Isi Leibler: A fusion of evils
World leaders continue to delude themselves that the Palestinians can be induced to make peace if Israel continues to appease them.
Even more delusional is the near-universal consensus that a merger between Fatah and the more radical Hamas is a step toward achieving an accommodation. Such a fusion of evil entities can have no positive consequences.
This potential merger is a result of Hamas’ concerns, in the face of economic meltdown, that unless it stems the ongoing collapse of services, it could suffer domestic insurrection.
Hamas agreed that Gaza’s administration would be under the Palestinian Authority’s political umbrella. However, though the PA will supervise border crossings, Hamas leaders are adamant that security will remain entirely under their control, and they will not lay down their weapons.
Nor would they agree to cease building terror tunnels under the Israeli border. On the eve of the reconciliation, Hamas promoted some of its most fanatical terrorists to key positions and also reiterated that it would not contemplate any accommodation with Israel.
The fusion of these two terrorist entities is likely to enable Hamas to ultimately assume control of the Palestinian Authority or displace it entirely. The objective is to apply similar tactics to those Hezbollah employed in Lebanon and, while initially allowing Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to posture as the national leader, Hamas would take effective control of the West Bank.
The U.S. decision to pull out of UNESCO followed failed efforts to reform the agency. While UNESCO’s mission to promote education, science and culture is noble, the agency has become hijacked by dictatorships. Following are a few examples.
- Anti-Israeli Obsession: Between 2009-2014, UNESCO adopted 46 resolutions against Israel; 1 on Syria; and none on Iran, Sudan, North Korea, or any other country in the world. See here and here. Betraying its mission to protect world heritage and culture, UNESCO repeatedly denies the ancient Jewish heritage and culture of the holy cities Jerusalem and Hebron, which was this year declared a World Heritage site of “Palestine.”
- Electing Syria’s Assad to Human Rights Committee: In 2011, UNESCO elected Syria’s Assad regime to its human rights committee. When UN Watch exposed the outrage and launched a protest campaign, the U.S. and UK were embarrassed and tried to remove Syria — but failed to get enough votes to do so.
- Glorifying Violence: In 2013, UNESCO enshrined “The Life and Works of Ernesto Che Guevara” in its “Memory of the World Register” —even though Che Guevara led the first firing squads of the Cuban Revolution, and founded Cuba’s “labor camp” system that would later be used to incarcerate gays, dissidents and AIDS victims. President Obama’s representative demanded that UNESCO’s program not “not be used as a tool to glorify or legitimize violence.” His objection was ignored.
- Naming Prizes for Dictators: UNESCO created a $3 million prize in 2008 named for and funded by President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, the brutal and corrupt dictator of Equitorial Guinea. His state radio announced that Obiang “can decide to kill” without anyone calling him to account because he is in “permanent contact” with God, “who gives him this strength.” In addition, UNESCO created an education prize in the name of, and sponsored by, the despot of Bahrain — the “King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa Prize.”
- “World Philosophy Day” in Tehran: In a 2010 address, UNESCO director-general Irina Bokova spoke of her efforts over two years to sponsor a “Philosophy Day” in Tehran — despite Iran’s horrific record of repression and censorship after the fraudulent elections of 2009. Absurdly, Bokova said “I hope this will be a major opportunity for free intellectual debates around the topics.” Eventually UNESCO was forced to cancel the event.
Melanie Phillips: The west takes up its usual position
What is it about unconscionable agendas that sends the western head plunging ever deeper into the sand? Please join me here as I discuss with Avi Abelow of Israel Video Network the reaction to President Trump’s speech on the Iran deal, the new pact between Hamas and Fatah and Tony Blair’s latest contribution to the west’s incorrigible myopia.
Trump’s decision showed “leadership” because for months many people within the administration, some in the White House and the European Union tried to persuade him to continue to certify the Iran deal, the ambassador said. Israel wasn’t the only nation praising Trump’s decision to back out of the Iran deal but King Salman bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia made a call to the White House where he “praised President Trump for his visionary new Iran strategy and pledged to support American leadership,” noted a statement released Saturday from the White House regarding a telephone call between the two leaders.
