Thursday, May 05, 2016

From Ian:

PA Antisemitism: Jews persecuted, deceived, and attacked Jesus
Antisemitism is an integral part of PA ideology. PA anti-Jewish hate speech includes demonizing Jews as enemies of Allah, descendants of apes and pigs, representing satans and devils, and being an evil force in all countries where Jews have lived.
In addition, the PA maligns Jews as the killers of Jesus. In an interview this week on official PA TV, the PA Mufti of Bethlehem defamed Jews as "the group who persecuted, deceived and attacked Jesus," stating that the group is doing the same things to Palestinians today:
Mufti of Bethlehem Abd Al-Majid Amraneh: "Here in Bethlehem and Palestine, we are still suffering from the agony of those days, as almost the same group [Jews] that persecuted Jesus, the same group that wanted to deceive Jesus and attack him, is still attacking Palestine, Palestine's people, and Palestine's young men and women." [Official PA TV, May 2, 2016]
Mufti: “The same group [Jews] that wanted to deceive Jesus... is still attacking Palestine”

Israel arrested Hamas tunnel expert, Shin Bet reveals
Israeli authorities arrested a Hamas member last month who provided a trove of information about the Gaza-based terror group’s tunnel activities, the Shin Bet security agency revealed on Thursday.
Mahmoud Atawnah, 29, from the city of Jabalia in the Palestinian enclave, was arrested at the beginning of April after crossing the border fence into Israel armed with two knives, the Shin Bet said in a statement, adding that he disclosed during interrogation that he intended to kill the first Israeli — soldier or civilian — he encountered.
As a member of Hamas’s armed wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Atawnah provided the Shin Bet with information on tunnel routes in northern Gaza, the group’s use of private homes and institutions to hide tunnel entries and transfer weapons, and details about the materials Hamas uses in excavations.
The security agency further said Atawneh described a sophisticated network of tunnels which includes break rooms, showers and dining tables, and divulged a number of names of Hamas members who fought alongside him in the northern branch of the eastern brigade in Hamas’s armed wing.
IDF uncovers new Hamas attack tunnel
The IDF uncovered a cross-border Hamas attack tunnel stretching from southern Gaza into Israel on Thursday.
A senior security source said that by Thursday morning, "We understood that we had located a tunnel. We are working in all areas, and have a number of focal points. In accordance with technological, operational, and intelligence efforts, we are improving all of the time. This has led us to focus in on certain areas, near the perimeter."
The source, describing the search process, added, "In places we understood that the focal points were incorrect, we left. In other areas, we thought we needed to continue. A number of hours ago, we found the tunnel." The IDF estimates the tunnel to be around 30 meters deep underground.
The IDF source said it did not know if the tunnel was dug before 2014's Operation Protective Edge or after it. The source said the tunnel is in "reasonable condition," adding that sections of it may have been added after 2014. "We will investigate it and then destroy it," he stated.

Second Gazan tunnel leading into Israel found, army says
The Israeli military announced Thursday it had found a second tunnel in as many months emerging from southern Gaza into Israeli territory, as violence on the southern border spiked with a series of cross-border exchanges.
The tunnel, which is slated to be destroyed in the coming days, is 28 meters deep and was located just a few kilometers from where another tunnel was located and destroyed last month, the army said.
The exact location of both tunnels has been kept under wraps by the IDF censor.
Israeli troops who were fired upon in several separate incidents since Tuesday were working to uncover the tunnel and other cross-border passageways, the army confirmed in a statement.
“The IDF considers above and below-ground terror activity a violation of the State of Israel’s sovereignty and a threat to its citizens and deems Hamas solely responsible,” a spokesperson said. “It is our job to locate and destroy them.”
Tanks, IAF return fire following Hamas shelling of IDF units on border detecting tunnels

The escalation - the most significant since the August 2014 ceasefire that ended a two-month conflict - came as Hamas sought to disrupt IDF work to detect its attack tunnels.
Two mortars exploded near IDF units opposite southern Gaza, and three near northern Gaza. On Tuesday, small arms fire targeted an IDF engineering vehicle, and a blast was later heard by security forces.
