Monday, May 11, 2020

From Ian:

David Singer: Trump and Netanyahu Ready to Create History in Judea and Samaria
President Trump and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are readying to create history together on 1 July when Israel restores Jewish sovereignty after 3000 years in 1697km² [square kilometers] of territory comprising 30% of Judea and Samaria – the Jewish People's biblical and ancient heartland.

About 65000 Arabs – 5% of the Arab population of Judea and Samaria – and 450000 Jews live in the area proposed for Jewish sovereignty.

The road forward has been made possible after Netanyahu was unanimously confirmed as Israel’s next Prime Minister by 11 judges of Israel’s Supreme Court.

Trump’s map (pictured below) gives practical expression to the following international treaties and documents justifyingIsrael’s proposed action:
• The San Remo Resolution and Treaty of Sevres in 1920
• The League of Nations Mandate for Palestine in 1922
• Article 80 of the UN Charter

Trump’s translation of a dream – begun 100 years ago at San Remo – into a miraculous reality for the Jewish people in July2020 – should be welcomed by every Jew worldwide – privileged to be the generation to see this amazing reaffirmation of the Jewish People’s past history coming alive again.

Instead, this momentous occasion is being met with opposition by many Jewish organisations, media and individuals concerned at what they call “West Bank Annexation” – the identical language used by the UN and EU, PLO and Arab League in opposing Israel’s action.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Restoring Jewish sovereignty in Judea and Samaria – designated for reconstitution of the Jewish National Home by the international community 100 years ago – is not “West Bank annexation”.

Trump and Netanyahu – therefore – would certainly not have welcomed the publication in the New York Times of an article by Middle East Forum President – Daniel Pipes – headlined “Annexing the West Bank would hurt Israel”.

Pipes opposes Israel’s decision for six reasons:
• President Trump could well erupt in fury at Israel for “unilaterally acting”on 1 July
• “Annexation”would alienate and weaken Israel’s diminishing number of friends in the Democratic Party and in Europe
• “Unilateral Israeli annexation”could end Israel’sexpanding ties with Sunni Arab states.
• “Annexation”could destabilize “Jordan, the West Bank and Gaza”.
• “Annexation”is sure to alienate Israel’s Leftwhich would lead probably to a contingent of Israeli Zionists turning anti-Zionist, with some Israelis leaving the country in disgust
• “Annexation”would be likely to make more Palestinians eligible to become citizens of Israel.

Two of Pipes’s reasons suggesting “unilateral action” by Israel are simply untrue.

When it Comes to Sovereignty, Daniel Pipes Is Wrong
Bonus Fear #7: Israeli sovereignty will achieve nothing

While not numbering it, Pipes sneaks in a seventh fear: that Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria is merely “a symbolic move, a gesture towards Israelis living on the West Bank in legal limbo,” and will achieve nothing except trouble.

But Pipes forgets that symbolism is a powerful force in the ancient Middle East. Sending a signal that Israel intends to stay in its historic heartland forever will do much to deflate jihadist intentions. Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria will also broadcast a message of Jewish historic rights to all those who claim that Israel is merely a European colonizer.

Far from achieving nothing, Israeli sovereignty in the ancestral homeland and the annexation of strategic positions will have a much-needed positive impact for both Israeli identity and Israeli security. Daniel Pipes’ latest article serves as a boon to enemies who wish to weaken Israel through exaggerating the very fears he mentions. To be fair, he has written many strong articles in favor of a robust Israeli policy; this one seems to be a departure.

