Monday, March 19, 2018

From Ian:

French consular employee charged in Gaza gun-running scheme
An employee at the French consulate in Jerusalem was indicted on Monday for using a diplomatic vehicle to smuggle dozens of guns from Gaza to the West Bank.

In addition to Romain Franck, five residents of the West Bank and East Jerusalem were also charged. A total of nine suspects have been arrested in the case.

According to the indictment, Franck, 24, was aware of the reduced security checks for vehicles with diplomatic license plates, which he allegedly used to illegally transport weapons out of Gaza and into the West Bank.

Franck, who worked as a driver at the consulate, spoke through an interpreter to confirm his identity during the brief court appearance. Two French diplomats were at the court to monitor the proceedings.

He allegedly made five smuggling runs, bringing 70 pistols and two assault rifles to the West Bank from a Palestinian employee at the French Cultural Center in Gaza, Zuheir Abed Abdeen. A contact in the West Bank then sold the weapons to other arms dealers, investigators say.

Franck was already transporting various valuables in his car on behalf of Abdeen when in September 2017 the Palestinian propositioned him to join a gun-running ring run by Gaza resident Mahmad Jamil al-Haladi, the indictment said.

Franck later brought Mahmad Siad, an Israeli citizen employed at the French consulate in Jerusalem, into the operation and the two would allegedly travel together to deliver the weapons in the West Bank.

Prosecutors say Franck would usually take delivery of the guns from Aabdin and then place them in the trunk of his vehicle. At the border checks he would then falsely declare that all of the bags belonged to him or his passengers and that he was not carrying any weapons.
PreOccupiedTerritory: French Consulate Employee Caught Smuggling Votes To Meretz (satire)
A volunteer with the consulate of France in Israel’s capital was arrested today and charged with smuggling votes to a political party desperate to head off disappearance from the Knesset in the next elections.

Romain Franck, 23, a French national serving as a driver for consular staff, was taken into custody Monday morning after a police investigation showed him handling the contraband. A spokesman for the French consulate confirmed the arrest and stated they cooperated with the police on the investigation.

Meretz, which currently holds five seats in the parliament, has suffered consistent electoral frustration over the last several contests in 2009, 2012, and 2015, falling far short of its 12-seat representation in the late 1990’s and early part of last decade. Widespread disillusionment with the party’s hard-left stances following the disastrous long-term outcome of the Oslo Accords have kept it perilously close to elimination. While the threat of early elections was removed last week as warring coalition parties walked back their threats to bolt the government, Meretz faces a bleak outcome whether the next elections take place in late 2019 as scheduled or earlier. Under current electoral threshold rules, a party must earn at least 3.25% of the vote, which translates to about four parliamentary seats, if it is to appear in the Knesset. Surveys see the party garnering at best retaining its five-seat delegation, with some polls finding it falling below the representation threshold.

To forestall this nightmare scenario, allege police, party operatives arranged for votes from Palestinian-controlled areas, where they are not being used, to be smuggled into Israel. According to police, Mr. Franck made numerous trips into the Gaza Strip and Areas A and B of Judea end Samaria, with the consular vehicle he operated, exploiting his diplomatic immunity to avoid inspection and detection of the illegal cargo. Police claim they were able to document more than six hundred votes that Franck then sold to dealers hired by Meretz to procure the votes.
PMW: Palestinian terrorist prisoners continue academic studies, despite prohibition by Israel’s government
After the kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, the Government of Israel decided to prevent terrorist prisoners from receiving academic degrees while in prison

Responding to a PMW report exposing that such studies are taking place, the Israeli Prison Service rejected the claim that terrorist prisoners are undertaking academic studies

Despite the decision of the Israeli government and the response of the Prison Service, the PA announced that there are currently 1,000 terrorist prisoner students

In April 2017, Palestinian Media Watch exposed that the Palestinian Authority is actively undermining a decision the Israeli government adopted in response to the kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, to prohibit Palestinian terrorist prisoners from receiving academic degrees while serving their sentences.

