Edwin Black: Taxpayer Support for Palestinian Terrorist Salaries Becoming Impossible to Defend
The issue of government subsidies for Palestinian terrorist salaries is again in the international spotlight. What began in November 2013, as a barely believable revelation — that taxpayers in Great Britain, the US, and other Western nations were bankrolling terrorist salaries — has now become a universally-acknowledged, impossible-to-deny, and impossible-to-defend embarrassment for governments.
For years, officials dissembled and dodged when the question came up. After a period of silent disbelief, the mainstream media now openly confirms the salaries and routinely refers to the program with ipso factuality. Political challengers on both sides of the Atlantic stridently demand that incumbents terminate foreign aid that amounts to taxpayer-incentivized terrorism. A recent in-depth study in Israel calculates that all terror incentives and rewards paid by the Palestinian Authority over the past four years total a mind-numbing one billion dollars.
As more citizens are victimized in Great Britain, Europe, the U.S. and elsewhere, Western donor governments find their financial involvement with the Palestinian Authority terrorist salary program increasingly indefensible.
Whether things might be changing is anyone’s guess.
Intense public pushback and the spread of terrorism, from “something over in Israel” to atrocities in leading European and American cities, have cracked entrenched governmental refusals to stop the financing. But it has been a long road.
In November 2013, revelations first leapt into global headlines that convicted Palestinian terrorists were receiving monthly salaries paid by the Palestinian Authority using foreign donor funds. The Palestinian “Law of the Prisoner” openly rewards those convicted of even the most heinous attacks with generous monthly “salaries” and phantom jobs with automatic advancement in the PA government.
The salaries increase on a sliding scale. The more carnage inflicted, the longer the prisoner sentence, the higher the salary. Terrorists receiving a five-year sentence are granted just a few hundred dollars each month. The bloodiest murderers are paid as much $3,000 monthly. Checks are sent directly to the prisoner, who appoints a power of attorney to distribute the funds.
Here’s a very visual and moving response to the issues we raised in yesterday’s post “11-Jul-17: Incitement to terror: Sometimes it really is all about the money”
There’s an especially clear background article about this we recommend highly: “The Department of Pay-for-Slay | How the Palestinian Authority not only incites terrorist murder—but supports it with U.S. tax dollars” [Feith and Gerber, Commentary Magazine, March 15, 2017]
Every cent of the money wasted on inciting young Palestinian Arabs to more and more acts of terror is money provided as foreign aid by Western governments to the perennially insolvent Mahmoud Abbas regime. This is a morality tale with catastrophic dimensions to it.
What would YOU do with $1.1 billion? The Palestinian Authority’s spending priorities are shocking.
Palestinian Prisoners’ club chairman: Prisoners receive salaries “exactly… [like] me and you”
With momentum growing in Congress to support legislation that could cut U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority over its payments to convicted terrorists and their families, a senior White House official told Fox News that the administration won’t reward terrorism.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee heard testimony Wednesday on a bill known as the Taylor Force Act in hopes of bringing it forward and out of committee. It is named for Taylor Force, a 28-year-old graduate of the U.S. Military Academy and Army veteran who was fatally stabbed by a Palestinian terrorist last year as he walked with friends in Tel Aviv on a tour of Israel.
While the White House official would not say if President Donald Trump would sign the bill if it reached his desk, he warned that the U.S. “is not wedded to a deal at all costs.”
The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told the committee that the idea of U.S. tax money going to the Palestinian Authority had to be painful to Force’s parents.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who sponsored a similar bill in 2014 that didn’t make it past committee, said there’s no use “nibbling around the edges.”
Senator Bob Corker delivered the following remarks at a hearing to consider the Taylor Force Act, legislation that would restrict U.S. economic aid to the West Bank and Gaza until the Palestinian Authority (PA) stops paying perpetrators of terrorism. The bill is named after a Vanderbilt University graduate student who was killed in a terrorist attack in Tel Aviv last year. The committee heard testimony from Elliott Abrams, senior fellow for Middle East affairs at the Council on Foreign Relations, and Daniel B. Shapiro, distinguished visiting fellow at The Institute for National Security Studies in Israel.
“I would like to again recognize Mr. Stuart Force, who has been in our office, Taylor Force’s father, who is with us. I know your wife was unable to be here but has been here on many occasions.