The real Israel, thankfully, is not afraid because it shouldn’t be. There is a buoyant sense of prosperity in the air, and a healthy embrace of tradition is permeating Israel’s consciousness. Thousands of new housing units were just green-lighted in the Etzion block in Judea. Israel’s birth rate continues to be high, and the GDP per capita is above even that of the United Kingdom. Now is not the time to be gripped by fear. Now is the time for Israelis to gather strength and confidence from all we have been through and all we are becoming, and to take control of our land through sovereignty and of our future.
From Daniel Pipes: A Response to My Critics
I believe in a smart Israel “victory” that goes for the jugular, and I see annexation of the West Bank at this time as dumb, as going for the extremities. As I wrote in the article, it “would probably damage Israel’s relations with the Trump administration, the Democrats, Europeans, and Arab leaders, as well as destabilize the region, radicalize the Israeli left, and harm the Zionist goal of a Jewish state.”

I appeal for cool tempers, clear goals, and smart tactics.

In this case, that means carefully considering what steps will most advance the goal of breaking the Palestinian will to eliminate Israel, while simultaneously doing the least damage to Israel’s internal harmony and external standing. One possibility would be, as I have argued before: “When official [Palestinian Authority] guns are turned against Israelis, seize these and prohibit new ones, and if this happens repeatedly, dismantle the PA’s security infrastructure. Should violence continue, reduce and then shut off the water and electricity that Israel supplies.”

Again, let’s debate calmly and stay focused. Only that way — and not via legalistic distractions or tactical enthusiasms — can Israeli victory be achieved.

Ha'aretz: The Real Victims of the International Criminal Court's Obsession with Israel
The founding of the International Criminal Court crystallized the notion that mass atrocity necessitates a collective response, and that no perpetrator, no matter how powerful, can enjoy impunity. But the court has abdicated these responsibilities by prioritizing the most politically expedient cases, absolving those responsible for the gravest of crimes.

The sad reality is that the court appears to have no time, resources or inclination to investigate atrocities suffered by Syrian civilians, Iranian dissidents, the Uigurs in China, or the Venezuelan people - but boundless patience in engineering a tendentious judicial framework in order to target Israel.

The court launched an "Inquiry into the Situation in Palestine," to cover alleged crimes committed in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, despite the fact that Israel is not a member state of the court, and based on a referral by Palestine, which is not yet a state. The Pre-Trial Chamber prejudicially pre-empted the entire process by issuing an unprecedented order for the establishment of "outreach activities among...the victims of the situation in Palestine" with the goal of "facilitating [their] participation," before the Prosecutor had decided whether to pursue the case, the first time such a move had been made in the court's history.

Moreover, in this case, the Prosecutor engaged those with ties to terrorism, misrepresented legal scholarship in her submission, and heavily relied on non-legally binding political resolutions of the UN Human Rights Council, which is run by the very human rights violators the court is supposed to hold accountable and is notorious for singling out Israel for discriminatory and disproportionate opprobrium.

No one should be above the law - including Israelis - but everyone should be entitled to equality under the law. The current direction of the court is prejudicial to the interests of justice.
Australian Government Tells ICC: Palestine Is "Not a State"
The Australian government has told the International Criminal Court it should not investigate alleged war crimes in Palestine because Palestine is "not a state." Australia's submission at The Hague, filed by Australia's ambassador to the Netherlands, Matthew Neuhaus, states: "Australia's position is clear: Australia does not recognize the 'State of Palestine.' As such, Australia does not recognize the right of the Palestinians to accede to the Rome Statute (the treaty which established the ICC)."

Australia argues Palestine's accession to the Rome Statute in 2015 did not make it a state, and that the UN secretary-general's acceptance of that accession is an "administrative act that does not confer a particular status, including statehood." Australia's position is that the question of Palestinian statehood cannot be resolved before a negotiated peace settlement.
Annexation Wouldn’t Hurt Israel
That’s more or less what would happen today. Various governments will condemn Israel if it annexes part of Judea and Samaria. But they will continue to have relations with Israel because it’s in their interest to do so. Their bark is much worse than their bite.

The Palestinian Arabs certainly will object. Perhaps they will stage a few riots. But how different would that be from the current situation, in which Palestinian Arabs periodically fire rockets from Gaza or stab Israelis at random? I have full confidence in the ability of Israel’s security services to deal with such eruptions, as they always have.

