Shin Bet chief reveals Israel has prevented 250 terror attacks in 2018
Using traditional and new big-data abilities, the Shin Bet has prevented 250 terrorist attacks so far in 2018, director Nadav Argaman told a group of visiting interior security ministers Wednesday at a closed session of a Jerusalem international conference on terrorism.
Though Argaman’s presentation was closed to the public, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) provided a summary to the media.
Argaman said that the agency had succeeded in blocking major terrorist attacks involving suicide bombings, kidnappings and shootings.
The Shin Bet chief said that especially big-data abilities had helped the agency to hone in on lone-wolf attackers in a way that was impossible before Israeli intelligence advanced its abilities in massively tracking postings on social media.
Argaman said that the Shin Bet was striking the right balance between continuing its effective human intelligence collection programs and new cyber intelligence gathering abilities.
One of the flagship issues was to stay ahead of the curve when using technology to fight terrorism. He previously disclosed that under his leadership, the Shin Bet’s technological workforce has jumped from single digits to representing around one-quarter of the work force.
Argaman also emphasized the importance of “strategic cooperation with our international partners in Israel and overseas as well as with the Israeli hi-tech community and other civilian bodies.”
JPost Editorial: Did Trump achieve what Obama couldn’t?
During his term of office, US president Barack Obama was roundly slammed by his critics for pushing away traditional allies in favor of new alliances. How could he block out friends like Israel and Saudi Arabia in favor of the radical regime in Iran, they shouted, even if it was aimed at reaching a deal to curb its nuclear ambitions and ultimately make the world safer?
Life is full of irony, as this week we’ve seen Obama’s successor, US President Donald Trump, take more or less the same tack.
Over the weekend, he went on the attack at a Group of Seven summit in Canada in an escalating clash over trade between Washington and some of its closest global partners. He alienated NATO allies, the European Union and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and backed out of a joint communique that attempted to reach a fragile consensus on the trade issue.
Leaving America’s traditional alliances frayed, Trump left the summit early to fly to Singapore ahead of Tuesday’s history-in-the-making summit with Kim Jong Un of North Korea, one of America’s bitterest foes.
And history-making it was. In a stark contrast to the now-famous weekend G7 shot of the US president petulantly staring up at a gaggle of stern-faced world leaders, Trump and the North Korean dictator shook hands with big smiles, while disproving the naysayers who, based upon the summit-on/summit-off seesaw of the past couple weeks, expected something outrageous, dangerous or embarrassing to take place – if the summit went through at all.
After all, Trump boasted that he would be able to ascertain Kim’s motives and sincerity within the first minute of meeting him. Kim must have impressed Trump, because in a substantial move that would have been unthinkable a year ago, the two leaders signed a joint statement pledging to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula while Washington stated its commitment to provide security guarantees for its longtime enemy.
Trump has shown the strength of the United States and restored its credibility in a region where strength and force determine credibility.
Trump more broadly laid the foundation for a new alliance of the United States with the Sunni Arab world, but he put two conditions on it: a cessation of all Sunni Arab support for Islamic terrorism and an openness to the prospect of a regional peace that included Israel.
Secretary of State Pompeo spoke of the “Palestinians”, not of the Palestinian Authority, as in Iran, possibly to emphasize the distinction between the people and their leadership, and that the leadership in both situations, may no longer be part of the solution. Hamas, for the US, is clearly not part of any solution.
Netanyahu rightly said that Palestinian leaders, whoever they may be, do not want peace with Israel, but “peace without Israel”. What instead could take place would be peace without the Palestinian leaders. What could also take place would be peace without the Iranian mullahs.
It is a very difficult time for the Palestinian Authority, as it appears that playtime is over. The Defense and Foreign Committee of the Knesset adopted a final version of a law that would deduct the money transferred to the Palestinians (Palestinian taxes collected by Israel), the amount that the Palestinians use to pay salaries to incarcerated terrorists, released terrorists, and families of deceased terrorists, which amounts to more than 1 billion shekels a year. The Knesset also refused to include in the law, a clause that would enable the government to approve the transfer of that money despite this money being used to encourage terror.