“Taylor, a West Point graduate, veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and an MBA student at Vanderbilt University, was killed over a year ago by a Palestinian terrorist while in Tel Aviv studying entrepreneurship.
“Mr. Force, again, thank you for being here, and thank you for the work you have done in the hope that other parents will not have to suffer the grief that you and your wife share. We are deeply sorry for your loss.
Former top US diplomatic official Elliott Abrams told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday that Washington should suspend payments that directly benefit the Palestinian Authority (PA) until it ends its policy of “martyr payments” to the families of convicted Palestinian terrorists — a practice deemed “abominable” by former US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro in remarks to the same panel.
Abrams — who served as an assistant secretary of state in the Reagan Administration, and later as special assistant to President George W. Bush — was giving testimony before the committee in support of the 2017 Taylor Force Act. Named for former US Army officer Taylor Force — the American fatality of a March 2016 Palestinian stabbing attack in Israel in which 11 other people were wounded — the act, if passed, would place severe restrictions on American aid money to the PA until it ends both incitement to terrorism and the “martyr payments” policy.
“Since the Hamas victory in (Palestinian) legislative elections in 2006, USAID has distinguished between assistance to the Palestinian Authority and aid to other recipients, such as NGOs and municipalities,” Abrams told the committee. “In my view, all the payments that give assistance to or directly benefit the PA itself should be stopped.”
Abrams said that such a move would cut US aid to the Palestinians “roughly in half.”
International pressure on the Palestinian Authority to halt payments to the families of Palestinians held in Israeli jails, including those convicted of deadly terror attacks, could trigger a political crisis, rights groups say.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is caught between pressure from US President Donald Trump’s administration and a potential backlash from Palestinians, most of whom view their prisoners as heroes.
Those killed carrying out attacks against Israelis are regularly venerated as “martyrs.”
Palestinian officials say some 850,000 people have spent time in Israeli prisons in the 50 years since Israel gained control of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 Six-Day War. Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005 and the Hamas terror group seized control of the coastal enclave in a bloody coup against Abbas’s Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority.
Apparently, since Israel has finally been threatening or refusing not to pay some of the dues to the most anti-Israel of the Israel bashing United Nations organizations, we may lose General Assembly voting rights. At least that’s what the headline said in the Jerusalem Post:
ISRAEL COULD LOSE UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY VOTING RIGHTS IF DOESN’T PAY BILL
But the actual truth is, if you read the article carefully, if Israel is careful to keep that demonstrative and symbolic non-payment under a certain sum, voting rights should be preserved, unless our diplomatic enemies decide otherwise.
If you consider voting in the UN General Assembly to be all that important I’ll tell you that I highly doubt that Israel would let the debt get so high. And we don’t know if the threats will be made into reality. Not that I consider membership in the United Nations to be a great metzia. Besides that, our one measly vote doesn’t do us any good. Israel is an abused, libeled, ridiculed and maligned minority of one. For years I’ve wondered why we even stay there.
One big advantage of leaving the United Nations would be banishing all those UN employees, those who work for the UN itself and those who work for the organizations that have as their main agenda the besmirching, maligning and undermining the good name, security and stability of the State of Israel. By cutting all ties we’d be safer!
The cognitive dissonance which continues to be placed on display at UNESCO is genuinely stunning. It should be obvious that the disparate treatment of historic sites described above comes down to ulterior motives wholly unrelated to the agency’s mission of cultural heritage preservation. Yet the abandonment of the synagogue in Alqosh is not even the most brazen example of the World Heritage Committee’s craven hypocrisy. For that, one must think back to the year 2000, during the Al-Aqsa Intifada, when the Tomb of Joseph, Son of Jacob in Nablus was targeted by Palestinian rioters. First the on-site yeshiva was destroyed and its books incinerated, and then the memorial’s dome was splashed with green paint. On October 7, 2000, after Israeli Defense Forces pulled out of the region entirely, the site was thoroughly pillaged and set ablaze. It was Rabbi Hillel Lieberman who courageously rushed to the scene to assess the damage to the holy site. His bullet-riddled body was later found on the outskirts of town. Since then, what is left of the Qever Yosef has routinely been subjected to vandalism and other outrages, most notably on October 16, 2015, when petrol bombs were once again hurled at the tomb. A group of Jews who arrived in the aftermath of the defilement, armed only with paint cans and besoms, were beaten and detained and their vehicles burnt. A search for a UNESCO resolution on this distressing matter will produce no results whatsoever.