Annexation will serve several important purposes. First, it will affirm the Jews’ right to their national homeland. Judea and Samaria have been the heart of the Land of Israel for 3,000 years. “Annexation” is not the correct word — that term implies taking over some foreign territory. “Reunification” is the accurate word.

Second, it will abolish a grievous double standard. The hundreds of thousands of Israelis who reside in the territories have a right to be governed by Israeli law, just as 98% of the Arabs living in Judea and Samaria are governed by the laws of the Palestinian Authority.

Third, it will put an end to the threat of “Nine Miles Wide.” Israel requires permanent control of the Jordan Valley, the Etzion bloc, and the other areas under discussion in order to have defensible borders. Giving those areas to the Arabs would mean a retreat to the pre-1967 armistice lines, when Israel was just nine miles wide and could be cut in two in a matter of minutes.

It’s one or the other. “Annexation” and some international whining — or nine miles wide and a daily threat to Israel’s very existence. That’s the choice Israel really faces.

No time to annex like the present
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is arriving in Israel on Wednesday to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. His visit presents a perfect opportunity, at a perfect time—with most of the globe preoccupied with the COVID-19 pandemic—for the two to announce that Israel will begin to implement U.S. President Donald Trump’s “Peace to Prosperity” plan and annex parts of the Jewish-inhabited portions of the West Bank.

Though tempers around the world likely will flare, no sane government will shift its focus from managing the coronavirus crisis to intervening in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Cynical realpolitik? You bet.

The pandemic is not the only reason that the time is ripe for annexation, however. Another is the fact that Trump’s political opposition is desperate to keep Israel from becoming a 2020 campaign issue—one that threatens to cause an internal eruption in a divided Democratic Party. Left-wing commentators, such as Mondoweiss correspondent Michael Arria, are noting hesitancy on the part of Joe Biden’s campaign to come out forcefully against Israel. And regardless of what Biden might do if elected president, Israel could establish irreversible facts on the ground between now and next January.

Furthermore, Israel already annexed the crown jewel of the disputed territories, eastern Jerusalem, with little tangible consequence. Indeed, the Jewish state has a track record of successfully managing related international backlash, which at the time included actions at the Security Council that today would be vetoed by the Trump administration.

Unlike when east Jerusalem was annexed in 1980—and a significant chunk of Europe was behind the deeply anti-Israel Iron Curtain—today Israel has key allies like Hungary, which along with Austria, has proven willing to torpedo punitive measures against Israel contemplated by the European Union.

Much like the Democrats in the United States, the European Union does not wish needlessly to sow further internal division by embroiling itself in a contentious foreign conflict. It should come as no surprise, then, that unlike the pre-Brexit E.U., which openly spoke of sanctions against Israel, the post-Brexit E.U. is taking a more restrained position.
Democrats Ratchet Up Opposition To Israeli Settlements As 2020 Election Approaches
Democratic officials are ratcheting up their opposition against Israeli settlements, setting up a key 2020 debate in the U.S. as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plans to annex more land.

Democrats — including former Obama administration officials, lawmakers in Congress, and even the presumptive presidential nominee — have increasingly shifted against the idea of new Israeli settlements. Public opposition from the left comes as Netanyahu, a major ally of the Trump administration, could begin annexing land in the West Bank as soon as this summer,

In a letter addressed to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) on May 4, and first obtained by HuffPost, more than 30 former national security officials asked the Democratic Party and its nominee to officially oppose any expansion by Israel.

“[The 2020 Democratic Party platform] should include clear opposition to ongoing occupation, settlement expansion and any form of unilateral annexation of territory in the West Bank as well as clear opposition to violence, terrorism and incitement from all sides,” the former security officials wrote.

The letter also explicitly criticized President Donald Trump for giving Israel a “green light” to undergo such land grabs.