When this becomes law in a couple of weeks, it will join the ranks of the Taylor Force Act. The Taylor Force Act, which was approved by the US Congress in March, prevents the use of American aid to the Palestinian Authority, as long as the PA does not revoke the Palestinian law that provides the legal basis for payments to terrorists and cease these payments full stop. Altogether, the Palestinians stand to lose around two billion shekels annually, starting this year, which amounts to about 12% of their overall budget. It seems that nobody is going to compensate the Palestinians for these losses. Australia may even join the trend of refusing to support the PA’s “Pay for Slay” program.
All of this is happening, while political pressures are mounting as well. The open duel between Erekat and Greenblatt on the pages of Haaretz shows that the Palestinians do not have and should not have any expectations from the Americans to tolerate their goals of having a state over all of the 1967 territories (with minor land swaps) without giving up terror and their eventual commitment to gain all of Palestine eventually. Though both Obama and Kerry were openly opposed to any Israeli presence in the 1967 territories, and were very soft on the Palestinians in a way that proved to be extremely naive, even Obama and Kerry were reluctant to support these Palestinian goals. Obviously, Trump and his advisors are not going to accept them.
The US administration is not intimidated by empty threats from hostile regimes, as proved the handling of North Korea and Iran. In fact, this hard-line realistic approach towards foreign policy has been applied to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as manifested by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, moving the American embassy, and supporting Israel’s policy in facing the violent “March of Return.” This policy is accompanied by the pragmatic Arabs growing resentment of the Palestinians, as evidenced by the uncharacteristic criticism by the Saudi Prince Mohammad Bin Salman about persistent Palestinian intransigence.
Will a more moderate Palestinian lead the Palestinian Authority after 82-year-old Mahmoud Abbas leaves office? When observing the continued outspoken glorification of terrorists by other PA leaders, including their support for financially rewarding terrorist murderers, it is clear that the potential successors to Abbas likewise will support terror.
For example, following the Israeli parliament committee vote this week to deduct the hundreds of millions of dollars a year the PA rewards terrorist prisoners and families from tax money Israel transfers to the PA, senior PLO official Hanan Ashrawi condemned Israel for “defining the resistance as a crime.”
The word “resistance” is a common PA term for activities that include use of violence and terror, and PA leaders claim consistently that Palestinians have the right under international law to murder Israeli civilians because it is legitimate “resistance.” According to Ashrawi, Palestinian terrorist prisoners deserve their monthly financial rewards because their murdering Israeli men, women and children is not a “crime”:
“PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi condemned the Israeli approval [of legislation deducting the value of money]. She said: ‘The organized and deliberate theft of the Palestinian people’s money reflects the occupation state’s method, which is based on defining the resistance as a crime.” [Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, June 12, 2018]
Israel has maintained a top-secret but extremely close relationship for nearly a quarter of a century with the United Arab Emirates, the New Yorker magazine reported on Monday, adding that the two nations attempted to deter then-president Barack Obama from going through with the Iranian nuclear deal.
The ties, which include intelligence cooperation, began with then-prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and the crown prince of Abu Dhabi in the mid-1990s and continued through the Obama years, with a joint effort to thwart the nuclear deal.
“Obama set out to bring Jews and Arabs closer together through peace,” former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren told the New Yorker. “He succeeded through common opposition to his Iran policy.”
“The secret relationship between Israel and the UAE can be traced back to a series of meetings in a nondescript office in Washington, DC after the signing of the Oslo Accords,” the article said.
The clandestine ties began when the UAE sought to buy F-16 fighter aircraft from the U.S., but American and Emirati officials were concerned that Israel would protest the arms sale, the article said. However, rather than scrap the deal, Jeremy Issacharoff — today Israel’s ambassador to Germany who back then was working out of the DC embassy — requested to talk the matter over directly with the Emiratis, in order to find out how they intended to use the American aircraft.
The ensuing meeting in 1994, the article said, “wasn’t a one-off encounter. Israeli and Emirati officials didn’t agree on the Palestinian issue, but they shared a perspective on the emerging Iranian threat, which was becoming a bigger priority for leaders in both countries.”
Rabin told the U.S. that he would not object to the F-16 sale.
The United Nations General Assembly is slated to vote on a resolution Wednesday condemning Israel for Palestinian deaths in Gaza, a move fiercely opposed by the United States, which is pushing for Hamas to face condemnation.
The 193 nations that make up the world body will vote on an Arab-backed measure that deplores what it calls Israel’s “excessive use of force” and calls for “protection of the Palestinian civilian population” in Gaza. It resembles a similar resolution Kuwait introduced at the Security Council earlier this month — which the US vetoed.
