Germany’s Jews are once again easy prey
At least two people were killed in a carefully planned terrorist attack on a synagogue in the German city of Halle on Yom Kippur, an attack that followed an earlier attempt to attack a synagogue in Berlin ahead of Rosh Hashanah.
This is Germany in 2019. And this is no longer a phenomenon that can be diminished or treated as a passing wave. This is an epidemic.
Germany is once again a dangerous place for Jews. All efforts to deny this reality, whether from the authorities, local Jewish leadership, or recent Israeli immigrants, crumble in the face of the terrible day-to-day reality, which is the product of an industry of repudiation and denial. Barely a week passes without violent assaults on Jews in the country. In Berlin alone, over 400 anti-Semitic attacks were reported in the first half of 2019. We can assume the actual figure is higher since not every attack is reported to the authorities.
Jews, with kippot on their heads and Stars of David around their necks, speaking Hebrew, cannot feel safe outside of their homes and cannot convene in Jewish institutions without fearing that either on their way there or back, something bad will happen to them. And now, we can add another element of fear to this trepidation: Even if meticulous safeguards are in place, an attack can be carried out inside a Jewish institution, synagogue, or community center. Luckily, in these two most recent incidents, these safeguards proved relatively effective.
The attack in Halle is the result of the failure of German authorities; it is the result of the incomprehensible forgiveness that the country’s law enforcement chooses to show the perpetrators of attacks against Jews, which in recent years have been largely carried out by either members of Arab and Muslim immigrant communities. Although the perpetrator of the Halle attack was a member of the radical Right, the day-to-day physical threat to Jewish security in Germany is sacrificed at the altar of Germany’s policy of appeasement toward Arab-Muslim anti-Semitism. And when they are able to attack Jews as they please, other radicals get the sense the spilling of blood is permissible so long as the targets are Jews.
“Neo-Nazis in Halle”, where a gunman tried to break into the synagogue and commit a massacre of Jews during Yom Kippur. We are in Germany, after all! And in Germany Jews are in danger, again. Every week we have headlines about Jews being attacked in Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt, for wearing a kippah, speaking Hebrew, sporting a Star of David.
But we now have to go much deeper and try to figure out how and why antisemitism is not only an Islamic sport, but the Western heart of darkness.
Halle is in the former East Germany, where antisemitism is much stronger than in the Western party. Alternative für Deutschland is the largest party in the former East Germany, Pegida (the movement against Islamization) was born there, as the most important popular protests against immigration took place there.
Why? Because the society is collapsing. 50 years of Communism, materialism, dictatorship and atheism didn’t help the population. “The ‘social infrastructures’ have collapsed: schools, hospitals, sports and recreational facilities and cultural institutions have had to close”. Die Zeit, the first German weekly, last June dedicated a special to the most disruptive phenomenon in the former East Germany: depopulation. “Migration to the West was not the only thing that altered East German demography. After 1990, the birth rate fell by almost half”.
The US ambassador to Germany said 10 Americans were inside the synagogue in the eastern city of Halle that a gunman unsuccessfully tried to enter on Yom Kippur.
Ambassador Richard Grenell tweeted on Wednesday that “all are safe and unharmed.”
“We’ve made it out with our lives, in health and amazing spirits,” wrote Rebecca Blady, a Jewish American community leader, who was in the synagogue.
“For whatever reason, the man with the gun was stalled or prohibited from entering the synagogue. Gd counted us all there today, one by one, as deserving of life,” Blady wrote in a Facebook post.
“Several hours later, with the threat of the gunman still at large, police units escorted us out of the synagogue and to a local hospital to check for signs of shock and trauma. We prayed neilah here to end the day with extra fervor and heard the sound of the shofar,” she went on.
“We came here to bond with a small Jewish community, to feel the Divine energy of Yom Kippur, to sing and dance a little more than we might have otherwise. We are still here, trying to make sense of what happened and what is going on. Please know that we are safe.”
StandWithUs is horrified at the shooting attack on a synagogue in Halle, Germany on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur.
StandWithUs CEO Roz Rothstein said, “This is a reprehensible attack targeting Jews at prayer on the holiest day of the Hebrew calendar. On every Jewish holiday, including Yom Kippur, synagogues are heavily protected and it appears that this stopped the attack from being much, much worse. German police believe this was an act of far right terrorism, reminding us once again that our governments and societies must do much more to fight back against this rising and increasingly deadly form of antisemitism. Our hearts go out to the families of those who were murdered and our prayers are with those who are recovering from injuries.”
Halle Synagogue Attack
The suspect in an attack on a German synagogue on Judaism’s holiest day of the year had around four kilograms (nearly nine pounds) of explosives in his car and wanted to carry out a massacre, Germany’s top prosecutor said. Many questions remained about how the man was able to get hold of the weapons he used in the assault, in which he killed two people outside the building.
