Monday, September 05, 2016

From Ian:

Khaled Abu Toameh: The Invisible (Female) Palestinians
Instead of referring to the female candidates by name and publishing their pictures, the electoral lists are using the terms "the wife of" or "sister."
"It is disgraceful for any Islamic, national or independent list to scrap the names of the women. If they are not willing to recognize the woman's name, how will they accept the role of the women woman's name, how will they accept the role of the women after they are elected? ... I'm against the participation of women in this manner. Let men participate in the election alone." — Nahed Abu Taima, Media Development Center at Bir Zeit University.
Dr. Walid Al-Qatati, a writer and analyst specializing in Islamic affairs, said that the move reminded him of wedding invitations that are sent out without naming the brides.
When Palestinian women carry out attacks against Israelis, Palestinian society glorifies them as heroes. Then the names and photos of these women are plastered across billboards. Yet it appears that when the women wish to work for life rather than for death, their identities are not fit for public consumption.
NGO Monitor: IDF Document Refutes NGO Allegations regarding 2014 Gaza War
On August 24, 2016, the IDF Military Advocate General (MAG) issued a statement providing detailed information on 12 incidents from the 2014 Gaza War in which allegations of potential war crimes had been raised. The MAG described the findings of its “examination and investigation of [these] exceptional incidents” and explained the rationale behind its decision to open or close criminal proceedings for each.
In many instances (see chart below), the details in the MAG publication contradict the claims and repudiate the conclusions of NGOs – including Adalah, Al-Mezan, B’Tselem, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel – and the UN Schabas/Davis Commission of Inquiry regarding these specific incidents.
In response, the NGOs Adalah and Al-Mezan addressed the MAG’s findings in a seven-page report published on August 28, alleging the Israel was “unwilling to conduct genuine, independent investigations.” In addition, Human Rights Watch claimed that Israel had not conducted “adequate domestic investigations” and that the International Criminal Court should step in.
Despite these reactions, the MAG’s latest update highlights the fundamental difference in the salience of information provided by different investigations: The MAG report (as well as others released previously) gives inside details on intelligence, targeting, weapons systems, operational capabilities, commander decision making, and real-time field conditions; without these, it is impossible to make determinations as to whether a violation of the law occurred. In sharp contrast, the publications of NGOs and the Schabas/Davis Commission (largely based on these same NGO publications) contain speculation, innuendo, unverifiable (and sometimes clearly mistaken) claims, and “testimonies” from “eyewitnesses,” and lack the essential facts provided by the MAG.
BESA: The Middle East Will Remain a Source of Terrorism
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The collapse of the Arab state system and the rise of political Islam have destabilized the Middle East and entrenched the region as the major source of global terror. Even the more stable states, such as Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, display strong Islamic tendencies and support radical groups that engage in terrorism. Not much can be done to change this situation. Accepting this unpleasant reality will entail a sea change in Western strategic outlook.
Several major developments in the Middle East will keep the region a wellspring of Islamic terror and a source of inspiration for Islamist radicals for the foreseeable future. Attempts to perpetrate acts of terror against the “enemies of Islam” should be expected to continue.
The first development contributing to the growth of terror has been the historic disruption of the Arab state system. The relatively new Arab states failed to instill deeply held national identities (with the exception of Egypt, a true historical state). This failure allowed for the breakdown of states along ethnic, tribal and sectarian lines and for the emergence of armed militias.
The rise of numerous failed states, characterized primarily by the loss of monopoly over the use of force, started before the Arab Spring. Lebanon, Iraq, the Palestinian Authority and Somalia are prime examples. This trend intensified with the weakening of the central governments in Libya, Syria and Yemen. Those states were transformed into vast battlefields containing many militias notable for their lack of inhibitions against using terror to attain political goals.

JCPA: The West Must Insist that the Palestinians Change Their Narrative
  • The fight against Zionism defines the Palestinians. The Palestinian narrative denies the assumption that there is a Jewish people. If there is no Jewish people, then the Jews do not have the right of self-determination and only the Palestinians have such a right.
  • Since the Palestinians are taught to believe that the Jews have no history of sovereignty in this land, that is why they fight in UNESCO against the idea of recognizing the Temple Mount, since they say there was no Temple.
  • The Palestinians also say they are fighting for Islam as well. When they fight against the Jews to liberate a piece of land that is Islamic in its nature because it was conquered by the Muslims in the early years of Islam, they are actually performing an Islamic duty. That is why if they die in this war, they are an Islamic martyr.
