July 19, 2019

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04/25 Links Pt1: What Doesn’t Cause Islamist Terrorism; UNRWA schools continue teaching Palestinian children to wage war on Israel; Freedom House: Israel is the Only Free Country in the Middle East

http://elderofziyon.blogspot.com/2019/04/0425-links-pt1-what-doesnt-cause.html

From Ian:


What Doesn’t Cause Islamist Terrorism
The suicide bombers in Sri Lanka were affluent and well educated. That should tell us something about the war on terror.

In 2015, then-State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf suggested that potential terrorists would not join the Islamic State if they had better job opportunities. “We cannot kill our way out of this war. We need in the medium- to longer term to go after the root causes that lead people to join these groups, whether it’s lack of opportunity for jobs,” Harf said on MSNBC. “We can work with countries around the world to help improve their governance. We can help them build their economies so they can have job opportunities for these people.”

Harf is actually right—well, in the narrow sense that combatting Islamist terrorist groups is about more than military strikes. She is woefully—and dangerously—wrong, however, about more jobs being a solution. Yet the view she articulated is not hers alone. Her former boss, Barack Obama, similarly claimed that “extremely poor societies … provide optimal breeding grounds for disease, terrorism, and conflict.” Indeed, the Department of Homeland Security’s program on “countering violent extremism,” or CVE, which the Obama administration established to counter radicalization within vulnerable communities, adheres to the same belief. How? CVE treats jihadists like members of street gangs or the mafia—as disgruntled, perhaps defenseless individuals who traveled down a dark path but can return to the light. And creating a better quality of life—a decent job, a reliable income, more responsibilities—is key to that return. In many cases, this framework would, for example, help gangsters who grew up poor with few opportunities. Not so much for the people who join ISIS.

Recent events show why this approach is misguided for Islamist terrorists. On Wednesday, Sri Lankan authorities revealed that most of the suicide bombers who murdered more than 350 people in coordinated attacks in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday were affluent and well educated. “They’re quite well educated people,” Ruwan Wijewardene, Sri Lanka’s state minister of defense, said of the attackers, adding that many came from “middle class” backgrounds. “We believe that one of the suicide bombers studied in the U.K. and then later on did his post-graduate in Australia before coming back to settle in Sri Lanka.”

Two of the brothers who carried out the bombings came from one of the wealthiest Muslim families in the capital, a family that, according to a neighbor, was “very well connected, very rich, politically connected as well.” The Daily Mail reports they are “the sons of millionaire spice trader Yoonus Ibrahim and were privately educated in Colombo.” Another terrorist had a law degree, and two others were married—not the hopeless loners that one often imagines as suicide bombers.

Kingston University and Suicide Bombers

In 2003, Asif Hanif – Britain’s first jihadist suicide bomber – murdered three people at Mike’s Bar in Tel Aviv. He had attended Kingston University. This week, a second alumnus of Kingston University, Abdul Lathief Jameel Mohamed, committed a horrifyingly bloody massacre in Sri Lanka.

A significant number of takfiri jihadist terrorists have passed through British universities over the past couple of decades. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who had been a member of UCL’s student Islamic Society and its president in 2006-7 before graduating in 2008, joined al-Qaeda under the guidance of Anwar al-Awlaki and tried to bring down an American airliner in 2009 with a bomb concealed in his underpants. Kafeel Ahmed, a former president of Queen’s University Belfast’s Islamic society, tried to blow up a nightclub in London and then set fire to himself, fatally, in Glasgow Airport in 2007. Yassin Nassari, a former president of the University of Westminster’s student Islamic society, was convicted of smuggling missile blueprints into the UK in 2007. Waheed Zaman, the former president of the London Metropolitan University Islamic society, was convicted of conspiracy to murder in 2010 in a plot to place bombs on several airliners travelling from the UK to North America.

More recently, in April 2019 the BBC reported that no fewer than seven students from the University of Westminster alone had allegedly joined ISIS.

Whenever an atrocity is committed, it is natural to ask: why? What could drive a human being to slaughter his neighbours?