As officials sought to reassure an unsettled Jewish community and address concern about rising right-wing extremism, Germany’s president visited the scene of the attack in Halle and urged his nation to stand up for its Jewish compatriots.
The assailant — a German citizen identified as Stephan Balliet — tried but failed to force his way into the synagogue as around 80 people were inside.
He then shot and killed a woman in the street outside and a man at a nearby kebab shop. He is now in custody.
“What we experienced yesterday was terror,” said Peter Frank, the chief federal prosecutor. “The suspect, Stephan B., aimed to carry out a massacre in the synagogue in Halle.”
Frank said his weapons were “apparently homemade” and the explosives in the car were built into “numerous devices.”
The suspect, who livestreamed the attack on a popular gaming site while ranting in English about Jews and posted a “manifesto” online before embarking on it, “wanted to create a worldwide effect” and encourage others to imitate him, the prosecutor added.
After minutes of stillness punctuated by clicks and muttering, the camera pans up and shows the close-shaved, youthful face of a man looking into the lens.
On Wednesday in the east German city of Halle, the man before the camera is preparing to commit a violent assault against a synagogue that will devolve into a random, blundering search for fresh targets.
German media identified him as Stephan Balliet, 27. Bild described him as a neo-Nazi loner with no friends who spent days in front of his computer.
The shooter’s technique recalls the self-presentation of the man who killed 51 and wounded dozens at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March.
In a heavy German accent, he hurriedly babbles a brief anti-Semitic diatribe, denying the Holocaust and blaming Jews for being “at the root of problems” in Western societies.
Then the shooter readies an apparently home-made shotgun before driving the short distance to the synagogue, blasting hip-hop over a bluetooth speaker.
The German neo-Nazi gunman who killed two people in Halle, Germany, on Yom Kippur and tried to storm a synagogue was using homemade weapons that repeatedly jammed.
The 35 minutes of livestream footage of the assault that he posted showed him attempting to fire on three further occasions directly at victims, but failing to do so because of weapons failure. “I can’t kill shit,” said the gunman, named as Stephan Balliet, 27, at one point.
The footage, together with a manifesto that he had posted earlier on the Kohlchan message board, indicates that he deliberately timed the attack for Yom Kippur.
Driving to the Halle synagogue, he was discouraged to find the main doors bolted shut, attempted to enter via smaller entrances, fired and threw two homemade bombs at the door, but ultimately failed to gain entry. He shot a woman dead in the street outside, and, minutes later, killed a man at a kebab shop nearby.
According to a Guardian report Thursday, the Kohlchan “mission statement” and the livestream footage indicate that Balliet “hoped his attack would inspire other white people to kill more Jewish people,” as well as others he considered “enemies of the white race, including Muslim people, black people, anti-fascists, and communists.”
Halle Anti-Semitic Shooting: Two Witnesses Recount Event
Two people were shot dead in the German city of Halle on Wednesday as a suspected white supremacist targeted Jews marking the holy day of Yom Kippur, with the gunman filming and broadcasting the assault live online. Police said the perpetrator had been caught after initially fleeing the scene as authorities ramped up security at synagogues and other Jewish sites across Germany.
Survivor of Halle Synagogue Shooting on Antisemitism in Germany
Suvivor of the Halle shooting attack, Neilli Rayvich, recounts the event with our Polina Garaev Story: A gunman who killed two people in the German city of Halle published an anti-Semitic “manifesto” online over a week before carrying out the attack livestreamed online on Wednesday, according to reports.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center on Wednesday warned German authorities that the deadly Yom Kippur shooting attack on a synagogue in the city of Halle could be a precursor to further attacks on the upcoming anniversary of Kristallnacht.
In a letter to German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, Shimon Samuels, the center’s director for international relations, noted that the Halle synagogue was one of those destroyed in the Nazi-instigated pogrom in Germany and Austria in which 91 Jews were killed, 30,000 Jews were arrested, 1,400 synagogues were set on fire, and countless homes and businesses were vandalized.
“On 10 November, 1938 – the ‘Kristallnacht State Pogrom’ saw the destruction of the local synagogue, 200 men sent to Buchenwald, and the obliteration of 800 years of Jewish Halle,” Samuels wrote, noting that the Jewish community in the city dated back to the 12th century.
“It is known that both extreme right and Islamist terrorists often act to mark anniversaries,” he said. “If so, this may be a precursor to [the] Kristallnacht [anniversary].”
A prominent Jewish community leader accused German authorities on Thursday of providing inadequate security at a synagogue that was attacked by a far-right gunman as dozens prayed inside.
Though the gunman did not get into the building in Wednesday’s attack, he killed two bystanders in a subsequent livestreamed rampage, which appeared to be modeled on the gun attack on a New Zealand mosque.