  • The West does not interfere with this indoctrination. The West accepts Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, but it doesn’t demand that the Palestinians change their narrative. As long as Western nations keep giving the Palestinians money as if they are not doing anything wrong, then it doesn’t have any impact on the Palestinians.
  • The U.S. State Department’s 2010 definition of anti-Semitism says very clearly that anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism in a new form, and anti-Zionism is exactly what the Palestinians are preaching. Demonization of Israel, double standards toward Israel, and delegitimization of Israel are all forms of anti-Semitism. We would have expected the West to do something about it, but it doesn’t.
  • In order to start real peace negotiations, the international community has to tell the Palestinians that they are not going to get any more money to support this kind of indoctrination. They have to adopt a different approach that enables real peace with Zionism and the Jewish people, an approach that would eventually lead to mutual recognition where everybody recognizes the other’s identity as the nation-state of their people.
Abbas decries pressure from the US, Russia and the Arab world
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas pushed back against attempts by foreign capitals, including Moscow, Washington and other unnamed Arab capitals, to intervene in internal Palestinians affairs.
“Our relations with everyone must be good, but no one will dictate to us any position or idea… Therefore, let us think as Palestinians. I will think about Palestine, not Washington or Moscow,” said Abbas Saturday night during a meeting in Ramallah, according to footage aired by the official PA news channel Palestine TV the following day.
After mentioning Washington and Moscow, Abbas said he was also tired of “other capitals,” apparently in the Arab world, adding that he wouldn’t mention them by name in order not to insult them.
“Release us from the capitals, and from the money of the capitals and the influence of the capitals. We want to work as Palestinians,” said Abbas, who appeared emotional during his statements.
The Dismissal of a $655 Million Terrorism Judgment Against the PA Sets a Bad Precedent
The appeals court’s decision stated that the PA and its parent organization, the PLO, do not have sufficient ties to the US for American courts to have jurisdiction on their prosecution, citing the due process clause of the Constitution. Nor did the court believe there was any evidence the terror attacks targeted US citizens specifically.
PA lawyer Gassan Baloul, of the firm Squire Patton Boggs LLP, welcomed the new ruling, telling the Jerusalem Post, “we are very gratified that the court fully accepted our clients’ consistent position that the PA and the PLO are not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States courts in these matters.”
“We obviously don’t agree,” Darshan-Leitner said, adding that the new ruling flies in the face of the Anti-Terrorism Act, passed in 1990 to protect Americans traveling around the world, and to make it easier for US terror victims and their families to sue terrorists for civil damages. The act followed the 1985 murder of Jewish-American appliance manufacturer Leon Klinghoffer, who was thrown overboard the Achille Lauro by Palestinian hijackers.
Darshan-Leitner said Shurat Hadin would appeal the new decision. It also plans to reach out to Congress to request that it address the loophole in the act.
Jonathan Schanzer, vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), told that “Congress will likely need to go back and assess how to fill these loopholes. It will be crucial for this to happen, in my view. The PA and PLO’s ability to evade responsibility for terrorist attacks sets a very dangerous precedent.”
Attorney Kent Yalowitz also told that while Congress passed the Anti-Terrorism Act to protect traveling Americans, the same terrorists who prompted the passing of this law are now hiding behind the Constitution to avoid responsibility for their crimes.
“No one denies, as the federal jury has found, that the Palestinians carried out these attacks and killed and injured these American citizens, who will not give up seeking justice from the courts,” he said. And he calls on Congress and the State Department “to intervene on the side of American victims of terror to ensure that these families are compensated by the PA and PLO for these crimes.”
Peace Now, Wrong Again
The American section of Peace Now has a letter * in the NYTimes.
Dealing with Jewish residency location in Judea and Samara, or, as they term it, "illegal settlements in the West Bank", they claim that they are fixated (my word) on the subject because they are
the chief physical obstacle to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — a solution that is in the vital interests of both Israel and the United States.
Actually, Arab bullets, knives, axes, bombs, stones, rockets and other assorted objects of death and mayhem are the chief obstacle.
In assisting the Arabs to blur that reality, and to ignore incitement, religious-based hatred, national identity theft and Pallywood fabrications and other non-physical elements of the Arab campaign against Zionism since, say, the murder of Rabbi Avraham Zalman Tzoref in Jerusalem after purchasing property there in 1851, they become themselves obstacles, not only to a secure peace, but they become partly responsible for the deaths and injuries this Arab terror commits.
