Thursday, January 14, 2016

From Ian:

Ramadi, Gaza, and Western Hypocrisy
During the Hamas-Israel war of 2014, both Obama Administration officials and their European counterparts repeatedly accused Israel of excessive force over the “massive” destruction of civilian property in Gaza. But if those officials retain even a shred of intellectual integrity, the recent devastation of Ramadi during a joint Western/Iraqi effort to retake the city leaves them only two options: either hand themselves over to the International Criminal Court as suspected war criminals, or publicly apologize to Israel for all the slurs they hurled at it over far less extensive damage.
As the New York Times reported last week, the successful recapture of Ramadi from the Islamic State left the city “in ruins.” Reporter Ben Hubbard described one neighborhood as “a panorama of wreckage so vast that it was unclear where the original buildings had stood.” The city has no electricity or running water, and “Many streets had been erased or remained covered in rubble or blocked by trenches used in the fighting.” When Hubbard asked an Iraqi officer how residents would return to their homes, the officer replied, “Homes? There are no homes.”
Indeed, a different Iraqi officer told the Associated Press “that more than half of the city’s buildings have been destroyed, including government offices, markets, and houses.”
This is devastation orders of magnitude greater than what Gaza suffered. According to UN figures, 9,465 homes in Gaza were completely destroyed and another 9,644 badly damaged, out of a total of roughly 319,000 (the latter figure is my own calculation based on official Palestinian statistics: Dividing Gaza’s total population of 1.82 million by its average household size of 5.7 people gives you 319,000 households). Thus even according to the UN – which traditionally exaggerates Palestinian casualties and damage – only about 6 percent of Gaza’s homes were destroyed or badly damaged. That’s a far cry from “more than half of the city” in Ramadi. (h/t Dave4321)
PMW: Palestinian girl’s hate speech: “The Jews killed Arafat”
A young Palestinian girl expressed her belief that “the Jews killed Arafat” last week on the official Palestinian Authority TV children’s program Children’s Talk. Her father had taught her that “Arafat wanted to fight in order to free Palestine, and suddenly the Jews killed him and he died as a Martyr,” she said. The TV host immediately confirmed this to be true:
Official PA TV host: “What do you know about Yasser Arafat? You were not born yet when he died as a Martyr (Shahid). Did your father tell you a lot about him?
Girl: “Yes.”
Official PA TV host: “Very nice. What did he tell you about him?
Girl: “Yasser Arafat wanted to fight in order to free Palestine, and suddenly the Jews killed him and he died as a Martyr.”
Official PA TV host: “My dear, may Allah have mercy on his soul and on the souls of all our Martyrs. It is happening at the moment to all of our Martyrs. But he [Arafat] was the leader and the symbol... Yasser Arafat is a legend, a special man. His wish was to die as a Martyr, and he did indeed die as a Martyr. However, when the occupation understood that he would not give up on his great dream, which was the liberation of Palestine, unfortunately they killed him.” [Official PA TV, Jan. 8, 2016]
For years, the PA has been reiterating the PA libel that Israel murdered Arafat. Some versions of this libel have even implicated the US, claiming that Israel conspired with the US to kill Arafat, or that the US gave its approval of the plan. However, in March 2015, three French judges ruled that "it has not been demonstrated that Mr. Yasser Arafat was murdered by polonium-210 poisoning." The French prosecutor stated that there was "not sufficient evidence of an intervention by a third party who could have attempted to take his life." [France 24, Sept. 2, 2015] The French prosecutor also explained that the polonium and lead found in Arafat’s grave were “of an environmental nature.” [Jerusalem Post, March 17, 2015] Despite these results denying any poisoning, the PA continues to blame Israel for Arafat’s death without any proof or backing for this claim.

