May 20, 2019

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05/02 Links Pt1: Bret Stephens: The Iran Deal Is a Lie; Toameh: The Real Gaza Blockade; Palestinian ‘Journalist’ Killed at Gaza Border was a Terrorist

From Ian:

Bret Stephens: The Iran Deal Is a Lie
“The sanctions lifting will only occur as Iran takes the steps agreed, including addressing possible military dimensions.”

That was State Department spokesman John Kirby in June 2015, speaking just as negotiations for the Iran nuclear deal were wrapping up. But Tehran did not “take the steps agreed.” The deal was founded on a lie.

Two lies, actually. The first was Iran’s declaration to the International Atomic Energy Agency, prior to the implementation of the deal, of the full extent of its past nuclear work. This was essential, both as a test of Tehran’s sincerity and as a benchmark for understanding just how close it was to being able to assemble and deliver a nuclear warhead.

The second lie was the Obama administration’s promise that it was serious about getting answers from Tehran. In a moment of candor, then-Secretary of State John Kerry admitted “we are not fixated on Iran specifically accounting for what they did at one point in time or another” — but then he promised Congress that Iran would provide the accounting.

That was when the White House still feared that Congress might block the deal. When it failed to do so, thanks to a Democratic filibuster, the administration contented itself with a make-believe process in which Iran pretended to make a full declaration and the rest of the world pretended to believe it.

“Iran’s answers and explanations for many of the I.A.E.A.’s concerns were, at best, partial, but over all, obfuscating and stonewalling,” David Albright and his colleagues at the nonpartisan Institute for Science and International Security wrote in December 2015. “Needed access to sites was either denied or tightly controlled as to preclude adequate inspections.”

So much, then, for all the palaver about the deal providing an unprecedented level of transparency for monitoring Iranian compliance. So much, also, for the notion that Iran has honored its end of the bargain. It didn’t. This should render the agreement null and void.

Khaled Abu Toameh: Palestinians: The Real Gaza Blockade

Recently, the ّIslamic and National Forces, a group of Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip, called on Egyptian President Abed Al-Fattah Sissi to open the border crossing to allow wounded Palestinians from Gaza to receive medical treatment in Egyptian and Arab hospitals. Again, ostensibly for “security reasons,” their appeal was completely ignored. Emad Al-Agha, a member of the ّIslamic and National Forces group, said there are intensive contacts with the Egyptian authorities to pressure Cairo to open the border crossing for “humanitarian” reasons.

Reports about the suffering of Palestinian travelers at the Gaza-Egyptian border crossing fill Palestinian media outlets, but these reports are almost entirely ignored by the mainstream media in the West. Western journalists are well aware of the Egyptian border closure, but as Israel is not involved, the reporters and their editors do not really care.

Thousands of Palestinians converge on the terminal between Gaza and Egypt whenever there is a rumor that it might be opened. Some wait there for days with their luggage and are forced to sleep out in the open. Some Palestinians are required to pay bribes to Hamas and Egyptian officials to obtain permits to leave the Gaza Strip through the terminal. A Facebook page entitled “The Rafah Border Crossing – Endless Suffering” shows dozens of examples of the humiliation the passengers experience there.

Like most Arab countries, Egypt cares nothing about the Palestinians, especially those living in the Gaza Strip. From the point of view of the Arab states, the Palestinians are Israel’s problem alone. Yet Egypt is sending Palestinians to knock on Israel’s door and blame Israel for the “humanitarian” crisis in the Gaza Strip, while it is really Egypt that is responsible for the blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Arab and Egyptian hypocrisy achieves new heights as journalists from these “countries create “fake news” echo chamber reporting on the “‘March of Return” and use it to condemn Israel for sealing its border with the Gaza Strip. When will the real blockade of the Gaza Strip, the Egyptian one, be called out and condemned in the mainstream media?

Iran ordered to pay billions to families of victims of 9/11 terror attacks

By court order, Iran is to pay billions of dollars to the families of the September 11 terror attacks, The Hill reported on Tuesday evening.

