August 25, 2019

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11/23 Links Pt1: Melanie Phillips: The brain-frying insanity of the demonisation of Israel; Hamas exploits sick Palestinians for terrorism; German MPs slam FM Maas for abandoning Israel at U.N.

http://elderofziyon.blogspot.com/2018/11/1123-links-pt1-melanie-phillips-brain.html

From Ian:


Brendan O’Neill: Airbnb’s ban on Israeli settlements is shameful
So alongside being the only country that pop stars refuse to play in, and the only country whose academics are boycotted on Western campuses, and the only country whose dancers and violinists cannot perform in cities like London without gangs of people screaming them down, and the only country whose produce is routinely avoided by luvvies and liberals, now Israel is the only country that has been politically punished by holiday app cum conscience of the Twitterati, Airbnb.

Airbnb has taken the extraordinary decision to stop advertising homes for rent in Jewish settlements in the West Bank. It is extraordinary because Airbnb still advertises places to stay in Tibet, a place many Tibetans consider to be unjustly dominated by China. And in Crimea, recently annexed by Russia. And in Northern Cyprus, a Turkish-ruled statelet since the mid-1970s, which only Turkey recognises as a legitimate state, and to which Turkey has sent huge numbers of settlers in recent decades. Why are Turkish settlers less offensive to the Western conscience than Jewish ones? Why is it OK to rent a holiday apartment in Turkish-settled Northern Cyprus but not in Israeli-settled parts of the West Bank? Anyone?

What’s more, you can still get Airbnb places in countries which in recent years have executed far worse acts of war and militarism than Israel has. Saudi Arabia, for example, which has plunged Yemen into one of the most barbaric crises of humanity of recent decades: no Airbnb pangs of conscience about doing business in Saudi. And in Turkey, whose recent treatment of Kurds in Syria, and in Turkey itself of course, has been bloody and chilling. But never mind all that — roll up, roll up, get yourself an Airbnb hangout in the state that has repressed and murdered huge numbers of Kurds!

It is only Israeli-claimed territory that is singled out. It is only Jewish settlements that are punished. It is only apartments being offered for rent by Jewish people who believe in the idea of Greater Israel that are delisted. Only those people. But we shouldn’t be surprised. It is always only those people. Israel is always singled out. It is treated by right-on Westerners as being more wicked, more toxic, more evil and more destructive than any other state on Earth. That is why they boycott it, rage about it and take to the streets about it in a way they never do about Turkey, Saudi Arabia or anywhere else. They hate Israel more than any other place. The question is: why?

Melanie Phillips: The brain-frying insanity of the demonisation of Israel

Why indeed. Certainly antisemitism is there in the mix. So too is leftist ideology which ludicrously regards Israel as a colonialist oppressor.

The question remains, however, why the Palestinian cause rather than any other became the issue of issues for the western left. One crucial factor is surely the strategic alliance in the 1970s between the PLO leader Yasser Arafat and the former Soviet Union to turn it into precisely such a defining cause.

Millions of dollars were spent on bombarding the universities and other western institutions with lies about Palestinian and Middle East history. Arafat and the Soviets had a joint interest in creating an entirely fake Palestinian identity, intended not only to bring about the destruction of Israel by casting it as the pariah of the world but also to undermine and destabilise the west by destroying its ability to understand the true threats to life and liberty and to mistake its friends for its enemies and vice versa.

The demonisation of Israel thus exhibits the signature motif of Soviet totalitarianism: a passage through the mirror into a nightmarish world where black is white and lies are truths and everything is the negation of reality, and those who state the facts are stamped upon as enemies of the people.

Which is why the extreme animus against Israel as displayed by the Quakers, Airbnb and a myriad others in so-called “progressive” circles isn’t just a double standard and vicious prejudice but also seems utterly, surreally, brain-fryingly mad.

Anglo-Israeli singers’ Airbnb song spreads like wildfire

PORTNOY, the British-Israeli singing duo, released a song late Thursday slamming Airbnb for its recent decision to remove listings in West Bank settlements.

