May 23, 2022

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09/06 Links Pt1: In a Reversal of Roles, Israel Sends Aid to American Jews; Phillips: The tumult continues

From Ian:

Elliott Abrams: In a Reversal of Roles, Israel Sends Aid to American Jews
It was bound to happen, sooner or later.
With the rapid increase over the years in Israel’s GDP and in its population, Israel is no longer a poor country that needs the philanthropy of American Jews to survive. And the balance between the American Jewish population and the Israeli Jewish population has shifted as well. Depending on exactly how you count, there are more Jews in Israel today than in the United States–or if not, there will be soon.
The terrible damage wreaked by Hurricane Harvey affected, among other communities in Houston, the Jewish community there and its physical establishments, such as schools and synagogues. And now, as the Jerusalem Post reports, Israel is giving foreign aid to this American Jewish community. Here is part of the article:
Diaspora Affairs Minister Bennett has pledged $1 million in relief aid for the Jewish community of Houston, saying, “The Jewish state is measured by its response when our brothers around the world are in crisis.”
According to a statement released by the ministry, this aid will be transferred through the Israeli Consulate in Texas, and will be used to help repair and restore the communal infrastructure – schools, synagogues and JCC – which are not funded or supported by the state.

The Jerusalem Post calls this a “rare move,” but I’d bet it will be less rare over time. It is logical to expect Israel to show, in ways such as this, that it is steadily becoming the largest and most important Jewish community in the world. Once upon a time, the center of world Jewish life was in Israel; then it moved to Europe; then to the United States; and now it is moving back to where it all began.

Khaled Abu Toameh: The Forgotten Palestinians

Ayman Qawasmeh and Issa Amro would have been better off being arrested by Israeli authorities. Had that happened, their stories would have made it to the pages of major Western newspapers. CNN or NBC might have dedicated an entire program to their ordeal. Without a way for the Western media outlets to implicate Israel, however, their tale remains buried — along with their freedom.
The group also points out that it has documented some 472 cases of deaths consequent to torture in Syrian detention centers and prisons over the past few years.
Would anyone like to know about the true apartheid laws applied to Palestinians in different Arab countries? The information is readily available: all that needs to happen is for the Western media and the rest of the international community to reconsider their obsession with Israel and to start paying attention to the real Palestinian victims — those living in the Arab countries.

Melanie Phillips: The tumult continues

Please join me here as I discuss with Avi Abelow of Israel Video Network my new occasional feature Loony Lefty libels, America’s cultural civil war between the left and the far-right, and whether new revelations suggest that the inquiry into the Hillary Clinton email scandal was fixed to exonerate her even before the investigation was completed.

Europe’s Destructive Holocaust Shame

When I first heard about Catherine Nay—a prominent, mainstream, French journalist—stating on her Europe1 news program, in reference to the 2000 IDF killing of 12-year-old Muhammad al Durah in the arms of his father, that “with the symbolic charge [of the image of al Durah], Muhammad’s death cancels, erases the [famous WWII] picture of the Jewish boy, his hands up before the SS, in the Warsaw Ghetto,” I realized that Europeans had taken the story as a “get-out-of-Holocaust-guilt-free card.”
At the time I marveled—and continue to marvel—at the astounding folly of the statement. How can a brief, blurry, chopped up video of a boy who, at best was caught in a crossfire started by his own people firing behind him, at worst a lethal fake, eliminate—in fact, replace—a picture that symbolizes the systematic murder of over a million children and their families? How morally disoriented can one get? Apparently, the hope of escaping guilt is enough to induce people to adopt a supersessionist narrative: Israelis are the new Nazis, and Palestinians are the new Jews.
But the profound distinction between guilt and shame suggests that the right formula is “get-out-of-Holocaust-shame-free card.” Doesn’t sound as good. The difference: Guilt is an internally generated sense of moral obligation not to repeat past transgressions, like the extermination of a helpless minority within one’s own society. Shame, on the other hand, is externally generated, driven by the “shaming look” of others (the “honor-group”).
Therein lies a key difference: For guilt, it’s the awareness of the deed and its meaning; for shame, it’s whether others know. In some countries in the world, it’s not a question of whether you’re corrupt or not (everyone is, everyone knows), but whether you get caught. When Germans got caught carrying out genocide, their nation was not only guilty of the deed but shamed before the world … for committing such a hideous atrocity? … Or simply for getting caught?

