Wednesday, November 13, 2019

From Ian:

Seth Frantzman: Israel’s maximum restraint and the myth of a ‘clean war’
Israel may have provoked this round of rocket fire from Gaza through the targeting of at least one senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad commander. Jerusalem understood the severity of the situation, which is why much of the country from the areas around Gaza to Tel Aviv was almost shut down on Tuesday. This is a reflection of social cohesion as much as it is the government’s need to herd people out of the way of rockets. Israelis understand this kind of war.

Within 24 hours, there have been more than 250 rockets fired and there have been some injuries. But Israel is showing maximum restraint in a sense. This is part of a pattern since March 2018, with terrorist groups in Gaza feeling like they can fire rockets almost with impunity. Impunity is the right word because they understand the balance of power here.

Every Hamas commander and Islamic Jihad commander knows they can be targets. But they also know generally how the response works. You fire rockets, your rocket teams will die. You fire rockets, your bases will be struck. But civilians will mostly go unharmed. This isn’t 2002; this isn’t 2009. Israel has achieved extraordinary precision in its use of judicious and proportionate responses.

But the devil is in the details with proportionality. A rocket strike for an airstrike? Not even. It’s more like several rocket launches for an airstrike. This is the “clean” war. The war in which the Iron Dome defensive system intercepts almost 90% of the projectiles that are calculated to hit civilian areas. There are few casualties. There are many near misses. This is a revolution in warfare, one that has been pioneered by western military powers since the late 1980s. This concept even has a theory named after it, the Revolution in Military Affairs.
The use of technology enables the ability of sophisticated states like Israel to fight what is called “asymmetric” war. That means Israel has munitions and platforms galore, from drones to F-16s, to F-35s, to different missiles and precise artillery. It’s not even a question of “can the target be hit,” but which of dozens of options would the military like to use. Gaza is a closed space. It’s airspace and sea approaches are controlled by Israel. What goes in and out of the strip is mostly controlled by Israel or monitored by Israel and Egypt. There are no surprises. Maybe anti-tank missiles and sniper fire pose some threat. But gone are the days of the Qassam threats, the tunnels and even Hamas “commandos” trying to get through the sea to Israel.
Honest Reporting: Israel Under Fire - 36 Hours Later
In the past 36 hours, over 350 rockets (and counting) have been fired towards Israel by Palestinian Islamic terrorists. Israel has retaliated by destroying terror targets throughout the Gaza Strip and in turn, neutralizing 13 terrorists, mostly from Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The situation is continuing to escalate.

JCPA: Iran and the Death of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) Leaders
The PIJ is the Palestinian organization closest to Iran and is heavily dependent on the financial and military aid that Tehran provides. The relationship between the PIJ and Iran is conducted mainly through the headquarters of the organization’s external leadership in Damascus, which holds contacts with the Gazan leadership. Unlike Hamas, which retains political and operational independence, the PIJ is more attentive to Iran’s agenda and to the directives that come from Tehran. The group declared a state of emergency in the wake of al-Ata’s killing.

In recent years, Tehran has supplied the PIJ with rockets, sniper rifles (Iranian-made AM-50 Sayyad-Hunter based on HS.50 rifles that the Austrian Steyr-Mannlicher company sold to the National Iranian Police) , and anti-tank missiles, all the while continuing to train its operatives in Syria and Iran in manufacturing and operating rockets, missiles small arms, and explosive devices (IEDs, EFPs).

The PIJ is a critical part of the Iranian strategy of wearing down Israel and at the same time, keeping threats away from the Iranian border. Thus, Iran sees the PIJ as part of its first line of defense strategy. Elsewhere in the Middle East, Iran is working similarly with Hizbullah in Lebanon and Syria, the Popular Mobilization Force in Iraq, and the Houthis in Yemen to promote its influence and interests against Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States.

The current round of escalation, which now involves Israel and the PIJ in Gaza, again reveals the tight ties between Iran and the PIJ, which consist an important component in the “resistance front.” It also highlights the uniqueness of PIJ from the other organizations in Gaza, which are less dependent on Iran.

