Wednesday, February 10, 2016

From Ian:

Reconciliation, jihadi-style
Palestinian officials met in Doha on Sunday, as part of a Qatar-led initiative to cause rival factions Fatah and Hamas to bury the literal and figurative hatchet. Turkey was also in on the act, ostensibly interested in getting the leaders in Ramallah and Gaza to present a united front for the sake of an agreement with Israel.
This is amusing, to put it mildly, since the only thing on which Fatah and Hamas actually do agree is the ultimate goal of annihilating the Jewish state.
They are at odds about everything else, including the pace at which their shared aim should be carried out. But mainly, they -- like the rest of their Islamist brethren throughout the region and the world -- are engaged in a deadly power struggle.
So perpetual is this battle that the so-called unity deals the two groups signed in the past, most recently in April 2014, have unraveled before the ink on their contracts was dry. But the signatures did serve an unwitting purpose: to show those who still could not see that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was a partner for jihad, not peace with Israel.
The Yasser Arafat school of Zionist history is poisoning the Zionism narrative
Like environmental sludge seeping into the groundwater, anti-Zionist toxins are poisoning standard discussions about Zionism. The latest example of how the campaign delegitimizing Israel insidiously undermines the Zionist narrative is a serious, non-polemical New York Times article quoting nine Zionists and no anti-Zionists. Steven Erlanger’s article “Who are the true heirs of Zionism” reflects the new (ab)normal: an inability to discuss Zionist history without wrapping it around the Palestinians’ self-serving, one-sided tale of national woe. Increasingly, consciously or unconsciously, many American elites, including Jewish intellectuals, are parroting the Yasser Arafat school of (anti-)Zionist history at worst, or the equally wrong, if less genocidal, post-Zionist school at best.
Just as environmental engineers construct clay barriers to prevent seepage into the soil to protect the groundwater, we need substantive Zionist education to detect and refute these distortions. Zionism has truth and fairness on its side. American history isn’t just about Native Americans or African Americans – and Zionism isn’t all about Palestinians.
The Times article begins by charging that “Zionism was never the gentlest of ideologies. The return of the Jewish people to their biblical homeland and the resumption of Jewish sovereignty there have always carried within them the displacement of those already living on the land.” Erlanger then provides this bizarre, distorted perversion of Zionist history: “The earliest version of Zionism based the creation of a Jewish nation on the revived language of Hebrew, to unify the huge variety of dispersed Jews. Beginning in the 1920s and especially with the Holocaust, suggests Bernard Avishai ... came the idea of ‘political Zionism,’ which required a state and a military both to protect Jews against anti-Semitism and to transform them into a modern state, to defend themselves and, if necessary, to defy the world.”
Erlanger’s crackpot chronology is like starting the history of the American republic with Andrew Jackson in the 1820s, three decades after George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.
Israeli, French envoys face off online
It's its not everyday that two senior ambassadors debate on one of the world's most popular social networks. But that's exactly what happened this week when the French ambassador to Washington, Gerard Araud and his Israeli counterpart Ron Dermer, exchanged barbs in front of everyone on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
It all started with tweets by the senior French ambassador, who was formerly French ambassador to Israel and the United Nations. Araud retweeted statements made by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius in conversations on achieving peace in Syria, which stated that "there can't be a political negotiation when one side is murdering the other."
Israel's ambassador in Washington, Ron Dermer, responded in kind to Araud's tweets, implying hypocrisy on the part of the French ambassador. "hmmm. Wonder if that wisdom will one day be applied to when Jews are being murdered in Israel," read his sarcastic tweet.
Araud waited a day and chose not to respond directly to Dermer, but his indirect response was sufficient:"Israel/Palestine. So predictable that any pretext leads one side to declare that the other one is evil."
After users responded to his tweets, including some Israelis, Araud addressed the subject with another tweet: "A tweet on Syria. An unrelated reaction on Israel/Palestine and an outpouring of one-sided tweets without any link with the first tweet." Araud later posted a third tweet: "Israel/Palestine. Feeding the passion instead of analyzing the situation from both sides is a good way to escape the real issues."

