Wednesday, December 05, 2018

From Ian:

Caroline Glick: Israel and the U.S. Have Common Interests in the Middle East
The root of Israel’s enduring significance to the U.S. is found in the fact that the Jewish state shares all of America’s core interests in relation to the region.

The first U.S. core interest in the Middle East is to prevent any competing superpower from taking over. The U.S. does not want China or Russia to supplant it as the preeminent superpower in the region, both because such an event would harm the U.S. economically, and because it would make America’s rivals significantly stronger and the U.S. significantly weaker.

Israel shares this U.S. interest. Israel can develop close ties with both Russia and China on a transactional level based on episodic common interests. But unlike the U.S., Russia and China do not share Israel’s permanent perception of its interests the way the U.S. does.

Along these lines, the second permanent U.S. interest in the Middle East is to prevent local powers from dominating the region, proliferating weapons of mass destruction, or acquiring intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Israel’s acute concern with all of these issues has caused it to develop intelligence agencies second to none in gathering and acting on intelligence relating to all of these issues — not only in Israel, but worldwide. Israel’s Mossad’s seizure of Iran’s nuclear archive in Tehran this past January is a testament to Israel’s capabilities.

The Middle East remains the world’s largest incubator for terrorism and the largest exporter of terrorists. Israel’s unhappy distinction is that it has been fighting these forces since before it was established. The U.S. and Israel share a key interest in destroying terror groups operating in the Middle East to prevent them from attacking in the region and throughout the world.

Israel’s intelligence capabilities have foiled Iranian terror attacks around the world and have exposed Iranian agents engaged in purchasing dual-use technologies to advance Iran’s nuclear work.
Dr. Mordechai Kedar: The mole inside the Hezbollah tunnel
This week, for the first time, Israel made public its discovery of the tunnel constructed by Hezbollah and reaching into Israel's sovereign territory. This brought to an end a long period during which a large number of Israelis living in communities adjacent to the Lebanese border reported hearing sounds of digging as well as feeling tremors in the walls of their homes.

Attack tunnels are intended to allow for significant numbers of armed infantry bearing weapons, artillery and supplies, to traverse them within a minimal time span, avoiding Israeli lookouts and thereby gaining the element of surprise. An underground passage grants attackers protection from Israeli bombs, while it also means that the war begins on the Israeli side of the border, in the midst of areas populated by civilians. That fact allows for sudden forays and kidnapping.

However, the discovery and neutralization of the tunnel that Hezbollah dug into Israel's sovereign territory is a technological, operational and intelligence network accomplishment, for additional reasons:

1. Hezbollah based its plans for future wars on these tunnels. Nasrallah has not made a secret of his plans to take over the Galilee in the next war, but because Hezbollah has no means of air transport, it cannot land sufficient numbers of armed forces in Israeli territory, and the tunnels were intended as the substitute for an airlift. By discovering the first tunnel, Israel has eliminated the immediate use of this strategic method, but the IDF believes there are additional tunnels.

An underground passage grants attackers protection from Israeli bombs, while it also means that the war begins on the Israeli side of the border, in the midst of areas populated by civilians.

2. The discovery of the tunnel has proven to the entire world that Hezbollah is acting in flagrant violation of the Security Council Resolution 1701 which brought the 2006 Second Lebanon War to an end. This resolution forbids Hezbollah any presence in southern Lebanon, but now it has become clear that not only is the terrorist organization in that region, it is also violating Israeli sovereignty. It is obvious once again that UNIFIL has neither the ability nor the interest to carry out the mission it was given by the Security Council and Israel has no reason to assume that the international community will act to ensure its security. This violation of a Security Council decision provides Israel with justification, vis a vis the Israeli public and the world, to attack Hezbollah.

PMW: "The Dark-Eyed [Virgins] yearn for me" - poem on official PA TV
The ideal of dying as a "Martyr" continues to be promoted regularly by the Palestinian Authority and Abbas' Fatah party. Palestinian Media Watch has documented that "Martyrs" have cult-like status in the PA.