US District Judge George Daniels ruled that the Islamic Republic and other institutions must pay $12.5 million per spouse, $8.5 million per parent, $8.5 million per child and $4.25 million per sibling killed in the incident, according to the report.

The lawsuit was first filed in 2004 and was joined by families of the over 1,000 victims of the attack. It accused Iran, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Central Bank of the Islamic Republic of Iran for aiding the 2001 hijackers although the 9/11 Commission never found direct evidence for Iran’s involvement.

The lawsuit was only able to proceed in 2016, when Congress passed the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, permitting the families of the victims to sue state actors for the terror attacks. Then-President Barack Obama had vetoed the law, arguing it could set a dangerous precedent but Congress overrode that veto.

According to the report, the ruling will probably turn out to be largely symbolic, as Iran is very unlikely to ever pay the damages, which in total amount to 6 billion dollars. There would be no feasible way to force the Islamic Republic, which never even responded to the lawsuit, to make the payment.

Amb. Dore Gold: Netanyahu’s Wake-Up Call to the World on the Iranian Nuclear Program

Revelations over the last ten years have left little doubt that Tehran was seeking a nuclear weapon, no matter what its spokesmen claimed. But the revelations put forward by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on April 30 came from original official documents with the stamp of the Iranian regime.

It can now be stated without any qualification that Iran had a nuclear weapons program. The whole Iran nuclear agreement (JCPOA), consequently, had been negotiated under false pretenses.

During the talks on the Iran deal, Iranian negotiators falsely assured the West that Iran did not seek a nuclear arsenal because there was a fatwa, an Islamic legal ruling, forbidding the development of atomic weapons that had been issued by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Both President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry spoke about the Iranian fatwa. Now this has been shown to be plainly false.

There is a huge difference in holding negotiations with a state like Iran if you assume it has no intention of building nuclear weapons versus a situation in which you have incontrovertible evidence that Iran is determined to become a nuclear power. The substance of an agreement will be very different.

While there is some debate over what clauses Iran violated in the JCPOA, a very strong case can be made to the effect that, given the Israeli revelation, Iran unquestionably violated the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1970.

A different approach is needed. In the nuclear realm, the verification regime must look very different for a state which has had an unquestionable goal of arming itself with nuclear weapons and delivery systems for them.

For this reason, the JCPOA must be completely revamped or scrapped. This is not a case of “trust but verify,” the adage used by President Ronald Reagan. It is a case of don’t trust and verify with the most intrusive means you have.

JPost Editorial: IRAN LIED

Iran’s nuclear weapons program is part of its larger strategic drive for regional hegemony.

In Iraq, the ayatollahs have also watched as the seeds of Shi’ite militias they planted in the 1980s have grown up to now dominate the Interior Ministry in Baghdad, cementing militia influence on the centers of power.

In Lebanon, Iran has Hezbollah, which is running openly and armed in the election scheduled for this coming Sunday.

In Yemen, the Houthi rebels use Iranian know-how to equip ballistic missiles they fire at Riyadh.

In the Gaza Strip, Iran seeks to empower Hamas, and in the Gulf, Iran wants to pull Qatar away from the West.

Iran is seeking to control the region at the point of a gun, while talking about peace.

What Netanyahu showed is that the regime in Tehran has never had peaceful intentions; it has always been working toward nuclear weapons. Sometimes that work is put on hold while Iran arms its militias, but always it is waiting in the vault, poised to reemerge.

Israel has now shed a light inside that vault. There are those that say it is irrefutable evidence that the nuclear deal must be “fixed or nixed,” while others say that it only provides more reason to keep the deal intact in order to keep a closer watch on the Iranian regime.

It is up to Trump to decide next week what to do with this information.

The Short And Ugly History Of The Disastrous Iran Deal

Once it is released from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in 2025, Tehran will be in a better position to create deliverable nuclear weapons. Israel has documents that now prove fundamentalists in Iran have clandestine plans, despite years of denials, to develop five 10-kiloton nuclear warheads. Iranians continue to develop a ballistic missile program, an issue the Obama administration caved on at the behest of Russia during negotiations. Now we know they have the plans to finish the job whenever they want.

