BESA: Victory, Not Deterrence, Will Be Israel’s Goal if War Breaks Out Again in Gaza
Creating deterrence was Israel’s goal in the last three conflicts it fought against Hamas, but that objective has been cast aside. Any future armed clash with Gaza’s Islamist rulers will be guided by a new Israeli objective: that of achieving a crystal clear victory over the enemy.
In past models of conflict, Israel responded to Hamas aggression through the use of force in a way that was designed to punish Hamas and convince it to return to a state of calm. Systematically destroying Hamas’s military capabilities was not an Israeli objective.
Today, while Israel hopes to avoid war, it is preparing for the possibility of a new conflict. War could erupt again in Gaza for a wide range of reasons.
Should hostilities resume, the Israel Defense Force (IDF) plans to make sure the end stage of that clash will be an unmistakable Israeli victory, and that no one will be able to mistake it for a tie or stalemate.
This change in approach has been brewing over the past three years, ever since the end of Operation Protective Edge in 2014. That operation was launched by Israel to defend itself against large-scale projectile attacks and cross-border tunnel threats from Gaza. At two months’ duration, it was one of Israel’s most protracted conflicts.
It was also the third large-scale clash fought with Hamas since 2009. At the end of each round of fighting, the military wing of Hamas remained intact, and was able to quickly begin rearming and preparing new capabilities for the next outbreak of hostilities.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman threatened that Israel would respond “with very great force” in a future conflict with the Lebanon-based Hezbollah terrorist group, during a meeting with the visiting United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Monday.
The defense minister told the UN leader that Hezbollah is “stashing various weapons, including missiles and rockets, that are aimed at Israeli citizens in the homes of residents of the villages and cities along the border.”
Liberman added that Iran was “working to set up factories to manufacture accurate weapons within Lebanon itself.”
According to the defense minister, that situation is “insufferable for the State of Israel, and we are determined to prevent every threat to the security of Israeli citizens.”
The presence of at least two Iranian missile manufacturing facilities was revealed by Israel earlier this summer. On Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Guterres that Iran was also involved in the construction of another missile base in Syria.
JPost Editorial: IRAN IN SYRIA
Now Iran has an opportunity to establish a new center of influence, not through proxies, as is the case in Gaza, Lebanon or Yemen, but directly by having Iranian forces on the ground. From there, it could establish air force bases, deploy tanks and divisions and amplify, in an unprecedented way, the threat it already poses to the State of Israel.
Under these circumstances, Netanyahu is smartly maneuvering between Washington and Moscow. It is still not clear if he can succeed in getting a commitment, from either party, that Iran will not be allowed to stay, but there are other goals that might be attainable.
Aware that a direct conflict between Israel and Iranian forces in Syria could endanger the Assad regime, Putin might be able to distance Iran from Syria’s southern border with Israel and Jordan. There can also be a Russian-Iranian understanding limiting Iran’s deployment of missiles in Syria. The Russians can justify this by claiming to be interested in maintaining stability and preventing Iran from endangering the Assad regime by opening a front with Israel.
The problem with any deal of this kind is that the Iranians are not a party that can be trusted. They see themselves on the cusp of a historic conquest and will fight to ensure it succeeds.
In the end and like in the past, this may be a case of Israel not being able to rely on anyone but itself. Israel has proven its readiness to act in Syria over the last five years. It may need to continue doing so.
Iran’s advanced S-300 air defense system, delivered by Russia after years of delay, is now “fully integrated” into the air defense network, a senior Iranian air force commander told the country’s state media Sunday.
In an interview with the Tasnim news network, Gen. Abolfazl Sepehri Rad, deputy commander of the Khatam al-Anbia Air Defense Base, said the missile defense system has been stationed across Iran and is ready for “practical operations.”
The general also said that the Iran has launched research programs to manufacture other air defense systems, and that “good results” have been achieved.
Iran had been trying to acquire the S-300 system for years to ward off repeated threats by Israel to bomb its nuclear facilities, but Russia had held off delivery until after a July 2015 nuclear deal between world powers and Iran, in line with UN sanctions imposed over the country’s nuclear program.
