September 21, 2020

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08/13 Links Pt1: Israel and UAE reach historic peace deal, Israel to suspend annexation; Caroline Glick: Lebanon: Hezbollah’s Potemkin Village

From Ian:

Israel and UAE reach historic peace deal, Israel to suspend annexation
Israel and the United Arab Emirates reached a historic peace deal on Thursday that will lead to a full normalization of diplomatic relations between the two Middle Eastern nations in an agreement that US President Donald Trump helped broker.

Under the agreement, Israel has agreed to suspend applying sovereignty to areas of the West Bank that it has been discussing annexing, senior White House officials told Reuters.

The peace deal was the product of lengthy discussions between Israel, the UAE and the United States that accelerated recently, White House officials said.

The agreement was sealed in a phone call on Thursday between Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed, crown prince of Abu Dhabi, who said in a statement that Israel had agreed to stop annexation and that in exchange the UAE and Israel “agreed to cooperation and setting a roadmap towards establishing a bilateral relationship.”

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, who was in the White House on Thursday, said that “the normalization of relations between Israel and the UAE will make Israel stronger and safer and will likely lead to additional exciting opportunities and incremental prosperity for Israel, its neighbors and the entire region.”
Full text: Joint statement on ‘normalization of relations’ between Israel, UAE

Likud MK: We are still going to annex West Bank land

Likud MK: We are still going to annex West Bank land

Likud MK Shlomo Karhi tells Channel 12 news that Israel did not agree to any retreat from its position on annexation.

“We didn’t give up on anything. Sovereignty is still on the table, and it will happen, and we are just waiting for the US,” he says.

“This is a peace deal born of strength, not of retreat,” he adds.

Hamas condemns UAE for dealing with Israel

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum says “The US-Israeli-Emirati agreement is dangerous and represents a ‘free reward’ for the Israeli occupation for its crimes and violations of the Palestinian people’s human rights.”

“We condemn every form of normalization with the occupation, which we consider a stab in the back of the Palestinian cause. The Israeli enemy benefits from it. [Normalization] will encourage it to commit more crimes and violations of our people’s rights and their holy places,” he says.

He says the UAE and others should not “normalize with the occupation, beautify its face and integrate it in the region.”

There has been no official response from Palestinian Authority leadership.

Caroline Glick: Lebanon: Hezbollah’s Potemkin Village

Lebanese politicians also point their fingers at Hezbollah, and its missile stores at the port. Lebanese Minister of Administrative Progress May Shadiaq said, “We have time and again called for closing all illegal routes, but Hezbollah wouldn’t agree. Hezbollah smuggles arms from Iran through illegal passages. Beirut’s port and airport is completely controlled by Hezbollah.”

Lebanon imports 80 percent of what it consumes, and 90 percent of its wheat. Seventy percent of Lebanese imports entered the country through the now-destroyed port in Beirut. Yet, despite their country’s utter dependence on it, Lebanese port officials had no ability to secure the port.

Notwithstanding their official titles and procedures, Beirut’s port officials were Hezbollah’s front men. The officials now being blamed for the port’s destruction couldn’t seize anything Hezbollah wanted to keep, or see anything Hezbollah wanted to keep hidden. They had no control over what entered or exited the port that they ostensibly controlled, as officers of the ostensible Lebanese government. They had no power to secure the installation they were ostensibly running.

This then brings us to the U.S., and its pledge to work with the LAF to provide humanitarian aid to Lebanon. Following the port’s destruction, protesters by the tens of thousands took to the streets demanding a revolution and the ouster of Hezbollah and Iran from Lebanon. Footage released Sunday showed LAF forces, joined by civilian-clad gunmen, shooting protesters in cold blood and LAF forces beating protesters with truncheons.

Aside from the despair, there is nothing new about the protests or the calls for Hezbollah and Iran to be chased from Lebanon. For nearly a year before the outbreak of COVID-19, millions of Lebanese protested throughout the country with the same demands.

The U.S., and the world governments now lining up to fund Lebanon’s reconstruction and relief, should listen to the cries of the Lebanese people. The LAF is not the solution to Lebanon’s problems. As a front company for Lebanon, like the port, it is a façade for Hezbollah’s power.