Israeli runner stabbed on Gush Etzion trail
All Tomer Ditor, a 28-year-old resident of Kibbutz Rosh Tzurim in Gush Etzion, wanted to do was go out for an evening run. Shortly after 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Ditor set out on the Patriarchs Road trail adjacent to the community of Neve Daniel, and was attacked from behind by a Palestinian terrorist, who stabbed Ditor in the upper body.
Despite his wounds, Ditor managed to reach the gate of Neve Daniel and report the stabbing. Paramedics from Magen David Adom as well as volunteers from Hatzalah Judea and Samaria provided first aid and took him to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem.
"When we arrived, we saw a man lying on the ground on the Patriarchs Road trail, near the entrance to Neve Daniel," MDA medic Moti Ben Sasson reported. "[Ditor] was fully conscious and suffering from a stab wound to the upper body. We administered first aid that included stopping the bleeding and bandaging [the wound], put him into the ambulance and continued to provide care while taking him to the hospital, where he was declared moderately wounded. During the trip, he was talking to us and told us that while working out, he felt a stab and fell."
The head of trauma care at Shaare Zedek, Dr. Ofer Merin, said, "Happily, the wounds are shallow and his life is not in danger."
In the meantime, the terrorist escaped, apparently to the Palestinian village of Nahalin, near the site of the attack. Numerous security forces were deployed to the area and were hunting for the attacker.
Damascus Gate terrorist told mother 'I'm going to heaven'
The investigation into the deadly shooting and stabbing attack last week at Jerusalem's Damascus Gate is ongoing as Israeli security forces continue to try and piece together new information.
According to a Channel 10 report Tuesday night, the Israeli Security Agency (ISA or Shin Bet) received a tip that the three terrorists prayed at Al-Aqsa mosque before committing the attack which killed Border Police officer Hadar Cohen.
The Shin Bet has been trying over the last few days to verify the information, which was apparently relayed by Palestinian sources in Kabatiya - the three terrorists' hometown.
So far, the Israeli security agency has been unable to verify the claim.
In addition, new details have been released about terrorist Ahmad Zaharana, who Channel 10 revealed on Monday had been questioned and later released by security forces last month over a series of suspicious Facebook posts.
'We lose a family, and all they lose is a home'
The families of murdered terror victims in the recent wave of terror will be attending a High Court of Justice meeting on Wednesday, which will determine whether to destroy the homes of terrorists who carried out attacks or not.
Shlomit Fischer, the sister of Yaakov Don, who was murdered in a shooting attack which took place at the Gush Etzion intersection on November 18th, told Arutz Sheva that the country needs to establish a deterrent to prevent additional murders of Jews. "The family of the terrorist knew that he was going out to kill Jews, he left a will with his brother and then left to murder people. We have lost our families. It is inconceivable to allow those who abetted these murderers to get away without paying a price."
Fischer compared the losses on both sides and found the comparison wanting. "We lost our families, and all they lose is the roof over their heads. There is no comparison at all in this equation. We simply cannot let this pass."
The bereaved sister added "There must be a deterrent. If the destruction of the houses of terrorists prevents even one Jewish family from suffering what we have suffered, then it is worth it and we have won."
Netanyahu unveils plan to ‘surround entire state with a fence’
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday announced his intention to “surround the entire State of Israel with a fence,” including sealing off openings in the West Bank security barrier.
Speaking during a tour of the Jordan border area in the south, Netanyahu said the extensive project would also address the potential threat of cross-border tunnels into Israeli territory.
“If you’re thinking of erecting a fence there you have to take into account that they could tunnel underneath it,” Netanyahu said. “The people who said that there is no significance to [retaining] territory in the modern age should go to Gaza.”
In its 2014 conflict with Israel, the Gaza-based terrorist group Hamas, as well as firing thousands of rockets and mortar shells into Israel, used a network of subterranean passages to infiltrate Israeli territory, launch attacks and in one case, during fighting inside Gaza, kidnap the body of an IDF soldier.