“If police had been stationed outside the synagogue, then this man could have been disarmed before he could attack others,” Josef Schuster, president of the council of Germany’s Jewish community, told Deutschlandfunk public radio.
Most Jewish institutions in Germany’s large cities have a near-permanent police guard due to occasional anti-Semitic attacks by both far-right activists and Islamist militants.
Two people have been murdered today in Halle, Germany during Yom Kippur. A gunman attacked a synagogue, trying to blast his way in using explosives, but failed and then murdered a female passerby in the street. He then attacked a kebab shop, murdering a man there too, laughing as he did so. Video of the attack was broadcast live on social media. The attacker said that he was a Holocaust denier and claimed that feminism was reducing birth rates in the West necessitating mass immigration, which he said was all caused by “the Jew”.
Last week, Conservative MP Crispin Blunt suggested that Government grants for security at British synagogues was a waste of money. Campaign Against Antisemitism is making a disciplinary complaint to the Conservative Party.
Gideon Falter, Chief Executive of Campaign Against Antisemitism, said: “Once again, Jews around the world end a holy day only to discover that yet again, while we in Britain prayed, there has been an attempt to slaughter Jews for their Judaism, this time in Halle, Germany by a terrorist of the extreme right who has murdered two innocents. All over the world, far-right, far-left and Islamist fanatics are stoking the flames of Jew-hatred with too little being done to stop them. In Britain Jews are already accustomed to worshipping in fortified synagogues surrounded by blast walls and security guards. Those who enable or fail to act against this resurgent hatred are complicit in the rising toll from antisemitic terrorist attacks around the world. We mourn with the Jewish community and people of Halle. Today as Yom Kippur ends, we are brutally reminded why all decent human beings must all stand #TogetherAgainstAntisemitism, not just in word but in deed.”
Those wishing to show solidarity with the Jewish community at this time may wish to visit TogetherAgainstAntisemitism.com to add a badge to their social media profiles.
Social media companies scrambled on Wednesday to scrub footage of a shooting outside a German synagogue from their platforms, in the first major test of their systems since a massacre in the New Zealand city of Christchurch prompted a global outcry.
The attacker in Germany, who livestreamed his rampage on Amazon’s gaming subsidiary Twitch, shot dead two people after failing to gain entry to the synagogue on the High Holiday of Yom Kippur.
The nearly 36-minute-long video closely resembled footage livestreamed in March in Christchurch, where the gunman also wore a camera to capture a first-person perspective as he killed 51 people at two mosques.
As with Christchurch, full copies and portions of the German video quickly began appearing elsewhere online, shared both by supporters of the gunman’s anti-Semitic ideology and critics condemning his actions.
Reuters viewed copies and links to the footage posted on Twitter, 4chan, and message boards focused on trolling and harassment, as well as multiple white supremacist channels on messaging app Telegram.
Someone set fire to a backpack and left it on the steps of a Brooklyn Jewish center early Wednesday — on the Yom Kippur high holy day, police said.
Officers from the 78th Precinct responded and saw the backpack burning on the front steps of the Park Slope Jewish Center around 1 a.m.
The FDNY extinguished the fire.
An unknown man was observed rummaging through the backpack and setting it on fire, police sources said.
The firebug fled on foot.
An NYPD spokeswoman later said the crime “has been deemed a non-bias incident” and that the Arson and Explosion Squad is investigating.
However, cops Tuesday were stepping up patrols around synagogues ahead of Yom Kippur.
Dear Foreign Minister @HeikoMaas:
What message does Germany send to its people every year when you support the pathological demonization of the world’s only Jewish state?
This year at the UN General Assembly, I urge you to stop depicting Israel as the world’s most evil nation. https://t.co/qUcXsKtYyx
— Hillel Neuer (@HillelNeuer) October 9, 2019
The perpetrator livestreamed his attack on a synagogue on Yom Kippur, including an antisemitic rant. @SkyNews just how antisemitic an attack does it have to be before you remove the scare quotes in your headline? https://t.co/PFGFqf6rH2 pic.twitter.com/RrTifROsPF
— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) October 10, 2019
— BT (@back_ttys) October 9, 2019
JPost Editorial: Rely on no one
The decision was not just a remarkable shift and horrible reversal of US policy, but also a clear and present danger to the region both now and for years to come. Moreover, throwing the Kurds under the bus sends a disturbing message to the US’s other friends in the region – and that includes Israel – who now all have to ask themselves if they can truly rely on America with Trump at the helm.
Trump tweeted that it was “time for us to get out of these ridiculous Endless Wars, many of them tribal, and bring our soldiers home.”
But because the blowback was so severe, he followed up the next day: “As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!).”
Great and unmatched wisdom?
That hardly seems to be the case in this decision as well as others that he has made in Syria and the Persian Gulf and have given Iran a feeling that it can do what it wants without paying a price.