Iran, which still has not paid a price for its unprecedented attack on the oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, can draw encouragement from this round of fighting in which the PIJ is conducting on its own fighting without Hamas support. It demonstrates to the Sunni Arab world, which is caught up in internal fights for survival, that Iran and its key proxies are continuing their uncompromising struggle against Israel, despite the price paid from time to time. Iran also has an interest in countering Egyptian attempts to calm the streets in Gaza, in which Baha Abu al-Ata was also involved. The joining of the fray by Hamas will further weaken Egypt’s role as it strives to restore calm and get Hamas to restrain the PIJ.

  • Wednesday, November 13, 2019
  • Elder of Ziyon
The New York Times did not find it worthwhile to report on a million Israelis being bombarded with hundreds of rockets on the first page.

In fact, here is what the PDF of the first page looks like (and I'm pretty sure the bottom is on Page 2):

The news story snippet implies that Israel had no reason to kill the terrorist - and therefore, the rockets being shot into Israel are justified.

In a surprise airstrike before dawn on Tuesday, Israeli forces killed a senior commander of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group in the Gaza Strip, setting off waves of retaliatory rocket attacks that immediately raised fears of an escalating new conflict.

The timing of the attack, after a period of relative calm along the border and amid a protracted, high-stakes negotiation over who will lead Israel’s next government, led some critics of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to charge that it was politically motivated. Mr. Netanyahu insisted that the timing was dictated by Israel’s security chiefs, whose recommendation he had merely endorsed.

Israel described the Gaza commander, Baha Abu al-Ata, as a “ticking bomb” who was “responsible for most of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s activity in the Gaza Strip.” Islamic Jihad said that the commander’s wife, Asmaa Abu al-Ata, was also killed in the 4 a.m. missile strike.

Before 6 a.m., militants in Gaza began firing barrages of rockets toward southern and central Israel from the Palestinian coastal enclave. Islamic Jihad called the Israeli strike “a declaration of war against the Palestinian people” and said, “Our response to this crime will have no limits.”
 Schools were closed in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area as air-raid sirens blared and Iron Dome missiles intercepted dozens of rockets. Tens of thousands of Israelis took cover in bomb shelters.
That's it. It doesn't even mention that some rockets exploded on factories, roads and houses. No, to the NYT, these rockets are being intercepted by Iron Dome and no real danger, and Israeli fears not worth reporting on.

Media bias can be seen in what is not reported and where the stories are placed. In this case, 200 war crimes terrorizing a million people are not worth mentioning.

(h/t Phyllis)

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  • Wednesday, November 13, 2019
  • Elder of Ziyon
Yesterday, Amnesty International tweeted:

But it wasn't an Israeli missile. It was a missile from a Gaza terror group, almost certainly the one in this video:

The damage from the rocket also indicates a Qassam-style rocket, not an Israeli missile:

An eyewitness confirmed it.

Even the ICHR website deleted its original accusation that it was an Israeli missile strike, although it stops short of even implying it might be from Islamic Jihad.

When the evidence that Amnesty was wrong became overwhelming, it tweeted this:

Isn't that something? An unfounded accusation that Israel bombed a human rights group gets tweeted with no caveats whatsoever, but when it is discovered that a Gaza terror group shot the rocket, now Amnesty wants an "investigation" - one that it had no desire to do at first when Israel could be blamed. And Amnesty wants the world to know that it still could have been from Israel, even though Israel denies it and Palestinian media stopped all reporting on the incident, following Hamas orders.

Back in March, the ICHR offices and staff were indeed attacked deliberately. By Hamas.

The Ramallah-based Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) said Hamas forces attacked its staff in Gaza because they were doing their job of monitoring and reporting Hamas crackdown on the street protests.

ICHR director Ammar Dweik said that Hamas forces attacked and severely beat the director of its Gaza branch, Jamil Sarhan, and its attorney, Baker Turkman, and seized their cellular phones.
 Back then, Amnesty did not say a word.

No wonder that Hamas media is happily publishing Amnesty's anti-Israel statements. Hamas and other terror groups in Gaza accurately see Amnesty International as their allies. (This particular article was taken down in the past hour for some reason.)

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  • Wednesday, November 13, 2019
  • Elder of Ziyon
Ken Roth, the leader of  of Human Rights Watch tweets - a lot.

For a man who makes over $630,000 a year, it is amazing that the HRW board has no problem with his prolific tweeting.