“The Iran deal put us on Cruise Control, heading over a cliff,” Dermer said. “It’s Israel, It’s Saudi Arabia, it’s the Emirates, and when Israel and the Arab states are on the same page that should tell you something…We were the guinea pigs in this experiment, and it’s not working. So when your allies in the region are telling you how bad this deal is, how bad Iran’s behavior is and they are applauding President Trump for taking a stand.”
Dermer told Circa that Congress should take a careful look at the clauses and the “sunset provisions” buried in the Iran deal. The sunset provisions is an area most in contention by opponents, who state that when the restrictions imposed on Iran expire, the regime can continue its path to acquiring nuclear weapons. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, an outspoken critic of the deal, said during the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 19, “in a few years, [nuclear] restrictions will be automatically removed…not by a change in Iran’s behavior, not by a lessening of its terror or its aggression—they’ll just be removed by a mere change in the calendar.”
“I hope Congress will seize the opportunity that President Trump gave them to fix what is a very bad deal,” said Dermer. “And hopefully, turn a bad deal, with Iran, into a good policy, visa vi Iran and that’s going to require Congress to make some of the changes, you know, the president himself can terminate this deal. He doesn’t need Congress for that but actually to fix a lot of the problems, he does need Congress.”
For at least six months now, Israel has been exercising restraint over the Syrian anti-aircraft fire at Israel Air Force planes. For at least six months now, Israel has been warning Syria that if the fire doesn’t stop, the batteries of those missiles will be targeted.
A rule of thumb in the Israeli security policy determines that any anti-aircraft system with missile batteries that “illuminate” and “close in” on an IAF aircraft will be destroyed, all the more so if the missiles have been launched. Israel’s air supremacy—in other words, its freedom of action in the arena—is one of the most sensitive issues in the Israeli security perception, which guarantees its military supremacy.
Since March 2017, Syria has changed its policy of responding to IAF activities in the country: It no longer ignores and hides behind Israel’s denial of the strikes, but it actively responds in an attempt to shoot down an Israeli aircraft or unmanned aerial vehicle operating in the arena.
During these months, IAF photography and patrol flights were attacked with Syrian anti-aircraft fire quite a few times. Israel avoided reporting these events—either due to diplomatic-security reasons or because the conditions for responding by attacking the batteries had not been created yet—but it did convey explicit warnings to the Syrians, which apparently were not taken seriously in Damascus.
After realizing that the Iranians were not taking Israel seriously either (Tehran appeared unfazed by the Israeli warning that it would not accept permanent Iranian bases on Syrian soil), Israel could no longer afford to keep threatening without responding. On Monday, the IDF had an opportunity to fulfill the “open skies” policy while making it clear to the Iranians as well that the Israelis are dead serious.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told Israel that Moscow has agreed to expand a buffer zone along the Israeli-Syrian border, where Iranian and Hezbollah forces will not be allowed to enter, Arab media reported Wednesday.
The statement attributed to an Israeli diplomatic official by London-based Asharq Al-Awsat said that Russia had refused the Israeli request for a 40 kilometers (25 miles) buffer zone, but expressed willingness to extend a 10-15 kilometer off-limits zone. Russia, which views Iran as a key player in resolving the crisis in Syria, has repeatedly emphasized the importance of the role that the Islamic Republic plays in the war-torn country.
As the war in Syria seems to be winding down in Assad’s favor due to Moscow’s intervention, Israel fears that Iran will help Hezbollah produce accurate precision-guided missiles and aid Hezbollah and other Shi’ite militias to strengthen their foothold in the Golan Heights.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has publicly criticized a US-Russian cease-fire deal in Syria, saying that it does not include any provisions to stop Iranian expansion in the area. Russia is reported to have rejected a request from Jerusalem for a 40-kilometer buffer zone between the Golan Heights and any Iranian-backed militias in Syria, only agreeing to make sure that no Shi’ite fighter would come closer than 5 kilometers from Israel.
Iran’s military chief warned Israel against violating Syrian airspace and territory on a visit to Damascus on Wednesday, Iranian state media said, a sign of rising tensions with Israel as it voices concern over Iranian influence in Syria.
General Mohammad Baqeri also pledged to increase cooperation with the Syrian military to fight Israel and insurgents in Syria, where Iranian forces and Iran-backed militias including Hezbollah have provided critical military support to Damascus.
“It’s not acceptable for the Zionist regime to violate the land and airspace of Syria anytime it wants,” Baqeri said in the Syrian capital at a news conference with his Syrian counterpart.
