Wednesday, February 07, 2018

From Ian:

Why the Reduction in U.S. Aid to UNRWA Is Justified
Europe has ignored important reasons for the Palestinians' distress - such as Hamas' huge annual investments of hundreds of millions of dollars in the manufacture of rockets and the construction of attack tunnels, all at the expense of Gaza's needy residents. No one has ever inquired how much money from humanitarian contributions ends up in the private bank accounts of Palestinian leaders.

The Europeans started asking questions only when it was proved to them that the Palestinian Authority was using aid contributions to pay sizable salaries to Palestinian terrorists who had been convicted and imprisoned in Israel, and to build public institutions and name them after terrorists.

According to the Congressional Research Service, since the Oslo Agreement the U.S. has given the PA $5.2 billion, the highest American foreign-aid total per capita. During the same period, the U.S. gave UNRWA $4.5 billion. The Obama administration doubled American allocations to both the PA and UNRWA. In 2008, the PA received $400 million; in 2009, $900 million. In 2008, UNRWA received $184 million; in 2009, $268 million.

The reduction in aid to UNRWA is justified because this agency perpetuates the Palestinians' status as refugees. Most of its employees in Gaza are affiliated with Hamas, and its schools preach hatred of Jews and Israel. Rockets are stashed beneath the floors of these schools and fired at Israel from their vicinity.

UNRWA should have been closed down long ago and its functions transferred to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, which deals with refugees on a worldwide basis.
UNRWA: The greatest obstacle to peace
The United States' definition of a refugee is similar to that of other counties. According to this accepted definition, refugee status is not passed down by inheritance and is not valid for those persons who are citizens of other countries or who live in what is supposedly their own territory. In contrast, more than 2 million Palestinian "refugees" live in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, lands they claim constitute part of their territorial homeland.

If we remove from UNRWA's list of refugees those people who do not meet any of the three criteria, we will then come back to a more reasonable number of somewhere between 20,000 and 30,000 Palestinian refugees from the 1948 War of Independence. The remainder could, of course, request humanitarian aid, but they would not be considered refugees by UNRWA.

If the countries of the world are interested in funding genuine humanitarian aid for the Palestinians, this can be done through a variety of alternative channels, whose aim is to create a better future for the population. But first, they must stop using the term "refugees." This is not just a question of semantics: A change in terminology could give the Palestinians hope for a better future instead of ensuring they maintain the victimhood mentality and pass it on to future generations. Second, they must only release funds for the Palestinians on the condition they are then integrated into their host countries or alternatively, those Palestinians living outside Judea, Samaria Gaza find a third country to which to emigrate. Third, they must ensure the funds do not go toward terrorism and incitement.

The implementation of these steps will lead the PA to acknowledge its defeat in the war against the Jewish people's right to self-determination and will put an end to the Palestinian leadership's cynical use of their people and their supporters for the prevention of a solution to the conflict and finally bring about peace.
Reporter to UNRWA: 'Where has all the flour gone?'
The Israel Resource News Agency and Center for Near East Policy Research, an agency founded by American immigrant David Bedein in Jerusalem retains local professional (read that "Arabic speaking") journalists who cover UNRWA facilities in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and Gaza, producing stories about UNRWA, Hamas and the PA.

Bedein reports that a study he did of memos from UNRWA to Holland, the US, Canada, Australia and the Israel Civil Administration over last year, shows that UNRWA gave assurances that new textbooks and the atmosphere in UNRWA schools would now reflect peace advocacy. They were to be free of the indoctrination to violence which characterized both the previous UNRWA school books translated by the agency and the contents of talks with UNRWA students interviewed over the past few years.

The news agency's local journalists recently acquired the 2018 school books provided by the PA for UNRWA and have checked the contents thoroughly. A report on the textbooks and the screening of two short films of interviews with UNRWA students will take place at the Jerusalem municipality on Thursday, February 8, at 4:30 p.m.

