June 7, 2023

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12/31 Links Pt1: Anti-Semitism Is a Threat to Western Civilization Itself; Victimhood Culture Leads to Anti-Semitism; Peace through sports? Qatar to let Israelis in for 2022 World Cup


From Ian:

Anti-Semitism Is a Threat to Western Civilization Itself
On Saturday night, a man burst into a rabbi’s home in Monsey, NY, where a Hanukkah party was taking place, and began stabbing people with a machete. In North London, that same night, the walls of a synagogue and several shops were spray-painted with anti-Semitic slogans. Daniel Johnson comments on both incidents:
The appearance of graffiti in North London seems, by comparison, merely symbolic. Yet the fact that it happened against the background of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labor party gives it a sinister significance.

The fact that these incidents happened at Hanukkah is also ominous. In the German city of Halle, a synagogue was attacked by a gunman at Yom Kippur only last month. Jewish festivals present opportunities for anti-Semites to target victims wherever they gather together. By deliberately turning solemn occasions of communal worship into times of fear and anxiety, anti-Semites seek to disrupt the rhythm of the religious calendar that is the essence of Judaism.

Yet the Jewish people has never allowed itself to be intimidated, let alone subdued, by such threats. The Hebrew Bible is the story of a nation that survived every attempt to crush its identity and suppress its faith in the God of Abraham and Isaac.

It is up to the rest of society to show their Jewish friends and neighbors that they will not look the other way as the oldest hatred renews itself. . . . Western leaders, too, have a responsibility to protect their Jewish citizens. This Hanukkah, Boris Johnson tweeted: “Britain would not be Britain without its Jewish community.” True enough, but tweets and gestures are not an adequate answer to lies, murder, and mayhem. Anti-Semitism is a mortal threat not only to the Jewish people but to Western civilization itself.

Victimhood Culture Leads to Anti-Semitism

The left’s leading populists have fetishized the victim status of certain minorities, including African Americans. They’ve made slavery and its legacy the focal points of American life. They’ve determined, without evidence, that police are on a campaign to kill unarmed blacks. And they speak generally as if we’ve suddenly been transported to a pre-civil-rights-movement America.

What’s more, unlike Donald Trump, some of the left’s leading populists have gone out of their way to steer their followers toward blaming the Jews. The stand-out figures here are Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar and Michigan Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib. Their public record of blaming Jewish money for corrupting American politics is so well known that it needs no rehearsing here. And it’s either been ignored or defended by the larger left. If you called either of them out on their anti-Semitism, you were charged with racism and misogyny. Democratic leaders were so petrified of Omar that they couldn’t even pass a House resolution condemning her blatant anti-Semitic remarks.

But the problem on the left goes beyond Omar and Tlaib. And it goes beyond the rest of the Squad, who engage in constant anti-Israel theatrics. It stretches to the identitarian populism of most of the 2020 Democratic candidates for president, to the liberal garment-rending over the defeat of the anti-Semitic Jeremy Corbyn, to the intersectional gobbledygook that divides college campuses by ethnicity, to the Women’s March activists who embrace Louis Farrakhan, and down to the community level, where, for example, the NAACP, Passaic branch posts Facebook rants blaming tainted water supplies on the Jews.

Historically, indulged victims have needed no encouragement in pointing their finger at Jews. Telling them that others are responsible for their woes has usually been enough to get them headed in that direction. But some on today’s left have given Jew-hatred an extra nudge. Their winks, dog-whistles, and outright calumnies have served as a noxious propaganda campaign and led to a surge of minority anti-Semitism. With the attempted murders in Monsey, this can no longer be kept a secret, and maybe those who have facilitated it will begin to know a little shame.

Bethany Mandel: Stop using Jewish blood to smear your political enemies

Those who reflexively blame President Trump for any and all attacks, no matter how unrelated his administration, actions, or rhetoric are, have made a conscious choice: They would rather play politics than put an end to the violence. And worse, it seems they would like it to continue, in order to have more ammunition against the White House leading up to the 2020 election.