“I’m gonna take you off my phone/ Until you stop discriminating on my home,” the brothers sing in the new catchy clip. “I’m gonna take you off my phone/ Just like you wiped us off of your own.”

The brothers, Sruli and Mendy, were outraged by the Airbnb decision this week, and wanted to add their voices to the call for the company to “stay out of politics… we should all boycott them instead,” Sruli told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.

On Wednesday, they posted a clip to their Facebook page with a short version of the song “we wrote in about 20 minutes.” But they were shocked and furious when it disappeared from the site with no explanation.

“Three hours after we released it, it just vanished from Facebook,” Sruli said. “We didn’t get a message from Facebook that there was a violation – it just disappeared as if it was never there… it felt very violating.”

Airbnb falls for BDS’s antisemitic trap

Of course, Airbnb’s services will be available to Palestinians and tourists in Area A of the West Bank – an area which Israelis are prohibited from entering. There are even listings in Gaza, controlled by the Hamas terror group, that are obviously unavailable to Israelis as well. Not to mention that Israelis, simply because they are citizens of the Jewish State, are excluded from Algeria, Bangladesh, Brunei, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, the UAE and Yemen. HRW and its “Israel and Palestine Director” Omar Shakir distorted reality when they argued that by “delisting” a few apartments in the West Bank, Airbnb had met its “human rights responsibilities.”

The hypocrisy of the celebratory rhetoric demonstrates the nature of this BDS campaign. For HRW, JVP, and the broader and irresponsible NGO network, a political move that will not help a single Palestinian nor bring the region closer to peace, is a great “victory.” Is going after 139 (out of more than four million) Airbnb listings truly the greatest human rights concern warranting two years of advocacy efforts, time, and money?

Yet, Airbnb, demonstrating complete ignorance of the Arab-Israeli conflict’s political dynamics, fell for their trap.

In the age of corporate social responsibility, companies are paying closer attention to the impacts of their business on equality and human rights. NGOs are trusted as third-party monitors, alerting companies to when they become complicit in harm, even if this trust is undeserved and betrayed.

Unfortunately, these noble concepts have been hijacked by discriminatory BDS activists. In contrast to the universal ideals of human rights, BDS campaigns attempt to isolate Israel internationally and to challenge the Jewish State’s very legitimacy. According to the IHRA definition of antisemitism, the “double standards” utilized by these campaigns are antisemitic. BDS is also against dialogue and peaceful coexistence, as activists favor “anti-normalization” policies that drive Israelis and Palestinians further apart. They are further against Airbnb’s own belief in bringing “people together in as many places as possible around the world.”

And yet, Airbnb, a company that prides itself on “nondiscrimination” and is committed to “inclusion and respect,” is now engaged in this discriminatory campaign.

JPost Editorial: Countering Airbnb

Speaking at the Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference on Wednesday, Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan slammed the popular online rental company Airbnb’s decision this week to delist places to stay in West Bank settlements as “appalling, hypocritical, outrageous, discriminatory and counterproductive.”

Erdan pointed the finger at the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, and urged the US and 190 other countries in which Airbnb operates to initiate or activate legislation against BDS to counter the move. “States and their employees should not do business with companies that discriminate against Israel and its citizens,” Erdan said, calling for a boycott of Airbnb in favor of other companies, such as Booking.com.

While Erdan is clearly right in condemning Airbnb’s decision as unfair and unjust, boycotting the boycotters is unlikely on its own to solve the problem. It would be much more effective for Israel to lobby governments around the world to stop the BDS movement’s drive to harm not only the settlements but the Jewish state itself.

Ron Brummer, the director of operations at the Strategic Affairs Ministry, put it succinctly in a panel discussion at the conference on BDS.

“Airbnb is offered in many areas of conflict all over the world, but they have decided to single out only Judea and Samara,” he said. “According to the definition of antisemitism in the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, singling out Israel in this way is pure antisemitism. Secondly, it’s completely unprofessional. They never visited the areas, and never spoke to official or unofficial Israelis; they simply took what BDS said at face value and made their decision.”

