Thursday, May 14, 2020

From Ian:

Arab World Moving On, But West Still Indulging Palestinian Return Fantasy
The greatest tragedy of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict today is that while the Arab world is moving on from the war against the Jewish state, the West is still encouraging Palestinian rejectionism by giving legitimacy to a fictitious "right of return" that would flood Israel with millions of refugees, former Knesset member Dr. Einat Wilf said Tuesday.

Her new book, The War of Return, co-authored with Adi Schwartz, posits that this "right" essentially does not exist anywhere in international law and in fact violates international norms regarding the treatment of refugees everywhere else in the world.

The Palestinians, however, show no sign of giving up on the right of return because it is the one way they may still be able to convert Israel into an Arab state by sheer weight of demographics.

Wilf said, "You're beginning to hear voices in the Arab world...who are beginning to say, the Palestinians have made a mess of things, they made a mistake."

"The way they're speaking, no Westerner would dare speak. They're saying very hard truths: That it's over. That it's time to move forward."

"The tragedy is that as the Arab world is slowly moving away from their support for the Palestinian vision that the war of 1948 is not over and could still be undone, we have Western countries giving a billion dollars to UNRWA, thereby continuing to fuel the Palestinian vision...that the outcome of 1948 could still be rolled back."
Netanyahu officially announces he’s formed new government
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu officially announced Wednesday that he had succeeded in forming a new government, bringing to an end nearly 18 months of political gridlock.

Netanyahu made the announcement in formal letters to Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz in his capacity as the temporary Knesset speaker and to President Reuven Rivlin.

“I managed to form a government,” he wrote, asking Gantz to convene the Knesset to hold a vote of confidence.

The new government, which, according to the coalition agreement, will see Gantz replace Netanyahu as prime minister after 18 months, is scheduled to be sworn in Thursday evening after lawmakers vote to approve it during a Knesset plenum session that will begin at 6 p.m.

The Knesset will also vote on a new speaker, slated to be Likud MK Yariv Levin.

The swearing-in of the new government will conclude the longest political logjam in Israel’s history, in which Netanyahu’s Likud party and Blue and White went head-to-head in an unprecedented three consecutive elections.

Gantz campaigned on replacing Netanyahu due to the premier’s indictment on graft charges but dropped his opposition to sitting in a government with him after the latest elections again ended with no clear winner, citing the coronavirus pandemic and a desire to avoid a fourth round of voting.

The move led to the breakup of the Blue and White alliance, with Gantz being elected as Knesset speaker with the backing of Netanyahu’s right-wing religious bloc as they negotiated the terms of the new government.
Israel set to swear in biggest government, after longest political deadlock
Israel’s new government is set to be sworn in on Thursday evening, bringing nearly 18 months of political gridlock to an end.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu formally announced on Wednesday that he had succeeded in forming a government in letters to Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz in his capacity as the temporary Knesset speaker and to President Reuven Rivlin.

The new government, which, according to the coalition agreement, will see Gantz replace Netanyahu as prime minister after 18 months, is scheduled to be sworn in Thursday evening after lawmakers vote to approve it during a Knesset plenum session that will begin at 6 p.m.

The swearing-in of the new Knesset, Israel’s first fully functioning government in over 500 days since the end of December 2018, will conclude the longest political logjam in Israel’s history, in which Netanyahu’s Likud party and Blue and White went head-to-head in an unprecedented three consecutive elections.

At the Knesset’s presentation of the 35th Government of Israel on Thursday evening, Netanyahu will detail the makeup of the government, its ministers, basic principles and guidelines.
Netanyahu, Gantz postpone swearing-in of government
Hanegbi, Dichter announce boycott of confidence vote

The swearing in of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz's new government will be delayed until Sunday, Netanyahu and Gantz announced on Thursday evening.

The delay came due to the logjam of ministerial hopefuls in Likud.

Netanyahu was supposed to announce the list of his cabinet ministers at 6pm.



U.S. Supreme Court Revives Potential $655.5 Million Judgement Against PA
On April 27, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a little-noticed order in the Sokolow v. PLO case, in which American victims of the Second Intifada in Israel and their families sued the Palestine Liberation Organization and Palestinian Authority under the Anti-Terrorism Act. The victims initially won a significant monetary judgment at trial, only to lose it when an appellate court reversed the decision in 2016.