His obsession is tweeting about Israel. While the percentage of tweets slamming Israel has gone down in recent years as his biases were revealed, he has maintained a consistent habit of practically never going more than 24 hours without tweeting something about Israel, nearly always negative.

Until this week, that is.

His last tweet about Israel was a typically absurd - and anti-peace - comment:

The Israel-Jordan peace agreement included Jordan's leasing back land that Israel owned and in which Israelis had farms. The lease was for 25 years and intended to be renewed automatically every 25 years as a symbol of peace and cooperation. Yet Jordan decided to not lease the land, symbolically telling Israel, screw you - we have the land and you have no rights to it. A land for peace deal turned into an opportunity for Jordan to show how much it hates Israel.

But Roth twisted Jordan's hate into, somehow, being about Palestinians. No Palestinians live anywhere near this plot of land. It isn't even in the West Bank. Roth took Jordan's side in their symbolic move against peace with Israel, which is a strange position for a supposed human rights organization.

Hours after that tweet, Israel assassinated an Islamic Jihad terrorist who was planning major terror attacks on behalf of Iran. HRW is on the record as saying that such attacks are legal under international law 

Since then, over 200 rockets were shot towards Israel. Every single rocket is a war crime since they are being aimed at civilians.

And Ken Roth has not tweeted a word.

As always, he wants to tweet anti-Israel lies and vitriol, but suggesting that Israelis are victims of human rights abuses by a recognized jihadist terror group supported by Iran is simply not something Ken Roth can tweet about.

So he is silent.

He is waiting for an Israeli attack that accidentally kills a child or family - something nearly unavoidable when terrorists and terror groups purposely plot and plan in civilian areas. Then he'll tweet against Israel, and mention the rockets as an aside so he can claim to be "objective."

No, Ken Roth isn't objective. His silence while a million Israelis seek shelter under fire shows that he effectively supports terrorism - when it is directed against Israel.

UPDATE: Roth tweeted about the EU wanting Israel to renew the visa of HRW BDS activist Omar Shakir - but nothing about the rockets. So his anti-Israel streak of 36 hours is over but still nothing about Gaza terrorism.

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Tuesday, November 12, 2019

From Ian:

Labour candidate says her song ‘From the River to the Sea’ ISN’T antisemitic
Labour’s candidate for the Conservative-held marginal seat of St Ives has defended her band’s song accused of calling for Israel’s destruction from charges of antisemitism.

Alana Bates, who is standing in next month’s general election, is a bassist in The Tribunes, a self-described “radical-political alternative rock four-piece band” formed in 2015.

The song, uploaded to Spotify in 2018, is entitled From the River to the Sea, a controversial phrase often used at anti-Israel demonstrations to call for the country’s destruction.

“With no justice, there’s no peace / troops out of the middle east / with no justice, there’s no peace / get out of the middle east,” the song states.

“Justice should not have to wait / Israel’s an apartheid state / Justice should not have to wait / Israel is a racist state,” it continues.

Later, the song calls on listeners to support the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement, saying “ethnic cleaning and the rest, support BDS.”

Independent Cornwall councillor Tim Dwelly said the song was “repulsive racism” and called for Bates’ immediate expulsion from Labour.

Dwelly, a former member of Labour, tweeted: “Her band sings that Palestine should be ‘one state’. Israel should be ‘out of the Middle East’, is a ‘racist state’. Repulsive racism. She should be expelled by Labour immediately.”

Bates told Jewish News the song had been removed from online platforms on the advice of the Labour Party.

Lib Dem candidate apologises over tweet comparing Gaza to ‘Nazi ghettos’
A Liberal Democrat candidate has apologised over a tweet sent in 2014 comparing Gaza to “Nazi ghettos in which Jews were trapped”.

Wera Hobhouse, 59, most recently served as the Lib Dems’ climate change spokesperson. Elected to represent Bath in 2017, she is standing in next month’s general election.

She told Jewish News: “I abhor antisemitism with every fibre of my being. My mother’s brothers and sisters had to flee the Holocaust because they were Jewish, and it destroyed their families. I had an uncle imprisoned in Dachau, and a great uncle murdered because he was mentally ill.

“This was the reality for my family in Nazi Germany, and we still live with the trauma. However, I apologise unreservedly for any offence I have caused. Looking back at these tweets I realise that trying to discuss hugely serious issues via 140 characters is a mistake.”