A front-page report in the East Jerusalem daily Al-Quds provided details on the August 24, 2017 meeting between Palestinian President Mahmoud ‘Abbas and the U.S. delegation headed by U.S. President Donald Trump’s advisor and son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Citing Israeli journalist Gal Berger, the report said that ‘Abbas had told Kushner he would never halt the payments to the families of the Palestinian prisoners and martyrs, even if this cost him the presidency. This statement in fact appeared as the daily’s overline, and the report added that it “reflected… the Palestinian anger over the U.S. delegation’s focus on this topic.”
‘Abbas’s statement about the payments to prisoners was also highlighted in a special banner posted August 26, on Fatah’s official Facebook page.
The following are excerpts from the Al-Quds report and from the Fatah Facebook post.
Al-Quds overline: “The President Stressed He Would Not Stop [Paying] Salaries to Faimiles of Martyrs and Prisoners”
Al-Quds: Anger In PA Over U.S. Delegation’s Focus On Topic Of Payments To Families Of Prisoners And Martyrs
The Al-Quds report said: “Western diplomatic sources reveal that, in his meeting with President Mahmoud ‘Abbas in Ramallah last Thursday, the U.S. President’s advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner stressed the impossibility of halting the settlements in the Palestinian territories, since this would lead to the downfall of the Netanyahu government. President ‘Abbas, for his part, stressed his adherence to the two-state solution, and that he would never stop paying salaries to the families of the martyrs and prisoners until his dying day.
David Singer: Abbas Set to Defy Trump and Netanyahu at United Nations
PLO chairman Mahmoud Abbas seems set once again to embark on another futile journey to the United Nations (UN) seeking recognition of a second Arab state – in addition to Jordan – within the territory comprised in the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine.
A senior unidentified Palestinian source threatened such action on 21 August:
“If we don’t hear within a month and a half that the American team has stopped talking and started doing, Abbas intends to mobilize anyone and everyone he can for the UN General Assembly session on the establishment of a Palestinian state, regardless of the Israeli and American reactions”
President Trump was quick to respond – State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert telling a press briefing on 23 August in answer to a question as to why America was loath to commit – or recommit – to the two-state solution:
“We are not going to state what the outcome has to be. It has to be workable to both sides. And I think, really, that’s the best view as to not really bias one side over the other, to make sure that they can work through it. It’s been many, many decades, as you well know, that the parties have not been able to come to any kind of good agreement and sustainable solution to this. So we leave it up to them to be able to work that through.”
Negotiations – suspended since April 2014 – extending over the past 24 years between Israel and the PLO have not produced any workable and sustainable solution. Abbas is clearly in no mood to resume those negotiations without preconditions.
A replay of Abbas’s appearance at the UN General Assembly on 23 September 2011 therefore seems inevitable. Israel’s Prime Minister – Benjamin Netanyahu – was quick to point out at that time how automatic majorities at the UN had been used to incite institutionalised hatred against Israel.
IsraellyCool: UNSCOP: Solving the Problem of Palestine
Here is a thoughtful analysis of the attempt at peace negotiations:
The problem of Palestine is not one the solution of which will emerge from an accumulation of detailed information. If such had been the case, the problem would have been solved long ago. Few countries have been the subject of so many general or detailed inquiries-official and unofficial-especially during the last decade. The problem is mainly one of human relationship and political rights. Its solution may be reached only through a correct appreciation of the situation as a whole and an endeavour to find a human settlement. In this respect, the opinions of members of an international committee who represent various civilizations and schools of thought and have approached the question from different angles may be of some value.
All the proposed solutions have aimed at resolving, in one manner or another, the Palestinian dilemma: the reconciliation of two diametrically opposed claims, each of which is supported by strong arguments, in a small country of limited resources, and in an atmosphere of great and increasing political and racial tension and conflicting nationalisms…with periods of civil disturbance, particularly in 1921, 1929-1930, 1936-1938 and 1945-1947.
The above quote was written 70 years ago. Say what you want about the US attempts for peace. Slam Trump and his administration. But there is “Nothing new under the sun.” This latest attempt is far from the first to try solve “the problem of Palestine.”