Ideology clearly plays an important part. Humans are, at least in part, rational. We do things for reasons which appear good to us. The beliefs which we hold, guide our actions.

In the case of Asif Hanif, evidence emerged which indicated that he had a connection to Al Mujhajiroun: the splinter group of Hizb ut Tahrir which has emerged as a nexus in many terrorist attacks. With Abdul Mohamed, the picture is not yet clear. We don’t know what meetings he attended, with which preachers, and during which period. Therefore, at present, it is proper to make only the most general of points about ideology and radicalisation.

Two teenage Westminster Synagogue members named among victims of Sri Lanka bombing

Tributes have been paid to a Jewish brother and sister who were among more than 300 people killed in Easter Sunday’s bombings in Sri Lanka.

Daniel and Amelie Linsey, who were members of Westminster Synagogue, were among eight Britons killed in the attack.

Shul president Lord Leigh paid tribute to them in the House of Lords on Wednesday.

He noted Amelie had been batmizvah there just last March, “reading with poise, maturity and warmth from our Torah scrolls”

He said Daniel was “especially interested in Jewish festivals” and had helped the synagogue to prepare for Purim.

“We have pledged as a community to offer our love and support and do everything we can every step of the way,” he said.

“The Jewish community is used to counselling mourners who have been affected by a terrorist bomb. This is another chapter in that sad and sorry book.”

Israel Advocacy Movement: Sri Lanka terror attack – Christian lives matter

The Sri Lanka Attacks, the Global Persecution of Christians, and Western Liberal Indifference

Responding to the bloody Easter terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka, Ross Douthat examines the way they have been discussed in the West, and what they say about the global situation of Christians, who—contrary to what much of American liberal opinion alleges—are not always the privileged majority:

Three Catholic churches were bombed, and with them three hotels catering to Western tourists, because often in the jihadist imagination Western Christianity and Western liberal individualism are the conjoined enemies of their longed-for religious utopia, their religious-totalitarian version of Islam. Tourists and missionaries, Coca-Cola and the Catholic Church—it’s all the same invading Christian enemy, different brand names for the same old crusade.

Officially, the Western world’s political and cultural elite does its best to undercut and push back against this narrative. . . . But if the equation of traditional Christianity with privilege has some relevance to the actual Euro-American situation, when applied globally it’s a gross category error. And so the main victims of Western liberalism’s peculiar relationship to its Christian heritage aren’t put-upon traditionalists in the West; they’re Christians like the murdered first communicants in Sri Lanka, or the jailed pastors in China, or the Coptic martyrs of North Africa, or any of the millions of non-Western Christians who live under constant threat of persecution.

One of the basic facts of contemporary religious history is that Christians around the world are persecuted on an extraordinary scale—by mobs and pogroms in India, jihadists and United States-allied governments in the Muslim world, secular totalitarians in China and North Korea. Yet as an era-defining reality rather than an episodic phenomenon, this reality is barely visible in the Western media, and rarely called by name and addressed head-on by Western governments and humanitarian institutions.

Citing ‘high, concrete’ terror threat, Israel tells citizens to leave Sri Lanka

The Israel National Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Bureau on Thursday issued a warning for travel to Sri Lanka, saying there was a “high and concrete” chance of a terror attack, four days after the Easter Sunday suicide bombing attacks that killed more than 350 people in and around the capital of Colombo.

The agency said Israeli travelers should leave the island as soon as possible, and those planning to visit were advised to cancel their trips.

The announcement means the country now bears the security agency’s second-highest warning. The decision to issue the warning was made after consultations with security officials and the Foreign Ministry.

On Thursday, Sri Lankan authorities banned drones and unmanned aircraft and continued to set off controlled detonations of suspicious items. Sri Lanka’s civil aviation authority said that it was taking the aircraft measure “in view of the existing security situation in the country.”

Hobby drones have been used by attackers in the past to carry explosives. Iraqi forces found them difficult to shoot down while driving out the Islamic State group, whose members loaded drones with grenades or simple explosives to target government forces. And Yemen’s Houthi rebels has used drones, most recently to target a military parade in January, killing troops.

