January 18, 2020

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07/05 Links Pt1: Terrorists involved in the brutal murder of Israeli soldiers in 2000 honored as “heroic” by PA TV; Did Israel have a hand in thwarting an Iranian plot in France?


From Ian:

PMW: Terrorists who participated in brutal murder of Israeli soldiers in 2000 honored as “heroic” by PA TV
In October 2000, two Israeli reserve soldiers, Vadim Nurzhitz and Yossi Avrahami, accidentally entered Ramallah. They were lynched by a Palestinian mob who brutally murdered them and mutilated their bodies. Many remember the following photo of one of the Palestinian murderers joyously displaying his bloody hands to the frenzied Palestinian mob.

One of the participants in the lynch, Aziz Salha, displaying the blood of the victims.
Israel released him in the Shalit prisoner exchange deal with Hamas in 2011

Three of the Palestinians who participated in the murders and are imprisoned in Israel were recently honored by official Palestinian Authority TV in an episode of Giants of Endurance – a program about terrorist prisoners. While visiting the families of murderers Habbes Bayyoud, Muhammad Nawarah, and Jawad Abu Qara, the PA TV reporter referred to each of them as “heroic.” A sister of one of the murderers also emphasized how her brother makes the family “raise their heads and feel proud”:

Official PA TV host: “I’m with the family of heroic prisoner Habbes Bayyoud… We are now at the home of heroic prisoner Muhammad Nawarah…”
Sister of terrorist Muhammad Nawarah: “Muhammad is a handsome guy and makes one proud. I am proud that I have a brother like Muhammad… Thanks to him, we raise our heads and feel proud…”
PA TV host: “We have now arrived at the house of heroic prisoner Jawad Abu Qara…”

[Official PA TV, Giants of Endurance, June 16, 2018]
As Palestinian Media Watch has documented, these murderers are not only honored by the PA in words. Since their arrests, the PA has generously rewarded them each with a salary as is stipulated by PA law. Their salaries, as of June 2018, have reached a combined total of 2,023,600 shekels ($583,606).

The PA policy of honoring terrorists as well as the ongoing PA practice of rewarding them with salaries are two of the many ways the PA supports terror. Earlier this week, PMW’s findings and documentation played a central role in the creation and passing of the Israeli law to deduct from PA tax money a sum equivalent to what the PA pays in terrorist salaries.

Did Israel have a hand in thwarting an Iranian plot in France?

A planned Iranian terrorist attack on French soil “wasn’t thwarted by chance,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday, hinting that Israel had a role in preventing the attack.

Iran has set up terrorist and intelligence ‎infrastructure across Europe with the aim of ‎assassinating exiled Iranian dissidents and moderate ‎Arab leaders, particularly those whose countries ‎rival Iran in the Persian Gulf, intelligence experts ‎told Israel Hayom Tuesday.‎

According to both Israeli and foreign intelligence ‎experts, the vast Iranian infrastructure was set up ‎to serve the Revolutionary Guard Corps’ elite black-‎ops arm, the Quds Force. ‎

One foreign intelligence official said that a prominent Arab ‎leader had recently canceled a visit to Europe ‎following solid information suggesting that an ‎Iranian terrorist cell was planning to assassinate ‎him.‎

‎Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, meanwhile was visiting the Austrian capital, where his country’s nuclear agreement with world powers was drawn up three years ago, in an effort to salvage the deal after the withdrawal of the United States in May.

On Tuesday, Netanyahu criticized European leaders for meeting with Rouhani while his country ‎was plotting against the continent. ‎The prime minister made the comments at an event marking the American ‎‎‎Independence Day, hosted by U.S. ‎‎‎Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.

Caroline Glick: Trump Meets a Weakened Vladimir Putin July 16

When Russian President Vladimir Putin gave the green light to Russian aerial bombing of rebel-held positions in southwestern Syria two weeks ago, he knew he was asking for trouble.

And he appears to be getting plenty of it.

Putin knows that in approving the operation, he wasn’t simply enabling Syrian President Bashar Assad and his Syrian military forces to extend the regime’s control to an area that has been controlled by various rebel militia for seven years.

The Syrian military is an empty shell. Russia effectively serves as the Syrian Air Force. Iran and Iranian-controlled groups control Syria’s ground forces.