Despite the ban, the PA claimed 484 terrorist prisoners were studying for degrees in a program initiated by the PLO Commission of Prisoners' Affairs. The program is run in cooperation with Al-Quds Open University and the PA Ministry of Education.

Regardless of the substantial alleged number of terrorist prisoner students, the Israeli Prison Service rejected the claim and responded to PMW that in accordance with the decision of the government "security prisoners are not allowed to undertake academic studies."

Notwithstanding this response, Director of the PLO Commission of Prisoners' Affairs Issa Karake stated that "a thousand Palestinian prisoners who are in the prisons have joined the Palestinian universities." Karake added that "an academic revolution is taking place in the prisons." [Donia Al-Watan, independent Palestinian news agency, Feb. 22, 2018]
Palestinian Authority pays terrorists who murder Israelis




BESA: Should U.S. Aid to the Palestinians Be Suspended?
  • Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs:
    Cutting American aid to the Palestinian Authority as a result of its insistence on paying salaries to terrorists and refusal to engage in the peace process means that Palestinian deterrence has weakened dramatically. The U.S. realizes that the legendary Arab Street is not really a threat and that the pragmatic Arab states consider other issues more pressing.
  • The Israelis are losing hope that there will ever be a Palestinian partner for real peace, the Arabs are giving the Palestinians the cold shoulder, and the U.S. is recognizing the reality about the conflict (Jerusalem, refugees, the Palestinian position as the main obstacle to peace) and is forming a peace plan they are likely to oppose.
  • Peter Brookes, Senior Fellow, Heritage Foundation:
    The U.S. should reconsider the need for UNRWA at all, especially since every other refugee population in the world is handled by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. U.S. aid is not an entitlement. President Trump is right to expect that U.S. support will result in a Palestinian willingness to negotiate with Israel on finding a comprehensive peace. Unfortunately, that hasn't happened - and Palestinian intransigence should not be rewarded. The U.S. should suspend aid to UNRWA and the PA until the Palestinians engage in meaningful talks with the Israelis on peace.
  • Prof. Hillel Frisch, Bar-Ilan University:
    The recent U.S. decision to cut aid to UNRWA is a move in the right direction and Israel should welcome it. UNRWA privileges Palestinian refugees over all others in flagrant contempt of the principle of equality, especially as most of them are descendants of refugees and not refugees themselves.
  • Dr. Asaf Romirowsky, Middle East Forum:
    The existence of UNRWA allows the Palestinian Authority to continue dodging core responsibilities towards its citizens. With the withholding of UNRWA funds, the Trump administration has the opportunity to disrupt dysfunctional patterns that are long entrenched and fantastically expensive. It also has the chance to confront the PA with a choice: if it wishes to be regarded as a state, it must assume its responsibilities and act like a state.
  • U.S. support for UNRWA has kept Palestinians in stasis, promoted Palestinian rejectionism, and failed to advance either peace or U.S. policy.
  • Dr. Alex Joffe, Middle East Forum:
    The process of giving aid to the Palestinians is ritualized and sacrosanct; it must be done reliably and in increasing amounts. Any cuts automatically result in the putative death of children and the inevitable radicalization of adults. The element of blackmail is inescapable. Palestinian culture has long internalized the belief that their political circumstances are the absolute responsibility of the international community.
  • U.S. aid reduction must be accompanied by a well-articulated message directly to the Palestinian public: welfare is not forever, self-reliance is critical, and the path for the future goes through negotiations with Israel.
World Jewish Congress President, in op-ed: I fear for the future of Israel
World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder said he has "fear for the future of the nation I love," referring to Israel in an op-ed published Monday in The New York Times.

Lauder wrote Israel faces two threats, which he surmises "endangers its very existence": the demise of the two-state solution and the "two-prong threat" of "capitulation to religious extremists and the growing disaffection of the Jewish diaspora."