It is hard to see a happy end to Lebanon’s problems. But the first step towards rationally coping with them is for the U.S. and its allies to recognize the truth revealed last Tuesday. Lebanon has no independent “national institutions” that can serve as counterweights against Iran’s Hezbollah, the most powerful terrorist organization in the world.

Israel’s response to the Beirut blast shines a light to the nations

Many lessons emerged from the Beirut calamity. And it also served as a stark reminder that Israel is held to a set of standards and treated in a manner that is not applied to any other country in the world. The hundreds of UN resolutions condemning Israel, while simultaneously ignoring rampant human rights abuses across the globe are proof of that fact.

Despite this depressing reality, Israel nevertheless found a way to show the world what it means to be a light unto the nations. Israel extended its hand in peace across a border that has for decades been soaked with the blood of war. In recent months alone, tension has simmered along the northern border, with many observers predicting renewed fighting between Israel and the terrorist army Hezbollah.

Following the accident in Beirut, the Lebanese flag was projected onto the side of Tel Aviv City Hall as a sign of solidarity with the Lebanese people. Hospitals across the Jewish state, including Israel’s national hospital, Sheba Medical Center, presented Lebanon with genuine offers of assistance to treat the wounded, and even to deploy emergency rescue crews to provide medical care.

The Beirut Port explosion was an unmitigated disaster, leading to scores of deaths and injuries, and also delivering a ruinous impact on Lebanon’s economy, whose ripples will be felt much longer than the blast wave. In times of tragedy, we must also look for the silver lining, and in this case, there was one.

For Israel’s citizens and its supporters and allies abroad, the aftermath of the recent tragedy served as a reminder that the Jewish state continues to hold itself to a higher standard. Israel was correct to offer aid – for that is precisely how to show the world the heart of a country that is dedicated to fulfilling its responsibility to be a moral nation-state for Jews all over the world.

Israel must continue to strive for peace even if it cannot yet expect reciprocity, let alone acceptance of its right to exist, from some of its neighbors. Looking to give, even when there is no expectation of receiving anything in return, is at the heart of what it means to do the right thing.

It was heartening to see Israel respond to such a terrible incident with decency, kindness and generosity. That alone is reason to be proud of Israel, and hopeful for the future.

Smaller blasts preceded massive Beirut blast – Israeli seismologist

The first five blasts, each of a magnitude consistent with several tonnes of explosives going off, may have taken place underground and gone unheard by Beirut witnesses, Hayoun said.

Another indication of underground explosions, he said, was the 43-meter (yard) depth of the crater left at the port, which, he argued, could not have been created by the explosion of the amount of ammonium nitrate reported by Lebanese authorities.

“It would have been shallower, maximum 25 or 30 meters,” Hayoun said.

The sixth blast, he said, was larger than the previous five and consistent with a fire observed near the ammonium nitrate warehouse. Television footage of that fire, Hayoun said, left him convinced that it was “unequivocally” caused by the combustion of fireworks – and that this would have been sufficient to set off the ammonium nitrate in turn.

A Lebanese security source said authorities would not comment on the cause of the calamity until the official investigation had been concluded.
Israel Defense, a leading private online journal with close ties to the Israeli military establishment, described the sequencing as consistent with munitions going off accidentally, or as sabotage.

Such a sequence could be consistent with “weapons systems that are activated in a chain” and which might have been stored in the port and detonated accidentally, or set off deliberately in an act of sabotage, said Israel Defense, which first reported Hayoun’s findings. However, it did not provide any evidence to suggest sabotage had taken place.

Speaking to Reuters on Thursday, Hayoun declined to be drawn further, noting that he had no access to the Beirut blast site. Israel and Lebanon are technically at war.

Beirut blast conspiracy tales abound, with faked clips pointing blame at Israel

Within hours of the Beirut mega-blast, conspiracy theories on what caused the disaster in the Lebanese capital spread like wildfire on social media.

The August 4 detonation of an abandoned shipment of ammonium nitrate in Beirut port’s Hangar 12, after an initial blast and fire, cost more than 170 lives, injured thousands and left hundreds of thousands temporarily homeless.

Images and videos were posted within minutes on social media of the atomic bomb-like explosion and its apocalyptic aftermath across the Mediterranean metropolis.