Following a recent terror attack in which the terrorist stabbed and wounded 4 Israeli policemen, a host on official PA TV read a poem in the terrorist's honor. The poem glorifies Martyrdom-death in battle and states that the 72 "Dark-Eyed" Virgins in Paradise who the Martyr marries according to Islamic tradition, are "yearning" for the Palestinian Martyr:

Official PA TV host: "About the Jerusalem Martyr Abd Al-Rahman Abu Jamal (terrorist, wounded 4 -Ed.) we say:
I am the Palestinian lion cub
I was planted in my land, like the olive and fig tree
My roots reach Canaan
The blood of the Martyrs flows in my veins,
I am like a lion in the fields [of battle]
If the drums of war call
I harvest the souls in the fields
I guard the Al-Aqsa [Mosque] and the [Dome of the] Rock
My eyes will not close, and my head will not bow
I am the Palestinian lion cub
The armies of treachery fear me
The Dark-Eyed [Virgins] yearn for me
I have not sold my homelands, and have not given up my assault rifle
Today I carry my shrouds, and in my heart my faith strengthens
Because victory and liberation are coming at the hands of the lion cubs

[Official PA TV, Good Morning Jerusalem, Nov. 23, 2018]

It should be noted that the terrorist was 17 years old and that the term "lion cub" repeated in the poem is the name for boys in Fatah's youth club, which is named "Lion Cubs and Flowers." The "lion cubs" - children of similar age or younger than the 17-year-old terrorist who is being honored in the poem and who the Dark-Eyed virgins yearn for - are being urged to kill - to "harvest souls" in the battle field.

JPost Editorial: Northern exposure
Lebanon, which recently marked its 75th anniversary, has little to celebrate and has been unable to put together a government since the May elections. This strengthens Hezbollah’s role as the dominant force in Lebanon. It also strengthens Iran’s control of the country.

Hezbollah, like Hamas, is using the local population as human shields. In October, the IDF uncovered an observation post used by Hezbollah on the northern border under the guise of the fictitious environmental NGO “Green Without Borders,” the sixth such post discovered in recent years. This raises the obvious question of what exactly UNIFIL, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, is actually doing there and what the UN and world community are doing to prevent another serious conflagration in the region.

Last week, Dr. Dore Gold, president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and former Foreign Ministry director-general, called on the UN Security Council to act in accordance with Resolution 1701, which dates to the Second Lebanon War in 2006, to clean out the illegal weapons held by Hezbollah in southern Lebanon.

“There are about 200 Shiite villages in southern Lebanon,” said Gold. “In their homes, many residents have prohibited weapons. They accept payment for it or are simply too frightened to refuse the terrorists’ request.”

It is likely that the upcoming operation was one of the main topics on the agenda when Netanyahu met with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Brussels on Monday. Former National Security Council chief Maj.-Gen. Yaakov Amidror, a senior fellow at the INSS think tank, told Israel Radio that it was no less important to gain strong diplomatic support ahead of such an operation than to be prepared militarily.

Hezbollah’s terror tunnels stretching into Israel’s North cross a red line. Israel has not only the right but the duty to act to defend itself.
PM: Hezbollah tunnels built with direct Iranian support
Operation Northern Shield, seeking to expose and ‎neutralize ‎terror tunnels dug by Hezbollah under the ‎Israel-‎Lebanon border was over a year and a half in ‎the making, the military said Tuesday.‎

Operations were currently focused on neutralizing a ‎tunnel breaching nearly 200 meters (656 feet) into ‎Israeli territory near the northern town of Metula. ‎The tunnel is 2 meters (6 feet) high and 2 meters ‎wide, and runs 25 meters (82 feet) deep, the IDF said. ‎

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, IDF Chief of ‎Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot and IDF Spokesperson ‎Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis held a special press ‎conference at the IDF's headquarters in Tel Aviv ‎Tuesday, in which they elaborated on the operation.‎

‎"This morning, the IDF launched a ‎campaign to expose and neutralize a network of ‎cross-border terror tunnels built by Hezbollah with ‎direct support and funding from Iran," Netanyahu ‎said. ‎

‎"[The tunnels] were built with one purpose in mind – ‎to attack and murder innocent Israeli men, women and ‎children. This is a grave violation of Israel's ‎sovereignty and a gross violation of U.N. Security ‎Council Resolution 1701. It is an unacceptable act ‎of wanton aggression.‎
Hezbollah's plan to conquer the Galilee
Hezbollah's "Conquering the Galilee" plan has made headlines long before the IDF launched Operation Northern Shield on Tuesday morning to expose and neutralize terror tunnels the Shiite organization had constructed along the Israel-Lebanon border since 2006.