PMW: PA doublespeak - To Europeans: Judaism is honorable, to Palestinians: There is a falsified Biblical base to their path of blood
Speaking at the Greek Parliament in December 2015, PA Chairman Abbas proclaimed the Palestinians' respect for Judaism and Jews:
"We are neighbors and we will be friends in the future... we are absolutely not against the Jewish religion... The Jewish religion is an honorable religion and we all honor it, appreciate it and recognize its sanctity." [Official PA TV, Dec. 22, 2015]
However, when his PA TV addresses its Palestinian audience, Jews are the evil slayers of prophets, and the religion is "falsified." Palestinian Media Watch often has documented the Antisemitic hate speech on official PA TV, even to children, that would never be spoken to a European audience.
In one of his weekly broadcasts, PA TV host Imad Hamato, a preacher of Islam and professor of Quranic Studies at the University of Palestine in Gaza, explained that the Antisemitic forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is an authentic Jewish plan and that it is being carried out by Israel right now.
PA TV host: The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is authentic Jewish plan

Shaked: Left-wing NGOs closed their eyes to a pedophile abetting murder
The case of the left-wing activist caught on camera saying he turns in Palestinians who sell land to Jews to the Palestinian Authority to be tortured and killed shows the need for the NGO transparency bill, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said in the Knesset on Wednesday.
Shaked excoriated organizations that paid Ezra Nawi, the activist working for far-left NGO Ta’ayush who was caught bragging on a hidden camera by an undercover right-wing activist. The clip was broadcast on Channel 2’s Uvda program last week.
Days later, Channel 2 News reported that B’Tselem, Breaking the Silence and Rabbis for Human Rights paid Nawi for work, such as organizing demonstrations by Palestinians.
“You accuse IDF soldiers of blindfolding terrorist suspects, while you close your eyes and back someone suspected of helping kill an innocent person,” Shaked said. “After so many declarations that are detached from reality about actions that ‘remind you of dark periods in history,’ you can’t see the darkness that took you over... the moral plague of darkness that befell you.”
MK proposes to ban 'treacherous' Breaking the Silence
Jewish Home faction chairwoman MK Shuli Mualem-Refaeli proposed a bill on Wednesday evening to outlaw the anti-IDF NGO Breaking the Silence.
The explanatory notes to the bill assert Breaking the Silence is a "subversive organization acting to change Israel's policies outside the accepted rules of the game in a country with a democratic government, through international pressure which harms the State of Israel."
Mualem-Refaeli also noted that the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel received signficant assisstance through the actions of Breaking the Silence.
"Breaking the Silence is actively engaged in incitement against Israel and serves as an arm to the actual activities of the BDS movement," she asserted. "This can be seen in demonstrations recently covered by the media in which members of the organization physically and verbally attack IDF soldiers during their operations in Judea and Samaria."
Tel Aviv University allows Breaking the Silence, bans Likud
Breaking the Silence and Meretz have announced that it will hold an event at Tel Aviv University next Sunday, in which its members will read out testimonies of soldiers to showcase alleged crimes and unethical behavior on the part of the IDF.
In response, students associated with the Likud and Im Tirtzu activist group requested permission to hold a counter-event and read out testimonies highlighting soldiers' ethics. Surprisingly, the dean of students responded tersely: "The event will not be permitted on this date," with no further explanation provided. Instead, she suggested that they hold their protest on another date.
The head of the university's branch of Likud, Hodaya Shahar, has strongly criticized the university's conduct. "Under the auspices of free speech, the dean of students, Professor Tova Most, permits students with Meretz and the radical left group Breaking the Silence to hold events, so why does she not also permit events by the Likud and other right-wing groups? Is there free speech and free assembly only for one side of the political map at Tel Aviv University?"
Shahar added: "The dean of students' decision to prevent us from holding an alternative event, a demonstration in support of IDF soldiers, is a badge of shame for the university, which allows only one side to express itself and does not contribute to a balanced discourse on campus.
  No shame: ex-diplomat 'told Abbas to cry' to defeat Israel at UN
In a previously unnoticed video, former Foreign Ministry director and ambassador Alon Liel told leftist activists how he came very close to tipping a critical UN vote against Israel.