Sri Lankan police continued their search for explosives, detonating a suspicious item in a garbage dump in Pugoda, about 35 kilometers (22 miles) east of Colombo.

Perfecting Intelligence Gathering – The Lessons of Sri Lanka Terror

Three years ago I visited Sri Lanka along with a number of former Israeli security personnel, who gave a short seminar to an audience of local security officers on the prevention of terror attacks. Although the officers listened politely, it appears they had not internalized the message, since they probably felt they already had everything under control.

There are lessons which can be learned from the horrific Easter Sunday attacks and all of them have to do with intelligence gathering. The biggest difficulty in the war on terror stems from not knowing who’s the real enemy. Fortunately, today’s technology allows the security forces to listen to any phone conversation. Advanced search engines can easily identify repeated searches related to terror activity. Yet, governments around the world still prioritize investment in warplanes and tanks rather than in advancing intelligence capabilities.

It’s important to establish communication between the various intelligence agencies, and that’s what the Sri Lankan government should’ve done. There was concrete intelligence information, which didn’t reach those who were supposed to act on it. These lessons are well-known, but, unfortunately, only a large-scale traumatic event causes governments to finally adopt the right policy. The writer is a former head of Israel’s National Security Council.

Israel’s Armistice with Hamas, Growing Tensions with Abbas

The Palestinian Authority is committed to rejecting the U.S. plan and wants Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to resume peace negotiations under Russian auspices. Yet Israel is unlikely to replace White House mediation with the Kremlin’s.

In Gaza, Hamas is inching closer to a separate set of understandings with Israel to stabilize the turbulent situation there, establish a fragile long-term ceasefire, and usher in a generous package of economic programs.

PA and Hamas leaders have been exchanging highly emotional public pleas for speedy Palestinian reconciliation, hoping to unify the ranks before the U.S. plan is released. So far, however, they are stubbornly avoiding any concessions that would help end the 12-year split between Gaza and the West Bank, and reconciliation talks are at a dead end.

Ironically, even as Hamas and Fatah denounce each other’s contacts with Israel, both are pursuing dialogue with Netanyahu’s team. The PA has preserved effective security cooperation with Israeli military and intelligence agencies as well as close coordination on economic issues.

The top Hamas leader in Gaza, Yahya al-Sinwar, spent 22 years in Israeli jails, speaks fluent Hebrew, and follows the Israeli media religiously, so he understands that Netanyahu’s response to another major confrontation would be far more devastating than in 2014.

Meanwhile, Hamas has lost most of its cross-border attack tunnels into Israel and is struggling to maintain its rocket arsenal after Egypt cut its smuggling routes through the Sinai Peninsula.

UNRWA schools continue teaching Palestinian children to wage war on Israel, Jewish News Syndicate

“The Center for Near East Policy Research in Jerusalem … has retained Dr. Arnon Groiss, an expert on Arabic-language education, to examine and translate all Palestinian Authority textbooks used in UNRWA schools ever since the Palestinian Authority began producing its own materials in 2000…

Groiss said that in 2016, the P.A. issued new textbooks … based on three principles: delegitimization of the existence of the State of Israel, which is a full member state of the United Nations; demonization of both Israel and the Jews; and advocacy of a violent struggle for the liberation of all of ‘Palestine,’ including pre-1948 borders, thus wiping Israel off the map.

These books and their curricula are used in first grade through 10th grade in UNRWA-supported Palestinian refugee camps, and are financed by 67 donor nations.

The newest editions of the textbooks do not mention ‘Israel’ even once; instead, the Jewish nation has been replaced with the ‘Zionist Occupation.’

Fifth-graders, as part of their Islamic-education class, are taught that holy sites like the Western Wall have no connection to Jews: ‘The Al-Buraq Wall is part of the western wall of Al-Aqsa Mosque and it is an absolute right of the Muslims alone,’ instruct the textbooks. In their social-studies textbooks, eighth-grade students are prompted: ‘Let us think and discuss: I will compare the tragedy of the red-skinned Indians, the original inhabitants of America, and the tragedy of the Palestinian people.’ While learning Arabic, ninth-graders read a story that mentions a ‘barbecue party’-that is, a bus in the Psagot ‘colony’ (a Jewish settlement in the West Bank) being burned by Molotov cocktails (presumably filled with people).