The plan entails fighters from Hezbollah's elite Radwan unit infiltrating Israel from Lebanon, entrenching themselves in Israeli communities near the border while taking hostages and using Israeli citizens as human shields.

According to the plan, Tehran is expected to aid Hezbollah's operation by sending money and weapons sent to the Shiite terror organization, as well as militias to fight alongside Hezbollah.

Hezbollah's Radwan unit, which carries out the organization's top secret missions, is expected to be in charge of executing most of the plan to capture the Galilee.

The unit—which was established by Hezbollah leader Imad Mughniyeh to fight Israel—is a fast intervention force whose people go through grueling training.

Arab media outlets describe Radwan as a shadow unit whose militants operate only in special and extreme cases. Hezbollah is maintaining complete ambiguity surrounding Radwan, with official reports about the unit being very rare.
Ron Prosor: What about the diplomatic angle?
The operation to neutralize Hezbollah's attack tunnels is a tactical achievement and technological and intelligence success for the IDF. But alongside these accolades, we must also ask if Israel is doing everything in its power to weaken the terrorist organization in the long term. The answer, unfortunately, is that is isn't.

Israeli officials do not understand that military operations on our northern border are not enough to weaken Hezbollah. These actions, as successful as they may be, will only reap short-term achievements. We saw this following the Second Lebanon War, when Hezbollah took a major hit but quickly regained its strength and is now stronger than it has ever been.

If Israel genuinely wants to weaken Hezbollah in the long-term, it must consolidate a three-pronged strategy that relies on intelligence, military efforts and diplomacy. As it stands, the absence of the diplomatic angle allows Hezbollah to act unfettered in Europe and transfer millions of euros to Lebanon from there every year.

While Hezbollah is classified as a terrorist group in the United States and even some Arab League member-states, in Europe it acts without constraint. The Europeans made the decision to artificially differentiate between Hezbollah's military wing, which it classifies as a terrorist organization, and its political wing, which has been given license to act as if it was a separate body. This same European license enables Hezbollah to operate a crime network throughout the continent that engages in drug trafficking and money laundering and uses the profits of these activities to fund terrorist activities on Lebanon's border with Israel and throughout the entire world.
Ben Dror Yemini: Northern Shield not meant to shield Netanyahu
It was clear that with the onset of Operation Northern Shield—meant to neutralize terror tunnels Hezbollah has constructed along the Israel-Lebanon border—some would call it a public relations stunt by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Those who believe the timing of the police's recommendations in Case 4000—announced on the last day of Roni Alsheikh’s tenure as the police commissioner—was reasonable, somehow complain about the timing of the operation.

It would be fair to say that those who raise questions over the police recommendation to indict the prime minister and the timing of the operation in the north are cynically exploiting the situation, choosing their political interests over the security ones.

Throughout his tenure, the prime minister excelled in one thing—he has never been trigger-happy. Quite the contrary. There were those who accused him of being overly cautious. For instance, Operation Protective Edge only went ahead after multiple attempts were made by Netanyahu to avoid the conflict. "Quiet for quiet," Netanyahu said repeatedly just days before the operation began, and although it didn’t help, he never wanted that war. He was dragged into it. There are enough good arguments against Netanyahu; there is no need to paint him as a warmonger.

Even during the later stages of the 2011 social justice protest, there were those who claimed that Netanyahu would start a war to put an end to it. It did not happen. These accusations were false back then as well. It happened again a few weeks ago, when it felt like we were on a brink of another war with Hamas, but once again it didn’t happen. Netanyahu, again and again, chooses to reach understandings with the terror group. That’s his way.

Inside a Hezbollah Attack Tunnel
This is what it looks like 80+ feet underground, inside a Hezbollah attack tunnel dug from under a home in Lebanon into Israel.

Hezbollah Terrorist Caught on Camera
We surprised this Hezbollah operative before he could surprise Israeli civilians. Take a look at what we caught on camera from inside an attack tunnel dug from Lebanon into Israel.

