October 20, 2021

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06/11 Links Pt1: Mossad tipped off UK on Hezbollah bomb plot in London in 2015; U.S. Ambassador to Israel: Israel has right to annex part of West Bank


From Ian:

Mossad tipped off UK on Hezbollah bomb plot in London in 2015 – report
Israel’s Mossad spy agency was responsible for providing British authorities with information that helped foil Hezbollah’s efforts to stockpile explosives in London in 2015, a senior Israeli official told the Kan public broadcaster Monday.

The report said Hezbollah later attempted to move its operations to other countries, which were also notified by Mossad, and that the two organizations were for some time engaged in a game of cat and mouse, as the Iran-backed group sought to realize its plans.

According to a report Sunday by The Daily Telegraph, the Hezbollah plot was part of a wider plan to lay the groundwork for future attacks. It noted foiled Hezbollah operations in Thailand, Cyprus, and New York. All those plots were believed to have targeted Israeli interests around the world.

The report said that, acting on a tip from an unnamed foreign intelligence agency, MI5 and the Metropolitan Police raided four properties in North West London, discovering thousands of disposable ice packs containing three tons of ammonium nitrate, a common ingredient in homemade bombs.

The report said the raid came just months after the UK joined the US and other world powers in signing the Iran nuclear deal, and speculated that it was hushed up to avoid derailing the agreement with Tehran, which is the main patron of Hezbollah.

UK’s Hezbollah revelations part of worrying trend of Iran appeasement

The UK’s MI5 and the Metropolitan Police uncovered the foundations of a Hezbollah plot when they raided four sites in London in September 2015, according to a shocking report in The Telegraph.

Although then prime minister David Cameron and home secretary Theresa May were briefed on the raid, it was “kept hidden from the public,” the report says.

This fits a disturbing pattern of attempts by intelligence and law enforcement agencies to track Hezbollah’s global activities, only to have them met with the cold shoulder at political levels. This may be part of a wide-ranging attempt by Western countries to curry favor with Iran’s regime and downplay the depth of Iranian penetration of foreign countries.

In 2008, the US Drug Enforcement Administration began investigating Hezbollah’s drug trade, according to an article in Politico in 2018. Thirty US and foreign security agencies were involved. They mapped a global trade from South America to Africa and the Middle East, which they linked “to the innermost circle of Hezbollah and its state sponsors in Iran.”

But the investigators began to run into a problem from the highest levels of the Obama administration. The US was seeking to change its relations with Iran and to put forward the Iran Deal. As such, the US felt it needed to be more flexible with Iran’s allies, such as Hezbollah. The Politico report says that John Brennan, former CIA director, even said he believed that Hezbollah should receive “greater assimilation into Lebanon’s political system.”

We should have been told about the Hezbollah bomb-making factory

Many of us have never needed convincing about just how dangerous Hezbollah is. That’s why – alongside Jewish communal organisations and colleagues from across the House of Commons – we campaigned to have this antisemitic terror group proscribed in its entirety.

Belatedly, and under much pressure, the government finally recognised in February that its attempt to maintain a distinction between Hezbollah’s political wing (which wasn’t banned) and its military wing (which Tony Blair’s administration proscribed) was a dangerous game of semantics.

Indeed, the UK was openly mocked by Hezbollah for maintain a distinction which it itself had explicitly and repeatedly denied the existence of.

I was nonetheless horrified this morning to read the Daily Telegraph’s expose of a plot by Hezbollah-linked operatives to store explosive materials in London, which was foiled by the security services in September 2015.

There was nothing small-scale about this endeavour.

The terrorists were allegedly stockpiling more ammonium nitrate than was used by Timothy McVeigh in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing in which 168 people died. And this appears to have been part of an international conspiracy stretching across several countries.

38 years later, pilots recall how Iran inadvertently enabled Osiraq reactor raid

Thirty-eight years after Operation Opera — the Israeli air attack that destroyed Saddam Hussein’s nuclear reactor at Osirak — surviving pilots gathered to mark the event, noting “one of the greatest ironies in history”: that the attack was enabled by the Islamic Revolution in Iran.

When Israel discovered in 1977 that Iraq was building a plutonium reactor that could be used to make nuclear weapons, the fighter jets at its disposal — F-4 Phantoms and Skyhawks — were not capable of flying the over 1,000 miles into enemy territory and returning safely, recalled retired Maj. Gen. David Ivry, the IAF commander at the time, in a TV interview at the recent gathering.

But in 1979, Israel had a stroke of good fortune.

The Islamic Revolution led by Ayatollah Khomeini overthrew the shah of Iran Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, a staunch US ally, leading the US cancel a massive deal to supply Iran with 75 top-of-the-line F-16 fighter jets.
Too early for this angle, says Eilam. The view of the Iraqi nuclear reactor as seen on the screen of one of the attacking F-16s (Photo credit: IDF/AF via Tsahi Ben-Ami/ Flash 90)

The Americans then offered them to Israel.

“I immediately said yes,” recalled Ivri in the interview with Channel 12, broadcast on Sunday night. “Without asking anybody. When someone offers you the best fighter jets, first of all you say yes, then you see…,” he said.

“The fact that the jets came to us because of the Iranian revolution is one of the greatest ironies in history,” said Col. (Ret.) Ze’ev Raz, who led the June 7, 1981, raid, and who also participated in the get-together marking 38 years since the strike.

But even with the new jets, it was far from clear that they would be able to make it to Iraq and return safely with the fuel capacity of the F-16, which led to the air force employing a wide range of workarounds to try to make the mission possible.

The Bahrain Conference Represents a Great Opportunity for Peace

The “Arab refugees” of 1948/1950, now renamed the “Palestinian refugees,” are ostensibly represented by the Palestine Liberation Organization/Palestinian Authority.