Among the signatories: Ben Rhodes, Tommy Vietor and Avril Haines, all of whom were top officials in the Obama administration. Also included were national security advisers for several former 2020 Democratic presidential nominees.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive 2020 Democratic presidential nominee, opposes any unilateral moves by Netanyahu’s administration to annex Palestinian territory, according to Biden’s top foreign policy adviser.

Biden has been “on the record several times [that] unilateral steps taken by either side that makes the prospect of a negotiated to a two-state outcome less likely is is something he opposes, and that includes annexation,” Tony Blinken said in April during a webinar hosted by the Jewish Democratic Council of America, according to the Times of Israel.

Blinken, a national security official and deputy secretary of state during the Obama administration, added that Biden “has been literally opposed to annexation.” However, Biden’s camp says that if he’s elected to the White House, he won’t reverse a decision by the Trump administration that moved the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Report: PA Is Eradicating a Hasmonean-Era Fortress in Samaria
The Palestinian Authority, taking advantage of the absence of Civil Administration inspectors during the coronavirus shutdown, is consolidating its takeover of Tel Aroma, a Hasmonean fortress in Samaria, according to Israeli NGO Regavim.

On Sunday, a fleet of heavy engineering tools from the PA arrived at the site and paved a road leading toward the remains of the fortress.

Situated on a commanding ridge controlling the passage between the Jordan Valley and the heart of Samaria, Tel Aroma is the northernmost of eight fortresses established by the Hasmonean Kingdom to protect Israel's eastern border. The Hasmoneans were the descendants of the Maccabees.

Senior PA officials recently held a ceremony to declare the fortress a "Palestinian Heritage Site," though their installations at the site have caused the destruction of the fortress wall and reservoirs.
Internal Hamas Tensions May Prevent a Prisoner Release Deal with Israel
While there are talks about a possible prisoner exchange deal with Israel, there is no single, strong Hamas leader in Gaza who is free to make such decisions. According to Palestinian sources in Ramallah, not everyone in Hamas' decision-making Shura council is on the same page.

Competing leaders include council head Yahya Sinwar; Fathi Hamad, who represents the northern part of Gaza; Mahmoud al-Zahar, who represents Iranian interests; Ismail Haniyeh, head of the Hamas Politburo; former Politburo head Khaled Mashal; and Saleh al-Arouri, based in Turkey.

Egypt, through Sinwar, wants to collect the political rewards of a prisoner deal, while Qatar, together with Turkey, wants to spoil such a deal, as does Iran. As long as Sinwar cannot convince his colleagues, who are influenced by distant powers, he cannot cut a deal that Israel could accept.
IDF demolishes West Bank home of suspected killer of Rina Shnerb
The Israel Defense Forces destroyed the home of a suspected terrorist in the Ramallah area in the predawn hours of Monday morning, the military said.

Bulldozers tore down the top floors of the Kobar home of Qassem Shibli, a suspect in last August’s killing of 17-year-old Rina Shnerb in a bombing attack at a natural spring near the West Bank settlement of Dolev.

The family had appealed the army’s intention to wreck their home, but the court overruled them.

Footage from the scene that was shared on Palestinian social media showed the top floors of the building completely destroyed while the bottom floors appeared to be relatively unscathed.

Riots broke out during the demolitions, and dozens of Palestinians threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at troops and set tires alight, the military said.

A video from Kobar showed Palestinians throwing numerous firebombs at the IDF convoy as it made its way out of the village following the demolition.

Defense Minister Naftali Bennett praised the military’s demolition of Shibli’s home, calling the practice an “important tool” in deterring future terror attacks.
Palestinian indicted for stabbing Israeli woman on Memorial Day
tate prosecutors on Monday indicted a 20-year-old Palestinian man on terror charges for allegedly stabbing an Israeli woman in the central city of Kfar Saba on Memorial Day last month.

