Tuesday, June 04, 2019

From Ian:

Nechama Rivlin, wife of President Reuven Rivlin, dies at 73
Nechama Rivlin, the wife of President Reuven Rivlin, died Tuesday morning at the age of 73, the President’s Residence said in a statement.

The statement said Rivlin died on the eve of her 74th birthday at Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva, where she was being treated after relapsing following a lung transplant in March.

“Three months after a lung transplant, Nechama Rivlin died this morning,” Beilinson Hospital said in a statement. “To our regret, the medical efforts to stabilize her over time during the complicated rehabilitation period after the transplant did not succeed.”

The president posted a picture of his wife on Facebook along with the words “My Nechama.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered his condolences to the Rivlin family.
President Reuven Rivlin and his wife Nechama at a cruise in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam on March 22, 2017.(Kobi Gideon / GPO)

“Along with all the citizens of Israel, my wife Sara and I feel deep sorrow at the death of the president’s wife, Nechama Rivlin,” Netanyahu said in a brief statement.

“We all prayed for her recovery during the recent period during which she fought bravely and intensely for her life. We extend our heartfelt condolences to the president and to all his family,” he said.

Rivlin, 73, suffered from pulmonary fibrosis, a condition in which scar tissue accumulates in the lungs and makes it difficult to breathe. In the years before the transplant, she had usually been seen in public with a portable oxygen tank, including at official ceremonies.

The lung transplant was declared successful when it was completed on March 12, but doctors cautioned that her condition remained tenuous and that she faced a long road to recovery.

JCPA: The “War of Many Rounds” in Gaza: Hamas-Islamic Jihad vs. Israel
Since the end of the 2014 Gaza war, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) in Gaza have launched rockets against Israeli civilian targets and provoked Israeli air strikes in retaliation in eight rounds of escalation that are part of one long war. Both sides realize that this kind of war cannot lead to a significant change in the reality concerning Gaza.

Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad believe that the rounds of escalation serve their interests and are important in their own merit as they help demonstrate their commitment to the struggle against Israel. The escalations enable them to boast of their military capabilities, mobilize the population to the cause of fighting Zionism, distract the Gaza population from their daily miseries, and gain economic assistance from Qatar, while blaming Mahmoud Abbas for the difficulties in Gaza and pressuring the PA, Egypt, Qatar and Israel to improve living conditions in Gaza.

Israel remains committed to a policy of trying to maintain a balance in which Hamas serves as the Gaza entity strong enough to maintain a monopoly over the use of force from the territory it governs, and at the same time remains weak and deterred enough to be restrained from firing on Israel.

The continuing rounds of conflict raise doubts regarding the ability of Hamas to fulfill this role. It appears that PIJ and militant elements within Hamas are emboldened enough to challenge the Hamas leadership from time to time. Yet Hamas is always able to restore discipline and restraint, which means that the Israeli policy has not lost its relevance. The alternative to this policy is regarded as very costly both in the short and long term, and this is why Israel prefers to stick to its current path.

In the latest round, Israel raised the price for the Palestinians, while also showing greater readiness to improve their living conditions. If this strategy convinces the Palestinians in Gaza to reach an agreement that will guarantee an extended period of calm, then the policy will have been successful. But if it fails and there is another round of the war, and if the harassment of the Israeli population along the Gaza border continues, Israel may be forced to consider other options.

The fundamental problem is that the population of Gaza is comprised primarily of descendants of Palestinian refugees who have been indoctrinated by their leadership to believe that they are duty-bound to fight against Zionism until they can return to their ancestral homes in Israel. This narrative perpetuates the conflict and makes a political solution nearly impossible.

This means that the slogans that call for Israel to reach a political solution to the conflict are, unfortunately, detached from reality. Palestinians in Gaza truly desire and deserve to live better lives. Regrettably, they and their leadership do not see this goal as more vital than the struggle against the State of Israel.

