Why Do Palestinian Leaders Oppose Helping Their People?
Mahmoud Abbas and his West Bank-based government seek to prolong the suffering of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. They want the international community to continue to believe that Israel is responsible for the ongoing, intense suffering of the Palestinians. They are hoping to use the crisis there to pursue their campaign to delegitimize Israel.
Palestinian leaders would prefer to see their people starve than make any form of concessions for peace with Israel. Yet Al-Aloul and Abbas are not the ones who are facing starvation. There is nothing more comfortable than sitting in your fashionable house in Ramallah or Nablus and talking about starvation and humanitarian aid.
The Palestinians of the Gaza Strip, who are desperate for jobs and a better life, do not really care about Trump’s upcoming peace plan. They also do not really care about a settlement or a checkpoint in the West Bank.
This is the essence of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: The Palestinians’ number one priority — the Palestinian leadership and the Palestinians in general — is destroying Israel. They would rather die than give up their dream of destroying Israel.
The Israeli military struck three Syrian military targets overnight on Wednesday in retaliation for a Syrian drone that infiltrated into northern Israel hours earlier.
“The IDF holds the Syrian regime accountable for the actions carried out in its territory and warns it from further action against Israeli forces,” read a statement released by the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit.
Footage released by the Israeli military showed missiles hitting a hut, a two-story structure and a five-story structure.
The official Syrian news agency SANA reported that Israeli jets “fired a number of missiles towards some military posts” near the Druze town of Hadar and Tal Kroum Jaba in Quneitra countryside, causing only material damage. Another strike by rockets and mortar shells targeted the village of Jaba causing significant damage to the houses.
With Syrian government forces continue to advance in an offensive to retake the strategic Syrian Golan Heights from rebels groups, the IDF has stressed for the 1974 separation of forces agreement between Israel and Syria to be upheld and the demilitarized buffer zone along the border be respected.
On Wednesday a Syrian drone flew some 10 kilometers into Israel before being intercepted by a Patriot missile.
Footage of the Patriot missile intercepting the Syrian UAV that infiltrated Israeli territory today pic.twitter.com/g5MnjZLdyl
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) July 11, 2018
Earlier tonight, Wednesday July 11th, the IDF targeted three military posts in Syria in response to the infiltration of the Syrian UAV into Israel that was intercepted by the IDF earlier today pic.twitter.com/BvaEOfHNDv
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) July 11, 2018
Iran injected its Revolutionary Guards forces into Syria, where they proceeded to build drone, missile, and infantry bases. Iran hoped to set up naval and air force bases on Syrian soil as well, in addition to flooding the country with missile launchers and terrorist cells that would assault Israel in the future.
In response, Israel relied on advanced intelligence, combined with precision firepower, to destroy Iran’s budding military presence in Syria.
In an effort to deter Israel from continuing with its campaign against Tehran’s military presence in Syria, Iran decided to use its own forces to directly attack Israel, using drones and truck-mounted mobile rocket launchers.
This resulted in a resounding defeat for Iran when, on May 10, the Israel Defense Forces destroyed more than 50 Iranian military targets scattered across Syria. Israeli air defenses also successfully dealt with an Iranian rocket barrage over the Golan Heights.
Tehran has not given up. It has merely switched tactics, seeking to establish a foothold in Syria while relying more on its militias. But Israel’s defensive campaign appears to be responding. In mid-June, according to media reports, Israel conducted a major airstrike on a military base housing an Iran-backed Iraqi Shiite militia in eastern Syria, killing dozens of militia members. In July, a blast rocked an arms depot belonging to an Iran-backed militia in Daraa, in southern Syria.
Israel takes a calculated risk every time it pursues its “active defense” campaign in Syria. But the risk of not acting, and allowing the Iranian axis to build up its force freely, is far greater. Israel’s actions serve to continually remind Iran of Israel’s own evolving capabilities, thereby replenishing Israeli deterrence and keeping full-scale war at bay.
Against the backdrop of the 2018 World Cup, which is hosted by Russia, Syrian journalist and human rights activist Mansour Al-‘Omari, in an article on the Syrian opposition website Enabbaladi.net, harshly criticized the countries that are participating in the tournament or broadcasting the matches while ignoring grievous crimes perpetrated in Syria by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who “is hosting the World Cup with one hand while he incinerates civilians and children in Dar’a [Syria] with the other.”
