Wednesday, July 01, 2015

From Ian:

Eugene Kontorovich: New federal law fights European boycotts of Israel
In plain English, this means U.S. courts cannot enforce judgements that doing business in or being based in the West Bank or Golan Heights violates international law, or particular European rules. There are not as of yet any such foreign judgements to speak of; indeed, legal challenges to business activities across the Green Line have consistently been rejected by European national courts. The real importance of the foreign judgements provision is establishing and strengthening U.S. state practice on this international legal issue.
That is, one underlying purpose behind the series of relatively minor EU restrictions on business across the Green Line is to establish an entirely novel principle of international law (applicable only to Israel): that these areas are for completely off limits for Israelis. The Europeans claim the mere presence (forget habitation) of Israelis in these areas can be a crime under international law. The new law rejects this contention, event to point that it will not recognize foreign judgements arising from it. This would include, for example, the purchase of property in the West Bank by Americans.
Finally, another under-appreciated provision states that boycotts and divestment of Israel by governments violates the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs, the cornerstone of international trade law. Such a finding by a major third-parrty state should make the EU quite worried about the possibility of Israel challenging their impending restrictions in the World Trade Organization’s dispute resolution mechanism.
More broadly, the law – and the state laws it will spawn – represents a major refutation of the conventional wisdom that boycott pressure on Israel is growing irreversibly and ineluctably. In this account, it is Israel’s policies, rather than the single-minded animosity of its opponents, that fuels boycott efforts, and nothing short and changing those policies will help. In short, in this view, the boycott pressure is at least in part legitimate. This view was championed by the left-wing J-Street group, which opposed the Roskam Amendment. They did not manage to convince a single congressman. Despite the efforts of such ostensibly pro-Israel groups, Americans understand that the movement to single out Israel for economic punishment is unreasonable, discriminatory, dangerous to Israel’s security, and contrary to long-standing U.S. policy.
State Department backs away from anti-BDS law’s language
The US State Department backed away Tuesday from controversial language included in the anti-BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) legislation signed into law by President Barack Obama a day earlier, indicating official discomfort with a clause that critics say intentionally blurs the lines between Israel and the West Bank.
“By conflating Israel and “Israeli-controlled territories,” a provision of the Trade Promotion Authority legislation runs counter to longstanding US policy towards the occupied territories, including with regard to settlement activity,” State Department Spokesman Jack Kirby wrote in a statement issued Tuesday afternoon. “Every US administration since 1967 – Democrat and Republican alike – has opposed Israeli settlement activity beyond the 1967 lines. This administration is no different. The US government has never defended or supported Israeli settlements and activity associated with them and, by extension, does not pursue policies or activities that would legitimize them.”
Kirby’s comments referred to the part of the Trade Promotion Authority law which sponsors said were designed to discourage European governments from participating in BDS activities by leveraging the incentive of free trade with the US.
The provisions require US trade negotiators to make rejection of BDS a principal trade objective in Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations with the European Union, instructing them to discourage “politically motivated actions to boycott, divest from or sanction Israel and to seek the elimination of politically motivated non-tariff barriers on Israeli goods, services, or other commerce imposed on the State of Israel.”
Lawless Administration Won’t Enforce Law Against Israel Boycotts
Kirby is right that the U.S. government has never formally recognized the right of Jews to live in Jerusalem or the West Bank. But he’s wrong to assert that President Obama’s policies are entirely consistent with that of his predecessors. This administration has made an issue of the existence of 40-year-old neighborhoods in Jerusalem in a way that is unprecedented since it treats the presence of Jews in parts of Israel’s capital as being just as illegitimate as the most remote West Bank settlement. Moreover, no previous administration has ever considered boycotts of Israel, whether of the entire country or of the half million Jews who live on the other side of the 1967 lines as legitimate. Kirby’s statement is an implicit endorsement of some Israel boycotts while opposing others.
Nor does the focus on settlements aid the cause of peace as the administration claims. Israel has already made far-reaching offers of withdrawal from the West Bank including statehood that has been repeatedly rejected by the Palestinians. The refusal to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders are drawn is the obstacle to peace, not the presence of Jews in Jerusalem or the West Bank.
As I have written previously, the notion that it is okay to boycott some Jews but not others is one that sends a dangerous signal to Israel’s enemies. Once it is deemed lawful to anathematize parts of the Israeli economy, it is a slippery slope to treating all such boycotts as legitimate. Since the original Arab boycott that sought to strangle the Israeli economy was only broken by U.S. efforts to ban trade with those who enforced the boycott, a Congressional effort to move against BDS now was entirely in keeping with longstanding U.S. policy. But since this administration is obsessed with the idea of banning settlements, it is prepared to let a Europe in which a rising tide of anti-Semitism has fueled support for BDS activity get away with such boycotts.