According to the indictment filed in the Central District Court, Mahmoud Risha, from the Palestinian city of Tulkarem, is accused of carrying out a terror attack, illegal possession of a knife and entering Israel illegally.

The prosecution requested that he be detained until the end of legal proceedings.

Risha stabbed the woman on April 28 and was then shot by an armed civilian who was driving by.

“The terrorist, 19, from the West Bank, took out a knife and chased after her. A civilian who lives nearby saw what was happening. He stopped his car and opened fire at the terrorist,” police said at the time.

The woman, 62, was admitted to Kfar Saba’s Meir Medical Center in moderate-to-serious condition, the Magen David Adom ambulance service said.
Amid pandemic, UN officials urge release of Palestinian minors jailed by Israel
A group of officials from the United Nations on Monday called for the release of Palestinian children held in Israeli jails, in particular during the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the B’Tselem watchdog, citing data from the Israel Prisons Service, there were 194 Palestinian children held as of the end of March, the vast majority of them in pre-trial detention. Two of the minors were in administrative detention and a further five were detained for being in Israel illegally.

There were no further details on the crimes the majority of the minors are accused of.

Monday’s statement was signed by Jamie McGoldrick, who coordinates the UN’s humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians on the ground; Genevieve Boutin, a UNICEF special representative; and James Heenan, head of the UN Human Rights Office in the West Bank.

“The rights of children to protection, safety and wellbeing must be upheld at all times. In normal times, the arrest or detention of a child should be a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time,” the statement read. “During a pandemic, States should pay increased attention to children’s protection needs and children’s rights, and the best interests of children should be a primary consideration in all actions taken by Governments.”

The officials also expressed concerns that social distancing measures, the closure of the court system for non-urgent cases, and the lack of visits, could cause psychological hardships for the imprisoned minors.
Israeli convicted of smuggling supplies to Hamas for tunneling, weapons-making
An Israeli citizen was found guilty Sunday of heading a cross-border smuggling ring that transferred thousands of tons of concrete, piping, metals and electronic equipment directly from Israel to the Hamas terror organization in the Gaza Strip.

Michael Peretz, a resident of the Mivtahim agricultural village in the Eshkol region that borders the Strip, was convicted by the Beersheba District Court for a series of crimes that judges said “damaged the security of the state.”

Among the charges, Peretz was found guilty of contacting a foreign agent, facilitating the transfer of illegal goods to terror groups, money laundering and tax fraud amounting to millions of dollars. He was, however, cleared of the most serious charge — “aiding a terror group in its war against Israel.”

According to allegations released by the Shin Bet security agency after his arrest in 2015, Peretz, along with two other Israelis, set up a front company to cloak the transfer of illegal materials to a Hamas middleman at the Kerem Shalom crossing, who then delivered them directly to the terror group.

Of the merchandise allegedly supplied by the men to Hamas between 2013 and 2015, prosecutors said that the pipes were destined for use in the production of rockets, while the concrete enabled the group to rebuild attack tunnels into Israel that were destroyed during the 2014 war.
Khaled Abu Toameh: Palestinian Leaders: A Policy of Piracy, Blackmail and Plunder
The Palestinian leader's critics and political rivals say that Abbas is the one engaged in piracy, political extortion and theft of Palestinian money.

Palestinian human rights organizations have strongly condemned Abbas for using the salaries and pensions as a means of extortion against his political rivals and critics.

Cutting salaries and pensions to political opponents for daring to speak out against corruption and the epic policy failures of the Palestinian leadership is doomed to drive these people into the open arms of terrorist groups such as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

The next time Abbas accuses Israel of "piracy" and "theft" of Palestinian money, the international community might inquire into the Palestinian leader's own practice of depriving his people of their livelihoods because of their political affiliations and resistance to his policy of plunder.

Khaled Abu Toameh: Palestinians: Fighting coronavirus and rumors
The Palestinian Authority’s daily briefings on the outbreak of the coronavirus contributed to a decrease in rumors and fake news among Palestinians, the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedom (MADA) said in a report published on Sunday.

