January 25, 2022

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12/13 Links Pt1: Born too soon, dead too soon; Friedman: PA must choose, is it a political entity or terror sponsor?


From Ian:

Born too soon, dead too soon
Born too soon. Dead too soon. Laid to rest without having had a minute of peace during his short life. A pure soul, unmarred by sin. And if he had sinned? The profound bewilderment caused by savage murder has no age – murder is murder. But when it happens in this way – before the victim even saw the light of day – the pain is so much greater. He was targeted with murderous intent, ripped from his mother’s womb into bloody chaos and was left with no choice but to fight to survive.

A baby delivered in an emergency cesarean section in the 30th week of pregnancy was ultimately taken from this world. This days old infant will not be forgotten. His first and last bed was an incubator full of tubes and beeping machines. Then he died. In his mother’s blood. One of the reasons the doctors decided to deliver him was to save his mother, Shira, who had been shot in a terrorist attack. That is how medicine works – a mother’s life takes precedence over the life of a fetus. The little guy held on to life with his tiny fingers for three days.

In a horrifying turn of events, he loosened his grip on life shortly after being reunited with his mother, who had been in intensive care as well. One can only imagine how excited Shira must have been to see him for the first time. But a short while after they first laid eyes on each other, both wounded and exhausted, he passed away. The baby, who had no name (we called him Shira’s son in our prayers), was named Amiad Yisrael upon his death. The murderers remain nameless. And that is how it should be. Nameless and faceless. May they be forgotten forever. May their named be erased.

Let us refrain from using the passive form of the verb. The baby was not “murdered.” Lowly Arabs murdered him. They aimed an automatic rifle at his young mother’s abdomen and fired. A cell of Islamist terrorists spilled the blood of a young woman and the blood of a fetus.

Khaled Abu Toameh: The Hamas Plan to Take the West Bank

The latest terrorist attack took place on December 9 outside the West Bank settlement of Ofra, east of Ramallah. An Israeli-Canadian citizen, Amichai Ish-Ran, and this pregnant wife, Shira, were among seven people wounded in a drive-by shooting attack. The baby born prematurely as a result of the terrorist attack died on December 12, after doctors fought to save his life for close to 72 hours.

Hamas, which later claimed responsibility for the attack, was the first Palestinian faction to commend the terrorists. So far, not a single Palestinian faction has come out against the attack, including Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s ruling Fatah faction.

Describing the shooting attack as a “heroic and qualitative operation,” representatives of Hamas and several Palestinian factions said that it demonstrated that the Palestinian “resistance was still alive in the West Bank.” They also called on Palestinians to “step up the intifada (uprising) against Israel, specifically settlers and Israel Defense Forces soldiers.

“The West Bank has taken the initiative of resisting the occupation,” Hamas said in a statement published in the Gaza Strip shortly after the terrorist attack. The attack, Hamas added, “came to affirm our people’s legitimate right to resist the occupation at a time when the occupation, together with Israel, had tried to criminalize our resistance.”

This stance by Hamas points at two important factors; first, that Hamas and its allies are openly working and encouraging the eruption of a new anti-Israel uprising in the West Bank; and, second, that Hamas and its friends have been emboldened by the recent failure of the UN General Assembly to adopt a US-sponsored resolution condemning Hamas and other Palestinian groups for firing rockets at Israel and inciting violence.

Hamas’s dream of spreading its ideology to all Palestinians is as old as its foundation 31 years ago. Hamas is not interested in ruling only the Gaza Strip. It wants the West Bank, Jerusalem, and all the land, “from the [Jordan] river to the [Mediterranean] sea.” Hamas does not believe in negotiations or peaceful settlements. Rather, it believes that the only way to “liberate” Muslim land is through jihad. This goal is why, it says, it remains committed to the option of “armed struggle” against Israel.

Ben Dror Yemini: Jihad forces cannot be tamed or appeased

If Israel only eliminated the blockade of the Gaza Strip, there will be neither rockets nor tunnels. The Strip will flourish. There will be no confrontations. This argument, which is prevalent in certain circles, in the world and in Israel, should be examined against the backdrop of Operation Northern Shield.

Well, Israel is not imposing any blockade on Lebanon, which is controlled by Hezbollah. There is no historical conflict with the Lebanese people. Lebanon has even been the focal point of tourism in the Arab world for many years; great beaches, restaurants, and a dazzling nightlife — a paradise.

But Lebanon has an Iranian element: Hezbollah. And they are building a network of missiles and tunnels, just like in the south, in the context of their profound hatred for the West, including Israel and the Jews.

Turning to Hamas for a moment, we must ask: Will the Gaza Strip begin to flourish once the blockade is lifted? Will Hamas change its skin?

Hezbollah provides us with the answer. It is not about the blockade or a particular conflict, nor is it a border dispute. It is the abhorrent hatred that permeates the Jihad organizations, Sunni and Shiite alike.