She tweeted in 2014 that “#gaza seems to remind terribly of Nazi ghettos in which Jews were trapped during Holocaust. For what reason do we remember Holocaust?”

Another tweet sent the following year read: “‘Israel cynically using memory of the Holocaust’. ‘Never again this suffering to anybody not just Jews’ #bbcthebigquestion.”
Here’s a List of 100 Members of Congress Supporting CAIR
Ahead of the Council of American-Islamic Relations’ 25th Anniversary Gala event last Saturday, the Muslim Brotherhood-linked organization boasted that “120+” members of Congress had sent them letters of support.

We never saw those letters, however, thanks to Clarion reader Viola Rose, we were directed to a list of 100 members of Congress who voiced their support of CAIR in 2018. The list was published by the Investigative Project on Terrorism, along with the letters of support.
You can see the list and the letter by clicking here

The list includes Democrat presidential candidates Cory Booker, Kamala Harris and Amy Klobuchar. Ninety-seven out of the 100 names on the list were Democrats; three were Republican.

CAIR’s gala event took place November 9, 2019, at the Grand Hyatt hotel in Washington, D.C., and featured Congresswoman Ilhan Omar and Islamist activist and sharia-apologist Linda Sarsour.

CAIR describes itself as “America’s largest Islamic civil liberties group,” but in 2007, the U.S. government labeled CAIR an unindicted co-conspirator in the trial of the Holy Land Foundation for financing the Hamas terrorist group.

In November 2014, CAIR was designated as a terrorist organization by the United Arab Emirates along with a host of other Muslim Brotherhood entities.

CAIR was listed among “individuals/entities who are/were members of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestine Committee and/or its organizations.” The Palestine Committee is a secret body set up to advance the Brotherhood/Hamas agenda in the U.S.

The FBI subsequently severed official contacts with the group, saying it “does not view CAIR as an appropriate liaison partner.”

Yet members of Congress – either ignorantly or intentionally — continue to endorse CAIR.

  • Tuesday, November 12, 2019
  • Elder of Ziyon

Mordecai Manuel Noah was the United States Consul to the Kingdom of Tunis from 1813-1815, where he rescued American citizens kept as slaves by Moroccan slave owners. He was the first Jewish diplomat for the US. In 1815, US Secretary of State James Monroe fired him from that position, saying his religion was "an obstacle to the exercise of [his] Consular function."

Noah wrote a book about his travels in northern Africa. His description of the Jews in the area is interesting. He notes that Muslims would treat Jews like dirt in public, but they were very important in running the governments behind the scenes so they could get what they needed.

The Israelites banished from Spain and Portugal by the bigotry of their monarchs, and for which these kingdoms have long since languished and decayed, sought refuge in the Barbary States, in which there were originally but 200,000. They found in Fez, Algiers, Tunis and Tripoli, an immense number of their brethren, originally from Judea and Egypt, many who had descended from the Canaanites that fled from Joshua and settled in Mauritania Tingitania. Such was the fate and the fortune of these proscribed and unhappy people. They wandered with no other king but their God, no other law than his precepts and ordinances ; they bent under persecutions, yet, wherever the intolerance of the times compelled them to go, they found their brethren, with admirable constancy, ready to share with them their fortunes, and, if necessary, to sacrifice their lives for each other. In the Barbary States they found a refuge from the inquisition, from torture and from the auto de fe ; they were compelled to abandon their splendid dwellings and the luxury of wealth, they met from Mussulmen insult and oppression, yet they were tolerated, and they sought consolation in that religion which teaches them to have but one God, to obey his commandments and rely on his protection. They were taught, by the doctrines of their law, to suffer patiently the penance of a loss of national liberty \, for a disregard in early periods to the principles of that law, they were dispersed according to the word of God, and in conformity to his promise, they patiently bend to the intolerance of the times, and await the certain period of their deliverance, satisfied, from the well-known and admitted fact, that they have been preserved pure and unalloyed, amidst the wreck of worlds amid the ruins of nature, and that this miraculous preservation must eventuate in their restoration to their ancient rights.— From the most correct data which 1 could obtain, I have reason to believe, that the number of Jews in the Barbary States exceed 700,000, of which nearly 100,000 are capable of bearing arms.