Rivlin inaugurates Munich memorial, raps Palestinians for lauding massacre

President Reuven Rivlin on Wednesday attended the inauguration in Munich of a memorial to the victims of the massacre there at the Olympic Games 45 years ago, and castigated the Palestinian Authority for its continued expressions of support for the terror act, which left 11 Israeli Olympians dead.
During the September 1972 attack on the Munich Olympic Village by the Black September Palestinian terror group, 11 Israelis were taken hostage. Two were murdered in the Olympic village and nine others were executed at the airport. A German policeman was killed in a shootout with the terrorists during a botched rescue attempt.
“There are still those who see in the murder of sportsmen a heroic deed,” Rivlin said, before singling out the party of PA President Mahmoud Abbas. “Just last year, Fatah marked the massacre of the sportsmen as an ‘act of heroism.’
“The center we are inaugurating today must be a message to the whole world: There can be no apologizing for terrorism. Terror must be unequivocally condemned everywhere. In Barcelona, in London, in Paris, in Berlin, in Jerusalem, and everywhere else.”
The president, attending the inauguration with his German counterpart, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Bavaria’s Prime Minister Horst Seehofer, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, and victims’ relatives, also said that having waited 45 years for the memorial, Israel is still waiting for another historical injustice to be rectified, and for a minute’s silence to be observed at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games to remember Israel’s dead.
“Our brothers who were murdered were not just the State of Israel’s sons,” Rivlin said. “They were the Olympic family’s sons. A family which for many years abandoned its commitment to them.
“’The games must go on’ — so said at the time the President of the Olympic Committee, in a sentence which will be remembered eternally as a disgrace,” he noted.

Biographies of Olympic terror victims to be displayed in Munich

Forty-five years after the PLO carried out a terror attack on Olympic athletes, a memorial dedicated to the victims is to open in Munich on Sept. 6.
In 1972, the Black September terror group carried out a terror attack during the Summer Olympics. Eleven Israeli athletes, coaches, judges, and delegates were murdered in the attack, together with a German police officer.
At the memorial’s heart stands the biographies of twelve victims killed in the attack, on panels with texts in German, Hebrew and English.
“We wanted to give the victims their identity back in the eyes of the public,” Bavarian Minister of Culture Ludwig Spaenle told media on Monday, during a preview of the site, cut into a hillside in the former Olympic park.
The memorial cost 2.35 million euros ($2.8 million). Funding came primarily from the State of Bavaria, the German federal government, the City of Munich and the International Olympic Committee.
Up to now, the main memorials have been a sculpture and plaque. Plans for the new memorial were announced in 2013.
Finally, the human stories are being told –- and the lessons of history underscored, said Jewish leaders ahead of Wednesday’s opening ceremonies.

IsraellyCool: New York Times Op-Ed On Munich Massacre, Sept 6 1972

The Munich massacre – in which which eleven Israeli Olympic team members were taken hostage and then butchered by palestinian terrorists- took place 45 years ago almost to the day.
I thought I’d see how the New York Times covered it at the time, and found this op-ed from the day after.
Calling terrorist terrorists, coming out hard against terrorism, placing the blame at the hands of the Arab nations supporting it, and condemning any nations willing to tolerate or condone such terrorism – you would be hard-pressed to see anything like this in the New York Times of today.

Television, terror and Swedish funding

Of the $100 million contributed annually by Sweden to the Palestinian Authority, an uncontrollable percentage goes towards salaries for convicted terrorists and allowances to the families of suicide bombers. The more people the terrorist kills, the more money the PA pays to him or her. In this way, many terrorists earn far more while locked up in Israeli prison cells than the average Palestinian worker does.
Some $355 million of the PA´s budget is currently used for this purpose.
Swedes like to pretend that their foreign aid money is ear-marked for humanitarian purposes only and gladly go on about it. But this is nothing more than words – and they are ”blowing in the wind”.
If the government of Sweden does not halt its funding to the PA until they stop rewarding their terrorists, then nothing will change. Mahmoud Abbas, the PA’s president, will continue saying ”yes, yes” in English and ”no, no” in Arabic – while continuing to cash in.
Feeding the Palestinian Authority with large servings of Swedish funding without demanding a total stop to the unconscionable paying of salaries to terrorists …
Our government is of course aware of Abbas’ double-talk and knows where at least part of the Swedish foreign aid money ends up. So either it accepts that it is sponsoring terrorism or it is in denial about the facts. I don´t know which is worse.
But I do know “Palestine” has become the darling pet of our government. And Israel its black sheep.