The reader, in his mind’s eye at least, can hover over the Bayhidhra Mountains and look down at the crumbling synagogue in Alqosh, where the Tomb of Nahum is threatened by time and terrorism, and can proceed to the valley separating Mounts Ebal and Gerizim, and perceive the gratuitous destruction wrought upon the resting place of the patriarch Joseph. He may, in turn, visit the Hebron Hills and view the Cave of the Patriarchs and its well-tended subterranean chambers, or the Temple Mount and its holy places, nominally freely-accessible but open only to Muslim worshippers. The reader is urged to consider UNESCO’s total lack of regard for the first category, and its monomaniacal and historically dubious treatment of the latter, and draw his own conclusions, as I have certainly drawn mine. And though the wounds that have been inflicted by UNESCO have indeed been grievous, at least the damage is not hidden, and the necessary corrective action can be taken in good conscience as a consequence.
An Israeli Muslim Zionist activist took UNESCO to task on Wednesday over its move last week to designate the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron as an endangered Palestinian World Heritage site.
In a video published on Facebook, Sarah Zoabi — from the northern Israeli city of Nazareth — said, “All of the UN’s various attempts to blur the history that was written in blood will not succeed in erasing the right and the religious and historical connection between the People of Israel and this Land. Hebron is the City of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs of the Jewish people.”
“Why does the UN interfere only here?,” she asked. “Where are all the countries that need help in the Middle East and other places?”
A brave Muslim woman bashing UNESCO’s resolution
Nasreen Qadri is a popular Arab-Israeli singer who first came to the Israeli public’s attention in 2011 after winning a television star search program called Eyal Golan Is Calling You.
She was recently interviewed by Israel’s Channel 2. Here’s what she said when asked if she is a Zionist.
Arab Israeli Singer Nasreen Qadri: Of Course I Am A Zionist
Last month, the New Yorker published an article alleging that the Jewish state violated international law when it cleared out the Mughrabi neighborhood of Jerusalem that once stood directly in front of the Western Wall. The truth is very different, write Nathaniel Belmont and Lenny Ben-David:
[Even before the 1967 war], there is evidence that the neighborhood’s days were numbered. Much like the adjacent Jewish quarter, which had been demolished by the Jordanians [in 1949], the Mughrabi quarter was nothing more than decaying slums built on rubble. . . . In 1965 and 1966, prior to the war, some 1,000 Arabs were relocated by the Jordanian administration—some by force—from the [former] Jewish quarter to the newly created Shuafat refugee camp, by order of Jordan’s then-prime minister Wasfi al-Tal, [and a similar fate likely was in store for the Mughrabi quarter]. . . .
[Furthermore, the] accusation of “war crimes” perpetrated by Israel ignores legal norms appropriating private property for public use and public safety—provided due compensation is paid. Ironically, it is Jordan that failed to recognize this basic legal norm in 1949, razing the Jewish Quarter, expelling its residents, and looting and desecrating 58 synagogues, all without compensation.
Jordan’s 1948 actions stand in stark contrast to Israel’s actions in 1967. Regarding compensation, a 1968 letter from former residents of the Mughrabi Quarter affirms that many residents received compensation.
On March 9, 2010, then-US vice president Joe Biden started a visit to Israel by asserting the administration’s “absolute, total, unvarnished commitment to Israel’s security.”
A few hours later, when it emerged that Israel had approved 1,600 new housing units in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo, he denounced “the substance and timing of the announcement,” fuming that it “runs counter to the constructive discussions that I’ve had here in Israel.” The next day, Biden doubled down: “At the request of President [Barack] Obama, I condemn it immediately and unequivocally.”
The crisis continued to grew over the next few days, with Israel’s ambassador in Washington being summoned to the State Department for a dressing down, secretary of state Hillary Clinton telephoning Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to convey Obama’s anger, and the president’s chief of staff terming the dispute “a pimple on the ass of US-Israel friendship.”