Much has been said of the severe and cruel treatment of the Jews by-Mussulmen, this 1 did not observe ; that they are treated with indignity and insult there is no doubt ; they are compelled to wear a black dress, they are not permitted to pass a Mosque with their shoes on, they pay a heavy capitation tax, and minor insults growing out of a general system and customs long observed. These were predicated on policy : the Moors found an immense and increasing people professing a different faith—active, enterprising, and rich—fearful then of an increase of a confederacy, composed of materials capable of revolutionizing and governing the country, they united to oppress, insult, and yet tolerated them.

An erroneous impression prevails, that the religion of the Jews is an object of hatred to Mussulmen, and the cause of this oppression. This is not the case, because the Mahomedan faith does not materially differ from the Jewish, and their hatred towards Christians is yet more fierce and irreconcilable ; but the Jews have no protectors, they are considered by Mussulmen as abandoned by all nations, because they will not renounce their ancient faith, and yet, with all this apparent oppression, the Jews are the leading men, they are in Barbary the principal mechanics, they are at the head of the custom-house, they farm the revenues, the exportation of various articles, and the monopoly of various merchandise, are secured to them by purchase, they control the mint and regulate the coinage of money, they keep the Bey's jewels and valuable articles, and are his treasurers, secretaries, and interpreters ; the little known of arts, science, and medicine, is confined to the Jews, there are many who are possessed of immense wealth, many who are poor.

How then is it that these people, so important and so necessary, should be so oppressed ! The fact is, this oppression is in a great measure imaginary. A Turk strikes a Jew, who dares not return the blow, but he complains to the Bey and has justice done him. If a Jew commits a crime, if the punishment affects his life, these people, so national, always purchase his pardon ; the disgrace of one affects the whole community j they are ever in the presence of the Bey, every minister has two or three Jewish agents, and when they unite to attain an object, it cannot be prevented.
Noah had a later initiative of interest to Jews, but that deserves its own post.

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  • Tuesday, November 12, 2019
  • Elder of Ziyon
The evolution of the law of targeted assassinations is interesting. While traditional assassinations have generally not been considered legal under international law, spy agencies have always done them but without admitting it.

When quasi-wars are being fought between nations and terror groups, the circumstances are different - do the laws of war apply? Is it considered a police action? How about when terrorists are not near the war zone? This is all a relatively new scenario in international law, and the answers are bitterly contested.

Israel pioneered the thinking in these circumstances in the 1990s. The IDF's International Law Department, or ILD, was asked to answer these sorts of questions during the second Intifada. And sometimes, they had to innovate in the legal thinking to be able to deal with these new circumstances.

Gabriella Blum is one of the people who helped the IDF come up with answers at the ILD, while Daniel Reisner was the head of the group. They were interviewed for The Intercept:

The discussions were animated, but in Blum’s recollection, always professional. The politics of those in the room ran the spectrum. But these were lawyers, at the end of the day, and they worked for an army. The soundest legal arguments, not the most humane, would win.
“You had to make stuff up as you went along,” Blum said. “Not in a manipulative way. Not, ‘OK, let’s come up with a story that justifies everything we do.’ But we did feel like we were in a different reality. This blending of combatants and civilians in an occupied territory — this was not something that the history of the regulation of war had fully anticipated.”
The new technologies complicated things further. “It was kind of freaky that you’re using this thing,” Blum said. “Drones? It’s a machine? And nobody can surrender to that machine?”
 Eventually, the ILD established principles to guide the IDF’s targeted killings. The aim was to define the practice as an exception to the norm — a means of last resort.