“I don’t believe it is a good idea to outsource the fight against ISIS to Russia, Iran, and Turkey,” Graham tweeted. “They don’t have America’s best interests at heart. The most probable outcome of this impulsive decision is to ensure Iran’s domination of Syria. The US now has no leverage and Syria will eventually become a nightmare for Israel.”
Thankfully, Graham will not sit idly by and allow a genocide to unfold. He announced that he and Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen will introduce legislation calling for sanctions against Ankara if Turkey invades Syria, and “will call for their suspension from NATO if they attack Kurdish forces who assisted the US in the destruction of the ISIS Caliphate.”
The ostensible reason for the US leaving Syria is to allow Turkey a free hand in fighting ISIS, but that’s not realistic. Turkey does not have the capability to shut down ISIS. Its real target is the Kurds, and it is no doubt preparing to unleash a massive attack.
Israel needs to draw the necessary lesson that the Jewish state’s founding fathers understood after the Holocaust just as it was taught by Hillel and quoted in Ethics of the Fathers: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me?”
Every day, the State of Israel weighs the movements of its surrounding enemies bent on destroying the country. Surveying the landscape and weighing the options of how to react, Israel knows its decisions must be based on one underlying principle: it can never rely on others, even those whom it thinks are its best friends.
With his decision to abandon the Kurds, Trump proved once again that Hillel was right. Israel can only rely on itself.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday denounced the just-launched Turkish invasion of the Kurdish region of northern Syria.
“Israel strongly condemns the Turkish invasion of the Kurdish areas in Syria and warns against the ethnic cleansing of the Kurds by Turkey and its proxies,” the prime minister stated.
“Israel is prepared to extend humanitarian assistance to the gallant Kurdish people,” he added.
Israel strongly condemns the Turkish invasion of the Kurdish areas in Syria and warns against the ethnic cleansing of the Kurds by Turkey and its proxies.
Israel is prepared to extend humanitarian assistance to the gallant Kurdish people.
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) October 10, 2019
The Jerusalem Post reported that a group of over 100 IDF officers sent a letter to Netanyahu and IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi urging them to take action to prevent possible Turkish atrocities against the Kurds.
“As Israelis and as Jews, we must not stand idly by,” the letter said.
Seth J Frantzman: America’s Good Intentions in Syria Have Led to This Dismal Outcome
At each juncture, the U.S. found its choices narrowed in Syria, and America was isolated from having a say in the future of Syria as Russia, Turkey, and Iran excluded Washington from peace discussions they held at Astana. Nevertheless, by 2018, the U.S. and its SDF partners controlled a huge area in eastern Syria. National Security Adviser John Bolton sought to push a strategy whereby America would hold on to eastern Syria until Iran left. The goal was to roll back Iranian influence and reduce Israel’s fears about Iran using Syria to attack. Bolton never got his way.
Trump’s decision in December 2018 to leave Syria led to the resignation of defense secretary James Mattis and anti-ISIS envoy Brett McGurk. Bolton was gone by September 2019. Jettisoning these key officials, the White House narrowed its role in Syria even more, no longer seeing a way to use it as leverage against Iran. Since Trump didn’t want to do nation-building in Syria, and wanted Europe or the Gulf states to foot the bill to keep ISIS detainees locked up, he saw the area as a sunk cost. As for Iran, he said the U.S. would use Iraq to “watch” it.
All that was left of U.S. policy in Syria was the question of what to do about the U.S. partners, the mostly Kurdish forces that had been trained and that had done a phenomenal job defeating ISIS. The problem was that Turkey, sensing that Trump wanted to leave, kept threatening to launch an invasion of eastern Syria to attack the SDF. Turkey says it will resettle 2 million Syrians, mostly Arabs from elsewhere in Syria, in the Kurdish areas of eastern Syria.
U.S. policy in Syria has been one of shutting one door after another to close off U.S. influence, at the same time that Iran, Russia, and Turkey are opening those doors to partition Syria for their own interests. The risks of U.S. withdrawal are clear. Not only will ISIS make some inroads, but Washington will lose influence in Syria, and America’s image will be tarnished for appearing to abandon friends and being bullied into leaving. Iran is already calling the US an “irrelevant occupier” and saying that it’s ready to help take over eastern Syria.
The unprecedented nature of Turkey’s attack on Wednesday, bombing peaceful towns along the border with impunity, represents not only a setback for 30 years of US policies in the Middle East and around the world, but also a change in the concept of international law and the change in the way Western powers deal with partners that used to fight ISIS.
It came as a shock to the SDF that the US would withdraw so quickly and without explanation – without discussions or a process in place. They suffered around 11,000 casualties fighting ISIS, many of them alongside the US in battles such as Raqqa and Baghouz, pressed to complete the total defeat of the ISIS “caliphate,” only to then be told that now that ISIS was defeated, they would be abandoned.