UN documentation claims that in 1948/1950 there were 711,000 refugees. According to UNRWA, in January 2018 there were over 5.4 million registered Palestinian refugees. Only 30-40,000 are original refugees.

The PLO/PA and the Arab countries must understand that Israel will never agree to the “return” of the ever-growing millions of descendants of the original refugees.

Recognizing this as the reality, the U.S. came to the conclusion that the world cannot fund the ever-growing Palestinian refugee community indefinitely.

Using the aid money to integrate the refugees into their host countries’ economies is the only viable solution, and will eliminate a major obstacle to peace.

‘Jordan, Egypt yet to reply, Israel yet to get invite, for June 25 Bahrain meet’

Israel has yet to receive an official invitation to the US-led economic summit in Bahrain that is just two weeks away, Channel 13 reported Sunday, and key players Egypt and Jordan have yet to say whether they will attend.

The gathering — intended to focus on ways to bolster the Palestinian economy — is the first major stage of the administration’s much-anticipated peace proposal. But it has faced a series of hurdles, with several Arab states refusing to confirm their attendance, and the Palestinian leadership boycotting the event and urging others to stay away too.

A senior Israeli official told Channel 13 that during their meeting on May 30, the visiting White House senior adviser Jared Kushner explained to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Washington is waiting for additional “yes” responses from key Arab nations before extending an official invitation to Israel.

According to Channel 13, the US is particularly anxious to hear back from Egypt and Jordan, the two countries which have full peace treaties with Israel and are reported to also be intended beneficiaries of the billions of dollars in aid that the US is hoping wealthy Gulf states will be willing to pledge at the Bahrain summit on June 25-26.

Netanyahu has told Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon that if and when the invitation from Washington does arrive, the latter would be Israel’s representative at the conference.

JCPA: Why Is the Palestinian Authority Opposed to the Upcoming Economic Conference in Bahrain?

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman’s recent remarks on Israeli claims in Judea and Samaria only intensified Palestinian concerns regarding the loss of a primary lever for putting pressure on Israel, specifically, the United Nations and the international organizations connected with it.

The conference in Manama is a regional framework that is outside the parameters of the United Nations. Therefore, Palestinian participation in it would be tantamount to an admission that the PLO’s United Nations strategy has failed.

Furthermore, the Manama conference is focusing on the Arab and Palestinian private sector. The private sector is perceived as having interests that are contrary to the “national interest” of the “Palestinian struggle.” The private sector wants stability. The “struggle” seeks instability.

The PLO has launched a series of “emergency meetings” on the issue. Palestinian diplomats are trying to rally the support of the countries in the United Nations, in the “third world,” China, and Russia, and they are also seriously considering issuing a denunciation of the Arab countries supporting Trump. However, they are very wary of displaying open discord with these Arab countries.

Another option to be discussed by the Palestinian Authority is a return to the Arab “masses” exerting pressure on their leadership.

The Bahrain assembly needs to inform the “Palestinian leadership” that the “Arab masses” have other troubles, and they are no longer interested in the Palestinians.

U.S. Ambassador to Israel: Israel has right to annex part of West Bank

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said that Israel has the right to annex some but “unlikely all” of the West Bank in an interview with The New York Times on Friday.

This comes after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised to begin annexing settlements in the West Bank, a move that would put a dent in any attempts at a two-state solution in the area.

“Under certain circumstances, I think Israel has the right to retain some, but unlikely all, of the West Bank,” Friedman said.

Following Friedman’s interview, an administration official reacted Saturday, saying: “Our policy has not changed,” The Jerusalem Post’s Omri Nahmias reports.

The comment by Friedman stirred plenty of controversy, since much of the world views Israeli settlements in the West Bank as illegal.

Friedman further clarified that the “Deal of the Century” was aimed at improving life for Palestinians, but without any “permanent resolution to the conflict.”

Washington not asking Friedman to ‘walk back’ comments about annexation

Friedman, in his remarks to the Times, did not use either the words “unilateral” or “annexation.”

Regardless, his words continued to stir a political debate in Israel. While the Left slammed him on Saturday and Sunday, right-wing politicians and others as well came to his defense on Monday.

Friedman, said Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi in a Facebook post, gave “refreshing” articulation to an evolution in the thinking among many in the US, Europe, Arab states and Israel “that applying Israeli law to settlements in Judea and Samaria is a natural step after 52 years of Palestinian intransigence.”

Economy Minister Eli Cohen of Kulanu tweeted that there was no need for Friedman to apologize, because he did not make a mistake.

“Now, after 52 years, the time is ripe to start extending Israeli sovereignty, at this stage, over the settlement blocs,” Cohen wrote, adding that sooner or later, other countries “will recognize it.”

Yoaz Hendel, on the right flank in the Blue and White Party, said in a Kan Bet Radio interview that Friedman’s comments were in line with his party’s platform, and that there is currently a friendly administration in Washington that Israel should wisely use to its advantage.

Mixed Reax to US Ambassador’s West Bank Annexation Comment

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman claimed that Israel has a right to annex some of the West Bank land where settlements had been built. In response, centrist and right-wing Israeli lawmakers applauded him, while on the left, his words were condemned. Our Ellie Hochenberg has the story.

JPost Editorial: Unilateral annexation

Netanyahu pledged just prior to the April 9 election to extend Israeli law to all West Bank Jewish communities but that was election rhetoric aimed at swiping votes away from the far-Right parties running for the Knesset.

In reality, there is no formulated Israeli policy on the issue. Even with the across-the-board support the Trump administration is giving to Israel, as exemplified by Friedman’s statements, Netanyahu hasn’t made an official decision if unilateral moves is the direction he wants to go in and whether it will be good for Israel.