Netanyahu: Sunni Arab states ‘moving faster’ than the Palestinians on peace
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunni Arab states are moving faster than the Palestinians toward recognition of Israel, another sign that the Trump administration’s yet to be released peace plan may be stillborn.

“They don’t see Israel any longer as their enemy, but as their indispensable ally in standing up to Iranian aggression and even, I would say, beyond that, to joining to achieve technological progress in their respective countries,” Netanyahu said in a talk with American Jewish Committee CEO David Harris that was recorded on May 13, and released released for the first time Monday at the AJC’s Global Forum in Washington DC.

“In many ways, the Arab countries have moved faster than the Palestinians,” he said. “The Palestinians try to prevent this normalization process that can ultimately lead to a formal peace.”

Netanyahu reversed what for decades has been the traditional expectation of the sequencing of peace, saying that it was likelier that the Sunni Arab states would lead the Palestinians to peace with Israel, and not the other way around.

“It won’t happen right away, but it’s step by step leading to a peaceful normalization, which I think could help, in fact, achieve peace between Israel and the Arabs and the Palestinian Arabs,” he said.

While Netanyahu has frequently tried to re-frame the conflict in this way, most Arab leaders, including from Saudi Arabia and Egypt, have repeatedly said the Palestinian conflict must be solved first.
Pompeo clarifies comments that peace plan could be seen as biased toward Israel
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday clarified comments he shared with Jewish leaders, saying that it was an “inaccurate” perception that the Trump administration’s peace proposal could be seen as one-sided toward Israel.

The Washington Post reported Sunday on a recording obtained from an off-the-record meeting last week between Pompeo and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

“I get why people think this is going to be a deal that only the Israelis could love,” he said in those remarks. “I understand the perception of that. I hope everyone will just give the space to listen and let it settle in a little bit.”

On Monday, in an interview with the Sinclair Broadcast Group, he clarified those statements.

“I can see how someone might be concerned that a plan that this administration put forward might, without knowing the true facts of what is contained in the plan, they might perceive that it was going to be fundamentally one-sided,” Pompeo told Sinclair. “And I was articulating that there because it’s just simply not true.”

The plan, which has yet to be revealed, has been formulated by a team led by Jared Kushner, a top adviser to President Donald Trump and his Jewish son-in-law.

“I think there’ll be things in this plan that lots of people like, and I am confident, as I said — I think it was quoted in that paper as well — there’ll be something in there that everyone will find I’m concerned with,” Pompeo told Sinclar. “Our idea is to present a vision and to continue to work towards a very, very difficult situation’s conclusion.”
Does Michael Morell Actually Believe Tel Aviv Is the Capital of Israel?
Michael Morell is one of America’s foremost national security experts, widely respected by Republicans and Democrats alike. Over more than three decades of distinguished service at the CIA, he rose to become Director of Intelligence, Deputy Director, and finally Acting Director. He was at President Bush’s side on 9/11, and supervised the CIA’s role in the Bin Laden raid. As a seasoned intelligence professional, he clearly understands the ways in which people, just like countries, project their values, intentions, beliefs — and biases.

A case in point is his May 22 Washington Post column about rising tensions with Iran, which included this curious line: “How do senior officials in places such as Beijing, Moscow, Damascus, Riyadh, Tel Aviv, and other capitals see the current situation and challenges and opportunities created for them by it. How are they trying to influence us?”

Speaking of influencing others, Mr. Morell surely is aware that in December 2017, President Trump, on behalf of the United States, officially recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

While the president’s strong pro-Israel policies have been excoriated by a range of critics, in Zivitofsky v. Kerry (2015), the US Supreme Court declared that US recognition of foreign countries and capitals is the sole prerogative of the president. Although Israel’s capital has been located in west Jerusalem since 1950, the United States and most other countries traditionally withheld formal recognition of this reality due to the conflicting and unresolved claims among Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinians. Nonetheless, even before the recent change in executive policy, for decades the CIA’s appropriately-named annual World Factbook consistently listed Jerusalem as Israel’s capital — albeit with a disclaimer noting the lack of US and international recognition.