After all, this happens wherever Jihad advocates gain power or take over, even in countries, and in fact, especially in countries where there is no significant presence of Americans, Jews, or Europeans. After all, Hezbollah can allow Lebanon to thrive and prosper. But it prefers to invest all its resources in the death industry.

MEMRI: Fatah, PA Glorify Perpetrators Of Recent Terror Attacks, Calling Them ‘Heroes’ Who ‘Traced The Map Of The Homeland In Their Pure Blood’; Fatah Calls To Escalate The Confrontation With Israel

On December 13, 2018, IDF forces killed Ashraf Na’alwa, who had perpetrated the October 7 attack at the Barkan industrial park and was a fugitive for two months, as well as Saleh Al-Barghouti, one of the perpetrators of the December 9 shooting attack in Ofra. After news of their deaths broke, Fatah published a series of posts and images on its official social media accounts in which it praised the two terrorists, who killed three Israelis and wounded eight, describing them as “heroes” and “martyrs” that “traced the map of the homeland in their pure blood.”Fatah in the West Bank urged the Palestinian people to “escalate the confrontation” on December 14, 2018 “out of loyalty to the martyrs.”[1]

Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Rami Al-Hamdallah responded to the events on his Facebook page, calling the terrorists “righteous martyrs” and holding Israel responsible for the escalation of violence in the West Bank.[2]

The PA media accused Israel of “executing” the terrorists, while either ignoring or implicitly questioning their involvement in the attacks. The PA’s official news agency Wafa stated that “the occupation accuses the martyr Na’alwa of carrying out a shooting attack against two settlers in the settlement of Barkan,”[3] and the PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida reported that Al-Barghouti had been “shot by the Israeli occupation” without making any mention of the attack in Ofra.[4] Fatah’s executive committee, as well as movement officials and spokesmen, including the spokesman of the movement’s recruitment and organization commission Munir Al-Jaghoub and Fatah spokesman ‘Atef Abu Saif, accused Israel of executing young Palestinians in cold blood.[5] The PA presidency published a statement condemning Israel’s IDF raids on Palestinian cities and holding them responsible for the violence “which we denounce and oppose and whose price both sides are paying.”[6]

It should be noted that this is not the first time the PA and Fatah have lavished praise on terrorists.[7]

Hamas claimed the two terrorists as its own, and published obituaries lamenting the loss of “two of its best jihad fighters: the heroic martyr Ashraf Na’alwa, who humiliated the occupation for over nine weeks [by avoiding capture] after [his] high-quality operation in the settlement of Barkan, and the heroic martyr Saleh Al-Barghouti, who carried out the operation in the settlement of Ofra…”[8]

Israel arrests 4 suspects in Ofra terror attack; fifth is killed trying to flee

Israeli security forces apprehended four Palestinians Wednesday suspected of conducting a shooting attack this week outside the West Bank settlement of Ofra, and a fifth was killed in a shootout, the Shin Bet security service said.

The suspect who was killed, 29-year-old Salih Barghouti from the village of Kobar, attempted to injure troops while trying to escape arrest and was shot dead, according to the Shin Bet.

According to Palestinian reports, Barghouti was shot when troops opened fire on a car he was traveling in on a road in the town of Surda, north of the West Bank city of Ramallah, where soldiers have been carrying out intensive searches over the past several days.

The Shin Bet said four other suspects were arrested in the raids, which involved members of the Israel Defense Forces and the Israel Police’s elite Yamam unit, which conducts both counter-terrorism operations and functions as a SWAT team.

The suspects will be interrogated by Shin Bet officers, the security service said.

IDF kills Ofra terrorist suspect, son of West Bank Hamas leader

The IDF killed the son of a West Bank Hamas leader and arrested suspected of links to the terrorist cell that wounded seven Israeli civilians at a bus stop outside of the Ofra settlement earlier this week.

The Shin Bet late Wednesday night confirmed it had shot Barghouti, 29, a resident of Kobar, located near Ramallah.

Saleh Omar Barghouti is the son of a West Bank Hamas leader, Omar Barghouti. He is not the same Omar Barghouti who leads the Palestinian BDS movement.

“The suspect tried to harm our forces as he attempted to flee,” the Shin Bet said in a statement, adding that security forces “shot and killed” him.

Palestinian sources said that Saleh was arrested when IDF soldiers intercepted a cab he was riding in, while a second Palestinian suspect also from Kobar, Wa’ed Barghouti, was arrested separately shortly afterward.

The IDF reportedly raided the home of Omar Barghouti after the shooting.

Baby of Israeli Mother Wounded in Palestinian Shooting Attack Dies, Hundreds Attend Funeral

An Israeli baby boy who was delivered early after his mother was seriously wounded in a Palestinian drive-by shooting attack at a bus stop in the West Bank on Sunday has died.

