Monday, February 05, 2018

From Ian:

US envoy: Hamas squandering Iran's 'blood money' on terror
American envoy Jason Greenblatt lashed out at Iran and at Hamas on Sunday over their efforts to destabilize the Middle East.

"Hamas should be improving the lives of those it purports to govern, but instead chooses to increase violence and cause misery for the people of Gaza," U.S. President Donald Trump's Special Representative for International Negotiations tweeted Sunday.

The tweet included a link to a Jerusalem Post article about a recently foiled effort by Hamas to smuggle large amounts of explosives disguised as medical supplies into the Gaza Strip.

"Imagine what the people of Gaza could do with the $100 million Iran gives Hamas annually that Hamas uses for weapons and tunnels to attack Israel!" Greenblatt tweeted.

He also demanded that Hamas return the remains of two Israeli soldiers – Lt. Hadar Goldin and Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul – that the organization has been holding in Gaza since Operation Protective Edge in mid-2014. As well as the bodies of the two soldiers, Hamas is believed to be holding three Israeli civilians who crossed into Gaza voluntarily.

"Hamas must also permit the release of Israeli civilians Avraham Abera Mengistu, Hisham al-Sayed and Juma Ibrahim Abu Ghanima," Greenblatt tweeted.

PMW: Fatah celebrates murder of “126 Zionists”
Fatah's Bethlehem branch honored terrorist Raed Al-Karmi who was responsible for the murders of 9 Israelis during the PA's terror campaign, 2000-2005 (the second Intifada). In several posts on Facebook, Fatah posted photos of the terrorist wearing a military uniform and brandishing assault rifles. The photo above was posted with text in which Fatah highlights "the killing of more than 126 Zionists," and refers to the many murders of Israelis during the terror campaign:

Posted text: "Raed Al-Karmi, a commander of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades (i.e., Fatah's military wing) who prevented the settlers from moving around.

When Raed Al-Karmi died as a Martyr (Shahid), the response to his assassination was the killing of more than 126 Zionists and the wounding of many of them by bullets of the Raed Al-Karmi squads of the Fatah Movement Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades
Praise to the Martyrs who are more precious than all of us together"
[Facebook page of the Fatah Movement - Bethlehem Branch, Jan. 14, 2018]

Posted text: "Tomorrow, Jan. 14 [2018], is the anniversary of the death as a Martyr of the eagle of the [Al-Aqsa Martyrs'] Brigades, Raed Sa'id Al-Karmi May Allah wrap his soul in thousands of mercies Master of the quick response"
[Facebook page of the Fatah Movement - Bethlehem Branch, Jan. 13, 2018]

In another post glorifying Al-Karmi, Fatah also honored two of the planners of the Olympic massacre of Israeli athletes in Munich in 1972:

The image shows terrorists Salah Khalaf and Fakhri Al-Omari of the Black September terror organization that murdered 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972, and Raed Al-Karmi, and Hayel Abd Al-Hamid (clockwise from the top). Al-Karmi is carrying an assault rifle.
JPost Editorial: New Egyptian era
It is no secret that new and surprising alliances have been formed between Israel and a number of Arab states in the region.

Iran has been killing Arab Sunnis and taking control of their land in Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and Iraq. Islamic State and other proponents of political Islam have posed a threat to regimes in Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt, to name a few.

Israel, with its military capabilities, extensive intelligence and advanced technologies, is viewed by many Arab regimes in the region as an important and perhaps even an essential ally in the fight against Islamists, whether they be Sunnis or Shi’ites.

The New York Times revealed yet another example of how Israel has proven to be critical to continued regional stability. According a report published over the weekend, for more than two years, unmarked Israeli drones, helicopters and jets have been carrying out clandestine attacks – over 100 of them – against Islamists operating in Sinai, in full coordination with Egypt’s military regime headed by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

The cooperation serves both Egyptian and Israeli interests, according to the Times report. For Egypt, the Israeli military involvement is critical for the successful fight against Ansar Beit al-Maqdis and other Islamist terrorist groups operating in the Sinai.