Any solution to the stalemate between Israel and the Palestinians will have to come from the parties themselves, not from support or opposition coming from outside sources, be they the US or the EU.

Unilateral moves can result in chaos, vacuums of power and more violence – just look at the aftermath of Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon and from Gaza and the strengthening of Hezbollah and Hamas. They can also help move forward a long-term solution.

Either way though it is not Friedman who needs to decide what Israel should do. He is not the one holding the keys to the door. Israelis deserve to hear from their leadership about the vision it has for the thorny issue, not in the context of political posturing, but in the realm of a long-term solution that will be in the best interest of Israel.

Unilaterally extending Israeli law over large sections of the West Bank or annexing part of the area without being part of a regional agreement are some of the options on the table. Netanyahu should tell us what he wants.

The difference between ‘retaining’ and ‘annexing’ territory

In the debate over what will be the final resolution of the territories occupied and annexed by Jordan in 1948 and held by Israel since 1967, many words and expressions are used, such as “retain territory,” “apply sovereignty,” “extend Israeli law,” and “annexation.”

Though the words have different legal meanings, they are often used interchangeably – and that is where the confusion sets in.

For instance, The New York Times online headline to the Friedman interview read: “US Ambassador Says Israel Has Right to Annex Parts of West Bank,” even though Friedman did not use the word “annex.” The Jerusalem Post story about the interview also used the word “annex” in the headline and the first paragraph, even though Friedman did not utter that word.

According to Alan Baker – former legal adviser at the Foreign Ministry who today serves as director of the Institute for Contemporary Affairs at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs – there is a difference: a distinction between retaining territories, applying Israel law, jurisdiction and administration over territories, and annexing territories.

He points out, however, that there is no difference between “applying sovereignty” over an area and annexing it. This is significant because Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an interview just three days before the April 9 election – in an effort to woo right-wing voters – that he intended to “apply sovereignty” over settlements. Moreover, he said, “I don’t distinguish between settlement blocs and the isolated settlement points, because from my perspective every such point of settlement is Israeli.”

Netanyahu is also someone careful with his words, and pointedly avoided saying that Israel would annex the settlements. Nonetheless, according to Baker, “annexing” and “applying sovereignty” are the same thing, and both run contrary to international law.

Baker also argued that it makes no difference in international law whether the territories were won in a defensive or offensive war. This is significant because after US President Donald Trump recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights in March, Netanyahu said an important principle was set: that land acquired in a defensive war did not have to be given up.

4 reasons Israel should consider annexing part of the West Bank

In its coverage of Friedman’s statement, the Times also stated that Israeli annexation “would violate international law.”

However, it should be noted that, the opinions of the UNSC and The New York Times notwithstanding, many legal scholars hold that Israel’s settlements are not illegal at all. Indeed, there are at least four reasons why Israeli annexation of settlements is not only permissible but also sensical:

1 Israel’s settlements do not violate international law.

While issues of international law are both complex and fuzzy, suffice it to say that according to international legal expert Eugene Kontorovich, the UNSC cannot make international law. Indeed, Resolution 2334 instead cites as its legal authority the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Simply stated, this convention holds that a country cannot forcibly move its population into another state’s conquered territory. Read these words carefully. Since Israel has not forcibly moved any people into Judea-Samaria – all have settled there on their own initiative – Israel does not violate this stricture.

In addition, prior to Israel taking control of Judea and Samaria in 1967, this previously stateless territory was occupied illegally by Jordan, which conquered it temporarily during the 1948 War of Independence. Jordan has since entered into a peace treaty with Israel and given up its claim to all lands in Judea and Samaria, and thus Israel’s settlements are in no way occupying the land of another state.

Palestinians dub US envoy ‘settler spokesman’ after he backs partial annexation

Palestinians officials excoriated US ambassador David Friedman to Israel on Saturday, hours after The New York Times published an interview with the envoy in which he said that some degree of Israeli annexation of the West Bank would be legitimate.

Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization and top Palestinian negotiator, said Friedman’s remarks proved that US President Donald Trump’s administration was heavily biased in favor of Israel and that the Palestinians were justified in choosing to boycott an economic conference in Bahrain later this month where Washington is set to unveil the first phase of a long-delayed peace plan.

Another Palestinian official, Mustafa Barghouti, called Friedman a “spokesman for the settlers,” Haaretz reported, and said his comments amounted to “chutzpah.”

“Under certain circumstances, I think Israel has the right to retain some, but unlikely all, of the West Bank,” Friedman told the Times.

Palestinians weigh ICC complaint against US envoy for backing Israeli annexation

The Palestinian Authority said it will consider filing a complaint at the International Criminal Court against the US ambassador to Israel for saying the Jewish state has the right to annex “some” of the West Bank.

In a statement Sunday, the PA’s foreign ministry said David Friedman’s remarks reflected the Trump administration’s policy toward Israeli settlements, though an American official later said there was no change in the US position.

“In what logic does Friedman think that Israel has the right to annex parts of the West Bank?” the statement carried by the PA’s official WAFA news said. “On what reality did he base his conviction? On international law prohibiting the annexation of territory by force? Or the reality imposed by the occupation authorities?”

The statement also included strong personal criticism of Friedman.

“This person who is illiterate in politics, history and geography, and who belongs to the state of the settlements… has nothing to do with logic, justice or law unless they serve the occupation state which he is eager to defend by all means,” it said.

Palestinians planning ‘popular uprising’ against Trump’s plan

The Palestinians said on Sunday that they are planning a “popular uprising” later this month to protest US President Donald Trump’s upcoming plan for peace in the Middle East.