There were no injuries in Wednesday's incidents.
The IDF Spokesman Unit said in a statement, "The IAF struck 5 Hamas targets in southern Gaza in response to two days of cross-border fire on IDF units carrying out operational work near the border. The IDF views underground terrorism and overground terrorism activities as a breach of the State of Israel's sovereignty, and views the Hamas terror organization as being solely responsible," the military said in a statement.
It vowed to continue to act "with determination, and as much as is needed, to destroy all of the underground tunnels," adding, "A quiet and ordinary routine is of mutual interest, and we will seek to safeguard them."
Hamas's military wing, the Izzadin Al-Kassam Brigades, released its own statement, saying, "We will not allow a continuation of Zionist aggression against the Gaza Strip. The enemy must not use any excuse, and it must leave the Gaza Strip immediately and deal with its fear and the fears of its residents outside of the buffer zone. The Zionist intrusions, since yesterday evening, constitute a clear breach of the 2014 agreement to reach a calm, and a new aggression against the Strip."
Hamas says truce reached with Israel to end fighting along Gaza border
Hamas late Wednesday said that it has reached understandings with the Israeli military regarding a cessation of hostilities on the Gaza frontier.
The Palestinian Islamist group claimed that Egypt mediated a truce with Israel after 24 hours of escalation and tit-for-tat attacks, Arab press reports said.
According to the terms of the understandings, the IDF will withdraw some of its troops while halting all operations along the security fence that separates Gaza from Israel.
In exchange, Hamas will adhere to the cease-fire that has been in effect since the end of Operation Protective Edge.
Hamas warns Israel amid Gaza border tensions: Don’t test our patience
Following a number of cross-border shooting attacks from the Gaza Strip and reprisals from the IDF on Wednesday, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad warned Israel that there would be consequences for the “escalation.”
Mushir al-Masri, a senior Hamas leader, said: "The Israeli escalation is a new development and the Palestinian resistance is conducting consultations to decide how to react to it."
In addition, he called on the parties supervising the truce between Israel and Hamas to bear responsibility for "the violations of the Zionist enemy", emphasizing that "the enemy should not try Hamas's patience."
Islamic Jihad's Spokesman, Daud Shihab, stated that "Israel has not ceased its hostilities against the Palestinian people since the ceasefire was agreed on in 2014."
"There are continued onslaughts and infiltrations in both Gaza and the West Bank and in other locations in Palestine," Shihab added.
Land damage has Gazans pointing finger at ‘Egypt pipeline’
When huge sinkholes and deep cracks began appearing across the ploughed fields and asphalt roads of the southern Gaza Strip, residents and farmers knew better than to blame natural causes.
Although no one has ever seen it, locals around Rafah city — on Gaza’s border with Egypt — claim the culprit of this landscape destruction is a one-meter wide underground pipeline set up by Cairo to pump seawater deep into the frontier earth.
Cairo has never confirmed the pipe’s existence, but Palestinians are adamant it is being used to deliberately flood smuggling tunnels between Gaza and Egypt.
Egypt and Israel have imposed an air, sea and partial land blockade on Gaza since 2006, designed to prevent the Islamist Hamas movement that controls the territory from rearming.
IBT: Palestinians Fire First, Israel ‘Ends Ceasefire’
If mortar shells are fired from Gaza into Israel, wouldn’t that be seen as a Palestinian breach of a ceasefire? Not if you are covering the story for the International Business Times:
"Israeli planes attack four Hamas sites in Gaza, ending two-year ceasefire"
How can Israel have ended a ceasefire if the Palestinians were responsible for firing first?
Even the IBT’s opening paragraph states:
Israel has launched an air strike on Palestinian forces on the Gaza strip, threatening the two-year old ceasefire.
Has the ceasefire ended or is it merely ‘threatened’ by Israel? The IBT cannot seem to make up its mind. Either way, the IBT has irresponsibly and inaccurately painted Israel as the aggressor despite it air strikes coming as a response to Palestinian attacks.