12 Years of Hezbollah Aggression
For 12 years, Hezbollah accumulated more than 100,000 rockets and in recent years, graduated to digging attack tunnels along the Lebanon-Israel border.

Russia offers reserved support for Israel's anti-tunnel operation
Moscow expressed reserved support on Wednesday for Israel's efforts to neutralize terror tunnels from Lebanon, but said it hoped these efforts will not conflict with UN Security Council Resolution 1701.

That resolution from 2006 put an end to the Second Lebanon War and called for the Blue Line, the border between Israel and Lebanon, to be respected.

The Russian embassy posted a tweet saying that there is “no doubt that Israel has the right to protect its national security, including to prevent the illegal entry of anyone into the country.”

At the same time, the tweet continued, “we hope that the actions taken for this purpose will not conflict with UNSC Resolution 1701.”

This tweet paraphrased and condensed comments Russian foreign Minister spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, made on Wednesday. Zakharova said that Russia hoped UNIFIL would fulfill its monitoring mission in southern Lebanon and “not allow any violations.”

She also said that Moscow called on all parties “to show the necessary responsibility and restraint, to avoid provocative steps and harsh statements that can further aggravate tense situation.”
Israel to protest Hezbollah tunnels as violation of U.N. resolution
Hours after the IDF operation to destroy Hezbollah tunnels began, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon called for a meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss the terror group’s violation of previous council resolutions and Israel’s sovereignty.

“It is clear that Hezbollah shows willful disregard towards the Security Council and aggressively violated Resolution 1701,” Danon said of the 2006 resolution that put an end to the Second Lebanon War.

“Israel expects the international community and the Security Council to condemn this activity by Hezbollah and to demand that the Lebanese government implement Security Council resolutions,” he said. “We will do whatever it takes to defend our sovereignty and ensure the security of the residents of Israel”

In addition to taking the issue to the council, the Foreign Ministry instructed its representatives abroad to stress that the digging of these tunnels constitutes an aggressive action, is a clear violation of Israeli sovereignty, and is an additional violation of Security Council resolutions 1559 and 1701.

Resolution 1559, passed in 2004, called for all foreign forces to withdraw from Lebanon and for the “disbanding and disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias.”

And resolution 1701 called upon the government of Lebanon to assert its authority and control throughout the country, in respect of the international boundary between Israel and Lebanon – and for UNIFIL to do what it must to ensure that southern Lebanon is not utilized for hostile activities.

Israel, meanwhile, is busy on the diplomatic front trying to explain the reason for the IDF’s actions. This includes the rapid distribution of short videos that were prepared in advance explaining Israel’s actions.
Lebanon says Israel provided no evidence of tunnel attacks to U.N. .
Israel provided no evidence of cross-border attack tunnels in a meeting with U.N. peacekeepers on Wednesday, Lebanon's Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said.

The Israeli military launched an operation on Tuesday on its side of the border to "expose and thwart" tunnels into its territory, which it said originated from Lebanon.

Israel accused Lebanon's Hezbollah movement of digging across the common frontier, saying they did not function yet but posed "an imminent threat."

There was no comment from Iran-backed Hezbollah.

"The Israelis did not present any information," at the meeting with the Lebanese army and the UNIFIL peacekeeping force, a statement from Berri's office said, adding that geographic coordinates had been demanded but not received.

"This (Israeli accusation) is not based on any real facts at all," Ali Bazzi, a lawmaker from Berri's parliamentary bloc cited the speaker as saying after a meeting.
MEMRI: Past Reports In Lebanese Press On Hizbullah Tunneling Into Israel
On December 4, 2018, Israeli media reported that the IDF had launched "Operation Northern Shield" to locate and neutralize terror tunnels excavated by Hizbullah that originate in Lebanese territory and reach deep into Israel and threaten its northern settlements.[1]

MEMRI has previously translated reports from the Lebanese press about such tunnels, from both pro- and anti-Hizbullah publications. According to one of these reports, Hizbullah taught Hamas to use of tunnel warfare against Israel.

The following is a review of past reports in the Lebanese press about Hizbullah tunneling into Israel.

