Tuesday, August 09, 2016

From Ian:

Israel charges UN employee with aiding Hamas in Gaza
Israel on Tuesday accused a United Nations employee of taking advantage of his position to assist the Hamas terrorist group in the Gaza Strip, the third such allegation in less than a week.
According to the Shin Bet security service, Wahid Abd Allah Borsh, 38, an engineer in the UN’s Development Program, both funneled resources to the terrorist group and kept Hamas out of trouble with the international organization.
In July, Shin Bet officers arrested Borsh, a resident of Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip, as he made his way into the coastal enclave through the Erez Crossing, the security service said.
During his interrogation, Borsh told investigators that in 2014, he was directed by Hamas to “focus on his work in the UNDP in a way that would allow Hamas to extract the greatest possible benefit from him,” the Shin Bet said.
“This investigation also demonstrates how Hamas exploits the resources of international aid organizations at the expense of the civilian population of the Gaza Strip,” the security service said.
The UNDP did not have an immediate response to the allegations, but said it planned to release a statement “within the hour.”

IDF Blog: UN Employee Suspected of Directing Humanitarian Aid to Hamas
Earlier today, Waheed Borsh, a United Nations Development Program (UNDP) official, was indicted in a civilian court in southern Israel for using his position to provide assistance to Hamas’ terror activities in Gaza. He’s admitted to helping Hamas use humanitarian aid funding to build a dock for its naval forces in 2015 and confiscate weapons at building sites marked for demolition. Borsh was arrested in July 2016 in a joint operation by the Shin Bet security service and the Israel Police.
UN employeeWhile working as an engineer at UNDP since 2003, Borsh was responsible for the demolition of buildings damaged during military conflicts and the removal of waste from the demolitions.
In his interrogation, he revealed information on Hamas military posts, terror tunnels, and weapons storage facilities. He began using the program’s funding, information, and access to aid Hamas after being co-opted by a senior Hamas official in 2014. In 2015, he acted to persuade UNDP managers to prioritize the rehabilitation of housing in areas populated by Hamas members. Borsh was acting in response to a request by Hamas. When weapons or terrorist tunnel openings were discovered in houses being handled by the UNDP, Hamas would take control of the site and confiscate the arms and other materials. This is in direct violation of internationally recognized and agreed upon UN procedures.
Hamas continues to exploit humanitarian aid and international funding meant to help the people of Gaza. Instead of acting to reconstruct and build homes, schools and hospitals, the terror organization uses any means possible to further entrench its terrorist stronghold on the Gaza Strip.
British Charity ‘Save the Children’ Investigating Claims Employee Recruited by Hamas
A British charity said it is investigating Israeli claims that one of its employees was recruited by Hamas, the Daily Mail reported on Monday, days after a Gaza-based staffer at an international NGO was revealed to be acting on behalf of the terrorist group.
“We do take any allegations of this nature very seriously and are making inquiries into this matter,” Save the Children said in a statement, adding that it had “not been notified or contacted by the (Israeli) authorities on the details of the allegations.”
The investigation follows Israel’s indictment on Thursday of Mohammed El-Halabi, the head of the Gaza office of the charity World Vision, who was found to be funneling millions of dollars in foreign aid to Hamas.
According to the Shin Bet internal security agency, the investigation into El-Halabi’s activities uncovered a network of additional Hamas terrorists posing as aid workers. In 2014, for example, El-Halabi recruited a Palestinian worker associated with Save the Children, the Daily Mail said.

Ben-Dror Yemini: Inventing an 'evil state'
B'Tselem's recent report about Operation Protective Edge not only charges Israel incorrectly with disregarding civilian life, it almost completely ignores Hamas' culpability in the deaths of those who were killed in the 2014 Gaza conflict.
Just when it appears that all records have been broken, it turns out that this is not the case. The newspaper that hovers somewhere between anti-Zionism and something far more serious came out last week with the question "Is Israel an Evil State?" Two days later, one of the paper's senior journalists provided the answer: "Yes, it is an Evil State."
Two days before writing that Israel was an "evil state," that same senior journalist published an article entitled "180 babies," who were killed in the Gaza Strip. Behold, the shocking proof of this "evil state."