Just as dangerous are those on the Right who are using the occasion to lecture Jews on how they should be voting, that they should be arming themselves and fortifying their houses of worship, and where they should be living. The problem of anti-Semitism isn’t because Jews vote one way or another. (This is a complicated issue when you break down voting histories between Orthodox and secular Jews, but that is a conversation for another time.)

Solving anti-Semitism doesn’t involve making our supermarkets, schools, synagogues, and more into fortresses. That’s not how any of us want to live. Unfortunately, we’ve begun to, and yet the violence continues and is becoming more serious by the day. Most of the attacks in New York have been in the streets, and they’ve taken place against men, the elderly, and even women with their children, in broad daylight and in full view of the public.

Advocating for Jews taking advantage of the protections of the Second Amendment is a moot point for many panicked Jews living in areas where obtaining a gun permit is an uphill climb and a conceal carry permit an absolute impossibility. We can recognize that Jews are safer while armed and advocate for less restrictive gun laws while still acknowledging that guns aren’t a magic bullet to solve this crisis, either. In the long term, there is a battle to be fought for expanded access to guns, but in the short term, lectures about firearms are paternalistic and can be deeply frustrating for panicked people unable to avail themselves of the option.

That this is the case in New York and New Jersey isn’t the fault of the Orthodox Jews living there. Instead of being condescended to about needing to move, allies would be far more appreciated and be doing far more good, continuing to advocate for less restrictive gun laws in these jurisdictions instead of expecting a small community under siege to flee the homes of their parents and grandparents.

There are societal issues that are much more complex and deeper at play — the rot is far more complicated than mere politics and Trump. As long as the violence striking the Jewish community is treated as a political cudgel, it will continue unabated.

December 30, 2019 – Hour 1 (Guest Host Jon Gabriel)

Jon Gabriel, Editor-In-Chief at Ricochet, columnist for the Arizona Republic, and co-host of “The Conservatarians” podcast, fills in for Seth.
Guests: Bethany Mandel of Ricochet.com. (first 20 minutes)

Monsey Hanukkah Party Hero Recalls Face-to-Face Confrontation With Antisemitic Attacker

A synagogue administrator who helped other guests get to safety before confronting the the machete-wielding assailant who stabbed five people at a Hanukkah party in Monsey, New York, on Saturday night is being hailed as a hero.

In a TV interview on Monday, Joseph Gluck recalled that the attacker, Grafton E. Thomas, had entered the house of Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg just as the menorah-lighting ceremony was ending in the dining room.

“First he stood in the anteroom, hitting people right and left with a big machete knife,” Gluck told CNN. “That’s when I started to run out through a side door with all the people in the dining room. We ran to the back of the house, going out by the back door.”

Gluck said that he immediately turned and ran to the front of the house to offer further assistance. Going back inside, he quickly came face to face with Thomas.

“I grabbed the coffee table that was on the floor, hit him in his face, and that’s when he came back outside after me,” a visibly-exhausted Gluck continued. “He told me, ‘Hey you, I’ll get you!’ I was a few feet in front of him, I was screaming, ‘He’s coming, he’s coming!’

When Thomas returned to his car to drive away from the crime scene, it was Gluck who wrote down his license plate, enabling police in New York City to apprehend the 37-year-old attacker in uptown Manhattan a few hours after the attack.

Gluck also spoke about the sense of shock that descended on the community in the wake of the attack, particularly among its children.

“My kids couldn’t fall asleep, so they came into my bed that night,” Gluck said.

Dov Hikind: Antisemitism in NY has nothing to do with the Right, Trump

“The acts of antisemitism that have happened in New York have nothing to do with the Right, have nothing to do with the president,” Former New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind told Fox and Friends. His statement came after NY City Mayor Bill de Blasio told Fox News that an “atmosphere of hate” had been developing in the US and that much of it was “emanating from Washington,” and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo called it an “intolerant time” in the US during a press conference following the stabbing attack in Monsey.

US President Donald Trump praised Hikind’s comments, tweeting, “Thank you to highly respected Jewish leader Dov Hikind for his wonderful statements about me this morning on @foxandfriends.”