A Jew living in Judea and Samaria, is not illegal, unless he actually steals private property. There may be cases like that, but 99% of Jewish residency communities are not in that category. And if there are cases, the courts deal with them. Many are simply unlicensed due to bureacratic irregularities on behalf of regualtions which having nothing to do with the concept of "illegality".
In Israel, Swedish opposition head slams settlements as ‘unacceptable’
Israel’s policy of building settlements in the West Bank is “completely unacceptable,” Sweden’s opposition leader said Sunday in Jerusalem.
In an interview (Swedish) with the Expressen newspaper, Anna Kinberg Batra — whom official Jerusalem considers “balanced” regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — was asked what she would tell Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during their meeting on Monday morning.
She replied: “One must be able to meet in order to deliver criticism. Obviously there is criticism to deliver against the settlements, which are of course unacceptable. But if we want a better exchange and want to influence each other in the right direction and use the positive exchange we have, then one must begin to talk with one another.”
The Netanyahu-Kinberg Batra meeting went ahead as scheduled, but Netanyahu’s office had not issued statements or released photographs of it, as of Monday evening.
Kinberg Batra, head of the center-right Moderate Party, added that she was interested in enhancing her country’s strained ties with Jerusalem. “I want Sweden’s relations with Israel to improve; they can definitely be better than they currently are.”
Netanyahu accepts invitation to visit Down Under in 2017
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin and Defense Minster Avigdor Liberman on Sunday.
Netanyahu began the meeting by telling Bishop that “your friendship is terrific – Australia, the government’s and yours personally. And we appreciate our friends.”
In return Bishop invited Netanyahu to visit Australia. “I want to take this opportunity to reaffirm our absolute enduring commitment to the State of Israel and our friendship, and invite you to come to Australia,” she said. “We’re thinking there’s a little window of opportunity early next year maybe?”
According to the Prime Minister’s Office, Netanyahu accepted the invitation.
Australian FM: Palestinians share blame for impasse
Unilateral actions toward statehood and violence by Palestinians – not only Israeli settlement construction – are hurdles to the peace process, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.
“We call for the peace negotiations to recommence, and likewise we publicly and privately say that any unilateral action that is seen as damaging or impeding the peace process should be called what it is,” Bishop said in an interview, shortly after meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“And that includes the unilateral actions on the part of the Palestinians to achieve statehood,” she said. “It includes the violence and the attacks, and it also includes the settlements. So on both sides there are issues that are likely to be seen as hurdles to recommencing the peace process.”
While in recent days the US, EU, UN, Egypt and several European states have slammed Israel for announcing various settlement construction plans, Canberra has not added its voice to the chorus. When asked why, Bishop replied, “I am here and I can raise it directly,” adding that she had already done so.
Rivlin apologizes to Bishop after calling off Australian visit
President Reuven Rivlin apologized to Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop when she called on him at his official residence on Sunday.
Rivlin was scheduled to pay a state visit to Australia in March, but postponed it indefinitely due to an urgent need to go to Russia to meet with President Vladimir Putin.
Coincidentally, despite Australia’s long and close friendship with Israel, Bishop in March rejected a call from Liberal senator James Paterson to relocate the Australian Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
He said he would be happy to visit Australia soon, but did not specify a date. Rivlin previously visited the Lucky Country when he was speaker of the Knesset.
Palestinian tries to run over police in East Jerusalem, is killed
A Palestinian assailant was killed in East Jerusalem Sunday night when he and a second man attempted to run over police and Border Police forces in East Jerusalem, security officials said.
According to authorities, troops were concluding an operation in the Shuafat refugee camp when the vehicle with the two Palestinians attempted to hit them.
Border Policemen fired at the vehicle, killing one attacker and moderately wounding another.
No Israeli troops were hurt in the incident.
On Friday a Border Police officer sustained minor leg injuries when he was hit by a car that failed to stop at a checkpoint in the East Jerusalem village of Issawiya. The driver fled the scene.
The past 10 days have seen several arrests of knife-bearing Palestinians in checkpoints in the Jerusalem area, who are thought to have planned attacks against Israelis.
Two killed, several feared trapped in Tel Aviv construction collapse
An underground parking structure collapsed Monday, killing at least two people and leaving several others trapped at the site in Tel Aviv’s Ramat Hahayal neighborhood.
Magen David Adom reported that it was treating 24 injured people. As of Monday afternoon, rescue crews were still searching for four to six people missing in the debris.
Col. Golan Vach of the Home Front Command said forces were sorting through the rubble to rescue the survivors, though no contact had been made with them so far.