Nikki Haley says Iran nuke deal ‘flawed,’ but pulling out difficult

US envoy to the United Nations Nikki Haley sharply condemned the 2015 agreement limiting Iran’s nuclear program, saying the deal is riddled with flaws and does in little to curb the Islamic Republic’s nuclear ambitions, but downplayed chances the US may pull out of the pact.
In a speech Tuesday at the conservative American Enterprise Institute in Washington, DC, Haley pointed to Iranian violations of the “very flawed and very limited agreement.” But she indicated the US would likely not pull out of the accord, even if it declares Iran to be non-compliant.
“The Iran deal has so many flaws that it’s tempting to leave it. But, the deal was constructed in a way that makes leaving it less attractive,” she said.
While noting that proponents of the accord maintain that “as long as Iran is meeting the limits on enriched uranium and centrifuges, then it’s complying with the deal,” Haley said the Iranian regime has on numerous occasions violated the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the formal name of the agreement, by possessing larger than allowed stocks of heavy water used in plutonium production and refusing to allow inspectors from the UN’s nuclear watchdog to inspect military sites believed to be tied to Iran’s nuclear program.
Haley’s talk came amid speculation that US President Donald Trump would delcare Iran non-compliant with the deal in October, which could pave the way for the US to pull out of the JCPOA. Haley herself recently met with UN atomic watchdog head Yukiya Amano to discuss concerns over the deal.

US Ambassador to UN Nikki Haley: Trump Will Move Beyond 2015 Nuclear Deal if Iran Fails Compliance Test

Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, said during an address in Washington, DC on Tuesday that President Donald Trump was not guaranteed to certify Iranian compliance with the 2015 nuclear agreement — known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — when his administration is next obliged to report to Congress on the matter in October.
“If the president finds that he cannot in good faith certify Iranian compliance, he would initiate a process whereby we move beyond narrow technicalities, and look at the big picture,” Haley said in a speech to the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) think tank.
“At issue is our national security interest,” Haley said. “It’s past time we had an Iran nuclear policy that acknowledged that.”
Haley argued that the JCPOA had produced a situation where stakeholders were prepared to ignore Iranian violations if that meant preserving the deal.
“For advocates of the deal, everything in our relationship with the Iranian regime must now be subordinated to the preservation of the agreement,” she observed.
Haley said the JCPOA was designed to be “too big to fail.”
“The deal drew an artificial line between the Iranian regime’s nuclear development and the rest of its lawless behavior,” she said. “It said, ‘We’ve made this deal on the nuclear side, so none of the regime’s other bad behavior is important enough to threaten the nuclear agreement.’”

North Korea Nuclear Progress Puts Iran on Renewed Pathway to Bomb

U.S. officials are closely monitoring an ongoing meeting between senior North Korean and Iranian officials that comes on the heels of a nuclear test by Pyongyang, according to senior Trump administration officials and other sources who expressed concern that North Korea is helping to put the Islamic Republic back on the pathway to a functional nuclear weapon.
Sources told the Washington Free Beacon that Pyongyang continues to stockpile illicit nuclear material on Iran’s behalf in order to help the Islamic Republic skirt restrictions implemented under the landmark nuclear deal.
North Korea’s latest nuclear test of a hydrogen bomb has roiled Trump administration officials and led President Donald Trump to consider multiple options for war. However, it also has renewed fears among U.S. officials and foreign policy insiders about Pyongyang’s long-standing relationship with Iran, which centers on providing the Islamic Republic with nuclear technology and know-how.
The head of North Korea’s parliament arrived this weekend in Iran for a 10-day visit aimed at boosting ties between the two countries amid an international crackdown on Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program, a situation U.S. officials tell the Free Beacon is being closely monitored.
As North Korea makes progress in its nuclear pursuits, it is likely this information is being shared with senior Iranian officials who continue to maintain and build upon the country’s weapons program, despite the nuclear agreement, which only limits a portion of Iran’s nuclear enrichment and research abilities.
One senior U.S. official currently handling the Iranian and North Korean nuclear portfolios told the Free Beacon that the collaboration between these two countries is being closely monitored by the Trump administration, which will not hesitate to take action to disrupt this relationship.