Iran broke the spirit of the deal long ago. The deal was contingent on the nation coming clean regarding its past efforts. It didn’t. Though the idea that the Islamic State would ever be found in violation of the nuclear agreement by International Atomic Energy Agency was, from the start, laughable. There are no inspections. International inspectors aren’t even allow on undeclared sites without permission.

So will President Trump nix the deal? We don’t know. Now that the framework for sanctions has been destroyed, there are few good options left. But the agreement, as it stands, is worse than worthless. Rather than setting firm limits, the deal gave Iran cover and time to continue its efforts, making war with Israel more of an inevitability.

The Jewish state can’t allow a Holocaust-denying adversary with terrorist proxy armies on its borders to have the power to destroy them, or even blackmail and threaten the entire region at best — something Iran has engaged in for more than a decade without even having its hands on nuclear weapons.

Still, no amount of Iranian mendacity would convince liberal defenders the deal was a mistake. Though they have yet to coalesce around a suitable talking point, some have already argued that the deal should stay in place because Iran lies. But in reality, from beginning to end, the deal has been a disaster for the United States and for peace. It has empowered our enemies and undermined our allies. There has never been anything quite like it.

Tehran terrified, ex-Pentagon official says

The Iranian regime is “quaking in its boots,” after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed secret nuclear-program documents appropriated by the Mossad, an ex-Pentagon Iran expert told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.

Harold Rhode spent 28 years at the Pentagon and studied in Iran before the 1979 revolution there. The fluent Farsi speaker, who is now associated with the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, said his view stems from a wave of recent Iranian infighting.

He said when things are not going well in Iran, Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps officials and rival ayatollahs start attacking each other in a public blame game that expresses how exposed and vulnerable they feel their rule has become.

Rhode named senior Ayatollah Abdollah Javadi-Amoli from northern Iran who has been lashing out at rivals, saying their corruption was bringing down the regime.
Israel claims proof Iran “lied” about past nuclear program, April 30, 2018 (Reuters

Israel “humiliated the Iranian government by capturing all of this material,” Rhode said, and many Iranians were laughing at the Islamic regime on social media.

While the global media stopped covering protests against the regime months ago, he noted, the protests are still churning

Netanyahu’s speech reawakens Iranian protests against regime

“The speech by Netanyahu reawakened something in the Iranian people that greatly disturbs them,” Dr. Thamar Eilam Gindin, an expert on Iran from the Shalem Academic Center and the Ezri Center said in her podcast “Enriched Uranium” on Wednesday.

Yet, however dramatic and sensitive the information Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented on Monday regarding Iran’s intentions to develop nuclear technology were, what was disturbing to the Iranians was not at all related to the content of his remarks.

“I saw a large number of people who asked not to call Iran the Islamic Republic,” said Eilam Gindin. “There were many calls from people who said: ‘They [the Islamic Republic of Iran] do not represent the Iranian people, they took us hostage. You have to differentiate between Iran, which has a history of 3,000 years, and the Islamic Republic, which is 39 years old.”

In a broader light, according to Dr. Eilam Gindin, these reactions reflect a mood currently prevailing in the streets of Iran in relation to the regime and the authorities in the republic, the United States and Israel and Netanyahu himself.

“At first the reactions were a bit hysterical,” she continued. “People in Iran feel insecure, their currency is weak and the economy is shaky. There are many who oppose the regime. Netanyahu’s speech, claiming that Israel caught their regime in a breach of agreements, put some pressure on them.

Israeli Ambassador: Info Revealed by Netanyahu on Iran’s Nuclear Program a ‘Smoking Bomb’

The intelligence information on Iran’s nuclear program presented by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the world on Monday was a “smoking bomb…not just a smoking gun,” according to the Jewish state’s US envoy.

In an appearance on the “CBS This Morning” talk show, Ambassador Ron Dermer said the details revealed by Netanyahu were “certainly new.”