In the absence of clear-cut answers and pending the results of an official investigation, some postings have served to feed disinformation.

A video showing a missile in the sky was quickly touted as proof of an attack by Lebanon’s former wartime enemy and neighbor Israel.

But verification by AFP shows the missile image was digitally pasted into the video, after several earlier postings of the same footage which showed no such projectile.

A Second ‘Explosion’ Is Coming for Lebanon in Assassination Report

The Court’s decision will apply to five people, one of whom — Mustafa Badr ad-Din, a senior Hezbollah figure — was killed four years ago.

According to Israel, Hezbollah was definitely behind Hariri’s death. The STL elaborates:
The four accused facing trial for this attack at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) are Salim Jamil Ayyash, Hassan Habib Merhi, Hussein Hassan Oneissi, and Assad Hassan Sabra. They are charged with conspiracy to commit a terrorist act, intentional homicide, attempted intentional homicide, and other related charges and are tried in absentia.

Salim Jamil Ayash was head of the squad that planned and carried out the assassination. The other defendants were his aides. According to the Lebanese media, the four defendants are members of Hezbollah, are in hiding, and are receiving protection from the organization.

Hezbollah refuses to extradite them or to prosecute them in Lebanon.

It is not clear what the verdict will be. Will the court accuse Hezbollah of killing Hariri, or will they only blame the defendants? Will they also blame the Assad regime for conspiring in and carrying out the crime?

And if there is indeed a verdict, will Lebanon — which is controlled by Hezbollah — hand over the defendants?

As we await the court’s decision, voices in Lebanon are demanding an international investigation into the giant explosion that just took place at the port. But no Lebanese citizen believes the state has the authority or capacity to conduct a professional investigation without pressure and interference from Hezbollah.

Report: US Considering Veto of Mandate Extension for UN Peacekeeping Force in Lebanon Over Hezbollah Concerns

US President Donald Trump’s administration is threatening to veto the extension of the mandate of the UN’s 42-year-old peacekeeping force in Lebanon, a US-based website claimed on Wednesday.

Quoting unnamed American, Israeli and French diplomats, the website Axios reported that the US would veto further funding for the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) unless its mandate was changed.

Measures demanded by the US government were said to include a reduction of UNIFIL’s maximum troop presence from 15,000 to 11,000; lessening the mandate’s extension period from one year to six months to allow for more modifications as the situation on the ground changes; and immediately implementing recommendations from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who called for more peacekeepers to be moved to the Israel-Lebanon border area and for the force’s weapons, technology and vehicles to be upgraded.

With Lebanon once more in the international spotlight following the devastating explosion last week in Beirut’s port area, US and Israeli diplomats had increasingly “cited the discoveries of Hezbollah’s cross-border tunnels into Israel, the cutting of a border fence, limitations on the access and movement of UN peacekeepers by Hezbollah, and a recent attempted attack by Hezbollah on an Israeli outpost,” Axios said.
August 13, 2020 10:52 am
Austrian Airlines Fires Flight Attendant Caught on Video Chanting Antisemitic Slogans

Austrian Airlines announced on Thursday that it had fired one of its flight attendants after video footage emerged of her…

The website quoted one Israeli official as commenting: “Both us and the Americans stress that in the current reality Hezbollah is just too comfortable with UNIFIL, and this is unacceptable.”

US team to Qatar to probe its alleged finance of Hezbollah – report

A team of US government officials traveled to Qatar on Wednesday amid intense international coverage of the monarchy’s alleged role in financing Hezbollah, the Lebanese terrorist organization.

“The United States has sent a team to Qatar to investigate” an allegation that “Doha is funding Lebanese Hezbollah militia, according to Al Arabiya sources,” Saudi Arabia-owned Al Arabiya news channel reported Wednesday.

“We can confirm that the US government is taking this published information very seriously, and top government officials headed to Qatar and spoke with the Qatari government about this case, and it is possible that the US will take action in the next hours or several days,” its correspondent said, citing unnamed sources.

“This is a major issue for Americans, especially since Hezbollah is on the US terrorist list,” the correspondent added.

The US State Department on Wednesday said: “Coordinator for Counterterrorism Ambassador Nathan A. Sales is traveling to Doha, Qatar, on August 12 to thank that nation for its commitment to combating global terrorism and its dedication to a robust partnership with the United States on counterterrorism and security.”