The baby — named Amiad Yisrael posthumously — passed away on Wednesday at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem.

Before the boy’s death, his parents, Shira and Amichai Ish-Ran, were able to visit him for a short time.

“With great sorrow we announce the death of Shira and Amichai’s newborn, in spite of the doctors’ efforts to save him,” the hospital said in a statement.

The infant was buried hours later at the Mount of Olives cemetery in Jerusalem. Hundreds of mourners gathered for the funeral.

Both Shira and Amichai were wounded in the terror attack near the settlement of Ofra and are still hospitalized at Shaare Zedek.

Shira arrived at the hospital in life-threatening condition, which has since stabilized. She was 30 weeks pregnant at the time of the attack and her baby was delivered by an emergency cesarean section.

“Our hearts are with Shira and Amichai over the passing of their four day old son who did not even have a name. The murderers are abhorrent, the most deviant criminals on earth,” Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said on Wednesday.

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said, “This morning, I visited Shira Ish-Ran, who was critically wounded in the Ofra attack; she is determined and strong. Tragically, her baby son, Amiad, did not survive. The world must strongly condemn this terror and not remain silent when terrorists murder a pure and innocent baby.”

Mother who lost her infant in terror attack vows to have ‘many more babies’

Shira Ish-Ran, the pregnant woman who was severely wounded and lost her baby boy in a West Bank shooting attack earlier this week, vowed on Thursday to have “many more babies” in response to the terror attack.

The 21-year-old, who was 30 weeks pregnant at the time of the terror attack outside the Ofra settlement, was seriously wounded in the shooting, and doctors prematurely delivered the infant in an emergency C-section hours later. The baby died in a Jerusalem hospital on Wednesday.

On Thursday, after her condition improved further and a day after her four-day-old son was laid to rest, Ish-Ran was quoted by Hebrew-language media as saying, in her first remarks since the attack: “I will prove to them, I will show them. I will bring many more babies into this world. Am Yisrael chai.”

Shira’s father, Chaim Silberstein, said his daughter’s improved condition was a “sigh of relief” for him.

“There is still a long way to recovery, but we are thankful for every step and hope for the best,” he said.

Murdered Israeli Baby Also Victim of The Independent’s False Moral Equivalence

What did catch our attention, however, was The Independent, which didn’t bother to report on the original incident but now uses the death of a Palestinian toddler to create a moral “balance” to justify its story.

The sub-header claiming that the Israeli baby was “born prematurely during a Palestinian shooting” is quite grotesque given the actual events that led to his death.

As for the Palestinian four-year old, let’s be absolutely clear – the death of any baby or child is tragic irrespective of whose side of a conflict they are on. Babies do not get a choice in their parents’ decisions.

However, there is a huge moral gulf between how these two babies died.

Ahmad Abu Abed was brought by his parents to the Gaza border area where Palestinian rioters were engaging in violent protests. The Abu Abed family would have undoubtedly been aware of the risks involved. While there is some debate as to just how close they were to the border fence when shrapnel hit the baby, nonetheless the basic question remains as to why anyone would bring a baby to the scene of a riot.

In addition, the fact that it was shrapnel that hit the baby is an indicator that the Abu Abed’s were not deliberately targeted by the IDF, which is currently investigating the incident. The IDF does not deliberately target babies or children. Period.

Palestinian terrorists, however, do exactly that. Shira and Amichai Ish-Ran were waiting at a bus stop following Chanukah celebrations. There is no justification for shooting a pregnant woman in the stomach irrespective of whether you agree or disagree with where the victims of the shooting happened to live in the disputed territories.

The bottom line is that Amiad Yisrael Ish-Ran was deliberately targeted by Palestinian terrorists who fully intended to murder Israeli Jews. Ahmad Abu Abed was the dreadful and accidental victim of a dangerous situation that he had been deliberately placed in.

‘He almost never made mistakes’: How the IDF found and killed the Barkan terrorist

“He almost never made mistakes.” That was how a senior IDF officer described Ashraf Suleiman Na’alwa, the terrorist behind the attack on the Barkan Industrial Park two months ago, just hours after he was found and killed by Israeli security forces.

According to the Shin Bet, Na’alwa had been armed when forces arrived at the scene and was planning to carry a second terror attack, “which was prevented with the thwarting of the assailant.”

A senior IDF officer told reporters Thursday morning that “there is no doubt that he didn’t relax during the past two months. He was planning on fighting, or carrying out another attack and we knew that we needed to get to him before that could happen.”

Na’alwa, from the West Bank village of Shuweika near Tulkarm, was on the run from security forces for over two months after he shot and killed Kim Levengrond-Yehezkel and Ziv Hajbi, in a shooting attack in the Barkan industrial area outside Ariel in the West Bank on October 7.