Rarely have Western powers and the US invested in a place for years only to leave so abruptly. Comparisons were drawn with the fall of Saigon in 1975. But the US had left Vietnam in 1973 and provided the South Vietnamese government with massive supplies upon leaving.
Iran, Russia, the Arab League and others have expressed concern about Turkey’s invasion, but they don’t have a plan in place to do anything. The US still controls the airspace in eastern Syria, allowing Turkey to use it to bomb and destroy America’s SDF partners. Russia or the Syrian regime have no way of imposing any kind of other order.
The US plan now appears to be a method of making way for Turkey to slowly destroy the SDF piece by piece and bomb the cities of eastern Syria into submission one by one, until Turkey has taken as much as it wants. The US will ask the SDF to continue to keep watch over ISIS detainees and to keep ISIS sleeper cells suppressed and keep the Syrian regime or other forces from entering. The goal will be to keep Russia and Iran out, while letting Turkey defeat the SDF, eventually withdrawing at the last moment.
Washington has not thought this through completely, but the scenes from October 9, of fires burning in cities that were quiet and peaceful for years and which were rebuilding themselves from the ISIS terror of 2014, shows the result of US policy failure.
Iran launched an unannounced large military exercise near the Turkish border on Wednesday, soon after Ankara invaded Syria to confront a mostly Kurdish group, the Islamic Republic’s Tasnim News Agency reported.
Turkey started its invasion of a narrow strip of Syria where the Syrian Democratic Forces [SDF] had been protected by the US, until Washington announced on Sunday that it was pulling US troops out of Syria.
While most of the controversy has been about the US betrayal of its five-year alliance with the SDF, potentially leading to Turkey being able to devastate SDF forces and any civilians in the area, Iran’s actions signaled a new side to the developments.
Although Iranian Maj.-Gen. Abdolrahim Mousavi said the army’s forces are fully prepared to counter “any possible movement of the enemy,” projecting the exercise as defensive in nature, Iran has frequently used military power in recent months in an aggressive manner.
A senior Kurdish official warned on Thursday that Islamic State militants could break out of prisons in northeast Syria as fighting intensifies between the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and Turkey.
Badran Jia Kurd told Reuters the number of security forces guarding the IS detainees would have to be reduced as the Turkish forces step up an offensive that got underway on Wednesday.
“This attack will definitely reduce and weaken the guarding system for those Daesh militants in the prisons,” he said, using the Arabic acronym for Islamic State.
“This could lead to their escape or to behaviors that may get out of the control of the security forces,” added Jia Kurd, adviser to the Kurdish-led authority running much of north and east Syria.
“The number of forces guarding the prisons is reduced the more the battles intensify. This poses a grave danger.”
The Pentagon stated on Monday that Turkey has been removed from the “air tasking order” employed by members of the anti-Islamic State coalition operating in Syria.
This means Turkish planes will have considerable difficulty entering Syrian airspace to support the invasion threatened by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and will not benefit from surveillance data collected by the coalition.
“If you’re not on the air tasking order, it’s really hard to coordinate flights in that area,” explained Pentagon spokeswoman Carla Gleason.
The Defense Department took pains on Monday to make it clear the United States “does not endorse a Turkish operation in northern Syria” and “will not support or be involved in any such operation,” as another Pentagon spokesman, Jonathan Hoffman, put it.
“In conversations between the department and the Turkish military we have consistently stressed that coordination and cooperation were the best path toward security in the area,” Hoffman said.
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said they have stressed to their counterparts in Ankara that “unilateral action creates risks for Turkey.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned the EU on Thursday that Ankara would allow millions of refugees to head to Europe if the bloc criticized Turkey’s military offensive in Syria.
“Hey EU, wake up. I say it again: if you try to frame our operation there as an invasion, our task is simple: we will open the doors and send 3.6 million migrants to you,” Erdogan said in a speech to his party.
Turkey launched an operation into Syrian territory on Wednesday, aimed at combating Kurdish militants tied to insurgents in its own territory.
Erdogan said 109 “terrorists” had been killed so far in the operation, which would soon cover ground from Manbij in northern Syria to the Iraqi border some 350 kilometers (220 miles) east.
“God willing, we will crush these snakes’ heads quickly,” he said.
“What we are trying to do is prevent the establishment of a terrorist state on our southern border. This cannot happen,”
Turkey currently hosts 3.6 million refugees from the eight-year conflict in Syria — the highest number in the world.
“Turkey is a key partner of the European Union and a critically important actor in the Syrian crisis…”
“the European Union commends Turkey for its important role…”
— Hillel Neuer (@HillelNeuer) October 9, 2019
French President Emmanuel Macron vowed an “unrelenting fight” against Islamist terror on Tuesday as he paid tribute to the four Paris police staff stabbed to death last week by a radicalized colleague.