Remember, 70 years ago, there was no Israel, and no settlement building. No one had heard of “the West Bank.” The Jewish Agency and the Jewish National Council cooperated with United Nations Special Committee on Palestine, UNSCOP. However, the Arab Higher Committee charged UNSCOP with being pro-Zionist, and decided to boycott its deliberations. The Arab (please note use of word “Arab” before the re-branding to”Palestinian”) leadership announced a one-day general strike to protest arrival of UNSCOP. Arab opposition figures were threatened with death if they spoke to the UN delegates. Sound familiar?
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu greeted visiting UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday with blistering criticism of the international body’s treatment of Israel and accused it of failing to prevent arms from being smuggled to Lebanon’s Shiite Hezbollah terror group.
Netanyahu also claimed that Iran is building sites in Syria and Lebanon for the manufacture of “precision-guided missiles,” with the aim of deploying them against Israel.
Both Hezbollah fighters and Iran have backed President Bashar Assad’s government forces in the civil war that has ravaged Syria.
“Iran is busy turning Syria into a base of military entrenchment, and it wants to use Syria and Lebanon as warfronts against its declared goal to eradicate Israel,” Netanyahu said. “This is something Israel cannot accept. This is something the UN should not accept.”
The Israeli leader offered no specifics to support his allegations.
Guterres arrived on Sunday for a three-day visit to the region, his first since taking office at the beginning of the year. His meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders are aimed at encouraging the resumption of peace talks.
Speaking at a joint press conference with the UN chief, Netanyahu criticized the United Nations, saying that it fails to check Palestinian hate speech, “absurdly denies” Jewish connections to Jerusalem and has not stopped arms from reaching Hezbollah in Lebanon.
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres met with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem Monday, following the UN chief’s visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum and meeting with President Reuven Rivlin.
Guterres, who was greeted upon his arrival Sunday evening by Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon, is on a three-day visit in the Jewish state as the UN and Israel attempt to “turn a new page” after decades of chilly relations.
During the meeting, Netanyahu expressed the hope that Guterres’ visit to Israel would herald a warming of relations between Israel and the UN.
Netanyahu also touched on the regional threats facing Israel, including Iran hegemony in the Levant.
Calling for the destruction of Israel is modern antisemitism, but criticizing Israel is normal, especially when many in Israel do so as well, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Monday.
Guterres, who arrived in Israel Sunday evening, was speaking before his meeting with President Reuven Rivlin at the president’s residence.
After meeting Rivlin, Guterres held a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who said that the UN is failing miserably in its mandate to keep Hezbollah from arming itself.
“I think the most pressing problem we face regards Hezbollah and Syria,” Netanyahu said after welcoming Guterres to his office.
Referring to UN Security Council Resolution 1701 that set the terms for the end of the Second Lebanon War in 2006, Netanyahu said the UN was mandated with preventing weapons shipments to Hezbollah, but that the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon has not even reported one of the “tens of thousands of weapons smuggling into Lebanon for Hezbollah, contrary to 1701.”
Guterres responded that “I will do everything in my capacity to make sure that UNIFIL fully meets its mandate.”
UN Secretary-General H.E. António Guterres arrived on Monday to the the Grove of Nations in Jerusalem, as a guest of KKL-JNF World Chairman, Mr. Daniel Atar.
Together with Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon and Atar, Guterres planted a tree in a formal ceremony.
This marks the first visit of Secretary General Guterres since taking office on January 1, and follows the words of support he expressed last April in front of the General Assembly of the World Jewish Congress where he said that, “The modern form of anti-Semitism is the denial of the existence of the state of Israel”.
The Grove of Nations was established by KKL-JNF and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2005 in the Jerusalem Forest. It is part of the Olive Tree Route, an initiative led by UNESCO and the Council of Europe to establish an olive tree route around the entire Mediterranean basin, expressing the common desire for peace and co-existence.
Since its establishment, over 100 world leaders have planted a tree in the Grove of Nations as a symbol of peace, cooperation, friendship, life and continuity. Among the world leaders who took part in the planting ceremony in the past are Former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Italian President Sergio Mattarella, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and others.
Zionist Union leaders reinforced Israeli President Rivlin’s concerns about anti-Israel bias at the United Nations in a meeting with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres Monday.
“It is important that [Guterres’] voice be heard against antisemitism — as the head of the organization that was founded under the command ‘never again,'” MK Tzipi Livni said in Jerusalem.