The text was put forward by Algeria and Turkey on behalf of the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
US Ambassador Nikki Haley slammed the measure as “fundamentally imbalanced” for its failure to mention Hamas and has proposed an amendment that condemns the Palestinian terror group.
Now that the motion is being brought to the General Assembly, US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, wants to counter that measure with a another that castigates the Islamist organization that rules the Gaza Strip.
“Any resolution focused on the protection of civilians in Gaza must recognize the destabilizing and reckless actions of Hamas, which endanger the lives and livelihoods of innocent civilians,” Haley wrote in a letter sent to her fellow UN envoys on Tuesday.
Another Gaza war could spark a regional conflict, UN Special Coordinator to the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov told Army Radio in an interview published on Wednesday.
“What unites everyone both here in the region and internationally is that no one wants to see another war in Gaza,” Mladenov said during the interview, which took place this week.
“It would be much more devastating than 2014, it would engage the region. We can still do what we need to do to prevent that from happening,” he said.
Mladenov explained that the UN has had a critical role in reducing the possibility of such an outbreak. “If we stop the humanitarian aid. If we stop running the schools and running the hospitals or providing fuel, you will have a war in a couple of days.”
He is working on humanitarian plan to help ease the plight of the two million people in Gaza.
Israel placed restrictions on the flow of goods going in and out of Gaza, since Hamas took over the Strip from Fatah in violent coup in 2007.
The situation has been exacerbated in the last year. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has taken economic measures against Gaza in hopes of forcing Hamas to relinquish control of the Strip.
Human Rights Watch said Wednesday that Israel’s use of lethal force against Palestinian demonstrators in the Gaza Strip in recent weeks may constitute war crimes.
It made the allegation in a statement issued ahead of an emergency UN General Assembly meeting to vote on a resolution condemning Israel’s “excessive use of force.”
A similar Security Council resolution was vetoed earlier this month by the United States. US Ambassador Nikki Haley has said that the proposed text is “fundamentally imbalanced” and “grossly one-sided” for its failure to mention Hamas, and has proposed an amendment that condemns the Palestinian terror group.
In two months of mass protests at the Gaza border, more than 110 Palestinians have been killed and thousands wounded by Israeli military fire. Most of the fatalities were members of terror groups, Hamas and Islamic Jihad have acknowledged. Israel said its troops were defending the border and accused Hamas of trying to carry out terror attacks under the cover of the protests.
On June 13, 2018, Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a press statement accusing Israel of “apparent war crimes in Gaza” during the Hamas-orchestrated violence along the border. HRW issued a similar statement on May 14 (coinciding with the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem).
There is little new in HRW’s statement, which largely repeats its previous false claims. Importantly, between HRW’s May 14 and June 13 publications, in response to a case brought by NGOs, the Israeli High Court heard testimony and issued an opinion affirming the IDF response. The court carefully examined and summarily rejected HRW’s central claim that Israel violated international law by “repeated use of lethal force in the Gaza Strip since March 30, 2018, against Palestinian demonstrators who posed no imminent threat to life.”
If anything, the interviews published by HRW in the statement reinforce the evidence showing that Palestinians have engaged in extreme acts of violence, and that the casualties are connected to it.
The only new element is the intensification of HRW’s calls for BDS, specifically demanding that “Third countries should impose targeted sanctions” against senior Israeli officials (emphasis added). Ironically, the call for sanctions comes at a time when HRW has repeatedly told the Israeli government and the courts that it does not promote BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) against Israel (Omar Shakir work visa case).
This publication, like other HRW responses, lacks credible methodology and manipulates the presentation of facts and law to advance a political narrative, rather than engage in professional human rights research. NGO Monitor has identified the following key failures:
Apparently the BBC preferred not to connect the dots between Iranian financial support for the ‘Great Return March’ (and Hamas in general) and the fact that the events continued past their declared climax to an annual event invented by the Iranian regime.
“Fresh protests are planned for Friday.
It will be the last Friday of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan and also al-Quds (Jerusalem) Day in Iran, when demonstrations are held against Israel.”