And third-graders are taught in a national/social-upbringing class that Jerusalem has no historical or modern-day connection to Jews: “Jerusalem is an Arab city built by our Arab ancestors thousands of years ago. Jerusalem is a holy city among Muslims and Christians.’…”

Report: Since 2005 ‘Disengagement’ UNRWA Gazan Dependents Increased by 1.2 Million

The 2005 Israeli disengagement (a.k.a. expulsion) from the Gaza Strip, which included the removal of the entire IDF infrastructure, as well as some 8,000 Jews in 17 settlements, was the worst thing that has ever happened to the Arabs of Gaza, according to a report published Friday by Makor Rishon.

For one thing, the Israeli walkout led to a broad economic stagnation, chronic joblessness, and a sever curtailment of services. One example of the severity of Gaza’s economic downfall is the fact that, according to Makor Rishon, the number of Gaza Arabs who depend on the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) for their very livelihood has gone up from 130,000 in 2005 to a whopping 1.3 million.

This rise in unemployment and poverty is taking place among Gaza’s estimated 2.5 million Arabs, meaning that 52% of them are on the dole. And things are not going to improve any time soon. With Gaza’s youth unemployment holding steady at 70%, a baby is born in the Strip every ten minutes – and this is after the average Gazan family has gone down from 6.9 to 5.9.

Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) in Gaza, Colonel Iyad Sarhan, told Makor Rishon that “the ambition of the Gazans is to leave the Strip. In my estimation, had they only been given the opportunity, Gaza would have been emptied out. We witnessed the same phenomenon when the Rafah crossing [to Egypt] was first opened. First the doctors left, followed by the ruling class and the middle class – until the Egyptians put a halt to the departures.”

The ADL Distorts the Annexation Debate

Some liberal American Jewish organizations are urging US President Donald Trump to oppose Israeli annexation of any part of Judea and Samaria. Some conservative Jewish organizations are urging the opposite. Good. It’s time we had a full debate in the American Jewish community about this issue. Serious dialogue and a meaningful conversation are long overdue.

Unfortunately, the Anti-Defamation League has gotten the conversation off to a poor start by distorting and misrepresenting some of the key facts that need to be considered.

In an op-ed in The Forward, ADL spokesman Kenneth Jacobson began by noting that the ADL was one of the signatories on the letter denouncing “any steps by Israel to annex territory in the West Bank.”

But as the op-ed progressed, Jacobson’s language became more and more slippery. By the third paragraph, he had gone from “steps to annex territory in the West Bank” to talking about outright “annexation of the West Bank” — that is, the whole thing.

This is a red herring because Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu never called for “annexation of the West Bank.” What he actually said was that he might propose extending Israeli law to Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

Not content with having altered Netanyahu’s words, the ADL spokesman then proceeded to argue against what Netanyahu didn’t say. Jacobson listed all sorts of frightening things that might ensue as a “result of annexing the West Bank.”

Freedom House: Israel is the Only Free Country in the Middle East

According to the 2019 report by the human rights group Freedom House, Israel is the only free country in the Middle East.

Founded by Eleanor Roosevelt and Wendell Willkie, in 1941, Freedom House is non-profit, independent watchdog dedicated to “the expansion of freedom and democracy around the world.” Its 2019 report on Freedom across the world describes Israel as “a multiparty democracy with strong and independent institutions that guarantee political rights and civil liberties for most of the population”.

Again, we must ask why is the only nation in the region that is ranked as free subject to such vitriolic rhetoric across the media, in the UN and on college campuses?

Could it be because it is the only Jewish state, not only in the region, but in the world?

Poll: 64% of Americans like Israelis, but only 41% like their government

Most Americans like Israeli people, but when it comes to the Israeli government, it’s a different story. At least, that is the takeaway from a new survey by the Pew Research Center.

Released Wednesday, the poll found that 64 percent of the American public hold a favorable view toward Israelis, while only 41% hold a favorable view of the Israeli government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — a 23-point gap.