The senior IDF officer said that security forces had been close to capturing Na’alwa on several occasions, but that he managed to escape at the last minute. In addition, the officer said that Na’alwa did not use a mobile phone or any other form of technology with which to communicate with, making it more difficult for Israeli security forces to locate him.

“He almost didn’t make any mistakes and was able to live on the run for a good period of time. He had a lot of luck and help after the attack,” the senior officer said.

Referring to the neutralization of a member of the cell which carried out Sunday’s Ofra shooting attack, the senior officer said that the “dynamics of such a military operation is that sometimes it doesn’t take a lot of time and sometimes it takes time but it’s not like years ago when wanted suspects survived. These guys didn’t, they were on the run.”

But while Na’alwa repeatedly eluded capture by security forces for two months, Israel was on the hunt, conducting dozens of arrest raids and bringing in and indicting several relatives and alleged accomplices.

Families of Barkan victims describe ‘bittersweet’ morning after terrorist slain

The families of the two Israelis killed in the Barkan terror attack in the West Bank in October, Kim Levengrond Yehezkel and Ziv Hajbi, described as “bittersweet” the news that the alleged gunman, Ashraf Na’alowa, had been located and killed, and urged the government to take harsher measures against Palestinian terrorists and their families.

“It’s about time,” said Levengrond Yehezkel’s widower, Guy, who noted he had found out about Na’alowa’s death on Facebook, before state officials contacted him.

“This won’t bring back Kim or Ziv, but I had preferred that [the terrorist] not be caught alive,” he told Hadashot TV news Thursday. “He would’ve been jailed and released in ten years with an academic degree, so this is a small consolation. I never thought it would take this long.”

Early Thursday morning, Israeli forces tried to arrest him in a joint operation of the Israel Defense Forces, the Shin Bet and the Israel Police. He was killed during the arrest, the Shin Bet said, without providing additional information on the circumstances or the location of the raid. Army Radio said he was found in Nablus in the northern West Bank.
Ashraf Walid Suleiman Na’alowa, a Palestinian man suspected of carrying out a deadly terror attack on October 7, 2018 in the Barkan Industrial Zone in the northern West Bank. (Courtesy)

According to the Shin Bet, Na’alowa was planning to conduct a second terror attack, “which was prevented with the thwarting of the assailant.” The security service said he was armed when troops arrived to arrest him.

“This won’t bring Kim back. Nothing can be done to bring Kim back,” Levengrond Yehezkel’s father, Rafi, said. However, he added that “of course [the terrorist] deserved to die because this wasn’t a normal terror attack — he executed her.”

2 soldiers killed in West Bank terror shooting; civilian, serviceman hurt

Two Israeli soldiers were killed and two people were injured — a serviceman critically and a civilian woman seriously — in a terrorist shooting attack in the central West Bank Thursday, close to where another terror attack occurred earlier in the week, officials said.

The perpetrators fled the scene of the attack, which occurred at a bus stop close to the Givat Assaf outpost north of Jerusalem, along the highway near the Palestinian town of Silwad and the Israeli settlement of Ofra, prompting a large-scale manhunt, the army said.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, one gunman exited a vehicle along the Route 60 highway and opened fire at a group of Israelis at the bus stop, among whom were both soldiers and civilians, before running away.

According to Palestinian media, the vehicle used in the attack was abandoned nearby, and the two suspects — the driver and the shooter — continued on foot. The IDF said they fled in the direction of Ramallah.

Two of the victims, soldiers in their early 20s, were declared dead at the scene.

The injured soldier, 21, was in critical condition with a gunshot wound to the head, according to Jerusalem’s Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem.

“His condition is very serious. There is a threat to his life,” a Hadassah spokesperson said.

‘We will not be sitting ducks in a Palestinian shooting range,’ Settler leader says

“Residents of the Binyamin region will not be sitting ducks in a Palestinian shooting range,” said Israel Gantz, head of the Binyamin Regional Council, en route to the site of the latest terror attack on Thursday.

“Terrorism has lifted its head,” he continued, noting that Israel needs to break out of its mindset, which he called “stuck.”

“We will not sit quietly. I demand that the government confront the terror immediately. The first step would be to ban the Arab population from driving on Route 60,” he said.

Friedman: PA must choose, is it a political entity or terror sponsor?

The Palestinian Authority can be a “political body” or a “sponsor of terrorism,” but cannot be both, US Ambassador David Friedman posted on his Twitter page on Thursday.

The post came shortly after the terrorist attack near Givat Assaf killed two soldiers, critically wounded another soldier and seriously wounded a civilian.

“In the past week #Palestinian terrorists have killed or wounded 14 #Israelis in multiple attacks. The Pal Authority maintains laws that will compensate these terrorists and their families for their heinous acts,” Friedman wrote. “The PA can be a political body OR a sponsor of terror, not both.