Arutz Sheva received a preview of the report, which shows that except for two pages about peace in new PA/UNRWA school books, UNRWA indoctrination continues, in all UNRWA schools, UNRWA school books and the UNRWA public domain.

It also reveals that although 68 donor nations continue to pour food, medicine and cash into all UNRWA camps, the UNRWA workers union, under tight control of Hamas for the past 18 years, hoards all humanitarian supplies, while contracting foreign press to witness and record a staged UNRWA humanitarian crisis. "If there were a UNRWA Universal Studios, they couldn't do better," Bedein quips.

Report: Saudis to allow flights to Israel through their airspace
Saudi Arabia has granted a request by Air India to fly through Saudi airspace en route to Israel, the i24 News website reported Wednesday.

According to the report, the route will service direct flights between Delhi and Tel Aviv. This is the first time the Saudis are allowing flights to Israel to use their airspace.

The new route is expected to cut the flight time between India and Israel from nearly nine hours down to six hours, reducing the airline's fuel costs.

The report has yet to be officially confirmed by Saudi or Indian officials. Israel and India enjoy close ties. The Israeli Tourism Ministry has reportedly offered Air India a $750,000 grant as an incentive to invest in the new route.
Saudi Arabia Denies Israeli Media Reports It Granted Overflight Rights to Air India for Tel Aviv Route
JCPA: Abbas Rejects Jerusalem Suburb Solution for a Palestinian Capital
In early December 2017, reports from Saudi Arabia and Egypt claimed that the United States had offered the Palestinians Abu Dis as their capital in the “deal of the century,” rather than Jerusalem.1 The reports were denied.

Just a month later, though, on January 14, 2018, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas publically confirmed that such an offer was made, or in his own words: “In one case we were offered Abu Dis.” Reacting to President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Mahmoud Abbas rejected out of hand the possibility that the Palestinians would accept such a proposal. He presented the case of Abu Dis as what he defined in his last speech as the “slap of the century.”

Mahmoud Abbas’ “insult” can be understood, even if one does not agree with his standpoint. For him, Abu Dis, which was transferred to Palestinian civil control as Area B within the framework of the Oslo Accords, belongs to the distant past.

Since Mahmoud Abbas (as Arafat’s deputy) and Yossi Beilin (a minister in the government of Yitzhak Rabin) drafted the “Beilin-Mahmoud Abbas Agreement” of 1995, a lot of water has gone under the bridge in the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians over the Jerusalem issue. At the time, the Jerusalem suburb, Abu Dis, took center stage, as it was represented as an alternative capital of sorts for the Palestinians (instead of Jerusalem). However, two Israeli prime ministers, Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert, have since placed on the negotiating table far-reaching proposals for the division of Jerusalem itself: Barak vis-a-vis Arafat, in Camp David 2000, and Olmert vis-a-vis Mahmoud Abbas in 2008.

Mahmoud Abbas today refuses to accept or even talk about a lesser proposal than what was offered to him then. In fact, he refuses to recognize the different political reality in Israel, represented since 2009 by the elected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Abbas, Putin to discuss new peace talks mechanism sidelining US – report
When they meet on February 12, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Russian President Vladimir Putin will discuss a new proposed peace negotiations mechanism meant to sideline the United States, a Palestinian diplomat in Russia told the Russian Interfax news agency on Wednesday.

The two men are scheduled to meet in the Black Sea beach resort of Sochi.

Interfax reported the new mechanism would seek to replace the Middle East Quartet, established in Madrid in 2002, which is composed of the US, the UN, the EU and Russia.

The announcement comes as the Palestinian Authority is trying to convince Russia to play a much more prominent role in the peace talks, having declared the US unqualified to act as an “honest broker” due to President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

At the Sochi meeting, Abbas is expected to tell Putin that the Palestinians do not believe the Trump administration is capable of playing any “constructive” or “positive” role in efforts to achieve peace with Israel, a PA official in Ramallah said last week. The PA president has also been seeking greater European involvement in the peace process.
PMW: Fatah claims Israel won`t hesitate to kill Abbas
wo official Fatah sources have claimed that Israel is prepared to kill Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas. Along with the accusation that Israel would kill Abbas if they had the opportunity, Fatah continues to repeat the libel that Israel assassinated Arafat with poison.