“We are in Damascus to assert and cooperate to confront our common enemies, the Zionists and terrorists,” he said, a reference to Israel and Sunni Muslim jihadists including Islamic State. “We drew up the broad lines for this cooperation,” Syrian state media cited the Iranian military chief of staff as saying.
Iran’s military chief of staff indicated Wednesday that Tehran would not tolerate violations of Syrian sovereignty by Israel and vowed that the two countries would jointly fight against Syria’s enemies.
His comments came after Israel on Monday struck an anti-aircraft battery inside Syria, which followed the firing of a Syrian missile at Israeli planes on reconnaissance flights over Lebanon.
“It is not acceptable for the Zionist regime to violate Syria any time it wants,” General Mohammad Bagheri said during a rare visit to Damascus that began Tuesday evening.
He said he was in the Syrian capital to coordinate and cooperate “in order to fight our common enemies — whether they are the Zionists or the terrorists. We discussed ways to strengthen relations in the future and outlined the basic principles of this cooperation,” he said.
The Kurdish defeat in Kirkuk was also defeat for the United States — but Washington can recover and regain its foothold in Iraq. It needs to establish red lines in the region that Tehran is not allowed to cross, under the threat of U.S. intervention against its proxies and interests, and under the threat that it may provide Kurdish forces with the weapons and training to act as an effective counterweight to Iranian power. With or without U.S. support, the Kurds will continue the fight for Kirkuk: The disputed city is to Iraqi Kurds what the holy city of Najaf is to Iraqi Shiites. The United States must reconcile this goal with its own policy of containing Iran, as well as facilitate a process of dialogue and reconciliation in the aftermath of the Kirkuk conflict and the Kurdish independence referendum, lest it continue to leave that process to its enemies in the region.
Most of all, the United States must look at the big picture in the Middle East. A political order is emerging from the ruins of war in Syria and Iraq, and America’s enemies are claiming their stake in the future of the region. The Kurdistan Regional Government is doing the same, holding a referendum on independence three weeks ago against Washington’s wishes. However, what is unfolding in Iraq and the Middle East today is much bigger than Kurdish independence — it will determine not just the geopolitics of the region in the coming decades but also whether events will unfold in a way that favors the interests of the United States and its allies.
When the United States pulls out of the Middle East, its enemies end up filling the vacuum. That’s what happened in 2011, when Iran saw its influence skyrocket in Baghdad after the U.S. troop withdrawal. Tehran not only gained a greater stake in Iraq – it gained a free hand to extend its resources and proxies into the ensuing civil war in Syria, where Tehran has secured the survival of Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
Iran’s investment in armed proxies across the Arab world has paid dividends. While many actors were ill-prepared for the emerging regional order, in which armed groups have in some places supplanted partly collapsed states, Iran has decades’ worth of experience on its side. Proxy warfare has been its stock in trade: Lebanon’s Hezbollah has played a decisive role in Syria since it captured the strategic town of Qusayr in 2013, and Iraqi Shiite militias have flooded Syria to fight alongside the regime, many of them battle-hardened from their decade-long experience of fighting American and British personnel in Iraq.
Nine months after Trump promised to defeat ISIS “quickly and effectively,” the US armed forces and their Kurdish allies took Raqqa, which until Tuesday was the capital of the the Caliphate. After scornfully minimizing ISIS as a “JV team”, Barack Obama realized his egregious misnomer, but then said that “it will take time” and “it is a long-term and complex challenge.”
Joshua Keating, writing for the left-wing newspaper Slate, noted that Trump had instructed the Pentagon to loosen the rules for air strikes to the minimum required by international law by eliminating the White House surveillance procedures to protect civilians and ordering the CIA to resume targeted killing (America has just bombed in Yemen for the first time). Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, a well-known Trump critic, praised this “dramatic change” over Obama’s politician’s management. The result is quite obvious.
In July, ISIS was expelled from Mosul and this week Raqqa was freed. Trump did in nine months what Obama did not accomplish in three years.
And Europe, the famous multilateral Europe? Angela Merkel sealed the pact with Erdogan’s Turks, those who are bombing the Kurds, and Macron’s France tightened the ranks around the covenant with Iran, the force that pushed the Kurds out of Kirkuk. Europe is still held prisoner by the syndrome of Munich.