He argued, that "13 million people live between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. And almost half of them are Palestinian. If current trends continue, Israel will face a stark choice: Grant Palestinians full rights and cease being a Jewish state or rescind their rights and cease being a democracy. To avoid these unacceptable outcomes, the only path forward is the two-state solution."

Further, he claimed, senior Palestinian leaders have personally told him they are ready to begin negotiations immediately, but Palestinian "incitement and intransigence" and Israeli calls to annex the West Bank stand in the way of the two-state solution to the peace process.

Turning to the split in religious life, Lauder claimed, "Many [Diaspora Jews] have come to feel, particularly over the last few years, that the nation that they have supported politically, financially and spiritually is turning its back on them."

Israel has become a semi-theocratic nation, Lauder maintained, submitting to pressure from haredi (ultra-Orthodox) sectors.

"By submitting to the pressures exerted by a minority in Israel, the Jewish state is alienating a large segment of the Jewish people," he wrote.

"We are at a crossroads," Lauder concluded. "The choices that Israel makes in the coming years will determine the destiny of our one and only Jewish state — and the continued unity of our cherished people."
JCPA: Arab Leaders Pressure Mahmoud Abbas
According to senior Fatah sources, Mahmoud Abbas also sent a suggestion to the Trump administration via a third party to first of all define the borders of a Palestinian state in accordance with the 1967 lines, with an exchange of territories, and then continue the negotiations from there. However, his suggestion was soundly rejected.

Apparently, what interests Mahmoud Abbas right now is preparing for his retirement from politics, while leaving behind a legacy of strict adherence to Palestinian “red lines.”

Abbas has already declared that he will not yield on these – he will not end his life “with treachery.” For this reason, according to senior Fatah sources, the current dispute with the Trump administration on the subject of Jerusalem and the “deal of the century” serves his desire to step down dramatically from the political stage, going into Palestinian history as the leader who never gave in to American and Israeli pressure.

Mahmoud Abbas fled from the Camp David summit in July 2000, when he thought that Yasser Arafat would compromise with President Clinton and Prime Minister Ehud Barak on a final status agreement. He did not want his name to be linked to it.

His 13 years of government as chairman of the Palestinian Authority are seen by the Palestinians as one huge failure. He is seeking to end his political career with a “national achievement” that would compensate for his failures. From his point of view, rejecting the American plan outright and withstanding the pressures upon him are his greatest achievement as Palestinian leader.
New York Times Insists Palestinians Don’t Want to Talk Peace
The New York Times, in a comical reversal of its usual point of view, has started depicting the Palestinian Arabs as not interested in peace.

For years Times news coverage has portrayed Israeli settlements and “right-wing” or “hardline” Israeli leaders as the obstacles to peace.

Yet this month, the Times seems to have reversed course, repeatedly insisting that the Palestinians are not interested in peace negotiations. A March 6 front page above the fold news article by the current Times Jerusalem bureau chief, David Halbfinger, and a former one, Peter Baker, included in its fourth paragraph this passage:

Mr. Trump insisted that he still had ‘a good chance’ of forging peace and expressed optimism that the Palestinians were ready to return to discussions. ‘The Palestinians, I think, are wanting to come back to the table very badly,’ he said, despite evidence to the contrary.

Similar language turned up again in an article by Mark Landler in the March 12 Times: “Mr. Trump still sounds committed. Welcoming the prime minister to the Oval Office, he insisted that he still had a ‘very good chance’ to broker an accord. ‘The Palestinians, I think, are wanting to come back to the table very badly,’ he said. There is little evidence to support that.”

Who do you think has a better view of what the Palestinian Arabs are really thinking? Trump, who almost certainly has access to extensive and highly sophisticated American and allied intelligence that gives him a look into the private communications of Palestinian leaders? Or the Times, which is taking the public pronunciations and posturing of those Palestinian leaders at face value?
PreOccupiedTerritory: Palestinians OK With Being Pawns Because At Least That Way Somebody Touches Them (satire)
Residents of refugee camps and areas under Palestinian self-rule voiced resignation today at being manipulated and having their plight co-opted by cynical international actors, but found the silver lining in the situation by noting that at least when someone is manipulating them it means they’re being touched.