Congress passed the Anti-Terrorism Act in 1992, after an elderly, wheelchair-bound Jewish man, Leon Klinghoffer, was shot, killed and thrown off a ship by Palestinian terrorists. The law was explicitly designed to allow American citizens who are victims of terrorist attacks abroad to sue the perpetrators in U.S. courts.

The Supreme Court has now overturned the appellate court's decision and instructed that court to revisit the case in light of new amendments to the Anti-Terrorism Act. In December, Congress passed the Promoting Security and Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act of 2019. The act subjects to the authority of U.S. courts any entity that offers monetary rewards to those who commit terrorist attacks that kill Americans. The PA provides monthly salaries to those convicted of terrorist attacks.
Ruthie Blum: Why the Israeli Right need not fear Trump's peace plan
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's upcoming visit to Jerusalem this week – to "meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Speaker of the Knesset Benny Gantz … to discuss [American] and Israeli efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic [and] regional security issues related to Iran's malign influence" – is encouraging.

Though nobody is buying State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus's above description of the purpose of the trip, which is assumed to be aimed at ironing out details of Israel's intention to begin extending sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and parts of Judea and Samaria, few cast aspersions on the next part of her May 8 press release.

"The US commitment to Israel has never been stronger than under President Trump's leadership," it reads. "The United States and Israel will face threats to the security and prosperity of our peoples together. In challenging times, we stand by our friends, and our friends stand by us."

Nevertheless, Israeli right-wingers, such as members of Naftali Bennett's Yamina Party, are wary. This is not because they doubt the sincerity of the current administration in Washington. On the contrary, they acknowledge that it has made good on US President Donald Trump's many pre- and post-election promises to the Jewish state.

These include moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem; recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel; withdrawing from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal; recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights; halting funding to UNRWA, demanding that the Palestinian Authority cease its pay-for-slay policy; declaring that Israeli settlements are not illegal; and never calling Israel to task for defending itself through strikes on targets in Gaza and Syria.

What Bennett and the bulk of his supporters fear is the part of Trump's "Peace to Prosperity" plan that provides for the establishment of a Palestinian state. This trepidation seemed to increase last week, following an interview that US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman gave to the Israel Hayom newspaper.

In answer to the question of whether the White House would greenlight the immediate application of Israeli sovereignty over parts of Judea and Samaria, Friedman was vague about a timetable. He also set certain conditions for the move.
Pompeo's green, yellow and red lights for Israel
At first glance, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's decision to make Israel his first foreign destination since the outbreak of the coronavirus, and on the eve of the next government's inauguration no less, raises more than a few questions. Is the battery of items on the American-Israeli docket so urgent that addressing them requires Pompeo's flash visit, even before the final bow on the coalition is tied?

The answer to these questions can be found in three contexts, which Pompeo himself slightly alluded to on the eve of his visit and throughout. From a visual perspective, it appears the secretary of state carried with him to Jerusalem a three-part message akin to a traffic light, whose colors alternate based on the specific matter at hand. The first message, green, signals full support and encouragement for Israeli military activity against Iranian forces and weapons systems in Syria. The goal: Exploit Tehran's growing weakness and expedite its withdrawal from Syria.

The second message, yellow, pertains to the timing of Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to launch legislative initiatives to apply Israeli sovereignty in the Jordan Valley and north Dead Sea region. In this context, Pompeo stressed that Israel was within its right to employ its own judgment on the matter, and therefore the message doesn't include an explicit American demand to postpone the move.

With that, it is a yellow light, as the administration would rather Israel coordinate this step to the fullest with Washington, and that it be implemented only after the joint American-Israeli mapping committee completes its work. This position, which favors controlled and measured progress on the path to sovereignty, reflects the concerns harbored by the administration, mainly within the intelligence community, over the regional ramifications of applying sovereignty within a two-month timeframe, along with the desire to tie all the plan's remaining loose ends together.

