Monday, April 02, 2018

From Ian:

Honest Reporting: Myths and Facts: Gaza’s Deadly “Protests”
During the Passover weekend, some 30,000 Palestinians in Gaza approached the border with Israel and carried out a variety of violent activities in what they call the “Land Day Protests” or the “March of Return.”

We’ve seen quite a bit of mishandled coverage, so here are the main myths and facts so you can better understand the situation and also speak up when you see inaccurate or biased media.

Myth: This is a non-violent “protest” or a “march.”
Fact: It is none of the above.

Despite its official name, which has been widely repeated by the media, this is not a “protest” nor a “march” by any commonsense or dictionary understanding of the words.

Picturing something like a picket parade on Capitol Hill? Think again. From the beginning we saw significant violence which would not be tolerated by any country.

According to the IDF and multiple videos, the violence began with burning tires, slinging rocks, throwing molotov cocktails and other varieties of firebombs. The correct word for this type of activity is a “riot.”

The violence quickly escalated to live gunfire on the IDF. Firing on a country’s army is typically called an “act of war.”

Under the cover of live fire and the smokescreen from burning tires, armed terror organizations were attempting to breach the border and cross into Israel with weapons. That is called an “attempted infiltration.”

For proper context, it is tremendously important to imagine how the United States or any European state might respond to such violence on its borders, or direct gunfire on its army.

Terminology matters, and journalists should call these events what they are. The all too common headline, “Israeli forces kill 16 Palestinians in border protests,” communicates a very different understanding than the more accurate, “…killed in attempted infiltration of Israel,” or “…in confrontation with Israeli army.”

Myth: Israel is shooting innocent civilians.

Fact: Of the estimated 30,000 people present, as of this time of writing, 17 have been confirmed dead. Of those, at least 10 are confirmed as active fighters of Hamas, Global Jihad, or the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, all designated as terror organizations by the United States, the European Union, and others. (All 17 have been confirmed as young men of military age).

PMW: Fatah: "My rifle's fire is the death of the enemies and music to my ears"
Abbas to the UN: "We have been committed to fostering a culture of peace, rejection of violence"

Contradicting PA Chairman Abbas' assurances to international audiences that Palestinians want peace, his Fatah Movement continues to promote violence and terror as Palestinian ideals.

Fatah's Bethlehem branch posted the image above of two men wearing Arab headdresses shooting a machine gun as two Israeli aircraft explode in mid-air, with accompanying text rejoicing over "the death of the enemies":

Posted text: "Fatah was here"
Text on image: "O Fatah, this is my rifle in my hand hugging my ribs, and its fire is the death of the enemies and music to my ears"

[Facebook page of the Fatah Movement - Bethlehem Branch, March 22, 2018]

The violent essence of this post, like others Palestinian Media Watch has exposed, contradicts Abbas' recent assurances to the UN:
"Our conviction is deep and our position is clear regarding the use of arms of any kind. We... are also opposed to conventional weapons, which have caused such vast destruction of States in our region and around the world. We have thus been committed to fostering a culture of peace, rejection of violence..."
[PA Chairman Abbas' speech at the UN Security Council, Feb. 20, 2018, Times of Israel, Feb. 21. 2018]

Commenting on Abbas' speech, Palestinian political analyst Hani Abu Zaid recently stated on official PA TV that he believes Abbas' Fatah Movement will return to "armed struggle" - the PA's euphemism for violence and terror - unless the international peace conference Abbas called for is held:
Trump and the Fading Ghost of an Illusion
They believe they have three trump cards to play.

The first is that Iran has a demographic reserve of some 20 million people of "fighting age" and is thus capable of sustaining levels of casualties unthinkable for Americans. The second is that Iran is already the missile superpower of the Middle East and could target all of Washington's allies in the region.

Iran's third trump card is its nuclear program. Without it, the other two cards will not have the desired effect, especially if the US unleashes its new generation of low-grade nuclear weapons designed for battlefield use.

The real issue, as far as US and its allies are concerned, is that the regime in Iran has been, is and most likely will remain, a threat with or without nuclear weapons.

Iran did not seize the US diplomats as hostages with nuclear weapons; nor did it massacre 241 US Marines in Beirut with an atomic bomb. The mischief that Iran is making in Syria, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen and Bahrain is not backed by nuclear power either.