Haaretz and New York Times Happily Excuse Palestinian Child Terrorists
A recent headline in Haaretz read, “Sharp Rise in the Number of Palestinian Children in Prison.” The article noted that there have been 438 Palestinian Arab youths put in Israeli jails since February. In the lead paragraph, the newspaper said, “Seven have been detained without being charged, including one who is not yet 16.”
Nowhere in the article do we learn what these “youths” did — although those among us who follow the situation know that they are stabbing, bombing and attacking Israelis continuously. They have killed — and they are terrorists.
Go figure — “kids” stab and go to prison.
Among the quotes in the article was one from B’Tselem that stated, “This is an oppressive system based only on incarceration. There is no attempt to provide alternatives to imprisonment.”
The paper claimed, “The law also infringes on the basic right to live in dignity by denying the parents child allowance for a convicted child.” (Subtext: Those damn Israelis don’t pay the Palestinian-Arab parents of a Palestinian-Arab terrorist).
‘Thousands’ at Funeral for Car-Ramming Terrorist
Thousands of Arabs attended the funeral of the car-ramming terrorist who deliberately ran over three IDF soldiers on Tuesday at the HaParsa Junction near the Jewish community of Dolev, according to Arab media.
The terrorist who struck the three soldiers, 36-year-old Riyad Shehada, was shot and killed by other soldiers nearby. Shehada, a resident of Qalandiya, was living temporarily in Beitunia, according to local sources.
The packed funeral procession began at the Ramallah governmental hospital and made its way to the Shehada family home in Beitunia, according to the Bethlehem-based Ma’an news agency. “Following final farewells, his body was taken to a mosque in Qalandiya… for funeral prayers,” Ma’an reported.
The three soldiers who were hit by the terrorist were targeted as they were conducting an unannounced security check on vehicles at the entrance to the Arab city of Beitunia, a suburb of Ramallah.
Weeks ago, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed that bodies of Arabs who were killed during terror attacks against Israelis would not be released to their families or to the Palestinian Authority.
He explained at the time that the large funerals that followed such returns had become major incitement and recruitment ceremonies to encourage further terror attacks.
Euronews Headline Turns Palestinian Vehicle into Victim
Three soldiers were injured by a car driven by a Palestinian man in a car ramming attack on Tuesday evening near the West Bank settlement of Dolev, west of Ramallah.
This is how Euronews headlined its report:
"Israeli troops shoot dead driver of rammed car"
The headline implies that the vehicle itself had been rammed rather than carrying out the ramming attack. Ergo not only has the car been rammed but its driver has been shot dead by Israeli troops, turning him into a victim rather than a perpetrator.
Israel's Palestinian Dilemmas
Israel has gradually come to realize that the Palestinians are neither a partner for peace nor capable of establishing a viable state. Therefore, Israel's recent governments have adopted a de facto conflict-management approach, rather than a conflict-resolution strategy. This prompts several questions. Should Israel speak explicitly about the dim prospects of a two-state solution, or play along with the illusory preferences and pretensions of the international community? Should Israel apply more “stick” than “carrot” to the hostile Palestinian Authority? Would the collapse of the Palestinian Authority serve Israel's interests? And how diplomatically active should Israel be on the Palestinian issue?
Ever since the Palestinian terrorist wave began in September 2000, the Israeli body politic increasingly has resigned itself to the probability that there is no partner on the Palestinian side with which to reach a historic compromise with the Jewish national (Zionist) movement. The hopes for peace that were generated by the Oslo process in 1993 have been replaced by the stark realization that violent conflict will not end soon.
Moreover, the hostile messages about Israel purveyed in the Palestinian Authority (PA) educational system and official media leave little doubt about the rabid anti-Semitism prevalent in Palestinian society, which ensures that conflict with the Jews will continue. And thus, the central premise of the Oslo process seems exceedingly improbable. The premise was that partition of the Land of Israel and the establishment of a Palestinian political entity (what is known as the two-state paradigm) would bring peace and stability. Alas, this paradigm has been deeply discredited.
Danon: Behind closed doors, more support for Israel at UN than meets the eye
According to Danny Danon, the current Israel Ambassador to the UN, the upcoming weeks will be especially critical. On May 30, dozens of foreign ministers will gather in Paris for the Israeli-Palestinian peace summit, which is a preliminary event leading up to the peace summit that will take place in the summer in Paris.