Their first rule was that targeted killings were not to be used against just any member of an armed group, but only against those who took direct and active roles in hostilities. (Practically speaking, that meant that the commander who ordered the suicide bombing was a valid target, but that the technician who built the bomb itself was not.) Where arrest was a feasible alternative, targeted killings were not to be used. (“That had zero precedent,” Reisner said. “A total invention. It sounds like law enforcement, right?”) And finally, every effort had to be made to avoid civilian injury and death.
Here is a brief description of IDF rules written by Blum in this academic paper:
The process for approving targeted killing operations in Israel involves an intelligence “incrimination” of the target, which identifies the target as a person actively involved in acts of terrorism; a plan for the time, place, and means of the attack (most commonly, an airstrike); consideration of the danger of collateral damage; and a review of potential political ramifications. The complete plan must receive the approval of a top-level political official. There is no external review process, judicial or other. 
The stated Israeli policy is that only members of a terrorist organization who are actively involved in an ongoing and direct manner in launching, planning, preparing, or executing terrorist attacks are lawful targets. In addition, targeted killing operations will not be carried out where there is a reasonable possibility of capturing the terrorist alive. 
The guidelines were accepted by Israel's High Court with an additional caveat:
A military committee would be formed to review targeted killings that resulted in civilian casualties; that committee would be tasked with determining consequences and possible reparations. (The committee exists to this day, but its decisions are not made public.)
The US policy was very much against this Israeli policy of allowing targeted killings - until September 11, 2001. Then the US realized that things are not as simple as it claimed they were, and over the next decade the US policy on targeted killings has been largely taken from the IDF's International Law Division.

The United States policy on killing terrorists outside a war zone, written in 2013 under the Obama administration, is:

Lethal force will be used outside areas of active hostilities only when the following preconditions are met:
First, there must be a legal basis for using lethal force, whether it is against a senior operational leader of a terrorist organization or the forces that organization is using or intends to use to conduct terrorist attacks.
Second, the United States will use lethal force only against a target that poses a continuing, imminent threat to U.S. persons. It is simply not the case that all terrorists pose a continuing, imminent threat to U.S. persons; if a terrorist does not pose such a threat, the United States will not use lethal force.
Third, the following criteria must be met before lethal action may be taken:
1) Near certainty that the terrorist target is present;
2) Near certainty that non-combatants1 will not be injured or killed;
3) An assessment that capture is not feasible at the time of the operation;
4) An assessment that the relevant governmental authorities in the country where action is contemplated cannot or will not effectively address the threat to U.S. persons; and
5) An assessment that no other reasonable alternatives exist to effectively address the threat to U.S. persons. 
International legal scholars disagree as to the legality of these policies. A synopsis of the viewpoints can be seen here. However, international law evolves based on actual practice and written armed forces policies. It is worthwhile to see how Human Rights Watch looks at the issue, whether in context of a war or as a police action:

The laws of war permit attacks only against military objectives, such as enemy fighters or weapons and ammunition.  Civilians are immune from attack, except those individuals “directly participating in the hostilities.”  While the phrase “directly participating in hostilities” has various interpretations, it is generally accepted to include not only persons currently engaged in fighting, but also individuals actively planning or directing future military operations.  For a specific attack on a military objective to be lawful, it must discriminate between combatants and civilians, and the expected loss of civilian life or property cannot be disproportionate to the anticipated military gain of the attack.  Therefore, not all attacks that cause civilian deaths violate the laws of war, only those that target civilians, are indiscriminate or cause disproportionate civilian loss.

...International human rights law permits the use of lethal force outside of armed conflict situations if it is strictly and directly necessary to save human life.  In particular, the use of lethal force is lawful if the targeted individual presents an imminent threat to life and less extreme means, such as capture or non-lethal incapacitation, are insufficient to address that threat.  The UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials provides that the “intentional lethal use of firearms may only be made when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life.”  This standard permits using firearms only in self-defense or defense of others “against the imminent threat of death or serious injury” or “to prevent the perpetration of a particularly serious crime involving grave threat to life” and “only when less extreme means are insufficient to achieve these objectives.”  Under this standard, individuals cannot be targeted for lethal attack merely because of past unlawful behavior, but only for imminent or other grave threats to life when arrest is not a reasonable possibility. 
Any way you look at it, the laws of targeted assassinations in a scenario where there is a terror group that attacks at times but not in an active war would fall somewhere in between these two scenarios.

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From Ian:

Israel Pounded With Rockets From Gaza After Killing of Islamic Jihad Commander
Israel killed a top commander from Iran-backed Islamic Jihad in a rare targeted strike in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, and terrorists responded by firing rockets at Israeli cities, including Tel Aviv.

In the most serious escalation in months, an Israeli missile attack also targeted the home of an Islamic Jihad official in Damascus, killing two people including one of his sons, Syrian state media said. Israel declined any comment on that incident.

“Israel executed two coordinated attacks, in Syria and in Gaza, in a declaration of war,” Islamic Jihad leader Khaled Al-Batsh said at the Gaza funeral of Baha Abu Al-Atta.

