Tuesday, September 01, 2020

From Ian:

Netanyahu holds historic video call with UAE representative in Hebrew
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanayhu held a historic video call with a United Arab Emirates (UAE) representative named Khalifa, who accompanied the Israeli delegation to the country. The entire conversation was held in Hebrew, after the latter demonstrated his knowledge of the language. The prime minister, who was surprised that Khalifa spoke Hebrew so well, inquired about the source of his knowledge.

"I studied Hebrew over Zoom, sir," replied Khalifa.

During the video call, Netanyahu congratulated the Emirati representative and praised the Emirates' contribution to peace and stability in the Middle East.

"I would like to congratulate you, as a representative of UAE's government and as a loyal representative of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, a great leader, for your contribution to peace," said Netanyahu excitedly.

The prime minister also praised the historic normalization treaty between the two countries.

"This is a historic peace, not just between leaders but between our people. You literally express it – thank you so much for this," he added.
Kushner hopes another Arab state normalizes Israel ties within 'months'
White House adviser Jared Kushner hopes another Arab country normalizes ties with Israel within months, he said, after arriving in the United Arab Emirates accompanied by Israeli officials on the first commercial flight between the countries.

No other Arab state has said so far it is considering following the UAE, which agreed to normalize ties with Israel in a U.S.-brokered deal announced on Aug. 13. Several have ruled out normalization under current conditions.

Israel's neighbors Egypt and Jordan reached peace deals with it decades ago, but other Arab states have long held the position that Israel must agree to give more land to the Palestinians for a state before ties can be normalized.

Israel and the United States have said they are pushing more Arab countries to follow the UAE's path. Israel's intelligence minister has mentioned Bahrain and Oman. Kushner will next visit Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Qatar on his Gulf tour.

Asked by UAE state news agency WAM when the next Arab state could normalize ties, Kushner, son-in-law to President Donald Trump, was quoted as saying: "Let's hope it's months."

The Israel-UAE deal exposes hypocrisy of pro-BDS Jewish groups
‘Nothing to celebrate.”

That was the response of Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) to the United Arab Emirates ending animosity toward and non-recognition of Israel for the entire span of Jewish state’s existence. Though bilateral trade that will benefit peoples in both countries, Palestinians included, easing the effects of climate change and saving lives in the operating room, they couldn’t even say “well done.”

Even the left-wing, Israel-focused political group J Street was able to recognize that peace with the UAE is a positive development while highlighting unresolved issues. Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement-supporting groups’ blatant disregard for an act of tikkun olam (repairing the world) is hypocritical and harmful to the people actually living in the region. JVP and others should celebrate peace even if they don’t love the political actors behind it.

No matter what the situation, the answer is always the same, “but the occupation!”

It’s a single-minded focus that is deep-seated to the point that it necessitates blind hatred and the infantilizing of the entire Palestinian people. Palestinians are taught hate from a young age in their textbooks, walk to and from school on streets that honor “martyrs” who murdered Israeli civilians, and their tax money pays the family members of those who carry out horrific terrorist attacks.



Aaron Klein: The Netanyahu Doctrine Is Bringing Middle East Peace
Netanyahu was vindicated when President Trump kept his campaign promise to withdraw the U.S. from the JCPOA, opting instead to enact an unprecedented sanctions regime targeting Iran.

Israel's peace accord with the UAE, meanwhile, proves Netanyahu's long-standing contention that Jews living in ancient, historic Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and eastern Jerusalem are not impediments to peace. Rather, Netanyahu repeatedly singled out the Palestinians' rejection of Israel's existence as the obstacle blocking an Israeli-Palestinian agreement.

The deception about Israeli settlements persisted even after Israel's 2005 withdrawal from the Gaza Strip led to the creation of a Hamas fiefdom in the coastal enclave and terrorists' repeated use of the evacuated territory as a launching pad to fire rockets into Israeli civilian population zones.

The UAE deal also corroborates Netanyahu's inside-out approach toward the Palestinians. In the face of repeated Palestinian rejectionism, Netanyahu long argued that a potential deal with the Palestinians could emerge only after Arab nations first make peace with the Jewish state.

While detractors demanded more painful concessions from Israel, Netanyahu posited that peace with the Gulf states might nudge the Palestinians to stop denying the Jewish state's right to exist and perhaps come to the bargaining table to engage in talks based on reality, instead of delusion.