Livni, Zionist Union Chairman Avi Gabbay and opposition leader Isaac Herzog pressed Guterres on issues ranging from growing Iranian influence in the region to weapons smuggling in southern Lebanon.
At the start of the meeting, Herzog demanded that the UN pressure Hamas to return the bodies of Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, who were killed in action by the terrorist group during Operation Protective Edge in 2014, to Israel. Herzog also requested the UN assist in the release of Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, who are believed to be held captive in Gaza. Both men suffer from mental illness and are believed to have wandered across the border — Mengistu in September 2014 and Sayed in April 2015.
“Hamas deliberately abuses families and violates all basic human rights by not providing information about the situation of the abducted soldiers and preventing access by the Red Cross to their place of concealment,” Herzog said.
As of last night, we were told that no replacement of SecState Rex Tillerson is imminent. But some switcheroo may happen sooner than expected, given the jaw-dropping reporting by Axios’ Jonathan Swan last evening in his weekly Sneak Peek newsletter:
Trump is getting more and more fed up with Tillerson and recently said: “Rex just doesn’t get it, he’s totally establishment in his thinking.”
One possible scenario for replacing Tillerson: U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley moves to Foggy Bottom. Then Deputy Secretary National Security Adviser Dina Powell could be promoted to Haley’s job in New York, where Powell’s family lives.
Keep reading … words
On “Fox News Sunday,” Tillerson became the second top Trump official in three days (after economic adviser Gary Cohn) to distance himself on-record from Trump’s Charlottesville response:
- Tillerson: “I don’t believe anyone doubts the American people’s values or the commitment of the American government or the government’s agencies to advancing those values and defending those values.”
- Chris Wallace: “And the president’s values?”
- Tillerson: “The president speaks for himself, Chris.”
- Wallace: “Are you separating yourself from that, sir?”
- Tillerson: “I’ve made my own comments as to our vales as well in a speech I gave to the State Department this past week.”
Responding to Swan’s article, Philippe Reines, a top State Department official under Hillary Clinton, tweeted: “Going out in a limb here but I don’t think Rex gives a damn anymore what the President & White House thinks of him.”
The Zionist Organization of America’s August 2017 report detailed US National Security Chief General H.R. McMaster’s troubling record regarding Iran, Israel and radical Islamist terrorism. McMaster’s statements and actions appear to be diametrically opposed to President Donald Trump’s support for Israel, opposition to the Iran nuclear deal and determination to name and combat radical Islamist terrorism.
Critics of ZOA’s report have failed to show that ZOA’s report was wrong in any substantive respect. The criticisms have amounted to name-calling against ZOA, and McMaster’s friends vouching for his character — which is irrelevant to the vital policy issues addressed in ZOA’s report.
McMaster reportedly wrongly refers to the existence of a Palestinian state before 1947 — when no Palestinian state ever existed, and maligns Israel as an “illegitimate,” “occupying power.” In fact, Israel’s re-establishment in 1948 and her self-defensive capture of Judea/Samaria (West Bank) in 1967 were both legal under binding international law, and deprived no country of its sovereign territory.
McMaster wrongly claimed that President Trump would recognize “Palestinian self determination” during his visit to Israel; reportedly opposed President Trump’s visit to Jerusalem’s Western Wall, refused to state that the Western Wall is in Israel, and insisted that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could not accompany President Trump to the Western Wall.
And alarmingly, when Israel installed metal detectors at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount after Palestinian terrorists smuggled in firearms and murdered two Israeli policemen, McMaster, according to a senior defense official, described this as “just another excuse by the Israelis to repress the Arabs.”
Sebastian Gorka, a senior staffer at the White House until last week, came to the defense on Sunday of H.R. McMaster, President Donald Trump’s national security adviser who last month endured a far-right campaign against him over his posture toward Israel.
In an interview with The Jerusalem Post, Gorka said he had not once heard H.R. McMaster speak critically of the state in his six months since taking office.
“I’m not here to feed stories of palace intrigue – I hate that, and I’m still loyal to the president and his agenda,” Gorka said. But “I have never heard Gen. McMaster say things that are anti-Israeli. I’ve never heard that.”