A similar dynamic exists vis-a-vis Americans’ view toward the Palestinians. While not a majority, 46% of Americans hold a favorable view of the Palestinian people, as opposed to just 19% who feel the same way about their government. It is a tricky finding, as the Palestinians do not have a unified government: the Hamas terror group runs the Gaza Strip and the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority, led by Mahmoud Abbas, runs Palestinian affairs in parts of the West Bank.

The survey, which was conducted between April 1 and April 15, reached 10,523 adult respondents.

Beyond the gap between US views toward the Israeli and Palestinian peoples versus their leaders, the poll found a significant partisan divide on attitudes toward both Israelis and Palestinians.

Democrats tend to have a much warmer attitude toward Palestinians than Republicans: Fifty-eight percent of Democrats expressed a “favorable opinion” of the Palestinian people, compared to only 32% of Republicans, who hold the same view.

Both parties have a negative view of the Palestinian government, but Republicans to a much greater extent: 81% of Republicans said they had an unfavorable view, as compared to 65% of Democrats.

Meanwhile, a larger percentage of Republicans hold a favorable view of the Israeli people than do Democrats — 77% to 57%.

Younger Republicans are less supportive of Israel, poll finds

While Republicans continue to be strong supporters of the Israeli government and people, a growing cohort of younger Republicans no longer view Israel’s government favorably, according to a Pew Research Center survey released on Wednesday.

The survey showed that Republicans over the age of 65 are the only age group in which a majority (57%) have a favorable view of the Israeli government. Among the youngest adults (those younger than 30), just 27% view Israel’s government favorably.

Younger Republicans also have less favorable views of the Israeli people – and more favorable views of the Palestinian people – than older Republicans. Nearly half of Republicans and Republican leaners under 30 (48%) have a favorable opinion of the Palestinian people, compared with 30% of those 30 and older.

There are more modest age differences among Democrats. In every age group, they are more favorable toward the Palestinian people than are their Republican peers, according to the report.

“We see a massive decline among young Americans in support for Israel, and this is strong among both Republicans and Democrats,” said Amnon Cavari, a lecturer at the Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy and Strategy at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya. “This trend is something important to watch.”

UN confirms 3rd Hezbollah tunnel crossed border into Israel, violating ceasefire

A UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon Thursday confirmed that a tunnel discovered earlier this year by Israel had crossed the Lebanese-Israeli border, in the third such breach of a ceasefire resolution.

Israel in January accused the Iran-backed terrorist organization Hezbollah of having dug what it described as the deepest, “longest and most detailed” cross-border tunnel it had discovered.

The Israeli army said the tunnel from the Lebanese town of Ramyeh — just 800 meters (yards) from the border — reached a few dozen meters into Israel, and descended 55 meters (180 feet) underground.

UNIFIL on Thursday said the tunnel was the third to have crossed the “Blue Line,” a demarcation line drawn by the UN to mark Israel’s withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000.

“UNIFIL’s independent assessment confirms that this tunnel crosses the Blue Line in violation of Resolution 1701” which ended the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, it said.

“UNIFIL has informed the Lebanese authorities about the violation and has requested urgent follow-up actions,” the UN force said in a statement.

Lebanon and Israel are still technically at war. Israel is currently building a wall along the 130 kilometer (80 mile) frontier to block Hezbollah attempts to infiltrate.

In December, Israel accused Hezbollah of digging cross-border tunnels into its territory from southern Lebanon and launched an operation to destroy them.

U.S. called on to boycott German cars until Hezbollah banned from Germany

The newly formed Committee to Ban Hezbollah in Germany called on US consumers to boycott German automobiles in an advertisement in The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, after German Chancellor Angela Merkel rejected outlawing Hezbollah.

The advertisement declares, “Boycott the German car industry until Hezbollah is banned in Germany.”

The full-page advertisement will run for the next four weeks in The Jewish Journal and leads with the statement: “On June 25, 1996, at 9:50 p.m., Hezbollah, Iran’s terrorist arm, murdered 19 American airmen at the Khobar Towers in Dharan, Saudi Arabia.”