Al-‘Omari called on Syrians not to take part in promoting the World Cup, since any open participation in such activity makes them accomplices of their killer, Putin. Instead, they should act on social media to raise awareness of “Russia’s crime in Dar’a” among the governments and sports associations of the participating countries. If they still possess even “one drop of morality or human dignity,” he added, the countries that advocate human rights should stop “wading through the human body parts to win a cup stained with the blood of [Syrian] children,” and drop out of the tournament, thereby proving that they belong to the human race and truly support peace.
“Russia Is Hosting the World Cup” –while Putin holds the cup decorated with deadly weapons and the blood of his victims (source: Al-Quds Al-Arabi, London, June 15, 2018)
Al-‘Omari also criticized the Qatari BeIN Sports TV channel, which is broadcasting the World Cup, and Al-Jazeera, which he said is currently ignoring Russia’s crimes in Syria. He also criticized FIFA for, he said, prioritizing financial considerations over moral ones.
Syrian Army Colonel: Our Eyes Are Set on Palestine; Soon We Will Be Fighting Saudi Arabia and Israel pic.twitter.com/tFIkKgMtQK
— MEMRI (@MEMRIReports) July 12, 2018
The relevant fact that UNDOF forces redeployed to the Israeli side of the buffer zone four years ago and no longer carry out their designated mission with regard to Syrian forces was not clarified.
The article continued:
“Iran, Israel’s arch-enemy, has deployed hundreds of troops to Syria, ostensibly as advisers to the government. Thousands of Shia militiamen armed, trained and financed by Iran have also been battling rebels alongside the Syrian army.
Mr Netanyahu has vowed to stop what he considers Iranian “military entrenchment” in Syria and has ordered a number of air strikes on Iranian facilities.”
BBC audiences were not informed that, according to pro-Assad sources, Hizballah is “helping to lead a Russian-backed offensive in southern Syria which has left over 250,000 people displaced” or that additional Iranian-handled Shia foreign militias are also taking part in that campaign. Neither were they told that last month Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) deputy commander Hossein Salami said:
“Today an international Islamic army has been formed in Syria, and the voices of the Muslims are heard near the Golan… Orders are awaited, so that the custom of God vis-à-vis the eradication of the evil regime [Israel] will land and the life of this regime will be ended for good. The life of the Zionist regime was never in danger as it is now.”
Apparently though the BBC is still quite happy for its audiences to go away with the impression that Iran’s military build-up in Syria is primarily an Israeli claim.
Against the backdrop of the U.S. administration’s efforts to advance its Middle East peace plan, known as “the Deal of the Century,” whose terms have not yet been publicized, Salem Falahat, a Jordanian politician and former head of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in Jordan, slammed the deal in an article he published. The article appeared on the albosala.com website, affiliated with the MB in Jordan, in the Jordanian MB’s mouthpiece Al-Sabil, and in the Hamas-affiliated website palinfo.com under the title “Why the Deal of the Century Will Not Come About.” In it, Al-Falahat, who resigned from the MB party in 2016 due to ideological disagreements with it and founded the Partnership and Rescue Party, assessed that the deal would never go through and warned the Arab leaders not to support it. Supporting this deal, he said, would be an act of treason equal to that of the last Muslim ruler of Granada who handed it over to the Christians, and anyone who did this would face “punishment and vengeance in this world and the next.” In this context he mentioned Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, who “sealed his own inevitable fate” when he signed the peace agreement with Israel. Al-Falahat added that, even if some Arab regimes accepted the deal, neither the Palestinians nor the other Arab peoples would accept it, and that no power in the world could force the Palestinians to do so.
“The drums of submission are pounding, in advance of the signing of an empty document that will serve the interests of the Zionist enemy [i.e. President Trump’s Deal of the Century]. This is why the fogey Kushner, whose pockets are lined with our money, is secretly and openly hanging out with [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu and his lackeys, with the aim of obtaining an explicit and clear agreement [to the deal] from some of the Arab states. Delegations are on the move [at this time in the region], seeking someone like Abu Abdallah the Younger who will hand over the keys of ‘Granada’ [i.e. Palestine] – even if not a single one of his family, entourage or servants remain [at his side] – and will fall [down weeping] on the spot, so that historians will [later] call [the place] ‘the Moor’s last sigh.'
