Friday, November 03, 2017

From Ian:

Evelyn Gordon: Will Palestinian Reconciliation Reduce Hamas’ Cash Flow?
Of course, it will still have the money it gets from Iran, estimated at $60 million to $70 million this year, and that money will continue going straight to its military wing. But that’s still far below what it was spending on its military in 2014 when it was getting less money from a cash-strapped Tehran but had a steady stream of Gazan tax revenue to play with.

Hamas agreed to dismantle the checkpoints because both PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Egypt refused to accept a return to the status quo ante, demanding instead that the PA be given full control of Gaza. And they backed this demand with heavy financial pressure—the PA by ceasing its funding for Gaza, and Egypt by shuttering its border crossing for months on end.

The question is whether they have a plan for continuing to enforce this demand over the long term. After all, once Hamas is no longer responsible for Gaza’s civilian needs, it will no longer be vulnerable to that kind of financial pressure. And since the reconciliation didn’t require Hamas to disarm, it will continue to be the strongest military power in Gaza even after PA forces return to the borders. Thus, it’s not clear how anyone could stop it from using its guns to resume extorting taxes once it has gotten what it wants out of the deal, which is to stop being responsible for civilian affairs.

This matters because Hamas has shown no signs of losing its desire to fight Israel. Just last month, its new leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, declared, “The discussion is no longer about recognizing Israel but about wiping Israel out.” What has stopped it for the last three years hasn’t been lack of desire, but lack of capacity: Its arsenal of rockets and cross-border attack tunnels was depleted in the last war, in 2014, and another war won’t be practical until that arsenal is rebuilt. Thus, the more money Hamas has to spend on its military build-up, the sooner it will reach the point where it feels it can afford to start another war.

Hence if the PA, Egypt, and the international community want to avoid such a war, they must start thinking now about how to keep Hamas away from Gazan revenues if and when the reconciliation deal is fully implemented. For if Hamas is allowed to resume milking Gaza for cash to pour into its military wing, the next Gaza war will certainly be just a matter of time.
Palestinians: Meet Abbas's New Partners
Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders are strongly opposed to Mahmoud Abbas's political agenda and even see him as a collaborator with Israel.

Leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad announced at a rally on November 2 that they are determined to stick to their weapons "until the liberation of all of Palestine" -- or, in other words, until the total destruction of Israel and the elimination of Jews.

When Zahar says that only a "crazy person" thinks he can disarm Hamas and other armed groups in the Gaza Strip, he is clearly referring to Abbas. Zahar's statement should be seen as a direct threat to Abbas.

Abbas continues to tell the world that he is working to achieve a peaceful settlement with Israel. But will he be able to continue saying such things after he joins forces with his new partners in Hamas and Islamic Jihad? The answer is simple and clear: No.
Alan Baker: What goes for UNESCO goes also for the UN
The annual Israel-bashing parade of senseless resolutions undermines any credibility of the organization, and turns it into a willing tool for cynical manipulation and abuse by gangs of states plying their particular political interests – mostly against Israel.

Perhaps the straw that is breaking the camel’s back is an amazing, recent joint UN-Palestinian project for the years 2018-2022, the title of which conceals its true intentions: “UN Development Assistant Framework – State of Palestine.”

The UN has committed to channel no less than $1.3 billion into various UN agency signatories to the framework, in order to assist the Palestinian leadership in advancing its diplomatic warfare against Israel.

The project aims to finance “training, capacity-building and technical advice” with a view to assisting “Palestinian victims” to exploit international accountability mechanisms and to prosecute “Israeli violations of international law.”

In other words, the entire UN human-rights assistance machinery has now been formally and officially recruited and financed to streamline the harassment and persecution of Israel.

The question is when whether there are any serious and responsible states that, out of genuine concern for the organization, would be willing and prepared to demonstrate their frustration and disgust. This would entail taking the appropriate action of suspending their membership, their annual payments and substantive involvement until the organization corrects itself and returns to the original purposes and principles for which it was created.

Logic would assume that the US, Israel and the major European powers should now take decisive action to halt this deterioration.

First and foremost, they should each dock $1.3b. from their membership fees as a demonstration of their disgust at the UN’s official policy of Israel-bashing. What is good for UNESCO should be all the more relevant to the UN itself.