Settler seeks to sue Airbnb for ‘outrageous discrimination’

A West Bank settler, who in the past advertised an apartment for rent on Airbnb, filed a request Thursday at the Jerusalem District Court for a class action lawsuit against the vacation rental giant for dropping listings in Israeli settlements.

Ma’anit Rabinovich of the Kida outpost said in her filing request that the decision to ban listings located in West Bank settlements constitutes “severe, offensive and extremely outrageous discrimination on the basis of place of residence, country of origin and opinion.”

Rabinovich wrote that she never received an update from Airbnb on its decision, despite having advertised short-term rentals on the website in the past.

“It was way more important to the company to ‘run’ quickly to the media to voice its decision, instead of first updating all the people it was about to harm,” she charged.

The lawsuit also targets Kerem Navot, a left-wing Israeli NGO that helped the Human Rights Watch activism group draft a report on apartment rentals in the West Bank. Rabinovich claimed the group is “an inseparable part” of the movement to boycott Israel and had pressured Airbnb to make its decision.

Dropped from Airbnb, settlers lament loss of connections, income

Over the past year, Tirza Mavorach has welcomed a group of bikers from Estonia, students from China, and journalists from across Europe. Just this week, she had couples from Holland and Japan lodge in her upstairs guest rooms.

It took her a while, but visitors were finally starting to rent out Mavorach’s vacation unit regularly, thanks to the Airbnb website, which opened her home in the northern West Bank settlement of Har Bracha to travelers from around the world.

And then the world closed the door on her, or at least that’s how it felt when the vacation-rental giant announced Monday it would drop all listings in West Bank settlements. Now the mother of seven isn’t sure who her clientele will be in the future.

“I was quite shocked when I heard about the decision because I was finally getting to a point where visitors were coming on a regular basis,” said the 57-year-old.

Her complaint has been echoed by dozens of other vacation rental owners throughout the settlements, who worry about how they will be able to market their properties without the support of Airbnb. Israeli officials and others have also vigorously rejected the move, decrying it as discriminatory, and threatening a special tax or legal action.

Yisrael Medad: I Apologize to the Residents of Samaria

I didn’t know until this Airbnb affair broke out, the delisting decision of accommodations in Judea and Samaria, that there was a Samaria Gorge National Park.

In Crete.

I found that out by searching to see if indeed Judea and Samaria Jewish listings were delisted.

I hope they don’t suffer due to geographical misunderstandings. I apologize.

There’s a Bethlehem in Tauranga, New Zealand. I hope they don’t mixed up with the original in Judea.

There’s a Shiloh, IL, USA.

In short, I want to express apologies to all those seeking guest rooms in places that can mistakenly be identified as in Judea and Samaria, the heartland of the Jewish people for over 3000 years, where there is a dispute which cause Airbnb to err by discriminating against the area (which they do not do in other areas of land disputes, as maybe it’s a Jewish thing?).

More inadequate BBC reports on the Airbnb story

The BBC’s standard portrayal of ‘international law’ – as seen in both these reports and the previous one on the same story – obviously does not meet those criteria. It purports to inform audiences what is ‘illegal’ but does not provide them with sufficient information or access to alternative views in order to enable them to reach their own conclusions and opinions on the issue.

The written report included uncritical amplification of a claim which dovetails with standard BBC framing of the conflict:

“Airbnb said it had made the decision because settlements were “at the core” of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

The BBC did not bother to enhance readers’ understanding of the story by pointing out that the conflict predates ‘settlements’ by several decades.

Linking to a report produced by the political NGOs ‘Human Rights Watch’ and ‘Kerem Navot’ that is actually a political campaign focusing exclusively on Jewish Israelis, the written article told readers that:

“Human Rights Watch called Airbnb’s decision “a positive step” and urged other tourism companies, such as Booking.com, to follow suit.

In a report released on Tuesday, the New York-based group said “Israelis and foreigners may rent properties in settlements, but Palestinian ID holders are effectively barred”.

It said this was the only example the rights body could find “in which Airbnb hosts have no choice but to discriminate against guests based on national or ethnic origin”.