Liel told the activists that he advised Palestinian Authority and Fatah head Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), through a contact person, to call three heads of state and "cry on the phone" in order to win a ninth vote for a UN Security Council resolution recognizing the "Palestine" as a member state and demanding an Israeli withdrawal to pre-1967 lines within 12 months.
The vote took place in the UNSC on December 30, 2014. In the end, Abbas did not act upon Liel's advice but Binyamin Netanyahu apparently did, according to Liel himself. Netanyahu called the heads of state and made sure they voted against the resolution.
Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Condemns Former Diplomat for Aiding BDS
Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely condemned a former member of the diplomatic corps for abetting the campaign to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel (BDS), the Hebrew news site nrg reported on Wednesday.
“Regretfully, this man has become an active accomplice to parties seeking to harm Israel,” Hotovely, an MK from the ruling Likud Party, wrote in a statement about Alon Liel, after it was revealed that the former director-general of the Foreign Ministry had coached members of the leftist Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence on how to assist outside elements in their efforts to boycott Israel.
Liel’s activity was exposed by the right-wing organization “Ad Kan,” which infiltrated Breaking the Silence — the controversial group of former IDF soldiers and officers who insist that the Israeli army commits war crimes against the Palestinians.
The Ad Kan activist who managed to get himself positioned in the upper echelons of Breaking the Silence took part in a meeting with Liel, a long-time Israeli diplomat and chairman of the Israel-Syria Peace Society.
NGO Monitor: The French Consulate in Jerusalem and Breaking the Silence: Pourquoi?
Imagine a non-governmental organization (NGO) in France collecting anonymous testimonies from soldiers who fought in Mali, and accusing the French government of systematic war crimes. Now, add more funding from the European Union, and various other governments enabling the leaders of this fringe anti-France NGO to travel the world with exhibits claiming to demonstrate these war crimes, and cooperating with efforts to impose a punishing boycott on Paris.
For France, this scenario is entirely unrealistic. But if we change the focus to accusations to Israel, the absurd picture matches reality. In 2015, the French Consulate in Jerusalem provided the Israeli group “Breaking the Silence” (BtS) approximately 15,000 Euros.
BtS consists of a tiny group of Israelis who repeat anonymous “testimonies” (or make up their own, as shown in a few cases) in order to denounce the Israeli Defense Forces as war criminals. In recent months, BtS has unfurled its agenda in the European Parliament, in a Zurich church (a two week propaganda program with a photo exhibit and a continuous stream of anti- Israel speakers), a lecture to the British anti-Israeli group Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP), and elsewhere.
In general, foreign governments do not give taxpayer monies to a non-governmental organization (NGO) in another democracy to promote a particular political cause or lobby on legislation. However, Israel is an exception.
New York Times Tilts Against Israel Whenever it Can
The New York Times can't seem to resist the temptation to slant the news against Israel and in favor of the Palestinians, even when covering a fairly innocuous story such as the initially suspicious fire at B'tselem, the controversial Israel-based non-profit.
Before getting to the slant in this story, let's dispose with the arson issue – fire investigators determined that the blaze was due to an electrical short-circuit and was not set.
And now for the misleading segments in the initial Times report:
B'Tselem, also known as the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, has been at the center of a political dispute following a weekend television report suggesting that an activist affiliated with the group informed Palestinian security services about Palestinians who had sold land to Jews, which is considered a crime by Palestinians.
"Considered a crime by Palestinians" is a vast and misleading understatement by the Times. Selling land to Jews is not just a crime under the Palestinian Authority, it is among the most heinous of crimes, one punishable by death. But reporting this accurately would make the Palestinians look bad, so the Times instead obscures the facts.
Here's what the Times declined to tell its readers: When the Palestinian Authority took control of much of the West Bank it hastened to resurrect a Jordanian law making the selling of land to a Jew a capital crime.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Let’s Use All The Media To Say We’re Being Silenced (satire)
By Zehava Gal-On, Meretz Chairwoman
Israeli democracy is in danger as we speak. Liberal voices are being silenced, and the surest way to let the public know about it is to trumpet the fact that we’re being silenced, via every newspaper, news site, radio station, TV news program, and social media channel.