Before Israel’s reported involvement, it seemed that Egypt was losing the battle. On July 1, 2015, Islamists briefly captured control of the northern Sinai town Sheikh Zuweid. In October of the same year, the terrorists shot down a Russian charter jet, killing all 224 people aboard. The air strikes – which according to the report, Israel launched at the end of 2015 – tipped the tide in favor of the Egyptians, say American sources quoted by the Times.

Israel, meanwhile, has a vested interest in ensuring that Islamists are prevented from taking control of Sinai, which is located on Israel’s southern border.

Israeli Father of Four Killed in West Bank Stabbing Attack
An Israeli man was stabbed to death on Monday afternoon in a terrorist attack at a hitchhiking post at an entrance to the West Bank city of Ariel.

The Palestinian assailant was able to flee the scene, despite being pursued by an IDF officer.

Israeli troops began conducting searches in the area in an effort to track down the attacker.

Later on Monday, the fatality was identified as Itamar Ben Gal, a 29-year-old married father of four from Har Bracha.

Ben Gal, who was a teacher, will be laid to rest on Tuesday morning.

At a Likud faction meeting on Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his condolences to Ben Gal’s family and vowed to bring the perpetrator of the attack to justice.
Danon: UN Security Council should condemn Ariel attack
Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon called on the Security Council to condemn today’s terror attack in Ariel, Israel.

“The Palestinian leadership must be held accountable for today’s horrific murder in Israel. This terror attack is the direct result of incitement and payments to terrorists by the Palestinian Authority,” Ambassador Danon said.

“Instead of inviting Mahmoud Abbas to address the Security Council to disseminate lies and hate, the Council should unequivocally condemn this attack and demand that he stop paying stipends to terrorists,” the Ambassador concluded.

The attack transpired when the terrorist approached a popular hitchhikers spot at the entrance to the city and stabbed the victim before fleeing the scene.

An IDF officer at the scene who identified the terrorist began chasing him in his car, even hitting him, but the terrorist still managed to get into a vehicle and escape.

29-year-old Itamar Ben-Gal of the Samaria community of Har Bracha was murdered in the attack.
Hamas: Ariel attack a response to Trump’s Jerusalem declaration
The Hamas terror group said a stabbing attack that killed 29-year-old Itamar Ben-Gal in the northern West Bank on Monday was an act of resistance to US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

“Hamas welcomes such successful operations,” the terror group’s spokesman Abdel Latif Qanu said in a statement.”We wish the perpetrators and the resistance men in the West Bank all safety.”

The Ynet news site quoted a second Hamas spokesman who said that the attack demonstrated “the intifada is continuing.”

The Hamas spokesman also called for an end to security coordination between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Islamic Jihad and two other Palestinian terror groups in the Gaza Strip also applauded the stabbing attack, and called on Palestinians to step up their “resistance” against Israel.

The victim was identified as Itamar Ben Gal, 29, from the settlement of Har Bracha. The father of four was a rabbi and teacher in the northern West Bank community.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the terror attack and vowed that Israel would capture the perpetrator, who fled the scene.
Yisrael Medad: Thank You Anshel, Thank You Haaretz
Truth will out.
Forget religion.
Forget history.
Forget archaeology.
Forget international law.

Anshel Pffefer of Haaretz explains, on the background of ISIS in Sinai, why Israel must retain control of Judea and Samaria:

Airstrikes alone, no matter who carries them out, are not enough to wipe out ISIS in Sinai. Before ISIS came along, the original group, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, was a local insurgency made up of disgruntled members of local Bedouin tribes, reinforced by Islamists who had fled Cairo and other cities. They are fighting on home turf, among their own people; they know how to blend into the villages and mountains.The Egyptian army...[is] not equipped and trained to fight an asymmetrical battle in terrain where they are regarded by many as foreign occupiers...The army barely manages to control the main coastal road and at night the soldiers cower in their armored vehicles.