You see these videos of women from Raqqa who have given up the veils that ISIS had imposed upon them. These videos are the most beautiful image of the just war against Islamic fundamentalism. But there is a sour note: in 2001, when the Afghans raised their faces to the sky and played with kites again, all the Westerners were there to free them, while today only the Kurds and the US made it possible.
If it were up to Mr. Obama and Monsieur Hollande, the French loser who said “we will bombard Raqqa” after 90 people were murdered at Le Bataclan, today the Caliphate, instead of losing Raqqa, would be in Regensburg, Germany.
Thank you, Kurdish friends! Thank you, America!
Ron Prosor: Israel bashing is UNESCO’s drug of choice
As a lifelong Israeli diplomat, especially when at the United Nations, I took comfort in Churchill’s definition of success, of “going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm”.
But the past two weeks have yielded relative successes regarding UNESCO.
The United States announced its withdrawal from UNESCO, Israel followed suit, and the French candidate for director-general of the organisation won an unlikely election victory against candidates from Egypt and Qatar.
UNESCO, the United Nations Organisation for Education, Science and Culture, was founded in 1945 to bring nations together around liberal democratic values such as education, equality, science, press freedom and the preservation of world heritage sites. “Building peace in the minds of men and women,” proclaims its slogan.
Yet it often poisons minds with the politics of conflict, making peace further away. Anti-Israel obsession is a driving force of its hypocrisy and incompetence.
UNESCO’s Israel-bashing frequently distorts history. It declared Rachel’s Tomb a Palestinian Heritage site, without acknowledging its Jewish significance. Last Israeli Independence Day, it “celebrated” by stripping the Jewish people of any historical claim to Jerusalem.
None of this is new. The United Nations’ hypocrisy and bias has been a constant irritation since Israel was founded. It was David Ben Gurion, the country’s founding prime minister, who coined a derisive phrase, “Um Shmum,” that remains popular in Israel today. (“Um” is the Hebrew pronunciation of the United Nation’s initials; the “sh” prefix is a way of signaling dismissal.) Attitudes haven’t changed much since then: In 2009, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu argued that “the jury is still out on the United Nations” and that “recent signs are not encouraging.”
And yet despite all this, Israel still chooses to be a part of the United Nations. Even amid Unesco’s repeated, ridiculous resolutions, the Israeli government resisted the temptation to withdraw from the organization. Israeli policy toward Unesco was — like its policy toward the rest of the United Nations — pretty simple: Remain a member and fight as hard as you can. Be a player. Do not give Israel’s foes what they want, which is Israel cast aside and ostracized by the international community.
Sometimes (though admittedly not often), Israeli even has the chance to achieve something at the United Nations. For example, just before the Trump administration announced its plan to withdraw, Unesco delayed a vote on an anti-Israel resolution. It might not sound like much, but Israel’s envoy to Unesco described it as an “achievement” that was “the result of three years of exhausting, frustrating and difficult diplomatic work.”
Enter President Trump. An Israeli strategy 70 years in the making is suddenly severely undermined. (According to news reports, the American decision was made without consulting the Israeli government.) Mr. Netanyahu then announced that when the United States quits Unesco, Israel will follow suit. It has no alternative. Israel can’t possibly let the United States leave an organization over anti-Israel bias and still remain a member itself. At the same time, Israel also can’t appear ungrateful toward the United States and hint that leaving Unesco might not be the best move for Israel.
But the truth is, Israel would prefer to continue its longtime strategy at the United Nations: staying a member and fighting for Israel’s interests. Israel would rather work on getting Unesco to improve — become a little less hostile, and even more so, less obsessed with Israel. But now that option seems to be in danger.
Very few things enjoy across the board support from rival political camps in Israel, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision last week to start “preparing” to leave UNESCO was one of them.
Such is the animosity felt in Israel to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization for its slew of anti-Israel resolutions passed in recent years — many denying a Jewish connection to the holiest historical sites in the Land of Israel.
However, Israel’s pullout is unlikely to bring about the desired change at the organization, critics charge. If anything, it may negatively affect the Jewish state’s interests, they argue.