Israel Expects US-Mediated Lebanese Sea Border Talks in Weeks
Israel expects to launch US-mediated talks with Lebanon on setting their maritime border within weeks, a senior Israeli official said on Tuesday, naming a UN peacekeeper compound in southern Lebanon as a possible venue.

Lebanon has not commented publicly on whether it would attend talks or on any possible timeline.

The United States, which has been sending a senior envoy on shuttle missions between Lebanon and Israel, also has not announced a date or venue but said it is prepared to help them resolve the dispute.

Formally at war since Israel‘s 1948 founding, the neighbors have long disagreed on border demarcations in the eastern Mediterranean, an issue that gained prominence in the past decade when large deposits of natural gas were found there.
German parliament to debate banning Hezbollah in its entirety
The German parliament is scheduled to discuss outlawing the Lebanese terror organization Hezbollah on Thursday, though a complete ban currently appears unlikely.

At the behest of the far-right Alternative for Germany party, or AfD, the Bundestag will debate a nonbinding resolution calling on the government to “examine whether the conditions exist for a ban on Hezbollah as one organization, and, if necessary, to issue such a prohibition and implement it immediately.”

According to the draft resolution, the Iranian-backed, Beirut-based organization, which is committed to Israel’s destruction, represents a “danger to [Germany’s] constitutional order.”

The AfD wants its draft resolution to proceed to the Bundestag’s Interior Committee, where concrete steps leading to a ban of Hezbollah would be discussed. But it’s also possible that the draft will come to a vote on Thursday, facing likely defeat, as the coalition parties are expected to oppose any initiatives proposed by the opposition AfD.

“Hezbollah is a terrorist organization. The Berlin government claims you must distinguish between a legitimate, political wing of Hezbollah and a terrorist wing. This does not make sense to us, or the voters,” the draft resolution’s author, senior AfD MP Beatrix von Storch, said in a statement.

“Hezbollah’s goal is the destruction of Israel and the Jews, and we should not be offering a safe haven for them to hide in Germany and finance their armed struggle in Lebanon against Israel from our territory,” she said.

Currently, only Hezbollah’s military wing, as opposed to its “political section,” is outlawed in Germany, as in most other European countries.
MEMRI: Kurdish Writer: To Fully Eradicate ISIS And Its Influence, We Must Purge Minds And Curricula Of Extremist Ideas
In an article on the Saudi liberal website Elaph, Kurdish Iraqi author and political analyst Kifah Mahmoud Karim, who was an advisor to former Kurdistan president Mas'oud Barzani, praised the Kurdish forces that recently managed to capture ISIS's last stronghold in Syria with the help of the U.S.-led coalition. He added, however, that defeating ISIS on the ground is not enough, because the ISIS myth "continues to live in the minds of hundreds of thousands of women, children and students" in the Arab and Muslim world, who were and continue to be inculcated with extremist ideologies that accuse others of heresy and permit their killing in the name of religion. In order to fully eradicate ISIS, he said, it is necessary to "purge minds of the germs of these ideas before they grow and spread," by examining the curricula in all educational institutions and by separating religion from politics.

The following are excerpts from his article:[1]
"The Kurdish fighters, and others who joined the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces, have finally managed to crush ISIS and its false caliphate, whose establishment was announced in 2014 by a reckless ideologue and obsessive proponent of massacre-by-shari'a-methods called Abu Bakr Al-Baghadi. After [his] men tried to turn back time – while inventing a monstrous entity that throve on blood and forbidden income and inspired rape, robbery and looting in order to maintain its benighted and oppressive state – they are [now] doomed to eternal degradation and shame. The tough fighters of Kurdistan and its brave Peshmerga forces did it again when they shattered the Hulagu-like myth[2] that ISIS had cultivated by razing cities and villages in savage and barbaric ways [while honing its] art of murder and mutilation of bodies...