“It puts together this giant puzzle we all had of Iran’s nuclear program,” Dermer noted. “There were a lot of question marks about Iran’s program, now we have exclamation points that they had a military nuclear program and they had an intention, and they still have an intention, to ultimately build a nuclear weapon.”
Watch the full interview with Dermer below:

Very existence of Iran’s secret nuclear archive may be a violation of nuke deal

Critics of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Monday exposé on Iran’s secret nuclear weapons program have argued that it contained nothing new — no smoking gun that proved the Islamic Republic violated the terms of the nuclear deal it struck with six world powers in 2015.

It was well known that Iran had a covert nuclear weapons program, European governments and other defenders of the deal noted, adding that it was precisely Iran’s history of dishonesty that necessitated the landmark deal with its provisions for an unprecedentedly intrusive inspection regime.

Indeed, Tehran appears to be complying with the operative provisions of the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. As far as is known, Iran has not, for example, resumed enriching uranium to weapons-grade levels.

However, Iran certainly violated the spirit of the agreement, by lying over its past efforts to build a nuclear weapon. Iran was obligated to come clean over those efforts, and failed to do so. The deal, the Mossad’s findings clearly show, was thus born in sin.

TIP Backgrounder: Iran Lied – What it Means and What Must Be Done

The United States and its European partners must fix the full range of fatal deficiencies in the deal and demand the complete rejection of sunset clauses, robust restrictions on Iran’s ballistic missiles program, wide-ranging limitations on Tehran’s research and development on advanced centrifuges and reliable verification mechanisms.

•The deadline for the President to “nix or fix” the JCPOA is fast approaching on May 12. Cosmetic amendments to airbrush the flaws of the deal will only exacerbate the problem and benefit Iran and Russia.

•The President should reject the fake “new” deal offered by Europe and continue moving forward with imposing sanctions and demanding substantial improvements to the deal, using all available diplomatic and economic tools.

•The administration should continue to work hand in and with Israel and Arab partners to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons capabilities. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over the weekend offered strong support to Israel in the standoff with Iran. “The United States is with Israel in this fight and we strongly support Israel’s sovereign right to defend itself,” Pompeo said.

New details emerge on daring Mossad operation in Iran

Additional details from the Mossad’s audacious operation in the heart of Tehran are continuing to emerge in the wake of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s dramatic speech on Iran’s nuclear program Monday.

Hadashot evening news reported Tuesday that on Jan. 31, 10 days before an Iranian drone breached Israeli airspace and was downed by an Israel Air Force Apache helicopter, the Iranians discovered the massive security breach, attempted to chase after the perpetrators, and were even “right on their tail.”

Nevertheless, the Mossad agents managed to get the documents and themselves out of Iran. Most of the details surrounding the daring mission remain classified, including the codename the spy agency assigned the operation.

Once the sensitive material arrived in Israel, numerous discussions were held to determine what to do with it. Some believed that, similar to past instances, the information should be anonymously leaked to foreign media outlets. Ultimately, however, due to a combination of factors, the decision was made to go public with the information without compromising intelligence sources and methods.

British Foreign Secretary responds to Netanyahu’s Iran speech

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson responded today to Israel’s historic operation to obtain Iran’s nuclear archive, which uncovered over 100,000 documents detailing Tehran’s nuclear program.

“The Israeli Prime Minister’s presentation on Iran’s past research into nuclear weapons technology underlines the importance of keeping the Iran nuclear deal’s constraints on Tehran’s nuclear ambitions,” Johnson said.

“The Iran nuclear deal is not based on trust about Iran’s intentions; rather it is based on tough verification, including measures that allow inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency unprecedented access to Iran’s nuclear programme.

“The fact that Iran conducted sensitive research in secret until 2003 shows why we need the intrusive inspections allowed by the Iran nuclear deal today. The verification provisions in the Iran nuclear deal would make it harder for Iran to restart any such research. That is another good reason for keeping the deal while building on it in order to take account of the legitimate concerns of the US and our other allies.”

Germany says IAEA should probe Israeli claims (not satire)

The Latest on the Israel’s allegations that Iran concealed a nuclear weapons program before signing a deal with world powers in 2015 (all times local):

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas says the International Atomic Energy Agency should quickly follow up on allegations by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who claims that Iranian leaders covered up a nuclear weapons program before signing a deal with world powers in 2015.

