees were not only paid salaries but given raises.
TV Report on Hamas Tunnel Digging Unit in Gaza
A report on a tunnel-digging unit of Hamas’ military wing, the ‘Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, aired on March 17 on the Lebanese Al-Quds TV. Reporter Hanady Nasrallah visited one of the tunnels and the militants digging it and said that “resistance courses like blood through their veins” and that “they compete [for the privilege] of sacrificing their lives for the sake of liberating the land, the prisoners, and the holy places.” Secret tunnels such as these one “provide the means for the resistance fighters to carry out quality operations against the Israeli occupation,” she said.
US President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Sunday to attack Iran and Russia for backing the Syrian regime, warning that there would be a “big price” to pay for the chemical weapons attack on a rebel stronghold late Saturday night that killed dozens of civilians.
“Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria. Area of atrocity is in lockdown and encircled by Syrian Army, making it completely inaccessible to outside world,” Trump posted on Twitter.
“President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price to pay,” he tweeted. “Open area immediately for medical help and verification. Another humanitarian disaster for no reason whatsoever. SICK!”
“If President Obama had crossed his stated Red Line In The Sand, the Syrian disaster would have ended long ago! Animal Assad would have been history!”
The last point referred to the answer that Obama gave in August 2012 to a journalist’s question about his thoughts on US intervention in Syria to ensure the regime’s stockpile of chemical weapons did not fall into terrorist hands.
Assad is violating the agreement to remove unconventional weapons from Syria that was reached between previous US president Barack Obama, Russia and Damascus after a large-scale chemical attack in 2013. But who cares?
Last week, the Haaretz newspaper reported that the Syrian army deployed forces in areas where it is prohibited to operate, such as the Golan Heights region. Why? Again, because he can and there is no one to stop him.
Moreover, the current use of chemical weapons can be expected to shorten the fighting — not only in the Douma region or Eastern Ghouta. It will also be a significant factor in decision-making by the rebels in the area of Idlib and the Golan Heights.
Already, it is clear that the next steps by the Syrian army will be directed at these two regions in an push to entirely cleanse Syria of rebels. The images of those women and children frothing from their mouths sends a message to rebels everywhere: This will be your fate if you decide to fight the regime.
The US should ground Syrian President Bashar Assad’s helicopters which drop barrel bombs and chemical weapons once and for all, the IDF’s former intelligence chief Amos Yadlin urged on Sunday.
In a series of tweets, the current president of Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) called on the US to take action against Assad’s helicopter force and also made a somewhat more vague call for Israel to take a louder “moral stance” against the Saturday use of chemical weapons against Syrian rebels and civilians.
Although the Syrian Assad regime has frequently used chlorine-derived chemical weapons against its Syrian civil war rivals, this is the first time since April 2017 that it has used the far more dangerous chemical weapon – sarin gas.
But Yadlin said that the helicopters themselves were an issue even beyond their use to deliver sarin gas as a weapon.
“Even without poison gas, these vehicles are used to launch inaccurate explosives that inflict terror and death on Syrian civilians,” wrote Yadlin.
Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef said on Sunday that a genocide was being perpetrated in Syria and insisted that there is a moral responsibility to stop the bloodshed of civilians in the ongoing civil war there.
His comments came after a chemical attack in the rebel-held city of Douma was apparently carried out by the Syrian regime, leaving dozens of people dead and hundreds fighting for their lives due to the poisonous gas.
“I have said in the past and I say again, there is a cruel genocide happening in Syria against women and children with weapons of mass destruction,” said Yosef in comments made Sunday morning. “There is a moral obligation not to be quiet and to try and halt the slaughter.”
“As Jews who have experienced genocide, as Jews whose Torah is a light to the nations, our moral obligation is to try and stop the slaughter,” he said. “This is an obligation no less than the moral obligation that was in destroying the Syrian [nuclear] reactor.”
A boycott campaign is threatening the friendly soccer match between the national teams of Israel and Argentina.
The boycott campaign sponsored by BDS Argentina is using the motto “Argentina don’t go” to Israel, or #ArgentinaNoVayas. BDS stands for the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel.
Argentina’s national soccer team with global soccer star Lionel Messi, who currently is playing for the Spanish team Barcelona, is scheduled to play against Israel in its last friendly match on June 9 in Tel Aviv, just one week before the opening of the World Cup in Russia.
The campaign is getting international exposure, and has been picked up in Spain.