Fatah posted on Facebook that Israel wouldn't "hesitate" to kill Abbas, "After all they already killed Arafat before him":

Posted text: "The attack against [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas has many fronts, and they are all paving the way to one goal: The attempt to steal the popular support from him in preparation for his besiegement, and if they can also kill him, they will not hesitate to do so! After all, they already killed [former PA President] Yasser Arafat before him...
Khalil Nazzal Fatah Movement Secretary in Warsaw"

[Official Fatah Facebook page, Jan. 26, 2018]

Fatah official, Muwaffaq Matar, wrote in an op-ed in the official PA daily that US President Trump and US Ambassador to the UN Haley have launched "an organized and planned attack" against Abbas:
MEMRI: Egyptian Researcher In Al-Ahram Article: The Palestinians Should Make The Best Deal They Can With Israel, Even If It Isn't Just
In a December 21, 2017 article in the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram, Dr. Gamal 'Abd Al-Gawwad, a researcher at the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies and a lecturer in Political Science at Cairo University, advised Palestinians to forego the armed resistance against Israel, which he described as futile and hopeless. He said that instead, they should consolidate a strategy of non-violent resistance which would be supported internationally and undermine Israel's legitimacy, while also conducting effective negotiations. Calling on the Palestinians to recognize the prevailing balance of power on the ground, 'Abd Al-Gawwad urged them to sign the best possible agreement that they can achieve, even if it is not a just agreement. "Preserving as many as possible of the Palestinian rights is preferable to waiting for a just solution which will restore all the rights that were lost by the [Palestinians'] fathers and grandfathers," he wrote. He added that this would require joint leadership by Fatah and Hamas, which should transcend their narrow interests and behave intelligently.

The following are translated excerpts from his article:
"Declarations against; conferences that conclude with vehement condemnations; decisions adopted by the UN General Assembly after the U.S. vetoes a proposal submitted to the Security Council; demonstrations; stone-throwing; martyrdom [of Palestinians] and the arrests of others by the occupation forces – all these took place following the Trump announcement, but Jerusalem and all of Palestine are still under occupation…

"Our responses [to the Trump announcement] tell the world that the Arabs are outraged at the contempt with which their rights are treated, and this is a positive thing. But our responses also reveal that the value of our actions is limited and they are not effective, and this is very bad. Is there a way to move from the phase of expressing fury to the phase of effective action, [or] in other words, to move to the phase of liberating the largest possible amount of Arab land from the Israeli occupation…?
CAMERA Op-Ed: Obama Gets It Wrong on Israeli 'Settlements,' Again
In remarks made before New York City's Temple Emanu-El on Jan. 24, 2018, former President Barack Obama defended his administration's decision not to veto United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSC) 2334, which asserted that Israeli settlements have “no legal validity,” violate “international law” and are a “major obstacle” to achieving a two-state solution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Obama told the audience that he allowed UNSC 2334 to pass because “the pace of [Israeli] settlement construction skyrocketed making it almost impossible to make any kind of Palestinian state.”
To be “a true friend of Israel, it is important to be honest about it, and the politics of this country sometimes do not allow for it,” Obama claimed. His comments were uncritically repeated by many major news outlets.

True friends do indeed tell the truth. And the former President is incorrect.

Research available — both at the time of the Dec. 23, 2016 UNSC vote and since — clearly illustrate that settlement construction was not, and is not, an impediment to a two-state solution. Rather, Palestinian intransigence and anti-Semitism are the chief culprits.

In contrast to the U.N.'s claims, settlements are not illegal. The League of Nations Palestine Mandate, Article 6,calls for “close Jewish settlement” on the land west of the Jordan River. The mandate, including Article 6, is upheld by the U.N. Charter, Chapter XII, Article 80.