The Israelis and Palestinians have not been invited to this preliminary gathering. Danon, who fears that a political settlement will be forced upon Israel, says that we are currently in a state of emergency and so he has begun gathering intelligence. From his point of view, each country that Israel succeeds in preventing from attending the conference will be considered an achievement.
"There's so much going on – we don't have a moment to rest," says Danon. "I'm curious to see who comes and who doesn't. Even if we wanted to attend, we weren't invited. So I'm meeting with as many ambassadors as I can to hear what their stance is. The Americans have not yet made their position public."
US Department of State Spokesperson John Kirby told reporters at his daily briefing in Washington last week that Secretary of State John Kerry has not decided yet whether he will attend the foreign ministers' conference. The US government is still examining the French proposal, Kirby said, and consulting with other administrations around the world.
After talks in Berlin, Gold says Germany not re-evaluating ties with Israel
There is no basis to reports that Germany wants to reassess the nature of its ties with Israel, Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold said Wednesday following a day of talks in Berlin with top German foreign policy officials.
Gold met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief foreign policy adviser, Christoph Heusgen, as well as with senior Foreign Ministry officials and said he found no evidence to support a report in Der Spiegel Saturday that influential voices in the German foreign policy establishment were calling for a reassessment of that country's traditional support for Israel because of Jerusalem’s settlement policy and what is perceived as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s disinclination to move on the Palestinian issue.
“I found no foundation whatsoever for that sentiment,” Gold told The Jerusalem Post from Germany.
Gold said that although the Der Spiegel claims were discussed, they were not the focus of the talks.
Speakers at UN Conference Voice Support for Wave of Palestinian Terror
At a UN conference "on the Question of Jerusalem," invited speakers praised Palestinian terrorists as "martyrs" and legitimized the slew of stabbing, shooting, and car ramming attacks that have killed over 30 Israelis since October 2015. The conference, held in Dakar, Senegal on May 3 and May 4, 2016, was sponsored by the UN's Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Here are some of the statements justifying Palestinian terrorism, analogizing Israelis to Nazis, and deemed worthy of distributing around the world via the UN's press release:
Ahmad Rwaidy, Former Chief of the Jerusalem Unit of the Palestinian Presidency: "Israel still refused to hand over the bodies of martyrs killed by Israeli security forces, he continued. 'What we need in Jerusalem is a scheme to support resilience,' he said."
Nur Arafeh, Policy Fellow at Al-Shabaka, the Palestinian Policy Network: "New Israeli plans for Jerusalem used urban planning as a geopolitical tool to constrain the urban expansion of Palestinians and Judaicize the city, she said... In that context, the current Palestinian uprising should be seen as acts of resistance and desperation against ethnic cleansing, forced displacement and economic marginalization... She held that the development approach should be rethought and embedded in the larger Palestinian liberation struggle against Israel's occupation and settler colonial regime."
"During the ensuing interactive dialogue... a representative of the Democratic League, noting Israel's 'disgraceful attempts' to exterminate the people of Palestine, said the time had come to 'take things up a notch' in Africa's support for the Palestinians."
Analyst: The West Ignores Palestinian Leaders Autocratic Tendencies
Western officials are turning a “blind eye to the increasingly autocratic tendencies of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas,” writes Grant Rumley in Newsweek magazine (“Barack Obama's West Bank Strongman: Mahmoud Abbas,” May 2, 2016). Rumley is an analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington D.C.-based think tank.
Rumley noted that Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the head of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), has “cracked down on journalists, teachers and political rivals without serious rebuke from Europe or the U.S.” The PA president is currently in the eleventh year of a four-year term, having refused to hold subsequent elections.
The FDD analyst provided a brief list of some of the more authoritarian measures taken by Abbas in the last couple of years. Rumley pointed out that Abbas has set up “an entirely new judiciary body to reinforce his rule. Earlier this month, Abbas issued a presidential decree forming a Palestinian constitutional court that would, naturally, confirm his own presidential decrees. The nine members of the court are all hand-picked by Abbas.”
