Monday, September 02, 2019

From Ian:

Netanyahu: 'The man in the Beirut bunker knows exactly why he's in bunker'
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu referred to Sunday's barrage on Hezbollah positions in retaliation for their attack on an IDF vehicle on the northern border: "We acted with determination and responsibility yesterday. We kept our citizens safe and also our soldiers.

"The man in the Beirut bunker knows exactly why he's in the bunker. We will continue to maintain Israel's security - at sea, land, and air, and continue to act against the precision missile threat."

Yesterday, Hezbollah operatives fired anti-aircraft missiles at Israel, after which the IDF fired 100 shells in response.

The exchange of fire over the Lebanon-Israel border comes one week after Hezbollah accused Israel of committing a drone attack on its southern Beirut position.

On August 24, Israel also said it had carried out strikes in Syria to avert an Iranian drone attack on the Jewish state. Hezbollah said those strikes killed two of its members.

Israel has carried hundreds of strikes in war-torn Syria, mostly against what it says are Iranian or Hezbollah targets.

Senior official: Nasrallah sought ceasefire as IDF responded to Hezbollah strike
The Lebanese government reached out to three countries on Sunday on behalf of Hezbollah in an effort to convey to Israel that it was not interested in any further escalation, as the IDF hurled some 100 shells at targets across the border in response to the terror group’s firing of anti-tank missiles at Israel, a senior defense official said Monday.

The message from Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah was relayed by Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri to the governments of France, Egypt and the US, the official told Israeli reporters in a phone briefing.

“We received inquiries from Lebanon through three countries that implored us that there was no need to respond,” he said.

At 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, the IDF released a statement saying a barrage of Hezbollah anti-tank missiles hit an army base as well as military vehicles near Avivim. The army then launched heavy retaliatory fire.

The senior official briefing reporters said that Israel had not taken Nasrallah’s message into account in its eventual decision to hold its fire. “Nasrallah’s considerations do not bother me, as long as we advance our goals against the threats.”

“The bottom line is that Hezbollah sent us messages to hold our fire,” the official boasted.
Top defense official: In 24 hours, Israel attacked various 'fronts'
Hezbollah’s precision missile program is the State of Israel’s top priority, right after working to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear capability, a top defense official said on Monday, admitting, for the first time, that Israel has carried out attacks against different fronts beyond Syria.

According to the official, Israel has been operating against Iran in several arenas and operated in several additional fronts within a recent 24-hour span of time. "In recent days, we were attacked from several fronts," the official said. "We were in simultaneous attack mode in multiple places."

“Had we had not acted correctly we would be in a different reality today,” he said.

"To prevent this consolidation by Iran, we are carrying out many operations that nobody knows anything about,” he said, adding that the operations are carried out by the IDF and the Mossad.

"Everything we have done during the last few weeks and days was planned and executed exactly how we wanted," he said. “Everything is part of our overall strategy that we are managing in several different ways and in several different arenas.”

The official spoke a day after Hezbollah and Israel exchanged blows along the Lebanese border in an attempt by the Iranian-backed guerilla organization to exact a price from Israel for the bombing of a terrorist cell in Syria in late August. While no IDF troops were injured, Israel fired over 100 artillery shells towards targets in south Lebanon in response to the attack and airlifted two uninjured soldiers to Rambam hospital in Haifa.

“We can’t hide injured troops in Israel for half an hour,” he said, disputing claim in Lebanon that troops had been injured in the attack.

Analysis: Will Hezbollah stop after an attack that didn't kill soldiers?
The initial reports and images from the scene in Avivim on Sunday afternoon were horrifying: smoke billowing in the rolling hills of the Galilee after three Kornet anti-tank missiles were fired by Hezbollah toward an IDF position and a military ambulance.

Reports out of Lebanon claimed that Hezbollah had succeeded in hitting a military vehicle “killing and injuring” those inside. The IDF said that a “number of hits were confirmed” after several anti-tank missiles were fired from Lebanon toward an Israeli military base and IDF vehicles.

There were reports of casualties and injuries that were evacuated to hospitals in Safed and Haifa by helicopter.

Residents living within four kilometers of the border were also ordered to remain in their homes and open their bomb shelters.