Gorka did, however, offer harsh criticism of McMaster’s stance toward Islamists, speaking of the violent extremism as a problem inherent to Islam itself.
McMaster “sees the threat of Islam through an Obama administration lens, meaning that religion has nothing to do with the war we are in,” Gorka said. “He believes – and he told me in his office – that all of these people are just criminals. That is simply wrong.”
Gorka was the subject of a series of news reports early in his tenure in the administration over his ties to Vitezi Rend, a Hungarian political party with historic ties to Nazi Germany.
He said the subject never came up “openly” among White House staff.
Senior members of the Trump administration and Israeli officials renewed talks over the possibility of moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a promise repeatedly made by the president in the 2016 election campaign, during high-level meetings in Israel last week, the Times of Israel has learned.
Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner, peace envoy Jason Greenblatt and Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategy Dina Powell met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday as part of a visit to the region in a bid to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts.
During that meeting, the embassy move “was brought up by both sides as part of a productive broad conversation about a number of issues,” a US source familiar with the discussions said Sunday, declining to reveal the specifics of discussion.
Trump backtracked on the pledge in June, signing a waiver which pushed off moving the embassy for at least another six months.
“Needless to say, the administration’s policy is ‘when not if,’” the source added, referring to statements US officials made when signing the waiver promising that the move would take place during Trump’s presidency.
In a meeting this month with Republican Members of Congress, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continued to express support for moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, according to one of the participants Representative Lloyd Smucker (R-PA). The Pennsylvania lawmaker told Jewish Insider that Netanyahu “believes is that it could easily be done. In his (Netanyahu) words: We already have a consulate in Jerusalem. It’s a matter of just changing the sign to make it the Embassy.”
While President Donald Trump repeatedly urged the transfer of the Embassy to Jerusalem during his 2016 election campaign, the real estate mogul turned commander in chief signed a national security waiver on June 1 keeping the U.S. diplomatic compound in Tel Aviv.
“President Trump made this decision to maximize the chances of successfully negotiating a deal between Israel and the Palestinians, fulfilling his solemn obligation to defend America’s national security interests,” the White House noted in a statement at the time.
The Israeli leader raised the issue of the Embassy in response to a question by Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE). According to Rep. Smucker’s recollection of the meeting, Netanyahu “believes that there wouldn’t be a lot of pushback in the event that we do that.”
The special negotiator on hostages and missing persons in the Prime Minister’s Office, Col. (res.) Lior Lotan, who resigned last week, was dissatisfied with how Operation Protective Edge of 2014 ended, and believes that Israel should have been much more aggressive, changing the “prisoner equation.”
In recordings broadcast on Army Radio Monday, Lotan is heard saying, “I don’t think that a war should end with a 2:0 abduction [ratio] by the enemy. If we have one soldier captured, [the war] should end with 200:1 — if two of ours are captured, 400 of theirs; if three, then 600 [of theirs.]”
Lotan is also heard saying that “this isn’t to say that this is the answer to the problems, but the equation will be different. The army has suggested a lot of operational ideas … and I want to fill our bag on the matter of captives.”
At a later point in the recording, Lotan says, “This is an idea that the IDF must improve on after Protective Edge. The chief of staff has thrown down the gauntlet. The chief of staff is not only committed, he really understands the issue. I think these are things the army should deal with.”
It was unclear exactly when or in what context Lotan was recorded.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Monday cautioned that there was no easy way for Israel to secure the return of fallen soldiers or Israelis held by Hamas, short of capitulation to the terror group’s demands or reoccupying the Gaza Strip.
Any other solution, Liberman told The Times of Israel, will require patience.
Liberman was responding to the media storm that followed comments he made Sunday, in which he said that Israel must not repeat the “mistake” of releasing Palestinian prisoners in exchange for captives held by Hamas.
The defense minister stressed that public and media pressure only weakens Israel’s position. He said that Israel needs to change tack and stop releasing Palestinian security prisoners in exchange for captive Israelis.
“The time has come to flip the script that began with the Jibril deal that saw those released initiate and carry out the First Intifada, and through the Shalit deal, whose freed [prisoners] set the tone for Hamas in Gaza, including the organization’s leader Yahya Sinwar. Those released in the Shalit deal are responsible for the murder of Israelis,” Liberman said.