From the perspective of the White House, postponing annexation from early summer to the end of autumn 2020 comes with another considerable advantage. Israeli implementation with declared presidential support, on the eve of the US election on November 3, could be optimal from Trump's point of view in terms of spurring his evangelical base to go out and vote. The vast majority of this constituency unreservedly supports this aspect of Trump's deal of the century, as does a segment of American Jewry.
Pompeo: New government has ‘right and obligation’ to decide if and how to annex
The incoming Israeli government has “the right and the obligation” to decide if and how it wants to apply sovereignty over the West Bank, visiting US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday at the conclusion of a whirlwind visit to Jerusalem.

“We had a good conversation about how to go forward. They will need to find a way together to proceed,” he said in an interview with the Israel Hayom daily, referring to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and incoming defense minister and alternate prime minister Benny Gantz.

“I reminded them that, at the end of the day, this is an Israeli decision,” the US top diplomat went on, in comments published in Hebrew. “They will have both the right and the obligation to make a decision on how they are going to do it.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Pompeo met separately with Netanyahu and Gantz, as well as with incoming foreign minister Gabi Ashkenazi, for talks about various issues, including the coronavirus pandemic, Iran’s ongoing regional aggression, the China-US trade war and Israel’s involvement in it, and US President Donald Trump’s so-called deal of the century.

“We spoke not only about the issue of annexation but also about many other topics that are connected to it — how to deal with all the elements involved in the matter, and how it would be possible to ensure the move is done properly in order to bring about an outcome in accordance with the vision of peace,” he said.

Some observers saw this comment as a veiled warning to Israel to proceed with caution before actually annexing.

In a second interview Pompeo gave during his six-hour stay in Israel, he appeared to insist that it was entirely up to Israel when and how to proceed with annexation.

“The Israeli government will make decisions about annexation — whether to do it, and how to do it and the timing of annexation,” he told the Kan public broadcaster.
Pompeo didn’t fly ‘halfway around the world to talk annexation’ – US official
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo did not make a lightning trip to Israel just to speak about West Bank annexation, an unnamed senior US official said Wednesday, following the top American envoy’s whirlwind visit to Israel amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Two US State Department officials, speaking anonymously during a press briefing, said the the issue of annexation was not “the top line in Pompeo’s talks.”

“We should dispel the notion that we flew halfway around the world to talk about annexation,” one official said when asked about the issue.

Pompeo was in Israel for less than 12 hours, though it took him approximately double that time to fly to Israel and back, raising questions about the point of the trip.

Pompeo met separately with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and incoming defense minister Benny Gantz, as well as with incoming foreign minister Gabi Ashkenazi. On photos distributed to the press after the meetings, the US top diplomat was not seen to have toiled over maps of the West Bank. One of the administration’s conditions for annexation is the completion of a US-Israel mapping committee working to determine the exact boundaries of Israeli sovereignty.

The officials said Iran and China had been the main issues discussed, as well as Israel’s widening air campaign in Syria.
Congress Urges Trump Admin to Stop ICC Investigations Into U.S., Israel
A group of nearly 300 members of Congress is calling on the Trump administration to stop the International Criminal Court's "politically motivated investigations" of the United States and Israel.

In a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the bipartisan group of lawmakers urged the administration to "marshal a diplomatic initiative with like-minded countries who are members of the ICC to call on the ICC to cease its politically motivated investigations into the United States and Israel."

The ICC has been pursuing war crimes cases against the United States and Israel that both countries have called illegitimate. The Washington Free Beacon first reported earlier this month that the ICC's cases are being driven by nonprofit organizations found to have ties to designated terror groups.

The United States and Israel are not members of the court and both have routinely criticized the international body for conducting politically motivated investigations, such as those into Israel's counterterrorism operations and the United States' actions in Afghanistan.

The lawmakers—including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.), Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R., La.), and Reps. Mike Gallagher (R., Wis.), Eliot Engel (D., N.Y.), and Michael McCaul (R., Texas), among 260 others—say the ICC is unfit to carry out any investigation into the United States or Israel.

"The Court's recent announcements are examples of how politics have been infused into the judicial process and distorted the purposes for which the court was established," they wrote.