“Ambassador Sales will meet with Attorney-General Ali Bin Fetais al-Marri and other senior government officials to discuss Qatar’s role as a strong partner in combating the financing of terrorism, including implementation of its new Anti-Money Laundering/Countering the Financing of Terrorism legislation,” it said in a statement. “Ambassador Sales will also discuss Qatar’s active participation in the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS.”

JCPA: Iran and Hizbullah Accuse France of Trying to Change the Rules of the Game in Lebanon

Following the lightning visit of French President Emmanuel Macron to Lebanon on August 7, 2020, Iran and Hizbullah issued similar messages. Both expressed concern that France will intervene in Lebanon’s internal affairs in ways that might damage both the Iranian regime and Hizbullah’s favored status in Lebanon. At the same time, the two continue raising questions about the circumstances and the causes behind the recent explosion.

Iranian regime officials echoed by the state-run media pointed a finger at “external interference” and especially at French President Macron. They saw Macron inciting and leading demonstrations against the Lebanese government, in which protesters lambasted Hizbullah and its terror activities and its patron Iran.

The Iranian television correspondent in Beirut, Hassan Azimzadeh, reported, “Those who profit most from the current situation in Lebanon are those who lead the demonstrations in the country.” According to Azimzadeh, Macron’s visit represents a direct and blatant intervention in Lebanon’s internal affairs, and Macron’s remarks on the need for political reform and constitutional change reinforce the desire of foreign parties to take advantage of the situation and intervene in Lebanon’s affairs. Azimzadeh said that Macron represents “a movement supported by America and Zionist regime.”

Iran’s president and its foreign ministry offered condolences to their Lebanese counterparts and declared readiness to send humanitarian aid. In addition, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Hossein Salami, and the head of the Iranian Red Crescent Society promised to provide humanitarian aid to the victims of the catastrophe.

On the other hand, Iranians on social media took the opportunity of the explosion to criticize the Iranian involvement in Lebanon and published life-size cutouts of Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah hanging in a noose.1 At the same time, the Tasnim News Agency, affiliated with the IRGC, published an illustration showing Iranian identification with the Lebanese people.

Lithuania recognizes Hezbollah as a terrorist organization

The Lithuanian government has designated Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, it announced Thursday.

“Having taken into consideration the information acquired by our institutions and partners, we may conclude that ‘Hezbollah’ uses terrorist means that pose a threat to the security of a significant number of countries, including Lithuania,” Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius said in a statement. “We stand together with the United States of America, Germany, United Kingdom, Netherlands, as well as other countries that had reached the same conclusion.”

“We appreciate the successful cooperation between the Lithuanian and Israeli national security agencies,” he said. “We are thankful to these institutions for their significant work in helping ensure the safety of our citizens. It is important to note that we support the peaceful people of Lebanon and their wish for their country to implement necessary reforms.”

After the announcement, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi spoke with Linkevičius and congratulated him on his government’s decision.

The World is Taking Action to Disarm Hezbollah: So Should Europe

Israelis can fly isolation-free to Croatia, Bulgaria and Greece

The coronavirus cabinet on Thursday concluded their meeting with a decision that Israelis will be able to fly to Bulgaria, Croatia, and certain islands in Greece, and when they return home, they will not be required to enter isolation. The decision is expected to go into effect on August 16.

The cabinet is still reviewing allowing Israelis to fly to Cyprus and Bulgaria.

On Wednesday, Transportation Ministry director-general Ofer Malka told the Knesset Economic Affairs Committee his ministry has submitted an updated list of countries to the Health Ministry from which to allow Israelis to return without isolation, but it had not been approved or finalized. Most of the countries were green, though some were red with lower levels of morbidity, he said.

Among the countries that were expected to be on the list but were not approved on Thursday: Austria, Denmark, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Jordan, Latvia and Lithuania.

The full terms of the conditions for Israelis flying to those countries have not yet been determined. However, a joint statement by the Health, Transportation, Foreign and Tourism ministries, together with the National Security Council said that people traveling to Bulgaria will be asked to take a test 72 hours before traveling. So long as it is negative, travelers will not need to be re-screened or isolated. A similar process will occur for those wishing to travel to Croatia, but the screening will need to be 48 hours in advance.