Israeli intelligence assesses that thousands of Iranian forces are deployed in Syria. The troops Iran commands are not predominantly Syrian. Rather, most of the ground troops in the so-called Syrian military are Iranian-controlled Hezbollah terrorists from Lebanon, and members of Iranian-controlled Shiite militia, which is in turn comprised of fighters from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran. Israeli intelligence estimates that some seven thousand Hezbollah forces and 9,000 Shiite militia members are deployed to Syria to fight on behalf of Assad’s regime.

In other words, when Putin ordered the operation against rebel-controlled Deraa province along Syria’s border with Jordan, and signaled that once Deraa was conquered, the operation would extend to Quneitra province along the Syrian border with Israel, he knew that he was fighting to enable Iranian forces and Iranian-controlled forces to take over Syria’s borders with Jordan and Israel.

Since the Russia-led operation against Deraa began, Israeli commentators have assessed that Putin wished to wrap up the offensive ahead of his July 16 summit with President Donald Trump in Helsinki so that he could present Trump with a fait accompli. A Russian triumph would convince Trump that U.S. operations in Syria are futile, and he would have accept Russia’s predominance, with Iran in the war-torn country.

Assad pulling out all stops on Syrian Golan

The Syrian Army is preparing to conquer the country’s south, including territory bordering the Golan Heights, in the coming weeks, if not days.

Israel’s initial assessment was that it would take some time for government forces to conquer southern Syria from rebel forces, due to, among other things, Russia’s desire to ensure global attention remains on the World Cup.

In recent days, however, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the Syrian army has been given the go-ahead to act immediately so that the redeployment of forces in the area can be completed before winter arrives.

Government forces are now focusing their operations on the area around Daraa province, on the border with Jordan. The Syrian army has already regained control over almost all of the territory between Daraa and Damascus. With the army now surrounding Daraa and bombing it from the air, the assessment is the province will quickly fall to government forces

From Daraa, the Syrian army will move toward the Golan Heights, first to territory controlled by organizations with ties to the Islamic State in the south and then northward, advancing up to Mt. Hermon.

Russian jets pound southern Syria in unprecedented blitz

The Syrian military and its Russian allies pummeled rebel-held towns in southwest Syria overnight with more than 600 airstrikes in 15 hours, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said.

After four days of scaled back bombardment, the intense airstrikes resumed on Wednesday following the collapse of talks between insurgent groups and Russian officers.

Syrian President Bashar Assad and his allies are fighting to recapture the southwest, one of the last remaining rebel strongholds in Syria, along with a region of the northwest bordering Turkey.

His two-week offensive, backed by Russian air power, has taken a large chunk of rebel territory northeast of the provincial capital of Daraa, as a string of towns surrendered.

The fighting and airstrikes have already driven more than 320,ooo people in southwest Syria from their homes, the United Nations said Wednesday, seeking shelter along the frontiers with Jordan and Israel.

Both countries have said they will not open their borders to refugees – Jordan took in more than half a million earlier in the war – but both have distributed supplies inside Syria.

The airstrikes targeted the towns of Tafas, northwest of the provincial capital Daraa, and Saida to its east, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The Palestinian Who Was Killed Twice

A man sits on the ground waving a Palestinian flag. Barbed wire separates him from an IDF tank. He is an amputee. And to many Palestinians, Ibrahim Abu Thuraya is a hero.

A graphic distributed online shortly after his death depicts Abu Thuraya with tree roots stemming from his body, where his legs once were. For Palestinians, Abu Thuraya symbolizes the struggle of the helpless against evil — disabled and alone, he stood up to the overwhelming force of the IDF.

But how did Abu Thuraya really die?

Abu Thuraya was killed on June 28 during clashes near the Israel-Gaza border. Palestinians claim that he was killed by an IDF sniper. However, significant evidence contradicts the version of events released by Palestinian news sources.

The Hamas-affiliated Shehab news agency, as well as other sources, published two entirely different videos, both purporting to show the death of Abu Thuraya.

In the first video, Abu Thuraya is seen in a wheelchair. All of a sudden, he is swarmed by fellow protesters — wearing long sleeves, sweatshirts, or jackets — from all sides. He is carried away, supposedly after being incapacitated by bullet wounds. The sun appears to be low in the darkening sky, suggesting that it is evening.