Even while the picture was unclear, the IDF hit back hard, sending more than 100 artillery shells toward targets in south Lebanon, including an airstrike on the Hezbollah cell which carried out the attack.

But when the smoke cleared, the IDF stated: “There are no injuries or fatalities to our troops.”

Hezbollah retaliated against Israel, but they failed to hit their mark.
Israeli Politicians React to Hezbollah Escalation
The United States voiced concern Sunday after Israel and Hezbollah exchanged fire along the Lebanese border, citing the "destabilizing role" of Iranian proxies in the region.

With bloodless battle, Israel and Hezbollah can avoid war, but only for now
Confusing confusion

As a form of psychological warfare, following the attack, the Israeli military flew soldiers made up to look as though they were seriously injured to Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center.

The ruse appeared to be successful, with news outlets affiliated with the terror group and others in the Arab world publishing photographs of the “injured soldiers.”

But in a confusing, apparently self-defeating move, within hours, the IDF confirmed that this was a pre-planned exercise in deception.

It is not clear why the military so quickly gave up the jig.

Was there an assessment that Hezbollah would only conduct one reprisal attack if it believed it to be successful? Did a senior politician — Construction and Housing Minister Yoav Gallant — prematurely out the trick by telling a news outlet there were no casualties in the strike? Or was this one minor aspect of some larger psychological warfare stratagem?

The IDF isn’t saying.
David Horovitz: No fatalities, mercifully, though truth is a casualty as the IDF fools Hezbollah
While it is clear that the next Hezbollah-Israel confrontation is only a matter of time, some aspects of Sunday’s dramatic border conflict remain obscured by that fog of almost-war.

For one thing, how can the military and political echelon so confidently assure Israel’s civilians that the danger has passed even as the IDF remains on wary alert at the border?

For another, why did Israel expose its decoy operation, when it had worked so effectively? Was it because Rambam hospital refused to play along, and issued a statement saying that the two evacuated soldiers were released without requiring medical treatment? Was it also because somebody, somewhere in the military or political hierarchy, decided that it would be unconscionable to maintain the fiction — to tell the Israeli public that two soldiers had been injured when they had not?

Israel’s Kan TV news on Sunday evening rebroadcast a recent interview with the IDF’s spokesman, Ronen Manelis, in which, when asked precisely about the readiness or otherwise of the spokesman’s unit to disseminate misinformation, Manelis promised that “everything that the IDF says in official statements is true” and that he would not issue “fake” news to either the Israeli public or “the other side.” Kan’s military reporter noted, in this context, that the IDF had not officially claimed that two soldiers were injured. Maybe not, but the decoy footage did the talking for it.

And finally, then, were Hezbollah and Israel really 30 minutes from war? Or, to put it another way, were there really IDF soldiers in that APC half an hour before Hezbollah destroyed it?

The Kan reporter, for one, was adamant that “there were soldiers in [that vehicle] until shortly before the [Hezbollah] shooting.” And maybe there were. In which case, thank heavens they got out when they did. Or maybe there weren’t. Days earlier, after all, the IDF was seen to be deploying army vehicles with dummy soldiers inside, apparently to draw Hezbollah fire.

When the fog of war is deliberately made foggier, even for the best of reasons, it gets harder to know who and what to believe.
Pro-Hezbollah media try to cast doubt on Israeli denial of casualties
Pro-Hezbollah news outlets on Monday highlighted the terror group’s claim that it killed and injured IDF soldiers in a missile attack Sunday afternoon, while casting doubt on Israeli declarations that there were no casualties in the incident.

A story leading the news site of the Hezbollah-sympathetic Al-Mayadeen TV on Monday morning, titled “The resistance carries out its promise,” repeated the Lebanese terror group’s assertion that its operatives destroyed a military vehicle, injuring and killing Israeli soldiers.

The article later mentioned that the IDF and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denied that the attack caused injuries, but said their denial “did not last long” as photos of Israeli soldiers transporting injured people spread on social media.

Following the attack on Sunday, which Hezbollah had vowed it would carry out after Israel was blamed for strikes on the group in Syria and Lebanon, pictures and videos emerged on Hebrew and Arabic news sites and social media accounts of what appeared to be an IDF helicopter evacuating wounded soldiers near the border and those soldiers later arriving at Ramban Hospital in Haifa.