This "proof" appeared in a report by the B'Tselem organization about the fatalities of Operation Protective Edge, released to mark two years to the war. The report uses the same recycled claims of a mass killing of innocents, while adding interpretation, in the report itself, according to which, "one party breaching the law does not permit its opponent to do the same." That is the most B'Tselem could write against Hamas, that comes out of his report almost entirely blameless. Meanwhile, the decisions made by Israel's leadership make them "fully responsible — both morally and legally — for the extreme harm to civilians."
NGO Monitor: NGO Connections to Hamas in Gaza Point to Broader Misuse of Humanitarian Funds
Following last week’s allegations by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) – that the manager of the NGO World Vision’s Gaza operations, Mohammed El-Halabi, funneled 60% of the organization’s Gaza budget to Hamas – another international aid employee has been arrested on similar charges. Waheed Borsh, a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) employee since 2003, has been indicted with providing material assistance to Hamas and using his position to aid the terrorist group.
In response, Prof. Gerald Steinberg, President of NGO Monitor noted, “Sadly, the arrest of a UNDP official on terror charges is not surprising considering the organization’s apparent willingness to work with Hamas. To avoid enabling murderous Hamas attacks, and compounding the suffering of people in Gaza, aid groups need to apply surveillance and intelligence technologies, particularly regarding employees and their activities.”
In 2015, NGO Monitor identified UNDP’s complicity in strengthening and enhancing the legitimacy of Hamas in its 2012-2014 “Consolidated Plan of Assistance,” and raised concerns over possible cooperation between UNDP and Hamas institutions. In 2010, the UNDP published a plan detailing its administration of Gaza aid projects, which clearly describes extensive cooperation with “Gaza local authorities.” Such cooperation would make Hamas an official partner in the aid implementation process, casting doubt on UNDP’s ability to ensure that no aid is diverted to enhance Hamas’ terror capabilities.
As NGO Monitor has warned repeatedly, humanitarian efforts in Gaza are inherently susceptible to extortion and theft by violent actors, including terrorist organizations. Any consideration of humanitarian projects in Gaza must, therefore, include vigorous, concrete, and effective policies that address the risk of aid diversion, both on the part of the implementing organization and on the part of the funder.
UN Official: Gaza Charity’s Transfer of Aid to Hamas is a “Profound Betrayal of Trust”
The allegations that the Gaza director of the charity World Vision siphoned tens of millions of dollars to the terrorist group Hamas represents a “profound betrayal of trust,” one of the United Nations’ top officials dealing with Palestinian affairs said in a statement Monday.
The Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security agency, announced on Thursday that Mohammed el-Halabi had embezzled aid money to help Hamas purchase weapons, build terror tunnels, and even give bonuses to terrorists. Robert Piper, the UN Coordinator for Humanitarian Aid and Development Activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, said that the allegations “raise serious concerns for humanitarian organizations working in Gaza. Redirecting relief away from its intended beneficiaries would be a profound betrayal of the trust put in a senior manager by his employer and by the organization’s donors.”
If the charges are found to be true, “these actions deserve unreserved condemnation; Gaza’s demoralized and vulnerable citizens deserve so much better.”
Former Shin Bet director Avi Dichter, now the head of the Knesset’s influential Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said Monday that the problem of aid organizations funneling money to Hamas is widespread, but the world remains “naive” to the seriousness of the problem.
BBC News report on Hamas infiltration of a charity downplays UK angle
World Vision is one of the thirteen charities which make up the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC). The DEC’s Gaza Crisis Appeal (which raised some £19 million) was broadcast on BBC channels in 2014 and the British government pledged matched funding for the first £2m raised. Whether or not the $80,000 used to construct Hamas’ military facility in Jabaliya came from donations to that DEC appeal is unclear but as Sir Eric Pickles recently noted:
“Worryingly, the UK – via the Department for International Development – reportedly gave £2 million to groups in Gaza in 2014, including World Vision, when they matched charitable contributions pound for pound made by well-meaning Brits to a Disaster Emergency Committee appeal. The Department has conceded that it cannot guarantee that British taxpayers money has not been given to Hamas.”
Obviously this story will be of considerable interest to any media organisation intending to serve the British public interest by carrying out investigative reporting into the question of why legal safeguards appear to have failed the donating public and taxpayers – especially as the problem shows signs of being by no means limited to one NGO alone.