This is a disgrace, but any thought of a legal challenge to the decision is a waste of time. Since the U.S. Supreme Court gave President Obama the right to invalidate laws about Israeli rights to Jerusalem in a decision handed down earlier this month, he can be confident that he will be granted similar latitude to ignore anti-BDS law.
But it isn’t just friends of Israel who should be outraged about this decision. This is an administration that views law enforcement as an option, not an imperative. Just as he did on immigration, where he ignored the will of Congress and used executive orders to effectively annul legislation by not enforcing those concerning illegal immigrants, President Obama regards his personal opinion as being above the law. That is a dangerous tendency to substitute his preferences for the rule of law ought to scare all Americans, regardless of their views about trade or Israel.

State Department Lashes Out Against Anti-BDS Law
People who support boycotts tend to fall into one of two categories. There are those want a two-state solution and believe that a targeted boycott of the West Bank will pressure the government to change policies. There are also those who wish to see Israel replaced with a Palestinian state who support an all-out boycott of Israel. The main BDS leadership falls mainly in the second category.
But both groups have been co-opted by the BDS movement and both help advance the goals of the BDS leaders seeking Israel’s destruction. By implying that boycotts of the West Bank should not fall under the anti-BDS legislation, the State Department statement may lead to more boycotts of the West Bank and a stronger BDS movement.
As Northwestern University Law Professor Eugene Kontorovich wrote in the Washington Post, application of the law depends on the agreement of the President.
The trade negotiation provision is, to be sure, almost impossible to enforce in the face of presidential recalcitrance. While it establishes “negotiating objectives,” ultimately the President conducts the negotiations. Nonetheless, while the provision does not constrain the ultimate parameters of a trade deal, it does require the U.S. Trade Representative to make this an issue.
While the statement may not be a shift in policy from the State Department, it sharpens the distinction between Israel and the West Bank. The State Department, afraid that the new law would legitimize settlements, went out of its way to assert its stance that they lack legitimacy.
The statement, however, does not change the language of the law, which extends the same anti-BDS protection to Israeli-controlled territories as the rest of Israel. It remains to be seen if the State Department or the White House will find a legal way bypass the provision.
Alan Dershowitz: A Jurisprudential Framework for Defending Israel
Well you can’t just talk about Jews, or any other specific groups, when you apply the rule of law. Nor can you talk only about the nation-state of the Jewish people. You must talk about all groups, all nations, and all people when you enact or apply rules of law.
The same analysis is applicable to the BDS movement. As far as I’m aware, none of the advocates of BDS, nor any of the institution that have adopted it, have asked what general criteria should have to be met before BDS is directed against any country. The principle of the “worst first,” is never applied by BDSers. Instead they apply the President Lawrence approach: “We’re talking only about the Jews now.” If general principles were applied to the worst first no boycott movement would reach Israel until the very end of the list.
I suggest therefore the following approach to the BDS movement: whenever and wherever BDS is proposed, an effort ought to be made to apply BDS to the worst first. A document should be provided to the institution, listing the human rights violators in order of the seriousness of their violation and of the inability of its victims to achieve redress from institutions within the state, especially an independent judiciary and media. Topping this list would be nations such as China, Cuba, Iran, Russia, Turkey, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan, Belarus, Syria, Lebanon, and Libya. The list goes on and on, well before it would reach Israel. The idea of singling out Israel for BDS is as incompatible with the rule of law as is the focus of the international community on Israel’s alleged war crimes.
Those who support Israel should not be defending every Israeli action but merely demanding that Israel’s imperfections be assessed in a comparative context, as Learned Hand demanded that President Lawrence do of Harvard students, and as the Bill of Attainder clause and the prohibition against common law crimes demands in the context of the rule of law. Justice must not only be done, but it must be seen to be done and treating Israel differently from other similarly situationed nations undercuts both the rule of law and the quest for justice.
Palestinian protesters paint over gay rights flag
Palestinian protesters whitewashed a rainbow flag of gay rights that was painted by a Palestinian artist on six slabs of the West Bank security barrier.
The artist, Khaled Jarrar, said Tuesday his art was meant as a reminder that Palestinians live under Israeli control, at a time when gay rights are in the news after the US allowed same-sex weddings.
But protesters perceived the painting as support for homosexuality, a taboo subject in Palestinian society where gays are not tolerated.