The photos initially appeared to suggest Hezbollah’s attack had injured and possibly killed soldiers, but military sources told The Times of Israel on Sunday evening that the IDF had staged an evacuation of soldiers who were not actually injured.

A number of other Israeli news sites published similar reports.
A ‘wounded’ IDF soldier, in a staged evacuation, at the scene of an APC that was struck by a Hezbollah anti-tank missile on the Lebanon border on September 1, 2019. (Screen capture/Twitter)

The military sources said Israel hoped that Hezbollah, thinking it had inflicted casualties, would conclude that it had retaliated sufficiently for the strikes in Lebanon and Syria and hold its fire.

IDF chief to UNIFIL: Stop Hezbollah’s missile program, or we will
IDF chief Aviv Kohavi on Sunday called on United Nations peacekeepers and the Lebanese government to take action against the Hezbollah terror group’s precision missile project, indicating that Israel would be forced to act if they didn’t.

Kohavi conveyed this position in a meeting with Maj.-Gen. Stefano Del Col, the head of the UN’s Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), following a clash along the border with Hezbollah on Sunday in which the terror group fired anti-tank guided missiles at Israeli positions near the security fence. No soldiers were injured, and the Israel Defense Forces retaliated by firing approximately 100 artillery shells and bombs at Hezbollah positions in southern Lebanon.

“We will not accept harm to our citizens or our soldiers, and we will not accept Hezbollah’s precision missile project on Lebanese soil,” Kohavi told Del Col.

This was their first meeting since the IDF chief of staff took up his position in January.

“The state of Lebanon and UNIFIL must bring an end to Iran and Hezbollah’s precision missile project in Lebanon and fully implement [UN] Security Council Resolution 1701,” Kohavi said, referring to the resolution that ended the 2006 Second Lebanon War.

“The current state of affairs is not one we can come to terms with,” he said.

UN Resolution 1701 calls for all armed groups, besides the Lebanese military, to be removed from southern Lebanon, in the area south of the country’s Litani River.

PMW: Top PA religious leaders incite violence, call on Palestinians to “not stand idly by in the face of this colonialist cancer”
The Palestinian Authority Grand Mufti continues to incite hatred and attempt to spark unrest in Jerusalem.

At a recent meeting of the Palestinian Supreme Fatwa Council headed by PA Mufti Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, the council "warned" Palestinians of Jews "attacking" their religious and national symbols in Jerusalem. Urging Palestinians to take action, the council said that "the Palestinian people will not stand idly by in the face of this colonialist cancer."

"The [Palestinian] Supreme Fatwa Council warned of the danger of attacks against the religious and national symbols in occupied Jerusalem, and held the occupation government fully responsible for these violations.
This was said during the 176th meeting of the council, led by [PA] Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and the Palestinian Territories and Supreme Fatwa Council Chairman Sheikh Muhammad Hussein...
The council expressed its rejection of all types of settlement, and emphasized that the Palestinian people will not stand idly by in the face of this colonialist cancer."
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Aug. 30, 2019]

Recently, Palestinian Media Watch documented that the PA Mufti deliberately initiated clashes on the Temple Mount. By delaying the second morning prayer on the day of the beginning of the Muslim Eid Al-Adha - Feast of the Sacrifice - which coincided with the day Jews mourn the destruction of the two Temples, the Mufti ensured that many Palestinians would be present on the Temple Mount when the Jews were scheduled to start arriving, thus creating the perfect conditions for violence, which indeed took place.

Prior to this, the Mufti had closed all other mosques in Jerusalem on that day to force observing Palestinians to come and pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque - on the Temple Mount.

Abbas Is Right: It’s Time to Phase Out the Palestinian Authority
When Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas announced in July that he was canceling the PA’s security cooperation with Israel, veteran Israeli journalist Khaled Abu Toameh pointed out that it was the 58th time Abbas had made such a threat. When Abbas issues his 59th threat, perhaps Israel should take him up on it.

Security cooperation is a cornerstone of the 1993 Oslo Accords, which have proved disastrous for Israel. Thousands of Israelis have been murdered in terrorist attacks as a result of this misguided effort.