It remains to be seen whether the Palestinian Authority will rise to the occasion and act for the betterment of its own people by accepting talks based on the Trump peace plan. It is crystal-clear that Gulf nations are done sitting around waiting for the Palestinian leadership to come to their senses. Instead, the UAE and other Gulf states are acting in their own interests—those of regional harmony—as the Netanyahu Doctrine comes to life, bearing the fruits of historic real peace.
Report: Netanyahu made secret 2018 visit to UAE for meeting with crown prince
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flew to the United Arab Emirates in 2018 for a secret meeting with the crown prince of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper reported Tuesday.

According to the report, the meeting was also attended by Mossad head Yossi Cohen, who facilitated the visit.

Diplomatic sources told the newspaper that the meeting was held in a “good atmosphere” and that there was a follow-up meeting a year later in Washington attended by Israeli National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat and representatives of the US and UAE governments.

According to the report, Israel’s then-ambassador to Washington, Ron Dermer, was heavily involved in the negotiations that ultimately led to the normalization deal with the UAE.

The Israel Hayom newspaper also alluded last month to secret visits by Netanyahu to the UAE.

The Prime Minister’s Office refused to comment on the Yedioth Ahronoth report, which came hours after Netanyahu on Monday hinted that he had held meetings with Arab leaders that had not been made public.

“I meet with many, many leaders in the Arab and Muslim world. Much more than you think,” Netanyahu said, in celebrating the departure of an official Israeli delegation to Abu Dhabi to discuss normalization. “There’s much I still cannot tell you, but I believe it will come out eventually.”






Israel-UAE: Putting cynicism aside for peace
Journalists are a cynical bunch, and when we waited on the tarmac in the sweltering Israeli summer heat for the senior members of the US-Israel delegation to Abu Dhabi to arrive, a couple of them pointed out that just about every trip we cover for our work is called historic.

But I was still very excited, I admit. So much so, that I did something almost embarrassingly earnest.

Once we were on the plane, I settled into a seat bearing my name. We started taxiing, with pilot Tal Becker announced flight “nisa saba wachad” (971 in Arabic) to Abu Dhabi – and, of course, that this was a historic occasion, the first El Al flight to fly over Saudi Arabia and to land in the United Arab Emirates. When he wished us all “salam, shalom, peace,” it sparked something in me.

I queued up a song on my phone: “Salam” by the Israeli band Sheva, a 1997 hit and perennial favorite of Zionist schools and summer camps around the world, whose title means “peace” in Arabic.

“Peace will come to us and to the whole world,” I bobbed my head as Mosh Ben-Ari sang. “Salam, to us and the whole world.”

Back when I was dancing to that song in circles with other teenage girls at some of those schools and camps, I was the “rah rah Israel” kid who had Israeli bumper stickers calling for peace on her binder and who would badger the others to attend rallies, write letters to the editor and sign petitions of support for Israel during the Second Intifada.

And when I think about that, and then the fact that I am on the first-ever direct flight to Abu Dhabi, with a message of peace emblazoned on the plane – symbolizing so many opportunities for Israel – it’s hard for me to stay cynical. I’m awed and humbled by the magnitude of this event.
Peace without Education for Peace?
We witness a dรฉjร  vu: Israel repeats the tragic mistakes of the peace accords with Egypt, the PLO and Jordan. In each of these peace treaties, Israel operated on the political level and allowed education for belligerence to continue.

In the case of the UAE, this is not just a cold peace. What we have is a plan for short-term gratification and long-term enmity.

Consider, for example, that the UAE quadrupled its donations to UNRWA from $12 million dollars in 2017 to $51 million dollars in 2019. These UAE funds go to UNRWA schools at a time when UNRWA education is based on three principles, according to our think tank's examination of all 364 Arab textbooks used by UNRWA. Those principles are:

1. Challenging the legitimacy of the Jewish State, while teaching that Jews have no place in the Middle East
2. Demonizing Jews
3. Continuing the war to liberate all of 'Palestine'

Can UAE have it both ways - promoting coexistence with Israel while promoting jihad against the Jews?
Selling F-35s to the UAE Is an Amazingly Bad Idea
Is it safe to put sophisticated American weapons — such as F-35 fighter-bombers — in the hands of an Arab monarchy, such as the United Arab Emirates? The historical record points to three dangers that raise questions about the wisdom of the current proposal to provide these jets to the UAE.