The artwork ignited angry responses among Palestinians and activists whitewashed the flag on Monday night, just a few hours after it was painted on the best known section of Israel’s graffiti-covered barrier, next to a portrait of Yasser Arafat and other Palestinian leaders.
Jarrar, 39, who has exhibited in Europe and the United States, told The Associated Press that the destruction “reflects the absence of tolerance, and freedoms in the Palestinian society.”
“People don’t accept different thinking in our society,” he said, adding he drew the rainbow flag on the barrier to put a spotlight on Palestinian issues. (h/t Yenta Press)
JCPA: The Palestinian Leadership’s Regression in the Peace Process
Dr. Saeb Erekat, a member of the PLO Executive Committee and head of the Palestinian negotiating team, published a new position paper on June 18 that includes a set of recommendations for the Palestinian leadership.
The document outlines a Palestinian strategy for a diplomatic struggle with Israel. Its main points include:
- Annulling the PLO’s recognition of Israel
- A diplomatic campaign to recruit international support to coerce an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 lines
- Insisting on the “right of return” of Palestinian “refugees” along with their descendants
- Rejection of any proposals for a temporary or partial settlement with Israel
- A legal battle against Israel in the international arena aimed at constraining Israel’s ability to defend itself against Palestinian terror
- Strategic cooperation with Hamas and Islamic Jihad by integrating them into the PLO’s institutions
- The waging of an all-out “peaceful popular struggle” against Israel (defined by Palestinian leadership as local terror attacks)
- The document reflects the old Palestinian strategy of “stages,” which regards an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 borders as affording an improved posture to continue the struggle.
Will the UN’s Gaza resolution be totally anti-Israel or just mostly so?
A resolution endorsing a controversial report on last year’s Gaza War will be voted on by the United Nations Human Rights Council later this week, and while its passage is all but a foregone conclusion, the exact wording of the measure is still being hotly debated between the Palestinian delegation and the European Union.
The Palestinians’ first draft, a copy of which was obtained by The Times of Israel, is blatantly one-sided. It contains various harshly worded condemnations of Israel but doesn’t mention Hamas at all or suggest any guilt on the part of the Palestinian terror group, the de-facto ruler of the Gaza Strip.
The draft’s anti-Israel slant led the six EU member states currently on the council to reject it out of hand.
“It’s unacceptable to us,” a senior European diplomat said of the draft resolution.
But it’s not yet clear how much the Palestinians will be willing to tone down their rhetoric.
Among this draft document’s broadsides is a clause expressing regret over the “repeated failure by Israel to carry out genuine investigations in an impartial, independent, prompt and effective way as required by international law” and its “systematic failure to investigate the role of senior officials in alleged violations of international humanitarian law.”
At the same time, the draft stresses that “the strengthening of internal Palestinian mechanisms of accountability [will require] an end to Israel’s policy of separation between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.”
The resolution thus not only accuses Israel of committing offenses with impunity, it also holds Israel responsible for the fact that the Palestinians don’t investigate the unmentioned Hamas’s war crimes.
PLO’s Draft UN Resolution on Gaza Inquiry is All About the ICC
Acting via the Islamic group, the Palestinians have just submitted a draft resolution this evening that would have the UN Human Rights Council call on all countries to implement the recommendations of the Gaza inquiry, which effectively means to pursue the investigation and prosecution of Israel’s political and military leaders for “possible” war crimes.
The text, officially sponsored by the 57-strong Organization of Islamic Cooperation chaired by Pakistan, will win an automatic majority from Qatar, Saudi Arabia, China, Russia and other members of the 47-nation council when it it put to a vote on Thursday or Friday this week. The U.S. will vote No, while the Europeans are likely to either vote Yes or abstain.
In what will be the HRC’s 62nd condemnation of Israel (more than the rest of the world combined), the draft “deplor[es] the non-cooperation by Israel with the United Nations Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict”; calls for the General Assembly and HRC to continue following up on the implementation of both the new report and the 2009 Goldstone Report (the one Goldstone recanted, and which was revealed to have actually been written not by Goldstone but by a pro-Hamas Marxist law professor from London); and urges countries around the world to exercise universal jurisdiction in prosecuting war crimes by Israel (and, of course, Hamas).
UN Gaza report may hamper fight on terror, military experts warn
Speaking on a panel organized by pro-Israel groups UN Watch and NGO Monitor in Geneva, members of two independent military teams which examined the conflict in recent months blasted the UN investigation team headed by Mary McGowan Davis for failing to sufficiently consult with military experts on the war, relying instead mostly on testimonies collected by local non-governmental organizations, and for not recognizing the unique challenges posed by terror organizations with military capabilities.