Maas told the Bild daily on Tuesday that “the IAEA must as quickly as possible get access to Israeli information and clarify if there are indeed indications of a violation of the deal.”

He said that, “precisely because we cannot allow an Iranian grab for nuclear weapons,” the control mechanisms of the agreement need to work well.

Lapid says PM seriously harmed national security with Iran revelations

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid said Wednesday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a serious error of judgment by publicly presenting the information gleaned from the Mossad’s capture of Iran’s nuclear program archives and could have harmed national security.

Lapid said he was opposed to the nuclear deal, and worked against it from the opposition, but described the prime minister’s speech as “a mistake that caused damage to this goal.”

The Yesh Atid head said that Netanyahu “made a professional mistake of the first order in his judgment on national security issues.”

“What is even more worrying is that this is not his first or only mistake recently,” Lapid said. “Netanyahu today makes mistakes that he would not have made in the past.”

Lapid was apparently insinuating that the series of investigations that Netanyahu is facing has clouded his judgement.

Just PAINFUL! Ben Rhodes takes MASSIVE tumble trying to rescue Obama from Iran Deal fallout

After Benjamin Netanyahu revealed how the Iran Deal was “based on Iranian lies and Iranian deception,” a lot of people couldn’t wait to hear what Ben Rhodes had to say about it.

This afternoon, Rhodes finally broke his silence … by spinning up a storm:

There’s that argument again: We knew the Iranian regime was lying, so we had to do the deal with them! Honestly, we’d expect nothing less from the likes of Ben Rhodes.

Former Obama Spokesman: Trump and Israelis ‘Cooking Up Intel’ to Undermine Iran Nuclear Deal

Former Obama administration van driver spokesman Tommy Vietor tweeted Tuesday that President Donald Trump is “now cooking up intel with the Israelis” to push the United States toward conflict with Iran.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday presented thousands of secret files obtained by Israeli intelligence officials that show Iran lied about its past work on developing nuclear weapons.

Reporter Barak Ravid tweeted that Netanyahu coordinated the timing of the documents’ public unveiling with the White House and chose this week because of the May 12 deadline for Trump to decide whether to reimpose sanctions previously lifted under the Iran nuclear deal.

Vietor, a former National Security Council spokesman and staunch defender of the Obama-brokered nuclear deal, linked to Ravid’s tweets and wrote, “After years of bashing US intelligence agencies for getting Iraq WMD wrong, Trump is now cooking up intel with the Israelis to push us closer to a conflict with Iran. A scandal hiding in plain sight.”

Trump administration officials verified the authenticity of the Iran documents to the Washington Free Beacon and said the Iranian deceit made it essentially impossible for Trump to remain in the agreement.

Condoleezza Rice: Not ‘End of the World’ If Trump Leaves Iran Nuclear Deal

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Tuesday said it would not be the “end of the world” if President Donald Trump decides to leave the Iran nuclear deal.

“We’ve had various members of the Trump administration testify to congress that there is no proof that Iran is violating the 2015 accord. What is the damage if President Trump withdraws from the accord?” “CBS This Morning” anchor Norah O’Donnell asked.

“Let me say, I wouldn’t have signed this agreement. I said that before. I think it was a weak agreement, particularly on verification,” Rice said. “It allows Iran to break out after a specific period of time. I probably would have stayed in for alliance management reasons more than anything else. But I don’t think that it’s the end of the world if the administration leaves the agreement.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave a presentation on Monday about the intelligence gathered by Israel that describes Iran’s nuclear program. Senior Trump administration officials confirmed the findings as authentic and praised the prime minister for disclosing thousands of secret documents proving Iran lied about its past work on a nuclear warhead. Officials told the Washington Free Beacon the revelation was a “powerful presentation” by Israel outlining why the Iran deal must be fixed or killed.

“First of all, the reason that we have been so concerned about Iran is that we know that they lie and cheat about their nuclear weapons programs,” Rice said. “I haven’t seen the entire [Israeli intelligence] dossier, but I suspect that it simply reenforces what we’ve always known, that the Iranians were secretly developing nuclear weapons at secret sites.”