MEMRI: Palestinian Authority Chief Shari'a Justice, Advisor To Palestinian President 'Abbas, Speaks At 'Indo-Arab Solidarity Day'
In Hyderabad, India, Where Center 'In Memory Of Palestinian Martyrs' In City Is Announced; Other Dignitaries At Conference: Islamic State Was Created By The West; 'One Can Understand Why... Hitler Carried Out The Massacre Of Jews'

On October 29, 2017, a day-long conference called Indo-Arab Solidarity Day was held in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad by the Indo-Arab League, a non-governmental organization, to express solidarity with the Palestinians. Earlier, speaking to reporters on October 25, Indo-Arab League Chairman Syed Vicaruddin offered free land to Palestine to set up its consulate in Hyderabad. An Indo-Arab Cultural Centre in the Banjara Hills area of Hyderabad is already started; its foundation stone was laid by Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in 1997.

Vicaruddin, who received Palestine's Star of Jerusalem, its highest civilian award, in 2015 and is chief editor of the Urdu daily Rahnuma-e-Deccan, announced that the Indo-Arab Cultural Centre (also known as the Arafat Centre) will have a dedicated hall "in memory of Palestinian martyrs." In July this year, Vicaruddin was awarded a gold medal by the Palestinian government. Vicaruddin said that the Palestinian consulate will help strengthen "relations between India and Palestine and facilitate Muslims wanting to visit Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem."

The conference was attended by delegates from Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Palestine, and Yemen, among others. One of the key speakers on the occasion was Mahmoud Al-Habbash, Palestinian Authority chief shari'a justice and religious affairs advisor to Palestinian Authority President 'Abbas. Mohammad Mahmood Ali, deputy chief minister of India's Telangana state of which Hyderabad is the capital, was the chief guest. Others included Palestinian Ambassador Adnan Abu Alhaija, Jordanian Ambassador Hassan Mahmoud Mohammad Al-Jawarneh, Sudanese Ambassador Sirajuddin Hamid Yousif, Iraqi Ambassador Fakhri Hassan Al-Issa, Syrian Ambassador Riad Kamil Abbas, and Lebanese Ambassador Ghassan Abdelkhalek.

According to a report in the Urdu daily Roznama Urdu Times, Al-Habbash said: "Every Palestinian will continue the struggle till the complete freedom of Palestine. Those who started the movement for the freedom of Palestine took a pledge, while leaving this world, from the next generation that it will continue this struggle until the land of the first qibla [direction of prayer, i.e. Palestine] is purified of the impious existence of Jews. Yasser Arafat, Amin Al-Hussein, and many martyrs like them fought for the freedom of Palestine till the last breath of their lives."
Caroline Glick: America the laughingstock
The United States has a credibility problem. Put plainly, aside from Israel, no one in the Middle East appears to take the Americans seriously.

Let’s start with the Palestinians.

In the wake of last month’s unity deal concluded between US-backed Fatah and Iran-backed Hamas, US President Donald Trump’s special Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt announced, “Any Palestinian government must unambiguously and explicitly commit to nonviolence, recognize the State of Israel, accept previous agreements and obligations between the parties – including to disarm terrorists – and commit to peaceful negotiations.”

On Wednesday, the unity deal passed its first test of implementation.

Hamas permitted the US-funded, Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority to take charge of Gaza’s border crossings with Israel and Egypt. In exchange the PA is renewing its monthly payments to Hamas – underwritten by US taxpayers to the tune of nearly $500 million a year.

Greenblatt’s statement was stomped on by Fatah leaders. They have spent the better part of the past month attacking Britain for issuing the Balfour Declaration, which facilitated the establishment of a Jewish state in the Land of Israel a hundred years ago.

Clearly, the US’s “moderate” Fatah faction isn’t willing to recognize Israel. As for the terrorists from Hamas, they also spit in Greenblatt’s face.
JPost Editorial: Remembering Rabin
Many on the Left want the annual memorial of the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin to focus on the late prime minister’s political convictions and emphasize the dangers of incitement, particular of the right-wing variety.

Others, interested in appealing to a broader audience, want the event to be based on more common denominators such as Zionism and patriotism.

Clearly Darkenu and Commanders for Israel’s Security, the two groups organizing the main event at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv on Saturday night, adhere to the second, more inclusive approach. And this has raised the rancor of the Left.

We believe both positions are wrongheaded. Clearly, focusing solely on Rabin’s politics will prevent the annual memorial from becoming a national event celebrated by all walks of Israeli society. Over the past 22 years since his assassination, many of the assumptions underpinning the Oslo Accords have been discredited, particularly the belief that a moderate Palestinian political leadership would emerge in response to Israeli overtures. The 2005 evacuation of Jewish settlements from the Gaza Strip, which led to the rise of Hamas, has taught Israelis to be more skeptical of making territorial concessions.