Israel Rejects UN Panel’s Concerns Of Prisoner Abuse
Israel on Wednesday rejected the concerns of a UN panel over alleged violations in its prisons, including a purported surge in solitary confinements, insisting such tactics were used only in “extremely restricted” cases.
The United Nations Committee against Torture, reviewing Israel for the first time since 2009, on Tuesday asked a government delegation about reports of multiple serious abuses in prisons, particularly against detained Palestinians.
Committee chair Jens Modvig cited figures indicating that solitary confinements in Israel had nearly doubled from 2012 to 2014, jumping from 390 to 755 over the period.
The deputy director of the human rights department at Israel’s foreign ministry, Michal Sarig-Kaduri, told the UN panel that solitary confinements were “extremely restricted and used for short and limited periods of time, for a maximum of 14 days only.”
She explained that while some detainees were placed in solitary confinement as a punitive measure, others were held in “separation” when they posed a threat to themselves or other inmates.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Hey, Picot, You Have To Come See The Middle East Now (satire)
By Mark Sykes, British Diplomat
François? You have to see this, François. Look at the areas of the former Ottoman Empire in 2016. Look at the countries we essentially created with a swipe of the pen a hundred years ago. You see them, François? This didn’t turn out exactly as we planned, did it, mon ami?
We were so naïve, you and I. Our European arrogance was to be expected, of course; we’ve been at the top of civilization’s heap for centuries. It was easy to draw few lines on a map and say, “OK, you chaps take what’s east of the Jordan, we’ll take the west, and here’s a nice straight line through the Arabian Desert to demarcate some of the territory.” Then we divided things up, pretended to care about the Russians, and voilà! Who cares what any of the local savages thought, or what history had to say?
Well, as you can see, my good man Picot, we were absolute twits. Oh, our artifice lasted for decades, but only because there were strongmen with the will and brutality to shunt tribal loyalties aside. But one look at Syria, Iraq, and Yemen will tell you we underestimated how important those tribal divisions would become. We thought we could decide on borders and count on an emerging national identity to make tribal divisions recede. How prescient we weren’t.
Deputy IDF chief denies likening Israel to pre-Holocaust Europe
Deputy IDF Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Yair Golan declared Thursday that he had not intended to liken Israel to Nazi Germany in a speech honoring Holocaust Remembrance Day the previous night, after having elicited harsh criticism for saying that he identified in Israel the same "revolting trends" that were present in Europe 70 years ago.
"I had no intention of making that comparison," Golan said in a statement on Thursday morning. "The comparison is absurd and unfounded. There was no intention of creating that impression or to criticize [Israel's] political echelon. The IDF is a moral army that honors the tenets of purity of arms and dignity."
Speaking at a ceremony at the Massuah Institute for Holocaust Studies in Tel Yitzhak on Wednesday, Golan said that the Holocaust "needs to prompt us to seriously ponder how we treat those who are different, the orphans and widows among us and people like them in the here and now. If there is one thing that frightens me about the memory of the Holocaust, it is identifying the revolting trends that occurred in Europe as a whole, and in Germany in particular, some 70, 80 and 90 years ago, and finding evidence of those trends here, among us, in 2016.
"After all, there is nothing easier than to hate those who are different; there is nothing easier than to sow fear and terror; there is nothing easier than to behave like animals, conform and be self righteous. It is worthwhile, and even necessary, for Holocaust Remembrance Day to be a day of national soul searching. And in our national soul searching we must include phenomena that are very disturbing."
In his address, Golan touched on the purity of arms in the IDF, saying: "Since the establishment of the IDF, there have been deviations from the purity of arms and events that undermined the purity of arms. The IDF prides itself on its ability to investigate complicated events without prejudice, to courageously question problematic conduct and to take full responsibility for both the good and the wrong.
A shocking mockery of Holocaust remembrance
Indeed. So where is the need for penitence on Israel's part? If Golan had an answer, he didn't offer it. Instead, he concluded with a statement that, if anything, illustrated why Israelis of all people have no need to engage in "atonement" for the sins to which he was alluding. You know, the kind that led to Auschwitz and Treblinka.