Nor is settlement construction skyrocketing.
German draft coalition deal takes rare swipe at Israeli settlements
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday she was ready to make "painful compromises" as negotiators from her conservative bloc and the Social Democrats rushed to clinch a coalition government deal after months of political uncertainty.

The impending coalition deal, however, seems to take an unusual swipe at Israel over its Judea and Samaria settlement enterprise, even though the draft agreement reiterates the fact that "Israel's right to exist is irrefutable for us and a pillar of German politics."

Both sides had billed Tuesday as "decision day" but were still negotiating late into the evening on the stance of any future coalition on reform of the healthcare system and job contracts.

Merkel's failure to cobble together a government more than four months after a national election has raised concerns among investors and its allies at a time when Europe is facing multiple challenges – including eurozone reform and Britain's departure from the EU.
US 'disappointed' at Polish president signing Holocaust bill
The United States is "disappointed that the Polish president has signed" legislation that would impose criminal penalties for attributing Nazi crimes to the Polish state, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement on Tuesday.

"Enactment of this law adversely affects freedom of speech and academic inquiry," Tillerson added.

Polish lawmakers approved the draft legislation last Thursday.

The proposal has triggered a diplomatic spat between Israel and Warsaw's conservative government, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu comparing it to an effort to change history.

Poland's ruling conservative Law and Justice party authored the bill, which calls for up to three years in prison for any intentional attempt to falsely attribute the crimes of Nazi Germany to the Polish state or people.

Law and Justice said it is fighting against the use of phrases like "Polish death camps" to refer to death camps operated by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland during World War II.

Israel, however, saw the move as an attempt to whitewash the role some Poles played in the killing of Jews during World War II.

EU parliament fires Polish VP over Nazi insult
The European Parliament removed Polish lawmaker Ryszard Czarnecki as the assembly’s vice president on Wednesday after he insulted a fellow Polish MEP by comparing her to a Nazi collaborator.

MEPs voted by 447 votes to 196 to strip Czarnecki, of Poland’s ruling nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party, of the largely ceremonial office for “serious misconduct.”

Czarnecki, 55, last month branded MEP Roza Thun a “szmalcownik” — an insult referring to Polish collaborators during World War II who handed over Jews to the Nazis for money.

Czarnecki, who is one of 14 European Parliament vice presidents, then refused to apologize during a radio interview.

In January, heads of the main political groups wrote to the parliament president Antonio Tajani to “denounce an unacceptable and degrading declaration” and ask for sanctions for “this deplorable attitude.”
MK: Bahrain prince visiting Israel
Israeli Minister of Communication Ayoob Kara claimed yesterday that Bahraini Prince Mubarak Al Khalifa is visiting Israel.

“I met publicly for the first time in Tel Aviv with Mubarak Al Khalifa, a Bahraini prince in order to strengthen relations between the two countries,” Kara of Israel’s ruling Likud party said on Twitter.

“Tomorrow [Monday] I will have the honour to host him in the Israeli Knesset,” he added.

Bahrain says it has no relations with Israel however it has been reported that officials from both countries maintain contact and visits privately.

Bahrain delegation’s visit to Israel: Why now and for what purpose?

An official Bahraini delegation visited Tel Aviv in December under instructions from Bahraini monarch Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa.

The visit coincided with US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other senior Israeli officials have repeatedly spoken of the strong secret ties between Tel Aviv and numerous Arab countries in particular Gulf States.
Organized terror is back
The murder of Raziel Shevah in January was a wakeup call for all the security agencies assigned to combating terror. It was immediately clear that the attack was carried out by a professional, well-trained and well-funded terror cell that carefully chose the location of the ambush near Havat Gilad, escape routes and hiding places for after the attack.

Some of the details regarding the escape and hiding are still under a gag order, but it is clear that they were carried out professionally.

What this means is that this was no "local resistance organization" or "lone wolf attack" but rather the act of a well-entrenched terrorism infrastructure. Hamas has already claimed responsibility.