Netanyahu to Greek FM: Israel takes Turkish aggression in Med. seriously

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke out against Turkey’s latest actions in the eastern Mediterranean during a visit from Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias on Thursday.

“Of course we take any aggressive actions in the eastern Mediterranean seriously from any actors, including Turkey,” Netanyahu said.

The comment came after Turkey sent naval ships into the eastern Mediterranean this week, saying they are meant to protect a research mission, surveying the continental shelf. The ships are in what Greece considers to be its Exclusive Economic Zone. The Foreign Ministry expressed its support for Greece at this time in a message on Wednesday.

In his public statement ahead of the meeting with Dendias, Netanyahu said ties between Greece and Israel are expanding, in part due to the “shared geopolitical interests of two democratic countries in the eastern Mediterranean.”

Dendias met with Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi earlier Thursday, and they announced that, after months of denying entry, 600 Israeli tourists per week would be able to visit a limited number of sites in Greece each week with only a two-day quarantine period, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The ministers also discussed “regional developments challenging the stability and growth of the Mediterranean region,” a Foreign Ministry statement said.

Dendias wrote on Twitter that he “thanked the Israeli side for its clear statement and position on the issue of Turkish delinquent behavior in the eastern Mediterranean.

From Gaza to Paraguay? The Israeli government’s 1969 transfer plans

The government of Israel secretly planned to encourage Palestinians to move from Gaza to Paraguay, which agreed to accept up to 60,000 of them, according to the minutes from a 1969 cabinet meeting uncovered by KAN journalist Eran Cicurel this week.

The plan was approved in the same year that the Mossad stopped hunting Nazis, including in Paraguay, where notorious doctor Josef Mengele and many other Nazis were living at the time, raising suspicions that the two policies are related.

The protocol from 1969 states that Israel would bear the travel costs of the Palestinians moving to Paraguay and give each person $100, plus $33 per person would go to the government of Paraguay. At the time of signing the agreement with Paraguay, Israel would pay $350,000 to cover the costs for 10,000 émigrés. The full amount Israel was meant to pay was $33 million.

Paraguay agreed to grant up to 60,000 Palestinians – about 10% of the population of Gaza at the time – residence status immediately upon arrival and citizenship within five years. Israel would not have any responsibility to allow the émigrés back, though the government agreed to take some of them.

Israel successfully carries out Arrow-2 interception test

A test of the Arrow 2 interceptor system, part of the Arrow Weapon System, was successfully carried out Wednesday night along with the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA), the Defense Ministry said Thursday.

The advanced system is designed to intercept long-range missiles. It successfully intercepted a Sparrow simulated long-range, surface-to-surface missile, which could one day be fired at Israel by Iran, such as the Shahab 3 medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) with an explosive warhead.

“The target simulated what our main enemy would fire,” said Moshe Patel, head of the Defense Ministry’s Israel Missile Defense Organization (IMDO).

The test was conducted at 11:45 p.m. at a test site in central Israel. It was led by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), IMDO, the US MDA and the IAF.

The interception was conducted by IAF service members together with engineers from the institutions involved in the system’s development. The various layers of Israel’s air-defense mechanism were employed in this test to ensure their readiness and efficacy in operational scenarios.

“The test was just perfect; all the systems worked as anticipated,” Boaz Levi, IAI’s executive vice president and general manager of Systems, Missiles and Space Group, told reporters.

Stop Incendiary Terrorism from Gaza

UK MPs demand answers on botched inquiry into Palestinian education

UK Parliamentarians have called on the British government for answers, after it emerged that a jointly funded UK-EU study into Palestinian education has been apparently mishandled by the Institute hired to investigate claims of incitement to violence within the curriculum.

Labour Friends of Israel have requested “an urgent and detailed response,” after allegations were made on Tuesday that the study contains basic translation errors, has adopted a methodology that omits instances of antisemitism and hate education, and in some cases, reviewed Israeli textbooks in the Arabic language, rather than Palestinian Authority books.

The study was commissioned in April 2019, following a report at that time by the Jerusalem-based NGO Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se), which reviewed a selection of Palestinian educational materials and found that the curriculum taught to Palestinian children was growing increasingly radicalized.