By the end of 2016, airstrikes had decimated ISIS’ fighters; they were down to about 300 men and their leader was killed. But the Egyptian army failed to pursue its advantage on the ground...Just as in last year’s battles of Mosul and Raqqa it took a ground force to finally rout ISIS from its main strongholds, so too Israeli air support and aid from the U.S. and other Western states will not be enough to defeat Wiliyat Sinai unless Egypt’s own forces begin pursuing the insurgents on the ground.

Air control insufficient. Ground control paramount. So simple.

Oh, and one really not need to forget religion, history, archaeology and international law. Or other elements justifying Israel's continued control over Judea and Samaria.
US and Argentina to work together to drain Hezbollah of funding
The United States and Argentina are to work together more closely to cut off Lebanese Hezbollah’s funding networks in Latin America, both nations’ top diplomats said Sunday.

Argentina has a large Lebanese expatriate population and US authorities suspect groups within it of raising funds through organized crime to support the Iranian-backed terror movement.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was in Buenos Aires for talks with his Argentinian counterpart Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie, and afterward they confirmed that the issue had come up.

“With respect to Hezbollah, we also did speak today in our discussion about all of the region about how we must all jointly go after these transnational criminal organizations — narcotics trafficking, human trafficking, smuggling, money laundering — because we see the connections to terrorist financing organizations as well,” Tillerson said.

“And we did specifically discuss the presence of Lebanese Hezbollah in this hemisphere, which is raising funds, obviously, to support its terrorist activities.

“So it is something that we jointly agree we need to attack and eliminate,” Tillerson said.
PM: We expect countries to be truthful about the Holocaust, including Poland
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday stressed the importance of accurately portraying the Nazi genocide of the Jewish people during World War II, subtly admonishing Warsaw for advancing a law that would criminalize accusing the Polish nation of complicity in Nazi crimes.

“The truth about the Holocaust must always be studied, it must always be remembered,” he told foreign diplomats at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem. “Israel works closely with our partners around the world to defend and to reveal the truth about the Holocaust. We expect to do that with every country, including Poland.”

Future generations must internalize the lesson of the Holocaust, Netanyahu said. “I think the most important lesson for all humanity is that hatred, extreme ideologies — these must always be confronted early, when there is time to nip them in the bud.”

“We Jews have learned to believe our enemies when they call for our annihilation. We learned that we must be able to defend ourselves by ourselves against any potential threat. The State of Israel not only has internalized these lessons, we practice it,” he said in apparent reference to Israel’s current arch-foe Iran, which sponsors terror groups and has repeatedly called for Israel’s destruction .

Israel extends its hand in peace to all its neighbors, he added. “But we are forever conscious of the danger to us, and to the rest of mankind, of those who want to exterminate us. Ultimately, they exterminate the world we all want to keep and cherish.”

Netanyahu was speaking at ceremony honoring foreign diplomats who saved Jews during World War II.
In first, Germany to compensate 25,000 Algerian Jewish Holocaust survivors
The German government has agreed to recognize some 25,000 Jewish Algerians as Holocaust survivors eligible for compensation, and they will be able to apply for a one-time grant later this year, a survivors rights organization announced Monday.

Jews who lived in Algeria between July 1940 and November 1942, and who suffered at the hands of the Nazis, will be eligible for the one-time payment of €2,556.46 ($3,183), said the Conference on Material Claims Against Germany, an international Jewish group that distributes Holocaust compensation funds on behalf of the German government.

“This is a long overdue recognition for a large group of Jews in Algeria who suffered anti-Jewish measures by Nazi allies like the Vichy Regime,” said Greg Schneider, executive vice president of the Claims Conference. “The Vichy government subjected these people to restrictions on education, political life, participation in civil society and employment, abolishing French citizenship and singling them out only because they were Jews.”

The French Vichy regime ruled parts of France and the French colonies between 1940 and 1944 and collaborated with the Nazi German occupiers.