The protests, scheduled for June 25 and 26, will coincide with the launching of the US-led economic workshop in Bahrain – where the US administration plans to unveil the economic portion of its long-awaited plan.

The Palestinian Authority leadership has called on Palestinians and Arabs to boycott the Bahrain conference.

Representatives of PLO factions, Palestinian civil society organizations and independent Palestinian personalities called on all Palestinians to participate in the protests against Trump’s peace plan and the Bahrain conference.

They issued the call after a meeting in el-Bireh, the twin city of Ramallah.

Wasel Abu Yusef, member of the PLO Executive Committee, said that Sunday’s meeting was the first in a series of gatherings to arrange “popular activities to confront American-Israeli schemes aimed at eliminating the rights of the Palestinian people.”

The Palestinians, he said, need to engage in “struggling action to foil the ‘Deal of the Century’ and its economic aspect, and voice their rejection of all American policies.”

Germany, Jordan say two states ‘only solution’ to Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Germany and Jordan’s top diplomats on Sunday reaffirmed their countries’ support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict ahead of a long-awaited US peace plan.

“We are still in agreement that reaching a two-state solution through negotiations is the only solution,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said during a press conference in Amman with his Jordanian counterpart, Ayman Safadi.

Safadi confirmed that “the two-state solution is the only way to end the conflict.”

The German and Jordanian ministers also stressed the importance of the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, just weeks after the US called for it to be dismantled after cutting its roughly $300 million annual donation.

French FM: Trump peace plan ‘cannot grant serenity,’ won’t satisfy both sides

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has criticized the Trump administration’s still-secret plan for creating peace in the Middle East calling it “an approach that cannot grant serenity.”

Speaking Saturday during a visit to Morocco aimed at boosting diplomatic and economic relations between the countries, Le Drian reiterated France and the European Union’s opposition to Washington’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.

He said this approach “indicates” the plan — whatever it is — will not lead to both sides being happy.

Le Drian’s comments come weeks after President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner stopped in Morocco to seek King Mohammed VI’s backing for the plan.

Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita said his country won’t take an official position until the plan is revealed.

Former Iraqi politician to ‘Post’: Hope for normalization with Israel

Mithal Jamal al-Alusi – an Iraqi politician who served in the Iraqi Parliament and who visited Israel three times, in an attempt to promote normalization between the two countries – was honored last week with the American Jewish Committee (AJC) Jan Karski Award.

“This honor is not just for me,” he told the audience at the AJC Global Forum. “It is for all Iraqis who stand up against the fascists and the Iranian threat.”

He spoke about his visits to Israel in 2004, 2005 and 2008, and the death threats he received after each trip. “I will continue going there,” he added. “I will continue working for peace.”

“Mithal al-Alusi has demonstrated, in word and deed, profound personal courage in seeking to achieve his vision of a genuine breakthrough in relations between Arab nations and Israel, as well as democratization of his country and re-engagement with Iraqi Jews who fled abroad,” said AJC Incoming President Harriet Schleifer, who presented the award.

“Little has deterred Mithal, including personal tragedy, from pursuing his conviction, and we are pleased to honor Mr. al-Alusi again.”

France busts neo-Nazi cell over plot against Jewish, Muslim places of worship

French police have busted a neo-Nazi cell accused of plotting attacks on Jewish or Muslim places of worship, legal sources said Tuesday.

Five members of the group, who were “close in ideology to the neo-Nazi movement” were charged between September and May over the alleged plot, a source close to the investigation said.

“The investigation suggested they were developing an ill-defined plot to carry out an attack, likely to target a place of worship,” the judicial source said.

The sources gave no details of specific targets or motives.

Police in the southeastern city of Grenoble first arrested a man on weapons charges in September 2018. The investigation led them to the four other suspects, two of them minors.

Anti-terrorism investigators took over the investigation in January and charged the suspects with terror offenses, including making and transporting explosive devices and being part of a terrorist conspiracy. The case was only announced publicly Tuesday.

Firefight breaks out between IDF and Palestinian forces in Nablus

A firefight broke out between IDF forces and Palestinian security forces in the West Bank city of Nablus early Tuesday morning in what the IDF said was a case of mistaken identity.

“During operations to arrest terrorist operatives in the city of Nablus, a firefight broke out between IDF soldiers and people who were identified by the troops as suspects. After the fact, it was determined that it was Palestinian security services personnel,” the IDF said in a statement.

While no Israeli soldiers were wounded in the exchange of fire near the PA headquarters in the city, one Palestinian security officer was slightly injured in his hand.

The governor of Nablus, Ibrahim Ramadan, said that Israeli forces had not notified the PA before entering the city contrary to normal procedures and “directly and without justification” opened fire on the PA security service building, the PA news site WAFA reported.

According to the report, Ramadan inspected the scene “immediately” after IDF troops left the area and said that “we must not remain silent before such acts. Their goal was to kill. The bullets broke the windows and hit the offices.”

PA rejects joint investigation with IDF into Nablus firefight

The Palestinian Authority said on Tuesday that it has rejected an offer to conduct a joint investigation into the circumstances surrounding the exchange of gunfire between PA security officers and IDF soldiers in Nablus.

The incident took place early Tuesday during a routine IDF operation in Nablus. Two officers belonging to the PA’s Preventive Security Force were lightly injured during the firefight, Palestinian sources said.

“We rejected an Israeli request to form a joint committee to investigate the shooting incident,” said Adnan Damiri, spokesman for the PA security forces in the West Bank.

The incident, he said, began when PA security officers noticed a suspicious vehicle near their headquarters in Nablus.