Nor should Rabin’s assassination be used as a means of delegitimizing the entire Right or limiting free speech. A clear distinction must be made between violent actions and speech, even of the most despicable kinds. The former must be forbidden while the latter must be protected as essential to the functioning of any democracy.
Meretz, Once the Beating Heart of the Israeli Left, No Longer Considers Itself a Zionist Party
As teenagers, my friends and I disagreed on plenty, but never on whether Zionism itself was a virtue we ought to preserve. Even the most left-leaning among us took the idea of Jewish sovereignty in our historical homeland to be the rock on which all other political structures were necessarily built. To entertain the notion that our commitment to protecting the rights of the state’s non-Jewish citizens somehow meant denouncing our own rights and aspirations, our historical achievements and our ideological affinities, our passion, and our pride, would’ve been unthinkable to us, even at 14 or 15.

Even though I’ve traveled a long way from my first political home, I was still pained to see Meretz stumble into muddle-minded political correctness and continue to lose its way as it’s been doing for at least a decade now. Once a vibrant keeper of the oppositional flame, Meretz these days is feeble and confused, no longer able to observe the tensions that made it so valuable in the political landscape for so long.

How did this happen? The question has dogged Israeli politicians and pundits for years now and will continue to bedevil future historians studying the collapse of the Israeli left. The Palestinian leadership’s continuing commitment to terrorism probably has a lot to do with it, as does Meretz’s failure to propose policies that address the daily existential concerns of most Israelis. But listen to the party’s bosses these days, and the picture that emerges is grimmer; judging by its leaders’ inability to agree on what, precisely, are its core values, Meretz’s demise seems intricately connected with its decision, not uncommon among leftist movements worldwide these days, to see nationalism as necessarily evil and reject the nation-state for an imagined cosmic brotherhood which, like all fantastic abstractions, needn’t be bothered by facts on the ground.

And that’s a real pity; somewhere in Israel, there are teenagers just waking up to the world who could use an honest argument.
UN Secretary-General spokesperson defends UN $65 million anti-Israel lawfare deal
A UN spokesperson refused to distance Secretary-General Antonio Guterres from a UN deal with Palestinians to give eight UN agencies $65 million over the next five years to brand Israel a criminal enterprise and Israelis as war criminals.

The UN plan is part of a UN development assistance program with the Palestinian Authority known as a UN Development Assistance Program (UNDAF). In a news conference held on November 1, 2017, Secretary-General spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric was repeatedly asked to distance himself from the UNDAF deal. He refused to do so. On the contrary, he said, the agreement "is in line with overall UN policy on the Israel‑Palestine conflict."
Israeli tactics succeed in delaying hostile UNESCO resolution
A successful Israeli filibuster prevented the adoption of an anti-Israel resolution at UNESCO condemning Israel for the alleged mistreatment of Palestinian Authority residents, as well as its attacks in Syria and denying the connection between Jerusalem and the Jewish nation.

Israeli diplomats managed to find clauses in the UNESCO charter which would require individual votes of all 196 countries and since such votes would take hours, the chairman of the assembly deferred the discussion of the anti-Israel proposal to Friday.

Similar resolutions have been passed every year since 2009 with broad support. This time, however, rather than attempt to secure a majority against the proposed resolution, the Israeli delegation instead used procedural delay tactics to effectively filibuster the resolution.

The vote lasted hours before the committee chair ordered a postponement, delaying the vote by one day.
Why Bahrain Is Leading Gulf Arab Outreach to Israel
In recent weeks, the Kingdom of Bahrain has emerged as the Gulf Arab country most actively pursuing better relations with Israel, both for reasons of its own and, presumably, with the blessing of its principal benefactor, Saudi Arabia.

Quiet contacts have been maintained since at least 1994. In September, at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa expressed opposition to the ongoing Arab League economic boycott of Israel and said that citizens of Bahrain and Israel should feel free to visit each other's countries without restrictions.

If shared concerns about Iran's influence lie at the core of potential improved relations between Gulf Arab countries and Israel, Bahrain has a particular incentive to explore the possibilities since Iran has a history of claiming Bahrain as part of its own territory.

Moreover, Bahrain is almost certainly acting on behalf of Saudi Arabia and some of its other GCC allies in taking the lead in exploring the potential for dialogue with Israel. Nonetheless, without any significant progress on Palestinian issues, the political space for such a dialogue will remain limited.
Brother of French Jewish school shooter gets 20 years for terror ties
The older brother of a French jihadist who shot dead seven people in Toulouse in 2012, including three Jewish children, was given a 20-year jail sentence Thursday for being part of a terrorist conspiracy.