Israelis have long debated whether it is better to engage with biased organizations, trying to improve them from the inside, or to quit in order to delegitimize such bodies. So far with UNESCO, Jerusalem has mostly opted for the first option, despite the mounting frustration with absurdly one-sided resolutions. Last week, the latter school of thought achieved a grand victory.
First claiming victory, then quitting
The irony is that Israel announced its desire to leave a day after it finally had some success there. And in part, the decision was spurred not by Israeli planning, but by a surprise US decision to quit.
Nix-Hines went on to claim that “UNESCO is the only international organisation that teaches Holocaust education” and “the only organisation that is really doing anything serious to develop educational tools to help young people resist violent extremism and encourage tolerance and multiculturalism” before making a statement that Franks chose not to explore further.
Nix-Hines: “And why should, you know, a power like the United States let the Palestinians and their supporters drive us out of an organisation that we helped found and we’re moving in the right direction?”
Franks’ final question related to the possibility of change at UNESCO that might “persuade the US to reverse its decision”. His interviewee’s response included further political comment:
Nix-Hines”…we [the US delegation] encouraged the organisation to return to that depoliticised time. And they could still do that and it would be a positive step in the right direction. But nonetheless it’s important to stay engaged in these international organisations – as the Obama administration realised – to promote real change.”
Listeners to this item once again heard superfluous qualification appended to the phrase anti-Israel bias. They heard one particular view of the US administration’s announcement – along with one particular shade of political comment – with no alternative view offered.
They did not however hear Tim Franks present any sort of serious challenge to the person who represented the United States at UNESCO for two and a half years on the question of why she and others failed to make any progress in ‘depoliticising’ the organisation in that time.
Listeners to another BBC World Service radio programme the next day heard a repeat of some of Nix-Hines’ comments. That broadcast will be discussed in part two of this post.
In this BBC World Service programme and in the edition of ‘Newshour’ aired the previous evening which addressed the same topic, listeners heard a total of five uniformly negative opinions of the US State Department’s announcement to withdraw from UNESCO – with no alternative views offered at all. They likewise heard monochrome commentary on the story from the point of view of US politics: hardly an example of the BBC’s supposed commitment to “due impartiality”.
In neither programme, however, did listeners hear an accurate, comprehensive and impartial portrayal of the extent of – and reasons behind – the anti-Israel bias at UNESCO that prompted the US to take the step under such copious discussion.
Apparently the BBC World Service needs to be reminded that it is obliged to “provide accurate and impartial news, current affairs and factual programming of the highest editorial standards so that all audiences can engage fully with issues across the UK and the world”.
The Palestinian Authority is racist against Jews, Likud MK Sharren Haskel said at the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s 137th assembly in St. Petersburg, Russia, this week.
Haskel, who is on the board of the IPU’s Forum of Young Parliamentarians, responded to accusations of racism against Israel made by the PA by saying: “The law in the Palestinian Authority says whoever sells land to a Jew will be killed. Isn’t that a racist law? Your legislation has been racist against Jews for years.”
“Israel is the only country in the Middle East that is a democracy that gives equal rights to all its citizens no matter if they’re Muslim, Christian, Druse, Beduin, Jews,” Haskel argued. “In that sense I think it’s quite obvious that when you say the only problem is the occupation you need to look inside [the PA ]. Look at what the problem really is.
“We coexist in Israel with all this multiculturalism and different religions, yet you continue to incite your younger generation to more terrorism,” she added.
Haskel called on the Palestinians to “stop inciting to more terrorism, more violence and more hatred,” if they want peace.
The Knesset delegation, led by Zionist Union MK Nachman Shai, succeeded in keeping the Israel- Palestinian conflict off the assembly’s official agenda. Shai saw the development as a positive result of their diplomatic efforts at the assembly, in which attendees represent more than 170 countries and feature 70 parliament speakers. Past assemblies generally included discussions of the conflict.
Israel must halt new building plans for settler homes in the West Bank, the European Union’s foreign service said in a statement on Wednesday, warning that such settlements threatened any future peace deal with the Palestinians.
“The European Union has requested clarifications from Israeli authorities and conveyed the expectation that they reconsider these decisions, which are detrimental to on-going efforts towards meaningful peace talks,” the statement said.
“All settlement activity is illegal under international law, and it undermines the viability of the two-state solution and the prospect for a lasting peace.”