Hikind responded on Twitter, “Thank you Mr. President for all you’ve done and continue to do to protect the Jewish people all the while making America stronger and more prosperous!’

Hikind not only criticized the mayor and governor’s looking to Washington for the recent rise in antisemitism, but also claimed that the two are not doing their jobs in New York. “No one out there in the City of New York thinks de Blasio is really doing a good job dealing with antisemitism,” Hikind told Fox and Friends.

Anti-Semitism Isn’t Blacks Vs. Jews. Saying So Hurts Us All.

Hanukkah of 2019 will be remembered as the week that the anti-Semitic violence that has become the new normal for us Orthodox Jews finally made it into mainstream consciousness. According to the Anti-Defamation League, at least 10 attacks took place over Hanukkah alone, reinforcing what we in the community have known for a while now: It’s open season on visibly Orthodox Jews. The violent run that overlay the Festival of Lights culminated in a horrific stabbing attack in the home of a Monsey Rabbi, where many were wounded as they gathered for Menorah lighting. But it comes on the heels of dozens of violent attacks that have plagued Orthodox communities across New York and New Jersey for the past few years.

Of course, there was a certain relief at having the physical attacks against us recognized: Finally, the mainstream media and even liberal and left-wing politicians and activists were speaking up about the violence against us after such a lengthy, inexplicable silence. Some argued that it took so long to speak up about these anti-Semitic attacks because the majority of the perpetrators were not white supremacists but African Americans — members of a community that is itself marginalized and frequently under attack.

That may be true. But if it is, it’s upsetting, not only because it erased our suffering but because of the racist underpinnings of such a view. After all, it was hardly the African American community in its entirety that was committing or even supporting these acts. They were committed by individuals, often young and sometimes mentally ill individuals. And though there was precious little by way of condemnation, it wasn’t like these acts of violence and vandalism were supported by our African American neighbors.

Indeed, in its newfound voice addressing these attacks, the left landed on a narrative that is almost as upsetting as their silence was: casting the attacks as a symptom of underlying tensions between the Orthodox and Black communities.

Jewish college student attacked on New York subway

Yonatan Herzfeld was taking the S train from Grand Central Station to Times Square at approximately 3:30 p.m. when he was chased off the subway car by an African-American male.

The middle-aged man was “shouting about my kippa and drawing a circle, referring to my kippa [skullcap] saying, ‘what’s that you got on your head,’” Herzfeld said.

As the situation escalated and the assailant shouted more slurs, Herzfeld took out his phone to record the anti-Semitic incident.

“I wanted to have evidence for whatever he was about to do,” said Herzfeld, a student at Stony Brook University. “He then chased me off the train so fast I couldn’t even grab my suitcase and I had to circle back into the train to get it. The train closed and I stood as far from him as I could.”

Herzfeld ran away from the suspect, shouting for help on the subway platform in the middle of one of New York City’s busiest stations. However, no one attempted to help him. In videos posted on Facebook, witnesses are seen staring at the student while he runs across the platform.

“No one did anything when I was screaming for help,” he said. “Many were yelling at me to stop filming him, telling me that I brought the incident upon myself.”

Herzfeld believes the man was simply set off by the fact that he was wearing a yarmulke.

“When the train pulled up to Times Square, he was in the car ahead of me, and the only way out was to get past him,” Herzfeld explained. “But he kept coming closer towards me, so I was backing up closer and closer to the wall until there was no more room.

“I screamed ‘help’ several times at the top of my lungs, and that startled him for a few seconds, which gave me enough time to use my suitcase as a shield and push past the mobs of people. They all stood frozen.”

Fighting the Demonization of Israel at the International Criminal Court

On December 20, 2019, Fatou Bensouda, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague, announced: “I am satisfied that war crimes have been or are being committed in the West Bank, including east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.”

Bensouda’s opinion is baseless, preposterous, discriminatory, and violates the ICC’s own mission and rules. The Court was established in 2002 to prosecute individuals for international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, and serious war crimes. The U.S. and Israel did not ratify the Rome Treaty that established the Court out of concern that it would be used to deliver politicized and biased judgments. That concern has been proven valid.