“In my assessment, without self-delusion, no one will dare to take such a treasonous step, because [anyone who does dare] will not escape punishment and vengeance, [both] in this world and in the next. When [Egyptian president Anwar] Sadat dared to light the fuse of submission, in his visit to Jerusalem, he sealed his inevitable fate. Don’t you see how many [of the tyrants] who took control of the Arabs are today raising their hands [in surrender?] [This is] perhaps out of fear that one of two fates await them: …either an unnatural and inevitable death at the hands of the [Muslim] nation for the crime of submitting to the desires of the Zionists, or death and martyrdom at the hands of Zionist agents if they remain steadfast in their views and refrain [from signing the agreement]…
International legal scholar Eugene Kotorovich argues in a new paper that the U.S. must, by law, withdraw $40 million in funding from two United Nations agencies because they granted membership to the Palestinian Authority (PA).
The agencies are the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which the PA joined in May.
U.S. law theoretically prevents American taxpayers from funding U.N. bodies that admit “Palestine” as a member state, because it is not a state and because the U.S. wants to encourage Palestinians to seek statehood through negotiations with Israel.
In the new paper, “Palestinian Membership in UN Agencies: Mandatory Defunding Under US Law,” Kontorovich argues:
U.S. law prohibits funding UN “affiliated organizations” that accept the Palestinian Authority (PA) as a member state. In the past two years, the PA has been accepted into four such organizations, two of them in the past months. Yet thus far, none of these organizations have had their funding stopped.
This is part of the PA’s strategy of seeking a fait accompli of statehood through international recognition, rather than as the result of negotiations with Israel. Such international recognition only hardens Palestinian positions and encourages the Palestinians to make maximalist and unrealistic demands in the peace process, while politicizing the technical agencies involved.
In May 2018, the Palestinian Authority (PA) sought and received membership in several UN organizations, including the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). The move was taken in retaliation for U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and as part of a long-range Palestinian strategy of seeking statehood recognition through international organizations, rather than through negotiations with Israel.
Kontorovich notes that the PA did not simply did not start seeking membership in U.N. bodies after President Donald Trump moved the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, but actually began doing so while President Barack Obama was in office: “In 2016, the PA also joined the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and in 2017 it joined the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).” The Obama administration’s failure to respond encouraged the PA to continue, he argues.
Nine House Democrats demanded greater transparency from the Trump administration on Wednesday, asking for more details on its review process of US aid to the Palestinian Authority and Gaza Strip.
In a letter, the entire Democratic membership of the House Foreign Affairs Middle East Subcommittee asked Trump to share with them the “timeline and metrics” of the White House’s assessment of American assistance to Palestinians.
In January, the administration froze $65 million from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the main UN agency responsible for providing humanitarian aid and refugee assistance to Palestinians.
The White House also said at the time it was “reviewing” its monetary aid to the Palestinians after PA President Mahmoud Abbas refused to meet with Trump officials over Washington’s recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the US embassy there.
An Argentine federal judge investigating the 1994 Buenos Aires AMIA Jewish center bombing has asked Russian officials to arrest a high-level Iranian adviser to the country’s supreme leader in connection with the attack.
Ali Akbar Velayati was scheduled to meet with President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday in Moscow. Velayati, who was Iran’s foreign minister at the time of the terrorist attack and has been implicated in ordering the bombing, is now an adviser on international affairs to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Velayati is among special envoys that Iran is sending to various countries in response to the US withdrawal earlier this year from the 2015 nuclear deal.
“After Mr. Trump’s strategic mistake in unilaterally withdrawing, the Islamic Republic of Iran decided to send special envoys to different countries conveying the message of high officials of Iran containing our stances, positions, and approaches towards this arrogant and illegal move of the US,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said in describing the Wednesday visit of Velayati to Moscow.
Spain’s government wants to reestablish the doctrine of universal jurisdiction to allow its courts to investigate serious crimes committed abroad, Justice Minister Dolores Delgado said on Wednesday.
“The ministry expects to return to the universal jurisdiction legislation that was in force between 1985 and 2009,” the ministry said in a statement, adding that it would expand the law to take in economic, financial and environmental crimes.
“Only in this way will Spain be able to once again occupy the worthy position that it had at the vanguard of the defense of human rights and the protection of victims,” Delgado added during a parliamentary committee.
A commission of experts has been charged with looking into the issue and presenting their findings before the end of the year.
Spain pioneered the use of the doctrine since it was passed into national law in 1985 in a practice that irked some foreign governments.