“We will wage an unrelenting fight in the face of Islamist terrorism,” Macron told a ceremony at the police headquarters where the attack took place.
Mickael Harpon, a 45-year-old computer expert in the police intelligence-gathering department, used a kitchen knife and an oyster shucker to kill three male and one female colleague in a 30-minute rampage that ended when an officer shot him in the head.
He had converted to Islam about 10 years ago and adopted increasingly radical beliefs, according to investigators.
The killings have raised questions about how he managed to avoid detection by the police, despite having top-level security clearance.
The U.S. military has custody of two British prisoners accused of playing a role in an Islamic State cell that tortured and killed Western hostages, including American journalist James Foley, U.S. officials said.
El Shafee Elsheikh, 31, and Alexanda Kotey, 35, are two of four members of a British cell ISIS put in charge of Western hostages, The New York Times reported Wednesday. Their British accents led hostages to nickname the cell “the Beatles.” The cell’s victims included Foley, an American journalist beheaded as part of an ISIS propaganda video in 2014.
Mohammed Emwazi, another member of the group, likely killed Foley, The NYT reported. Emwazi died in a drone strike in 2015, The Washington Post reported. U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces captured Elsheikh and Kotey in 2018. The British cell is responsible for beheading at least 27 prisoners, the U.S. government says. (RELATED: US-Backed Syrian Kurds Capture Last Of British ISIS Fighters Known For Gruesome Killings)
The Justice Department is aiming to bring the two men to the U.S. for a trial in Virginia. The plans have been delayed over a lawsuit Elskeih’s mother filed over whether the British government can share evidence with the U.S. because the country has not given assurance that prosecutors won’t seek the death penalty, according to The NYT.
Britain has already shared witness statements with the Justice Department but will likely need further testimony from British officials. The U.S. military took the British men to a base in Iraq, an official said, WaPo reported.
Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday, at the state memorial ceremony for the fallen of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, cited the main lesson from that war, when the Israeli government and the IDF ignored information about an imminent Arab attack, resulting in close to 3,000 Israeli dead:
“The IDF is prepared to preempt any threat, defensively and offensively, with crushing strength, in weaponry and in spirit. This is the tremendous spirit that was instilled in us by the generation of the Yom Kippur War,” Netanyahu said.
He was speaking at the Hall of Remembrance on Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem.
“The current focus of aggression in the Middle East is the Iranian regime in Tehran,” Netanyahu said, lest anyone misunderstand the subject of his speech. “Iran is striving to tighten its grip in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and the Gaza Strip.
“It is relentlessly arming itself. It is equipping its proxies with dangerous weaponry. It is attacking freedom of navigation in international shipping lanes. It downed a large American UAV. It mounted a crude and unprecedented attack on Saudi oil fields. It has repeatedly crossed its threshold of brazenness.
“Iran threatens to wipe us off the map. It says explicitly: ‘Israel will disappear.’ It has tried to attack us repeatedly; therefore, we must stand ready to defend ourselves against danger.
“We do not aspire to be ‘a people that dwells alone’ but thus we were forced to stand at the start of the Yom Kippur War; only towards the end did the American aid arrive. Like in 1973, today we very much appreciate the important support of the US, which has greatly increased in recent years, as well as the major economic pressure that the US is using on Iran.
“Even so, we will always remember and implement the basic rule that has guided us; Israel will defend itself, by itself, against any threat,” Netanyahu concluded.
Israel’s military has a secret weapon as the Jewish State’s war-between-war campaign against Hezbollah and Iran continues to expand: A language school where soldiers can become fluent in Arabic or Persian in less than two months.
In a nondescript building in a base in the center of the country sits the largest intelligence school in the entire Middle East. Thousands of soldiers and officers have passed through its doors every year, trained for positions in the IDF’s Military Intelligence Division.
“It’s not like in a normal school where students are taught just a language. We aren’t here just to learn a language,” Maj. “V” the Head of Language Teaching Department at the Military Intelligence and Cyber Instruction Unit told The Jerusalem Post. “The language is a tool to get and understand the intelligence we collect.”
The school, which has existed for over 50 years, uses innovative approaches and learning environments that within weeks has soldiers understanding both the language and culture of their enemies.
“R” has been teaching at the school for 47 years and teaches students spoken Arabic while her daughter, Master Sergeant “N” teaches students written Arabic.
“It’s a challenging and hard role because we have the responsibility of the state’s security on our shoulders,” she said. “To work in this environment is serving the country, on all levels.”
And it’s not only conscripts who study at the school, but officers in other Israeli security agencies whose operational activity sees them interacting with Palestinians or the Arab world on a regular basis.