The ICC prosecutes individuals, not states. Therefore, if its pre-trial chamber of three judges rules that the ICC has jurisdiction over the case, Bensouda will be able to subpoena senior Israeli politicians and military officers for interrogation. If they refuse, she could issue warrants for their arrest.

A Scorecard on the First Decade after the Arab Spring

Today, the Middle East is a combination of confused Arab nation-states that have shown their weakness and incapacity to contain the Iranian threat. The instability of Arab regimes allows the formation of sectarian and extremist Islamic militias that threaten the Middle Eastern and world order. The disintegration of the Middle East nation-states has placed the issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on hold.

Turkey, with its Muslim Brotherhood leader, President Erdogan, has adopted an unprecedented activist and aggressive policy. Turkey was deeply involved in facilitating the introduction of ISIS fighters from Europe and Asia into Syria and Iraq. Turkey’s intelligence services were also implicated in the supply and training of jihadists in Egypt and Libya. Turkey’s intelligence agents were caught red-handed in Sinai fighting alongside jihadist organizations against the el-Sisi regime of Egypt.

This past decade saw the reappearance of Russia as a superpower in the Middle East. Moscow has sought to fill every vacuum and to replace the United States politically with new arms and economic deals. As a result of its massive military presence in Syria, Moscow became the mediator Israel could not circumvent and a force on the ground with whom Israel had to coordinate deconfliction arrangements to prevent unwanted clashes between the militaries of both countries.

Illustrative of the weakness of the Arab regimes was their inability to deal with existential dangers. Ethiopia is building the biggest hydroelectric power facility in Africa on the Blue Nile, whose inauguration is scheduled for 2022. The Blue Nile provides 85 percent of the water flow to Egypt downstream. Moreover, filling the Ethiopian dam threatens the water level in Egypt’s Aswan Dam, where a severe drop could jeopardize the production of electricity by the dam’s turbines. There is little wonder that Egypt has several times contemplated military action against the Ethiopian dam.

Iraq has always depended on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. In recent years the Iranians have diverted at least 42 rivers and springs of water from Iran, causing a migration of Iraqis from the water-stricken areas. The Turks have built five big dams on the Tigris. As a result of these projects, Iraq has lost more than 50 percent of its water. Before 2003, Iraq generated power from 12 hydroelectric stations. Reduced water flow because of Turkey and Iran, coupled with drought and the war with the Islamic State, have left Iraq’s major cities with only an intermittent supply of electricity.

Peace through sports? Qatar to let Israelis in for 2022 World Cup

Israelis will be able to enter Qatar as normal tourists in two years to attend the world’s biggest sporting event, despite the Jewish state not having official diplomatic ties with the Gulf country, a senior Qatari official indicated on Tuesday.

Speaking with ESPN, the head of the Qatari committee organizing the 2022 FIFA World Cup Hassan al-Thawadi, said his country will serve as host for all nationalities during the monthlong event. “Everyone is welcome. We do not mix sport and politics, but we would hope that Palestinians are able to make it too,” he said Tuesday.

Over the past several years Gulf states have allowed Israelis to use their airports for layovers and even granted visas for Israeli delegation members for various international conventions or sporting events, but if Israelis are allowed to enter Qatar at will, this will be unprecedented.

The FIFA Ethics Code prohibits host countries from discriminating fans based on their nationality during official sporting events.

The Israel advocacy group StandWithUs has repeatedly called on the international soccer governing body to ensure Israelis would be allowed to visit Qatar during the tournament in 2022.

The organization welcomed the apparent decision to let Israelis enter freely.

“[StandWithUs] cautiously welcomes comments by Hassan al-Thawadi,” the NGO said. “StandWithUs has repeatedly called upon FIFA, the international football/soccer association, to ensure that the Qatari government will issue entry visas to Israeli fans wishing to attend the FIFA World Cup to be held in Qatar in 2022. To date, Israel is not included in Qatar’s online list of nearly 250 nationalities and territories eligible for an entry visa.”