“In our neighborhood, we need to protect ourselves from the predatory animals,” Netanyahu said in an apparent reference to extremist Islamist movements.
Erekat: Netanyahu's plan to surround Israel with fences like South African 'Bantustan' system
Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat strongly condemned statements sounded on Tuesday by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about the need to erect a fence that will surround Israel, Palestinian media reported on Wednesday.
Meeting with a delegation of the European Parliament, Erekat claimed that Netanyahu's comments are similar to statements sounded by the Apartheid leaders who founded the Bantustan system in South Africa, and added that "building fences means living according to the law of the jungle."
Erekat also demanded that the delegation act to force Israel to release the dying hunger striking Palestinian prisoner, Mohammad al-Qeeq, as well as all the members of the Palestinian Legislative Council being held in Israel.
He called on the European delegation to demand Israel return the 10 bodies of east Jerusalem attackers to their families.
The Guardian Gets Beastly Towards Netanyahu
Peter Beaumont of The Guardian, began his report with the following:
Israel’s prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, has announced his intention to “surround all of Israel with a fence” to protect the country from infiltration by both Palestinians and the citizens of surrounding Arab states, whom he described as “wild beasts”.
Later he writes:
Netanyahu’s use of the phrase “wild beasts” – also translated as “predators” – recalled his use of equally incendiary language about Israeli Arabs on the eve of last year’s elections whom he described as “coming out in droves”.
There is nothing to suggest that Netanyahu was referring to Palestinians or the citizens of surrounding Arab states as “wild beasts” or any other potential translation from the original Hebrew. Beaumont, in a breathtaking example of editorializing, has taken Netanyahu’s statements and forced them into his own narrow conception of the Israeli PM as a racist.
Netanyahu said, as quoted in Ynet News:
“Ultimately, the State of Israel as I see it will have a fence that surrounds it entirely,” added Netanyahu regarding criticism of continuing the various fortifications and barriers. “They’ll say to me, ‘this is what you want to do, protect the villa?’ The answer is yes. Will we surround the entirety of the State of Israel with a fence and obstacles? The answer is yes. In the environment in which we live, we must protect ourselves from the predators.”
Haaretz translated in similar fashion, “we must defend ourselves against the wild beasts,” while the Jerusalem Post referred to just “beasts.”
Palestinian teen shot dead while throwing rocks
A Palestinian teenager who was allegedly pelting cars and IDF troops with rocks in the southern West Bank was shot and reportedly killed by soldiers on Wednesday afternoon.
The Palestinian Health Ministry identified the teen as Omar Jawabreh, 16, of the al-Aroub refugee camp north of Hebron. He was shot in the chest and died of his wounds in a Hebron hospital, the Palestinian Ma’an news agency reported.
While the IDF did not confirm Jawabreh’s death, it said soldiers engaged Palestinians who were throwing rocks at civilian vehicles on Road 60, the north-south thoroughfare in the central West Bank.
“During routine IDF security activity, forces spotted assailants hurling rocks at civilian vehicles on Route 60, adjacent to al-Aroub,” an IDF spokesperson said in a statement.
“Forces responded to the immediate threat and fired toward one of the attackers,” the statement said.
Hamas Cleric and TV Host Abu Funun: Israeli Blood is not on a Par with Palestinian Blood

David Singer: The deafening silence from the UN Security Council and the Quartet
The UN Security Council and the Quartet – Russia, America, the United Nations and the European Union – have ended any expectations they had of successfully negotiating a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization - after failing to categorically reject UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s highly offensive remarks before the Security Council and in the New York Times.
Ban told the Security Council on January 26:
“Palestinian frustration is growing under the weight of a half century of occupation and the paralysis of the peace process.
Some have taken me to task for pointing out this indisputable truth.
Yet, as oppressed peoples have demonstrated throughout the ages, it is human nature to react to occupation, which often serves as a potent incubator of hate and extremism.”
Reacting to "occupation” can never justify the murder of Israeli civilians in their own homes, shopping in supermarkets, meeting in bars, or waiting at bus stops.