Today, such DC-Jerusalem drama over Israeli plans to build houses in Jewish neighborhoods of East Jerusalem has become unimaginable. Indeed, since Donald Trump moved into the White House, the international community’s single-issue hyper-focus on Israeli settlements would seem to have been consigned to a past era.
Even the Europeans, who haven’t substantially changed their policies regarding settlements, have toned down their criticism, to some extent, of Israeli building beyond the pre-1967 Green Line.
US Republican lawmakers on Wednesday unveiled legislation slashing $10 billion from foreign aid, a sharp reduction but not as deep a cut as President Donald Trump wants.
In a flurry of summertime activity, congressional panels in the House and Senate released various spending bills to fund government agencies and departments in 2018. The GOP-led panels concurred with some of Trump’s request, such as his down payment on a US-Mexico border wall, while rejecting others such as a significant reduction in medical research.
At issue are the 12 annual spending bills funding annual agency operations. Republicans controlling Congress have announced plans to rejected Trump’s proposal to cut non-defense programs by more than $50 billion and they’re adding about $30 billion to his request for defense.
Trump wanted to cut almost $17 billion from foreign aid. House Republicans proposed a reduction of $10 billion.
From The Australian editorial, 13 July 2017:
ALP must stand firm on Israel
The ALP will do itself no favours if it ignores Kim Beazley’s wise counsel against the push at the upcoming NSW party conference for a resolution demanding unconditional recognition of Palestinian statehood by a future Labor government. Mr Beazley, who has vast experience as a senior minister, party leader and ambassador to Washington, recognises the unhelpful proposal would create unnecessary problems for the ALP.
Deep divisions within the party are apparent, with Bill Shorten, Tanya Plibersek and others uncomfortable about the proposal but facing a challenge from the NSW right, including frontbenchers Tony Burke and Jason Clare, who want votes among western Sydney’s migrants. Such MPs are aligned with former foreign minister Bob Carr. But while the ALP left, including Anthony Albanese, is united behind Mr Carr’s push, the right is divided.
The ALP should listen to Mr Beazley and retain its decades-long moderate stance on Israel. It would be a grave error to fall for Mr Carr’s campaign against the Middle East’s only functioning democracy, where people of all faiths are safe under the law.
Failing to recognise the reality that there is no such thing, yet, as a Palestinian state with any of the conditions for recognition demanded by international law would put a future Labor government in an invidious position. It would be aligned with the thinking of bodies such as UNESCO, which has senselessly decreed the ancient Jewish holy site, the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, a “Palestinian world heritage site”. As part of the push to gain backdoor recognition for a Palestinian state, UNESCO has previously declared Israel an “occupying power” in East Jerusalem, home of the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site.
The global drive to delegitimise Israel and confect a Palestinian state will do nothing to achieve what should be the main imperative, restarting peace negotiations … That, not bogus backdoor efforts through the UN, is the only credible path…
Israel is seeking to launch an unprecedented flight route to Saudi Arabia for pilgrims taking part in the annual Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, according to Communications Minister Ayoub Kara.
The aerial aspirations that would allow Israeli Muslim citizens to fly directly into the Gulf kingdom from Ben-Gurion Airport come amid talk of efforts to elevate relations between the two nations, which currently do not have formal diplomatic ties nor air-traffic agreements.
“Reality has changed,” Kara told Bloomberg in an interview this week. “This is a good time to make the request, and I’m working hard on it.”
Kara, a minister-without-portfolio in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, said Israel hopes the prospective airways opening would reduce the long travel routes its Muslim citizens currently have to take to reach Islam’s most holy shrine.
Saudi Ambassador to Algeria Sami Bin Abdullah Salih on Wednesday unequivocally said in an interview that Hamas is a terrorist organization.
“Of course, it [Hamas] is classified…It certainly is, if it seeks to create and cause problems,” Salih said when an Algeria-based al-Nahar reporter asked him if Saudi Arabia considers Hamas a terrorist group.
Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, frequently endorses and carries out violent attacks against Israeli military personnel and civilians. Israel, the United States, and the European Union all consider Hamas to be a terrorist group.
Salih also criticized some Hamas leader’s for living lavish lifestyles outside of Gaza.