PMW: ICC prosecutor rejects PMW report of her improper collusion with the PA and terrorists
In a highly irregular tweet, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda responded to the content of Palestinian Media Watch’s recent report, which demonstrated her improper collusion with the Palestinian Authority. Based on numerous sources, PMW documented different aspects of her interactions with them, including pictures from the meeting of Bensouda with PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh. Among other things, PMW cited statements of PLO official Saeb Erekat, who chairs a special PA committee responsible for follow up with the court, which includes members of Hamas and other Palestinian terrorists groups. Shtayyeh’s meeting cited above with Bensouda, was after the prosecutor had already been notified that the PA committee included members of Hamas. (See below.)

Bensouda’s response does not mention PMW’s report, nor did she deny any of the evidence PMW supplied. Her tweet merely claimed that her “office is executing its mandate with utmost professionalism, independence & objectivity,” without explaining the need to all of a sudden emphasize that. However, referring to the public criticism following PMW’s report, she added: “Any insinuation or assertion to the contrary is simply misled and unfounded.” [Twitter account of Int’l Criminal Court, May 8, 2020]

Specifically, she did not refute her contacts with the Palestinians, nor did she relate to the fact that the special PA committee headed by Saeb Erekat, whose purpose is to be the liaison with the ICC, includes members of Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – both internationally recognized terrorist groups. Both these terror groups have unquestionably committed crimes for which they could be prosecuted in the ICC.

She did not deny the allegation in the Jordanian news report that she told PA officials that her application to the court was a sham, submitted only to protect the “ICC's public image” or that the decision of the court “is a foregone conclusion”.
New Report Traces How European Money Makes Its Way to Terrorists
Money donated by European governments and private individuals is making its way into the coffers of terrorist organizations, according to a new report by Israel’s Strategic Affairs Ministry.

The ministry issued the report after the European Union announced it would be funding Palestinian “civil society organizations” even if they include members who support terrorism. According to the report’s findings, Palestinian activists have established a way of securing European monetary donations that allow them to carry out terrorist activity in addition to civil society work.

“The links to civil society entities in the West allows them a way of securing financial assistance that they could not receive any other way,” the report states.

In the past two years, Israel’s Shin Bet security agency has exposed a number of incidents in which Hamas took control of money belonging to aid organizations active in the Gaza Strip, and in some cases used them for military purposes against Israel.

One notable example was a case of European donations that went to fund terrorists involved in the murder of Rina Schnerb in the summer of 2019. Samar Arbid, head of the cell that killed Schnerb, 17, and wounded her brother in an attack at a spring near the town of Dolev in Samaria, played a key role in an organization named Addameer, a “prisoner support and human rights organization” according to its website.

Other members of the same cell earned a living from European government donations to “civil society groups.”

Last Thursday, Israel reprimanded Emmanuel Joffre, the head of an EU delegation to Israel, for the announcement that such funding would continue.
MEPs push EU to reconsider funding to terror-linked Palestinian NGOs
The European Parliament called on the European Commission to make sure funds in future budgets do not go to any parties linked to terrorism, in its annual document reviewing past budgets set to be approved on Thursday.

The European Parliament “insists that the Commission should thoroughly verify the use of Union funds by third entities to ensure that no funds are allocated or linked to any cause or form of terrorism and/or religious and political radicalization.”
In addition, the discharge report calls on the European Commission to ensure that “no Union funds are used to finance textbooks and educational material which incite religious radicalization, intolerance, ethnic violence and martyrdom among children.”

It expresses concern about “problematic material in Palestinian school textbooks” and adds that the EU has not been effective in trying to curb hate speech in those books. The MEPs insist that teachers’ salaries funded by the EU go only to teaching curricula of “peace, tolerance, coexistence and non-violence.”

The European Commission must consider the content of the report when drafting its next budget. The report is part of a procedure in which the European Parliament holds the European Commission, the executive branch of the EU, accountable for implementing the EU budget. It ends with the formal closure of the Council’s accounts for a given year.