On Monday, following the terrorist attack at Ofra, Friedman wrote: “Another vile act of #Palestinian terrorism last night included the shooting of a pregnant woman. Hamas calls the shooters “heroic” — yes, the same #Hamas that the @UN could not resolve to condemn last week. The #US stands with #Israel against terrorists even if others won’t.”

Abbas’s office condemns recent violence, blames Israel for tense ‘climate’

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s office condemned the latest acts of violence in the West Bank on Thursday, though it did not explicitly refer to two terror attacks against Israelis in the central West Bank this week.

The PA leader also blamed the prevailing “climate” driving the uptick in West Bank violence on Israeli military raids in Palestinian cities, settler incitement against the PA president, and the stalled peace process.

Abbas’s office issued the statement shortly after two Israeli soldiers were killed and two others — a civilian and another soldier — were severely injured in a terror attack near the Ofra settlement Thursday morning.

The statement also came after Israeli security forces, according to the IDF, closed off all the entrances to Ramallah. The perpetrators of Thursday’s attack were at large, the IDF said, and troops were searching for them.

“The climate created by the policy of repeated raids into cities, incitement against the president and the absence of horizons for peace is what led to this unacceptable series of violence, which we condemn and reject, and for which the two sides are paying the price,” Abbas’s office said in a vaguely worded statement.

Fatah calls on Palestinians to confront IDF, escalate situation

Fatah called on Palestinians to escalate the situation and hold protests throughout the West Bank Thursday afternoon, “to commemorate the Martyrs and to realize our goals.”

The organization warned IDF soldiers and settlers of “the continued bloodshed and aggression that will lead to a stronger confrontation.”

Earlier, Hamas praised the shooting attack that killed two Israelis and injured two others near the West Bank settlement of Givat Asaf Thursday.

“Hamas praises the numerous resistance attacks as well as the citizens of the occupied West Bank and the revolutionary youth,” Hamas Spokesman Abdel Latif al-Qanou said. The attack, he said, “is in response to the crimes of the Zionist occupation in the occupied West Bank. Our members will stand against the occupation and will resist it – until it ends.”

Fatah placed the blame for the attack on Israel.

“When the occupation army harms and destroys Palestinian land and Israeli soldiers execute three Palestinians in a kangaroo court, they have to understand that the Palestinian response will be in proportion to the aggression,” said Fatah spokesperson Munir Jaghoub.

“Israel’s leaders must understand that they are not able to protect their soldiers, and they have tried every way they can think of to make Palestinians raise the white flag of surrender,” Jaghoub said. “Israel has no way of protecting its soldiers and the murderous settlers, aside from withdrawing to the June 1967 lines.”

Hamas spokesman praises ‘heroic’ West Bank terror attack

A Hamas spokesman praised a terror attack in the central West Bank on Thursday, calling it “heroic,” but stopped short of claiming responsibilty.

Two Israelis were killed and two others were severely injured in the drive-by shooting near the Ofra settlement, medics and officials said.

“The heroic Silwad operation is a response to the Zionist occupation’s crimes and behavior in the occupied West Bank,” Abdelatif al-Qanou, a spokesman for the terror group, wrote on Twitter, referring to a Palestinian village near Ofra. “The West Bank’s youth and men will remain rebels against the occupation and continue to clash with it until it is banished.”

The perpetrators of the attack fled the scene, the IDF said, and troops were searching for them.

Hamas officials have frequently encouraged and praised shooting, stabbing and ramming attacks in the West Bank and Israel.

Both the US and Israel consider Hamas a terrorist group.

Earlier on Thursday, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing, appeared to take responsibility for two other shooting attacks — one earlier this week outside Ofra and another in the Barkan Industrial Zone in the northern West Bank.

IDF: Palestinian tries to ram car into soldiers, is killed, in 3rd attack of day

A Palestinian man attempted to ram his car into a group of Israeli soldiers outside the West Bank city of Ramallah on Thursday afternoon, before the troops opened fire, killing him, in the third attack of the day, the army said.

Channel 10, however, reported the driver to be a 60-year-old man and said the incident was likely not terror-related.

One soldier was lightly injured in the incident, the army said. It was not immediately clear if the injury stemmed from the alleged car-ramming.

According to the IDF, the driver attempted to ram his car into the servicemen outside the town of el-Bireh, adjacent to Ramallah in the central West Bank, as they were taking part in the ongoing efforts to locate the terrorists from a deadly shooting attack earlier in the day.

“Security forces on the scene opened fire, neutralizing the terrorist,” the IDF said in a statement.

According to Palestinian officials, the man died of his wounds.

Two border guards wounded in Old City stabbing attack

Two Border Police officers were stabbed and lightly wounded in a terror attack before dawn Thursday in the Old City of Jerusalem, before shooting dead their assailant, police and medics said.

The male officer was stabbed in the face, near his eye. The female border guard was stabbed in the leg. The attacker, a 26-year-old Palestinian from the West Bank, was shot dead by the officers.