The advertisement in the community weekly reads: “Yet Germany allows Hezbollah to operate openly on its soil. It’s time to send a message to the German government. Americans will not buy their cars while it allows the murderers of our soldiers to raise money, recruit and propagandize on German soil.”

Merkel’s administration is vehemently opposed to banning Hezbollah’s entire organization in Germany, where at least 950 Hezbollah members operate.

The Jerusalem Post examined German intelligence reports from 2018 stating that Hezbollah operatives recruit new members, transfer funds to the terrorist entity in Lebanon, and spread lethal antisemitic and jihadi ideologies in the federal republic.

The advertisement ends with a quote from famed US president Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address: “…that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain.”

A picture of the memorial at Patrick Air Force Base for the 19 American airmen murdered by Hezbollah is shown in the advertisement.
A spokesman for the Committee to Ban Hezbollah told the Post that, “Hezbollah is the biggest terrorist threat in the world because it is state-backed.”

Israel will participate in World Expo 2020 to be held in Dubai

The Israeli Foreign Ministry released a statement on Thursday stating that Israel will participate in World Expo 2020 to be held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

“We are excited about the opportunity to share the spirit of Israeli innovation and entrepreneurship and to present breakthrough Israeli technologies and innovations in various fields such as water, medicine and information,” The statement read.

Expo exhibitions are a meeting place where people from all over the world combine and use their talents to deal with common challenges and promote the society.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commented, saying “I welcome Israel’s participation in the Expo in Dubai, which is another expression of Israel’s rising status in the world and in the region.”

‘Our enemies don’t understand that we aren’t going anywhere’

This Sunday, the Wolf family – whose home on Moshav Mishmeret in the Sharon region was destroyed by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip last month – welcomed their fifth grandchild, a girl.

“It’s such a delight, something wonderful amid all this mess. It gives us all the strength in the world,” grandfather Robert Wolf tells Israel Hayom.

Wolf is excited not only because of his new granddaughter, but because he sees his vines and strawberry tree starting to blossom.

“For me, this is life. I see it and I’m moved,” he says.

The family, who initially after the rocket hit moved in with Robert’s daughter Talia, have now rented an apartment. They spent the Passover seder with their next-door neighbors at Mishmeret.

“Emotionally, it’s really hard. We’re always thinking about what used to be. Susan, my wife, still his shrapnel in her head and doctors haven’t decided whether or not to take them out, whether or not they’re dangerous. She’s at the hospital for tests almost every day. She was wounded all over her body because she had her back turned,” Wolf says.

“She, like any good mother, took care that everyone made it into the safe room and didn’t manage to get inside herself. She was the most seriously wounded. This will be with us for a long time, but we have strength. She’s a very strong woman. The first thing she said in the hospital was, ‘We’re so lucky it landed on us, [since] we have a safe room, and not on the neighbors, who don’t.’ That’s amazing.”

How Hamas Coordinates the “March of Return” and Calibrates Attacks on Israeli Border Communities

Since weekly violent demonstrations began along the Gaza security fence in March 2018, Hamas has insisted that these are popularly organized, peaceful protests. Neither claim is true. A detailed report by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center shows that Hamas carefully established, and tightly controls, the “Supreme National Authority of the Return Marches and Lifting the Siege,” which masquerades as a civic organization coordinating the protests. It has likewise distributed terrorists among masses of peaceful demonstrators:

Hamas . . . determines the nature of the marches and regulates their level of violence, in accordance with its strategy and its changing tactical considerations. It is Hamas that gives the marches their organizational, logistical, political, and media framework, based on the resources at its disposal as the largest and dominant organization in the Gaza Strip. In addition, Hamas operatives are those who are close to the border fence and engage in clashes with the IDF. Among the operatives who died during the marches, Hamas operatives constitute the highest percentage. The Supreme National Authority is composed of the terrorist organizations operating in the Gaza Strip. . . .

The marches are accompanied by a variety of violent actions whose nature and scope occasionally change [according to Hamas’s decrees]: stone throwing; throwing Molotov cocktails, hand grenades, and improvised explosive devices; shooting at IDF forces; damaging the border fence; sabotaging the border crossings; attempting to infiltrate into Israel; and launching kites and balloons equipped with incendiary devices and explosives at Israel.