The first danger is that the UAE’s current monarch could be overthrown, and replaced by someone who is hostile to America and Israel. The Islamic-Arab world is legendary for its revolutions and violent coups.

There were coups in Egypt in 1952, 1954, and 2013; and in Syria in 1949, 1951, 1954, 1961, 1963, 1968, and 1970. Don’t forget Algeria in 1962, 1992, and 1995. Or Libya in 1969. Or Tunisia in 1957 and 1987. In the Persian Gulf region, where the UAE is located, there were coups in Oman in 1970, and Yemen in 1962, 1974, and 2018. What guarantee is there that the UAE will defy these historical trends and remain under the same government indefinitely?

Providing weapons to a stable democracy is generally safe because they have built-in safeguards that ensure continuity. Even if a new party comes to power, free nations traditionally honor the treaty obligations of their predecessors. There are exceptions, of course, but generally that’s how it works — because otherwise, nobody would ever sign a treaty with another country. But deals with dictators and monarchs are inherently very risky. And when the deal involves the world’s most advanced fighter aircraft, then the risk is all the greater, because the consequences would be devastating.
Emirati remarks on West Bank annexation ‘encouraging,’ says Likud MK
After a senior Emirati official said the US had offered “assurances” that Israel will not annex parts of the West Bank, but also indicated that such a move would not ruin the recent normalization of ties, a top Likud lawmaker said Tuesday the remarks were encouraging.

Speaking to reporters during a briefing at Abu Dhabi airport after the visit of a US-Israeli delegation Jamal al-Musharakh, director of the Emirati Foreign Ministry’s policy planning department, said “we have assurances from the US” that the annexation would not go ahead and that the “halting of annexation was a prerequisite” to the normalization deal announced last month.

Asked if normalization with Israel would fall apart if Israel were to annex in a few months, he said that it would not. However, the UAE’s Foreign Ministry later claimed he had been misquoted (although Israeli reporters heard him clearly) and clarified that its position was that the suspension of annexation was essential to the normalization process.

In response to the original comment, coalition whip MK Miki Zohar said, “The important and encouraging remarks that are coming from senior Emirati officials — that extension of Israeli sovereignty to parts of Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] will not harm the peace agreement — can enable us to fulfill what we promised the public in recent years.”

Zohar urged the government to push forward with applying sovereignty, which is tantamount to annexation, before the coming US presidential elections in November.
Senior UAE official: We got US assurances annexation won’t happen
As an Israeli delegation prepared to depart the United Arab Emirates Tuesday after completing a first official visit, a senior Emirati official said that his government had received “assurances” that Israel will not advance its plan to annex large parts of the West Bank.

“We cannot speculate on future Israeli actions. We have assurances from the US on this, and through our trilateral dialogue,” Jamal al-Musharakh, the director of the Emirati Foreign Ministry’s policy planning department, told Israel-based reporters at a briefing at Abu Dhabi airport, on the matter of annexation.

Asked if the normalization with Israel would fall apart if Israel were to annex in a few months, he said that it would not. However, the UAE’s Foreign Ministry later claimed he had been misquoted (although Israeli reporters heard him clearly) and clarified that its position was that the suspension of annexation was essential to the normalization process.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has insisted the plan will still be carried out.

Al-Musharakh stressed that the “halting of annexation was a prerequisite” to the normalization deal announced last month.

“We remain with the Arab consensus and Arab resolutions,” he told The Times of Israel in response to a question on Abu Dhabi’s position on the Arab Peace Initiative, which offered Israel full normalization with the entire Muslim world after a peace agreement is reached with the Palestinians based on the 1967 lines.

“What we did was halt the annexation. The ultimate end solution is to find a sustainable solution between the Israelis and the Palestinians,” al-Musharakh went on.

“We have not backed down one step, or one millimeter, from our position” in support of the Palestinian cause, he added.
'No Peace Between Israel & Palestinians' Despite UAE Deal: Debate


Khaled Abu Toameh: UAE: We Are Not Traitors; Palestinian Leaders Are Corrupt
The message Emiratis are sending: "We did not betray anyone. We have a wise leader who has decided to do what is good for his country, the Palestinians and all Arabs and Muslims. You Palestinians need to get rid of your corrupt leaders."

"It is time for this region to enjoy peace, stability and development," Al Kaabi remarked. "Over the past decades, conflicts and tension have ravaged the region and many opportunities have been lost in order to find the right path that leads people to a prosperous life, and makes hope possible." — Hamad Al Kaabi, editor of the Abu Dhabi-based Al-Ittihad newspaper, August 14, 2020.