This year, the report comes the week after a letter to the Palestinian NGO Network from EU Representative to the West Bank and Gaza Sven Kuhn von Burgsdorff came to light, in which he said Palestinians affiliated with terrorist groups may take part in EU-funded activities. The letter said that since there are only terrorist organizations on the EU’s “restrictive measures” blacklist, and not individuals, people with ties to those organizations would not be banned. The letter came after months of protests by Palestinian NGOs demanding that the EU erase a stipulation that aid only go to organizations with no ties to EU-designated terrorist groups.
European Parliament slams PA over its anti-Israel incitement in schools
The European Union issued on Thursday a strong condemnation of the Palestinian incitement against Israel in school textbooks.

The European Parliament, which is generally pro-Palestinian in its resolutions, published the results of its vote on whether to condemn the Palestinians on Thursday, with surprising figures: 402 were in favor, compared to 263 who voted against the measure, and 13 who abstained.

The measure may suggest that the MEPs were affected by the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-SE) and other organizations, which have over the past several years taken pains to show just how common spread the anti-Israel incitement is in Palestinian Authority schools.

The MEPs also voiced concern over the use of European taxpayer's money to fund programs in Palestinian schools because of its potential misuse to promote terrorism.

The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs appointed a commission of inquiry to examine this matter but it has yet to submit its findings.

IMPACT-SE CEO Marcus Sheff told Israel Hayom: "There now must be a moment of truth for the European Union. Will it continue to ignore the parliament that oversees its spending? Will the European Commission now publicly release the freshly minted report on the Palestinian Authority's textbooks? Governments, legislators and over a million Palestinian children know what's in the textbooks. Classifying the report is senseless and frankly, seems highly suspicious."
Gabi Ashkenazi: Former Israeli army chief turns top diplomat
Decorated soldier

Ashkenazi, the son of a Bulgarian Holocaust survivor and a Syrian-born mother, grew up in a lower income family in central Israel before earning degrees from Haifa University and Harvard Business School.

He joined the army in 1972 and fought in the Yom Kippur war a year later.

He also took part in Operation Entebbe in 1976, a daring commando raid to rescue hostages from a plane that had been hijacked by Palestinian and German militants and diverted to Uganda’s main airport.

Netanyahu’s brother Yonatan was killed in the operation.

Ashkenazi went on to take part in or lead a series of high-profile and sometimes controversial operations.

Turkey put Ashkenazi and three other Israeli military leaders on trial in absentia in 2012 over the deadly 2010 storming of the Turkish activists’ ship Mavi Marmara that had been bound for Gaza.

He was army chief during Operation Cast Lead against Hamas in Gaza in 2008-2009.
Soldier hurt in suspected car-ramming in southern West Bank; driver shot dead
An Israeli soldier was injured when he was hit by a car in what the military said was a deliberate attack in the southern West Bank on Thursday, Israeli officials said.

The driver of the vehicle was shot dead by another soldier at the scene, the military said.

The wounded serviceman, 21, sustained injuries to his extremities, the Magen David Adom ambulance service said. He was listed in moderate-to-serious condition.

The apparent ramming attack came amid heightened tensions in the West Bank and a day before Nakba — or catastrophe — Day, which commemorates the displacement of Palestinians before and after Israel’s creation on May 14, 1948. The period around Nakba Day often sees increased levels of violence in the West Bank and Israel.

The incident occurred along a highway near the Negohot settlement in the southern Hebron Hills.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, the driver accelerated as he drove his car toward a group of soldiers who were standing next to a military post outside Negohot.
IDF believes it may have caught soldier’s killer, but case remains open
The Israeli military on Thursday said it may have caught the person who killed an IDF soldier earlier this week by throwing a brick at him, though the Shin Bet security service said the case remains open.

In the predawn hours of Tuesday morning, the Golani Reconnaissance Battalion carried out a series of arrests in the northern West Bank village of Yabed. As they were making their way out of the Palestinian village, a brick thrown from the roof of a three-story building struck and killed Sgt. First Class Amit Ben-Ygal, according to the IDF.

The military has arrested many of the building’s residents, as well as other people in the village who may have been involved. Investigators believe that the killer may be among those detained, but they are unable to know for sure, as the identity of the person who allegedly threw the rock was not yet known.

“I know that a number of arrests were made last night. Maybe it’s one of them,” an army spokesperson said.