Abdelkader Merah was however cleared of having a direct hand in his brother Mohammed’s killing of three soldiers and terror attack on a Jewish school, where he gunned down a rabbi, two of the rabbi’s children, aged three and five, and an eight-year-old girl.

The trial was the first arising out of a wave of violence by mostly homegrown radical Islamists that has claimed the lives of more than 240 people in France in the past five years.

Mohammed Merah’s March 2012 terror attack on Ozar Hatorah school, which he carried out in the name of Al-Qaeda, was the deadliest on Jews in France in three decades.
In rare step, Israel says it will help Syrian Druze village fend off jihadists
In a highly unusual move, Israel on Friday said it would defend the Syrian Druze village Hader, hours after a terrorist killed nine people in a suicide bombing just across the border that then sparked clashes between Syrian government forces and rebels.

In a series of tweets, the army’s Arabic spokesman Avichay Adraee said the IDF is prepared to “support the village residents and work to prevent any harm or the occupation of the village, out of a commitment to the Druze population.”

The statement said top military brass on Friday morning were assessing the escalating situation across the border.

Earlier, Syrian state news agency SANA said a jihadist fighter detonated the bomb Friday morning on the outskirts of Hader, in the northern countryside of Quneitra near the Israeli border.

“A suicide bomber from Al-Nusra Front detonated a car bomb in the midst of the homes of citizens on the outskirts of Hader, killing nine people and injuring at least 23,” the agency said.

Al-Nusra Front is a now-changed name for a jihadist group that was formerly Al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria and is now known as the Fateh al-Sham Front.
Druze try to break into Syria from Israel, IDF brings them back
A number of Druze residents of the Israeli Golan Heights burst through the separation fence with Syria on Friday afternoon in order to reach the Druze village of Hader, where a jihadist killed nine people in a suicide bombing earlier in the day, the army said.

Israeli troops chased after the group of approximately 10 Druze men, who had made it dozens of meters past the border fence, and returned them, the military said.

Though they breached the fence, the men remained in Israeli territory, never crossing into Syria, the army said.

Dozens more rallied near the border fence, also threatening to cross into Syria in order to fight alongside their families and coreligionists.

“This behavior is a serious violation of the law, and a life-threatening act,” the IDF said in a statement.

“The IDF asks all civilians to refrain from approaching or crossing the fence. Events are [being] monitored and under [the] control of security forces,” the military said.
Poll: 68% of Israeli Jews want Jewish prayer on Temple Mount
Nearly three-quarters (72%) of Jewish Israelis think Israel should maintain its sovereignty over the Temple Mount in whatever diplomatic agreements it signs, a poll conducted for the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies and released this week found.

In addition, 68% think it is important for Jews to be allowed to pray on the Temple Mount, as opposed to the status quo, in which they may only visit and only Muslims can pray, while 32% said it was not important.

More than half (58%) of Jewish Israelis support the initiative by Intelligence Minister Israel Katz to turn Jerusalem and adjacent settlements in the Gush Etzion and Binyamin regions into a Greater Jerusalem under one municipality. Nearly a quarter (23%) disagreed.

An even greater number of respondents, 64%, said they believe Israel must control the entire Jerusalem “envelope” for security and ideological reasons, while 17% disagreed. In addition, 63% said that dividing the city and giving part of it to Arab control would be a “strategic irresponsibility” that would “endanger the future of the Jewish state,” while 23% disagreed.
The tomb that became a prison
John Lloyd Stephens, the first American tourist to document his travels in the Holy Land, visited Rachel's Tomb in 1835 and found it difficult to disguise his astonishment at the extent of the Jewish presence at the site. Stephens wrote a book about his journey ("Incidents of Travel in Egypt, Arabia Petraea, and the Holy Land") in which he commented on the tomb: "While youth and beauty have faded away, and the queens of the East have died and been forgotten ... year after year thousands of pilgrims are thronging to the supposed last resting place of a poor Hebrew woman."

Nearly two centuries later, almost nothing remains of the site that so impressed Stephens. The headstone that marked the place the matriarch Rachel was buried is no longer on the road. The small domed room, whose mysterious dimness used to be relieved by dozens of small lanterns, no longer exists either.

Today, Rachel's Tomb is surrounded by massive walls reminiscent of a military prison. The site projects alienation and foreignness, the opposite of the cures, comfort and mercy identified with Rachel that the crowds who visit the tomb seek to find there. The final resting place of the mother of the nation (the "mother of mothers," as the poet Rachel called her), no longer bears any resemblance to the site whose simplicity enthralled passersby and visitors over the generations.