40% more Jewish visitors to Temple Mount compared to last Hanukkah

During the Hanukkah holiday, there was a 40% rise in the number of Jews visiting the Temple Mount, with 400 more visitors compared to last year.

Temple Mount organizations reported the large rise in the number of Jewish visitors, with the Yaraeh Organization reporting that over 1,200 Jews visited the site during Hanukkah. The organizations stated that visitors were coming to be at the site where the miracle of Hanukkah took place during the 2nd century BCE in the time of the Hasmoneans. Eight hundred Jews visited the site last year during the Hanukkah holiday.

Many rabbis and heads of yeshivas visited the site during the holiday, according to the Temple Mount organizations. Rabbi Dov Lior, Otniel Yeshiva head Rabbi Ram HaCohen and Rabbi Eyal Yaakovovitz were among the visitors.

HaCohen expressed admiration for the recent easing of restrictions on Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount, and thanked police officers for their positive relationship with Jewish worshipers.

Israeli terror victims file massive NIS 20 billion suit against Arab Bank

1,132 Israeli victims of terrorism filed a lawsuit on Tuesday in the Jerusalem District Court for NIS 20 billion against the Arab Bank PLC for its alleged funding of terrorists who carried out attacks against Israel.

The lawsuit followed a separate case filed in the US in 2004, which led to a historic judgment in 2014 and an eventual $1b. in compensation in a settlement with the bank. Victims involved in that lawsuit held dual US-Israeli citizenship.

A second case put forth by 6,000 victims, including the 1,132 Israeli victims who filed Tuesday, was rejected by the US Supreme Court in April 2018, since they were not US citizens.

Arab Bank, based in Amman, Jordan, operates some 600 branches around the world, is one of the largest Arab-affiliated banks in the world and is essentially Jordan’s sovereign bank.

Whereas the US lawsuit caused serious business issues for Arab Bank, which had large assets that the US could access, it is unclear what assets Israeli courts might be able to reach.

‘A strange paradox’: Abbas derides Israel for softening on Hamas, punishing PA

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has called Israel’s move to achieve ceasefire understandings with Hamas while withholding funds from Ramallah and advancing settlement activity in the West Bank a “strange paradox.”

Abbas made the comment in a speech to Fatah members on Sunday at the PA presidential headquarters in Ramallah.

“Here, we are blocked from funds and the land is being gradually taken. Over there [in Gaza], understandings for a calming [of tensions] and quiet are being done,” he said.

“The strange paradox is that there are deals for a calming [there], while there is a daily decision and decree to squeeze us here,” he added.

For over a year, Egypt and other international parties have brokered various informal ceasefire understandings between Israel and terror groups in Gaza, including Hamas, which controls the coastal enclave.

The understandings have largely entailed Israel lifting restrictions on the movement of goods and people into and out of Gaza, in exchange for Hamas maintaining relative quiet in the border region between the coastal enclave and the Jewish state.

The PA has vehemently opposed them, arguing Hamas does not have the legitimacy to make deals with Israel.

Hamas ‘promoting’ Donald Trump’s Deal of the Century, says Fatah

In yet another sign of mounting tensions between the two rival parties, the Palestinian-ruling Fatah faction on Monday accused Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh of “promoting” US President Donald Trump’s yet-to-be-announced plan for peace in the Middle East, also known as the “Deal of the Century.”

The latest allegation came after Hamas announced that its security forces arrested a number of Palestinian Authority intelligence officers on suspicion of helping Israel kill Palestinian Islamic Jihad military commander Baha Abu al-At in the Gaza Strip in November.

The Hamas-Fatah tensions are likely to hamper efforts to hold long overdue Palestinian presidential and parliamentary elections. The two parties on Monday accused each other of working to sabotage the proposed elections.

Hamas has agreed to participate in the vote. The PA, however, says it won’t hold elections unless Israel allows east Jerusalem residents to vote in the city.