There are no windows in Brigadier-General Yitzhak (Itzik) Turgeman’s office. There is no mobile phone signal either. That’s the way it is when you sit several floors underground, in the Kirya Base “pit.” Some of the officers serving in this claustrophobic place, the General Staff’s Operations Division, found a creative solution. They went up to the top floor of the adjacent General Staff tower, took a picture of the Tel Aviv landscape and hang the framed photo on the wall. It’s as close as one can get to a window there.
The interview with Brig. Gen. Turgeman, head of the Operations Division, offers an extremely rare peek into his classified and unusual workspace. It’s an underground maze of corridors, operations rooms, offices and conference rooms, including the chief of staff’s emergency bureau.
“I call it the beehive,” he says. “Serving in the operations center in the pit isn’t really like serving in the Kirya. It means working 24/7 during routine times and during emergencies. The entire operational activity takes place here. We plan all the programs, synchronize all the bodies, and in the end, it’s issued as an order. Hundreds of people man the place, a very committed and strong reserve system, functionaries who have been with us for many years. The quality of the people here is uncompromising. Many of the officers are women, mothers. Such an officer can leave at 4 pm, pick up her kids, give them dinner and come back here till 1 am.”
Some of the officers pass through the Operations Division as part of their operational promotion path—after a regiment commander position, before a brigade commander position. Others have been serving in the pit for a long time, sometimes more than a decade, and are known as the “knowledge hub.” They usually have a rich operational background as well.
“I always thought I knew the army,” says one of the officers, who served as a regiment commander in the past, “but only when I came here I realized I hardly knew anything.” This comment is repeated by nearly every officer you talk to in the pit. They know so much, but are allowed to reveal so little. “A young operations sergeant goes home after a shift at the IDF’s nerve center, and all she can tell her friends and family is that she serves in the Kirya,” explains a head of one of the IDF branches.
“The service here is very demanding,” says Turgeman, “and many people are afraid to come here because of the hours and the urgent calls. But those who come don’t want to leave. We’re a small operational family. The complete disconnection from the outside world isn’t easy either. The only window I have here is the picture on the wall. No one, not even my wife, can get hold of me on the phone here.”
The United Nations Human Rights Council has been pressuring Israeli telecommunications giant Bezeq to cut off its services to settlements, saying that the company is promoting the illegal communities and their expansion, the Washington Free Beacon reported.
Bezeq currently provides the same services to Israeli cities and towns within the Green Line and to the settlements beyond it. By pressuring the company to suspend services to Israel’s West Bank settlements, the UNHRC has been accused of “blackmail” and of participating in the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement that many Israelis see as antisemitic.
The UNHRC has been working to compile a database of companies working with Israel in its illegal settlements. The Trump administration, as well as the Israeli government, is said to oppose the database.
In a letter to the company’s CEO, the international body said that Bezeq is ”supporting the maintenance and existence of settlements,” and ”[using] nature resources, in particular water and land, for business purposes,” and states that, in addition to servicing West Bank settlements, the company also owns properties in the Palestinian territories as well.
One activist said that letters like the one sent to Bezeq as part of the database campaign are ”nothing short of an assault on the economic welfare on the State of Israel, period.”
Approximately 30 American companies are said to have received similar letters.
IDF soldiers on Wednesday shot and wounded a Palestinian man who ran at them with a knife at the Gush Etzion Junction in the West Bank, the army said.
No Israelis were reported injured in the incident.
The soldiers called for the man to stop. When he didn’t, they opened fire, the army said.
He sustained wounds to the stomach, and he was taken to Jerusalem’s Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem for treatment.
According to the hospital, the man is in moderate to serious condition, with a gunshot wound to the stomach. He is approximately 20 years old.
IDF and Shin Bet forces raided eight media and production companies providing services to Palestinian television channels affiliated with Hamas and Islamic Jihad overnight Wednesday.
Equipment was impounded during the raid and two suspects were arrested on suspicion of incitement.
The IDF served closure orders to several companies, including Pal Media, Ram Sat and Trans Media in Nablus, Hebron and Ramallah. During the raid, forces also entered the offices of the Palestinian television channels at the buildings owned by the media companies.
The companies provided services for, among others, Hamas’s Al-Quds and Al-Aqsa channels and the Palestine Al-Youm channel affiliated with Islamic Jihad. The three aforementioned channels broadcast from Gaza and Lebanon and are considered very popular among Palestinians both in Gaza and the West Bank.