"The state of the deviant interpretation [of Islam] has collapsed, but its myth continues to live in the minds of hundreds of thousands of women, children and students. These [women, children and students] have been instilled with rotten ideologies and with an understanding of [their] religion or religious school that is extremist to the point of permitting to kill others and honing the ability to slaughter them and to take control of their property and their sons and daughters – [and all this] based on one of the most despicable ideological justifications for crime, [namely] in the guise of religion.
Two large fires rage in Jerusalem
Firefighters trying to subdue two major fires on outskirts of Jerusalem. A number of houses have been evacuated.

Many firefighting teams are currently trying to control two major fires that broke out in Jerusalem, one in the Lifta area and the other near the Moshavim of Even Sapir, Ora and Aminadav.

Police forces evacuated a number of houses of their occupants following the fire that raged in the vicinity of Even Sapir, Ora and Aminadav. The entrance to the site was blocked to allow firefighters to enter.

Police said, "Residents who evacuated independently are asked to leave the doors of their homes without locking them in order to facilitate police search operations. We urge citizens to refrain from going to areas where there are fires and to obey police orders."

At the same time, Menachem Begin Road - from Golda Boulevard to the entrance to the city - was blocked to traffic in both directions by police following the renewal of the brush fire in the Lifta area at the entrance to Jerusalem.
High Court: Men who found body of missing IDF soldier must get $10m reward
The High Court of Justice ruled Monday that the state must pay three men who found the remains of Majdi Halabi the $10 million reward it had previously offered for assistance in locating the missing IDF soldier.

The court ruled that the men should get the full amount originally promised by the state, which has been refusing to pay for nearly seven years.

In October 2012, Ibrahim Kozli, a Jewish National Fund worker, discovered a body in Nahal Hik in the Carmel Forest as he was clearing an area damaged in a fire. The remains were later identified as those of Majdi Halabi, a Druze soldier who had been missing since May 2005.

Halabi went missing while attempting to hitchhike back to his army base from his home in the Druze village of Daliyat al-Karmel.

However, the state refused to pay, saying that the reward had been intended for anyone who had concrete information about the missing soldier’s location and was not meant for someone who reported finding the body, as that was the duty of every citizen anyway.
Israel’s IAI to unveil new drone for tactical battlefield missions
Israel’s Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI) on Tuesday said it will unveil at the upcoming Paris Air Show a new drone with the “most advanced” technologies developed by the nation’s largest aerospace and defense firm.

Called the T-Heron, the newest product in the firm’s Heron line of unmanned aerial systems, the drone is designed for the use of ground troops, coastal guards, and other defense forces for tactical missions.

The T-Heron features “one of the highest levels of flight safety and reliability” and is resistant to extreme weather conditions, IAI said in a statement. Its Rotax engine takes the drone to a maximum altitude of 24,000 feet and a speed of 120 knots.

The UAS can support a total of up to 180 kilograms (400 pounds) at a time, and is able to carry several payloads simultaneously. The drone is equipped “with IAI’s best sensors,” the statement said, and complies with global standards.
Teams who exposed Hezbollah tunnels awarded Israel Defense Prize
The 2019 Israel Defense Prize will be awarded to the intelligence and engineering teams that uncovered and neutralized a grid of Hezbollah tunnels in northern Israel, the Defense Ministry announced Monday.

The decision was made by a special ministerial committee and approved by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is also the acting defense minister.

This award is the defense establishment’s highest ‎honor. Created in 1958, it recognizes projects and ‎activities ‎that have made significant operational ‎and technological contributions to national security ‎and the defense of the State of Israel.‎

The four-year intelligence-technological-operational effort culminated in Operation Northern Shield in December 2018, during which six terror tunnels dug by the Shiite terrorist group under the Israel-‎Lebanon security fence were destroyed.