However, seeing as the BBC has over the last two years put considerable effort into persuading its audiences that the dire economic and social conditions in the Gaza Strip are primarily attributable to Israel – while serially ignoring Hamas’ abuse of its civilian population and misappropriation of resources intended to better their lives – it is perhaps unlikely that it will be found at the forefront of such investigative reporting.
Is World Vision International Really a ‘Church’?
In the years since World Vision International changed its tax status, the organization has submitted “accountability documents” that are not much different from the annual reports that charities provide to their donors.
World Vision International has described these documents as similar to or the equivalent of the 990s it historically submitted to the IRS. Nevertheless, donors have good reason to wonder why the organization changed its tax status. WVI’s Accountability Report for 2012 states that it provides “only high level information on incidents recorded and actions taken” when dealing with “incidents of corruption including fraud and sexual exploitation and abuse.”
John Montague argues that exempting churches from 990 reporting requirements makes it harder for donors and congregants to hold their leaders accountable and as a result, makes such institutions more vulnerable to scandals such as those that rocked the televangelist community in the 1980s.
“Requiring churches to file a Form 990 would guarantee that both the public and churchgoers have access to financial information that would enable them to monitor how churches are using their donations,” he writes. “Such monitoring would make churches accountable to the public and to their donors.”
Exclusive: The Druze Minister in Charge of Bibi’s Secret Outreach to Arab States Speaks
On the wall of his Knesset office, behind a large Israeli flag, Ayoob Kara has placed a framed Prayer for the State of Israel, given to him by the emergency response organization Zaka. “Wishing for quiet days,” reads the inscription on the backdrop of the Western Wall and a cheesy graphic of a white peace dove. If you ask Kara, Israel’s most senior Druze politician, those quiet days are already here.
“Israel receives more international legitimacy today than it has since independence,” Kara said recently. “Our relations with our neighbors are the best they’ve ever been.”
That assertion may sound like typical political hyperbole, but Kara, deputy minister for regional cooperation, has the proof. Last November, Israel quietly opened its first diplomatic office in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, inside the headquarters of the United Nations’ International Renewable Energy Agency. In July, Israeli diplomats had hardly caught their breath from the visit of Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, the first in nine years, before receiving a high-ranking Saudi delegation headed by retired general Anwar Ishqi. Having now signed a reconciliation deal with Turkey, Israel is experiencing a diplomatic renaissance with almost all of its regional neighbors.
And that is just what is happening above ground. “Once, [Arab politicians] used to run away from me when they heard I’m Israeli,” Kara said. “Today, we are praised by ministers and parliament members from places like Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Morocco.” They do so quietly, however, he added, due to “a culture of hypocrisy.”
For Kara, 61, who oversees covert and overt Israeli projects in the Arab world on behalf of his boss, Benjamin Netanyahu (who doubles as regional cooperation minister), improved relations with surrounding countries serve a dual purpose: assuring Israeli safety in an increasingly volatile environment, and diverting world attention from the Palestinians.
Top Israeli Diplomat: Arab States Increasingly See Middle East Through Same Prism as Israel
Israel has been consulting with Sunni Arab countries on ways to counter terrorism and the rise of Iran, Dore Gold, the director-general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, said in an interview with the Financial Times on Monday. “The Sunni Arab states increasingly see the Middle East through the same prism as Israel,” Gold explained.
Several events in recent months have demonstrated Israel’s burgeoning relationships with Arab countries, particularly Saudi Arabia. Anwar Eshki, a former general who has served in senior positions in the Saudi military and foreign ministry, visited Israel last month as part of a delegation of Saudi academics and businessmen. The group met with Gold; IDF Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories; and opposition Knesset members, including Yair Lapid, the chairman of the Yesh Atid party. Additionally, former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror and former Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki al-Faisal engaged in a public discussion on regional issues at an event at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy in May. Although the two former officials differed on the Mideast peace process, both emphasized the threat posed by Iran. In June, officials from Israel and Saudi Arabia revealed that representatives from their countries had been engaging in secret meetings since 2014 to discuss Iran’s threat to the region.