The channels did not cease operations, however, as they are based in Gaza and Lebanon. The purpose of the raid was to merely shut down their physical presence in the West Bank.
A Palestinian militant linked to the Islamic State jihadist group in the Sinai Peninsula has reportedly been killed by an Israeli drone in retaliation for rocket fire launched from the Egyptian territory into Israel.
Gaza native Zaher Abu Sitta was killed by the drone strike earlier this week, according to the Amaq News Agency which is linked to the IS faction in the Sinai.
The reported strikes were in the area of Rafah and Sheikh Zweid in northern Sinai, and came shortly after the firing of two rockets on Sunday night that landed in the Eshkol region of Israel causing no damage or injuries.
The Islamic State group took responsibility for the attacks.
Tribal sources in the Sinai Peninsula said Israeli planes attacked targets in the Egyptian territory a short time after rockets were fired into Israel, the Qatar-based Al-Araby Al-Jadeed media outlet reported.
Israel has not indicated or confirmed that it responded to the rocket attack in any way.
The IDF agreed to expand the range of the fishing waters Gazan fishermen can safely sail in from six nautical miles to nine, the IDF spokesperson unit stated on Tuesday.
Starting from Wednesday, Gaza fishermen will be able to sail further than before in order to fish. This new regulation will be upheld during the two months of the fishing season, aiding the second most important trade in Gaza to expand.
In May and June, previous expansions of the fishing range created hundreds of new jobs for Gazans in the fishing industry, and Gaza was able to sell over 21 tons of fish to overseas markets and the West Bank.
The Gazan union of Fishermen and the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture were involved in the negotiation process with Israeli security.
Despite a reconciliation deal signed last week between rival Palestinian factions, the Palestinian terror group Hamas slammed Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas, who heads the Fatah party, for not yet lifting crippling sanctions on the Gaza Strip.
“The failure of [Palestinian] Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to respond affirmatively to the popular and national demands to cancel his arbitrary measures against our people in Gaza is unjustifiable and a clear denial of the demands of reconciliation,” Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum tweeted on Monday. “He must bear responsibility for exacerbating the people’s suffering and crises.”
As part of the unity deal, the PA promised to lift sanctions imposed on Hamas-ruled Gaza during the past year in exchange for the restoration of a PA-controlled government in the coastal territory by Dec. 1.
Fatah spokesman Osama Qawasmeh said sanctions would likely only be lifted once Hamas allowed the PA to regain power in Gaza.
“We agreed with Hamas in Cairo to enable the government to work. We need to make sure this is achieved,” Qawasmeh said, The Jerusalem Post reported. “The government will be going to Gaza this week to evaluate the situation. Thereafter, it will send a report to [Abbas], who will make the appropriate decision.”
In a widely underreported move, the Egyptian Army began demolishing the homes of civilians in the city of Rafah on Oct. 4, 2017. The move, an Al-Monitor report noted, was “part of the third stage of building a border buffer zone with the Gaza Strip (“Egypt’s army destroys Sinai homes to expand Gaza buffer,” Oct. 11, 2017).”
The buffer line, the dispatch stated, is part of an attempt to destroy tunnels used by terrorist groups, such as Hamas, to smuggle operatives and materials between Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula. The process has been ongoing since October 2014. In its third phase, as with the preceding two, an area of 500 meters was added.
Al-Monitor claimed to have received a copy of the press statement of the governor of northern Sinai, Abdel Fattah Harhoor. Among other things, it said that the third phase of the buffer zones development was essential to “protecting Egypt’s national security and countering terrorism,” Al-Monitor said.
Those residents who have been displaced as a result of its construction are “facing difficulties in finding alternative housing,” the paper reported. The publication added:
“Hundreds have resorted to building huts from the remains of houses and palm trees in desert areas in the surroundings of Sheikh Zuweid, Rafah and el-Arish. But their presence in these areas puts their lives at risk because there has been constant military combing and launching of random missiles between the army and the Egyptian branch of the Islamic State, Wilayat Sinai, since 2013.”
Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Shia terrorist group in Lebanon, has been using a bank with close ties to the president of the Democratic Republic of Congo to launder money and maintain a terror-funding network under the control of a Hezbollah financier arrested by US authorities earlier this year, a new investigative report released this week asserts.