According to Maj. Gen. (ret.) Mike Jones, former chief of staff of US Central Command (CENTCOM) and a member of the 2014 Gaza Assessment task force which submitted a report on the war commissioned by the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), the Davis report insufficiently considered the evolving nature of conflict, in which non-state actors such as Hamas have gained the military capabilities so far reserved for standing armies.
“Hamas and other armed groups escalated military operations with no intent to defeat the IDF militarily,” said Jones on the panel. “Rather, it was clear to us that their strategic intent was to win the information war, with military operations and activities supporting the information effort.
“To engage in that assessment without a solid foundation of military operational expertise to inform your judgement … you would think that the commission would have a voracious appetite for the views of people like General Jones and the generals that accompanied him,” Lt. Col. (ret.) Geoffrey Corn, an international law professor at the South Texas College of Law in Houston, Texas, told the gathering.
Anne Bayefsky faces off @ UN against Gaza report authors (h/t Yenta Press)

U.S. law of war expert rips UN Gaza Inquiry Report
Lt. Col. Corn, law professor & former senior law of war adviser for U.S. army: "Your U.N. Report is not based on credible military operational expertise. This is exacerbated by the tactical context of close combat in an urban environment against an enemy deliberately refusing to comply with its distinction obligation. The Report’s judgments regarding military advantage are attenuated from the true nature of military operations, therefore undermining the credibility of ultimate legality assessments." UN Human Rights Council, Geneva, June 29, 2015.

U.S. General Tells U.N. Council Why its Gaza Report is Flawed
Maj. Gen. Mike Jones: "It is disappointing that the report fails to condemn Hamas for unlawfully failing to distinguish themselves as combatants, as well as purposefully co-locating amongst civilians, knowingly placing them at risk, with absolutely no military necessity to do so. I am also disappointed that the report, while acknowledging that lawful targeting is a balance between the military necessity and the known risk to civilians, came to conclusions without sufficient information to make a judgment. Specifically, they condemn the IDF for engagements without any information on the IDF’s objectives, military necessity, or known information on risk." Testimony before UN Human Rights Council, 29 June 2015.

PreOccupied Territory: UN: Israeli Missile Alert System Exempts Hamas From Warning Civilians (satire)
The United Nations Human Rights Council issued a report today in which it ruled that rocket launches from Gaza that trigger Israel’s Red Alert system for incoming missiles and mortar shells fulfill any requirement Hamas might have to warn civilians in those areas.
The Red Alert system, sometimes known locally as Red Dawn, identifies the launch from with the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip of rockets or long-range mortar shells, and calculates the rough trajectory of the weapon. Based on those calculations, the system advises Israelis in the targeted areas to seek immediate shelter in a shielded, underground, or internal space, and remain there for a certain period. Because the Red Alert system gives Israelis anywhere from fifteen to ninety seconds’ warning, depending on the distance and type of projectile, the Council decided that Hamas had effectively acted above and beyond the requirements of the Laws of Armed Conflict when it triggered those alerts.
Council members emphasized that it was important to highlight this Hamas humanitarian achievement, lest people get the impression that Israel’s practice of warning before conducting airstrikes somehow gave the IDF the moral high ground in last year’s war. “This body would be be derelict in its mission and ethos if it were to endorse a finding that did not conform to existing notions of Israeli brutality and Palestinian victimhood,” said delegate Predja Diss of Sudan. “It was not quite sufficient to interpret mocking, threatening Hamas video clips as warnings, so the Council felt compelled to shore up the idea that Hamas warned Israeli civilians with this finding.”
Islamic State threatens to ‘uproot’ Israel, topple Hamas
The Islamic State terror group has threatened to “uproot the state of the Jews” and pursue “Hamas dictators” in Gaza.
In a video published Tuesday, IS accused the Islamist Hamas of being soft in enforcing religious law in the Palestinian enclave it controls.
“We will uproot the state of the Jews [Israel] and you [Hamas] and Fatah [in the West Bank], and all of the secularists are nothing and you will be overrun by our creeping multitudes,” a masked Islamic State member said in the recorded message addressed to the “tyrants of Hamas.”
The rule of Sharia [Islamic law] will be implemented in Gaza, in spite of you. We swear that what is happening in the Levant today, and in particular the Yarmouk camp [in Syria], will happen in Gaza,” he said, in reference to the besieged Palestinian refugee camp near Damascus.
Hamas has been battling Gaza-based Salafist groups identified with the Islamic State. Some groups has claimed recent rocket fire on Israel, in defiance of Hamas rule.