Argentinean National Secretary of Sports and the Argentine Football Association, or AFA, on Friday received a letter signed by the Argentinean Committee of Solidarity with Palestine asking for the cancellation of the soccer match showcasing the national team of Argentina in Tel Aviv against the Israeli squad. The letter said that the cancellation of that friendly match “should represent the solidarity of values of the Argentine people towards other peoples who are victims of oppression, apartheid and genocide.”
Playing against Israel and visiting the Western Wall has created success for soccer in Argentina. In 1986, the team played against Israel in the last friendly before that year’s World Cup. Argentina won 7-2 in Ramat Gan and then the team led by Diego Maradona won the World Cup in Mexico.
Yesterday, Jewish rapper Drake posted the following on Instagram.
While Drake has shown pride in his Jewish heritage – even featuring his “re bar mitzvah” in a video clip – he has never weighed in on the Arab-Israeli conflict, nor visited Israel, as far as I can tell. So it seems to me he was clearly just being punny.
Needless to say, the Israel haters have pounced on him.
A post shared by champagnepapi (@champagnepapi) on Apr 6, 2018 at 2:45pm PDT
German diplomats have said accusations of antisemitism against Kuwait Airways for its practice of refusing Israeli passengers are exaggerated, triggering sharp criticism from the Simon Wiesenthal Center and a German lawyer who sued the airline.
The statement defending state-owned Kuwait Airways was first reported by the Düsseldorf-based business daily Handelsblatt on Monday.
A court in Frankfurt ruled in November that Kuwait Airways was within its rights to refuse service to an Israeli citizen. The Israeli in the lawsuit had booked a flight on Kuwait Airways from Frankfurt to Bangkok.
Katharina Ziegler, a German Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, declined to comment on the record in response to a query from The Jerusalem Post addressed to Heiko Maas, the new foreign minister. Maas has promised improved German-Israel relations after the anti-Israel policies of his predecessor, Sigmar Gabriel. Germany’s Foreign Ministry is widely viewed as one of the harshest critics of the Jewish state within Chancellor Angela Merkel’s administration. The US- and EU-designated terrorist entity Hamas praised Gabriel in January for terming Israel an “apartheid regime.”
The Handelsblatt article, authored by Moritz Koch and Daniel Delhaes, alleged that there is little understanding within the Transportation Ministry for Scheuer’s threatened sanctions against Kuwait Airways. The criticism of Kuwait Airways, wrote the paper without sourcing, was termed a “complete farce” by anonymous sources within the ministry.
Latin America’s largest airline will begin direct flights between Brazil and Israel by the end of the year, it announced.
Latam, the merger between Chile’s LAN and Brazil’s TAM completed in 2012, will fly from Sao Paulo to Tel Aviv in 11 hours. Since El Al terminated the only direct flight from the region to Israel several years ago, passengers face stopovers in Europe or Africa that increase the total time of travel to at least 18 hours.
“This is a unique service for passengers across much of Latin America. No other airline connects Latin America with Israel,” said Jerome Cadier, LATAM Airlines Brazil CEO.
Latam’s first flight to the Jewish state will start on December 12. The three-times-a-week flight will connect Santiago to Tel Aviv via Sao Paulo, including Brazil’s 120,000-strong Jewish community and pilgrims from the world’s second largest Christian population.
“The launch of the direct route from Israel to Brazil and Chile is an important achievement. We believe that the new route will strengthen the cooperation between Israel and Latin America and increase the flow of tourists traveling between the two regions,” said Yariv Levin, Israel’s minister of tourism.
The digital arm of German sports car maker Porsche AG has bought a minority stake in Israeli artificial intelligence software developer Anagog in a bid to expand its offering of digital technologies, the German firm said, without revealing financial details of the deal.
Anagog, is a Tel Aviv-based startup, developed an artificial intelligence-based software that analyzes sensor signals in smartphones to help understand users’ real-time “mobility” status and location — if they are walking, approaching their car, parking or sleeping, allowing their smartphone apps to better target them with appropriate services. This also helps businesses identify consumer behavior and trends and anticipate customer behavior in certain situations, which could lead to features such as intelligent parking options, Porsche Digital GmbH said in a statement last week.
“With this investment, Porsche is continuing to drive digital transformation and as a result can now develop and offer context-based and personalized services,” Porsche said.
Founded in 2010 by Yaron Aizenbud and Gil Levy, Anagog currently has around 30 employees and has raised some $11 million, according to the Start-Up Nation Finder database.
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