So the real question is: How to deal with a maverick power that has built its strategy on fomenting discord and instability not only in the Middle East but anywhere else it gets a chance?

Washington hawks, among them Bolton perhaps, believe that the only realistic policy towards Iran is one of regime change before the Khomeinists build their nuclear arsenal. They believe that could be achieved with a mixture of military and diplomatic pressure, combined with moral and material support for a pro-democracy movement in Iran.

The Europeans, however, fear that any attempt even at soft regime-change may push the Khomeinists on the offensive in Afghanistan, the Persian Gulf, Iraq, the Caucasus, Lebanon, and the Palestinian territories.

Could a realistic policy be developed through a sober assessment of both positions? If yes, that would requires far more sophistication than the "to waiver or not to waiver" debate over what is; in fact; the fading ghost of an accord wrought from dangerous illusions.

Palestinians: A March to Destroy Israel
Based on statements made by Hamas leaders, the "March of Return" campaign is not about improving the living conditions of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Nor is it about finding ways to solve the "humanitarian" and "economic" crises in the Gaza Strip.

The mass protests are aimed at forcing Israel to accept millions of Palestinian "refugees" as a first step towards turning Jews into a minority in their own country. The next step would be to kill or expel the Jews and replace Israel with an Islamic state. Did they expect the Israeli soldiers to greet them with flowers?

The Palestinian "March of Return" is being mistakenly referred to by some journalists and political analysts as a "peaceful and popular" drive by Palestinians demanding freedom and better living conditions.

Palestinians' living conditions in the Gaza Strip could be improved if the Egyptians only opened the Rafah border crossing and allowed Palestinians to leave and allowed Arabs and others to come and help the people there. Their lives could be improved if Hamas stopped building terror tunnels and smuggling weapons.
Liberman threatens ‘much harsher’ response to further Gaza unrest
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman warned Sunday that Israel would act with a far stronger hand if Palestinians in the Gaza Strip resumed Friday’s violent protests on the border with Israel, during which 15 Palestinians were killed.

He claimed that of some 40,000 Palestinian protesters, 90 percent were officials and activists paid by the Hamas terror group, which rules the enclave, together with their families.

Liberman also pledged that there would be no international inquiry into the clashes, despite demands to that effect by parts of the international community. And he lashed out at the new head of the left-wing Meretz Party for joining calls for a probe, charging that her party represented Palestinian, rather than Israeli, interests.

During Friday’s so-called March of Return, rioters threw rocks and firebombs at Israeli troops on the other side of the fence, burned tires and scrap wood, sought to breach and damage the security fence, and in one case, opened fire at Israeli soldiers.

The Israel Defense Forces said that at least 10 of the 15 dead were members of terror groups, while Hamas has acknowledged that five of them were gunmen from its military wing.
JPost Editorial: Hamas’s new strategy
However, the riots come at a time when Hamas’s political leadership in Gaza is in crisis. The terrorist organization, which violently wrested control over Gaza Strip in 2007, two years after Israel evacuated, has failed to care for the Palestinians who live there. Islamists who came to power with the slogan “Islam is the answer” have realized after a decade that even running a tiny coastal enclave is impossible while clinging to a Muslim theology that leaves no room for compromise or pragmatism.

Hamas channels its limited resources into preparation for another failed war with Israel instead of investing in improving the lives of Gaza’s citizens.

The results of Hamas’s intransigence are tragically evident. Paralyzing electricity shortages leave Gaza’s inhabitants with just a few hours of electricity per day; running water is available only one day out of four on average and the over-pumping of aquifers has resulted in seeping of saltwater; unemployment rates are skyrocketing; and the rebuilding of Gaza after the 2014 conflict with Israel is stalled.

Attempts at reconciliation with the Fatah leadership in the West Bank have gone nowhere because both sides care more about their own aggrandizement than about the betterment of the Palestinian people. Hamas had hoped it would be allowed to continue to control Gaza militarily, while the Palestinian Authority, funded by generous foreign donors – mostly Americans and Europeans – would foot the bill for the day-to-day expenses of running an autonomous enclave. Mahmoud Abbas, PA president and head of Fatah, has reacted by stopping the flow of PA funds to Gaza. No one in the West Bank or Gaza even entertains the possibility of democratic elections, which were last held in 2006 and left Hamas with a plurality of the votes.