According to the Social Security 2007 “Civilian Casualties of Acts of Hatred” document, the average number of Israeli fatalities due to terrorist attacks before the accords was 12.5 per year. After the accords, that figure shot up to 106 per year.

Maybe it’s time to begin to phase out these horrendous agreements and work towards a better solution for both Palestinians and Israelis.

One potential solution is to find a way of transitioning to working directly with local Palestinian community leadership, bypassing the PA on security and other matters. PA security forces can ultimately be supervised locally.

This is not a new idea. Prior to Oslo this was the Israeli military’s recommended plan, but at the time neither the Israeli nor the American governments were supportive.

The PA’s security budget is over $1 billion a year, which includes salaries for an estimated 35,000 to 42,000 security personnel in over half a dozen organizations. The PA leads the world in security personnel per residents (only the Vatican and a few islands have higher ratios). Moreover, while the PA’s security cooperation with Israel has saved some lives, according to the Euro-Med Human Rights Monitoring project there are serious issues with the PA’s record on human rights.
ICC prosecutor ordered to reexamine deadly Gaza flotilla incident
Appeals judges on Monday ordered the International Criminal Court’s prosecutor to reconsider again her refusal to open a formal investigation into the 2010 storming by Israeli forces of a blockade-busting flotilla heading to the Gaza strip.

Presiding Judge Solomy Bossa ordered prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to decide by December 2 whether or not to open a formal probe. The 3-2 majority ruling by the court’s appeals chamber is the latest step in a long legal battle to bring the case before the court.

Bensouda earlier declined a request by the Indian Ocean island nation of Comoros to investigate the May 31, 2010, takeover of a vessel in the flotilla, which was sailing under a Comoros flag.

Israel is not a member state of the court but its nationals could face charges if Bensouda opens an investigation.

In her initial refusal to open a full-scale investigation, Bensouda acknowledged that war crimes may have been committed on the Mavi Marmara ship, where Israeli commandos boarded the ship and were met with violence, and in the ensuing melee 10 Turkish activists belonging to the pro-Hamas IHH group were killed and several other pro-Palestinian activists were wounded. Several of the Israeli soldiers were also wounded. But she decided that the case wasn’t serious enough to merit an ICC probe.

Comoros appealed that decision and sought a judicial review when Bensouda once again refused to investigate the case.

The ICC was set up as a court of last resort intended to prosecute senior leaders allegedly responsible for grave crimes including genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity when national courts prove unable or unwilling to take on such cases.

The appeals panel on Monday criticized Bensouda for her rejection of calls by a lower panel of judges to reconsider the case.
French lawmaker calls on Macron to outlaw Hezbollah
French-Israeli member of the French National Assembly Meyer Habib called on French President Emmanuel Macron to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, warning that its continued activity threatened many in France and beyond.

Habib, who represents French citizens living in Israel and other countries in the region, sent a letter to the Élysée Palace several weeks ago asking Macron to join a growing number of nations, including Argentina and Paraguay, which have recently taken steps to outlaw Hezbollah or designate it as a terrorist organization due to its destabilizing activity in the Middle East and around the world as an Iranian proxy.

Hezbollah carried out many terrorist activities against Israel but also against Jewish and Western targets around the world. Members of the Shiite terrorist group perpetrated the 1994 bombing of the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, in which 85 people were killed.

“In 2013, France blacklisted only Hezbollah’s military wing, but not its political wing. Such a distinction is artificial and divorced from reality,” Habib wrote in his letter to Macron. “Hezbollah has been a prototypical terrorist organization for the past forty years … and has caused the death of many citizens of the French Republic.”
Wounded brother of teen slain in terror attack discharged from hospital
The brother of a teenage girl who was killed in a terror bombing late last month was released from the hospital on Monday.

Dvir Shnerb, 19, was wounded at a natural spring near the Dolev settlement — approximately 10 kilometers east of the city of Modiin — in the explosion that killed Rina Shnerb, 17.

He was seriously wounded by shrapnel in his abdomen, and treated at Jerusalem’s Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital alongside his father Eitan Shnerb, who was also injured in the attack.

Speaking to the press after his release, Dvir Shnerb thanked his doctors and the first responders who treated him in the field. His experience was one that people could not understand unless they went through it, he said, saying that the doctors treated him like he was one of them and “not like a stranger.”