"We didn't justify ourselves, cover up, smooth things over, dismiss with a wink or make excuses," he assured. "Our path was always that of truth and taking responsibility, even when the truth is difficult and the responsibility weighty. We believe very much in the justice of our path, but not everything we do is just. We trust the IDF's moral standards as an organization, but we do not ignore individual deviations."
It is this last remark that should have been the focus of Golan's speech. Any calls for a collective mea culpa should have been directed exclusively and forcefully at the individuals and groups abroad who are enabling, supporting and promoting anti-Semitism -- by way of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel at campuses across the West; through old-style Jew-hatred on social media; to the British Labour Party, so many of whose members have been spewing the sort of unthinkable vitriol that became taboo in Europe after World War II; and last, but certainly not least, through global jihad committed by radical Islamists within and surrounding Israel's borders.
It is the job of the IDF brass to combat the last factor for the security of Israel's citizens, not to imperil us by emboldening those who seek to undermine our very existence. Golan is the one who really ought to be soul-searching right now -- first by examining what possessed him to make such a vile comparison, and then by retracting and apologizing for making a mockery out of Holocaust commemoration.
Netanyahu gives Ya'alon a sharp reprimand on Nazi comparison
An intense telephone conversation last night between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon (Likud) preceded Thursday morning's clarification, in which IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Yair Golan distanced himself from controversial comments he made.
In a Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony speech on Wednesday night, Golan said, "if there is something that scares me about the memory of the Holocaust, it is the identification of horrifying processes that occurred in Europe in general and Germany in particular - 70, 80 and 90 years ago - and finding evidence of them here among us, today, in 2016."
Ya'alon leaped to Golan's defense on Wednesday night, slamming his critics as being part of an anti-IDF campaign, and claiming Golan was "charting out a path and ethical standards with the help of (his) moral compass."
According to Channel 2, Netanyahu called Ya'alon on Wednesday night and said Golan's statements were unacceptable.
Several hours later, the IDF Spokesperson Unit published Golan's attempt to backtrack from the comment.
Justice minister accuses deputy IDF head of contempt for Shoah
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked on Thursday sharply criticized the army’s deputy chief of staff as “confused” and showing “contempt for the Holocaust” over comments he made appearing to compare Israel with Nazi Germany.
Controversy over Maj. Gen. Yair Golan’s comments at the main state ceremony for Holocaust Remembrance Day Wednesday night continued to snowball Thursday morning even after he appeared to walk back his statement, with some politicians expressing dismay over both the content of his claim and its timing, and others backing him.
“The deputy IDF commander, in my opinion, was confused,” Shaked (Jewish Home) told Israel’s Army Radio from Poland, where she is slated to participate in a ceremony at the Auschwitz death camp later Thursday. “His words mainly indicate a lack of understanding, not to mention a contempt for the Holocaust.”
“There is nothing in the world that should be compared to this story [the Holocaust],” she added.
Palestinian activist feared for life before being gunned down in east J'lem refugee camp
A Palestinian activist from east Jerusalem’s Shuafat refugee camp, who was shot dead in a hail of bullets on Monday night, feared for his life for working with Israeli officials to improve living conditions in the beleaguered community, the former east Jerusalem portfolio head said on Wednesday.
Baha Nabata, 31, a well-regarded civil rights and youth-group leader, was shot seven times in the camp at approximately 11:30 PM by an assailant who fired 10 bullets at him before fleeing the scene on a motor bike, according to witnesses.
An investigation has been opened to find the killer, police said.
Former Meretz councilman Dr. Meir Margalit, who held the east Jerusalem portfolio and worked closely with Nabata to improve his community’s infrastructure, said that during their last conversation several weeks ago, the married father of two daughters said he feared for his life.
“More than once he told me that people in the refugee camp accused him of being a collaborator with Israel,” said Margalit by phone on Wednesday. “That was because in order to solve the problems in the camp, he had to be in contact with the Jerusalem Municipality, the police, Interior Ministry, and other different Israeli institutions.”
“There was no other way to address the problems in this camp without being in touch with the Israeli government,” continued Margalit, who was shaken by the news of Nabata’s violent death.