The Obstacle to Full Ties between Israel and the Sunnis
The Sunni Arab states (Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf emirates), threatened by Islamic State on the one hand and an expansionist Iran on the other, and without faith in American protection, increasingly find their interests aligned with Israel’s. Can this lead to a true, open alliance? Yes, writes Yaakov Amidror, but only by overcoming Palestinian intractability:
Israel is the only country in the area whose stability is not in question. It is a strong country, both economically and militarily, and it has the ability and willingness to defend its essential interests. This is the foundation for the blossoming relationships between Israel and these Sunni countries—classic status-quo countries in an ever-shifting region that are looking for an anchor with which to stabilize themselves. Israel can serve as this anchor.
[This] is a marriage of convenience, not of love, but it is one of increasing importance. . . However, a serious collaboration—a public, unhindered cooperation—between Israel and these Arab states requires a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. Not because this issue is dear to the hearts of the Sunni leaders, but because without it these leaders would lose the support of the street, which is imperative if the relationship is to go public.
Signaling priority shift, Biden omits Israel from foreign policy adieu
A lengthy article about Washington’s foreign policy challenges written by US Vice President Joe Biden makes no mention of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, indicating the establishment of a Palestinian state may no longer be a top priority for the current US administration.
As US President Barack Obama enters the last few months of his second term, Israeli officials fear that he could seek to leave his mark on the region by supporting a pro-Palestinian resolution at the United Nations Security Council or making a major foreign policy speech outlining what he views as the general parameters of an eventual peace agreement.
But while US officials have repeatedly stated that they continue to seek a two-state solution, Biden’s striking omission of the Palestinian issue follows Obama’s State of the Union address in January, in which, for the first time in his term, he did not mention Israel or the Palestinians.
Biden’s 4,500-word article in this week’s Foreign Affairs magazine, entitled “Building on Success — Opportunities for the Next Administration,” deals with such issues as America’s relations with China and Russia, Washington’s ties with Asian countries, the Iranian nuclear deal, global terrorism, climate change and cyber-defense. But it only mentions Israel tangentially, in a defense of last year’s landmark nuclear deal with Iran.
U.S. Blatant Anti-Israel Policy Is Unconscionable
More than likely you remember the evidence against the IRS for targeting US conservative groups that were applying for 501 (c) (3) status. To date, no actions have been taken against the organization as they stonewall inquiries for documentation.
You may not be aware, however, that the IRS was also targeting pro-Israel groups. An op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal yesterday described how the pro-Israel group Z Street learned that its 2009 application was being held up due to a “special screening” for groups connected to Israel. In 2010 Z Street sued the IRS for discrimination. The article further explained:
The IRS has maintained that Z Street’s application was flagged because the group might be working with organizations inside Israel. IRS Exempt Organizations Determinations Group manager Jon Waddell denied that there was an Israel special policy and said in a December 2010 sworn declaration in federal court in Pennsylvania that flagging Z Street was “appropriate” because “Israel is one of many Middle Eastern countries that have a ‘higher risk of terrorism.’”
You read that correctly. Of course, Israel was and is the victim of terrorism, not the perpetrator.
When you put this story in context, the U.S. over the last several years has had an ongoing strategy of embarrassing, denigrating and pressuring Israel to acquiesce to U.S. demands. Some of the more egregious demands include, but are not limited to, the following, as described by Ben Shapiro:
Israel razes three EU-funded Palestinian homes in West Bank
Israeli authorities on Tuesday demolished three European Union-funded shelters in the West Bank, drawing condemnation from a local human rights group.
The demolitions of the three shelters and two other structures took place in the Palestinian village of Umm el-Kheir, a small Bedouin village near the Israeli settlement of Carmel in the South Hebron Hills. It is in Area C of the West Bank, which is entirely under Israeli military control.
The Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem said 27 people lived in the demolished structures, of whom 16 were minors. They all lost their homes in previous demolitions in the same village, its statement said.
In April, six EU-funded modular homes were demolished in Umm el-Kheir.
B’Tselem said Tuesday morning’s demolitions “demonstrate that the Israeli government continues its policy of destruction of Palestinian communities in favor of expanding [Jewish] settlements, a policy that drew international criticism in a recent Quartet report.”