As both the UK and the EU fund Palestinian education through aid payments to the Palestinian Authority, the report led Parliamentarians in both institutions to question whether the money is being spent wisely.

The Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research (GEI), based in Germany, was selected to carry out the investigation, with results initially expected to be released in September 2019. This May, with no report in sight, the UK announced an Interim Report would be released in June, with the full report coming later in the year.

PMW: Leading Arab newspaper credits PMW for fighting PA terror for “more than 30 years”

Asharq Al-Awsat, a Saudi owned news outlet that is known for being a leading Arab daily newspaper, published an article describing the work of Palestinian Media Watch. In the article, special attention was given to PMW’s central role in the new initiative to have the Palestinian Authority funded Commission for Prisoners’ Affairs designated by the US administration as a “sponsor of terror,” and designated by the Israeli government as a “terror organization”.

The article cites PMW’s report which was adopted by Congressman Doug Lamborn in his letter to President Trump, recommending that the PA Head of the Prisoners’ Commission Qadri Abu Bakr and the Commission itself be designated as “sponsor of terror” in accordance with Executive Order 13224.

Following Lamborn’s letter, a number of MK’s similarly wrote to Israeli Defense Minister, Benjamin Gantz, calling on him to declare the Commission a terror organization.

PMW: Why Palestinians prefer to work for Israelis

Continuing the trend that Palestinian Media Watch has reported in the past, Palestinian workers still benefit significantly by being employed within Israel and in the Jewish towns in the West Bank, according to a Palestinian professor of economics at An-Najah University. Economics Faculty Director Dr. Bakri Shtayyeh told PA TV that Palestinian income has risen over the last 15 years by only 2/3 of the price increases, causing a major drop in buying power for Palestinians. However for Palestinians employed in Israel and in the “settlements,” income has risen at more than twice the rate of price increases. This means the buying power for Palestinians employed by Israelis has more than doubled.

For more information, see PMW’s Special Report showing why Palestinians say they prefer to work for Israelis.

The following is from the text of the interview:
An-Najah National University Economics Faculty Director Dr. Bakri Shtayyeh: “If we take the period between 2004 and 2019 – 15 years, the past 15 years – we see that the rate of prices has gone up for us in Palestine by 45%… Let’s talk now about the sectors. The sector of [Palestinian] workers in the private sector, the sector of laborers – their income went up by 30%, while the prices went up by 45%; therefore their buying power decreased. [As for] the sector of [Palestinian] workers in Israel and the settlements, their income went up by 95%, while the increase in prices was 45%. Therefore their buying power increased very greatly. The gap is clear, and the gap between the two sectors is widening. [As for] the layer of [Palestinian] public employees in the two sectors – civilian or military – their salaries went up by an average of 65%. In other words, more than the percent of the increase in prices.”
[Official PA TV, Supply and Demand, Aug. 4, 2020]

Israel Halts Fuel Shipments to Gaza Over Incendiary Balloons

Israel said on Thursday it would stop shipments of fuel into the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip in response to Palestinians in the coastal enclave launching in recent days dozens of incendiary balloons that have torched tracts of farmland on the Israeli frontier.

Fuel shipments were stopped “in light of the continued launching of incendiary balloons from the Strip toward (Israel) and of the undermining of security stability,” an Israeli Defense Ministry statement said.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum called the measure a “grave act of aggression” that would deepen Gaza’s economic hardship.

The halt in fuel shipments could shut down Gaza’s sole power plant and lead to further electricity cuts, said Mohammad Thabet, an official with Gaza’s main power distribution company.

Gaza relies on Israel for most of its energy needs. Its population of two million currently receives around six hours of electricity followed by a 10-hour power cut.

Overnight, Israeli warplanes and tanks struck what the military said were Hamas facilities, calling it a response to the balloons. Israel had earlier shut down Gaza’s main commercial crossing and reduced the area where it permits Palestinians to fish.

Hamas condemns Israel for damaging UNRWA school in Gaza airstrike

Hamas on Thursday condemned Israel for damage cause to a United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) School in Gaza during an IDF retaliatory airstrike earlier in the morning.