The difference between an organized terror infrastructure and local, popular terrorism is the amount of time required for its establishment, including "executioners," collaborators to assist them and a well-funded command center, probably located on land not directly under Israeli control. Also necessary are effective and secretive communications channels.

In the case of the "Jarrar squad"—headed by members of the Jarrar family—it is now known that its members carried out a number of terror attacks before Shevah's murder. Despite those attacks, they managed to evade discovery by Israeli security forces.

The cell was discovered only after Raziel's murder and even then they managed an effective escape. An extensive and strenuous operational and intelligence campaign was necessary in order to track them down, despite the fact that the father of Ahmed Jarrar, the head of the cell, was a known senior Hamas member as far back as the second intifada.
In the West Bank, a violent storm is brewing
The fatal stabbing attack Wednesday morning near Karmei Tzur, as well as the rioting in recent days in Jenin, Burkin and, mainly, Tuesday night in Nablus, reveal a great deal about the prevailing winds in the West Bank. These are reminiscent of the fateful days of December 1987 and October 2000, when the first and second intifadas broke out.

As IDF troops continued their manhunt on Tuesday in Nablus for the terrorist who murdered Rabbi Itamar Ben-Gal in Ariel, soldiers came face to face with some 500 violent protesters, according to Israeli estimates, in a clash that left one Palestinian dead and 45 wounded.

Similar, though smaller, violent clashes were seen in recent days in Yamoun, Burkin and Jenin, all surrounding attempts to capture the terrorist Ahmad Jarrar, the suspected murderer of Rabbi Raziel Shevach in an attack in Havat Gilad last month. In the wake of that attack, as IDF soldiers launched raid after raid in search of the elusive Jarrar, his fame grew in the West Bank. By the time Israeli special forces finally reached him in Yamoun before dawn on Tuesday, he had become a hero to Palestinians throughout the West Bank.

Jarrar’s visage can be found seemingly on every other account in Palestinian social media. For his supporters, his heroism was twofold: He managed not only to kill a settler, but also to become a kind of superhero for his ostensibly preternatural ability to evade Israeli forces time and again.

Despite the Israeli army announcement that Jarrar was killed in a shootout in Yamoun, many Palestinians are refusing to believe he is truly dead, with many arguing that he escaped yet again.
Israeli lightly wounded in West Bank stabbing, attacker shot dead
A Palestinian assailant was shot dead on Wednesday after stabbing a security guard at the entrance to a Jewish settlement in the West Bank, the Israeli military said.

The civilian guard, stationed at the Karmei Tzur settlement north of Hebron, was slightly wounded. Another security guard shot and killed the attacker, the military said in a statement.

"When we arrived to the scene, we saw a 34-year-old man standing near the entrance to the settlement," Magen David Adom Paramedic Dvora Aviad said. "He was walking, with an injured hand from stabbing. With the assistance of an IDF medical force, we gave him initial medical treatment and he was evacuated to Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in mild condition."

The Palestinian Authority Health Ministry named the attacker as 19-year-old Hamza Zamaara from Halhoul.

Following the attack, IDF troops from the Etzion regional brigade began operations in Halhoul, where according to a statement released by the IDF Spokesperson's Unit, troops entered the terrorist's home and interrogated his family.

During the course of the operation a riot broke out with local Palestinian residents throwing stones at troops who then responded with crowd dispersal measures. One rioter was arrested.

Hamas Spokesman Hazem Qassim praised the stabbing attack in a Facebook post.
Israeli troops raid home of terrorist who stabbed security guard
Clashes broke out between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers in the southern West Bank town of Halhul on Wednesday, as troops raided the home of a terrorist who stabbed a security guard and then was shot dead earlier that morning.

“As they entered [Halhul], a riot broke out in which rocks were thrown at the soldiers. The IDF troops responded with riot dispersal means and arrested one of the demonstrators,” the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement.