During the course of the operation, Military Intelligence revealed that Hezbollah had been secretly working on its tunnel project since the 2006 Second Lebanon War, investing tens of millions of dollars in an effort to exact a heavy price from Israel in any future war.

The ambitious project was kept secret even within Hezbollah; only a handful of senior officials were involved in the scheme, which enjoyed the support of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.
Tunnel Crossing Between Israel and Lebanon Went 22 Stories Deep
The Israeli army on Monday showed the inside of a sophisticated tunnel passing deep underground from Lebanon into northern Israel, saying it was intended for use by Lebanese Hezbollah militants.

The tunnel was rigged with electrical wiring, fuse boxes and communications equipment. An army spokesman said it began almost a kilometer away inside Lebanon and reached depths of some 80 meters (265 feet) — about the height of a 22-story building — as it crossed into Israel, near the town of Zar’it.

It came to light earlier this year during an army operation in which a number of attack tunnels dug by Iran-backed Shi’ite Hezbollah were discovered and sealed off, the military said.

Hezbollah’s leader, in response to Israel’s tunnel operation, said in January that his group has been able to enter Israel for years. But he stopped short of acknowledging that the tunnels were the handiwork of Hezbollah, citing the heavily-armed group’s policy of “ambiguity” on military matters and a desire to deny Israel a pretext to attack.
Report: Gaza terrorist groups replenish rocket arsenal
Hamas and Islamic Jihad have been able to replenish their rocket supplies to levels reached just before the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict, The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.

The last cease-fire between the Gaza Strip-based terrorist groups and Israel was reached in May.

According to the report, rocket stockpiles in Gaza are now back up to roughly 10,000 and consist mostly of short- and mid-range projectiles.

Quoting Israeli military and intelligence officials, the report said the stockpile was replenished through a combination of smuggling supplies into Gaza and local production by Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Both Hamas, which rules the coastal enclave, and Islamic Jihad seek to pressure Israel into lifting the maritime blockade that was placed on Gaza in 2007 after Hamas seized control of it from the Palestinian Authority in a military coup.

“Hamas and Islamic Jihad continue to cause misery and suffering to the Palestinians in Gaza,” U.S. Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt said Tuesday in response to the report.
PA police use force to prevent Eid al-Fitr celebration in Hebron
Palestinian Authority policemen on Tuesday arrested several members of the Hizb ut-Tahrir (Party of Liberation) in Hebron for celebrating the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

The PA mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Mohammed Hussein, announced on Monday that the first day of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan, will be Wednesday.

“The Palestinian Fatwa Council (Dar al-Iftaa), which convened on Monday night at al-Aqsa Mosque compound, could not spot the Shawwal crescent moon,” the mufti said in a statement. “Therefore, it has been proven that Tuesday is complementary to the fasting month of Ramadan and Wednesday June 5 will be the first day of Eid al-Fitr festival.”

However, several Arab and Islamic countries announced that Eid al-Fitr begins Tuesday, sparking controversy among many Arabs and Muslims. In addition to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates announced that the festival begins Tuesday, and not Wednesday.

Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan and the Palestinians, on the other hand, are celebrating the end of Ramadan only on Wednesday.
Incendiary Balloons From Gaza Set Off Three Fires in Southern Israel
Three fires in southern Israel were started by incendiary balloons launched by Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday morning, mere hours after Israel expanded the fishing zone around the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave.

The fires took place in the area of the Eshkol Regional Council. They brought the number of such fires to over 50 in the last month, Israeli news site Mako reported.

Airborne incendiary devices have been launched into Israel by Gaza terrorists for over a year, since the beginning of the so-called “March of Return” riots on the Israel-Gaza border. Though they have caused no casualties, the balloons have resulted in millions of dollars in damage to agriculture and infrastructure in Israel’s south.

Tuesday’s fires caused particular frustration due to the expansion of the fishing zone from 10 to 15 miles, which took place shortly before the balloon attacks. The zone had previously been reduced due to incidents of this kind.
Despite ongoing balloon attacks, IDF extends Gaza fishing zone again
Israel again extended the permitted fishing zone off the coast of the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, despite the ongoing launching of balloon-borne incendiary devices from the coastal enclave, after having reduced it last week in response to similar attacks.