The doctrine allowed judges to try certain cases of crimes against humanity that took place in other countries.
IDF Blog: Israel on fire
To date Hamas has burned more than 7,400 acres of land and set more than 750 fires, an average of more than 11 fires a day, using arson kites and incendiary balloons. Israeli firefighters have been working hard to extinguish the fires, but Hamas has been igniting them at a rapid pace.
Much of the land that Hamas burned was farmland on the cusp of harvesting season. These fields could have produced wheat, mangos, avocados, and more. The fires also destroyed greenhouses, chicken coops, agricultural equipment, and water reservoirs. This critically damaged the livelihoods of people living in southern Israel near the Gaza Strip, many of whom rely on agriculture to make a living. The total damage of these fires costs more than $2,200,000 US dollars.
Since March 2018, Hamas has organized weekly riots with the goal of infiltrating Israel and committing terror attacks. Fire was a consistent element from the start of the riots. In the beginning Hamas burned tires in an attempt to create a smokescreen, under which they could achieve their terror-driven objectives. During these violent riots, in which Hamas placed Gazan civilians on the frontlines, its operatives used explosives, burning tires, and other weapons to attempt to break through the security fence and kill Israelis.
As the riots progressed, Hamas began a new campaign of launching arson kites and incendiary balloons. While kites and balloons sound innocent, these kites and balloons adorned with flaming and explosive objects are nothing more than tools of terror.
Ben-Dror Yemini: Don’t worry, they are only flying kites
We need to stop the incendiary balloons and kites launched into Israeli communities. It has becomes unbearable. No government in the world would allow what is happening in southern Israel to happen without military response. Israel’s deterrent power is deteriorating while Hamas’s power is on the rise. How long is this going to last?
We can understand why Israel doesn’t want to engage in another confrontation and it is a good thing it doesn’t. Another confrontation will lead to the predetermined stages of rockets launched on the southern and central areas of Israel, destruction in the Gaza Strip, many deaths and countless demonstrations around the world against “Israel’s war crimes.”
In the past, international pressure on the street and in the media forced Israel to agree to a cease-fire. The goal of eliminating Hamas’s infrastructure was not achieved, but Israel was portrayed as a country committing war crimes. The same will happen next time. So what for?
We can assume that this is one of the reasons why on Tuesday Israel announced the closure, at least in part, of the Kerem Shalom border crossing.
It is the easiest and most available thing to do. But it is also the worst thing to do. Does anyone up there think that the kite launchers or their launchers will be frightened or deterred? Do they think that the launchers’ goal was to end the humanitarian crisis in Gaza? There are already countless reports about the crisis, with fingers pointing to Israel more than to Hamas. It’s annoying, but that’s where we’re at. Hamas defeats Israel in the propaganda war. And what does Israel do? It gives Hamas more weapons of propaganda.
At least 40 fires raged in Gaza-adjacent communities in southern Israel on Wednesday as a result of burning kites and balloons launched from Gaza over the border fence as part of ongoing protests organized by Hamas, bringing the total number of fires set by the group’s new tactic in the past three months to over 1,000.
The fires have laid waste to over 8,200 acres of forest and agricultural land, with damage totaling tens of millions of dollars. Experts say it will take at least 15 years to rehabilitate the vegetation and wildlife in the scorched areas.
When the remote arson attacks began a few months ago, some politicians and military officials dismissed them as a passing nuisance. But the protesters added explosives-laden balloons that ignite upon landing on the Israeli side of the fence to their arsenal, and now Israeli children who come across a stray kite or balloon have to back away and tell their parents to call in sappers.
Bruria Karni-Hadas, a resident of Kibbutz Kerem Shalom, admitted Wednesday that when the kites first appeared, she dismissed them as an inconvenience.
“I didn’t realize at first how big [a problem] they would become, but soon it became clear. We know what to do and how to defend ourselves from mortar shells and rockets. But now there’s a different sense of helplessness, that we don’t know what to do. The feeling is that there is no end in sight,” said Karni-Hadas.
It’s been four years since Operation Protective Edge, an operation that brought the nation to a standstill and saw 4,594 rockets and mortars fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip. While mortars were whistling over their heads and landing on their doorsteps, farmers in Gaza-adjacent communities kept sowing, planting, harvesting, and sending fresh food to civilians all over Israel. The nation’s store of vegetables kept running throughout all 53 days of the fighting.