Negotiations between the Claims Conference and the German government over recognition of the Algerian survivors began in August 2017.
BESA: U.S. National Security Strategy Converges with Israeli Viewpoints
The new U.S. National Security Strategy (NSS) document on the Middle East, released in December, recognizes that an unfavorable balance of regional power in the Middle East adversely affects U.S. interests. The document cautions that disengagement from the Middle East will not shield the U.S. from a spillover of the region's problems.

The priority actions outlined in the NSS center around retaining an American military presence, shoring up partnerships, sustaining Iraq's independence, seeking a settlement of the Syrian civil war, denying Iran its nuclear and regional aspirations, and promoting an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.

The NSS makes clear that the U.S. is not disengaging from the Middle East. It breaks from the previous administration's perception of Iran as part of the solution to regional instability, instead squarely defining Tehran as a major contributor to the region's problems. American leadership is working to contain and roll back Iran's malign influence and nuclear ambitions. This is a primary Israeli interest.

The convergence of views regarding Iran increases the potential for U.S.-Israel dialogue and the coordination of efforts to counter malign Iranian activities in the Middle East. Gone are the assumptions that support for Israel comes with high costs from the Arab world and that resolving the Palestinian conflict is key to improving U.S. standing in the region.
Bidding farewell to a failed paradigm
Last week's Institute for National Security Studies Conference was impressive by any international standard. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict was of course a major topic of discussion, though no breakthrough idea was presented beyond the land distribution paradigm.

The most pertinent remark came from panelist and New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, who asked how it could be that a country as creative as Israel has not come up with a more innovative idea for solving the conflict beyond repeating its desire to separate from the Palestinians.

Professor Yariv Marmor of the Technion, the Israel Institute of Technology, taught me that to think outside the box, you need first to be familiar with the box, and with the lid in particular.

Four assumptions keep the lid on the box, and have been kept there by every American administration since the Clinton era:
1. The solution to the conflict must be geographically confined to the territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.
2. The solution demands the establishment of a fully sovereign Palestinian state.
3. The border should be based on the 1967 borders, with minor corrections.
4. The West Bank and the Gaza Strip must be one political entity.

These assumptions leave no room for negotiation and can only result in a dead end in talks.
David Singer: Trump Credits Senate Bipartisanship for Jerusalem Declaration
President Trump’s State of the Union address was mainly met in stony silence by the Democrats as their Republican rivals continually jumped to their feet to loudly applaud the President’s many achievements at home and overseas during the past twelve months.

Sustained Republican applause greeted Trump’s statement:
“Last month, I also took an action endorsed unanimously by the U.S. Senate just months before. I recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”

Yet the Democrats chose not to stand and applaud this special moment that was theirs as much as the Republicans, President Trump unreservedly acknowledging the Senate’s pivotal role in his historic Jerusalem Declaration.
PLO Calls for New Offensive Against Israel at UN, ICC
The Palestinian Authority (PA) intends to go on an offensive against Israel at the United Nations and the International Criminal Court (ICC), according to a report by Al Jazeera.

Following a meeting of the executive committee of the Palestinian Liberation Organization Saturday night, the group has stated that Palestinians must “begin devising plans to disengage from the Israeli occupation authorities at the political, security, economic and administrative levels…”

The Palestinian news agency Wafa reports that the PLO’s executive committee seeks to “suspend recognition of Israel until the latter recognizes the State of Palestine on the 1967 borders, repeals the decision to annex East Jerusalem and halts settlement activities.”

In a threat to halt ongoing security cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the PLO executive committee called on the Palestinian Authority to “define security relations between the Palestinians and the Israeli occupation.”
Slovenia Postpones Vote on Recognition of Palestinian Statehood
Slovenia has postponed a controversial vote on recognizing Palestinian statehood.

Slovenia’s STA press agency reported that the parliament’s Foreign Policy Committee suspended a session on the recognition of Palestinian statehood on Wednesday, pending an official government position on the issue. Foreign Minister Karl Erjavec said that the government will likely discuss the issue next week.

Earlier this month, Erjavec said that Slovenian recognition would “strengthen Palestine’s negotiation in the Middle East peace process.”