The grand old olive tree that used to cast shade over the modest stone structure and was "like a guide to the building" has been uprooted, like the grave itself. "A low, square structure, topped by a dome, just like the picture in Grandma's prayer book, or the 'Oriental' painting on Grandpa's wall," author and educator Rachel Yanait Ben-Zvi described the place lovingly after she visited it at the beginning of the 20th century.
Terror tunnels and mudslinging
I let out a sigh on Tuesday morning. It wasn’t a sigh of relief. It was one of those sighs that replace words when it’s hard to find the right way to describe an emotional state.

I’d gone to sleep the previous night worrying that either Hamas or Islamic Jihad would carry out an immediate retaliation attack for the loss of at least seven terrorists, including two senior Islamic Jihad members, when Israel blew up an attack tunnel that crossed from the Gaza Strip to a point perilously close to communities on the Israeli side of the de facto border.

Following the attack, friends living close to Gaza had noted that they were preparing for a rough night. Not that any of us were sorry that the terrorists had been killed.

Local residents would spend far more sleepless nights if they thought that Israel wasn’t taking measures to detect and knock out the tunnels.

The dangers posed by these underground passageways are often underestimated.

They do not present an existential threat to Israel, but terrorists could use them to kill and maim civilians or abduct soldiers to hold as hostages.

While no one in Israel wants the situation to escalate, most people realize that you can’t just ignore the subterranean version of a ticking time bomb. Terrorist organizations do not invest so much money and effort into constructing these tunnels for fun. They are serious about using them.

Deadly serious.
Will MK Oren Hazan be put on international terror list?
Will MK Oren Hazan (Likud) be put on an international list of terrorists that includes Al Qaeda head Ayman al Zawahiri, Hamas Chief Khaled Meshaal and Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah?

The Palestinian Information Ministry has been lobbying various international bodies to include Hazan on the international terror list. If successful, Hazan's bank accounts can be frozen and his travel restricted.

According to a Channel 2 report, the Palestinian Authority demand stems from a Facebook post published by Hazan last month in which the MK wished for the death of Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas.

"Today, 58 years ago, the murderous terrorist organization Fatah was established," Hazan wrote, "Abu Jihad was assassinated in 1988. Abu Iyad was assassinated in 1991. Abu Sa'id, who was inducted in 1994. Abu Amar was transferred to a world that was all bad in 2004. Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) - already with one foot in the grave".
Navy implements smart sonar to battle Hamas naval commando
The Israeli Navy is currently implementing the "Simba", a mobile sonar for precise location in shallow waters, designed to quickly and precisely identify terrorist infiltrations into Israel by sea, mainly from the Gaza Strip.

Three and a half years since the last naval incursion into the Zikim Beach just north of the Gaza Strip during the Operation Protective Edge, the IDF estimates that Hamas' naval commando has improved dramatically and already includes hundreds of trained fighters equipped with advanced diving systems.

In light of the proven capabilities of Iron Dome against rockets, and against the backdrop of the underground anti-tunnel obstacle and its related technologies whose effectiveness were proven this earlier week in the destruction of the terror tunnel in the southern Gaza border, it is estimated that in the next confrontation Hamas will invest its efforts, apparently at the outset, in penetrating Israel by sea.

An underwater sensor system for initial warning of divers was deployed at the bottom of the border two years ago, but despite this, the soldiers of the 916th Ashdod navy patrol squadron were still forced to gear up for dozens of false alarms due to the sensor's imprecise identification.
Times of Israel hit by hack attack
The Times of Israel was subjected to a particularly pernicious hacking attack on Thursday.

We constantly work to improve security on the site, which is subjected to relentless attacks by hackers. On this occasion, they were able to breach our defenses.

The attack was apparently carried out by Turkish hackers affiliated with a group called Akincila / Cyber-Warrior, which is responsible for numerous hacks and DDoS attacks around the world. Israeli websites have frequently been targets in the past.

We continue to do our utmost to fend off attackers. We thank the many readers who contacted us to express their concern when the site was down.

“I assume it was not coincidental that this attack on The Times of Israel took place on the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, a foundational document for the State of Israel,” Times of Israel’s editor David Horovitz said.
Times of Israel hacked! Jerusalem Post’s confusing outdated website thwarts hackers (satire)
Israel’s Anglo community was rocked to its core yesterday after a team of Turkish Islamist hackers took down their website for much of the afternoon and evening, forcing its loyal readers to stop trolling each other in the comments section until well past 9 PM. Times of Israel spokesperson Danny C. explained.