What’s different this time? The color. Green has turned black. Instead of rockets, the threat level has dropped from terrorism that puts lives at risk to terrorism that leaves the land scorched. Burning kites and balloons leave fields in cinders and send nature preserves and grazing land up in flames. A field that is burned this year will be green again in a year’s time, but it will take at least 15 years for 40,000 dunams (almost 10,000 acres) of forests and fields to return to what they used to be. The south that turns brilliant red every year as anemones bloom across the western Negev will stay black.
Negev farmers are a tough breed. In the past 20 years, they’ve seen and experienced almost everything possible, and still, they get up early in the morning or the middle of the night to water their fields and grow fruit and vegetables, wheat and the barley, and even bananas and avocados for the country.
Where kites and balloons are weapons
The Jerusalem District Court issued a temporary confiscation order Wednesday for two Norwegian ships set to partake in a solidarity flotilla to Gaza in the coming weeks.
The court order allows for the Karstein and Freedom, worth approximately 75,000 euros, to be used for monetary compensation for victims of Hamas terrorism the moment they enter Israeli waters.
Organizers of the flotilla say that if they succeed in reaching Gaza they will donate the ships to civilian organizations and local fishermen.
Shurat HaDin Israel Law Center, the NGO that submitted the impound claim on behalf of terror victims, says that in the view of former Dep. Navy Commander Brig. Gen. Noam Feig, and Middle East scholar Aryeh Spitzen, the ships are intended to be used by Hamas which is seeking to strengthen its naval forces.
The petition was submitted in the name of the Gavish family which lost the couple David and Rachel, together with their son Avraham, and maternal grandfather Yitzhak Kanner, in an attack on Passover 2002.
It was also submitted in the name of the family of Adam Weinstein who was killed in a 2001 Jerusalem terror attack. Hamas claimed responsibility for both attacks and the families submitted claims for compensation from the organization.
Mahmoud Zahar: Hamas will not give up one inch of Palestine in return for easing restrictions imposed on Gaza. We’ll accept economic projects, but without paying a political price. pic.twitter.com/HS658l3NRv
— Khaled Abu Toameh (@KhaledAbuToameh) July 11, 2018
Parents of terrorist who recruited suicide bombers express pride in their son
1/2 Senior Fatah Official ‘Azzam Al-Ahmad Calls for Intifada against Hamas in Gaza pic.twitter.com/hgoYI3tCED
— MEMRI (@MEMRIReports) July 12, 2018
2/2 Senior Fatah Official ‘Azzam Al-Ahmad: Israel Has Covetous Designs on the Nile and Mecca pic.twitter.com/GQhZoG2Jua
— MEMRI (@MEMRIReports) July 12, 2018
All means are acceptable in throwing off the yoke of the Zionist usurper. Staging incidents and inflating casualty figures boasts a long and glorious history in Palestinian lore, at least since Deir Yassin. But the mere acceptability of such measures does not automatically make them the recommended course of action, and in that regard it appears we may have miscalculated: perhaps it was unwise of us to engage Mr. Neymar da Silva Santos Jr. to train us in pretending to suffer injury.
In previous years it took little effort on our part to get our pretend casualties reported in Western media. Sympathetic journalists and systemic anti-Israel bias all but ensured that our party line would carry the day. But circumstance shave shifted, and the prevalence of individuals on the scene with video-recording devices has made coordination of the blood libels a much more difficult task. That, coupled with certain elements in the media chastened by exposure of their credulity vis-à-vis our accusations, has increased the importance of convincing performances by Palestinians faking wounds at the hands of the Zionist forces. To our dismay, our chief role model and trainer in that respect no longer enjoys repute as an honest victim, and we are left similarly exposed.
The discussion of whether to resort to such deceitful measures must wait for some other occasion and forum; suffice it to say that we are fully cognizant of the implications of faking atrocities or other crimes, but what those who argue for honesty fail to grasp is that everything must be weaponized against the epic struggle against the Jews, and if the truth cannot be weaponized, then the truth is of no use. QED.
The theocrats have now issued a new threat that could cost a pretty penny: to block oil exports from their neighbors. “If Iran’s oil exports are to be prevented,” said Esmail Kowsari, a commander in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, “we will not give permission for oil to be exported to the world through the Strait of Hormuz.”
The notion that cargo ships sailing through that strategic sea lane require Iranian “permission” is far-fetched. Should Iran’s rulers make good on this threat, expect the U.S. Navy to take action to “ensure the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce wherever international law allows,” in the words of a spokesman for the U.S Central Command.