Such acts of murder are despicable and inhumane – and the Security Council and the Quartet should have said so clearly and unequivocally.
IsraellyCool: Chris Gunness’ Bizarre, Obvious Lie
I already knew UNRWA’s Chris Gunness is a hater of Israel who has trouble with the truth.
I just thought he was a bit more subtle with his lies than he has just shown (hat tip: Judge Dan).
Firmly reject false accusations in @dailytelegraph by @RichardJSpencer that #Hamas stored weapons in UN Gaza schools. Will complain formally
— Chris Gunness (@ChrisGunness) February 9, 2016
You do that, Chris. You do that.
UNRWA press release:
Today, in the course of the regular inspection of its premises, UNRWA discovered rockets hidden in a vacant school in the Gaza Strip. As soon as the rockets were discovered, UNRWA staff were withdrawn from the premises, and so we are unable to confirm the precise number of rockets. The school is situated between two other UNRWA schools that currently each accommodate 1,500 internally displaced persons.
UNRWA strongly and unequivocally condemns the group or groups responsible for this flagrant violation of the inviolability of its premises under international law.
Isi Leibler: Should we stand by knowing that Hamas intends to attack us?
Few envy the painful decisions Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be obliged to make in the months to come.
He faces grave challenges that impact on the life and death of Israelis. The current wave of Palestinian terrorism seems to be escalating from stabbings to shootings and there is considerable concern that the Palestinian Authority may well implode, which would lead to even greater chaos.
Hezbollah has thousands of rockets aimed toward us but, for the time being, is diverted by its bitter battles in Syria on behalf of its Iranian patron.
Diplomatically, at least until after the US elections we face a hostile environment as the Obama administration signals its contempt for the Israeli government and while the Europeans seem willing to abandon us and even impose sanctions against us.
Despite the barbaric behavior of our neighbors and the criminal Palestinian society, and being aware that the Palestinians remain utterly committed to an end of Jewish sovereignty, the Europeans continue pressing Israel to make further unilateral concessions.
But the most urgent issue today is how to respond to Hamas, which, unlike the duplicitous Palestinian Authority, loudly spells out its genocidal objectives.
It has always bitterly rejected any negotiation and made it abundantly clear that its ultimate mission – “no matter how long it takes” – is to “fight the Jews and kill them” and to replace the Jewish state with an Islamic caliphate.
US missile defense aid to Israel to cut sharply in 2017
Pentagon documents released on Tuesday indicate that the 2017 budget requests of the US Defense Department include a total of $145.8 million for Israeli missile defense programs, a sharp drop in financial support amid a standoff over American military aid.
The aid, meant for Israel's missile interceptor programs including the short-range Iron Dome, medium-range David's Sling and Arrow ballistic missile interceptor, includes far lower figures than those recorded the year before in 2016, reports Reuters.
A total of $103.8 million for Israeli cooperative programs was listed in the 2017 budget request, in a serious cut from $267.7 million in 2016. The funding for Iron Dome also dropped from $55 million in 2016 to $42 million in 2017.
The budget forecast shows that over the next five years the US intends to spend $540 million on cooperative programs, but the funding for Iron Dome is to end after the $42 million in 2017.
Tuesday's revelation comes as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is locked in a standoff with US President Barack Obama's administration over defense aid.
More “Accidents” for Hamas Tunnels?
Even if some countermeasures against the tunnels working — and that is by no means certain — that still leaves Hamas left in place with tunnels for kidnapping and murders and enough rockets to keep Israel’s Iron Dome Batteries working non-stop in an attempt to prevent more damage and loss of life. With the communities along the Gaza border fearful of the future, that’s why Herzog and Bennett are arguing that waiting only serves the purposes of Hamas and Iran. Waiting gives them the strategic initiative as well as undermining Israeli morale.
Yet Netanyahu also knows that starting a new war in order to pre-empt Hamas worsen relations with the United States and perhaps give a lame duck Obama the opportunity its been waiting for to finally abandon Israel at the United Nations. From that point of view, Israel does better to chip away at the Hamas threat with the help of Egypt than to set off a full-scale conflict that could blow up the alliance with the U.S. If the tunnel threat can be managed until a new president takes office, the always-cautious Netanyahu will count that a triumph that saved lives as well as preserving Israel’s interests.