All of those arrested have denied involvement in the crime, the Walla news site reported Thursday, citing defense officials.

The Shin Bet, which is conducting the investigation with the IDF, flatly denied that a specific suspect had been arrested.

“The investigation is ongoing,” the security service said.
We need an aggressive response against stone-throwers
What can be done (besides important yet banal words of comfort)? The First Intifada – the stone intifada, was fed by the tolerance of the terror of stones and Molotov cocktails. Up until the new kid on the block came, Prof. Moshe Arens, who was appointed Minister of Defense and changed the rules of the game. Arens, who grew up and studied in the US, brought the "Wild West" rules to the "Near East." His defense doctrine that beat the rock intifada was "Don't talk, shoot!"

When he was appointed, he canceled the procedures of stone-throwing "containment" and gave new orders to open fire. A stone kills, he said.

He's right. It was after the death of the soldier Esther Ohana, who was killed from a stone to her head while driving near Dhahiriya. He ignored with his usual stubbornness the legal advice and ordered to aim towards the knees of stone-throwers and at the upper body if the man is more dangerous.

The "civilian" defense minister Arens, educated in the Betar Movement, in essence, built Jabotinsky's Iron Wall against terror and won the intifada. Meanwhile, since the Oslo Accords, the legal system grew to monstrous proportions and moved our cheese, with "containment" open-fire orders that limit the IDF. It could be seen this week when youngsters threw stones and Molotov cocktails at IDF forces who came to demolish a terrorist's home, and their jeep was burnt – without any real response.

The way to fix this must change with the horrible death of the Golani soldier and in his memory. Israeli soldiers can no longer be abandoned in their battle against terror. Israeli soldiers cannot be unnecessarily put in harm's way, only to safeguard the purity of the legal clerks.

The next Israeli government owes this to IDF fighters, their families, and the citizens of Israel. Opening fire on stone-throwers must be legislated as it is in the US, where a stone is considered a weapon.

The US has understood the devastating potential of stone-throwing and has defined it as using a lethal weapon, a clause in the US law "Use of lethal weapon" which allows for harsh sentencing and punishment. The Americans don't wink or do any favors, whether you threw a stone or shot a missile. The same offence, the same punishment. But Jews are so merciful, and whoever is merciful towards the cruel, his soldiers will be killed.

In memory of the Palmer family, the daughter of the Bitton family, the soldier Esther Ohana, Ronen Lubarsky, Amit Ben Yigal, all from murderous stones.


Court sentences activist who struck IDF prosecutor to 8 months in prison
The Jerusalem Magistrate's Court on Wednesday sentenced left-wing activist Yifat Doron to eight months in prison for striking IDF West Bank Chief Prosecutor Lt.-Col. Asim Hamed during a hearing in the Judea Military Court at Camp Ofer in March 2018.

The hearing related to charges brought against Palestinian-activist Neriman Tamimi and her minor-age daughter, Ahed Tamimi.

Ahed was sentenced to eighth months in prison in a high-profile and controversial case where she was filmed hitting and kicking a much taller IDF soldier, who essentially ignored her.

Unhappy with the outcome of the case, Doron lashed out and struck Hamed on his forehead. She yelled, "Who are you to judge?"
Hamed is the IDF's first Druze chief prosecutor.

Prison guards on the scene restrained and detained Doron until police arrived to arrest her.

Many activists rallied behind Ahed because she was a minor, was physically small and because of an impression that the IDF did not care about the incident until right-wing politicians complained that the IDF was being dishonored when a soldier is hit without a response.

In contrast, there was no hesitation to charge Doron who struck an IDF lawyer in a courtroom. Doron refused to testify to police or to the court, other than to say she did not believe she had committed a crime.


With worries about coronavirus fading, attacks against IDF on the rise
After months of relative quiet in the West Bank, tensions have once again risen with three attacks against IDF troops which have taken place over the span of 48 hours.

On Thursday afternoon, an IDF soldier was injured after a Palestinian drove into him at high speed near the West Bank settlement of Negohot near Hebron. According to the IDF, the driver accelerated towards troops standing next to a military observation post outside the settlement in the Har Hebron Regional Council.