Netanyahu cartoon: Iran ‘just much bigger’ IS
Undaunted by the awkward failure of a previous propaganda cartoon, Israeli authorities had another crack at animation with a short clip released Tuesday that aimed to draw similarities between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Islamic State Group.
The video, just 28 seconds long, was published on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s social media pages Tuesday and argued that allowing Iran to obtain nuclear weapons would be even worse than giving nukes to the jihadist IS group — also known as ISIS — that has rampaged across Iraq and Syria brutally murdering opponents in its path.
Drawn in two-dimensional simplistic style, the cartoon shows a group of gun-toting Islamic State militants driving in a Humvee as they joyfully squash Americans, Christians, homosexuals, and Jews in a blood-splattering trip through a desert setting.
A narrator explains that “Islamic State sweeps through the Middle East killing anyone who isn’t exactly like them.”
The Islamic State of Iran - like ISIS. Just much bigger.

Islamic State has opened a window for us
Islamic State considers every secular Muslim, and anyone it deems not Muslim enough, as a heretic deserving of being beheaded. Only a minority of Arab Israelis do not fall under this category of heresy. Thus there is a sense in the Arab street of wanting to move closer to the State of Israel, because it is clear to them that only Israel will protect them from the evils of this group. We must take advantage of this development, and the state must engage in a real process of rapprochement with Israeli Arabs. This is precisely the window of opportunity to bring about a real sense of equality among the Arab minority, and like any such window, it will be closed in the future. We need to extend a hand to anyone who understands that reality has changed and wants to strengthen the State of Israel ahead of its future battle against Islamic State.
Meanwhile, all-out war must be declared against any identification with Islamic State in the Israeli Arab sector, and the best way to do so is to change the law in order to defend the state against this rising tide. Standing idle on this front is an invitation for more terror, regardless of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his cohort, who have also been marked as infidels by Islamic State. They, too, know what fate awaits them without the State of Israel.
Israeli Counter Terrorism Bureau Warned Against Travel To Tunisia In May, British Foreign Office Still Doesn't
In May The Jewish Press reported the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office reissued the Level 2 alert in relation to Tunisia, citing intelligence that terrorist groups were planning attacks against Jewish and Israeli targets. Contradicted at the time by Tunisia’s Interior Ministry the warning stated “the recommendation is to avoid visiting Tunisia.”
The CTB alerts were specific to Israel, linking it to the annual Lag B’Omer pilgrimage to the Tunisian island of Djerba, home of the El Ghriba Synagogue (one of the oldest synagogues in the Arab world). Nevertheless, questions are being asked as to why the elements of the warning involving Western targets did not extend to stronger Foreign Office advice to British travelers.
Even now official advice from British authorities is not as strong as the Israeli advice prior to Friday’s event. Revised travel advice went up on the Foreign Office website on Saturday night.
Twice-bereaved family buries son slain in West Bank shooting
Thousands of mourners gathered Wednesday morning in a West Bank settlement for the funeral of a 25-year-old man who was gunned down Monday evening in the West Bank while returning home from a basketball game.
Among those at the funeral in Kochav Hashachar, north of Jerusalem, was Education Minister Naftali Bennett and other politicians, as well as family and friends of Malachy Moshe Rosenfeld.
Mourners spoke of a family-oriented, ambitious young man who was taken much too soon from a household that had already suffered the trauma of a son killed 13 years earlier in a flash flood.
Israel Cancels Travel Permits to Gaza After Terror Attacks
Israel said Wednesday it was revoking permits for hundreds of Palestinian Arabs living in Judea and Samaria to visit relatives in Gaza after a series of terror attacks on Israelis - several of them fatal.
The announcement by COGAT, the agency that manages civilian affairs between Israel, the PA, and Gaza was the latest reversal to measures easing movement for Palestinians during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. Earlier Tuesday, COGAT announced it would tighten access of Palestinian Arabs to the Temple Mount. Men under 50 and women between 16-30 would only be admitted if they held permits.
It came as 26-year-old Malachi Rosenfeld, fatally wounded in a shooting attack outside Shvut Rachel on his way back from a basketball game Monday, was buried Wednesday in Kochav Hashachar where he lived.
Education minister and Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett, speaking in a graveyard eulogy, said "our enemy is not a partner for peace; their way is that of terror and will be treated as such."
AFP Attempts to Justify Terror Attack That Killed Malachi Moshe Rosenfeld
On Monday night, a Palestinian terrorist attack targeted four young Israeli men in a car fired on while travelling from a basketball game in the Binyamin region of the West Bank. Three men were seriously wounded, while the fourth, Malachi Moshe Rosenfeld, died of his wounds. The attack is believed to have been carried out by a Palestinian terror cell. It is the latest of several terrorist attacks, some deadly, that have taken place in the region since the beginning of the Muslim Ramadan, when Israeli security forces ease restrictions on Palestinian travel between the West Bank and Jerusalem. A June 30th AFP article, "Shooting wounds four Israelis near West Bank settlement" includes the following "explanation" for the terrorist attacks:
A shooting near a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank wounded four Israelis ..