A statement issued by Fatah’s “Information and Culture Commission” claimed Haniyeh’s current tour of several countries was aimed at “promoting the Deal of the Century” and that Hamas and Israel were colluding to preserve and strengthen the Palestinian political split between the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Internal Hamas Document Implicates Group in Elimination of Senior Islamic Jihad Commander

An internal Hamas document reveals its alleged involvement in the IDF’s assassination of senior Islamic Jihad commander Baha Abu al-Atta in the Gaza Strip in November and exposes the ongoing power struggle between the various Gaza factions.

The document, a copy of which was obtained by TPS, was confirmed as authentic by the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) intelligence service and by Islamic Jihad operatives in Judea and Samaria.

The document, titled “Statements on Hamas and Islamic Jihad Relations” was written shortly after the operation at the end of November, and recently compiled by Hamas’s National Relations Department and sent to Hamas’s chief in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar.

The authors of the document complained to Sinwar about unusual statements by Abu Fakhri Saraj, a member of Hamas’ political bureau in the Gaza Strip, made during a meeting in a Gaza mosque dealing with Hamas’s relations with Islamic Jihad.

Islamic Jihad officials gained knowledge of the statements they say serve as evidence of Hamas’s complicity in Abu al-Atta’s assassination.

PreOccupiedTerritory: Hamas Calls Off Gaza Fence Riots Till March To Replenish Human Shield Stockpile (satire)

The militant Islamist group that governs this coastal territory announced this week it has suspended the weekly violent protests at the border with Israel for most of the winter, citing depleted inventories of women, medical personnel, journalists, and children to put in harm’s way and generate international outrage at the Jewish State when those harmless parties get injured or killed.

A spokesman for Hamas told reporters that inclement weather, political sensitivity, and other factors had combined to make this the most appropriate time to step back from the Friday confrontations with Israeli border units and to concentrate on replenishing the stockpiles of human shields that have drained since the weekly riots began almost a year ago.

“Talks in Egypt regarding a possible long-term truce have certainly made this a relevant move,” stated Fawzi Barhoum. “Inclement weather has taken its periodic toll on the intensity of the protests, as well, and sustaining such an initiative requires logistics that put a strain on the population: canceling school, browbeating people into not working, and interrupting the few infrastructure projects that we’ve cared to undertake, just to give several examples. The combination of these factors, plus the need to reassess the availability of human sacrifices, translates to a hiatus in the protests. We can revisit this as spring approaches.”

MEMRI: Reactions In Iraq To The Recent Violent Conflagration – Hizbullah Brigades: ‘Trump Will Pay A Heavy Price In Iraq And In The Other Countries Where His Criminal Forces Are Found’; U.S. Bases Will Be Crushed

In the past 24 hours, tension between the U.S. and the Iran-supported Iraqi Shi’ite militias, headed by the Hizbullah Brigades, has peaked, following yesterday’s U.S. aerial attacks on five Hizbullah Brigades positions in Iraq and Syria. The Hashd Al-Sha’bi – the Popular Mobilization Units, or PMU – announced that over 25 of its members had been killed, among them Abu Ali Khazali, commander of a battalion of its 45th Brigade.[1] The U.S. attacks came after the December 27 rocket attack on the K1 military base near Kirkuk in northern Iraq, which houses U.S. and coalition forces and which killed a U.S. civilian contractor and wounded several U.S. service members. This was the worst and most recent of several rocket attacks on bases in Iraq at which U.S. troops are stationed. Some of the attacks were against a complex in Baghdad’s Green Zone where the U.S. Embassy is located and where diplomats reside. To date there has been no claim of responsibility for any of these rocket attacks, although at one point Iraqi security forces announced that they had killed “three terrorists” who had fired rockets, but did not announce their identities. The U.S. has said that the rocket attacks are being carried out by the Shi’ite militias, headed by the Hizbullah Brigades, which have in the past year threatened several times to harm U.S. interests which, they say, are within range of their weapons.[2]

The Hizbullah Brigades’ response to the U.S. attack came quickly. Elements in the organization warned that “[President] Trump must know that he will pay a heavy price in Iraq and in the other countries where his criminal forces are found” and that “our forces are ready to crush the bases of the American occupation.” Other PMU-member militias also threatened retaliation against U.S. forces in Iraq.