The 21-year-old soldier, who was treated in the field by Magen David Adom paramedics, was evacuated to Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba with injuries to his upper body, in moderate-serious condition. He was said to be stable and conscious.

The terrorist was shot and critically injured by troops who returned fire. He later succumbed to his wounds. According to Ynet, the 19-year-old Palestinian was from the Hebron area and left a suicide note in his pocket.

The attack comes days after 21-year-old Sergeant First Class Amit Ben Yigal was killed during an arrest raid in the Palestinian village of Yabed when a large rock was thrown at his head. The next morning, a 15-year-old Palestinian, Zaid Fadl Al-Qaysieh, was shot dead during clashes with IDF troops in the al-Fawar refugee camp.
On ‘Nakba Day,’ Palestinians vow to foil annexation, Trump plan
Palestinians on Thursday marked the 72nd anniversary of “Nakba Day” (“Day of Catastrophe”) by vowing to thwart Israel’s plan to apply sovereignty to parts of the West Bank and US President Donald Trump’s plan for Mideast peace, also known as the Deal of the Century.

“Nakba Day” is commemorated by Palestinians on May 15, the day after the Gregorian calendar date for Israel’s independence.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic and the state of emergency announced in the West Bank, Palestinians marked this year’s “Nakba Day” with statements and speeches.

In Nablus, however, a number of Fatah activists held a small rally to protest US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to Israel this week. The activists carried a sign that read: “Palestine is ours, Jerusalem is ours.”

PA President Mahmoud Abbas said in a televised speech on Wednesday night that “those who created our catastrophe wanted Palestine to be land without people or territories and were betting that the name of Palestine would be erased from the records of history.”

To achieve their goal, Abbas said, “they practiced the ugliest conspiracies, pressures, massacres and liquidation projects, the latest being the so-called Deal of the Century.”

Abbas said that “despite all the obstacles, and despite all the aggressive occupation policies, measures and violations, we are proceeding with confident steps towards the restoration of our full rights and the removal of this hateful occupation.”
MEMRI: Columnist For Palestinian Authority Daily: U.S. Ambassador To Israel David Friedman Is A War Criminal, Should Be Brought To Trial Before International Criminal Court; Palestine 'From The River To The Sea'
In his May 7, 2020 column in the Palestinian Authority daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, political analyst Bassem Barhoum lashed out at U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman. The column, titled "Friedman Is a War Criminal," was published in response to an interview Friedman gave to the Israeli daily Israel Hayom, in which he stated that the U.S. is willing to recognize an Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank.[1]

Calling Friedman a "racist fascist" who had "drafted the annexation maps and incorporated them into" the Trump administration's peace initiative known as the Deal of the Century and "uses his role to forcefully create facts on the ground," Barhoum added that Friedman should be seen not as an ambassador but as a war criminal, and should be brought to trial before the International Criminal Court. He also called for revoking all agreements with Israel and for "taking the conflict back to square one," while renewing the Palestinian claim to all of Israel "from the river to the sea," and added that cities within Israel proper, such as Acre and Jaffa, are equal under the law to West Bank cities like Nablus and Hebron.

The following are translated excerpts from the column:[2]
"The Palestinian people have known a long series of extremist, racist, and hate-filled Zionists – both Jewish and non-Jewish, for the Zionist project is a global imperialist one. But David Friedman is the most insolent, extremist, and racist of them all. He is a war criminal and we will act to bring him to trial before the International Criminal Court. This settler speaks as though Palestine is his own private property. He does not wish to see [Israeli] politicians show any form of hesitation or opposition to the annexation [of parts of the West Bank], and he is even more extreme than Netanyahu when he tells [Netanyahu] to declare the annexation now, before any changes that may delay this move.

"No word or entry in the traditional lexicon is sufficient to describe this extremist Zionist. He does not [even try to] hide his violation of international law. On the contrary – he insists on violating it and even urges [others] to do so. He acts as though it his responsibility to fulfill 'the divine promise to the Jewish people' and to actualize the Zionist narrative, and as though international law is meaningless in the face of this [divine] promise. Let's not forget that this is the settler who drafted the annexation maps and incorporated them into the Deal of the Century, based on the vision he shares with [Jared] Kushner, and out of a desire to see his name go down in history alongside the names of other great Zionists such as Herzl, Balfour, Weissman and Ben Gurion.