The danger is real. If we do not tell people the extremists are silencing our voices of equality and tolerance; if we refrain from asserting that appalling development in all the myriad radio interviews we grant the press, in all the Twitter and Facebook statuses that our followers and friends share with the world, they will never know. We must appear on record in all four major Israeli daily newspapers – yes, even Israel HaYom – and in their online equivalents to make sure everyone knows the right wing is suppressing our legitimate voices everywhere.
We must shout it in the committee meetings in the Knesset; we must proclaim it from the very lectern in the parliamentary plenum; we must leave no venue or avenue unexploited in our quest to raise awareness that we are not allowed to say anything. Our activists must yell it in the streets, plaster it all over the public space, and generally make sure it becomes common knowledge that the Right is shutting us off and we are therefore unable to communicate our message by any means.
New Israel Fund demands immediate resignation of the Israeli voting public (satire)
In a strongly worded statement, the Progressive NGO “New Israel Fund” (NIF) demanded the immediate resignation of the Israeli Voting Public for what it described as “continued attacks on Democracy” for exhibiting voting patterns described as “frightening and disconcerting”. NIF Spokesperson Naomi Paiss expanded on this statement at a Press Conference at their New York Headquarters attended by the Daily Freier earlier today.
“Maybe things are just more obvious from New York, Washington, or Stockholm, but it’s as if the Israeli public is totally ignorant of their own best interests.” Ms. Paiss stated. “I mean, who the hell are these so-called “voters” anyway???” Ms. Paiss asked. “It’s almost as if they don’t even read Haaretz.” Ms. Paiss continued on the possible repercussions of the Israeli Public’s continued behavior. “I’m sorry, but I need to break my silence on this topic. If this goes on, we may need to replace the public.”
IDF officer stabbed and wounded near Nablus; assailant shot and killed
A suspected terrorist lightly wounded an Israeli officer on Thursday after stabbing him on the hand on the slopes of Mount Ebal near Nablus located in the West Bank.
The assailant was shot and killed following the incident.
According to Palestinian media accounts, the suspect was 36-year-old Mahmoud Abed al Jalil Yasin.
The incident began when the alleged assailant threw a Molotov cocktail at security forces stationed on the slopes, where he then pulled out a knife and attacked the officer.
The incident marks the second terrorist attack of the day.
Earlier on Thursday, a suspected terrorist was shot and killed by Israeli security forces after attempting to stab a soldier at the Beit Einoun junction located close to the Kiryat Arba settlement and the West Bank city of Hebron.
No Israelis were injured in the event.
Jerusalem Mayor testifies against terrorist he helped neutralize
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat testified on Wednesday morning against the terrorist he helped neutralize during a stabbing attack in the capital's IDF Square last February.
In his testimony before the Jerusalem District Court, Barkat recounted the entire incident in detail, noting afterwards that "I did what is expected of every responsible citizen to do."
At the entrance to the court an emotional meeting was held between Barkat and the Israeli citizen he saved, Avraham Goldschmidt.
Also in attendance were the members of the Mayor's staff who had helped neutralize the terrorist as he tried to stab Goldschmidt to death - former security guard Assad Naamani; Barkat's former driver, Adi Eliasaf; and head of the Mayor's staff, Dafna Din.
The attack in question occurred in February 2015; Barkat was being driven past IDF Square when he witnessed the stabbing.

Knesset Ethics Committee: MKs not required to denounce terrorism
The Knesset's Ethics Committee has rejected a complaint filed against MK Basel Ghattas (Joint List) for refusing to denounce terror attacks.
In its decision, which was sent to the complainant Suzy Dim, the committee explained that the reason for rejecting her claim is that it must uphold Knesset members' freedom of speech, even when the speech is "outrageous."
Members of the committee further stated that when an MK refuses to denounce violent actions that he did not participate in, it is not considered an ethical violation.
The issue in question occurred about two months ago, when MK Ghattas was interviewed on a radio station about terror acts and claimed that an "occupied nation" has right to oppose occupation by any means.