Issued on Monday, the report – compiled by researchers at The Sentry, an online publication connected with the Washington, DC-based anti-genocide advocacy organization Enough – documents how Hezbollah financiers have used the BGFIBank DRC to move money around the international banking system in violation of US sanctions on Hezbollah and other terrorist groups. The CEO of BGFIBank DRC is Francis Selemani Mtwale, brother of DR Congo’s president, Joseph Kabila.
The report noted that the transactions were carried out by subsidiaries of Kinshasa-based business conglomerate Congo Futur, a company under US Treasury Department sanctions. Warnings to senior bank officials, including Mtwale, went unheeded, the report said, and “the bank’s relationship with Hezbollah-linked companies continued.”
Hezbollah terrorists are exploiting Germany’s refugee policy and entering the country as part of the recent wave of Middle East migrants, according to a Jerusalem Post review of a German intelligence report released this month.
“Since mid-2015 there are increased indications of fighters from Shiite militias entering Germany as legal refugees,” the report says, and “roughly 50% [of the fighters] show a direct connection to Hezbollah.”
A growing number of Hezbollah operatives are settling in the North Rhine-Westphalia region, the report says. The region hosts the Imam-Mahdi Center — a traditional hub for Hezbollah operatives. The report also cites a growing and open Hamas presence in North Rhine-Westphalia, despite Germany’s terrorist designation of the Palestinian organization. According to the Germans, Hamas supporters exploit Germany to “collect funds” and “recruit new members to spread their propaganda.”
According to a 2014 Berlin intelligence report summarized by The Jerusalem Post, there were roughly 950 Hezbollah members throughout Germany at that time. The number of Hezbollah supporters now in Germany is believed to be far higher than the number listed in the report.
In a recent article in The Atlantic, Iran’s American-educated and Machiavellian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif writes that the Middle East is in disarray because of foreign powers’ regular intervention in the region. There is no doubt that foreign countries have contributed to the chaos in the region, but so has Iran. One of the reasons Afghanistan continues to be in such turmoil, for example, is because of Iran’s constant interference in the affairs of that country. Iran also supports, arms and trains groups that regularly stage attacks against the government and people of Afghanistan.
Zarif enumerates the sins and atrocities that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have committed in the region, such as spreading Wahabbism, supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan, and funding al-Qaida and its offshoot outfits. Zarif writes, “[Saudi Arabia and the UAE] spend billions more of [their] wealth spreading Wahabbism – a medieval ideology of hate and exclusion – from the Far East to the Americas. They support organized non-state actors who wreak havoc through terror and civil wars. In the case of Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and the UAE went as far as officially recognizing the Taliban as the government – becoming two of only three countries in the world that did so.”
What Zarif ignores is that his country is equally responsible for the instability and chaotic situation in Afghanistan and many other parts of the Middle East.
Iran has regularly not only interfered in the affairs of Afghanistan but has also backed the Taliban and other terrorist groups. Iran has engaged in such behavior to retaliate against the US military presence in Afghanistan and to ensure it remains a key player in the affairs of the country. Iran continues to maintain a rapport with the Taliban leadership and has provided them with weapons, equipment, training and funding.
In a shocking turn of events U.S. Senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders has succeeded in doing what no other U.S. politician could: diplomatically ending the Iranian Nuclear Program.
Bernie explained in a recent CNN interview. “I got the idea from watching the very funny program, Curb Your Enthusiasm. So, I decided to contact my local Iranian consul. If Larry David can get out of a fatwa, surely Bernie Sanders can get the Islamic Republic of Iran to give up its nuclear ambitions. I didn’t finish the episode, but I assume it worked out well.”
After several lengthy phone conversations, special arrangements were made for the 76-year-old senator to have a private meeting with President Hassan Rouhani. Despite their obvious political differences the two managed to reach an agreement, regarding the nuclear program. Rouhani agreed to suspend the nuclear program and even to shut down the existing nuclear power plants, within the next ten years. When asked what led to his decision, Rouhani responded, “He just seemed like such a nice guy.”
TMB was able to obtain a brief interview with Senator Sanders. We asked if he would apply his diplomatic magic to North Korea. He replied, “Absolutely not. I’m not touching that one with a 50-foot pole.”
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