Netanyahu’s critics, both on the left and the right, as well as in Israel and the United States have underestimated him before. Having been caught by surprise by the tunnels in 2014, it may be that the IDF has a few surprises in store for Hamas. In the meantime, Israel’s critics need to remember that no matter whether action is taken against the tunnels or not, the sole priority of the independent Palestinian in all but name that exists in Gaza remains terrorism. Those who argue for duplicating a unilateral Gaza withdrawal in the West Bank are asking Israel need to think about how much more terrible Israel’s tunnel dilemma would be if Hamas ran things there too.

PreOccupiedTerritory: Hamas Executes Man For Implying Gazans Not Their Pawns (satire)
The militant Islamist organization that runs this beleaguered coastal territory has put to death a resident for saying and writing statements that give the impression that the Gaza Strip’s population are not supposed to serve as little more than objects for the group to exploit in their quest for political, financial, or military advantage, sources in the movement announced today.
Hamas Spokesman Mahmoud al-Zahar told reporters that the movement had put Kanoun Fadr to death by firing squad Wednesday morning after he was convicted by a court of implying in recorded conversations and several posts on social media that the people of Gaza have a purpose other than, or at least beyond, being used as tools for Hamas to advance its anti-Israel political goals and cement its power over Gazan life. Al-Zahar said the execution took place at the site of a collapsed tunnel, and Fadr’s body was photographed there as if to show that the organization had lost a noble fighter in its struggle against Israel, and thus boosted its dignity, as opposed to merely getting rid of a dissenter.
Fadr, an unemployed former merchant, stood accused of disseminating Facebook posts in which he expressed the hope that soon the armed conflict would end so life could return to the semblance of normalcy that prevailed before Israel uprooted its settlements in the territory in 2005 and withdrew all military forces, only imposing a naval blockade a little more than a year later to prevent weapons smuggling. The 34-year-old father of five confessed to making the posts, and to voicing similar sentiments in a conversation with an undercover agent.
Dennis Ross: What Vladimir Putin is really up to in Syria
Even as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry pressured the non-Islamic State Syrian opposition to come to peace talks or lose American assistance, the Russians were increasing their operations in support of Syrian military and Iranian-Hizbullah offensives. These operations were designed to strengthen the Assad regime and weaken the non-Islamic State Sunni opposition.
The nature of the Russian strikes makes clear that Putin was not just trying to improve Assad's leverage before negotiations. He was intent on changing the balance of power fundamentally on the ground and sending a message to Arab leaders: If you want to deal with problems in Syria or in the region, you deal with us.
Putin aims to demonstrate that Russia, and not America, is the main power broker in the region and increasingly elsewhere.
Putin is undercutting America's aim of isolating Islamic State and having Sunnis lead the fight against it. Sunni-led governments in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE and Jordan won't seriously join the fight against Islamic State so long as there appears to be a war against their coreligionists in Syria.
Rather than being opposed to the Russian efforts, the U.S. looks to be in league with them. Unless we are prepared to use more leverage against what the Russians are doing, we will not have Sunni partners and there will be little prospect of diplomacy working.
New York Times Columnist: Syrian War “Debacle” Has Become “Obama Administration’s Shame”
The situation in Syria is now “a debacle of such dimensions” that it stands out as the “Obama administration’s shame,” New York Times columnist Roger Cohen wrote Monday.
Cohen, who frequently supports President Barack Obama, faulted the White House for deciding to tacitly accept Russia’s plan for Syria: back the regime of Bashar al-Assad, attack the moderate rebels, block any Western attempts to replace Assad, and “use diplomatic blah-blah in Geneva as cover for changing the facts on the ground.”
After summarizing the situation in Syria after five years of war, Cohen listed the serial excuses the administration has offered for its inaction:
Aleppo synagogue damaged in fighting between Syrian militants
The Central Synagogue of Aleppo sustained minor damage in fighting between Syrian militants, according to photos provided by locals to an Israeli-American activist for peace in the war-torn country.