The second video shows a completely different scene: Here, it is sunny and clear rather than nearly dark, and the crowd is smaller and younger. They are wearing T-shirts rather than long sleeves and jackets. Despite Abu Thuraya apparently taking a bullet to the head, he keeps his head raised, and lifts up his fingers to mark “victory.”

One thing is clear from examining the discrepancies between the videos: at least one of them is fake.

LBC Reporter Grills Israeli Special Forces Soldier Over Hamas Gun Battle

MEMRI: Arab Press Praises Gaza Kite Terror Which Causes Heavy Damage, Threatens Lives Of Israeli Civilians

“Fire kites” and “fire balloons” launched from Gaza into Israel in the past few months have caused multiple fires on a daily basis in the region bordering the Gaza Strip. Since April 2018, hundreds of these kites and balloons, which carry a burning rag or an explosive device, have been launched over the border in the direction of Israeli towns and kibbutzim, and have burned over 30,000 acres of cultivated fields, forest and nature reserves in the western Negev.

According to reports, the kite terror is carried out under the direction of Hamas and with this movement’s assistance and encouragement. Hamas’s military wing, the ‘Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, posted on its website a video explaining how to make fire kites, as well as reports praising this activity. Moreover, one of the kite-launching units is called the Bani Al-Zawari unit, after engineer Muhammad Al-Zawari, an Al-Qassam Brigades member who developed drones for Hamas and was killed in Tunisia in 2016. In a July 1 announcement, the unit pledged to increase the launching of fire balloons and stated: “We will not allow this enemy and its usurpers feel safe until our people feel safe in Gaza…”[1]

This new form of terror sparked a debate in the Arab press, with Palestinian and Arab writers praising the Palestinian youths who launch the kites. Ignoring the destructive and potentially lethal character of this activity, articles in the Palestinian, Jordanian and Egyptian press describe it as an ingenious and effective form of “non-violent protest” and “popular resistance” that has managed to confound Israel despite the latter’s superior technology and military might. The articles also describe the Israeli communities targeted by the kites as “settlements,” although they are not in the occupied territories.

Until Jews Can Live in a Palestinian State, Peace Won’t Be Possible

Whenever proposals are made for the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, it is inevitably assumed that any Jews who find themselves on the Palestinian side of a newly drawn border will have to be relocated to Israel. Hence the argument that the Jewish communities in the West Bank are “an obstacle to peace.” But, argue Rafael Castro and Efraim Karsh, the same assumption shows exactly why a two-state solution is unfeasible:

Israel is a Jewish state of nearly nine million citizens, two million of whom are non-Jews living in peace and security with their Jewish neighbors. There is no reason why a Palestinian Arab state should not host a sizable Jewish minority. It is certainly true that at present the prospects for a Jewish minority to live in peace and security in an independent Palestine are virtually nil. Yet it is precisely the huge chasm between the woeful situation in the present and the desirable outcome to be sought in the future that must be fully leveraged by Israel to advance its interests.

If Jewish communities in the West Bank were internationally recognized as kernels of a democratic and tolerant Palestine, they would no longer [be subjects of controversy]. Were Israel to advance the claim that these communities are essential for any future Palestinian state to be as tolerant and pluralistic as Israel, Mahmoud Abbas would eventually need to give up his plans to cleanse the West Bank of Jews. Once this happens, Israel could more effectively pressure the Palestinian leadership to demonstrate its seriousness and commitment to peace by teaching coexistence in Palestinian schools and abrogating Palestinian laws imposing the death penalty on Palestinians who sell land to Jews.

WH: Obama ‘virtually’ saw Israel as enemy of the American people

Improved ties with Israel proves that the United States is more “beloved” around the world than under the previous administration, a White House spokesman said.

He also said that Israel was “virtually” thought of as an enemy of the United States under the Obama administration.

Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley told reporters aboard Air Force One on Tuesday that President Donald Trump is not concerned about seeing protesters during his scheduled trip to Europe next week.

“The President has done an incredible job actually, I believe, regaining some credibility across the globe. The President has made this country more respected, more feared, and quite frankly more beloved in a lot of areas than we were before,” Gidley said.

When asked by a reporter what evidence the White House has that the U.S. is more beloved around the world, Gidley replied: “Israel.”