A PA security crackdown on rumor mongers also helped curb the spread of fake news, MADA said.

The report, titled “The epidemic of rumors and fake news about coronavirus on social media,” called for new legislation to facilitate the battle against rumors and fake news after the state of emergency, announced by the PA in March, expires.

Earlier this month, PA President Mahmoud Abbas extended the state of emergency, which was first announced in early March, to June 5.

The report highlights the spread of rumors and fake news on social media, saying it caused confusion and panic among Palestinians, particularly in the absence of news from official and reliable sources at the beginning of the coronavirus crisis.

It said that some Facebook pages published fake news about the number of Palestinians infected with the virus, as well as the names of patients diagnosed with the disease.
PMW: PA: Blow up Israeli civilians in Haifa and Atlit – TV song urges suicide-terror against Israel
Even the Coronavirus crisis is not enough to cause the Palestinian Authority stop indoctrinating Palestinians that nothing surpasses dying as a “Martyr” while murdering Israeli civilians.

The PA’s message to carry out suicide bombings - even specifying which Israeli cities to target: Haifa and Atlit - was repeated at least 4 times in the last few weeks on an official PA TV station, which broadcast a song and dance that was first performed in 2017 at a Palestinian cultural festival:
“Strap on the explosive belt,
Detonate the first in Haifa and the second in Atlit (i.e., Israeli cities)…
Strap on the belt, O daughter of my land,
and detonate it in front of the enemies.
How sweet is the taste of Martyrdom,
I have found none like it”

[Official PA TV Live, April 26 and 29, May 2 and 3, 2020]

Even while Israel is helping to save Palestinian lives by training Palestinian doctors and transferring hundreds of tons of supplies to fight Covid-19, the PA is not changing its fundamental ideology: Murdering Israelis is right and should be celebrated, even through song and dance.

Using the feminine imperative, the song specifically encourages Palestinian women to “strap on the explosive belt… the Molotov cocktails, and the AK-47 bullets.” It glorifies two female suicide bombers by name – Wafa Idris, the first Palestinian female suicide bomber and 17-year-old Ayyat Al-Akhras, the youngest Palestinian female suicide bomber - who in total murdered 3 and wounded 178 in Jerusalem. The song presents them as role models who are being “followed by the thousands”:

PMW: Smuggling of terrorist sperm from Israeli prisons continues, sperm “liberates” prisoners, resulting children are terrorists’ “rebirth”
The Palestinian Authority and its leaders are proud of their imprisoned terrorists and murderers and never waste an opportunity to glorify and praise them. An additional source of pride for the PA is the fact that some of these terrorist prisoners succeed in smuggling out sperm from the prisons, which is then used to impregnate their wives in clinics in the PA, as exposed by Palestinian Media Watch.

Now the PA applauds another terrorist murderer for successfully fathering a daughter with his smuggled sperm. Walid Daqqa is an Israeli Arab terrorist and a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terror organization. Daqqa was part of the squad that kidnapped and murdered Israeli soldier Moshe Tamam in August 1984, for which Daqqa is serving a life sentence.

A narrator on official PA TV presented the birth of Daqqa’s daughter as his “rebirth” and “liberation”:
Official PA TV narrator: “Sperm that was smuggled from the Israeli prison liberated prisoner Walid Daqqa and expressed his rebirth.”
[Official PA TV, Giants of Endurance, Feb. 29, 2020]

In addition, official PA TV sent a reporter to congratulate and interview terrorist Daqqa’s wife. During the interview, the reporter lamented the fact that the imprisoned terrorist father has not yet been allowed a visit in prison by his newborn daughter. The terrorist’s wife further complained that Israel has prevented her, an Israeli Arab, from registering the baby under the imprisoned terrorist father’s name:
Official PA TV reporter: “Sana’a, to this day Walid has been unable to touch his daughter and also see her face-to-face… right?”