The terrorist responsible for carrying out a stabbing attack in a Shufersal supermarket in Yavne and who seriously wounded Niv Nehamia at the beginning of the month, was indicted for attempted murder Monday at the District Court in Lod.
Nineteen-year-old Ismail Ibrahim Ismail Abu Aram from Yatta near Hebron, who stabbed the 43-year-old Nehamia in the chest, neck and head in the supermarket, was inspired to commit an act of “Jihad against the Jewish-Israeli occupation,” according to the indictment, out of a sense of religious conviction.
As part of his increasingly religious observance, the terrorist embarked on a pilgrimage during the last month of Ramadan and remained in Saudi Arabia for twelve days, the indictment states.
It was also noted that Abu Aram left his home and made his way into Israeli territory on August 2 without the required permit and chose to target a man he was already familiar with as his former employer using a knife and pepper spray.
Abu Aram entered the central city of Yavne using public transport. After failing to locate his former employer at an events hall where he once worked, he decided to carry out the attack against another victim using a knife he stole from the supermarket.
In a rare move, a military court convicted five family members of the terrorist who stabbed to death three Israelis in the Halamish settlement last month of failing to prevent the attack, the army said Sunday.
On July 21, Omar al-Abed left his home in Kobar and traveled to the nearby settlement. Inside the settlement, he went to the home of the Salomon family, who were celebrating the birth of a grandchild. Al-Abed killed the father, Yosef Salomon, 70, and two of his children, Chaya, 46, and Elad, 36. Yosef’s wife, Tova, sustained several stab wounds to her back, but survived.
According to the Judea Regional Court, the family members “knew of [al-Abed’s] intention to carry out the attack and did not work to inform the security services as needed to prevent it.”
Two of al-Abed’s brothers and an uncle were sentenced to eight months in prison. His father, Abd al-Jalil, was sentenced to two months in prison.
Abd al-Jalil, who was arrested in an initial raid after the attack, told the Haaretz daily last month that his son’s actions were understandable.
Frimet and Arnold Roth’s 15-year-old daughter Malki was murdered in the August 9, 2001 Hamas terror attack at a busy Sbarro’s Pizzeria in the center of Jerusalem.
Now they’re requesting the public’s help in their effort to bring Ahlam Ahmad Al-Tamimi, the mastermind of the heinous crime, to justice in a U.S. court of law. (Sign up form here.)
As we noted in a recent post, the Jordanian government has refused to extradite Tamimi.
But the bereaved parents believe that they are “getting closer” to their goal of having her stand trial in a U.S. Federal court. They now feel that they “need wide public support” to “help that happen.”
Via an online form at their blog This Ongoing War and at the foundation named in their daughter’s honor (Keren Malki—The Malki Foundation), the Roths are inviting the public to sign on and share their contact information.
They’ll then generate an email list which will be used to share information about the case and “keep supporters in the picture”:
Israel has completed the acquisition of 17 additional F-35 fighter jets from the United States over the weekend. The jets are scheduled to be delivered by late 2024.
The deal was signed by a special Defense Ministry procurement delegation vis-a-vis officials with the Joint Strike Fighter development and acquisition program, which aims to replace a wide range of existing combat aircraft for the United States and its allies.
By December 2017, the Israeli Air Force’s Golden Eagle squadron of F-35 jets is expected to number nine aircraft.
The deal, approved by the Diplomatic-Security Cabinet and the Ministerial Committee for Development and Equipping of the Defense Establishment and Intelligence Agencies, effectively completes the procurement of two full F-35 squadrons, as overall, the Defense Ministry has procured 50 fifth-generation F-35 fighter jets.
An IAF official told Israel Hayom that the advanced jets’ integration into the air force was “proceeding as planned. But the end of the years, all jets would be fully operational.”
Khaled Abu Toameh: Palestinians: Destroying the Judiciary
The Palestinian Authority (PA) is facing sharp criticism over its attempt to “encroach” on the judicial authority and turn it into a tool in the hands of President Mahmoud Abbas.