Surveillance footage from the scene, released by police, shows the assailant running up to the officers and rapidly stabbing them with the knife. Prior to the stabbing attack, the assailant was also seen on camera pushing an ultra-Orthodox man to the ground in the alleyways of the Old City.

The weapon was recovered at the scene.

“The terrorist came from the direction of the Damascus Gate, took out a knife, attacked a Jewish man on Hagai Street and tried to stab him, when he failed to do so, he continued running toward a team of border guards — a male and female officer — who were stationed nearby and tried to stab them,” police said.

“During a fight with the terrorist, the border guards succeeded in neutralizing him by shooting him,” police said in a statement

ICC elects Palestinian official to oversee judicial selection

An official of “the State of Palestine” was elected to an 8-person advisory committee for selecting judges who would serve on the International Criminal Court on Thursday.

Ahmad Mohammad Barak Bin Hamad was elected by the legislative branch of the ICC’s Assembly of State Parties along with officials from Romania, France, the UK, Kenya, Botswana, Bolivia and Brazil.

Bin Hamad’s election could be a direct opportunity for the Palestinians to have influence over future judges who might deal with alleged war crimes cases against Israelis, if Israel fails to stave off prosecutions.

Judges are eventually approved by a vote of the full assembly.

ICC judges can also decide whether an ICC prosecution will go forward in a borderline case. Israel has played with the idea of asking a panel of ICC judges to veto ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s acceptance of Palestine as a state in 2015.

State Department: We Recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital Because It’s a Recognition of Reality

State Department Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino said Tuesday: “A year ago…we recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and that is a recognition of reality….We were the first nation to recognize the State of Israel. And ever since, Jerusalem has remained the seat of the modern government. It’s home of Israel’s parliament, supreme court, other bodies of government, president, prime minister. And for decades, the United States put off recognizing this basic reality, and yet we came no closer to achieving a new peace agreement between the Palestinians and Israelis.”

“Trying the same old methods have failed for decades, and to continue to do the same thing over and over again would be folly. Old challenges require new approaches.”

Nikki Haley: Trump and I ‘Partnered’ to Use Unpredictability to Get Things Done

Outgoing U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley told NBC’s Today show on Wednesday that she took advantage of President Donald Trump’s stormy rhetoric and “unpredictable” nature to get things done at the United Nations.

“If I needed to pick up the phone and say, ‘This is what I’m going to do. Are you good with this?’ we kind of partnered in that. He would ratchet up the rhetoric, and then I’d go back to the ambassadors and say, ‘You know, he’s pretty upset. I can’t promise you what he’s going to do or not, but I can tell you if we do these sanctions, it will keep him from going too far,’” Haley said in the interview.

“I was trying to get the job done, and I got the job done by being truthful but also by letting him be unpredictable and not showing our cards,” she said.

Haley provided one of the most straightforward examples of the “good cop, bad cop” strategy in recent memory, as Today show interviewer Craig Melvin pointed out. She also endorsed unpredictability, which might be described as the core principle of Trumpism. Trump himself is partial to phrasing this as his willingness to “walk away from bad deals” and “put everything on the table.” It boils down to letting negotiating partners know the United States cannot be taken for granted, long-standing arrangements are subject to change if they no longer benefit the U.S., and proactively thinking about what the U.S. desires is good policy.

The president’s allies and adversaries naturally have very different opinions about the value of unpredictability. For an example of how detractors regard it, consider the Daily Beast’s headline for the NBC interview: “Nikki Haley: Trump and I Ratcheted Up the Crazy for U.N. Negotiations.”

Haley offered a clear explanation of how Trump’s unpredictability – which she implied was coordinated with her office more frequently than critics of the administration believe – helped break up diplomatic logjams and change the rules of some very stale games at the U.N., citing North Korean denuclearization as a paramount example.

Australian PM quashes talk of imminently recognizing Jerusalem as capital

Australia’s prime minister appeared to quash reports that he would announce his government’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on Wednesday.

Asked what decision had been reached regarding the matter during a news conference in Adelaide, Scott Morrison replied that it was premature to discuss the issue, telling reporters that “when I’m in a position to make that announcement, I will.”

Morrison’s rebuttal of the rumors comes only one day after the publication of a report by The Australian, citing government sources, claiming that his cabinet had approved recognition and was planning to announce the change in policy on Wednesday.

According to the report, which received considerable play in the Israeli media, recognition would not have been immediately followed by an embassy move due to cost issues.

Incoming Lawmakers Briefed by Netanyahu, Tour Hamas Tunnels Into Israel

A bipartisan group of incoming members of Congress were given a security briefing by Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a trip to the Jewish state. Republican congressman-elect Denver Riggleman, an Air Force veteran, says the visit served as “Israeli history basic training.”