Representatives of 20 countries joined Argentine lawmakers in signing a statement decrying global terrorism ahead of the 23rd anniversary of the Buenos Aires AMIA Jewish center bombing.
The French Embassy in Buenos Aires and the Argentine Jewish political umbrella DAIA organized the meeting Tuesday of the countries’ representatives to take a stand together against international terrorism, as well as in solidarity with Argentina’s Jewish community over the July 18, 1994, terrorist attack against the AMIA that left 85 dead and hundreds wounded.
DAIA prepared the declaration “in memory of the victims of international terrorism.”
The signers included ambassadors or top diplomats from Belarus, Belgium, Colombia, Czech Republic, Chile, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Paraguay, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States.
DAIA’s president, Ariel Cohen Sabban, told JTA that he believes that views of Islamic terrorism have changed since several attacks have hit Europe.
“It could be … better late than never the world is realizing that we need to fight together as one against terror,” he told JTA.
Official Iranian news outlets reported on Wednesday that the Tehran regime has agreed to work with Interpol, the global law enforcement agency, to “resolve” the “dispute” arising from the July 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in the Argentine capital Buenos Aires, in which 85 people were murdered and hundreds more wounded.
But one expert urged the international community not to “fall for Iran’s latest maneuver,” nearly 25 years after the AMIA bombing was first planned during a meeting at the home of Iran’s then president, the late Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.
A report from ISNA – one of the regime’s several news agencies – said that Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Abbas Araghchi, met with Interpol’s Director-General Jurgen Stock in Tehran on Tuesday where they discussed the AMIA case. Stock was visiting the Iranian capital for a meeting of Project Kalkan, an Interpol initiative focused on counter-terrorism and narcotics smuggling in several countries in central Asia.
Araghchi stated Iran’s “readiness to cooperate with Interpol and Argentina for the proper settlement of the case, ‘AMIA,’” the ISNA report said.
But Araghchi also made clear to Stock his government’s displeasure with Interpol’s handling of the case, complaining about the outstanding “red notices” – effectively international arrest warrants – issued in 2007 for six Iranian officials in connection with the bombing. One of those named at the time was the Hezbollah terrorist leader Imad Fayez Mughniyeh, who also planned the 1983 bombing of the US Marine barracks in Beirut, in which more than 200 American military personnel lost their lives. Mughniyeh was killed in a car bombing incident in Damascus in 2008.
Araghchi also told Stock that the AMIA case had not been resolved because of the influence of “overt” and “covert” outside “vested interests” – a veiled reference to the State of Israel and international Jewish groups.
On his nationally syndicated radio talk show Friday, host Mark Levin said he had a new idea on immigration, that American policy should be that if a country refuses Christians and Jews, then we’re not going to allow their people in this country.
“I think that any country that refuses to allow Christians and Jews into their country, well then we shouldn’t allow their people into our country,” he said. “Countries that don’t allow all Americans in, you know, who don’t have records and so forth, we’re not going to allow their people in this country.”Here’s part of the transcript of Levin’s show on Friday June 7:
“By the way, I have a new idea on immigration, Mr. Producer. I think any country that refuses to allow Christians and Jews into their country, well then we shouldn’t allow their people into our country. What do you think about that, Rich?
“That seems fair. Oh, yeah. Oh, yes. All kind of religious tests all over the world, particularly the third world. Can I use the phrase third world? You’re damn well I can.
From the Knesset podium, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely recommended that UNESCO and Israeli-Arab MKs read and familiarize themselves with two books. The first is the Bible, which describes the Jewish people’s history in Hebron and Israel.
The second book is Assaf A. Voll’s “A History of the Palestinian People – From Ancient Times to the Modern Era” (Hebrew edition).
One can only hope they would read and learn something.
But I won’t hold my breath waiting.
Israel and the Palestinian Authority on Thursday announced an agreement that will provide millions of cubic meters of drinking water to the Palestinians from a desalination process.
While the Palestinians made plain that the deal, brokered by US President Donald Trump’s envoy Jason Greenblatt, has no impact on final-status issues in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Greenblatt hailed it as a “harbinger of things to come.” At a joint press conference in Jerusalem, however, Greenblatt refused to take any questions regarding his bid to relaunch peace negotiations
The agreement announced Thursday is part of a larger trilateral agreement for the construction of a 220-kilometer (137-mile) pipeline transferring water from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea — the lowest body of water on earth — to benefit Israelis, Jordanians and Palestinians, and replenish the dwindling Dead Sea. As the water runs down the gradient it will be used to generate electricity that will also power a desalination plant to produce drinking water.