Report: Infighting, Assassination Attempts Marring Palestinian Unity
Infighting at the top of Fatah, the ruling party of the Palestinian Authority—including alleged assassination attempts—are eroding the credibility of PA President Mahmoud Abbas and preventing Palestinian aspirations from being realized, longtime Palestinian affairs correspondent Khaled Abu Toameh reported Tuesday for the Gatestone Institute.
Palestinian sources reported that Mohammad Dahlan, Abbas’ former national security adviser who was expelled from the party in 2011 and is now living in the United Arab Emirates, was involved in a plot to assassinate members of Fatah who were living in the Gaza Strip. And multiple Palestinian sources reported that former intelligence chief Tawfiq Tirawi was allegedly behind a different plot to assassinate Fatah officials in Gaza.
Abu Toameh explained that the two plots had different motives: Dahlan was reportedly seeking revenge, but Tirawi was apparently trying to pin the murders on Hamas. Tirawi denied any involvement.
Supporters of Abbas and Dahlan have confronted each other on multiple occasions recently, Abu Toameh reported. At a memorial rally for late PLO terrorist Khalil al-Wazir, supporters of Abbas and Dahlan threw chairs and stones at each other. Supporters of the two politicians also clashed in Gaza.
Hamas claims to foil plot by Abbas rival Dahlan to stage coup in Gaza Strip
Hamas security forces have arrested a cell formed by a crony of the exiled former Fatah stalwart, Mohammad Dahlan, aimed at staging a coup in the Gaza Strip, the London-based Arabic newspaper al-Arabi al-Jadeed reported Wednesday.
The cell, forged by the former head of the Palestinian Authority General Intelligence Services Tawfik Tirawi, was allegedly preparing to carry out a series of assassinations against Fatah leaders in Gaza, and paint them as part of an "ISIS scheme to destabilize the Gaza Strip."
According to Yahya Musa, a member of the Hamas Legislature in Gaza, the cell was headed by a Fatah activist named Marwa al-Masri, an ardent supporter of Dahlan, who maintained contact with Tirawi. Masri was arrested by Hamas security forces on April 20, as she tried to leave Gaza for the West Bank.
Musa said that Hamas conveyed the information related to the cell to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in order to urge him to take measures against Tirawi. The latter, as claimed by Musa, was planning to sow insecurity in Gaza, in order to paint it as a beacon of terror and instability, thereby enabling Dahlan to present himself as "Gaza's savior" and seize power.
Like It Or Not, The U.S. Is At War
The death of a U.S. Navy SEAL in Iraq–Charles Keating IV–has exposed an interesting rift between the Department of Defense and the White House about what U.S. forces are doing there in the first place. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said forthrightly: “It is a combat death, of course. And a sad loss.” White House spokesman Josh Earnest, on the other hand, denied that Keating died in combat: “The relatively small number of U.S. service members that are involved in these operations are not in combat but are in a dangerous place,” he said.
Carter needs to be commended for honesty, while Earnest needs to be censured for being less than, well, fully earnest. Keating was apparently working with Kurdish peshmerga forces not far from Mosul when a flying column of ISIS fighters penetrated Kurdish lines and killed him along with others in an intense firefight. U.S. forces then responded with intense air strikes that were said to have killed more than 20 militants. How is this not combat? And how does Keating’s presence near the front lines not represent “boots on the ground”?
Only in the imagination of President Obama and his close aides can the U.S. mission in Iraq be said not to be a war. This kind of rhetorical legerdemain is not exactly new–recall that Truman called the Korean War a “police action”–but it is nevertheless disturbing on several levels. First the administration isn’t leveling with the American public. I am leery of overblown comparisons to Vietnam but it is fair recalling how both the Kennedy and Johnson administration sent troops into harm’s way while denying, at least until 1965, that they were doing so. That is not an example to emulate.
The second and more significant problem with what the administration is doing is that it is probably not leveling with itself. By pretending that U.S. forces aren’t in combat and that the United States is not committed to another war in Iraq, the president is able to tell himself that he is not repeating the same mistakes as his hated predecessor. But the cost of his intent to wage war without admitting that he is doing so is high: Not only in lost credibility but also in missing will.