...West Bank settlements are considered illegal under international law
and Israelis have been attacked previously in and around them, as well as in annexed east Jerusalem.

This comes across disturbingly as AFP's attempt to legitimize/justify Palestinian terrorism and blame the victims.
'Israeli Citizens Deserve Same Empathy as Rest of the World'
In the wake of a spate of recent terror attacks culminating in the death of Malachi Moshe Rosenfeld on Tuesday, Israeli ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor, sent a strongly worded letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, demanding his condemnation.
"In the two weeks since the beginning of Ramadan...there has been a dramatic increase in attacks against Israelis. Each day seems to bring with it news of a shooting attack, or a stabbing. These attacks are part of a global surge of terrorism," Prosor wrote.
"We have all been witness to the horrific terror attacks of last week in France, Tunisia, and Kuwait, which you condemned 'in the strongest terms,'" he continued.
"We join in your call that 'those responsible for these appalling acts of violence must be swiftly brought to justice' and that 'these heinous attacks will only strengthen the commitment of the United Nations to help defeat those bent on murder, destruction and the annihilation of human development and culture.'"
"I expect you to condemn the terror attacks in Israel in an equally decisive manner," Prosor said pointedly. "Terror is terror, no matter where it takes place, or who is harmed. The people of Israel deserve the same level of concern and empathy as any other people in the world."
Shin Bet chief says Palestinian terror attacks up 50% since 2012
In 2014, the number of attacks by individuals went up 50 percent since 2012, when there were 683, to 1,834, with terrorism spiking during Operation Protective Edge. The figures include instances of rock-throwing, fire bombs and stabbings, as well as other types of attacks.
The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) stopped 130 terrorist cells in 2014 and 60 in 2015 so far, most of which were part of Hamas.
Speaking at the meeting that was closed to press, Cohen explained that terrorist organizations have difficulties attacking, because the Shin Bet and IDF successfully stopped them so many times, and most of the attacks were by individuals or unorganized groups.
The Shin Bet chief said cooperation with the Palestinian Authority on security is what allows the PA to survive, despite Hamas activity. He cited moderating factors in the West Bank, like a relatively stable economy and the public’s desire to protect its personal welfare, as factors that are more effective and significant than those that could destabilize the area, such as the lack of a diplomatic horizon, international triggers or any efforts Hamas has made.
Palestinians are more focused on economic welfare and are relatively passive when it comes to a possible conflict, he added. PA President Mahmoud Abbas is trying to build his legacy by promoting unilateral actions against Israel through the UN Security Council and the International Criminal Court, which are meant to promote a boycott of Israel, Cohen said.
Israel seals Jerusalem home of terrorist’s family
Eight months after two Palestinian terrorists killed four worshipers and a policeman at a Jerusalem synagogue, Israeli security forces Wednesday sealed a home belonging to the family of one of the attackers.
A ruling last November by the High Court initially prevented the government from demolishing the homes of cousins Uday and Ghassan Abu Jamal pending an appeal by their relatives and human rights groups.
But the appeal was unsuccessful and the presiding judge ruled that “the petitioners could not prove that the government’s decision [to seal off their houses] is disproportionate” to the crime they committed.
Thus the IDF was given the green light, and the home belonging to the family of Uday was cemented in early Wednesday morning in East Jerusalem’s Jabel Mukaber neighborhood. The action did not extend to the home of Ghassan.
Suspected Arab Terrorist Nabbed Infiltrating Jewish Town
A female resident in the Jewish town of Adora, located to the west of Hevron in Judea, had the alertness and presence of mind to thwart an attack on Wednesday afternoon.
The resident spotted an Arab who had breached the security fence of the town and infiltrated into the community.
She quickly contacted the town's security squad, which together with IDF forces succeeded in capturing the suspected terrorist.
He is currently being investigated in an attempt to clarify the details of the incident.
The latest incident comes on the heels of a long string of terrorist attacks ever since the Muslim fast month of Ramadan began in mid June.
U.S. Pledges $40MM to Help Israel Fight Tunnel Warfare
To help combat the threat of underground tunnels around the world connecting terrorists with their targets across borders, the United States government has pledged $40 million on research and development with Israel, where tunnels dug by Hamas are a pipeline for terror against the country.