“When our officers became suspicious of the car, its occupants opened fire at them,” Damiri said. “The exchange of gunfire lasted for nearly two hours after Israeli army reinforcements arrived at the scene. Our security officers acted in self-defense and were defending Nablus and Palestinian security.”

The spokesman accused Israel of pursuing a policy of “political, financial and security pressure on the Palestinians.”

Turkish stowaway, whose arson prompted IDF raid on ship, wanted to reach Europe

A Turkish national who allegedly set a fire on a cargo ship off the coast of Haifa, prompting Israel naval forces to board the vessel, was apparently trying to get to Europe, Channel 12 television reported Monday.

The man, 45, was brought to Haifa Magistrate’s Court but the hearing was canceled after authorities decided to just send him back to his home country.

During investigation following his capture Sunday it was discovered that the man had stowed away on the ship at a port in Turkey hoping to hitch a ride to Europe.

As the boat approached Israel, the man realized he was in the wrong location and then apparently started a fire as a diversion while he hid from the crew to avoid being handed over to Israeli authorities.

Investigators also reportedly discovered that he had succeeded in illegally entering Israel in the past, several years ago. He was discovered and returned home on that occasion, Channel 12 reported.

Friends of the IDF donate $60,000 to rebuild synagogue destroyed by Hamas rocket

Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) supporters Fred and Jeannette Bogart of Boca Raton, Fla. and New York donated $60,000 to rebuild the synagogue on the Israel Defense Forces’ Kissufim Base, home to the 414th Nesher Field Intelligence Battalion and a rotation of infantry units.

The synagogue, along with a Torah scroll used by IDF soldiers, was destroyed by a Hamas rocket in early May in a barrage of rocket fire into Israel that caused the deaths of four civilians.

Following the attack, FIDF launched a campaign on May 29 to raise $60,000 to rebuild the synagogue and an additional $43,000 to dedicate a new Torah scroll. Upon hearing of the campaign, the Bogarts donated the full amount needed to repair the synagogue.

The synagogue is scheduled to be rebuilt by September, according to FIDF.

“We feel privileged to be able to contribute to the wonderful efforts of Friends of the IDF in supporting the brave men and women of the IDF,” said Fred Bogart. “These soldiers risk their lives to defend the Jewish homeland on the Gaza border, so helping to restore this place of spirituality is an honor for us.”

10 families said to be leaving Gaza border communities amid repeated violence

At least 10 families living in Gaza border communities have announced their intentions to leave the area following repeated rounds of conflict between Israel and terror groups in the Strip, Channel 13 reported Friday.

The families arrived just over a year ago and informed the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council that they intend to leave due to the security situation.

The move has sparked fears it could be a prelude to a mass exodus from the area, the report said.

Recent years have seen repeated rounds of fighting in the area, most recently in early May when terror groups fired nearly 700 rockets into Israel, many of them at Gaza border communities. Residents were forced to spend days in the safety of bomb shelters.

The last year has also seen terrorists sending hundreds of arson balloons into Israel, sparking large blazes in nearby fields and nature reserves.

Palestinian deported from US to Israel, but never disembarks from plane

A northern Virginia man who says he fears torture at the hands of Israeli authorities is back in the US after a judge’s order forced immigration authorities to reverse his deportation and bring him back from Israel before he ever got off the plane.

Abdelhaleem Ashqar recently served 11 years in prison for refusing to testify to a grand jury investigating the Palestinian terror group Hamas. In 2005, he ran to succeed Yasser Arafat as president of the Palestinian Authority, all while confined to his Alexandria home on house arrest as he awaited trial. He finished fourth in a field of seven.

According to court papers and interviews, US authorities arrested Ashqar on Tuesday and quickly deported him on a chartered flight after misleading him about his need to report to an immigration office to process paperwork.

By Thursday, though, Ashqar, 60, was back in the US. He’s now at a detention facility in Bowling Green, Virginia, as his case awaits an expedited ruling from the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond.

UNRWA inhibited by ‘turmoil, conflict, resource constraints’ – new report

A new assessment of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestine Refugees in the Near East that was published Tuesday by the Multilateral Organisation Performance Assessment Network (MOPAN) both contradicts and agrees with the United States assessment of the organization.

While on the one hand, the report showed that “overall, political turmoil, conflict, travel and trade restrictions, and resource constraints, have significantly inhibited UNRWA’s ability to deliver results and to meet planned delivery targets,” it also claimed that UNRWA in 2018 was an organization that is “competent, resilient and resolute.”

The assessment, which examined the performance of the organization from 2017 to 2018, looked at its organizational effectiveness (strategic, operational, relationship and performance aspects) and the results it achieved against its objectives.

This was the second MOPAN assessment of UNRWA; the first was conducted in 2011. It will be discussed at a conference in Amman on June 18.

JCPA: Corruption among the Palestinian Authority’s Top Brass

The Fatah sources say that this is how Abbas and his two sons have acquired the loyalty of senior Fatah officials and their silence with regard to their corruption.

Mahmoud Abbas recovering in hospital in May 2018 with his sons Tareq (left) and Yasser. (Photo released to the Arab press)

Prime Minister Shtayyeh said in June 2019 that the Palestinian Authority needed to take bank loans to deal with its large financial crisis.

In an interview in The New York Times on June 5, 2019, Shtayyeh stated, “The Palestinian Authority is collapsing because of its financial crisis and soon it will start sending security men home.”

The Palestinian Authority wants the Arab countries to implement the resolutions of the Arab summit and give it an economic safety net of $100 million to handle President Trump’s “Deal of the Century.” However, the Arab countries are not in a hurry to put this resolution into practice. The intelligence services of these countries recognize the corruption and hedonism of the senior PA officials, and they are concerned that any funds provided to PA coffers will not really be used to assist the residents of the West Bank and Gaza.