Following decades of occupying center stage at all gatherings of Arab officials, and having their cause given outsize attention in international forums, Palestinians have discovered over the last decade that their utility as a fig leaf for their Arab neighbors’ regional political ambitions has diminished, and that the exploitation of the Palestinian cause has lost the pretense of caring about Palestinians as such. Nevertheless, Palestinians say, being treated as pawns by Iran, Syria, Egypt, the Gulf states, Turkey, Libya, Algeria, and others means that at least someone is handling them, however roughly or insensitively, and there is physical contact.

“We got accustomed to being darlings of the international community,” lamented Palestinian official Wilya Tajmi. “People fawned over us. When Yasser Arafat walked into a room, he commanded attention. Now we’re lepers, more or less. It might be true that even at the time, our Arab and Muslim brethren didn’t actually care about us and were only using us, but then we had so many Arab countries willing to do that. We don’t have that anymore. Maybe some crumbs from UNRWA, some weapons from Iran or Qatar, and that’s it. But we’ll take it. Otherwise it means we’re totally ignored, unimportant, and who could accept the shame?”
Poland Cancels Ceremony After Israeli Mayor Won’t Delete Passage on Collaboration from Speech
The mayor of Kiryat Bialik, Eli Dukorsky, who is in Poland as the head of a delegation of students from his city, was scheduled to speak at a ceremony Monday morning when his Polish hosts asked to review his speech and then demanded that he omit parts of the speech that blamed the Polish people for involvement in Holocaust crimes, Channel 2 News reported. After consultation with the Foreign Ministry, Dukorsky refused to make the changes and the ceremony was canceled.

Mayor Dukorsky and his delegation were of on a visit of Kiriat Bialik’s twin city of Radomsko, in south-central Poland, and to participate in a joint ceremony with the local Mayor, Jarosław Ferenc. But just before Dukorsky began his speech, the mayor of Radomsko politely told him that the authorities were asking to review it.

Dukorsky was taken aback, but submitted his speech, only to be asked a few minutes later by the mayor to remove from the speech the parts in which Dukorsky mentioned that during the war there were Poles who turned over Jews to the Nazis.

Dukorsky contacted the Israeli Foreign Ministry, which instructed him to refuse any censorship of his text and at the same time contacted the Polish Foreign Ministry.

“We reject any attempt at censorship,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Emanuel Nachshon told Channel 2, adding, “We support the mayor’s right to speak out as he planned and not to skip a word, not even one letter.”
UK Jewish Museum trolled with 3,000 daily emails by Polish nationalists
London’s Jewish Museum is being inundated with more than 3,000 emails a day from Polish nationalists supporting their country’s controversial new Holocaust law.

Museum boss Abigail Morris said she and three other staff members – all Jewish – are bombarded by more than 1,000 individual messages a day, while the museum’s non-Jewish staff were not targeted.

Morris said the “very disturbing” trolling began hours after Poland passed a new law banning mention of ‘Polish death camps’ and of Polish complicity in the horrors of the Holocaust.

“It’s scary,” she said this week, after reporting it to the police. “We’ve just taken an exhibition of ours to Poland, where it’s had 55,000 visitors, so my name was out there, but others weren’t. I don’t know how they knew who was Jewish and who wasn’t. Some [Jewish staff] don’t even have Jewish names. It’s very disturbing.”

The exhibition, focusing on the history and significance of blood, was successfully transferred from the Camden institution to the POLIN Jewish history museum in Warsaw last year, and has been well received.

Yet although the exhibition touches on Polish anti-Semitism, Morris said most of the emails didn’t reference the exhibition, but instead focused on Poland’s new law.
Jerusalem stabbing attack victim identified as Adiel Kolman
The Israeli man stabbed to death in a terror attack in Jerusalem’s Old City on Sunday was identified as 32-year-old Adiel Kolman.