At the Jerusalem Post, Seth Frantzman pointed out that:
“With Qatar cutting funding, Hamas has few friends and few sources of income in the region. It also has few sources of weapons after Egypt flooded the tunnels linking its smugglers with Sinai. Its eight weeks of mass protests also did not succeed in getting it much support. Isolated, Hamas sees Quds Day as a chance to rally support again. If it can find thousands to turn out, less than the million promised, it will still succeed in finding relevance and increase its connections to Tehran.”
As noted here in the past, the BBC has been remarkably coy about providing its funding public with information on Iran’s terror financing activities and audiences have seen little if any serious coverage of the topic of Iran’s renewed support for Hamas and its incentive payments to Palestinian terrorists. It is therefore hardly surprising that it has elected to portray Iran’s links to the ‘Great Return March’ agitprop as Israeli ‘allegations’.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday lauded U.S. President Donald Trump over his extraordinary meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore, where the two agreed on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
“I commend U.S. President Donald Trump on the historic summit in Singapore. This is an important step in the effort to rid the Korean Peninsula of nuclear weapons.
”President Trump has also taken a strong stand against Iran’s efforts to arm itself with nuclear weapons and against its aggression in the Middle East. This is already affecting the Iranian economy. President Trump’s policy is an important development for Israel, the region and the entire world,” Netanyahu said.
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein met with South Korean Ambassador Lee Gun-tae on Tuesday and expressed hope that the Singapore summit will “lead to a similar process in our region. … Just as South Korea is threatened by North Korea, Israel is threatened with nuclear weapons by Iran. We must put an end to it.”
The summit, he said, “is a tremendous step, not only for South Korea but for the entire world. This will be a long process, but the outcome may be revolutionary. A few years ago, we could not have imagined that such regimes would give up their weapons and power, and I hope that this process that begins today will create a desire for similar processes in the Middle East.”
The United States hopes to achieve “major disarmament” by North Korea within the next two-and-a-half years, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday, speaking the day after President Donald Trump met North Korean leader Kim John Un for a historic summit.
Trump and Kim met in Singapore on Tuesday and reached a short agreement that reaffirmed the North’s commitment to “work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” but provided no details on when Pyongyang would give up nuclear arms or how that might be verified.
Pompeo was in Seoul on Wednesday to brief South Korean officials on the summit. Speaking to a small group of reporters and asked if he would like to accomplish major nuclear disarmament within Trump’s current term, which ends on Jan. 20, 2021, Pompeo replied:
“Oh yes, most definitively. Absolutely … you used the term major, major disarmament, something like that? We’re hopeful that we can achieve that in the two and a half years.”
“I am … confident they understand that there will be in-depth verification,” Pompeo said, saying the initial agreement between Trump and Kim had not captured all of what had been agreed by the two sides.
“Not all of that work appeared in the final document. But lots of other places where there were understandings reached, we couldn’t reduce them to writing, so that means there’s still some work to do, but there was a great deal of work done that is beyond what was seen in the final document that will be the place that we will begin when we return to our conversations,” Pompeo said after flying to Seoul from Singapore.
Trump, who returned to Washington early on Wednesday, hailed the meeting with Kim, the first between a sitting US president and a North Korean leader, as a success that had removed the North Korean threat.
Senior Trump administration officials will visit the Middle East next week to consult regional governments on their plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace.
Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, the two White House officials leading the effort, will ask Israeli, Egyptian and Saudi Arabian leadership for input on when might be best to release the detailed peace plan, which is largely finished. The team says it wants to publish the proposals “when the circumstances are right,” but a breakdown in relations with the Palestinians has frustrated their plans.
Kushner and Greenblatt will travel to Israel, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia “to discuss the situation in Gaza and to discuss the next stages of the peace effort, as well as get some ideas from players in the region about some remaining questions the White House peace team has,” a National Security Council spokesperson said. “The trip may include other stops as well.”
The team has not met with Palestinian Authority officials since President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and moved the US Embassy in Israel there, late last year. A US official says they are not scheduled to meet with PA officials next week, but would be ready to do so if Palestinian leadership invites them to sit down.
US President Donald Trump appeared very confident in the press conference he convened Tuesday at the end of the historic Singapore summit. More importantly, he seemed genuinely proud of what he had achieved.
His self-confidence was apparent even when he implied there was no guarantee that the understandings he had reached with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un would actually be implemented. “I may stand before you in six months and say, ‘Hey, I was wrong,’” he said.