Throughout the day on Tuesday, at least three fires were sparked by incendiary balloons in the Eshkol region of southern Israel, according to the local fire department.

Israel’s military liaison to the Palestinians, known formally as the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, confirmed that the fishing zone had been extended to 15 nautical miles (27.8 kilometers) from 10 (18.5 kilometers).

A COGAT spokesperson refused to comment on the decision to do so despite the ongoing arson attacks — the nominal cause of the previous reduction.

German intel: Iran buying illegal technology for weapons of mass destruction
The Islamic Republic of Iran is involved in the illicit procurement of technology for weapons of mass destruction, the German intelligence agency for the northern state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern wrote in its May report.

In the 206-page report, that was reviewed by The Jerusalem Post, the intelligence agents wrote: “The fight against the illegal proliferation of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons of mass destruction and the materials needed for their manufacture, as well as the corresponding delivery systems [e.g. rockets], including the necessary knowledge, in cooperation with other authorities, is also the responsibility of counterintelligence.”

The intelligence report continued, “From these points of view, it is essentially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea [North Korea] and the Syrian Arab Republic that need to be mentioned. The intelligence services of these countries, in many ways, are involved in unlawful procurement activities in the field of proliferation, using globally oriented, conspiratorial business and commercial structures.”

The Mecklenburg-Vorpommern security officials noted that Iran’s regime, the Russian Federation and China are the main engines of intelligence gathering and should be viewed within a “security-related” context.

The report covers the year 2018 and was published just days after a damning Bavarian state intelligence report on Iran’s illicit activities.
Mossad intelligence helped link Iran to UAE tanker sabotage — report
Intelligence materials collected by Israel’s Mossad agency played a role in linking Iran to the sabotaging of four oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates last month, prompting the United States to accuse Tehran of carrying out the attack, according to a report on Monday.

The US is slated to present the intelligence — including evidence gathered by Israel — in the coming days, likely before the UN Security Council, the Kan public broadcaster said, as tensions between Washington and Tehran continued to simmer.

An Israeli navy official described the purported Iranian attack on the UAE tankers as “a pretty impressive commando operation.”

The official added that the intelligence suggested the goal of the Islamic Republic had been to damage the vessels without injuring those on board.

Last month, US National Security Adviser John Bolton accused Iran and its proxies of carrying out the tanker bombings near the Strait of Hormuz, a coordinated drone attack on Saudi Arabia by Yemen’s Iran-allied Houthi rebels, and a rocket attack in Iraq. He did not provide direct evidence to back up claims linking Iran to the attacks, but told reporters that the conclusions were based on intelligence and evidence gathered in the region.
Iran Calls US Sanctions ‘Economic War,’ Says No Talks Until They Are Lifted
Iran called American sanctions “economic war” on Monday, and said there could be no talks with the United States until sanctions are lifted, a day after Washington suggested it could hold talks without pre-conditions if Iran changed its behavior.

“#EconomicTerrorism against Iran targets innocent civilians. Like this little boy, whose heartbroken mother can’t get him prosthetic legs as he grows. They’re sanctioned,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted on Monday, with a video clip of a woman saying the prosthetic leg her son needs is sanctioned.

Reuters could not verify the authenticity of the video.

“This is @realDonaldTrump’s ‘economic war.’ And war and talks — with or without preconditions — don’t go together,” Zarif added in the tweet.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday that the United States was prepared to engage with Iran without pre-conditions about its nuclear program but needs to see the country behaving like “a normal nation” first.
Iranian human rights activist sentenced to 30 years and 111 lashes
An Iranian lawyer and human rights activist was sentenced to 30 years in prison and flogging by a revolutionary court, Radio Farda reported on Monday.