Under the circumstances, Hamas decided that its easiest option was to launch a series of violent demonstrations against Israel. This deflects attention from Hamas’s own resounding leadership failures. It also gives Hamas new relevance in the Palestinian resistance and upstages Fatah.

None of this has anything to do with real concern for the future of the Palestinian people of Gaza. Hamas is using the demonstrations to undermine and delegitimize Israel. It doesn’t want its people to have hope for a better future. It prefers they be shot and killed by Israelis.

PA slams Nikki Haley as ‘ambassador of hatred’ after she blocks anti-Israel move
The Palestinian Authority on Sunday launched a scathing attack on the US Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, dubbing her an “ambassador of animosity, hatred and dark ideology,” after she blocked a UN condemnation of Israel.

The PA said that Haley was responsible for aborting a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel for Friday’s deaths and injuries of Palestinians during mass protests along the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel.

“The US ambassador insists on taking positions in support of the occupation and in defense of its crimes and violations,” said a statement issued by the PA Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ramallah.

Blaming Haley for adopting a “barefaced hostile position” against the Palestinians, the ministry accused Haley of “blind bias in favor of Israel and its crimes.”

The United States on Saturday blocked a draft UN Security Council statement urging restraint and calling for an investigation of clashes on the Gaza-Israel border.

David Keyes on CNN: Hamas calls for genocide

'Israel is simply defending itself from onslaught' - Netanyahu's spokesman on Gaza border clashes

Foreign Ministry says it handled Gaza well. Michael Oren couldn’t disagree more
As news about Friday’s violent clashes at the Gaza border fades somewhat from international headlines — before a likely revived focus with the next major Gaza protest slated for Friday — Israeli officials and pundits are arguing over the government’s public diplomatic response to the first iteration of the so-called March of Return.

The Foreign Ministry insists that the situation was expertly handled and entirely under control, arguing that several dozen spokespeople across Europe and America worked diligently to put out Israel’s message and respond to Palestinian claims in the press as deemed appropriate. Several current and former officials dealing with Israeli public diplomacy — in the local parlance, hasbara — however, are highly critical of Jerusalem’s response to the march, bemoaning the fact that Israeli public diplomacy has evidently learned very little from previous military altercations and tripped woefully unprepared into a Hamas-laid trap it should have seen coming.

Michael Oren, for one, the deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Office who is responsible for diplomacy, said Israel was patently unprepared for the crisis on the diplomatic and media battlefield, and that the word he was getting from abroad was that the Israeli narrative is losing “big time” to the Palestinian narrative.

The Foreign Ministry’s approach was guided by the real-time assessment on Friday and Saturday that the Palestinian effort to get the world’s attention to focus on the Gaza protests “failed to take off,” said Ohad Kaynar, a spokesperson for the ministry.

This assessment, in turn, led the Foreign Ministry, in coordination with other Israeli public diplomacy officials, to minimize their response lest Israel “fan the flames” of a news event that had otherwise garnered surprisingly little global interest, he said.
IsraellyCool: About That Video of the Palestinian Teen Shot In Back: Another Pallywood Production
You’ll notice in this version, the whole thing feels like you’re watching a crowd of people cheering on their kids as they’re running a relay-race at track and field day:

Why is he crawling at the beginning? The beginning of the obstacle course?
Why is he so desperate to get that tire? Surely if he was running for his life he could forgo it.
Why is the crowd cheering and clapping?
Why is there a crowd watching him to begin with?
At exactly 0:30 you hear a gunshot (like a pellet gun) from the crowd and 0.2 seconds later the sound of the bullet hitting the ground. The clear intention here is to create the illusion that the runners are under fire. I can get into the physics of the speed of a bullet vs the speed of sound if the gunshot came from the side of the camera or from the border fence but that’s so not my expertise. It’s enough for me to tell you that sniper rifles don’t sound like that. Especially if shot from a distance.
Why is the tire being handed off to another runner? Is this a relay race?
Right after the alleged “shot in the back”, there is applause from the audience.

If you need further evidence of staged “deaths” from Friday’s violent protest, look no further than this man who somehow got shot while praying. If Pallywood gave out Razzie Awards this one would take every category.
IsraellyCool: How The Palestinians Lie: The Case of Mohammad Abu Amr
Meet Mohammad Abu Amr, one of those killed in the recent “March of Return” riots.

To an international, English-speaking audience, he was a well-known carver of sand.

To an Arabic-speaking audience, he was an aspiring carver of innocent people.