Israel has urged Slovenia against recognizing Palestinian statehood. According to Israel’s Channel 10, Israeli Ambassador to Slovenia Eyal Sila warned Speaker of the Slovenian Parliament Milan Brglez and the chair of the Foreign Policy Committee Jozef Horvat against the move.

While Sweden is currently the only country to recognize Palestinian statehood since joining the European Union, several Eastern European countries – Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Romania – all recognized Palestine as a state before joining the EU, as well as Malta and Cyprus.
Turkish president meets with Pope Francis to discuss Jerusalem
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with Pope Francis in Rome on Sunday for talks that were expected to center on Jerusalem and U.S. President Donald Trump's official recognition of the city as the capital of Israel.

Erdogan's visit is the first to the Vatican by a Turkish president in 59 years.

Erdogan clashed with the pope in 2015, when Francis became the first head of the Roman Catholic Church to publicly label the 1915 killing of as many as 1.5 million Armenians "genocide" – something Turkey has categorically denied.

But the two men have found common ground over Jerusalem, speaking by phone after Trump made his announcement in December and agreeing that any change to the city's status should be avoided.

Before leaving Turkey, Erdogan said the U.S. had isolated itself with its stance on Jerusalem, saying it was "alone" in recognizing it as Israel's capital. Palestinians were outraged by Trump's Dec. 6 declaration as they envision east Jerusalem as the future capital of a Palestinian state.

Speaking to reporters in Istanbul, Erdogan called for the recognition of Jerusalem "as the capital of Palestine," saying, "This is the point that is to be reached. We are now working for this."
'Jerusalem will soon be 50% Arab'
Will the capital of the Jewish state have an Arab majority in the near future?

Israel’s National Security Council is weighing various options for preserving Jerusalem’s shrinking Jewish majority, as experts warn that an ongoing flood of Arab migration into the city from the Palestinian Authority will completely reshape the demographic balance in the holy city.

Jews have constituted a majority of Jerusalem’s population going back at least to the 19th century. In 1944, as the Second World War raged on and a full four years before Israel achieved independence, Jews made up about 62% of the city’s total population.

Following the city’s reunification under Israeli sovereignty in 1967, three out of every four Jerusalemites were Jewish.

Over the past half century, however, the demographic balance in the Israeli capital has shifted dramatically, with a net Jewish migration out of the city and Arab migration into Jerusalem.

While Jews made up 72% of the city’s population in 1980 and 68% in 2000, over the past fifteen years, the demographic shift has accelerated dramatically. Despite the city’s large Orthodox Jewish population and relatively high fertility rate, from 2000 to 2015, the Jewish population increased by just 17%, due to the net migration of Jews out of the city as housing prices there skyrocketed.

According to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, the city’s Jewish majority fell to just 61% in 2015. Senior Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs researcher Nadav Shragai warns that since 2015, that figure has fallen even further, dropping below 60%.
Israeli Navy on high alert over upgraded Hamas underwater terror threat
As the war drums beat on Israel’s southern front, Israel’s navy sees an increased threat from the serious developments by Hamas in the underwater domain.

“Hamas sees potential in the sea like they saw potential in their tunnels,” a senior Naval officer said on Monday.

Israel’s Navy has in recent years understood that sea-based terror attacks can also come from under the water, a threat that has grown since the last conflict with Hamas in 2014.

During Operation Protective Edge, five Hamas frogmen (naval commandos) tried to infiltrate Kibbutz Zikim before they were engaged and killed by the IDF. In the last three years since the conflict Hamas has significantly expanded their naval commando unit with a reported 1,500 frogmen.

Since 2014 Israel has foiled multiple attempts to smuggle wetsuits and other gear into the Hamas-controlled enclave but officials are still concerned that the group has gotten their hands on technology such as underwater "scooters" which can bring the commandos further out to sea in order to attack Israeli interests.
Report: Hezbollah to store weapons at sites Israel won't strike
Shiite terrorist group Hezbollah has recently purchased over 100 acres of land adjacent to Lebanon's Chouf Mountains for the purpose of storing missiles and weapons it has amassed with Iranian and Syrian assistance in special fortified compounds there, according to a report in Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Jarida on Sunday.