“This Denial of Service attack really hit us unaware. I mean, how did they hack us?? Also….. I’m going to have to talk to the IT guys about changing the password to something stronger than “BibiSux“.

Without the outlet provided by the Times of Israel’s comments section, the nation’s Anglo Community were found wandering the streets of Beit Shemesh and other towns muttering to themselves and chiming in on the conversations of perfect strangers with their opinions. In addition, the nation’s literary guild held an emergency meeting after the hack left them unable to access the works of this incredibly talented guy who occasionally blogs for the Times. Finally, ardent fans of the Times writer Sarah Tuttle-Singer were forced to utilize an experimental content generator in order to get their fix of Sarah’s daily musings on deep-thinking cab drivers, Shuk anecdotes, the great hummus places of Ramle, Laphroaig, and some very very bad words about our current Prime Minister.

Yet with today’s tragedy also come tales of heroism. The Jerusalem Post’s Web Designers and IT Department are being hailed as modern-day Maccabees after their clunky and confusing web interface frustrated the hacker’s attempts to take down J-Post. The Daily Freier was able to speak via Skype to a hacker going by the name “Cenk”.
Islamic Jihad declares tunnel missing dead; toll rises to 12
The Islamic Jihad terror group announced Friday that another five of its members were killed when the IDF blew up an attack tunnel entering Israel from the Gaza Strip, bringing the total number of dead to 12.

Islamic Jihad said five more men who were in the tunnel when it was blown up, previously reported missing, were dead and it named them. Israel on Monday carried out a “controlled” explosion on the tunnel on the Israeli side of the border.

“We announce the death of five new heroes of the Jerusalem Brigades in Zionist bombing,” Islamic Jihad said in a statement, referring to its military wing.

Two of the 12 dead belonged to the militant wing of Hamas, the terror group that controls Gaza, with the other 10 from Islamic Jihad.
Palestinian Authority is unable to fight terror tunnels, official says
The Palestinian Authority does not have the ability to prevent Hamas or any of the other Gaza Strip-based terrorist groups from continuing to dig terror tunnels, senior PA officials told Israel Hayom on Thursday.

One senior PA official close to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told Israel Hayom that the "Palestinian reconciliation and the transfer of control [in Gaza] are on the declarative level only. In actuality, Hamas is in control on the ground in Gaza, and the PA's security apparatus currently has no ability to contend against it and against the other [armed] Palestinian factions, certainly not with regard to preventing digging new terror tunnels."

Moreover, the official stressed, the Palestinian Authority has no desire to exercise its authority in Gaza once control of the border crossings and civil affairs are transferred to the Palestinian unity government.

"What you in Israel and the United States do not understand is that we want to give this reconciliation a chance to succeed, even if not everything goes smoothly," he said. "Therefore we are not interested in a confrontation with Hamas, certainly not because of the tunnel issue. We will be able to restrain Hamas in Gaza just as it is restrained in the West Bank, but it is a lengthy process that will take time [to implement], and for the time being it is not in our interest or desire to prevent Hamas from continuing its security-related activity in the Gaza Strip."

A senior Palestinian security official told Israel Hayom that the PA's military presence in Gaza is minimal and completely uninvolved.
Israel denies request to recover Hamas terrorists’ bodies from tunnel
Israel on Thursday said that until there is progress toward releasing Israeli citizens and remains of IDF soldiers held in Gaza by Hamas, it will not allow the terror group to retrieve the bodies of terrorists thought to have been buried under rubble when the military destroyed a cross-border attack tunnel on Monday.

Hamas said it believes five bodies are still inside the tunnel near the Israeli border, which was being built by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group extending from the Gazan city of Khan Younis into Israeli territory, near Kibbutz Kissufim. The IDF blew up the tunnel in Israeli territory.

Hamas reportedly asked the International Committee of the Red Cross to coordinate with Israel to allow its men to enter the Gaza-Israel buffer security zone and search for the missing bodies within the tunnel.
Hamas rejects Israeli conditions for return of terrorists’ bodies
Hamas on Friday rejected conditions set by Israel that would allow the Gaza-based terrorist organization to retrieve the bodies of terrorists they believe are buried under the rubble of a cross-border tunnel destroyed by the IDF earlier this week.

On Thursday, the IDF said it would not allow the five bodies to be retrieved unless progress is made towards releasing the bodies of two slain IDF soldiers being held by Hamas since 2014.

Top Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar said the group “will not provide any information in exchange for locating those missing,” according to reports in Hebrew-language media. “As far as we are concerned, they are buried in their own country.”