“I’m optimistic for the coming days that they can be rescued,” he said. He estimated that it could take up to two days to extract all people trapped under the rubble.
Two pulled from garage rubble amid frantic race to rescue buried workers
Hundreds of emergency response personnel were digging through tons of rubble in Tel Aviv as the sun set Monday in a “race against time” to locate and rescue seven construction workers believed buried under a collapsed parking garage.
Rescue services at the scene managed to extract two of the trapped people on Monday evening, while the locations of remaining five construction workers “have been approximated and are being monitored,” the IDF Home Front Command said in a statement.
In all, five people have been pulled from the rubble after a four-story parking garage under construction in the Ramat Hahayal neighborhood of northeast Tel Aviv collapsed suddenly Monday morning. Two people were killed and 25 more were injured.
“Firefighters, alongside other rescue workers from the Home Front Command, are in a race against time to locate the five missing trapped people as quickly as possible,” a spokesperson for the fire department said.
The IDF said 300 people were involved in the ongoing search and rescue operation. The condition of the two workers pulled out Monday evening was not immediately known.
Palestinians & Israel Haters Celebrate Tel Aviv Building Collapse. And Then….
When news of the tragedy hit social media, the feeling in Israel was one of sadness, as well as fear and hope for the well being of those in the building.
On the palestinian and general Israel-hating side, there were many celebrating the tragedy, or indifferent to it.
But it seems these stellar individuals celebrating the tragedy did not get the memo: palestinians are heavily employed in the construction sector in Israel. The two killed, and most of those injured and trapped, are palestinian.
Talk about raining on the parade.
Palestinian Authority blames Israel for construction deaths
The Palestinian Authority labor minister said Monday that he holds Israeli authorities responsible for a spate of fatal incidents involving Palestinian construction workers in Israel.
Mamoun Abu Shahla said his ministry is following developments with “great interest and worry” after the collapse on Monday of a parking garage under construction in Tel Aviv, the official PA news site Wafa reported.
The two fatalities and at least some of the injured are reportedly Palestinian construction workers, though there has been no official confirmation of their national identity yet.
Abu Shahla accused the Israeli authorities of making Palestinians laborers work in “untenable” conditions.
Netanyahu Among Hundreds at Funeral of Father Who Lost Battle to Retrieve Son’s Remains From Hamas (VIDEO)
Israel’s prime minister, defense minister, president and the IDF chief of staff were among the hundreds of mourners who gathered on Sunday to pay their last respects to the father of one of the IDF soldiers whose remains are still in the hands of Hamas, the Hebrew news site nrg reported.
Herzl Shaul died on Friday after a long battle with cancer, but eulogies at his funeral at the Poriya Cemetery focused on an equally painful fight in which he had been engaged since his son, Oron, was abducted and killed by the terrorists who run the Gaza Strip during Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014.
Another one of Shaul’s sons, Aviram, spoke about the tough – “mainly sad” — period the family has had to contend with since receiving the news about Oron’s death.
“I remember the moment that we were told that Oron was on the armored personnel carrier when his comrades were ambushed and killed by terrorists,” Aviram said. “I entered the house, which was already filled with people. I went downstairs quickly, so nobody would notice me, and you hugged me and, choking up with tears, you said, ‘How did they take our Oron? What will we do now?’ And I answered, ‘Don’t worry; it’ll be all right.’ What I didn’t realize at the time was how much more complicated the situation would grow with each passing day.’”
'ISIS kilometers away from Israel's northern border'
The jihadi organizations that have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State terror group have allegedly launched joint operations recently mere kilometers from Israel's border on the southern Golan Heights.
A new video released by Islamic State media shows the ISIS-affiliated coalition advancing on the Yarmouk Valley region located in the triple border junction between Israel's Golan Heights, Jordan and Syria, Channel 2 reported Sunday night.
According to the report, the video shows the militants fighting under the banner of ISIS advancing on Syrian rebel positions in the volatile Daraa province where Syrian military troops have fought with opposition forces throughout the Syrian civil war.
By confiscating heavy artillery weaponry, including tanks, Islamic State has allegedly sought to strengthen its influence in the region adjacent to Israel's northern border.
There have also been multiple previous reports of ISIS using chemical weapons in the embattled region.
Israel and Palestinians sign deal to improve postal service
Israel and the Palestinian Authority signed an agreement Sunday to upgrade the postal service system in the West Bank.
Major General Yoav (Poly) Mordechai, head of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), and the Palestinian Authority’s Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh signed a memorandum of understanding to allow international mail to enter the PA directly without first going through the Israeli mail service.