Report: Trump delays peace plan until February

The Palestinian daily Al-Quds claimed on Thursday that US President Donald Trump has decided to postpone the publication of his plan for peace in the Middle East until February 2019.

The paper’s correspondent in Washington quoted an unnamed “informed source” as saying that Trump prefers not to publish his plan at all, certainly not under the current circumstances where the situation in the Middle East is “unclear and volatile.”

According to the source, Trump has been briefed on the “wide frames” of the US peace plan, but has left the matter in the hands of his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, his adviser Jason Greenblatt, and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, who will revise it and discuss the date for its release.

The report claimed that Trump’s aides advised him to wait with the announcement in wake of the recent political developments in Israel, particularly after the resignation of Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman. Israeli Ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, also advised the Trump administration to wait with the plan until the political situation in Israel is more stable.

Ben-Dror Yemini: Israel needs a clear security policy, not confrontation

The Hamas propaganda has succeeded. Some fiery speeches, some sweets being handed out in the streets and the right-wing is convinced Hamas won.

This was the message in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech on Sunday and at Education Minister Naftali Bennett’s press conference on Monday. Both of them, it is important to note, spoke about the beginning of a new chapter. For a minute there, one could have thought the feeble government had been dissolved and a new one has been formed in its stead.

They said everything is going to change. Excuse me?! The prime minister and the education minister are both members of the Security Cabinet. They are the decision-makers. They were those who decided that restraint is preferable to another confrontation, which will contribute nothing. Netanyahu went as far as praising the restraint policy.

So what changed? Nothing. But former defense minister Avigdor Lieberman resigned, and Bennett made his threats. And all of a sudden, everything is different? Does Netanyahu suddenly know new things that a week ago he did not? Is there suddenly such a gap between his speeches? These are not rhetorical questions. These questions arouse fear in all of us.

Netanyahu’s winning hand was that he was stately and not political as far as security and military matters were concerned. But in a heart beat he abandoned stateliness for politics.

German prevention of EU support for Israel echoed at the UN

After reports were published about German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s lobbying efforts urging Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, to not move Romania’s embassy to Jerusalem, questions about how far these efforts go started to arise.

One reason Merkel pressured Iohannis to not move Romania’s embassy to Jerusalem is that such a step would have reinforced the notion that the EU as an entity doesn’t have a single foreign policy, not only on Israel but also on other matters.
As we have seen on many occasions unrelated to Israel, High Representative of European External Action Service (EEAS) Federica Mogherini, has repeatedly issued statements of which other EU institutions were not unequivocally supportive. This added to the frustrations of many supporters of “Federal Europe” who keep seeking a united Europe, not merely as a single market but as a single block on all affairs.

French President Emmanuel Macron has equally strengthened his commitment to the European Union when he stated that a single army should be established to protect the EU against Russia, China and the US. Obviously, Macron’s move is a reaction to Trump’s policies. The US is withdrawing support from the Paris agreement, the Iran deal, trade agreements and also pressures the European member states to comply with their part in the NATO budget. Understandably, this made EU elites rush toward a more united EU in the hope to forestall the new challenges imposed by Trump.

While the Brexit deal is also weakening the EU’s position in the eyes of world powers, it is more crucial than ever for the EU to strengthen the illusion of a united European front.

German MPs slam FM Maas for abandoning Israel at U.N.

German politicians took their country’s foreign minister, Heiko Maas, to task on Wednesday in the Bundestag for supporting eight anti-Israel resolutions during a UN General Assembly vote dealing with the Israel-Arab conflict.

“I can’t understand why Germany on an international stage abandoned Israel,”said Bijan Djir-Sarai, the foreign policy spokesman and a MP for the Free Democratic Party (FDP) faction in the Bundestag. Sarai asked Maas to explain why Germany voted eight times for “one-sided criticisms” against Israel at the UN. He wrote on Twitter that “Israel friends rightly expect more from us here. Europe must not let Israel down at the UN.” He stressed that Europe has a “responsibility” toward the Jewish state.