In addition, special units were established for launching explosive and incendiary balloons, with the goal of causing damage and casualties and harassing the IDF and the civilian population of the western Negev communities at night. The systematic violence in the past year created a volatile and unstable situation that led to seven rounds of escalation, during which about 1,100 rockets and mortar shells were fired at Israel.

UN warns PA threatened by ‘unprecedented financial and political challenges’

The stability of the Palestinian Authority is under threat due to “unprecedented financial and political challenges,” according to a report issued by the United Nations on Thursday.

The report states that despite a period of relative and temporary calm between Israel and the Palestinians since the end of March, the presence of a major financial crisis and growing humanitarian needs, along with the lack of negotiated settlement, “threatens the stability of the West Bank and the very survival of the Palestinian state-building effort.”

In February, Israel’s security cabinet approved the freezing of $138 million in tax transfers over the PA’s payments to Palestinians jailed by Israel for terrorism and violence, and to the families of dead terrorists. In response, the PA said it rejected its entire regular monthly tax transfer from Israel to protest the cut.

Under interim peace deals, Israel collects customs duties and other taxes on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, and transfers the funds to the Palestinians each month. These transfers cover roughly two-thirds of the Palestinian government’s budget.

The freeze and rejection of funds dealt a dire financial blow to the cash-strapped Palestinian leadership, already weakened by recent US cuts of more than $200 million in bilateral aid.

The UN says that as a result of the cuts, the PA was forced to introduce austerity measures, the impact of which could take years to reverse. The combination of these factors has produced “unprecedented financial and political challenges” to the PA, the report charges, and has led to the slashing of government employees’ salaries.

Convicted Palestinian terrorist obtains US citizenship

A Palestinian terrorist convicted of attempting to bomb an Israeli bus managed to obtain US citizenship, according to a report from CNN.

This would apparently be the second time a convicted terrorist became a US citizen after the 9/11 attacks. In 2017, Rasmeah Odeh was convicted of illegaly obtaining US citizenship, after lying about her involvement in two terror bombings in Israel. One of those bombings killed two people.

Documents from the court file of Vallmoe Shqaire, a Jordanian-born Palestinian, indicate that he was trained by the Palestinian Liberation Organization in the use of rifles and grenades, as well as in bomb-making.

Shqaire and an accomplice tried to blow up an Israeli bus in 1988, according to the court records, though while they managed to detonate a bomb within range of a bus, the attack did not cause any injuries.

He was later caught by Israeli forces and given a ten-year prison sentence in 1991, but released after four years following agreements as part of the Oslo peace accords.

Shqaire would go on to assert that his confessions were coerced by the IDF as he was beaten during interrogations, and was subjected to alternately freezing or extremely hot showers and made to live in a small cell where it was impossible for him to stand up or stretch out his legs. US prosecutors wrote that his allegations were not supported by Israeli records.

Editorial Bloomberg: The Iran Deal Is Dead: Politicians Should Commit to a New Agreement that Might Actually Work

The 2015 nuclear deal with Iran was fatally flawed. Critics said it ignored Iran’s destabilizing activities in the region and feared the regime would use the political cover provided by the deal to step up its threatening behavior.

They were right. Since the deal, Iran has only grown more belligerent. In Syria, it has helped President Assad slaughter his own citizens. In Lebanon and Gaza, Iraq and Yemen, it has continued to arm brutal proxy fighters. It has only intensified its pursuit of ballistic-missile technology and its cyberattacks against the U.S. If an agreement limited to nuclear weapons was too narrow in 2015, Iran’s actions since have made such a deal entirely insufficient.

A new deal should require Iran to forswear not only nuclear weapons, but also missiles capable of carrying them. It should demand that the regime cease its other threatening activities in the region and allow for more intrusive and aggressive monitoring than that stipulated in the original agreement.

Presidential candidates should recognize that the Islamic Republic’s actions have changed the facts on the ground, making a simple return to the terms of 2015 impossible.



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