Rice added that Netanyahu’s presentation is important to the 2015 nuclear deal when it comes to verification.

Peter Beinart: Trump may already be violating the Iran deal

The more interesting question isn’t whether Iran has been complying with the nuclear deal. It’s whether America has. American journalists often describe the agreement as a trade. In the words of one CNN report, it “obliges Iran to limit its nuclear program in exchange for the suspension of economic sanctions.” But there’s more to it than that. The deal doesn’t only require the United States to lift nuclear sanctions. It requires the United States not to inhibit Iran’s reintegration into the global economy. Section 26 commits the U.S. (and its allies) “to prevent interference with the realisation of the full benefit by Iran of the sanctions lifting specified” in the deal. Section 29 commits the U.S. and Europe to “refrain from any policy specifically intended to directly and adversely affect the normalisation of trade and economic relations with Iran.” Section 33 commits them to “agree on steps to ensure Iran’s access in areas of trade, technology, finance and energy.”

The Trump administration has likely been violating these clauses. The Washington Post reported that at a NATO summit last May, “Trump tried to persuade European partners to stop making trade and business deals with Iran.” Then, in July, Trump’s director of legislative affairs boasted that at a G20 summit in Germany, Trump had “underscored the need for nations … to stop doing business with nations that sponsor terrorism, especially Iran.” Both of these lobbying efforts appear to violate America’s pledge to “refrain from any policy specifically intended to directly and adversely affect the normalisation of trade and economic relations with Iran.”

Business Insider: Israel ‘Stomping on Iran’

Yes, you read that correctly: according to Business Insider, Israel is “stomping” on Iran. And it’s Israel that is bringing about war. Not just any war, but “one of the worst wars the Middle East has ever seen.”

This at a time when the Syrian civil war has already killed over half a million people…with Iranian support.

In truth, Iran and Syria are posing a very real and immediate military threat to Israel, and Israel is responding in a highly calculated manner.

This reality seems lost on writer Alex Lockie, who portrays Iran and Syria as if they were some kind of hapless victims, rather than highly armed, and very active, aggressors.

Here are just a few of Lockie’s most problematic statements:
Experts say a strike in Syria on Sunday that is believed to have killed Iranians was most likely carried out by Israel in a marked escalation of military conflict.

Revealed: Palestinian ‘Journalist’ Killed at Gaza Border was a Terrorist

A Palestinian journalist who died from wounds received during the Hamas-led “Great Return March” has been identified as a terrorist. Ahmed Abu Hussein, a journalist who worked with Bisann News and Voice of Palestine Radio, was a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a U.S.-designated terror group, according to an April 30, 2018 report by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (ITIC).

Hussein was wounded on April 13, 2018, during violent demonstrations at the Israel-Gaza border. His death was announced on April 25, 2018. Hamas and other terrorist organizations have encouraged thousands of Gazans to cross the border with Israel, interspersing armed operatives among unarmed civilians. As CAMERA noted in an April 26, 2018 JNS Op-Ed, Hamas hoped that by purposefully exposing Palestinians to injury and creating a no-win situation for Israel, the so-called “Great Return March” would delegitimize the Jewish state (“Palestinian Nazi Flags and Hamas Talking Points”).

The majority of the Palestinians killed by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) have been linked to terrorist groups (“Think Tank: Majority of Gazans Killed During the ‘Great Return March’ Were Terrorists,” CAMERA, April 26, 2018). And Ahmed Abu Hussein can be added to that list.

ITIC noted that after Hussein’s death, the PFLP hung “death notices…saying that the organization mourned the death of its member” and red “PFLP flags were also carried” during his funeral. On April 28, 2018, the PFLP held a memorial service for Hussein the Jabalia refugee camp. Images of top PFLP leaders, such as Abu Ali Mustafa, “decorated” the service. The PFLP’s “armed wing” is named after Mustafa, a co-founder of the group who was killed by the IDF during the Second Intifada (2000-05).

ITIC’s report featured pictures of the memorial service, as well as posts from Hussein’s Facebook page, in which he celebrated PFLP terror attacks.