Sana’a Daqqa, wife of terrorist Walid Daqqa: “Not only has there not been a visit… They have informed [us] that they will completely prevent the visit, and Israeli Minister of Interior Aryeh Deri has also given an order not to register [my daughter] Milad under her father’s name in the Ministry of Interior. … We are in the midst of legal proceedings against them because this is illegal… The minister of interior is acting like a big bully…”
Reporter: “With her birth, Milad has actually succeeded in breaking the chains of the prison guard and has released Walid before his release date in five years...”

[Official PA TV, Palestine This Morning, April 18, 2020]

Khaled Abu Toameh: Palestinians fear anarchy, lawlessness as Fatah gunmen threaten banks
In scenes reminiscent of the Second Intifada, masked gunmen took to the streets of some Palestinian cities and refugee camps in the past few days to protest a decision by a number of banks to close the accounts of Palestinian security prisoners held in Israeli prisons.

The bank’s decision came in response to new IDF legislation, which went into effect on May 9, and which declares that “any person who conducts any transaction with assets, including money, in order to facilitate, further, fund or reward a person for carrying out terror-related offenses is himself committing an offense punishable with 10 years in prison and a substantial fine.”

The closure of the prisoners’ accounts has sparked a wave of protests by many Palestinians, including political activists, families of the prisoners and various Palestinian factions from across the political spectrum.

In the areas of Jenin and Nablus, masked gunmen took to the streets to join the protests, firing shots into the air and threatening bank managers to backtrack on their decision. A similar incident was reported in the al-Amari refugee camp, near Ramallah, on Sunday night.

Palestinian sources said the gunmen belonged to al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the armed wing of the Fatah ruling faction, headed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. The group has been designated a terrorist organization by Israel, the European Union, Canada and the US.

A nameless war and an unsolved dilemma
This month, Israeli discourse has turned to the 20th anniversary of Israel's withdrawal from the security ‎zone in Southern Lebanon. Tens of thousands of combat soldiers have joined a recently-opened Facebook ‎group that provides a platform for the generation that fought there. ‎

A new documentary series from public broadcaster Kan titled A War Without a Name is another contribution to ‎the narrative of the distress of the war in the security zone. The generation of fighters who served ‎there doubtless have a personal need to share, but questions such as what was there, why we were ‎fighting, or how we got to the point where we were forced to withdraw all play a role in outlining the ‎complex created due to years of fighting a battle that was not trying win anything. All this is taking ‎another look at the foundations of Israel's perception of security, and one that has current relevance. ‎

Twenty years on, we enjoy the advantage of hindsight. But when I take a look at myself, it's important ‎to mention what I saw at the time. As a combat officer, I enjoyed the operations in Lebanon. In the ‎spring and summer of 1988, I was serving as a battalion commander in the security zone. As ‎commander of the 7th Brigade and deputy commander of the 36th Division from 1993-1997, I followed ‎the activity of the army units in south Lebanon from up close, and I have to admit that back then, I did ‎not ask any deep questions about the underlying concept behind our fighting in the zone. ‎

There was certainly reason to wonder how, despite the changes in Hezbollah's tactics – especially ‎after Operation Accountability (1993) – the IDF deployment remained the same as it was when we ‎first went into the security zone, using the same outposts and the same array of forces. ‎

I certainly didn't think about the lack of a strategic purpose. The need to learn how to operate and ‎adapt anew to Hezbollah's tactics presented a big enough challenge. In contrast to the 1973 Yom ‎Kippur War, which saw a crisis of faith between the topmost command echelon and the troops on the ‎ground, throughout our years in the security zone, the top ranks of the IDF's Northern Command were ‎involved in every aspect of what was taking place there and had the trust of the soldiers doing the ‎fighting. Even the 1997 helicopter disaster didn't cause any visible lack of faith in the upper ranks. ‎

True, a war was being waged there that became increasingly complicated, as the IDF was confronted ‎with guerilla warfare of a type it had never known. But above all, the dilemma between the purpose ‎of holding onto the security zone for the sake of security Israel's northern communities and the need ‎to defeat Hezbollah remained unsolved. ‎
Iran Continues Entrenchment Efforts in Syria
The Iranians have invested great efforts to build a stronghold of influence in the Syrian theater that will fortify the Shiite axis from Iran to Lebanon and provide Iran with access to the Mediterranean Sea.