The Israeli army on Thursday morning raided the offices of the Palestinian news station Al Quds located in the West Bank city of Hebron.
The IDF said the operation was carried out after the station was suspected of having “inciting materials.”
“As part of the ongoing efforts against incitement in the Judea and Samaria region, forces confiscated a USB drive and a memory card suspected to contain inciting materials from a radio station in Hebron,” an IDF spokesperson said in a statement.
Videos on social media showed the aftermath of the raid.
The Prime Minister’s office on Thursday denounced a condolence visit by a senior Palestinian official to the mourning tent for an attacker who tried to ram Israeli soldiers with his car, saying the show of support casts doubt on the Palestinian Authority’s intention to make peace with Israel.
Majed Faraj, the head of the PA intelligence service, visited the family of Muhammad Ibrahim Jibril, 24, in the West Bank village of Teqoa on Wednesday.
Israel has accused the Palestinian Authority, led by its president Mahmoud Abbas, of encouraging terror attacks by publicly honoring attackers and by paying salaries to their families if they are killed or jailed in Israeli prisons.
“Majed Faraj, head of PA intel, paid on behalf of Abbas condolences to the family of a terrorist who was killed while he tried to kill Israelis,” Ofir Gendelman tweeted on Thursday. Gendelman is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s spokesperson to the Arab media.
“Faraj is also a PA peace negotiator. How can there be peace when the PA supports terrorism against Israelis & praises those who commit it?” he asked.
An ex-Palestinian Authority minister revealed in a statement, posted on social media on Sunday, that he quit his post in October 2015 because of the high level of corruption in the Palestinian government.
Shawqi al-Issa, who served as minister of agriculture and minister of social affairs in the Palestinian unity government that took office in June 2014, did not reveal at the time of his resignation why he stepped down from his position, the Times of Israel reported.
During that period, Israel was hit by a persistent wave of stabbing, ramming, and shooting attacks by Palestinians against Israelis. In a post on Facebook, al-Issa criticized the PA over a lack of support for the attacks, accusing them of “opportunism.”
The ex-minister also explained that the reason for his resignation was the systemic corruption inside the PA. “It was not possible nor permitted to carry out any useful action to reduce corruption, or improve the services provided to our people,” he said.
Al-Issa added that “the well-qualified and non-corrupt officials continued to be removed, while those suspected of corruption had their positions strengthened.”
Azmi Abdel Rahman, a spokesperson for the Palestinian Ministry of Economy, thus told The Media Line that, “Working in Israel is not a point of view, it’s a persistent need.
“During Second Intifada,” he says, “the Israeli side banned about 180 thousand Palestinian workers from entering Israel; the situation was a catastrophe; all of them were without an income. We had consumers much more than producers.”
Today, some 400,000 Palestinians in the West Bank remain unemployed. Each year there are some fifty thousand Palestinian graduates, but the Palestinian marketplace can absorb only 10% of them. The rest, according to COGAT, don’t have readily available job opportunities. Hence the trend of Palestinians working in Israel and the settlements.
One example is Efrat, situated 12 kilometers south of Jerusalem. The settlement has about 10,000 residents, who employ some 1000 Palestinians daily; mainly in construction, although a few work in shops and school kitchens. One worker, Hisham Abuhashem, 57, told The Media Line, “I have a permit to work in Efrat—there is no money in the West Bank. In Israel, I make 200-500 NIS per day; in Palestine I work for eight hours to make 70 NIS, and sometimes employers postpone paying.”
Efrat’s mayor, Oded Revivi, told The Media Line that, “Palestinians are local, so it’s much easier for them to commute and get to the workplace here.” He admits, however, that, “We are governed by the Israeli army, and part of issuing these workers permits include the army checking their background and history.”
A court in Hamas-run Gaza on Thursday sentenced two men to death for allegedly spying for Israel, the latest in a series of such rulings that have drawn international condemnation.