When pressed for others, he responded: “You’ve seen the relationship with Israel that is greatly enhanced because of this President. It’s the only democracy in the region, and it was virtually thought of to be an enemy of the American people in the last administration.”

Gidley said that Trump “came in and changed the relationship.”

Report: Germany brokering Israel-Hamas prisoner exchange deal

Germany is brokering indirect negotiations between ‎Israel and Hamas with aim of facilitating a prisoner ‎exchange deal, London-based Arabic newspaper Al-‎Hayat reported Thursday.‎

Hamas is holding the remains of two Israeli ‎soldiers, Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul and Lt. Hadar ‎Goldin, killed in the Gaza Strip in 2014. Ethiopian ‎Israeli Avera Mengistu and Bedouin Israeli Hisham ‎al-Sayed, both suffering from mental health issues, ‎crossed into Gaza willingly in 2014 and 2015 and ‎were captured by the terrorist group.‎

Germany was the primary broker between Israel and ‎Gaza’s rulers during the five-year effort to secure ‎the return of Gilad Schalit, an Israeli soldier ‎captured in June 2006 and released in October 2011 ‎in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian terrorists.‎

According to Al-Hayat, German envoys have been holding secret meetings on the issue with Hamas ‎leaders in Gaza over the past three years and ‎have discussed holding third-party negotiations so as to ‎promote a prisoner exchange deal.‎

Sources privy to the meetings told the paper that ‎these indirect talks involve both German diplomats ‎stationed in Israel and a Berlin-based German ‎mediator.‎

Egypt, which is traditionally involved in all ‎indirect talks between Israel and Hamas, has been ‎briefed on Germany’s efforts, the report said. ‎

Liberman, Shin Bet chief clash over unification of Palestinian families

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman shouted at Shin Bet chief Nadav Argaman while security officials looked on during a heated confrontation between the two men Wednesday over a procedure that enables unification of Palestinian families divided between Israel and the Palestinian territories.

The clash happened in the so-called Aquarium, the glass-fronted inner sanctum in the Prime Minister’s Office reserved for the premier himself and his closest aides, Hadashot television news reported.

Liberman took Agraman to task after the internal security service head apparently sent a letter to the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories asking for approval for the reunification of 100 families from Israel and the Gaza Strip.

Family reunification in Israel typically involves an Israeli citizen requesting citizenship for his or her non-Israeli spouse. Most unification applications are submitted by Israeli Arabs on behalf of a Palestinian spouse living in the West Bank or the Gaza Strip.

Hungary Condemns Rising Antisemitism Within Halls of UN Human Rights Council

Hungary condemned the growing threat of antisemitism during the UN Human Rights Council’s 38th session in Geneva on Monday.

“Jewish communities are enduring growing threat manifested in hate speech, harassment, vandalism and physical violence in several regions,” said Hungarian Ambassador Zsuzsanna Horváth. “Incidents of antisemitic violence targeting Jewish or non-Jewish individuals, their property as well as educational facilities, cultural and religious heritage sites are seen as attacks on our core values and identity.”

“The worrying rise of antisemitic hatred and violence, however, is not a problem for Jewish communities alone, but an affront against humanity that affects the societies in which it rises and which needs to be countered by the international community as a whole,” said Horváth.

The joint statement was delivered by Hungary on behalf of 21 co-sponsors including Albania, Croatia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Poland, Ukraine, the Czech Republic, Austria, Guatemala, Honduras, Japan, Australia, Germany, Montenegro, Belgium, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Greece, the United Kingdom, Canada and Liechtenstein.

The World Jewish Congress, which worked to initiate and promote the statement, commended Hungary for its role.

UN demands Israel nix demolition of illegal Arab town near J’lem

The United Nations has called on Israel not to demolish an illegally-built Bedouin community east of Jerusalem, demanding the Jewish state legalize the homes in the village, which were built without building permits on land allotted to a Jewish town in the Adumim bloc.

Khan al-Ahmar, first built by squatters in the 1990s, today is home to close to 180 Bedouin. The outpost was built within the municipal boundaries of the existing Israeli town of Kfar Adumim east of Jerusalem along Route 1, the highway which links the capital with the Dead Sea.