These are not ordinary, or crude, tunnels, says New York Democratic Rep. Steve Israel. He has visited them first hand and describes them in this way:
These tunnels are not the tunnels that many of us characterize in our own minds, these tunnels are sophisticated, these are expressways underground, it's like the Queens-Midtown tunnel going from Gaza to Israel. They are ventilated, they are lit, they are massive, they are deep, they they are huge, they are impenetrable and they are very difficult to detect.
Large, gold-funded Hamas cell uncovered in West Bank, Shin Bet says
Israel’s domestic security service said Wednesday it had revealed and arrested members of a 40-person Hamas cell in the Nablus region of the West Bank, foiling an attack still in the planning stage and breaking apart a community-wide infrastructure.
The arrests, conducted over the past months, were made public amid a rise in terror attacks against Israelis in the West Bank and corresponding calls from settlers to increase the Israeli army’s preventative actions in the region.
Over the past 10 days there have been four shootings and two stabbings, claiming the lives of Israelis Danny Gonen and Malachi Rosenfeld and wounding several more.
The Shin Bet said the Nablus cells were run from Qatar, by Hussam Badran, a Hamas spokesperson and a native of Nablus.
Ya'alon: Hamas Istanbul headquarters behind recent shooting attacks
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said Tuesday that the recent shooting terror attacks have been sanctioned by Hamas' international headquarters in Istanbul and funded by Iran. Meanwhile, the IDF decided to increase its presence in the West Bank in search of the perpetrators of the attacks.
According to Ya'alon, this branch of Hamas, which moved to Turkey after being expelled from Syria, was behind the terror attack on Monday night near Shilo in which four Israelis were shot, one of them later succumbing to his wounds, while driving home from a basketball game; the shooting earlier this month near Dolev which left Israeli Danny Gonen dead and his friend wounded; and a shooting at a Magen David Adom ambulance near Beit El, in which no one was hurt.
All of these shootings happened in the same area of the West Bank - the Binyamin Regional Council - which bolsters the suspicion the same terror cell was involved.
Israel closes crossings with Egypt, Gaza, following ISIS Sinai terror attacks
Israel closed the Niztana and Kerem Shalom border crossings Wednesday following militant attacks in Egypt's North Sinai that killed at least 50 in one of the biggest coordinated assaults yet in the insurgency-hit province.
Islamic State's Egypt affiliate, Sinai Province, claimed responsibility for the attacks against security forces in North Sinai, according to a statement on Twitter. The group said it had attacked more than 15 security sites, and had carried out three suicide attacks.
The IDF was closely monitoring the border area with Egypt and Gaza in light of the events.
It was second high-profile action in Egypt this week. On Monday, the prosecutor-general was killed in a car bombing in Cairo, raising questions about the government's ability to contain the insurgency.
The army said five checkpoints were attacked by about 70 militants and that soldiers had destroyed three land-cruisers fitted with anti-aircraft guns.
Abbas fires deputy Abed Rabbo in PLO power struggle
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas fired a long-time critic from the No. 2 job in the Palestine Liberation Organization, in what is seen as his latest move to sideline potential rivals, an official said Wednesday.
Ahmed Majdalani, a senior PLO member, said Yasser Abed Rabbo was removed as PLO secretary general in a leadership meeting late Tuesday headed by Abbas, the organization’s leader.
Abed Rabbo had been a vocal critic of Abbas’s policies and leadership style. Abbas has alleged in closed-door meetings that Abed Rabbo is part of a group of Palestinian politicians trying to undermine him with the aid of financial support from the United Arab Emirates.
Unnamed Palestinian officials told The Times of Israel that the two had longstanding disagreements over budget allocations, and that Abbas saw Abed Rabbo as a threat to his leadership.
Hamas Clamps Blockade on Mobile Phone Service
Hamas has shut down the offices of the sole mobile phone company Jawwal, which is part of a Palestinian Authority conglomerate called the Palestinian Telecommunication Company, or Paltel.
It was founded by billionaire Mohammed Mustafa, one of Mahmoud Abbas’ confidantes, and is part of an empire that would put Donald Trump to shame, if he knows the meaning of the word
The Ma’an News Agency reported, “A Hamas police vehicle arrived at Jawwal’s Gaza headquarters early in the morning and prevented employees from entering or opening the branch…. Another company branch was closed in central Gaza City.”
Paltel executive director Ammar al-Iker said that the closure increases the suffering of Palestinians, Ma’an added, in its name or his name, that the Arabs in Gaza are “under Israeli blockade.”