The interior ministry said three men were convicted, including two to death, for “spying for the occupation” and the other handed a life sentence with hard labor.
The men were not named, but the ministry in a statement said the two sentenced to death were born in 1985 and 1964.
Islamist terrorist movement Hamas has run the Gaza Strip since 2007 and it has since fought three wars against Israel.
In May, three men accused of collaborating with Israel in the assassination of a senior Hamas leader in Gaza were executed.
A United Nations official stationed in Jerusalem warned Israel that the current energy crisis afflicting the Hamas-run Gaza Strip is having a devastating effect on the local population, and will eventually negatively impact Israelis too.
Nickolay Mladenov, the UN’s special coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, said Israel has no immediate, direct role to play in solving the crisis, but that once it has been resolved by the conflicting Palestinian factions, Israel should do its utmost to improve conditions for the citizens of the coastal strip.
“Of all the issues we deal with — the peace process, Palestinian institution building, the region — this is the one issue that keeps me up at night,” Mladenov told Israeli reporters in his Jerusalem office.
Since the Palestinian Authority decided to ask Israel to reduce the amount of fuel it delivers to Gaza, the local sewage system has shut down, causing 100,000 tons of unprocessed waste water to get dumped into the Mediterranean every day, he said. Some of the waste water has reached desalination plants off Ashkelon, he added.
The sole power plant in the Gaza Strip was shut down late Wednesday evening, leaving Gaza with between 2-3 hours of electricity, Gaza Electric Distribution Company spokesman Muhammed Thabet said on Thursday.
“This is not a sustainable situation,” Thabet told The Jerusalem Post in a phone interview. “People cannot live normal lives with 2-3 hours of electricity.”
Over the past several months, Gaza has been experiencing extended power outages, lasting the vast majority of the day.
In late June, the electricity crisis was partially alleviated with the arrival of millions of liters of Egyptian diesel fuel. The diesel fuel was used to fire Gaza’s power plant, which had been closed for more than six weeks.
But the power plant’s shutdown on Wednesday has led some Gazans to speculate if Egypt is still delivering fuel to Gaza.
Hezbollah has vowed to “surprise Israel” during any upcoming conflict, upping the war of words between the Lebanese Shi’ite terror group and Israel.
The most recent threat came directly from the head of Hezbollah’s Executive Council Sayyed Hashem Safieddine in an interview yesterday with the Hezbollah-affiliated Al-Manar television channel. Safieddine said that the group has been changing and developing new military capabilities as both Israel and Lebanon mark 11 years since the outbreak of the Second Lebanon War.
Safieddine, who oversees Hezbollah’s social and economic activities and was added to the United States counter-terrorism blacklist in March, said that Israeli reports on Hezbollah weaponry are “inaccurate as the enemy intelligence agencies can never reach veracious data in this context.”
Israel fought against Hezbollah in war that lasted 34 days in 2006. Since then, hostilities between the two countries have been limited to occasional cross-border fire and reported airstrikes by Israel against Hezbollah leaders and military equipment in Syria, where the group is fighting in support of President Bashar Assad.
A senior British commander has hit out at a human rights group’s claims the US-led coalition and Iraqi forces used excessive force in the battle to recapture Mosul, calling them “naive and deeply irresponsible”.
Major General Rupert Jones, the deputy commander of the international anti-Isil coalition, on Wednesday criticised a report published by Amnesty International the day after troops claimed victory over the jihadists as “disrespectful” to the Iraqi government.
Amnesty suggested the government and coalition carried out “disproportionate” and “unlawful” attacks in the fight to take back the city.
The organisation accused the forces of using unnecessarily powerful weapons in Mosul’s densely-populated Old City, which they say resulted in “needless loss of civilian lives” and could constitute war crimes.
Gen Jones said it is naive to think a city such as Mosul, with a population of 1.75 million, could be liberated without any civilian casualties while fighting an enemy that “lacks all humanity”.
“It strikes me as being written by people who simply have no understanding of the brutality of warfare. But we should be absolutely clear who were deliberately killing civilians,” he added.
“It wasn’t the government of Iraq, it wasn’t the coalition, it was Isis – everybody should be entirely clear what they were doing with the civilians. It went way beyond human shields, they were out and out murdering civilians left, right and centre.”
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