Kolman, a father of four, was from the central West Bank settlement of Kochav Hashachar. His funeral will be held there on Monday at 11:00 a.m.

Kolman, who was critically injured in the afternoon terror attack, died of his wounds in the hospital hours later.

Innitial reports identified Kolman as a security guard in the Old City. However, friends later said he had worked in the archaeological digs at the City of David for the last five years.

The assailant, 28-year-old Abd al-Rahman Bani Fadel, was shot dead at the scene by an Israel Police officer, authorities said.

The assailant was said to have spoken to a number of vendors in the Old City’s Muslim Quarter before carrying out the attack.

Shortly before 5 p.m., Fadel walked up to Kolman on Hagai Street and stabbed him repeatedly in the upper body, critically wounding him.
Jerusalem terror victim wrestled with stabber, say eyewitnesses
Eyewitnesses said the Jewish man who was stabbed to death in the Old City of Jerusalem on Sunday tried to fend off his attacker and struggled with him until police arrived.

Adiel Kolman, a 32-year-old father of four from the Kochav Hashachar settlement in the West Bank, was fatally stabbed by a Palestinian terrorist who had been issued a temporary permit to seek work in the capital.

Kolman, who was being laid to rest on Monday morning, put up a fight, witnesses to the deadly terror attack said. He was hospitalized in critical condition and died of his injuries on Sunday night.

The killer was identified as 28-year-old Abd al-Rahman Bani Fadel, a father of two from the village of Aqraba, near the West Bank city of Nablus, the Shin Bet said. He was shot dead by police who rushed to the scene on Hagai Street in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City after hearing Kolman’s cries for help.

Kolman’s mother, Yael Kolman, told the Hadashot TV news channel that her son, who was employed at an archaeological dig, was not afraid of working in the Old City’s Muslim Quarter, despite the dangers.

“Even though he worked in a dangerous place, he did not express fear or concern,” she said. She said that although Adiel was trained in special education, he worked at excavations the Old City.

“Recently, he spoke with us a lot, as though he knew that he was going to leave,” she added.
At Jerusalem stabbing victim’s funeral, politicians pledge more building
Hundreds of people gathered Monday in the central West Bank settlement of Kochav Hashahar for the funeral of Adiel Kolman, who was killed in a stabbing terror attack in Jerusalem’s Old City a day earlier.

In addition to eulogies from family members, the 32-year-old father of four was memorialized by Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, who highlighted Kolman’s work at the City of David archaeological site in East Jerusalem.

“Our revenge is settlement and holding tight to the land,” said Ariel. “I hope we’ll continue to advance construction in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria and make a clear decision that between the Jordan [River] and [Mediterannean] Sea there will only be one sovereign state — the State of Israel.”

“This land is ours. We received it from God, blessed is he,” added the Jewish Home party minister.

The Jerusalem mayor similarly pledged continued construction in response to the deadly terror attack.

“Yesterday they succeeded in harming Adiel. The sorrow is deep and difficult but they’ll never succeed in removing us from our path,” said Barkat. “We in Jerusalem are determined not to change our daily routines and to continue to build in Jerusalem and in the Land of Israel.”
US ambassador blasts PA for not condemning latest terror attacks
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman on Monday slammed the Palestinian Authority for not condemning a spate of deadly attacks that have killed two Israeli soldiers and a civilian in the past four days.

“Tragedy in Israel,” Friedman posted to his Twitter feed. “2 young soldiers, Netanel Kahalani and Ziv Daos, murdered in the north, and father of 4, Adiel Kolman, murdered in Jerusalem, by Palestinian terrorists. Such brutality and no condemnation from the PA! I pray for the families and the wounded – so much sadness.”

Kolman, 32, was stabbed to death as he walked in the Old City of Jerusalem on Sunday. The killer was identified as 28-year-old Abd al-Rahman Bani Fadel, a Palestinian from the village of Aqraba, near the West Bank city of Nablus. He was shot dead by police at the scene.