Israel is nearing completion of new defense works being constructed on the Gaza border in response to weekly border riots, threats from anti-tank missiles and other terror attacks, according to a Channel 13 report broadcast on Wednesday.
The project includes defenses against missiles and improved sniper posts, which have been better fortified, placed higher up and in more strategic locations.
Large berms will also protect Israel Defense Forces personnel and conceal troop movements, allowing soldiers move around more freely.
The new defenses were built alongside the underground barriers which protect against terror tunnels, and a high fence which is expected to be completed in mid-2020.
“Once we’re protected here, we’ll control the enemy by observing and he’ll have less ability to harm us. Every part of the defenses are connected in order to create a complete operational system,” said Major Yisrael Peretz, an officer in the Combat Engineering Corps who was assigned to the project.
A sniper post on top of a berm on the Gaza border in footage broadcast by Channel 13 on October 9, 2019. (Screenshot)
The new fortifications will also protect area civilians and roadways. The first installment was a wall protecting the access road to Kibbutz Erez, where a civilian was killed by an anti-tank missile in May.
Israeli soldiers have also come under sniper fire from Gaza.
Khaled Abu Toameh: Arab Israelis step up protests against violent crime
Arab Israelis on Thursday resumed their campaign to protest increased violent crime in the Arab sector.
As part of the campaign, organized by Arab Mks and the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel, the protesters set out from the Galilee and Negev in a convoy of vehicles toward Jerusalem, where they were scheduled to demonstrate outside the Prime Minister’s office and other ministries.
The slow-moving convoys were accompanied by policemen who warned the drivers that they would be served with traffic tickets for obstructing the traffic, some of the protesters said.
Some of the protesters got into shouting matches with the policemen and other nervous drivers heading to Jerusalem on Highway 6, also known as Trans-Israel Highway.
The heads of the Joint List are also scheduled to meet in Jerusalem with Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan and Acting Police Commissioner Moti Cohen to discuss the ways of tackling violent crime in the Arab sector.
MK Ahmed Tibi (Joint List) said that he and his friends will present during the meeting demands and proposals for combating violence and organized crime in the Arab sector.
He said that the Arab representatives would also demand that Erdan apologize for his recent statements that violence in the Arab sector stems from Arab culture. “Arab society, and I say that with sadness, is a very violent society,” Erdan said in a radio interview.
Israel Police and Border Police found 8 pipe bombs during enforcement operations in the Palestinian town of al-Eizariya.
The police were conducting operations focusing on criminal possession of illegal weapons by criminals and others.
The pipe bombs were ready for use and hidden in the apartment. Police sappers neutralized the explosives at the scene and the explosives were transferred to a forensics lab.
One resident of the town was arrested as a suspect and his arrest will be brought for extension at the military court in Ofer Prison.
Weapons possessed illegally are used in terrorist attacks, crimes and serious acts of violence.
“Israel Police and security forces will continue in their determined and uncompromising struggle and will work tirelessly in coordination with all the relevant officials to reduce the amount of illegally held weapons, all with the goal to protect the normative and to enable a normal and safe daily routine for all citizens of Israel,” said an Israel Police spokesperson.
Israeli police entered the Gate of Mercy (Bab al-Rahma) on the Temple Mount on Thursday, arresting five young men and removing wooden partitions, according to the Palestinian Safa News Agency.
The police attempted to prevent people in the Gate of Mercy building from filming the incursion, Palestinian news agency Sawa reported.
Tensions escalated around the Gate of Mercy building earlier this year, when the state attempted to prevent the Jordanian Waqf from building an illegal mosque in the structure.
The Wakf, an arm of the Jordanian Ministry of Sacred Properties, administers the Temple Mount site. Visits by religious Jews to the Temple Mount are monitored by Waqf guards and Israeli police – and all Jewish prayer, including silent prayer, is forbidden, according to the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. No sacred Jewish objects, such as prayer books or prayer shawls, may be brought onto the mount, according to the tourism website Tourist Israel.
The director of Al-Aqsa Mosque Sheikh Omar al-Kiswani told Safa that Israeli police entered the gate and removed wooden partitions and a shoe closet, and arrested five youths and brought them to the police station by the Old City’s Lion’s Gate.
According to Kiswani, 159 “extremists” and 30 Jewish students entered the Temple Mount on Thursday morning. He claimed that four settlers prostrated on the ground and were removed from the premises.
“There is a clear incitement by Israel, and a systematic program to change the reality in Al-Aqsa and impose a new reality in it by armed force,” said Kiswani.
The mosque director called to counter measures by Israel to protect Jews who enter the Temple Mount complex, adding that the struggle over Al-Aqsa is not just a religious conflict but also a fight for sovereignty, and requires “an Arab-Islamic position to support the Waqf and… its guarding of Al-Aqsa in light of the ongoing Israeli attack against it.”