Either that, or that’s one hell of a sand carving tool.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Logistical Problems: Only Some Hamas Units Equipped With Human Shields (satire)
Tension gripped the Izzedin al-Qassam Brigades this week in advance of operations against the Zionist Entity, as several platoons of fighters discovered they had not received their allotment of women and children to use as human shields.

Commanders in the Gaza City, Sujaiyya, and Rafah districts complained this week that their requisitions for the proper number of noncombatants to accompany their units had gone unfulfilled, leaving the rocket-launching, tunnel-digging, and roadside-bomb-planting squads without the cover that those human shields provide. Without the women, children, and elderly Gazans, they note, the units are unable to leverage their presence to score either political or military victories against Israel.

“My orders, and the battle plan, call for placing the women and children in harm’s way, either to deter Israeli fire or to capitalize on the deaths to depict the Zionists as brutal fiends,” explained Mustafa Massiqr of the Rafah district. “Without the children to either prevent or absorb enemy fire, I can’t proceed according to plan. I can’t expose my men to enemy fire like that.”

“That’s not how our training has taught us to fight,” seconded a commander near the Kerem Shalom crossing who gave his name as Ali. “We can pretend it’s our glorious, courageous warriors taking the fight to the Zionist infidel pig all we want, but without the women and children we’re essentially naked. What am I supposed to do, send our fighters out to confront enemy soldiers while not violating six or seven laws of armed conflict? Not happening.”
With Middle Eastern Gangs Rioting in German Streets, Berlin “Concerned by Situation in Gaza”
While the German police struggle to take back control of their streets, the Merkel government has been “concerned by the situation in Gaza.” The German Foreign Ministry called for “resumption of negotiations to find a solution that would be suitable to all people between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.”

This week, two large-scale riots took place in Hamborn district of Duisburg, a small town some 50-minute ride from the north-western German city of Cologne.

“Duisburg-Hamborn is on the cross-hairs of Turkish and Lebanese gangster clans that are demarcating territory in the northern part of the city,” the Düsseldorf-based newspaper Rheinischen Post reported on Wednesday. “The residents are scared and blame the city [authorities] of inaction.”

“Around 60 man armed with baseball bats, machetes and knives led to a large-scale police operation—the second of its kind at consecutive nights. The police moved in their hundreds to prevent rival gangs from chashing.”

“The background of the incidents is hazy. So far, its unclear which groups were involved in the rioting. According to the police claims, Lebanese, Turks and Germans where involved in the chaos. On Monday night, the similar incidents took place on the same spot,” the Rheinischen Post added.

The surging wave of violence was not limited to Duisburg alone. German newspaper Bild Zeitung reported the nationwide stabbing spree that began last Friday, describing it as “bloody weekend”.
Left rallies behind Army Radio broadcaster who’s ‘ashamed to be Israeli’
MKs on the Left voiced their support for broadcaster Kobi Meidan Monday, who may be fired from Army Radio for sharply criticizing the IDF’s response to Hamas-backed demonstrations on the Gaza border last week.

Meidan wrote on his personal Facebook page that he is “ashamed to be Israeli,” following the clashes that resulted in 15 Palestinians killed, most of whom the IDF said were affiliated with Hamas’ military arm. Army Radio commander Shimon Elkabetz suspended Meidan from broadcasting on Sunday, and is considering dismissing him, according to Channel 2 News. Meidan told Alkabetz that he wrote the post before knowing all the details of the events.

Defense Minister Liberman told Radio 103FM that he’s “ashamed we have such a broadcaster on an army radio station. If he’s ashamed, he should draw his own conclusions and leave the station… I hope the commander will do what he should.”

However, Liberman did not give Elkabetz orders to sack Meidan.

Communications Minister Ayoub Kara also came out against Meidan, and wondered in a tweet why there were no consequences from his other employer, the government-funded Israel Broadcast Corporation.
JVP: "We can think of no better way to celebrate Passover than to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people"
When Israel is under attack, what does "Jewish" Voice for Peace do?
They call a rally in solidarity with the Palestinians.

JVP's call to action contains this egregious lie "The massive protests in cities across Gaza..." The protests were not held in cities across Gaza. Rather, Hamas, the terror organization that governs Gaza bused 30,000 locals to the border with Israel. A tent city was created, with Hamas committing to feeding the protesters for 6 weeks. The first day was marked with violent rioting, and multiple attempts to infiltrate cross the border into Israel.