He added that he was happy to be leaving the hospital, though he is expected to return for further treatments for the wounds he sustained during the attack.

Speaking from the hospital shortly after his daughter’s funeral last month, Eitan Shnerb described the bombing, stating that “it was a very big roadside bomb. It was black, everything went black … and I heard Dvir shouting to me, and I immediately called to Rina, shouting ‘Rina, Rina,’” he said. “I looked down and saw that she was not alive.”
Israel said to offer Hamas economic benefits in return for long-term ceasefire
Israel has offered Hamas economic concessions and will ease its blockade of the Gaza Strip in return for a long-term ceasefire, as tensions rise amid a flurry of rocket attacks emanating from the enclave and mutual threats, Lebanon’s al-Akhbar newspaper reported Friday.

According to the report, the proposal was made by Egyptian intelligence officials during a meeting with top Hamas members, Channel 12 news reported.

While making the proposal, the Egyptians reportedly warned officials from the terror group that Israel is serious in its threats to carry out a wide-ranging military campaign if the violence continues.

Hamas for its part, said it was not responsible for the recent firing of rockets from the coastal enclave toward Israel, blaming “rogue elements.”

Israel maintains that Hamas, as the Strip’s ruler, is ultimately responsible for all attacks emanating from the territory, while saying that it believes the Islamic Jihad is instigating the current unrest.
Israel lifts Gaza fuel restriction after calm returns
Israel has lifted a restriction on fuel delivered to Gaza for electricity, a defense official said Monday, a week after cutting the flow by half over a series of violent incidents.

COGAT, A unit of the Defense Ministry that serves as its military liaison to the Palestinians, announced on August 26 it was halving the amount of fuel allowed into Gaza from its territory, after three rockets were fired at the Jewish state the day before.

Israel responded at the time with airstrikes against the Gaza Strip’s ruling Hamas terror group, which openly seeks Israel’s destruction.

A series of other violent incidents in August preceded that.

A further round occurred on August 27, when Gaza terrorists fired a mortar round across the border and an Israeli aircraft struck a Hamas post in northern Gaza in response.

There have not been projectile launches from Gaza since.
Qatar reportedly cuts Gaza fuel funding by half, no reason given
The Qatari envoy to the Gaza Strip, Mohammed al-Emadi, reported that their administration will be cutting the weekly fuel shipments they supply to the Gaza Strip by half, it was reported Sunday.

The decision came soon after Israel announced it would allow the supply of diesel fuel to be brought into the Gaza Strip. The country had ceased delivering fuel to Gaza last week after rockets were fired from the Strip at Israel.

The Qatari government did not provide a specific reason for its decision.

Qatar normally funds three million liters of fuel to the Gaza Strip each week, as per a contract signed through the United Nations. The calculated loss of 1.5 million liters of fuel will reportedly only power the coastal enclave for six hours each day, according to Army Radio.

Israel's coordinator of government activities in the territories (COGAT) said the the organization is “looking into the matter with the relevant parties and the government of Qatar.”
Hamas: PA Responsible for Double Suicide Bombings in Gaza Strip
Hamas accused the Palestinian Authority’s intelligence service of responsibility on Sunday for the suicide bombings in Gaza last Tuesday, in which three Hamas policemen were killed and six others wounded, according to the London-based Arabic daily Asharq al-Awsat.

On Thursday, Hamas security forces in the Gaza Strip arrested nine members of the terrorist cell involved in the attacks, saying that “all of them are from the Islamic Jihad from Shuja’iyya,” referring to the central Gaza City neighborhood.

The Hamas source told Asharq al-Awsat that the PA’s intelligence service had exploited “people with inappropriate leanings and deviant thoughts” to undermine the political situation in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum, meanwhile, said on Twitter that “the Palestinian intelligence service under [Palestinian General Security Service chief] Majed Faraj is behind every attempt to foment chaos in the Gaza Strip.”

Faraj, according to Barhoum, “is acting on behalf of the Zionist Shin Bet [security agency].”

Hamas Chief Praises Iranian Support in a Letter to Khamenei
Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh sent a letter to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei thanking him for supporting the terrorist group, including by supplying weapons, Iranian media reported on Sunday.