Palestinian charged with asking IDF to shoot him to get Hamas stipend

A Palestinian who allegedly asked IDF soldiers to shoot during the violent protests on the Gaza border last month, so he could receive a $500 payment and a monthly stipend from Hamas, according to an indictment filed against him on Tuesday.

Mustafa Banna, 20, was charged with security offenses, including entering a closed military zone, membership in a terror organization, providing measures to commit a crime and arms offenses.

According to the indictment, Banna is a Hamas member who joined the terror group in 2017 following in the footsteps of his uncle, who was already a member of Hamas.

Among other things, Banna is suspected of taking part in the digging of one of Hamas’s tunnels in the Saja’iyya area. He was also allegedly part of the medical unit that treated Hamas members injured while digging the tunnels.

According to the indictment, Banna joined the Hamas-organized protests over the right of return on the Gaza border in early April. He allegedly came close to the Gaza border fence in an effort to get shot and wounded by IDF soldiers.

New York Times Electrifies Israel’s Gaza Fence

The New York Times decided to report from inside the heart of the Palestinian violence currently taking place on Israel’s border with Gaza under the headline: “Plan to Storm Fence Gets Bloody Preview in Gaza.”

So what of this fence?

For the first time in five weeks of protests, some reached the second barrier — an electrified, sensor-laden fence that marks the edge of Israeli territory — and tried to climb it or pull it down. A few hundred yards beyond it lies the Israeli farming community of Nahal Oz. …

Ibrahim Shahin, 26, said he was among a group of about 12 men who cut through the barbed wire and then began climbing the electrified fence.

An “electrified” fence?

Were the 12 men climbing this fence wearing rubber gloves and boots?

Of course not.

Lag Ba’omer bonfires scaled back for fears of weather, disasters

Municipalities around the country scaled back Lag Ba’omer festivities Wednesday in a rare move, citing fears of unseasonably dry weather and lingering doubts after a flash flood claimed the lives of 10 youths in the Negev.

In Meron, the lakeside burial place of Kabbalist figure Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai near the Sea of Galilee, huge bonfires are scheduled to proceed as usual, though the city of Haifa, among others, forbade the lighting of bonfires during the holiday, which will last until Thursday night.

Forecasts across the country see unseasonably warm temperatures and dry weather through next week, prompting fears the bonfires could spread. Fire and Rescue Commissioner Dedy Simhi signed an order Wednesday forbidding bonfires across most of the country.

Meanwhile, the Israel Fire and Rescue Authority released a warning to the public that “in the coming days, weather conditions characterized by high winds, which are accompanied by high temperatures, are expected to cause rapid spread of fire, endangering human life and property.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged Israelis not to light bonfires on Twitter, saying “there will be other opportunities” in the future.

Attempted bombing at IDF court

Two Arab terrorists were arrested in Samaria Tuesday afternoon while the pair were on their way to carry out a bombing attack on an Israeli military court in the area.

The two suspects arrived at an IDF court in the Salim district in central Samaria Tuesday afternoon, carrying three concealed pipe bombs and a gas tank.

Border Police officers stationed outside of the court spotted the two suspects and apprehended them before they could carry out their attack.

The two were arrested and transferred to investigators for questioning.

One of two suspects behind 2016 hit on Hamas engineer said arrested in Croatia

The Tunisian Justice Ministry reportedly claimed Wednesday that one of the suspected operatives behind a 2016 hit on a Hamas-linked engineer that has been attributed to Israel had been arrested in Croatia.

Both Hamas and Hezbollah have accused the Mossad of killing Mohamed Zouari, 49, who was shot to death at the wheel of his car outside his house in the Tunisian port city of Sfax in December 2016.

Hamas claimed last year that Israeli spies had used Bosnian passports to enter Tunisia and assassinate Zouari, who also held Belgian citizenship.

Hebrew media reports, citing the Tunisian Justice Ministry source, said the suspect had been arrested two months ago in Croatia, but authorities were refusing to extradite him to Tunisia.

There were no further details in the report.