The agreement was intended to assist the transfer of international mail to the PA through Jordan via the Allenby Bridge border crossing. The memorandum will also improve the direct mail transfer between Israel and the PA.
Until now all mail entering the Palestinian Authority had to first go through the Israeli postal services, according to the Palestinian news agency Maan.
Israel and the PA signed a similar agreement in 2008 but it was never put into practice. This time, COGAT said, the memorandum will be put into effect.
Palestinian indicted for smuggling scuba gear to Hamas
A Gaza Strip man was indicted Sunday at the Beersheba District Court for smuggling diving equipment into the Gaza Strip without a permit, with the aim of selling it to Hamas' military wing.
According to the indictment, retailer Abd Saqallah, the owner of two sporting gear stores and a sewing factory in Gaza, received a container at the Ashdod Port in 2014 containing a variety of sporting equipment, including some 150 diving masks and wet suits, which he intended to sell to Hamas' Nukhba naval commando unit.
The merchandise was transported to the Kerem Shalom crossing on the Israel-Gaza border, where, despite having some of the illicit equipment seized and confiscated, Saqallah managed to sneak in 60 diving masks that went unnoticed by inspectors.
Saqallah is facing seven charges, including obtaining property by deception under aggravating circumstances, contacting a foreign agent, and providing services for an unauthorized organization.
Families of PA detainees protest at Mukata
The families of six detainees in the Palestinian Authority’s Beitunya prison organized a demonstration on Saturday in front of the Mukata, the headquarters of the PA in Ramallah, calling for the immediate release of their family members.
In April, the PA General Intelligence Services arrested Basil al-Araj, Haytham Siaj and Muhammed Harb in the hills near a village outside of Ramallah for allegedly planning an attack against Israelis. According to the PA security forces, the three young men had been armed with a makeshift gun and hand grenades.
In the following days, the PA security forces arrested Muhammed Elsalameen, Saif al-Idrissi and Ali Dar al-Sheikh in Ramallah for their suspected involvement.
However, the PA prosecutor general Ahmad Barak has yet to indict any of the six young men, who announced a hunger strike on August 28. Meanwhile, a Palestinian court has extended their remand three times.
Palestinians, including many PA officials, have long criticized Israel for detaining suspects for extended periods of time without issuing an indictment.
Palestinians Seeking to Leave Gaza Pay Egyptian Officials Up to $10,000 in Bribes
Egyptian officers are asking for bribes of up to $10,000 from Palestinians in Gaza desperate to leave the besieged coastal enclave, according to Gaza brokers who coordinate the bribe payments, former Palestinian border officials and travelers.
Typically, an adult in Gaza must pay a bribe of $3,000 to get permission from Egypt to cross the border, two Palestinian brokers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Al Jazeera. The brokers said that they took a 20 percent cut of the bribe, sending 80 percent to the Egyptian soldier or officer who coordinated it.
Palestinian Researcher - The BDS Movement Has Had a Great Impact on the Israeli Economy
Palestinian Researcher and BDS Activist
Palestinian researcher, and BDS Activist, (Shadi Abu Oweimar) a member of the Turkish Association for Solidarity with the Palestinians, said in a recent TV interview:
"It is well known that the boycott campaign against the Zionist entity, which has existed since 2005 within Palestine, has had a great impact on the Israeli economy."
The interview aired on the Turkish Qanat TV channel on August 10.

PreOccupiedTerritory: Johnny Depp To Give Scarves To Palestinians To Use As Slingshots (satire)
Clu Liss, Depp’s publicist, explained that the the actor had come to the conclusion that donating the many additional scarves was the only way to mange his extensive collection. “Mr. Depp has no problem changing his outfit many times a day, and wearing several scarves at once – that, in fact, is his modus operandi under most circumstances,” she noted. “But even if he never wears the same scarf twice, he’ll never wear the many other scarves he has, some of which are duplicates anyway. It’s a win-win situation. The Palestinians get a large number of fashionable accessories with which to conduct their resistance, and Johnny Depp frees up space in his closets.”
Hollywood reporters and commentators drew a connection between the actor’s recent marriage troubles and his newfound interest in high-profile public interest work. “I don’t think it’s so much an effort at distracting people from his physical abuse of his wife as it is a way of escaping the confines of the moviemaking world, where nothing seems real anymore,” offered gossip columnist Gabby Van Slander. “If you ask me, I think he’s looking to inject some new meaning into his life, and devoting himself to a cause is an effective way of doing that.”