“The forces arrived at the home of the terrorist and interrogated members of his family,” the army said.

Early Wednesday morning, Hamzeh Yousef Zamaareh, 19, stabbed a civilian security guard in the palm of the hand in a guard post at the entrance to the Karmei Tzur settlement, just outside Halhul in the Etzion bloc.

A second guard shot the assailant and killed him, according to the Israel Defense Forces.
Fatah condemns Israel for killing Hamas terrorist behind rabbi’s murder
Fatah has joined Hamas and other Palestinian groups in condemning Israel for killing Ahmad Jarrar in the village of Yamoun, near the West Bank city of Jenin.

Jarrar, who is suspected of coordinating the shooting attack in which Rabbi Raziel Shevach was murdered, was armed and killed in a shootout with the IDF early Tuesday.

Jarrar’s death brought to an end a nearly month-long manhunt for the perpetrators of the January 9 drive-by shooting that killed Rabbi Raziel Shevach, a father of six, as he drove down the highway outside the Havat Gilad outpost where he lived.

Osama Qawassmeh, the spokesman for the Palestinian Authority’s ruling party, Fatah, said the killing of Jarrar would be added to a list of Israeli “crimes” that contravene international law.

Qawassmeh described the killing of Jarrar as “a type of field execution.”

The killing, he added, “will not undermine the determination of our people, who will continue to remain steadfast on their lands and stick to their national rights.”

Another Fatah spokesperson, Jamal Nazzal, also accused Israel of carrying out “bloody extrajudicial killings.”

IsraellyCool: Shirley Temper’s Father Bassem Tamimi Pays Tribute to Terrorist Murderer of Rabbi
As many continue to demand Ahed “Shirley Temper” Tamimi’s release from Israeli detention, father Bassem has provided us with a reminder as to what this family stands for.

Today, he posted this about freshly dead terrorist Ahmed Jarrar.

Google Translation: "On your spirit in the glory of glory, mercy and peace"

Of course, this is not his first time idolizing terrorists.

It is no wonder his daughter does the same while openly calling for further terrorism. (h/t Yenta Press)
Ahed Tamimi and "Non-violent resistance"

Abbas meets with family of soldier-slapping teen
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met on Monday with the family of Ahed Tamimi, the Palestinian teenager who was filmed slapping and shoving IDF soldiers in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh.

It was the first meeting of its kind between Abbas and the Tamimi family since the arrest of the 17-year-old following the December 15 incident.

Abbas saluted the courage of Ahed and her family “in confronting the might of the occupation and the assaults carried out by its soldiers,” according to a statement released by the PA president’s office after the meeting.

Abbas said that the Tamimi family’s actions were an indication of the Palestinian people’s clinging to their land, the statement added.

“The peaceful popular resistance against the occupation is a powerful weapon in the hands of the Palestinian people and exposes the falsity of the occupation,” Abbas was quoted as telling the Tamimi family.

“It shows the entire world the brutality of the occupation and the right of our people to self-determination and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state like the rest of the people of the world.”
Court gives Ghajar man 14 years for smuggling Hezbollah explosives
The Nazareth District Court sentenced a man from Ghajar, on the Lebanese border, to 14 years in prison on Tuesday following a conviction for smuggling explosives from Hezbollah into Israel to carry out a terrorist attack in the Haifa area.

The plot was foiled when security forces found explosives, which the primary defendant, Diab Kahamuz, had hidden south of Metulla near the Lebanese border.

Kahamuz’s brother and three others who were part of the plot were sentenced to prison terms of between 20 and 30 months for offenses ranging from aiding or passing on information to the enemy, to drug crimes to obstruction of justice.

Diab Kahamuz was also ordered to pay an NIS 120,000 fine, while other defendants were fined NIS 20,000 each.

In October 2016, the Northern District Attorney’s Office charged the group with a host of security offenses as the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) revealed it had thwarted the Hezbollah terrorist cell’s plan to plant bombs in the Haifa area.