Netanyahu: Israel’s Cooperation with Arab States Has Never Been Greater

Israel is enjoying a greater level of cooperation today with the Arab world than it has ever had in its history, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a pre-Rosh Hashana toast in the Foreign Ministry on Wednesday.
Netanyahu said the cooperation today with countries in the Arab world is actually greater than it was when Jerusalem signed agreements with Egypt and Jordan.
In practice, he said, there is cooperation in “different ways” and “at different levels,” though it is not public. And even though it is not public, “it is much larger than any other period in Israel’s history. It’s a huge change.”
Netanyahu, who also serves as the country’s foreign minister, advanced the annual toast because he will be traveling to Latin America and New York next week, and returning just prior to the beginning of Rosh Hashana on September 20.
Netanyahu, who was particularly sanguine about Israel’s standing in the world, said that Israel today is “in a different place” than before. He said that the alliance with the United States is “stronger than ever” and that – in addition – there are strong ties with Europe, with openings being made in eastern Europe.
“There are great breakthroughs on all the continents; our return to Africa and the expansion of our technical assistance there is leading to a great deal of interest on the continent,” he said. He added that important breakthroughs were made this past year in Asia as well – China, India and Japan – as well as with the Muslim countries there, especially Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, which he visited in December.

Netanyahu: Two-state solution not essential for int’l acceptance

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Wednesday participated in the Foreign Ministry’s traditional pre-Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) toast in Jerusalem.
Speaking to those gathered, Netanyahu said, “We are holding the toast early due to success, since we are going to make an historic visit: It seems that this will be the first time that a sitting Prime Minister of Israel will be traveling to the countries of Central and South America. This is a gigantic bloc that we have not yet visited.”
“Today we are in a different place. The alliance with the United States – with North America as a whole – is stronger than ever, as are ties with Europe, including developing ties with Eastern Europe. The great breakthrough is to all continents. Regarding our return to Africa, we are expanding the scope of technology assistance and it is leading to great interest across the continent.
“This breakthrough is also finding expression in major efforts in Asia. There had not been any real contact with China or significant contact with India and Japan, to say nothing of the Muslim countries, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. This changed…over the past two years.
“There is also a great change with Russia, and this is a major change regarding both joining economic and cultural interests and, of course, to achieve – as much as possible – a coordination of expectations and intentions on a strategic level and you understand how critical this is at present. The link is being fostered and strengthened by us and by Russia itself.

PA blasts US ambassador for denying Israeli ‘occupation’

The Palestinian Authority blasted US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, calling recent comments made by the Ambassador regarding Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria “unacceptable”.
Last week, Ambassador Friedman spoke with the Jerusalem Post, which published the interview on Friday.
During the course of the interview, Friedman referred to PA claims that Israel is “occupying” Judea and Samaria, calling Israel’s presence in the area the “alleged occupation”.
In response, Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization penned a letter to diplomats lambasting Ambassador Friedman for his comments, calling them unacceptable, AFP reported Wednesday.
“We consider the statement of the US ambassador to Tel Aviv, Mr. David Friedman, referring to the above mentioned situation as ‘alleged occupation’ as unacceptable.”
“Such actions and practices could not have taken place without the complicity of the international community,” the letter added.

MK: Israel should sponsor Arab emigration

A Jewish Home MK has unveiled a plan to bolster Arab emigration from Israel, and ultimately end the Palestinian Authority.
MK Bezalel Smotrich, a member of the National Union faction within the Jewish Home party, is calling on the State of Israel to provide financial benefits for Arabs who move abroad.
“This is not transfer,” said Smotrich, distancing his proposal from the platforms of MK Rabbi Meir Kahane’s Kach party and slain Tourism Minister Rehavam Zeevi’s Moledet party, which later joined the National Union faction.
“Today, some 20,000 Palestinians leave Judea and Samaria every year,” Smotrich told Israel Hayom in an interview published Wednesday.
“Polls show that about 30% of [PA Arabs] would like to move out of the country,” Smotrich said, citing a survey published in July by the Palestinian Center for Police and Survey Research.
According to the survey, 47% of Gaza Arabs would emigrate from the Strip if they had the means to do so, while 23% of PA residents in Judea and Samaria said they too would live elsewhere if they were furnished with the means.