"I think that an occupied people has the elemental right to oppose the occupation, using any means that it finds proper," he told Southern Radio.
Jerusalem cops break up Islamic Movement meeting
Police broke up a meeting being held by the banned Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement Thursday morning in an East Jerusalem hotel.
The Palestinian Ma’an news agency reported that during the raid, police threw stun grenades and arrested Abu Bakr Al-Shimi, a well-known figure in the organization.
The gathering, being held in East Jerusalem’s Commodore Hotel, was billed as a press conference under the name of “Our humanity is stronger than their ban.”
The chairman of the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee in Israel, Muhammed Barakeh, who organized the meeting, told Israeli media that the press conference meant to discuss Arab organizations that were outlawed due to Israeli claims of Islamic Movement movement connections.
Palestinians crowdfund to rebuild destroyed terrorist homes
The IDF has found that the deterrent provided by destroying the houses of terrorists is being eroded.
Not only has the Palestinian Authority (PA) begun to create social initiatives to raise money to rebuild the homes of destroyed terrorists, but the Israel Security Agency has found that many terrorists commit their attacks in the hopes of having their houses destroyed and thereby solve domestic squabbles.
The IDF is warning that these trends may have adverse effects on the deterrent that is provided by destroying the houses of terrorists. Without giving specific examples, the army has told Israeli media outlets in the past that, according to investigations conducted by Israel Security Agency, many terrorists have set out to conduct attacks due to domestic fights. They perpetrate attacks in the hope that the IDF will destroy their houses.
The National Security Cabinet has instructed that the destruction of the homes of terrorists be sped up. According to a report on the Walla news site, currently the process to destroy the terrorist's home takes approximately a year and a half from the time the decision is made. The cabinet would like to speed up the process and have houses destroyed within two months.
Israeli officials urge UN to condemn Iran Holocaust cartoon contest
Iran plans to hold another cartoon contest focusing on Holocaust denial, and Israeli officials have called on the United Nations to condemn the event.
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein on Wednesday appealed to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to denounce the 11th Tehran International Cartoon Biennial.
In a letter to Ban, Edelstein said that “words cannot describe the revulsion and protestation of the state of Israel and many across the world at the recurring proof that Iran continues in its policy of Holocaust denial.”
The winner of the event sponsored by the Tehran municipality will receive a $50,000 cash prize.
Iran’s Geneva Convention Violations
President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry may be celebrating ‘diplomacy’ for achieving the release of detained American sailors. Let’s put aside that treating Iran like a responsible partner is akin to slapping an arsonist on the back after he douses a fire which he needlessly set. And let’s put aside that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Navy reportedly ‘confiscated’ some of the communications gear and equipment from the two U.S. Navy boats. In recent hours, the IRGC and the Islamic Republic’s media more broadly have begun releasing photos not only of the capture and surrender of the U.S. sailors but also showing them in captivity.
Let’s be clear: Photographing the prisoners to broadcast and use as propaganda is a blatant violation of the Geneva Convention, explicitly clause 13, which protects prisoners against exposure to “insults” or their exploitation for “public curiosity.” The lack of White House and State Department response seem to suggest that Obama, Kerry, and UN Ambassador Samantha Power only care about international law when Americans are its victims.
Is the Iranian broadcast of the humiliation of American sailors simply too minor to worry about, given the greater stakes of the Iran nuclear deal and rapprochement? After all, doesn’t the relatively quick resolution of the matter empower the moderates at the hands of the hardliners?
Again, Obama and Kerry would be foolish to believe that the relative moderates have come out on top in this case. Many diplomats compare the detention of the American sailors to the capture of their British counterparts in 2007. Then, the IRGC held the British sailors for almost two weeks. For many Western diplomats, that episode ended when the sailors came home. What they did not know until later was that footage (now removed from Youtube) of their captivity and humiliation would make its way into campaign commercials for various hardline candidates including then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s 20-minute long infomercials. To humiliate the Great Satan is a major shot of adrenalin for the IRGC and Iranian nationalists.