Senior Arab officials told the newspaper the lands purchased by Hezbollah are located in an overwhelmingly Druze area of Lebanon, which Hezbollah believes the Israel Air Force would be wary of attacking.

According to U.N. Resolution 1701, passed in 2006, Hezbollah is prohibited from engaging in any type of military activity south of the Litani River, including storing ammunition in the Shiite villages its controls in the country's south. The Chouf Mountains are north of the river and so technically the weapons buildup there is not in violation of the resolution.

In recent years, Israel has avoided attacking Hezbollah weapons convoys inside Lebanon so as not to provide the organization with an excuse to attack Israel.

The newspaper also reported that,during their most recent meeting in Moscow, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked Russian President Vladmir Putin to relay a message to Hezbollah and Iran that Israel would not allow Iran to establish itself militarily in southern Lebanon near the border or construct missile factories and weapons storage sites north or south of the Litani River.
Liberman: There’s no humanitarian crisis in Gaza, we won’t ‘spend a penny’
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman declared on Monday that there was no humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and rejected news reports signaling Israel could send direct aid to the coastal enclave to prevent mounting economic woes from triggering full-out war.

Opposition leaders, meanwhile, were calling on the Israeli government to immediately intervene in Gaza.

“The situation in Gaza is indeed difficult,” conceded Liberman at the weekly meeting of his Yisrael Beytenu faction in the Knesset, and the economic situation “must be dealt with.”

“But there is no humanitarian crisis,” he added, emphasizing that he was speaking on behalf of the entire defense establishment, including COGAT, the Defense Ministry agency that administers the crossings into Gaza; and the Shin Bet security agency.

Israel will not impede any internationally funded projects designed to improve the quality of life for Gazans, said Liberman. But, he added, “We will not spend a penny from the Israeli budget. I refuse to allow any penny of Israeli tax money to go to the Strip. There are enough wealthy Arab countries.”
IsraellyCool: Today’s Blood Libel: The Case of the ‘Detained’ Palestinian Child
A number of Israel hate sites are disseminating the following video and caption

Yesterday, more than a dozen of heavily armed #Israeli Occupiers surrounded a little #Palestinian boy and detained him with his father in Occupied Hebron.

Although they can’t seem to make up their mind whether it is from yesterday (like the above), or today

Leaving the inconsistent dates aside for a second, note that the video merely shows a boy very casually standing near some soldiers, before sitting next to an adult (perhaps his father). There is no suggestion he is being detained or is there against his will. In fact, his whole demeanor is that of a very relaxed child – he certainly does not seem at all afraid of the soldiers, who themselves seem almost indifferent to his presence.

Not only that, but there is no report of IDF soldiers detaining a small child in Hebron – if it did happen, you can be sure a whole host of anti-Israel sites would be all over the story.
Palestinians slam Jerusalem move to end tax breaks on churches, UN properties
Palestinians on Sunday strongly denounced an Israeli decision to collect taxes from churches and United Nations agencies in Jerusalem, saying the move was aimed at “emptying” the city of its Arab residents and Christian holy sites.

Some Palestinian officials even went as far as linking the decision to US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

“This is a new aggression against our occupied capital, Jerusalem,” said Yusef Al-Mahmoud, spokesperson for the Palestinian Authority government in Ramallah. “The decision is designed to further strangulate our people [in Jerusalem] to fulfill the occupation authorities’ illusions of displacing them.”

The Jerusalem municipality has handed out fines totaling millions of dollars to properties owned by the UN and by churches, citing a new legal opinion that says the properties are not legally defined as places of worship and therefore aren’t entitled to exemptions from the property tax.