JVP reports, with more than a hint of disappointment that Israel suffered "zero casualties". The Palestinian dead? JVP neglects some important information.

At least 10 of those killed were active members of the Hamas terror group.
The Emergency Protest was cosponsored by the "Protest first -ask questions later" team at the Palestine Action Network, and in the time-honored tradition of Israel-haters, was scheduled for a day when Jews throughout the area would be preparing for their Pesach seder.
BBC again fails to adequately clarify Hamas’ role in Gaza border agitprop
The BBC did not bother to inform its audiences that at least ten of the sixteen people killed during the violent incidents on March 30th were identified as members of terror groups and later on in the article readers were told that:
“Although most protesters stayed in the encampments, some groups of youths ignored organisers’ calls to stay away from the fence and headed closer to Israeli positions.”

The BBC also continued to avoid telling audiences in its own words that Hamas and additional terror factions initiated and organised the ‘protests’.

“Brig Gen Ronen Manelis told journalists that Hamas – the militant group that controls Gaza – was using Palestinian protests as a cover for launching attacks on Israel. […]

Later Gen Manelis said Friday’s events were “not a protest demonstration” but “organised terrorist activity” by Hamas.

“If it continues, we shall have no choice but to respond inside the Gaza Strip against terrorist targets which we understand to be behind these events,” he said according to AFP news agency.”

Obviously BBC audiences will not be able to understand this story fully if they are not informed by the BBC in its own words that this stunt was initiated organised by Hamas and additional terror factions in the Gaza Strip and if they are not given the full picture regarding the motivation behind Palestinian demands for the so-called ‘right of return’. To date, after three days of reporting on this story, the BBC has failed to provide that essential information.

David Singer: Mattis-Bolton Accord Can Sway Trump to Dump PLO for Jordan
Kerry however failed miserably – being unable to get the PLO back to the negotiating table after a PLO walk-out in April 2014 following nine months of unsuccessful negotiations on proposals specifically formulated by Kerry to resolve the long-running conflict.

Moderate Arabs – Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Oman – have come out publicly – joining Jordan and Egypt in meeting with Israel in the White House – without PLO participation - to discuss Gaza’s deteriorating situation.

The PLO refuses to resume negotiations with Israel on the two-state solution: creating a second Arab State – in addition to Jordan – in the territory covered by the 1922 League of Nations Mandate for Palestine.

The PLO will no longer accept America as sole mediator and is demanding an international conference be convened by mid-2018

The media have castigated Trump for appointing Bolton – typified by highly-credentialled columnist George Will – claiming:
“Bolton will soon be the second-most dangerous American.”

Yet Will himself had written in the Washington Post on 17 April 1987:
“May 14 will be the 30th Anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel, June 6 will be the 20th anniversary of the Six Day War. The West Bank has been held by Israel longer than it had been held by Jordan, the 1967 aggressor, which ever since has presented itself as the aggrieved party. Today, as every day since 1948, the key to peace is direct negotiations between Jordan and Israel, not a committee”

Mattis’s jocular remarks on meeting Bolton at the Pentagon – caught in an off-microphone exchange – signals Mattis could have already changed his thinking:
"I heard you're actually the devil incarnate and I wanted to meet you"

A Mattis-Bolton accord on Jordan replacing the PLO in future negotiations with Israel will undoubtedly reinforce Trump’s preparedness to make this long-overdue call.

[Author’s note: The cartoon commissioned exclusively for this article – is by Yaakov Kirschen aka "Dry Bones" – one of Israel's foremost political and social commentators – whose cartoons have graced the columns of Israeli and international media publications for decades]

U.S. Supreme Court throws out $655m. historic terrorism ruling against PA
The US Supreme Court on Monday permanently threw out a historic $655.5 million terrorism judgment from February 2015 against the Palestinian Authority.

The move was a blow to efforts to hold the case liable in American courts for terror incidents in Israel that killed 33 US citizens during the Second Intifada.

Already in August 2016, the Second US Circuit Court of Appeals in New York had ordered the case dismissed, saying that the US court system had no jurisdiction over the PA or its sister organization the PLO. It wrote that a lower court judge had made a mistake in concluding otherwise and even allowing a trial to take place.