State Department: Iran Might Have Violated Geneva Convention With Videos of Sailors
State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Wednesday that Iran’s treatment of U.S. Navy sailors could have violated the Geneva Convention.
When asked whether forcing the sailors to put their hands over their heads was in breach, Toner said that taking video or images of prisoners of war would be a violation of the Geneva Convention.
“I mean, generally speaking, you’re not supposed to show images of detained prisoners of war,” Toner said. He then said that the videos will be assessed for their authenticity.
“But, you know, again, we’ve got some videos out there circulating, we don’t know if they’re authentic. We don’t know much about them other than they’re out there circulating out there right now. We’re going to assess,” Toner said.
Article 13 of the Geneva Convention states that prisoners of war must be “protected, particularly against acts of violence or intimidation and against insults and public curiosity.”
State Department: Iran Might Have Violated Geneva Convention With Videos of Sailors

Former POW John McCain: Iran’s Treatment of Detained Sailors Violated International Law
McCain, a former Navy officer and prisoner of war during the Vietnam War, said in a statement that the seizure of two American vessels and the detention of their crews breached legal and naval norms.
The Administration is pretending as if nothing out of the ordinary has occurred. Vice President Joe Biden described the incident as ‘standard nautical practice.’ That assertion is patently false. What’s worse, by failing to affirm basic principles of international law, it places our Navy and Coast Guard vessels and the men and women who sail them at increased risk in the future.
Under international law, sovereign immune vessels like navy ships and boats do not lose their sovereign immune status when they are in distress at sea. Under international law, sovereign immune naval vessels are exempt from detention, boarding, or search. Their crews are not subject to detention or arrest.

McCain rejected the assertion that the strengthened diplomatic ties that have emerged between the two countries in the wake of the nuclear deal last July aided in the resolution of the incident. The sailors “were ‘arrested’ in apparent violation of international law and centuries of maritime custom and tradition,” he said, adding that four Americans “still languishing in Iranian prisons” haven’t seen the benefits of increased diplomatic engagement.
Navy Sailor's Apology To Iran May Have Violated Military Code
One of the 10 sailors apprehended by Iran apologized to Iranian media for entering Iranian waters Wednesday, possibly violating military code of conduct regulations.
The sailor and his nine colleagues were taken and held by Iranian forces Tuesday after they accidentally entered Iranian waters Tuesday. The sailors were held overnight in Iran and released Wednesday. Video surfaced of the sailor apologizing for the the event on Iranian media on Twitter a few hours after the release.
“It was a mistake, that was our fault, and we apologize, for our mistake,” said the sailor. It is unclear based on the video whether or not the sailor was forced to say the statement under duress.
When asked about the video by the Washington Times, Chris Harner, a former naval officer and analyst for the Institute for the Study of War, said “the substance of [the] problem here is the U.S. Navy looks extraordinarily incompetent. . . in its ability to transit boats without violating Iranian waters, they look incompetent to know how to deal with a mechanical malfunction, and now that they’ve been taken into custody, they’re apologizing.”
Reporter to State: Aren’t You Overselling Relationship With Iran When They Refuse to Release U.S. Hostages?
Associated Press reporter Matt Lee pointed out at the briefing that these lines of communication worked with the sailors but had failed to bring home prisoners like Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian and others held hostage by Iran, despite Kerry’s continued pleas in that regard.
“Yet, over the course of three years and far many, many, many more face-to-face meetings and telephone calls, at which you guys say he raises the cases of the detained American civilians in Iran on every occasion, that not has yet been resolved. What does that say to you?” Lee asked.
“Um,” Toner said.
“I mean, Zarif apparently delivered here, and on these other cases, he either hasn’t delivered or you haven’t made as forceful an argument, and I think you would reject that [notion],” Lee said.
Toner said Kerry did make a forceful case for the release of American detainees in every meeting with the Iranians.
“We continue to call on the Iranians to release these individuals,” Toner said. “I can’t speak to the inner workings of the Iranian judicial system or even the political system that they can’t resolve this issue and return these individuals home. It’s our strong belief that they should be released immediately.”