The municipality said on Sunday that it has started collecting over NIS 650 million ($188 million) from some 887 properties in Jerusalem belonging to various churches and UN agencies.
Former PA intel chief files complaint against security forces, phone companies
Former Palestinian Authority intelligence chief Tawfik Tirawi has filed a complaint with the authority’s Attorney-General Ahmad Barak against PA security forces and two Palestinian telecommunications companies for allegedly wiretapping his cellphones.

“I submitted a complaint against them on January 29, 2018 for spying on and listening into my phone calls,” Tirawi told The Jerusalem Post on Monday in a phone call.

According to Farid Atrash, a Palestinian lawyer who works on human rights issues, PA law states that authorities can wiretap Palestinians only after a court has granted them such power.

Tirawi said the security services have no reason to wiretap his phone and have not received legal permission to undertake such a measure.

“What they are doing is a violation of the law,” he said.
MEMRI: Article In Hamas Mouthpiece Calls To Expand Arena Of Fighting With Israel To Include Its Interests Abroad
In a January 21, 2018 article in Hamas's mouthpiece Al-Risala, 'Imad Al-'Afana, journalist and former secretary general of Hamas's faction in the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), calls on the movement to expand its target bank and its arena of operations in its fight with Israel. He wrote that the balance of deterrence that long existed between Israel and Hamas has collapsed because Hamas has stopped responding with sufficient force to offensive action by Israel, such as the bombing of Hamas tunnels and facilities and the attempted targeted killing of its operatives. He added that, in order to restore the balance of deterrence, Hamas must change its mode of operation, which has become predictable, and respond to Israeli attacks in unexpected ways, including by attacking Israeli targets abroad and by "moving the conflict into the enemy's territory and the into heart of its bases, settlements and airports – not only on the Gaza border but in the Zionist rear."
The following are excerpts from his article:

"Almost all observers agree that the occupation has long since begun its fourth war in Gaza, but without declaring it. Over the past few months, those who are following the matter have counted some 40 enemy attacks on resistance individuals, sites, and resources in the Gaza Strip. [This war] did not begin with the crime of the assassination of the martyr Mazen Fuqaha, carried out by the agents [of the enemy]... which was just like the crime of the assassination of Al-Mabhouh in the UAE. [These crimes] arouse fears that the enemy is repeating similar scenarios in other arenas, in order to assassinate commanders of the resistance without raising a hue and cry. [This is also] exactly what happened with the assassination attempt several days ago against Hamas activist Abu Hamza Hamdan, whose car was blown up in Sidon. [And the war will] not end with the enemy's official declaration, in a military communique, of war against resistance sites, manifest in blowing up the strategic tunnels in eastern Rafah, which, it claimed, passed under the Sufa border crossing, nor its declaration of the existence of additional tunnels whose destruction, one after the other, it would announce.

"The period between these two incidents was rife [with attacks, such as] the attack on the Islamic Jihad tunnel late last year, the attack in late November and late December on important sites, resources, and strategic surprises [for the enemy that had been prepared by Hamas's 'Izz Al-Din] Al-Qassam brigades.
Egyptian MP calls for scrapping ‘shameful’ peace deal with Israel
An Egyptian MP called for revoking his country’s “shameful” peace deal with Israel and accused Israelis of “sucking the blood of the children.”

“We will never be cured unless we abolish that shameful agreement,” Nashwa Al-Dib said in a TV debate last month, according to a translation Monday from the Middle East Media Research Institute.

“We have been demanding this for a long time now. All the Egyptians and all the Arabs oppose the Zionist entity,” she added.

Al-Dib said Egyptian children must be raised to know “our number one enemy is the Zionist entity.”

“Our schoolbooks should go back to referring to it as the ‘Zionist entity,’ and not as the ‘Hebrew state,’ and so on and so forth,” she said.

“They must use these terms in order to teach our children that this entity is a plunderer of the land, the honor, the holy places, and the resources, and that they have been sucking the blood of the children.”