During the strike, an object that appears to be missile hit the lower wall of a school, but seemingly failed to detonate.

UNRWA said that the “Beach Co-Educational School ‘D’ in Gaza was affected by an Israeli airstrike. Initial reports indicated that the device did don’t explode. School students were on the premises and the school is now closed.

“The Agency is awaiting a full report on the nature of the damage and the alleged unexploded ordnance,” UNRWA said.

It added that it was awaiting a proper assessment of the situation, before “requesting accountability from those responsible.”

Khaled Abu Toameh: Palestinians: Jews, Christians Are Our Enemy

The prospect of Jews praying inside a synagogue in an Arab country seems to worry Palestinian Muslim figures more than the killing and wounding of thousands of Muslims and Christians in last week’s huge explosion at the port of the Lebanese capital of Beirut.

Against this Palestinian hostility toward Jews, Christians, and peace with Israel, it is important that a new group called The Arab Council for Regional Integration, launched in London last year, is seeking to build a spirit of partnership that knows no borders between Jews and Arabs.

Such groups offer hope to those seeking peace and coexistence between Jews, Christians, and Arabs, and represent a counterforce to Muslim extremists who have nothing to offer their people but misery and bloodshed.

By rejecting the medical aid from the UAE — aimed at helping to prevent the spread of the coronavirus pandemic — the Palestinians have scored another own-goal in demonstrating the depth of their ingratitude toward those who wish to assist their people. By coming out against interfaith tolerance and the building of a synagogue in an Arab country, the Palestinians are again proving that the conflict with Israel is not about borders or checkpoints, but about the very right of Jews, Christians or Israel to exist.

PreOccupiedTerritory: Blockade Forces Gaza Car Dealer To Sell BMWs Only To Wealthy

An entrepreneur in this Palestinian-ruled coastal territory who earns his living via the importation and retail sale of German luxury vehicles again voiced his displeasure today over the Israeli security measures that restrict the movement of certain goods and materials into the territory, lamenting that because of those restrictions, he only has enough stock to provide for rich Gazans such as those connected to the governing Hamas movement, and cannot also purvey his high-end automobiles to the less-well-off.

Hassan Masri, 50, owns and operates the Al-Abbas BMW-Merecedes-Benz dealership with branches in both this southern city on the Egyptian border and farther north in Gaza City itself. The father of six and brother-in-law of a senior Hamas figure confided to journalists this morning that he would love to sell his luxury vehicles to many more residents of the Gaza Strip, where 40% of the population has no regular employment, but Israel maintains a coastal blockade and both Israel and Egypt exert tight control over the movement of goods into the territory through the Kerem Shalom and Rafah crossings, respectively. Israel allows in only those goods and materials that have no clear military use, but limits the quantity thereof to however much the people of Gaza want to bring in and pay for.

“I used to be able to import a few units through the smuggling tunnels via Rafah,” recalled Masri, “but Egypt destroyed most of those passages a few years ago, and Egypt keeps its crossing closed a lot more than Israel does theirs, though you wouldn’t know it from media coverage. Now I can only bring in as many cars as I want, no more than that, and I’m forced to restrict the sale of those cars to the people who can afford them. It’s stifling, this siege.”

Destruction of Iranian Nuclear Facility Should Remind U.S. of Israel’s Unique Value as an Ally

An explosion at the Natanz nuclear complex on July 2 laid waste to the Iran Centrifuge Assembly Center (ICAC), designed to mass produce advanced centrifuges for enriching uranium.

“A Middle Eastern intelligence official,” widely suspected to be Mossad chief Yossi Cohen, told the New York Times that Israel was responsible.
If true, it’s a potent reminder of Israel’s enormous value as a strategic partner of the U.S., one that combines the will, capabilities, and tactical skill to confront the region’s most dangerous threats in ways that are largely unrivaled by any other American ally.

The destruction of the ICAC was a significant blow to Iran’s nuclear program. Once deployed, the advanced centrifuges would have dramatically reduced the time required to produce enough highly-enriched uranium for a small nuclear arsenal.

The ability to place an agent inside one of the crown jewels of the Iranian nuclear program, much less smuggle in a powerful bomb and detonate it at the point of maximum damage, is an absolutely stunning intelligence accomplishment.

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