PA condemns IDF demolition of EU funded Palestinian homes
The Palestinian Authority condemned the IDF demolition, Tuesday morning, of five unauthorized Palestinian structures in the South Hebron region of the West Bank, that left 11 adults and 16 minors homeless in the herding village of Umm al-Khair.
“Israel is relentlessly destroying Palestinians’ homes and livelihoods in order to make way for more illegal settlements,” PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said.
“Once again, I call on the international community to step in and stop Israel’s ongoing violations of international law,” he added.
His Director of Strategic Communications Jamal Dajani blamed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the IDF’s actions.
'Hadar fought on behalf of the nation, we must bring him back'
Rabbi Itamar Heikin, principal of the AMIT school in Modi’in and teacher of Hadar Goldin called upon the government on Tuesday to return Goldin’s body to Israel and end four years in Hamas captivity.
Goldin was killed by Hamas terrorists during the 2014 Gaza conflict. Along with Oron Shaul, another IDF soldier murdered by Hamas, Goldin’s body has been held in Gaza since his death.
Speaking to Arutz Sheva, Rabbi Heikin said those supporting the efforts of the Goldin family to return their son’s body must be prepared for a potentially long struggle.
“There are two things we must do in the meantime – one is to build up [our] memory of Hadar and all the wonderful things about him and to incorporate [his traits] into our lives.”
“The next thing we must do is to bring him and Oron home. They both went out on behalf of Israel, and the must be returned to be buried in Israel.”
Beyond the effort to return the fallen soldiers’ bodies, however, Rabbi Heikin emphasized the importance of helping their families.
Palestinian woman held for pulling knife in Hebron
Border Police on Tuesday arrested a Palestinian woman who allegedly threatened them with a knife at a checkpoint near the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, police said in a statement.
During a security check at the Abu Rish checkpoint in Hebron, the woman took a knife from her bag and “threatened to carry out a stabbing” against the officers, according to police.
Using pepper spray, the officers overpowered the woman and arrested her and took her in for questioning.
No one was hurt in the incident.
The woman’s identity was not released. Palestinian media shared a photo of what appeared to be the woman being detained by Border Police at the checkpoint.
PMW: PA TV: PMW exposure of TV program honoring terrorist prisoners leads to cut off of Ma'an TV in prisons
In Israeli prisons, Palestinian terrorist prisoners are able to watch television. However, in June 2014, Israel stopped their access to official Palestinian Authority TV. This step prevented the prisoners from watching Giants of Endurance - a PA TV program which honors the prisoners themselves. However, a few months ago, as a maneuver to enable the prisoners to watch this program anyway, PA TV started broadcasting it on the independent Palestinian channel Ma'an TV as well - a channel to which prisoners still had access.
Last week, Israel stopped Palestinian prisoners' access to Ma'an TV as well. PA TV News reported that this was following Palestinian Media Watch's exposure of the terrorist glorification in the PA TV program Giants of Endurance. PA TV News explained that Israel's decision was because of "opposition to the continued broadcasts [by Ma'an] of the program for prisoners." PA TV simultaneously broadcast the visuals of PMW's subtitled video of an excerpt of the program, exposing that this PA TV/Ma'an TV program honors terrorists:
Following PMW’s exposure of TV program honoring terrorists Israel cuts off Ma’an TV in prisons

JPost Editorial: Palestinian elections

Finally, after many delays, Palestinians are preparing for elections. No, the rift between the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and the Fatah-controlled West Bank has not been healed. No, the Palestinian Authority has not ceased to be a corrupt, dysfunctional governing body, nor has Hamas given up on its plan to reestablish a Medieval-style caliphate where the State of Israel presently exists. And these are only municipal elections, not national elections, which were last held in 2006.
Nevertheless, some cautious optimism is in order.
In the run-up to elections, Palestinians will be focusing on the democratic process of educating themselves about the issues and choosing candidates that are thought to best represent popular public opinion on issues related to local government. Palestinians will be focusing on self-government and the policies that will best help improve their lives on the municipal level.
The elections will also provide a rare opportunity to test the electoral strength of both Fatah and Hamas. Unlike the 2012 municipal elections, which were boycotted by Hamas, this time Hamas will participate.