Built in part with the assistance of foreign government aid, Khan al-Ahmar has lost successive legal battles in the Israeli court system, culminating in a ruling from the Supreme Court green lighting Khan al-Ahmar’s evacuation and demolition.

Land theft watchdog organizations say that despite the ruling, the government has been dragging its feet with regard to the demolition, failing to meeting deadlines set by the court.

EU condemns Israel over plans to raze illegal Arab town

The European External Action Service, the diplomatic arm of the European Union, condemned this morning, Thursday, Israeli efforts to demolish illegal Bedouin encampments located east of Jerusalem.

“These demolitions, together with plans for new settlement construction for Israelis in the same area, exacerbate threats to the viability of the two-state solution and further undermine prospects for a lasting peace,” the EEAS said in a statement released Wednesday night.

“In line with our long-standing position on Israel’s settlement policy, illegal under international law, and actions taken in that context, such as forced transfers, evictions, demolitions and confiscations of homes, the EU expects the Israeli authorities to reverse these decisions and fully meet its obligations as an occupying power under International Humanitarian Law.”

The statement followed reports earlier on Wednesday that Israeli law enforcement officials and security personnel were preparing to demolish the Bedouin encampment of Khan al-Ahmar, following years of delays and legal battles.

Khan al-Ahmar contains some 170-180 Palestinian Authority Bedouin and was established in the 1990s with no authorization or building permits. The outpost was built within the town limits of an existing Israeli community – Kfar Adumim – prompting Israeli law enforcement authorities to declare Khan al-Ahmar illegal, and call for its demolition.

Israel irked over Jordanian diplomat greeting Prince William on Temple Mount

A senior Jordanian diplomat was among the dignitaries greeting Britain’s Prince William last week on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City against the wishes of the Israeli authorities, The Times of Israel has learned.

On June 28, the future king undertook “private visits” to various holy sites in Jerusalem’s Old City, including the Western Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. He also spent time at Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, which are located on the Temple Mount.

The international community does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over East Jerusalem, which is why foreign dignitaries usually bill their visits to the Old City as “private” and are not accompanied by Israeli officials but rather by religious leaders.

On the Temple Mount, Prince William, also known as the Duke of Cambridge, was greeted by Nizar al-Qaissi, a Jordanian diplomat with the kingdom’s diplomatic mission to Ramallah.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry and police were opposed to al-Qaissi’s presence and made their position known to organizers of the prince’s visit, a well-placed source told The Times of Israel, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Both the Foreign Ministry and the police declined to comment.

Military court indicts Palestinian suspected of killing soldier with stone slab

A military court filed an indictment Thursday against a Palestinian suspected of killing an IDF soldier during a May raid in the al-Am’ari refugee camp in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

Islam Yousef Abu Hamid, 32, was charged with murdering Staff Sgt. Ronen Lubarsky and the Military Advocate General requested that he be remanded until the end of proceedings against him.

On May 24, Lubarsky’s unit entered al-Am’ari in search of a group of terrorists suspected of carrying out shooting attacks on nearby highways, the army said.

During the raid, Hamid allegedly dropped a large stone slab on the special forces soldier’s head from the roof of a three-story building, fatally wounding him.
Israeli troops on June 6, 2018, arrest a Palestinian man suspected of killing an IDF soldier by dropping a stone slab on his head in the al-Am’ari refugee camp in Ramallah the month before. (Screen capture: Israel Defense Forces)

Lubarsky, 20, succumbed to his wounds in the hospital a few hours later.

According to Thursday’s indictment, Hamid’s actions had been in retaliation for the January arrest of one of his brothers.

Jerusalem assets of Turkish NGO must be seized, MK demands

Israeli lawmakers on Tuesday demanded decisive legal action following an Israel Hayom exclusive that Turkish nongovernmental organization Mirasimiz (“Our Heritage”) was renovating homes in east Jerusalem and distributing food to the needy there with the aim of expanding Turkish influence in the city.

Habayit Hayehudi faction chairwoman MK Shuli Mualem-Rafaeli, a member of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, called for a committee meeting to discuss the matter in an effort to shut down the Turkish organization’s activities in the capital.

“The State of Israel cannot continue to allow extremist elements to operate unfettered in its territory,” she said. “We’re not talking about a friendly organization or a country whose leader is a friend of Israel; rather the opposite. There are many ways to prevent them from operating in Israel – beginning with seizing funds, restricting freedom of movement and even preventing entry into the country.