"I was against Israel, but today I'm not. Time has shown us who the real friend is and who is the enemy." — Emirati social media user, Twitter, August 17, 2020.

The reactions of the Emiratis to the Palestinian campaign of incitement against the UAE is another sign of the growing disillusionment of many Gulf citizens with the Palestinian leaders and the Palestinian issue. The reactions also show that for the first time in many years, Arabs have the courage openly to say that they prefer peace with Israel over continuing to support the Palestinians, who cannot get their act together and have chosen to align themselves with Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood and the enemies of peace and stability.
Palestinians 'Deeply Hurt' By Israel-UAE Flight


PMW: PA fears UAE-Israel peace is birth of “Arab Zionists” Erekat: Arab support for Israel is “forbidden” “Zionist thinking”
The PLO’s chief negotiator and Executive Committee Secretary Saeb Erekat has expressed the PA’s concern that the United Arab Emirates’ peace agreement with Israel will lead to other Arab states reaching similar “normalization” agreements. The PA sees such agreements as disregard for the PA’s demand that Palestinian “self-determination and independence” must precede any formation of Arab friendly relations with Israel.

Criticizing the UAE and others for admiring Israel and establishing relations with it, Erekat described the recent peace agreement as “a public birth for the Arab Zionists,” and added that expressing admiration or support for Israel – such as putting the Israeli flag on one’s shirt – is “forbidden” “Zionist thinking”:

PLO Executive Committee Secretary Saeb Erekat: “There are [Arab] groups that say: ‘Palestine is not my cause.’ Groups say that ‘the Palestinians are ungrateful and we are employing them [the refugees]. We’ve helped them, but Israel is a beautiful, successful state.’ [Some] speak in Hebrew at universities to speak with Israel… This is a public birth for the Arab Zionists. There is no Arab Zionism, there are Arab Zionists… I have contacted Bahrain and sent official letters. I sent official letters and asked for two things: Not to follow the UAE [but] stick to the Arab Peace Initiative. And to convince the UAE to recant [the agreement with Israel]… I did the same with all the Arab states… It is not insignificant when an Arab photographs his son who puts the Israeli flag on his chest… This is Zionist thinking. Forbidden. This is forbidden.“

[Official PA TV, Topic of the Day, Aug. 22, 2020]


Senior Fatah figure urges violence in wake of UAE-Israel peace deal
A top Palestinian official has reiterated that terror is a legitimate option in "the struggle" against Israel, in the wake of the Jewish state's normalization deal with the United Arab Emirates.

“Our interest is that the struggle will damage the occupation, and that the cost of the occupation will be on the occupation and not on us," Fatah Central Committee Secretary Jibril Rajoub told official PA TV on August 17, according to Palestinian Media Watch.

"But all the possibilities are open to all the types of resistance in the occupied lands against all expressions of the occupation, the symbols of the occupation,” he continued, using a well-known Palestinian euphemism for violence.

Israel has witnessed two terrorist attacks in recent weeks following a period of calm, suggesting that the message from Palestinian leaders is being heard.

Shay Ohayon, 39, was stabbed to death at the Segulah Junction in Petah Tikva on August 26 by a 46-year-old Palestinian from a town near Nablus in the West Bank. The motive for the attack is being investigated. His death came two weeks after another man was found critically injured in Rosh Ha'ayin, believed to have been the victim of a terror attack. Medics were able to save the victim's life.
Iran’s Khamenei: UAE ‘Disgraced Forever’ by Israel Deal
The United Arab Emirates has betrayed the Islamic world and the Palestinians by reaching a deal to normalizing ties with Israel, Iran‘s top authority, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, charged on Tuesday.

“Of course, the UAE’s betrayal will not last long, but this stigma will always be remembered. They allowed the Zionist regime to have a foothold in the region and forgot Palestine,” Khamenei said in a speech.

“The Emiratis will be disgraced forever for this treachery against the Islamic world, Arab nations and Palestine.”

When asked about Khamenei’s statement on the Israel-UAE deal, UAE Foreign Ministry official Jamal Al-Musharakh told reporters in Abu Dhabi: “The path to peace and prosperity is not paved with incitement and hate speech.”

Khamenei made his comments as a delegation of senior Israeli and US officials, including White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, concluded a historic trip to Abu Dhabi to finalize the pact.