What Shtayyeh needed to do was immediately cancel the generous increase of $2,000 to each member of the PA government and provide a personal example of “tightening the belt” to the residents of the territories. However, he is dragging his feet and is afraid of conflict with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, who is primarily responsible for what happens to the PA leadership.

Jordan blasts PA leader for rejecting financial aid offers

The Jordanians are furious with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas over his continued refusal to accept international aid for the West Bank, Israel Hayom has learned.

Amman officials have accused Abbas of mishandling the economic crisis plaguing the Palestinian Authority, which is insolvency – a scenario that could potentially threaten the security and stability of the Hashemite Kingdom.

A senior Jordanian source told Israel Hayom that Abbas has again rejected a proposed plan to resolve the economic crisis in the Palestinian Authority, and has even barred Palestinian officials from meeting Israeli officials seeking to help Ramallah resolve the crisis.

Last week, newly appointed PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh warned the Palestinian Authority was on the brink of financial collapse over the Palestinian leader’s refusal to accept tax revenue collected by Israel on Ramallah’s behalf.

Abbas has refused to accept the funds in the wake of Israeli legislation deducting terrorists’ salaries from these taxes.

Palestinian Authority releases anti-corruption activist after public outcry

The Palestinian Authority released a prominent anti-corruption activist on Monday, one day after he was detained by PA security forces.

The Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) said that Fayez al-Sweiti, of Hebron, was released on bail at the request of its lawyer. The detention drew strong condemnations from Palestinian political and human rights activists, who accused the PA of working to silence and intimidate its critics.

Sweiti, who heads a group called Hand in Hand Toward a Homeland Free of Corruption, was detained hours after a pre-dawn raid on his home in the town of Dura, near Hebron, said his son, Saeb.

About 20 security officers belonging to the PA’s Preventive Security Force raided the family’s home and confiscated books, documents, a computer and mobile phone belonging to Sweiti, the son added.

According to information obtained by the family, he said, his father was detained after reporting to the PA police in Ramallah hours after the raid on his home.

How Palestinian Leaders Butcher the Truth

Yusef Wajih, the terrorist, came to Jerusalem armed with a knife to kill Jews. That was his only goal. He could have taken advantage of Israel’s easing of restrictions during Ramadan — a move that saw hundreds of thousands of Muslims to enter Jerusalem every Friday to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) is also not concerned that two innocent Jews were stabbed by the terrorist. What the Palestinian Authority is disturbed about is the killing of the terrorist.

If the International Criminal Court ever looks into this incident, it should begin its inquiry by investigating the vicious incitement of Palestinian leaders, who use Jewish visits to a holy site in Jerusalem to butcher the truth, just as it whips up Palestinians such as Yusef Wajih to wake up in the morning and butcher the first Jew he meets. The blood of Wajih is on the hands of Palestinian leaders, and not the police officers who stopped a terrorist from stabbing yet more Jews.

Syria says no to restoring ties with ‘terrorist-supporting’ Hamas

Syria is not interested in restoring their relations with Hamas despite the Palestinian movement’s readiness to bury the hatchet with Damascus.

According to recent reports, Iran and its Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah, have been mediating between Syria and Hamas in a bid to persuade the two sides to restore relations.

Hamas’s refusal to support the regime of Bashar Assad in the civil war that erupted in Syria in 2011 prompted the Syrians to cut their relations with the movement, forcing its senior leaders to leave the country. The Syrians have also accused Hamas of supporting anti-regime terrorist groups.

In response to the reports about a possible rapprochement between the two sides, the Syrian presidency earlier this week reposted statements by Assad accusing Hamas of supporting terrorists in Syria.

Assad’s statements were originally made in 2016, and their republication is seen as a sign that the Syrian regime remains opposed to ending the feud with Hamas.

“We used to support Hamas not because they are Muslim Brotherhood, but because they are part of the resistance” against Israel, Assad was quoting as saying. “In the end, it has been proven that once Muslim Brotherhood, always Muslim Brotherhood, no matter where they situate themselves.”

Netanyahu: Iran’s Zarif lying, Tehran is the one threatening destruction

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired back at Iran on Monday after its foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, claimed the Israeli leader had threatened to destroy his country and warned that the Islamic Republic would respond to such threats.

“Zarif is once again lying,” Netanyahu said in a statement. “Iran is the one openly threatening destruction. The regime’s officials threaten the destruction of Israel on a daily basis.”

He said Iran was “attempting to establish itself militarily in Syria, and just today it was publicized that it is accelerating its nuclear program.

“I’ll say it again: We won’t allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons that will endanger us and the entire world,” he said.

At a press conference in Tehran alongside visiting German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, Zarif had said “Netanyahu stands next to the Dimona [reactor], a nuclear weapons site, and says Iran should be destroyed…Of course, no one can act against our people without receiving a decisive response.”

Israel has long maintained an official position of ambiguity with regards to its nuclear capabilities.

Iran Warns U.S. Navy and ‘Zionist’ Military: Prepare to Be Crushed

U.S. Navy forces now gathered in the Persian Gulf region will be hit with “unimaginable reciprocal blows” if any attack is made on Iran, a top military aide to the country’s leadership said Sunday.

“Zionists” were also warned they face the same fate in the announcement.

General Rahim Safavi told the local Fars newsagency Iran has the ability to hit far beyond its borders and its enemies should take note. He said:
We are not the starter of any war and aggression against any country and this has several times been stated by Supreme Leader [Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei who is also commander-in-chief of the Iranian Armed Forces]. But if enemies, including the Zionists or the Americans, make a move against us at any level, we have a strong defense and deterrence power too and will hit unimaginable reciprocal blows on them and their interests and military bases.