“We have a discussion in the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee as soon as possible to examine how to act against them effectively. Foreign organizations working against us from within the country are multiplying. We have to put an end to this phenomenon.”

MK Anat Berko (Likud) said it was her intention to raise the matter with Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan.

“As part of a state’s right to defend itself against physical invasion and a violation of its sovereignty, Israel has the right to prevent a violation of its sovereignty through monetary investments to tendentiously undermine its control over territories under Israeli sovereignty,” Berko said.

PreOccupiedTerritory: MK Zahalka Writhes On Ground As Bill Rejected, Angling For Red Card (satire)

A legislator from the Joint List whose grandstanding piece of legislation called for international supervision of an Israeli nuclear facility has been faking an injury in the parliamentary aisles in hopes of getting officials to penalize those who voted against the bill and cancel its decisive defeat.

MK Jamal Zahalka of Balad threw himself on the floor of the Knesset as the bill was about to meet a 73-8 end and grasped his left shin, in emulation of a common tactic in soccer, with the objective of convincing officials that members of the opposing side had perpetrated an illegal move that should invalidate whatever they were trying to do.

Referees issued no such sanction, according to witnesses, and Zahalka was ushered back to his seat. He summoned no medical assistance and was observed to walk out of the plenum chamber without hindrance after the session concluded.

Zahalka’s ill-fated proposal invoked public safety concerns in case of earthquakes or other disasters at Israel’s nuclear research facility at Dimona in the Negev. Other members of the Joint List, the only lawmakers to vote in favor, spoke of what they deem Israel’s “hypocrisy” in allegedly pursuing and holding nuclear weapons while attempting to deny them to enemies such as Iran and Syria, and to subject Iran’s nuclear program to international oversight.

“Fair play means fair play,” insisted Haneen Zoabii, also of Balad. “Just because Tehran and Damascus want to wipe Israel off the map doesn’t mean they can’t have the same weapons as Israel. I mean, I want Israel wiped off the map, too, and they have no problem letting me be in the Knesset with all the other MKs. What Jamal ended up doing was highlighting the similar hypocrisy among officials, who showed blatant racism in not issuing a card to cancel the play.”

Police discover weapons in Jerusalem-area spot check

Police units and border police carried out operations in the area of Shuafat near Jerusalem.

During a spot check in the area units stopped a suspicious vehicle. The vehicle was searched and units seized an M-16 and a Carl Gustav weapon.

The suspects in the vehicle, 3 altogether, were arrested at the scene. They attempted to avoid officer’s questions, however a quick search of the vehicle revealed the weapons.

The suspects will appear before court today in Jerusalem. They are from the Shuafat area.
Police operations will continue in order to prevent illegal incidents from taking place and endangering the public.

Russian Jets Hit Syrian South, UN Urges Jordan to Open Border

Dark smoke rose over areas held by Syrian rebels near the border with Jordan on Thursday as President Bashar al-Assad’s Russian allies unleashed heavy air strikes and government forces sought to advance on the ground.

The UNHCR refugee agency urged Jordan to open its borders to Syrians who have fled the fighting, saying the total number of displaced now stood at more than 320,000, with 60,000 of them gathered at the border crossing with Jordan.

Assad aims to recapture the entire southwest including the frontiers with Jordan and Israel. The area is one of the last rebel strongholds in Syria after more than seven years of war.

With no sign of intervention yet by his foreign foes, government forces seem set for another big victory in the war after crushing the last remaining rebel bastions near Damascus and Homs.

State television footage showed giant clouds of smoke towering over fields, rooftops and a distant industrial area, accompanied by the sound of occasional explosions.

After four days of reduced bombardment, intense air strikes resumed on Wednesday following the collapse of talks between rebels and Russian officers, brokered by Jordan.

Jordan fears Syrian refugees

Despite all of this, it appears the real reason for the government’s refusal to accept more refugees is that it fears it could undermine political stability in the country. Ever Since Jordan’s King Abdullah became the first Arab leader to call on Syrian President Bashar Assad to resign – after massacring his own people in the early stages of the war in 2011 – diplomatic relations between the countries have deteriorated and the Syrian regime has sought to cripple the kingdom’s political stability.