That’s the way a sober, realistic person talks, and Trump hasn’t been perceived as such a person so far. He truly believes that the deal he concocted will be executed, or at least most of it. Why is he so confident that his joint statement with Kim won’t remain on paper?
The main reason is the long preparation talks between the parties, which led to a document that offers an indirect response in principle to the main problems preventing peace and stability in the Korean peninsula in particular and in Eastern Asia in general.
This fact is important not only for the region’s residents but for the entire world as well, as the explosive situation of the past 70 years between the Koreas, and between them and Japan, is a real threat to world peace—especially since last year, when it turned out that North Korea has nuclear and missile abilities that threaten not only its neighbors but also the United States and China.
No one disagrees that the negotiations about how and when to implement the expected deal on North Korea’s denuclearization will be long and full of pitfalls. However, the affection that suddenly sprang up between the two leaders, and a variety of confidence-building measures that will go along with the process of reconciliation, created the sense that history was in the making. If indeed they translate to a new reality, they could obscure the failures and scars of the near and distant past.
We should remember that the process of normalization between Washington and Beijing took a full decade. All that remains is to hope that it will take much less time to reach full peace and normalization with North Korea. If that actually happens, the Singapore summit could turn out to set an immensely important precedent for other rogue regimes like Iran, which will hopefully come to their senses before the storm clouds gather over their heads.
As far as the White House is concerned, the success of the summit – which positioned the 45th president as a daring leader capable of making crucial decisions – could give it a tailwind of public support and more bilateral support, which will increase his party’s chances of doing well in the midterm elections this November.
The Islamist regime in Iran is very worried over the speed in which U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un reached their agreement. They know the nuclear talks in Singapore will have immense ramifications for the future of Iran’s nuclear and missile programs.
Iran’s statements ahead of the summit were viewed as an attempt to warn the North Korean leader against trusting the U.S. but its reaction after the summit was full of disappointment.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi cautioned Kim before the summit not to fall for American promises. Qassemi said the U.S. had violated the nuclear deal it had reached with Tehran – the deal that Trump shelved two weeks ago that was negotiated by the Obama administration. Even on the campaign trail, Trump said that if he won the presidency one of his first moves would be to cancel the deal. He made a promise and he kept it. This move by Trump, before the U.S. had even effectively reinstated sanctions, is slowly choking the Iranian economy.
If the talks with North Korea lead Pyongyang to relinquish its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, then Trump, encouraged by the accomplishment, will turn to tackle Iran’s nuclear weapon program and missile arsenal. However, even if he fails, Trump will have increased the pressure on Iran to try attaining the same rewards squandered by North Korea.
The prime minister of Bulgaria on Tuesday expressed understanding for Israel’s desire to have the international community recognize Jerusalem as their capital, saying that any sovereign country should have the right to determine its own capital city.
Calling the city the “historic center” of the Jewish people and Israel, Boyko Borisov nonetheless argued that Bulgaria will not relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem until an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal has been reached.
“We are convinced that the Jewish people’s relation to Jerusalem is indisputable and are not indifferent to the wish of the Jewish population of Israel and of the Jewry in the world and to the right of Israel, being a sovereign state, to decide which city will be its capital and to insist that it be internationally recognized,” Borisov said at the American Jewish Committee’s Global Forum, which took place this week for the first time in Jerusalem.
At the same time, he added, Sofia realizes that the Israeli-Palestinian peace process has been stalled for a long time, “and fails to find the driving force needed to lead the two peoples to an agreement on the final status.”
Such a process “should follow the path of peace and understanding,” he said, particularly because the word Jerusalem is based on the word “shalom,” or peace.
Israeli security forces recently arrested a suspect in the killing of a special forces soldier near Ramallah last month, the Shin Bet security agency revealed Wednesday. The case has been placed under a gag order.
According to available details, Islam Yusuf Abu Hamid, 32, from the al-Amari refugee camp, is believed to have dropped a marble slab on IDF troops in search of terror suspects in the camp, killing 20-year-old Staff Sgt. Ronen Lubarsky, a soldier with the elite Duvdevan counterterrorism unit.
An extensive manhunt involving military troops and Shin Bet agents had been underway across Judea and Samaria since the May 24 incident.
Abu Hamid’s brothers are known Hamas operatives, the Shin Bet said.
Two other suspects were arrested as well, but the security agency did not say whether they were related to Abu Hamid.