A number of pollsters have published public opinion surveys of the Palestinians living on the West Bank and Gaza that have shown Hamas and Fatah enjoying practically equal support. For instance, a poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in early June found that 31 percent would vote for Hamas, 34% would vote for Fatah, 9% would vote for all three other parties combined and 26% said they were undecided.
Islamic Jihad calls to escalate intifada and boycott Palestinian elections
Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) became the first Palestinian faction to announce that it will boycott the upcoming municipal elections set to take place on October 8th, according to a PIJ press release.
“After completing discussions and consultations, [PIJ] announces that it will not take part in the municipal elections,” the statement read.
The statement argued that “resistance” rather than municipal elections will achieve the Palestinians’ national goal of liberation.
“The current circumstances of Palestinian division, the siege on Gaza, the policies and crimes of the occupation in Jerusalem and the West Bank and its complete control over all aspects of life…does not make these elections a first priority in serving the people.
“Our people’s first national need is liberation from the occupation, which will only happen through resistance and escalating and developing the intifada,” the statement added.
PIJ also stated that arrests carried out by the Palestinian Authority security services and Israel make it difficult for it to run an effective campaign. “The security pursuits and arrests by the occupation and Palestinian Authority in the West Bank do not permit effective communication with the masses, which is the essence of the electoral process.”
Before its announcement on Tuesday, PIJ had not formally said if it would participate. But PIJ leader Ahmad al-Mudalil said in mid-July that PIJ has no objection to elections as long as the take place under a national consensus.
The Transformation of Hezbollah by Its Involvement in Syria
In examining the military and political effects of Hezbollah's involvement in Syria, one sees that the group has paid a heavy price in blood and treasure, yet it has also achieved much. For an entity that has evolved from a small cadre of militants to a large guerrilla force to a semimilitary organization, Hezbollah has seen its role as a major political and military regional actor and a crucial partner in the Iran-led "resistance axis" highlighted by its Syria experience. Hezbollah is not a juggernaut that cannot be defeated, but a formidable force that must be assessed frequently. Thus, as the Syrian war rages on, tracking developments and their effects on Hezbollah and its partners will yield important insights.
In this new Research Note, Nadav Pollak details the reasoning behind Hezbollah's Syrian involvement and examines the scope and characteristics of its activity since then. The paper addresses the group's current military status as well as the strategic and tactical lessons learned. A final section focuses on Hezbollah's domestic and regional support, concluding with prospects for the group's future.
Why ISIS Fears Israel
In stark contrast with the United States, Israel sees ISIS as just one more armed group fighting in Syria alongside Al Qaeda and other terrorist affiliates. For each of these adversaries, as well as for state actors including Iran and Assad, Israel has conveyed three “red lines”: no attacks on Israel; no transfer of advanced conventional weapons (namely precision-guided missiles and rockets) to terrorist groups that threaten Israel; and no transfer of chemical weapons to terrorist groups. The “dozens” of Israeli airstrikes in Syria that Prime Minister Netanyahu recently acknowledged are calculated components of a strategy that reminds all adversaries of the cost of even minor violations of its rules. It was no accident that Israel reportedly killed a prominent Iranian general last year on the Syrian Golan Heights as he surveilled the Israeli border, planning strikes on Israel. Nor was it coincidental that Israel reportedly killed Hezbollah operations officer Samir Kuntar in December—after Israel discovered him plotting attacks on Israelis.
On its immediate border, Israel faces two ISIS affiliates: Wilayat Sinai (Sinai Province) on the Egyptian peninsula, and the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights. While both are small, their proximity and firepower concern Israeli military leaders. Despite their capability to attack at a moment’s notice, both have exercised restraint. Since declaring allegiance to ISIS in November 2014, Wilayat Sinai has focused primarily on fighting the Egyptian security forces, not Israel. Its most noteworthy success was the downing of a Russian airliner in the Sinai in October 2015, which did not kill or injure any Israelis. On the Golan, the Yarmouk Brigade controls a ten-square-kilometer area where some forty thousand civilians live. Despite the fact that the group stands, as one Israeli newspaper put it, “several hundred meters away from reaching Israeli school buses,” it has not conducted a single attack against Israel.