Al-Mustaqbal Daily, January 2017: Hizbullah Has Forward Positions On Border With Israel, Including Tunnels

On January 18, 2017, the Lebanese daily Al-Mustaqbal, which is owned by Lebanese Prime Minister Sa'd Al-Hariri, a prominent political rival of Hizbullah, published a report indicating that Hizbullah was operating south of the Litani River, in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701. The report stated: "Hizbullah has concealed forward positions on the international [Lebanon-Israel] border, including tunnels it dug over 10 years ago, especially in the Al-Labouna area, south of Al-Naqoura. [This area] overlooks the Palestinian coast and the [Israeli] towns of Shlomi and Nahariya."[2]

Al-Safir Daily, May 2016: Hizbullah Operatives Are Digging Tunnels At Israel's Border

On May 25, 2016, the Lebanese daily Al-Safir, which was known for its pro-Hizbullah stance,[3] published a front- page article celebrating "Liberation Day," i.e. the 16th anniversary of Israel's withdrawal from South Lebanon. The article, which appeared without a byline, analyzed the current situation of Hizbullah (which it called "the resistance") as well as its combat activity on the Syrian and Israeli fronts.

Adding that along with its fighting in Syria, Hizbullah is continuing its activity against Israel, the article added that resistance fighters were working day and night on the Israeli border "conducting observations, preparing, and digging tunnels that cause the settlers and enemy soldiers to lose sleep."
BBC WS radio host questions “factual accuracy” of purpose of Hizballah tunnels
At that point Razia Iqbal put relevant questioning aside, instead choosing to indulge her own irrelevant speculations.
Iqbal: “Well given that a war with Israel would not be in the interests of Hizballah, one wonders about the…err…the accuracy or the factual accuracy of those tunnels being potentially used for the way in which Israel is alleging that Hizballah might use them.”

Iqbal did not enlighten listeners as to her opinions on alternative uses for a 200 meter-long, 800 meter deep tunnel quarried through solid limestone and under the international border by a terror group dedicated to Israel’s destruction.
Ahronheim: “Of course but again, Hizballah has for years – and I can go back to 2012 of Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah saying…talking about, you know, the conquest of the Galilee and that there would be surprise tunnels that would be infiltrating into Israel. So this is something that they’ve been planning for several years.”

Iqbal then went on to promote another bizarre theory:
Iqbal: “Why do you think that Israel has made the announcement of cutting off these tunnels today? Is there any sense that this is a diversionary tactic to take attention away from Benjamin Netanyahu’s shaky coalition?”

Benjamin Netanyahu hated George H.W. Bush’s peace plan. Now it’s his policy.
Bush’s secretary of state, James Baker, was so frustrated with what he perceived to be Netanyahu’s obstructionism that he banned him from the State Department.

The Madrid talks led to the Oslo process, which launched direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

Netanyahu built much of his subsequent career on saying that Oslo was a mistake because it promised the transfer of critical territory to an entity that Israel could not trust to secure it. It’s an outlook that has helped get Netanyahu elected four times as prime minister.

Instead, in recent years he has favored a multilateral peace that includes all major Arab players in the region; relies on Saudi Arabia to bring others into the process; and builds toward a final status plan through regional cooperation. Key to Netanyahu’s approach is that the Palestinians do not have the power to prevent other Israeli-Arab talks from advancing.

If that sounds familiar, it should: Bush 41 suggested something similar in a familiar context.

“What we envision is a process of direct negotiations proceeding along two tracks — one between Israel and the Arab states, the other between Israel and the Palestinians,” Bush said at the opening of the Madrid peace parley on Oct. 30, 1991. “This conference cannot impose a settlement on the participants or veto agreements.”
JCPA: The Exposure of Israel’s Intelligence Collection in Gaza Actually Undermines Hamas
As time goes by, it becomes clearer that Hamas is under tremendous pressure from Palestinian public opinion as a result of the exposure of special operations by IDF forces in the area of Khan Yunis on November 11, 2018. The campaign of propaganda and exaggerated psychological warfare that Hamas is waging against Israel on this issue is creating a feeling among Gaza residents that the organization has problems with intelligence, and that the Israeli intelligence services have been working in the area, right under its nose, for a long time.