Although Jordanian intelligence has managed to curb these machinations (by arresting suspect refugees and putting others under surveillance, among other measures), in recent months – with the Syrian regime solidifying its grip over the country, including in the south, along with the Iranian presence there – there are rising concerns the Syrians will seek to topple the Hashemite regime.

Allowing more Syrian refugees to enter, therefore, could help the Syrian regime and Tehran exploit the situation, embed agents posing as innocent refugees, and establish “sleeper networks” to help unseat the Hashemite regime when the time comes. Iran, we know, aspires to expand its sphere of influence in the Middle East and is spreading its Shiite tentacles to other countries to undermine their stability. Jordan is a very important target in Iran’s eyes, as seizing it would give the Islamic republic another bridgehead for attacks on Israel.

Thus Jordan is coordinating its measures to counter the Iranian threat with the Israeli government. To this end it has also sought a cease-fire deal in southern Syria – to reduce tensions there and keep Iranian forces away from the border. These forces pose a threat to Israel, but also to Jordan.

MEMRI: IRGC Deputy Commander Salami On Qods Day 2018: ‘We Are Creating Might In Lebanon – Because We Want To Fight The Enemy From There With All Our Strength’

To mark Qods (Jerusalem) Day, which in 2018 fell on June 8, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) deputy commander Hossein Salami participated in a Qods Day march in the city of Mashhad, and gave a speech as part of the Friday sermon in which he explained the rationale for destroying the State of Israel in Islamic revolutionary thought and in the vision of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, founder of the Islamic Revolution, and his successor Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

In his speech, he underlined Iran’s problem with Israel’s existence, and how it should be resolved – primarily by military means, using Hizbullah, the Iranian regime’s creation, which he called “a mighty power” with an arsenal of over 100,000 missiles aimed at Israel. Salami also named “the Islamic army in Syria” aimed at operating from the Golan Heights against Israel and awaiting orders “to eradicate the evil regime.” The Palestinians, he said, are also now armed with missiles against Israel, and all these forces are acting in the spirit of jihad established and led by the regime of the Islamic Revolution against Israel, the Americans, and their allies.

Using threatening language against the West, Salami noted that Iran controlled the shipping lanes for bringing energy to it, and the sources of that energy, and added that economic prosperity is enjoyed by the West by virtue of the security for commercial shipping that Iran permits. Thus, he said, the European countries must not pressure Iran to enter into negotiations with them to limit its missile might and its expansion in the Middle East, which Iran absolutely opposes.

Hezbollah’s Indefinite Presence in Syria

After more than seven years of fighting alongside the Assad regime in Syria, the Iran-backed terrorist group Hezbollah is highly unlikely to make an easy exit from the war-torn territory, no matter what supposed agreements are reached or promises made.

Hezbollah fighters are now in control of much of Syria’s border with Lebanon. In fact, the Shi’ite terrorist group is in charge of controlling the Lebanese side of the border, despite the presence of the Lebanese military, which is weak.

With no end in sight to Syria’s seven-year war, Hezbollah will undoubtedly continue its military expansion, causing more instability in an already volatile region.

JCPA: Iran’s Hardliners Support Rouhani’s Push Back against the United States

In light of the internal crisis in Iran created by chronic financial mismanagement and pending U.S. sanctions, the internal tension between the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani intensified. However, it appears that Rouhani recently adopted the radical line of the Revolutionary Guards, among other things, to preserve his shaky position as president.

“The Americans claim that they want to break off the bridges connecting Iran with the world, but they will never reach that goal,” Rouhani said on July 3, 2018, in Vienna, Austria. “They are not the world’s absolute power.”1

On July 4, 2018, Rouhani declared, “The Americans say they want to reduce Iranian oil exports to zero… It shows they have not thought about its consequences.”2

“It would be meaningless that Iran cannot export its oil while others in the region can,” Rouhani was cited in other sources. “Do this if you can and see the consequences.”3

He did not clarify what the consequences would be.

A senior commander in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Ismail Kowsari, was explicit about the results: “If they want to stop Iranian oil exports,” he warned, “we will not allow any oil shipment to pass through the Strait of Hormuz.”4

US vows to keep oil lanes open after Iran threatens to block key waterway

The US military on Wednesday reiterated its promise to keep Persian Gulf waterways open to oil tankers, after an Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander vowed to disrupt global oil trade if the US prevents Iran from exporting its own oil.