The Justice Ministry on Friday backed the IDF’s position, saying in a legal brief that it wasn’t the “duty of the government to allow the terrorist organizations operating in Gaza to collect the bodies of its terrorists.”

Hamas says five bodies are still inside the tunnel that was under construction by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group under the Israeli border. The tunnel, which extended from the Gazan city of Khan Younis to the Israeli Kibbutz Kissufim, was blown up on the Israeli side of the border on Monday.
Islamic Jihad threatens Israel: Time is running out
In an apparent attempt at psychological warfare, Islamic Jihad's military wing posted a video message on its website on Thursday in which the terrorist organization threatened revenge against Israel for blowing up one of its underground terror tunnels.

Nine Islamic Jihad terrorists were killed in Monday's explosion. The number of fatalities is expected to rise as the number of bodies still under the rubble is unknown.

In the video, al-Quds Brigades' terrorists are seen placing rockets near tunnel openings and lying in wait for IDF troops engaged in construction work along the Gaza security fence. At the end of the video, an operative says in Hebrew, "Time is running out."

The video also contained footage of the funeral processions held for several of the operatives killed in the tunnel collapse.

After the IDF destroyed the tunnel in a controlled detonation, senior Islamic Jihad officials vowed to avenge the dead and said it was their right to retaliate. However, according to various reports, Egypt and Hamas have pressured the group to contain the incident so as not to risk a security escalation that could undermine reconciliation efforts between Hamas and Fatah.
Islamic Scholars Gather to Discuss Destroying Israel
Some 700 Islamic scholars gathered in Beirut, Lebanon this week to mark the centenary of the Balfour Declaration with a conference discussing the future of the movement to destroy Israel and featuring a message from Iranian leadership to attendees to keep fighting the "Zionist regime," Arab media reported on Wednesday.

This was the second meeting of a group called the "International Union of Resistance Scholars," attended by Shia and Sunni clerics of 80 countries, including the head of Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah, according to reports.

Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei, wrote a letter to the congress, urging, "all individuals, who feel the importance of this great responsibility [of freeing Palestine], to continue different methods of fighting against the usurper Zionist Regime."

"Without a doubt, scholarly elites, clerics, and politicians, as well as the officials of Muslim countries carry the heavier part of this responsibility; this is a sacred and well-ending Resistance," wrote Khamenei.

He called it a "holy fight" with certain victory promised against the "enemy Zionist entity."

Khamenei tweeted further thoughts about the conference with the hashtag, in Arabic, #ZionistEntity.
Iran violating 'more than just spirit' of nuclear agreement, report finds
While supporters of the 2015 nuclear deal tout Iran's compliance with the agreement, a report by the Middle East Media Research Institute states that "reality invalidates this claim."

According to the report released Thursday, Iran is violating the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – and "not just in spirit" – by refusing to allow International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors to monitor its nuclear program.

Moreover, the IAEA's claim that Iran is complying with the agreement is misleading, MEMRI said.

The inspections conducted by the agency take place only in sites to which Iran allows access, while other sites, including military ones, remain off limits, meaning Iran is refusing to allow monitoring of its activity as the agreement requires.

The report also accused the IAEA of "refusing to wield its authority by initiating inspections of military sites," despite being sanctioned by U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231 and statements by IAEA Director Yukiya Amano that he has the authority to do so.

Section T of the deal prohibits the Iranians from conducting "activities which could contribute to the development of a nuclear explosive device." Iran agreed to refrain from "designing, developing, fabricating, acquiring or using" nuclear device detonation and diagnostics systems.

These activities are only permissible if they are approved by the Joint Commission established to make sure the deal is implemented, and are "subject to monitoring." The absence of inspectors in military sites means sufficient monitoring is unlikely.
Ex-CIA operative to 'Post': EU must change Iran stance to avoid rash US steps
Former CIA operative and senior defense official Mary Beth Long said the European Union should stop slamming US President Donald Trump and stand with him against Iran’s missile tests and terrorism, if only to avoid seeing the US leader act out “rashly.”

In an interview with The Jerusalem Post, Long said of Trump’s decertification and public campaign against Iran, that she thought “the president is doing a great thing, leaving everyone guessing,” as to what his ultimate policy goal will be.

She hoped Trump would succeed at “scaring the bejesus out of the Europeans” into joining his pressure-Tehran strategy.

Long, a 12-year CIA field operative, said the guessing game as to whether Trump will ultimately scrap the deal or weigh military action “gives him time to go to the Europeans... to address the things that were left out [of the Iran nuclear deal] including missile testing, pushing the IAEA for more aggressive inspections of military sites and other bad behavior.”