Ex-Trump aide Gorka to headline Israeli counterterror confab

US President Donald Trump’s controversial former national security aide Sebastian Gorka will appear at a counterterrorism conference in Israel later this month, where he will be featured as a keynote speaker.
Alongside ex-French prime minister Manuel Valls, Gorka will headline the first day of the annual conference hosted by the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism at IDC college in Herzliya.
In addition to Gorka, a large number of counterterrorism specialists and government officials are scheduled to address the four-day conference.
Gorka, who was dogged by allegations of ties to a Hungarian anti-Semitic group during his tenure in the Trump administration, departed the White House last month in a shroud of controversy, with conflicting claims about whether he resigned or got the boot.
Days after his departure, Gorka announced he will return to the pugilistic right-wing Breitbart News, which is led by fellow former Trump adviser Steve Bannon.
Last month, Gorka said in an interview that “liberal elements” of the American Jewish community have “basically become anti-Israeli” and said he believes the left wing has attacked him in the media because of his support for Israel.

Hamas refuses to let Red Cross chief meet Israeli captives

The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross on Tuesday discussed the fate of two Israeli civilians and the remains of two Israeli soldiers believed to be held by Hamas in a meeting with the leader of the Islamic terrorist group.
Hamas is believed to hold the bodies of Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul and Lt. Hadar Goldin, who were killed in the Gaza Strip in separate battles during Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014. Ethiopian Israeli Avera Mengistu and Bedouin Hisham al-Sayed, both suffering from mental health issues, crossed into Gaza voluntarily in 2014 and 2015 and are believed to have been captured by Hamas. A fifth Israeli, Jumaa Abu Ghanima, crossed the border into Gaza in 2016, and his fate remains unknown.
According to the Palestinian news agency Maan, ICRC President Peter Maurer asked Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip Yahya Sinwar to meet Mengistu and Sayed but Sinwar refused to allow it.
A senior Hamas official told Israel Hayom that “Israel knows very well what the price is for any information about the Israelis in Gaza,” adding Maurer “heard the movement’s firm position” on the issue.
Sinwar has said Hamas will not release any information about the missing Israelis until Israel frees 54 Palestinian security prisoners who were re-arrested after being released in a 2011 prisoner swap.
ICRC spokeswoman Alyona Synenko confirmed that the fate of people detained or missing on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were among the many humanitarian issues discussed Tuesday.

Stabbing attack folied near Tomb of the Patriarchs

An Arab aroused the suspicion of the Border Police when he approached an inspection post near the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hevron Wednesday.
The officers asked the suspect to remove all items he was carrying, but continued to be suspicious when he claimed to have shown them everything he had with him. The officers searched him and discovered a knife hidden in his clothes.
According to the Border Police, the suspect’s behavior and refusal to reveal that he was carrying a knife indicate that he was planning to carry out a stabbing attack at or near the Tomb of the Patriarchs.
The suspect was arrested and taken for interrogation by security officials.

Bibi’s dog currently only Netanyahu not under police investigation (satire)

Amid ongoing investigations for, as far as we can tell, illegally forcing their household help to hide cigars and 30 Agurot deposit bottles inside of furniture while riding on a submarine, reliable sources now declare that the only member of the Netanyahu family not under police investigation is their dog: serial biter/stealth pooper Kaiya Netanyahu And with the rest of the family in a bit of “deep dog doo doo” Kaiya finds herself the only Netanyahu who has not been interviewed under caution by the police. We had a chance to speak with Kaiya after she finished swimming at the Tel Aviv Dog Beach.
“I just really feel that our family is under attack from the media.” explained Kaiya as she dried off in the sun. “Like what happened to Yair and I last month when that crazy woman followed us and took our picture. It’s just not fair.”
The Daily Freier then asked. “So you’re saying that you and Yair did not in fact leave your poop on a sidewalk unattended?”
“What are you doing for the Holidays?” replied Kaiya. “Are you going anyplace nice?”
UPDATE: Amid ongoing fallout from Yair and Kaiya’s “Poop-Gate” incident last month, police have asked Kaiya for a “sample” to see if there is a DNA match with the “evidence” left behind at the scene. She has now retained legal counsel and is referring all questions to her attorney.