Meanwhile, even as Iran’s rulers are insisting on their interpretations of international law, Belgian authorities are detaining an Iranian diplomat in connection with a plot to bomb a rally in France organized by an Iranian opposition group.
The State Department last week published a report on Iranian-sponsored terrorism in Europe between 1979, the year of Iran’s Islamic Revolution, and 2018. It lists both completed acts and failed attempts carried out by Iranian intelligence agencies and Hezbollah, Tehran’s Lebanon-based proxy, in more than a dozen countries. Britain, France and Germany are among them.
Iran’s rulers, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted, have “brought suffering & death to the world & its own people. Just in Europe, Iran-sponsored assassinations, bombings & other terrorist attacks have scarred countless lives.” He called on European leaders to raise this bloody history when they are interfacing with regime representatives.
At present, however, British, French and German leaders appear loath to offend Iran’s rulers and anxious to accommodate them.
Which raises this question: If appeasement is the European policy toward the Islamic Republic now, what will it be if the regime achieves its ambition of becoming the nuclear-armed hegemon of the Middle East?
Financial services companies issued metaphorical sighs of relief this week upon realizing that despite being forced to withdraw from business in the Islamic Republic of Iran in the face of American sanctions against the Khamenei regime, they will still enjoy numerous opportunities to provide support for Jew-haters in their own countries.
The Trump administration reimposed severe economic sanctions on Iran’s government and associated entities over their continued pursuit of nuclear weapons, which will take effect this autumn. While other parties to the 2015 JCPOA arrangement under which the Obama administration removed sanctions have not dropped out the agreement, corporations in those countries must now choose between continuing to do business in Iran and having access to the US market, the loss of which would cripple those enterprises. Fortunately, those firms now realize, they need not abandon support for anti-Jewish causes or events, as their home countries already offer myriad ways in which to promote antisemitic artists and groups.
British banking giant HSBC began preparations in earnest for complete pullout of its personnel and dealings in Iran two months ago after US President Donald Trump announced American withdrawal from the deal and the reimposition of sanctions. Executives remarked that losing Iranian contracts represents the lesser of two evils in comparison to giving up hundreds of billions of dollars in potential revenue from business with US-based business that they would sacrifice by staying in Iran – and that even without contributing to the economy and prosperity of Iranian entities bent on destroying Israel and targeting Jews all over the world with terrorist attacks, the firm found a silver lining in being able to identify and support analogous causes through sponsorship of events and groups in Britain such as Roger Waters, War on Want, and others with unassailable antisemitic bona fides.
Israel is completely coordinated with the US regarding the situation in Syria, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters on Thursday, hours after US Senator Lindsey Graham tweeted that Israel should be “very careful making agreements with Russia re Syria that affect US interests.”
Graham is one of Israel’s staunchest supporters in the senate. Netanyahu, in his comments, chose to highlight the second part of Graham’s tweet, which was that he does not trust “Russia to police Iran or anyone else in Syria.”
The US, Graham said, must “maintain presence in Syria to ensure ISIS doesn’t come back and to counter Russia/Iran influence.”
Asked about US President Donald Trump’s comments a few months ago that he wanted to withdraw US troops from Syria, Netanyahu said in response that he heard US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo say recently that the US troops should remain in Syria until Iran exits.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday that Israel will not seek to unseat Syrian dictator Bashar Assad from power, while urging Moscow to remove Iranian troops from the country, according to an Israeli official.
“We won’t take action against the Assad regime, and you get the Iranians out,” Netanyahu told Putin, the Reuters news agency reported, citing an Israel official who requested anonymity.
According to a report last month, Israel’s willingness to leave Assad in power echoes the US position.
A Western diplomat told Al-Hayat in June that the US is open to the idea of Assad staying in power and does not oppose the regime retaking all areas it lost to rebels groups during the seven-year civil war.
A new report analyzing Syrian school books found many references of hatred of other nations, and of Israel in particular.
The study of more than 50 children’s textbooks in the Assad-controlled regime found passages preaching jihad (holy war) to twelfth graders and proclaimed itself as a national leader of the Palestinian cause.
“The Syrian curriculum includes good elements – mainly secularism, multi-cultural heritage, equality for women and encouragement of independent thinking and dialogue,” said co-author Eldad Pardo. “However, hate is widespread throughout the curriculum when it comes to radical pan-Arab nationalism, which considers the eradication of Israel an ideological mainstay.”