Long, who is currently affiliated with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and involved in under-the-radar international consultations in alignment with the administration’s goals, said Trump has also left “Iran in a spin about what he will do next.”
The real scandal of the declassified Osama bin Laden trove implicates Obama and the CIA
The real scandal now seems to be how Obama and his CIA heads Leon Panetta, David Petraeus, John Brennan, and acting head Mike Morell released only what upheld and affirmed Obama’s tenuous theories about Iran. Had the U.S. public known about the Iranian leadership’s outreach and association with al Qaeda, even Democratic congressmen might have been far less willing to tolerate the trust which Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry placed in their Iranian counterparts. After all, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, the coordinating body for Iran’s security and defense policy, at a time when Iran was developing its al Qaeda outreach.

Indeed, the refusal to declassify documents not out of fear that sources and methods might be exposed but rather to enable the White House and State Department to avoid calibrating their own policy goals with reality and in pursuit of Obama and Kerry’s goals appear to be both an abuse of classification and textbook intelligence politicization.

It’s time to ask under oath and in public hearings what senior officials — including every former CIA director from the time bin Laden was killed — knew about the Iran-al Qaeda partnership, when they knew it, and why they believed they needed to cover up that information.

To purposely bury proof of an enemy’s culpability with a terrorist group, to leave that rogue regime with an industrial-scale nuclear program capable and enough centrifuges to build an arsenal, to provide billions of dollars in untraceable cash under the guise of sanctions relief and ransom payments, and to acquiesce with a nod and a wink to a no-inspections policy in the same military bases which sheltered al Qaeda operatives is, to put it mildly, policy malpractice.

Just as with the release of the bin Laden documents, truth should be the goal, not a liability. Indeed, there is no better foundation than reality for U.S. foreign and defense policy.
Family of Americans Imprisoned in Iran Press Trump Admin for More Direct Action
Family members and advocates for a father and son imprisoned in Iran are pressing the Trump administration to take urgent action and set up a separate humanitarian channel with Tehran to specifically negotiate the safe return of the pair.

Siamak and Baquer Namazi, a father and son who are citizens of both the United States and Iran, have been held for more than a year and a half in Iran's notorious Evin prison.

While the family members and those assisting them have generally applauded the Trump administration's public statements demanding the return of the Namazis and all Americans unjustly held in Iran, they believe that with 81-year-old Baquer Namazi's health failing, the time has come for more constructive and serious negotiations with Tehran.

Babak Namazi, Siamak’s brother and Baquer’s son, along with Jared Genser, the Namazi's attorney, are in Washington, D.C. this week for high-level meetings at the White House and State Department. They met with Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan on Wednesday, and on Thursday planned to sit-down with Dina Powell, Trump's deputy national adviser, at the White House.

"Every second that goes by and they are still where they are is a second delayed," Babak Namazi told reporters Thursday before the White House meeting. "My desperation every day is growing exponentially. This is beyond description what my family is going through. We just really hope that this nightmare can end soon."
MEMRI: Pakistani Lawmaker Capt. Safdar To National Assembly: Ahmadi Muslims Working For Israel, Ahmadi Faith 'A Plant Planted By Israel And The British Crown' – 'In Their False Religion, There Is No Concept Of Jihad'
Speaking in the National Assembly of Pakistan on October 10, 2017, Pakistani lawmaker Capt. (ret.) Muhammad Safdar delivered a speech against Ahmadi Muslims. Pakistan declared the Ahmadi Muslim community non-Muslim in 1974, engendering its persecution.

In his speech, Safdar said that the Ahmadi Muslims had been agents of Israel since the Arab-Israeli war, possibly a reference to Israel's war of independence in 1948. The Middle East Media Research Institute has recently published a series of reports highlighting the growing anti-Ahmadi Muslim sentiment in Pakistan; the community is pejoratively dismissed as Qadiani by Islamic clerics.[1]

Safdar, a son-in-law of former Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif, belongs to the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) party that governs Pakistan as well as the influential state of Punjab. Given below are excerpts from his speech to the National Assembly.

Safdar began by disparaging Dr. Abdus Salam, an Ahmadi Muslim from Pakistan who was awarded the Nobel Prize for his work in theoretical physics:

"Quaid-e-Azam University's physics department [is] named after [Ahmadi Muslim Nobel Laureate in physics] Dr. Abdus Salam. That person is a controversial figure [and] has been declared an infidel by the 1973 constitution. We will not like any such institution in Pakistan to be associated with him...

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