The agency said six residents of the Alawite village of Ghajar on the Lebanese border were arrested in recent months on suspicion of “severe security offenses” following an investigation that began in July 2016.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Palestinians Now Just Sticking ‘Talmudic’ At Random Into Propaganda (satire)
Diminishing returns on terminology on which Palestinian activists once relied to provoke outrage in the Muslim world have led them to take more and more desperate rhetorical measures, including a recent trend of inserting the scare-word “Talmudic” into any available news item, poster, broadcast, and speech.

Developments in the Middle East and elsewhere over the last several years have driven home to Muslims the realization that the Palestinian cause pales in importance relative to other challenges facing the region and culture: unrest in Syria, Islamic terrorism across Africa; Iran’s hegemonic ambitions; prolonged drought; instability in Iraq; civil war in Yemen; diminishing oil revenues; civil unrest; and stagnant economies. Accustomed to taking center stage for decades, Palestinian policymakers and propagandists have found themselves at a loss to recapture the attention on which they had become dependent, in the face of governments prioritizing other concerns, and have begun resorting to wielding the rhetorical weapons proven to generate the most outrage, but now with limited results to show for it.

If ten years ago the Muslim world could be inflamed by accusations that Jews were performing “Talmudic rituals” near the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Palestinians now find they can barely muster a few dozen protesters across the region with such a report. Lack of familiarity with other forms of expression has resulted in applying the same nomenclature to other propaganda contexts in the hopes that it may strike the right nerve among coreligionists and refocus international attention on Palestinians.
Bennett: We won't use surgical precision, neighborhoods with rockets are fair game
Amid reports that the Israeli air force struck an Iranian base in Syria overnight Tuesday, security cabinet member Naftali Bennett said he's advancing a strategy in which Israel will confront Iran directly rather than just going after its proxies.

"Iran is behind the anti-Israel activity in Syria and Lebanon," Bennett said in an interview to Israeli Radio 103 on Wednesday. "It is an octopus that sends out tentacles and expects us to act against its proxies, while it sits safely in its place. I am promoting a policy that calls for focusing our efforts against Iran itself."

"[Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali] Khamenei is willing to fight Israel until the last drop of Syrian, Lebanese and Gazan blood, but does not send his own troops. For 30 years we have been sending our soldiers to fight Iran, while they sit in safety. It is illogical," Bennett said.

When asked by the show's veteran host Nissim Mishal whether an attack on Iran was imminent, Bennett responded enigmatically.

"The force behind everything is Iran and we must pinpoint the laser on it. I am putting forward a strategic line and saying that we will not be handling things with surgical precision, we view neighborhoods that have rockets as legitimate targets."
Israel said to strike targets near Damascus
Syrian air defense systems intercepted an Israeli air attack on a military position near the capital Damascus early Wednesday, the Syria army said.

“This morning, Israeli warplanes fired several missiles from Lebanese airspace on one of our military positions in the Damascus countryside,” said an army statement carried by state media. “Our air defense systems blocked them and destroyed most of them.”

An AFP correspondent in Damascus heard loud blasts around 3:30 a.m..

There were no immediate reports of damage or casualties.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor of the war, said at least some Israeli missiles had hit military targets near Damascus.

“Syria’s air defense system blocked some of the missiles, but others hit ammunition depots near Jamraya,” Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said.
Egypt opens border gate into Gaza Strip for three days
Egyptian authorities have opened the Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip for three days, the Palestinian embassy in Cairo announced on Wednesday.

The terminal will be open in both directions, the embassy said.

It was the first time that the border crossing has been opened since the beginning of this year.

Palestinian ambassador to Egypt Diab Al Louh thanked Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi for the gesture. Al-Louh also thanked the Egyptian security authorities for their assistance.

The last time the terminal was open was 50 days ago. During 2017, the terminal was open for a total of 35 days only.

In the past few months, the Egyptians promised more than once to reopen the border crossing, but failed to do so at the last moment.