Gaza residents relate that the organization’s pride was hurt when it found out about the range of intelligence operations carried out by a special unit of the IDF. Residents of Gaza are wondering where Hamas’ intelligence services are. Why did they not take sufficient measures to prevent the infiltration of IDF soldiers into the Gaza Strip? Apparently, the soldiers in Hamas’ special force for preventing the infiltration of Gaza’s border fence with Israel did not notice any penetration by an Israeli force into the area.

It is not at all certain whether Hamas’ claim that Israeli soldiers from a special IDF force entered Gaza through the Erez checkpoint and their listening devices came through the Kerem Shalom crossing is true. Fatah sources say that Hamas is singling out the apparent “infiltration” through the border crossings with Israel to transfer the burden of responsibility from itself to the Palestinian Authority, which has stationed officers at these crossings. Hamas is hinting that the Palestinian Authority helped the IDF soldiers get into the Gaza Strip.

The Hamas Interior Ministry called a press conference on December 3, 2018, to inform the Gazan public of the fate of 14 alleged collaborators with Israel, who were apprehended by the Hamas intelligence service.

These collaborators were active in Gaza between 2000 and 2017.
Israeli envoy predicts win for UN resolution condemning Hamas
Israel's ambassador to the United Nations predicted Tuesday that a U.S.-sponsored resolution condemning Hamas, the terrorist group that controls Gaza, over its rocket fire on Israel, ‎its incitement to violence and ‎its use of civilian resources for military ‎purposes will be approved by the General Assembly.

The 193-member General Assembly is scheduled to vote on the U.S. draft resolution on Thursday afternoon, and Ambassador Danny Danon said he believes "we will get a majority no matter what."

The resolution was amended to gain support of the 28-member European Union, adding a reference to "relevant U.N. resolutions," though not specific ones.

If adopted, it would be the first time the General ‎Assembly ‎condemns Hamas, which usurped control of Gaza ‎from ‎the ‎Western-backed government of Palestinian ‎Authority ‎President ‎Mahmoud Abbas in a military coup in 2007. ‎

The draft resolution "demands that Hamas and other militant actors including Palestinian Islamic Jihad cease activity, including by using airborne incendiary devices."

Kuwait's U.N. Ambassador Mansour al-Otaibi said Arab nations will seek to have the resolution approved by a two-thirds majority rather than a simple majority.
Can Israel and U.S. convince India, others to condemn Hamas at the U.N.?
Jerusalem and Washington are focusing efforts to pass an anti-Hamas resolution in the UN on Thursday on countries that abstained on a similar motion in June, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said.

These include countries with which Israel has very strong ties, such as India, Kenya, Ethiopia, Philippines, Mexico, Panama, Romania, Rwanda and Uganda.

Danon said the working assumption is that those 62 countries that voted for a US-backed amendment condemning Hamas in June will vote for it this time as well, and those 58 that opposed it then will also oppose now. The 42 countries that abstained are being targeted to change their vote.

The amendment in June was to a resolution that condemned Israel for the Gaza violence and called for protection for the Palestinian civilian population. The amendment garnered a majority, but failed to pass because of procedural issues that necessitated a two-thirds majority. The initial resolution, condemning Israel, passed.

Danon said that Hamas has mobilized Iran in the UN, as well as the Palestinian Authority, to press countries to vote against the current measure. Israel and the US, he said, are pressing equally as hard to get the motion passed.
MEMRI: PA, Fatah Act To Thwart UN Resolution Condemning Hamas Rocket Attacks On Israel: 'We Will Not Allow Hamas To Be Labeled A Terror Organization'; 'We Will Serve As Its Body Armor'
On November 30, 2018, the U.S. Mission to the UN submitted a draft resolution condemning violence by Hamas and by the other armed factions in Gaza. The resolution, which is scheduled for a vote at the General Assembly on Thursday (December 6, 2018), refers to Hamas's activity as "terror"[1] and "condemns the movement for repeatedly firing rockets into Israel and for inciting violence, thereby putting civilians at risk." It demands that Hamas "cease all provocative actions and violent activity, including by using airborne incendiary devices." It also takes Hamas to task for using resources "to construct military infrastructure, including tunnels to infiltrate Israel and equipment to launch rockets into civilian areas, when such resources could be used to address the critical needs of the civilian population." In an announcement released the same day, the U.S. Mission stated that, "if the UN cannot bring itself to adopt this resolution, then it has no business being involved in peace discussions."[2]