Today marks the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Palestinian Fatah party. Founded first as a terrorist group, it is now a bloated and corrupt political party that is indistinguishable from the PLO. When talking about Palestinian reform, Fatah should be first on the list.
— Jonathan Schanzer (@JSchanzer) October 10, 2019
Some in Israel and America were worried by Trump’s refusal to respond with military force to Iran’s provocations and by his willingness to meet with Iranian representatives to talk about strengthening the nuclear deal. But it appears as if Iran now has no intention of talking to Trump. It may be that they were never serious about dialogue, or that the Democrats’ impeachment efforts have convinced them that Trump is doomed to defeat in November 2020. They appear to be listening to the advice of those who have advised them to wait until January 2021, when any one of the Democrats running against him will reinstate the disastrous pact promoted by President Barack Obama and lift Trump’s sanctions, which have had a devastating impact on Iran’s economy and its ability to spread terror.
Supporters of Obama’s deal argue that at the time, it was the best way to forestall an imminent Iranian nuclear threat and that the only alternative was a war that no one wanted. But Trump has proven the falsity of that claim. The alternative to appeasement of Iran is Trump’s policy of “maximum pressure” to strangle the Iranian economy, which will eventually force the Iranians back to the negotiating table. Or at least it would if the West sticks to it, whether or not Trump is in the White House.
While the Democratic presidential field has shown little interest in foreign policy other than to speak of Trump’s unfitness for office, the candidates ought to be asked about what they intend to do about Iran’s continuing genocidal threats and why a pact that offered it a path to a nuclear bomb should be reinstated.
Iran isn’t a normal country, and neither Europe nor America’s opposition party should speak as if it were.
Mere antipathy for Trump and respect for Obama’s legacy isn’t a good enough answer as to why support for the nuclear deal’s reinstatement is still a consensus issue among Democrats. The same applies to Europe’s belief that the profits it would continue to make from doing business with Tehran is more important than isolating a terror-supporting regime that wants to kill millions of people.
Even after Israel exposed Iran’s nuclear weapons program, and the US withdrew from the deal, reimposing sanctions on the ayatollah regime, journalists and lawmakers on the Left continue to blame the Israeli government for the current state of affairs.
The claims that Israel’s security situation vis-à-vis Iran is the result of the failings of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s governments is shocking. If anyone is responsible for the failings that led to the current Iranian threat it is the “concerned citizens” who just yesterday opposed a military strike and embraced the Iran nuclear deal.
Failure No. 1: The torpedoing of initiatives to strike Iran on no less than three occasions. In 2010, senior defense officials Meir Dagan and Gabi Ashkenazi opposed an initiative to attack proposed by Netanyahu and then-Defense Minister Ehud Barak. One year later, then-IDF Chief of Staff and current Blue and White party chief Benny Gantz opposed a similar move that had the support of Netanyahu, Barak, and then-Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. In 2012, a dispute emerged between Netanyahu and Barak over the timing of such an attack, which as a result was once again not carried out.
Ever since, countless “senior defense officials” have bragged of saving us from a military strike on Iran.
Failure No. 2: The Iran nuclear deal, which was aimed at postponing, not preventing Iran’s nuclearization: The best-case scenario would see Tehran just one year away from acquiring a nuclear bomb. UN Security Council Resolution 2231 went so far as to grant Iran nuclear power status, authorizing the Shiite regime’s enrichment of uranium, including the detonation of a nuclear device, for research purposes, of course.
This was accompanied by a “side deal” that regulated the favorable economic conditions Iran received following the removal of sanctions, including the immediate release of $100 billion to the Iranian economy and a plethora of investments. Iran was not required to cease its terrorist activity or interference in Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, Egypt, or Syria in return for receiving these funds. In fact, Tehran actually received international funding to continue these efforts. Former US President Barack Obama and the Europeans authorized Iran’s development of long-range missiles able to reach Israel, but not Europe.
Despite having nuclear technology, Iran has never pursued building or using nuclear weapons, which its religion forbids, the country’s highest political authority, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said on Wednesday.
Addressing scientists and engineers in Tehran, he said, “Building and stockpiling nuclear bombs is wrong and using it is haram (religiously forbidden) … Although we have nuclear technology, Iran has firmly avoided it,” State TV quoted him as saying.
“We intend also in the future to avoid developing such means and focus on nuclear technologies for civilian purposes only,” he said.
Khamenei further called on the scientists not to despair from the country’s dire economic situation and promised Iran’s scientific community would collaborate with those of other countries.
The relatively conciliatory remarks marked a change in tone and were widely covered by Iranian media outlets, possibly in an effort to send a message to American and European leaders ahead of possible talks to renegotiate the 2015 nuclear deal.
Just last month, Tehran warned that US bases in Afghanistan, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar were within reach of Iranian missiles, should Washington act to strike the Shiite regime.
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