But Shurat Hadin, the Israel Law Center, who led the legal charge, called the decision "a horrible travesty of justice" and had hoped the US Supreme Court would uphold the original district court decision - at the time, the biggest judgment ever against the PA in the US and one of the first major anti-terror judgments, along with the September 2014 judgment against Amman-based Arab Bank for financing terrorism.

Disappointingly for Shurat Hadin and the victims, the Trump administration had opposed the Supreme Court intervening to save the anti-PA verdict from the appeals court.
Top minister: Reconciliation with ‘anti-Semite’ Erdogan may have been a mistake
Israel’s 2016 reconciliation agreement with Turkey may have been a mistake, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said Monday, as a war of words between the nation’s leaders over the Gaza Strip became increasingly vitriolic.

“Looking back, maybe the accord should not have been approved,” Erdan told Army Radio, calling Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan “an anti-Semite who continues to support Hamas.”

He said Israel must stand up “to the hostility and anti-Semitism of Erdogan. It’s odd for a country such as Turkey, that is massacring the Kurds and occupying northern Cyprus, to be accepted as a legitimate nation by the West.”

Turkey invaded areas of northern Cypus in 1974 and later annexed the territory in a move not recognized by any other country.

In January this year, Turkey launched an air and ground offensive in the enclave of Afrin in Syria to root out the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Turkey brands a terrorist group but which is seen by the United States as a key player in the fight against Islamic State jihadists. The UN has said that 170,000 people have fled Afrin in the wake of the Turkish offensive. Dozens of civilians have been killed.

Erdan noted that he had always had issues with the 2016 deal with Ankara that ended years of diplomatic crisis.
Netanyahu: 16,250 migrants to resettle in Canada, Germany, Italy
Thousands of African migrants in Israel will be resettled in several Western countries including Canada, Germany and Italy under a new agreement reached with the UN refugee agency, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday.

“This agreement will allow for the departure from Israel of 16,250 migrants to developed countries, such as Canada, Germany and Italy,” Netanyahu said. Others will go to Scandinavian countries.

He made the announcement in televised remarks after the government said it had scrapped a controversial plan to deport African migrants and replaced it with a new one that would see thousands sent to Western countries.

Netanyahu said the earlier plan to deport migrants to Rwanda and Uganda was no longer feasible.
Arab Media: Dozens of Settlers Stormed Al Aqsa Mosque
In an Arab media linguistic culture in which every Jew is a settler and every Jewish visit to the Temple Mount is an attack, the ma’an news agency’s top headline on Sunday morning alerted its readers: “Settlers break into Al Aqsa Square.”

Of course, the settler’s break in was belied by Ma’an’s own pictures which showed a group of Israeli tourists walking quietly around the Temple Mount area (so as not to step on an actual remnant of the holy temple).
Even more Settlers break into Al Aqsa Square… / Photo credit: Courtesy Temple Organizations’ Headquarters

Here’s the English translation of the Ma’an story – the pictures, incidentally, were lifted without attribution from the Facebook page of the Temple Organizations’ Headquarters.

“Dozens of settlers stormed the Al Aqsa Mosque on the Jewish Passover holiday with the protection of Israeli police.

“The head of public relations and media in the Islamic Endowments Department (Waqf), Firas al-Dibs, said that more than 200 settlers stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque through the Mughrabi Gate, which has been under occupation since the occupation of Jerusalem.

(Incidentally, the Temple Organizations’ Headquarters Facebook page only boasted 100 visitors – which the pictures support.)

Al-Debs added that successive groups of settlers storming the Aqsa Mosque are taking a tour of the Mughrabi Gate, passing through the courtyard and doors of the mosque to the Chain Gate (Heb: Shaar HaShalshelet). Outside the Chain Gate, they organize dances and collective prayers.
Sissi wins Egypt election with 97% of valid votes — official
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi has been re-elected for a second term with 97.08 percent of valid votes cast in an election last week, the election authority said Monday.

The head of the authority Lasheen Ibrahim said at a press conference that turnout was 41.05% of the almost 60 million registered voters.

He said 92.73% of the votes were valid from the roughly 24 million cast, while almost two million ballots were spoiled.

“These are momentous moments for this nation…which will be written in letters of light, under the title: battle for the love of Egypt,” Ibrahim said.

Sissi’s sole challenger was the little-known Moussa Mostafa Moussa, himself a supporter of the president, who registered immediately before the close date for applications, saving the election from being a one-horse race. He won 2.92% of the valid votes, Ibrahim said.

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