MEMRI: Arab Commentators On American Sailors Incident: This Is Iran's Message On The Eve Of JCPOA 'Implementation Day'
On January 12, 2016, Iranian authorities arrested 10 American sailors from two small U.S. naval craft that had strayed into Iranian territorial waters. Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) arrested and handcuffed the crew and held them at a military base, releasing them a short time later. Iranian authorities released photos of the sailors kneeling with their hands on their heads.
Following the incident, articles were published in the Arab press both by supporters of Iran and by its opponents, claiming that, with its actions, Iran had sent a message to the U.S. Tareq Al-Homayed, former editor of the London-based Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, stated that the IRGC had shamed U.S. President Obama and shown him to be weak on the eve of the JCPOA's "Implementation Day." The Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar, which is affiliated with Hizbullah and supports the resistance axis, argued that the IRGC was sending a message to the U.S. that Iran will be willing to clash with it if it has to, and at the same time telling other countries – that is, the Gulf states – not to mess with Iran. It should be noted that Al-Akhbar's January 14, 2016 front page showed the photo of the American sailors kneeling with hands on their heads, under a headline reading "Tehran to Washington: I Control The Gulf."
Iran naval chief: We were ready to fire at US aircraft carrier
Iran had its missiles locked on a US aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf after two small US Navy boats drifted into Iranian territorial waters, and its forces were awaiting orders to fire, the naval commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said Wednesday, in the aftermath of the crisis.
Gen. Ali Fadavi, of the hard-line IRGC military force, scoffed at the “unprofessional behavior” of the US fleet during the crisis, warned that Iran could have inflicted an unprecedented “catastrophe” upon the US forces, and bragged that the US would never prevail in a confrontation with Iran in the Gulf.
“The USS Truman Aircraft carrier showed unprofessional moves for 40 minutes after the detention of the trespassers,” and Iran was ready to strike at it, Fadavi said, according to Iran’s semi-state Fars news agency.
“We were highly prepared with our coast-to-sea missiles, missile-launching speedboats and our numerous capabilities,” Fadavi said, according to Fars.
“The US and France’s aircraft carriers were within our range and if they had continued their unprofessional moves, they would have been afflicted with such a catastrophe that they had never experienced all throughout the history,” the IRGC commander warned, according to Fars. “They could have been shot, and if they were, they would have been destroyed.”
2007: F*** off, mate! How the Aussies repelled Iranian gunboats (unlike our own hapless sailors)
It was a stand-off on the high seas like that which led to the arrest of 15 British sailors and marines by the Iranians earlier this year.
But this time the potential captives were Australians and they were a little less meek in their response.
While pointing their guns straight at the heavily-armed Iranian boats, the sailors simply told the troops to "**** off". And they did.
Their no-nonsense approach was very different to that of the much criticised crew from HMS Cornwall, whose capture in the Gulf in March led to a diplomatic crisis.
Details of the Australian incident, which occurred well before the British humiliation, emerged yesterday.
The Australian naval authorities had been bombarded with requests after a television report of rumours about the confrontation.
Their Defence Department confirmed that its sailors had used "colourful language" and pointed their weapons, but declined to comment on the way the Britons had responded in similar circumstances.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Kerry Urges Israel To Describe Shalit Episode As ‘Positive’ (satire)
Ten American naval personnel were taken captive in the Persian Gulf by Iranian forces earlier this week after their craft strayed into the country’s territorial waters. Kerry negotiated for their release, but in the meantime the servicemen, including one woman, were forced to apologize on camera. The secretary described his conversations with Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, saying the two had agreed to turn the incident into something positive in the two country’s relations. Shalit, then 19, was kidnapped in a cross-border raid by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, then held in captivity until Israel agreed to release more than a thousand prisoners in 2011. Hamas used the kidnapping and captivity to exert political and psychological leverage on Israel, and the latter radically changed its combat protocols to prevent a recurrence. But because Shalit was eventually freed, Kerry is now urging Israel to recharacterize the traumatic episode as positive, just as he did with the American servicemen’s captivity.