Despite the ongoing intra-Palestinian schism, as part of which the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Fatah

have repeatedly stated that Hamas's weapons are not directed at Israel but are intended to preserve Hamas's rule in Gaza,[3] PA and Fatah officials hurried to condemn the draft resolution and mobilized to thwart its passage. They emphasized the solidarity with Hamas and the national duty of coming to its aid, despite the bitter controversy with it, and clarified that they would not allow Hamas to be defined as a terror organization, because resistance to occupation is not terror but a legitimate right recognized by international law.

The following are excerpts from some of the statements by PA and Fatah officials against the draft resolution.

Palestinian Officials: We Will Fight This Draft Resolution; We Will Not Renounce Our National Responsibility Towards Hamas

The Palestinian leadership rejected the U.S. draft resolution out of hand on the grounds that it is completely biased in favor of Israel. Statements by Fatah and its officials stressed the solidarity with Hamas and the need to defend it against accusations of terrorism, despite the conflict with it, and in fact claimed that no Palestinian movement could be accused of terrorism. They added that the PA and the Palestinian leadership would fight this "unjust" resolution at the UN.

'Abbas Advisor: The President Is Personally Acting To Thwart The Resolution

PLO Executive Committee secretary Saeb Erekat said: "The Palestinian leadership is waging a battle in the UN General Assembly to thwart the passage of the U.S. resolution condemning Hamas... Hamas is a Palestinian movement with which we have both disagreements and consensus – but we must not allow any Palestinian movement to be defined as terrorist."[4]
ANC Leaders Roll Out Red Carpet in South Africa for Visiting Hamas Delegation
South African leaders have rolled out the red carpet for an official Hamas delegation during the past week, with a private visit to the Robben Island prison cell of Nelson Mandela, the late former South African president, along with the formal signing of a “Memorandum of Understanding” between the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and the Islamist organization.

Headed by veteran Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar, the delegation of politicians from the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) in Gaza included Nabil Abu-Ras, Muhammad Faraj al-Ghul, and Musheer al-Masri — all of them supporters of the Hamas-backed bloc in the Palestinian Parliament.

While on their visit, which commenced last Wednesday, the Hamas delegation was escorted to one of country’s most important centers for commemorating the Apartheid era: the prison cell on Robben Island where Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years in prison, and from where he became a global symbol of opposition to South Africa’s ruling white minority.
MEMRI: Hamas Official Mahmoud Al-Zahar Visits Mandela's Prison Cell And Says To Palestinian Prisoners: You Will Drive Out The Occupation And Rule Your Country Like Mandela Did
A Hamas delegation visited Nelson Mandela's prison cell in South Africa. In a short video recorded during the visit, Hamas official Mahmoud Al-Zahar compared Mandela's cell to Israeli prison cells. He said that Allah had decided that Mandela would get out of prison in the same way that He decided that the Palestinian prisoners will get out of prison and drive out the occupation. He also said that spending time in prison cells is a way to get closer to Allah, and encouraged Palestinians prisoners that they will eventually rule their country like Mandela did. The video was uploaded to the Internet on December 1, 2018.

To view the clip of Nelson Mandela on MEMRI TV, click here or below.

"This Is A Message To Every Mujahid Who Wages Jihad For The Sake Of His Land And His Country: These Locks And These Prisons Are Not Eternal"

Mahmoud Al-Zahar: "In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate. We are in the place where the fighter Nelson Mandela spent his days, a cell that is no more than two by two and a half meters, with this blanket and iron bars that resemble the iron bars in Israeli prison cells in which we, as Palestinians, have spent long years – the Saraya prison, the Ashkelon prison...

"Allah had decided that this prisoner (Mandela) would get out of prison, as He has decided that we would get out of our prisons and drive out the occupation.

"This is a message to every mujahid who wages Jihad for the sake of his land and his country: These locks and these prisons are not eternal."