“The UAE along with Israelis and evil Americans like the Jewish member of Trump’s family are working together against the interests of the Islamic world,” Khamenei said, referring to Kushner.

“I hope Emiratis wake up and compensate for what they did.”
MEMRI: Pakistani Columnists Examine The Implications Of UAE-Israel Relations
In two recent articles, Pakistan's major liberal newspaper Dawn examined the implications of the United Arab Emirates' establishment of diplomatic relations with Israel. Excerpts from both the articles, which stress the need for change, are given below.

In the first article, titled "The Celestial Dance," former civil servant and columnist Irfan Husain questioned the Islamic countries for being dogmatic and failing to take note of changes in international politics. He wrote: "the idea that Arab policies towards Israel would remain frozen in time unsurprisingly turned out to be a huge fallacy."

In the second article, titled "Changes in the Muslim World," noted counter-extremism analyst Muhammad Amir Rana examined, among other points, how Al-Qaeda is "hamstrung" due its ally the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (the Afghan Taliban) signing a deal with the U.S.. He also noted how Islamic clerics, who favor Saudi leaders, are caught in a bind with regard to their promotion of antisemitism.

Following are excerpts from Irfan Husain's article:[1]
"The Notion That The 'Arab Street' Would Explode If Israel Were To Be Recognized Was Punctured Once And For All"

"The one constant in life is that nothing is permanent, and everything is in perpetual motion. From sub-atomic particles to the giant spheres that float silently across the skies, we are all part of the great celestial dance. So, the idea that empires, dogmas, and beliefs are carved in stone that will last forever is a delusion created by puny humans, who think a few generations are an eternity.

"But as the ruins of dead civilizations across the world attest, nothing we create is forever. Against this background of change and evolution, the idea that Arab policies towards Israel would remain frozen in time unsurprisingly turned out to be a huge fallacy. Firstly, the notion that the 'Arab street' would explode if Israel were to be recognized was punctured once and for all.
Qatar backs ‘terrorism and extremism,’ UAE tells UN court
The United Arab Emirates accused Qatar on Monday of backing “terrorism and extremism” as the three-year-old Gulf diplomatic crisis returned to the UN’s top court.

Abu Dhabi urged the Hague-based International Court of Justice (ICJ) to throw out a case brought by Doha claiming measures taken against Qatar amounted to racial discrimination.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and several other allies severed ties with Qatar in a shock move in 2017, accusing Doha of backing terrorism and siding with their regional rival Iran.

They imposed an effective blockade by land, air and sea, and ordered the expulsion of Qatari nationals. Qatar dragged the UAE to the ICJ a year later seeking to get the measures lifted.

The allies faced a “grave threat brought by Qatar’s support for terrorism and extremism,” Abdallah al-Naqbi, director of the international law department at the UAE foreign ministry, told the court via videolink. “This has nothing to do with racial discrimination.”

Qatar’s case at the ICJ says that the UAE’s actions breached the 1965 International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD).




HRC Webinar: Israel and the Jewish People’s Legal Rights to Judea and Samaria
If you missed HonestReporting Canada’s Insider Briefing on August 30 with all-star panelists Arsen Ostrovsky and Professor Eugene Kontorovich, who together examined Israel and the Jewish people’s legal rights to Judea and Samaria, you can watch it below or via Youtube here.

Though Israel’s plans to apply sovereignty to the area are temporarily on hold due to the peace deal with the UAE, learn about the facts and context that have gone under the media’s radar.


How Russia outplayed the US with Turkey in Syria
In the last days of August, a delegation from the Syrian Democratic Council arrived in Moscow for meetings. The group is linked to the Kurdish leadership of eastern Syria. Russian officials and the SDC met and Russia’s Tass news agency said that Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had discussions with SDF co-chair Ilham Ahmed. Russia was able to meet with the council openly and also meet with Turkish officials, even though Turkey’s leaders consider the SDC linked to “terrorists.”

At the same time, US diplomats have generally given the SDC the cold shoulder and have been unable to work with Turkey on Syrian issues. Why has Russia succeeded where the US failed to work with its own NATO ally Turkey and the Syrian Kurdish forces it backs in Syria?

Russia, a long-time ally of Damascus, entered Syria in 2015 to back the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Since then, Moscow has become friends with all sides in Syria – except with the Americans. Russia helped push the Astana talks and meetings in Sochi that were designed first to create ceasefires and “de-confliction” in Syria, giving the Syrian regime room to concentrate on defeating Syrian rebel groups bit by bit.