“I also rather suspect there’s something vicarious going on, since Palestinian violence is consistently the only kind that the world seems to approve of under all circumstances, and he’d love to get a piece of that action.”
Egyptian Philosopher - Islamic Fundamentalism Will Play a Role in the Destruction of USA

JCPA: The Islamic State – the Beginning of the End
Unless the Islamic State’s (IS) military chiefs devise a surprise strategy immediately, it appears today that the IS is doomed to defeat. Paraphrasing Winston Churchill’s words in his historic November 20, 1942, speech after the defeat of the Nazi army in El-Alamein, the latest defeats of the IS in Syria and Iraq are the most blatant signal “of the beginning of the end.”
At this moment, the IS is being attacked in a pincer movement both in Syria and Iraq:
Manbij and Jarablus. Beginning in August 2016, the IS lost in Syria to the Syrian Democratic Forces the strategic town of Manbij, northwest of Aleppo, commanding the IS’ last access to the Turkish border– a route for supplies, manpower, and equipment. The SDF is a Kurdish-Arab alliance dominated by Kurds, sponsored and advised by U.S. forces. The IS evacuated Manbij, the village of Jarablus, and the last outposts adjacent to the Turkish border, in the aftermath of the Turkish-Free Syrian Army military incursion in late August. As a result, beyond succumbing to superior forces, the IS has been cut off from its ultimate logistical support. The border with Turkey is sealed, and Erdogan’s Turkey has become a fierce adversary of the IS. Together with the anti-IS American-led coalition, Russia, and Iran, Turkey has vowed to defeat the IS.
Khamenei: Muslims should reconsider letting Saudis run Mecca pilgrimage
Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei renewed criticism of Saudi Arabia over how it runs the haj after a crush last year killed hundreds of pilgrims, and suggested Muslim countries think about ending Riyadh's control of the annual pilgrimage.
"Because of these (Saudi) rulers' oppressive behavior towards God's guests (pilgrims), the world of Islam must fundamentally reconsider the management of the two holy places and the issue of haj," Khamenei said in a message carried by his Website and Iran's state media.
"They must not let those rulers escape responsibility for the crimes they have caused throughout the world of Islam," Khamenei said, listing Saudi Arabia's involvement in conflicts in areas including Iraq, Yemen and Syria on the side of forces Iran opposes.
Custodian of Islam's most revered places in Mecca and Medina, Saudi Arabia stakes its reputation on organizing haj, one of the five pillars of Islam which every able-bodied Muslim who can afford to is obliged to undertake at least once.
Ahead of hajj, Iran accuses Saudis of ‘murdering’ pilgrims
Iran’s supreme leader on Monday said Saudi Arabian authorities “murdered” Muslim pilgrims who were injured during last year’s hajj stampede.
“The heartless and murderous Saudis locked up the injured with the dead in containers — instead of providing medical treatment and helping them or at least quenching their thirst. They murdered them,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a statement on his website marking the anniversary of the disaster. He offered no evidence to support the allegations.
The September 2015 stampede and crush of pilgrims killed at least 2,426 people, according to an Associated Press count. Tehran has said 464 of the dead were Iranian and blamed the catastrophe on Saudi mismanagement of the annual pilgrimage. Khamenei has also blamed Saudi Arabia for an earlier crane collapse in Mecca that killed 111 people.
The 2016 hajj is slated to begin later this week, with the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.
Arab Social Media Users On Hurricane Hermine: ‘Allah, Destroy Them’
Arab users take to Twitter wondering: Is it permitted to wish that Hurricane Hermine kills Americans?
Arab social media users around the world are using internet platforms to participate in a discussion on whether or not Islam permits them to pray that Hurricane Hermine will be deadly for Americans.
Hermine hit Florida as a Category 1 hurricane and has reportedly caused two deaths already as it creeps is way from the south up to the northeast, prompting one user, “Allah forgive me,” to write, “I pray that Allah will wear them out and make them disappear from the earth.”
In response, another user called Almahrooqi said “Our prophet was asked if it’s permitted to pray for bad to befall your enemy and the prophet answered: I was sent to be a source of mercy and not a source of malediction.”
The reply seemingly wasn’t enough for “Allah forgive me,” who responded in return, “First of all, may our prophet Muhammad receive all of Allah’s blessings. The prophet’s enemies were those who claimed that there was another God and that he should be followed. Today’s enemies are infidels who lie in wait to ambush Islam and Muslims and seek to harm them.”

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