Kahalani and Daos were killed in a West Bank car-ramming attack on Friday. Two other soldiers were also injured in the attack. The Palestinian driver, 26-year-old Ala Qabha, was taken into custody and confessed to deliberately ramming the soldiers, according to the Shin Bet security agency.

President Reuven Rivlin, speaking at an economic conference in Tel Aviv, on Monday lashed out at those who support terror, in a reference to the PA policy of paying monthly wages to Palestinians who carry out terror attacks against Israelis.
Hebron shooter Azaria to be freed in May after sentence reduction
The army’s prison parole board on Monday ordered Elor Azaria, a former IDF soldier convicted of manslaughter, released from prison in May, when he will have served two-thirds of his sentence.

Azaria is to be released on May 10, after completing 10 months of his 14-month sentence for killing an incapacitated Palestinian attacker in the West Bank city of Hebron in 2016, the Israel Defense Forces said.

The development came after last week Azaria appeared before the military parole board to ask for early release from prison, having served half of his sentence — the minimum amount of time before such a request can be made in the army criminal system. In civilian proceedings, convicts have to serve two-thirds of their sentence before seeking parole.

During the hearing, military prosecutors said they would agree to the early release.

Azaria, the so-called “Hebron shooter,” was found guilty last year of killing Abdel Fattah al-Sharif, who several minutes earlier had attacked two IDF soldiers with a knife. In February 2017, Azaria was sentenced to an 18-month prison term, which IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot later shortened by four months. Azaria began serving his prison term on August 9.

During last Wednesday’s proceedings, which took place in the army’s Tel Aviv headquarters, Azaria’s attorney Yoram Sheftel argued that his client had behaved well in prison.
Hamas presents Gazans with underground 'liberators'
A Hamas-run TV channel which broadcasts in the Gaza Strip, aired at the end of last week a video clip which appeared to be aimed at glorifying the dull and dangerous work carried out by the diggers of tunnels.

The short TV item, likely produced entirely by the spokesperson’s unit of the terror group’s military wing, was broadcast on the “Al-Quds” channel and also appeared to be aimed at recruiting more activists.

The diggers can be seen dragging containers to which sand is transported and digging away as they construct the tunnels. They are also filmed in what appears to be a subterranean resting room where they sit and pray.

The producers of the short video were careful to avoid divulging, however, any details about the nature of the work, its hours, the number of people required for each shift, and also avoided revealing whether it was about defensive or attack tunnels.

‘We’re digging with primitive means’

The narrator in the video describes the difficulties endured by the workers in the unit, which includes the physical tolls due to their prolonged periods of exposure to the dust underground.

“The soil of the Palestinian people was stolen by the Zionist enemy,” one of the workers in the clip says. “Anyone who had their land stolen from them must defend it. That is the privilege of the Palestinian people, and the military wing of Hamas created the way to do it.”


“We are using primitive digging tools,” explained another worker while digging away using a simple spade inside a tunnel.


“We do everything alone and carry buckets of sand by ourselves. We are doing this so we can pray in the al-Aqsa mosque and to liberate our land,” the terrorist adds.
4 Egyptian troops killed, 8 wounded in Sinai fighting
Egypt’s military said four troops and 36 Islamic jihadists have died in the past five days of fighting in the restive Sinai Peninsula.

Monday’s statement said one officer was among the four killed army personnel. It also said that eight soldiers were wounded, including two officers.

The military said that it also destroyed 400 hideouts, munition and weapons depots and dismantled 93 explosive devices during the operation.

It said 345 suspected militants and fleeing criminals have been arrested.

Since Egypt launched the wide-scale operation more than a month ago, 20 troops have been killed.

Egypt has been battling Islamic militants for years, but the insurgency gathered steam and grew deadlier after the 2013 ouster by the military of Mohammed Morsi an Islamist president whose one year in office proved divisive.



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