"To Our Brothers In The Prisons Of The Israeli Occupation I Say: 'Allah Willing, You Will Get Out Of Your Prisons And Rule The Country"

MEMRI: Syrian Opposition Websites: Iran Consolidating Its Presence In Eastern Syria, West Of Euphrates, To Form Continuum From Iran, Through Iraq And Syria, To Mediterranean
Throughout the seven-year crisis in Syria, Iran has exploited the instability in the country to consolidate its presence there. On the military level, it dispatched Shi'ite militias to Syria[1] ADD and established military bases.[2] On other levels, it collaborated with the Syrian regime to change the demographics of the country and turn its Sunni majority into a Shi'ite majority, and acted to gain the support of the local population through preaching and by dispensing material aid.

In the first years of the crisis, these efforts concentrated on central and western Syria.[3] After defeating the opposition forces there, the regime and its allies turned to eastern Syria and the regions close to the Iraqi border, and in late 2017 they announced that they had recaptured ISIS's strongholds in those regions, the cities of Deir Al-Zor and Al-Bukamal. Eastern Syria is of great strategic importance to Iran, because it completes the territorial continuum stretching from Iran to the Mediterranean. Moreover, U.S. forces that support the Kurdish militias are concentrated in that region, east of the Euphrates. Iran's presence there threatens these forces and can thus serve as a bargaining chip vis-à-vis the U.S. It should be noted that, in the recent weeks, Syria and Iraq have been discussing opening the Al-Bukamal border crossing, which will enable free movement of the Iranian forces in the area.

However, Iran does not suffice with free passage across the border, but is acting to consolidate its presence in eastern Syria by the same means it employed in the central and western parts of the country. According to media outlets of the Syrian opposition and Arab newspapers opposed to the Assad regime, since late 2017 Iran has been reinforcing its Shi'ite militias in the region (Iraqi, Afghan and other) and settling militiamen and their families there, and also acting to spread the Shi'a among the locals through preaching and the provision of welfare – thereby changing the demographics of the region to create a Shi'ite, instead of Sunni, majority.

This document reviews reports by Syrian opposition outlets and Arab media opposed to the Assad regime about Iran's efforts to consolidate its presence in eastern Syria.
Stop Iran's violations of UNSC resolution 2231
Here are some of the ways Iran is violating UNSC resolution 2231:
✅ Running a series of ballistic missile tests.
✅ Firing missiles into Syria and Iraq.
✅ Arming terror organizations such as Hezbollah.
Stop Iran's violations!

IRGC Aerospace Force Commander Reviews U.S. Bases in the Region: We Can Strike Americans Anywhere
During a show on Channel 1 TV (Iran), the IRGC's Aerospace Force commander General Amir Ali Hajizadeh reviewed maps of different U.S. airbases in the region, including Al-Udeid in Qatar, Al-Dhafra in the UAE, and Kandahar in Afghanistan, saying that they are all within Iranian missile range. He also said that American aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf or the Gulf of Oman are within range, and that the U.S. military presence that used to be a threat to Iran is now an opportunity. He described Iran's arsenal of captured UAVs, saying that it consists of Sentinel, Predator, Reaper, Shadow, ScanEagle, and Hermes drones, and he added that Iran would support any group or country that wants to confront Israel. The show aired on November 21, 2018.

Iran Moves Closer to Adopting Terrorism Funding Law (not satire)
Iran’s parliament approved a tweaked draft law against funding terrorism on Wednesday which officials hope will bring Tehran closer to global standards and help remove it from investment blacklists as it faces renewed US sanctions.

The official news agency IRNA said lawmakers had included amendments requested by a powerful clerical body, which must vet all legislation passed through parliament before it becomes actual law.

Supporters hope the legislation, once passed, will allow Iran to join an international convention against the funding of terrorism and comply with measures against money laundering set by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

Hardliners in parliament have opposed parts of the legislation, saying it could hamper Iranian financial support for allies such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah, which the United States has classified as a terrorist group.

The Guardian Council clerical body had asked lawmakers to include clauses including a guarantee that the law would not clash with the constitution.

The Paris-based FATF said in October that Iran had until February to complete reforms that would bring it into line with global norms or face consequences.

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