From the perspective of the Iranian regime, Syria serves as a forward defensive line. It is important to Iran to maintain military forces there - most are Shiite militias under Iranian command.

No less important, the stronghold is meant to help create an additional front against Israel from the direction of the Golan Heights and to strengthen Hizbullah by improving its large missile arsenal.

The continued Israeli air strikes in Syria against Iranian/Shiite targets show that Iran is continuing its military entrenchment efforts there.

Iran's determination can also be seen in the increased activity of the Revolutionary Guard and the Shiite militias in the fighting in the Idlib region since early 2020, and the ongoing attacks by Iraqi Shiite militias associated with Iran against American bases in Iraq.

Coronavirus: The Mullahs Strengthen Ties with Venezuela
Reports recently revealed that in the last week of April alone, the sanctioned Iranian airline, Mahan Air, with ties to Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), made several flights to Venezuela. Reportedly, the Iranian regime delivered "parts, technicians, and gasoline additives to fix a major refinery in Venezuela," and received nine tons of gold bars in return.

The United Nations, as usual in regards to every country other than Israel, remained silent as Mahan Air reportedly violated the UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which calls upon Iran "not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology."

In addition, Venezuela has granted more than 173 passports to radical Islamists... The passports are able to be used for travel to North America and Europe.
Cyber attack targets Iranian port near Strait of Hormuz
A cyber attack managed to damage a number of private systems at the Shahid Rajaei port near Bandar Abbas and the Strait of Hormuz in recent days, said Mohammad Rastad, Managing Director of the Ports and Maritime Organization (PMO), to Iran’s ILNA news agency on Sunday.

Allah-Morad Afifi-Pour, Director-General of the PMO of Hormozgan province in southern Iran, initially denied the reports of a cyber attack, but Rastad confirmed that a cyber attack had occurred in a press conference on Sunday, according to the Iranian Fars News Agency.

“A recent cyber attack failed to penetrate the PMO’s systems and was only able to infiltrate and damage a number of private operating systems at the ports,” said Rastad, according to ILNA.

Rastad stressed that operations had not been disrupted by the attack, despite earlier reports to the contrary.

The PMO head added that the organization is well protected, but still needs to “continuously strengthen and update the layers of protection to minimize the risk of a cyber attack.”

Rastad confirmed that the attack was carried out by a foreign entity, according to Fars News Agency.

Iran reported three cyber attacks within one week back in December. At least one of the attacks was allegedly “state-sponsored.”
19 Iranians killed, 15 injured after Navy vessel hit by friendly fire
Nineteen Iranians were killed and 15 others were injured after an Iranian naval vessel was reportedly hit by friendly fire during a naval exercise on Sunday.

The IRGC-affiliated Tasnim News Agency reported that the “accident” involving the Konarak support vessel took place in the waters off Jask Port in the Gulf of Oman.

Two of the wounded are in intensive care units and the others are in stable condition, according to Fars News Agency.

The military stressed that the incident was being investigated by “expert teams” and that “any speculation” about the incident should be avoided.

Initial reports from Iran stated that the Konarak was “sunk” by a missile fired by Iran's Jamaran frigate resulting in a number of seamen being killed or missing, according to Radio Farda. Some reports indicated dozens of injuries and deaths, with about 40 military personnel estimated to have been on board at the time.

Some reports indicated that the Konarak had brought a target to the area for the test launch of a cruise missile, but was not completely out of the way before the missile was fired.

We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

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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