Riggleman, a Republican who ran against a vocal anti-Israel activist in Virginia’s fifth district, says there’s been a good balance to the information presented to the group thus far on the trip, which is sponsored by the American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF), an American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)-affiliated nonprofit group.

In addition to their briefing on security from Netanyahu, they met with Tzipi Livni, a prominent politician who leads the opposition party in the Knesset. The group also traveled to the West Bank city of Ramallah to meet with Saeb Erekat, a top Palestinian official.

“They are directing us to learn in a nonjudgmental way,” Riggleman said during a phone call from Tel Aviv. “It’s been fantastic to hear from people who will forget more about Israel in a day than most Americans will know in a lifetime.”

Riggleman, a military veteran who visited Israel once before during an Air Force operation, says all the meetings have been for educational purposes only and declined to quote any of the briefings. He said the meetings have all centered on the peace negotiations and all possible outcomes.

Security Council to convene on Hezbollah tunnels at Israeli behest

The UN Security Council is expected to convene on Wednesday to discuss Hezbollah’s tunneling operations, according to an Israeli official.

Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, pushed for the Security Council meeting as part of a larger push to pressure Hezbollah diplomatically amidst Operation Northern Shield, an IDF operation that has targeted a series of Hezbollah tunnels burrowed into northern Israel.

After the council convenes, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet with UN Secretary-General António Guterres and “demand” he condemn Hezbollah’s “violation of Israeli sovereignty,” according to the official.

The Israelis say that Hezbollah’s tunnel work and armament violate Security Council resolution 1701, adopted at the end of the Second Lebanon War.

MEMRI: In Lebanon, Criticism Of Hizbullah’s Tunnels Into Israel: Hizbullah May Drag Lebanon Into War; The Lebanese Government Must Demand That Hizbullah Stop Violating UNSC Resolution 1701

On December 4, 2018, Israel launched Operation Northern Shield to find and destroy tunnels excavated by Hizbullah under its northern border, which constitutes a violation of UNSC Resolution 1701.[1] Two days later, a UNIFIL delegation visiting the location confirmed the existence of a tunnel there.[2]

So far, Hizbullah has been careful to issue no official reactions on the matter of the tunnels. The pro-Hizbullah media have denied their existence and claimed that any statements to the contrary are lies.[3] In a threatening message conveyed via its media, Hizbullah included photos of Israeli soldiers at the border taken from the Lebanese side to show that the soldiers are within striking distance.[4]

Hizbullah elements, headed by Hizbullah deputy secretary-general Na’im Qassem, sought to reassure the Lebanese public with the argument that Hizbullah’s deterrence capabilities would dissuade Israel from carrying out an extensive attack in Lebanon. He said: “The Israeli home front is exposed as far as Tel Aviv, and there is not a single point in the Zionist entity that is not exposed to Hizbullah’s missiles… The Israelis cannot withstand [a war], so the idea of [going to] war against Lebanon is inconceivable to them…”[5]

Lebanon’s official position on the tunnels issue ranges from denying that they even exist to claiming that it is Israel that is violating UN Security Council Resolution 1701, while Lebanon is being careful to uphold it. Thus, Lebanese President Michel ‘Aoun, a Hizbullah ally, said at a meeting with UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander Major-General Stefano Del Col that Israel is violating the international resolutions, while his country is implementing Resolution 1701 and is opposing any activity that is likely to complicate the border situation.[6] Speaker of the Parliament of Lebanon Nabih Berri, who is also an ally of Hizbullah, called Israel’s claims baseless.[7] The Al-Nahar daily reported that Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, another Hizbullah ally, had ordered his office to prepare a complaint to the UNSC about Israel’s “repeated” violations against Lebanon. Lebanese Prime Minister Sa’d Al-Hariri, who opposes Hizbullah, also argued that it is Israel that is violating 1701, that the Lebanese Army is in charge of border security and legitimately controls the entire border, and that the Lebanese government is determined to meet its obligations regarding its sovereignty and the integrity of its border, and stresses that the rules that were created in accordance with Resolution 1701 must not be violated. He added that the developments on the border should not constitute a reason for escalation. [8]

Israel uncovered 3 Hezbollah terror tunnels as part of Op Northern Shield

Over the past years, the Hezbollah terror organization has been digging attack tunnels, in order to send terrorists to attack communities inside Israel. Three such terror tunnels were uncovered so far in Israeli territory, as part of Operation Northern Shield.

PreOccupiedTerritory: Haaretz: Hezbollah Tunnels Legitimate Effort To Find Evidence Of IDF War Crimes (satire)

A prominent Israeli daily newspaper is calling excavations by a Lebanese Shiite terrorist group into sovereign Israeli territory a sound moral and legal strategy to discover proof that the Jewish State’s military has engaged in atrocities and violations of the Laws of Armed Conflict.