Israeli strategists emphasize relevant similarities between ISIS, Hamas and Hezbollah: each controls territory, attempts to govern a population and, therefore, has something to lose. Even though ISIS propaganda recently declared in flawless Hebrew that “soon there will not be one Jew left in Jerusalem,” the groups have largely refrained from attacking Israel. The reason, according to Eizenkot’s predecessor, Benny Gantz, is that “they would lose,” and in doing so risk their population and assets. ISIS leaders appear to have heard this message. As a German journalist who was embedded with ISIS in 2014 explained, “The only country ISIS fears is Israel. They told me they know the Israeli army is too strong for them.”
Could the United States deter ISIS? At least one of President Obama’s speechwriters thought so. At the National Counterterrorism Center in December, the president directed his remarks to ISIS leaders: “We’re sending a message: If you target Americans, you will have no safe haven.” If I were teaching Strategy 101 next semester, this statement would lead my weekly quiz. The assignment would simply reproduce the quote and say: “Assess.” Any student unable to explain why the president’s threat fails to satisfy the elementary requirements for successful deterrence would not receive a passing grade.
Israel Seeking to Outlaw ISIS-Affiliated Pan-Islamic Group
Israel is pursuing legislation to outlaw Hizbut Tahrir, a radical, international, pan-Islamic organization affiliated with Islamic State, Channel 10 reported Monday.
The group has been outlawed in several European countries, including Turkey, Russia and Germany, over its radical ideology and support of terrorism.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said the decision followed clear evidence implicating Hizbut Tahrir in a series of terrorist attacks across Israel in 2015, originally attributed to Hamas.
“It makes no sense to allow a group whose ideology is similar to that of Islamic State to operate in Israel. I intend to do everything in my power to outlaw this organization,” Erdan told Channel 10.
A Public Security Ministry statement said: “Given the intelligence presented to Minister Erdan, he decided to pursue outlawing Hizbut Tahrir, a group that rejects Israel’s right to exist and seeks to replace it with an Islamic caliphate.”
ISIS reportedly calls for attacks on Miss Universe pageant
Terrorists from the Islamic State group have allegedly called for attacks at the upcoming Miss Universe competition set for January 2017 in the Philippines.
A string of threats recently posted to the messaging app Telegram have called for local jihadi proponents of the extremist group known as ISIS to carry out attacks at the beauty pageant, Fox News reported Monday.
Unverified reposts of the messages shared on the social media channel used by the jihadis in the Philippines called on "everyone who can" to launch attacks at the event.
The thread of posts encouraging violence at the global beauty competition also reportedly included a call to "create a bomb for miss universe."
The threatening posts also offered an online video tutorial on how to assemble a suicide belt, along with a guide in English on how to produce explosive devices.
Elliott Abrams: War Crimes in Syria: the Lives We Did Not Save
A few items in today’s news give an accurate portrait of the disaster to which Obama policy in Syria has led.
First there is the bombing of hospitals by the Assad regime: “A hospital supported by Doctors Without Borders and specializing in pediatrics in a rebel-held northern Syria province has been destroyed in a series of airstrikes over the weekend that killed 13 people, including four staff and five children, the international medical charity said Monday…. two of four airstrikes directly hit the hospital in Millis, in the northern province of Idlib and put it out of service. Six other hospital staff members were wounded in the broad daylight airstrikes Saturday. The bombing of the hospital that serves as a reference centre specializing in pediatrics also destroyed the operating theatre, intensive care unit, pediatric department, ambulances and a generator, the charity said.”
This is a deliberate policy and a pattern, testimony to the UN confirmed: “Experts painted a graphic portrait of barrel bombings, attacks on medical facilities, chemical weapons use and the ongoing suffering inside the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo, shaming the international community for its inaction at an informal Security Council meeting Monday organized by the United States….15 health care facilities had been attacked in July alone.”
Vic Rosenthal: Ending our unhealthy dependence
In 2010, PM Netanyahu and then-Defense Minister Ehud Barak wanted to hit Iranian nuclear facilities. The Obama Administration strongly opposed it – and so did Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi. In 2011 there was a new Chief of Staff, Benny Gantz, who thought that Israel had the capability to do it, but other officials did not support the idea. Can we say for sure that the opposition was not based on fear of Obama’s reaction, or even pressure from the US?