The UN General Assembly’s “Special Political and Decolonization Committee” passed nine resolutions against the policies of the Jewish state. Germany voted with Syria, Cuba, Saudia Arabia and Iran , among some of the countries, to condemn Israel.

Germany withheld its vote on one resolution for a special commitee to investigate Israel’s practices. The anti-Israel resolutions included charging Israel with violating the human rights of the Palestinians and called for Israel to return the Golan Heights to Syria.

The Vice Chairman of the FDP in in the Bundestag Alexander Lambsdorff tweeted last week: “The UN is totally biased against Israel.”

Former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon met with Syrian rebels

Former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe “Boogie” Yaalon met with Syrian rebels during his tenure in order to examine their requests for humanitarian aid during the country’s civil war, sources confirmed to The Jerusalem Post.

The source confirmed that following the meeting between the three representatives and Yaalon, who was defense minister between March 2013 until May 2016, Israel began providing humanitarian aid to residents of the Syrian Golan Heights in an IDF operation known as Good Neighbor.

According to a report by Haaretz, Maj.-Gen. Gershon Hacohen, a former IDF General Staff Corps commander who retired in September 2014, said during a conference put on by Israel Democracy Institute that he was with Yaalon when the meeting took place. He did not say exactly when the meeting occurred.

“When I was commanding a corps in the Golan and Bogie [Ya’alon] was defense minister, we sat with three Syrian activists from the other side, from Syria,” Hacohen was quoted as saying.

“They came and Bogie wanted to understand who they were. He asked one of them, ‘Tell me, are you a Salafist?’ And he said, ‘I really don’t know what a Salafist is. If it means that I pray more, then yes. Once I would pray once a week, on Fridays, now I pray five times a day. On the other hand, a Salafist isn’t meant to cooperate with the Zionists. I’m sitting with the defense minister of the Zionists. So I don’t know.’ This means that identity components are very fluid. They don’t tell you where the person is going.”

With the goal of increasing aid given to Syrian civilians in villages near the border, the IDF acknowledged Operation Good Neighbors in June 2016.

Prominent Syrian media activist Raed Fares assassinated

Former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe “Boogie” Yaalon met with Syrian rebels during his tenure in order to examine their requests for humanitarian aid during the country’s civil war, sources confirmed to The Jerusalem Post.

The source confirmed that following the meeting between the three representatives and Yaalon, who was defense minister between March 2013 until May 2016, Israel began providing humanitarian aid to residents of the Syrian Golan Heights in an IDF operation known as Good Neighbor.

According to a report by Haaretz, Maj.-Gen. Gershon Hacohen, a former IDF General Staff Corps commander who retired in September 2014, said during a conference put on by Israel Democracy Institute that he was with Yaalon when the meeting took place. He did not say exactly when the meeting occurred.

“When I was commanding a corps in the Golan and Bogie [Ya’alon] was defense minister, we sat with three Syrian activists from the other side, from Syria,” Hacohen was quoted as saying.

“They came and Bogie wanted to understand who they were. He asked one of them, ‘Tell me, are you a Salafist?’ And he said, ‘I really don’t know what a Salafist is. If it means that I pray more, then yes. Once I would pray once a week, on Fridays, now I pray five times a day. On the other hand, a Salafist isn’t meant to cooperate with the Zionists. I’m sitting with the defense minister of the Zionists. So I don’t know.’ This means that identity components are very fluid. They don’t tell you where the person is going.”

With the goal of increasing aid given to Syrian civilians in villages near the border, the IDF acknowledged Operation Good Neighbors in June 2016.

Israel reveals: Hamas exploits sick Palestinians for terrorism

Hamas’ military wing has grown more sophisticated in recruiting personnel for its terrorist networks in Judea and Samaria, Israel’s Shin Bet security agency revealed Thursday.

In an unusually detailed statement, the agency said that Hamas has increasingly taken advantage of Israel’s humanitarian gestures to facilitate attacks.

“Activists from Hamas’ military wing in the Gaza Strip have been recruiting in Judea and Samaria, training recruits with explosives and instructing them to find targets inside Israel,” the agency said.