Israeli officials described Al-Atta as “ticking bomb” who was responsible for a string of recent cross-border rocket, drone and sniper attacks and was suspected of planning more.

“We conducted the attack (on Al-Atta) because there was no other choice,” Israeli military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Jonathan Conricus said. “I want to emphasize that we are not looking to further escalate the situation.”

Al-Atta’s slaying, in his home along with his wife, looked likely to pose a new challenge for Gaza’s ruling Hamas faction, which has mostly pursued truces with Israel since a 2014 war.
Who was Baha Abu Al-Ata?

Israel strikes deputy Islamic Jihad chief's home in Damascus - casualties
Islamic Jihad said that the Damascus home of one of its top officials was attacked by Israel early Tuesday morning. The bombing came minutes after Islamic Jihad commander Bahaa Abu Al-Ata was assassinated by Israel in the Gaza Strip in a targeted killing operation carried out jointly by the IDF and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency).

Syrian state news agency SANA said that two people were killed dead and six others injured after the bombing of the building near the Lebanese Embassy in western Mezzeh, Damascus.

An Islamic Jihad official confirmed that the target was the home of the group's deputy leader, Akram Al-Ajouri. In a statement, Islamic Jihad blamed the attack on "the Zionist criminal enemy." It was not immediately clear if Al-Ajouri was among the dead or the wounded.

Al-Ajouri was said to be Abu Al-Ata's primary contact in the top echelons of Islamic Jihad. The bombing on Tuesday made it seem like Israel was launching a coordinated assault against the Iranian-backed terrorist organization that is mostly based in Gaza but also has headquarters in the Syrian capital.
IDF launches new wave of attacks after 170 rockets fired from Gaza Strip
Israel was preparing for several days of fighting after over 170 rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip into the Jewish state Tuesday following the targeted assassination of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) Leader Bahaa Abu Al-Ata in a precision Israeli airstrike.

In the afternoon, the IDF launched a new wave of attacks against Islamic Jihad targets in the Gaza Strip, hitting training bases and the openings to tunnels the terror group had been digging into Israel. The IDF also announced that it was calling up a limited number of reservists to man Iron Dome missile defense batteries as well as to beef up the Home Front Command.

As of 4:30 p.m. Israel time, the IDF was reporting more than 160 rocket launches and over 50 interceptions.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said after a security cabinet meeting in Tel Aviv: "Terrorists think they can hit civilians and hide behind civilians. We showed that we can hit the terrorist with minimal damage to civilians. Anyone who thinks they can hit our civilians and get away with it is wrong. If you hit us we will hit you."

IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi said that Al-Ata was the person who tried to undermine Israel's efforts to reach a ceasefire with Hamas in the Gaza Strip. "In recent days he was working to perpetrate attacks against Israel," he said. "We tried to thwart his efforts in different ways without success and we then recommended a targeted killing."

Kochavi added: "We are not interested in an escalation but we are ready - on the ground, in the air and at sea."

The IDF's Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories closed the Erez and Kerem HaShalom crossings between Israel and the Gaza Strip, and restricted the fishing zone Palestinians can enter off the coast of Gaza.

  • Tuesday, November 12, 2019
  • Elder of Ziyon
PIJ graphic of the terrorist
Palestine Today, an Islamic Jihad news site, has an exclusive interview with Baha Abu al-Ata published posthumously. Al-Ata was assassinated by Israel this morning.

It is not clear when the interview was done, but it shows that al-Ata was planning many large terror attacks against Israel.

Abu Al-Ata said that the capabilities of the Al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of Islamic Jihad, more than doubled compared to during the Gaza war in 2014.

He said that Al-Quds Brigades are "waiting for the next battle to teach the enemy a hard lesson."

"God willing, the next battle will be a decisive battle, where we will teach the enemy cruel lessons in very capital of the enemy," he said.

The martyr leader said: We will teach the Israeli enemy a very tough lesson, and the next battle will be much stronger than the battle of the pitted Al-Bunyan, and will be a battle to break the bone hurts the occupation.

The article calls Abu al-Ata "a great jihadist with an honorable career."