He claimed Iran “is stronger than all its 15 neighbors, except Russia, in the military field,” and said Tehran and Moscow have joined together in a military alliance across the Middle East. Such is Iran’s claimed military might, the country “will inflict the most crushing and most surprising strikes on them not just in areas around the country but also beyond in the seas.”

Iran Has Accelerated Enrichment of Uranium, IAEA Says

Iran has followed through on a threat to accelerate its production of enriched uranium, the head of the UN atomic watchdog said on Monday, departing from his usual guarded language to say he was worried about increasing tension.

The assessment comes at a time of sharply increased US-Iranian confrontation in recent weeks, a year after Washington abandoned an agreement between Iran and world powers to curb Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of international financial sanctions.

Washington tightened sanctions from the start of May, ordering all countries and companies to halt all imports of Iranian oil or be banished from the global financial system. It has also dispatched extra troops to the region to counter what it describes as Iranian threats.

Iran has responded with a threat to increase its enrichment of uranium, saying it is up to Europeans who still support the nuclear deal to save it by finding ways to ensure Tehran gets the economic benefits it was promised.

Ex-top IAEA official warns of clandestine Iranian nuke sites

Iran may be hiding as many as five underground clandestine nuclear sites from the IAEA, former deputy director-general for Safeguards at the International Atomic Energy Agency Olli Heinonen has told The Jerusalem Post.

Heinonen, one of the world’s leading nuclear experts, noted that it is known that some time ago Iran was considering 10 underground locations for new nuclear facilities, and that it had performed a more in-depth review of five of the locations.

“I don’t think they have told the IAEA where those five places are… how ready are” the five sites, he said following a conference in Tel Aviv hosted by the Israel Intelligence and Heritage Commemoration Center.

All of these observations were part of a comprehensive and rare insider discussion by Heinonen about exactly how Iran could break out to a nuclear weapon, from a technical perspective.

Heinonen made waves last week when he warned KAN Radio that Iran could make enough material for a nuclear weapon in six to eight months.

Hezbollah said to bypass US sanctions by entering drug trade into Europe

The Hezbollah terror group bypasses US sanctions against Iran and launders many millions of dollars by playing a key role in the global drug trade into Europe, Israeli researchers said Monday.

The development came at the heels of a Daily Telegraph report Sunday that Britain had foiled Hezbollah efforts to stockpile explosives in London in 2015. The Kan public broadcaster reported that Israel’s Mossad spy agency provided British authorities with information that helped thwart the Hezbollah plan.

The new study, which focuses on the Iran-backed Lebanese group’s political wing and the ways it serves its military wing, also involved collaboration with spy agencies in Israel and around the world.

While Israel, the US, Britain, the Netherlands, the Arab League and others consider Hezbollah in its entirety a terror organization, the European Union blacklists only its military wing — not the political wing, which is heavily involved in Lebanese politics and is part of the government.

“We are showing how all the drug distribution works and supports money laundering,” Daniel Cohen of the Abba Eban Institute for International Diplomacy at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya told Channel 12 news.

Iranian press slams German FM, depicts him as Jewish and Nazi

Iran’s conservative press Tuesday mocked the EU’s position on a 2015 nuclear deal abandoned by Washington, accusing Germany’s foreign minister of exhibiting both impotence and high-handedness during talks in Tehran, with one newspaper publishing a cartoon depicting German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas wearing blue Star of David glasses and performing a Nazi salute.

Since US President Donald Trump quit the agreement in May last year, the European Union has repeatedly renewed its own commitment and pledged to reward Iran’s compliance with the sanctions relief promised under the deal.

But its failure to find an effective mechanism to enable its firms to continue doing business following the reimposition of US sanctions has left Tehran increasingly frustrated.

And strong criticism by the EU last month of Iran’s decision to retaliate by declaring itself no longer bound by some of its commitments has sparked further anger. For the first time since the signing of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, the UN’s nuclear watchdog on Monday did not explicitly report that Iran was implementing its nuclear-related commitments and said that its rate of uranium enrichment was increasing.

Iran unveils new advanced missile defense system it says can destroy enemy jets

Iran unveiled a locally developed advanced missile defense system on Sunday that it says is capable of destroying fighter jets and enemy drones from as far as 120 kilometers (75 miles) away, state media reported.

The weapons system referred to as the “Khordad 15” was displayed in a ceremony attended by Iranian Defense Minister Amir Hatami in Tehran, during which he said that it could detect targets as far away as 150 kilometers (93 miles).

“It can also trace stealth targets in areas 85 km (53 miles) in distance, and destroy them at a distance of 45 km (28 miles),” the semi-official Fars news agency quoted Hatami as saying.

He added that the system is capable of destroying six targets simultaneously and can be set up for operation within five minutes.

The system uses locally made missiles that resemble the HAWK missiles that the US once sold to the shah and later delivered to the Islamic Republic in the 1980s Iran-Contra scandal.

The minister asserted that the Khordad 15 and other such systems were for use in defending Iran from foreign threats.

U.S. imposes new sanctions on Iranian petrochemical industry

The United States on Friday imposed new sanctions on Iran targeting the country’s petrochemical industry, including its largest petrochemical holding group, over its financial support for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the Treasury Department said.

Washington is pressuring Iran over its nuclear and ballistic missile program and for waging proxy wars in other Middle Eastern countries. The new measures follow a round of sanctions imposed last month that targeted the Islamic Republic’s export revenues from industrial metals.

Tensions between the two countries worsened last month when the Trump administration ordered the deployment of an aircraft carrier strike group, bombers and Patriot missiles to the Middle East, citing intelligence about possible Iranian preparations to attack US forces or interests.