It should be noted that it was reported that immediately after the U.S. attack, four Katyusha rockets were fired at Camp Taji, a base north of Baghdad where American forces are also deployed.[3]

Iraq’s political echelons condemned the U.S. attack; members of Parliament representing the militias even called for “eye for an eye” retribution. Hizbullah in Lebanon also condemned the attack; an announcement by the organization stated that “there is no escape from the fact that those who made the decision to carry out this criminal act of aggression will soon discover the stupidity, results, and ramifications of this decision.”[4]

It is also notable that Iran’s response to the U.S. attack has so far been low-key, conveyed by low-level officials, despite the fact that the Hizbullah Brigades are Iran-backed and are subject to its authority.

IAF chief: US strike on Iran-backed Iraqi militia a ‘potential turning point’

Israeli Air Force chief Amikam Norkin on Tuesday described strikes on an Iran-backed Iraqi militia by the United States as a “potential turning point” in the campaign against Tehran.

On Sunday, the US conducted a series of airstrikes on the Iran-supported Kataeb Hezbollah in western Iraq and eastern Syria, killing at least 25 members of the militia, in response to a rocket attack two days prior on an Iraqi military compound that killed an American contractor and injured several American and Iraqi soldiers. US President Donald Trump on Tuesday indicated that the United States held Iran directly responsible for the rocket attack last Friday.

Israeli officials have recently lamented that the Jewish state was alone in the fight against Iran in the Middle East.

“The American strike two days ago in Iraq is a potential turning point,” Norkin said, speaking at a conference hosted by the Calcalist financial newspaper.

Israel’s air force chief did not elaborate on how he believed the US might continue to act against Iran in the region.

Iraqi supporters of Iran-backed militia break into US embassy in Baghdad

Dozens of angry Iraqi Shiite militia supporters broke into the US Embassy compound in Baghdad on Tuesday after smashing a main door and setting fire to a reception area, prompting tear gas and sounds of gunfire.

An Associated Press reporter at the scene saw flames rising from inside the compound and at least three US soldiers on the roof of the main building. There was a fire at the reception area near the parking lot of the compound but it was unclear what had caused it. A man on a loudspeaker urged the mob not to enter the compound, saying: “The message was delivered.”

The embassy attack followed deadly US airstrikes on Sunday that killed 25 fighters of the Iran-backed militia in Iraq, the Kataeb Hezbollah. The US military said it was in retaliation for last week’s killing of an American contractor in a rocket attack on an Iraqi military base that it had blamed on the militia.

Dozens of protesters pushed into the compound after smashing the gate used by cars to enter the embassy. The protesters, many in militia uniform, stopped in a corridor after about 5 meters (16 feet), and were only about 200 meters away from the main building. Half a dozen US soldiers were seen on the roof of the main building, their guns were pointed at the protesters.

The US ambassador and his staff were evacuated, Reuters reported.

Trump accuses Iran of ‘orchestrating’ Baghdad embassy breach and violence

US President Donald Trump on Tuesday blamed Iran for an attack hours earlier by militia supporters who broke into the US Embassy compound in Baghdad and damaged property, along with previous Iraqi Shiite militia attacks on US interests.

“Iran killed an American contractor, wounding many. We strongly responded, and always will. Now Iran is orchestrating an attack on the US Embassy in Iraq. They will be held fully responsible,” he tweeted.

“In addition, we expect Iraq to use its forces to protect the Embassy, and so notified!” Trump added.

The US military said its airstrikes were in retaliation for last week’s killing of an American contractor in a rocket attack on an Iraqi military base that it blamed on the Kataeb Hezbollah militia.

Trump tweeted from his estate in Palm Beach, Florida, where he is in the midst of two-week-plus vacation. He’s been largely out of sight and the tweet marked his first comment on the weekend US airstrikes in Iraq and Syria that killed 25 member of the Iran-backed group.

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