The damage affected a corner of the building and was probably caused by shelling, according to Moti Kahana, the founder of the Amaliah not-for-profit group, which aims to relieve the suffering of refugees from Syria and empower women there. The corner area was covered by debris, making it difficult to ascertain the extent of the damage caused to the building, which is believed to have been built in the 9th century A.D.
“It took a hit, but it’s still standing,” said Kahana, a businessman who says he has spent more than $2 million on rescue efforts in Syria. His contacts on the ground sent him pictures of the building from a sniper’s post overlooking it, he said.
“The synagogue lies between the sniper post of moderate rebels and forces fighting for Assad,” Kahana said in reference to Syrian President Bashar Assad, who lost control over much of his country after the breakout in 2011 of a civil war. Since then, several media in Israel and beyond mistakenly reported on the destruction of Jewish houses of worship in Syria. However, at least one was indeed almost completely destroyed in 2014, in Jobar near Damascus.
UN Accuses Iran-Backed Assad Regime of Carrying Out “Extermination” of Prisoners
A United Nations report has accused the government of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad of carrying out a campaign of “extermination” against jailed opponents, among many other crimes against humanity.
Although the report documented abuses on all sides of the Syrian civil war, it was particularly thorough in cataloging the ring of prisons run by the Iran-backed Assad regime, where thousands of detainees have been beaten to death.
“Nearly every surviving detainee has emerged from custody having suffered unimaginable abuses,” Paulo Pinheiro, chairman of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria, said in a statement. “For ordinary Syrians, the specter of arrest or abduction, and the near-inevitable horrors that follow, have paralyzed communities across the country.”
The report was based on the testimony of more than 600 former detainees, as well as supplementary documentary evidence.
Syrian media claims Israeli jets struck army base, Hezbollah base
Syrian media reports claim that the Israeli Air Force on Monday night bombed a Syrian army ballistic missile base, as well as a Hezbollah military base on on the Syrian-Lebanese border.
According to the reports, the alleged strike took place in the town of Qutayfah, located in the eastern region of the Qalamoun Mountains, close to Syria's border with Lebanon.
However, Hezbollah's TV channel, al-Manar, denied the reports and claimed that "Israel did not launch attacks against bases of the Syrian army and the Resistance in the region of Qutayfah."
Israel has not responded to the reports.
Syrian media have on various occasions reported claims of Israeli air strikes.
Report: Syrian opposition group claims missile attack on Assad's mother's funeral
Ahrar al-Sham, a central opposition group in Syria, has claimed responsibility for launching missiles against the convoy of Syrian President Bashar Assad during the funeral for his mother in al-Qardaha on Monday, Syrian media reported on Wednesday.
Assad survived the alleged assassination attempt, but four of his convoy members were killed in the Grad missile attack.
The reported attack on Monday took place within a Ahrar al-Sham's wider battle against Russian targets in Assad's hometown, the city of Qardaha, which currently hosts many Russian forces.
UAE Ready to Send Ground Troops to Syria, but Only with ‘American Leadership’
Emirati Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash announced that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is willing to deploy ground troops to Syria to combat the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL), as part of the U.S.-led coalition.
The announcement came a day after Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem said foreign troops who enter Syria without the blessing of the Bashar al-Assad regime would “return home in wooden coffins.”
Al-Muallem’s made those comments while briefing reporters Saturday, two days after Saudi Arabia said it would deploy ground troops into Syria if the U.S.-led coalition agrees to the offer.
“This has been our position throughout,” the UAE’s Gargash told reporters in the Emirati capital Abu Dhabi on Sunday when asked if Gulf nation was ready to put boots on the ground if need be, according to Reuters.
Saudi Arabia prepared for ground war in Syria, military spokesman says
Saudi military spokesman Brigadier-General Ahmed al-Asiri said his country is prepared for a land war in Syria, the Saudi-backed Asharq al-Awsat reported on Tuesday.
Asiri’s statement to the London- based paper comes after his country announced last week its willing to send ground troops as part of the international coalition to fight Islamic State.