Haniyeh reportedly ended the letter with a wish for the realization of Khamenei’s call for the “liberation of Palestine and the victory of the Palestinians over their enemies,” according to Iran’s Fars News Agency.

In July, the deputy head of Hamas’s political branch, Saleh al-Arouri visited Khamenei in Tehran and delivered another letter from Haniyeh to the Iranian leader.

Meanwhile, Iran said that Hezbollah’s attack on Israel on Sunday was a retaliatory move and that its aim was to safeguard Lebanon’s interests, Reuters reported.

“Hezbollah enjoys significant popular support in Lebanon … the Zionist regime’s [Israel] punishment by Hezbollah was a reciprocal measure that displayed the resistance front’s determination to counter threats,” said Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, according to Iran state news agency IRNA.

Why America Must Confront Power-Hungry Iran
We are buoyed by recent reports that the Trump administration is accelerating plans for a military coalition to safeguard waters off of Iran and Yemen but the situation is deteriorating quickly. A president known for decisiveness must exercise that muscle now.

Allies like Bahrain are doing what they can to counter Iranian threats in the Gulf by organizing a global maritime security conference this fall, but if we wait until then to act, it may be too late. Similarly, President Trump should work with the United Kingdom, which recently joined the coalition, to recruit additional European membership. Iran shouldn’t be able to use the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) to shatter transatlantic unity.

America does not seek to confront Iran, but it cannot shirk its responsibilities to protect its national interests. Standing up to what amounts to guerilla tactics requires the resolve of the world’s most powerful naval force and U.S. allies must line up beside it, shoulder to shoulder, to thwart aggression from Tehran.

Iran is a nation that craves power and the ability to impose fear. America and its allies must combat Iran’s ability to achieve either. Because when the regime is not restrained, their malign intentions come closer to being fully realized and America cedes ground. Dealing with Iran’s aggression is a zero-sum game. There is no middle ground where both free nations led by Washington and the Iranian regime can find a win. Tehran must be disabused of its intentions to continue violating international law and it must happen now, before a mistake happens and lives are lost.
Iran threatens to take ‘strong step’ away from nuke deal if no new agreement
Iran will “take a strong step” away from its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers if Europe cannot offer the country new terms by a deadline at the end of this week, a government spokesman said Monday as top Iranian diplomats traveled to France and Russia for last-minute talks.

The comments from Ali Rabiei reinforced the deadline Iran had set for Friday for Europe to offer it a way to sell its crude oil on the global market. Crushing US sanctions imposed after US President Donald Trump withdrew America from the deal over a year ago have halted those sales.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was in Moscow, while his deputy was to travel to Paris with a team of economists Monday in a renewed diplomatic push.

Rabiei described Iran’s strategy to journalists at Monday’s press conference in Tehran as “commitment for commitment.”

“Iran’s oil should be bought and its money should be accessible to return to Iran,” Rabiei said. “This is the agenda of our talks.”

It’s unclear what the terms of negotiation are. In theory, anyone caught buying Iranian crude oil would be subject to US sanctions and potentially locked out of the American financial market.
Iran admits test malfunction caused rocket explosion
Iran has for the first time acknowledged that a rocket explosion took place at its Imam Khomeini Space Center, with an official saying a technical malfunction caused the blast.

Government spokesman Ali Rabiei made the statement on Monday in comments broadcast by Iranian state television. He said the explosion caused no fatalities and also that officials had found no sign that sabotage was involved in the explosion. Satellite photos showed a rocket on a launch pad at the space center had exploded Thursday. The space center is located about 240 kilometers, or 150 miles, southeast of the capital, Tehran.

US President Donald Trump on Friday tweeted a surveillance photo likely taken of the site by an American spy satellite. He wrote that the US had nothing to do with the blast. Asked by reporters where he got the photo, which included annotations pointing to damaged vehicles and the launch gantry, he told reporters, “You’ll have to figure that one out yourself.”

“The United States of America was not involved in the catastrophic accident during final launch preparations for the Safir SLV Launch at Semnan Launch Site One in Iran,” Trump wrote alongside the picture. “I wish Iran best wishes and good luck in determining what happened at Site One.”

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