Palestinian lawyers, judges and legal experts say that a new bill proposed by the PA government in the West Bank would have a negative impact on the independence and integrity of the judiciary system.
The controversial draft bill aims at amending the law of the judicial authority so that Abbas and his government would be able to tighten their grip over the work of the courts and judges.
The PA leadership’s bid to take control over the judicial authority comes on the heels of an ongoing crackdown on the Palestinian media and journalists. In recent weeks, PA security forces have blocked more than 20 news websites and arrested scores of journalists. In addition, Abbas has approved a Cyber Crimes Law that gives his security forces expanded powers to silence his critics on social media.
Protests by Palestinian journalists and some human rights organizations have thus far failed to persuade Abbas to abandon the Cyber Crimes Law and punitive measures against reporters. As of now, Abbas’s campaign to muzzle his critics appears to have worked.
Deterred by the new law, which was passed secretly and without consultation with the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate and the Palestinian Legislative Council, and the arrest of seven journalists in the past few weeks, many of Abbas’s critics are keeping a low profile.
A Palestinian Authority official said Sunday that a lavish presidential palace being built outside of Ramallah would be converted into a national library.
Mohammad Shtayyeh, a member of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party, said the decision to turn the complex into a library was made by Abbas, according to the official Wafa news agency.
The complex, which critics said was being built as a personal residence for Abbas, was also slated to serve as a guesthouse for foreign dignitaries, Shtayyeh said.
He added that while construction on the palace itself was complete, work was still being done on the compound’s helipads.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, at the request of the United States, has agreed to mitigate the financial sanctions his government has imposed on Hamas in the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian official said Sunday.
Abbas met Sunday with U.S. Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt and senior presidential adviser Jared Kushner in Ramallah. The meeting was part of Washington’s efforts to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, stalled since 2014.
Abbas agreed to halt the Palestinian’s diplomatic offensive against Israel for four months, reportedly in exchange for an American commitment to submit a comprehensive plan within that time frame to kick-start the moribund peace process.
As part of the sanctions imposed on Hamas, the Palestinian Authority has suspended the salaries of thousands of Hamas government employees and has also cut its payments for the electricity used in Gaza, plunging the enclave into an energy crisis.
According to a Palestinian source, Sunday’s decision to ease the sanctions reflects Abbas’ desire to secure reconciliation between the rival Palestinian factions as Washington outlines its plans for the regional peace efforts, so that if Israeli-Palestinian negotiations do resume, Hamas would refrain from undermining it.
The Gaza head of the Islamist terrorist organization Hamas said on Monday it had increased its
military capabilities thanks to newly improved relations with Iran.
In a rare meeting with a small number of journalists, Yahya al-Sinwar said Iran was “the biggest supporter” of Hamas’s military wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades.
Hamas, Sinwar said in response to an AFP question, was “developing our military strength in order to liberate Palestine”, but he also stressed that the movement did not seek war.
Hamas has run Gaza since 2007 and received Iranian financial and military support for years before it was reduced following a falling out over the Syrian civil war.
Sinwar said relations with Tehran had improved in recent months, with a delegation visiting Tehran.
PreOoccupiedTerritory:” Palestinians: Houston Flooding Caused By Open Israeli Dams (satire)
Political and media figures in the Palestinian Territories have determined who lies behind the flooding in southeastern Texas in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey: Israel and the dams it always opens around Gaza when the rainy season hits the eastern Mediterranean each fall.
Palestinian intelligence, political, and media officials contacted journalists stationed in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to apprise them of the revelation, and urged reporters to take the story to the headlines. Only public awareness of the common cause of American and Palestinian suffering can lead to a satisfactory resolution of the problem, they emphasized.
“Every year Israel opens dams and floods our farms and streets,” declared Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza. “Why should anyone be surprised that they would do the same to a US state with an actual city named Palestine? This is not a hard concept to grasp.”
“America should look at who always perpetrates such atrocities,” added Saeb Erekat from Ramallah. “I would advise my friends in the US not to stoop to divisive rhetoric, blaming slow responses or specific officials, since that is what the enemy wants. We Palestinians have been victimized by that scheme for many years – I just wish our rivals in Hamas would realize that and reconcile, which would let us beat them to a pulp once we take over the Gaza Strip again.”
We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.