The border crossing has been almost continuously closed since 2013. Occasionally, the Egyptians opened the terminal for a few days at a time to allow patients to leave the Gaza Strip for medical treatment.
Report: Gazans who joined IS battling Hamas in Sinai
Dozens of Gaza residents are battling Hamas under the Islamic State's black flag, reported Tuesday morning Hezbollah-affiliated Lebanese newspaper Al Akhbar in an overview of the struggle between the Islamic State's Sinai branch and Hamas in Gaza.

Dozens of Gazans left the strip to fight in Iraq, Syria and Libya, the paper reported, but have since returned to the region. While some of them turned themselves into Hamas's hands, as the terrorist group is cracking down on the presence of the Islamic State (IS) in the strip, others still have decided to remain in Sinai and battle Hamas there under IS's auspices.

The fight between the two terror groups was dubbed a "direct and vicarious war" by Al Akhbar, the culmination of which was brought to bear in a video put out by IS recently showing the execution of a man named Musa Abu Zamat, who was once an IS activist himself but was killed for transferring arms to Hamas through smuggling tunnels going into Gaza from Sinai.

In the purported execution video, both the speaker and the executioner are former Gaza residents, one of which is even allegedly the son of a senior Hamas official from the al-Shati refugee camp.

Hamas has obtained information, Al Akhbar further reported, that some 50 Gazans are fighting for the IS in Sinai—having joined the extremist Sunni terror group in the past few months—alongside the group's foreign fighters.

The Egyptian army's offensive against IS in Sinai

The share of Gazans in the Islamic State's ranks in the Sinai Peninsula was estimated to be only 10 percent, with the remaining being 50 percent Egyptians and 40 percent citizens of other Arab states.
Gaza’s thriving economy: Al Jazeera tells a truth that Western media won’t
This report from Gaza on Al Jazeera TV has just been translated into English. It accompanies an article I wrote that will be published (and linked to here) shortly. It shows footage of the multiple bustling, crowded, well-stocked shopping malls, the impressive children’s water parks (at 5:25 in the video), the Olympic-size swimming pools, the fancy restaurants, the nice hotels, the crowded working-class food markets, and so on. -- Tom Gross

France: Turkey and Iran are violating international law in Syria
France's foreign minister on Wednesday demanded that all Iranian-backed militia, including Lebanon's Hezbollah, leave Syria and said that Turkey and Iran were violating international law through their actions in the country.

Speaking on BFM television, Jean-Yves Le Drian also said there were indications Syrian government forces were using toxic gas against civilians although the UN would need to confirm that.

Asked whether he wanted Turkish armed forces to withdraw from Syria, Le Drian replied that he wanted "the withdrawal of all of those who ought not to be in Syria, including Iranian militia, including Hezbollah."

While not specifically calling for Turkey to pull back from its offensive against Kurdish militias in northern Syria, he said that Ankara should not worsen the conflict.

"Ensuring the security of its borders does not mean killing civilians and that should be condemned. In a dangerous situation in Syria, (Turkey) should not add war to war."

France has backed the Syrian opposition during the seven-year war and is part of the US-led coalition fighting Islamic State militants.
"If the Enemy Takes Action, We Will Shatter Its Teeth to Smithereens"

ISIS Asks Philly Fans for Advice on Destroying American Cities (satire)
After years of unsuccessful efforts to cause widespread devastation in the American homeland, ISIS leaders are turning towards fans of the Philadelphia Eagles for advice on how to destroy an American city.

“When I turned on the TV and saw shattered glass, overturned cars and people rioting in the streets, I assumed one of our martyrs had carried out a major attack,” Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi told The Mideast Beast. “I was shocked to learn that these valiant warriors were called ‘Philadelphians.’”

Baghdadi said he is unclear on the political motivation behind the massive citywide attack, but that he hopes that they will be willing to work together with ISIS on future operations.

“To do that much damage, they must have had some pretty severe grievances,” he noted. “And I believe that they are supporters of the jihad, since I understand they have also struck against the infidel idol Santa Claus.”

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