“It is a sign of the warming of our relations that this could be accomplished,” said State Department spokesman John Kirby, declining to describe what sign the capture and humiliation themselves represented. “Secretary Kerry believes Israel can reframe its experience with Gilad Shalit in a similar way, since Mr. Shalit did eventually return home. Hamas already views the case as a positive series of events, to the point that they have repeatedly tried to create the same scenario ever since. That leaves Israel as the only party with a negative view of it. It would be mutually beneficial, as with the US and Iran, for both parties to agree on the positive.”
Kirby added that other events in Israel’s history could also be reframed as positive. “The torture, mutilation, and massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics could be similarly treated,” he suggested. “After a number of years the people directly involved were all dead, so what more could you ask for?” He then endorsed a reporter’s remark that, by extension, the Holocaust should be taught in Israeli schools as a positive development, since it did eventually stop.
“This idea has the potential to revolutionize international relations,” he said.
IDF shuts down Kerem Shalom crossing with Gaza due to fighting in Sinai
The IDF shut the Kerem Shalom crossing with Gaza on Thursday following heavy fighting between Egyptian security forces and terrorists in the nearby Sinai Peninsula.
Sources said there was no security incident that directly threatened Kerem Shalom.
Gaza court sentences 4 to death for ‘spying for Israel’
A court in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip on Wednesday sentenced four Palestinians to death on charges of spying for Israel, a statement and court sources said.
The court said in a brief statement that a 23-year-old man from the Zeitoun area south of Gaza City had been sentenced to death on espionage charges. It did not provide his name.
Three other men who “fled from justice” were also found guilty in absentia, it said.
A court source told AFP the four were convicted on “charges of spying for the occupation”, including “surveillance” and providing information about cars and homes to help Israel plan alleged assassinations.
Hamas Democrats and Israeli Dolphin Spies
The International Business Times reports on the sentencing to death of four Palestinians by a Hamas military court on charges of spying for Israel.
It includes this piece of historical revisionism:
Hamas rules the Gaza Strip after winning an election against the rival Fatah party, and fought against Israel alongside the Islamic militant group in a seven-week summer war against Israel in 2014.

It’s probably bad copy-editing that missed what most likely should refer to “the Islamic Jihad militant group.” The rest of this sentence is a result of sheer ignorance.
Did Hamas really gain control over Gaza through winning an election?
In fact, Hamas launched a coup in June 2007, overthrowing Fatah’s executive authority by armed force and executing Fatah members, including throwing them from high buildings.
The IBT’s statement contributes to the myth of Hamas as the legitimate ruler of Gaza.
Indonesian Cleric: Running Terror Camp Was 'Act of Worship'
Bashir’s appeal was filed at district court in Cilacap, which is the closest town to the Nusakembangan prison.
“He neither confirmed nor denied planning terror attacks, only saying the camp was meant to defend Islam and Muslims,” reports the Associated Press. “He acknowledged that the military-style training camp in Aceh violated the law on firearms but that he was obeying God’s orders in supporting the camp.”
“My deed of helping the physical training in Aceh was merely an act of worship,” the cleric explained, as quoted by the Sydney Morning Herald. He went on to charge that “the police and prosecutor are insulting Allah, the prophet, because they are labelling training to defend Islam as an act of terror,” he said.
“After I reviewed the Koran, I understood that the physical and weapons training in Aceh was intended to fight for Islam… that the training is part of an Islamic duty that needs to be carried out by Muslims, because Allah orders it,” Bashir added.
For good measure, he threatened the prosecutors and judges with “unimaginable pain in hell” for daring to interfere with the activities of holy warriors such as himself.
“Before you die, repent, don’t relax and smile while enjoying the small salary you make from the infidel and the assisting dollars given by the American pharaohs,” he scowled.
Bashir and his lawyer also argued that he was attempting to raise money to aid Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. His lawyer admitted much of this aid was meant to provide military training and weapons for Palestinians.

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