“This is a departure from the activities undertaken by Hamas in recent years, both in scope and in potential threat.”

The agency said this activity is “designed to create a new reality [in Judea and Samaria] in light of the ongoing events in the Gaza Strip.”

According to the Shin Bet, the effort is being overseen by the senior Hamas leadership in the Gaza Strip. A substantial part of the mechanism includes exploiting the special permits Israel grants Gazans for emergency medical care in Israel.

“To establish contact with operatives in Judea and Samaria, Hamas exploits residents of Gaza who have permits to receive life-saving care in Israeli hospitals,” the Shin Bet said.

There’s no going back

Palestinians recruited to help Israel thwart terrorist attacks are given the cold shoulder once they outlive their usefulness • Facing certain torture and death threats in the PA, they rely on an unlikely ally – right-wing settler attorney Michael Teplow.

“Listen, bro, I went to court and they want a recommendation from you. You know my situation. The collaboration wasn’t just between you and me. I was loyal to the state and I remain loyal to the state. There’s a difference between us – I was on trial and you weren’t. I was sentenced to death and you weren’t. I didn’t betray my country. But you refusing to give me a recommendation is a betrayal. I burned myself for this country and now my life is in danger. You know that I enlisted because you pressured me, when you caught me working without permits. There was violence, too. I just recently had a daughter. She and her mother live in the village and they are getting death threats because of what happened to me. I had no choice, you have a choice – help me.”

This plea for help is a text message sent by Bahaa, a 35-year-old Palestinian man from a village in Samaria, to one of his Israeli handlers in the territories. Bahaa was pressured to help the Israeli intelligence services, exposing him to Palestinian retribution. His text message was never answered.

Bahaa collaborated with Israel for four years. When he was “burned” – exposed as a collaborator – and charged as a “Judas” (traitor), he was put in a Palestinian prison for seven years. There, he was brutally tortured and continuously humiliated and ostracized. Upon his release from prison, he fled to Israel to avoid continued harassment, and worse.

Military censor: Do not help Hamas expose Gaza raid secrets

Information spread by Hamas aimed at exposing the IDF troops who took part in a botched operation in the Gaza Strip on Nov. 11 should not be shared, the IDF Military Censor’s Office said on Thursday.

The rare statement came hours after Hamas published what it claimed were photos of those involved in the raid and appealed for details about them. Hamas also showed the vehicles the soldiers supposedly used during the raid.

An Israeli lieutenant colonel was killed in the incident, as were a Hamas commander and six other Palestinian militants. Israel has not released the name of the dead Israeli officer, citing security considerations, and has not commented on the purpose of the undercover mission.

The incident led to a two-day flare-up of rocket attacks from Gaza and Israeli airstrikes.

The military censor said Hamas was trying to decipher and understand “the event that took place deep in Gaza” and urged the Israeli media not to disseminate pictures or “personal identifying details” gleaned from the media or the internet.

Liberman blasts government for ongoing fuel deliveries to Gaza

Yisrael Beytenu party leader Avigdor Liberman, the recently resigned defense minister, took aim at the government Friday over its policy on the Gaza Strip and accused it anew of being soft on terrorism.

During a tour of the Gaza border town of Sderot, which is often the target of Palestinian rocket attacks, Liberman noted the recent discovery of a Hamas terror network in the West Bank and the fact that it did not elicit collective punitive measures from Israel.

“Yesterday we all saw the absurd [situation] we’ve ended up in,” he said. “The Shin Bet [security service] exposed a terror cell that was controlled from Gaza, but yesterday and today fuel from Qatar was still being transferred into the Strip, while they carry out attacks in Judea and Samaria and in Israel.”

Liberman resigned last week and pulled his party out of the governing coalition, citing a ceasefire with Hamas to end a fierce and deadly exchange of rocket fire on Israeli towns and Israeli airstrikes on targets in Gaza. At the time, he termed the agreement a “capitulation to terror” and said he had been opposed to it.