Meanwhile, in 2015 the US had also entered Syria to support the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) to fight ISIS. The US was also involved in a billion-dollar program to back Syrian rebels from both Jordan and Turkey. The program was run by the CIA but also had some backing from the State Department under John Kerry. But Washington failed to corral rebel groups into a workable force. Instead, the rebels were a plethora of groups, many of them infiltrated by increasing religious extremism and infighting.

THE US pursued three tracks in Syria. Through Central Command it helped create the Syrian Democratic Forces – the military counterpart of the SDC – based on the YPG to help encourage Kurds and other groups, such as Arabs and Christians, to all join under one banner to fight ISIS. Meanwhile, the CIA program to support the rebels fell apart.
We need a security concept imposing defeat on Israel’s enemies
For 72 years, the State of Israel, attacked regularly and at war frequently, has never codified a national security concept or strategy.

Much like Israel’s unwritten constitution, it has allowed for a certain amount of flexibility, but was formulated in a time when it was necessary, but arguably that necessity has long since passed.

Historically, even without a codified national security concept, Israeli leaders have still been able to broadcast to its enemies its red lines and expectations.

For example, in 1967, when Egyptian President Gamel Abdel Nasser closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping, it was considered a casus belli. The closing of the straits was considered an act of war because it was a lifeline for Israel and its closure would directly harm Israelis. Perhaps not all Israelis, but enough that the decision-makers felt required a robust response.

Fast forward to today, and it is extremely difficult to discern an Israeli casus belli with the enemies that surround us. After every attack, small and big, we are told by Israeli leaders from across the spectrum, that our enemies should not test our patience, we will not tolerate any aggression against our citizens and we will respond forcefully to any attack against us.

Then when our enemies do exactly that, our reaction is extremely limited.

Take the recent spate of incendiary devices attached to balloons that have been launched into Israel. These attacks, sometimes dozens a day, launched by Hamas and other terrorist organizations are met with limited and predictable responses.

The terrorist organizations in the south, and Hezbollah in the north, know well the rules of this game. Threats by Israel are rarely, if ever, actualized.

Israel has a certain tolerance or threshold for violence and aggression, and as long as they remain below that the Jewish State will not retaliate in a serious or protracted manner.
IDF says it struck 100 Hamas targets over 19 nights - WATCH
The Israeli military credited the latest ceasefire understandings with Hamas to the near-nightly airstrikes carried out by the Israeli Air Force against some 100 targets belonging to the terror group in the Gaza Strip.

“Over the last weeks, Hamas launched rockets, explosive and arson balloons from the Gaza Strip at Israeli civilians. In addition, a number of violent riots were instigated along the Gaza Strip security fence,” the IDF said in a statement. “In response, the IDF struck approximately 100 military targets belonging to Hamas during 19 nights.”

The targets that were struck across the Gaza Strip included approximately 35 weapons-manufacturing and armament targets, some 30 underground workshops and underground infrastructures, a number of military compounds, approximately 10 aerial platforms belonging to Hamas (drones and anti-aircraft missile equipment), a number of military naval targets and over 20 observation posts.

“The strikes of these terror sites constitute a significant blow to Hamas’ terror infrastructure and force generation capabilities,” the military said, adding that “the IDF is ready to operate as necessary in order to defend Israeli citizens living in the Gaza envelope and in southern Israel.”


Waqf fills hole on Temple Mount, possibly hiding archaeological treasures
The Waqf filled in a hole that opened in the Temple Mount floor with concrete on Tuesday, raising concerns that possible archaeological findings may now be lost.

The hole opened up near the Mughrabi Gate in the southwestern section of the Temple Mount on Sunday, according to the Waqf. The Mughrabi Gate is the gate used by all non-Muslims to enter the Temple Mount plaza.

The hole was about 1 ft (30 cm) by 1.3 ft (40 cm) wide and about 2.3 ft (70 cm) deep and located about 13 ft (four meters) from the Western Wall and 39 ft (12 meters) from the southern wall.

An advisor for the Waqf stated that the hole was most likely a water conduit.

The Temple Mount Organizations demanded that a proper archaeological restoration be conducted at the site, but the hole was filled with concrete by the Waqf on Tuesday, according to Army Radio.