Capt. Bill Urban, a spokesman for the US military’s Central Command, said that American sailors and its regional allies “stand ready to ensure the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce wherever international law allows.”

Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander Ismail Kowsari on Wednesday appeared to clarify Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s warning of “consequences” if the United States convinces its allies to stop buying Tehran’s oil.

“If they want to stop Iranian oil exports, we will not allow any oil shipment to pass through the Strait of Hormuz,” Kowsari said, according to the Young Journalists Club (YJC) website.

Rouhani said Tuesday that regional oil supply could be jeopardized if the US continues to pressure Iran.

Rouhani threatens to cut level of cooperation with nuclear watchdog

Iran could reduce its cooperation with the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog if the nuclear deal falls apart, President Hassan Rouhani warned Wednesday.

“Iran’s nuclear activities have always been for peaceful purposes, but it is Iran that would decide on its level of cooperation with the IAEA,” he said, according to state news agency IRNA.

Rouhani spoke after a meeting with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) head Yukiya Amano in Vienna.

“The responsibility for the change of Iran’s cooperation level with the IAEA falls on those who have created this new situation,” he added, according to the Reuters news agency.

Austrian Jewish community leader slams chancellor for courting Iran

The president of the Jewish community in Vienna blasted Austria’s Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and President Alexander Van der Bellen for providing a military honor welcome to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday.

“No agreement, neither an oil business [deal] nor an atomic deal, is more important than human life,” said the head of the Jewish community, Oskar Deutsch. “Decades of diplomatic mediation attempts have not led Tehran to relinquish its terrorist support, and the threat of annihilation against Israel has even increased, and then a top representative of this hatred regime will be received in the city from which an assassination of opposition forces in Europe is planned.”

Austrian media reported on Tuesday that an Iranian diplomat, Asadollah Assadi, who works in Iran’s embassy in Vienna, was arrested in Bavaria for alleged involvement in a plot to bomb a rally in Paris on the weekend calling for regime change in Iran.

“This Islamist [Iranian] regime is the world’s largest terrorist sponsor, with Hamas, Hezbollah and other militias being financed and militarily armed from Tehran, so the Iranian leadership is a factor in destabilizing the region,” said Deutsch in his complaint about Austria’s government meeting with Rouhani.

Deutsch said the threats of annihilation against Israel and the deployment of Shi’ite troops on Israel’s border with Syria and Lebanon cannot be overstated and give rise to great concern for all states in the Middle East.

PreOccupiedTerritory: Clouds Left Behind In Iran By Mossad Deny They’re Bitter (satire)

Masses of atmospheric water droplets and other particles forced to remain in the skies over the Islamic Republic of Iran insisted they harbor no resentment over not being selected for removal to Israel while other nearly identical specimens did qualify.

Iranian clouds told interviewers this week that despite having to stay in the repressive land of the ayatollahs and not providing rain or shade to a freer locale, they begrudge other clouds who did make the secret trip nothing.

“Listen, more power to them, I say,” declared Anan, a stratocumulus wisp floating over this holy city. “If a cloud attracts enough notice to be chosen for relocation to a better place, that’s awesome. There’s little point in nursing resentment over it. I’m going to disappear soon anyway, so it makes little difference.”

Other echoed her sentiments. “We’re lucky to be living at a time when it’s even possible for the the Mossad to steal us and take us to Israel,” observed a cirrus named Ed. “You can’t waste your brief life in anger over others having what you don’t. Still, I can’t deny I’m not keeping a metaphorical eye out for Israeli agents or devices that might take me away from all this.”

News of Israel stealing Iran’s rain clouds broke earlier his week when an Iranian general made the accusation in an address. No official sources disclosed how long the cloud-napping has been occurring, but informal discussions in the Persian cloud community indicated at least five years of cloud theft.

“I couldn’t tell you, because most of it’s rumor and hearsay, but sometimes clouds just disappear,” explained Aabr, a cirrus. “I mean, they tend to disappear within a couple of hours of formation anyway, so the stories are hard to confirm. But there’s been talk of ‘migration’ to Israel at least since 2013. I think it’s been going on much longer, but that’s just the sense I have from the atmosphere around here. Nothing firm to back it up.”

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