"Friedman is well aware that no [U.S.] president except Trump would agree to the annexation plan as it was proposed. He is also aware that the world is [currently] preoccupied with the coronavirus pandemic and its potential impact on the global economy and geopolitical situation. Hence, this war criminal decided to race against time and declare the annexation [right now], before any changes could thwart [the plan]...


Nasrallah: Israeli strikes won’t push Iran out of Syria
The head of Lebanon’s Hezbollah on Monday described Israeli airstrikes in Syria — where his terror group and Iran are backing the Damascus regime — as an “imaginary battle” against Iranian troops.

“In Syria there is an imaginary battle that Israel is waging, called ‘not allowing the presence of Iranian military troops in Syria,'” Hassan Nasrallah said during a televised speech, insisting that only “Iranian military advisers and experts,” not fighters, are there.

Israel is targeting “everything related to missile manufacture in Syria,” he continued, asserting that Israel sees such weapons as a danger because they “strengthen Syria and the axis of resistance.”

Israel feels threatened by Iran’s presence in Syria, leading it to “miscalculated adventurism,” Nasrallah said.

He claimed that Defense Minister Naftali Bennett had “foolishly” announced “a schedule for getting Iran out of Syria” and that he was “lying when touting the achievements of the strikes in Syria to the Israeli public.”

The movement of Iranian forces in Syria is not a retreat due to Israeli strikes, he said, adding that “Hezbollah forces and Iranian advisers will remain in Syria according to the Syrian interest. Israeli attacks won’t change this.”
Cargo Planes from Iran Using Russian Airbase in Syria to Avoid Israeli Strikes
For the second time in two weeks, an aircraft flying from Iran to Syria has landed at the Russian Hemeimeem Airbase in southwestern Lattakia.

According to a report from the Lattakia Governorate, a Syrian cargo plane traveled from the Iranian capital to the Hemeimeem Airbase, where they later unloaded without fear of an Israeli warplane bombing their positions.

A source in Damascus told Al-Masdar that the reason for landing at the Hemeimeem Airbase is to avoid airstrikes, which have previously targeted Damascus International Airport.

Israel has made it no secret that they are watching Iran’s every step in Syria, as they have repeatedly struck the Islamic Republic’s forces and their paramilitary allies across the Levantine nation, with some attacks even targeting neighboring Iraq.

For Syria, these deliveries are incredibly important, especially when it has to do with military supplies and humanitarian aid.

It’s not clear what Israel’s plan will be if these flights continue, as they have run into some issues with Russia in the past over their airstrikes near the Hemeimeem Airbase.
Satellite images appear to show Iran building new weapons storehouse in Syria
Iran is constructing a new underground weapons storage facility in eastern Syria at a military base under its control near the Iraqi border, a private Israeli satellite imagery analysis firm said Wednesday.

According to satellite photographs released by ImageSat International, an excavator and bulldozers have been seen operating within the Imam Ali base in the al-Bukamal region of Syria, which is believed to be run by Iranian forces.

The intelligence firm, citing photographs of the base from April 1 and Tuesday, said that work on the underground weapons storage facility appears to have started in March.

“The tunnel is fit to be used as a shelter and storage for trucks and vehicles, including vehicles carrying advanced missile weapon systems,” ImageSat said in its assessment.

It is the second such subterranean tunnel to be constructed at the base, which is located a few kilometers from the Iraqi border.

Construction of the first tunnel was halted when the base was attacked shortly after the underground facility was revealed by ImageSat last December. It was not the only case of suspected areas of Iranian military entrenchment being identified and publicized by ImageSat shortly before the sites were targeted in airstrikes attributed to Israel.

Wednesday’s revelation of Iran’s alleged further entrenchment in Syria appears to contradict a claim made by a senior Israeli defense official earlier this month that Tehran was pulling its troops out of the country in response to airstrikes against its forces that have been attributed to Israel.




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