Syria’s greatest proclaimed enemy is Israel, which is not mentioned by name in any of the textbooks, only referred to as “The Zionist Entity.” Israeli territory is labeled as “Palestine” or “Occupied Palestine” and is included in Syria’s depiction of the greater “Arab Homeland.”
Israel must also determine a path forward with Assad, though Professor Maoz and others surmise that the Syrian leader will have his hands full with rebuilding and consolidating power and that it will take years, if not decades, to rehabilitate the country.
There is no love lost between Israel and Assad. Israel regards him as a war criminal, the man who used chemical weapons on his own people. But he is also the same leader that before and during the civil war kept the border with Israel quiet.
There is something, Moaz allows, to the adage, “Better the devil you know.”
In the meantime, in the northern Israeli coastal town of Nahariya, the process of fostering new attitudes among Syrians continues.
Five years ago, the first wounded Syrians to wake up in Israeli hospitals were shocked and horrified, doctors recall, having grown up on stories of Israel as a cruel enemy. But later they returned home, in some cases after complicated series of reconstructive surgeries to repair gruesome war wounds, and told friends and neighbors of the excellent treatment they received in Israel, Syrian patients at the hospital say.
Nahariya’s Galilee Medical Center has treated the majority of the Syrian wounded. Thirteen more Syrians arrived last week, all seriously wounded in the most recent round of fighting. The hospital is currently treating 40 Syrian patients.
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Eyal Sela, who directs the hospital’s head and neck surgical division, describes the sophisticated work that goes into reconstructive facial surgery.
“It’s a game changer here. We are going to treat anyone who walks into the hospital. We don’t see nationality or religion,” he said at a media briefing. “I am not here to butter you up with clichés, but this is what we do.”
But he admits, there is another force propelling him.
“I do it for my future, for my children,” Dr. Sela says. “If I can change the [attitudes] of the Syrian people, I will do it.”
Seth J. Frantzman: Fear and uncertainty grip Syrians sheltering near Israel border
On Tuesday, Syrians with signs “appealing to the humanity to open the border” called on Israel to provide more relief aid. They claimed Russia has given a “green light” to murder them, and that “Israel should work to stop barbaric attacks against us now.”
With Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Wednesday, their appeal has taken on added urgency.
Thomas said medical clinics on the Syrian side of the Golan are half stocked, and that there is a “gaping hole” in the humanitarian needs. “There are hundreds of thousands of people in this region, and they are cut off,” he noted.
FAI Relief is trying to infuse hope amid the sorrow of war, he said.
“Regardless of what happens with the [Assad] regime, if it comes [down to the Golan border] there is no way the people in these communities will get what they need. They will be in just as dire a situation the day after as they were six months ago.”
No one will win in this conflict, Thomas warned. “The work actually begins the day after. We need to take terminology like ‘winning’ and ‘ending’ out of our vocabulary. It [the conflict] will just transform into new strife.”
Keeping a doctor’s appointment in Israel, Syrian children and their mothers stepped across a tense Golan Heights border in the dead of night on Wednesday, under the watchful gaze of Israeli soldiers.
The patients, Israeli medical officials said, were not the walking wounded of the seven-year-old Syrian civil war but children with chronic health problems coming across the frontier for a day’s treatment in a hospital in northern Israel.
Israel has treated some 4,500 war casualties from Syria since a humanitarian aid program dubbed Operation Good Neighbor was launched five years ago.
The group of more than 40 mothers and children that crossed over in the pre-dawn hours of Wednesday were among the 3,000 Syrians who Israel says have received separate treatment as part of a subsequent operation called “Doctor’s Appointment.”
Supervised by Israeli soldiers with night-vision equipment, one woman – carrying one child and holding the hand of another – stepped through a gate built into Israel’s security fence in the Golan Heights.
After a brief security check, she joined others at the roadside to wait for a bus that would take them to Ziv Medical Center in the northern city of Safed, where a medical clown entertained the children waiting for treatment.
”They are treated in hospital and go back the same day,” Maj. Sergei Kutikov, an Israeli military health officer, said. “Sometimes they return twice or three times for further treatment or surgery,” he added.
Israelis are helping their Syrian neighbors in need pic.twitter.com/XvXJpZSrcZ
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) July 12, 2018
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