PMW: Slaughterer of 3 Israelis honored in the PA
Palestinian officials and ordinary civilians glorified a terrorist who stabbed 3 people to death in their home. (Sept. 6, 2017)

The Palestinian murderer, Omar Al-Abd, who on July 21 this year slaughtered a grandfather and his two adult children, stabbing them to death while they were eating dinner in their home in Halamish near Ramallah, is being honored and praised by Palestinians.
Director of PLO Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Karake has shown his support for the murderer by visiting his family at least twice after the attack. One of the visits was made together with a delegation of the commission and the PA-funded Prisoners’ Club. Israel’s demolition of the house of the family of the murderer – a deterrence measure to prevent others from carrying out attacks – Karake called “an arbitrary punishment”:
“Director of [PLO] Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Karake mentioned the situation of the family members of wounded prisoner Omar Al-Abd… In a visit he paid to the family, together with a delegation from the [PLO] Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs and the [PA-funded] Prisoners’ Club, he said that [the family] constitutes a prominent example of the collective and arbitrary punishment by the occupation authorities.”
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Aug. 22, 2017]
The day after the murders, the official spokesman of the PA Security Forces Adnan Al-Damiri justified the attack, referring to the entry of Israelis onto the Temple Mount near the Al-Aqsa Mosque as a legitimate reason for “violence, killing, terror, blood, and hatred”:
“The extremist settlers’ entry to the Al-Aqsa Mosque is what is encouraging the violence, killing, terror, blood, and hatred, and creating an atmosphere that is appropriate for natural responses of equal value…”
[Facebook page of Official Spokesman of the PA Security Forces
Adnan Al-Damiri, July 22, 2017]

Decade after Syrian reactor was destroyed, north remains volatile

Exactly 10 years ago, on Sept. 6, 2007, a mysterious airstrike destroyed a military complex in the Deir ez-Zor region in eastern Syria. Soon after, foreign media outlets reported the target was a suspected nuclear facility built by Syrian President Bashar Assad.
No country has ever officially claimed responsibility for the strike, but media worldwide and even then-U.S. President George W. Bush’s administration attributed the strike to Israel. Only Israeli media remained mum on the issue.
In 2008, New Yorker magazine reported that Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency learned of Syria’s intentions to build a nuclear facility with assistance from North Korea, after getting hold of a laptop belonging to Ibrahim Othman, then-head of Syria’s Atomic Energy Commission, that included, among other classified files, the facility’s schematics and photos of the construction site.
The evidence was clear, but Israel continued to gather intelligence via covert operations, keeping the Americans informed of its findings. It took time for Israel to produce the proverbial smoking gun that removed any doubt the Americans may have had about the Syrian activity and convinced Washington the facility must be destroyed.
According to the New Yorker, the night of the attack saw then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi convene at the military’s high command situation room in the IDF’s headquarters in Tel Aviv, as did then-Defense and Foreign ministers Ehud Barak and Tzipi Livni and the members of the General Staff, to follow the operation as it unfolded.

UN: Syrian gov’t forces used chemical weapons more than two dozen times

Government forces have used chemical weapons more than two dozen times during Syria’s civil war, including in April’s deadly attack on Khan Sheikhoun, UN war crimes investigators said on Wednesday.
A government warplane dropped sarin on the town in Idlib province, killing more than 80 civilians, the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria said, in the most conclusive findings to date from investigations into that chemical weapon attack.
The panel also said US air strikes on a mosque in Al-Jina in rural Aleppo in March that killed 38 people, including children, failed to take precautions in violation of international law, but did not constitute a war crime.
The weapons used on Khan Sheikhoun were previously identified as containing sarin, an odorless nerve agent. But that conclusion, reached by a fact-finding mission of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), did not say who was responsible.
“Government forces continued the pattern of using chemical weapons against civilians in opposition-held areas. In the gravest incident, the Syrian air force used sarin in Khan Sheikhoun, Idlib, killing dozens, the majority of whom were women and children,” the UN report said, declaring the attack a war crime.

UN: Syrian opposition must accept it has not won the war

Syria’s opposition must accept that they have not won the six-and-a-half year war against President Bashar Assad, UN peace talks mediator Staffan de Mistura said on Wednesday.
De Mistura suggested the war was almost over because many countries had got involved principally to defeat Islamic State in Syria, and a national ceasefire should follow soon after. The main rebel-held area, the city of Idlib would be “frozen.”
“For the opposition, the message is very clear: if they were planning to win the war, facts are proving that is not the case. So now it’s time to win the peace,” he told reporters.
Asked if he was implying that Assad had won, he said pro-government forces had advanced militarily, but nobody could actually claim to have won the war.
“Victory can only be if there is a sustainable political long-term solution. Otherwise instead of war, God forbid, we may see plenty of low intensity guerrilla (conflicts) going on for the next 10 years, and you will see no reconstruction, which is a very sad outcome of winning a war.”

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