Haniyeh: Hamas more prepared to protect Gaza than ever before
Marking a year since the onslaught of Operation Protective Edge, senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said in a speech Wednesday in Gaza's Rafah that the terror organization has recuperated since last year's battle round and is more capable of fighting Israel than ever before.
According to the terror organization's website, Haniyeh said that the Palestinian resistance and the Kassam Brigades are more prepared than ever before to protect the Gaza Strip from "Zionist" threats.
He said that the upcoming days will bring "good to the people of Gaza," and went on to praise the recent flotilla attempt to break the blockade of the Strip.
Haniyeh said that the IDF's interception of the flotilla "reveals the aggressive nature of the Zionist regime," which is standing in the way of an "important step in breaking the blockade on Gaza."
950 Hezbollah operatives, 300 Hamas members in Germany – intelligence report
The number of Islamists in Germany increased to 43,890 in 2014 from 43,190 in 2013, according to a report released on Tuesday by the country’s domestic intelligence agency.
Radical Islamists are “the greatest danger to Germany,” said Hans-Georg Maassen, the president of the agency, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV). “Germany is on the spectrum of goals for Islamic terrorists,” he added.
Hezbollah has 950 active operatives in the Federal Republic, and Hamas has 300. Germany has designated Hamas as a terrorist organization. The Merkel administration along with the EU banned Hezbollah’s military wing in 2013, but allows its political wing to operate.
According to the BfV report, the number of Salafists in the country increased to 7,000 in 2014 from 5,500 the previous year. The Salafists are “the most dynamic Islamic movement in Germany” and serve as a recruitment pool for jihadist groups in Syria and Iraq, the report said.
The chapter on “Islamism and Islamic terrorism” states that at demonstrations against last summer’s Gaza war, there “were rather more Hamas-supporting events than peace demonstrations, and there was clearly public anti-Semitism.”
The anti-Semitic slogans targeted “Jews and Israel” and resulted in attacks on Jews and pro-Israel activists.
“Kill the Jews!” “Jews out!” and, “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas!” were some of the slogans chanted at the 2014 protests.
ISIS Beheads Women For Sorcery, Working With Elves
Islamic State beheaded two women over the weekend accused of witchcraft and working with elves in eastern Syria.
Militants executed the accused alongside their husbands in Deir Ezzor province for breaking Islamic Sharia law by practicing sorcery, The Independent reported. One woman was killed in Deir Ezzor city and the other in Mayadin.
This is the first time Islamic State has killed women in this manner, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Females are typically executed by firing squad or stoning and usually after accusations of adultery.
ISIS 'Celebrates' SCOTUS Decision by Tossing 4 Accused Gay Men Off Roof
The jihadist terror group Islamic State responded to the Supreme Court’s recent decision on gay marriage by killing accused gay men by pushing them off a roof.
Released on the same day as the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision legalizing homosexual marriage across all 50 states, the video shows ISIS militants pushing several men off a high roof to their deaths.
A Syrian Twitter user, using the “Love Wins” hashtag, tweeted that four gay men were pushed to their deaths to “celebrate” the ruling.
The tweet also included photos of the execution, including one particularly graphic photo. Reader discretion is advised.
PreOccupied Territory: Suicide Bomber Denied 72 Virgins; Forgot To Yell ‘Allahu Akbar’ (satire)
Mustafa Ali Al-Masri, 22, blew himself up in this Egyptian border town today, injuring six paramilitary police, but will not be permitted to enjoy the full extent of Paradise because he neglected to yell, “God is great” as he committed the act.
Al-Masri, who joined the local Islamic State affiliate in the Sinai last year, had attempted to inflict as many casualties as possible on Egyptian government forces as part of a larger wave of simultaneous attacks over the last day that have killed dozens. Wearing a vest outfitted with explosives, he jumped from a moving vehicle into a group of assembled police, detonating the explosives as he landed. Heavenly sources said Al-Masri must have been focusing exclusively on the physical feat of jumping properly at the right moment, and simply forgot to shout the declamation necessary for admission to all the sumptuous delights of the Afterlife.
“Mr. Al-Masri will be welcomed into Heaven, for he has performed a feat of courage and dedication,” explained the Archangel Gabriel. “However, his final deed was lacking in completeness, which betrays an unfortunate lack of complete devotion. That devotion would have been demonstrated and enhanced by declaring the greatness of Allah while dying in His name.”
Instead, explained the angel, Al-Masri would be allowed to watch as others were provided their allotment of six dozen virgins. “This young man almost got it right, so he will almost receive what he was striving to achieve,” added Gabriel. “He came tantalizingly close to the shahid ideal, and will therefore be rewarded with a tantalizingly close experience of virgins.”

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