"The Temple Mount is the microcosm of the ancient world. Every meter on the Temple Mount has first-rate national importance," said Asaf Fried, a spokesperson for the Temple Mount Organizations, according to Temple Mount News. "The finds on the mountain reflect 3,000 years of Jewish activity at the site, and every pit dug in the site could shed light on thousands of years of Jewish history. Whether it is a cistern from the days of Herod, or an opening of a cave from the days of King Solomon, from the escape caves he built at the bottom of the mountain, among other things to hide the Ark of the Covenant during a hostile onslaught."
Gaza Violence Makes Headlines, but Media Mum on Israeli Captives
September 7, 2020 marks the sixth anniversary of when Avera Mengistu was taken captive by the Hamas terrorist group. The then-32-year-old, who had immigrated to Israel with his family from Ethiopia, developed severe schizophrenia following the death of his older brother and crossed into the Gaza Strip on his own volition.

Since then, he has not had access to treatment for his mental illness and has not been afforded the privileges guaranteed by international law. Kidnapping an innocent civilian is an egregious human rights violation; yet, even with all the recent media coverage about the weeks-long confrontation between the IDF and Hamas, there has been little, if any, attention paid to Mengistu’s plight.

From a media standpoint, securing the release of hostages has over the past few years been big news. According to the White House, more than 50 Americans have been released from 22 countries during President Donald Trump’s tenure. Peter Bergen, a vice-president of the Washington, D.C.-based New America think tank who has written extensively on terrorism, has described the Trump Administration’s efforts to rescue hostages as “an area of significant foreign policy success.”

Meanwhile, the US Department of State recently announced that it would intensify its campaign to bring home three citizens being held in Iran.

Much of the public has been following these stories closely, with media organizations generally providing information about any relevant developments. However, when it comes to Mengistu, these same outlets focus almost exclusively on the recurring tit-for-tat military exchanges between Israel and Hamas without raising the latter’s gross disregard for international norms.
Escalation in the Gaza Arena: An Old-New Story
Conclusion and Recommendations

Hamas does not accept the equation cited by Benny Gantz; it demands substantive easing of the closure and progress in infrastructure projects, with a subsequent end to provocative aggression in areas bordering the Gaza Strip. Hamas can therefore be expected to continue launching incendiary balloons, using sporadic rocket fire, and dispatching squads to arouse disturbances at the border fence, unless a real chance emerges of improving the situation in the Gaza Strip.

The current government in Israel is busy with internal problems and the effect of the pandemic, which renders it incapable of devoting time to address the Gaza Strip problem in full. Furthermore, there is no readily available option that can solve the problem, even if pursued with determination. The strategy guiding Israel's handling of the Gaza Strip is to treat it as a chronic illness requiring a pain reliever from time to time. For Israel, Hamas bears sole responsibility for what happens in the Gaza Strip. Even though there are no direct contacts with the organization, in effect it is a partner for arranging "understandings," not "agreements," through mediators. Israel is managing the conflict with Hamas in an effort to gain time, in the hope that something will change in the future. In practice, Israel is recycling what was agreed on in previous rounds of fighting, while sharing the burden with other players (Egypt, Qatar, and the UN). As of now, Israel has no creative cards, although it might dabble with the idea of enlisting help from its new friend, UAE, in an investment of resources in improving living conditions in the Gaza Strip, possibly at the expense of Qatar's involvement, which is extremely bothersome to the UAE, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia.

The current escalatory dynamic in the Gaza arena is likely leading toward limited combat activity, and later even to a large-scale military operation, unless the two sides are able to reach a compromise. In order to put a stop to the escalation process, there seems to be no alternative to a return to implementation of the understandings in the arrangement reached in December 2019 with UN intervention – a major relaxation of the closure and progress with essential civilian infrastructure projects in the Gaza Strip.

However, with the discovery of multiple cases of Covid-19 inside the Gaza Strip, Hamas has a lost a major playing card and cannot hold out under Israel’s sanctions for much longer. When the escalation first ignited, Hamas leaders believed they had an advantage - Israel was beset by a government crisis and the number of coronavirus cases did not seem to be declining. Hamas reasoned that it can continue escalating until it reaches its desired achievements, as Israel will eventually compromise. Currently, as the number of cases in Gaza is spiking and seems to be quickly getting out of hand, Hamas is pressured by the civilian demand to resume the regular supply of fuel and products. Although under these new circumstances the equation seems bent against Hamas, the organization is unlikely to retreat fully without some achievements, and it will continue its activities, albeit on lower flames and with extra caution to avoid an Israeli military campaign. Nevertheless, its willingness to compromise has increased. Israel can, as an act of goodwill, expand its medical and humanitarian aid to the Gaza population, in the realization that without improvement of the domestic plight and what appears as gains for Hamas at Israel's expense, the organization will continue the current escalation. This story is the same tale as what was previously told.
Hamas announces ceasefire understandings with Israel
The Israeli military credited the latest ceasefire understandings with Hamas to the near-nightly airstrikes carried out by the Israeli Air Force against some 100 targets belonging to the terror group in the Gaza Strip.