In effect, the official address for the Palestinians is the PLO, headed by Mahmoud Abbas. Any international aid to the Gaza Strip has to pass through the Palestinian Authority, especially in light of the fact that Hamas is considered by the European Quartet as a terror organization.
Mahmoud Abbas controls the faucet of international aid and also the payment of salaries to tens of thousands of PA clerical workers in the Gaza Strip.
He is trying to dictate conditions for reconciliation to Hamas, and especially the demand that it surrender its arms to the Palestinian Authority.
He knows that there is no chance that Hamas will agree to this, and this serves his purpose of torpedoing the reconciliation initiative and waiting for the collapse of the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip as a result of the serious economic crisis.
Three players are currently acting to prevent an explosion in the Gaza Strip: Norway on behalf of the European Union, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov, and Egypt.
Until now, they have not managed to create any agreed upon formula to offer Hamas and the Palestinian Authority regarding humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip. Therefore, the atmosphere in Gaza remains very harsh, and it is possible that after Eid al-Fitr the residents of Gaza will start going out into the streets again to demonstrate.
Palestinians plan more protests in West Bank tomorrow night to demand that Palestinian Authority lift sanctions imposed on Gaza Strip. pic.twitter.com/R9IFF9RXvK
— Khaled Abu Toameh (@KhaledAbuToameh) June 12, 2018
The Trump State Department said Tuesday it is taking a top Iranian official’s explanation of events linked to the travel of the 9/11 terrorist attackers as an admission of guilt in facilitating the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, according to comments provided to the Washington Free Beacon.
Iranian officials admitted last week in a groundbreaking interview that their government helped obfuscate and cover the tracks of al Qaeda militants who eventually went on to carry out the 9/11 attacks.
An Iranian official, in a Farsi language interview translated and published last week by Al Arabiya, admitted Iran aided the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States by aiding the free travel of al Qaeda operatives who went on to fly commercial airliners into the Twin Towers, according the translation attributed a senior Iranian official.
Mohammad-Javad Larijani, an international affairs assistant in the Iran’s judiciary, disclosed in Farsi-language remarks broadcast on Iran’s state-controlled television that Iranian intelligence officials secretly helped provide the al Qaeda attackers with passage and gave them refuge in the Islamic Republic, according to Al Arabiya.
“Our government agreed not to stamp the passports of some of them because they were on transit flights for two hours, and they were resuming their flights without having their passports stamped. However their movements were under the complete supervision of the Iranian intelligence,” Larijani was quoted as saying.
On the last Friday of the month of Ramadan, Al-Quds [Jerusalem] Day marches have taken place in Iran every year since 1979 to express the desire to “liberate Jerusalem.” However, this year, the demonstrations were extremely sparse.
During this year’s Jerusalem Day, another slogan was heard – “Not Gaza, not Lebanon. Our lives for Iran” – which first resounded during the failed “Green Revolution” in 2009. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei referred to this slogan when he said, “Anyone who continues to use the slogan, ‘Not Gaza, not Lebanon,’ are lowlifes who serve enemy interests.”
On social media, several calls of “Death to the leader” could be heard in the background of clips of the marches. Opponents of the regime put up hashtags in a similar spirit: “#NototheIslamicRepublic,” “#Notoal-QudsDay,” “#IranRegimeChange,” and “#IRGCTerrorists.” On a live broadcast, an Iranian TV reporter encouraged an Iranian child (brought to the demonstrations against Israel) to say that he loves the Palestinian children. “Tell them you love them and support them,” said the reporter. The little boy answered, “No, I don’t love them.”
In recent weeks travelers at the airports in Mashhad and Tabriz have been surprised to see expressions of protest against the regime by hackers who hijacked computer screens showing flight information. The slogans expressed support for striking truck drivers and said, “How much longer can the regime ignore the requests of the people for better living conditions?”
One of India’s top women chess players has pulled out of an upcoming championship in Iran in protest at having to wear an Islamic headscarf.
Soumya Swaminathan, a former world junior girls champion, said the dress code at the Asian Nations Chess Cup starting next month violated her rights.
“I find the Iranian law of compulsory headscarf to be in direct violation of my basic human rights including my right to freedom of expression, and right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion,” the grandmaster said.
“It seems that under the present circumstances, the only way for me to protect my rights is not to go to Iran,” the 29-year-old wrote on Facebook.
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