On Friday, he recalled those earlier remarks, saying, “We must not capitulate to terror. I intend to open a parliamentary office here and come to Sderot every week.

“It is crucial that we change the government policy that we’ve seen in the past week,” he added. “This isn’t a functioning government but rather a surviving one.”

10,000 Palestinians protest on Gaza border

Some 10,000 Palestinians gathered on the Gaza border on Friday for weekly protests, with Hamas security forces keeping most demonstrators away from the fence for the second consecutive week following a ceasefire with Israel.

The protests were largely peaceful, however there were still sporadic reports of violence with Palestinians throwing rocks at IDF troops. There was one incident where a group attacked the fence east of the city of Rafah.

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry reported 12 wounded, including several by live fire.

This was the second week of limited clashes. Last Friday a Palestinian was killed and more than a dozen were injured a week after a major flareup between Israel and terror groups in the Strip.

Since March, Palestinians have been holding weekly “March of Return” protests on the border, which Israel has accused Gaza’s Hamas rulers of using to carry out attacks on troops and attempt to breach the security fence. Hamas, an Islamist terror group, seeks to destroy Israel.

Israel has demanded an end to the violent demonstrations along the border in any ceasefire agreement.

Iranian FM said to ditch Rome hotel ahead of Knesset speaker’s speech

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zavad Zarif on Friday reportedly left a hotel in Rome, where he was staying, ahead of a speech that an Israeli politician delivered at a conference there.

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein claimed that Zarif left the hotel when he entered to deliver his speech, and charged that Tehran is seeking to consolidate its military presence along Israel’s borders so as to threaten the Jewish state.

“He can’t hear the truth, and deal with the fact that he represents a country that spreads hate and terror throughout the world,” Edelstein said in a Facebook post.

The Knesset speaker went on to say that during his speech at the Mediterranean Dialogues event, he blasted Iran, which does not share a border with Israel but which nevertheless “is trying hard to create a border with Israel, entrenching in Syria and Iran and the Gaza Strip.”

There was no immediate comment from Zarif.

Israel admits it sank Lebanese refugee boat in 1982 war error, killing 25 — TV

An Israeli submarine mistakenly torpedoed a boat carrying refugees and foreign workers off the Lebanese coast during the 1982 Lebanon War, killing 25 people, Channel 10 news revealed Thursday, after the IDF finally lifted military censorship on reporting on the 36-year-old incident.

According to Channel 10, the incident occurred off the coast of the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli in June 1982 as Israel was enforcing a naval blockade of Lebanon.

Israeli forces had entered Lebanon that month in an attack against the PLO bases that marked the beginning of what came to be known as the First Lebanon War. The Gal-type submarine was taking part in “Operation Dreyfus,” namely the navy attempt to prevent Syrian naval forces from intervening in the fighting.

According to Channel 10, which had filed a petition to the High Court of Justice against the censorship of its report on the incident, a local boat apparently tried to take advantage of a brief ceasefire and flee the area with a group of refugees and foreign workers on board.

The captain of the Israeli submarine, identified as “Maj. A,” believed the boat was carrying Palestinian fighters fleeing from the IDF, however, and gave an order to fire two torpedoes at the boat, sinking it.

The captain told a later IDF inquiry that he was convinced there were Palestinian terrorists on the boat and that he had seen 30 to 40 men, all wearing similar outfits, which he believed to be military uniforms. He also ascertained there were no women and children on board the vessel, the captain testified.

In rare message, IDF wishes Lebanon a happy Independence Day ‘free of Hezbollah’

Israel’s military wished Lebanon a happy Independence Day Thursday, using the rare message to urge an end to Iranian influence over the country.

In a tweeted message, accompanied by a picture of the Lebanese flag and a hand making a peace sign, the IDF’s Spokesperson’s Unit wished Lebanon freedom from “Iranian imperialism and #Hezbollah’s terrorism in your country.”

“Happy Independence Day to the people of #Lebanon, our neighbors to the north,” read the message.

The message was posted to the IDF’s English, French and Spanish Twitter pages, but not in Hebrew.



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