The Pentagon has also accused the IRGC of being directly responsible for May 12 attacks off the United Arab Emirates coast that damaged two Saudi tankers, an Emirati vessel and a Norwegian tanker.

Friday’s sanctions target Persian Gulf Petrochemical Industries Company (PGPIC) for providing financial support for the economic arm of the IRGC, Iran’s elite military unit in charge of Iran’s ballistic missile and nuclear programs.

The US Treasury also designated the holding group’s network of 39 subsidiary petrochemical companies and foreign-based sales agents. PGPIC and its subsidiaries hold 40% of Iran’s petrochemical production capacity and are responsible for 50% of Iran’s petrochemical exports, it said.

Iran shutters 547 eateries in Tehran for breaking ‘Islamic principles’

Iranian police have shut down 547 restaurants and cafes in Tehran for not observing “Islamic principles,” the capital’s police chief said Saturday.

“The owners of restaurants and cafes in which Islamic principles were not observed were confronted, and during this operation 547 businesses were closed and 11 offenders arrested,” Hossein Rahimi said, quoted on the police’s website.

Fars news agency said the operation was carried out over the past 10 days.

The infractions included “unconventional advertising in cyberspace, playing illegal music and debauchery,” Fars reported.

“Observing Islamic principles is… one of the police’s main missions and responsibilities,” the police chief said.

Top Iranian Generals Observe as Villagers Use Mock Missiles to “Bomb” Capitol Hill, Israel

On June 1, 2019, Ofogh TV (Iran) aired a documentary about Iranian villagers who staged a mock bombing of Israel, Capitol Hill, and U.S. Navy ship. The demonstration was held in the village of Kiasar in northern Iran, as part of an annual display in honor of Iranian martyrs. The report shows the producers of the display making the model missiles and setting up several cables that were 800 to 1000 meters long down which the missiles would glide to their “targets,” where they would make a large explosion. One of the missiles had a quote by Imam Khomeini painted on it that said: “Israel must be erased from the annals of history.” IRGC General Ali Fazli, the commander of the IRGC Officers College, who was present at the display, said that it demonstrates the willpower and the faith of the villagers, and that the village might one day be turned into a real base for the defense of Islam if there is a need. General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the commander of the IRGC Aerospace Force, added that the display has great meaning for the entire Iranian people, and he sent personal regards from Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to the village families.

In Iranian cartoon, Trump is a moron controlled by Israel

A cartoon recently aired on Iranian television depicts US President Donald Trump as a war-mongering imbecile interested only in self-aggrandizement and constantly getting himself into trouble.

Titled “Trumpet,” the short animated segment shows Trump cheerfully hacking off a Chinese leader’s hand, being chased by women who hurl shoes at him — presumably a reference to his womanizing and alleged past harassment of females — tweeting on the toilet, celebrating a statue of himself as a peace dove alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and repeatedly attempting to insert himself into the $100 dollar bill.

One scene has him speaking at a podium while being held in giant open palms emblazoned with a Star of David — apparently insinuating that he answers to Israeli, or Jewish, masters.

Another has him killed by atomic bombs.

Iranian Cartoon Depicts President Trump as Zionist-Controlled Fool Who Aspires to Be on $100 Bill
On June 8, 2019, Kawthar TV (Iran) aired a cartoon mocking U.S. President Donald Trump. The cartoon referred to Trump as “Trumpet” and showed him sawing Benjamin Franklin’s face out of a large $100 dollar bill so he could climb in and replace him, only to be shoved out by Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman. “Trumpet” was also shown sitting on a toilet while playing with a bubble blower that blew bubbles containing the Twitter logo, and he was shown conspiring with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and being held in the palms of Israel. In addition, “Trumpet” was shown running away from eggs and tomatoes that were being thrown at him, and he was “nuked” by bombs that had inched towards him as he commanded American soldiers.

Iran’s FM affirms right to execute gays and blasts U.S. and Israel

In response to questions today in Tehran from a reporter for the mass circulation German paper Bild, the Islamic Republic of Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif reiterated his country’s lethal homophobic law and its opposition to the Jewish state and the US.

Paul Ronzheimer, a reporter for the Bild, wrote on Twitter that he asked Zarif two questions: “1. Where do you stand regarding Israel’s right to exist? 2. How do you deal with the executions of gays?”

Ronzheimer wrote that Zarif answered: “The problem is the aggressive policies of Israel and the USA.”

Regarding Iran’s execution of gays, Zarif said that: “Our society has moral principles, and according to these principles we live. These are moral principles regarding the behavior of people in general. And that’s because the law is upheld and you abide by laws.”

Richard Grenell, the US ambassador to Germany, told The Jerusalem Post on Monday: “The UN’s Declaration of Human Rights makes clear that these answers from the Iranian regime are violating basic UN principles. UN members should agree with the Declaration in order to be members. Criminalizing homosexuality violates the Declaration, plain and simple.”

Saudi Arabia Celebrates Pride Month by Hanging Gays with Rainbow Noose (satire)

Calling it a momentous step towards recognition of the LGBTQ+ community, Saudi Arabia announced that all homosexuals executed during pride month would be hung from a rainbow noose or beheaded with a rainbow-colored ax.

Though human rights activists said much further process remains necessary, the announcement marks a major step forward for gay equality in the kingdom.

“We have a thriving gay community here in Saudi Arabia, and this is our way of recognizing and celebrating it,” Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman told The Mideast Beast.

Though gay citizens face oppression throughout the region, many Middle Eastern regimes have marked Pride Month by incorporating the rainbow flag. Even ISIS has released a rainbow version of its classic black-and-white emblem.

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