The Senior Saudi defense official said that his country wants to defeat Islamic State.
He also announced Saudi Arabia would hold a large-scale military exercise called “Thunder of the North” with the participation of 21 Arab and Muslim countries. The exercise would enhance coordination and information sharing between the countries, Asiri said.
He added, according to the report, that “when participating countries feel that there are coordinated and interdependent efforts, the results of the exercise will be positive.
Tunisia builds anti-terror barrier along Libya border
Tunisia says it has completed the first part of a 200km (125-mile) barrier along its border with Libya, designed to deter terrorism.
The barrier is made of sand banks and water trenches.
It was announced last summer after 38 people were killed on a beach by a gunman said to have trained in Libya.
Tunisia's defence minister said the second phase of the project would involve installing electronic equipment with the help of Germany and the US.
Security forces said the defences - which aim to make the border impassable by vehicles - had already helped to reduce smuggling.
U.S. Intel Chief: Islamic State Produced, Deployed Chemical Weapons
In an admission with international security implications, America’s top intelligence official on Tuesday confirmed the Islamic State has successfully produced and deployed chemical agents in Iraq and Syria.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told the Senate Armed Services Committee that IS had previously utilized mustard gas, evidencing the continued advancement of the terrorist organization’s sophistication on the battlefield.
“[The Syrian government] has used chemicals against the opposition on multiple occasions since Syria joined the Chemical Weapons Convention. ISIL has also used toxic chemicals in Iraq and Syria, including the blister agent Sulfur mustard,” stated Clapper.
Fox News quoted Clapper stating IS’ use of the mustard agent marked the first time an extremist group has produced and used a “chemical warfare agent in an attack since Aum Shinrikyo used sarin in Japan in 1995 (in the Tokyo subway terror attack).”
Clapper’s statements to the committee were based on the U.S. Intelligence Community’s Worldwide Threat Assessment for 2016 released on Tuesday.
Iran-Backed Militias Seize Christian Homes, Churches, Businesses In Baghdad
Iraqi militia groups supported by Iran have been seizing Christian property in Baghdad, including homes, businesses, and churches, in a process described as “ethnic cleansing” by Iraqi Christian community leaders.
The goal of this campaign is nothing less than the complete expulsion of Christians from Baghdad, according to leaders from the Assyrian, Chaldean, and Syriac communities, as reported by The Foreign Desk.
Similar purges have been conducted in rural Iraq, where either the Islamic State or Iran-backed Shiite militia units have wiped out some of the world’s oldest Christian communities.
The Foreign Desk recalls that ISIS originally said Christians could remain as subjects in its territory, provided they paid the jizya tax Islamic law requires of non-Muslims, or converted to Islam, but later ISIS abandoned those provisions and began cleansing Christians from the “caliphate.”
The purge of Christians has been shockingly effective, one of the most brutal and devastating ethnic cleansing campaigns in history, although not generally reported as such by Western media. Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael Sacco notes in the Foreign Desk piece that Christians have been eliminated from the captive city of Mosul for the first time in Iraq’s history.
Col Kemp: Britain must back its ally over Yemen conflict
Following a leaked UN report alleging war crimes by the Saudi-led coalition against civilians in Yemen, there have been calls, including by Jeremy Corbyn, for Britain to cease supplying military equipment and to withdraw our military advisers.
The Saudis are not fighting this war as we would. That is true also of the Afghan, Iraqi, Libyan, Malian and Nigerian forces that we have trained, armed, funded, advised and fought alongside. I knew an Iraqi military unit whose immediate action under attack was to form the “death bloom”, spraying rapid fire in every direction at anything that moved.
In fighting the global war on terrorism, our preferred policy is to support and advise the indigenous forces of countries where violent jihad is taking a hold in a way that threatens our interests and those of our allies. This is preferable to deploying our own combat forces to deal directly with the problem, especially in the wake of long and costly campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Such support, sometimes including military trainers and advisers in headquarters or at the front, not only helps to defeat the threat but also buys vital political influence.

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