MEMRI: Following The Murder In Malaysia Of Palestinian Engineer Fadi Al-Batsh, Hamas Supporters Debate Whether To Act Against Israel Abroad

On April 21, 2018, Palestinian engineer Dr. Fadi Al-Batsh was killed in a drive-by motorcycle shooting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The London daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat wrote that he was an outstanding researcher, expert in electrical engineering and rocket manufacture. It added that he had been living in Malaysia for a decade, after being sent there by Hamas to complete his studies, that he was acting secretly on behalf of Hamas, and that this was known to only a few Hamas leaders.[1]

Palestinian Islamic Jihad official Khaled Al-Batsh, a relative of Dr. Fadi Al-Batsh, accused the Israeli Mossad of assassinating him;[2] Hamas itself accused Israel of assassinating him, describing him in its announcement of his death as “one of [Hamas’s] righteous knights and sons.”[3] During a condolence visit to the family’s home in the city of Jabaliya in the Gaza Strip, Hamas political bureau head Isma’il Haniya called on the Malaysian government to investigate the murder, noting that doing so would “reveal the involvement of the Mossad organization in the assassination.”[4] He added that those behind the killing “will certainly yet pay the price,”[5] and added, “The battle with Israel has moved outside the occupied lands.”[6]

At an April 26, 2018 Hamas military ceremony at the Rafah crossing to receive Al-Batsh’s body, Haniya said: “The criminal hands sent against the martyr Al-Batsh will be cut off.” Hamas official Khalil Al-Hayya said at the ceremony: “Oh occupation, the accounts between us have become heavy. The day of punishment will necessarily come.”[7] Hamas official Osama Hamdan said that Hamas would closely follow the murder investigation conducted by the Malaysian authorities, but also stressed: “We in Hamas know that Israel is targeting Arab and Palestinian scientists.”[8]

Israel to Shift West Bank Power Supply to Palestinian Authority in $775 Million Deal

Israel signed a 15-year, $775 million deal with the self-ruling Palestinian Authority on Tuesday to put electricity distribution for Palestinians in the West Bank in PA hands and build four power plants to that end, officials said.

The nearly three million Palestinians in the West Bank currently rely on Israel for their electricity, with neighboring Jordan providing power to the Jericho area in the Jordan River Valley.

The deal does not apply to the Gaza Strip, whose two million Palestinians suffer frequent blackouts due to severe fuel shortages and continued power-sharing disputes between Gaza’s Islamist Hamas rulers and the West Bank-based PA.

As part of the new deal, the PA will pay off a 915-million-shekel debt to the state-owned utility Israel Electric Corp (IEC), while taking charge of the distribution of electricity to West Bank Palestinians.

The IEC will sell power to the Palestinian Electricity Transmission Company (PETL) through four plants to be built by the IEC and PA. PETL will own the power plants and channel the electricity supply.

“The agreement … frees the Palestinian electricity sector of complete Israeli control, which has lasted for decades,” said a statement issued in the name of Hussein Al-Sheikh, head of the PA’s civil affairs agency.

Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said the agreement paves the way for Palestinians to develop a modern grid.

Morocco cuts Iran ties over alleged Hezbollah arms delivery to separatist group

Morocco has cut diplomatic ties with Iran over its alleged involvement in the delivery of weapons from its Lebanese ally Hezbollah to a group seeking independence for Western Sahara, Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita said Tuesday.

Bourita said “a first shipment of weapons was recently” sent to the Algerian-backed Polisario Front via an “element” at the Iranian embassy in Algiers.

“Morocco has irrefutable proof, names, and specific actions to corroborate the complicity between the Polisario and Hezbollah,” he told reporters.

The decision to sever ties with Tehran is “in response to Iran’s involvement, through Hezbollah, in allying itself with the Polisario over the past two years in order to target the security and higher interests of Morocco.”
Morocco’s Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita speaks during a joint press conference with French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian in Rabat, Morocco, Monday, October 9, 2017. (AP Photo/Mosa’ab Elshamy)

Bourita was speaking upon his return from Tehran, where he said he informed his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif about Morocco’s decision.

The foreign minister said he departed Tehran along with Morocco’s ambassador to Iran.

“I will ask the Iranian embassy’s charge d’affaires to leave the kingdom as soon as possible,” Bourita added.

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