She also accused Israel of “killing our martyrs, our children, our youth, and our mothers for many years.”
Egypt's War against the Gaza Tunnels
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi's uncompromising war on terrorism, especially along the border with the Gaza Strip, seems to be bearing fruit. Egypt says the closing down of the tunnels is part of a crackdown against Islamist militants in the Sinai Peninsula and their supporters in the Palestinian territory of Gaza Strip. As a result of this war, which began in 2013, shortly after el-Sisi came to power, with the destruction of hundreds of smuggling tunnels along the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, Hamas and other armed groups are now more isolated than ever.

President el-Sisi has shown real determination in his war to drain the swamps of terrorists. The tough measures he has taken along the border with the Gaza Strip have proven to be effective.

The destruction of these tunnels will be a major counter-terrorism move, reducing the motivation and capability of Hamas to initiate new offensive from Gaza Strip against Israel. Reliance on the tunnels seems to have progressively declined, and Hamas has also been unable to acquire more weapons and ammunition, owing to the ongoing Egyptian campaign to eliminate the tunnels.
At least 20 dead in suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria
At least 20 people were killed in a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria late Sunday night, Arab news outlets reported Monday.

Syrian human rights organizations told The Associated Press just before midnight Sunday that the rebel-held town of Saraqeb (Saraqib) in Syria’s Idlib province near the border with Turkey was subjected to a chemical weapons attack.

Arab media outlets reported early Monday morning that a number of victims in the attack had succumbed to their injuries At least 20 people, including women and children, have reportedly died after being exposed to chlorine gas during the attack on Saraqeb.

American Defense Secretary Jim Mattis warned Syria just days before the apparent attack against using chemical weapons.

"You have all seen how we reacted to that, so they'd be ill advised to go back to violating the chemical convention,” said Mattis, referring to the April 2017 US missile strike on a Syrian airbase following a chemical attack blamed on the Syrian regime in Khan Sheikhun.

A Russian warplane was shot down over the Idlib province over the weekend, with the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham Islamist rebel group claiming responsibility.

"We were able to bring down the Russian warplane with a shoulder-fired missile above Saraqib in Idlib this afternoon," said Mahmoud al-Turkmani.
Israel said part of secret coalition monitoring IS fighters returning from Syria
Israel is a member of a secret intelligence collection and sharing operation made up of 21 nations targeting European jihadis returning home from fighting in Syria with the Islamic State group, German daily Der Spiegel reported Sunday.

Naming Germany as another of the members, the newspaper said that the anti-terror operation was known as “Gallant Phoenix” and was being led from a US Joint Special Operations Command center in Jordan.

The operation is focused on collecting documents, data, DNA traces and fingerprints that have been retrieved from former IS strongholds and comparing them with intelligence already acquired by other countries in the pact, the report said, while only naming Germany and Israel as members.

An estimated 40,000 people traveled from around the world to take up arms for the Islamic State group as it occupied territory in Syria and Iraq and declared a caliphate in 2014.

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The Jerusalem Report:"A seemingly indefatigable one-man operation, armed only with a computer, chutzpa and stamina."

Algemeiner: "Fiercely intelligent and erudite"

Omri: "Elder is one of the best established and most respected members of the jblogosphere..."
Atheist Jew:"Elder of Ziyon probably had the greatest impression on me..."
Soccer Dad: "He undertakes the important task of making sure that his readers learn from history."
AbbaGav: "A truly exceptional blog..."
Judeopundit: "[A] venerable blog-pioneer and beloved patriarchal figure...his blog is indispensable."
Oleh Musings: "The most comprehensive Zionist blog I have seen."
Carl in Jerusalem: "...probably the most under-recognized blog in the JBlogsphere as far as I am concerned."
Aussie Dave: "King of the auto-translation."
The Israel Situation:The Elder manages to write so many great, investigative posts that I am often looking to him for important news on the PalArab (his term for Palestinian Arab) side of things."
Tikun Olam: "Either you are carelessly ignorant or a willful liar and distorter of the truth. Either way, it makes you one mean SOB."
Mondoweiss commenter: "For virulent pro-Zionism (and plain straightforward lies of course) there is nothing much to beat it."
Didi Remez: "Leading wingnut"

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