“Over the last weeks, Hamas launched rockets, explosive and arson balloons from the Gaza Strip at Israeli civilians. In addition, a number of violent riots were instigated along the Gaza Strip security fence,” the IDF said in a statement. “In response, the IDF struck approximately 100 military targets belonging to Hamas during 19 nights.”

The targets that were struck across the Gaza Strip included approximately 35 weapons-manufacturing and armament targets, some 30 underground workshops and underground infrastructures, a number of military compounds, approximately 10 aerial platforms belonging to Hamas (drones and anti-aircraft missile equipment), a number of military naval targets and over 20 observation posts.

“The strikes of these terror sites constitute a significant blow to Hamas' terror infrastructure and force generation capabilities,” the
military said, adding that “the IDF is ready to operate as necessary in order to defend Israeli citizens living in the Gaza envelope and in southern Israel.”

On Tuesday morning IDF Spokesperson Brig.-Gen. Hidai Zilberman spoke to both Army Radio and Kan Radio, saying that “last night’s statement by Hamas is due to a change in our policy of sovereignty violation.”
Hamas media, Qatar’s Al-Jazeera call Israel’s Kiryat Gat a 'settlement'
Hamas-linked media and Qatar’s Al-Jazeera English both bashed the name of the plane that brought Israelis to the United Arab Emirates during the first commercial flight between the countries.

The flight had “peace” in three languages written on it. However, it was the name of the plane, which is named for the city of Kiryat Gat, which drew ire from Gaza and Doha.

On August 30 the Shehab News Agency’s – which is based in Gaza – Twitter account showed a photo of the plane being painted with “peace” and wrote that the plane will carry the American and Israeli delegation to the UAE.

“Below the cockpit window, ‘Kiryat Gat,’ the name of the illegal Jewish settlement that sits on the remains of ethnically cleansed village, al-Faluja,” the post said.

On August 31, Al-Jazeera English Twitter account shared a remarkably similar statement to the Shehab tweet.

“The plane is named after Kiryat Gat, a Jewish settlement built on the remains of two ethnically-cleansed Palestinian villages, Iraq al-Manshiyya and al-Faluja.”
Hamas Announces Qatar-Brokered Ceasefire with Israel


Qatari envoy says he’ll meet Israeli gas company to discuss pipeline to Gaza
Qatari envoy Mohammad al-Emadi will meet with officials from the Israeli Delek gas company to discuss plans for laying a natural gas pipeline to Gaza, according to a statement issued by al-Emadi’s Gaza Reconstruction Committee.

A spokesperson for Delek Drilling did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Such an official meeting between the Qatari envoy and the Israeli gas company would apparently be the first since a gas pipeline was initially proposed in 2015.

Al-Emadi arrived in Israel a week ago amidst rising tensions between Israel and Hamas with the task of mediating between the two sides.

Gaza-based groups were launching hundreds of explosive balloons as well as rockets across the border fence with Israel, which responded by conducting nightly airstrikes against Hamas targets and closing the Kerem Shalom commercial crossing with Gaza to fuel and construction materials.

Amidst fears of another round of serious violence, Hamas deputy Yahya Sinwar’s office announced Monday night that the terror group had accepted ceasefire terms with Qatari mediation. Israel tacitly indicated its consent by lifting the restrictions imposed on the Strip since the beginning of the escalation.

Between 2012 and 2018, Qatar sent more than $1.1 billion in aid to the Gaza Strip. Prominent Hamas leaders, including political chief Ismail Haniyeh, have taken up residence in Doha. For several years, the small Gulf country has enjoyed a critical position as a mediator between Israel and Hamas.




Hamas: Jews dirty the Al-Aqsa compound, site must be cleansed
Text on screen: “The dust of time will not last”

[Al-Aqsa TV (Hamas), Aug. 23, 2020]





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