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  • Tuesday, November 12, 2019
  • Elder of Ziyon
This morning, PA president Mahmoud Abbas commented on Israel's assassination of major Islamic Jihad terrorist Baha Abu al-Ata.

The Palestinian presidency condemned today the Israeli military escalation against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip following what it described as the “hideous crime” committed by the Israeli occupation against a man and his wife in an airstrike at their home in Gaza City.
The "moderate" Fatah movement  blamed the Israeli government for the "martyrdom" of Baha Abu Ata and his 20-year old wife.

Media darling and Secretary General of the PLO Executive Committee Saeb Erekat condemned the assassination and called it a "crime."

Every time, in every incident, Palestinian leaders choose to side with the most extreme jihadists and terrorists against Israel.

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  • Tuesday, November 12, 2019
  • Elder of Ziyon
On Monday we discussed a pending European Court of Justice ruling that Israeli goods created in settlements must be labeled as such.

The ruling this morning confirmed the earlier logic that consumers have the right to know that food comes from settlements because of "ethical considerations" listed in  Regulation No 1169/2011. This press release discusses the ruling:

In addition, as regards the issue whether the indication ‘Israeli settlement’ is mandatory, the Court first of all underlined that the settlements established in some of the territories occupied by the State of Israel are characterised by the fact that they give concrete expression to a policy of population transfer conducted by that State outside its territory, in violation of the rules of general international humanitarian law. The Court then held that the omission of that indication, with the result that only the territory of origin is indicated, might mislead consumers. Consumers have no way of knowing, in the absence of any information capable of enlightening them in that respect, that a foodstuff comes from a locality or a set of localities constituting a settlement established in one of those territories in breach of the rules of international humanitarian law. The Court noted that, under Regulation No 1169/2011, the provision of information to consumers must enable them to make informed choices, with regard not only to health, economic, environmental and social considerations, but also to ethical considerations and considerations relating to the observance of international law. The Court underlined in that respect that such considerations could influence consumers’ purchasing decisions.
The lawsuit that prompted this came from the Psagot winery.

But Regulation 1169/2011 specifically excludes alcoholic beverages from its domain! For some strange historic reason, the only mandatory information for alcoholic beverages under EU regulations is the percentage of alcohol content. Health issues, while addressed in many European states' own rules, are not mandatory across the EU.

This absurd situation is illustrated in this 2018 slide from Eurocare that urges alcoholic beverages to be forced to have minimum health label information:

 The court rulings are (seemingly) being applied to Psagot based on the wording in a regulation that does not currently apply to Psagot wines!

(The full court ruling is not published as of this writing. )

Which means that the ECJ says that it is more important to include the phrase "Israeli settlements" on wine bottles than "don't drink and drive" and all the other health warnings about alcohol listed here in a document that discusses potential EU policies on labeling alcoholic goods:

Until the full ruling comes out, I don't know if it addresses the issue of "ethical considerations" being applied in a discriminatory manner only to Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and not for foodstuffs that come from any number of countries with questionable policies on ethical issues. But saying that consumers of wine need to know more about the political situation of the place it is produced than about the health implications of consuming it is seriously messed up.

(h/t Irene)

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  • Tuesday, November 12, 2019
  • Elder of Ziyon

The latest news as of this writing is that not only did Israel assassinate the head of the northern Gaza branch of Islamic Jihad’s military wing, Baha Abu al Ata, but that at nearly the same time Israel also bombed and nearly killed another major Islamic Jihad leader, Akram al-Ajouri, in Syria.

There is lots of speculation on the timing of these strikes. The IDF says that al-Ata was planning some very serious operations, and even Islamic Jihad says that he was in the midst of a "heroic act." But it is also possible that Israel is sending a message to Iran.

Al-Ata seems to have directly reported to Iran and took instructions from them to disrupt the uneasy detente that has been in Gaza between Israel and Hamas. Hamas has shown irritation at groups attacking Israel without going through them.

Al-Ajouri almost certainly was close to Iran as well, working with the regime in Syria.

The intelligence to know where these terrorists are sleeping is quite impressive. If al-Ata was planning a major attack, chances are the planning and timing came from Iran.Israel is sending a message to Iran that their plots to attack Israel are being foiled because someone on the inside is revealing them, making Iran wonder who they can trust and alowing down the pace of what they can accomplish if everyone suspects everyone else of being a Zionist spy.

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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