Amir Salar Davoudi was found guilty of “propaganda against the state” for setting up a channel on Telegram denouncing human rights abuses in Iran.

According to the report, he is also set to be flogged 111 times.

After Davoudi gave an interview to the Persian language edition of Voice of America, the lawyer was also accused of “collaborating with an enemy state.”

“He has been convicted merely for defending victims of the judiciary and security agents, political prisoners and the oppressed, as well as audaciously criticizing the corrupt, cruel and inefficient political and judicial system in Iran,” said a letter by Iranian exiled lawyers Hossein Ahmadi Niaz, Massoud Akhtari Tehrani, Mohammad Mostafaei and Mehrangiz Kar.

An excerpt of the letter was published by Radio Farda, the Iranian branch of the U.S. government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

Davoudi is the third prominent lawyer currently in jail in Iran for his work.

MEMRI: Yemeni Government: UN Supplied Houthis With Vehicles Which Appeared In Houthi Military Parade
On May 27, 2019, the UN in Yemen disclosed that the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) had provided the Yemen Executive Mine Action Center (YEMAC) with 20 Hilux vehicles "to support their daily demining efforts in the [Yemeni] ports of Hodeidah, Ras al-Isa and Salif."[1] The report drew condemnations from the Yemeni government, which claimed that YEMAC is effectively under the control of the Houthi militias, and therefore the UN was providing state-of-the-art vehicles to the Houthis, who are the ones laying the mines in Yemen, including in the Hodeidah area. Criticism of the UN was also expressed on social media, as exemplified by the image below.

YEMAC's Connections To The Houthi Movement
YEMAC is officially part of Yemen's National Mine Action Committee (NMAC), which conducts demining activity in Yemen and is supported by the UNDP.[2] Official Yemeni elements have described it as a state body that acts effectively to remove mines from populated areas in the country. However, YEMAC clearly has organizational ties with the Houthi authorities. For years it was directed by Yahya Hassan Al-Houthi, of the Al-Houthi clan that led the Yemen coup, until the government's military intelligence arrested him, presumably in order to gain control of the funds supplied to the organization by the UNDP.[3] In fact, it seems that the Houthi movement effectively controls YEMAC's resources, especially in the areas under its control, such as Hodeidah.

Official YEMAC statements confirm its organizational ties with the Houthi authorities. For example, a February 23, 2018 post on YEMAC's Facebook page calling for the release of its director, Yahya Hassan Al-Houthi, ended with the Houthi slogan: "Allah akbar, death to America, death to Israel, a curse upon the Jews and victory for Islam." The post is accompanied by images from a conference calling for Al-Houthi's release, one of which also features the same slogan.[4]
Qatar bans homosexuality as Al Jazeera in English marks LGBT Pride Month
Qatar bans homosexuality, but the Qatar-backed Al Jazeera’s AJ+ still recently marked June as LGBT Pride Month with a tweet about speaking to the cast of “Queer Eye” on LGBT issues. The interview highlighted “gender visibility, religion’s effect on youth, community through social media and what makes us not so different,” and included rainbow flag symbols.

Even as Qatar cracks down on homosexuality, the June 1 video included a discussion about religion and showed a church, indicating that Christians were the ones “telling our youth that they are different, that they are bad, that they are broken.” The segment showed protests in the US for gay rights and marriage. “You can come from completely different countries,” an interviewee in the video says. The tweet from AJ+ appeals to people to see everyone as individuals.

However, some pointed out online the hypocrisy that in Qatar, where Al-Jazeera is based, the rights that its media seem to support abroad are being silenced. The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) - which is dedicated to achieving equal rights for LGBT people worldwide - documents Qatar’s laws against gay rights. According to ILGA, article 258 of Qatar’s legal code condemns any man who “copulates with a male,” imposing a term of seven years in prison. Article 296 condemns to prison anyone who is engaged in “leading, instigating or seducing a male in any way to commit sodomy.”

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This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 14 years and 30,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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