Thursday’s lead editorial in Haaretz addressed the ongoing Israeli search for Hezbollah tunnels under the northern border, following exposure of two such passages over the weekend and a third earlier this week. The editorial board criticized the government for blowing the threat out of proportion, suggested the media campaign accompanying the anti-tunnel efforts provide political cover for a prime minister in legal trouble, and stated that under international law, Hezbollah may dig such tunnels into Israel if they undertake the effort as part of an investigation into inevitable Israeli war crimes.

“It would not surprise us to discover the entire operation is staged to coincide with reports of mounting evidence of corruption against Netanyahu,” asserted the editors. “Moreover, the premise that Hezbollah may not dig tunnels into Israel, either under international law or under UN Security Council Resolution 1701, is flawed. Numerous precedents exist for suspending the provisions of international law when it might otherwise benefit or protect Israel, and no evidence has emerged that this case proves in any way exceptional in that respect.”

US Secretary of State Urges Tougher UN Security Council Stance Against Iran’s Ballistic Missile Program

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on Wednesday for a tougher UN Security Council stance against Iran’s ballistic missile program.

In remarks delivered in New York at a Security Council meeting on Iran, the State Department chief said, “It is clear that the Iranian regime’s ballistic missile activity has grown since the [July 2015] nuclear deal. Iran has exploited the goodwill of nations and defied multiple Security Council resolutions in its quest for a robust ballistic missile force. The United States will never stand for this. No nation that seeks peace and prosperity in the Middle East should either.”

“Today,” Pompeo pointed out, “Iran has the largest ballistic missile force in the Middle East. It has more than 10 ballistic missile systems in its inventory or in development. It has hundreds of missiles which pose a threat to our partners in the region.”

“We risk the security of our people if Iran continues stocking up on ballistic missiles,” he stated. “We risk escalation of conflict in the region if we fail to restore deterrence. And we convey to all other malign actors that they too can defy the Security Council with impunity if we do nothing.”

Pompeo praised several US allies for their help in raising awareness of the issue — including Israel, which he said had provided “further evidence to the Security Council about Iran’s continued launches of ballistic missiles that are inherently capable of carrying nuclear weapons.”

Reduce UN Peacekeepers on Iran’s Western Front

In the fantasy-land Lebanon of the UN, as recently as November, the UN secretary general insisted that there was “no evidence” of Hizbullah arms on the ground in south Lebanon.

The 10,000-strong UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) has a $474.4 million yearly budget and spends significant amounts on 580 local staff and projects, which actually mean significant UN cash flow to the Hizbullah-supporting populace, and protection money to the local power brokers. Today, UNIFIL has become an accessory to Hizbullah’s ambitions. It is time to acknowledge that UNIFIL is oversized and over-funded.

Meanwhile, the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) has begun its return to positions on the Syrian Golan Heights after an absence of four years, with only 975 troops and an annual budget of $60.3 million.

At the same time, the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), created to supervise the cessation of hostilities between Israel and its neighbors in 1948, has a biannual budget of nearly $70 million, with 153 military officers, 153 international civilians, and 91 national staff.

The UN could take an important step toward reducing security threats along Israel’s northern border – and save money – by rebalancing these three missions. UNIFIL could fulfill its mandate even if it were to cut its troop size to 3,000 and drop its expenditures on local workers, development projects and communities involved in aggression against UNIFIL forces.

Conversely, UNDOF should resume its substantial monitoring in Syria and needs to grow by about $30 million and 300 troops, while UNTSO should disband.

PBS and the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Propaganda

Is PBS doing its due diligence or offering itself as a mouthpiece for an Iranian propaganda campaign?

The Iranian regime’s PR campaign to avoid Western sanctions is aimed at neutralizing criticism of Iran’s crimes, including its global sponsorship of terrorism and human rights abuses – executions without legal safeguards, ongoing use of torture, widespread arbitrary detentions, sharp limits on freedom of assembly, expression, and religious belief, discrimination against women, ethnic and religious minorities – as well as Iranian leaders’ hate rhetoric and eradicative threats against the Jewish state.

The campaign endeavors to show Iran as a bastion of religious tolerance for the small Jewish community that remains in the country. Iran’s historic Jewish community, which dates back to biblical times, dwindled from some 150,000 people living there in 1948 to under 9,000, with most of the decline occurring after the establishment of the Islamic Republic, under which it suffered most. The goal is to convince the Western public that the regime’s anti-Semitic rhetoric and actions do not reflect actual anti-Semitism, but rather an opposition to supporters of an evil and destructive Zionist enterprise.

Featured prominently in Iran’s sophisticated PR effort is Dr. Ciamak Morsadegh (sometimes transliterated as Siamak Moreh Sedgh), a Jewish physician, director of the Teheran Jewish community and the Iranian parliament’s token Jewish member. He is frequently quoted in the Western media denouncing Israel, extolling Jewish life in the Islamic Republic, and pushing for removal of punitive sanctions on Iran.

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