Biden is Hemlock for Iraq
Washington Post military correspondent Greg Jaffe has penned an important article examining what the current unrest in Baghdad might mean to President Obama’s strategy for Iraq. Basically speaking, he writes that Obama has come to depend on Prime Minister Haider Abadi to restore stability and usher in necessary reforms. There’s logic to this. Contrary to those who see all Shi‘ites as cut from the same cloth, there’s actually broad diversity to the Shi‘ite community, politically, religiously, culturally, and ethnically. Even with in Da`wa, the political party from which Abadi arose, there are major factions: Those like Abadi who spent their exile years in the United Kingdom seem much more at ease with the West and a more liberal model of government than those, like Abadi’s predecessor Nouri al-Maliki, who spent his exile years in Syria and Iran. Indeed, many Iraqis within government and the security forces criticize Abadi most for surrounding himself too much with pro-Western or more academic personalities rather than those accustomed to the rough-and-tumble hard politics that characterize Iraq.
On a more personal level, Abadi has a technocrat’s mind. His mastery of details—legal, technical, and economic—surpasses all of his predecessors. His major flaws, however, is indecisiveness and poor strategic decision-making when it comes to fulfilling his agenda. If a window open to achieve a reform or fulfill an aim, Abadi mulls his options until it is too late. When anti-corruption protestors first poured into the streets a year ago—and when Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani—threw his support to fundamental reform, Abadi did not seize the opportunity, breeding greater cynicism. Abadi is further hampered internally by his predecessor Nouri al-Maliki. Maliki had led the victorious list during the last elections and so every member of Da`wa in parliament today owes their political fortune not to Abadi but rather to Maliki. While Maliki will not again become prime minister, the United States, alas, has not done him any favors. Discussion by various representatives and senators about direct provision of weaponry to Sunni tribes or the Kurdish peshmerga leads Abadi’s internal Shi‘ite opponents to castigate Abadi by arguing that his made a mistake by cooperating with the United States because Washington is only going to turn around an betray Baghdad. Tehran is all too happy to fan the flames of this conspiracy, arguing that the United States actually sponsors and supports the Islamic State.
Jaffe writes:
The chaos in Baghdad comes just after a visit by Vice President Biden that was intended to help calm the political unrest and keep the battle against the Islamic State on track. As Biden’s plane was approaching Baghdad on Thursday, a senior administration official described the vice president’s visit — which was shrouded in secrecy prior to his arrival — as a “symbol of how much faith we have in Prime Minister Abadi.”
Turkey PM says he’s quitting as Erdogan tightens grip
Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was reportedly to quit his jobs of ruling party chief and head of government, in a dramatic turn of events Thursday that were set to boost President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s power.
Divisions between Davutoglu and Erdogan that had been rumoured for months erupted into the open on Wednesday, with the two leaders holding crisis talks at the presidential palace that failed to resolve the conflict.
The central executive committee of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) met Thursday morning and agreed to convene an extraordinary party congress later this month, the NTV and CNN-Turk channels reported.
Davutoglu will not be a candidate for the party chairmanship at the congress, meaning that he will step down from both the posts of premier and party chief, the reports added.
According to the conventions of the AKP — a party co-founded by Erdogan to bring Islam into the mainstream of Turkey’s secular politics — the party chairman and head of government are the same person.
Egyptian Intelligence Official Blames Escalating Middle East Violence On 'Tom & Jerry'
Egypt’s top intelligence official stated Tuesday that the 1940’s cartoon “Tom & Jerry” is to blame for the escalating violence in the Middle East, not radical Islamic terrorism.
“[Tom & Jerry] portrays violence in a funny manner,” Salah Abdel Sadeq said in a speech at “The Media and the Culture of Violence” conference at Cairo University. “It gives the impression that, yes, I can hit him, and I can blow him up with explosives. It becomes set in the viewer’s mind that this is natural”
Abdel Sadeq — who heads up Egypt’s State Information Service — further stated that violent video games also share part of the blame.
“Video games are spreading,” he noted. “it has become normal for a young man to sit for long hours playing video games, killing and spilling blood. He is happy and content with that.”

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