Surveys show that a solid majority of the American people still support Israel and her right to defend herself, and the US Congress follows their lead. But foreign policy is controlled by the administration, and as we saw with the Iran deal, Congress can do little to prevent a determined administration from getting its way. Israel has been lucky until now that American presidents have at worst been indifferent to her. Today there is an actively hostile one, and we can’t predict what the future will bring.
Why not start phasing out US military assistance? It could be done over a period of years to reduce the pain, and would be the first step to reducing the excessive American influence over our nation.
Our defense budget is around $15 billion, and our GNP is $300 billion. American military aid in recent years has been around $3 billion per year. This is a lot of money, but Israel’s economy is good, and new discoveries of natural gas promise to improve cash flow in the near future. There is certainly room to economize in the military budget. We could handle it. We can still purchase American equipment when it is the best choice, but with our own money. Our own military industries would be stimulated and some of the shortfall would be made up by increased export sales.
We need a divorce from the abusive Obama Administration, but we’ll still stay friends with the American people.
State Dept Won’t Say Whether Hostages Left Iran Before Money Arrived
Lee repeatedly said that he wanted to know whether the plane full of money left before the hostages or not. Trudeau refused to go into the specifics of what happened.
“What I do though want to disassociate the idea, you know that you haven’t said, but has been in the public narrative, that there was some sort of tie between the two,” Trudeau said.
“Yeah, I realize that you guys don’t think there was, but it seems a very simple question to ask whether or not the plane with the money landed before the plane with the prisoners took off,” Lee said.
Trudeau said the plane with the hostages was held up to make sure that all of them were accounted for and on the plane. Lee challenged Trudeau on how she knows this. She replied that the State Department was confident based off their knowledge on the ground that this was the reason for the hostages being delayed from leaving Iran.

Ahmadinejad Demands Obama Stop Terror Victims from Collecting $2 Billion Court Settlement
Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sent a letter to President Barack Obama telling him to “quickly fix” a Supreme Court ruling allowing terror victims to collect $2 billion from frozen Iranian assets, the Associated Press reported Monday.
The Supreme Court ruled 6 – 2 in April that 1,300 American victims of Iranian terror and their families were entitled to collect $2 billion in frozen funds, which are currently held in trust pending the final disposition of the lawsuits.
“It is the clear expectation of the Iranian nation that the particular case of property seizure … be quickly fixed by your excellency and that not only the Iranian nation’s rights be restored and the seized property released and returned, but also the damaged caused be fully compensated for,” Ahmadinejad wrote.
“I passionately advise you not to let the historical defamation and bitter incident be recorded under your name,” he added.
The letter was originally posted to a website associated with the former Iranian president, and a copy was later delivered to the Swiss embassy in Tehran, which has overseen American interests in the country since the U.S. embassy was taken over in 1979.
The White House has not commented on the letter.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Iran Deal Provision Promises US Inaction If Terrorism Victims Jews (satire)
President Hassan Rouhani of Iran told a gathering of lawmakers today that one of the clauses of the nuclear agreement signed with the US last year guarantees that as long as the Islamic Republic’s activities to foment terrorism result in the death or injury only of Jews, no American action will be taken in response.
Rouhani revealed the heretofore undisclosed provision of the JCPOA in an address to legislators hesitant to embrace it fully, and assured them that on balance, the deal was beneficial to Iran, as it preserved two key elements of the regime’s aspirations: the legalization of its nuclear weapons program and the condoning of decades-old efforts to kill and terrorize Jews around the world.
“As long as we restrict our revolutionary activities, whether directly or through Hezbollah, to those descendants of apes and pigs whose society spawned Zionism, the Great Satan will refrain from punitive or retaliatory measures,” he announced. “This understanding was an integral part of the agreement reached in Vienna last year, without which we would never have accepted the document. Publication of this provision was withheld until now to prevent the Zionist lobby from pressuring the Obama administration and Congress over its implications.”
Under the provision, said Rouhani, punitive measures such as economic sanctions, military retaliation, withholding of funds, and other such responses to Iran-sponsored or -directed killing of Jews would not be initiated. If, however, the target proved to be other than Jews or people obviously acting in support of Jews, the US might consider a reprimand.

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